Question: "What does the Bible say about selling in church?"
Answer: The first Scriptures that come to mind in regard to selling in the church are Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; and Luke 19:45-46, all of which describe the incidents (there were two) when Jesus “cleansed” the Temple. When He saw the kinds of activities that were being carried on in His Father’s house, He became very angry. Clearly, this was not what the Temple was built for.
Jesus regarded both merchants and customers guilty of desecrating the temple. Items being bought and sold included "doves" and other animals for sacrifice (John 2:14). Also present were those who exchanged one currency for another. This was needed because Roman coins and other forms of currency were deemed unacceptable for temple offerings. Evidently, both merchants and money changers were charging such excessive rates that the temple marketplace took on the atmosphere of a thieves’ den (vs. 13).
Obviously, selling books, having a raffle, doing fundraising, etc., is different from what was going on in the temple. Jesus was not necessarily angry that they were selling in the temple, but rather that selling was becoming the focus instead of God. Jesus was also angry that the money-changers were taking advantage of people, many of whom were poor, who needed their services. Doves and other animals were required for the offering, and tithes in acceptable currency were also a requirement.
Such is not the case in today’s churches. Purchases in a church bookstore, for example, are entirely voluntary. No purchase is necessary to attend worship. If a church does decide to sell something inside the church, it should make sure that the selling does not receive undue attention and does not draw away from worship and the teaching of God’s Word. Selling should also never be made “high-pressure.”
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