Anyone who teaches prosperity is a deceiver and in it for the money.

I was recently made aware of a Christian blog that had posted a series of three blog posts entitled, ‘Prosperity Mythology and the Systematic Robbery of the Saints’. As you can probably guess from the title, these three posts were very critical of the message of prosperity; they were also very cynical and judgmental in tone. I  could sum up the message of the three posts in one sentence: ‘Anyone who teaches prosperity is a deceiver and in it for the money’. This probably a point of view shared by many, the question is, does the author of this blog have a point? 

Wolves in sheep’s clothing.

les2First of all, there certainly are people in the Christian church who are just after money – that cannot, and should not, be denied. These are some of the people that Jesus refers to, when he speaks of separating the tares from the wheat at the end of the age. In another analogy these people are what the Bible calls ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’. But does everyone who teaches prosperity fall into this category? The answer is no. I have observed another category of prosperity teachers / preachers – those who have a genuine belief, based on the Bible, that God wants us to prosper. They preach and teach prosperity because they believe it is God’s will for everyone, the same as the New Birth is God’s will for everyone and should therefore be proclaimed.

Give your best offering today and receive your breakthrough.

The motivation of those in this second category is not selfish, but instead comes from a belief that God is a loving Father who wants to bless them and others through them. They are not wolves in sheep’s clothing – however they do sometimes give the impression that they are. This happens  when statements like this are made: “God wants you to give either £55, £555 or £5555 – give your best offering today and receive your breakthrough“. A quick online search found the following phrase on the website of a well known minister:

I ask you to pray about sending a Day of Atonement offering in a multiple of 3—$300 or $3,000—or whatever God puts on your heart. Send your offering today. Lay it on the altar, and watch how God uses that sacred offering to release the seven blessings of the Atonement on your life

I have heard enough from this particular person to know that he is a man of God, but I also understand that when someone makes statements like the one above, it sounds an awful lot like the deceivers in the first category. The motivation is completely different, but it still sounds the same. For that reason I do not listen to anyone in this second category on a regular basis, because no matter how good the message is, I know that sooner or later I am going to hear a similar statement concerning giving that will make me wince. Maybe they don’t have the revelation that God will meet their ministry’s / church’s needs without them saying a word to anybody, I don’t know, but what I do know is that it is not my place to judge.

Specific needs of the church or ministry should not be mentioned.

I am pleased to say that there is a third category of prosperity preachers and teachers. Which is good because I don’t like the fact that many genuine people come across as con men. Those in this third category rarely, if ever, mention specific sums of money. Instead they focus on part of the statement which I quoted above, “….whatever God puts on your heart“. This is line with what Paul taught in 2 Corinthians 9:7, “Each one of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give. You should not give if it makes you unhappy or if you feel forced to give. God loves those who are happy to give” (Easy to Read Version). I firmly believe that whoever receives the offering should encourage people to be led by the Holy Spirit as to what to give, and not to plant suggestions in their heads. I also believe that specific needs of the church or ministry should not be mentioned, because God has already promised to supply all of our needs as per Philippians 4:19. God is completely capable of speaking to people as to what to give, without them needing to know that there is a particular financial issue at the moment.

But what if the people don’t give enough?

joash2brepairs2btempleBut what if the people don’t give enough?” So what if they don’t! Who is your source – them, or God?If the people are not obedient to what God puts in their hearts, then they will not receive the blessings that come with obedience. But from the point of view of a church’s or a ministry’s finances, whether the people give enough is irrelevant. I know that God’s preferred method of supply for a church is through the congregation of that church, and likewise his preferred method of supply for a Christian ministry is through the partners of that ministry and through those that are being ministered to (in accordance with their ability to give). This hearkens back to the Old Testament system where the people’s giving was what provided for the priests, the Levites, the Tabernacle and later, the Temple. However I also know that God is not limited, and that if the giving of the people dries up for whatever reason, God has plenty of other ways to supply a church or a ministry that is looking to Him as its source. Heaven does not hold emergency meetings whenever a church’s finances received on  a Sunday are not enough to meet the needs of that church. Allow me to make a bold statement: When you trust God, there is never a need to ask people for money. But that is the key – trusting God to supply, regardless of what the circumstances look like.

When was the last time that you went to a church that didn’t receive an offering?

So you’re saying that Word of Faith type churches shouldn’t receive offerings?” No of course not – when was the last time that you went to a church that didn’t receive an offering? As I said, the giving of the people attending the church, or being ministered to by a certain ministry, is God primary method of supply. The difference is that for churches that do not believe in Biblical prosperity, if the people don’t give enough, they run into problems. And let’s be realistic here, when people are not taught that God wants them to prosper, their giving is usually not very much – maybe a couple of coins every Sunday, much the same as you might put into a charity box. “Oh, but remember the widow who gave those two small coins…..?” Yes I do, but she gave all she had. That is not the same as taking a couple of coins out of your purse or wallet that you’re not going to miss.

People are not giving as they should in the regular offerings.

tithingSome people are very critical of any mention of money in church, but is it not common practice for churches to hold jumble / rummage sales, cake sales, etc? And what is the reason? The reason, is that people are not giving as they should in the regular offerings and so instead of looking to God, the church looks at other ways of raising money. This would not happen in a church where the majority of people are tithers (in accordance with Biblical principals), a church where people tithe has no need to devise other ways of getting money from people. The simple truth is that all churches need money in order to operate – but the lesson that needs to be learned is that God’s promise to supply is not just nice words. Philippians 4:19 is a principal that will work every single time without fail, for individuals, churches and ministries alike – when it is believed and relied on.

The pastor of a church should be driving a nice car.

The advantage of a church or ministry being prosperous, is not that the pastor is able to drive a nice car and live in a nice house – although I do believe that the pastor of a church should be driving a nice car and living in a nice house, because that is a far better testimony of God’s goodness than the pastor driving a run down old car and living in some small, rented accommodation.  But the main advantage that a prosperous church, with a generous congregation has, is that the leaders of that church do not need to worry about the churches finances. Which means they are able to focus their attention on the things of God rather than on what they can do next to raise money. The irony is, that is the churches that do not believe in prosperity, that inevitably have a lot of their attention focused on money.

Keep your attention focused on God.

I have written much on the subject of prosperity, which you can read elsewhere on my blog, however I have not always believed in prosperity. In the past, I was somewhat cynical concerning prosperity – although it has to be said that I was never militantly against prosperity like the writer of the blog I mentioned, I just didn’t really believe in it. Until that is, my wife started listening to a well known teacher of prosperity. As I listened with her, I found that first of all, everything that was being said had a solid Biblical foundation. The second thing that surprised me was that not every message was about prosperity. There is certainly a danger that comes with wealth, but the key is keep your attention focused on God when you are still struggling to get by, and continue to keep it focused on God as you progress into abundance.

If you have any further questions or thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment.

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