Creative LeadershipEngaging Culture

The Luxury Life of TV Evangelists is Coming to an End

This subject represents a significant stumbling block to the Christian community’s ability to impact the culture.  Remember that in today’s media-driven world, perception matters, and regardless of your theological persuasion, it’s time to realize that some of our efforts – even well intentioned efforts – can have damaging consequences.  Yesterday we talked about what’s called the “prosperity message.”  Today, the next step is how the luxury life of many TV evangelists is coming to an end.

Talk about stumbling blocks to the culture. There is more criticism leveled at luxury cars, mansions, jets, and other accoutrements of rich ministry leaders than anything else.  It’s not a matter of being deserving – whatever that is.  It’s about our perception in the culture, and from that perspective it’s killing us.

The interesting thing I’m finding is that the unrelenting desire to be rich comes about 90% from the first generation of media ministers.  When it comes to today’s younger pastors and ministry leaders, I find that most live very modestly by comparison.  Could it be that first generation leaders grew up poor and were determined to show the world they were successful?  Could it be the second generation leaders grew up in a better lifestyle, and it doesn’t matter so much to them?

From the perspective of African-American churches, I believe we’re seeing a dramatic shift as well.  During slavery, when few slaves had access to the outside world, a pastor acted as the emissary to the white establishment.  He was the person who became the intermediary representing the black community.  During segregation, that idea still was in force.  In those days, it was perfectly understandable that black congregations wanted that representative to look like he belonged there.  So they wanted him to drive a nicer car, live in a nicer house, dress better.

The problem is, today, any member of the black community can be a person of success (Especially in a country where an African-American man is now president).  But in too many of these congregations, the pastor still enjoys being celebrated as the “representative,” and really enjoys living like a king.  While some black congregations and ministries struggle financially, their pastor is driving a Rolls, and living in a mansion.  But as more and more members of those congregations start asking these and other important questions about their leader’s lifestyle, I believe we’ll see some significant changes.

The bottom line is that no matter what the race, age, location, or doctrinal position, I predict we’ll see less and less ostentatious luxury among serious Christian leaders in the future – especially from those who are committed to reach the next generation.


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  1. It's one thing to be blessed by your congregation as an honest expression of their appreciation. And it's another thing entirely, when that blessing is demanded and then, becomes just another form of addiction. (And it can happen to anyone of us if we're not careful.)

    If the television ministries had poured their on-air resources into creating "Must See TV" rather than just pandering for cash, they could've had a stream of income that would've lasted for a long, long time. But Christian broadcasters have never thought about it that way. Maybe some of the new guard can do just that. And, pour that extra income into production, and project development ~ rather than just another trip to the mall, or a salary increase. Let's hope. Let's ask God for financial wisdom to filter down into every aspect of Christian media.   


  2. It's about balance.

    There are pastors who lives in a million dollar home…those attending his church live in trailers.

    There are other pastors who lives in a million dollar home…those attending his church have several homes that are multi-million dollars.

    There are churches who pay their pastors very well, and do little for there community.
    There are other churches who pay their pastors well and give abundantly.

    There are pastors who demand, even preach, private jets.
    There are pastors who have frozen their own pay raises to give raises to jr. staff.

    Side note: I believe in being generous to the pastor…but I also believe in the pastor and the church to be just as generous. Don't preach about me needing to give generously and then turn around in a Tuesday meeting and ask me to do everything for free.


  3. When we have reduced the entire Kingdom of God to nothing more than just preaching and teaching what do we expect? Who will be the beneficiaries of this system – preachers and teachers. The whole system of Church is in need of a complete reboot and has been in need of one since Emperor Constantine’s ‘conversion’ and joining the Body of Christ in the process making Christianity a state religion – which was never the way the Lord was going to change the world. The Lord Jesus Christ has been building His Church despite this formidable tare in the history of the Church age but I think we will begin to see a refining take place – and this will become more evident when Christians become more confident in their identity in Christ Jesus and grow in Him and not an individual or a church system. Jesus Christ intended His Body to be a relationally and organically growing Body with flexible structures and systems to enable consistent growth and adapt to Him in ever changing unstable world. But as long as the only people doing the building are the preachers and teachers (and the rest of the five-fold ministry) then we will see less than 5% of the Body of Christ do anything relevant and the continued one-way style of church we currently have – and we will continue to have such issues as Phil has raised. But there is hope – there really is hope because the LORD always has a remnant that will do what He truly wants to get done on the earth.

  4. Sometimes I feel like Phil's tame Catholic…

    I think it's important to remember that His Holiness the Pope is not going to pass St. Peter's Basilica on to his children. (Well, at least, we hope not.) The Church abolished the sale of indulgences because people confused giving money to the church with devotion and penitence, and the priests were using it for their own personal gain. Isn't that what you're talking about? We seem to be ahead of the curve on that one. (A rare victrory for our side.)

    And the comment about the Popemobile, which was acquired by the Holy See after Pope John Paul II was shot by a terrorist is just silly.

    I have no problem with a preacher being paid well to speak, but they should be held to account for how they use the money, just as any Christian should be.

    Cardinal Mahoney of Los Angeles has a very nice new house and a beautiful new $250 million dollar church (it's worth a visit), and when he is replaced, it all goes to the next Bishop.

    Here's how I see Phil's point: if money is given to a Church, it should be used to further the Church's mission: if the Church's mission is to enrich the pastor, something is wrong. If people love their pastor so much that they want to give a gift directly to them, that's fine, within reason. But modesty should forbid indulgence. (There's that word again!)

    I don't recall the passage about "If you love me, give me things." I do recall something about "Sell all you have, and follow me."

    Thanks, Phil, for another provocative piece. God bless you, and God bless and all the good Protestant pastors and evangelists who selflessly spead God's truth.

    Your brother in Christ, 


  5. Do you guys honestly believe that the real Paul Crouch, Jr. would write a comment like that using his real name?

    Benny Hinn, Jr.

  6. Know what, I notice some of the really big TV evangalist now days, using the BIG letters (Phd, etc.) behind their name, so now, many of those that do have to have armed guards with them when they do these big city “revivals” (did they used to call them crusades?), their level of fame and fortune (God wants us to PROSPER, right?) requires this level of physical security when they are in large crowds, until such time that they can make it back to their “castles”.  They have their success, their beautiful homes, nice clothes, and ALL THAT, hopefully they have peace at their “Kublakan”.  I for one can not muster the energy to “bless their ministry” with my offering, while I drive a +10 year old car and they fly around in private jets, own millions in real estate, etc. Do not wish them any harm or malice, but some preach as if you do not want mansions and Rolls Royces you are not accepting the scriptures…to thine own self be true. When I want to be a blessing I give blood, volunteer at a food bank, etc., my time is my donation. Imagine the dollar amount that some of these prosperity ministers have spent defending themselves and some of their practices, hmmm?

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