Should a Christian Do MLM or Network Marketing?
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Should Christians Do MLM?

Posted by danieljkoren on March 31, 2011 in Viewpoints |

“I am so excited about this opportunity.”

“We are going to change the world.”

“I have such good news to share with you, when can we get together and talk?”

What we should be saying about God’s kingdom

Believers use some of the same phrases to talk about network marketing as they do about salvation. Too many Christians find more liberty to talk to their friends and neighbors about making money than about Jesus.

New converts who are part of a church often will join the wave of network marketing because they want to be a part of the “in group.” Unfortunately, 97% of people who join these deals get left out of making money. So, if you sign up ten new converts in your deal, nine of them will be disappointed. Since they learned about your MLM program at church, this failure could taint how they see God’s kingdom.

Do you really want to offend new believers? About such a person, Jesus said, “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones” (Luke 17:2).

Network marketing, multi-level marketing (MLM), and direct sales programs are all about money. If you really wanted to help people, you would give them money. If you are wanting to make yourself rich, you will convince everyone else that they will get rich with you so they will join your heap (or pyramid) and make you lots of money.

When the Kingdom crosses with cash

I visited a church once where I heard the pastor’s wife and another lady in the fellowship talking. The minister’s wife said, “Boy, we sure had a lot of people show up at the meeting last night!”

“I know,” the other dear sister said, “five more joined last night.”

“This is so wonderful,” the pastor’s wife responded dreamily. Then with a laugh she said, “Pretty soon, there will be more people at the opportunity meeting than come on Sunday morning.”

Jesus threw out the marketers

You should not market products or make money at church. If Jesus came to some churches, He just might throw all these MLMer groups out the door with their charts and presentation packets. He would turn the pyramids upside down and turn the occasion into a prayer and healing opportunity meeting.

Instead of selling a miracle product He would just work some Himself. Perhaps the fact that so many Christians turn to miracle products is an indication of our powerlessness in prayer, fasting, and obedience to the Lord.

My MLM addiction and recovery

I got into a vitamin deal and made hundreds of dollars. Then I got into another deal in telecommunications where I made thousands of dollars. Then I jumped into the best deal on the planet and made enough to live on it for a while.

Then God began to deal with my greedy heart.

I got so caught up in building my heap that I forgot to care about winning souls. I found myself taking advantage of brothers and sisters by talking them into joining so I could get qualified for the next level. I started out thinking I was going to help everyone get rich, but eventually I found the system was working me.

When I finally humbled myself, I went back and repaid those who had spent hundreds of dollars to join me. I never promised them anything, but I felt that since they came into the deal on my recommendation, I should do the right thing.

Here’s the story of a conman who would have done MLM if he had the opportunity. When he met Jesus, I think the story would have been the same:

Jesus went on into Jericho and was passing through. There was a chief tax collector there named Zacchaeus, who was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but he was a little man and could not see Jesus because of the crowd. So he ran ahead of the crowd and climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus, who was going to pass that way.

When Jesus came to that place, he looked up and said to Zacchaeus, “Hurry down, Zacchaeus, because I must stay in your house today.”

Zacchaeus hurried down and welcomed him with great joy.

All the people who saw it started grumbling, “This man has gone as a guest to the home of a sinner!”

Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Listen, sir! I will give half my belongings to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will pay back four times as much.”

Jesus said to him, “Salvation has come to this house today, for this man, also, is a descendant of Abraham.”

(Luke 19:1-9, GNB)

How to make money

If you are going to put effort into something, start your own business. You will work just as hard at network marketing or MLM opportunities as you will for any other business. And there is no such thing as residual income. You might profit off MLM for a couple years, but eventually people will find a better product or move on to the next deal and you will be left starting over again.

Get an education, develop a skill, or study wise ways of investing your money. Why put yourself at the mercy of a corporation that could dissolve with one lawsuit? Why should you try to profit by getting people to spend $200, $400, or $600 on a business and products that are over-hyped? Keep your friends as friends and do not manipulate them into joining your deal.

I think it is fine for wise Christians to turn a decent profit. However, we should never extort or overcharge people for goods or services. We all need money, and if you have any to throw away, I will be the first to hold out a wastebasket. MLM and network marketing, however, are some of the biggest trash cans of all, not just for your money but also for your relationships. These programs can segregate churches between those who are in the deal and those who are out. Worst of all, they distract believers from the greatest opportunity on earth.

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66 Comments

  • Elliott says:

    Hi. I’ve read your article and I thank you for answering the question on my heart. What you have said is true. Even if I were a strong Christian and relied mostly on faith, I would still require people to join me paying a sum of money in order to benefit myself. Yes, it seems easier these days to ask someone to invest in something that can create a tangible earthly fortune rather than a supernatural heavenly treasure.

    As Matthew 6:20 (NCV) says, “But store your treasures in heaven where they cannot be destroyed by moths or rust and where thieves cannot break in and steal them.”

  • Jay says:

    thanks dude.. once i was persuaded by my close friend to join this kind of business.. at first i dont even know what is this, he didnt say words such as MLM.. not having any knowledge at all, i decided to join and invest a bit of my money.. as time passed by, i feel like im doing it wrong.. (well, im included as that 97% of people who doesnt earn their money back). but i have learned a lot of things from this life event.. i come back and realize, where my treasure is, and where my heart belongs.. i feel blessed by your writing.. Jesus Christ bless you.. – from Indonesia..

