I want to start by clarifying what a prosperity pastor is; a prosperity pastor is a pastor who preaches the prosperity gospel to their congregation. The prosperity gospel promotes ideas such as more faith will get you more wealth, the desires of your heart, God will love you more etc. The idea of more faith in order to receive something is not part of the gospel in the Bible.
Steven Jennings, senior pastor of Immanuel Church of Fujairah on the east coast of the United Arab Emirates, has written an article for The Gospel Coalition titled There Is No Such Things as a Prosperity Pastor. As a pastor in the United Arab Emirates, he has seen a high concentration of “prosperity theology” among those who call themselves Christians. Many people relocate to the area, often leaving their families behind in hopes of gaining prosperity for themselves and their family. They cling to the false hope that the prosperity gospel provides, and most are unsuccessful in their ventures, which leaves them confused and hurt as to why this prosperity theology did not work for them like their pastor said it would.
“But so often life here fails to meet the expectations of those who come for wealth, as does the prosperity teaching in which so many put their hope. Life is hard, suffering is real, and riches are elusive. So pastorally speaking, what does prosperity theology have to offer when life doesn’t work out? How do “pastors” of prosperity churches shepherd their people when prosperity is nowhere to be found? The answer I’m discovering is that they don’t.”
Jennings reveals that people are coming to his church from other churches that preach the prosperity gospel, but he has realized that they’re not coming because their eyes have been opened to the false gospel they followed; they’re coming because they’re hurting. These people are battling illness, problems in their marriage, or a loss of income and their pastor’s response was “more faith” that the reason they weren’t receiving God’s favor was because they weren’t believing enough. The pastors would then distance themselves from these un-prosperous people. These people needed a shepherd and their pastor was not one.
“Seeing firsthand the pastoral carnage of prosperity teachers has caused me to feel more than ever why they deserve to be called “wolves” (Acts 20:29). Wolves prey on weak and immature Christians, tearing with guilt and doubt the very hearts that need gospel comfort and hope.
In a world where Christ promised his followers hardship and persecution, prosperity preachers are incapable of being prosperity pastors (John 16:33). This is because they promise to lead sheep toward pastures that don’t exist, feed them with words that can never satisfy, and leave them exposed to lies and doubts in the same cycle of futility into which they were born (Isa. 55:2; Eccl. 1:2; Job 5:7; Rom. 8:20).”
To read Steven Jennings full article please visit The Gospel Coalition.
Crosswalk.com Contributor Daniel Darling shares,
“Understanding sanctification guards us, then, against over-selling immediate, tangible gospel effects. Yes, genuine salvation does result in life change, but these fruits may often be small in this life, faint glimmers of the glory we’ll see in the New Jerusalem. Understanding sanctification also gives us a mechanism to help others who struggle with sin, with mental illness, with sickness and pain. Rather than offering hyperbolic promises of “victory” and “spiritual success” we might enter into in their pain and walk with them in their despair, pointing them to comfort in the eschatological hope of a full, final renewal that awaits them in glory. Understanding sanctification allows us to mend the broken without expecting people to be perfectly whole in this life.
Rejecting our subtle prosperity gospels moves us from people-fixing to burden-bearing. We should still say to the seeking, the hurt, and the lost, “You need Jesus,” because they do. But let’s not give them the false Jesus of quick spiritual fixes, but the real Jesus who guides us through the storms and walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death and leads us ultimately to Himself.”
True shepherds always point their sheep to the Shepherd; these shepherds give all glory to Jesus and keep none for themselves. They encourage their sheep to bear one another’s burdens, to walk alongside each other through every storm and every moment of happiness, and to see Jesus as their only true comfort whatever life may bring.
What Did Jesus Have to Say about Seeking Happiness?
Jesus had a lot to say about happiness in the Sermon on the Mount. Randy Alcorn explains a few of the "blessed are the ________" passages and how they apply to Christians today.Posted by Crosswalk.com on Thursday, December 31, 2015
Publication date: January 25, 2016
Liz Kanoy is an editor for Crosswalk.com.