How a Faith Healer Does Money
by Alicia de los Reyes
Jason Cooper is a traveling faith healer and speaker/pastor at Cityreach Schenectady who lives with his wife and two daughters in a condo in Schenectady, NY. He travels to two to eight churches each month to talk and heal people through prayer.
How do you describe your job?
We are people who minister and preach the gospel, and we connect with churches/organizations to spread hope and the message of Jesus in different settings.
Do you work with other people?
I have a team of people who help with marketing and email, but primarily it’s my wife and me.
What are some of the ways that you connect with churches and organizations?
We connect through referrals. Another way is through social media and emailing your information to a network of pastors, like Next Church (an organization of churches) or the Assemblies of God (a denomination). And we’re very active in our community locally, doing outreach and helping organizations like Habitat for Humanity to help get our names circulating in the marketplace. But that’s really it.
It’s like starting your own business, where you have an idea — a product if you will. And ours is Jesus. We try to connect and build a clientele base, and then the goal is to have repeat business for sustainable growth.
I wouldn’t expect that most people who are involved with the church to think of Jesus as a product.
Yeah, for sure. I actually view Jesus as a solution to a problem. If people need a car, they go to a car dealership. It’s the same way in the church. We believe we have a solution to a problem — it’s a more spiritual problem — so we have a product, and his name is Jesus. That’s the idea.
Do you always heal when you go to churches? Do you always preach? What are the different things that you do?
It all depends upon what the purpose of the event is. There’s been times when the specific goal was to just be a resource to the local community, so we do trash pickup day or hand out bottles of water to homeless people. We also have specific services where we’re focusing on, “OK, tonight we’re going to talk about who Jesus is and why you need Jesus, the next night we’re going to talk about healing, then we’re going to experience that.”
How do you actually make money?
That’s the biggest question that some people have. There are organizations and ministers that charge a fee. They say, “If you want me to come to your church, it’s X amount of dollars for me to come.” I’ll be very, very quick to say that I don’t necessarily mind that. There’s a passage in the Bible that says a workman is worthy of their wage.
We let the churches know what our monthly budget is — then we also put in our email that this isn’t a requirement when we come and minister. We’ve found out that this is healthy in the relationship [with pastors]; they understand where we’re coming from. They don’t want to see us go broke, but they also want to make sure that we’re not ripping people off, either.
So it’s met through a combination of the church giving you some money and collecting money on the nights that you preach or minister?
We have had churches say we will give you X amount of dollars and we’ll take up an offering. We’ve had other situations where the churches basically took care of everything for us. And we’ve had situations where it was strictly donations given.
What’s your budget, roughly?
Roughly, it’s about $6,000 a month. We’ve really been conservative on a lot of what we do, and that pretty much takes care of our expenses: home, heat, kids, and also marketing, advertising.
Do you usually make that money?
We’ve had some months where we’ve over-exceeded our budget, and we’ve had some months where we did not meet the budget at all. But what we have seen is that doing everything that we can do, we’ve actually seen God provide in supernatural ways. When we fell short, we would receive a check in the mail from someone saying, “We’re thinking about you, we just wanted to help you out this month.” And they had no clue where we were at personally.
If I had to put a percentage on it, I would say about 70% of the time we meet budget.
How long have you been doing this full time?
I was doing this full time since the age of 19. Just recently, about two and half years ago, we stopped doing this full time because we’re actually starting a church.
When you were 19, did you go to work for somebody else to learn how to do this?
I kind of partnered with a few different people and families that were doing this full time, and traveled with them and learned from them. Then slowly started my own network and branched out from there.
What are some of the financial reasons that you’re starting the church?
One of the things that I was taught by one of my mentors in the church world was: in any decision that I have to make in life, if the final question is money, then I need to reevaluate what I’m about to do. Because money is a tool.
You have to have money to survive. Money’s not evil. The Bible is very clear; it says the love of money is the root of all evil; money itself is not bad.
How do you think that it will affect your income?
Right now, since we’re beginning from scratch again, it’s like starting a business; you have no customers, which means you have no money. We have partnered with some people who have invested in what we’re doing, but this is all just start up money to get the church off the ground. So for the next couple years, I will be traveling and ministering. I’m also working part-time to help support our family.
What are you doing part-time?
I am in retail sales, which is a very flexible industry and to be quite honest, it’s a very high turnover industry, so when the time comes for me to leave, it won’t be a burden on the company.
Would you rather make all your money from one place, or do you like having all the different things going on?
On a purely logical standpoint, I would love to have one job that pays all the bills and gives a lot of stability, but I also know that there are lessons in life that we are learning that will eventually help the people we are ministering. So I’m really kind of content with what we’re doing right now, even though it is very tiresome. Everything that is great comes from a struggle.
Do you have any advice that you’d give to somebody who’s pursuing a vision that they have or a product that they believe in?
Write down what your vision is on a piece of paper. The minute before you take your last breath, what does your success story look like?
There’s a Bible principle that says to “write the vision and make it plain.” There’s power when you write something down on a piece of paper, because now there’s a commitment level.
Tell everybody you know about your vision, because then it becomes a numbers game. You’ll find out there are people who really totally dislike whatever you’re trying to do. But there will be a group of people who are supportive of what you do. You’ll never know who they are unless you scatter your vision among a ton of people.
I’ve also learned that whether you’re a believer in Jesus or not, whether you believe in God or not, everyone who has a vision or a dream, when times get tough, they find themselves praying to some higher being and hoping that something works out. Which tells me that we all have this idea that there is a greater power out there.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
Alicia de los Reyes is a writer based in Seattle, Washington. She is currently working on a memoir about a year in an evangelical church, and she blogs on the Patheos network at “Surprising Faith.” Find more of her work at aliciadelosreyes.com.