Despite the fact that only 2 comments appeared on the previous post, I have had many conversations in person, over facebook and on the phone with people regarding the question I asked the other day. I have thought a lot about this issue and am very grateful to the people who have shared their opinions (some very passionately:) with me.
First, a little background. This is something I've been struggling with on and off for a number of years. I have found the Catholic homeschooling marketplace to be an incredibly difficult market to work in for a number of reasons.
The first is that most people have large families and are trying very hard to live off of one income which most of the time is barely adequate to take care of the needs of the family, let alone the wants. I know, I live it! For this reason, many of us in this market are always on the lookout for deals. Case in point - I shop at WalMart and thrift stores for pretty much everything. Shopping with this mentality most of the time makes it very hard to pay full price for things, especially things that are not "needs". (Note: while I know that this is the case in many markets right now, I am specifically looking at the Catholic market because that is where I am at.)
Second, we have the added issue of "ministry". Exactly what is a ministry? thefreedictionary.com defines it as such:
1. The act of serving; ministration. 2. The profession, duties, and services of a minister.
If I am to apply these definitions to myself, I pretty much have to throw out the 2nd one seeing as I am not a minister. This leaves me with the first - the act of serving. I've had to ask myself lately, "What is my ministry?" Is my ministry selling soap? Is it selling unit studies? Is it selling Reliv? Is it taking pictures? or is it more tied to raising and homeschooling my children? Running formation groups and helping with Evenings of Recollection for Miles Christi? Promoting retreats? Helping out at my church?
I think that it is easy sometimes to confuse selling a product to help provide for your family (especially if it is a faith-based product) with selling a product as a ministry. As a friend vehemently put it to me, "Selling soap is NOT a ministry!". I have to agree - at least it isn't for me.
When you put these two things together - a limited amount of money and the idea that anything a Catholic does could potentially be a ministry - it makes for a tough sale!
Again, I am not putting myself above this, as I know I, too, shop like this! I have to make these decisions every day - is what I am about to buy worth spending my husband's hard-earned money on? It is something that requires constant evaluation if I am to be a good steward...
So after all this I've concluded the following two things...
1. That the products and services that my husband and I are marketing are not our ministry, they are a means to help provide for our family and
2. That if someone has a hard time with the prices we charge, it is really their responsibility to ask the same question I must ask, "Is what I am about to buy worth spending our hard-earned money on?" Once they say yes, I can't feel bad about their decision.