Elevation Church and Steven Furtick: Volunteer to Be Sued!

Nothing is more likely to destroy a species or a nation than a determination to survive at all costs. — C.S. Lewis 

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Contrary to popular blogger belief, TWW does not need to "go looking" for controversy. We have been around for 4 years and have developed a reputation that we give a hoot about people who have been hurt, let down, and abused by churches. The church leaders have their fan clubs of admiring wannabe pastors and church leaders. They pay the dough to sit in their presence at the interminable conferences held in nice places all over the world.

Who is the fan club for those hurt by these churches and leaders? Well, TWW is one. Julie Anne Smith at Spiritual Sounding Board and Kris at SGM Survivors are others. All of us raise red flags to help people know about church settings that are optimized for potential abuse.

This past week we got an email from an individual who referred to a contract that volunteers, as well as church employees, must sign at Elevation Church.

I also grabbed it as well if it disappears. The whole thing is unconscionable in fact, if not actually in law. I plan on showing this to a few of my lawyer buddies online to see what they think. 

This individual went onto to call this document a pile of codswallop (or something similar).Frankly, I agree. TWW has written a number of posts outlining the potential pitfalls of signing membership covenants. Here are a few.

The legal issue is key

When signing one of these "covenants," potential church members should understand that they are signing a legal document. We are warning you: these documents have been vetted by church attorneys.

The pastors go all "nicey, nicey" on the likely member, explaining that this is simply a "biblical" way to demonstrate that one is committing oneself to praying for, and supporting, the local body of Christ. Then everyone joins hands and sings "Kumbaya" while reveling in the loving unity of the local body. That is, until an unsuspecting person asks the wrong question and finds themselves on the receiving end of some "loving" church discipline with little recourse. Said person can run but the church can legally report them to the next church (and they do). Please refer to this post on TWW on how to legally extricate yourself from an abusive church.

If you insist on signing a church contract, consult your own attorney.

These covenants were invented by lawyers to protect the church leadership, as well as the church assets, from liability. These are not meant to protect you. (Repeat 10x).What makes this practice particularly despicable is that prospective members are rarely advised that they are signing a legal document or that they should consider getting legal advice prior to signing it.

We have often said that smart people should not sign these documents without first consulting with their own (not the church's) attorney. Better yet, they should ask themselves why they would join a church that would not tell them that they are signing a legal document. 

Is paranoia a biblical value at Steven Furtick's Elevation Church?

Deb and I wanted to visit Elevation Church and listen to Furtick speak in person. We called the church office to ask when and where he would be preaching because there are multiple campuses. But, they have a funny little rule. They won't tell you. It is against the rules. No matter which way I asked the question, the administrative person refused to answer me. Is this paranoia? Sure seems like it. 

The infamous volunteer/employee contract is gaining fame.

The following document has been making its way around Charlotte, NC and has been picked up by Stuff Christian Culture Likes on Facebook link. It is a confidentiality agreement that must be signed by employees and anyone who wishes to "volunteer" at Steven Furtick's Elevation Church in Charlotte link. Some smart folks, knowing that such a document might tend to "disappear" (imagine that!) made sure to post it on Dropbox here. (It takes a few seconds to load).

For those of you who have not had the opportunity to meet, or hear about, mega-pastor Furtick, we have embedded a well-known video called "Hey, Haters" at the end of the post. He is good buddies with Ed Young Jr link and Perry "oppose us and oppose God" Noble link which probably says it all. So, this man who says he is into peace and love and wants to restore a "hope of a nation," has created a document to "insure" you stay "unified."

Here is most of the document. You can view the whole thing at the above link. I have highlighted a few things. I also introduce each section.

It's all about gossip and slander but these terms are not defined. Note the legalese.

THIS CONFIDENTIALITY AGREEMENT (“Agreement”) dated __________________, is by and between Elevation Church (“Church”) and
________________________________________ (referred to as “I” or “me” below).
WHEREAS, the Church and I agree that the Bible was inspired by God and written by man without error and is completely relevant to our daily life;
WHEREAS, the Scriptures forbid the spreading of gossip, slander and the betraying of confidences (Exodus 23:1; Leviticus 19:16; Proverbs 6:19, 11:13, 16:28, 20:19; Romans 1:30; 1 Corinthians 6:10; 2 Corinthians 12:20 and Titus 2:3);
WHEREAS, as an inducement to the Church to allow me to volunteer, or to hire me or continue to employ me, or to provide me access to its confidential  information, or to provide me compensation and/or benefits, as the case may be, I have agreed to execute this Agreement and be bound by its terms and covenants.
NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the above premises, I agree to be bound by the terms, conditions and covenants set forth herein:

They say you must disclose things if required to do so by the law but you must alert them immediately if you do. Oh yeah, and be careful not to say too much.

1. CONFIDENTIALITY
1.1 Duty to Maintain Confidentiality.
I promise and agree that, except to the extent the use or disclosure of any Confidential Information (as defined below) is required to carry out my assigned duties with the Church, during my employment or
volunteering with the Church and thereafter: (a) I will keep strictly confidential and not disclose to any person not employed by the Church any Confidential Information, and (b) I will not use for myself or for any other person or entity any Confidential Information.
However, this provision shall not preclude me: (i) from the use or disclosure of information known generally to the public, other than as a result of my violation of this Section; or (ii) from any disclosure required by law or court order, so long as I provide the Church immediate written notice of any potential disclosure pursuant to this subsection and take all reasonable and lawful steps to limit the extent of such disclosure.

Of course, it is wrong to share prayer requests as you will note in (i). However, look at what else one must keep secret.

1.2 Definition.
The term “Confidential Information” means all non-public information furnished to, obtained by, or
created by me within the course and scope of my work (volunteer or otherwise) with the Church. Confidential Information includes,but is not limited to, such information relating to: (i) Church participants, including lists, contact information, prayer requests personal information; (ii) the Church’s finances, including personal financial/salary information related to the Church’s financial statements, balance sheets, offerings information, cash flow, forecasts and cost analyses; (iii) the Church’s plans and projections for opportunities for new or developing ideas; and/or (iv) the Church’s research and development activities and technical data.

Then, one must agree that this is all very reasonable.

2. REASONABLENESS OF RESTRICTIONS
I recognize that the terms of this Agreement are necessary to protect the Church’s confidential information and the sensitivity of such information. I also agree that its terms are fair and reasonable. Thus, I agree not to contest the general validity or enforceability of this Agreement. The covenants in this Agreement shall survive the termination or end of my employment or volunteering with the Church as set forth above, regardless of the date, reason or manner of my separation. I acknowledge that this Agreement is supported by good and valuable consideration.

And, if you happen to mention that the church is thinking about offering Zumba in the sanctuary on Mondays, you can get your pants sued off you.

3. GENERAL PROVISIONS
3.1 Remedies Available to the Church for My Breach.
I acknowledge that my breach of any of the restrictive covenants in this Agreement will result in irreparable damage to the Church. Therefore, in the event of any breach or threatened breach by me, I agree that the Church shall be entitled to an injunction from a court of competent jurisdiction enjoining me from committing any violation
or threatened violation of this Agreement. I further agree that the Church shall not be required to post a bond to obtain such an injunction. All remedies available to the Church by reason of a breach by me of this Agreement are cumulative, none is exclusive, and all remedies may be exercised concurrently or consecutively at the Church’s option.

Fascinating.

  • Do not tell what the pastor makes.That Ed Young Jr thing was really yucky link. Poor Ed…
  • Do not tell how much was in the plate on Sunday. People might wonder where the money goes.
  • Do not share any cool idea that Furtick has. Someone else might copy it and that is not fair. Why help another Christian church. Furtick wants it all.

If you do any of the above, you can be sued. Well, I gotta hand it to him. At least he doesn't play games with Matthew 18. He'll just sue your sorry bottom.

Bottom Line

Do you really want to volunteer for a church that threatens you from the get go? Is this truly a place of love and unity? Ask yourself why Furtick wouldn't want to share any neat ideas he has with everyone else. Or is he hiding his bundle under a bushel?

 Matthew 5:14-16
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others,that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Steven Furtick at his finest. Hey Haters!

 

Lydia's Corner: Judges 17:1-18:31 John 3:1-21 Psalm 104:1-23 Proverbs 14:20-21

Comments

Elevation Church and Steven Furtick: Volunteer to Be Sued! — 297 Comments

  1. Hell no I would not sign one of these church contracts. What is up with the leaders of these “churches.”

  2. I’ve seen plenty of documents like that in the business world. It looks like the church’s lawyers took a standard one and did a search and replace – “company” became “church” ! I’d love to know how Elevation Church is governed – I bet the members don’t have a say…

  3. @ Ian:You saw the video. Does he look like the kind of guy who would “discuss” his thoughts and care about what anyone else thinks?

  4. I suspect that in some jurisdictions, this would be considered unconscionable and therefore, unenforceable. In others, however . . .. Some states have a standard that a contract must contain a warning and/or advice to consult your own attorney prior to signing, FWIW! But in most states, including “business” friendly states, no such luck.

  5. Oh my goodness….is that Furtick in that video? What was that? Everything about his timing, facial expressions & body language was odd, is this how he normally comes across? His face had so many expressions flicking across it, often with his eyes & mouth not matching in expression, it almost looked like he was gurning. I don’t mean to be rude, but his presentation there was very odd…that kind of too-fast, too-sincere, too-overdone style of a salesman or stand up comedian on the 300th night of his tour, deluging you with words so you can’t think straight. Weird smug presentation. I don’t know his story but was he ever a drug user? If someone displayed his speed & jerkiness when I spoke to them I’d suspect amphetamines, or extreme nerves.
    And that contract? Do people really not realise it’s a legal document, given how it’s written? It maybe that as the daughter of a Barrister & granddaughter & g.grandaughter of High Court Judges it’s obvious to me & no-one else, but still. It reads like a contract for a Secret Society which you sign in blood on pain of death, very adolescent & just hitting all the wrong notes. I would run.

  6. @ BeakerJ:
    Have these “pastors: like Furtick become like Gods? That is, is that the way they view themselves–controlling everything they possibly can.

    Has he ever read in the Bible about being a servant?

  7. Someone who will gossip despite what the Bible says, will gossip despite what the “contract” says. I mean .. if they fear the law more than they fear church, what are they doing there, anyway?

  8. @ mot:
    It is bizarre isn’t it? That video has thrown me a bit because he presents very strangely, unless it’s some kind of hip American cultural style that I don’t know. The level of control in that contract is straight out of a business espionage type scenario….& then the stuff about agreeing it’s reasonable? If it was why would you need to put that in? Oh the warning sirens in my head…

  9. I’ve never figured out who Furtick is addessing in that video. Is ot anyone other than his selfness?

    As far as the contract goes . . . I hope all their volunteers refuse to sign, along with the paid staff. Furtick should be an organization of one. But I imagine at least the paid staff will be enticed to sign if they desire to keep food on the table for their families — could this be considered blackmail? Could they refuse to sign since it wasn’t required when they were hired? As for me, I’d be running from this guy.

  10. And never in my life have I ever seen anything like the bit which basically says ‘as an inducement to get you to hire me/ let me volunteer I’ll sign this’…aka ‘I’ll never grass, swearsies, so please let me in your gang’. Nothing about this has any hint of adulthood or of genuine confidentiality when dealing with people pastorally.

  11. Has this agreement ever been enforced that anyone knows of?

    Does anyone know of any time that the church has threatened to use this agreement?

    Just curious about how this worked in real life.

  12. This portion is a jewel as well.

    “WHEREAS, as an inducement to the Church to allow me to volunteer, or to hire me or continue to employ me, or to provide me access to its confidential information, or to provide me compensation and/or benefits, as the case may be, I have agreed to execute this Agreement and be bound by its terms and covenants.”

    The church(corporation) has to be induced to “allow” you to volunteer. The church(corporation) owns everything and the church(corporation) owns the confidential information.

    This is no church.

  13. The contract’s main purpose, in my opinion, is to protect Steve Furtick from whatever he might decide to get up to.

    In the ‘church’ I was a leader at, we had to be an ‘official’ (signed membership agreement) Members before we could volunteer to even clean the toilets. But as I recall, the agreement was pretty inoncuous….but, as volunteers or leaders, we had to sign an additional volunteer application that asked some pretty odd questions. I left some of them blank and got a little smart-ass on a couple and I still ended up a leader. But the ‘first lady’ – I mean the pastor’s wife – fought against me being one for a year – and the ‘king mother’ – I mean the pastor’s mother – fought to have me. And I was mostly going wth?

    (BTW, just before I walked out, I actually heard/saw the pastor’s mother say, looking at him & his wife with satifaction, “Ah, the king and queen.” And she not being sarcastic….ick.)

    As to the video, my main question as I watched was, “Are you talking about yourself? Cuz it sure sounds like the way you behave….”

  14. Welcome Addison.

    Now, how do I find documentation on his diva habits? Jakes and Osteen stuff is easy to prove.

    Anytime a church won’t tell me when and where their pastor is appearing, something is wrong. I am interested in pursuing this further.

  15. I have less than no use for Furtick for a lot of reasons, which this contract does not even come close. But consider that the reason they might not say where he is preaching live is to keep people from chasing the live service around and thereby creating the problem (overcrowding) that led to the “need” for multiple services/locations to begin with. Others with multi-site do the same thing.

    I think multi-site is entirely the wrong way to go about it, BTW. So I am not defending Furtick or the practice, but giving insight into why they might not tell you where he is preaching.

  16. @ LT:

    Oh. I thought it was to keep former members from being able to go postal on him. It is hard to find and hit a hidden target.

  17. This is yet another example of authoritarian corporate Christianity, probably influenced by its Puritanical Reformed Calvinist brethren. Why anyone, believer, curious, skeptic, infidel, indifferent, or otherwise would want anything to do with this of their own volition is beyond me.

  18. @ Mara:

    Mara and LT –

    What’s histerical is the VERY long church web page devoted to Furtick alone which contains, quotes, tweets, and pictures of him alone. It’s a mini shrine to himself ;)

  19. I agree with BeakerJ. The whole video was weird.

    It looks to me as though he’s trying to come across as hip and trendy or tough and cool and achieving none of those things.

    Who exactly are the “haters” he’s addressing in the video, just anyone in general who is critical or him / his church, or was this over some specific group/ criticisms/ controversy?

  20. Also, I would not want to join a church that made me sign a bunch of legal papers like that. And they’re even making people who volunteer for things sign? The whole thing doesn’t strike one as being very Christian.

  21. Bob Cleveland wrote:

    Someone who will gossip despite what the Bible says, will gossip despite what the “contract” says..

    Speaking of people who gossip (an old joke):

    Three men from the same church went fishing together after church. They got to talking about the sermon they heard about confessing your sins to one another.

    One of the men decided to open up and put into practice what was in the sermon. So he turned to the other guys and said:

    “I need to confess to you guys that I have been stealing from my company. I have justified it by thinking they were small things and I work for a big company but it is stealing and I want to confess it.”

    The other guy caught the spirit of the moment and said:
    “I want to confess that I have been flirting with a married woman at work. Nothing physical has developed, but it is wrong nevertheless and I need to repent and stop it.”

    The third guy turned to the other two with a big grin on his face like it was Christmas time, and said to the other two guys:
    “I need to confess that I am the biggest gossip in the world and can not keep my mouth shut about anything shared in confidence.”

