The Forbes list of richest pastors in the world is quoted thousands of times all over the internet, but when you actually try to find it, it’s seemingly vanished.
Regardless, I wanted to share with you who was included in the list, their net worths, and a few of the high-paying skills that contribute to their wealth.
Many people believe it’s a shady thing that men of God can become wealthy, however, the Bible has a long list of people who were men of God who had wealth.
The fact is…some people have high-paying skills while others don’t. Some people have a will and drive to succeed and others don’t.
Assuredly, there are some pastors who are manipulative, money-seeking, “milking the church payroll”, and downright wrong, but we can’t assume that all of them are.
Here’s a list of the world’s richest pastors and their supposed net worths…
Joseph Prince is the pastor of one of the largest churches in Asia. He was a founding member of New Creation Church and took it over in 1990.
Under his leadership, the church grew from 150 people to 31,000 people, and is still growing today. Prince is very internet savvy as a prior IT Consultant.
He uses his internet skills to reach millions of people all over the world thru his books, podcasts, blogs, ministry collaborations, and television broadcasting.
(Source: Joseph Prince Ministries)
T.B. Joshua is considered by many to be a prophet. He hosts a show called “Emmanuel TV” that reveals how people come to him in droves from all over the world.
They reveal their life problems to him, and he causes the demons to manifest from within them. T.B. Joshua is known for speaking conversationally with demons before screaming, “Come out in the name of Jesus!” where the person typically collapses like a avalanche, and arises “free from demon possession”.
There’s no public information detailing whether he gets a salaty from the church or not, however, we do know he makes money from the enormous amount of PDFs, MP3s, DVDs, and so on.
Billy Graham was a well known evangelist who traveled all over the world hosting live events and spreading the good news. He has the record of preaching the gospel to more people live than anyone in history!
He wrote books, was featured in documentaries, commonly broadcasted on TV, and spoke in places all over the world. Public information on the ministry financials can be seen HERE.
(Source: Billy Graham Evangelistic Association)
Kenneth Copeland stands as a very controversial pastor because of his abundance and prosperity messages. He is one of the proponents of the teaching that if you keep sowing (giving money) to the church or blessed people, then you will be blessed with money.
He has purchased a private jet with the proceeds of church donations, and he hosts television audiences to film in his $6.3 million estate.
While there is a lot of controversy around his teachings and his transparency, we don’t know how many people have been positively influenced or the heart condition that leads him.
(Image Source: Kenneth Copeland Ministries)
Like Copeland, Creflo dollar is a prosperity gospel proponent. He claims his blessings come as a result of giving, giving, and giving, and you should do the same. He broadcasts a television program Changimg Your World that reaches 1/7th of the world’s population (1 billion homes), and has a goal to set up 500 satellite churches around the world.
He has received alot of public criticism for his lack of financial transparency. He’s known as one of America’s flashiest pastors, but there’s no public information revealing whether his assets are accumulated from tithes and offering, or whether he has accumulated them from business transactions of his own.
(Image Source: Creflo Dollar Ministries)
Unlike many of the other pastors on this list, Adeboye is not a church founder. In fact, he was the translator at the church until the founder Papa Akindayomi passed away.
Since he became overseer, the church has had exponential growth, and now has a branch in 196 nations, and a goal to build a branch within 5 minutes of each person on Earth.
(Image Source: EAdeboye.com)
Benny Hinn is most known for his healing services where the “Holy Spirit” causes those touched to fall, convulse, be thrown, and many other signs mimicking Kundalini much more than biblical recollections of the Spirit of God’s work.
Despite the widespread controversy about whether or not his healing services bring real results, Hinn has been able to travel all over the world hosting services as these. He makes money from book sales, audio sales, and other products, but it is unknown how much of the donations he raises are used for personal wealth accumulation.
(Image Source: Benny Hinn Ministries)
Similar to Benny Hinn, Oyakhilome is also a proponent of the “Holy Spirit” who makes peopl fall, convulse, and be thrown across the room. He leads a television ministry, a healing ministry, a publishing ministry, and a teaching ministry.
As a result of his efforts, billions have been reached with his message. Like many of the other pastors, he makes money from books, magazines, audio downloads, and live speaking, but his actual salary from the church or what he receives from tithes and offerings is not public.
(Image Source: Pastor Chris Online)
Bishop T.D. Jakes has been called “America’s Pastor”. He is regularly seen on television with Oprah and many other well-known celebrities, he has his own television show where he consults people going thru tough life situations, he writes books on fulfilling your purpose, and he travels to speak to congregations all over. He is known for his mega church in Dallas Texas, The Potter’s House and its satellite locations.
(Image Source: BishopTDJakes.org)
David Oyedepo was called “The World’s Richest Pastor” by Forbes. He is a Nigerian Pastor and the founder of Living Faith Church Worldwide.
He currently presides as Bishop of several church locations in many nations, and authors books, speaks, creates video and audio products. He says that he never asked God for money, but he asked him for souls.
Learning to evangelize and reach more people has enabled him to become wealthy.
(Image source: Daily Post)
Unlike the majority of churches and pastors, the richest pastors in the world operate like businessmen. They strategize as an entrepreneur who is growing an enterprise. They often get paid to speak, they get paid for travel, they write books and get massive sales, they network, and they outsell and outmarket their peers in ministry.
