Pentecostal megachurches promoting a prosperity gospel, led by millionaire superstar pastors promising economic salvation and HIV cures, are on the rise in Nigeria, a report has said.
DW.com attended a service of one of the churches in question and charted the growth in an article on Tuesday, noting that congregations are expanding and attracting multitudes to mass events.
One ministry highlighted was that of preacher David Oyedepo, whose Living Faith Church outside Lagos is Nigeria's third biggest Pentecostal church.
"The siege of unemployment is over in your life, the siege of business stagnation, frustration in your life are finally over," Oyedepo promises to crowds of 50,000 people.
The multi-millionaire pastor has a net worth of over $150 million, and is building an even larger church that will have the capacity to seat 100,000 people.
Nigeria is roughly divided by its Muslim and Christian population. Half of its close to 80 million Christians are members of Pentecostal churches, attracted partially by promises of finding economic salvation and their lives being changed.
DW.com reported on one instance where it was treated with suspicion as it attended a service led by Oyedepo.
"The crowd cannot stay seated when their pastor finally shows up. Oyedepo is celebrated like a star. It is in this moment of absolute devotion and ecstasy that huge yellow baskets are passed around to collect the offerings," the article describes.
"Offerings are accepted outside the church, too. And the big donation baskets fill quickly. People believe that the more you give during and after the church service, the more your wealth will increase."
Some of the items that churchgoers are encouraged to buy are $5 olive oil bottles that promise to cure HIV, though that is a significant investment in a country where the minimum wage is $50 per month.
Critics, such as Francis Falako, professor of religious studies at the University of Lagos, argued that people's faith "is being exploited" by such ministries, however.
"Most of these pastors are not there to serve, they are there to enrich themselves, if you question some of their practices, they quote the Bible to support themselves and say Jesus was not poor," Falako argues.
In June, the major Global Anglican Future Conference in Jerusalem also warned that prosperity gospel theology is sweeping Africa and Pentecostal congregations.
Bishop Rt. Rev. Alfred Olwa said at the gathering of conservative Anglicans that such teaching does not belong to the Christian faith.
"They ignore texts when Jesus talks about the poor and focus on those texts that proclaim wealth," Olwa said of such preachers.
Nigerian Archbishop Nicholas Okoh added that those who turn to the prosperity gospel find out that it does not deliver on what it promises.
"Preaching must not be compromised, but is to be discharged faithfully in every generation, as Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever," Okoh said.
The Christian Post has reached out for comments from Living Faith Church, and will update the article should a response be received.