  22. Beaker, Furtick is very creepy. There is a segment of American Christianity (if you can call it that) that is very attracted to these bad boys who are in your face and mean. It is part of the hardening of the culture. Driscoll, Noble and Furtick are a few of the more well known who are mean, in your face types. It is part of culture and a way to make Christianity seem cool for some who are into that. We have to admit that there are folks who want to be a part of such a clique/movement and think this is cool. I can promise you there are many in his audience who are enraptured if he even talks to them personally for 5 min.

    Pastor Steven holds the Master of Divinity degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Need I say more?

    Look, if these guys had not gone into the pastorate they would have found a stage somewhere.

    http://www.stevenfurtick.com/

    Have you ever seen such a “me” site for a pastor? It is all about brand, image. It is the new narcissism. The Christian way, of course.

  23. Anon 1 wrote:

    Look, if these guys had not gone into the pastorate they would have found a stage somewhere.
    http://www.stevenfurtick.com/
    Have you ever seen such a “me” site for a pastor? It is all about brand, image. It is the new narcissism. The Christian way, of course.

    Their web site designer appears to have been going for a “Pinterest” type look. That is a whole lotta Steven Furtick on that one page alone.

    Furtick admits to being a prima donna in this video:
    The Role You Were Meant To Play

    Anyway… it’s kind of funny how Furtick has the reflector holder guy resume his uncomfortable ‘contorted on the floor holding the reflector’, re-enact the time he had to hold the same awkward position while filming the pastor in the Grand Canyon, to make his sermon point during this church service.

    This is one of his sermon topics:
    How to handle frustrating people
    “Pastor Steven eases our frustrations by reminding us that the only response we can control is our own. And that’s the one that Jesus cares about most.”

  24. dee wrote:

    @ Ian:You saw the video. Does he look like the kind of guy who would “discuss” his thoughts and care about what anyone else thinks?

    Furtick comes across as full of himself. He may well suffer from narcissistic personality disorder. People with NPD are often so insecure that they see any sort of disagreement as a personal attack.

    There is a need for confidentiality in some church matters, but this sort of agreement comes across as very heavy-handed.

  25. Inferno Injunction: “Da Proverbial ‘Contractural Breach’ bible C.H.U.R.C.H.?”

    What?

    It may be an obvious thing ta say but it might be good advice ta NEVER NEVER try to go inside an entrance to this ‘type’ of proverbial “THE C.H.U.R.C.H. ”

    hmmm… 

    read da fine print?

    “I agree that THE CHURCH shall be entitled to an injunction from a court of competent jurisdiction enjoining me from committing any violation or threatened violation of this Agreement. ”

    “I further agree that THE CHURCH shall not be required to post a bond to obtain such an injunction. All remedies available to THE CHURCH  by reason of a breach by me of this Agreement are cumulative, none is exclusive, and all remedies may be exercised concurrently or consecutively at THE CHURCH’S option”?

    “THE CHURCH”: Give Up Hope All Ye Who Enter Here?

    Could b.

    They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. … Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.

     “Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who bringest forth bread from the earth…”

    The breaking of bread was thus associated with the prayer of thanksgiving, and had a religious significance of joint ­fellow­ship in sharing and enjoying the blessings of God!

    Did this just get lost in the proverbial shuffle?

    (sadface)

    Healing for the broken hearted ?
    The one pushed aside by this cold, cold world…
    You are,
    Hear me when I say…
    You’re not the worthless ‘none’ they made you out to feel,
    There is a genuine ‘Love’ they can never, never steal away,
    And you don’t have to stay all ‘that’ broken!

    I Am the ‘bread’ of life, 
    ‘broken’, so you wouldn’t have to be… -Jesus

    His song is sweet, if you just take the time ta listen…

    Blessings!

    Sopy

  26. Furtick does seem to have the hip-hop gangsta thang going really well in that video clip. I would say a couple places he looked downright demonic, but that would be paranoid. I watched without the sound cause I wanted to see what Beaker was talking about. I am probably not going to actually listen to whatever he is saying. So I guess I’m not going to talk about the disconnect between how he comes across and what he says, if there is any. No Jesus there that I can see.

  27. Thank you for posting this. I have been a Christian for almost 40 years, and regret to say this type of nonsense is quite common. It is not specific to Elevation/Furtick. This wholly ungodly, unbiblical wickedness is taught would be leaders as standard procedure for operating a “church” responsibly. When your objective is protecting the pastor, the treasury and the repuation of the organization against all possible criticism, it looks logical. Matthew 18 is one of the most abused passages of all scripture, used by controlling leaders as a speech control template. If any one has been abusd by this kind of nonsense would like a verse by verse exegesis of Mt.18, showing that it has nothing to do with alleged gossip, and nothing to do with “submitting to leadership”, our little booklet, might really help: The Rescue of Matthew 18 at http://www.stevecrosby.com. Keep shining the light on the dark under belly of the beast of personality driven, organized “Christian” religion that abuses thousands, slandering the name and testimony of our Lord.

  28. @ Bob Cleveland:I still want someone to give me a clear definition of gossip. In these churches it can mean saying something about the pastor’s lifestyle. I bet something like that in this church would be a hanging offense if it were allowed.

  29. @ Bridget: I would take two jobs in a burger joint to support my family before signing this. I bet his staff has given him trouble in the past and he is protecting himself. That short clip made me realize that they should have consider him for the role of Satan in The Bible. He is totally freaky. I wouldn’t want to bump into him in a dark alley after seeing that.

  30. @ BeakerJ:Great assessment. I found the video very odd and I found him strange. He talks about haters and says how he is about love. Really?

  31. @ BrianD: Oddly enough, he has legions of fans. He played his cards right in one regard. The church members do a lot of volunteering in the community so the locals give him a pass.

    In this instance, i would recommend that if anyone wanted to volunteer in the community, just do it outside of the church. I would never, ever sign his form.

    Has anyone been sued yet? I have not heard it but I bet we will hear something soon. These stories usually make their way to our blog sooner or later.

  32. @ Mara:I believe a lot of these guys are paranoid. I am still trying to get confirmation that Driscoll was attacked by a machete wielding madman during a service a few years back. That sort of thing usually hits the papers. Yet he writes about it and surrounds himself with bodyguards. Don’t delusions usually go along with paranoia?

  33. @ Ian: Deb and I have led Sunday school classes, prayer groups, and bible studies for years. At the start of each, we always stress the confidentiality part for personal things that are shared. We take that seriously.

    Guess what? As far as I know, except for one time (Dec-GA and that letter-remember) I heard of no breach because most people will be discrete if you ask them.

    I bet this contract had nothing to do with prayer requests being spread around. I wager someone said something about the amount of money coming into the church and queried about Furtick’s reimbursement. After all, he is friendly with Ed Young Jr and look what happened there.

  34. @ Stephen Crosby:Thank you for the kind words. But, i hasten to remind you that we are the ones who are called “slanderers” for revealing these things.Ah well… such is the price we pay for being adorable.

  35. Bridget wrote:

    @ Mara:
    Mara and LT –
    What’s histerical is the VERY long church web page devoted to Furtick alone which contains, quotes, tweets, and pictures of him alone. It’s a mini shrine to himself

    He’s an idiot, and has been long before TWW was aware of him. The hater video is over a year old already. And Furtick was on the first Elephant Room. He has been at it a while. It’s not “histerical” [sic]. It’s sad. It’s heretical.

  36. dee wrote:

    @ LT: I made a point that i was an out of town visitor and had always wanted to hear him preach live.

    I am sure that their policy has no exceptions. I am not defending it; I think it is wrong to have multi-site with video preaching to begin with. My only point is that that is not a great beef to have in this complaint. It is a side issue to the contract issue.

  37. Pastor Steven holds the Master of Divinity degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Need I say more?Anon 1 wrote:

    Pastor Steven holds the Master of Divinity degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Need I say more?

    Well, yes, there is need to say more. There are many fine graduates of SBTS that do not do this kind of foolishness. The seminary has nothing to do with this.

  38. The very idea of a church membership covenant makes me uneasy, but this one seems to go a step or two (or maybe a mile or two?) beyond the “standard” covenant. This statement, in particular, bugs me to no end: “I acknowledge that my breach of any of the restrictive covenants in this Agreement will result in irreparable damage to the Church.” This statement suggests to me that the drafters think that human beings have more power to destroy God’s church than God does to protect it. It’s not that far removed from Christians who think that the United States will be destroyed if a particular politician or political party is elected. It’s almost idolatrous, in my opinion, in that it makes the reputation of Elevation Church the ultimate reality. I’m just really, really saddened by this. No way would I continue even to attend a church that had drawn up a document like this.

  39. @ LT: I do not think it is a side issue to the contract issue and I put it in the post for a reason. It has nothing to do with satellite churches or video streaming. I personally don’t like such an environment but to each his own in that matter. I don’t like BSF or Precepts but I have friends who benefit.

    When policy, for the sake of policy, overshadows the welcoming of a stranger to the church, one can be sure that there are further problems. I believe that this is a symptom of what led to the necessity of the contract in the first place. The person becomes merely a cog in the wheel to be manipulated into a program. They are to pay up, shut up and do the program. There is nothing loving, kind or personal about the process.

  40. @ LT: Each seminary has a flavor. There is no question in my mind that SBTS is Neo-Reformed and stresses an authoritarian leadership for the pastorate. There are some wonderful people from SBTS who have ignored such trends. However, I would definitely ask some questions about leadership style if I were to consider joining a church which is led by a recent graduate of that seminary.

  41. Being curious, I went back to the Elevation’s website to see who else was part of their staff. I found no information at all; no staff names, no deacons, no elders. The only name that shows up anywhere is Furtick’s. The exception is the name of a guest speaker when you happen to request sermon audio when there was a guest preacher. Their store has 4 items in it. All produced by Elevation.

    Wikipedia information for Elevation, which looks like it is updated and designed by Elevation, lists other campus pastors.

  42. @ Amy: You have touched on the crux of the matter. I believe that this obsession with local church “reputation” has led to the horrendous response, in general, of the churches when it comes to pedophilia. They conceal it which, in the end, leads to further problems.

    Ask Prestonwood Baptist or SGM if they would do things differently if they could go back. I bet they would say “yes.”

  43. I would never be a part of a church that required me to sign any such agreement. I lived in Charlotte for four years (just moved back to the Midwest), and visited Elevation twice. My friend had to practically twist my arm off to get me to go a second time – I knew from my first visit it was not for me. And when, upon learning I was a member of another church in the area, a “greeter” interrogated me about why I was there, I knew for SURE that something was askew in the house of Furtick. I watched Matt Chandler’s Orange Revival sermon online, and was completely outdone by the way he was treated for telling them that church was not all about them. That got them all in a tizzy! This type of power grab, you cannot touch me, anyone who disagrees with me is a hater mess is the same crap Word of Faith/Prosperity Pimps use to stay above criticism and keep their poor, fleeced sheep in line. “Touch not God’s anointed”…disgusting. And younger folks eat it up because of their natural anti-authority bent. My heart breaks…

  44. Deb or Dee (or anyone with knowledge jump in!) I have been at a church for a few years (as a regular attender and not member). I noticed that those who join sign a fairly basic agreement that at one point includes not gossiping. This has made me uneasy…any thoughts? (I would define true gossip as being something like “Well, I heard from Susie that Jane used to have a drinking problem,” and NOT something like “I am concerned about this policy that the church has…what do you think). I guess I should ask the pastor for clairification.

  45. Marie –

    That ia the problem. Who gets to define what gossip is? The leaders can make the definition anything they want it to be.

  46. dee wrote:

    I found the video very odd and I found him strange

    Tom Rich of FBCJaxWatchdogs has another nice one here: http://vimeo.com/54065109.
    What I really wonder about is how American Christians can stand so much nonsense. I admit that you may not see these preachers’ best efforts at FBCJaxWatchdogs’ vimeo site, but still …
    And going to the churches’ official websites doesn’t yield much better stuff – why don’t people laugh these impostors out the church door?
    Neither on youtube nor on church websites have I seen much good preaching, most of it is abysmally bad, atrociously substance-free. Good theology? Not there. Good church building and working on people’s relationships? Nope.Just throwing around a few unconnected and out-of context verses does not a sermon make. These guys don’t seem to have any idea. Makes one wonder what their degrees are worth, and what they teach them at their seminaries. Either they don’t know any better, or they are total cynics milking their congregations for whatever they will give in terms of money and/or stroking the preacher’s precious ego.
    Just to avoid misunderstandings: Not everything out there is codswallop, but a lot definitely is. One notable exception is Wade Burleson – while I no longer agree with everything he says, I definitely get the impression that he has read and understood his bible, has read and understood a few theologians worth reading, does his own thinking and loves the people to whom he preaches.

  47. Can anyone explain why “gossip” is the focus in these “church” membership agreements? “Thou shalt not gossip” isn’t even in the top ten. Geeze. You can covet and abuse your neighbors child and get a pass, but gossip (our secret definition thereof) and we’ll sue your sorry self.

  48. Addendum to my previous post: And with Wade Burleson you don’t get the impression it is all about him (Furtick, Noble, Driscoll, …) or all about the money (Brunson, Page, Gaines, …), which helps a lot :-)

  49. Bridget wrote:

    Can anyone explain why “gossip” is the focus in these “church” membership agreements?

    Because they have so much dirty linen to hide.

  50. @ Marie:

    Well, of course, all of us here who call ourselves followers of Jesus (not all the TWW regulars do, of course) are part of The Church. As such, we have undertaken not to gossip; to put it better, we’ve undertaken to love one another as Jesus has loved us. That command has come from the very Top – and he leads by example, not by diktat. So there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with “no gossip”.

    I don’t personally believe in the signing of any membership agreement with anything professing to improve on, or supplement, my membership covenant established by Jesus himself. I realise that other believers see this from a different perspective, though, and my own perspective is certainly not better than theirs. So if I may:

    I think you’re quite right: ask the pastor, or eldership, or whoever effectively oversees the membership agreements, for clarification. And then see what fruit comes of that. Some healthy signs to look for:
    * Your question is welcomed and an answer is readily forthcoming
    * The rules on “gossip” are set in a broader context of what constitutes loving relationships in general; the weak are supported and the faint-hearted are strengthened
    * Care is shown towards the least prominent members of the church
    * People who are timid, and afraid of rocking the boat or saying “no”, are steadfastly encouraged to be open and real about concerns or frustrations they have (which can be one source of weak relationship and gossip in a church – someone’s upset with you but they don’t want to tell you – so they talk to everybody but you)

  51. They have “research and development activities?” What do they do at this church? I think there must be a secret lab hidden there somewhere.

    I could see that video being shown on Sunday morning, just before the sermon. While he’s walking out on stage everyone’s clapping. Really, it just made him look like a crazy man. Look at me hating!

  52. Oh, and P.S. :

    The leaders set the example on Matthew 18. For instance, they are willing to talk to you when you are supported by a friend, and not just a stooge of their own choosing.

  53. gus wrote:

    Bridget wrote:

    Can anyone explain why “gossip” is the focus in these “church” membership agreements?

    Because they have so much dirty linen to hide.

