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Why We Do Not Charge Money for Audio and Video Online

          John Piper

                        http://www.desiringgod.org

 

We have placed our entire audio and video archive of John Piper’s Sunday sermons on our website so that you and others around the world can benefit from them free of charge. You can stream them, download them, copy them, and give them to others--—for free. We don’t just permit you to do it. We encourage you to do it!

Here’s why:

1. We Exist To Spread: Our mission is to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ. We could make more money if we sell the sermons. But we believe that over the years hundreds of thousands more people will listen to or watch these sermons if we don’t charge money for them. And since “faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17), if more people hear the word of Christ, then, Lord willing, more people will become more passionately in love with Christ

2. Serving the Saints: All over the world there are Christians who benefit from access to these sermons, but for whom payment is burdensome, risky, or impossible. Here are just a few examples of the innumerable ways this ministry can serve saints:

*                  A seminary student in Cameroon, Africa, where the average person makes $800 per year, being able to use a school computer with internet access to listen to sermons which he could not afford otherwise.

*                  Reducing the risk that a missionary in a Persian Gulf or Asian communist nation will be exposed to government internet monitors by eliminating the registration and financial transaction process.

*                  A bi-vocational pastor receiving regular spiritual nourishment and encouragement without further taxing his limited budget.

*                  A university student burning sermons to a CD and giving them to dorm mates.

*                  A seminary professor assigning students to listen to online sermons without burdening them with further costs.

*                  A missionary support team downloading hundreds of sermons onto CDs to send to their missionary family located in a remote area.

*                  An English-speaking Christian in Russia streaming sermons on Sunday afternoons as a means of increasing his or her theological education.

3. Removing Obstacles to the Gospel: Since spreading a passion for the all-satisfying Christ is our first and overwhelming aim, we look to the Apostle Paul’s example of how to remove obstacles to this goal. In 2 Corinthians 2:17 he says,

We are not, like so many, peddlers of God's word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.

In Paul’s day, as in ours, many used the Word of God as a means to profit financially. And as a result, they discredited the gospel and gave legitimate ministries a bad name.

Paul was zealous to distance himself not only from this motive, but also from the appearance of it. He was persuaded that appearances of peddling the gospel of free grace would put a stumbling block in the way of the gospel. It would make it harder for people to see the true nature of the message and the Savior. This is why he wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:6–7, 12:

Is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk? . . .  Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.

The issue for Paul was not what is rightfully permitted, but what was the most radically fruitful, as God helped him discern his situation.
Similar to Paul, we discern the Lord’s call on us to offer the preaching of the gospel without charge on the internet in order to remove obstacles. Here are some plausible examples:

*                  Imagine a Christian who, following the death of a family member, emails an online sermon to ten unbelieving relatives who would never listen to Christian radio, but might, in a time of grief, listen to one of John’s sermons on death or suffering with no more effort than a mouse click. One or two of them might browse the website, opening up a whole new world of connections for ministry.

*                  Or, imagine someone who would never pay to listen to a sermon or even attend a church, because of a negative past experience, listening to a free message online because a coworker recommended it--—and being converted!

It’s for countless possible scenarios like these that we are choosing not to charge money for our online sermons. When the Word of Christ came into the world, it came without cost to the hearers. Jesus said to his disciples when he sent them out to preach, “You received without paying; give without pay” (Matt. 10:8). That’s what we wish to do with these sermons.

How Will We Pay for Free Online Sermons?

It cost money for Paul to preach the gospel in Corinth. But he did not ask for money from the relatively wealthy Corinthians so that they wouldn’t stumble over any appearance of profiteering. Instead he trusted God to provide for his needs through the work of his own hands, as well as through the financial support of Christians in other cities who partnered with him in the spread of the gospel. We love his example.

In order to pay for the costs of sustaining our internet ministry, we have resolved to trust God to provide us with partners who believe in this mission and want to financially support it. And this work is continually expanding. We are regularly adding new sermons to the archive, as well as other messages such as narrative poems, seminars, event messages, biographies, and more. The cost of audio and video production as well as the cost of maintaining the site, purchasing server space, and buying bandwidth are constants. So we will let our needs be known to those who are interested and give friends an opportunity to join us in the incredible joy of reaching millions of people with the free Word of Christ.

Would you like to join us?

 

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