Theologically Sound. Culturally Relevant.

Rich Wilkerson Jr

Is Rich Wilkerson Jr. A False Teacher?

Category 5

Verdict: Wolf in wolf clothing.

Preface

Part of how this Discernment ministry operates is taking in reader questions about prevalent teachers. Rich Wilkerson Jr held the lead for the most active requests at the start of this research. You can make a request here and see our answered verdicts here.

Bio

Richard Preston Wilkerson Jr. was born March 28, 1984, making him a very prominent millennial pastor. He and his wife DawnCheré are the pastors of Vous Church in Miami, Florida. Vous is short for “rendezvous.”

Wilkerson is the son of the Robyn and Rich Wilkerson Sr, who run Trinity Church, a megachurch in Miami that is part of the Assemblies of God. Wilkerson Sr is a cousin of David Wilkerson, author of The Cross and the Switchblade. Vous was an spinoff of Trinity Church that would eventually become a megachurch of its own. The church would hold its first service in a bar.

However, the rise of Rich Wilkerson Jr. is only in part due to his family connections. What took him beyond the Pentecostal megachurch community was one figure alone: Kanye West. In 2014, Rich Wilkerson Jr. would officiate the wedding of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, earning him a shortlived reality TV show and a solidified status as a celebrity pastor.

In 2015, Wilkerson released a book, Sandcastle Kings which featured cover artwork done by Kanye West. Since 2015, Rich Wilkerson Jr. has grown Vous Church into a brand synonymous with contemporary zany megachurch culture.

Kanye West’s Sunday Service

Rich Wilkerson Jr.’s apparent influence over Kanye West does not appear to bear good fruit.[1]

In 2019, Kanye West has rebranded his reputation as a more spiritual musician after comments about being used by Candace Owens. He has launched a series of concerts he calls “Sunday Service.” But the concerts contain a plethora of gospel music and a number of collaborations. The Sunday Service has been kept under wraps with occasional leaked videos, but little is known about how legitimate the faith message were or wanted to be. The Sunday Service has garnered criticism for the accompanying high end fashion line with overpriced merchandise. But on a Sunday in August 2019, we got a taste of whether the Gospel is preached at these events with the release of Rich Wilkerson Jr. preached at Sunday Service.

Listening to the Sunday Service, Wilkerson was quick to argue that this was not a concert, this was an “old fashion worship service.” Rather than resembling “Sinners in the Hands of and Angry God,” it came off as a regular, easily digestible, church service. “Praises go up, blessings come down,” Wilkerson said. He goes on to say, “Jesus is the anecdote to your trouble.” It was a solid few minutes before Wilkerson read from the Bible. And to my own surprise, he read from John 14.

1″Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4And you know the way to where I am going.” 5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (ESV)

Kanye West’s Sunday Service touched on the exclusivity of Jesus. That’s the Gospel right? Not quite. The theme of Rich Wilkerson’s message was “trust in God.” The result of trusting in God, according to his message was rescue from troubles and hardships. The result of trusting in God, according to Wilkerson was reaching your destination or the destination Jesus has in mind for you. Yet in saying, this he does not assert that trusting Jesus is free of hardship. So what is missing from the message? The need. The need for trusting Jesus is entirely subjective and the result is eternal life, he also read John 3:16.

“There’s a great resurrection for all of us, as we put our trust in him, he promises to get us to the other side.”
Rich Wilkerson Jr.

Rich Wilkerson Jr. leaves out that which Jesus saves us from. He also leaves out what following Jesus, trusting Jesus, looks like. They do not answer the question: what must we do to be saved? Because there is no saving. Rick Wilkerson’s message at Sunday Service doesn’t save because his message wasn’t the actual gospel. The differences are subtle but therein is the danger of a watered-down gospel message devoid of the lifesaving meaning. It’s a brand of Christianity that baptizes believers but does not make disciples. Now, the Holy Spirit is capable of saving even using a watered-down Gospel, but that believer is most certainly going to have to take it upon themselves to learn the Bible above an elementary level because a church that preaches a Popularity Gospel will not teach Christianity to the masses.

The connection between Kanye West and Rich Wilkerson Jr. shows that Wilkerson was one of the parasitic prosperity pastors latching on to his celebrity. However, Kanye West’s highly dubious professions of faith can in part be credited to the influence of Rich Wilkerson Jr. due to their longstanding association.

 Association With False Teachers

In the summer of 2022, Rich Wilkerson Jr. would put on the Vous Conference which featured Sarah Jakes Roberts, Judah Smith, and Mike Todd. This does not even scratch the surface of Rich Wilkerson Jr.’s associations with false or dangerous teachers.