    I also think it may have something to do with being seen to be spiritually advanced. As in, “Adultery? Idolatry? Covetousness? We’ve got those under control. Now, we’re moving on to the stuff that’s harder to root out, like gossip…”

    Wait, did I just gossip? ;)

  54. Marie wrote:

    (I would define true gossip as being something like “Well, I heard from Susie that Jane used to have a drinking problem,” and NOT something like “I am concerned about this policy that the church has…what do you think). I guess I should ask the pastor for clairification.

    I would not sign it even if the pastor clarified with a biblical definition of the word “gossip.” I’ve never known a single person who has never gossiped. It’s easy to catch the one who preaches “Do not gossip” most loudly in the act. There are usually double standards as well as redefining the term.

    We talked about this in another thread of how Calvary Chapel changes the definition to include anything said, whether true or not, that is negative about the pastor or the ministry is considered gossip, “a terrible sin” as they call it. Yet, they require their assissting pastors to “be a narc for Jesus” and tell the pastor everything the people are saying or doing and report their attitudes.

    So for the people to even discuss legitimate concerns is considered a terrible sin of gossip; while the leadership has a job description that includes the holy act of spying and gossiping about the people to the pastor. See how that works? Convenient.

  55. Amy wrote:

    gus wrote:
    Bridget wrote:
    Can anyone explain why “gossip” is the focus in these “church” membership agreements?
    Because they have so much dirty linen to hide.
    I also think it may have something to do with being seen to be spiritually advanced. As in, “Adultery? Idolatry? Covetousness? We’ve got those under control. Now, we’re moving on to the stuff that’s harder to root out, like gossip…”

    I think it also has to do with controlling the narrative about the ministry. If you can keep it positive that equals more $$$. Less negative talk, more people, more money. Unfortunately, it’s also less healthy, like white washed tombs.

  56. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Oh, and P.S. :
    The leaders set the example on Matthew 18. For instance, they are willing to talk to you when you are supported by a friend, and not just a stooge of their own choosing.

    Oh, the “stooge of their own choosing” triggers some unpleasant memories for me. There was an issue of habitual sin in the women’s ministry leader that was causing damage to many women, he took me into his office, chose the “witness” (clearly a stooge,) and pressured me to just not interact with the women’s leader anymore since the woman felt threatened in her new position. He admitted I did nothing wrong and that the leader had an habitual sin of outbursts of anger (she was scary.) But he protected her, removed me from ministry, told me not to interact with others in the hall, just come to church and leave quickly … though my family could attend and be involved. ????? His “witness” was his yes-man. I couldn’t get a fair hearing with anyone after that.

  57. Last detail: Both the Women’s Ministry Leader and the Pastor were removed not long after that. They were not removed because the church was healthy enough to see the issues, nor did they have a government structure that provided accountability or a chance for the wronged to get another hearing; rather, it was a legal glitch that ousted the pastor. The Women’s Ministry Leader says she resigned, but too many knew she’d been removed from too many issues she caused, not because of her sin, but because she was disturbing the Pastor’s peace, so I’m told.

  58. The only thing I see these guys succeeding in with this stuff is control over the people and their own power. They manipulate people with fear. The true church needs to know how to stand strong against these guys. Maybe the true church is just all the individual believers. It certainly can’t be about whatever their agenda is.

    Power is hard to fight against. As humans, we love it. The members will put up with leaders like CJ, Al and Furtick because we can join in on some of that power with them.

  59. @ Marie:You cannot assume that is what they mean. They get to define it. So, it can mean if you ask a question about the pastor’s salary or even mention that you thought a sermon is harsh, thy can accuse you of gossip.

    Now, they could be a wonderful church which would never do such a thing. But, unless you have extensive experience with the personalities involved over time, you can’t be sure. Also, some church environments change over time. So, a church that subscribes to one theology can switch and the paradigm changes. This was evident in the SGM switch to Calvinista theology.

  60. @ Katie: Pastors and their friends never, ever gossip.Oh wait-yep, they gossiped about me and spread a rumor that my marriage was in trouble when a group of us confronted a sticky situation involving a pedophile. The elder admitted it and he is still an elder. We are still married and two of his buddy elders are divorced or divorcing. But said elder never gossiped about them.

  61. dee wrote:

    @ Marie:You cannot assume that is what they mean. They get to define it.

    Didn’t Screwtape tutor Wormwood about “getting to define it”?
    Something about redefinition into “diabolical meanings”?

  62. Joy Huff wrote:

    Power is hard to fight against. As humans, we love it. The members will put up with leaders like CJ, Al and Furtick because we can join in on some of that power with them.

    C.S.Lewis called this “the Lure of the Inner Ring”.
    It’s why Ancien Regime French courtiers — all highborn nobles themselves — would backstab each other for the Privilege of handing the Sun King his socks when he dressed in the morning. And handing the King his socks one morning meant they could use it to pull rank on the other highborn nobles.

    Like Tabaqui the Jackal slinking after Shere Khan for a scrap from his kill.

  63. Welcome Just Sayin

    Thank you for your insight into your visit to the church. The interrogation was probably to make sure you were not going to share church R+D with yoru church. I think they thought you were a spy.

  64. Katie wrote:

    We talked about this in another thread of how Calvary Chapel changes the definition to include anything said, whether true or not, that is negative about the pastor or the ministry is considered gossip, “a terrible sin” as they call it.

    More redefinition into diabolical meanings, My Dear Wormwood…

  65. CULT!!!!!! NO GOSPEL HERE!!!

    This is one more in a too long line in the natzification of churches by psychos who only want to control people and their money.

    So many people need to wake up to reality. Ask yourself – what is the loudest message being preached? Love of Gos and love of neighbor, or obedience to them.

  66. Did the disciples have to sign anything or make a “covenant” to follow Jesus? Of course not! I’m so sick of “covenant” being thrown around, but it does have such a nice, gospelly, biblical, holy sound to it now doesn’t it? It goes real well with our fish bumper stickers, our dangling crosses on our rear view mirrors, our pretty Bible covers with all the nifty pockets for note paper and pens, our biblical artwork around our houses displaying or love for the Word, and every other piece of stuff that has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with following Christ and giving evidence of being His follower the way Christ Himself described it. Good grief!
    P.S. The “Hey Haters” video clip made me throw up in my mouth a little…

  67. @ Bridget:
    I think “gossip” is such a focus because they do not want anyone at anytime questioning their decisions. It’s about power – and insecurity I believe in some cases – and so they will use “gossip” loosely to mean any questioning of their teaching, decisions, etc. to avoid scrutiny of any kind. Even an honest inquiry simply seeking understanding could fall until the “gossip” rubric in this type of environment.

  68. @ dee:

    This is not an excuse!!! But I can picture an elder thinking your marriage was in trouble because “Dee” thinks and speaks for herself. She doesn’t submit every thought and word to Mr. Dee first (although Mr. Dee may love to hear them). You see, elders can use their own definition of what a “troubled marriage” looks like as well ;) They can then use that definition to say they, in fact, didn’t gossip. What a wordsmithish game can be played by those who believe they have the right.

  69. @ Just Sayin’:

    The young eat it up until they wake up and discover that they, in fact, are now under the authority of “the man” and can’t talk about or leave the institution freely . . . another generation dealing with spiritual abuse.

  70. @ Anon 1:
    “Look, if these guys had not gone into the pastorate they would have found a stage somewhere.”
    On TV selling ShamWow?
    Hey, Haters! — I posted the whole quote (directed at adorable blog queens) in the old thread, but this highlight is appropriate here as well, “Haters gotta hate.” RC Jr 04/03/13

  71. Stephen Crosby wrote:

    When your objective is protecting the pastor, the treasury and the repuation of the organization against all possible criticism, it looks logical

    Oh yes. This thinking is so ingrained that anyone around it for long falls right into line. Most folks involved in it have to get away for a time to see it for what it is if they ever do. The thinking becomes systemic. I saw this thinking in the mega industrial complex to a degree that people, actual people, were NEVER considered. Yet, they would never see that. To them, it is the same thing and others are wrong for not seeing it.

  72. Lori wrote:

    Did the disciples have to sign anything or make a “covenant” to follow Jesus? Of course not! I’m so sick of “covenant” being thrown around, but it does have such a nice, gospelly, biblical, holy sound to it now doesn’t it?

    I wish I understood more about the differences, if any, between a “Covenant” and a “Membership”? My experience with Calvary Chapel is that there is not membership. We originally thought this was a novel NT idea. We’ve come to find out that “no membership” means you can’t see the finances and have no legal recourse to hold a pastor accountable when he takes loads of money for his personal pleasure out of the church bank account. It can be legal and the “non-member member” can’t even see the financial books.

    Does a “Covenant” take the “Membership” further? As a current member of a church, I simply agree to doctrinal basics (not disputable matters.)

    Just thought I’d add the need for financial accountability of the leaders that can only come through some type of membership recognized by 501c3 corps for legal recourse.

  73. Bridget

    Must have really miffed them off when one of their 2 lead elders got a divorce along wiht a famous elder who was a seminary leader and then old Dee is still with her husband. 

  74. LT wrote:

    Well, yes, there is need to say more. There are many fine graduates of SBTS that do not do this kind of foolishness. The seminary has nothing to do with this.

    Sorry LT. I live at ground zero. I am surrounded by arrogant angry young know it alls from SBTS and their leaders who also think women are second class Christians. Beside the fact he does not seem Reformed, he has the typical SBTS infused personality. If there is one thing we do not see a lot of coming out of SBTS, it is LOVE for others. Of course, they have redefined the word so we are just ignorant and cannot see it. Furtick is a perfect SBTS specimen.

  75. @ turtle:turtle is my fake name my real name is Joy. Sorry Bridget. And yes we must stand strong and confident against bullies.

  76. dee wrote:

    : Each seminary has a flavor. There is no question in my mind that SBTS is Neo-Reformed and stresses an authoritarian leadership for the pastorate.

    Yes, the authoritarian part is what gives it away. SBTS sets up young men as little gods when they become pastors. And they call it “serving”. Everything is twisted to mean the opposite of what it is. People forget that Mohler loves SGM polity and structure. People also forget that SGM is here because of Mohler and SGM people have been favored at SBTS. In other words, Mohler is using his position to help SGM, Mahaney and many of the folks who came with him here. Quite a few have jobs or positions related to SBTS when there are plenty of Baptists folks who deserved them.

    SBTS=How to be an authoritarian leader

  77. @ LT:
    Re: Multi-site. I recently read something by Driscoll urging the sheeple NOT to follow him to the “live” site. Several times he talks as if each site is “a church” of its own. He also mentions how wonderfully gospellific things are going now at the site where he’s been preaching “live”. :)

  78. Joy Huff wrote:

    @ Headless Unicorn Guy:I wish I was educated so I knew things like that. I’ve always read but never CS Lewis. There really is nothing new under the sun.

    It’s got its downside. I was a kid genius and natural-talent speedreader; by the time I was 10, I’d read more than most people do in a lifetime — with NO idea how to fit it all together. (“When you’re six years old, most of your bingo-balls are still floating around in the draw-tank.” — Steven King) Result is I have this MASSIVE mental database without much indexing or retrieval keys; any reference will cause a random cascade of free-association trivia.

  79. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Katie wrote:
    Oh, the “stooge of their own choosing” triggers some unpleasant memories for me.
    I think a few of us could compare t-shirts here!

    “NYUK NYUK NYUK!” — Jerome “Curly” Horowitz

  80. BeakerJ wrote:

    Oh my goodness….is that Furtick in that video? What was that? Everything about his timing, facial expressions & body language was odd, is this how he normally comes across? His face had so many expressions flicking across it, often with his eyes & mouth not matching in expression, it almost looked like he was gurning.

    Paraphrasing David Icke, maybe he’s really a Reptoid from inside the Hollow Earth and his human mask was slipping. (According to Icke, you can see through the Reptoids’ human forms by using large doses of LSD…)

  81. @ Dave A A:
    “For the past year, I’ve been preaching almost exclusively from Mars Hill Bellevue. They’ve got a new building in a great spot and the potential for lots of new locations on Seattle’s Eastside, so I wanted to do everything I could to help make Bellevue strong. Today, it is without a doubt our healthiest church overall.” MD (Thanks Wenatchee the Hatchet for quote– it seems to be only on password-protected “The City”)
    Notice the term “they’ve” as if it wasn’t totally MD’s church.

  82. Wisdomchaser wrote:

    Furtick does seem to have the hip-hop gangsta thang going really well in that video clip. I would say a couple places he looked downright demonic, but that would be paranoid.

    This might relate to comp/patrio. Gangsta Rappas have a very low opinion of “Dem Hos”.

    And you don’t need to have anything supernatural present to “look downright demonic”. A man’s own Dark Side on display can do a pretty good job of it.

  83. @ Dave A A:
    Last bit of supporting document, and perhaps the way Furtick views it too, “I encourage you to pick a location and stick with it. Our churches need members committed to the local mission, and I would hate to see people leave their church and go to another Mars Hill just because they want to see me preach in person. Besides, the live schedule will probably take an air traffic controller to figure out, as we’ll be tinkering with the limits of space and time.” MD

  84. Pingback: Elevation Church and Steven Furtick: Volunteer to Be Sued! by Wartburg Watch 2013 | Holy Bible Prophecy - The Testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy UNITED STATES

  85. Anon 1 wrote:

    Sorry LT. I live at ground zero. I am surrounded by arrogant angry young know it alls from SBTS and their leaders who also think women are second class Christians. Beside the fact he does not seem Reformed, he has the typical SBTS infused personality. If there is one thing we do not see a lot of coming out of SBTS, it is LOVE for others. Of course, they have redefined the word so we are just ignorant and cannot see it. Furtick is a perfect SBTS specimen.

    Well, no, that’s simply not true. I am not an SBTS graduate, but the ones I know are nothing like Furtick. Furthermore, there is more than 150 years of graduates from SBTS. You say, “Besides the fact that he does not seem Reformed…” Well, that disproves your theory doesn’t it? You can’t just pick and choose the characteristics you like and disregard competing evidence as irrelevant.

  86. Dave A A wrote:

    @ LT:
    Re: Multi-site. I recently read something by Driscoll urging the sheeple NOT to follow him to the “live” site. Several times he talks as if each site is “a church” of its own. He also mentions how wonderfully gospellific things are going now at the site where he’s been preaching “live”.

    Yes, I am sure that he urges them not to follow him. As I say, that is the case with many of these I believe. It is the case with Piper (when he was pastoring), and probably with the new guy too.

    I think Mars Hill does view theirs as separate churches and not campuses, but they are strange to say the least.

    My issues with multi-site are theological/ecclesiological. I think following the live preaching is the least of their problems.

  87. LT wrote:

    Well, no, that’s simply not true. I am not an SBTS graduate, but the ones I know are nothing like Furtick. Furthermore, there is more than 150 years of graduates from SBTS. You say, “Besides the fact that he does not seem Reformed…” Well, that disproves your theory doesn’t it? You can’t just pick and choose the characteristics you like and disregard competing evidence as irrelevant.

    LT, I have a ton of family members who have attended SBTS since the 60’s up to today. The last 15 years or so have been marked by the most arrogant young men I have ever seen in Christendom. Not all of course. But too many not to ignore it. In my experience folks go there who are older usually are not as indoctrinated and are even a bit surprised at how much group think there is.

