The Gospel I Know: The Commodification of “Prosperity” Churches

From a very tender age, I have always been a churchgoer. I was never able to make a distinction between Christianity and being a churchgoer. Even then, I knew that there was a God. I saw my mother call upon Him in names that I could not pronounce or even fathom. The call of His name sounded special. I was curious to find out what they meant. He was indeed a great phenomenon. This phenomenon, I grew up knowing that I should give reverence to and give all that I am unto. My 10 year old self did not understand what that looked and seemed like. When I was 13years old, I finally transitioned from being a church-sit filler to a Christian. I awkwardly walked face down towards the alter, lifted up my hand as if I was about to touch the heavens and I confessed Jesus as my Lord and saviour. I became a Christian that day. At least, that’s what I have come to believe.

I found an identity in Christ. I began understand Him than I understood my electives as school. I was present for every service that concerned me at church. I was always in youth services, I went for morning prayers, I joined the students’ Christian group at school and I was part of the leadership for some time. When I was in doubt I would always call upon Him. I knew Him as the one who was “not a man to lie nor son of man to repent.” I knew him as the author and finisher of my faith. Growing up in the Lord during my early teens, I learnt more about humility than I did in my leadership classes, I learnt about love than when I first fell in love at a tender age, I learnt about respecting adults, Ubuntu, forgiveness, conducting myself in a right manner (which I hope I am still doing right) and a lot more. Being in church was never about wealth or bribing God with my offering and tithes but it had a significant role in my life. I knew then that indeed He has a plan for my life. I did not need the pastor to lay his hands on me to tap into his blessings for me. My prayers were the key. I owned my Christian journey.

(Where am I getting with this?)

On the other hand, I was also exposed to another facet of “Christianity”. The prosperity Christianity that dwells in pastors with  expensive shoes, ties, suits, cars, houses and lives  bought with our offering in church; the one which which dwells in tents yet the people have been offering to build a “holy tabernacle”. I was exposed to preachers, pastors and churches whose sole responsibility was not deliver people from the “suffering” in their lives. I don’t in any way doubt that God can ordain mankind to perform such. But I do know that God also wanted people to get to know Him. Not only as the healer and provider.

Here’s why I am worried:

Prosperity is indeed achievable in Christ but honestly don’t think you need a pastor to lay hands on you to tap into God’s prosperity. My all-time favourite scripture is Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” In this scripture, Jeremiah does not make any reference to a “man of God” laying hands on you and then getting successful. It talks about God knowing the plans that He has for those are called by Him. Simple as that.

When this scripture is ignored, we (prosperity church dwellers) yield our ability in Christ to “men of God”. This has a tendency of causing turmoil in the church. Most times, people always get hands laid on them and they don’t benefit from laying of hands. Nothing changes. It instils a sense of doubt in the believers.

Prosperity church dwellers are made to confess “I am rich!” even when that person has not even seen cent in their account; they confess “that big house on Summit Road in Morningside is mine” when that person cannot even afford a loaf bread. These confessions are not founded on any scripture (which should be the case). The gospel I know according to Proverbs 14:23 “In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.” It’s great that you have confessed- that’s good motivation. Go and make that confession come to pass.

Being in a “prosperity” church is a worrying commodity in townships. The prosperity-church-normalization has rob a lot of township people. We are victims of all this. People are made to buy tap to bring success (given that everyone in townships and other parts of South Africa have access to tap water, we should all be millionaire), cooking oil in its awful smell is called a “healing oil” (names might differ), people are made to swallow snakes, eat grass, drink petrol and other inhumane things just to “get closer to God.”

What they are doing is not a campaign for heaven, God can still make it without them. They are pushing people much further away from God and His truth. The Gospel I know forbids us to think that we can be righteous by our own doing. The gospel I know does not require me to a preachers photo in my house to know that there is powerful God, the Gospel I know does not require me to buy stickers an tap water to know that He is everywhere I am . We live in a time where “preachers” are mushrooming from everywhere like we took fertilizers from hell to grow 21st century living and walking Satans.

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