In his classic book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini talks about 6 principles of persuasion that can work ethically or unethically for churches or any other business structure. They are:
The people who learn the skills of persuasion and how they can be used can use them ethically or unethically. They can use presupposed belief systems coupled with persuasion to get results (money, fame, and fortune) which is wrong. However, it’s also wrong for those who are giving to the ministries to skip over the scriptures and the ongoing warnings to “test everything against scripture”.
The people who are the best at marketing and sales effect the most people whether their messages are “right” or not. Many people say that pastors have authority because God has ordained it, and at times, this is the case.
Alternatively, we can see people who have huge circles of influence that God didn’t condone. This can be seen in the secular world and in churches, and stretches throughout history even in the Bible.
Look at the horrific history of the Catholic Church Crusades, or Hitler’s Holocaust, and Stalin’s mass killing spree as an example. They killed millions of people and had the authority to do so. Did God ordain this? Absolutely not!
The best at sales and marketing stand before the largest crowds whether they have a good message or not, which is why it’s important we take the Great Commission seriously.
Though we can speculate and gossip (which is wrong), we can’t say assurredly that if pastors are rich, they are unethically or unbiblically rich. The Bible speaks positively about wealth, but negatively about “the love of money”. There’s a difference.
We can only make factual comments if manipulation or unethical means are used to acquire personal wealth. We can assuredly say many wealthy pastors are guilty of using unethical manners of accumulating wealth like receiving payroll from tithes or using guilt as a means to increase giving. Pastors should follow the example of Yeshua and his disciples who worked, evangelized massively, and did not take tithes or live off of them as clearly documented in the New Testament.
On the positive side, if the pastor writes a book and ethically sells numerous copies of the book, it is ethical for him to be paid. If the pastor prepares, practices, and speaks an ethical message, he can be considered as a speaker, and get paid.
If a pastor uses hard work, ongoing meetings, and aggressive sales goals to build a ministry that effectively teaches the good news, it’s not unethical for him to receive a paycheck. Furthermore, if they receive a commission or a high salary, but the church growth or sales volumes are a result of his efforts, it’s not unethical for him to receive fruit from his labor.
It is unethical if they take collections under the vices of outreach, and use it for personal gain. The people should know and understand what their using their money towards when they give.
It is also unbiblical to use the pulpit or sanctuary as a place for advertising. Pastors should be careful to honor the pulpit as a place of holiness rather than business.
Many people contend that pastors should not be rich while parishioners are poor, but solving the problem of poverty is something the Bible does not forecast will happen before the Messiah returns. There will always be people who make choices and experience the causes of their choices. People can even be affected financially by association: marrying someone with financial illiteracy, being born into a family of financial illiteracy, or otherwise, but guess what?
They can get out! They can become financially literate and get out! Poverty is in large part about ignorance and lack of self-discipline.
As Christians, we will all have been given guidelines of what to give to the poor and the liberty of choosing how to help the poor beyond what the Torah states. It’s not unethical for pastors to make the same choices as everyone else in the world about whether they’d like to give cheerfully to individuals or not.
Money is not the only way to give, and if they give of their time, skills, talents, connections, and the best they can with a contrite heart to serve God, they will be able to please the Messiah.
We have to take responsibility as the church. We give, we create superstar pastors, we attend, and we spread the messages. Noone is perfect and we haven’t been given the authority to jusge hearts. If we disagree with the manipulation or the stewardship of these people, it’s our responsibilities to communicate directly to them if we have access, stop giving, stop attendance, and stop spreading the messages.
This playlist contributes to the debate on rich pastors and ethics. As taxpayers, even those who don’t believe or support the churches are forced to pay taxes that support the churches (and payrolls associated with them) even though many churches keep payrolls of the staff very secret, and use the tax free money to buy numerous large estates, large cars, and so on.
The goal of this article was to show the richest pastors in the world, whether they are unethical for being rich, and inspire you to grow the necessary skills to communicate the Word of God ethically throughout the world.
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My opinion: If Pastors want to use government clauses to exempt them from taxation and so on, they should be transparent and ethical with how they use the benefits. The pastors should do for-profit businesses if they don’t want to be transparent about the money to the taxpayers who subsudize them.
Don’t force taxpayers to subsudize their wealth.
Added onto that, they should make money ethically rather than using guilt or manipulating scriptures to provoke people to give. On the other side, people should test scriptures and only give when they feel the unction from God. Don’t force taxpayers to subsudize their wealth.
I know this article was loaded with controversial statements, and I’d love to hear your comments (even if you disagree). What are your thoughts on Biblical Ethics and Wealth? Have you seen manipulation in the church and how did you handle it? Do you see the misuse of persuasion in the church, and what do you do about it? Do you think it’s fair to the taxpayers that they have to subsudize the ministries who won’t be transparent, and choose how high their tax-free salaries are?
Hi! I'm Tiffany. I'm a mom, wife, Internet Marketing Consultant, and the founder of KOHA. My passion is to share everything I know about applying the Bible to daily life, starting a ministry, and scaling a ministry online.
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