The ad above was emailed to me a few weeks ago in advance of Eddie Long’s latest conference. While not as marketing savvy as last year’s ad for the same event (or Eddie’s other ingenious marketing ideas), the point is still clear: if you can’t witness this “life changing event” live, then you can watch it on pay-per-view…like a boxing match…or porn.
I’ll take a moment to address those of you who constantly accuse me of “hating” before I go further:
- Yes, I do believe that pastors should be paid for their service to the Lord, but these pimps have surpassed the title of pastor and landed squarely on the title of “entrepreneur”. They write books and own businesses so there is no good reason for them to continue exploiting the Gospel for personal gain
- Yes, I realize that “it takes money to do ministry”, but they’re already charging people to attend the event in real-time…can’t they account for broadcasting the services at no additional charge? Also, can’t this be classified as “outreach” since they already collect all manner of tithes, offerings, et al from their members already?
- Yes, I know “the world charges money for wicked things, so why can’t the mand of gawd charge for righteous things?” – but why do we always have to equate ourselves with the world to justify our behavior?
The Gospel message is a burden – primarily because of its controversial tenets and how many either wholly accept or reject it. Paul warned the early church in 2 Corinthians 2 to be cautious of corrupt hucksters who offered a watered-down “gospel” of atonement in return for payment of their message:
2 Corinthians 2:17 (New American Standard Bible)
For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.
Further, in 1 Corinthians 9 Paul asserted that his Apostolic assignment afforded him the ability to earn wages from his labor for God through His Word. Still, however, he stated plainly that he wouldn’t allow money to be a stumbling block for the message of the Gospel:
1 Corinthians 9:14-18 (New American Standard Bible – emphasis added)
14So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.
15But I have used none of these things And I am not writing these things so that it will be done so in my case; for it would be better for me to die than have any man make my boast an empty one.
16For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.
17For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me.
18What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.
Again, I know it takes money to sustain a viable ministry, but there is a thin line between sustaining an earnest outreach effort and financing foolishness. John Piper’s “Desiring God” Ministry succinctly address what they call (and I agree) the “Currency of Christian Hedonism” (emphasis added):
Since spreading a passion for the all-satisfying Christ is our first and overwhelming aim, we look to Paul’s example of how to remove every obstacle to this goal.[...] In Paul’s day, like ours, some used the word of God to make money. They peddled it. Marketing was the strategy. Money was the goal. Paul was zealous to distance himself from both the motive and the appearance of money-greedy teachers.
[...] God honored Paul’s commitment to make the gospel free by putting it in the hearts of churches he had planted in other places to help him make it free for others. He won people to Christ by his authenticity and by not charging for the gospel, and the result was that new believers supported this very strategy with their gifts. And these gifts from other churches were not payment for the gospel; rather they were enabling Paul to offer it to others without payment. Paul was persuaded that appearances of peddling the gospel of free grace would put a stumbling block in the way of the gospel. It would make it harder for people to see the true nature of the message and the Savior.
[...] So we see three motives—or three ways of expressing one motive—that moved Paul not to charge money for the word of God: 1) to remove every obstacle to the gospel of Christ; 2) to increase his heavenly reward; 3) to win more people to Christ.
It’s bad enough that Eddie and his ilk flog you about the head and shoulders weekly in their churches clubs – shaking you down for coins, let alone via a “pay per view” event. But, what else do you expect from men (and women) who see the Gospel as just another revenue stream?
BTW – Eddie unveiled his new “look” at this “Focus Faux-cus 2010″ event last week. It appears as though he planted some hair seeds and got a “30-60-100 fold” return…or he bought a new toupee. Is that where some of your $99 went?