Living Faith Church Worldwide (also known as Winners Chapel) is a megachurch and a Christian denomination founded by Bishop David Oyedepo in 1981. The church itself began operating on Dec 11 1983, after its commissioning on Sep 17 1983 by Pastor Enoch Adeboye. The organization has since become a global network of churches with congregations in 49 countries.
The beginnings of the church can be traced back to May 1981 when Oyedepo at age 26 said he had an 18-hour vision from God. In this vision God spoke to him saying, “Now the hour has come to liberate the world from all oppression of the devil, through the preaching of the Word of faith; and I am sending you to undertake this task”. Two years later the church was formed with four members.
The international headquarters of Winners Chapel is called the Faith Tabernacle. It covers about 70 acres (280,000 m2) and is built inside an over 17,000-acre (69 km2) church complex called Canaan Land, the international headquarters of the ministry in Ota, a suburb of Lagos. The building took 12 months to be completed. The foundation laying took place on August 29, 1998. The dedication of the building took place on September 19, 1999 with 97,800 people in attendance. The structure is purported to have been built without any debts and within a year of work beginning.
Between 1999 and 2014 when the 55,000 acre Philippine Arena was completed, Faith Tabernacle was the largest church building in the world. It has a seating capacity of 50,400 people and an outside overflow capacity of over 250,000, with four services every Sunday. Cannanland was procured in 1998 and was initially 560 acres (2.3 km2). Presently it is over 17,000 acres (69 km2) and will take about 120 km to navigate around it.
On Dec 11 2013, exactly 30 years after the church commenced services, Pastor David Oyedepo Jnr, first son of the founder ministered for the first time at the Church’s annual Shiloh gathering. In December 2015, Oyedepo Jnr became the resident pastor of the Faith Tabernacle with unfounded rumours that the older Bishop Oyedepo had retired.
In Dec 2015, Oyedepo also announced commencement of the construction of a 100,000 capacity Faith Arena which when completed would be the largest auditorium in the world. The Theatre will be centralised within a 15,000 housing estate to be known as ‘Canaan City’.
The Church is founded upon twelve core emphases as follows:
- FAITH (1 John 5:4, Eph. 6:16)
- THE WORD (John 1:1-12;Heb. 1:3)
- SIGNS AND WONDERS (Ps. 82:5-7; John 3:8)
- THE HOLY SPIRIT (Acts 1:1-8; Isaiah 10:27)
- PROSPERITY (3 John 2; Ps. 35:27; Zech. 1:17)
- PRAYER (1 John 5:14)
- HEALING (Isaiah 53:3-4; Jer. 8:22; Matt. 8:17)
- WISDOM (Prov. 24:3-4, Isaiah 33:6)
- SUCCESS (Joshua 1:8-10)
- VISION (Prov. 29:18, Jer. 29:11)
- CONSECRATION (Hebrews12:14; 2Tim. 2:19)
- PRAISE (2 Chro. 20:20-22; Ps. 67:1-7; 149:1-9)
The theological position of the church is Pentecostal.
Dominion Publishing House
The publishing house that grew out of Winner’s Chapel was founded on 5 December 1992. Dominion Publishing House has published over 120 books, most of which have been written by Oyedepo.
Many educational institutions are linked to the chapel, including Covenant University, Landmark University, Faith Academy and over 150 Kingdom Heritage Model Schools. In addition, there is a ministry training college called The Word of Faith Bible Institute.
Every year in December, the church hosts a global event called Shiloh. The mandate for this event is drawn from the Bible books of Joshua 18:1 and 1 Samuel 1:3.
The purpose of the event is to usher the visitation of God to his people. It also marks the end of the Church year.
As of 2012, there were millions in attendance in all the locations and the church website also experienced a huge hit.
The event is held mostly in the first week of December.
Criticism and controversy
Critics have accused Winner’s Chapel of adopting a health, wealth, prosperity gospel that is contrary to biblical teaching. Oyedepo himself engages in healing ministry. According to Forbes 2018, Bishop Oyedepo was estimated to worth $150 million, making him the richest pastor in the world.