Hillsong Church paid TD Jakes $150K to speak for a day, Joyce Meyer comes close

Televangelist T.D. Jakes preaches at the Hillsong Conference in Sydney, Australia, in 2013.
Televangelist T.D. Jakes preaches at the Hillsong Conference in Sydney, Australia, in 2013. | YouTube/Hillsong Church

At the start of his sermon at the Hillsong Conference in Sydney, Australia, in 2013, popular televangelist and senior pastor of The Potter's House, Bishop T.D. Jakes, praised Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston and his wife, Bobbie, for their hospitality and how well they had fed him during his time there.

“I want to thank Brian and Bobbie for their hospitality while you turn to that,” Jakes said as the audience searched for a scripture he referenced at the top of his sermon that year at Australia’s largest annual conference that attracts some 30,000 people.

“They have just been so good. He fed me so good today I had to repent,” Jakes quipped as the church erupted in laughter. “Glory to God. I can go on the strength of that meat for 40 days.”

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Not only did Jakes enjoy great food and hospitality during his time down under, but he also received handsome honorariums from Hillsong Church for speaking engagements there.

Jakes received the highest one-day honorarium — nearly $150,000 —  when compared to a long list of celebrity preachers, including Joyce Meyer and Pastor Joel Osteen, for preaching at the Hillsong Conference in Sydney over eight years, according to a trove of financial documents from Hillsong Church first made public on March 9 by Andrew Wilkie, an independent member of the Australian Parliament.

The documents show in comprehensive detail how Hillsong Church spent the income it collected through its donations, tithes, music catalog, real estate and other business.

Televangelist Joyce Meyer preaches at Hillsong Church in Sydney Australia in 2012.
Televangelist Joyce Meyer preaches at Hillsong Church in Sydney Australia in 2012. | YouTube/Hillsong Church

In a document titled, “Hillsong Conference (with One Days) Key cost Variances” covering the period 2005-2011, Hillsong Church paid Jakes an honorarium of $146,359 in 2010. That honorarium topped payouts for that year. The list of payouts to other prominent Christian personalities includes $58,605 to Israel Haughton, $45,032 to Tim Hughes, $25,000 to Ed Young, $25,000 to Judah Smith, $25,000 to Andy Stanley and $10,000 to Nancy Beach.

The only other televangelist who ever got close to Jakes’ 2010 honorarium over the period was Joyce Meyer, who received an honorarium of $133,420 in 2008. Both Meyer and Jakes made multiple appearances at the annual Hillsong Conference, and each time they received $100,000 or more in honorarium payments.

The Christian Post reached out to Hillsong Church to ask if the payments went to the pastors directly or to their ministries. This piece will be updated once a response is received. 

While T.D. Jakes Ministries did not respond to CP when asked for comment on the honorariums he received from Hillsong Church, Lori Potter, a spokesperson for Joyce Meyer Ministries, noted that Meyer did not receive the honorarium personally.

“Any honorarium given for Joyce Meyer’s speaking engagements go directly to Joyce Meyer Ministries and not to Joyce personally,” Potter said. 

Ticket prices for the 2023 Hillsong Conference.
Ticket prices for the 2023 Hillsong Conference. | Screenshot/Hillsong Church

Admission to the 2023 Hillsong Conference, which will take place July 3-5 at the Hillsong Conference Centre in Sydney, will cost an adult participant $399, while children's tickets cost $129. Early registrants can save $50 and $10, respectively, on the cost of the experience.

“Many of you told us what you would personally love to see at Hillsong Conference 2023 and we are filled with excitement as we desire to reinvent but continue to champion the cause of the local church,” a message from Hillsong Church global senior pastors, Phil and Lucinda Dooley, said on the conference website, which has yet to announce the names of guest speakers slated for the event this year.

Hillsong Conference honorarium payouts.
Hillsong Conference honorarium payouts. | Screenshot/Australian Parliament

In 2015, according to the records, Hillsong Church spent just over $522,000 on honorariums. John Gray Innertainment, a for-profit company registered in both Atlanta, Georgia, and Nashville, Tennessee, by Pastor John Gray, was paid $38,649 in November that year.

Perry Noble was paid $24,257 in October. Ravi Zacharias International was paid $48,816 in September and Pastor Richard Wilkerson Jr. of Vous Church in Florida received $15,000 in January and then $6,064 in March for a total of $21,064 that year.

The list of famous Christian pastors with global brands that have received honorariums for making appearances at the megachurch include: Steven Furtick, Jentezen Franklin, Robert Morris, Louie Giglio, Joseph Prince, Ravi Zacharias, Carl Lentz and many others.

The details come after nearly 40 churches around the world were found to have paid up to $100,000, or 3% of their tithes and offerings, annually to Hillsong Church to be a part of the Hillsong Family network, which the whistleblower has alleged offers access to a global honorarium scheme meant to funnel additional income into the pockets of celebrity pastors through sophisticated means.

Hillsong Church honorarium payments for 2015.
Hillsong Church honorarium payments for 2015. | Screenshot/Australian Parliament
Hillsong Conference 2007 speaker payments.
Hillsong Conference 2007 speaker payments. | Screenshot/Australian Parliament

Pastor Kent Munsey of Chicago City Church, which paid to be a part of the Hillsong Family until they cut ties in spring 2022, confirmed with CP that his church's last payment to Hillsong Church was $24,363 in 2020.

He said he was under the impression that the money they were contributing to Hillsong Church to be a part of the Hillsong Family was going toward global missions and he wasn’t aware of any scheme.

Munsey, whose grandparents were missionaries in Bulgaria and built the American English Academy there, said he recalls being invited to speak at a Hillsong event twice in New York City and never got paid close to any of the hefty honorariums the whistleblower’s documents reveal.

“It's been a decade, I think 2012 or '13, I spoke for New York. And I did a Sunday. And I think [what I got paid], I thought it was very generous, I thought it was a lot of money. They gave me $2,500,” he said. “That's a lot of money for me, $2,500 to be able to go preach. So, I felt very blessed.”

He also recalled speaking another time in Australia, and said he paid his own airfare but was reimbursed along with other compensation, adding: “I've never received the kind of money that you're describing.”

When asked if he planned to attend the Hillsong Conference this year after scandals that led to the dismissal of multiple pastors, including founder Brian Houston in March 2022, Munsey said, “I have no idea.”

He described the large honorarium payouts he viewed as excessive and “embarrassing.”

“You know, there's obviously a system that I didn't know about ... because it doesn't make sense, to be honest. No one gets into ministry for a speaking gig. And to be honest, there's not that many to begin with,” he said.

“I get personally turned off when, if we ever want to have a minister come in and speak, I get turned off if there's a rider or there's an expected amount. My father and my grandfather have always taught me that you should never expect anything from anyone when you are serving in ministry. And any expectation that you have from anyone or anything really should just be from the Lord,” Munsey said.

“My ministry philosophy is, anything that you would receive from a ministry should be something that is appropriate in terms of, [if] it's gone through the proper channels. To me, it's not a matter of how much money it is, is there proper governance? Is there proper controls, and do the people know what they're giving to and [where] the money is going?

“That's the way I was raised,” he explained.

“If a missionary comes to my church, and I take a freewill offering for them, and $100,000, comes in, we're going to give it to the mission. I don't think we're going to give it, in my mind, we're not giving it to the missionary to go buy a private plane or go, you know, do an exotic vacation,” he said. “I think the biggest problem with all this stuff, to be honest with you, it is the money. But more than that, it's will the people be OK with it? And I think we know the answer to that: of course not.”

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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