Screenshot 2023-01-13 at 1.50.18 PM


Reporting the Truth.
Restoring the Church.

Survey: Prosperity Gospel Beliefs on the Rise Among Churchgoers

By Marissa Sullivan
prosperity cash money giving offering
A study from Lifeway Research finds 52% of U.S. Protestant churchgoers say their church teaches God will bless them if they give more money to their church and charities. (Photo: TRR graphic)

Financial prosperity is a goal for many Americans, and most believe it’s God’s plan for them too but that they need to give a little more to ensure that blessing.

According to a study from Lifeway Research, 52% of American Protestant churchgoers say their church teaches God will bless them if they give more money to their church and charities, with 24% strongly agreeing. This is up from 38% of churchgoers who agreed in a 2017 Lifeway Research study.

Additionally, churchgoers are more likely today than in 2017 to believe God wants them to prosper financially (76% v. 69%) and that they have to do something for God in order to receive material blessings from Him (45% v. 26%).

Today, 3 in 4 churchgoers (76%) believe God wants them to prosper financially, including 43% who strongly agree. Fewer (45%) believe they have to do something for Him in order to receive material blessings from God, with 21% strongly agreeing.

“In the last five years, far more churchgoers are reflecting prosperity gospel teachings, including the heretical belief that material blessings are earned from God,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “It is possible the financial hits people have taken from inflation and the pandemic have triggered feelings of guilt for not serving God more. But Scripture does not teach that kind of direct connection.”

Give a gift of $30 or more to The Roys Report this month, and you will receive a copy of “I Didn’t Survive: Emerging Whole After Deception, Persecution, and Hidden Abuse” by Naghmeh Abedini Panahi. To donate, click here.

lifeway prosperity

Identifying the root of the wrong belief

As people interact with the world around them, their beliefs about the world and their place in it stem from their understanding (or misunderstanding) of the character of God. And most churchgoers believe God wants them to prosper financially.

This belief is especially prevalent among the youngest, least educated churchgoers. Churchgoers ages 18-34 (81%) and 35-49 (85%) are among the most likely to say God wants them to prosper financially. Furthermore, those who are high school graduates or less (81%) or have some college education (80%) are more likely than those with a bachelor’s (67%) or graduate degree (65%) to hold this belief.

Belief that God wants people to prosper financially is also more common in some religious settings than others. Methodist (93%) and Restorationist movement (88%) churchgoers are among the most likely to hold this belief. And those with evangelical beliefs are more likely than those without such beliefs to agree (80% v. 74%).

“Pursuing holiness was never designed by God to be a plan for financial riches,” McConnell said. “The size of one’s finances is not the measure of anyone’s service to God nor relationship with Him.”

Selling a false gospel at church

As more churchgoers affirm prosperity gospel beliefs, younger churchgoers—those 18-34 (63%) and 35-49 (66%)—are more likely than older churchgoers—those 50-64 (53%) and over 65 (31%)—to affirm their church teaches that if they give more money to the church and charities, God will bless them.

“This research does not rule out the possibility that biblical teachings were poorly heard by more young adults, but they definitely have experienced a lack of clear biblical teaching on the reason for generosity,” McConnell said.

African American churchgoers are the most likely to say their church teaches that if they give more money to the church and charities, God will bless them in return (71%). And those who attend worship services one to three times a month are more likely to say the same than those who attend at least four times a month (57% v. 49%).

Churchgoers without evangelical beliefs are more likely than those with such beliefs to say their church teaches that if they give more money, God will bless them (55% v. 48%). The opposite was true five years ago when 41% of evangelicals agreed and 35% of non-evangelicals agreed.

Denominationally, Methodist (85%) and Restorationist movement (71%) churchgoers are among the most likely to agree their church teaches God will bless them if they give more money.

lifeway prosperity

Giving a little to get a little

Of the three beliefs surveyed, churchgoers are least likely to believe they have to do something for God in order to receive material blessings from Him. Still, like the others, this belief is most prevalent among younger churchgoers. Those 18-34 (65%) and 35-49 (58%) are more likely than those 50-64 (43%) and over 65 (22%) to hold this belief. In 2017, churchgoers ages 35-49 were the least likely age group to agree (19%).

