Beliefs Culture Ethics Faith Institutions Jonathan Merritt: On Faith and Culture Opinion

Why won’t Steven Furtick answer tough questions about his ministry?

Steven Furtick, lead pastor of Elevation Church.

(RNS) Too bad Robin Leach is a wobbly, 74-year-old retiree. He would have had a field day profiling Steven Furtick on “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.”

Furtick is pastor of Elevation Church, a megachurch in Charlotte, N.C., with a weekly attendance of about 20,000, whose ministry has generated much controversy in recent years. His publicist approached me about an interview for his recent book, ironically titled, “(Un)qualified: How God Uses Broken People to Do Big Things.”

But Furtick put the kibosh on the interview when I asked about these controversies. As it turns out, this is the modus operandi for Furtick, who has remained mostly mum as critics have raised questions.

Silence seems like a strange strategy for a pastor with nothing to hide. Some may wonder why Furtick, who makes a mint doling out answers, won’t answer tough questions.

Elevation Church’s controversies are threefold:

1. Furtick’s lavish lifestyle

The pastor came under scrutiny in 2013 when it was revealed that his new home was a 16,000-square-foot mansion on a sprawling 19-acre plot valued at approximately $1.7 million. Furtick defended his home from the pulpit, saying it was both “a gift from God” and “not that great of a house,” which “isn’t even that big a house, really.”

2. Furtick’s culture of celebrity

Furtick is an undeniably gifted communicator and charismatic leader, but he has made Elevation’s organizational culture so pastor-focused that some have called it cultlike. He autographs church members’ Bibles and name-drops that he’s friends with prominent athletes. The church website once declared that “Elevation is built on the vision God gave Pastor Steven” and charged members to “aggressively defend our unity and that vision.” The church also produced an infographic that stated the following:

  • We serve a Lead Pastor who seeks and hears from God.
  • We serve a Lead Pastor we can trust.
  • We serve a Lead Pastor who goes first.

ColoringPerhaps the creepiest story about Furtick’s celebrity culture was a Sunday school coloring book that Elevation produced for its children’s ministry. One coloring page depicts Furtick with the caption, “Elevation Church is built on the vision God gave pastor Steven. We will protect our unity in supporting his vision.” Indoctrinating kids with images and messages that discourage dissent and encourage the, ahem, elevation of a religious leader is problematic on many levels.

3. Furtick’s lack of accountability 

To bolster the appearance of success, Furtick needs success stories. And he has shown himself to be adept at not just telling, but creating, the narratives he needs. Several years ago, Elevation had a “spontaneous baptism” event that purportedly resulted in hundreds of immersions by new converts. Videos of the service went viral, and a number of Christian leaders criticized the practice on its face.

But then in 2013, it was revealed that these spontaneous baptisms were not spontaneous after all. The services were well-planned and volunteers were reportedly planted throughout the crowd in high-visibility places to stand up and walk forward as Furtick commenced the baptism. This would hopefully create an emotional trigger for actual baptisms. The church even created a “Spontaneous Baptism How-To Guide” to train other churches on how to engineer similar experiences (the link to the original guide on Elevation’s website now redirects to a sales pitch for one of Furtick’s books).

The point here is that many pastors, leaders and volunteers are complicit in Elevation’s shenanigans — either due to fear of what challenging the system would cost them, or because they have truly fallen in line. (I don’t know which possibility is more unsettling.)

All of this raises a crucial question about who is keeping Furtick’s ministry accountable. As it turns out, the ministry is governed by an external Board of Overseers composed of several of Furtick’s megachurch pastor-friends. These men make critical decisions, including setting Furtick’s annual salary. (Furtick sits on his own board, but he does not vote on his salary.) Several members of the board, including Perry Noble and Stovall Weems, have been compensated as speakers at Elevation and affiliated conferences, creating the perception of a conflict of interest.

And that brings us to my involvement in this story. When I was recently asked if I wanted to conduct an interview via email with the pastor, the request came with a stipulation: “He, of course, wants to keep it to the topic of the book instead of other stories that have appeared about him in the past few years,” Furtick’s publicist wrote.

Given the events in Furtick’s story and his silent stance throughout most of it, I told the publicist I would need to decline the interview unless the limiting condition were removed. The publicist responded by saying Furtick was “willing to move forward.”

Accordingly, I sent seven questions for Furtick to answer that I felt were direct, but not harsh. Then my assistant got this reply: “I wanted to get back with you that Steven Furtick’s office has now declined the interview. We all understood that Jonathan might choose to address some difficult questions. Now that they have the questions in hand, they’ve decided to pass.”

An author is not obligated to answer questions from columnists. I included very sensitive personal information in my last book, “Jesus is Better Than You Imagined.” During the book launch, I had no problem declining questions from journalists that I felt were out of bounds.

But Furtick is not just an author. He is a pastor who is asking tens of thousands of people to follow him and fund his ministry with a chunk of their hard-earned paychecks. Legitimate concerns about Steven Furtick’s ministry deserve answers. Robin Leach is unavailable, but the rest of us are asking, wondering, waiting.


Below I’ve posted the interview questions I drafted for Furtick. I’ve opened the comment section on this post so that readers can offer what they believe Furtick’s answers to my questions might (or should have) been.

1) You say you were inspired to write (Un)Qualified after being called out by a critic on YouTube. Tell us that story and how it shaped your definition of what it means to be qualified?

2) You point out that the Bible is filled with stories of broken people that God has used to do big things. What is an area of brokenness in your life that outsiders would be surprised to learn about?

3) Some of your critics will undoubtedly say that you writing a book about being qualified is ironic because they don’t think you are qualified to lead in ministry. They claim you are arrogant and that your church operates on a cult of personality. How do you respond to such things?

4) Some are uncomfortable with the size of your house and the level of personal luxury you’ve achieved. They say this proves you are unqualified to lead. You’ve publicly thanked God for your house, saying you live in line with Jesus’ teachings. In a world of poverty and prosperity preaching, does a pastor’s personal wealth reflect on his or her qualification for ministry, in your mind?

5) You say, “God can’t bless who you pretend to be.”  What do you mean by that?

6) How have you pretended to be something you are not in your own life and ministry?

7) How do you distinguish between what it means to be qualified in God’s eyes versus the world’s eyes? Does one’s reputation among outsiders matter?

About the author

Jonathan Merritt

Jonathan Merritt is senior columnist for Religion News Service and a contributing writer for The Atlantic. He has published more than 2500 articles in outlets like USA Today, The Week, Buzzfeed and National Journal. Jonathan is author of "Jesus is Better Than You Imagined" and "A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars." He resides in Brooklyn, NY.

219 Comments

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  • American’s love skilled communicators! But then on a global level, there are other mega-churches in Asia and Africa where the lead pastor has become wealthy and powerful through the church ministry. Maybe it’s less about Furtick and more about our current and even historical acceptance of really really big churches. Big churches produce wealth. When does one cross the line in being too wealthy, too prosperous, too big? I chuckle when people try to say that there were mega churches in the NT, and then point to Acts 2 when it references that thousands of people were baptized. Ironically, God only has flawed men and women to work with in the church, and the church has demonstrated the best and worst of humanity. I like the questions you sent to Furtick, and I would have liked to read his responses. I don’t think your questions were out of line. I would have really liked to hear his answer to question four though.

  • Dude, these are pretty softball questions. A fantastic opportunity to put a positive spin on these accusations and in turn promote your new book. Turning these down is like an admission of guilt.

  • “Big churches produce wealth.”

    Don’t think so Tim, unless you count piling up the widows’ mites into large piles and giving them to pastors, contractors, executive jet manufacturers and so on as “making” wealth.

    Like many other large commercial institutions, these seem to me to be consumers of wealth.

    -dlj.

  • Speaking as a Realtor, if the house is 16,000 sq.ft and is only valued at 1.7 mil., it probably isn’t that great a house, or is in the middle of nowhere – because that is a truly HUGE residential home. Either that, or he made a great deal on the property. I know of nowhere in the city I live that you can buy that much house for so little money if it is a truly upscale home.

  • When a young man approached Jesus and asked him what he must do to have eternal life, Jesus listed the commandments. He told Jesus he had done all of that but still felt lacking. Jesus told him that if he wanted to be perfect, he would sell all he possesses and give it to the poor. Then he would have treasure in heaven. When the man heard that, he turned and walked away. (Matt. 19:16ff) How would Furtick have responded to Jesus?

  • I am low budget now but when I wasn’t I gave large amounts and when it stopped preachers backed away. How it is now….

  • Thanks so much for having the integrity to take a stand and publish this article rather than serving as a mouthpiece to someone who obviously is doing fine without one.

  • II Peter 2:1-3 “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”

  • According to the World Magazine article linked to in the story, the house is actually 8,500 sf, with another 8,000-or-so sf of porches, patios, etc. While both are large houses, there’s a huge difference between 8,500 sf and 16,000 sf from a value standpoint. One of the stories flat-out has the wrong number and needs a correction (not that either number would take away from the overall message of either story, but accuracy in journalism is pretty important, and somebody here is really inaccurate).

  • Sounds like another charlatan of the Jim Bakker-Joel Osteen-Joyce Meyer-Creflo Dollar variety. Plus, this is North Carolina, which is still emerging from the shadows of its past. NC Native Andy Griffith’s seminal movie, “A Face in Crowd” -Griffith plays a charlatan broadcaster not unlike Glen Beck – ought to be required watching there.

  • Questions that need to be asked of Steven Furtick: In his book Sun Stand Still, Furtick dedicated a chapter to a convicted, registered child sex offender who was in federal prison at the time for a child porn conviction. Furtick has said that this sex offender is his “hero,” and now the offender teaches a bible study at Elevation Church. Is this wise? Does this place child safety and protection as the top priority? Isn’t it reckless and dangerous to elevate as a “hero” a registered child sex offender to a position of trust and leadership? This should be of utmost concern among the legitimate concerns listed.

  • The sheep are brainwahsd enough to follow him. They have chosen to not see and be led to the slaughter. The more he is attacked the more the sheep will protect him. I lived, breathed, and almost died for the cultrue and I began to wake up and see it for what it is …………….. the biggest cult out their christianity.

  • In many ways religion, or a large chunk of it, is a branch of the entertainment industry. Stars in entertainment make a lot of money. So what’s the complaint? Entertainment sells illusion but illusion that makes people feel good.. That’s why it’s so expensive. I’ve seen him on TV; he’s brings a Joe Montana quarterback style to his team and his people. People love the style and the motivation. They pay for what they want and they get it.

  • I wasn’t that familiar with Mr. Furtick before I posted this, HOWEVER — I just researched this and found out the house is located in Weddington, NC in a rural area just outside the city where I live (Charlotte, NC).

    That means I’m both right and wrong at the same time. Nope, it’s not within my city limits. Yes, it is a very rural community, compared to Charlotte, but not that “rural.” —

    From another news article: CHARLOTTE, N.C. – In the beginning, Steven Furtick created Elevation Church. He started with 14 members. Eight years later, his congregation on a given weekend can top 14,000 members. In sermons, Furtick said he hopes to top 100,000 members in the future.
    “He’s a rock ‘n roll star,” said Chris Rosebrough, who runs Pirate Christian Radio, a podcast. “He’s not a club band anymore. He’s a stadium band.”
    Elevation Church has given more than $10 million to charity, and hundreds of thousands of hours of volunteer work. Furtick himself is one part preacher, one part celebrity. He’s also his own brand, profiting from book sales and paid personal appearances around the world. The man who calls himself Pastor Steven has become more popular than the church he built, with four times as many followers on Twitter as Elevation Church itself.
    Now, Steven Furtick is spending a lot of that money on a 16,000 square foot house in Weddington. It has 7 ½ bathrooms, according to building permits, which put the contract value of the house alone just shy of $1.4 million. The land cost another $325,000, for a total cost of more than $1.7 million.

