The rise of paywalls in the secular world has eased its way into Christian circles, raising important questions such as:
- “Should Christian leaders and influencers price essential spiritual instruction behind a paywall?”
- “Should Christians charge other Christians for their expertise?”
While it is true that those who dedicate their lives to sharing God’s word and helping others with spiritual issues do deserve payment for their efforts, profit should never be put first.
Why do I say this?
Firstly, one of Christ’s key messages was to serve others (Mark 10:45) and seek the kingdom first (Matthew 6:33).
Secondly, we are called to use our gifts not only to benefit ourselves but also as a means to glorify God and help build His kingdom (1 Peter 4:10-11).
Brethren, we have a responsibility to seek profits in a responsible manner – but not to the point of monetizing salvation or making it inaccessible.
2 Corinthians 2:17, “Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.”
Ready? Let’s go!
A paywall is a system used to restrict access to certain online content or services. Paywalls are widely used across the internet for both personal and professional purposes. They are often found in business websites, newspapers, and, with the goal of providing revenue from and other sources.
Generally, individuals have to pay a fee in order to access content behind the paywall, though some sites may offer limited free access for a period of time.
For example, The New York Times uses a “metered paywall” that allows users to share/read 10 articles per month before being required to sign up for a subscription. Other sites, such as Netflix and Hulu, offer tiered subscriptions with different levels of content available at each level.
Paywalls can also be used to protect personal or confidential information. For instance, individuals may use a paywall for their social media accounts or other personal content they do not want made available to the public, i.e., via Patreon, etc.
The inspiration for this post
Note: Portions of this section are paraphrased to truncate her story…
I want to share a brief story of a Christian influencer, Angela, who removed a $5 paywall membership from her ministry model.
A bit about her background: She was a former new age believer, but is now saved by grace through Jesus Christ.
After her transformation, Angela dedicated her time to spreading God’s Word and teaching what she learned. She started to witness on large platforms about the dangers of the New Age.❤️
In a recent video posted on YouTube, she apologized for putting up a paywall for something that had been freely given to her — God’s salvation and love.
She felt remorseful for charging money when it shouldn’t be required of people seeking spiritual guidance or knowledge from the Bible.
Angela admitted that while she believed she had been called to full-time ministry, she perhaps tried to hasten the process with her own flesh. She went on to explain that after prayer and reflection, she realized it wasn’t God’s will for her to charge people for knowledge of His word.
Although Angela had good intentions — wanting to provide quality content while paying bills — she believes she chose a way that wasn’t aligned with God’s will.
I totally applaud her honesty and humility.
My takeaway from her video is that this world of paywalls and ministry isn’t a one size fits all; we must always rest in the secret place to understand what God wants to do in our purpose journey!
Please watch the video👇🏾 after reading the entire post ❤️.
In 2010, my friends introduced me to a ministry that was providing all their material for free. In fact, I was actually went for a free conference in Northern Virginia that was provided courtesy of this man of God. They provided access to materials, books, and more – all at no charge.
At this point in my life, I was pretty confused about certain concepts in the Bible. I was also ambivalent about certain things and decisions in my Christian walk. (I briefly spoke about this in my testimony video.) Honestly, I didn’t have had the heart to pay for anything, especially if I was unsure it would work.
On my long D.C. commute, I would hit play, listen to a free sermon, and then reflect on the message. Over the next few months, it was rinse and repeat as I worked through key theological concepts I was confused about.
Now here’s the thing….this ministry didn’t have a paywall. It meant that anyone who was interested in learning about Christianity and spiritual development could access their services and resources without having to worry about the cost.
Then something clicked…
A few months later, I got out of my spiritual rut and had a spiritual awakening of sorts.
The spiritual development and key concepts translated into my professional career. It also shaped my character and I began to soar. Yep, I finally understood and operationalized the Bible through the free teachings.
Since then, I’ve become an avid supporter and financial partner of this ministry. Over the years, I’ve given away free copies of their books whenever possible.
Here is what I firmly believe: nobody should ever be charged for knowing how to get saved; it is an invaluable resource that can change lives around the world.
Another thing- nobody should be charged for any minimum available FREE information! I would consider this essential knowledge that could utterly change someone’s life. If someone ever created a paid course or printable on “How to get saved” (never seen one, LOL), that would be shameful.
The ministry I encountered is proof that making faith freely accessible can go a long way in helping spread the gospel to those who need it.
P.S. The man of God clearly stated that his peers thought he was “crazy” to give away his material. But he felt that it was something the Lord impressed in his heart. This ultimately became an ingredient that catapulted his ministry into a new growth dimension.
If you have the following questions in your mind:
- Is God really calling me to charge for my expertise?
- How much should I charge?
- When should I introduce a paywall into my ministry model?
Then read the following 16 tips that I’ve outlined below.
I believe that by applying these principles and seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Christians can ensure that their decisions about charging or putting up a paywall serve both their mission and honor God’s Word.
Ultimately, by relying on Him during this process we can make sure that any move regarding regarding a pay is in line with His will.
1. Understand we don’t have a free license to misuse gifts:
We’ve all heard the saying “Your gift will make room for you” in Proverbs 18:16 KJV, a motivator to help many reach their full potential. But this doesn’t give us license to misuse our gifts or use them without discretion.