“Scripture teaches God gives good gifts to those He chooses,” McConnell said. Despite Romans 11:35-36a saying “And who has ever given to God, that he should be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things” (CSB), McConnell noted, “Large numbers of young adults attending church regularly still believe their good deeds can tilt God’s gifts in their direction.”

Those who are high school graduates or less (50%) or have some college education (48%) are more likely than those with a bachelor’s degree (38%) or a graduate degree (30%) to agree. And African Americans are the most likely to agree (65%).

Among regular church attenders, those who attend a worship service least often (one to three times a month) are more likely than those who attend at least four times a month to say they have to do something for God in order to receive material blessings from Him (49% v. 42%). Methodist (85%) and Restorationist movement (68%) churchgoers are once again the most likely to hold this belief. And those without evangelical beliefs are more likely than those with such beliefs to agree (50% v. 37%).

This article originally appeared at Lifeway Research

Marissa Postell Sullivan is the managing editor for Lifeway Research.



Keep in touch with Julie and get updates in your inbox!

Don’t worry we won’t spam you.

More to explore

24 thoughts on “Survey: Prosperity Gospel Beliefs on the Rise Among Churchgoers”

  1. One translation of Psalm 23:! reads, “Because the Lord is my Shepherd I have everything that I need.” If you read the rest of the Psalm it talks about nothing but abundance of blessings and mercies from God. He “prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies”; no one has a place at that table except me. Imagine what kinds of emotional, material, and spiritual blessings are at this banquet! I don’t understand the poverty mentality in the church today; how can I bless others if I am poor and need assistance? I’m afraid we’ve been sold a bill of bad doctrine.
    I have been rich and I have been poor, and from experience I can tell you that rich is much better!
    Poverty is a curse. Read Deuteronomy 28 and then say that God wants any of his children to be poor. I am above and not beneath; I am the head and not the tail. Verse 11: “And the Lord will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground…the Lord will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give you the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand.”
    These blessings of obedience were for those under the Law. Think how much more God wants to bless us who are under a better Covenant of Grace.

    1. I pray for you my friend…you are reading (misreading) into the Scriptures what is absolutely not there or being said. May the Holy Spirit help you to come to the knowledge of the truth of God’s Word.

      1. Jennifer, thank you for praying for me, I really appreciate it ☺️. But most of what I wrote were actual Scripture passages. What exactly did I misquote? Do you not agree that the Bible speaks for itself? None of it is for “private interpretation”. I have been blessed beyond measure throughout my life. God is faithful to His Word. If I seek,I will find, if I give, it will be given to me, good measure, pressed down, running over; if I knock, the door will be opened to me. The riches of God’s Word continually amaze me. Be blessed.

    2. Oh boy! You are taking a lot of things out of context! I mean, where to begin?

      I will simply say, unless one fears, loves and worships God, merely because He is God, and therefore to be feared, their faith might not be real. They might have better success finding a sugar daddy or mama, or playing the lottery or something.

      Life has tribulations that money cannot solve, my friend. One of the biproducts of serving God, because He is God, nothing more, nothing less, is the strength to endure the hard knocks of life. Heaven is the place where everything will be glorious – not in this life.

      Poverty is a test for those of us who aren’t in need. Will we help or hoard? Will we be humbled or look at those in need as “cursed”?! Ugh!

      Simon tried to buy the Holy Spirit too. Money certainly doesn’t make a person closer to God. It often is in fact a stumbling block.

    3. Yes, God is our Provider and can be trusted to give sustainance to his people.
      Sowing and reaping covers every aspect of Christianity.

      The poverty=spirituality belief is just as bad as “God wants all to be a billionaire.” Find the balanced middle ground.

      “Prosperity Gospel” is one of the biggest straw men in Christianity, which very few believe in as typically overstated.

      Prosperity is stated over 70 times in the Bible, and no it doesn’t mean just a spiritual value.

      Study out the Hebrew shalom, which covers all aspects of life, family, crops, jobs, whatever. And yes there will be challenges, but we pray through every challenge and God can be depended upon to hear the cries of his children.