  • So, if what I’ve read in other news articles is correct — “Elevation Church” (Mr. Furtick’s church) has donated $10 million to charity, while Mr. Furtick has earned an impressive income of his own through speaking events and book sales. To be honest, I see no problem in this from a financial perspective. I’d love to be in a position to generate and donate $10 million to charity. So what if I have a $1.7 million dollar home?

  • P.S.S. — There are a great many homes in this same area valued at upwards of $1 million (although few are that large). That means he is simply in keeping with the neighborhood.

  • When Jesus returns and is asked to speak at all the largest venues, offered book-signing deals (i.e. “The Bible for the 21st Century” – all-time best seller #2), what will he do with all that income? He’s gonna need a pretty large security detail, multiple go-to lodgings in various countries, large staff on payroll…gonna need some tax write-offs…

    I’m joking, but I’m not. I’m pretty sure Jesus would abhor the trappings of worldly consumerism, and the false ego that is generated from having money. But there is no ignoring the reality of finance. The concepts of “homeless” and “religious rock star” just don’t go together.

    Unless, of course, he creates a shelter corporation and set himself up as an employee, with room and board paid for by the corp, and only as needed…hmmm….gonna need a couple of good corporate lawyers for that, too…

  • While it may be a “concern”, it is not a reason to prevent someone from serving in a religious occupation. Throughout the bible, there are examples given of how previous sinners come to be the most humbled of believers. If the church only allowed non-sinners to serve, there would be no church.

  • Why do people hold such resentment when religious leaders make money? There is no making people happy on this issue. If he were only a small-church pastor, he’d probably need a second job to be able to afford to be a pastor at all. And then, people would likely remark as to his lack of success. Sheesh.

    If you are really interested in religion, read your Bible, Koran, Torah, etc, and stop reading poorly-written, yet gossipy, internet articles.

  • I believe, if I recall correctly, that the Son of Man had no place to lay his head. I also recall most of Jesus’ ministry was spent outside. I mean, the Synagogue visit didn’t end all that well, and we probably don’t want a repeat of His last visit to the Temple. I’m gonna go with Jesus not actually being a religious rock star in the first place. Just sayin’

  • Those seem like fair questions but lets keep in mind that many pastors will not grant an interview to Jonathan because they feel he will misrepresent their comments to him.

  • Unfortunately your answer indicates a naivety when it come to child sex abuse.

    Unlike a one night stand, pedophilia is a lifelong issue and the molester usually never stops at one child. It is a deeply embedded psychological dysfunction which will affect him for the rest of his life. That man should never, and I mean never, be in any position of authority for the rest of his life. And, if he were truly repentant, he would agree.

    Please do some reading on the subject before you start comparing child sex abuse to just any routine sin. Let me recommend http://www.netgrace.org

    Also, you responded to Amy. Amy is the SNAP coordinator for the DFW area. You could learn much from her in the area of child sex abuse. Please, please do some research on the matter.

  • LOL, so if you’re a pastor who wants to live a luxurious lifestyle and have a crazy expensive house, you just need to make sure that you move into an very rich neighborhood. That justifies pretty much everything.

  • Stop going to “church” and start being the church. Stop supporting these charlatans using the gospel to enrich themselves. Stop supporting this whole Catholic based paradigm of the definition of “church”. We were never commanded to attend “church” and pay tithes to these thieves. We have one Shepard and he doesn’t look like a hipster.

  • There is a huge gulf between being a “non-sinner” and not being a pedophile. I have faith that God will heal pedophiles and other sex offenders, but while we are here on earth there is no evidence that pedophiles can be rehabilitated and they should absolutely not be given positions of authority over anyone. The number of children abused by people in power at various churches is far too great to not make every effort to reduce the possibility of more children being abused.

  • So, if you are an American who earns their living by speaking and writing books, and donates $10mil to charity, should you NOT be allowed to live in a nice house?

  • Jesus had it rough in the beginning, but since He has already plowed that furrow…. I don’t believe every pastor, minister, church leader, bishop, etc., in the modern world owes it to us to be homeless in order to avoid scathing public criticism. My biggest point being that the man did actually EARN his money, not by using donations to Elevations Church intended for church and community support, but through methods of plain ol’ capitalism by virtue of his own efforts. And he did it well.

  • And people think Christians are judgmental…Since you are responding as “paranoidvictim” I assume this means you have had an encounter with a pedophile. While I certainly understand your fears in this regard, realistically, if someone is “out” as having a past history as a pedophile, that pretty much restricts any chance that he will be given opportunities to commit further crimes, since he would be under the watch of both the public and law enforcement at this point. I’m pretty sure that he is teaching an adult bible study group, not leading children unaccompanied into shady locations…

  • The $10 million isn’t his own donation to charity. It’s the church’s.

    Um. Yeah, if you claim to be a Christian, and your income comes from your congregation, you don’t get to live in a really, really, really, really nice house.

  • I actually think this is right on. If his congregation wants to pay for his lavish lifestyle, there’s nothing to stop them. He’s providing a service to them. It makes them feel good.

    That said, it’s also fair game to call him out on it.

  • You know what Steve Furnick could do? Give a part of his income to those small-church pastors, the ones barely scrapping by. That would be impressive.