1 Timothy 5:17–18 states, “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.”
Isn’t that powerful that elders with the gift of teaching should be paid in “double honor”? Many scholars have stated that this implies not only respect but also some kind of financial reward.
The key here is “worthy” of double honor. So this means we aren’t charging for mediocre work. In our kingdom work, let’s strive to pursue excellence always!
2. Don’t be dependent:
God also doesn’t want us to be overly dependent on others, see 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 (NIV) .
In Romans 13:8, it also tells us not to be burdened by debt, except the continuing debt to love one another.
I believe these two verses don’t mean stifling the spread of the gospel, but it does mean using discernment when deciding whether to freely give our gifts, or charge a fee for them.
By doing so, we will not be in a situation where we are burdened in debt and completely financially dependent on others!
3. Don’t cast your pearls to swine:
We must also be mindful not to give valuable things to people who will not appreciate them, as stated in Matthew 7:6.
P.S. I wrote a super awesome blog post on this topic! I’ve attached the link at the end of this blog post.
4. Balance and discernment:
At the end of the day, it is crucial to use balance and discernment when using our gifting.
We should never forget that God wants us to work and not be dependent on others, but at times He may lead us to freely give or even charge for services – as long as it is done with a spirit of discernment.
Following God’s will in this area can help us maximize the potential of our giftings and ensure that we are not taking advantage of others along the way.
5. Seek Guidance from the Holy Spirit:
When contemplating a paywall, it is essential to seek guidance from the Holy Spirit to ensure that we make decisions that honor God and not our own selfish desires.
6. Use Discernment:
As stated earlier, it’s important for Christians to use discernment when exploring charging or putting up a paywall.
I’ve written a very detailed blog post on this as well.
7. Understand Your Motivation:
When considering a paywall, it is important to take a hard look at why we are doing this.
Are we trying to generate income so that we can provide more resources for those in need or do we simply want more money for ourselves?
In Luke 12:15 Jesus tells us to “be on your guard against all kinds of greed,” so an honest assessment of our motivations can help us stay true to God’s Word.
8. Know Your Audience:
Knowing who is likely to access the content behind the paywall is also key when setting up a paywall.
Please let’s ensure that what we provide is accessible to the people connected to our purpose.
9. Consider Alternatives:
Before putting up a paywall, it can be helpful to consider other options such as donations or subscriptions without fees.
To encourage you…Philippians 4:19 reminds us that God will provide for our needs.
I believe that God may lead some people to fully rely on His provision as they walk a faith journey. From my experience, God will miraculously multiply their efforts and income due to their dependence on Him and not man!
10. Pray for Wisdom:
Finally, when exploring a paywall, it is important to pray for wisdom and ask God to guide our decisions so that they honor Him.
James 1:5 reminds us that if “any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach,” so we should not be afraid to seek out His guidance as we make this decision.
11. Please Don’t Take Advantage of People:
Christians need to remember not to take advantage of people and charge exorbitant fees when setting up a paywall.
Luke 3:14 reminds us, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.” so it is important to keep this in mind when pricing content behind the paywall.
I also find 1 Timothy 6:10 relevant, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
Brethren, let’s be careful not to take advantage of people because of greed!
12. Follow Through on Promises:
It can also be helpful to think about how we are going to follow through on our promises when setting up a paywall.
Don’t promise a whole load of stuff only to rescind every last thing. This is simply awful.
1 John 2:5-6 teaches us that “But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” so making sure that our promises are fulfilled can help demonstrate a true love for God.
13. Think outside the box:
As Christians, we should also strive to think outside the box when setting up a paywall.
Matthew 19:26 reminds us that “with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible,” so it can be helpful to ask for His guidance in order to come up with unique and creative solutions.
This could include offering discounts or free access for certain readers, or coming up with new ways of monetizing content without putting up a paywall.
By thinking outside the box, we can ensure that our decisions honor God’s will and serve our mission as intended.
14. Consider the Impact:
When setting up a paywall, it is essential to take into account how this will impact our readers and other people in our community.
Matthew 5:16 reminds us, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven,” so it should be reconsidered if the move to a paywall does not bring glory to God.
15. Seek wise counsel:
Gather input from trusted individuals in your life who have spiritual maturity and good business acumen.
Proverbs 15:22 says, “Without counsel, plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.”
16. Remember your mission:
Ultimately, your mission is to bring glory to God and make His word known throughout the world no matter what form or cost it takes.
And that’s it, folks, my answer to “Should Christian Leaders and Influencers Hide Behind a Paywall?”
I hope this message blessed you!
Here is my Key Takeaway: Understanding God’s will is paramount when it comes to using our gifts. I believe that we walk a delicate balance between freely giving, charging where necessary, and not taking advantage of anyone else in the process.
With wisdom and discernment, we can use our gifts to serve and bless others while still respecting the boundaries set forth in scripture.
In other words- before charging for our spiritual gifts, we should pray and ask God if it is His will…Only then can we confidently pursue profit-seeking endeavors as long as they don’t undermine our mission to serve others.
Other related blog posts that you’ll totally love: