Can we get an “Amen!” or a “Hallelujah!” It should come as no surprise that religion is one of the largest and most profitable organizations in the world today as billions of dollars are spent each year on church renovations, advertising, book publications, religious paraphernalia and more! As a matter of fact, visit any supermarket or gas station and you’re bound to find something related to one faith or another as we’ve reached the highest religious population the world has ever seen.
With religions around the world gaining momentum as new followers fill once empty seats and lifetime parishioners flock to new services or locations, Christianity has established itself as the most prominent faith in first-world countries. As a result, congregations quickly put their trust in their ministers, pastors or preachers who have become not only some of the most renowned spiritual mentors in the world but also some of the wealthiest.
So just how much are pastors really making? Traveling the globe from Nigeria and Singapore to the United States, we found 50 of the richest pastors whose millionaire and billionaire statuses are sure to shock you. Will you recognize any of the names on our list? Let’s find out!
#50 – Bill Moyers ($1 Million)
The first of many pastors turned politicians (and vice versa) on our list is Oklahoma native Bill Moyers. First starting his career in journalism with an internship with the United States Senate, the young University of Texas graduate caught the eye of Senator Lyndon B. Johnson who helped secure future work for him as a television editor. While working in broadcasting, Moyers pursued his other passion – theology – and completed his Master of Divinity in 1959 at which time he became an ordained Baptist minister.
Leaving Texas for Washington, D.C., Moyers was appointed the Associate Director of the Peace Corps during the Kennedy administration before taking over as Johnson’s personal assistant after President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. Shortly after, he was named the 13th White House Press Secretary and served under Johnson from 1965 to 1967. Since then, the now 81-year-old journalist has given a handful of sermons but is best recognized as a pioneer in freedom of the press and public broadcasting in addition to laying the groundwork for the press’s relationship with the White House.
#49 – Richard Rossi ($1 Million)
Once known as the rock and roll preacher with an edge, Richard Rossi became a born-again Christian after a drug overdose inspired him to take his experience and his fascination with faith healing to the pulpit. Rossi started playing his music on The 700 Club while completing his degree in biblical studies at Liberty University. During his senior year, he married his college sweetheart, Sherrie Lynn Plaugher, and saw moderate success when he opened his first church – The Fellowship – in 1984.
Everything changed for the Pennsylvania preacher in 1994 when Sherrie was found nearly dead on the side of the road and he was considered the prime suspect. Sent to trial amid testimonies to both his guilt and innocence, the trial ended in a hung jury with Rossi sentenced to probation and domestic violence counseling. The damage to his reputation was already done, however, as his church membership fell to 12. Moving to Los Angeles with Sherrie and their children, the now 53-year-old Rossi has tried to make a fresh start as a pastor, church consultant and actor despite many still believing he got off far too easy.
#49 – Paul Cain ($1 Million)
If everything is really bigger in Texas, then the Lone Star State’s own Paul Cain most likely didn’t think twice when he became one of youngest ministers of the Voice of Healing Revival in Europe during the late 1940s. Only 18 years old at the time and often preaching in front of tens of thousands, Cain was incredibly popular and was well on his way to becoming one of the most memorable pastors in the world until he did the unthinkable and disappeared from the public eye in the late 1950s.
Finally reemerging in Kansas City in 1987, the religious landscape was far different from Cain’s early days of tent revivals as he traveled the world preaching while working as a consultant with the CIA that left him rubbing elbows with world leaders like President Bill Clinton and Saddam Hussein. By 2004, however, his reputation was on a downward spiral when accusations of homosexuality and drunkenness ignited a confession and his resignation from the ministry. Returning to the pulpit once again in 2007, Cain is now 87 years old and continues to preach at his church in Santa Marla, California.
#48 – Charles Stanley ($1.5 Million)
A born-again Christian at the age of 12, Charles Stanley was only 14 years old when he began his work as a minister in his Virginia community. Graduating from the University of Richmond and the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Stanley moved to Atlanta, Georgia where he was appointed the pastor at the First Baptist Church. Once settled in Atlanta, Stanley started a television program called The Chapel Hour in 1972, which was picked up in 1978 and syndicated across the country by the Christian Broadcasting Network.
Rising to popularity as a charismatic television pastor and the third most influential in the world, Stanley launched In Touch Ministries, which prompted a syndicated radio broadcast that took his message worldwide. His largest program today, In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley is translated across hundreds of radio and television networks in over 100 languages. Despite his success and his impressive $1.5 million net worth, the 83-year-old continues to live modestly while ministering and enjoying his second passion, photography.
#47 – R.C. Sproul ($2 Million)
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Robert Charles “R.C.” Sproul is the founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries. Established in 1970 with humble beginnings as a study center for college and seminary students, Sproul built the ministry into a nationally recognized program that now hosts theological conferences throughout the year with renowned speakers from around the world. He is also the mastermind behind the internationally broadcasted Sirius XM radio program Renewing Your Mind.
Much like the other pastors on our list, Sproul was inspired to take his message even further but, instead of turning to television, looked to the internet. Launching the online Christian radio station known as Reformation Network (RefNet) for reformed Christians in 2012, Sproul may not be the most popular pastor in the world but he’s definitely one of the wealthiest and smartest. Still living and working in his native Pennsylvania, the 77-year-old is worth an estimated $2 million thanks to his five dozen books, a strong Christian message and savvy marketing.
#46 – N.T. Wright ($2.5 Million)
The first pastor on our list from across the pond, Nicholas Thomas “N.T.” Wright is one of the most popular New Testament scholars in all of Great Britain. Ordained as a minister in 1975, Wright has written and published over a dozen books on religion including the popular series Christian Origins and the Question of God and For Everyone. Because of his work and outstanding dedication to theology, Wright was consecrated in 2003 as the Bishop of Durham after spending five years as the Dean of Lichfield.
Retiring from his position as Bishop in 2010, the 67-year-old has amassed a $2.5 million net worth throughout his career and continues to work today as a professor at St. Mary’s College in the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Carrying great influence in the religious community, he is often recognized for his polarizing views that include his opposition to ordaining gay Christians as well as same sex relationships and marriages. He also argues that the idea of an actual rapture is farfetched and bogus.
#45 – Jack Van Impe ($2.5 Million)
Claiming his nickname as the “Walking Bible,” Michigan native Jack Van Impe graduated from the Detroit Bible Institute in 1952 and began his career as an evangelist on the Billy Graham Crusades. Meeting and marrying Rexella Mae Shelton during a youth rally on tour, Impe and his new bride launched the Jack Van Impe Ministries in 1954 featuring Impe as the star and Rexella as the cohost of the television series, Jack Van Impe Presents.
Still seen on television across the United States and Canada, the 85-year-old Van Impe has amassed a huge following over the last 60 years in addition to an incredible amount of wealth. Reports show that the Jack Van Impe Ministries International Foundation has a total yearly revenue of nearly $12 million with an annual salary of $150,000 set aside for Van Impe himself. Of course, many argue that the minister has far more money floating into his pockets since his net worth is climbing at $2.5 million.
#44 – Clifton Davis ($3 Million)
Better known as a songwriter, singer and actor rather than a minister, Clifton Davis launched his career in the music business after writing famous hits like “Never Can Say Goodbye” and “Lookin’ Through the Windows” for The Jackson 5. Taking his talents to the stage in the 1970s, Davis made his acting debut as the star on the television series That’s My Mama and has spent the last 45 years in the spotlight with special appearances on hit series like Amen, Living Single and Grace Under Fire among dozens of others.
Long before becoming a celebrity, Davis pursued his passion for theology and earned a Master of Divinity degree from Andrews University and was ordained in 1987. He has spent the last 25 years as the co-founder and pastor of the Welcome Christian Center in Huntington Beach, California while making guest appearances on the Trinity Broadcasting Network in addition to hosting Gospel Superfest for the last eight years. When he’s not behind the pulpit, parishioners and fans can find him talking politics as he plays Ephraim Ware on the popular television series, Madam Secretary.
#43 – Ernie Fletcher ($3 Million)
A politician, preacher and physician, Kentucky native Ernie Fletcher wears many hats these days after first joining the United States Air Force with the hopes of becoming an astronaut. With budget cuts in the program and poor eyesight squashing his dreams, Fletcher earned a degree in medicine and opened a private practice while working as a lay Baptist minister in his community. He became active in Kentucky politics and, by 1999, joined the United States House of Representatives until 2003 when he assumed the role as Kentucky’s Governor until 2007.
Despite his early work as a minister, Fletcher never earned a salary from his position and, instead, built his $3 million net worth in politics – although, even that came at a price. Facing his fair share of controversy while in office, Fletcher was accused of unethical hiring practices that overshadowed his reelection bid in 2007 and left him no other option but to retire from politics and return to medicine. He founded the Alton Healthcare consulting firm in Cincinnati, Ohio in 2008 and, at 63 years old today, continues to serve as CEO after taking a huge step back from the pulpit and the political arena.
#42 – Minister Louis Farrakhan ($3 Million)
Born as Louis Wolcott and trained as a violinist, Bronx native Louis Farrakhan launched his career as a professional musician in the 1950s at the same time he was introduced to the teachings of the Nation of Islam. Joining the NOI in 1955 and briefly becoming Louis X, Farrakhan gave up his dreams of music and quickly rose through the ranks under the guidance of Malcolm X. With Malcolm’s assassination in 1965, Farrakhan then assumed the role as the national spokesman and representative of the NOI and the minister of the highly influential Harlem Mosque.
A widely polarizing and controversial figure, Farrakhan has spent the last three decades reviving the Nation of Islam while building his following as a minister in the northeast and amassing $3 million in personal wealth. Responsible for the Million Man March in Washington, D.C. in 1995, Farrakhan is now 82 years old but age hasn’t stopped him as he continues to spread his influence through weekly online sermons and speaking at large NOI events. He’s even returned to music with a sound that critics describe as “deep and full of energy that makes the violin gleam.”
#41 – Leroy Jenkins ($4 Million)
No, we don’t mean Leroy Jenkins of the popular World of Warcraft meme. Instead, next on our list is South Carolina evangelist Leroy Jenkins who became a born-again Christian after being convicted of arson in 1979. Spending 12 years in prison, Jenkins was at it again in 2001 when he married 77-year-old Eloise Thomas who won the Ohio Lottery Jackpot worth $6 million. A recent widow and overwhelmed with grief, Thomas passed away shortly after marrying Jenkins leaving the Ohio court to annul the marriage and deny Jenkins any of Thomas’s fortune.
Despite his reputation as a con-artist and convicted criminal, Jenkins started his own faith healing ministry – Leroy Jenkins Ministries – using “miracle water” to help his followers. Still based in Ohio in 2003, his ministry took a hit when it was discovered that the “miracle water” contained harmful chemicals. Also fined for selling the water without a license, Jenkins packed up his ministry and moved to Scottsdale, Arizona. Now 79 years old and still building his $4 million wealth as an internationally recognized televangelist, Jenkin’s ethics and honesty are undoubtedly questionable.
#40 – Paul Adefarasin ($4 Million)
The first Nigerian on our list, Paul Adefarasin is the founder of the Lagos based House On The Rock church, a vibrant, multi-ethnic church, with over 7,000 worshippers on Sunday mornings and several daughter churches spread over Africa and Europe. An Author, Motivator and Conference speaker, Paul Adefarasin is one of the most richest and sought-after ministers in Nigeria. His weekly television programme “SOMETHING IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN!” is broadcast into millions of homes across Africa and Europe.
#39 – Tony Campolo ($4 Million)
When it comes to having one of the coolest pastor jobs in the world, Tony Campolo easily takes the prize as the former spiritual advisor to President Bill Clinton. Recognized as one of the most influential religious leaders and thinkers today, the Philadelphia native is an ordained Baptist minister and evangelist known for his progressive ideas and association with the Democratic Party. He also founded the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education (EAPE) to help at-risk youth throughout the United States and Canada.
