Church of the Mighty Dollar
With houses of worship in Atlanta, New York City, Australia, Europe, Nigeria, South Africa, and Britain, World Changers Church International is one of the largest and fastest-growing churches in the nation. Led by Pastor Creflo A. Dollar, a flamboyant African-American preacher, WCCI has some 25,000 members and an annual budget of more than $70 million.
His message, known as "prosperity gospel," implores followers to enrich themselves in every way, spiritually and financially, through the teachings of his church. Indeed, Pastor Dollar, whom critics have dubbed "Pass The Dollar" and "Cashflow Dollar" for his ostentatious displays of wealth, is not shy about his success. He owns two Roll-Royces and flies the country in a Gulfstream-3 private jet.
Fellow Atlanta ministers, schooled in the humble tradition of Reverend Martin Luther King, have criticized the 43-year-old Dollar for putting money before ministry. WCCI members can tithe online by setting up automatic account withdrawals managed by the church.
But Dollar's message is resonating with many evangelicals, especially poor blacks drawn to the idea of pulling themselves out of poverty because the Bible willed it so. A new church in rented space in New York's Madison Square Garden has drawn 5,000 members in the last three months. WCCI is adding between 2,000 and 3,000 members per year. It will soon launch a Spanish-language church led by a Mexican priest, targeted at Atlanta's booming Hispanic immigrant population ("Business Week Online," May 23, 2005).
[TBC: "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (1 Timothy:6:10).]