    It has never really been about Calvinism. Calvinism is the banner to rally young minds that “we have truth”. That is the little secret the young minds cannot grasp. It has been about power all along. Furtick gets it.

    What many do not realize is that Mohler appeals to his audience. He is the culture warrior with the non Cals and public. He is the perfect Calvinist with the YRR.

    Do you honestly think he would have lasted and consolidated his power in the SBC if he had hailed himself in the early days as a pure Calvinist who was going to remake the SBC instead of the great culture warrior all over the media? His culture warrior position was loved by the SBC masses. Had he been a Calvinist warrior in the early days, he would be a footnote in SBTS history.

    Mohler is one of the most brilliant political strategists of all time. That is what most folks miss. This is not about theology. It is about power.

  88. @ Anon 1:I’ve been in CLC since 1978 and what your saying is the same about CJ. I grew up in the SBC. Things were not like what your saying about the SBTS or the SBC then. I’m talking 50 years ago. People prided themselves on thinking for themselves. Most people were kind and caring, no all, but alot were. Al Mohler met CJ and wanted what he saw in SGM. This is heartbreaking to me. Al Mohler preached at CLC once and I was so happy to hear from my old SBC until I heard what he said. He was very arrogant, and pushed early marriage and such. I must say alot of people were put of by him, though

  89. “Things were not like what your saying about the SBTS or the SBC then. I’m talking 50 years ago. People prided themselves on thinking for themselves.”

    Joy, thinking for yourself was allowed up until about the early 90’s at SBTS. I watched it change from the mid -80’s as there was gradual change. What is interesting is to watch folks you know who are older decide to go to SBTS (Usually from out of state) to obtain a PhD or MDiv after working in the real world and they are aghast at insular group think there. Usually they try to get through it because they have families they uprooted, etc. But they are shocked and cannot wait to get it done and get out.

    Mohler needs to catch them very young which is why Boyce was such a brilliant idea. Undergrad is NOT the purpose of our seminaries but it works as a great feeder system and indoctrination center that the donors subsidize so they can graduate and come and tell us how stupid we are and don’t know the true Gospel even though we paid for them to be taught that!

  90. Eagle wrote:

    Yes SBTS and SEBTS is a huge part of the problem. But the one seminary that people keep forgetting about that is also a source in producing Neo-Cals is Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. That is where D.A. Carson is at, and that’s the seminary corrupting the Evangelical Free Church. Likewise it has a wide reach and graduates peopel into other churches as well (ie. Non-Denom, AOG, COGIC, etc…)

    Funny you mention Trinity. I keep running into it on bios, quotes, etc all over the SBC Reformed blogosphere.

  91. Anon 1 wrote:

    Mohler needs to catch them very young which is why Boyce was such a brilliant idea. Undergrad is NOT the purpose of our seminaries but it works as a great feeder system and indoctrination center…

    “Give me your children and I will make them mine. You will pass away, but they will remain Mine.” — A.Hitler

  92. Eagle wrote:

    I’ve been hammering this issue with Dee/Deb because no one is drawing attention to it. We can’t talk about the problems with SBTS, SEBTS and not talk about TEDS. They are all linked together.

    This helps explain a lot to me. Thanks for connecting some of the dots, Eagle.

  93. The latest article posted on my ChurchExiters.com website is entitled: ‘Spiritual Abuse and Why Are Toxic Leaders Allowed to Remain in Power So Long?’

    The title to this article is one of the ‘Search Key Phrases’ that came up when I checked my website statistics one day. I developed the idea into an article. This is a worthy question. I think it speaks to the topic being discussed here.

  94. @ Eagle:

    Hmm….I didn’t know TEDS fed AoG. Makes me wonder about the health of the AoG colleges? I know the main one is in Springfield MO. There’s also one in Waxahatchie (sp?) TX and out in northern CA. I would be interested to know if any of this stuff was being filtered in here, too. Not that they don’t have their own unique flavors of weirdness (spoken as one raised in).

  95. Bridget wrote:

    “WHEREAS, as an inducement to the Church to allow me to volunteer, or to hire me or continue to employ me, or to provide me access to its confidential information, or to provide me compensation and/or benefits, as the case may be, I have agreed to execute this Agreement and be bound by its terms and covenants.”
    The church(corporation) has to be induced to “allow” you to volunteer. The church(corporation) owns everything and the church(corporation) owns the confidential information.
    This is no church.

    There’s a reason for that language. It’s called “consideration” and it makes this drivel a valid contract (at least valid for having consideration), even though no money or anything else of value changes hands.

    I would advise anyone presented with a contract–ANY contract–from a church, either as an employer or as a volunteer, to refuse to sign it. If you feel like you need a reason, pay a lawyer a few hundred bucks to tell you that yes, this is a legally-binding contract and they will hold you to it if you violate it.

    This whole thing is crazycakes.

  96. I am not an attorney, but I am curious about the considerations at the start of the contract which include a belief system, i.e. theology…can you legally force a person not to change beliefs? If a person does change their belief system, do the considerations and thus the contract become invalid, especially for a volunteer?

  97. Eagle wrote:

    We can’t talk about the problems with SBTS, SEBTS and not talk about TEDS. They are all linked together.

    Don’t forget The Master’s Seminary, MacArthur’s machine for churning out neoCal pastors to take over nondenominational churches. Mohler and MacArthur are very good friends.

  98. @ dee:

    Glad you liked the joke. I can’t take credit for it. It’s one I’ve heard before on TV and found a copy online.

  99. Wisdomchaser wrote:

    Furtick does seem to have the hip-hop gangsta thang going really well in that video clip

    I thought that as well.

    Don’t forget this lunacy:
    preacher Ed Young Jr Rap video

    Or maybe you would rather forget if you’ve seen it before. I wouldn’t be surprised if Driscoll has one, or will be making on in the future.

  100. Jenny wrote:

    Eagle wrote:
    We can’t talk about the problems with SBTS, SEBTS and not talk about TEDS. They are all linked together.
    Don’t forget The Master’s Seminary, MacArthur’s machine for churning out neoCal pastors to take over nondenominational churches. Mohler and MacArthur are very good friends.

    The problem lies with all the SBC seminaries. SWBTS has its own set of authoritarianism…I saw it coming when I was there in the 1980s. My understand is neo-Calvinism is sneaking into NOBTS as the pastor at my 83 yr old mother’s church just came from there and is open about his neo-Calvinism. ( She ain’t happy.)

    I am afraid all of this church contract business, authoritarianism, neo-Calvinism is going to do nothing but increase the growth of the ” Nones.” Was talking with a friend who was a music minister in North Carolina, Oklahoma and here in Texas, he is now in different profession, he and his wife are now “Nones.” They while are followers of Christ no longer use the word “Christian.”

  101. Dee/Deb,

    I am working on getting you a Firtick schedule so you can hear him speak. If successful I’ll send you a mail (so they don’t change his schedule!).

  102. Not that I would ever want to be seen as actually defending Furtick, but it’s a well-known phenomenon that people will follow around their favorite priest if they know what mass he’s preaching at. Consequently, I’m told, the priest taking whichever mass is not announced, so people will show up on a regular basis for a specific time (which is why, I suppose, I read about the 10:30 a.m. Mass Community in my boyfriend’s church bulletins). In Furtick’s case, it’s not that his ego wouldn’t mind being followed, but that the church satellite facilities couldn’t handle the crowds. For all we know, Furtick told the local authorities that he expected X number of people coming in Y number of cars at Z time when he got permits to build (or his lessors if he’s leasing space). Neighbors tend to get VERY unhappy when church parking tends to spill over into neighborhoods, because church people tend to be bad parkers–blocking driveways and even parking on lawns so they can be there to hear the Man o’Gawd on time. The solution would be to hive off groups into daughter congregations, but instead, you get these massive parking lots or parking garages in what used to be a residential community and still even more resentment.

    So, for that, Furtick is doing people a favor, but he may not be doing it because he likes it, he may be doing it because he has to.

  103. Just a comment on the video. It gave me a weird and creepy feeling. Maybe I’m too old to appreciate this kind of thing (I’m 31), but why not just plainly say what you want to say without the wannabe rap type rhyming and hand slinging motions and facial grimaces. No offense anyone to whom this really speaks. Guess I’m just a hater. :)

  104. I am not well informed about Elevation church (other than to know that God is FOR Elevation church, according to Matt Chandler)..uh huh…anyway, I started reading a bit, and, am sure this is old news, but found these quotes telling:

    “”Pastor Steven is a phenomenal leader and we are united behind the vision God gave him as a staff and as a church to reach people in Charlotte and all over the world for Jesus,” said Bendickson.”

    and~

    “”Seven years. Seven locations. Thousands of lives changed and families restored, millions given back to our city. And week in and week out, people far from God being raised to life in Christ,” said Furtick. “We believe God is just getting started. He wants to do more in and through the people of Elevation Church than we could ever imagine.””

    http://www.christianpost.com/news/elevation-church-of-nc-looking-towards-further-expansion-86819/

    Self-proclaimed hip prophet/leader with a “God given” vision + God is doing cool epic stuff through the members (see how special they are?) = many, many deceived followers who want to go and be special for God too.

  105. I’m especially curious to know why church volunteers/employees aren’t allowed to discuss projects/ideas that are being discussed and/or planned. Dee picked up on this, and I think it’s a good question to ask. I’m trying to consider their perspective and figure out what negative consequences may arise out of a volunteer/staffer discussing a planned bible study or a new youth game night or something.

  106. Unbelievable.

    If I was not part of a good church, and looking for a church, I would probably cross any mega church off the list of potential churches. There is a strange transformation that takes place when a church grows explosively. Almost always, it is personality driven, and it becomes nearly impossible for these celebrity pastors to keep their egos in check. Moreover, maintaining their explosive growth becomes the driving objective. Growth strategies get shrouded in biblical speak, with word like vision, blessing, etc.

    How many of these “pastors” would be content if God led them to a church I the middle of a cornfield where the church is healthy, but will never grow beyond 200? Is numerical growth the gold standard of God’s blessing on a church? If you listen to these guys, you will be hard pressed not to think this way.

    Brannon Howse is doing an excellent series right now comparing Shepherds to Hirerlings as described in John 10. Clearly, many (most?) mega church pastors fall into the category of Hirerling rather than Shepherds, especially the generation of pastors who are in their 40s and younger.

    Here’s the point to remember: these “churches” do not represent the true church. These churches are symbolic of a country and a people that have been given over to their own self-centered lists and desires as described in Romans 1. The mark of a disciple and of a true Shepherd is one who is willing to die to self (see John 10). True Christians should run from these churches. True pastors should warn Christians to flee these churches.

  107. Elevation Church states it spends ~$5.9 million on employee compensation. Elevation Church has ~50 employees. That’s $120k per employee. Even if they were paying everyone the same salary they are WAY overpaying people. In reality, around 3-5 people are getting paid 50% of all compensation based on how other churches work which would mean 3-5 people are making between $500k to $800k PER YEAR. Now you know why they never want any salary data provided.

  108. Gandalf,

    Elevation puts out a so-called annual report each year that has minimal financial information and a lot of idiotic stuff like whether campus pastors like v-neck shirts or not. I did see the $5.9 million amount for employee compensation. I’ve not seen any numbers in the past on how many employees they have. Is this published somewhere?

    I agree with your assumptions if the amount of employees is correct.

    Very interesting…

  109. I found all the campus staff on the locations pages, campus pastors, groups, children’s ministry. I guess they break it by campus. @ Bridget:

  110. I don’t know about this. Reading the whole thing, the kind of stuff they’re trying to protect (salaries, giving records, contact info, probably prayer requests, etc.) seems super reasonable. If there were a volunteer at my church exposing info like that, I’d hope we had the legal standing to at least try to stop them. Could it be misused? Sure. Could the church van be misused? Sure. I’m being hyperbolic, but it seems like this is more out of fear of what they might do with an agreement rather than what they have done.

  111. That guy in the “Hey Haters” video looks demonic.

    As for why they will not disclose where he will be appearing LIVE, it may not be paranoia. Other mega”churches” do the same thing because they want to populate their various “campuses” but if people know where the big guy is going to be LIVE, they will gravitate to that campus which creates problems with seating, parking, etc. Rather than paranoia in this particular case, it may just be crowd control. If you want to see paranoia – just read those “membership” documents!

  112. Thanks for posting “Elevation Church and Steven Furtick: Volunteer to Be Sued! | The Wartburg Watch 2013”. I actually may undoubtedly be back again for alot more browsing and writing comments in the near future. Thank you, Alberta

  113. @ TedS.: I agree with your assessment. you are not the first to comment on the demonic thing. I understand what you are saying about it getting overcrowded. But, one small caveat-if someone says they are visiting and would like to see him in person, perhaps for new visitors they could make an exception.

  114. @ Olivia:I say that figure for compensation as well. if you spend some time on the website, it does come up but I forget where.

  115. Gandalf Telimektar wrote:

    Elevation Church states it spends ~$5.9 million on employee compensation. Elevation Church has ~50 employees. That’s $120k per employee. Even if they were paying everyone the same salary they are WAY overpaying people. In reality, around 3-5 people are getting paid 50% of all compensation based on how other churches work which would mean 3-5 people are making between $500k to $800k PER YEAR. Now you know why they never want any salary data provided.

    The Elevation Church annual report is posted on their web site. The PDF version (which has to be downloaded) states on page 13 that they will provide itemized balance sheet and income statements upon request. On page 19, Jerry Summer is identified as the Finance Director and Gary Sessions as the Controller.

    I suggest rather than guessing at numbers of employees and compensation (which can include benefits such as health insurance, living expenses, retirement, etc.) put together a list of information requests and ask the church to respond. I personally don’t have an interest because religion IMHO is just a business.

  116. Having watched the Hey Hater video, my opinion (as someone with experience in the world of media and performance) is that Stephen is trying to do some sort of slam poetry piece with little or no training in performance. I’ve worked with quite a few performers (including slam poets) and a lot of his strange, jerky mannerisms are common rookie mistakes. Young performers have some vague idea that they should use their head, hands, etc. to show expression, but haven’t carefully thought through the choreography and blocking.

    The poem itself isn’t bad, in my opinion. Not particularly Christian, of course. I could see a high schooler performing it as a regional speech and debate tournament. (That’s not a diss – there are some very good young poets at the HS speech team level).

    I don’t have any idea what is going on at Elevation church. Sure, it’s hip, flashy, and a little eye-roll-inducing. But if I had to pick b/w the Gospel Coalition’s “make sure Africa has proper Reformed doctrine” outreach, or Elevation’s “make sure Africa has clean water and no HIV,” I’ll go with Elevation. Any church that gives away an average of $1mil/year over seven years (plus thousands of community service hours) must be on the right track. http://elevationoutreach.com/impact/ Some churches can hardly pay their own rent and get volunteers to staff the nursery, much less give back so much to their local community and to the world at large.

    I hope this doesn’t come across as an all-out defense of Furtick or Elevation. I don’t go there, I promise. (I love many, many miles away, and even if I lived closer, it’s not the sort of congregation where I’d fit right in). I just think we should pick and choose our battles wisely.

