There is much ado in the news this week about Creflo Dollar, pastor of the World Changers Church International in metro Atlanta, and his recent altercation with his daughter. I found it interesting that most news releases gave special attention to the fact that Pastor Dollar is a proponent of the “prosperity message”, the size of his congregation, and the monies he earns through speaking and writing.
Let me begin by saying this about Pastor Dollar’s prosperity message. I think Pastor Dollar has been successful in sharing God’s desire to bless and provide for His children. This is not new information but clearly communicated throughout God’s Word. In The Sermon on the Mount, specifically, Matthew 6, Jesus shared God’s promise for provision and attempts to relieve the anxiety of people over their needs (vv.27-32). Jesus, however, in the same sermon warns the masses not to lay up treasure on earth but in heaven. “Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be.” (Matthew 6:21, New Living Translation) We are instructed to seek Him first and He will take care of our needs (v.33). Writers of the Old Testament warn of the fleeting value of riches and the perils of allowing them to become our “idol”. Proverbs 23:4 specifically warns: “Labour not to be rich…”
While many criticize Pastor Dollar for his “prosperity message”, they must also recognize his success in preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ, which is the “power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16). I think the “hating on Pastor Dollar” originates from believers and ministries who are being challenged to better present the “Gospel message”—clearly, unabashed, and unashamedly. This is not happening in many of our churches. Let me further explain, by sharing my experience with the prosperity message.
While I was “saved” at nine (9), I didn’t relinquish lordship to Christ until I was forty (40). Good church training but no clear presentation of what it really meant to be “die to sin” and “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:2,4). What Pastor Dollar, Kenneth Copeland, and other prosperity promoters did was “to stir up in my spirit” (2 Tim. 1:6) the desire to learn more about the Triune God. In Christ, I learned I had a new identity—I was God’s child and joint heir with Him (Rom. 8:16-17) and I could be in a personal relationship with the Triune God—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (who now lived within me). I was familiar with religion but relationship was something new! And as I drew near to Him, He drew near to me (James 4:8). The more I studied His Word, God directed me to more light and more truth about Himself. God then re-directed my study to better teachers and ministers who built on my new knowledge of God (2 Pet. 1:3-8). Isaiah 55:11 best describes my experience with prosperity ministries: “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
As believers we are personally responsible for developing and expanding our relationship with God. It requires us to get into His presence to know Him and be “known by Him” (Ps. 91:14). It is God that we must seek—His face and not His hand. He alone can provide what we really need—“grace and peace through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (2 Pet.1:2) and “an inheritance incorruptible that doesn’t fade away” because it’s eternal (1 Pet. 1:3-4).