A Look at the Prosperity Gospel in the Pentecostal Church

Most everyone realizes that the prosperity gospel (health-wealth gospel) is one of the holy grails within the Pentecostal Church. The prosperity gospel is the belief that God will financially bless those he favors. . . Now, let’s get straight to the point.

Data, collected by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life shows that the Pentecostal Church is one of the least financially blessed groups of religious believers worldwide. The New York Times created a simple chart of the data that is posted below (click on the image to enlarge)

 

The Pentecostal group is at the bottom of the chart! So Pentecostal’s, how’s that health-wealth workin out for ya? The bible says, where your heart is, there will your treasure be. One thing that Pentecostals forgot to realize that God didn’t say how much treasure. Pentecostals have been storing up their treasure. Unfortunately, it’s much less treasure than everyone else. Tis a shame

Seeing the information above makes me believe that God has a great sense of irony. If you are a Pentecostal, and you are offended or shocked at the data. If you think these stats are skewed, then let me give you a little reminder of some interaction between Solomon and God.

Solomon in 1 Kings 3: “Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?”

The speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.

Then God said to him: “Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you. And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days. So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”

The prosperity gospel claim by the Pentecostal church is empty. There is no measurable fruit produced from the message they are teaching. If the gospel of Christ had this much negative impact and lack of fruit, i’d be an atheist.

If you have faith in the prosperity preaching, i’d say you’re just as insane as those who drank Harold Camping’s Kool-aid.

Jared Bartholomew is the author of www.tithing.com. There are over 300 articles written on research and reviews about tithing information.

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29 comments on “A Look at the Prosperity Gospel in the Pentecostal Church
  1. PastorDanny says:

    I am not sure you understand Pentecostalism.  Pentecostals have always been in the demographic demonstrated in that chart.  The “prosperity gospel” while it shares it’s belief in the power of the Holy Spirit with Pentecostalism, they are not one in the same.  The stronghold of the Prosperity Gospel is in the Independent Word of Faith movement.  Since the rise of the prosperity movement, the Pentecostal church has repeatedly condemned the health and wealth gospel.  While it’s true many Pentecostal ministers have fallen prey to such theology, it is not inherent in Pentecostal Theology. Pentecostals believe God will supply their needs, but that is not what the Prosperity Gospel is teaching.   Pentecostals continue to be in the lower social demographic because of its perceived uneducated, emotional spirituality (which is also an unfounded stereotype).  The upperclass of american society has always been more comfortable in sophisticated spiritual environments.  Pentecostal’s emphasis on demonstrative, emotional worship is often beneath the wealthy class.  Decent God fearing Americans wouldn’t be caught dead in a revival with the “Holy Rollers.”  These attitudes, while not as prevalent these days, are still around. Which is why more liturgical churches dominate the upper strata of that list.

    • PastorDanny,

      It seems that you are contradicting yourself, so can you please clarify your statements here:

      “Pentecostals continue to be in the lower social demographic because of it’s perceived uneducated emotional spirituality (which is also an unfounded stereotype)

      COMPARED WITH:

      “Pentecostal’s emphasis on demonstrative, emotional worship.”

      I’m not sure why you state Pentecostal’s emotional spirituality is an unfounded stereotype, and then mention that their emphasis is on emotional worship.

      • PastorDanny says:

        I guess i was referring to the “uneducated” part.  People assume because they are emotional, and want to have experiences, that they are uneducated and simple.  That is not necessarily true.  Although, your graphic indicated that pentecostals were amongst the lowest level of education.  

        Pentecostal clergy are becoming increasingly educated.  I pastor a church of 70 people.  I have a masters degree, am a PhD candidate, and have published two books. I am a member of the Society for Pentecostal studies.  But my family is lower middle class in earning (unlike independent word of faith pastors).   I have a Seminary Dean, with a PhD in OT, who attends my church.  But most of my church is lower middle class in an upper middle class suburb.  

