Saturday, May 05, 2007


Readers Respond (May 2007): Letter of the Week

From Tim (May 4, 2007):
An elder at my church was pushing Juice Plus and it made individuals very uncomfortable. His wife was the primary distributor and during prayers meetings, when people brought up health concerns she would recommend Juice Plus. When young couples joined our church, if they purchased Juice Plus products they were given kind treatment and friendship by this family. Eventually, they planned a Juice Plus social night and invited all young couples in the Church. I tried to inform the young couple who was hosting the event at their house that they might make some folks uncomfortable.

The following is a letter sent by Tim to the church elder/Juice Plus distributor:

I got your letter today about a Juice Plus event at your place and I have several concerns and unfortunately not much time to address them. Simply put, I am worried that integrating multi-level marketing (MLM) with church-community social functions can be problematic.I know very little of chemistry and nutrition, but the claims against the scientific foundation of Juice Plus seem very valid. I think there is substantial economic evidence that Juice Plus is not what it claims to be. This is simply that such a 'wonder-cure' would not be confined to MLM and would be bought or at least vaguely copied by Proctor & Gamble, Unilever, Altria, etc. Furthermore, with the looming health-care costs in our economy (now 15% of GDP!) there would be strong incentive for all insurance companies to endorse this product. Demand and word of mouth would ensure that, in short order, everyone would be juicing. There would at a minimum be competition, not a single monolithic MLM entity that takes game nights to get customers. Let's assume however that the claims of Juice Plus are true and that their corporation nothing but a blessing. The above is, after all, just my thoughts. Simply considering a simple social event in which some church members profit off others will suffice to hear my concern. Let me first state two things. The first is that while I find MLM distasteful for a number of reasons, I consider most people involved to have acceptable motives. Most MLM participants seem to enjoy the businesses they are in and consider MLM an easy way to make a little extra money with low startup costs and little training required. Even if 99% of MLM participants lose money, they at least have a hobby. While many sales from MLM events exploit friendships and are the results of people who purchase out of a desire to please their friends, some people do enjoy their products and all people willingly pay. Thus, MLM itself is not necessarily immoral. The second thing is that financially benefiting from church relationships is not bad in any way. If we are to fellowship and have an understood level of trust, it makes sense for Christians to prefer doing business with other Christians. I feel much more comfortable when my stock-broker, lawyer and even repair man share my faith. My concern arises precisely because this level of trust is present in the Christian community. We all had fun playing games at your house. It was good and right. We would like to again; but don't like that the lines are blurred between two social spheres which should be distinct. It is a very different thing to decide to choose my lawyer to be the man I pray with than to have a church lawyer distributing business cards in the pews, or to invite people over to their house for social dinner in which they hear a presentation for the lawyer's firm. If one wants to host a Pampered chef party and invite members of the Church, the lines are blurred, but at least the party has a stated business purpose. It is a business event that has a social benefit and context. However, when you host a game night with a Juice Plus pitch, it is a social event with an underlying business context.In any case, I am sure that no one is deliberately acting dishonestly here, but I am continually concerned that the body of Christ is used as a channel for MLM. While our economy requires business relationships and church friendships to sometimes be intertwined, I just urge you to be cautious with MLM.

Reply from the JPRB Team:
Dear Tim: Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. Your raise a number of important issues with more tact and diplomacy than we could ever muster. Since we have a slightly warped sense of humor, we couldn’t help but wonder what your church elder would think of Juice Plus distributor and Satanic Priest Greg Warne (aka Colonel Akula).[1][2] Will we see Good versus Evil in a titanic battle for Juice Plus supremacy?

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