Megachurches, Megamansions: Pastors’ Homes Valued in the Millions

By Barry Bowen and Pete Evans
David Turner parsonage
Former home of faith healer David Turner. (Photo: Realtor.com)

Parsonages are often thought to be modest homes that allow pastors to survive on a meager salary. However, in our multi-million-dollar budget, megachurch age, a parsonage can be a $7 million mansion stretched across 35 acres—and all of it tax-free!

That’s what ministry watchdog The Trinity Foundation found in a recent investigation, prompted by a request for help from Houston Chronicle reporter Jay Root.

Trinity compiled a list of megachurches and large media ministries in Texas and then searched for parsonages and homes of pastors and ministry leaders. Meanwhile, the Houston Chronicle examined the state tax code and filed open records requests with county appraisal districts seeking lists of parsonages.

Root’s investigation uncovered startling evidence of pastors living extravagantly.

“A months-long Houston Chronicle investigation of ministers’ tax-free residences found no shortage of extravagant homes in high-dollar locales,” Root wrote in his exposé. “At least two dozen were worth over $1 million even using the artificially low values that exempt properties typically carry.”

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Trinity Foundation also investigated pastor and ministry housing in other states, discovering multi-million-dollar homes of several televangelists and even evangelical pastors who have received little media scrutiny, like evangelist Greg Laurie and Association of Related Churches (ARC) President Greg Surratt.

Some of these homes are owned by the pastor’s church or ministry, which means the homes are tax-exempt. Others are owned by individual pastors, meaning they are not tax-exempt, though likely funded—at least in part—by tax-deductible donations.

Below are highlights from Trinity’s findings.

Texas Church Parsonages and Pastor-Owned Homes

Texas televangelist Joel Osteen lives in the most expensive home Trinity identified.

Osteen, pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, owns a 15,700-square-foot mansion in Houston appraised at almost $12 million. Its estimated value tops $14 million.

Trinity Foundation also located a home Osteen purchased in 2017 in Newport Coast, California. The home near the Pacific Ocean is owned by an LLC registered in Delaware. It’s estimated to be worth more than $7.3 million.

Neither of Osteen’s homes would be classified as parsonages, though, since they are not owned by his church and are not tax-exempt.

joel osteen
Satellite view of Joel Osteen’s Houston home (Photo via Google)

In contrast, Texas televangelist Kenneth Copeland’s multi-million-dollar parsonage is tax-exempt. In 2020, the 18,279–square-foot mansion was appraised at $10,825,462. A year later, the appraisal dropped to $7 million.

The December Houston Chronicle series reported that Texas law restricts the parsonage tax exemption to one-acre properties. But Copeland’s lakefront parsonage sits on almost 25 acres while receiving a religious exemption, according to the Tarrant County Appraisal District.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the tax exemption on Copeland’s home cuts $150,000 off its property tax bill.

kenneth copeland parsonage
Televangelist Kenneth Copeland’s 18,279–square-foot mansion in Tarrant County, Texas, which is classified as a “parsonage.” (Courtesy of Trinity Foundation)

Copeland’s church also owns an adjacent 36-acre plot of land worth about $1.3 million that has an agricultural exemption.

Nearby Colleyville, Texas, is a magnet for televangelists with lavish homes.

Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) executives Matthew and Laurie Crouch live there. The network also owns several acres of agricultural land in Colleyville, including a 16.5-acre plot of agricultural land valued at $2,625,000 in 2021. It’s not entirely exempt from taxation, but in Texas, agricultural land is taxed much less than other land.

Robert Morris, pastor of Gateway Church, also owns a $1.7 million home in Colleyville. And Daystar Television Network co-founder Joni Lamb owns one worth $2.6 million. Those would be subject to property taxes since they’re not church-owned.

The residence for The Potter’s House Pastor T. D. Jakes is registered to a trust, which also owns two other homes. The three properties on 23 acres combined are worth almost $5.4 million.

New Light Church in Houston—founded by I.V. Hilliard and now pastored by his daughter, Dr. Irishea Hilliard—owns eight homes along with a pool and tennis court on one large property in Houston.

Satellite view of New Light Church’s seven tax-exempt homes.(Photo via DuckDuckGo)

Together, the residences cover 40,500 square feet of living area and are appraised at $4.9 million—all exempt from property taxes.

Not Just a Texas Problem

Televangelists, pastors, and churches in other states are also acquiring massive residences.