    Plus, if the Calvinistas don’t like Furtick, he must be doing something right, no? :)

    http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/videos-for-pastors/150203-the_elephant_room_chandler_v_furtick.html

  117. I remember this church from finding its website somehow a while ago, and thinking it sounded rather cultic and mind-controlly. The strangest and scariest aspect was this thing called ‘The Code’, which is 12 vague principles that the church apparently functions by (see its website). The scariest part of ‘The Code’ is this:

    “#5: We Need Your Seat.

    We will not cater to personal preference on our mission to reach this city. We are more concerned with the people we are trying to reach than the people we are trying to keep.”

    Well, that all sounds very noble and loving and more-joy-in-heaven-over-a-sinner-ish and abandoning-the-99-for-the-one-ish, doesn’t it?

    Um, no, not really. ‘We need your seat’? Seriously? Not ‘We need you, you are a valuable brother/sister in Christ’. Just ‘See that seat you’re sitting on? If you won’t agree with everything you’re told, and do however many Christian Servanthood Things we tell you to do, then can you please just p*ss off because someone more useful could be sitting there! So long, sinner!”

    It just sounds like very Driscollian, very scraping ex-members out of the bus tyre treads. It sounds like they would classify any concerns raised by church members as a selfish expectation that the church will cater to personal preferences.

  118. …on the bright side, if you’re one of those people who’s looking for a church that “will remain on the edge of our momentum by overreacting to harness strategic momentum initiatives”, well then, Elevation is the right place for you. And you know what the epistles had to say about the importance of harnessing strategic momentum initiatives.

  119. Daisy wrote:

    Don’t forget this lunacy:
    preacher Ed Young Jr Rap video

    As in Grinning Ed Young of Seven Day Sex Challenge fame?

    And private jet?

    And auto-deposit tithing — “Hold up your checkbooks. If you don’t, our security cameras are so good WE WILL KNOW WHO YOU ARE!”?

  120. Sophie wrote:

    Well, that all sounds very noble and loving and more-joy-in-heaven-over-a-sinner-ish and abandoning-the-99-for-the-one-ish, doesn’t it?
    Um, no, not really. ‘We need your seat’? Seriously?

    Butts in Seats.
    Just like all those angles on Wrestlecrap.

  121. Several years back I was asked by our Pastor to sign a covenant sheet in order to continue parking car. I had been parking cars for 2 years (volunteer of course) and planed on parking cars until God directed me otherwise, so I refused to sign the sheet.
    Several weeks after being asked to sign the sheets, while parking cars on a hot Sunday morning, two of the Pastors users, dressed in all black, come to me in the parking lot and handed me a sealed envelope from the Pastor. My first thought was that he was giving us a gift certificated for our years of dedicated service to parking cars. To my great surprise it was a letter addressed to me stating that because I had refused to sign the covenant that I must immediately stop parking cars. I was then escorted off the parking lot. The next week I scheduled a meeting with the Pastor and I was told that the covenant sheet was not directed at people like me that volunteered and stayed the course but for others that started and did not finish. He said the reason he did what he did to me was to maintain control over his congregation. I told him that I still was not going to sign a covenant sheet and that the only reason I was staying there was because my wife worked there and was the Praise and Worship leader. Well that was several years ago and my ex-wife is still the Praise and Worship leader and I no longer attend the church. Seems I have a rebellious spirit and not wanting to follow the direction of his vision is grounds for Divorce, which he gladly guided her through.

  122. @ Raymond:I would love to hear this whole story. If you would ever like to write it up, it would make a great post. I am so sorry.I have heard similar stories before.

  123. wow…I just went and watched that video again and I had to post another comment. This is for you Steven cause I know you read this stuff otherwise why would you be recording such a stupid video. I just have this hunch that you are going to piss off the wrong guy with your bully style of preaching and he is going to address you with something other than a blog comment. I would also like to know how meals you could have paid for, for what it cost to produce that stupid video. What a terrible tragedy, people somewhere are going to sleep hungry, so you can use your position, power and money to exploit someone the Bible says you are to forgive. If that was your impression of acting Christlike I sure would hate to see your impression of Satan.

  124. @ dee:
    Dee I am “Paul Story” from Julie Anne’s site. Next time you talk to her ask her about her cajun friend in Louisiana.

  125. Sophie wrote:

    …on the bright side, if you’re one of those people who’s looking for a church that “will remain on the edge of our momentum by overreacting to harness strategic momentum initiatives”, well then, Elevation is the right place for you. And you know what the epistles had to say about the importance of harnessing strategic momentum initiatives.

    They said that??

    God’s Jobcentre Ministries: leveraging towards the strategic actualisation of a quality paradigm, proactively synergised within a Biblically global customer-service focus

  126. Sophie wrote:

    We will not cater to personal preference on our mission to reach this city. We are more concerned with the people we are trying to reach than the people we are trying to keep.

    I was in that kind of church once, serving immediately under a junior leader whose professed love for the lost was matched only by his open contempt for the found. This created a two-tier church of servers and served. No amount of love was too great to lavish on the served (whether they wanted it or not); no amount of vitriol was too great to spit in the faces of those arrogant, lazy, selfish, ungrateful, godless buffoons who were supposed to be committed to the church.

    This kind of setup, to my mind, resembles a coral reef. A thin veneer of beauty built on the dead skeletons of last season’s life.

  127. I read a lot of spiritual abuse stories. Raymond’s story is one that got buried for a couple months during my busy court case and then when I found it again and read it, I cried and cried. I normally can shut off emotions. I couldn’t for his story. Pastor Eric Starkey was at the church at the same time as Raymond and vouches for Raymond and his story and has also posted his own personal story about Kevin Dunn and Eagle Heights Church in Hammond, Louisiana. I’ve seen the official documentation on the sewage system problem that Raymond alerted the pastor to. There was a cover-up with many people who know about the situation, but the one who got in trouble was the whistle-blower, Raymond – who not only lost his church, but his marriage. What kind of pastor breaks up a marriage? Here is Raymond’s story (at that time he chose pseudonym “Paul”) http://goo.gl/0Kctx And here is Eric Starkey’s story: http://goo.gl/pqSLM

  128. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    God’s Jobcentre Ministries: leveraging towards the strategic actualisation of a quality paradigm, proactively synergised within a Biblically global customer-service focus

    I appreciate you touching base vis-à-vis the Elevation Church jargon-quoting initiative I’ve been strategically visualising.

    This reminds me of one of my all-time favourite Steve Coogan quotes: “When you go to the toilet, do you have an Armitage-Shanks Interface Defecation Scenario… or do you just have a s***?” (sorry about the swears, everyone!)

  129. @ Julie Anne:

    I remember Raymond’s story, too. While it made me sad, it didn’t surprise me. I had a friend whose mother cheated on her father (let’s call him Mike). Mike wanted to forgive and reconcile, but his wife refused and left the family. Mike eventually found a girlfriend at a church in a different city, fell in love and came close to proposing. But the girlfriend wasn’t interested in pursuing the strategy that Mike’s pastor felt was God’s will for the church. Mike decided that he couldn’t marry someone – a committed Christian – who didn’t want to follow this insane extra-biblical growth strategy. So very sad. They call it making a sacrifice for Jesus; to me it looks very much like making too big a sacrifice for some confused, misguided pastor. It’s brainwashed behaviour.

  130. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    I was in that kind of church once, serving immediately under a junior leader whose professed love for the lost was matched only by his open contempt for the found.

    Not far from the favourite cult tactic of ‘love-bombing’. And then once the new recruit is well and truly recruited, keep them craving the affirmation that’s just out of reach. But I’ll bet that pastor didn’t even know he was doing it.

  131. Pingback: C3 Inviting “Cult Leader” Furtick To Presence Conference 2013 | C3 Church Watch UNITED STATES

  132. Bridget wrote:

    @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    Diabolical redefined as “biblical” by many.

    “Nowhere do we tempt so successfully as at the very foot of the altar! Nya Ha Ha, My Dear Wormwood…”

  133. This guy seems to be either on drugs or has serious ADD problems. I watched a little clip called “God knows what you truly need” as well as the included clip on haters. He dances around the stage, dresses like a 15 year old really didn’t say anything of any substance that a casual bible reader wouldn’t know. But that cool, hipster,disconnected, sound byte “preaching” appeals to some. Not “haters” like me, though.

  134. I have been at Elevation for almost 7 years. For more than 6 years I have been a small group leader. Additionally, I have volunteered on Sundays in several capacities (bathroom cleaning, first time guests, follow up to new believers, discipleship, etc.) Finally I have been a campus volunteer leader. You would think that I would have seen, heard about or been approached by someone concerning this contract. But I have not. We show up to volunteer, we pray for God to be glorified and people to see Him clearly in the service. Then we go about our responsibilities. No contract, no coercion, just volunteers excited to be used by God to expand His kingdom.

  135. @ steve: I, too, have been a long term member of a church in which I led a Sunday school and small group and volunteered as you have done. Same prayers, same motivation. This really has nothing to do with you and the volunteers at the church. It has to do with the leadership.

    Many years into my association, I learned about things at my church that shocked me. Many people on this blog could share similar stories.

    Why don’t you take a copy of the contract that we have published and bring it to Furtick and ask for an explanation. As a leader, you have an obligation to do so. If you are uncomfortable in doing so, ask yourself why.

  136. @ dee: One other point, you have seen the Hey Haters video. Ask yourself if this comes across as normal. I can assure, people from around the world have viewed this and think it is very off-putting and not “cool and hip.”

  137. @ dee:
    I am glad you asked me to see for myself. I took this document to Elevation Senior. Staff. It is used for Volunteers who handle sensitive, personal or confidential information. They are asked to sign this. Volunteers in the roles of greeters, first time guests, discipleship, etc. are not asked to sign anything. So only a handful of volunteers who deal with personal info see this document. Again thanks for the challenge.

  138. Steve wrote:

    olunteers who handle sensitive, personal or confidential information. They are asked to sign this. Volunteers in the roles of greeters, first time guests, discipleship, etc. are not asked to sign anything.

    First of all, good for you. I am impressed.

    Could you define some terms for me? What do you mean by the role of “discipleship?” Also, when you say those who deal with “confidential information” what kind of confidential information? In any given church situation, there is confidential information: Sunday school, small groups, etc. How does one limit such info?

    How to does the church define: gossip, slander and the betraying of confidences? Those are very broad categories.

  139. Let me tell you what we do for discipleship. We invite new believers to a 3 month discussion group/Bible study that covers tenants of the Christian faith (sin, rebellion, grace, Scripture, etc). This helps them to better understand who they are in Christ and what He has done and continues to do for them as His children. I have led several of these groups and it is always exciting to see how God uses His word to clarify for these new believers their transformation from death to life. During this 3 month period we try to get them plugged into a weekly volunteer role where they will be further mentored in the faith and learn to start using their gifts. At the end of the 3 months, we encourage them to join a small group that meets weekly. In these small groups, the new believers as well as older believers study the word and spend time in prayer. This community is where most of our discipleship happens – life on life (2 Tim 2:2).

    Dee – I think Webster would do an admirable job of defining terms you asked about.

  140. Steve

    You haven’t read this blog very long if you think that church leaders stick to Websters when it comes to gossip, slander, etc. Thank you for your description of your discipleship program.

  141. I attended the Good Friday service with an individual who persistently asked that I join her. She is a volunteer at elevation, as she is in charge of purchasing the food offered to the other volunteers who work during the services. I even accompanied her on her April 5th shopping trip to Sam’s Club. She was issued a church credit card to be used for the purchasing of food. If she signed this agreement I feel sorry for her.

    As for the Good Friday service, what an impressive audio and visual production. The music is played at decibels slightly less loud than a space shuttle liftoff. Any church that purposely furnishes earplugs to its congregation has their priorities skewed. They apparently know that they are playing the music to loud, but instead of doing the reasonable thing like simply turning the volume down, they instead spend money on earplugs.

    The service was an impressive entertainment production filled with videos, flashing lights, and a sermon that had the pastor speaking about his son’s dream instead of what this guy Jesus Christ did for us on Calvary hill. It was all style and no substance.

    I left feeling as if I had just experienced the next Jim Jones or David Koresh. Furtick is charismatic, and his followers exhibit cultish behavior, as they appear to be worshiping Furtick and not God. Furtick is their God. I suspect that if anything ever happened to Furtick that prevented him from preaching Elevation church would cease to exist. He is the church and the church is him. There is no room for God in this church, Furtick won’t permit being upstaged.

  142. I signed up to greet and show new guests to their seats while attending Elevation Church. Nothing more than smiling, introducing myself and making them feel welcome, so I thought.

    This is part of the e-mail I received from Andy Brooks of Elevation Uptown prior to attending an information session on becoming a volunteer:

    I wanted to take the opportunity to give you some more information as we prepare to meet. For a quick overview of our day, we will spend the morning learning about the Elevation culture, history, one day principle and our volunteer teams. You will get to shadow an area to volunteer and then head into the 11.30am worship experience. It’s going to be a brilliant morning.

    …On you’re (sic) arrival we will spend some time getting coffee and hanging out, before getting started with the day. As part of our culture to honor volunteers and families that we serve with, we ask all new volunteers to fill out a background check and confidentiality agreement. I have attached both to this email for you to prepare for Sunday morning. If you are not able to print them out, we will have some copies on hand, on Sunday. We also want to use this as a tool to help every single person find the right sweet spot on our campus as a volunteer. Please let me know if you have any questions at all…

    Notice it said “all new volunteers to fill out a background check and confidentiality agreement”.

    Steve, you may wish to speak with Andy Brooks on Elevation’s policies.

  143. Olivia wrote:

    Notice it said “all new volunteers to fill out a background check and confidentiality agreement”.
    Steve, you may wish to speak with Andy Brooks on Elevation’s policies.

    I am so thankful that you wrote us. i was not convinced by Steve’s comment. I believe that such agreements are found in highly controlled, centralized hyper-authoritarian church cultures. Sometimes, when we do a story on such churches, we get “comments” by people who deny that our information is correct. We believe that there are usually from insiders who are helping the church do damage control.

  144. Ted wrote:

    Furtick is charismatic, and his followers exhibit cultish behavior, as they appear to be worshiping Furtick and not God. Furtick is their God. I suspect that if anything ever happened to Furtick that prevented him from preaching Elevation church would cease to exist. He is the church and the church is him. There is no room for God in this church, Furtick won’t permit being upstaged.

    I truly hope that leaders from Elevation read your comment. i have reason to believe that they will do so. It is vital that they hear what people are seeing instead of sticking their fingers in their ears and refusing to listen. You have provided a valuable service.

    Churches such as Elevation protect themselves from criticism and go on the offensive with their silly little videos like Hay Haters. They are naive if they think that no one is noticing the weirdness.

  145. Dee wrote:

    Ted wrote:
    Furtick is charismatic, and his followers exhibit cultish behavior, as they appear to be worshiping Furtick and not God. Furtick is their God. I suspect that if anything ever happened to Furtick that prevented him from preaching Elevation church would cease to exist. He is the church and the church is him. There is no room for God in this church, Furtick won’t permit being upstaged.
    I truly hope that leaders from Elevation read your comment. i have reason to believe that they will do so. It is vital that they hear what people are seeing instead of sticking their fingers in their ears and refusing to listen. You have provided a valuable service.
    Churches such as Elevation protect themselves from criticism and go on the offensive with their silly little videos like Hay Haters. They are naive if they think that no one is noticing the weirdness.