Frequently criticized by conservatives for his views shared as a guest commentator and advisor on programs like The Colbert Report, Nightline and Larry King Live, Campolo took his opinions on politics, religion and social issues to his own program in 2011 with the launch of Red Letter Christians. Continuing to host the show after retiring from the EAPE in 2014, the 81-year-old sociologist and pastor has published over a dozen books and spoken at hundreds of events while amassing a net worth to the tune of an astonishing $4 million.
#38 – Reinhard Bonnke ($4 Million)
Claiming that he has preached the gospel to more people than any other evangelist in the world, Reinhard Bonnke is known for his missions across Africa over the last 50 years. Hailing from Konigsberg, Germany, Bonnke became a Christian as a child when his mother told him the only way to avoid punishment for sin was through Jesus. Shortly after and at only 10 years old, Bonnke felt his first calling to preach in Africa and spent the next 17 years completing his degree and pastoring in Germany before embarking on his first mission in 1967.
Initially ministering to only a few dozen followers, Bonnke’s reputation and popularity spread across Africa and ignited the need for large scale evangelism and bigger venues. After trading in sold-out stadiums for tent and open-air gatherings to accommodate 100,000 people at a time, the Pentecostal evangelist quickly found himself as the most notable and influential religious leader in all of Africa. And, with the success of his autobiography, Living a Life of Fire, it’s no surprise why the 76-year-old Bonnke is one of the richest pastors in the world with a $4 million net worth.
#37 –Dag Heward-Mills ($4 Million)
Bishop Dag Heward-Mills is the overseer of the fast-growing church in Ghana, Lighthouse Chapel International, which has over 1,000 branches and is on every continent. Its headquarters in Ghana, the Qodesh, is undoubtedly the largest church building in Ghana.
Heward-Mills has written over hundred Christian books which serve as teaching and learning materials for his congregation worldwide. His source of wealth has been linked to his books but if we should go by the theory that pastors are paid through tithes, the congregation of his church alone should give a clue as to what lands in his bank account monthly.
#36 – Paula White ($5 Million)
Currently serving as the Senior Pastor of the New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Florida, 49-year-old Paula White has come quite a long way from her Tupelo, Mississippi roots marked by poverty and physical abuse. Moving around the country with her mother and stepfather as a child, the family finally settled in Maryland where her life took on an entirely new path. By the time she graduated from high school, White had converted to Christianity and claimed she had a vision from God that called her to preach the gospel to others.
Moving to Florida and transforming a struggling church into the Without Walls International Church in the 1990s alongside her husband, White saw great success as thousands attended services each week to hear her humorous sermons. Gaining national attention as a result, the award-winning televangelist divorced her husband and found herself amid controversy when she was accused of financial wrongdoing by the United States Senate. After the investigation cleared her name, White resumed her role on the pulpit and now divides her time between church and the set of her television show Paula White Today.
#35 – John MacArthur ($5 Million)
Ordained in the 1960s as a Christian evangelical preacher, John F. MacArthur began his career behind the pulpit in 1964 at the Calvary Bible Church in Southern California before joining Grace Community Church in Los Angeles in 1969. By 1977, MacArthur took his sermons to an even bigger audience when he launched his daily radio broadcast, Grace to You. Initially only broadcast in Baltimore, Maryland, the program has since become an internationally syndicated show that has established MacArthur as one of the most influential preachers of his era.
With the success of his radio program, MacArthur was named President of the Los Angeles Baptist College in 1984 and, two years later, established his own college known as The Master’s Seminary in Los Angeles. Now at 76 years old and continuing to serve as the college’s president and pastor at Grace Community Church, MacArthur has built an incredible $5 million net worth thanks to appearances on shows like Larry King Live in addition to over 150 book titles including the best-selling MacArthur Study Bible and Twelve Ordinary Men.
#34 – Kay Arthur ($5 Million)
Born into a religious Michigan family, Kay Arthur attended Tennessee Temple University where she majored in modeling and later attended nursing school. After divorcing her first husband and learning of his suicide, Arthur spiraled out of control in a series of bad relationships before she turned to her faith for guidance. Admitting that she “went down on her knees a harlot and got up a saint,” Arthur married a second time in 1965 and joined her husband in Mexico as a missionary before returning to Chattanooga, Tennessee.
#33 – Eddie Long ($5 Million)
Hailing from the Tarheel State otherwise known as beautiful North Carolina, Eddie Long was a sales representative for Ford Motor Corporation long before he ever went into ministry. Losing his job at Ford and moving to Atlanta, Long studied theology and became a pastor at a small Georgia church before taking over at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in 1987. Growing the church from 300 to over 25,000 members in a matter of years, Long managed to build his wealth as well to the tune of $5 million.
Long’s success does not come without controversy, however. Using profits from his book royalties and real estate investments, Long donated $1 million to his alma mater – North Central University – on the heels of an investigation into his finances by the Senate. Found innocent, the controversy wasn’t over as Long soon made headlines after being accused of having inappropriate relationships with underage males in the parish. Settling these issues outside of court, Long has managed to avoid further harm to his reputation as he continues to serve as the Senior Pastor of Georgia’s New Birth megachurch.
#32 – Al Sharpton ($5 Million)
One of (if not the) most controversial pastors on our list is civil rights activist, talk show host and Baptist minister Al Sharpton. Growing up in Brooklyn and preaching his first gospel at the age of four as his mother struggled to put food on the table, Sharpton was ordained a Pentecostal minister at just nine years old. He then spent much of his early career as James Brown’s tour manager and an activist alongside Jesse Jackson before shifting his focus back to ministry and joining the Baptist church in the late 1980s.
Officially becoming a Baptist minister in 1994, Sharpton’s reputation skyrocketed thanks to hundreds of television and radio appearances that have padded his $5 million net worth. Despite his success, Sharpton encountered financial problems in 2014 when reports revealed that he “regularly sidestepped” his debts and owed millions in back taxes. Though Sharpton took a hit on his personal wealth, he has rebounded nicely as a trusted White House adviser and the host of his radio show, Keepin’ It Real.
