Should Churches Sell Stuff?

Question from a Site Viewer
I was wondering if churches that sell books and cds (or whatever) are similar to the synagogues that were selling stuff when Jesus was angered? In other words, should churches sell stuff?

Tim’s Answer
You ask a good question as to whether churches should be selling books, cds, and other items. Jesus drove the money changers out of the temple stating: “My house shall be called a house of prayer but you have made it a den of thieves” (Matthew 21:13). Some have taken this verse to mean that there should be no buying and selling in the church building. However, if one reads what Jesus said, He attacked the moneychangers for being thieves. They were stealing from the people. He did not attack the practice of selling sheep to those who traveled to Jerusalem. In fact, we find the opposite in Scripture. In Deuteronomy 14:22-26, God tells his people that if the place where He chooses to place His name is too far for them to bring their tithes, then they could sell the firstfruits of their crops, covert the goods into money, go to the place and there buy lambs (or other things).

It was not practical for people to bring their tithes in terms of wheat, animals, etc., from long distances to Jerusalem. So God told them to convert their tithes and firstfruits to money and travel to Jerusalem and there buy their offerings. God was not against people buying animals for their sacrifices in Jerusalem. He was against those selling blemished animals as if they were good animals. He was against the thieves.

I know of no Scriptural passage that would condemn a church for selling merchandize at the church, as long as the merchandize is honoring to God, at a fair price, and is not in violation of other laws (e.g., copyright laws). Some churches have bookstores in their buildings. Others have schools and they may sell textbooks or curricula to students. These can be good things.

Nevertheless, I am not a fan of using the church building for selling things. The sin of our culture seems to be covetousness. I think it is helpful for the culture to have church be a place where one is not tempted to buy things. The church building can become a true sanctuary from the consumerism that is taught in our culture. For me, it is nice to go someplace where buying and selling is not present.

I also think those outside the church often see churches as simply wanting people’s money. They see it on television, on the Internet, and hear of it on radio constantly–send money! For such people, if they are invited to church and in the church they see people selling merchandise, such may be a stumbling block to them. I would like them, along with all others, to come to know that the church follows Christ in being a giving rather than a taking organization.

Ultimately, however, the issue is not about whether a church sells or does not sell merchandise. The issue is whether the church leads people to be Spirit-filled disciples of Jesus Christ. I have been in many churches that sell merchandise and do not represent Christ well. I have been in churches that sell merchandise and do represent Christ well. And I have been in churches that do not sell merchandise; some of them are making a difference in the God’s kingdom and some of them are not. The big issue is not how a church uses its building, but rather whether the church represents Christ well. Arguing much about this issue would play only into the enemy’s hand in causing division within Christ’s body.

I hope this helps. May the Lord Jesus give you the wisdom to find His will in this matter and the grace to love others who may believe differently.

a fellow pilgrim,


43 thoughts on “Should Churches Sell Stuff?”

  1. The church is not a place to make or exchange money. The church is to be a place to praise God in song; in prayer; in preaching and teaching God’s Word; in free will offerings and tithes, etc.

    NOTHING SHOULD EVER BE SOLD IN GOD’S HOUSE — not food; not tapes; not gospel literature; not Bibles; not garage sale items; and not services rendered for people. If a church cannot support a ministry off of the tithes and free will offerings of God’s people, then that local church needs to stay out of that matter. When Jesus came along to the Temple, and people were buying and selling in it, He drove them all out of there. If He came along to many churches today, He would have to do the same thing.

    Some people justify their selling of things in God’s house by saying that Jesus did not drive them out for selling things, but for robbing or cheating the people (Jesus referred to them as thieves). “My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of THIEVES.” That is a faulty interpretation (that Jesus only drove them out because they were cheating people), because notice who Jesus drove out of the Temple. “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that SOLD and BOUGHT in the temple.” Why would Jesus drive out the poor people who were being cheated? That was not the point. The point was selling and buying merchandise in God’s house. John 2:16 says, “Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of MERCHANDISE.”

    1. As stated, I am not a fan of selling in the church. But I am not ready to state that such is always wrong or sin. I think one of the sins of the Pharisees was to take God’s statements and then expand them into hard and fast rules that placed people under burdens. God knows how to command things when He wants something to be a rule. We should be careful when we make descriptive passages, such as Jesus driving the thieves out of the temple, into commands for us to follow today. The fact that the early believers sold everything and held everything in common does not mean that this is what we should do. God gives no such command. What I would say is that if you believe that no money should be exchanged within the church building, then be sure not to do so, as such would be a sin for you (Romans 14:23). But it may not be a sin for someone else. I would not want to make a burden on others what God has not commanded. Some churches have bookstores in their buildings, schools where parents purchase schools supplies for their children, ministries where handmade goods made by poor people around the world can be sold and provide wages for the poor, sell coffee supporting third-world efforts to raise people out of poverty and other similar activities. All of these things are matters that I think reflect the heart of Christ in care for the poor, or providing safe places for teaching and education. Thus, while I appreciate your viewpoint, I would encourage charity towards those who are fellow servants of the God who is the ultimate judge of these and all similar things.

