Stuff I Don’t Get: The Money Divide


I’ve never met a poor Presbyterian or Episcopalian. Likewise, I don’t think I’ve ever met a loaded Pentecostal or Holiness church member.

I have some theories about why some groups of American Christians have more money than others, but they aren’t bulletproof. Does God simply bless Episcopalians more? I find that hard to believe, especially today.

What do you think?

12 thoughts on “Stuff I Don’t Get: The Money Divide

  1. In regard to the chicken or the egg aspect of this question, I have a feeling that varying socio-economic statuses have had a lot more to do with shaping varying theology and traditions across denominations rather then visa versa.

  2. Elizabeth Anne

    There’s an oolllllld joke about people moving up in the world and going from Assemblies to Baptist to Episcopalian / Methodist.

  3. Diane R

    It’s very simple actually. Presbyterian and Episcopalian churches are found in wealthier areas so people in those areas tend to go to those churches. I grew up in a wealthy community and there were no evangelical churches, only Presbyterian, Congregational and Lutheran. On the other hand, look at those areas where Pentcostal and many non-C/P evangelical churches are located. THey are mostly in the working class or lower part of the middle class areas. I realize this is different in the South where there i a Baptist church on every corner. But I think you will find what I wrote prevalent in most of the Untied States, certainly where I live in California.

  4. Headless Unicorn Guy

    Remember, the Episcopalians are the US branch of the Church of England, the direct descendant of the pre-1776 State Church of the Colonies.

    Historically, Church of England (“High Church”) was heavily for the Upper Crust, while the “Low Churches” like Baptists and Methodists and Puritans were heaviest among the Lower Classes. This carried through into the less-rigid class system of the US, where Episcopalians were heavily represented among the American Upper Crust — in the acronym “WASP”, the “Protestant” in “White Anglo Saxon Protestant” primarily meant Episcopalian — the Church of The Establishment.

  5. Some people “get” Luke 12:33. Some don’t.

    The early believers did – see Acts 2:45.

    It’s ultimately not a matter of how much you make, earn, or inherit … but whom it blesses.

    I don’t fully “get” Luke 12:33. I’ve had a taste of it, and the flavor of generosity is intoxicating.

    I’m afraid I’ll become addicted to it, and end up emptied of myself and filled with Someone Else.

  6. Jeremy


    I think the Episc. and Presb. churches appeal to the intellectualists in America. The intellectualists are the ones with the money. I think they operate more on theory and help the poor more out of pity than charity, I wonder. Pent. and Holiness appeal more to the experiential side of Christianity, which apppeals to the plebes of society. Unfortunately in my experience the Pent. can lack in social outreach. I know that this does not go for churches in England however, some of the most poverty stricken churches are Episc.

    What concerns me is the Prosperity Gospel that is sweeping through the Pent. church. I think this has the danger of producing the sort of Christian that warms the pew of the High Church. In the words of Walter Brueggemann (an Anglican) “Affluence produces amnesia.” That is, just like Moses warns in Deut., prosperity can cause the followers of God to forget their neighbor and God himself.

    Yet, we must be careful not to throw all Episc. and Presb. into the same boat nor the Pent. and Holinessite. I have met many on both sides that defy the stereotype of each category.

  7. Normandie

    Well, historically, you might be right. But practically? Take a look at the Cadillac-driving Pentecostals some time. Yes, my family comes from Episcopalian stock, but my husband and I attend both a Pentecostal church and an Anglican one when we go back home — both, because the Pentecostal Holiness one is next door and the Episcopal/Anglican one takes some hoofing to get there on time, as it’s about an hour away. (In NC, if you want a believing bunch of Episcopalians, you may have to go to an Anglican church, one that got tossed out for Bible preaching. The Bishop of All Saints is from Rawanda.) Anyway, you’ll find rich, but not so many. And poor, but only some. What you will find is a whole lot of middle class in each of those churches, with each group trying to meet the needs of the body and of the community in which they live.

    My sister’s Episcopal church in Charleston is full of all sorts, from what I can tell as a visitor. Their ministry to the poor, their outreach to the poor and hurting both in Charleston and abroad, is huge. As is their evangelism. And their love of Jesus. And their Gospel preaching.

    It’s probably not a good idea to generalize, because there’s always going to be a church or a group that invalidates your generalization.


  8. Pentecostals used to be downscale as a whole, but a lot of megachurches on the charismatic side of the aisle have made things more upscale. My sister’s AoG church is on the yuppie side, as was the Columbus Vineyard I visited; I’m not sure if you’ve made it up their from your SE Ohio vantage point, but it has a nice bookstore and cafe inside the building.

    Traditionally, the movers and shakers in a town went to the mainline churches; that’s where your business contacts were. Holiness churches might actually ask the fat cats to pay attention to their walk with God and Pentecostal churches might have you do something that might not sit well in the next board meeting.

    However, with many of the Pentecostal and charismatic churches becoming more upscale and a lot of mainliners not bothering to go to church at all any more, you can see some networkers moving towards evangelical and “spirit-filled” churches.

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