Page last updated at 09:22 GMT, Saturday, 29 May 2010 10:22 UK

Church preaches business success through prayer

By John McManus
BBC News

Victorine Piot
Ms Piot says Christian beliefs can be threatened by the marketplace

Christians have gathered in London for a unique conference on how to succeed in business, without compromising their biblical principles.

Up to 300 people are expected at the event, which culminates on Saturday.

"Success in the current economic crisis" is the title of the conference taking place in two central London hotels this weekend, organised by the Redeemed Christian Church of God.

The Church, which started in Nigeria and attracts mainly black worshippers to its UK services, is trying to encourage its members to aspire to be successful in the world of business, without forgetting their faith.

Contradictory beliefs?

Church elders fully believe worldly rewards, such as highly-paid jobs and good salaries, can be attained through prayer, but they also want their members to continue to live their lives according to the Ten Commandments.

The message is very different from traditional Christian beliefs, which teach that material success and rewards are transient and can distract from living a full and godly life.

Delegates at the event confirmed that, while they wanted to succeed in their personal careers, they were worried about how to do so without displaying unchristian behaviour.

Money is a good tool. Without money we can't preach the gospel. Without money we can't do what we're doing
Pastor Olatunji Adebayo

These concerns are reflected in the workshops on offer at the event, with titles such as "outstanding performance through prayer" and "how to maintain your character in the marketplace".

Motivational speakers including the actor Chris Warren Jr from the film High School Musical, and a lawyer who encourages his clients to mend broken relationships through prayer, have been advising attendees on how to stick to the Ten Commandments, while still making money.

Yet can belief in God make the path to prosperity smoother?

Setting an example

Pastor Olatunji Adebayo, who preaches in London, says that he is in no doubt that it can, and that money is not the root of all evil.

He said: "Money is a good tool. Without money we can't preach the gospel. Without money we can't do what we're doing. Without money we can't reach them.

"It takes money to be able to do all those things."

Attendees at the conference say they are concerned about more than just personal gain; they also want to act as an example to other members of the black Christian community who might feel that aspirational careers are not for them.

Victorine Piot, a jeweller from south-east London, said that practical help and spiritual inspiration had helped her to develop her business - and she wanted to see other people do the same.

She said: "This conference has an attractive message for black Christians who suffer more discrimination.

"Christians do suffer in the marketplace, they are easily swallowed by the devil."

Spiritual support through a personal relationship with God is a fundamental strand of Pentacostal Christianity in particular, but now a growing number of churches are proclaiming that material rewards are also on offer.

Whether this can help their members ride out the current economic storm remains to be seen.



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