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Business Ventures as Church Advertising

September 20, 2004 by

Starting businesses, providing jobs, and generating an economic turn around for a depressed area of Portland: It’s advertising without advertising.

“People have lost faith in the church because the church isn’t showing them anything,” says Elbert Mondaine, the idea man behind Celebration Tabernacle’s economic empowerment plan that has ten Portland businesses in the works or up and running. “If the 12 churches in the one-and-a-half-mile radius of this place each started two or three businesses, we’d have it goin’ on.”

“The church is supposed to be the core of the community and responsible for at least a portion of social and economic development,” says Mondaine. “The church needs to be a place of empowerment.”

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Kevin D. Hendricks


When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998 and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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11 Responses to “Business Ventures as Church Advertising”

  • Tim
    September 20, 2004

    Seems to me that the Church’s primary task is outlined in the NT (worship, fellowship, discipleship, etc.)and everything else is conversation. Sure I think people should start business and empower people, but I’m not sure the Church is supposed to be involved at the organizational level in social and economic development. I’m for these things, but not as part of the Church’s role.


  • kevin
    September 20, 2004

    I can understand the skepticism, though looking at the New Testament I’d see a lot in Acts that looks similar to what’s happening with this church in Portland.
    Perhaps pastors don’t need to be involved in social and economic development, but someone in the church should be. I don’t know how the church in Acts could work very well if someone wasn’t tackling those issues.


  • brad
    September 20, 2004

    I tend to side with Tim on this one. I do not think the church should be involved in establishing businesses (or micro-businesses for that matter). The potential/gradual conflict of interest can really mess-up a well-intentioned idea. On the other hand, I do think establishing training and/or opportunities for businessmen or women in the church to use their giftings in this capacity are a must. East Bay Fellowship in Danville, Calif., is an excellent example of this. The senior pastor wanted a way for the businessmen in the church to get involved and apply their business smarts to “kingdom” purposes. The result was that a group of men (many were investors) established a foundation that invested money. They in turn used the earnings to buy housing for retired ministers in the church who could not have afforded otherwise.


  • Lake Neuron Bait Shop
    September 24, 2004

    I’ve just returned from a mission trip to a slum outside Nairobi, Kenya, where a big part of our work was helping teach cottage industry skills to people. The local church which invited us and which hosted the training is going to help set up a cooperative through which the people can make and sell their products. In that situation, we were providing assistance just as practical and necessary as if we’d been handing out bags of food or boxes of clothing.
    The pastor we worked with in Kenya is very sensitive to the possibility of abuse, and the co-op will be kept at arm’s length from the church as a result. But I think hard and fast rules on an issue like this could blind us to very practical, meaningful ways in which we can show Christian compassion to those in need.


  • antjuan tolbert
    September 11, 2005

    We need to look at the reasoning behind why Mondaine wanted to empower people. He is right the “CHURCH” of today isn’t doing anything for the people besides taking there money and building stadiums that seat 15,000+. So let’s really be sober here and think on who really benifits on these Community based establishments. Mondaine is simply saying that the “CHURCH” needs to get off of it’s a$$ and do something. To take back or in this case re-establish what the church had been doing for years. Who do you think where some the first to establish schools, hospitals, and whatever else. If the Jews can take care of their own and the so called colts of our time can take care of their own, then what’s so wrong with empowering the community that surrounds a local church? Remember I said; E m p o w e r i n g T h e C o m m u n i t y!


  • Mike S.
    April 8, 2007

    Didn’t Jesus cleanse the church of sellers, vendors, and money exchangers. Whether it was for the wealth of a single vendor or the wealth of the church. Im pretty sure Jesus rebuked both. Matt. 21:12


  • Benjamin
    June 10, 2007

    I am a web designer/webmaster and I have been commissioned to do a site for a group that is a non-profit organization that provides consultation services to churches and communities on how to use the church as a center of a community to build economic and social empowerment.
    At this point we are going about developing a strategy to take this idea to the average church goer and pastors too.
    On the one hand the main thing that is so difficult is that people seem to perceive the church as a haven from the world of constant advertising. To take this into their religious lives is to some blasphemy.
    On the other hand there is real economic value in the congregation and this economic value can be leveraged to help the communty.
    Both point so view are valid and rightfully skeptical of each other. However, I don’t think it is nearly as black and white of an issue as what Matt pointed out. In that case Jesus was angry at the abuse of the church by the money lenders. Taking advantage of theological belief and trust to make money was what he was pissed off at.
    Do I think Jesus is compatible with a business man? Certainly. I think Jesus works with Business men every day. At the end of the day I am pretty sure that it comes down to whether or not the pratice of business takes away from the focus on the Father which the church is supposed to provide.
    I think it is fine to sponsor church events, advertise for local church sponsored businesses and such while people are filing in and out or sitting waiting for the service to start or with pamphlets that are handed out to the congregation.
    While I get the point of crossing the line I also understand the world we live in. After all, Jesus did say “Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves…” I am praying that He shows my heart what to do about this situation.
    I know only one thing and that is that in the olden days the church was the bastion of the people and provided all kinds of goods and services to the community that the greedy leaders would not give to the people. In fact without that kind of support I dare say that community would have failed.
    In our day and time communities are failing left and right and drugs and prostitution and violence are once again filling our streets. The degredation of the moral values of this country is staggering to behold. So if it takes economic empowerment to get people away from drugs and gangs then I say so be it. Like James said to Paul, “They have always had moses taught in the synagogues” let them refrain from this and that and go their way.” So to the this and that would be stepping over the line and commercializing God. That would be sickening to behold, just as sickening as the crusader who does what he does to fill his belly with food instead existing to fill men’s souls with Christ.


