For the megachurches that preach prosperity, the faithful have no problem with the pastors who practice what they preach.
"I catch the bus,” said Shakobi Goodman, as he walked from the MARTA bus stop near World Changers Ministries (WCM) in College Park Wednesday night.
WCM, whose pastor is Dr. Creflo Dollar, is one of the churches under investigation by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee for alleged financial wrong-doing.
“I have no problem with Dr. Dollar as far as the Bentley, the jets,” Goodman continued. “God has raised him up so everything he's got, he deserves it."
The opinion of the congregants at World Changers is clear and unanimous. But what does the Bible have to say about personal wealth? Well, as it turns out, quite a lot.
In the Good Book, money is mentioned more than Heaven and Hell combined.
“There are 2,350 verses in the scriptures that deal with money and possessions and how to deal with those and what we should believe about them and how we can apply that to our daily lives," said Chuck Bentley, CEO of Crown Financial Ministries (CFM) in Gainesville.
Bentley's ministry is not a traditional church. Rather, it is a "parachurch," whose non-profit status is rigorously examined by the federal government.
"The issue of (fiscal) transparency is one that we strongly believe in,” said Bentley. “And we believe it's healthy for all ministries, all churches, all organizations, and that the Bible strongly encourages it."
CFM’s message of Bible-based economics is broadcast over more than 1,000 radio stations and streamed over the Internet. It is also producing films to broaden its world audience. The stated mission of the ministry is to reach 300 million people across the globe in the next two decades.
“The theme is that God calls us to be faithful to him with out resources whether you have a lot or a little,” said Bentley. “So we believe that the central message of the scripture is not a message of guaranteed prosperity, and it's not a message about required poverty. The middle ground is the Lord calls us to be faithful with what he's entrusted to us.”
Citing King David and Solomon as examples, Bentley said that the Bible does not condemn wealth, as long as it increases generosity in the name of God, adding that that’s especially true for churches.
"And when you see that not happening, it does break down trust. It does create a sense of concern, especially with resources that were contributed for the purposes of advancing the Kingdom," Bentley said.