Louisiana

The 35,000-square-foot Louisiana parsonage where televangelist Jesse Duplantis lives is owned by Jesse Duplantis Ministries. As the mansion was being constructed, the St. Charles Herald Guide reported it had “22,039 square feet of living space in addition to 12,947 square feet of accessory areas such as outdoor patios and garages.” Like Texas, Louisiana doesn’t tax church properties.

Georgia

In 2016, faith healer David Turner bought Tyler Perry’s home for $17.5 million. He sold the mansion four years later. Then, in 2021, Turner bought a Florida beach house for $7.5 million, now estimated to be worth up to $8.9 million.

California

In 2001, Benny Hinn built his dream home in Dana Point, California, which is now estimated to be worth up to $9.2 million. While the home was transferred out of his name years ago, a 2020 business filing showed it was still Hinn’s address. Benny and Suzanne Hinn also own a home in Florida valued at $672,000 by the county appraiser. Its real value is estimated at more than $1 million and as much as $1.4 million.

Harvest Christian Fellowship Pastor Greg Laurie also owns a multi-million-dollar home in California. His Newport Beach home is currently valued at $3.7 million.

Also, as The Roys Report published last year, John MacArthur owns a three homes—two in California and one in Colorado. MacArthur’s home in Santa Clarita, California, is valued at $1.5 million.

South Carolina

Greg Surratt, founder of Seacoast Church and president of the Association of Related Churches (ARC), owns a lakefront home in South Carolina, estimated to be worth up to $2.5 million.

The Trinity Foundation, which was founded in the 1970s by prosperity gospel critic Ole Anthony, continues to monitor pastors’ expensive homes and plans on publishing another list in coming months.

Barry Bowen is a staff member and Pete Evans is the president of Trinity Foundation, a public nonprofit based in Dallas, Texas that has been tracking religious fraud and helping victims for over 30 years. 

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42 thoughts on “Megachurches, Megamansions: Pastors’ Homes Valued in the Millions”

  1. Jonathan Ferguson

    The only one of these I think I can bring clarity to is Greg Laurie’s house. He bought it back in the 90’s for 845k. Home values in Orange County have skyrocketed in the last few years. Sure it’s worth millions now, but that isn’t what was spent on the home. We are currently looking for homes in the next city over, and there isn’t a single home with three or more bedrooms for less than $1,000,000. I have a friend that owns a four bedroom in the area that is 60 years old that has doubled in value over the last two years. It’s now worth 1.3 million.

      1. Jonathan Ferguson

        Not in Orange County. the house I grew up in sold 20 years ago for $400,000 – and was less than half the size as Laurie’s house, and in an average area of Orange County. The problem is comparing apples to (pardon the pun) oranges. Most of these homes are outrageous for anyone to own. No one needs 17,000 sq feet. I think comparing home values across the entire nation is unfair – look to the size of the home. the median home value in all of OC – including lower value areas such as Garden Grove, Santa Ana, and my hometown of Westminster is $950,000.

        To be clear – I am not affiliated with Laurie, belong to his church, or any church affiliated with him. I just think comparing his home to the monstrosities from other pastors is disingenuous, given the housing market in Orange County.

        1. Jomnathan Ferguson

          PLEASE DELETE THIS COMMENT ABOVE – It was meant to be a reply to a different post, where I just posted correctly. Sorry!

      1. Richard – Absolutely! Thanks for the clarity in the midst of the confusion –

        Jesus was clear – the birds have nests, the foxes have holes – BUT the Son of Man….

        Well you know how it goes…. Greg Laurie needs a mansion…because the Son of Man is not good enough for him…😥

      2. I’ve never stepped foot in a mansion unless it had been converted to a museum. I know I don’t have the faith to own one. The upkeep alone would keep me awake at night. The monthly electric bill would have to be the equivalent of a mortgage payment or more. No thanks. My faith just isn’t big enough for something so large and extravagant. If someone has a Mustang GT EV they’d like to part with, I do have enough faith for that. It would be a seed offering.

      3. Jonathan Ferguson

        Not in Orange County. the house I grew up in sold 20 years ago for $400,000 – and was less than half the size as Laurie’s house, and in an average area of Orange County. The problem is comparing apples to (pardon the pun) oranges. Most of these homes are outrageous for anyone to own. No one needs 17,000 sq feet. I think comparing home values across the entire nation is unfair – look to the size of the home. the median home value in all of OC – including lower value areas such as Garden Grove, Santa Ana, and my hometown of Westminster is $950,000.