#31 – Joseph Prince ($5 Million)
Bringing in a whopping $550,000 per year in salary, it’s no surprise that Singapore native Joseph Prince makes our list as the Senior Pastor of one of Asia’s biggest megachurches, the New Creation Church. The son of a Sikh priest, Prince has spent his entire life in churches around the world from Australia and Canada to Italy, Indonesia and the Netherlands, but this isn’t his greatest accomplishment. In 1984, Prince and a small group of religious pioneers founded the nondenominational NCC and saw its membership rise from 25 people to an astonishing 31,000.
With the church bringing in an annual income of $44.7 million, the 52-year-old Prince has the freedom to travel around the globe on tour giving sermons as well as hosting a religious program titled Destined to Reign that is broadcast in over 150 countries. Showing no signs of slowing down, the megachurch pastor publishes his sermons in books and on CDs to supplement his $5 million net worth with his publications often reaching the top 100 chart in Christian Literature in the United States.
#30 – John Hagee ($5 Million)
Everything’s bigger in Texas, even the churches! The son of a renowned Texas reverend, John Hagee played college football at Trinity University in San Antonio before following his dreams of becoming a pastor. Once finished with his theological training, Hagee led the Trinity Church in San Antonio in the 1970s before establishing The Church at Castle Hills in 1975. Starting with only 25 members, the church blossomed under Hagee’s leadership which inspired him to launch John Hagee Ministries and broadcast his sermons on television and radio across the United States.
Continuing to serve as the CEO of the network, Hagee also leads his non-profit organization known as Global Evangelism Television. Now worth $5 million and often making headlines for his opinions of Israel and other political matters, the 75-year-old charismatic pastor spends the rest of his time as Senior Pastor of the Cornerstone Church in San Antonio. Those who miss him at the Sunday service have no need to worry, however, as his sermons air in over 150 million homes across the world on channels like The Inspiration Network, the Trinity Broadcasting Network and Inspiration Now.
#29 – Noel Jones ($5 Million)
Born in Jamaica as one of seven children, Noel Jones moved to Syracuse, New York with his family when he was 15 years old. Inspired by his father, who was a bishop and politician, Jones felt called to the ministry at the age of 19 and enrolled at the Aenon Bible College where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Theology. Dreaming of leading his own church, Jones finally saw his dream come true at the age of 26 when he moved to Longview, Texas to serve as pastor of Bethel Temple.
Accepting the opportunity of a lifetime in 1994 as the pastor of Greater Bethany Community Church in Los Angeles, Jones saw the church’s membership grow to even greater heights in his early years. Literally outgrowing the building, Jones oversaw an expansion project documented in the film Hoover Street Revival that resulted in a new sanctuary known as The City of Refuge. Now 66 years old and worth $5 million, Jones continues to serve over 17,000 members in addition to the Billboard chart-topping choir known as The City of Refuge Sanctuary Choir.
#28 – Chris Okotie ($7.5 Million)
An inspirational Pentecostal pastor and a successful Nigerian televangelist, Christopher Oghenebrorie Okotie loved music and singing as a child but never imagined he would one day make a career in the spotlight. After his father died, however, everything changed when Okotie dropped out of law school to pursue a career as a pop musician. With little success, Okotie returned to school to finish his law degree only to shift his focus to ministry as he enrolled in Grace Fellowship Bible School in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Returning home after graduation to establish the HGC in 1987 and running full steam ahead ever since, Okotie has published 17 books and a variety of articles that have established him as an authority among locals on faith and religious issues. He’s also managed to build his $7.5 million wealth and reputation with not one but three presidential runs in 2003, 2007 and 2011. Despite losing the elections, Okotie used the campaigns to build his reputation and put more money in his pocket, which he spent on his favorite guilty pleasure – luxury high performance cars.
#27 – Ravi Zacharias ($7.5 Million)
Breaking the mold as one of the few popular evangelists from India is Ravi Zacharias who became a Christian at the age of 17 after a suicide attempt brought him face to face with the Bible. Turning his life around, Zacharias moved to Canada with his family in the late 1960s and completed his studies to become a minister. He traveled to Vietnam in 1971 where he preached to American soldiers and later followed up his trip with a visit to Cambodia in 1974 as part of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada.
Inspired to form his own ministry, Zacharias opened Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Toronto in 1984 and was commissioned as an international evangelist. Building his reputation in only a matter of years, the Christian apologist published award-winning works including Jesus Among Other Gods, Can Man Live Without God? and The End of Reason. Today, his reputation as an accomplished preacher and author have guaranteed the 70-year-old a special place on the radio as the host of Let My People Think and Just Thinking in addition to an incredible $7.5 million net worth.
#26 – Peter Popoff ($10 Million)
Born in war-torn Berlin in 1946, Peter Popoff moved to California with his family at a young age and completed his studies at the University of California before finally marrying and settling down in 1970. Before long, Popoff made his way to television ministry where his aggressive and energetic messages were broadcast across the United States and transformed him into an iconic faith healer known for yelling “break free of the devil” at some of his sickest followers.
Healing everything from anxiety and depression to heart conditions and paralysis, many thought Popoff was the real deal. The truth finally came out, however, in the mid-1980s when his methods were questioned and he admitted the miracles were a hoax. Falling out of the public’s favor and disappearing from the spotlight for nearly a decade, Popoff made a comeback in the late 1990s and is, once again, a success. Now 69 years old and worth $10 million, Popoff is often seen buzzing around California in his Porsche as one of televangelism’s biggest conmen.
#25 – Joyce Meyer ($10 Million)
Whether you are flipping through the television channels or perusing the latest titles on a must-read list, chances are you’ve seen the face or name of the world renowned Joyce Meyer. Spending much of her early life living in the fast lane frequenting bars and stealing from her employers, Meyer says that it wasn’t until 1976 when she heard the voice of God calling her to turn her life around. Becoming a born-again Christian, Meyer started small by leading a bible class before launching her own ministry in 1985 followed by a weekly radio program.
