An increasing share of American Protestant churchgoers believe that financial prosperity is part of God’s plan for them. That’s according to a Lifeway Research survey that was carried out a year ago with the details only being recently released.
Just over half of respondents (52%) say their church teaches that God will bless them if they donate more. That’s a sharp spike on the 38% who reported the practice in 2017.
Just over three-quarters (76%) believed God wants them to prosper financially — up from 69% six years ago. Nearly half (45%) believe they must do something for God to receive material blessings — almost double the number (26%) who had that view in 2017.
Lifeway Executive Director Scott McConnell noted that: “In the last five years, far more churchgoers are reflecting prosperity Gospel teachings. It is possible the financial hits people have taken from inflation and the pandemic have triggered feelings of guilt for not serving God more.”
The youngest and least educated demographic of churchgoers are among the most likely to say God wants them to prosper financially — 81% for those aged aged 18-34 and 85% for those aged 35-49. Those who are high school graduates or less educated (81%) or have some college education (80%) are more likely than those with a bachelor’s (67%) or graduate degree (65%) to hold this belief.
The survey also found that the belief that God wants people to prosper financially is also more common in some religious settings than others. Methodist (93%) and Restorationist movement (88%) churchgoers are among the most likely to hold this belief. Those with evangelical beliefs are more likely than those without such beliefs to agree (80% v 74%).
“Pursuing holiness was never designed by God to be a plan for financial riches,” Mr. McConnell asserted, adding that: “The size of one’s finances is not the measure of anyone’s service to God nor their 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.”