  • Allen says:

    I came across your article on google and I agree with you. You can lose focus and think it is all about you I joined an MLM about 2 years ago, and some of the conflicts I had was about getting people to invest THEIR money into a business with no guarantees. We know nothing is guaranteed in this world, you said some really alarming things like the Pastors wife conversation that is disturbing. In January I was about to quit the business when God arrested me. I know sow into others and their team members to get into the business make some money and follow the design God has for them. This is my first time on your page but I will be back good writing.
    BE BLESSED!

  • Kevin says:

    MLM is no different from ANY Business… EXCEPT:

    It tends to emphasize, ‘Brings to the forefront’, exaggerates all our weaknesses toward MONEY which i believe allows us to learn and grow much faster than when our weaknesses may be hidden and never really surface in a traditional business.

    Yes by all means do NOT get involved if the lure of money overwhelms you. Again it brings to the forefront the persons TRUE intentions and relationship with money. Like in any endeavour we should pray to God through Jesus for courage and strength.. we cannot do anything without His help

    I have grown as a Christian because of the weaknesses that MLM brought into the open. I was able to eliminate many of my un-Godly habits and thoughts because of this wonderful industry, These habits may have been hidden for a long time if it were’nt for this industry.

    It is NOT MLM that is the problem it is the mind of the person. It is NOT Money that is the problem it is the attitude toward money.

    MLM is a beautiful industry and helps so many people grow and learn.

    It is always and will always be ONLY about Jesus…

    If everyone would just look to Jesus in EVERY action and dealings we would have no problem.. That is the REAL Issue!!

    Bless and Be Blessed

    • danieljkoren says:

      Thank you for your insight!

    • true.reflections says:

      Definitely agree with you on this. I believe it is possible to do MLM and be a giver just like you would in Corporate America. It all starts with the attitude of the heart. If we put Jesus first and others come to join the team, there’s an opportunity to lead by example for them. What would your partners say about you? Would they see you living a life that glorifies God or would they see you as a person with a selfish heart? I believe its all about being at peace with a company. All MLM do not charge to be apart of the company, but paying for resources shouldn’t be a biggie because that’s what Business owners do when running a company… pay for marketing material. I just pray we all conduct a heart check and ask God where do we belong according to His will and not our own.

  • A young christian says:

    HI, so is it wrong to be in a MLM for a christian. Supposedly the christian nv do this kind of thing in church and draw the line between his earthly work and God’s work clearly. Is it still wrong.

  • RW says:

    I’ve been an observer of a couple of die hard “Christian” MLMers for over 20 years. They’ve hopped through 7-9 MLMs and every single one of them was greed based… Christians should stay far away – it is like knitting in a house of prostitution… You aren’t necessarily doing anything “wrong”, but you aren’t doing anything for the kingdom either… You can’t serve two masters and MLM will want to be your god.

  • Esdras Uriel says:

    I found this article to be a breath of fresh air. So many people I know nowadays are into this type of business and all they do is talk about how “God intended us to be wealthy”. That is a severe misconception of the Word of God. People from my church come to me with their business proposals saying: “You are God’s children, you are to live a great life, have financial independence and be one of the King’s princes”. How did Christ live? He said he did not have a pillow where to lay his head. What was Satan’s temptation? Praise me and I will give you all the kingdoms of earth. Thank you for sharing this, for speaking out in the name of the Truth.

  • Joyce says:

    I nearly joined an MLM. God wanted me to read this article.
    God has blessed me with health, a home and great family.
    God will bless my business without MLM.

  • VA says:

    I’m not sure I agree 100% with all comments in here. I’m also a Christian, and for the first time in my life I’ve started an MLM opportunity and I gave a lot of thought to it before I joined. However, the reason I joined was that unlike all others, where one would actually get their money by making others spend money (often more than they would at a Retail store), change buying habits, etc… the one I joined is a result of the federal government-mandated deregulation of energy – Our company offers a utility service (electricity and natural gas), service that people has to have, they use it habitually and pay for it unconsciously every month. And without changing their habits of getting their service or how they pay for it, we actually, and legitimately offer the same service for a guaranteed rate less than the former monopoly. Obviously, as a Christian, if my potential customers (family and friends) wouldn’t have a legitimate benefit, I wouldn’t dare offering them. So I started 23 months ago, with only 20 customers directly sponsored, I get my energy supply for free, and the team that developed more than 1050 customers as of today. ALL of them are happy with the service, the savings, and many of them are also getting their energy for free. How could I not be proud to offer this kind of service from a company who’s vision is based on Integrity?! Never sacrifice Integrity for growth is their motto. More than 1 million customers in 6.5 years, more than $1B in revenue and A+ rating with BBB…. Our pastor studied the opportunity with me before I started sharing with our members, and vouched for me. Now my church not only is my customers, but our relationship got even better, because they know where to go if they have questions about saving on their energy bill! I praise God everyday for the opportunity that allows me to have a decent extra income by legitimately helping others.

  • Leah says:

    I would be interested in the opportunity as well with the energy. I never talk business as church unless someone asks me about my vinyls. I am involved in AmeriPlan USA and it’s an awesome company, but with Obama “care” it’s become difficult to work now. I hope there is a post about this other company soon. Thank you for your article as well Daniel.

