Mega churches in Nigeria and the business of selling salvation

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Disclaimer

I have nothing against religion. Religion serves a purpose in humanity and there are countless examples of good, honest churches that contribute a lot to society. This article is sarcastic.

The word of God is the gateway to the world of wealth. This shows that the churches count money, lots of money.

What if I told you that you could start a business that was exempt from paying any federal, state, local or property taxes? Your customers treat you like holy divinity and showering you a cash every time you walked into the room. Your customers will willingly pay for you to live multi-million naira homes tax free.

And you’re in a position where you’re able to openly ask your customers to pay for multi-million naira private jets so you can travel the world in comfort without having to put up with a petri dish that is commercial airliners. We’ll get your Bibles out, loosen up those morals, because this is how to be a preacher profiteer.

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Being a preacher profiteer is just like any other business helps if you understand your customers and your market. And much like the business of war and the business of religion is as primal as it gets. Since the days of our ancestors fearing Mother Nature, fearing and believing in a higher power has been part of what makes humans human. And whether you’re religious or not, you and the other almost eight billion people or shall I say customers on this planet, have this  emotion, this primal instinct of divinity.

And as the famous historian and philosopher Will Durant puts it.

The function of religion is quite different, it is to give man a belief that will enable him to tolerate life, to enable man to bear reality.

This is the business we’re in. We’re not selling sermons. We’re not selling church choirs. No, no, no, no. We’re in the business of selling hope, selling salvation, selling communities, selling the ability to tolerate the difficulties of life. And when you’re viewed as the benevolent authority on hope, the afterlife, salvation, your customers are going to take you pretty seriously. In fact, it’s pretty safe to say that the customers of religion on the most enthusiastic customers of any industry.

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See, in business, the more dire the need, the more people are willing to pay. You may not be willing to pay thousands of naira for a glorified wrist watch. But what about for a cancer treatment or a potential cure for blindness? That is the power of religion. Not only is it so deep in the human condition, but you get the sell to society’s most vulnerable people with the most dire needs.

For example, The Copelands in the US, along with other televangelists, preached the concept of the prosperity gospel. The idea that the more donate on, the bigger the seed you sow, the more prosperity in, the more blessings you’ll get back. So when an individual gets cancer, why go get cancer treatment where you can just donate all your money to the church? After all, the more you donate, the higher the chance you’ll get healed directly from God.

Got it. But the benefits don’t stop there because you’re also protected by people’s sentimental beliefs.

Now I know you’re thinking the only logical path forward is to become a preacher profiteer, but now what are the actual steps that you can take to make money in the name of whatever God you choose?

Step 1 – The Scripture

First and foremost, we can’t sell religion if we don’t have a religion. Now, being that the IRS is intentionally vague with a definition of what qualifies as a church, we have a lot of wiggle room to work with. The name of the game is making money, so we want to stay on the safe side. 

So if you go with a more mainstream religion like Christianity, people have already accepted It’s a thing and you’ll have less of a wall to break through to get people through the doors to open their hearts to you. And most importantly, to open their wallets to you. Christianity, Catholicism, Mormonism. All are fair game. Just take your pick.

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Step 2 – More Pain More Gain

Now, picking the religion or the specific sect is the easy part, the hard part is actually delivering and getting people through the door and getting them to come back and getting them to bring their friends. People generally go to church for the same reasons. Something is lacking in their life and they believe church might fill it, maybe the church left a sense of community. Maybe they’re looking for answers. Maybe they’re looking for hope, motivation, someone to guide them through the troubles of life, to know that they’re not alone.

These are the emotions and deep rooted pain points that we need to go after. The worst thing that you can do is let people leave church feeling bored, people have to be lifted up energized and brought together by the end of every session or else they won’t come back. Or in other words, you have to ignite the emotion of divinity that we all have within us. The stronger the emotions you elicit, the more success and the more contributions you’ll have.

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See, in this line of work, you know, a preacher, you’re not a pastor. You’re a divine motivational speaker, the leader that the disciples will gladly follow to the ends of the earth. The men with all the answers, anything less. And our whole scheme falls apart. You have to be a master of emotions. Get this right and everything else will follow. Your customers will look at you as a demigod. People will keep coming back.

They’ll bring their friends. The size of your congregation will continuously grow. You’ll have the money to open new locations, fund new projects and marketing returns will start to compound over each other. And of course, the size of your church donations will follow suit. And if you’re a really charismatic leader, you’ll get to experience the same blessings as other preacher profiteers. You’re disciples will shower you with cash.

You can ask your customers to fund your private jet collection and the majority of them won’t even bat an eye.

For example, a parishioner Mary Jones in the US, who takes the bus to church, says she’d happily give two dollars jet drive. Most definitely. Most definitely. We support our pastor. That’s what we’re here for. Because in their mind, they’re not giving you money. They’re giving the lord money to spread his message. Which brings us to the next step in our divine journey.

Step 3 – Monetization

Now, church donations can be very profitable. But why stop there? Our entire journey has been building up to this point. You have the audience, the personal brand, the influence. Now it’s time to monetize, publish books, get paid to speak, sell information products, collaborate with other megachurches, have that glorious housing allowance. Get on TV like the other televangelists, because we all know that that is where the real money is at.

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Even though typically these other business ventures will be taxed, is still very lucrative. And you always have your church donations to fall back on. And to use as funding for these projects. So enjoy raking in that dough, but don’t enjoy too much because next up, it’s time to protect the wealth that we rightfully earned.

Step 4 – Hide & Protect Your Wealth

It’s usually at the monetization stage that many preacher profiteers will start to run into some friction with those pesky nonbelievers. Those are criticizing how much money you make, your business practices and your greed. So we have to do everything in our power to protect ourselves and our business. The number one thing you have to do at all costs is hide your wealth.

Do not flaunt around and try to show off, It will only build animosity. And don’t get me wrong. Get the multi-million naira house with a housing allowance and enjoy yourself, but build a house in the middle of the woods so it’s hidden from public view. Obscure your house and other real estate holdings inside a trust or any other corporate entity site and your name is not on any of them. Have all your churchgoers and employees sign a very strict NDA (Non disclosure agreement) saying that if they disclose any of the church’s finances, you’ll sue them. Have measures in place that make your church look transparent but never give away any of the important financial numbers like how much money you take home.

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Always, always set aside a portion of your revenue to donate to good causes and charity for that sweet PR, a portion that will make the average person think you’re a saviour. But you know, you’re taking home much more than that. And at the end of the day, you have to remember you can have all the money in the world. But if the general public despises you, they’ll eventually take you down. So protect yourself.

And welcome to the elite club of preacher profiteers.

You can also check out this post about Africa’s Richest Pastors: Combining Faith and Business Success

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Published in Business ideas, Religion