    4. Jennifer is correct. The evangelical church today has falsely taught that God will bless you. They start indoctrinating using the teaching of tithing, which is under law and not the new covenant (too many scriptures to back up that statement). Then when that isn’t enough for their ministry’s, they move to First Fruit offering, then one time offerings, then gross tithe instead of net. They simply can’t get enough. While single mom’s and dad’s or people struggling to pay their bills, deprive their families, and the pastors live in their million dollar homes. Not to mention they also teach cursing if you don’t give. People believe this non-sense. I did for years, I’m sad to say. Why would God curse his children whom he sent his only begotten Son to save. That we might be adopted as sons and daughters. It simply doesn’t line up with God’s nature. Also, God gave each believer his Holy Spirit so he could work through us. That includes speaking to our spirit, moving us to love people and give according to his leading, not man’s, or through a pastor or false prophet in many of these cases.
      So sad, that so many have fallen for the lies coming from church pulpits.

    5. Louis, What about the example Jesus set?Was he rich? Was he enriched monetarily by his ministry? He is our example. I think he wants us to follow him for reasons other than financial gain.

  2. Like anything in Evangelicalism there are variants. Some will embrace a hardcore version of the Health and Wealth gospel as in Robert Tilton and Benny Hinn and at the other end others will embrace a soft-core version of it.

    1. God looks on the heart. If you desire wealth to be in a better position to support the Gospel and demonstrate God’s love to others, God will bless you. It’s true that God does not necessarily want you always rich, but neither does He always want you poor. God doesn’t always want you healed, but He doesn’t always want you sick either. The end of Mark’s Gospel says signs will follow those who believe. If you truly desire wealth for the glory of God, give yourself to the Gospel. God can heal anyone of cancer; but you put Him in a better mood if you ask him to heal someone’s cancer in order to further the Gospel and the shed blood of Christ. That truly does catch His ear.

      1. It’s always about balance. However my real problem is pastors and televangelists who fleece their flocks (And the public) in order to get rich.

  3. So many times we use the word “blessed” when we really mean “fortunate” and this is so ingrained we say it without thinking. I used to. Someone gets a pay raise and a wonderful new home, and we say, “God really blessed them,” but no, they are no more blessed by God than the family living in poverty. They are merely fortunate. I live in Canada, and I used to say, “I feel so blessed to be living in this country.” I don’t say that any longer. I now say, “I feel fortunate to be living here.” People used to say, “America is blessed by God.” But no, the U.S. is fortunate that early in its history its founding fathers organized a plan that held closely to democracy. “Fortunately,” it has worked for many years. And yet we persist in thinking that God “blesses” certain countries over other countries. It maybe used to be that God “blessed” Israel, but that was before the coming of Jesus which changed all of that, (My opinion here!) I love what you are doing, Julie. I graduated from Moody in 1971 (I’m an old timer here!)

    1. I totally agree. There are believers all over the world who are in poverty and/or under intense persecution so this prosperity gospel does not work for them, however, their faith is strong and they love Jesus unto death. I believe the church in America is weak and compromised today causing a lack of effective testimony for the gospel of Christ because it is too taken by the the worldly cosmos and lost its focus on seeking those things which are above

  4. The other half of the “health and wealth” message is the belief that God promises you health in this life. Far more people believe this heresy than the idea that God means for you to be wealthy. They base it on Isaiah Isaiah 53:5, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes, we are healed.”

    Read this passage carefully. The context is sin, not the physical body. Yes, we will be healed eventually, but God does not promise that in this life, we will have health. If there is still doubt, 1 Peter 2:24 also makes the connection with sin and healing. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.“

    1. Hmm. Better read Matt 8:16-17.

      “When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.”

      Scripture interprets Scripture.

  5. Kathleen Zielinski

    What does the prosperity gospel have to offer third world Christians who are persecuted, starving, and manifestly not prospering, at least not in material terms? Are they in that situation because they are sinful, or don’t give enough, or don’t have enough faith? The prosperity gospel is laughable when confined to the First World; try applying it to Haiti or South Sudan and it becomes not just risible, but offensive.

    I see far more passages in the Bible about taking up one’s cross and following Jesus, and the camel entering through the eye of a needle, than I do about God wants me to be rich.

  6. “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

    The answer was provided in 3 of the 4 Gospels.

    On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’[a] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
    Mathew 9:12-13

    “Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
    Luke 5:31-32

    “On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
    Mark 2:17

    I thank God for his way for those of us not born into privilege.

