Close Encounters of the Prosperity Kind

I remember about two years ago when my wife and I were looking for a new church in our area. Most of the churches we went to were great churches – just not for us. But there was one that really stuck out to us. We were tricked in to visiting one of those Prosperity Gospel “if you have faith, you’ll be rich” kind of places.

You see, I say tricked because I would never willingly set foot in any place that equates faith with the thickness of my wallet. But a friend of ours told us she used to go to a church that was “just like” the church we were looking for. I need to go back and check this friend’s sanity. Just like? I think not.
The visit started out innocently enough. Well, as innocent as you can feel walking into a building that makes Jerry Jones’ new mother ship (aka “Cowboys Stadium”) down the road look humble in comparison. I was wondering how many 747s you could fit in the foyer when were greeted by a nice lady and swept away to the visitor’s desk.

After getting a nice, slick stack of pamphlets, we were whisked away for the free “tour of the grounds.” I was quickly taken aback by the large neon signs pointing out everything along the massive foyer. Coffee this way, restrooms here, heated baptismal pool (complete with fancy fountain) over there, childcare around the corner, etc. I’m still not sure why they needed a neon sign pointing to a another large sign 20 feet away that both read “Coffee Shop,” but I found out later how seriously they took their coffee. I took one look at the prices in the coffee shop and decided to save money by going to Starbucks.

I’m no expert at neon signs, but the last time I did look in to buying one (don’t ask), it was hundreds of dollars for a small one. Kind of depressing that someone’s entire tithe for the year went into that overkill of a sign that basically only pointed the way to the local altar of Java.Next stop was the sanctuary and the start of the service. I don’t think I have ever been inside of a meeting hall so large before. The whole service wigged out my wife – she had never been to a Pentecostal-style service before. She wondered why the music kept playing while the pastor was up speaking. I was just marveling at the fact that this dude’s suit cost more money than every piece of clothing I had ever bought combined. Not the kind of leader I can look up too.

As soon as the service was over, we tried to make our way to the front door. Try being the key word. I guess we left the wrong exit door. There were so many of them after all. Apparently, our escape trajectory was at a perpendicular angel to the path to the coffee store. Talk about swimming against a human ocean! It was like we in that scene from The Matrix where Neo and Morpheus are walking against the flow of all the people is suits, and Neo is getting knocked all over the place. Except at least Neo was in a program that was out to kill him. We had it even worse – coming between people and the object of their devotion! Talk about opposition in the spirit!

The moral of this story? A Prosperity Gospel Fool and their money are soon parted. That and we are glad we found a good church the next week.

(this article was also published in the August 2009 issue)


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