Christianity: Peddling or Promoting

Sometimes I struggle with Christianity’s commercialism. We’re slick, self-promoted, and marketed. So what’s the difference between peddling the message and promoting the message? Do we package faith for a profit? I understand marketing. I’m a published author with a book on Amazon and bookstore shelves. I’ve got a dog in the fight and yet it’s a real struggle. I watch and I wonder at the difference between promoting and peddling. The message needs to get out, but not at the price of bogo offers or a free gift with any donation (tax deductible gift). Send us money and we’ll share this wisdom. I realize people have to make a living – bills have to be paid. But, the gospel is free – isn’t it? It’s a gift. We need to know the difference between promoting it or peddling it. Peddlers are a definite turnoff. Are we prophets or profits?

Here’s the case. I was driving down the road in my wife’s Jeep and tuned to a couple of Christian stations. Rarely do I ever listen to the radio, but tonight I listened to some programming. I think it’s a control thing as I like to choose what I listen to rather than have someone else randomly decide for me. I listened to a little bit of music and then switched to another station. I caught the tail end of a teaching ministry’s program – sales and gimmicks. The message was fairly typical. Keep this program on the air tomorrow by giving today. If we receive your gift today, we’ll send you an autograph copy of the latest book. It’s yours today for a donation of any size. Really? I missed the teaching, but caught the timeshare sales pitch on the infomercial. I thought to myself, there’s got to be a better way. I was unsettled; this was peddling and not promoting in my opinion. Where do you draw the line? What’s the difference?

3 thoughts on “Christianity: Peddling or Promoting

  1. Jesse Joyner


    I also used to work in marketing and now I serve in ministry, so I struggle with these questions a lot too. Yes, the message needs to be put out there – for free. That’s why we don’t charge ticket prices for church (though some early American churches had sponsored pews – like season ticket “box seats” at a baseball game).

    I tend towards the principle of keeping the main thing the main thing. Scripturally, I think the best guideline for this is given in 1 Timothy 6:3-18 (also Matt 6:24 of course).

    If our platform and message is more about money than about the Gospel (like that radio program), then there’s a problem.

    But a church that uses its platform and pulpit to preach the Gospel rather than the bookstore it has in the lobby, then that’s good. The bookstore is not the main thing. Some people will sincerely benefit from patronizing the bookstore, but nobody needs to be pressured or (worse) spiritually threatened (in terms of “blessing”) to spend their money there. That, I believe, is the fallacy of many (not all) televised preachers.

    There is a much larger conversation here, but I’ll stop there.

    It sounds like you have a Christ-like heart about it.

  2. Darlene Peyton

    Bottom line it’s all about relationships and genuine caring. With my businesses, if I show I care about my client and their needs, I have a client for life.

    Isn’t it the same with Jesus? He is about genuine relationships and caring about the eternity of people. To me, when we really care and meet the needs, we don’t need the gimmicks and promos.

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