Eight years later, the Missouri native took her message to television with a ministry titled Enjoying Everyday Life on Chicago’s WGN. Still airing today, Meyer has accumulated over $10 million in wealth as a result of her television and radio programs in addition to a number of books such as Eat the Cookie…Buy the Shoes: Giving Yourself Permission to Lighten Up and The Confident Woman: Start Today Living Boldly and Without Fear. As to how she spends her wealth, Meyer spent millions on her St. Louis, Missouri headquarters in addition to a $10 million private jet she shares with her husband Dave.
#24 – Jesse Jackson ($10 Million)
Perhaps first known as a politician and then as a religious leader and civil rights activist, Jesse Jackson has achieved great success in all of his endeavors. Born in South Carolina in the 1940s, Jackson rejected a minor league baseball contract in order to accept a football scholarship to the University of Illinois. Transferring to North Carolina A&T and still playing football, Jackson became active in local civil rights campaigns as he enrolled in the Chicago Theological Seminary before dropping out three classes short of earning his master’s degree.
Spending much of his career focused on civil rights, Jackson was ordained a Baptist minister in 1968 but continued to focus on politics with presidential runs in 1984 and 1988. Serving as a shadow U.S. Senator in Washington, D.C. from 1991 to 1997, Jackson continued to gain widespread fame and was given his own show on CNN called Both Sides of Jesse Jackson. Now worth $10 million thanks to his incredible influence and success, Jackson was finally awarded his Master of Divinity in 2000 as a result of his career accomplishments and life experience.
#23 – Matthew Ashimolowo ($10 Million)
Taking the 27th spot on our list and the title for leading the largest church in the United Kingdom as Senior Pastor of Kingsway International Christian Centre is 64-year-old Matthew Ashimolowo. After the death of his father, Ashimolowo converted from Islam to Christianity at 22 years old and enrolled in bible school where he excitedly pursued his passion of theology and church leadership. Today, Ashimolowo is obviously living the dream as he leads the KICC whose assets value at $40 million with an annual profit of $10 million thanks to over 12,000 active members.
Though an integral part of the KICC with an annual salary of £100,000, Ashimolowo’s claim to fame is his incredibly popular international radio and television program Winning Ways. With his show frequently topping the charts and padding his $10 million net worth, money seems like it would be the last of Ashimolowo’s concern but that hasn’t always been the case. After a significant review of his finances in 2005 revealed numerous irregularities with the church’s charity, the millionaire pastor was forced to repay £200,000 as a result of mismanaged funds used for his personal gain.
#22 – Juanita Bynum ($10 Million)
Born in the Windy City of Chicago, Illinois, Juanita Bynum established herself as a charismatic personality early in her life when she took the stage as a child theatrical star. After graduating from high school, Bynum turned her attention to ministry when she began giving sermons throughout the city until a video called No More Sheets was released in the 1990s and made her a household name. Riding the heels of her early success, she then became a regular on the Trinity Broadcasting Network with speaking engagements around the world.
Expanding her ministry into music, literature, radio and television, Bynum established herself as an international voice in ministry whose reputation long preceded her in 2004 when she held the largest Christian event in Kenya when over 750,000 people attended the National Conference. Now only 57 years old and worth an incredible $10 million, Bynum continues to build her wealth as the CEO of Juanita Bynum Enterprises in addition to the thousands of dollars brought in from her books, gospel albums and speaking engagements.
#21 – Ed Young ($11 Million)
It wasn’t until his sophomore year on a basketball scholarship at Florida State University that Ed Young decided to change career paths entirely and follow his father’s footsteps into ministry. Transferring to Houston Baptist University in Texas and completing his Masters of Divinity at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Young briefly joined his father before opening the Fellowship Church in a small office complex in Houston. Building a large following within a few years, Young moved his sermons to the local gym to better accommodate 5,000 weekly attendees.
Opening Fellowship’s first permanent facility in 1998 in Grapevine, Texas, Young has guided the church to impressive growth with satellite locations around the globe from South Miami, Florida to London, England. He has taken his international ministry to television on the Ed Young Television Network with his programs broadcast on the E! Channel and Roku as well as online. Worth $11 million and only 55 years old, Young is also a New York Times best-selling author thanks to his latest book, The Sexperiment.
#20 – Ernest Angley ($15 Million)
Raised in a Baptist family in the 1920s, North Carolina native Ernest Angley became a Christian in 1939 when he was 18 years old. Married and living in Ohio by the 1950s, Angley worked as a traveling Pentecostal faith healer and evangelist with nothing to his name other than a tent, camper and a Bible. He quickly amassed a loyal following and eventually had enough support and money to purchase Grace Cathedral (Temple of Healing Stripes) in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio as well as the local Channel 55 television station.
Owning both a church and television station by the mid-1990s, the sky was the limit for Angley as he launched The Earnest Angley Hour in a nationwide weekly radio, television and internet broadcast. And, with a $15 million net worth and a far cry from his early days as a traveling tent evangelist, the 94-year-old spared no expense on travel after purchasing a Boeing 747 registered in Aruba to transport missionaries and aid around the globe. Now that’s a rags to riches story!
#19 – Cindy Trimm ($15 Million)
Hailing from Bermuda and identifying herself as an empowerment specialist, Cindy Trimm launched her career in politics when she took the title of Senator at only 30 years old. Realizing she could do even more in ministry, Trimm exchanged her political podium for the pulpit as she began leading sermons and writing books about spiritual growth and healing. Using her political prowess and reputation, Trimm’s popularity blossomed as she traveled the globe preaching and promoting her foundation to help rebuild and revitalize communities in need.
