Lately, several people have made statements to me about the fact that we upload my weekly messages onto our website for free. The concern is that we ought to be selling those messages, rather than letting people listen to them for nothing. Why do you we it? Well, let me be clear that we do not do it because I feel that I am such an outstanding preaching. I am an average preacher who is striving to get better. I have some good weeks and some bad weeks, like every other preacher. Honestly, it is somewhat difficult to have my messages put out there each week. Sometimes I leave the pulpit and I feel really good about the message I just preached. Other weeks I leave the pulpit wishing that I would have been too sick to preach that day! Either way, the message is placed on the sight unedited. In fact, some weeks when I finish shaking hands and head toward my study, I pass by George’s office and he is already uploading the sermon. It’s a little unnerving. But it keeps me on my game. So why do we do it? We do it because we want to use every method possible to publish the word of God. And the technology of this age we are blessed to live in allows us to go into all the world without actually going anywhere. What a blessing! Our motives are as simple as that. Please, pray for us that we will take advantage of even more strategic opportunities to promote the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I bring this seemingly irrelevant subject up to make a point: It’s not about the dollar! I hope that people will find it refreshing to have access to our ministry resources without having a price attached to everything. I must admit, it bothers me that it seems everything in the church today is connected to money. I’m a fairly active web surfer. And it disappoints me that so many churches and preachers put connect everything they do to money. Unfortunately, this seems to be especially true among high-profile ministries that are predominantly African-American. Last week, I attended the Shepherds’ Conference here in Los Angeles, hosted by Dr. John MacArthur and the Grace Community Church. There were some 3,500 people in attendance. And they gave all of the registered attendees some 20 different books from major authors and publishers. Now, I don’t go to many other the big conferences. But of the ones I have been to, this is something totally foreign to me. Each week, as I have studied Psalm 119, I have benefited from the audio messages of Steve Lawson that I have been able to download onto my iPod. And also benefit from reading the sermon manuscripts of men like John Piper, Ray Pritchard, who place the manuscripts on the web for free. And consider that much of these men’s preaching becomes the material from which they write their books. You would think that this would be a good reason not to post their material. Apparently, it’s not. In fact, John Piper’s Desiring God Ministries encourages you to make copies of Piper’s messages, only asking that you do not make more than 1,000 copies at a time. And they even have a “whatever you can afford” policy, which allows you to get their resources even if you don’t have anything to pay.
Now, I am not suggesting that churches and ministries should give away all of their material for free. And I don’t think we should expect that or desire that. We ought to be willing to share and make an investment into the ministries that God uses to bless us. But I don’t like that so much of emphasis is placed on money. Now, we are in the works to make some of our material for sale on our site. But we will not be a church that has great big pictures of me on every thing we do. And we will not be a church that puts a price tag on everything. And we will not be a church that causes people to ask, “What is it going to cost me?” before we minister to them. I want us to be a church that is known for what we give, not for what we sell. And I hope that more preachers and churches will remember that we are to glorify God, preach Christ, and reach people. It’s not about the dollar!