LET’S DO BETTER
Most of our readers are familiar with a certain expression made by preachers who are pastors of churches, traveling evangelist, or “just” preaching, but not a pastor of a particular church. The majority of these men, and a smaller number who are women, deliver messages from churches, stadiums, homes, television, You Tube, bleachers, highways—you name it. These men and women “of God” have preached everywhere to everyone and many of them, if not most of them, validate their preaching as a profession neither by a degree, nor specified training. Their professions as preachers are validated by “I’ve been called,” meaning they were called by God to do God’s work.
In the past two decades, preachers and churches have come under scrutiny for a variety of reasons, which have included not living up to the mission of a church, irrelevancy, and not changing “with the times” which has led to increased numbers of people becoming disinterested in formal religion. And, the recent, seeming legitimate, criticism of the reality television show, Preachers of L.A., has caused reasonable people to question the logic of some high profile preachers. Perhaps, there is some truth to the cliché regarding preachers: “Some were called and some just went.”
We have, in some ways, grown accustomed to megachurches. After all, they have existed since the later part of the 20th century. We know such churches are typically wealthy in human and financial resources. We know, in some cases, the traditional neighborhood church has been abandoned and said establishments are struggling to meet their budgets. Yet, there is something a little creepy about the Christian delivery style of the ministers in Preachers of L.A. Bishop T.D. Jakes—in spite of valid reasons to question his own ministry—had some harsh comments about this reality show.
Bishop Jakes rebuked the materialism of the reality T.V. preachers. He said, to his parishioners, just a month ago, “Now I know you have been watching that junk (referring to Preachers of L.A.) on T.V. I want to tell you right now, not one dime of what you are sowing will buy my suit. I got my house on my own. My car is paid for. I had money when I came to Dallas and I plan to have some when I leave.” With all due respect Bishop, understandably so. But, the Potter’s House put you on the map to make the money. The Bishop assisted with the production of the movie, “Sparkle.” He is a best selling author, a T.V. personality, and he hangs out with billionaire Oprah. Further, just last month, Tyler Perry, on nationwide T.V. slew the bishop in the spirit and gave him one million dollars. Perry danced, shouted, and said the Lord told him to give Jakes the money. We can’t help but wonder if Perry heard the Lord right. God’s son Jesus’ personality would more fittingly have divided that million among the nation’s poor who are struggling to hold on to food stamps.
Jakes is not the only megachurch leader who has the same lavish lifestyle as the reality stars. Crefflo Dollar is “sho nuf” in the mix. Crefflo sports two Rolls-Royces, a two-million dollar home in Atlanta, a 2.5 million dollar home in New Jersey, and he just sold a home, in New York for 3.5 million. And, both men preach “prosperity gospel,” that “name and claim wealth.” In most cases, the parishioners are doing the naming, and the preachers are doing the claiming.
In conclusion, Jakes’ criticism has some validity, but his lifestyle makes us believe he is just talking smack. Some of Jakes’ followers have an abundance of faith, have prayed until they fainted, and “claimed riches.” Yet, their wealth in nowhere near that of Jakes. Forgive this quote, coming from a non-theologian:
“And, why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye.”—Matthew 7:3 (KJV)
Really, how can Jakes, credibly, criticize the Preachers of L.A? For the record, mega preacher extravagance is not a “black thing.” Joel Osteen’s richness include a 17,500-foot mansion, valued at 11 million dollars. Osteen said, “I don’t take a salary from my church.” I guess not!
For the record, we know this is a capitalist country; profit is the name of the game and if any individual arrives at wealth, through legal means, he/she is merely engaging in enterprising.
The Preachers of L.A., Jakes, Dollar and any mega church leader has a right to get rich. However, tying their wealth to Christianity and proclaiming “God is just blessing,” sends the wrong message. Most likely, these ministers’ wealth came from great marketing strategies, knowing influential people, hard work, intellect, some luck and unfortunately, also, just plain “pimping.”
The next time we hear a preacher bragging about his Bentley, which was a gift from God, let’s respond with “I don’t think so.” Why? Because Jesus came to town on a donkey, not an Arabian stallion. When a preacher proclaims his 10 million dollar home was a gift from God, let’s say, “no way.” Why? Because Jesus would have purchased 40 homes at $250,000 each and blessed 40 people. Finally, lets remind Tyler Perry to give to the needy, not the greedy.