    • danieljkoren says:

      I have asked the person who posted about the energy company to tell us more. Unfortunately, it seems no one wants to tell the details of what it costs to get in. If a friend recommended a way to save money on a product, would they try to control your decision and hide details? Network marketing changes a person so that he or she pushes something for personal benefit, not for others’.

  • Just say NO! says:

    Against my better judgement, I was duped into joining an MLM by a “Christian” who told me that she prayed about it every night and that God blessed us with this. I was made to feel special and was told “welcome to the family”. That was one of many red flags. I thought we were already “family”. I found myself looking at every person I came in contact with, including family and friends, as prospects. I was becoming what I knew I despised. I was told not to research or believe the negative press about MLM and I listened, for a while. I knew that the products were overpriced and that didn’t sit well with me. I observed the changes in this lady that signed me up and it was creepy. I didn’t want to be like her. I then did my research and my suspicions were confirmed. The MLM system requires the exploitation of those who will fail with certainty and lose financially. Why would I do that to friends, family, others and myself included? I immediately made phone calls to my “customers” (family and friends) and quickly discovered that none of them were happy with their purchases but only agreed to because of their love for me. I happily took all products back from 10 customers, phoned in for each of them, obtained their RMA numbers, and shipped all products back myself. They received refunds and were so grateful that I called them. The rectification of the wrong was truly rewarding. Admitting fault to friends and family was humbling. I returned all my own products and cancelled my distributor agreement. I was only involved for 3 weeks and had amassed $4,500 in product for the MLM plus countless hours on the phone. I lost $1500 in deposits, cancellation fees and shipping charges and money I personally refunded for products that could not be taken back. That is what I call cutting losses and correcting a wrong. An expensive lesson learned, I feel blessed that my eyes were opened and was able to have gotten out early enough to prevent further financial loss for all involved. Millions of others involved in MLM are not so fortunate. Homes, careers, relationships and friends are just a few of the many casualties of involvement with MLM. Now my life and family can enjoy each other and we are all aware of the predatory MLM. I’m so grateful and fortunate that my relationships with the people I care about remain intact. I know who my real friends and family are. Needless to say, the “friend” that signed me up no longer wants anything to do with me and sent me a letter telling me that I am no longer allowed to step foot in her businesss. If this was indeed my own personal business, then I should be able to choose what to do with it. If I choose to shut it down, that is my prerogative. Some people just have to learn the very hard way.Thank you for this great article.

    • danieljkoren says:

      Thanks for sharing your story!

    • Pat says:

      Thank you for your comments; you have covered many aspects of how I personally see MLM companies, in most cases, to be a devious way of doing business. In my research the financial disclosures of most companies show a very disproportionate share of profit going to a select few. One might say, well, don’t all corporations operate this way? Most people at the bottom of a corporation agree on a rate of pay and they receive it on a regular basis. With MLM there are too many statistics that tell of too many people coming out in the “red” after putting much time, effort and money into these companies hoping for the “carrot at the top” that the early “takers” have obtained. I would think that a fair and reputable business would benefit those who work the hardest at selling the product (not those camping on the phone or having lunches out recruiting or those at the beginning of the race to the top of the pyramid).

      All the products I have purchased from these types of companies are overpriced compared to the general market offerings. I believe these companies make their products “proprietary” as a trick on consumers to hide their greedy intentions.

      I had a very close friend recently try and recruit me. Since I turned the offer down, our relationship has not been the same. I now wonder if it ever will be.

      I applaud your example of restitution, when you realized the harm taking place. I believe you exemplified the courage of a true Christian in admitting the harm done, mitigating the damages and restoring your relationships.

      My advice to anyone considering this type of business would be to ask themselves if they are willing to risk losing/straining their relationships in trade for the (illusory) promise of monetary gain. They should also rate their level of financial desperation to see if they feel tempted to “get rich quick.”

      Bless everyone who is brave enough to consider these issues wisely before making a final decision. May they have the courage to take a stand for themselves, their close friends and family, their community and God.

  • Brandon Braggs says:

    This site hits a lot of things right on the head. I’ve always been weary of multi level marketing. The high up front cost. all the crushed dreams. I have grown up all my life in the word, and while I am not able to always follow the example of my Lord Jesus Christ I am blessed to have a strong foundation in him coming from a word church. That bible is law to me the only one that matters. I am involved in a mlm company right now, but the only reason I joined this company was because there was a way to make money on my own and not have to ask others to pay to join something that might not work for them. I also work in energy because I feel like that is the one product that all of us truly do need. As I said before there is only one reason I joined this company and that is because there is a portion of the compensation plan that allows you to gather accounts and be compensated very well for maintaining a certain level. I often hear other higher ups preaching the prosperity doctrine and though I am involved I see things for what they are. I’m constantly under pressure to recruit recruit recruit when all I want to do is make enough money for me and my family to be stable. I hate that they are selling a dream when thats all it is. A dream not rooted in most peoples reality. While there is an upfront fee to join the company is extremely generous in returning that money back to us. Its almost impossible not to make that money back. I hear what everyone is saying about mlm and I agree the vast majority of the higher ups have built their success on the failures of others and I’ve been struggling not to do that.

    • danieljkoren says:

      Brandon, thanks for sharing your experience. I pray you do well keeping the right focus. Anytime we try to get rich quick, we will do more harm than good.

