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Mega Churches and the Prosperity Gospel

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Over the past few decades in America and many other regions around the world, the mega churches have exploded in popularity mainly because of the phenomenon called prosperity gospel. As the phenomenon grows in popularity, various issues have arisen. Although any large organization or movement typically has its share of controversies or downsides, the controversy surrounding these “mega” churches are no different.

mega churches

What Exactly is a Mega Church?

A mega church, technically, refers to a church that has a regular weekly audience of at least 2,000. The concept is pretty clear but it is still new to many outsiders. Mega churches became a thing only about a few decades ago. The well-known mega churches seen in America today were established after 1955. However, they only started to gain massive popularity in the 80s. Since then their average congregation size has increased exponentially.

The Prosperity Gospel Phenomenon

Many mega churches preach a prosperity gospel. The prosperity gospel refers to the idea that God wants us to have a prosperous life, i.e. to be happy, healthy, and rich. If you are not, then it means it is your fault. In other words, if you are suffering, then it means you lack faith. According to the preaching of mega churches, you or I can demonstrate your faith by tithing to the church as much donation as you can and you will eventually get it back tenfold.

the prosperity gospelWhile the idea seems to be promising for those donating, in reality it is only the preachers that get rich.

Many of them have millions of dollars in annual salary, in addition to perks like luxury houses, private jets, and more. Names such as Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyer, Robert Tilton, Benny Hinn, and many others have increased their wealth and prosperity over the years thanks to their focus on knowing this gospel and pushing it to its limits.

The prosperity gospel is said to responsible for the 2008 housing crisis. It has been criticized for taking advantage of the followers, encouraging them to donate money to the church rather than paying their bills or rent, making them believe that the private jets or luxury houses that are worth millions of dollars they are helping the pastor to buy are basically the will of the God.

The prosperity gospel that is preached in American mega churches essentially provides a cover for greedy pastors.

This is because even when a preacher gains excessive wealth, no questions are raised. Men like Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn, who are worth millions of dollars. They don’t have to hide the money they receive from the mega churches because of tax laws. The wealth is basically a sign of their faith and holiness.

The God of the Seeds and Covenants

One of the key aspects of the prosperity gospel movement is the importance placed on the God’s covenant with His believers in the Bible. The primary logic of this concept is that the Christians are all Abraham’s spiritual children. This makes them the inheritors of the financial blessings, the material rights, and the earthly territorial lands. In a book called “The Laws of Prosperity”, Kenneth Copeland states that the prosperity is one of the key results of a deal made with God. So, the followers of the Lord should know that they have a right to wealth and prosperity.

A central concept in this theology is the principle of sowing seeds. This is the spiritual principle of the seed and the harvest is taken completely out of context. It seems giving is in particular a financial act measured with regards to return on investment.

The Bottom Line

Millions of people regularly go to mega churches that preach the prosperity gospel. These oversize houses of worship promise economic and spiritual rewards. They also make worship a spectacular, entertaining experience shared with a huge audience. But they are also controversial and seem to have a dark side.

The prosperity gospel has a powerful presence in the mass media as well as support from televangelism. The version of prosperity gospel that is preached by mega churches has been severely criticized by many charismatic churches. Many evangelical sectors call what these mega churches preach a “different gospel”. According to them, this gospel bears no resemblance to the teachings of the Lord and they are just a way for opportunists to take advantage of their followers.