Costi Hinn, nephew of famed faith healer Benny Hinn, recently shared his experience of being in the prosperity gospel circle where he used donations for his lavish lifestyle and said the movement is now operating in the young Christian culture.
The pastor has become well-known for exposing some of the pitfalls of the lifestyle and teachings of his famous uncle and the prosperity gospel. In the latest PreachersNSneakers Podcast episode, Hinn sharing candidly about growing up in that lavish lifestyle, where he once had a decked out Hummer, and it was then that he was around the next generation of prosperity gospel pastors.
"Back then, a lot of these guys that are on your account, that are younger, their dads were pretty decent preachers, just good guys, they weren't real wild. They weren't rolling in Bentleys and all that. They would never hit the news as a prosperity preacher. But this whole next generation of guys that are almost like Christian TED Talk motivational speaker types, they really hit it in the business world,” Hinn explained.
“It's almost like gospel business and so it's a different world. They stay away from the white suits, like my uncle, they are not speaking in tongues everywhere and throwing their jackets at people and doing massive crusades. They're appealing to culture in a way that is 'sexy or trendy' and that's really attractive to culture.”
Hinn named the young megachurch pastors that he grew up around before he came out of the prosperity gospel life. Among them were Judah Smith, Chad Veach, John Gray, “his friend” Rich Wilkerson Jr. and Carl Lentz.
He said his life got flipped upside down after he was married and realized prosperity preachers were “living off poor people and manipulating rich people.”
"It doesn't matter who you're with on your Instagram account. It doesn't matter what kind of car you're driving, what kind of stage you're on, how big the screen is behind you. If you've got reflective lights and audio engineers making you sound like you're Joel Osteen every week, I don't care who you are. God can work at any time in any place in any way,” Hinn, who serves as executive pastor of discipleship at Redeemer Bible Church in Arizona, said.
"Yes, the church should use media. Yes, we should strive for excellence. Yes, we should care for our pastors. But we're not celebrities. Our ministry and faithfulness is not dependent on crowd-pleasing. It's dependent on God-pleasing."
Hinn talked about having to deal with PTSD after coming out of that lifestyle. He battled guilt when doing anything that remotely felt luxurious because of how badly he abused the ministry funds in the past.
"Wealth is not a sin; God has blessed you with that wealth. You're allowed to enjoy things, but here's how I would say it: Wealth is not a sin, wealth is a responsibility,” he said.
"God knows what you need before you ask and He cares for you, food, clothing, shelter. God is saying, ‘Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added.’ So don't worry about getting stuff, worry about God.”
"With this preachers and sneakers prosperity gospel world, they're telling everybody, ‘Just claim it, just believe it, it's going to happen. Forget the past, look forward, your blessing's coming, your burdens are preparing you for your blessing,’” he echoed and then advised: “Give them the hope of the gospel, tell them to be content. Don't fail the heart test.”
The minister testified that God turned his “mess of a story” and salvation from the prosperity gospel into a book and a ministry that reaches people all over the world and although he is grateful for the blessings, financial gain is not why he shared his story with the world.
“I didn't save myself and go now I'm going to turn this into my blessing. No, in fact, there are so many things that have happened in my life that have been very hard and they have not amounted to physical blessings,” Hinn said.
His faith, he said, is in God and he knows that his abundant life will come to full fruition in eternity with Jesus.
The Instagram account @preachersnsneakers launched in 2019 and is popular for calling out famous pastors for their taste in expensive shoes, as well as other gear, some of which cost approximately $4,000 per pair.
Correction: May 20, 2020:
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Costi Hinn is a pastor at Mission Bible Church in California. While he formerly served as a pastor there, he now serves as a pastor at Redeemer Bible Church in Arizona.