So I was reading the story of Jesus turning over the tables in the temple today. Here is the account from John 2:13-16:
13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.
I immediately thought about the practice of bands selling merchandise (or “merch” as it has so often been called). In the four years that I was in a band we played many churches. On several occasions we set up our merch table (where you could buy t-shirts, CD’s, or buttons) in the sanctuary where we were playing. This was a common practice for playing at music venues. If we played in a bar, we would sell merch in the same room that we played in. We didn’t think twice about it.
I have thought about this once or twice in the past, but I always repressed it because I was in a band that needed to make money. Now that I’m not… I’ll go ahead and address it (coward).
The idea of selling ANYTHING in a place of worship makes me really uncomfortable. Even if a band is in full-time ministry and the money goes to support that, it still seems super sketchy. Jesus said in verse 16 “Do not make my Father’s house a house of trade”. That seems to spell it out rather clearly. As followers of Christ, we probably shouldn’t have allowed the selling of products in the churches we played. We should have at least taken our merch tables out into the lobby.
Now this brings up another question for me… what about taking up an offering?
I know that in all purposes, an offering is different than buying and selling. We are not purchasing anything with our tithes (especially not salvation or favor). But is it unethical to take up an offering (which is technically the exchange of funds) within the sanctuary? Should we take it outside? Just a thought.