  • He is not personally donate that money, THE CHURCH has donated that amount of money since it’s founding. He has never revealed his charitable donations, and on questioning has refused. Just as he has his salary, the church does not know what it is paying it’s own pastor. BTW his house is owned by a family trust.

  • I do have extensive experience with adults who have harmed children in church settings. You say you’re “pretty sure” there would be no problem with this, but I am telling you the possibility of the “problem” that would arise (which would be a child being sexually abused) is so devastating that it warrants constant vigilance. Realistically, church culture allows pedophiles repeated access to children constantly. He’ll start out leading adult bible studies, sure. Then, people will say “oh he’s doing so great!” and let their guard down. This happens time and time again, and children will be hurt. People desperately want to believe that pedophiles can change, but they just don’t. The longer you (in general, not necessarily you in particular) pretend that they can the more children will be hurt. It is not always an adult leading them to a shady location, children are sexually abused physically in the church, in the gathering room, in the bathrooms, in the kitchen, anywhere. It can happen in an instant.

  • Smart man. Again, wish I were in any way responsible for seeing $10mil donated to charity…And while we are on the subject, how much are you paid, and for doing what? (please reveal…don’t ask another for what you don’t offer) and how much have you donated to charity???

  • Huh? Why should I give money to small-church pastors? I don’t claim to be a Christian (unlike Steve Furnick).

  • Most pastor’s salaries are part of the annual Church Report, and I know you live in Charlotte and are probably a member of his rock and roll church. That’s fine, and yes he has every right to live the lifestyle of his choosing. Just don’t try to justify those choices through the Bible. The Bible clearly states it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom.

    It all gives me visions of Jim Bakker and Mark Driscoll and what recently happened to Mars Hill.

  • Church is a business, and some have little to do with Christianity or the true teachings of the Bible. Sadly a successful minister or Pastor is now judged by how many books they have on the NYT bestsellers list instead of how many souls they have saved. Preaching has just become a way to get a book deal for so many of them. LifeWay Publishers, the Baptist Churches and the Preachers are just a cartel pushing their product onto a group of people who are worried about dying and going to hell. None of it will save their souls.

  • Thank you for making my point for me. His income (the one that affords him the nice home-same as hundreds of others in that area) came from his own speaking and book writing. I don’t know for sure, since I cannot trust these news article (they haven’t been correct on much of anything) where the stated $10 mil came from, but Pastor Furtick certainly isn’t holding out on charities, either way.

  • I do live in Charlotte, I don’t attend Elevation Church. Again — your income? your donations?

  • I am glad you are willing to call out preachers like Furtick. Since the early eighties, when seeker-sensitive churches became popular, much of the Christian church has become big business. Elevation is a brand and they market the heck out of Furtick. My question is: since Furtick is often speaking at conferences, writing books and hopefully spending time with his children, when does he have time to pastor the members of his church?
    Maybe the church has “donated” $10,000,000, but that comes from the congregation, not Furtick. Was there any wisdom behind where the money was donated? What does Jesus say about “tending the flock? Does Furtick have the maturity and experience to lead a congregation? Does he visit the sick? Minister to widow and orphans? Is he the hands and feet of Christ? How many of his flock does he know by name?
    I lived in Charlotte when Elevation was started. I even attended a service. I have watched young charismatic pastors (in Charlotte) start churches, develop a cult of personality and eventually destroy all they have created because they are put on a pedestal. Furtick may have a gift of preaching, but unchecked power in a young man can easily lead to a tremendous fall. Without wise counsel of older men and women, who can give Furtick some perspective, I fear this ministry will eventually implode. It happens all the time.

  • Again, I sympathize with your concerns but, in today’s world, the truth is that pedophiles exist everywhere, some you are aware of and some not. Also — I have had an experience with my own teenager being preyed upon by a porn-obsessed neighbor with an eye for young girls. This basically taught me that I can trust NO adult to be left alone with my child without some level of risk.

    So, again, if he is open and honest about his history (its been published in a book for heaven’s sake..), acting within church guildelines and any parents involved are aware… no bigger risk here than in just walking down the street in your own residential neighborhood.

    The real problem, if you want to get into it, is a culture obsessed with sexualizing women and children, fueled by the porn and media industry. So don’t waste anymore breath on complaining about churches — try advocating for a more civilized, less sexualized culture in general. Good luck.

  • Which may explain your resentment (and others) of his, or his church’s success. But, still, no need to be a Christian to give up your worldly belongings, shun the culture of consumerism, shed the ego that comes with high-finance, and give it all away to the poor. Or– you could stop judging people you know nothing about.

  • I can see that you have no interest in opening your perspective to include anyone who isn’t you, so I probably shouldn’t even respond to this, but your last paragraph is just so rude and dismissive I’m kind of shocked. How you came to the conclusion that I’m “complaining” about churches and only churches is beyond me but I assure you that you are mistaken. I’m talking about churches because the discussion we are having is about churches. I’m talking about churches because we as Christians do not have a great track record keeping our children safe in churches. Maybe if no church had ever harbored and protected pedophiles I would be ok with this. The cost is too great! Of course pedophiles are everywhere, does that mean we just say “why bother” to taking precautions to make sure they don’t hurt more children? What kind of logic is that? Should I not wear a seatbelt because I could die while wearing one anyway? And how in the world do you reason that I only care about this specific instance of a pedophile possibly being given a position of authority in a church without also focusing on the problem of the sexualization of women and children in general? How would I have gotten here if I didn’t also care about the bigger picture?

  • “Some people”, “your critics”, “some people”, all anonymous criticisms without defining whether these people are within his church, other pastors, or even internet trolls. I wouldn’t answer either. Here’s my question: Why does he owe you an explanation? Do you go to his church? He has a board set up for accountability and answers to his church, not web jockeys who love to promote controversies. Please remove me from your mailing list.

