It is a common notion that to be a pastor, one should give up earthly possessions and material wealth to be devoted to the service of God. That perhaps is a traditional view of evangelism because today, pastors are among the wealthiest people to walk the earth. It is not a miracle to find pastors of even the smallest churches driving heavy guzzlers and residing in posh neighborhoods. Some of the richest pastors in America are not afraid to display their wealth, which has attracted new followers.
Since the advent of televangelism, the revenue streams of churches in America skyrocketed on a massive scale. Most of the big churches established their television channels to reach more people without paying for their masses to be aired on other stations. Some churches also have other businesses, and it is not surprising to hear of pastors who own private jets and choppers.
10 richest pastors in America
A majority of the richest pastors started from the bottom and accumulated huge sums of money as their congregations grew. They are known to minister in rich churches, which are characterized by huge buildings and televised services. Here is a list of the top 10 richest pastors in American and their net worths.
1. Kenneth Copeland - $300 million
The American televangelist and author Kenneth Max Copeland is the Kenneth Copeland Ministries founder based in Tarrant County, Texas. He is also associated with the charismatic movement. Kenneth Copeland net worth is $300 million. He is referred to as a prosperity gospel preacher because his evangelism is centered on calling for donations.
Copeland is often criticized for capitalizing on his church donations and tax-exempt status to channel the money to the development of mansions, an airport, and lavish purchases, including private jets. Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, he asked his followers to continue giving him tithes regardless of whether they had lost their jobs or not.
2. Pat Robertson - $100 million
Veteran American preacher Pat Robertson is 90 years old and one of the richest pastors in America and worldwide. The televangelist is also a media mogul, a political commentator, and a former Republican presidential candidate. He is a strong advocate of conservative Christian ideology and has pushed for similar approaches in Republican party politics.
Robertson is also associated with the charismatic movement of Protestant evangelicalism. He is the chancellor and CEO of Regent University and the chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). He makes daily appearances on The 700 Club, which is CBN’s flagship TV program.
3. Joel Osteen - $40 million
Joel Scott Osteen is the third richest minister in the United States. He is a televangelist, author, and businessman based in Houston, Texas. His sermons reach tens of millions in the USA alone and are also broadcast in more than 100 countries.
He is the son of John Osteen, a former Southern Baptist pastor and founder of the Lakewood Church. Joel took over the leadership of the church in 1999 after his father's death. Under Joel Osteen's leadership, the church acquired the Compaq Center, former home of the NBA's Houston Rockets and the AHL's Houston Aeros.
It took $105 million to renovate the center for over 15 months. Joel is the author of several bestsellers, including Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential and Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day.
4. Creflo Dollar - $27 million
The televangelist Creflo Dollar is the founder of the non-denominational World Changers Church International headquartered at College Park, Georgia. He is also the head of the Creflo Dollar Ministerial Association, Creflo Dollar Ministries, and Arrow Records. His church's development began in 1986, with his first worship service being held at a cafeteria of an elementary school.
Currently, the church has an 8,500-seat facility referred to as the World Dome and costs about $20 million to build. The pastor is a recipient of numerous criticisms for his prosperity gospel and lavish lifestyle. He owns a private jet, two Rolls-Royces, and other high-end real estate establishments, making him one of the richest black pastors in America.
5. Rick Warren - $25 million
Richard Duane Warren is the fifth richest pastor in America. The Baptist evangelical Christian pastor has also made some of his money as an author. Warren founded the Saddleback Church, in which he is the senior pastor. The evangelical megachurch has an affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention in Lake Forest, California.
Rick has authored a guide to church ministry and evangelism called The Purpose Driven Church, which spurred a subsequent book titled The Purpose Driven Life, which has sold more than 30 million copies. The preacher is a strong believer in conservative theological views and other traditional evangelical views on abortion, the use of condoms, and same-sex marriage.
6. Franklin Graham - $25 million
American evangelical evangelist and missionary William Franklin Graham is the CEO and president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He is frequently involved in Christian revival tours and political commentary. He is also the head of the Samaritan's Purse, which is an international Christian relief organization. Graham is also an author and a public speaker.
Franklin was under scrutiny in 2009 for receiving a full-time salary from the Samaritan’s Purse and at the same time receiving a full-time salary from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. This was after it emerged that in 2008 his salary total from both organizations was $1.2 million. In response, Graham decided to give up his salary from the Billy Graham Evangelical Association. Even at that, he remained among the richest preachers in the world.
7. Jesse Duplantis - $20 million
Jesse Duplantis is a preacher for the Christian Evangelical Charismatic tradition. He is the founder of the Jesse Duplantis Ministries. He preached his first sermon in 1976 after John Hagee introduced him as "The Apostle of Joy". He incorporates his music and comic talents in his evangelism.
Jesse Duplantis Ministries has branches in Australia and the UK. With his wife's help, they also founded the Covenant Church, which is a local outreach of JDM. His books have been translated into more than thirteen languages, and the revenues have placed him among the wealthiest pastors in America.
8. Bishop TD Jakes - $20 million
Bishop TD Jakes, born Thomas Dexter Jakes Sr., is an American bishop, author, and filmmaker. His church, The Potter’s House, is a non-denominational American megachurch that broadcasts its services on The Potter’s Touch. Jakes has been a pastor since the age of 25, when he started preaching at the Greater Emanuel Temple of Faith in West Virginia.
As his network grew, Jakes founded the TDJ Enterprises to publish his books and produce his films. He founded his church in 1996 on a 34-acre hilltop campus. He has produced several award-winning albums such as A Wing and a Prayer which won a Grammy Award and Live at The Potter's House, which received a nomination.
9. Paula White - $5 million
Paula White is a female American preacher, televangelist, and author who is a strong proponent of the prosperity theology. She was the chair of the evangelical advisory board in Donald Trump’s administration and delivered the invocation at his inauguration. From 2014 to 2019, she served as the senior pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Florida.
Towards the end of 2019, Trump appointed her to be the special advisor to the Faith and Opportunity Initiative under Public Liaison's Office. Paula started to broadcast Paula White Today in 2001. Six years later, the show was being aired by nine television networks.
She has ministered to people like Gary Sheffield, Darryl Strawberry, and Michael Jackson. She has also been the personal life coach of Tyra Banks.
10. Bishop Noel Jones - $5 million
Bishop Noel Jones is a Jamaican-American minister and a Pentecostal bishop who is the City of Refuge Church's senior pastor based in Gardena, California. The church has more than 17,000 members. The preacher received the call to ministry when he was 19 years old and accepted his first pastoral at Bethel Temple of Longview, Texas when he was 26.
He later became the pastor of the Greater Bethany Community Church in South LA, California. At the time, the church had 1000 members, but it increased significantly that they had to build a new 17000 capacity church known as The City of Refuge.
Looking at some of the richest pastors in America, one can understand why religion is considered one of the fastest routes to great riches. When people are told that they are giving to God, they don’t hesitate to give even when they have nothing to offer. Pastors have access to all the money and assets of their churches and are rarely accountable to anyone but themselves. Whether it is right or not for pastors to be this rich, it is a topic for another day.
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