      • Brandon Braggs says:

        i totally agree. What im doing takes time and work. You have to collect 100 accounts before you start getting paid but its well worth putting in the time and effort knowing that its by my own merits and not living off the people under me. I wouldn’t be able to operate otherwise. I just ask that you all keep me in your prayers.

  • Adia says:

    In all things, we as Christians must seek Christ. A walk with Christ is about surrender and submission. Just as God called Hosea to marry a prostitute, God can call believers to the marketing industry. We ought not be hasty in labeling, without clearly knowing what the fruits are. Christ calls us to be a light in darkness. As such Christian people are called to be a light in the industries in which they are placed. Any business and every business has a start up cost and a cost to maintain the business. Some choose to pay thousands for business that is their own, others choose to pay hundreds for a business that is already established. It’s a choice. In our walk with Christ, we must seek peace and pursue it. As previously mentioned, it is the heart of Christ to show us ourselves so that we may surrender the parts of us that are weak and need His restoration and renewal. The reality is that for some of us believers, our relationship with money is an area where we must be diligent in seeking Christ for direction and the right heart. Please remember that the scripture says “the LOVE of money” not money in itself, “is a root of all kinds of evil” 1 Tim 6:10. We must be good stewards of the territory that we are given, and submit every day to how the Spirit will move. I pray this is a blessing.

    • danieljkoren says:

      I appreciate your insights. Some direct marketing businesses have start up costs but the product truly benefits the buyer (vacuums or housewares). That is categorically different than buying into a business that only profits you when you convince many others to invest as well. That is the problem I refer to as not bringing glory to God.

      • Patricia Prinsloo says:

        First, I want to say hi to every one. And to point out that WHAT KEVIN SAID was %100 CORRECT. There is a lot of scriptures in the bible on how OUR FATHER feels about money and how we as people should be responsible with it and IMPORTANTLY TO GIVE TO THOSE IN NEED. We all need to check our self’s and our hearts and STAY HUMBLE, as how Yehshua was on earth. To learn how we should be as human and how to deal with money issue is only to be learned in the one and only , ” The WORD “. We need to read and learn it. No need to put any type of business down. I am in the nursing field, and most won’t believe it. You would think that working to care for people and find out that it is an EVIL EVIL business. But, we do OUR best to do what is right and WE AS HUMANS HAVE NO POWER TO CONTROL ANYONE WHO ABUSES THAT RIGHT. I mean, look at our electricity monopoly here in AZ. Charging a whole grip? The greedy housing systems, banking, credit cards, I mean I can go on. But, WE HAVE TO MAKE AN HONEST LIVING, RIGHT? I go to school to be A NURSE, and the system is a crock!!!! It gets me to tears and people dying because of no medical care and if you have medicare, they don’t cover much. All we can do is try our best and do what is right and learn and study Yahweh’s WORD ( GOD ) coming. Because he is coming soon. And soon, all the wickedness WILL END AND WE WILL ALL TRULY BE FREE AND PRAISING AND WORSHIPING OUR FATHER.

        Love,
        Patty Prinsloo

        • danieljkoren says:

          Thank you for pointing out the facts of your situation. Yes, many businesses and industries are crooked. We should bring light and righteousness to any field of labor. However, network marketing companies thrive on greed whereas a nurse can still make an honest living without taking advantage of anyone. I still see a difference, but I appreciate your shedding light on this topic from your unique perspective. I share your dissatisfaction with the medical empire and I have ranted about that in other blog posts.

  • Patricia Prinsloo says:

    And yes, what Adia said is %100 on point too.

  • Sony says:

    Thank you so much for this post. My heart has felt uneasy for some time regarding an MLM company my brother and sister n law have been a part of for a little over a year. The reason why my heart has been so unsettled is that they are christians and I am surprised at how quickly their views are changing. They believe God wants them to have financial freedom, and have gotten many people involved, including family members of which several have dropped out and lost out. I think this is wrong, taking people’s money to benefit themselves. I especially find it disgusting that they are comparing this to their ministry, where God is suing them to share Jesus, but in reality, what I have seen, they are using Jesus in order to be successful in this type if business. Ultimately, their main goal is to make money, and now that they have built a nice downline and are getting paid quite well, their attitudes seemed to have changed. This makes me sad, and angry that many people are getting taken advantaged of. But if I confront them then I am a dream crasher. I keep praying for them and for God to speak to their hearts. They use money to lure people in while mixing it with scripture. It all makes me quite sad. I actually thought of joining, and did join, but that night I was unable to sleep, I had no peace, and immediately cancelled. I was thrown into a bit of confusion though because they make the money sound so intriguing. I can only imagine how many other people, christian or not, are being thrown into confusion by their own brothers and sisters.

  • Raymond says:

    It’s true… I’ve be thinking what it(AIM GLOBAL, PHIL) does to my life so I started looking for an answer and I bumped into your article.

    Thank God, I now understand what He really meant in Genesis 3:17 NIV

    To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.

    – we have to toil for us to eat not from anyone’s money

    • danieljkoren says:

      That’s an interesting perspective.