    I don’t think Christian’s realize how their professions of being blessed sounds sometimes. I had a young Christian neighbor offer to help me with a heavy package. As she was carrying it up my steps she told me me how blessed she was to have a husband to carry heavy things for her

  7. My church teaches the gospel of prosperity and I reject it completely. It is satanic.

    Two examples. The senior pastor claimed his kid got a college scholarship because he, the senior pastor, gives to his church.

    No, there’s a reason that kid got a scholarship. Furthermore, atheists get scholarships, too.

    Then another teaching pastor claimed money was tight, and he and his family couldn’t take a vacation. Then, because of the amount of money he gives the church, he was offered the use of a timeshare for a week, free of charge.

    Coincidentally, I was offered the use of a timeshare, free of charge. (Thanks, Mark.) I thought about it, and I really wanted to go, but decided I couldn’t, unfortunately. But Jesus didn’t owe this to me.

    Attributing blessings, in one of the richest countries in world history, to things Jesus owes you is totally and completely Satanic. And I reject it completely.

    1. Mr. Sutrer, I don’t think anyone here is suggesting that Jesus owes us anything. I made a a couple of comments about The blessings of obedience God made to Israel under the Law. God blessed their socks off. I think the same is in store for today. I was just reading Psalm 1.
      It talks about the righteous in verse 3 that, “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, and whatsoever he does shall prosper.” What amazing promises! I for one have believed them and they have come to pass. It behooves us then to go and teach the Gospel to the poor and downtrodden so that they too may be lifted up out poverty and misery. The Gospel has to be true in the United States, and in Sudan. God’s Word cannot fail when believed and acted upon.

  8. Both scripture and truth that is not hard to understand: “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” – Apostle Paul

  9. Loretta Prummell

    After spending 12 years listening to, buying the products of, and giving money to some of the big named Health & Wealth gospel televangelists, I can assure people that the only ones actually prospering are the televangelists (and any “regular pastors” teaching this unbiblical nonsense) themselves. Thankfully, God allowed my spiritual eyes to be opened and see that the prosperity gospel is unbiblical and is a false gospel.

  10. Having worked for a church that leaned more towards a prosperity gospel, give and be blessed. It was all a set up! Sermons were all planned out for the year strategically, written purposefully and you were coached on how to talk to “donors” to get them to give more.

    If you had a “donor” come into a large some of money, take them to lunch and get them to tithe on that money! If a “donor” collected a life insurance policy, take them to lunch and get them to tithe on that money! If you get that money, you get to share that amount as a big win at the next pastors meeting!

    Surprisingly, the Senior and Executive pastors and their wives and driving new high end cars? They are also moving into million dollar homes, wow! But everyone else hasn’t had a raise or have decent insurance and can’t afford to live in the same neighborhood as the church they work for.

    Don’t fall for the prosperity gospel! It’s a scam at best. It benefits only a few and it is usually only those in charge of the church and that’s not Jesus for these places.

    1. Glen, Thank you for being 100% honest, I am a 40+yr Christian man, have seen the same exact shenanigans decades ago by the faith-word churches of 1980’s-early 1990’s. The first century believers met in homes and so powerful was Gods Spirit upon these first believers. They all gave according to what God had placed on each ones heart. No coercion, pep talks, planned guilt trips by disciples of Jesús Christ then. No one gave “seed faith” sacrificial monies to a slick dressed elder back then, expecting a 3-60-100 fold reward. Todays organized, 501C-3 government controlled brick and mortar businesses, do not resemble anything biblical but do resemble corporate profit making enterprises. Come out from among them and be ye separate unto the Lord.

  11. I found out after years of giving my grandchildren cash gifts that their prosperity church required that even young children “tithe” 10% of all cash gifts to them. Once they reached their teen years one of them let this slip. I kid you not.

Leave a Reply

The Roys Report seeks to foster thoughtful and respectful dialogue. Toward that end, the site requires that people register before they begin commenting. This means no anonymous comments will be allowed. Also, any comments with profanity, name-calling, and/or a nasty tone will be deleted.
MOST popular articles

Don't miss the stories that matter!

Sign up to receive our Daily News Digest


Hi. We see this is the third article this month you’ve found worth reading. Great! Would you consider making a tax-deductible donation to help our journalists continue to report the truth and restore the church?

Your tax-deductible gift helps our journalists report the truth and hold Christian leaders and organizations accountable. Give a gift of $30 or more to The Roys Report this month, and you will receive a copy of “The Ballot and the Bible” by Kaitlyn Schiess.