    I doubt that Furtick or his staff will do anything to change. The church exhibits many of the classic characteristics of those closely associated with a cult.

    http://www.prem-rawat-talk.org/forum/uploads/CultCharacteristics.htm

  146. Ted wrote:

    I doubt that Furtick or his staff will do anything to change.

    I agree with you. As long as the money is flowing and people revere their leaders, nothing will change. Over time, I bet we begin to hear from former members of Elevation. We have been getting emails for a couple of years regarding weirdness. We are happy to followup on stories if people let us know. This “contract” was pretty darn concerning.

  147. dee wrote:

    Ted wrote:
    I doubt that Furtick or his staff will do anything to change.
    I agree with you. As long as the money is flowing and people revere their leaders, nothing will change. Over time, I bet we begin to hear from former members of Elevation. We have been getting emails for a couple of years regarding weirdness. We are happy to followup on stories if people let us know. This “contract” was pretty darn concerning.

    And oh how the money does flow. My heart breaks for my friend as she and her three boys all have been swept up by Furtick’s charisma.

    When she speaks of Elvation it’s all about Furtick. She spouts his catchy sayings instead of biblical passages. For a woman who reads the Bible daily I was amazed by the lack of Bibles that she and the congregation carried into the service. I didn’t see anyone in the audience with a Bible besides myself. Also with all the state of the art video you would think that they would display the Bible verses on a screen or at least display the book, chapter and verses, but nothing. I wondered if Furtick did this purposely as a way of indicating to his congregation that only he is capable of translating the meaning of bible passages.

  148. I’m very disturbed by the story alone, but then watching the video……he is addressing ” haters” with hate! And a ton of words pulled out of a thesaurus to do this hard core presentation of absolute hypocrisy. You should always meet hate with love and for someone who many look up to, this is a very sad thing to see…..no mr.Furtick, I don’t ” hate” you but I very much dislike the way you perceive yourself and will add you to my prayer list…..I’ve signed nothing preventing me from doing what God allows me to do freely :)

  149. Elevation is not governed. The have no elders or deacons. Steven Furtick and Chunks Corbett have absolute control and decision making authority. Steven Furtick has no accountability from the church body. They don’t want financial information disclosed (like how much money Steven makes or that he’s building a 10,000 square foot, 15 million dollar house). @ Ian:

  150. STEVEN DOES SO MUCH GOOD. I SERIOUSLY DOUBT THAT THIS NAMELESS FACELESS BLOGGER CAN SAY THE SAME. THIS BLOGGER IS MORE OF A COWARD THAN ANYTHING ELSE…
    It really doesn’t take much intelligence or even effort to CRITIZE without any basis. Why doesn’t this blogger step forward and be subject to the same scrutiny that he placed on Steven? I think we all know the answer to that… DEPLORABLE COWARD OF A BLOGGER… Ron Major

  151. Ron Major wrote:

    Ron Major

    This is the same kind of response the IFB cult give when one of their leaders are criticized.

    Doing “so much good” is not an excuse for doing evil.

  152. @ Ron Major:Wow, Ron, that was sooooo convicting, especially with all of the caps. It kind of reminds me of the infamous Hey Haters video.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8SLFcOIX_Q

    I would be happy to give you some advice about how to be a bit more effective in your defense. Let’s start with “Deplorable Coward of a Blogger. First, I am so glad to add a name to “What the world is saying about TWW.” Secondly, I put my name and a phone number as a means of contact. That is not cowardly. Thirdly, all caps is the blog equivalent of yelling and no one listens when you are yelling.

    Make sure you take a screen shot of your comment and show it to your pastors. They will be very impressed with your attempt at winsome commenting.

  153. @ Ted:Do you know who Ron Major is? He left quite a comment. One day, your friend will wake up. Let’s just pray that she doesn’t lose her faith.

  154. Ah wrote:

    no mr.Furtick, I don’t ” hate” you but I very much dislike the way you perceive yourself and will add you to my prayer list…

    Awesome comment. You get it!

  155. Ted wrote:

    I wondered if Furtick did this purposely as a way of indicating to his congregation that only he is capable of translating the meaning of bible passages.

    Ed Young Jr, a friend of Furtick, used to say that the Bible turns some people off so he never carried one into the pulpit with him but I do not if this is still the case. Not having to use the Bible sure opens up possibilities doesn’t it?

  156. C W wrote:

    Elevation is not governed. The have no elders or deacons. Steven Furtick and Chunks Corbett have absolute control and decision making authority.

    if this is true, then that church is in deep trouble.

  157. @ C W:
    They actually are accountable to church boards and other pastors. Furtick handles NONE of the money, an outside board does all of that for accountability. and actually, ALL the financial information is printed and uploaded on the website every year and i given to everyone in the church and goes into very specific detail on where the money goes.
    And he is not building a 15 million dollar house. He and his wife tithe 40% of their income, please don’t make up useless outlandish facts when you’ve probably never even met him.

  158. Megan,

    You seem to have some information on Elevation Church. Perhaps you could share? Who comprises the outside board you mention? Furtick has stated that five pastors overseer his compensation. I know Perry Noble is one of the five. Who are the rest?

    The use of the term “annual report” by Elevation is yet another case of ripping off a business term to impress people who don’t know any better. The so-called annual report is hardly an accurate term. There are no financial statements…you know stuff like comparative balance sheets and income statements and info about the secretive board who make all of these financial decisions. Instead they disclose how many podcasts have been downloaded and whether the campus pastors wear v-neck shirts or not. Really deep…

    Gary Sessions, the controller at Elevation, writes at the end of the “annual report” that the church has been audited by C. DeWitt Foard and Co., CPA’s. Why didn’t they proudly publish the financial statements from this audit? Why do they continue to hide them? I’ve requested them and they will not disclose this information. Instead I’m treated to drivel such as Gary doesn’t wear sweater vests, but he does wear Crocs.

    The Elevation masses are fed pablum by Furtick and his cohorts and are expected to feel grateful. They ought to be asking a LOT more questions.

  159. There is a lot of interesting things about Elevation IMO. One, that I find MOST interesting is that “pastor” Stephen and his wife have their last name misspelled in the deed to their house. Did they change their name purposely? I think it’s a little too fishy to be “just” a coincidence.
    Go to the Mecklenburg tax site:
    http://meckcama.co.mecklenburg.nc.us/relookup/
    and look up the last name “FUTRICK.” He and his wife pop up, with their 4000 square foot home and all, but with a differently spelled last name.

  160. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:

    Yes, that would be the one. I remember seeing a video online of the “hold up your checkbook” sermon or one similar by him. It came complete with a big number ten on the screen behind him (as in tithe your 10%).

  161. Bob M wrote:

    dresses like a 15 year old

    LOL. That would probably kill style-conscious preachers more than telling them their teachings are heretical.

    Like in that “Anchorman” movie where Christina Applegate’s character tells Ron Burgandy (1970s news anchorman) “you have bad hair” and “your hair looks stupid.” Those put downs killed him more than anything else she yelled at him.

  162. Steph,

    The legal deed documents for Steven and Holly Furtick have their correct surname, but every time it’s been entered by Mecklenburg county into their system, it has the misspelling you mentioned. You would think the error would have been caught at some point. ‘Tis a puzzle.

    Looking through the deed sequencing, it appears the Furticks purchased their house in 2007, transferred it to a trust in 2009 and then pulled it out of the trust in 2010. The trustee is James Corbett, II who goes by the moniker of Chunks Corbett to the Elevators. Corbett was a physical therapist in his prior life.

    By the way, this was the Furtick’s second home purchased since 2005. I guess money has not been an issue since they started Elevation because they bought the first house within a year of starting the church. If you look through the deed section for Mecklenburg County you’ll see this home, although this time Steven is known as Larry S. Furtick.

  163. Ron Major wrote:

    STEVEN DOES SO MUCH GOOD. I SERIOUSLY DOUBT THAT THIS NAMELESS FACELESS BLOGGER CAN SAY THE SAME. THIS BLOGGER IS MORE OF A COWARD THAN ANYTHING ELSE…
    It really doesn’t take much intelligence or even effort to CRITIZE without any basis. Why doesn’t this blogger step forward and be subject to the same scrutiny that he placed on Steven? I think we all know the answer to that… DEPLORABLE COWARD OF A BLOGGER… Ron Major

    Ron, thank you for proving my point that Furtick is the church and the church is Furtick with your stating, “STEVEN DOES SO MUCH GOOD.” All the credit goes to him. The Elevation congregation worship Steve Furtick. He’s their god.

    I belong to one of the largest churches in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Calvary Baptist. Dr. Gary Chapman has been the interim pastor since September 2011 while the church continues a pastoral search. This church has started three churches within the last several years for immigrants (Latino, Burmese, Korean) as well as helping those groups with clothing, housing, job training, transportation. This is done without fanfare or publicity, and Calvary doesn’t glorify Dr. Chapman or credit him for all this good, that goes to God.

    Calvary has a program titled “Love Winston-Salem” where the members of Calvary volunteer their time and go into several of the most financially deprived communities. The church spends a week working with civic and community leaders to address needs. Again this is done without the hype that Elevation church finds necessary to keep patting themselves on the back or giving the honor to their pastor. Calvary sees it as an honor and privilege to perform this work to glorify God. Elevation’s motives appear to be more of glorifying itself and feeding the ego of its pastor, with God receiving little to no credit.

    I can’t imagine Dr. Chapman or even Billy Graham producing a video about “Haters.” It shows the immaturity of Furtick, and that he is not about preaching the gospel, but about glorifying himself.

    My prayers will continue that the members of Elevation will turn towards God and not Furtick.

  164. @ dee:

    Indeed. It could be said of Ed Young Jr. as well, who is older than those three are. These men lack the maturity to be pastor/elders. It exists very much in the YRR world as too. Not just Driscoll, but Matt Chandler for example. His church does the whole “church covenant” thing as well, and Chandler just blocked Julie Anne Smith on twitter after a single tweet.

  165. @ dee:

    I wonder if Ron Major, or any member of Elevation, can reach Steven F. by picking up the phone and dialing.

  166. @ dee:

    I did a Zillow search on the address. It came up at $290,00 and 3,100 square feet. I don’t know how that compares to the average for that area. In CA that size house in the burbs would be around $600,000. But not everyone lives there.

  167. dee wrote:

    @ Olivia:Bottom line: How much is their house worth?

    Dee,

    The Furticks purchased their first home in Mecklenburg County in Sept. 2005 for $190,000. Steven was 25 years old and I believe Holly is close in age, so clearly ahead of their peers in terms of home ownership.

    This house was sold in Aug. 2012 for $169,000. Given the market conditions over those years, a loss of this magnitude is not unusual.

    Their second home, where they now live, was purchased in Nov. 2007 for $362,500. The current tax value is $305,400. Again, given the market conditions in the Charlotte area, its true value would probably only be ascertained if it were to be put up for sale.

    So, they purchased over $550,000 of real estate in just a bit over two years. They also qualified for concurrent mortgages on these two homes.

    Their good friends, the Corbetts also purchased a home adjacent to the Furtick’s first home back in 2006. They, too, have moved on to pricier digs in the last year.

    I’d say certain members of the staff at Elevation Church are being paid handsomely by the attendees.

  168. @ mot: not that this will change any of your outlook on the church, but the contracts are for the employees not volunteers.

  169. Joe wrote:

    not that this will change any of your outlook on the church, but the contracts are for the employees not volunteers.

    Unfortunately, we have a woman in an earlier comment who said she was asked to sign this contract and her only role was to greet first time visitors. i think there is a lot of contradictory info flying around and that means something is wrong. Big time-be it in the systems or in talking out of both sides of the mouth.

    I would imagine that this post caused a bit of an uproar and I believe that said contract might fade away into the background for awhile. However, I am happy to keep this comment thread up and chugging along so that people can report the disappearance or the reappearance of said contract.

    Now you see it; now you don’t!! :)

  170. @ Olivia: I have a question for you. How does Furtick travel to meetings? Recently, I have heard that some pastors in the North Carolina area may be leasing a jet and sharing it. There is one mega pastor who routinely arrives in private jets paid for by businessmen.

    Now back to Hey Haters redux….

  171. Dee,

    I don’t have knowledge about Furtick possibly leasing a jet. If he’s doing it, the news will eventually come out!

  172. Actually you can reach him at xxx-xxxx, ask for his assistant Jenny@ Bridget:

    [[MOD: I’m deleting the phone number. Posting someone else’s number is crossing a line.]]

  173. Larry is his Dad, people do have parent’s you know. I’m guessing you are NOT former CIA?
    Olivia wrote:

    Steph,
    The legal deed documents for Steven and Holly Furtick have their correct surname, but every time it’s been entered by Mecklenburg county into their system, it has the misspelling you mentioned. You would think the error would have been caught at some point. ‘Tis a puzzle.
    Looking through the deed sequencing, it appears the Furticks purchased their house in 2007, transferred it to a trust in 2009 and then pulled it out of the trust in 2010. The trustee is James Corbett, II who goes by the moniker of Chunks Corbett to the Elevators. Corbett was a physical therapist in his prior life.
    By the way, this was the Furtick’s second home purchased since 2005. I guess money has not been an issue since they started Elevation because they bought the first house within a year of starting the church. If you look through the deed section for Mecklenburg County you’ll see this home, although this time Steven is known as Larry S. Furtick.

  174. Whoa! That is crazy! I wonder if he sold the house to himself at a good price? I’ll bet he ripped off himself since he is such a hack!@ Steph:

  175. Jeff wrote:

    Larry is his Dad, people do have parent’s you know. I’m guessing you are NOT former CIA?

    Jeff,

    You seem to take umbrage rather quickly on Steven Furtick’s behalf.

    You’re correct about Steven being named after his father. His full name is Larry Stevens Furtick, Jr. His father, who suffers from ALS by the way, goes by the name of Larry while Steven uses a variation of his middle name.

    I included this information in my above posting since Steven Furtick uses different names for his legal documents. To the best of my knowledge this is permissible since no fraud is intended; it just makes it more difficult to look up.

  176. @ Olivia:
    How sad for you, most people like you just get cats, instead you take to legal document research to see if Pastor Steven has something that might ruin him. If you ever went to Elevation you would quickly see who it’s about. If you guessed Pastor Steven you guessed wrong. It’s hard to read y’all’s posts without laughing. Planes, houses, paychecks. Get over it.

  177. Jeff wrote:

    How sad for you, most people like you just get cats,

    Please take it down a notch. You are beginning to sound like a video I once heard-Hey Haters. Truly creepola.

  178. Jeff wrote:

    Oh…and it’s Pastor Steven to you.

    And it will soon be “bye bye” if you keep this up. You sound like some of the Perry Noble supporters.

  179. I’ve been volunteering at Elevation Church for over six years and have never been asked to sign a confidentiality statement. Pastor Furtick is a truly anointed man of God. It’s sad that Christians are the only army on earth that regularly attack their own. Surely you have better things to do for our Lord than attack those with whom you don’t agree.

  180. I would be interested to know how many that have posted on this blog have actually attended a service at Elevation or are they just surfing the web and believing everything they read. Sounds to me that many people have time on their hands to express their opinions without accurate information. I imagine many that posted / commented are probably surfing other blogs and put their 2c worth of negativity on those as well.

  181. @ Laura:

    My opinions on Furtick/his church have been based on his material on the internet, the videos he posts of his sermons, etc. I don’t think it entirely necessary to attend his church in person to have an opinion.