    • VA says:

      it’s always good to find bible verses to give weight to our thoughts isn’t it? EVERYONE who is not successful in MLM are the ones who speak negative about it. Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT successful in MLM but I have a different perspective of it. If I consider this bible verse, then does that also mean I can’t own a company and have people working for me? The employees have their salary!! Does that mean that business owners don’t work hard to earn their money? Ppl lack understanding of what a true MLM business is. I disgust the MLM companies that sell products and sell them at outrageous prices, but there are a handful of good ones out there. Yeah, they charge some fee for you to become a consultant… who thinks opening a business is free? you get commissions for your sales and your distributors’ sales… that’s a mentality that everyone in MLM should have, PERIOD. if you enter MLM thinking that you’ll be someone distributors, epic fail. The only ones who succeed in MLM are those with the mentality and attitude of business owner, a NET-WORKER, a leader builder. The ones who don’t succeed, are always in the lookout for something to backup their thinking…. “Oh… I have to go back to my honest work… I have to be humble… I can’t earn money as a result of someone’s effort…. oh God doesn’t want me to succeed in this earth…” … what a mediocre thought!!!

      2 final thoughts: The MLM industry is really bad seen because of 2 classes of people: The mercenaries who are dishonest in the the industry and the ones who never understood goal achieving, positive thinking, time management, never give up attitude, and fail at some point in MLM then go out trash talking about it (there are worse people outside of MLM, in Corporate and government environments, in churches!!!)

      And finally, the gospel should be spread via MLMs…. its the fastest and most effective marketing method. If we loved Jesus so so much as much as we love money and used this method, the whole world would have known about a loving Jesus Savior already and Jesus’ would have come again! We wouldn’t have to toil anymore and would be living His other promise: John 14:1-3.

  • Johnnie P says:

    MLMs are great investments of one’s time and opportunity when they are unemployed and under employed. However, reading many of these articles, I felt as a pastor, husband, father, entrepreneur, community organizer and professional Hospice Chaplain employee that I need to speak positively about MLMs. I feel many of the comments are a bit one sided. And this could have a serious financial impact on the life of someone who could truly benefit by the right MLM opportunity they might not say no to, if they could hear something positive to help them weigh their decisions before deciding yea or nay. I know that there has to be a separation between church and MLMs… However, there have been times when someone has come to me seeking financial assistance or counsel while being in that unemployment place or just needed to figure out how to earn some extra income. They did not understand the stock market, and lacked capital to start a business. However, they were smart enough to follow tried and true systems that could be duplicated and could potentially put honest money in their pockets. And when people are willing work this system, attend meetings, take the risks of being rejected, but are constantly reading personal development books to enhance their sales, communications, recruiting opportunities and overall understanding of entrepreneurship… This to me, does not sound wrong. For we all can agree, that many people are perishing for that lack of knowledge. But here, through many of the MLMs, we are seeing peoples lives being change, by their willingness to take care and to take risks in learning systems they can duplicate that will help change their lives financially, spiritually and emotionally. Yes, this sounds like the same language we discuss when discussing spirituality. I know that God desires good for us, and for many MLMs provide that in addition to relationships believers continue to develop with the Lord, just as the average Joe or Jane who works 40 plus hours a week and still maintains a like relationship with the Lord as well. A job is a job… MLMs are hard work, and deserve more respect than it is getting here. In fact, I feel Christians should be challenged to better MLMs once they’ve reached the top. Meaning, that we have the opportunity to bring Kingdom into the Empire (MLMs, Business, Work Places and Even Self Employment when dealing with competition) The business world and the MLM world could use a few good believers to better the industry. I myself have worked MLMs since I was 16 years old. I am 41 now, and can honestly tell you that for every MLM I failed at, I did so, because of me and my failure to follow the systems. Today, I have a few MLMs I am working, and have been working the systems and have experience better success. Now when sharing with churches, pastors or other believers, I notice that many of these persons do not trust anything unless someone very wealthy or successful tells them. Meaning, they are selective as to whom impresses them to action. So, no I would not direct my overall attention to churches, but as I see churches foreclosed, shutting down, struggling financially because their partners in ministry and members of their congregations are struggling. I feel a since of duty to offer education about the resources I’ve found that might help them be it a product or a compensation plan opportunity that could be worked through strategic planning or team work creative community church to church collaborations. Trust me it works. So, simply put… MLMs are nothing more than resources or vehicles to help others reach financial places they want to reach without the road blocks of traditional employment or rejections one may experience due to poor education, criminal background, loss of job, need for extra income, age, race or color. MLMs give you the opportunity to leverage your abilities based on your ability to learn and duplicate systems that agree with your spiritual and moral convictions. I would just hope that our practices and sales tactics and pitches glorify God with integrity and honesty. Thank you for allowing me to share. There are a few Christian MLMs out there that has a great reputation. You should consider giving them a try. I will not post my list of favorites out of respect. But again, thank you for allowing me to share.

    Pastor Johnnie
    Peace & Blessings… Take Care & Take RISKS!

    • danieljkoren says:

      Thanks for your thought-filled response. There is a difference between direct sales and mlm. One is a legitimate business, the other is just a way to make money off others who buy in. One way to tell the difference is to honestly answer this question before God: would I still promote it if I didn’t get paid for it?
      The other issue at stake is that the pursuit of money naturally leads us away from God. Jesus said you cannot serve God and riches. That does not apply just to mlm, but can definitely include it. I teach Bible studies in people’s homes. I would have to cut back on doing that if I were to start giving business presentations again. Seek the Kingdom!

  • Mary Warr says:

    There is a lot of wisdom imparted in the article. It is appropriate to paint a picture of ‘the other side’ of network marketing, seeing that a presentation will only show enticement and promise. Thank you for addressing this issue, especially in relation to Christian ministry and the infiltration of marketing in churches.