Honored as the Outstanding Christian Woman of the Year in addition to being named as one of the “top 100 doers and influencers in the world today” by Ebony magazine, Trimm has built her incredible $15 million net worth through her publications and guest appearances. Describing herself as a “catalyst for change” and a “voice of hope,” Trimm is currently serving as pastor for Florida’s Embassy Worship Center while expanding her ministry and enjoying the success of her book, The Prayer Warrior’s Way.
#18 – T.B. Joshua ($15 Million)
The second Nigerian evangelist on our list is the self-proclaimed prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua who is better known to his followers as T.B. Joshua. Described as a “small pastor” in school and failing to complete his education because of his love of the Bible and preaching, Joshua worked various jobs as a young adult before trying to join the Nigerian military. Never making it to the military academy because of the train breaking down, Joshua’s outlook changed when he had a heavenly vision that encouraged him to pursue ministry.
Following his vision, Joshua founded the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) and rose to popularity as a miracle worker with thousands claiming to be healed of everything from cancer to HIV. Also claiming to anoint and manufacture holy water as well as expel demons, Joshua is one of the most famous people in Nigeria and has taken his popularity online with over 1.5 million Facebook fans, hundreds of YouTube videos and the title as one of the 50 most influential people in Africa. Perhaps he should run for president like Chris Okotie!
#17 – T.D. Jakes ($18 Million)
West Virginia native Thomas Dexter “T.D.” Jakes was called to ministry as a teenager when he spent the majority of his time caring for his invalid father. Enrolling at West Virginia State University and preaching part-time, Jakes was named pastor of a local Pentecostal church with only 10 members. As the church flourished under his leadership, Jakes established himself as a gifted speaker and spiritual mentor as he transitioned into radio ministry and continued to expand his congregation. The church’s growth finally came to a head in 1996 when Jakes and 50 other families moved to Dallas, Texas where he established The Potter’s House.
Proving his talent for ministry on an even larger scale, Jakes serves as the Bishop of the nondenominational mega church that is home to over 30,000 active attendees and broadcasts a constant flow of Christian programs across stations such as BET. With 13 degrees, a Grammy and a Dove award for the best-selling gospel album Live at the Potter House, Jakes’ reputation and $18 million net worth doesn’t stop there as he’s also been on the cover of Time magazine in addition to making guest appearances on popular television shows like Dr. Phil and Good Morning America.
#16 – Kirk Cameron ($20 Million)
Making his acting debut at only 13 years old, Kirk Cameron became a household name in 1985 as the mischievous and charming Mike Seaver on the hit ABC sitcom Growing Pains. Cameron wrapped up the series in 1992 and continued to appear in television shows and films like Listen To Me, Fireproof and the Left Behind series before literally leaving it all behind to focus solely on his faith. Partnering with New Zealand evangelist Ray Comfort in the 1990s, Cameron co-founded The Way of the Master ministry.
Teaching Christians about evangelism through the ministry, Cameron and Comfort host an award-winning television and radio program in addition to running Camp Firefly, a free summer camp for terminally ill children and their families. Cameron, who married his Growing Pains costar Chelsea Noble in 1991, has also teamed up with his wife to launch The Firefly Foundation as a way to give back even more. Between his acting career spanning nearly four decades to his work as an evangelist, it’s no surprise that this former sitcom star is worth $20 million and counting.
#15 – Rick Warren ($25 Million)
Born to a Baptist minister and librarian in San Jose, California, Rick Warren followed his father’s footsteps into ministry after attending California Baptist University and the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Spending his early years in ministry co-writing two books, Warren established the Saddleback Church in 1980 when he preached his first sermon in front of 200 people gathered in a local high school theater. Using nearly 80 different locations for the next two decades, Warren guided the church to success with over 10,000 people in attendance establishing him as one of the most renowned pastors in the United States.
Expanding his ministry into writing, Warren is a New York Times best-selling author known for his insight into church ministry and evangelism thanks to publications like The Purpose Driven Church and The Purpose Driven Life, which sold over 30 million copies. Now at 62 years old and worth $25 million, Warren relies on the income from his books as he has given 90 percent of his wealth back to the church in what he and his wife refer to as “reverse tithing.”
#14 – Billy Graham ($25 Million)
Rising to fame over six decades ago, William Franklin “Billy” Graham, Jr. is a veteran in the world of evangelical pastors. Born in North Carolina on a dairy farm and raised Presbyterian, Graham converted to Southern Baptist at the age of 16 and became intent on his future in ministry. Moving to Illinois to attend Wheaton College, Graham worked as a pastor in the local churches when he took over a small radio program to launch his radio ministry while planning a future as a chaplain with the armed forces. When the mumps derailed his plans, Graham’s career as a traveling evangelist began.
Considered a simple southern evangelical, Graham’s accomplishments are anything but simple. Serving as the spiritual advisor for presidents Eisenhower, Johnson and Nixon, Graham preached alongside Martin Luther King and has conducted over 400 modern crusades to convert people to Christianity. Now 96 years old and worth $25 million, Graham has started several media publications and has built a lifetime audience of over 2.2 billion viewers with 3.2 million converts. It’s no wonder why Gallup has named the famed minister one of the most influential people in the world a total of 55 times.
#13 – Creflo Dollar ($27 Million)
Born and raised in a Georgia Baptist church in the 1960s, Creflo Augustus Dollar is a southern televangelist and pastor who gained his fame through his nondenominational ministry known as the World Changers Church International. Launching his ministry with only eight members gathered in a school cafeteria in 1986, Dollar grew his congregation to an enormous 30,000 devoted followers while bringing in $69 million in revenue in 2006 alone. Still growing in 2012, Dollar added a second location in The Bronx, New York to increase his reach.
Extending his ministry as an author and reputable speaker with engagements around the globe, the 54-year-old is often criticized for his lavish lifestyle. Owning multi-million-dollar estates in Atlanta, New Jersey and Manhattan, Dollar raised eyebrows in 2014 when his private jet was destroyed after veering off the runway. In only a matter of months, Dollar’s fundraising efforts had already generated another $60 million dollars to purchase a private Gulfstream G650 jet that he claimed was a necessity to bring his teachings to people around the world.
