By Dale Alexander

The answer to the title question is, “It depends”.  On one of the listserv/forums that I frequent there was a thread that touched on this subject to which I posted:

“There is a fine line where “price shopping” goes from ethical to unethical.  It is up to each one of us to determine where that line is and this shows the content of our character.  If I have accepted Christ, the Holy Spirit resides in me and I will know deep down inside what is right and what is wrong.  Unfortunately, many of us have been desensitized to the voice of the Holy Spirit in our lives.”

With this being said I will offer up a couple of basic guidelines for procuring pricing on goods and services.

Determine the goods and/or services you wish to purchase and generate a clearly worded request for pricing (RFP) then submit the RFP to a select group of equally qualified vendors.  Then each vendor has equal opportunity to submit their best price.  You can then as a good steward select the best price from the vendor offerings.  I would submit that this way of doing business speaks well of the church/body of Christ as it is above-board and honest.  If you don’t know exactly what you need or have difficulty generating the RFP then you might engage the services of a qualified consultant to assist you.

What you don’t do is go get a price from one vendor(#1) then go to another vendor(#2) and tell him the price vendor #1 gave you in an effort to get a lower price from vendor #2; then go back to vendor #1 and tell him the price from vendor #2; and so on.  Unfortunately, this practice is done in the “world” everyday but does that make it ethical and more importantly Christ-like?  This practice is neither ethical nor Christ-like and does not reflect well on the body of Christ as a whole.  If the vendors you are dealing with are not Christians, then what must they think of Christ and his church?

The vendors do visit with each other and discuss which churches purchase this way; therefore the churches that purchase this way gain a bad reputation in the community with vendors.  When a church gets this reputation the more qualified vendors will simply stop working with the church and will offer up excuses such as “We’re so busy that we can’t get to you in your timeframe”.  When you take pricing that was given confidentially you don’t disclose that pricing to others.

Basically, we are talking about dealing with others with “Integrity”.  The Bible has quite a bit to say about integrity, those who walk in integrity and those who don’t walk in integrity.

Proverbs 28:5-6 says;

5 Evil men do not understand justice,
But those who seek the LORD understand all things.
6 Better is the poor who walks in his integrity
Than he who is crooked though he be rich.

The apostle Paul says it this way in 2 Chorinthians 1:12;

12 For our proud confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you.

To fully explore this topic would take much more space than allocated in this post so let me conclude by saying; If Christ lives in you then you should be able to discern whether or not the way you deal with obtaining goods and services displays integrity and honors the body of Christ.  You should, as a pastor friend says, “know in your knower” what is right in the sight of God.

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