        To be clear – I am not affiliated with Laurie, belong to his church, or any church affiliated with him. I just think comparing his home to the monstrosities from other pastors is disingenuous, given the housing market in Orange County.

        1. Jeff Rodrigues

          To add to what you’ve mentioned, according to realtor.com, as of January of this year, here are the numbers for Newport Beach…

          Median Listing Home Price: $3.5 million
          Median Listing Home Price / Square Foot: $1,300 / square foot
          Median Sold Home Price: $2.9 million

        2. Mark Gunderson

          It’s a 4k square foot home in Newport Beach. His congregation is in Riverside, around 40 miles away.

          Maybe they don’t even stay there, I don’t know. If the rest of his life doesn’t reflect lavish living then I would be more concerned about a pastor with his crazy long commute than his large home.

          1. Jeff Rodrigues

            Whatever the reason for the purchase of the home in Newport Beach, I don’t know. But up until either 2001 or 2002, Greg Laurie was also leading a Monday night Bible study at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa for years up to that time (that Bible study then transitioned to Anaheim which later led to a congregation in Irvine).

    1. Back in the late 90’s when he purchased his house, 845k was a ton of money. And it’s current value of 3.7M+ is a ton of money…maybe not as much as the “pastor” who was gunning for the 25M piece in Newport Coast, but a ton of money nonetheless. Please tell me how this is ok. He & his minions live off the people’s donations. This is how churches work. Many do it right. Ask to see how each dollar is spent by EACH “pastor.” They need to be transparent in their intake of money & sending. They are a 501(c)3.

  2. Peggy Kennedy

    I am wondering why my congregation cannot even afford a church building when these megapastors can not only afford church buildings but megamansions?

    1. Lots of widows and retirees sending in their Social Security checks as a “seed offering”.
      That’s how Copeland became the World’s Richest Televangelist.

      1. I wish the Government would pass a law that if you call yourself non profit you can’t have a salary over the average wage in the state you live in. If you do you’ll lose your nonprofit status. Religious or not. I don’t even believe in mega churches any more I think they’ve all lost there way!

  3. It’s possible that some of these properties were purchased decades ago at much lower prices and have since become quite valuable due to economic forces beyond the control of any individual. Doesn’t Rick Warren live in an ordinary suburban home that is now worth well over $1 million? That’s California real estate, not a character flaw of his. Most of what this story highlights, however, is far from average or modest. Even if the residences were funded by book royalties or inherited family wealth, the optics of opulence may hinder the gospel of Jesus.

    1. You’re thinking of the old gospel. It was updated in the 80’s with the following correction:
      opulence =God’s blessing

      1. Yes Loren,It’s right in the Robert Morris autographed Bible! Right before his money back guarantee for tithing.

        1. Loren and Tom, I must have an outdated Bible. Can’t find that verse “God helps those who help themselves to other people’s money” in my concordance.

          1. Like ravenous dogs,
            they are never satisfied.
            They are shepherds with no discernment;
            they all turn to their own way,
            each one seeking his own gain:
            -Isaiah 56:11
            Berean Study Bible

            Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 

            Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’

            Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness!’
            -Matthew 7:21-23
            Berean Study Bible

  4. To borrow from what’s attributed to Willie Sutton: “Why did you go into ministry?” “Because that’s where the money is.”

  5. George Arthur

    Most of these homes are owned by pastors who embrace the Word of Faith (Health and Wealth) theology. Now if this theology works then I can assume that there are thousands of other folks out there who are also able to live in huge mansions since God is supposed to bless everyone who adheres to this theology.

    Sarcasm intended

  6. Arthur Fhardy

    RE: Peggy,

    If your congregation could start a media empire supported by hundreds of thousands of donors, someone in your congregation would have all these wonderful things (mansion, planes, swimming pools) and heaven everlasting as his/her reward! I say that with a big helping of snark. But please keep in mind all the “ministries” showcased here that yield extravagances to rival King Solomon’s, have morphed from ministry to entertainment pure and simple. These are not pastors in parsonages. They are showmen whose trade is in the gospel of greed. I am still shocked these kind of ministries keep chugging along, but they serve a a great example of the truth of 1 John 2:16:

    For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. – ESV

  7. I don’t know these men’s hearts, but the homeless man on the street may have more riches than they if his heart is right with Jesus. It should be a sobering thought for all of us to assess our walk with the Lord.

  8. Notice that a lot of those properties rate near or at the top of the McMansion scale – the complex rooflines, the inconsistent window treatments and architectural details, the dormers and gables just for show, the external bling for the sake of bling.

