Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Business of Christianity

If I've never said it before on this blog, I am a Christian. I love Jesus with all my heart and the only reason I'm worth more than a puffed up bag of dirt is because of His sacrifice to save my crummy sinful self.

Recently my husband and I started going to Mars Hill in Bellevue. I've gone to two community group meetings and really have enjoyed all the women I've met there.

Spur of the moment one of the girls got an opportunity to do a Beth Moore study for the group. We're doing the book of Esther, so off I go to one of those Christian bookstores I usually avoid like the plague to get the workbook.

I avoid these stores because, quite frankly, they make a killing of a profit off of Christianity. Everything from the Prayer of Jabez cell phone holders to Thomas Kinkade rugs to puppy dog and Bible verse mouse pads, the store seems to take advantage of Christian ladies looking to Christianify their house (okay I'm being a bit sarcastic but you get my point).

Looking in the Bible Study section I couldn't find anything on Beth Moore, which I found odd. I know my mom has done and taught a lot of her studies and loves them. When I asked the sales clerk he waved his hand around the top of the walls and said, "Well she sort of lines our store." And indeed there were the booklets all around the top of the display cabinets all around the store. Then he led me to the "Beth Moore Wall."

"Wow," I said, reaching for the handbook on Esther.

Out of curiosity I glanced at the prices for the Leader Kit. Then my jaw dropped.


When I mentioned how shocked I was that the kit was so expensive to the clerk he replied, "Well, you DO get 6 DVDs, 1 Member Book, 1 Leader Guide and a DVD Promo Video."

I glanced at my $15 Member book which probably cost $3 to print and bind wholesale (the fact that most people in the world live on less than $2 a day flashing in my mind). The Leader Guide was hardly bigger than a pamphlet (actually its 11 x 17 paper folded and stapled). And what does it cost nowadays to burn and label a DVD? Maybe $2 with a nice label?

So what exactly does the $200 pay for?

For the filming and editing of the DVDs? She speaks on location from places like Washington DC or Jerusalem. Inspiring, I'm sure, but does the Word of God need to be taught on location to have an impact? And the introduction is filmed in something like a megachurch setting with a replica of the Oval Office behind her. The style of filming and editing is similar to what you would see from any video-equipped large church. Even a made-for-tv low budget film will still only run $15 or so.

Copyright laws. Okay, understandable in this day and age's obsession over owning what we came up with. I respect the fact that they've spent months or even years pouring over the Biblical text, immersing themselves in research and praying over their interpretation of the Word.

Looking casually at other Bible studies though, prices range from $4 to $30 a book. The Purpose Driven Life Bible study DVD only costs $7. Most other DVD Bible study series were usually $20 to $30. So why is THIS particular study, of which I've heard raving reviews, so darned expensive???

My conclusion is because this Bible study is for rich, predominantly white Americans. Its price tag precludes that. I know churches in Uganda or Romania or inner city churches in the US that could never spend that much on a Bible study because there are other things to pay for like the electricity bill or getting food to a single mother with 5 kids.

I am NOT saying Beth Moore or any other Biblical teacher/pastor/theologian not inspired by the Holy Spirit or are doing this for the money or anything like that.
Please don't misconstrue this as such.

Maybe the bone I have to pick is with the publishers.

I know my mom has grown through and loved the Beth Moore studies, and when I asked her why they were so expensive she understood my frustration.

As she told me, "That's when the richer churches to take the brunt of the cost to provide for other churches. There are some things we just have to swallow."

I wanted to yell that I didn't want to swallow that but couldn't because of the lump in my throat.

Like my mom says, "If you can make it through ministry with your relationship with Jesus intact, then you're a mature Christian."

What are your thoughts on the price to study the Bible?


  1. Haha! I love that last quote form your Mom. Priceless! Oh, and don't forget the Bible verse breath mints at the register either!
    I often wonder what action Jesus would take if he walked into a modern Christian bookstore?

  2. Yes, sometimes I wonder if it would look something like when He cleared out the temple...

  3. Thanks for writing this. There are many of us who feel the same way that you do, but keep our mouths shut for fear of offending the more "Godly" folk. :) I love Beth Moore and have also benefited from her studies, and still agree wholeheartedly with you.
    There's the same problem with textbook publishers in the schools, but that's a whole different soapbox.

  4. Hi Kait,

    I stumbled upon your blog from Keeper of the Home and just wanted to say that (in regards to Christian bookstores and overpriced items therein), man, you speak my language! I especially wonder how much people outside the Christian "bubble" are turned off by these things, when even those in the church can see how ridiculous is!

    Aaanyway, just wanted to tell you that I am enjoying perusing your blog this evening and have subscribed. I am inspired by all the different things you write about and am excited to see more. :) Thanks!


  5. tendres - thanks for the encouragement...I was kind of expecting a big backlash when I wrote this but its nice to hear I'm not the only one who does a double take on these things.

    Hi Elise - Glad you found me! I felt a little awkward writing that post because I know so many women who have loved Beth Moore's studies, but it was really just burning a hole in my brain and through my fingers and onto the keyboard.

    Congrats on your marriage! We're at 2 1/2 years and it gets better every day!