  • The money-lenders in the temple were ‘earning’ their money, too. And they were doing it quite well. But I believe Jesus had some opinions about them using “capitalism” (plain, or otherwise) to make money from religion.

  • Which may explain your resentment (any others) of his, or his church’s success.

    I’m pointing out that he isn’t acting very Christian (in my mind, and most other people’s minds). Where does Jesus say that following him will lead to a very, very, very nice house?

    But, still, no need to be a Christian to give up your worldly belongings, shun the culture of consumerism, shed the ego that comes with high-finance, and give it all away to the poor.

    Heck, apparently I can be a Christian, not give up any worldly belongings, live in a $1.7 million house paid for by my congregants, embrace the culture of consumerism, have a huge ego, and not give it to the poor. It must be hard to be a Christian.

    Or– you could stop judging people you know nothing about.

    I know he is a Christian pastor who lives in a very, very, very nice house. What facts am I missing?

  • This type of argument is often used to protect those in positions of power from being held accountable (i.e. they have done this much ‘good’, so we can let them off the ‘bad’ they do). The trouble is that no matter how much good or charitable work we do, we are still accountable for every bad or questionable action we take.

    The other thing is to look at what that $10 million represents percentage-wise. Jesus commended the widow who gave very little because it represented everything she had, whereas the rich were only giving out of their over-abundance – in other words, it cost them very little to give a very large amount.

  • Plenty. You are working under the assumption that there is no difference between Steven Furtick, the author and speaker, and Steven Furtick, pastor of Elevation Church. If he is earning money through his own business enterprises, not using donations from the church, then it’s HIS MONEY he is living off of, NOT the church’s money. He is earning an independent living same as any other author or speaker. If you have a day job as an electrician, but are also pastor of an evening fellowship, should all of your income go to “the church”?

    So YES, Christian Pastors are entitled, just like every other human on the planet, to earn a living through their own efforts. Jesus has a lot of concerns about humanity, but telling people where NOT to live isn’t at the top of his list. You seem to be to be all about passing judgement and splitting hairs about what makes for a good Christian, and come from a place that says “all Christians MUST BE POOR.”

    Looking at it from your point of view, all of America should be damned for being a capitalist society, and only those willing to live a socialist/communist lifestyle including total self-denial are true Christians. Is that your take? Or, again, do you simply resent Christians?

  • What “bad”? What am I, or anyone, excusing him from? All I know is that the biggest hypocrites in this discussion are the one’s critisizing Steven Furtick. You know little or nothing in the way of actual facts (and this article certainly doesn’t help.) Yet you take the time to try and drag him down, and everyone else, with your prematurely biased opinions. If you are so concerned, there are plenty of soup kitchens that could use your help. Stop typing and start food prepping.

  • Jo, it seems to me that you have taken my generalised statement (based on my own experience) as a personal slight and simply gone into attack mode.

    On what basis you assume I “know little or nothing in the way of actual facts”? In what way did I “drag down” Mr Furtick, or any other particular person? On what basis do you accuse me of “prematurely biased opinions”? And how do you know I do not already help out at soup kitchens?

    I’m happy to discuss my personal observations, but not interested in simply being gratuitously attacked.

  • His refusal to answer your questions is karmic payback for your own refusal to answer questions from other journalists.
    God already knows what the answer will be, so why do you care what a bunch of humans will think when they hear the answers.
    If you make your money putting your life out there in a book you owe it to posterity and your own sense of personal integrity to answer any and all questions no matter who asks or why. Otherwise you are just Kim Kardashian in pants.

  • Catholicism and the Orthodox Church are the only ones with roots in the original church. The further you get from Catholicism the further you are from God

  • http://www.pajamapages.com/how-steven-furtick-turns-mediocre-books-into-mansions/

    Looking at it from your point of view, all of America should be damned for being a capitalist society, and only those willing to live a socialist/communist lifestyle including total self-denial are true Christians. Is that your take? Or, again, do you simply resent Christians?

    I have no problem with a Christian businessman making a ton of money. On the other hand, I think it’s entirely appropriate to call out a Christian pastor who lives high off his congregation.

  • I’m more concerned with nonsense like that coloring book. But in any case, the Bible instructs us to avoid the appearance of evil. I don’t begrudge a pastor a nice home but let’s not kid ourselves-Christian leaders are called to be examples, which means they will be judged more strictly. That’s just how it is. I think the concept of celebrity pastors-of which he is only one of many-is a bad thing-not just for the churches they lead but for the pastors themselves. How many of us could remain humble in those circumstances??? Let’s be real.

  • Amazing how such articles produce silly arguments like kids on the playground.

  • As an author, I consider these questions fair and not attacking or offensive. Atone should be able to answer these or script their response of what they’d like to say.

  • That’s a false equivalence, Jo. Guess Who (as far as we know) is a private citizen. There are all kinds of reasons why Furtick should be more forthcoming with information like his salary. Just off the top of my head:

    1) He’s a very public figure, and has chosen to be so.
    2) Since (as you’ve mentioned more than once) he earns money from sources other than the church, its members should have some say as to whether he needs their money, and how much of it.
    3) Because his salary as a pastor is likely tax-exempt, the public has an interest in how much he earns. The IRS in particular would probably like to know whether he’s guilty of private inurement.
    4) It’s long past the time when ministers can demand the trust of their congregants or anyone else, simply because they’re “Men of God”. One of the ways that they need to earn that trust is through transparency.

  • What “bad”? How about creating a cult of personality around himself, with that revolting colouring book? How about treating a criminal pervert like Norman Vigue like some kind of hero, to the point of encouraging congregants to get his autograph and shake his hand? Vigue is got his jollies watching children being raped, and he’s a “hero”? For what, serving his time?

    You sure you want facts? Check out Amy Smith’s post on Vigue at her Watchkeep blog. I can try to post the address if you like.