    From my childhood on, I have watched my parents presented with MLM after MLM (and some direct sales pitches that were high-pressure). Each and every presentation came from people we were associated with through church relationships.

    Even when I was younger, it lowered my respect of and trust in acquaintances who would try so hard to get our family involved in something that wasn’t yet proven.

    As an adult, I have followed my parents’ example of avoiding these programs.

    I would also like to point out another way this topic can cause hurt. My husband and I have been invited to homes for dinner without the understanding that we would also be given a presentation. :)

    It can be hurtful when someone makes it seem like they are reaching out in friendship, when the true motive is to further their own financial goals.

  • Barbie says:

    Wow. Dan, I have been part of a MLM company for over 5 years and I can only say your comments do not describe my experience in any way. People do equate MLM with a pyramid scheme but our company is not set up like that. It’s more like a wheel with spokes. I believe being excited about an opportunity is a good thing and not just about MLM. I’ve heard this expression used with many things. Why it is wrong if it’s referring to a business opportunity such as a MLM company? I was approached many years ago by someone who was quite insistent that my husband and I “join” their MLM team but they were evasive when I tried to find out more before meeting with them. I never met with them. If something is good, I believe I can be up front about it with others. I also believe that to talk someone into doing something they don’t want to do is wrong.
    For my team, I only want people who want to be there. I didn’t sign up as a consultant initially and it was not my introduction to my company. The products sold me. I signed up because I believe in the products and as I examined the business opp, I became aware of what a great opportunity is available there, too.
    My company has not only educated me regarding how important it is to know what ingredients are in the products I use, but they encourage outside research. I have been so pleased to find that no matter what I have researched in this area my company has already been there and is already putting safe measures into practice. In addition, I have had many clients who have had amazing results using our products. I have 3 family members who have been able to give a report that the products healed up skin cancer and several more who have had amazing results with skin conditions. For these alone, it was worth it to me to find this company and its products.
    Regarding the selling aspect, I sell products to my family and friends at my cost and I offer a discount to everyone. I’ve used my products as a fund raiser for my church’s building program. I use my products as a way to support small local business instead of the big corporations. Our products are American-made. Our products are healthy and promote healthy living.
    I do not get caught up in the rat race of frantic shopping and fighting the crowds for holidays. I never shop on Black Friday. My Thanksgiving weekend is spent with family.
    I love what I do and I have a good solid group who are on my team for all the same reasons I just described. I’m not in this for greed. I never push anyone to buy my products or to sign up on my team. I offer and I educate. I tell people it doesn’t matter if they buy from me or not. I care about sharing my research with others and giving them options if they need it. I believe people should make their decisions based on their personal beliefs.
    While there may be MLM companies that abuse the system, I can personally say that not all do and not to write everything off just because of the abuse by some. There are many different types of people represented in my business and I know of many (personally) who are in ministry who use this to supplement their income and others who are stay-at-home moms who can stay at home with their children because of the income their business brings in. I wish I had found my company and its products many years ago. I am more than pleased with what the products and the business opportunity has done for our family.

  • Vlad Mikhaylov says:

    Network marketing is not about duping people. Those who dupe probably don’t know any better. Those who get duped allow the dupers to dupe them. A true network marketer would never sell a network marketing opportunity as a front-end product, because it’s very hard to sell without tricking or duping people into it. It’s hard to sell up front, because a network marketing opportunity is an intangible product. Network marketing is about building networks (of valuable content, valuable and valued team members/leaders) and about legitimate marketing, just like the one used by your nearby supermarket. IT’S NOT ABOUT DUPING. I am a Christian and never duped anyone into my business. I never chased family or friends, never did the cold calling, never attended hotel meetings full of hype and bragging. Yet I am in network marketing. It is my business. Not a hobby or a part-time job. And I’m in the Bible study ministry teaching people from the street. I don’t see any problem being a Christian, a business man, and serving “the lost sheep”. Last thought: no business will last long if it’s based on lies, duping, and forcing people to do something they don’t expect/want/need you to do. God bless!

    • danieljkoren says:

      Vlad, thanks for your insightful comment. While your statements sound believable, I find it conflicting that you included a link to your site promising the secret to making money in network marketing. Of course, to get in on that information, you wanted me to give my contact info first. That doesn’t seem much different than anything else. I do trust your story, though, and am glad you have found a balance that let’s you minister for the Lord and not let your pursuit of income interfere with that.

  • TEAM LS BC says:

    Just thought this might be of interest. Don’t discourage people from pursuing something. Network marketing is better than a traditional business model anyday. You should not place limitations on others based on your OWN experiences. People too afraid to pursue their own dreams will always find a way to stop others from pursuing theirs.