  182. Laura wrote:

    would be interested to know how many that have posted on this blog have actually attended a service at Elevation

    Why is it necessary. He puts a lot of his stuff on the Internet. So, is the “Hey Haters” video a lie? What about his posted sermons on you tube? Or do I need to see the sweat of his brow up close and personal for it to be real?

  183. Laura wrote:

    I would be interested to know how many that have posted on this blog have actually attended a service at Elevation or are they just surfing the web and believing everything they read. Sounds to me that many people have time on their hands to express their opinions without accurate information. I imagine many that posted / commented are probably surfing other blogs and put their 2c worth of negativity on those as well.

    I attended the Good Friday service, March 29, 2013. I attended with two members who are very enthusiastic about “their pastor” and wanted me to experience Elevation. I went there not knowing what to expect and with an open mind and heart, wanting to hear the gospel being breached. What I got instead was a sermon in which Steven Furtick spoke about his son’s dream, and not anything about the blood Jesus Christ shed or honoring what he did for us on Calvary hill.

    I watched part four of Elevation’s “God’s Will is Whatever” presented by Larry Hubatka, Elevation’s Creative Pastor (Never heard this designation for a pastor before) (http://elevationchurch.org/sermons/gods-will-is-whatever). Furtick was out of the country and Larry Hubatka was stepping in to preach. The video feels more like an infomercial, as Hubatka does very little if any preaching, as the sermon is primarily watching three videos about members of the church and what they do for a living and how their careers serve God.

    What I found myself thinking and reinforcing my belief about Elevation Church is that without Furtick this church would die. Hubatka is not the charismatic leader that Furtick is. To be fair I don’t know if Hubatka is an associate pastor, or what his duties as “Creative Pastor” are, but how many people who attend Elevation Church presently would continue if Hubatka had to replace Furtick on a permanent basis? That is not to say Hubatka isn’t a good preacher, but if he was leading Elevation church this church would still be holding worship in the living room of someone’s home and not in it’s current facility.

  184. @ Jeryl:
    @ Laura:

    I have no personal business directly contacting Elevation Church, as it’s thousands of miles away. Nor do I have any strong opinion on what it is like there, for the same reason. (By the same token, of course, Mr Furtick is not in any sense my pastor, so it’s no business of Jeff’s to require me to call him “Pastor” anything.)

    I’ve read the church code, which is in the public domain, and is presumably designed both to be self-explanatory (i.e. taken at face value as being accurate), and to be read and understood by people who don’t know the congregation. Even so, the code in itself is unlikely to tell me what it’s like to be in the congregation. Elevation Church may or may not load heavy burdens on its members; it may or may not be easy to ask questions; it may or may not be easy to leave; it may or may not work constructively alongside other gatherings of the body of Christ in the same geographical area; and so on.

    I hope, in my various posts in this thread, I have not made specific targeted allegations or even gripes that target a group about which I know relatively little. I’d never heard of Mr Furtick before I read the post and I am not aware of whether or not he actively pushes a particular doctrinal stance, markets his books and teachings globally, and/or bands together with others to attack other believers who think differently. (Some, including but not limited to Mark Driscoll, most certainly do just that.)

    I must, however, do what I can to encourage other believers who for whatever reason have found themselves hurt or attacked by churches. It is very common for these things to happen in churches that are built – unbiblically, in my understanding – around the vision of a particular individual, and Elevation Church is one such; as per Point 4 of the code.

    It is true that I did parody Point 7… this really does look like Dilbert-speak to me, and it is kind of hard to see it as everyday English. But I apologise if this has given offence.

  185. I have attended Elevation for 5 years and volunteered every other week for 3 years. I am smart and discerning and really had my guard up when I first started trying the church out. You can have an opinion about Elevation and Steven Furtick by what you read online, but the online individual “haters” opinions of Elevation are so different from the opinions of the people who are really a part of this church. The good of Elevation is so far outweighed by the bad and so many people part of are walking with Christ that never would have through a traditional church. Elevation is a church of broken individuals (and SF would absolutely put himself in that category), just like him, who are coming to know the Lord through Elevation. The amount of time and money Elevation gives back to the community locally and globally is mind boggling! Ask Anthony Fox, mayor of Charlotte about what Elevation has done for the city of Charlotte. Elevation volunteers stepped up and committed to mentor and tutor over one thousand at-risk youths that were floundering in the school system…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. As part of the volunteer team I work on, I can tell you exactly why some (not all) people are asked to sign a confidentiality agreement. Through volunteering we may be in contact with other volunteer’s or church member’s personal information, background checks are done for childcare volunteers, etc. (as they should!) so lots of information needed, personal details from a prayer request, etc. All things as a member of any church I wouldn’t want getting out. It’s so not an issue.

  186. Sarahann wrote:

    but the online individual “haters” opinions of Elevation are so different from the opinions of the people who are really a part of this church.

    I have a piece of advice to all those attempting to stick up for Furtick. His “Hey Haters” video is so bizarre that I would avoid using the word “haters” in your comments. It immediately recalls that ridiculous video in which Furtick appears possessed by the Bride of Chuckie and causes me to immediately think that there are a canned responses which could look a bit controlling.

    Instead, a loving, thoughtful response would go a long way in dispelling what appears to be a rather jaded view of things at Elevation. Also, the back and forth on what is (or is not) a volunteer contract shows a disconcerting number of “we sign it, we don’t sign it” responses which makes things look a little disorganized over there in Charlotte.

  187. Laura wrote:

    @ Sarahann — well said, thank you

    So are you and Sarahann saying Furtick is totally different in person than he is in his videos or blog postings/web site?

    I don’t think I’d feel comfortable attending a church where a man puts on one face for the public at large and another for his church members, I’d like to see more consistency.

  188. Sarahann wrote:

    I have attended Elevation for 5 years and volunteered every other week for 3 years. I am smart and discerning and really had my guard up when I first started trying the church out. You can have an opinion about Elevation and Steven Furtick by what you read online, but the online individual “haters” opinions of Elevation are so different from the opinions of the people who are really a part of this church. The good of Elevation is so far outweighed by the bad and so many people part of are walking with Christ that never would have through a traditional church. Elevation is a church of broken individuals (and SF would absolutely put himself in that category), just like him, who are coming to know the Lord through Elevation. The amount of time and money Elevation gives back to the community locally and globally is mind boggling! Ask Anthony Fox, mayor of Charlotte about what Elevation has done for the city of Charlotte. Elevation volunteers stepped up and committed to mentor and tutor over one thousand at-risk youths that were floundering in the school system…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. As part of the volunteer team I work on, I can tell you exactly why some (not all) people are asked to sign a confidentiality agreement. Through volunteering we may be in contact with other volunteer’s or church member’s personal information, background checks are done for childcare volunteers, etc. (as they should!) so lots of information needed, personal details from a prayer request, etc. All things as a member of any church I wouldn’t want getting out. It’s so not an issue.

    I don’t know how any member of Elevation Church who claim to be a Christian can in good conscience accept, condone, approve, or justify Steven Furtick’s “Hey Haters” video. Furtick cannot accuse people of twisting his words or taking them out of context as his purpose for this video is clear, anyone who questions his authority is a hater.

    As far as the confidentiality agreement goes, and justifying some people signing it because they will be privy to members personal information, I find that odd as well. I have been a member of prayer teams at Calvary Baptist Church and we receive some very private prayer requests, but have never been asked to sign a confidentiality agreement. It is understood that the prayer requests are to remain private and not for public discussion. If a church has to require its members who deal with such delicate information to sign an agreement not to share it, then it says allot about the maturity of the church and its members.

    I wonder how many people who attend Elevation, or are considering attending are aware of this video? If I had seen this video before being invited to attend with my friend I would have declined, but then the members of Elevation would argue that I took the video and its message out of context, and that isn’t the true Steven Furtick and what his church practice. I am thankful for having experienced Elevation personally so that could make my own assessment. It was similar to having read the book before seeing the movie and then discovering the differences between the two, but in my case the experience was just as disconcerting as the video.

  189. @ K. James:

    A lot of worry over a bunch of nothing if you ask me. Signing a confidentiality agreement is nothing more than a little CYA on their part. The unfortunate side affect of a growing church is that you have a target on your back and people like to hate on you for anything they can find. Give me an instance where this “contract” was actually used unjustly rather than a bunch of “what-ifs” by those who just want to put something down that they don’t know much about. In this day and age, an organization like Elevation Church has to legally protect themselves and their members. Doesn’t mean there is some big vast conspiracy.

  190. jc wrote:

    people like to hate on you for anything they can find.

    What is it about Elevation Church and the “hate” word? Good night.

    First, Furtick does his “Bride of Chuckie” video “Hey Haters.” Then everyone who is pro Furtick writes comments and use the word “hate” in the narrative. I have one thing to say for him, he sure has got the “hate” thing down pat.

    Suggestion: if you want to really get under the skin of people, try love for a change of pace. It might actually get me to feel warm and fuzzy about you all .

  191. Where do you get this garbage?!!? I have been a volunteer at Elevation for 5 years. NEVER has a contract been given. The only “commitment” you have is 3 months to try it out. This article it self is garbage, blasphemy, ungodly and a cult following. How dare any of you to question the work God is doing in the church. God is alive in Elevation and I am appalled that this post is even acknowledged. It hurts my heart to see the things posted here being a Christian. It justifies the notion that there are so many people in the world that are trying to turn others against God’s word. Downright shameful. Thanks to Pastor Furtick for showing the truth and way of God. For all the good he has done and is doing and to have judgement passed on him is unfathomable. We all answer to ONE and that is God and to judge another person is not what God would want yet that is what all those opposing and bashing Pastor Furtick are doing just that.

  192. Mack wrote:

    garbage, blasphemy, ungodly and a cult following.

    Thank you for adding new words to “What the world is saying about TWW.”
    I think you need to consider a couple of things.
    1. Note that I allowed your comment to be posted here, in spite of the names that you called us. Why is that if we are so awful?
    2. You, unfortunately demonstrate the attitude that your pastor showed on his Bride of Chuckie video-Hey Haters. You comment will not convince anyone. Try some love the next time.
    3. I wonder if your pastor has taught you some basic doctrine. Your use of the word “blasphemy” appears to be wrong. Get a good book on systematic theology and look it up.

  193. Mack wrote:

    How dare any of you to question the work God is doing in the church.

    Healthy churches say, “PLEASE examine us closely to see if we bear the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, kindness, patience, etc.); PLEASE question whether God is truly at work in our church, and PLEASE HELP US.”

    Sick churches say, “How dare any of you to (sic) question the work God is doing in the church.”

  194. Mack wrote:

    It justifies the notion that there are so many people in the world that are trying to turn others against God’s word.

    That’s the notion of a paranoid person, Mack. Whose is it? When one looks at the world through that lens, hate is everywhere. And then it becomes difficult not to respond in kind.

    That’s what worries me about the “Hey, Haters” vid. And your response doesn’t assuage.

  195. Anyone who goes to Elevation Church knows that he is always at the Blakeney campus and yes he will occasionally go to another campus and not announce it but for the most part you know where he is. Back in the day he did go from campus to campus more but now that is almost impossible. During that time they would try to keep it a secret but only for the reason of overcrowding. @ LT:

  196. @ BeakerJ:
    you wrote:
    “I don’t know his story but was he ever a drug user? If someone displayed his speed & jerkiness when I spoke to them I’d suspect amphetamines, or extreme nerves.”

    To me, he seemed to exhibit hateful and angry expressions. His “hey hater” title fits HIM in his own video quite perfectly. Wow. And VERY sad!

  197. Steven Furtick asked me one time if I had a problem or something to say. He was very defensive, and this was on twitter private message. So I retweeted for the world to see. I’m a Christian, but there’s something about him that’s night right…. mot wrote:

    Hell no I would not sign one of these church contracts. What is up with the leaders of these “churches.”

  198. It is very clear that few of you, if any, have ever work worked in a large church setting. Elevation averaged almost 12,000 a week last year with 7 locations and is only 7 years old. That is crazy rampant growth. Because of their growth they have to rely heavily on volunteers in order to make the Sunday morning and day to day functions work. In fact only about 30% of their total church income goes to paying staff. If you work in a church I dare you to look at yours. I would bet it more like 50-60%. Most chruches are. So if you rely heavily on the attendees to make the church function then you need something to protect you as a church. Make sure that people are going to be where they are supposed to be. Make sure that you have the best available people to pour into your kids instead of just someone who is “available”. Would you be asked to maintain confidentiality if you were on staff? Absolutely! The difference is Elevation relies on volunteers where many churches of their size hiring staff for the same positions. And so the stay uniform across the board.

    As for the not telling you where he is going to preach. That just goes against your point that its all about him! They believe that the spirit can stir in your life whether Steven is in the room or not! It’s not about him. Also when you have 12,000 people spread out across 7 campuses you have to do things like that. Does he normally preach at blakeney, yes. And because of that blakeney is over 100% capacity. They don’t tell people because of people like you who only want to go if he is in the room.

    All of the giving that you claim is supposed to be “secret” actually isn’t secret. They give you an annual report every year telling you how much money was brought in, where it went, and if you ever have a question about finances you can sit down with the CPA of the church and they will go over it with you. The reason they have that in there is ties back in to slander and gossip. False giving numbers, false salary information. Steven does not set his own salary and board separate of the church looks at the finances, level of impact, number of employees, etc and sets his salary for him. Then on top of that gives almost 35% of his salary back to the church. How many of you can say that? I know I can’t.

    And if you think they keep all their stuff under wraps so that they can keep it all to themselves then you might want to check out http://resources.elevationchurch.org/

    Most of you “Christian” feel its your duty to sift out heretics and false teachers yet I bet most of you have never even listened to what he has to say. Or just believed what everyone else has to say about him. Sure you can base your whole opinion of someone based upon a video that was done 2 years ago (Hey Haters). Just be glad your church is so small that when something you did 2 years ago surfaces online no one will care enough to go look at it.

    Is he very defensive of his church? Of course! Wouldn’t you be if people were constantly attacking you and it. I applaud that he has been attacked ever since he was 25 years old and planted the church and he has stayed true to what he was called to regardless of what others think.

    You claim to not go “‘go looking” for controversy”. Yet you fail to do your research before posting things. I see no difference. I can see how a contract that asks you not to “slander” would be something you have a problem with.

    And no I do not work, volunteer, or attend in person at Elevation. I just follow a lot of what they do. Showing that if you really wanted to get in the info about it, it wouldn’t be that hard. You just don’t want to go through the effort.

  199. @ Stefan Deliramich:
    Thank you for your thoughtful reply. Furtick is blessed to have a friend like you who passionately defends him

    To your point, we did post his video “Hey Haters” which I think adequately demonstrates his thoughts on the matter of loving one’s enemies. I am looking for any example in the NT which shows Jesus or Paul demonstrating such godly defensiveness. If his “Hey Haters” video was made in error, he can make another one called “Hey Sorry” and try again. If he does so, let us know. We will post it here.

    We have four years and 1000 posts which are publicly posted for disagreement and correction. So, we do get it and live it out in our lives by not restricting negative comments. We even say that we are sorry on occasion.