        That was not my point.  My point is that Pentecostals are not to blame for the prosperity gospel.  Your premise is to point out that the prosperity gospel isn’t working because we are still the poorest.  Were the poorest precisely because we are NOT prosperity gospel preachers.

        • With my involvement in the Pentecostal experience, i wouldn’t initially have the knowledge or expertise to state that Pentecostal’s are uneducated. But once i look at the statistics, i don’t need to make that guess since it’s plainly stated.

          It is simply my opinion, but I feel that Pentecostals base their worship with God on emotion and less on the cerebral. This is what makes them most vulnerable to the prosperity gospel.Once again, that is just my opinion based only on my experience. and yes, there are exceptions

          I don’t blame the Pentecostals for the prosperity gospel anymore than i blame the Jews for crucifying Jesus.

          I believe that the prosperity gospel is most prevalent in the pentecostal movement. and yes there are exceptions. If you don’t feel that the pentecostal denomination plays the most significant role in the prosperity gospel movement than you and i are just going to have to disagree. I know i’m mainly stating my opinion and it’s stereotypical, but would i be any less opinionated or stereotypical if i stated – ’emotional worship is beneath the wealthy class’?

  2. Nugraha Suprana says:

    Pentacostal churches teach tithing strongest, yet we are the poorest? Well, God doesn’t bless us on our performance of obedience and merit. He blesses us based on our faith.

    • nugraha,
      are you saying that pentecostals have poor faith?

      • Brent says:

        I can definitely agree that Pentecostals teach tithing the strongest and i would add for the most time out of every sermon. I was a pentecostal for over 11 years and i saw heard of the plate being passed around several times in a sermon to try to get people to give more. For a great documentary about this subject watch this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVUNPeCCRUw.

      • I do believe Pentecostals have poor faith… They conform to having emotional feelings and search out miracles and more feelings to give them a high… like drugs..
        they go home and become sad, wanting to go back to church for more of the “high”

        they teach “the letter is death”, twisting the scriptures to infuse the feeling into the people that if they study the Bible their spirit will die…

        A great gimmick to stop people from knowing the truth, when the Bible states that it is more than sufficient to correct and teach other, and that the only way to become wise through Jesus Christ is through the scriptures….

        If they had faith in the God of the Bible, and not the God they make up with their mind, they would try to read the Bible, try to understand what God has spoken in the past… the prophesies he has given us… and about the greatest treasure, Jesus Christ.

        from ex-pentecostal.  

        • jjordan says:

          I find your statement that Pentecostals have poor faith ironic, because that is exactly what they think of other christian organizations that are not willing to experience the Holy Spirit as the New Testament perscribes…

          God is there knocking at your door, yet many have convinced themselves that He isn’t, that He is far off…

          And your statement that Pentecostals teach others not tostudy the Bible is way off. As a Pentecostal teacher I constanly encourage memebers to study the word, quoting:

          Proverbs 14:8 — The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.

          Acts 17:11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

          I’m not sure what your experience with pentecostals was, but it certainly isn’t consistent with the majority.

          (And yes, I do not believe that tithing is biblical, something I discovered through personal study, study encouraged by other Pentecostal Christians).

        • Jason Andal says:

          I were a pentecostal for nine years were awaken and left the church mainly what I see there is unbiblical ,what they teaches on tithes and yes they attacts mostly poor uneducated members its manipulation when only the pastor benefits from their prosperity gospel I try telling some of my friends who still fellowship there read their bibles correctly but arrogance has them in bondage on a dead thing,

  3. Tony Isaac says:

    Jared,

    Your post has now helped me put some flesh on something I have been mulling over now for months and I was going to title it “why tithing can lead to poverty”.

    In my view, the Pentecostals that are most hit by poverty, poor education et all are those who belong to the “Word of Faith” movement.

    Many of it adherents are stuck at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder largely due to their lack of necessary qualifications, education and/or experience. And along comes Mr Opportunistic preacher who promises them God’s blessings and tremendous wealth if they decide to commit to tithing 10% of their already very lean wages.