  • Hmmm, comments open here so we can criticize a Mega church pastor, but no comments regarding homosexual issues like your latest (May, 15) or previous opinions.

  • It’s never too late to switch. Because who are you going to follow, a church founded by St. Peter or one created out of whole cloth by an obscure country priest with an anger management problem?

  • Neither. I follow the Son of God. Peter established nothing. The Lord did. Man founded Catholicism and and every money grubbing offspring of it. You can have them all.

  • Cute — you’ve made so many incorrect assumptions, I’m not sure where to start.
    First — Church boards DO decide how much to pay their pastors. In this case, the church board only has control over what they choose to pay him, not what he earns independently through book writing, etc.
    Second — Churches are exempt from paying taxes on church donations from membership. Pastors or ministers are NOT exempt from taxes on income as they are employees of the church, not the church itself, and their income is earned income same as yours or mine.

    As for “earning” anyone’s trust — Well, let’s face it — there are many people (apparently yourself included) who would no more “trust” a pastor than they would anything related to religions, as they have already decided against the faith communities in general. So, to that end, anything that pastor says can and will be used against him.

    I’ve heard a lot of different statements concerning the coloring book, including from Elevation church members who say they’ve never seen it before, so it can’t be that much of a “thing”.

    Sorry, but no one is obligated to you and your perceived “right” to know, nor should any church that you are not a supporting member of be subject to your opinions.

  • You are right. I give up. There is no getting you to see the upside in this one particular situation that may exist. The fact that someone who has fallen prey to the kind of sexual deviancy that occurs in our society and is promoted by the porn industry and media culture, MIGHT, just MIGHT, be able to speak to the problem and offer solutions and encouragement to those who need to overcome sexual addictions, BETTER than anyone else, could NEVER be the case.

    Ergo, Elevation Church should do it your way.

  • Jo, do you realise how rude and aggressive you sound? If you want to have a real conversation, you might want to tone it down a notch or three. (Otherwise you give the impression that you think everyone here is “subject to your opinions”.)

  • “Fallen prey to”? Are you saying that Vigue is some kind of victim here? What about all the little kids whose rapes he took pleasure in viewing? Vigue isn’t “prey”, he’s a predator.

    If he truly has repented, then he might have something to teach others. But his repentance has to be tested first, by time. Pedophiles are among the most manipulative people in society, so I’ve no doubt that Vigue can say all the right things without meaning them.

    If Furtick is serious about testing whether Vigue is a new man, then he shouldn’t be letting him into volunteer ministry right out of prison, and he most certainly shouldn’t be feting him with autograph signings. That’s no way to teach humility.

  • This is a very immature response. You’re getting very defensive over this, maybe it’s time to consider why.

  • Church boards DO decide how much to pay their pastors. In this case, the church board only has control over what they choose to pay him…

    Furtick’s salary as a pastor isn’t decided by a “church board”, made up of members from his flock. It’s decided by a group of his buddies — pastors of other churches. His congregation (as far as I can tell) have no input, and perhaps aren’t even told. And when I look at some of the names on that “board of overseers”, I seriously doubt whether they’re able — or even willing — to keep Furtick honest.

    Churches are exempt from paying taxes on church donations from membership. Pastors or ministers are NOT exempt from taxes on income as they are employees of the church…

    Alright, I stand corrected. But Furtick’s salary comes from tax-exempt donations, so he shouldn’t be enriching himself with an amount he doesn’t need, if he earns enough from other sources.

    As for “earning” anyone’s trust — Well, let’s face it — there are many people (apparently yourself included) who would no more “trust” a pastor than they would anything related to religions, as they have already decided against the faith communities in general.

    I’m a Christian, Jo. I have nothing against faith communities, religion, or pastors in general. There’s even a minister among my relatives. But if she started acting like Furtick has, I hope I would have the courage to give her a talking to, and remind her that she’s a servant, not a master.

    It’s true enough that “Hey Haters” Furtick isn’t directly responsible to me. But as a believer, it is very much my business whether this so-called minister is abusing, endangering, or taking advantage of my brothers and sisters. And I will continue to call him out, and keep the spotlight on his questionable behaviour.

    (Edited to correct grammar.)

  • Thank you for making my point for me. His income (the one that affords him the nice home-same as hundreds of others in that area) came from his own speaking and book writing.

    If you do a google search (This site doesn’t let you post links), you’ll find that’s been essentially debunked. It simply isn’t true.

    And even if it were true (which it isn’t), how much money should a Christian make off of other Christians, telling them about Christianity? To my mind, not a lot. If you are getting rich off of selling Christianity to Christians, well that should be a problem.

    I don’t know for sure, since I cannot trust these news article (they haven’t been correct on much of anything) where the stated $10 mil came from, but Pastor Furtick certainly isn’t holding out on charities, either way.

    You can try googling it. You’ll learn the $10 million (total!) comes from the church, where they take in $25 million a year!

  • First — Church boards DO decide how much to pay their pastors. In
    this case, the church board only has control over what they choose to
    pay him, not what he earns independently through book writing, etc.

    If one were to be a member in good standing at Elevation Church, he or she should be able to find out how much each person employed by that church makes. There is, to my mind, absolutely no “yeah, buts….”

    If your church won’t tell you, you should not belong there.

  • Plenty. You are working under the assumption that there is no difference between Steven Furtick, the author and speaker, and Steven Furtick, pastor of Elevation Church. If he is earning money through his own business enterprises, not using donations from the church, then it’s HIS MONEY he is living off of, NOT the church’s money. He is earning an independent living same as any other author or speaker. If you have a day job as an electrician, but are also pastor of an evening fellowship, should all of your income go to “the church”?

    Google: “Pajama Pages, How Steven Furtick Turns Medicore Books into Mansions” (my reply to you has been “pending” for 2 days, as it seems this website doesn’t let one post links in replies.)

