Friday, May 4, 2012

Has the 21st Century Church become a Den of Thieves?

Last Sunday, 41,000 fans packed Nationals Stadium in Washington, D.C., to hear a message of hope from Joel Osteen.  Tickets were an average of $20 apiece.  Then I received an email from Joel Osteen’s ministry advertising 80% off on all DVDs and books. Joel is not alone. He is part of marketplace mentality—a characteristic of modern church ministries—a 20th century phenomenon made possible by new technologies that allowed easy duplication of tapes (now CDs and DVDs) and booklets.
Now it is not uncommon to have guest Bible teachers come in to our churches and set up their mobile market stands in the foyer. But I don't hear anyone asking this question: “Have we turned the church into a market place?”—what Jesus called “a den of thieves”? (Matt. 21:13)
Jude warns that in the end times, there will be false teachers who “for pay, have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam.” Balaam's error was using his gift for monetary gain. Paul also warned of teachers who were seeking to make a profit from their ministry (Titus 1:11). I am by no means implying that everyone who sells a CD is a potential wolf in sheep's clothing.  But when our prophets are making big profits, and when shepherds are getting rich off the sheep, we have to ask: is this yet another sign of the times?


  1. Greg,

    I struggle with the same question about what constitutes a modern-day "den of thieves." I am also turned off occasionally by the Madison Avenue marketing techniques that have come into the churches.

    For me I have to make a conscious decision based upon evidence at hand which individuals and causes are worthy of my investment. Obviously for you, Joel Osteen would not qualify as a worthy cause. (By the way, how did he get your address?)

    I guess the old saying from Real Estate is true in this context as well: let the buyer beware!


  2. I received a glossy brochure in the mail a year ago from one of our popular radio ministries, raising money through a silent auction. One of the events that was being lauded was a weekend in Las Vegas. "Have they lost their minds", I thought!! I sent off a scolding note and asked them to take me off their mailing list.

    And, by the way, Yes, I am on Joel Osteen's mailing list. I like to keep in touch with what's going on!!