    As a result, they fall seriously behind on all their financial obligations and sink into a hand to mouth sort of existence. Sowing seeds and tithing seems like the only way out. Any unexpected funds they receive is viewed as God rewarding them for tithing and instead of meeting their financial obligations with such funds, they tithe from it again and fall behind on their bills and the cycle goes on.

    The quick gain the “Word of Faith” doctrine promises becomes their undoing as it makes them deny reality. They seem completely oblivious to their lack of qualifications and experience and are unable to do anything about it.

    I am not trying to deny the existence of miracles but God would not break His Word for the sake of a lazy few as scripture tells us that anyone (not just word of faith Christians) who shows diligence in any endeavour would stand before kings and not before mean men

  4. New2non-tithing says:

    I have to say that this is one of my favorite posts as of late. Your site is a constant visit for me. It has served well in my studies of the tithe, giving me lots of topics to search, read about, study, and pray over. It was very instrumental in bringing me out of the tithe mentality.
    I would like to note too that the Baptists are at the bottom as well. I grew up in and have attended baptist churches all over the country and have never been to one that was not heavy in the tithing department. Tithe or God will curse you…Tithe and God will open up the windows….Tithe and you wont have to worry about bills….Tithe and God will make you successful….you get the point. It is very much in line with the same doctrines taught in Pentecostal circles, just toned down and claimed to be different. 
    Yet as we see above, they both are at the bottom.
    Ironically, both baptists and pentecostals, while at the bottom, have some of the largest church buildings, and most well paid pastors and staff. If you want to be a wealthy pastor, you run in the pentecostal/baptist/independent circles and try to establish your mega cult.
    From a business standpoint, it is an amazing strategy, get the lower income segment who wants have higher income to believe that you have the way, and on top of that, the majority are not educated enough to know any better so they will continue to be a funnel of money. 
    It seems very MLM/network marketing to me. A pastoral pyramid scheme if you will. 
    Once again…good post! 

    • Well said!

      And praise the Lord that you are ‘out’ of the false bondage! Now you can freely give to God as you purpose in your heart, from any surplus you have after carefully looking after your household. This is  honouring to God and demonstrrates wise stewardship, and cheerful and thankful giving – not that you should have lack, but that your abundance can supply for those who do (in the church, the mission field, wherever, whatever). Then you will see how God will truly bless you as you walk in the light of His love.

      Praise the Lord
      Janet


  5. The Infinitely Uncorrectables!
    By Robert Winkler Burke
    Of inthatdayteachings.com
    Copyright 6/12/11
    Are God’s sheep in debt up to their ears?
    The Infinitely Uncorrectables have no fears!
    As pastors, they’ll drink up their beers,
    And ask for tithes, before sheep pay arrears!

    The pastors and their wives do nothing,
    But with fixed rules, keep sheep head-butting!
    With their self-interest deals they are cutting,
    For themselves, tithes are in-season rutting!

    God has no fixed rules, but guidelines,
    So cash-strapped sheep have God’s lifelines,
    To pay bills first, during these hard times!
    But wolves ignore all of God’s higher rhymes!

    That’s why wolves are scared as hell of precepts,
    Of In That Day Teachings’ higher concepts!
    They would free up sheep, making wolves rejects,
    Ruining the Infinitely Uncorrectables’ con bets!

    God sees all and waits,
    These teachings are not for all pates,
    Yet, look at sheep’s fates!
    These wolf-shepherds are not God’s greats!

    The Infinitely Uncorrectables say, none shall see,
    None shall seek, none find and none be free!
    Just blind sheep amening everything told to be,
    Sheep eaten by wolves, must say, Whoopee!

    Ever notice them that ask tithes,
    Ask only for their own ministry lives?
    Not for the next conman’s jives?
    Only cash to them, give them good vibes!

    To hell with others owed money by sheep!
    God, they say, wants sheep’s cash at wolves’ feet!
    The Infinitely Uncorrectables: fixed rules keep,
    Keep over others, while causing heaven to weep!