    The intent of this post was to point out the legal nature of the contract. I believe that all volunteers asked to sign such a document should be advised to consult their own attorney. That contract is to protect the church as an entity and not the people who sign it. Church contracts and “covenants (contracts in disguise) tend to go only one way. This contract has made the rounds in the blogosphere. If you all are comfortable with it, ignore the discussion. However, I think there is some discomfort and the reason for this should be explored.

    Do you note how we allow all comments on this blog, including the ones which call us names? Our intent is honest exploration of the issues involved and many people from the Charlotte area have written in on both sides of the issue. Perhaps that could be viewed as a good thing. In fact, perhaps it is a discussion that was needed.

  200. Oh ,we wouldnt want a legal document that permits someone to background check a person to see if they are a child molester working with kids ….now would we …hmmmmm…. Come on people if you are truly a Christian you look to gods word to deliever you and not a pastor or a church ,then all of this is irrelevant.I have never given a penny or had my arm twisted unlike my little hometown church that took offering twice a Sunday lol I go to Elevation to hear the word and praise the Lord,Arent you sinning by judging? LOL None of this matters anyway because this is too positive and you want even post it probably .I will pray for you! Love you guys

  201. Tracy

    Finally…..an Elevation person who used the word “love” instead of “hate.” May your tribe increase.

  202. @ Tracy:

    A form to do a background check doesn’t need to look anything like this membership agreement. I hope that the reason you give for the document isn’t the same reason the church is giving its members to sign it. That might be considered deceptive.

  203. @ Everyone,I will not defend the man.I will just simply state that being a Christian is not about the pastor or his finances or what documents you have to sign.Its about us Loving God and one another and praising his name.If you have True Faith in God ,go to what Church you like and have FAITH that IF your pastor has been deceitful,that GOD will Judge him in the end.Satan works in mysterious ways ,step back and analize all the negativity you speak,I mean for pro or con of Elevation ?Is this Gods work??????Hmmmm…? Pray for me as I will for you.May God be with us all and I Love you all.

  204. Tracy, although I agree with 3/4 of what you wrote above (yes, our faith is in Christ, not the pastor or the church), the truth is that the New Testament in many places warns us about wolves in sheep’s clothing and leaders whose lives don’t reflect biblical standards. (And our leaders are held to higher standards, and rightly so.)

    Jesus said that who ever wanted to be a leader must be a servant. Paul said there would be leaders that would rise up within the church and lead astray the flock. In other words, it’s our duty to protect others from leaders who have started going off base. This document, written under the direction of church leaders, hampers/discourages the people’s ability to speak out about problems and hold its leaders responsible.

  205. I am actually an Elevation member and volunteer, and yes, I signed a similar contract. I had no problems signing the contract. Coming from a healthcare background, I signed very similar contracts about privacy and confidentiality that if broken would have landed me in jail. The Elevation contract was nothing compared to employment contracts I have signed. I have also had healthcare volunteers sign similar contracts because of HIPAA- contracts which would have also results in imprisonment if broken.

    I was actually very happy that Elevation was so serious about volunteers maintaining confidentiality. I don’t work with any monetary documents. I do, however, work with a lot of names, email addresses, and private information. I am glad to know that other such Elevation volunteers are bound to confidentiality. It helps us all operate with the utmost integrity.

    I love Elevation and Pastor Furtick. I have been going to church for thirty years, and I have never seen a church with such love and acceptance. You don’t have to believe me- you can think it’s all a big scam, but you’re missing an incredible experience for Christ. We don’t worship Pastor Steven, we worship Christ. If you really want to know the truth, you should come to our church, join a small group, and volunteer for awhile. It’s hard to make a true judgement about anything unless you experience it for yourself.

    Also, regarding his home. I have no idea what his home looks like or how much it costs. Lots of pastors have to have two and three jobs just to make ends meet. I am thankful my pastor can enjoy one job, and if his house is 4,000 square feet, then I am happy for him. Charlotte is filled with filthy rich doctors and lawyers who live in enormous homes and don’t make life any better for us. Pastors sacrifice so much for their congregations, and I am sure there are many congregants who would love to honor their pastor by making sure he was a nice home. At least, I hope there are. It’s a much better experience to love, honor, and trust your pastor than to constantly wait for him to screw up.

    I hope maybe this helped all of you see a different point of view. Blessings to you all.

  206. Bethany

    Thank you for your comment. However, do me a favor and be careful when you make comments about filthy rich doctors and lawyers who do not make life better for anyone. Firstly, there are some lawyers who are stikcing their necks out defending child abuse victims. There are doctors who work 15 hour days because they can’t go home when a patient is dying.  I am sure you might find some who care as much, or even more, than pastors. Is this something you were taught at Elevation or merely your own opinion?

  207. Bethany wrote:

    Pastors sacrifice so much for their congregations, and I am sure there are many congregants who would love to honor their pastor by making sure he was a nice home.

    Sacrifice? What? A little time? What product or service do they work so hard to provide? Doctors, lawyers, business people, other professionals usually have spent years in school at great cost, and then have risked their time and capital to build businesses – sometimes working extra hours/jobs to make ends meet. What have these megachurch kings risked? They provide no marketable product or service. They rake in money by the power of their charismatic personalities and twist the scriptures into guilting people to give them their money. Give it to them in the name of giving it to God! What doctor or lawyer does that? A wise man once declared, “The last refuge of scoundrels in politics and the clergy.

    And then, like little sheep to the slaughter, we are conned into signing contracts? Here is part of what is called “The Code” – the contract Elevation members sign:

    4. WE ARE UNITED UNDER ONE VISION
    Elevation is built on the vision God gave Pastor Steven. We will aggressively defend our unity and that vision.

    That about tops the cake for an in your face cult-like organization. Sick. Sick. Sick.
    Read more here: http://elevationchurch.org/the-code

    Jesus reserved his harshest words for the professional class of religious leaders of his day:

    They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. — St. Matthew 25:4-10 ESV

  208. Wow! The way some of you people are bashing Elevation, it has me really wondering if you all are Christians. Everybody has a right to their opinion, but please do not undermine the work that Elevation does in the Charlotte community, nor disregard the lives this church has changed.

    You can call me a Furtick friend or bash me for this post like you have done others, and I will be completely fine. When I moved to Charlotte 4 years ago I saw all of the Elevation car tags, and honestly I thought “gesh what kind of cult false prophet teaching is going on there!!!” I went to Elevation for the first time 5 months ago and I have learned so much about the bible, the stories in the bible, and have grown to love and have a relationship with Jesus Christ that I have never had before.

    No I don’t participate in the activities the church offers, but it’s crazy that my friends and family have noticed my change in attitude and my outlook on life simply because I now have this relationship with God. Elevation has literally brought me out of bitterness and anger, not because of all the fancy stuff there but simply because of the word that is being taught there. The messages are great! Elevation is a non judging environment and Pastor Steve does a great job relating the bible and it’s teachings to everyday life situations.

    I watched the video you put up of Pastor Steve and I haven’t been going to the church very long, but even I could tell it was old and it also matches his sarcastic goofy personality.

    All I’m basically saying,I hope that for each post you all write bashing this church, I hope that will equal another life Elevation will change. It’s kind of sad that this church can bring so many people to Christ yet you all are turning your back and bashing what this body of Christ is doing….hmmm Judas!

    While I don’t know you all individual I will definitely pray for each of you! Have a great day!

  209. Ashley

    Well, darn! I had great hope that the Elevation folks were turning over a new leaf and were actually writing thoughtful responses. Back to the pit. Judas?!!! Well, you at least reflect the Hey Haters video. Good role modeling. I would suggest, however, that you read your Bible a little more carefully.

  210. @everybody has anyone opened their bible to Judge not less YE shall be Judged and also YOU BRING UPON URSELF!!! And All I can say is Pastor Steven Is Genuine and blameless IM A FUNDAMENTAL BAPTIST BEEN BOUGHT UP IN IT SINCE I WAS 6 and all I CAN SAY IS MAY GOD HAVE MERCY ON YOU ALL CAUSE YOU ARE TALKING LIKE PHARISEES – for those not knowledge’d on what that means they r the ones who put Jesus to death the Legalists so harden and look in the mirror at yourself before you cast the first stone and take the pole out ur own eyes first I’m only 21 and I see the mojority of you as the Babes of Corinth and laodicean – Luke warm and God Yahweh <~ the God of the bible says he will regurgitate u so careful.

  211. Harley Rossi wrote:

    I’m only 21 and I see the mojority of you as the Babes of Corinth and laodicean – Luke warm and God Yahweh <~ the God of the bible says he will regurgitate u so careful.

    Hardly surprising, considering you are a fundamentalist baptist. If you said anything otherwise, we’d think there was something wrong with you.

    But I don’t think you realize what legalism is, especially since you are calling us legalists.

  212. If being brought closer to Jesus isn’t thoughtful…I don’t know what is. As far as reading my bible more carefully, how about you take your own advice. May I suggest you start with Matthew chapter 7? Have a good one! @ dee:

  213. Harley

    I will apporve this comment since it reflects the level of maturity of some followers of your pastor. However, once will be enough. 

  214. Harley Ross, is a bit out of his league with a comment like :

    “Babes of Corinth and laodicean – Luke warm” in reference to Wartburg Watch , don’t you think?

    @ Harley Rossi

  215. dee wrote:

    Harley
    I will approve this comment since it reflects the level of maturity of some followers of your pastor. However, once will be enough. 

    Oh, go on, dee – giz a laugh!

  216. P.S. That’s not to say every commenter from Elevation is humorous. Several have contributed perfectly civilly, to my mind, and of course since the thread is about a topic pertinent to them, they have every right to speak. I’ve read the 12 core values of Elevation and as far as I can see they are the values of a para-church ministry; I probably wouldn’t choose to join it myself; but others have, it is for them to judge whether they are flourishing there, and I have nothing against para-church ministries anyway.

    Harley, on the other hand… comedy gold. Welease Woger!

  217. In fact, why not have a comedy page? It could sit alongside “My comment was deleterated”, and be called something like:
    u God JUJIN as HERTIC AND ARE TO GOING in HEL!!!!

    Rules for posting in the troll zone:
    1) At least 20% of letters to be capitalised for no reason
    2) Comment must conform to no recognisable grammatical rules
    3) At least 2 spelling mistakes every 15 words
    4) No punctuation to be used apart from spurious apostrophes
    5) Comment must contain at least one inflammatory and unsubstantiated accusation
    6) All Biblescripture quotes to be in King James english

    Never know; it might catch on!

  218. “Elevated Out Of Cheap Grace:  Unbelievers Need Only Apply?”

    hmmm…

    What of Elevation Church, only the unsaved need only apply?

    What?

    Does Steven Furtick kick people, once saved, out of this North Carolina multiple-location ‘church’? 

    What is up with that? 

    I am sure that you are well aware by now,  of the excerpt from a 2008 sermon preached by Steven Furtick at Elevation Church in NC, where Elevation Church has been declared : ‘Not For Believers!?!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQv0GN6mCyQ&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    Again, It would seem that at Elevation Church in North Carolina, unbelievers need only apply?

    What?

    Steven Furtick states for the record (in the sound clip) that the moment folk get saved in his church, his form of ‘church’ is no longer for them…

    …you can hear it for yourself.

    Boink?

    Is he essentially making it very clear that Elevation is not really a church; but some type of community outreach event performed every Sunday service?

    A little ‘false’ advertising being pushed, perhaps?

    huh?

    Doling out some type of cheap conditional grace; once saved they roll up the welcome mat, Bye, Bye?

    C ya!

    Since when does an SBC affiliated pastor kick believers out of the ‘church’, SOP?

    (sadface)

     “What is a church?” young folks on the net inquired.

    “The gathered assembly of believers in Jesus…”  was the reply.

    huh?

    Has that, in the hands of Steven Furtick, now become the wrong answer?

    …believers in Jesus, in Charlotte, North Carolina  beware? An outreach by another name coming to a neighborhood near you?

    Is Steven Furtick giving the sheple some form of spiritual steroids, then unleashing them upon the unsuspecting Charlotte christian community; has Steven Furtick created some type of proverbial religious proselyte machine perhaps? Have the men associate with this group, progressed from a proverbial theater and tent operation to proverbial religious livestock raising? What kind of ‘product’ is Steven Furtick’s ‘church’, Er! ‘outreach machine’ producing, and for whom? Learning just enough to be submissive and compliant perhaps, yet not enough to do any real damage to the parent operation, perhaps?

    Who’s afraid of the big-bad?

    hmmm…

    Sopy

  219. Dee (and Deb,)
    You have now been called “Judas.” I think that is a landmark addition to the insult file.

    Really, I think I agree with Nick’s suggestion of a comedy page. Mel Brooks in his heyday could not outdo some of these folks.

  220. @ Phoenix:

    The internal magazine run by some of the folks in the Scottish Amicable IT department did a short feature on content-free departmental slogans. I was quite proud of this one:

    [Acme Widgets: ]Towards the strategic actualisation of a quality paradigm proactively synergised within a global customer-service focus

    Though “paradigm” went out of fashion quite quickly and “focus” is becoming slightly dated now.

  221. @ Nick Bulbeck:

    If dealing with Elevation church, one must throw in the word “haters” to biblically reflect their role model. Good night!

    They could actually do a good job defending their man. Instead, they end up making him (and them) look silly. It shows the level of teaching to which they re being exposed.

    Pastors at Elevation: you need to help your people express themselves in a more Christlike manner. If they do not, it does make us wonder what is going on over there!

  222. @ Phoenix: Thank you so much for pointing out a new word to add to our list of “What the world is saying about TWW.” Judas! It shows the level o misunderstanding of the Bible to use that one.

    Basically, their dear leader is raised to the level of of Christ. To disagree with him, is to betray him. Fascinating…

  223. Dee,

    My day job involves regularly having to remain professional and calm while being publicly and loudly insulted; along with tolerating and managing a constant background buzz of incivility. (I know I’m far from alone in this.) It is also very rewarding; because I have wonderful, supportive colleagues and because I am doing work that makes a positive difference.
    So I’ve learned from this that it stings to be insulted. It has a cumulative, disheartening effect. And thinking of the insults as badges of honor helps; as does laughing at them.
    I share this because I don’t want it to seem as though I’m taking this lightly when I point out an addition to the opprobrium collections. I’m handing you another badge of honor!
    You, go, girls.

    Love from Phoenix

  224. I volunteered as a greeter for over a year and I do other volunteer work as well and I have never been presented or signed a contract of any kind.

  225. First of all the video was meant as a joke, it is more for fun than anything serious. Secondly, until you go experience it for yourself. The contract/covenant is used because of the large number of people that attend Elevation. There is a lot of confidential information in any church. The promise of confidentiality is the only reason many people will open up and ask for help or prayers. And the Elevation will not tell you which campus Pastor Furtick is going to be at each week because he has been threatened, and because the purpose of attending Elevation is not to see Pastor in person or anyone for that matter, it is to learn and become closer to God. Elevation Church is not for everyone, if you are a Christian and you attend Elevation, Great, jump in and start volunteering to help reach those people that do not know God.

  226. James

    Thank you for your response. It was measured, unlike others who claim to be from your church. If the “Bride of Chuckie” video was meant as a joke, then it was an epic fail. He should apologize for it and produce a second video tha negates his first. Now, a mega pastor apologizing for somethg would really attract some attention! Mine included.