  • Satish says:

    You are so right about your views. But as I read you need to get the deeper picture right. While I so much agree with you that HOW CAN PEOPLE BE DOING OR CONDUCTING THEIR) BUSINESS AT THE CHURCH, yet that’s not a legitimate reason for you to say that NWM is not an ethical business model. If I sell you something, which is for your own good, what’s wrong in that. And if you derive the results and recommend the same product to someone you know (or don’t know).. and likewise you get interested to become a product evangelist or the business evangelist and make some money or huge money out of it… WHAT’S WRONG WITH ALL THAT BIBLICALLY. You see it all starts with your intent and if that’s right, your foundations are laid firm on Godly principles of helping others. Please don’t go out to give fish to the hungry- TEACH THEM HOW TO FISH. We are in the age of capacity development
    And the other thing you said about RESIDUAL INCOME, boy you need to experience it to be able to pass judgmental statements like that. All the super-rich live by that. I am talking about spirit filled believers.
    I urge you you to rethink and pray to God saying, Lord Jesus, open my eyes that I may see wondrous things out of your book of Law. Show me meaningful ways that I could help others, with peace, provision, prosperity and health. Lead me, guide me, enable me and empower me, walk befor me Lord to do your will, that through my actions, I would be able to minister Christ to the lives I touch. May I always be mindful of your presence. And above all help me Lord, as I press fwd to my ultimate success, which is to INHERIT THE LAND as per Ps 37
    Amen

    • danieljkoren says:

      Thank you for your input. Jesus fulfilled the law. I do not live for the “Land.” I have a spiritual inheritance and eternal riches. Did the apostle Paul miss it? He didn’t make it rich. New Testament believers give everything for the true riches.

  • BAHERU says:

    it is a blessing to read this kind of article.because now a days people are confusing about MLM. GOD bless you.

  • Tina says:

    I stumbled across this site or shall I say God guided me here. I have been involved in 2 MLM companies where 1 did not work out for various reasons and the other I made some good money. In both I recruited close friends and family who have all lost their investments. Again I have been approached by an uncle and I went along to the presentation which was good tempting and very rewarding. I really wanted to find out what God thought about all of this and so I put this in my heart and ended up at this site. I felt so much peace when reading this article and new instantly this is not the way for me (another mlm). Sometimes due to selfish gain and greed we try to convince our selves that God is happy with MLM. If Jesus was here today I’m sure he would be strongly against it, you might be making money but what about the 97% under you that lose out. The best thing to do is pray and put it in your heart to find out the truth and I’m sure Jesus will direct you. Thank you so much for this, a lot of Christian sisters that are in mlm that I know have all become greedy changed for the worst beings. I also get many approaching me in church to join their team, its a disgrace.

  • Jeff says:

    Daniel,
    I like the article.
    However, I would not let MLM companies advertise on my page, especially when the article is about MLMs. Just a thought. There appears to be an AVON add in the right column. It may change as other people pull up your article. But, it has been there both times i have looked. :-)
    Thanks.

    • danieljkoren says:

      I don’t have a lot of control over the Google ads. They usually reflect user interests, so it will be different for everyone. Thanks for visiting this site supported by direct sales advertisers.

  • Ray Bishop says:

    Having been the home based business for many years as a side interest to my successful engineering career of 50 years (Thank you Lord!) I have to say I dislike generalizations like this blog.
    There are imperatives for Christians that apply to all our business and personal activities. We are all obliged to ensure that whatever the business dealing we initiate or the association we choose, nothing drives a wedge between our involvement and our personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
    So people who break the speed limits every day are as bad in God’s eyes as the hardened criminal. It’s all disobedience to the Word of God.
    The same goes for people who don’t pay their bills, who defraud companies over payments and who set up dubious family trusts to hide money from the IRS.
    The home based business industry like any other business, attracts “opportunists” whether they be the company or the distributors. I’ve had conversations with many of them.
    We seem to forget that for generations, people have had bad experiences working in conventional (“real”) jobs and running conventional (“real”) businesses. Many have lost their jobs and businesses as well as their spouses, kids, cars and homes. And when the truth comes out, it’s often because they were sluggish or dishonest! But that’s OK. We seldom hear that method of business condemned in blogs like this.
    I also have non-Christian business friends who tell me frequently that the customers who give them the most financial grief are church people. So we’re not all that pure!!!!
    Be it conventional or home based, be it sports or science, we are to be careful in all our business decisions and associations.
    Anyone of us can choose to do any business honestly, we can choose our associations wisely and proceed with noble goals and respect for all. Do your research first! If the business, MLM or other, doesn’t support integrity . . . .run!!!
    I guess, the crux is, so many don’t verify their choices and actions against the Word. So how will they ever know how to behave in a way that honors the Lord and the people around them?

    • danieljkoren says:

      Thank you for sharing your insights, Ray. Remember that there is a greater punishment for those who teach others hypocrisy. So God does differentiate between levels of wrongdoing. Hardened criminals who commit murder violate God’s moral law while someone with a heavy foot on the pedal is breaking man’s law. The two are not the same in the eyes of the Lord. That topic deserves a more thorough treatment than this comment, however.
      I would agree that much of corporate America is a ripoff based in greed. I have and continue to speak against that, too. This blog post was not intended to address every area a believer could go wrong in business. Most believers are not going to have the opportunity to extort on their jobs. However, since network marketing is a supposed “ground floor opportunity” anyone can jump in and take advantage of others selling their plexus poison or talk their friends into the paying for the opportunity to get rich off a public utility. You are correct, though, that greed is everywhere and we have to guard our hearts.