    Heaven weeps at the injustice of it all,
    Wolves everywhere enjoy their tithing cabal,
    God is big, flexible and not small,
    Tithing’s fixed rules cause many shepherds to fall!

    Like the South in the Civil War,
    Wolves won’t see who they are,
    Enslavers, tyrants, from God: far!
    Consumed in lies, truth: they bar!

    Infinitely Uncorrectables, so proud what they’re of,
    Digging around with Satan, not with God above!
    Giving the bible’s truth, God and His prophets a shove,
    Full of nothing but hate and fear, not God’s love!

    If they knew In That Day, what it was all about,
    The Infinitely Uncorrectables would repent with a shout,
    Oh God! Oh, God! Forgive us! We have been lout!
    And if they were smart, they’d do this, ‘cause time is out!

    Time is out for shenanigan ministry,
    Yet wolves don’t know any other way to be!
    Quit then! And work! And join with humanity,
    And let true shepherds, In That Day, sheep: feed!

    Feed My Sheep! Christ told Peter, it is printed in red three times!
    The Infinitely Uncorrectables rather have preferred their sheep crimes,
    Crimes against humanity, sanity, truth and God’s manna signs,
    Yet In That Day, God’s mind will come to man, as Christ-in-You shines!

    • Nice one!

      I especially resonate with the line:

      ‘To hell with others owed money by sheep! God, they say, wants sheep’s cash at wolves’ feet!…’

      Believers are taught to ‘gamble on God’ and the pastors act as the croupiers! The believers take their last red cent and throw it in the pot hoping their number will come in before the bailiffs arrive to take all their stuff.

      It is a crying shame.

      Janet

  6. PastorDanny says:

    A study i saw recently said that the average salary for a full time pastor is $30,000. (approx 30% of the ave church budget).  While we have more than our share of million dollar pastors, Pastors generally sacrifice greatly to serve thier congregations.  Pastor’s inherit churches with all their financial obligations and are given the responsibility to manage the church. The “tithe” concept is the only way churches can exist.  Many pastors are forced to work to be bivocational to support the church.  Imagine being asked to run a small business (which is more than full time) and told you don’t deserve a living wage, and you have to work at walmart to support your family.  My mentor pastored for 50 years and never made over $24000 a year in return for his lifetime of sacrifice.  Outside of Mega church pastors, you implication that we are in it for the money is just plain ignorant.

  7. Pastordanny,

    $30,000 seems to be lower than what it actually is in my opinion. As a child, my pastor was given a salary, but outside of his salary his housing, vehicle, and child’s education were all paid for by the Church. Right there, that’s an extra 20,000. I’m not trying to diminish the financial sacrifice, i just can’t imagine a full time pastor making only 30000. if i had 4 kids and needed to pay for housing, food, transportation, schooling, clothing, utilities, and healthcare. With 30,000, i’d be on the street. I could be wrong. It very well may be a true 30,000.

    On another note. Churches can exist without enforcing a tithe. It’s embarrassing if you realize what you are saying. There are many religions and denominations, and even individual churches within Christianity that teach spirit led, freewill giving instead of tithing. If you believe in the power of the Spirit of God over believers, than you better start believing that if false religions can support their organizations without tithing, then i would think Christians with the Spirit of God within them can.

    – jared

    • jjordan says:

      Jarod,

      I’m usually on your side, but I have several pastor’s in my family/extended family, and they make considerably less than 30,000 a year. I often help do thier taxes, and I know one pastor with a wife and two kids that only made 16,000 last year and his only other benefit was a $600 a month apartment. Him bieng a pasot has been a financial sacrifice.

      My current pastor has taken several budget cuts and is currently making 1,500 a monthbut lives in the pasonage. That’s not a lot, and he is more than qualified to make much more outside the church in the business world.

      These individuals have made a serious sacrifice for the Gospel.

