March 22, 2024

Commercializing Church

Written by Boyd Bailey

The gospel stands on its own; the power of God unto salvation needs no help.”

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – March 22, 2024

When the Passover Feast, celebrated each spring by the Jews, was about to take place, Jesus traveled up to Jerusalem. He found the Temple teeming with people selling cattle and sheep and doves. The loan sharks were also there in full strength. Jesus put together a whip out of strips of leather and chased them out of the Temple, stampeding the sheep and cattle, upending the tables of the loan sharks, spilling coins left and right. He told the dove merchants, “Get your things out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a shopping mall!” John 2:13-17, MSG

God’s anger ignites over the commercialization of His church. What do I mean by commercialization? Commercialization of the church means Christ’s preeminence is rivaled by a culture of money, marketing, entertainment, and diluting doctrine. A commercial focus on money is the modern-day version of building bigger barns in amassing more church assets, so debt financing starves dollars to missions at home and overseas. Monuments to our human egos have to break God’s heart. Also, seeking to market the gospel is a marvel to me. The gospel stands on its own; the power of God unto salvation needs no help. Yet, we feel like we have to entertain people so they will come back. Or are we tickling ears (as Paul warned) and trivializing the truth?  The historic church liturgy is the elevation of long-held doctrines that glorify God and lift up Jesus as the only way to God. Biblical preaching is the long game to grow us all in grace.

Jesus encountered this spirit of commercialism in God’s place of worship. As the Lord entered the Temple teeming with commercialism, His anger simmered and boiled over physically and emotionally, calling out the money-motivated leaders to move on and get out of God’s house. Stark, stunning, and sudden, our Savior does not suffer fools, nor does He stand by while His mission to seek and save the lost is mocked and His heart for the poor is substituted for amassed riches of earthly extravagance in place of seeking first the Kingdom of God. 

Let’s pause, take in a breath of grace, and exhale mercy. Bigger is not always bad. Pentecost, where 3,000 were saved and when Jesus fed 5,000, is good. But bigger becomes bad when we forget how God blessed us in the first place. He blesses His Son being lifted up and all being drawn to Jesus Christ. He blesses His Word being taught and obeyed. He blesses loving and giving to the poor, widows, and orphans. He blesses humble leaders, not the proud, whose egos become enamored with power and position. He blesses generosity that refreshes and is refreshed. God blesses the Body of Christ that cares for the Body of Christ. God blesses a church that exists as a place of worship and a house of prayer. When we drift from the heart of our suffering Savior, we grieve the Holy Spirit, and God’s blessing moves on, leaving a barren group of believers who once thrived in the Lord’s favor. But humility repents and seeks restoration.

So, we pray, Lord, what is my part to help your church not be co-opted by commercialism and instead flourish as Your Place of Worship and Your House of Prayer? Jesus went on to explain to those who were offended by His blunt rebuke, if you kill me, “tear down this temple, I will rebuild it in three days.” Our Lord’s words still ring true today. His resurrection power is the answer to our prayers for our churches to rest on God. Or, as Jesus told Peter, “My church is built on the confession of Me as your all-sufficient Savior and Lord, the gates of hell will not prevail.” The commercialization of the church is expiring, and Jesus is cleansing His bride for His glory!

“Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27, ESV).


Heavenly Father, humble my heart to approach you and your church in a sacred attitude of prayer and with a spirit of worship through Christ’s love, and in Jesus’ name, amen.


Consider serving on a committee at your church to influence the investment of resources in Kingdom initiatives like missions and Bible education.

Related Reading

2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 1:4; Revelation 2:1-7

Worship Resource

Victory Worship: Back to Your Heart


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