Nothing is more likely to destroy a species or a nation than a determination to survive at all costs. — C.S. Lewis
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.
1.1 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.
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.
- 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.
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?
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