    2. I love the way that you stayed true to the word and did not compromise. I totally agree with you. Jesus didn’t compromise when He told (all) of them to leave. No selling means just that.

    3. Jesus drove the money changers because they were lying and stealing. I do believe however, what sold in or outside the church should go back into the church.

      1. This matter is one with which I am struggling.
        I am an assistant pastor, at a church where our members have decided to sell fried fish on a Saturday in order to cover the repairs for our church van. The event was successful; now our members have decided to continue holding fish fries on Saturdays. I don’t agree.
        I (and our pastor)can see how we are blessed tremendously by giving, while a number of congregants seem to suggest that we are too small and can’t afford to give so much.

        1. I think perhaps some of your church members have gotten big eyed with greed. Perhaps they should be reminded they are walking a fine line with the money changers Jesus drove out of the temple.

    4. Thank you Justin for the encouragement and input. We are not allowed to sell anything in the church, it’s a command. Food, books that we write, cd’s, should be free. I even hear that people have to pay an admin fee to be baptized, this is sad. Tithe and offerings are not for the church leader but the money must be used to take care of the needs of the church and the poor. “Freely we have received then we should freely give.” There is no excuse for selling the gospel.

      1. I agree. I can’t find anywhere in the bible where they charged for the gospel. There’s even a charge in sone churches for discipleship and Deliverance services.

    5. I agree 100%, my house she’ll be a house of prayer, not my house she’ll be a house of merchandise, in the New Testament it talks about false prophets they shall make merchandise of you, using A church and worship for any other venue is wrong! That’s why God bless Sam Walton!!! Everyone will be judged according to the word of God!!! Greed of so-called Christian church is stench in God’s nostrils!

    6. Amen. You are correct. NOTHING should ever be sold in the House of God. NOTHING. It blows me away how people try and justify their sin today.

  2. 2 Peter 2:3 warns us that wolves would through greed merchandise or make money of the people of God. Jesus told His disciples as freely as you receive freely give. Meaning if God doesn’t charge us to Hear His word we shouldn’t. Finally Romans 8:32 says God gives us all things freely

    1. I’m troubled by commerce at church. I’m currently going to a church that has a cafe and ATM inside. I think that having the cafe be the congregation point after church excludes less financial people from staying to participate in the after church social time & makes staying expensive for families (church finishes at lunch time & they have a group of hungry kids who are going to play up until they are brought lunch from the cafe). Most churches I have previously been to either have people bring a plate to share or have a hospitality roster where people take turns in catering. My point is that no one is excluded or subjected to any financial strain to fellowship. I have been praying on it and reading His word but still don’t have clarity.

  3. My spirit does not sit well with churches selling goods. I am currently going to a church that sells food, books and clothes and their goods are not even reasonably priced. I remember a time when I didn’t have much money at a ladies conference that I attended and I couldn’t afford to buy food, it was not nice watching people buy food and other things around you. I don’t think it is a good environment for the poor to feel comfortable to worship. I feels like such churches only cater to the rich, and I believe that is not God’s plan. I am contemplating on leaving the church but I might just end up in another similar church. I am prayin about it and hopefully God will give me an answer soon.

  4. I believe this is a heart issue. What is the heart behind it? Where is the money going? Is it being used to further the Gospel or deepening the pockets of the seller? Making a blanket statement about the church with out knowing these type of facts can be detrimental to the churches effectiveness to share the Gospel. There is no doubt in my mind that Jesus knew the heart behind the people trying to sell stuff in the temple. Do you?

  5. I say no to churches becoming places of commerce. I was going to a church until they opened a coffee shop that is open 7 days a week. I felt that this was a bad practice. As a local business person, I also saw this as “competition” against small, local business owners who depend on their small coffee shops to make a living. This could end up driving a wedge between the church and a person who feels as if they were put out of business by a church coffee shop. Especially if there is already alot of competition in the area. I would recommend that a church have a coffee shop and take donations and not act like a business.

  6. I find it deplorable that many tv churches have a “love gift” for x amount of dollars to buy each month or week.. If the preachers would just preach straight out of the word of God and stop taking credit for their own versions of every topic in the bible for their own personal gain…that would be nice

  7. It bothers me that churches charge money to attend big conferences in their facility. Since when does it cost money to grow in the Lord? Jesus is free, salvation is free, healing is free!

    1. Yeah but the church does have to pay the speakers and evangelists who travel to the church to give the conferences. Unfortunately, events like this are not free to put on. Most of the time, the church is just trying to break even.

