This is a tough question—one I wrestled with for quite some time. While I don’t feel qualified to answer for you definitively, “Yes” or “No”, I can point you to the questions I asked myself. Not all network marketing or direct selling opportunities are right for all people, and some are in stark contrast to biblical values. Yet, many direct selling opportunities create ways to honor people, honor our families, and even honor God.
When choosing a company to partner with, you need to assess their values before you decide to align with them. You are their word-of-mouth advertising, so choose carefully.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before you land on a firm “Yes” or “No”.
Does your company honor people?
The Bible calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves. (Mark 12:31) Do your sales and marketing methods honor people, or are you merely trying to extract value? If you are adding value to the lives of others and they genuinely feel that from you, you are on the right track. Keep people and relationships as a high value.
Hint: if you’re sending unsolicited messages to people about your product or opportunity without establishing a relationship, they will probably feel as if you only want to extract value from them.
If you are trying to sell when someone really just needs a friend, check your heart.
Another way to honor people is to make sure the people making your products are treated well. This brings us to the next question:
Do you know how products are sourced?
No matter what you are selling, it has to come from somewhere. Is it made in a factory or grown in the ground? Who is responsible for this process and how are they treated? Does your company use ethical, fair-trade practices? Are they good stewards of creation? Know your supply chain.
Does your company or upline encourage manipulative behavior?
I hate to see others manipulated or mislead with false information. If your company or upline encourages you to market your product with exaggerated “before and after” photos, inflated numbers, or other false information, you won’t feel good about adding to your profit margin or your team. And people won’t feel good about you once they realize you’ve misled them. The bible says we will give an account for these things. (Matthew 12:36)
Is the emphasis on the love of money?
Depending on a company’s compensation plan, there is a lot of money to be made in network marketing. As the company’s word-of-mouth advertising, you can be paid greatly. My husband has worked as a creative director in advertising for years. When we were saving for our wedding, a client he was working with paid as much for as stock photo as we paid for the entire catering budget! The lesson I learned from that and several other insights from his career: traditional advertising is very expensive. When a company chooses to forgo traditional advertising in exchange for word-of-mouth advertising or direct selling, they can redirect their advertising dollars to their representatives.
Money is a tool that we can use to build, but it can also be a trap or an idol. Be careful that your opportunity doesn’t lead you on a path of worshiping this resource. (1 Timothy 6:10)
Are your company’s values in conflict with Biblical values?
Lastly, you can ask yourself this blanket question to cover any other areas in question. Pray Psalm 139 over your decision, asking God to search your heart. Ask Him to direct your steps and reveal any truth you need to see. Wait patiently for an answer.
I hope these questions help to steer you in the right direction. Having income from a network marketing opportunity has been a blessing for our family and allowed me to be a stay-at-home mom. However, not every opportunity is right for maintaining your integrity as a believer and sowing into a Godly legacy.
So, should Christians participate in network marketing? Not if it causes you to compromise your values. Once you work through the wrestling and land in the right place, you’ll be able to move forward or walk away in confidence.