Rich Wilkerson Jr. Is Woke

As Rich Wilkerson Jr. does not have a strong biblical foundation, he has veered into general wokeness. In February 2021, Vous Church had a struggle session staff meeting.[2] The struggle session would heavily imply that criminal records are systemic racism. The guest speaker’s explanation of equity which used a Cultural Marxist framework was enthusiastically applauded.

Additional examination of Vous Church’s website does find some more woke resources. It is exceedingly common for churches to perpetuate the myth that Martin Luther King Jr. was a Christian, and Vous Church is no exception.

Dr. King resolved to walk in empathy instead of apathy. He seized his opportunity to live up to the even greater example and legacy of Jesus Christ, who sacrificed his life, for the sake of the entire world.

However, you don’t often see churches celebrate Thurgood Marshall. In a blog post titled Equal Justice Through the Love of God, they wrote this ironic gem:

Today, America has reaped the fruits of prominent architects of public policy and law that uplift and free the oppressed. The accomplishments of leaders like Thurgood Marshall, the first Black Supreme Court Justice, and so many others cannot be understated.

Thurgood Marshall was one of the justices that voted in favor of Roe v Wade which led to the death of more black babies than Dred Scott and Plessy v Ferguson combined. The rest of the article seems to have the underlying premise that disparities equal racism and that racism is normative which seems to a theme in Vous Church material.

Vous Church undoubtedly dabbles into the Social Justice Gospel but even in doing so they wade into the water so as not to stray far enough to turn off conservatives, in theory. The reason observed for softly accepting the Social Justice Gospel is to maintain social influence. Even its celebration of reprobate men is based on the influence that they had in the culture at large.

Popularity Gospel

Vous Church hardly leverages Christianity in its own marketing and branding. The description of its YouTube channel which has over 260K subs is entirely generic.

If you’re looking for motivation, encouragement, and sermons from VOUS Church with pastors Rich & DawnCheré Wilkerson then you’re in the right place! Subscribe to this channel so that you stay up to date on new content as soon as it’s available. Thanks so much for joining us!

And while their website has an onboarding process for explaining what Christianity is, there is no actual statement of beliefs to be found. It’s a loosely ecumenical church with a flashy website. Conspicuously absent from their website appears to be any mention of the Biblical sexual ethic. And for a pastor with a reputation in secular media for loving to talk about sex, there does not exist a whole lot of material to back up that claim even on their YouTube channel.

In a topical sermon on sex, Wilkerson claims that God loves sex, in complete implicit opposition to the mentality that the Bible whispers about sexual sin. And while he focuses more on the emotional damage of sexual sin, there are some glaring sexual immoralities that go unmentioned, like homosexuality and transgenderism. Theoretically, a monogamous homosexual couple could have come away thinking that even though they weren’t the ideal, they were still good. Moreover, Rich Wilkerson Jr. spent a considerable amount of time bragging about his own sex life which became his brand as a celebrity pastor.[3]

Conclusion

Vous Church is the epitome of megachurch culture and all that is wrong with it. Much of that is a direct reflection of the carnal preaching of Rich Wilkerson Jr. In a considerably short period of time, Vous Church became an influencing megachurch, on par with Elevation and Life Dot Church. Influence is what this church really believes in. Consider the following quote from their website.

Salt is used while cooking to enhance certain flavors while minimizing others. It’s a sweetness balancer and a bitterness suppressor. Just like cooking, Jesus is calling us to enhance the culture of our world in the very best way while simultaneously suppressing the bitterness and darkness this world can be consumed with.

Essentially, Jesus is calling us to be cultural and social influencers. We as believers are called to set the standard of what it means to be a true community; not hiding our light so no one can see, but boldly declaring who God has called us to be in order to lead our generation and generations to come.[4]

On the surface, a Christian can agree with the sentiment of these words. But in context of a highly contemporary megachurch culture, it looks as though the church is trying to train people to be social media influencers.

This is a church that has no foundation therefore is dabbling into Social Justice Gospel. But most of all, this is a church focused on its own influence and growth, not the fulfillment of the Great Commission. But most of all, Rich Wilkerson Jr. preaches a watered-down gospel which earns him a Category 5.

[1] The following is taken and adapted from “The Popularity Gospel of Kanye West’s Sunday Service” by Ray Fava written prior to the launch of Evangelical Dark Web in August 2019. The source video for the article has since been removed from YouTube.

[2] VOUS Staff Meeting: A conversation on Black History — Rodney Jacobs Feb 18, 2021
https://youtu.be/B7dxCZ0ddw4

[3] https://nypost.com/2015/12/03/meet-kanye-wests-hot-sex-loving-pastor/

[4] https://www.vouschurch.com/blog/day-5-cultural-social-influence

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One Response

  1. “zany megachurch culture”. Ha! That’s a great description. It’s too bad these huge churches barely offer their congregants even a little milk. They really just offer some big hip club with simple platitudes and permanent exaggerated smiles. It really is zany.

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