Thursday, October 24, 2013

Steve Furtick, Elevation...Snake in Pulpit? or Much given Much expected?

If you have been paying attention to the Charlotte news lately, Steve Furtick and Elevation church has been in the headlines.  If you haven't read about it, check out the Charlotte Observer then come back and what I say will make better sense.

Basically questions are coming out due to the building of a new 1.7 million dollar house in Weddington NC.  The house is that of Steve Furtick or Pastor Steve.  Many of you know I'm a fan of John Wesley and appreciate his humility and his ability to give it all away.  I wish pastor Steven had been a little more humble with his choices but it's kind of a mixed bag here..... I'm not really having a problem with his house or his church.

 Elevation is a start up church born from Southern Baptist Convention roots.  Furtick's rate of pay was decided by a panel that studied other mega churches and developed a pay rate in accordance with what other mega church preachers make.  Steve Furtick also claims that most of his income comes from his books sells and advances for future books.
Let's do a little math here...
If a senior pastor in a SBC church with lets say 1000 members has a salary of 80k per year ( according to the compensations survey I just saw, I'm a little light on my figures...buts let's go with this for argument sake).  Let's figure Elevation church has 14000 plus in worship each week ($320k per week from attendees....16.6m a year), that's over 14x's the 1000 member church..... 80x14=1.120million a year....that's healthy!  But wait, let's say he only accepts 750k yearly from the church.....  What are the usual figures for  a loan amount to purchase a new home? is it still 3x annual salary?  what's 3x750? 2,250,000!  so Furtick is with in his means according to the averages others have set for borrowed amounts for new homes.....hmm.  Where is the main church located?  Blakeny?  Now what types of homes are built in Weddington? they are very similar to those in Blakeny.   Many homes in the Weddington NC area are large, million dollar homes.  The Bachlorette was filmed in a home down that way, so that puts some perspective on the neighborhood.

Another thing to look at, he is an admitted friend of some of the Carolina Panthers...... If he is ministering to High Profile types, what type of home do we think he should do that in?  If he is entertaining a Steve Jobs type, trying to introduce him to Jesus why not put him in a mansion to do it?  If Steve Furtick was trying to reach some of these folk and using my house to do it, he wouldn't get a second look or a chance to share the Gospel.  I know wealth should not be an issue when sharing the Good News, but get real! If you are ministering to someone that lives the high flying lifestyle you've got to have some things in common.

Here are some other things to consider:
1) If he is working for the Lord, this church will continue to grow....If it's all a hoax it will wither on the vine
2) This church puts on a major production every week, but here is the difference.... it's real.  The relationship building and introductions to Jesus are real.
3) Over a 2 week period in 2013 Elevation church DID Baptize almost 4000 people in the name of Jesus..... 4000/14000= .2857 or .29 or 29%  How many churches Baptized a number of folks that equal 29% of their congregation?  Perspective time....a 1000 member church would have to Baptize 290 people to reach that number!
4) I did find where Elevation has donated Millions locally and provided several hours of service....the source was on Wikipedia, so I'm not going to quote anything off that site....

I know some of you are saying "I can't believe this small town Methodist is even defending this mega-church and it's preacher"...... Well, I am to an extent.  I have a couple of good personal reasons to do so....  One, I have a friend that I had been farming or witnessing to for a while..... Elevation got the harvest.  My friend was Baptized and is now involved in Bible study.  I see a new man!
Second,  I have heard folks try to break down and bad talk the Grahams for years over the amounts of money they take home from their work in the ministry.  I can't help but remember that to those much is given, also much is expected....... I wanted to ask a man at the Will Graham Crusade a few years ago just how many show boxes has his church sent out, or how many disasters has his church responded to?  But I kept calm and let him belly ache in jealousy.
Third,  Elevation is preaching a Gospel message that is helping folks find Christ.  This is not a prosperity gospel, but a Blood of Christ Gospel.  And the crowds they are serving are the exact ones that other churches are wondering why that age group is leaving the church.

These are completely and solely my thoughts and perspective on Elevation church.  With this also comes the warnings I gave my friend:

Do Not Worship Elevation church.  Many times when a church is growing so fast and its parishioners are so fresh from the world, it is easy to confuse what Jesus has done with the new feeling you received at that church.  Remember this relationship is real and is more that just a feel good emotion.

If any of you reading are wondering about Elevation, Go!  Visit the church.  Don't sit back and be quick to judge it simply because it is different and fast growing.  It can be cult like just because of the passion that the members have.  Pray for these folks!  Pray for Steve and Elevation, and all that are involved.
It's just ironic how we expect our Pastors and our Teachers to live in poverty but intrust them with the most important things...... Do we tell Doctors or Lawyers what size house to build?  What business is it of ours?  If it's by legal means then I can't have a say in his house.  Let's wait and see what work God does in this ministry before we condemn it.

Y'all thank you for reading this and keep in mind, if this church isn't bringing glory to God it will perish.