      With that said I have a family member that is a very wealthy pastor, yes his wife makes more at her job than he does as a pastor, but he is still very well paid, probably unhelathily so…

      I don’t believe in tithing, and those that feel as I do often pastor-bash as a result. We need to keep such attitutes in check. As I have born witness, there are good mixed in with the bad. We speak out against tithing because the Bible doesn’t support it. But what the Bible does support is giving our pastors a double honor:

      1 Timothy 5:17 — The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.

    • jjordan says:

      I also would note that I am a youth and college pastor at my local church as well as the worhip minister (along with my wife). I spend over twenty hours a week working at the church and planning lessons. My wage… $0. I do it all for free and would never dream of charging a scent, even when it has been offered. This is my free will offering to God, and I make my living as a school teacher (yes I do give of my income to the church as well, though I do not believe in tithing).

      I am not the only one who operates on devotion this way. I know many a “tent maker” pastors (named so after Paul who financed his missionary journeys by making tents).

  8. PastorDanny says:

    I pastor a church of 80 people. My salary is $34,000. No benefits, no health care. just a base salary.  And i am blessed. It is rare for a churches under 150. Many other pastors don’t even get what i receive.  I am honored that my church family provides a living for my family so i can devote my time to serving their family.  I believe this is the way God set it up.   

    And i don’t “enforce” tithes.  I believe its the standard, but you don’t have to do away with a biblical concept.  Just do away with the wrong practices that churches use to force people to tithe.  It’s god’s standard, not mine.  I explain the beauty of how God provides for their family. Then they turn around and provide a portion of that for their church. Which provides for my family. It is a beautiful thing.  Can it be exploited? Certainly. But that why the board should determine the salary of the pastor, not the pastor.

    • jjordan says:

      Thank you for that study, it was very informative and goes along with my experience of pastor’s wages in my local area.

  9. PastorDanny,

    Sorry, i just found the last comment in my spambox. i rarely check it since there’s so much. Thanks

    I can relate to your situation. I am self employed. I don’t have benefits either from my employment. As a matter of fact, i can’t take off for vacation without losing pay. No paid sick days. No paid holidays. No paid vacation. No healthcare. I pay social security as well. I’m not sure if pastors do. I also pay twice the amount for certain employment taxes since i am both the employer and employee. So i totally understand brotha!

    – jared

  10. Victor says:

    Jared,
    Thank you for posting this!
    So whats up  with the windows of heaven opening over those who tithe as mentioned in Malachi 3 ?
    Victor
     
     

  11. rory moore says:

    If more of us pastors would walk in faith the way Christ sent out His disciples in Mat. 10, we would depend on God supplying our needs rather than unscriptural tithes or salaries.  We also haveno med insurance and God is our healer.. -many times.  -and He still provides.  We work part time and serve God’s people without asking for “gifts”, tithes, or a salary.
    And tho our income is ridiculous low, we are debt free and meet the needs of others in giving.
    -and we lack nothing, just as the disciples responded to Jesus when He asked them if they lacked..
    “Without faith, no man can please the Lord”, -He is still growing ours and we see Him provide even miraculously.

  12. ivan says:

    Its a crying shame to see such ridiculous comments on thithing, wonder if God is looking and laughing…….pls dont anyone comment on this. My conclusion in all of this is ….. Give with a cheerful heart if your spirit leads you to give. Thank God for what he has done for you, so that you can give…..it is more blessed to give.

    The church elders and pastors should be a bit careful in collecting thithes, they will one day have to answer (manyfold) to God himself. I have seen it on TV and all medium of advertising today, what has Gods temple become…………..a den of thieves and cheats.

    May the good Lord forgive me if I have said anything wrong.