        1. Unfortunately travel is not free even for preachers, so having people from out of state(especially missionaries from other countries) typically requires the church to pay the travel fee, and while that works for having a single guest preacher come to speak every now and then, to have a larger missions conference with several people may require them to charge a small fee.

  8. Selling in his house is 100% WRONG. It is a deception to say “Don’t say it is wrong.” Jesus has given us specific commandments. Not obeying his commandments is 100% wrong. Can one who claims the name of Christ say “Don’t say fornication is wrong” and still be approved as a brother in The Lord? Certainly Not!! The Spirit of God will never lose to the spirit of error. Pharisees and Scribes “thought” they bought Jesus life… & Judas thought he sold him. Jesus is the living gospel. Do not buy him, nor sell him. Grace was freely given, so we BETTER freely give! This LIfe isn’t about gain! It’s about Christ!

    1. Perfect! I was at central church one Friday and they had a pretzel truck outside, people had bags walking down the aisle to their seats as if they were going to the movie theater! Coffee, juice, smoothies…then people get up to go get more in the middle of service. The pastor talks more about his life then Jesus life. The band plays for almost 30 to 35 minutes it’s insane. Girls thinks it’s ok to be hugging their girl friend lover in church with hands on each other’s laps. People get up and just leave in the middle of sermon. Only a tiny verse is read during service. And no one brings a Bible,they use their phone or tablet, not even the pastor comes out with a Bible. It’s ok to be ok, Not!!

      1. I literally feel exactly what you feel regarding the “ok to not be ok” church. My jaw was on the floor at that place.

  9. I so agree with the not selling and buying in the church and what do they do with the income profits that they bring in, do they help the poor people of the church helping to clothe them, helping to buy groceries, helping to pay utilities, helping them to pay their rent when they are down and out or do they just pocket the profit for them selves, and would they be willing to show the books that they keep to any that would ask them to. I don’t know but it just doesn’t seem right at all.

  10. Wow! This is obviously a relevant question! So many are confused! It seems that to obey the spirit of the law in our hearts, we should abstain from commercializing church and trust God to provide in a way that is not a stumblingblock to so many that want and need to see God’s way!

  11. Anything sold for prosperity, whether it’s to advance the kingdom is prosperity preaching secretly introduced. Freely give what you have freely received. Does it fulfil the law of Christ? Are you loving your poor neighbour who can’t afford it??

  12. Tim & Aaron are spot on. I attend a very large church. Every weekend we have events, activities, classes, and meetings taking place in addition to our 3 services. There’s a bookstore & café onsite that are run by volunteers. They’re a convenience for members & a necessity for group leaders, pastors, guests, parents and children, who spend their entire day at the church with no time in between to get food or study materials. We have an annual audit & disclosure meeting, open to all members

    1. The merchadise should be sold at cost if it sold at all. There should be no financial gain aside from cost of materials and electricity used. No added cost which would normally be to pay employee salaries and no taxes added.

  13. Well I’m glad I found this question on the web. It was enlightening to read all the opinions. My church has a café which I feel is quite pricey. They also have conferences that you have to pay to attend. I don’t know why this question is laying on me heavy. I like many, think Jesus does not want us selling or buying anything in his temple. It is a place to pray and worship him. When we sell/buy stuff, even if it spreads his message are we not putting money before him? He gave freely.

  14. John 2:16 KJV – And said unto them that sold doves, “Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house a house of merchandise”.
    That’s more than just driving out thieves and seems pretty clear on the merchandise part at this point. I will definitely be spending time researching and praying about this one.

  15. Exactly! I totally agree with your statement, however at my church they insist on selling and they tell me I am the one who is wrong. I never take part when they do it.

  16. I wish that the first comment left by Tim had a reply because he eluded to mention that in the Gospel of John in chapter 2 it states that Jesus made a whip a drew out everyone with their animals. Selling of these animals was not the same as the tithe reference he made. We must always look at all the Gospels for the same story if it applies in order to get the whole account of what had taken place. Seek the whole truth, not just a bullet point. May we all continue to seek the full truth of Gods word. God bless you all.

  17. How is buying an selling in church showing reverance to God. If u want to buy christian stuff go on line. Church is where u go to give reverance to God, not to exploit the name of his son. How as believers are we to expect people to respect Christianity when we don’t.

  18. I believe there is a time and place for everything. We do a lot of things within the church walls that is questionable. I believe if we concentrate on being the church, the bride that Christ is coming back for; we would not be so divided in biblical principles. Jesus has given us everything that pertains to life. We should be on one accord, speaking His truth because there is only one Holy Spirit. Our opinions are powerless against the WORD. Let’s strive to seek the kingdom of God and all of His righteousness and leave all that other convoluted, worthless chatter to the world. We have truth because we are children of the LIGHT. Let’s act like it!

  19. Church should be a place to congregarce en comunidad , and if we are blessed. We have to blessed

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