A new study from Lifeway Research found that 52 percent of American Protestant churchgoers believe their church encourages them to give more money to church and charities so God will bless them.
Some 24 percent strongly agreed with the statement.
In 2017, a total of 38 percent of churchgoers said the same.
Churchgoers also are more likely to believe today than in 2017 that God wants them to prosper financially. In the most recent survey, 76 percent said they believed that; in 2017, that number was 69 percent.
Meanwhile, about 45 percent said they believe they must do something for God to receive those material blessings.
“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.”
The survey also looked at age demographics among those with beliefs in the prosperity gospel.
Eighty-one percent of churchgoers 18-34 and 85 percent of churchgoers 35-49 were among the most likely to say God wants them to prosper financially.
Methodist and Restorationist movement believers were among the most likely denominations to believe in a variant of the prosperity gospel.
But McConnell warned that the growing trend in believing more in the prosperity gospel is not biblical.
“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.
“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.
The survey also found:
- 81 percent of churchgoers who were high school graduates or less believed in a prosperity gospel (67 percent for those with a bachelor’s degree.)
- 80 percent of evangelicals said they believed in the prosperity gospel compared to others.
- 71 percent of African Americans were the most likely to believe that God would bless them if they gave more money to the church.
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Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.