Are we latching onto 'prosperity gospel'?

In January 2008, my mission companion and I met up with two other missionaries at one of the biggest mega-churches in the country.

Officially, the purpose of our trip was to better understand the religious culture in Dallas so that we could more effectively teach our investigators.

Unofficially, though, we were there to satisfy our curiosity and maybe even find a little Sunday morning entertainment.

Among the missionaries in the Texas Dallas Mission, Pastor T.D. Jakes and his church, the Potter's House, were legendary.

The non-denominational church in west Dallas boasts a membership of 30,000 -- and any missionary who had tracted a middle-class or lower-income neighborhood within a 50-mile radius of the enormous worship center had heard plenty about Jakes and his electrifying sermons.

Sure enough, the Sunday we attended provided an adrenaline-pumping experience, complete with a stirring gospel choir and a knock-your-socks-off performance by Pastor Jakes. His sermon, which occasionally slipped into a rhythmic sort of rap, revolved around the story of the woman with an issue of blood.

I remember thinking, "You know, this type of worship certainly isn't for me, but I don't know if T.D. Jakes is really doing any harm here. He's teaching thousands of people about Christ's healing power. Sure, it's a bit simplistic, and it lacks some important details of the Atonement, but overall, it's better than nothing."

Then came the pleas for donations.

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