    God bless all the sincere givers.
    Bro in Christ.
    Ivan 

  13. Jade says:

    I am a Pentecostal pastors wife. We ask our church to cheerfully give what they can and only what they can, sensibly.
    We tell them Their little given with the right heart is better than a lot given pridefully or religiously. Our people are always provided for and the finances are transparent.. Everyone has access to view everything at any time.
    We also tell them that the word of God is the truth using NKJV or NIV, Not to avoid it as is mentioned in this!
    I work during the week so as that we can avoid taking a large salary. We get no extra benefits.
    Our tithe money pays the bills to keep the church open and pays for our outreaches and giving back into the community and meals and grocery vouchers for when our Church family members have hardship. God absolutely blesses us all with enough to get by. We are full of joy and our people are generally from very broken backgrounds yet walk in light after coming to know Christ and having a relationship with God.
    My husband and I and our daughters certainly do not do nothing.. We meet and pray with somebody every evening.. Our children often join us. This is the ultimate joy to do and is done without a ‘reward’ expectation.
    We have many churches worldwide with this same philosophy.
    What a heavy and sore heart I got reading this to think that people have been so damaged by humanity in a church and put such blanket thoughts over Gods precious people, myself and my beautiful family included. It hurts so much to be judged by man:(
    It is okay for me, my hurt can be healed, forgetten and covered. I just pray that there is no person that reads this that takes away any pain. Bless you all, in all of your wonderful diversity.
    With extreme love and abundant blessings in Christ…

  14. John says:

    There is only one Church. Take a closer look and figure out which one it is, and you can dispense with most of this comparison shopping. That is where you belong. Matthew 16:18 is a good starting point for your search.

  15. Andrea says:

    God values freedom. Advocates of tithing need to read Galations, which explains the nature of freedom. Jesus Christ has set us free! Freedom and love is the heart of the gospel. It seems contrary to the nature of God then to want to free people from their sins through faith in Jesus Christ, then wish for them to get out their calculators with a percentage button (10%) regarding their giving. God wouldn’t want His people to possibly suffer through feeling pressured in tithing, or from the financial effects of it. To measure giving in this way seems contrary to freedom and love – and thus God’s intent for us believers today.

    The New Testament says we need to feel free in giving, without being reluctant or under compulsion. Are pastors who preach tithing really concerned about whether people are feeling pressured in giving/tithing? If people are feeling this way, that should concern the pastor. But it seems it doesn’t – due to regularity of the message being preached. Yes, we are to be generous in giving, but the amount should be individually decided on, which is compatible with being free in doing it. Freedom really is the rule here – which is linked to love.

    I feel that if churches advocated freedom in giving, and appreciation – people would overflow in giving – because no-one wants to feel pressured in giving. Christians would want to support their pastor and the needs of the church – and I believe more people would give generously. Sure, the church could say they have financial needs, even for something specific, but to make it clear that people give without pressure. To be free in giving is to be loved – and I believe people would want to give more than they usually would! If people want to give a percentage (even 10%, or more) then they have freedom in doing that – according to what they have (as per the New Testament). The focus would be love and freedom in giving – so sermons/churches can focus on Jesus Christ – and his freedom for believers. Pastors should focus on the message of Jesus, and not add to it. Sure it’s scary for pastors – letting people decide what to give, and how often – but God will provide – for churches who are caring for their people, and interpreting the bible correctly. My guess is (as someone interested in psychology) that many who don’t tithe are somewhat put off giving/giving as much – because they react adversely to the pressure, and knowing this Old Testament practice has been misinterpreted. What keeps many in these churches is that they are still learning through the sermons/like the church/feel the Holy Spirit there/have friends there, etc etc. And such churches can be loving places, with freedom in many areas too.

    As for being blessed, we are blessed because of our relationship with Jesus, and all he offers us. Sure, tithers are blessed. But so are those who give freely and generously, according to what they have (New Testament teaching). God doesn’t want us to feel condemned, but people who aren’t tithing because they’re not sure about it may start feeling that way. Again, not the intent of God. The NT says, “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

    I imagine, if churches dropped tithing doctrine, it is possible/probable that many more people would be saved, as people would be experiencing love and freedom – and grow as believers – with confidence, wanting to win souls for Christ, because of all that he offers us. And they would feel more courageous in asking new folk to church because of no fear of the new person/non-Christian hearing about tithing. There would be no stumbling block.

    But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it–not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it–they will be blessed in what they do. James 1:25.

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