Are All Televangelists Crooks?

Are All Televangelists Crooks? November 17, 2010

It’s no surprise that some people have a negative view of religious speakers who use television to engage their audience.  With stories of corruption and greed, it’s easy to see why people would write off all televangelists as crooks.  Yes, there are things that some televangelists do that bother me beyond belief (I’ll get to that in a minute).  However, television can be a great way to spread the Gospel – as long as it’s done in a way that reflects the love of Christ.

Let me be sure to say that no one is perfect and corruption and greed can arise when humans are present.  It all comes down to motives and what your heart is focused on.

I’ll do my best to present my opinion on both sides of the argument – for and against televangelists.  Our views may be different and I encourage you to share your opinion in a respectful way in the comments.

What I don’t like about televangelists

Gifts for support are driven by fear

I’ve seen this firsthand with people I know.  Some programs will deliver a message of fear in order to distribute ‘emergency packets’ or ‘end of the world prep kits.’  This seriously bothers me because these people are using fear to close a sale on a religious program.

2 Timothy 1:7 says For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Our purchases of items and giving to ministries should not be driven by fear.

Don’t pay for prayer

Yes, I hate to say this, but there are programs that say ‘our team will pray for you if you support the ministry.’  Prayer is never something that should be associated with giving a certain amount of money or being a part of a monthly subscription.

If you or someone you know is in need of prayer, call the National Prayer Center for support from volunteers who aren’t looking to sell you anything.

Taking scripture out of context

I know that it can be difficult sometimes to pinpoint the exact meaning behind a verse.  Unfortunately, there are some televangelist programs that will do this all too often.  Twisting scripture to manipulate your audience to give is deceitful and bothers me when I see it.

What I like about televangelists

Gospel is reaching the ends of the earth

Using television to spread the gospel is an awesome thing when it’s done by a group of people who share a passion for missions and reaching people for Christ.  There are still places in the world that won’t allow Christians to physically enter the country, but the Word of God can still be spread through television, radio, and the Internet.

Homebound believers can be fed spiritually

Unfortunately, some people aren’t able to make it to church to be fed spiritually.  Broadcasting God’s Word through television and the web provides encouragement and support for thousands of viewers who aren’t able to leave their home.

At the end of the day, you really just need to turn to the word of God and compare what you’re hearing with what YOU are studying in the Bible.

What are your thoughts about televangelists?  Please be respectful with your comments.  It’s ok to share your negative views as long as you aren’t being crude or distasteful.

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  • Justin

    The short answer to the question posed in the title: yes.

    • Tim

      Thanks for reading and commenting Justin. This subject was/is a sensitive one to handle which is probably why I haven’t seen too many articles that address the issue.

      It’s undeniable (and unfortunate) that televangelists have a bad reputation. It just goes to show that we’re all human and tempted with greed and pride.

      I think there have been upright people who have used television to share the Gospel – but many of these good examples are overshadowed by the evangelists who have taken a turn for the worse.

  • I know that we should not lump all into one category, but what I have seen of MOST televangelists leaves a bad taste in my mouth. One of the trends that you didn’t mention here are the pastors that preach the gospel of wealth. They display their own wealth and tell others to accumulate as they have it. I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all!

    With that said, some of the smaller televangelists (and I mean the ones on cable public access) seem to do it out of love and selflessness.

    • Tim

      You bring up a good point – the prosperity gospel is certainly a hot topic these days. You hit it right on the head with your example – I agree with you.

  • Do I think all of them are crooks? No, certainly not. But I do think that having such fame and notoriety like so many of these TV preachers do can lend itself to quickly becoming too impressed with your own abilities and power, and forgetting the humility and servitude that you need to have in order to serve God effectively. Their continued fame and success, and big buildings and high attendance can quickly become an idol for these folks, and they can begin to forget that everything they have was given to them by God. In order to be an effective televangelist I think they need to have some extremely good accountability, people to keep them humble, and folks to remind them of their mission, and their focus. Bringing others to Christ. Otherwise, they are doomed to failure.

  • Tim

    Very well put Pete! Thanks for your input. The accountability factor is essential for televangelists. Fame and fortune can be dangerous and constantly reminding yourself to practice humility is important – especially if you are preaching on television.

  • Beth Mantey

    Interesting question. As a child I remember the day my mother was “saved” and our family life changed forever. She was saved watching the PTL Club with Jim Baker – and we all know how that ended. Did that change that fact that he brought many people to Christ? Money and power corrupt. Did my mother send them money? I’m sure she did. What they did with that money is what God will hold them accountable for. Yes, there is a need for them, and yes we need to be careful about the motivation.

    • Tim

      Beth, you bring up a good point. A lot of people can be positively affected by the reach that TV has. Some may not have the opportunity to hear the message if it wasn’t for a TV preacher. The problem comes when greed and power corrupts the message. But you’re right – God will hold all of us accountable! Thanks for sharing!

  • Luke

    the televangelists that use there holy office for gain and using fear to fleece the flock.only things i can say is it won’t be a pretty site when they die using the gospel for gain by fleecing people. JESUS , GOD AND THE ANGELS IN HEAVEN ARE SO NOT PLEASED WITH THESE GREEDY TELEVANGELISTS.