Christians and Multi Level- Marketing

Multi-Level Marketing is a relatively new phenomen in the society but it spreads very quickly. Wikipedia enciclipedy defines this term:

Multi-level marketing (MLM), also known as Network Marketing is a business distribution model that allows a parent multi-level marketing company to market their products directly to consumers by means of relationship referral and direct selling. Independent unsalaried salespeople of multi-level marketing referred to as distributors represent the parent company and are rewarded a commission relative to the volume of product sold through each of their independent businesses (organizations). Distributors earn a commission based on the sales efforts of their organization, which includes their independent sale efforts as well as the leveraged sales efforts of their downline.

Christians’ opinion about MLM are divided

According to an online poll, when asked “Is it admissible for Christians to practice Multi-level Marketing?”, 34% said “Yes”, 6% couldn’t decide, and 58% replied definitely “No”. On the other hand, there are many Christians who work in this way and they want to know what the Word of God has to say in regard to this. I was motivated to write this article by a Christian who doubts concerning MLM. If one hasn’t yet got the thing I am talking about, you will surely understand it when I name some companies that sell their products using this method. They are: “AmWay”, “Oriflame”, “Mary Kay”, “Herbalife”, and other similar to these. So, Christians’ opinions are very divided and some came to the point to qualify Multi-level Marketing as a heresy.

The first experience that made me think

When I heard for the first time about MLM, I didn’t pay much attention and I didn’t try to enter into details. But, once I was in another country. There a pastor came to me who began to recommend a medical product to me and he was doing this very convincing. I bought that certain product, but he didn’t stop. At the next break he came with other products, then he came with a catalogue and made some very professional presentations. I began to dislike what he was doing because I thought that it was sufficient for me the product I had already bought and I didn’t need to see other products, because I hadn’t asked this. At the same time I realized I had never seen that pastor, though I had known him for more time, to share the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ with such passion and such professional. But he could have done it because he graduated the theological seminar.

A whole church has been affected

The next case happened in another country. A church had some probems and invited a young pastor to lead them. The pastor seemed very passionate and he was going on mission trips and tried to motivate people to this. But… After a while the pastor of this church began to work in a Multi-level Marketing and he even began to teach conferences in the whole country and to tell people how to do business. Instead of teaching the members of his church how to be true and good disciples of Christ, he was teaching them how to do business. I was sad to see how he used his gift of speech, which Christ had given him for other purposes than for that of sharing the Gospel. When he was told about this, that pastor replied that if he were only a pastor of the church, no one could give him 5000$ monthly. According to the Old Testament priests were not given land as inheritance so that they might not do business, but to answer to the need God had called them and to teach people the Law of God. The New Testament writes:

So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel. (1 Corinthians 9:14)(NASB)

How much is the Gospel shared?

When I found out that in our city there are many Christians implied in different MLM, and I invited them at a meeting where we put many questions to understand the truth about this business. When I asked them about the positive aspects of this kind of business, I was told that it offers many possibilities to share the Gospel with people. Then I asked how was that possible and how many times they shared the Gospel with people and how many came to God when they testified God through this business. All of us found out that there were no results in fact and the Gospel was shared only occasionally, but most time was used to advertise and to promote the product to sell it. Holy Scripture says: “his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart”. Then I talked about the importance of sharing the Gospel and some of them began to tell the Gospel and even to do Bible studies at every presentation of the products they were selling.

Discipleship that impedes discipleship

Multi-level marketing is based on a very strong institution. People are taught systematically at seminars, in small groups, and particularly how to make presentations, how to sell their product better. This principle is borrowed from Christianity and unfortunately, it is very seldom used in churches by Christians, when they have to study the Holy Scriptures, according to the great commission of Jesus Christ:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (The Gospel of Matthew 28:19–20)(NASB)

In the same church where the pastor began to practise this kind of business, before he came, people were very active in the gospel, were meeting at their houses and were studying the Bible, they were calling their friends, were going to different places to share the Gospel. Since that priest was enlured in that trap he took with him all other people. All spiritual activities were stopped or performed very seldom because Christians didn’t have time, they ran after potential clients the whole day. Here is what I reffered to when I said that Multi-Level Marketing, compared to other kind of business affects Christian discipleship badly.

The reasons of fall are people’s hearts

My opinion is that the reason when one, as the mentioned priest, falls in his spiritual life is not Multi-Level Marketing, but the love for money from people’s hearts. This makes many Christians depart from God and not live according to the Bible. Apostle Paul wrote in regard to this:

But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:9–10)(NASB)

The true problem of those who fell into thie snare is not the MLM, but love for money from their hearts. MLM was a bait for them, as business, leaving the country became baits for so many, more and more nowadays. The results are the same.

It would not be right to forget to mention some people who are implied in MLM, but they know the limits in business and are also very active at sharing the Gospel. When I asked them about their success in business, they told me they don’t have much success but they became members of that certain company only to buy cheaper the qualitative produces distributed there.

Let us pursue righeousness firstly

After Paul warned Timothy against the danger of love for money that threatens believers as priests, he said:

But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:11–12)(NASB)

The Lord Jesus said in His sermon on the mount:

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (The Gospel of Matthew 6:33)(NASB)

Translated by Felicia Djugostran