    So YES, Christian Pastors are entitled, just like every other human on the planet, to earn a living through their own efforts. Jesus has a lot of concerns about humanity, but telling people where NOT to live isn’t at the top of his list. You seem to be to be all about passing judgement and splitting hairs about what makes for a good Christian, and come from a place that says “all Christians MUST BE POOR.”

    Ah yes, I remember Jesus’ and Paul’s statements that say “Go forth, and become rich by using me and my teachings to tell the people about Christianity.”

    If you want a counter example, look at John Piper.

    Looking at it from your point of view, all of America should be damned for being a capitalist society, and only those willing to live a socialist/communist lifestyle including total self-denial are true Christians. Is that your take? Or, again, do you simply resent Christians?

    I have no problem with a Christian businessman making a ton of money.

    On the other hand, I think it’s entirely appropriate to call out a
    Christian pastor who lives high off of money he makes from other Christians–for doing/teaching/writing about Christianity. I’m sure Jesus would be proud.

  • The Pajama Pages article is speculation, not fact. Your opinions are opinions. You are entitled to them, but so what? You’ve already said you are not Christian. Why would you spend so much time looking to control what Christians do and how they do it?

    Although, I have to say, you do seem to have a mind for philanthropy. I congratulate you on this and hope you will lead your own life based on your own high standards. Since Christianity doesn’t interest (or maybe it does…), why not take control of your own life and don’t worry one way or the other about what the Pastor next door is doing.

    Control is an illusion. The only person’s life you can control is your own. Best of luck to you.

  • Jo, why do you assume this is about trying to control “what christians do”? Do you think it’s possible that there are plenty of people who are “not christian” but are hoping to find a reason to believe? That there are people watching these ‘celebrity pastors’ who see the huge credibility gap between what they preach and what they live, and who turn away because they’ve concluded that it’s a bankrupt product that’s being sold?

  • Right now I’m wondering why people on this post are so vested in having a say in Elevation Church. or it’s pastor. or people who serve within the congregation.

    All I’m really doing here is defending a church’s right to operate as it sees fit. I am a strong supporter of both freedom of, and from, religion. This church has no control over your life if you choose not to let it.

    On the issue of who serves in the church — YOU aren’t there. YOU have never met this person. YOU have never heard him speak. The congregant members have. Can you not find it in yourself to leave it to them to come to their own conclusions and handle the situation if they see fit? And if not, why not? Are those people not adults, as well as loving, caring parents?

    Please respond. I’m really interested in why you feel your opinion should hold sway. And don’t tell me it’s because everyone but you is a blind fool. I’ll never accept that as logical.

    Also — I truly appreciate your concern about pedophiles, but not your assertion that the problem exists particularly within the church. Pedophiles are everywhere. The more directly this problem is dealt with, even within the church, the better for all involved.

  • OK, Liminal. Since we are all responsible adults here, how is it that you can’t allow other people to make their own choices?

  • Surely you have better things to do with your time. I just happened to be bored as I was reading this article and thought “Great. Here is yet another article looking to undermine Christianity based on negative speculation, not fact. And the concern for this pastor’s success is likely based on jealousy and resentment rather than any real sense of caring…”

  • Jo, it seems to me that you have no interest in actually discussing this issue, you just want to dictate to others what they should think (and apparently what they should be doing!)

  • Not at all. But if you tire of this conversation, you might want to catch the latest edition of “National Enquirer” available now at newsstand near you. Lots of good gossipy speculative stuff going on there. Question everyone’s integrity all you want.

  • I’ve never heard of “National Enquirer”, so I can’t comment. But I know an attempted put-down when I see it.

    I also recognise genuine engagement when I see it, and I’ve seen very little from you.

  • I’ve just read this comment of yours and find a ray of hope here. If there are people on this string looking for a reason to believe, then it is imperative that they NOT get their information from reading speculative articles on the internet, but rather from attending actual churches in their area.

    Church is not necessarily a “one size fits all” scenario, but it is truly worth it for purposes of spiritual enrichment.

    That said, I’m never gonna give credence to articles specifically to speculate rather than stick to verifiable facts. The only verifiable fact I see in this article is that Stephen Furtick does not entertain the media to its satisfaction.

  • I don’t blame him for not answering these rambling psycho babble, hook-ladened questions.

    If one lives off of the tithes of others, I believe it’s prudent to live a quiet modest life, but that’s just my opinion. Also, I suspect that big house may have been built with his substantial book royalties .

  • A couple of notes re that temple you speak of:

    (Per Wikipedia:) “In the Antiquities of the Jews, first-century historian Flavius Josephus wrote that (Ant 15.380) the temple reconstruction was started by Herod the Great in the 18th year of his reign 22 BC, two years before Augustus arrived in Syria in 20 BC to return the son of Farhad IV and receive in return the spoils and standards of three Roman legions (Ant 15.354).[9][10][11][12] Temple expansion and reconstruction was ongoing, and it was in constant reconstruction until it was destroyed in 70 AD by the Romans.[13] Given that it had taken 46 years of construction to that point, the Temple visit in the Gospel of John has been estimated at any time between 24–29 AD.”

    That was one very expensive temple. Nonetheless, Jesus’ anger at the situation had to do with the fact that capitalist concerns were acting as a deterrent to those looking to enter the temple in order to worship.

    So, yes, Jesus is far more interested in our souls than he is our financial affairs.

    Note that this temple story ends with the Roman secularists tearing it down in 70 AD. This is why I don’t trust matters of religion being handled by secular society.

  • What choice does the media have except to speculate? How can anyone “verify facts” about Furtick if he refuses to grant interviews (other than promotional puff pieces, which he seemed to want here), or speak in any venue where he isn’t in control?