    • danieljkoren says:

      Another thing that is ungodly about multilevel marketing is that people blindly believe everything the manufacturer or rep tells them. Do your own research and you will often find equivalent or better products for less money. You might find out that your “opportunity” product is unsafe. If a person invested as much time and effort in his own business as in some marketing scheme, he might leave some wealth for his children.
      For the record, I am not a fan of jobs either. Most employees get ripped off while the owner(s) get rich. A person should own their own job or business, if possible. Most are too afraid of risk or follow wrong motives. Find what you love and do it passionately. For you, Ray, that must have been engineering. It won’t be that for the next person.
      I’m glad MLM did not awaken the desire within you to take advantage of others by selling them products they did not need or a business opportunity they would not follow through. Most do not have such a positive experience. It’s been a long time since I wrote this blog post and I still feel as strongly. Yes, this is my opinion. Yes, it is my blog. I’m honored that you took the time to comment.

  • Tom S says:

    Dan:

    First off, “Thank You” for being a man of integrity and honor to TELL THE TRUTH about all this crap called MLM. I am knew to you sight after trying to research info about this and how Christians and MLM’s are talked about or what folks are saying, because I have a friend not listening to my years of wisdom, my MBA, and understanding of MLM’s and how it contradicts what God wants from his children, which LOVE, LOVE, and LOVE some more.

    As a born-again christian and having moved from one church to another with my military duties and having been on a sabbatical for years now because of how I see churches become more like BUSINESS and bad stewards of money, salaries, etc… the last thing young or old Christians need to be part of is overpriced, over-hyped, products that are nothing more than pills, powders, or potions that get Christians eyes off the Cross and more focused on MONEY, than on the two most important things:

    Love God with all our Heart, Might, and Soul

    and Treat others or our brother how we want to be treated.

    It’s all about LOVE, not living of this world. We live in it, but we should be focused on our life with God one day and doing our best to be CHRIST-LIKE EXAMPLES for others to follow and spread his Good Word, evangelizing and disciplining and witnessing to others bringing them closer to a relationship with Jesus Christ.

    MLM’s like Advocare, Isagenix, Avon, etc… are all about convincing you can be financially wealthy and independent, but nothing about helping bring others closer to Christ.

    If you read this, stay far, far away from any MLM’s.

    God Bless everyone,

    Tom

  • Jen says:

    Dan,

    I’ve often thoughts since I started in my network marketing company – “What If?” What if I or Christians in general had the same passion for sharing Jesus with others as I do about my products. What if I was a better product of the product? In other words does Jesus shine through in my life? “What If” I made my list of my top 100 unsaved friends/family and prayed for them each day vs sharing my products with them.

    Netwotk Marketing is no more evil than McDonald’s trying to sell us a supersize or when I sold carpet/drapes and shared the great benefits of the higher grade carpet. Making money and selling products isnt bad or un-Christian. Giving newbies on my team good solid training and sharing openly anything and everything I know about how to run your network marketing business sucessfully, I feel I’m giving them the best start possible. Every network marketing business is different. I don’t think you can just lump them all together. Some have terrible unfair compensation plans and others not.I’ve been with my company almost 2 years and I’d say 60% of my team has made well over a 100 dollars. The other 40% isnt into the business just the wholesale prices. The joining fee is only $35, not thousands.

    Overall, it’s your heart and mindset. Are you seeking Christ everyday asking for a new team member? Or, are you genuinely with a servants heart hoping to help that diabetic get off their metformin? (Speaking from what our main product does). I joined my company because the products helped my health big time and people started asking what I was doing and an accidental business evolved. However, one must set boundaries and its not the right business for everyone. Start carrying bibles and leave them as often as you do your business card. Check yourself and if you are more passionate about anything more than Jesus, you need to address that. No matter what business you own or run, we own 3 traditional businesses as well, remember Corrie Ten Boom’s quote, “never close your hand so tight it hurts if God prys your fingers open.” Personally, our network marketing experience has pushed me to evaluate my priorities more closely, given me a bigger network to share Jesus with, and been a positive experience all around.

  • k l ransom says:

    No two MLM’s are the same. Just like any other company there are good and bad. I have had a number of opportunities in MLM aka Network Marketing, and they all (like any other business) had their strong points and weaker points as well, but thankfully for me they were all legitimate. As some other commenters have said, its not the business, or the money that is the problem, but the mindset of the individual as well as their intention for getting involved. The simple truth is, when you can find something to do that you can believe in — something you can love, then you will be successful. Hope this helps someone in need of it. And please commenters, just because an opportunity wasn’t good for you doesn’t mean it can’t help someone else. As a fellow MLM’er said to me one time, “Everyone in your family didn’t go to medical school to be a doctor. You let them have that dream. Thank God someone did though, where would we be without them. To each his/her own.”

  • Kay says:

    I had a Christian MLM representative prey on my health. I have severe illness and she wanted to “help” me with her product. She acted truly concerned and said that she knew a lot about this disease and wanted to share that with me (via facebook). When I thanked her for her concern and said I would love any information she had, but that I wasn’t interested in her product I didn’t hear from her again. This person attends our church and has never asked me once how I was doing or asked how she can help our family during this intense trial. This is totally disheartening to me that a sister in Christ could care so much about her product and sales, but so little about me as a fellow Christian. I struggle with watching this person (facebook) talk about how God has answered their prayers (financial freedom/health) and is helping them to minister to people through their product and “opportunity” etc. when she failed to minister to me because there was no profit involved (if she wouldn’t have reached out in the first place I wouldn’t have the same expectations). Thank you for this article. I truly get confused when I see the success (making a ton of money/trips/cars) and following this person has.

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