#12 – John Danforth ($30 Million)
Yet another politically inclined pastor on our list, John Danforth started his career as the Attorney General of Missouri from 1969 to 1976 when he was elected to the United States Senate. Spending 19 years in the Senate, Danforth wrapped up his term in 1995 and made his way to the White House when he was named by the George W. Bush administration as the 24th United States Ambassador to the United Nations from 2004 to 2005.
Now retired from politics at 79 years old, Danforth has spent the majority of his time outside the political arena as an ordained Episcopal priest with his last high profile political affiliations coming in 2004 when he presided over President Ronald Reagan’s funeral. Danforth has also proven to a have a variety of interests and spent part of his $30 million net worth to become part owner of the National Hockey League team, the St. Louis Blues. He is also a published author known for sparking religious and political debate in his most recent book, The Relevance of Religion: How Faithful People Can Change Politics.
#11 – Joel Osteen ($40 Million)
Easily one of the most popular pastors in the United States today, Joel Osteen has earned the nickname as “The Smiling Preacher” thanks to his Texas-sized charisma. Born to a Southern Baptist pastor who founded the Lakewood Church, Osteen studied radio and television communications at Oral Roberts University but left Oklahoma and returned to Houston without a diploma in hand. Taking the reins and producing his father’s televised sermons for 17 years until his father’s unexpected death in 1999, Osteen found himself behind the pulpit of the largest Protestant Church in the entire country.
Now serving as Lakewood Church’s Senior Pastor, Osteen took a lesson from his father and continued to televise his sermons, which fostered the church’s growth from 5,000 to 43,000 in addition to over 7 million weekly viewers in more than 100 countries. Now recognized as both a preacher and a brand, Osteen is also a New York Times best-selling author because of the outstanding success of Your Best Life Now. And, to put his $40 million net worth into perspective, Osteen lives in a $10 million estate and doesn’t take a penny out of the church’s $70 million annual income.
#10 – Benny Hinn ($42 Million)
Born in Israel and raised as an Eastern Orthodox, Benny Hinn moved with his family to Canada where he converted to Pentecostalism and joined a singing troupe of young evangelicals. Discovering his new religious passion, Hinn moved to the United States where he began proclaiming himself as a miracle healer called by God. Shortly after, the Miracle Crusades were born as thousands packed into stadiums around the world to witness Hinn’s miraculous touch documented on one of the most watched religious programs in the world, This Is Your Day.
Claiming his crusades feed over 100,000 children each year and support nearly 45,000 every day, Hinn’s miraculous abilities have supposedly cured everything from blindness and cancer to AIDS and damaged limbs. Obviously no stranger to criticism, his healing abilities came into question when he was admitted to a California hospital for shortness of breath after completing a mission in Brazil. With a $42 million net worth and no signs of slowing down, the 63-year-old Hinn claims he’s helped over one billion people so far and won’t let anything stop him from helping one billion more.
#9 – Robert Tilton ($50 Million)
Bringing televangelism and infomercials together in the 1990s, Texas native Robert Tilton found early success on his religious television program called Success-N-Life. Structured like an infomercial while spreading the Christian message, the series was broadcast in over 200 American television markets and put Tilton in front of millions of viewers on a daily basis. As a result, the show brought in over $80 million in annual revenue and was quickly ranked as “the fastest growing television ministry in America.”
With the show on fire, Tilton was living the dream and making money hand over fist until everything came to a crashing halt in 1991 when Primetime Live investigated his fundraising methods. Accused on national television of exploiting vulnerable people by throwing away prayer requests and only keeping donations, Tilton and his Success-N-Life were taken off the air within two years. Though he later returned to television on The World Network and BET, the 69-year-old is clinging to his $50 million net worth since he’s not nearly as popular as he was 25 years ago.
#8 – Janice Crouch ($50 Million)
Born as Janice Wendell Bethany in New Brockton, Alabama, Janice Crouch is the daughter of a Georgia pastor and had little idea when she met Paul Crouch just how much her life and faith would blossom. Marrying Paul in 1957 and starting a family, Janice joined her husband in the ministry before the couple paired up with Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker to establish the Trinity Broadcasting Network in 1973. A year later, TBN purchased its first television station out of Southern California in what would eventually become the largest Christian television network in the country.
Offering around the clock and commercial-free viewing, TBN is bigger than networks like CBS, NBC and Fox thanks to its five additional independent networks including JUCE TV, TBN Enlace, Smile of a Child and The Church Channel. As for Crouch, she continues to serve as President of the Holy Land Experience park in Florida and, after the death of Paul in 2013, has faced some criticism from her family in how she spends the network’s hard-earned money and her $50 million net worth.
#7 – Chris Oyakhilome ($50 Million)
Lovingly known as “Pastor Chris,” the faith-based powerhouse Chris Oyakhilome is a Nigerian minister and the founder of Believers’ Loveworld Incorporated, which is also known as Christ Embassy. Headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria, Pastor Chris has established himself as a faith healer with claims that he can cure HIV through prayer alone. Part of his success and growing reputation is a result of his Healing School, a widely translated book titled Rhapsody of Realities, the Inner City Missions for Children in addition to three Christian television channels that promote his healings and miracles to an international audience.
Because of energetic and charismatic approach utilizing entertainment value rather than ceremony, Pastor Chris has expanded his reach on a global scale targeting younger audiences in South Africa as well as areas of the United States and Canada. Amassing even more of the younger generation than ever before with over 1.2 million followers on Twitter as well as offering e-books in 557 languages, Pastor Chris is using everything in his power to bring a new flock to build his growing $50 million net worth.
#6 – Enoch Adeboye ($55 Million)
Just call him “Daddy GO.” Joining our list at number six is Nigerian native Enoch Adeboye who held a promising career as a mathematics professor after graduating from the University of Lagos with his PhD. Joining the Redeemed Christian Church of God in 1973, Adeboye had a change of heart when it came to his career after he began translating sermons into English for the current pastor. Nearly a decade later, Adeboye was appointed the General Overseer of the relatively unknown church, but it was only a matter of time under his leadership before the church would see exponential growth.