    And Kenneth Copeland IS The World’s Richest Televangelist; I think he’s worth just shy of a Billion.

    Square footage and features are a better source for comparison than raw monetary value, as prices for the same house can vary considerably by location. For instance, Newport Coast & Dana Point mentioned above are really pricy areas; in SoCal, the closer to the ocean or the foothills you are, the higher the prices.

    1. Curtis Dupree

      I agree with those who have pointed out that the size of the property is probably a better indication of the opulence than the cost of the home. I have family that live in a 1,600 square foot house that was well under the $200,000 mark. But because the area they live in has exploded in population recently, the home is now worth about double what they paid.

  9. David L. Stafford

    Sigh…The houses that charisma built…And yet, for some parishioners this is something to aspire to and that is, in itself, a problem.

  10. Jenny Kidwell

    I live in New Mexico, where homes are not valued nearly as high as most of the areas mentioned in the article. My pastor’s home is valued in the mid $300Ks. I don’t know if it’s a parsonage or not. Recently, the church had a business meeting where he spoke about the church’s mission and functions being solely supported by our giving. He then insinuated that “giving” (an easier word to the ear than “tithing”) was a command and one’s soul is in danger if one does not obey that command. If God loves a cheerful giver, it’s not good marketing to hold one’s soul over the cliff when trying to get people to “give”. Am I wrong?

    1. 2 Corinthians 9:7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

      I would highlight the “under compulsion” bit and say you’re spot on.

  11. Rebecca Brown

    Vote with your feet people. God didn’t pay these mortgages. People did. There are so many churches and leaders and family rooms that don’t charge this. God loves you in your own home doing your best to be a good person. This is all fraudulent.

  12. Of all these House price listings, the only People that I will have any sense of understanding for are the Men that live in California, especially the Orange Country section, as median Housing prices are far higher than anywhere in the nation! I live in the Pasadena/Arcadia area, and I can tell you that you’re NOT buying a decent house in Pasadena for under $800,000 dollars, and that house may not even be 1,500 square feet!

    I once lived in South Carolina, and for a person to own a house that cost $2.5 million dollars, I can tell you that that is a MANSION with all capital letters and then some! That would be ridiculous for any Pastor to live in and there could be no justification for such a home in my mind, even if I was wealthy and my wealth had nothing to do with the Church. The ignorance of Church People is astounding!

  13. You forgot John Hagee /Cornerstone church, san antonio, texas…live in “The Dominion” mansions where Spurs David Robinson; Singer George Strait and more have homes

      1. 1.3 million dollars is 169 million rubles, so Russians still living in Russia would probably think so. The Weimar Republic issued a 1 trillion mark note, and Zimbabwe issued a 1 trillion dollar note, so it’s probably all relative in the end. Your house under one of those last two currencies could be worth 1.3 million trillion. Kenneth Copeland would be green with envy.

  14. I’m not defending the greedy money-loving wolves stealing from the ones they are supposed to be shepherding, but weren’t Job and Abraham extravagantly rich in their time? Not to mention David, Solomon Jacob, Esau, Joseph, etc. Yes, sadly many rich (especially in recent years) are storing up their treasures on earth at the expense of others, and they will pay dearly on the day of reckoning. Possibly even with their souls. We can only pray that the Lord brings them to their senses by whatever means necessary before it’s too late for them.
    Two final thoughts.
    “There but for the grace of God go I” and, “For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world…

  15. Bobbie Schwartz

    Order all their 501(c)3 Reports, see what own and worth and whats extremely sad how much went to “True Religion” and helping, loving and serving people and worse learning absolutely nothing as your time and money went to build these Real Estate Empires and Bank Accounts. God, Jesus, Holy Spirit didn’t get any money. None of these Charlatans should be able to make a living off the Gospel unless doing Charity (Love), Social, Humanity and Education while letting Homeless Situation abound because doing true Gospel is NOT important, nor living the Bible. Exist, because people don’t research a matter and are content not to read and know their Bible or get it in entirety. Pretty bad when you have a Book by John Scura/Dane Phillips with a role call of satanic/luciferian Pastors that took money and built Business Empire. Grew up in false church institute and learned absolutely nothing, had to read Bible on own and no helps to anyone but these self-serving Business Administration Organizations. John 13:34-35 not seeing this lived at all!

    Wonder how many would stay in Ministry if they couldnt make a living off “the Church was set up to deceive and that’s been throughout History”. God didn’t get a penny or a dime but the prostituting and the whoring of his name and who is! We are NOT judging fruit.

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