  • Gene Mason
    October 30, 2007

    Well, my thinking on this issue has changed recently. I would have said a while back that the church and businesses should never mix.
    However, I have seen recently opportunities abroad–especially in Africa and Asia, to use micro-businesses as an entry-way to boost people’s economic status. When they are trained to create their own financial resources, it gives us an in-road to share the Gospel. No different than feeding them or any other kind of humanitarian aid.
    Now, business for the sake of marketing the church in the North American culture? Not sure I’m for that, given the freedom and wealth already present in our economy. However, anything that helps us minister to the inner-city or economically downtrodden people I think is worth consideration.
    Like anything else, I think there’s a balance here. The question to ask really is not whether the marketing avenue or the business itself is effective, but rather, is the exercise in and of itself and within the context of the entire ministry of the church glorifying Christ?


  • Peter Troskie
    March 23, 2009

    I am a businessman living in South Africa, attending a church with approximatly 15000 members. Like most of you I never envisaged church and business side by side but a while ago God spoke to me to start Business By The Book and to run it along side the church. We started the first course last year and this year we are presently running 4 courses, totalling 38 businessmen. As the businessmen are comming together we can see there is such a hunger in these men and women to line their companies up with the Word of God. In our future courses our aim is to reserve one seat for people who are wanting to start up a business but just have not taken the plunge due to lack of knowledge or know how. These people will then be mentored by the experienced businessmen in the group who will speak into their lives and help them get their new business up and going in the right direction. We as the church have failed in this area as we have not looked after the businessperson. Can you imagine the impact the church would have in the Kingdom of God if we could raise up 100 new busineses and get them to start doing business God’s way. We have so many business people in the church who have years of experiance and a wealth of knowledge but are not using it to mentor and help God’s business leaders of tomorrow. It is time for a change, here we are sitting playing church while God is loosing His creation. It is time for the businessmen to come together and work by raising up other businessmen and woman who will do business by the Book. We are at present looking to establish Business groups that meet once a week (after they have done Business by the Book) that will hold each other accountable and speak into each other’s lives. Church and business have to run together. May God open our eyes to see how we are to mesh church and business so we can fulfill the dream in His heart which is the lost getting saved. Trust this has been of assistance to you.


  • I think it is best to understand what the church is to best understand this topic. While the church may be an organization it is also individual people. God gives us all our own tasks. He places some as priests and some as kings. If we look at the old testament we find the Levites were not to have possessions other than what was given by God (through the offering).
    However if no one else was working no one could bring an offering. I think if we consider the church as only an organization run much like a business we will fail at understanding it’s main and only mission…lift Christ up for all to follow!
    If we consider each member as individuals who contribute what they have it becomes different. It becomes individual businesses and not “owned” by the “church”.
    The church should be a very real support to people in helping them follow the plan God has for them (which may be to start a business). But the church as a whole may loose focus by creating businesses owned by the “church” organization.
    I dread the day when I see people buying stocks in the church and then when stocks fall they leave!
    But this of course is just a personal opinion.


  • ChrisJ
    February 25, 2013

    I think it is important to address two basic premises in the arguments for or against business in or by the Church.
    The first is the idea that the organizations and building that we call the “Church” here in the west are a replacement or substitute for the Hebrew Temple or Tabernacle.
    For me, anyway, it is quite clear that this is not the case, the Holy of Holies was rent open on Jesus’ completed work. It ceased to exist as a geographical place on that day. The temple, or the dwelling place of God, “God’s House”, was reestablished, through the Holy Spirit, in the hearts of those that believe on, and call the Son, Lord.
    Secondly, is the idea Jesus drove out the money changers because he was opposed to selling or business in the Temple. He clearly called them a “DEN OF THIEVES”, not business people or merchants. It is would seem that his concern was for the dishonesty, extortion, and corruption in the practices of the money-changers and how that reputation for thievery was attaching itself to God through it’s proximity and association with God’s House.

    As a practical matter, to “drive” business out of the Church, reinforced the “Sacred/Secular” false dichotomy that has so crippled the modern Church. The idea that there is a specially, Holier Place – that we should act differently in the Big White Building than we do outside of it – is broken and a key point in the enemy’s plan to drive the Body into hiding and separating itself from the world. We where sent into the world with the mission of filling it with God’s Glory not to hide from it. Not that we should act like the world when we gather as the Body and celebrate Christ, but neither should we be inconsistent in our expectation of people (or ourselves) whether we are leading worship or selling a car.

    I am also not convinced that the argument that the risk of corruption, greed, or self interest entering the Church through business hold much water for two reasons – One, it is clear from the headlines that business is not needed to do that. Greed and self-interest are character flaws (read that “sin”) in the lived some of leaders, whether or not there is opportunity. Money doesn’t cause sin, but it can expose it.
    Also, again, it is hypocritical for us as leaders to teach that business people should take the risk to express holiness, righteousness, justice, compassion, and grace in their businesses, than say it is not possible to do so once they set foot inside The Big White Building.
    By example: God’s sovereignty blessed our congregation with a campus that includes several large warehouses. We have used them for job training, storing the possessions of the recently homeless, and hosting fund raisers, but we also rent space for boats, motor homes, and several small businesses, the income from which pays for the facility costs of the rest of the campus.
    It is possible that, if the character flaw of greed or love of money was in the leaders here, we could have conflicts with our mission of reaching this area for Christ, but instead, we purpose to keep each other accountable to Godly principles when running this business. Just what we would teach to and expect from our business oriented congregants.



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