With his goal to “put a church within five minutes of every person on Earth,” Adeboye has overseen the RCCG’s expansion of over 14,000 branches in Nigeria in addition to churches in over 100 countries. Extremely powerful and wealthy (to the tune of $55 million), the passionate pastor has been recognized internationally for his leadership and was even named as one of the 50 most powerful people in the world by Newsweek in 2008. Although he may not be the richest man in Nigeria, the 74-year-old just might be one of the most influential.
#5 – David Oyedepo ($150 Million)
It should come as no surprise that the richest pastor in the world today is the Nigerian author, preacher and founder of Winner’s Chapel – David Oyedepo. Studying architecture early in his career before concentrating on missionary work, Oyedepo claimed to have an 18-hour vision in 1981 where God called him to preach. Inspired to establish the Living Faith Church World Wide, Oyedepo was ordained a pastor two years later by Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. Within five years, the newly ordained Bishop was ready to expand.
Hailed as one of the most powerful preachers in Nigeria, Oyedepo’s expansion led him to his most prized creation, the Faith Tabernacle, which holds the Guinness World Record as the world’s largest church auditorium with 50,000 seats. In addition to numerous Winners’ Chapel locations scattered in over 300 cities around the globe, Oyedepo has built an incredible $150 million net worth all because of his vision and divine ability to preach not to mention cornering every field of the gospel market including publishing over 60 unique titles. Add in four private jets at his disposal and Oyedepo really does seem to have it all!
#4 – George Foreman ($250 Million)
Two-time World Heavyweight Champion and Olympic gold medalist, George Foreman is one of the greatest boxers to ever live. Launching his career in the ring in 1969, Foreman continued throwing punches until the 1990s with an impressive record of 76 wins and five losses including 68 knockouts that earned him a membership in the World Boxing Hall of Fame. Officially retiring in 1997 at 48 years old, Foreman is an ordained minister but that isn’t where he’s built his incredible $250 million wealth.
Truth be told, we’ve all helped Foreman earn his millionaire status by purchasing one of his famed George Foreman fat-reducing grills. Marketed on convenience and healthy eating, the grills have earned Foreman over $130 million. But what about his ministry? After a near-death experience in 1977, Foreman announced his faith as a born-again Christian and took a break from the ring to become an ordained minister. Spending the next few years preaching on street corners and at the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ in Houston, Foreman opened a youth center and made special appearances on The 700 Club where he told the world that the devil finally got “knocked out” of him.
#3- Pat Robertson ($500 Million)
When it comes to pastors, one of the biggest names in the industry and often the first that comes to mind is Pat Robertson. Born into a prominent political family in Virginia, Robertson was drafted into the Marine Corp in 1948 and returned home to complete his law degree from Yale in 1955. Failing the New York bar exam, Robertson experienced a life-changing religious conversion that inspired him to enroll at the New York Theological Seminary. Shortly after his graduation, Robertson was well on his way to success when he established the Christian Broadcasting Network in 1960.
Officially ordained a Southern Baptist minister in 1961, Robertson has proven that he can be both spiritual and business savvy. Spending the last 50 years as the host of one of the most popular Christian programs on television (The 700 Club), the 86-year-old is also known as a media mogul and founder of organizations such as the ABC Family Channel and Regent University as well as the subject of many pop culture jokes on shows like South Park and The Simpsons. And, although his actual net worth is unknown, an estimate between $200 million and $1 billion makes this Southern Baptist minister the richest pastor in the world.
#2 – Kenneth Copeland ($760 Million)
Chances are if you’ve ever channel surfed, then you’ve likely seen Texas native Kenneth Copeland. Born in Lubbock and raised in West Texas near the United States Army Air Forces airfield, Copeland dreamed of becoming a pilot but, instead, turned his attention to music. Rising to fame as a recording artist known for his Billboard Top 20 hit “Pledge of Love,” Copeland converted to Christianity at the age of 26 and left his music career behind as he enrolled in Oral Roberts University. Once in college, he became Oral Roberts’ personal pilot as he laid the groundwork for future in ministry.
Establishing the Kenneth Copeland Ministry alongside his wife Gloria in 1967, Copeland’s KCM ministry is among the largest in the world thanks to dozens of books, television programs, CDs and DVDs that add to Copeland’s growing $26.5 million net worth. He runs Kenneth Copeland Ministries. His ministry’s 1,500-acre campus is a half-hour drive from Fort Worth includes a church, a private airstrip, a hangar for the ministry’s $17.5 million jet and other aircraft, and a $6 million church owned lakefront mansion. The 79-year-old charismatic televangelist was the subject of much scrutiny in 2007 when he was accused of using KCM funds for personal vacations. Luckily enough, the IRS didn’t find anything out of the ordinary and left Copeland to do what he does best – preach!
#1 – Edir Macedo ($1.2 Billion)
Ending our list with the richest pastor in the entire world takes us to Brazil where the famed evangelical leader and media mogul Edir Macedo calls home. Raised Catholic but converting to Pentecostalism in 1970, Macedo founded the Pentecostal Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in Rio de Janeiro in the late 1970s and saw immediate growth. Essentially corning the Brazilian religious market, Macedo expanded the church to such great extremes that it now receives $2 billion each year in donations alone.
In addition to his success as a preacher known for his prosperity theology, Macedo has built a reputation in the media industry as the owner and chairman of Brazil’s second largest television network, Rede Record. Using the church’s funds to purchase everything from radio stations and television networks to real estate, health insurance and even an airline, Macedo has guaranteed his $1.1 billion net worth and faces criticism over his spending with simple logic. “If I preach prosperity and my clothes are ragged, who will follow me?”
Compiled for Pleasures Magazine online by Eric Morgan (USA), Michael Til (Forbes-USA), Sandy Blackwell (Canada), Anthonia Su (Singapore) with additional input by the publisher, Ola Babatunde.