    He reminds me a lot about Scientology dictator David Miscavige that way. If anyone has hard questions for him, he sends some flunky to handle them, and even that flunky will refuse to answer some questions.

    It’s why I sometimes like to refer to him as Steven Furtive.

  • Control is an illusion. The only person’s life you can control is your own.

    Wrong, Jo. Thought reform (also known as “mind control”) is real, and its techniques are well established. Communist China and North Korea have used them in the past, and very effectively. So has Scientology.

    I’m not saying that Furtick is anywhere near as bad as them. But his lack of transparency and accountability to his own flock are disturbing to me. So is the “cult of personality” vibe. They just don’t seem fitting for someone claiming to be a servant of Jesus and His people.

  • Jo, I’ve told you already that I’m a Christian. So is Jonathan Merritt. I know that I’m not looking to “undermine Christianity”, and I’m pretty sure Jonathan isn’t either.

    What I am looking to do is to hold self-styled Christian leaders accountable, and to protect my brothers and sisters from the predations of wolves in shepherd’s clothing. That’s my privilege and my duty, as a believer and as a human being.

    Would you also have accused the Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” team of “undermining Christianity” when they were investigating the Catholic Church, and its cover-up of child sex abuse?

  • All I’m really doing here is defending a church’s right to operate as it sees fit.

    Even if it’s run by a charlatan, who’s accountable to no one but a group of his peers who don’t even live in the same city?

    On the issue of who serves in the church — YOU aren’t there. YOU have never met this person. YOU have never heard him speak. The congregant members have.

    Are you talking about Vigue here? No, I’ve never met the man, but I know that he pled guilty to ordering a tape of kids being raped, for his own pleasure. And I know that Furtick called him a “hero” and treated him like a rock star. In his church.

    Can you not find it in yourself to leave it to them to come to their own conclusions and handle the situation if they see fit? And if not, why not?

    I’m not convinced that Furtick has told them the whole story. I’ve read the blog posts, and one video, that he’s made about Vigue. Not one of them mentions the charges for which he was convicted. Furtick uses only says that Vigue was “involved in some illegal activities” and that his “legal mistakes caught up with him”. Nothing about child porn, or the sex offender registry. It’s entirely possible that his congregants weren’t fully informed when they cheered for him, and let him volunteer there. And that’s a huge problem.

    And yes, pedophiles are everywhere, but they seem to gravitate to churches. People there tend to be far too trusting of those who mouth the right buzzwords and phrases, and administrators are often far behind the curve when implementing safety measures. Plenty of opportunity for predators to groom victims (and third parties), and carry out their crimes. Especially when one of them is treated like a “hero”.

  • Great article. Steven Furtick is the classic religious huckster. He takes advantage of people, and sucks their bank accounts dry by using the word of God.

  • Jo, NO church has the inherent right to operate as “it sees fit”. The Bible sets very clear guidelines concerning church operation. The Bible also sets very strict parameters concerning the appointment of its leadership and the responsibilities of that leadership.

    It is the responsibility of Christians (whether within or without the congregation of this particular church) to call this church on its obedience, or lack of obedience, to these Biblical principles, We don’t HAVE to be there. We don’t HAVE to meet the person in question. We don’t HAVE to hear him speak..

    If the church OR its leadership (including its pastor) publish information, others (especially other Christians) can hold the church or its leadership responsible for what has been published. And they SHOULD. That is because the obedience of any PARTICULAR church to Biblical principles reflects on ALL churches. We should not “find it in ourselves” to leave these people to come to their own conclusions and handle the situation as “they see fit”.

    When pedophilia is perpetrated by church leadership (pastors, priests, elders, deacons, youth leaders, or teachers), it is up to ALL of us to hold the church and its leadership responsible–NOT just rely on them to handle the problem as the church “sees fit”. And a former pedophile is NEVER AGAIN fit for ministry in the church, even though he or she might repent and be happily received again into the communion of the faithful. There are Biblical qualifications for church leadership (including teachers), and those qualifications CERTAINLY preclude pedophilia…EVER. No “wiggle room” for “I’m so sorry and I will never do that again” is provided. That Furtick does not appear to realize this either seems to mean that he cannot read the New Testament (especially the writings of the Apostle Paul regarding the REQUIREMENTS–not SUGGESTIONS– for church leadership), or that Furtick simply doesn’t care what the Bible clearly instructs, thinking himself more competent than the Apostle Paul. I find that kind of arrogance breathtaking, and it calls into question the competence of Furtick, himself, as a church leader.

    The problem published by Jonathan Merritt does not rise to that level–YET. But the cultish treatment of this church leader SHOULD BE ALARMING to others, especially other individual Christians or churches. Kudos to Jonathan Merritt for sounding this alarm!

    Now I don’t know whether everyone other than this author and those posting in support of him is a “blind fool”. But I DO know that if the blind follow the blind, all of them will fall into the pit. As it was Jesus who said this, I tend to believe it. And what Jesus said, Jo, is LOGICAL–and TRUE. If someone can see such a thing happening, it is up to that person to try to prevent the approaching disaster. To fail to do so IS both foolish and reprehensible. Take this from someone who has not only labored in seminary to get an M.Div., but from someone who has also participated in church ministry.

  • Actually, Jo, according to the writings of Paul in the New Testament, being a registered child sex offender would indeed prevent that person from being qualified for church leadership (or, as you put it, “serving in a religious occupation”), especially as a teacher.

  • The Pajama Pages article is speculation, not fact.

    It’s informed speculation. But it doesn’t matter as there doesn’t appear to be anything that would change your mind.

    Your opinions are opinions. You are entitled to them, but so what?

    Ok. Feel free to ignore them.

    You’ve already said you are not Christian. Why would you spend so much time looking to control what Christians do and how they do it?

    I have no idea why you think I’m trying to control anyone. I’m pointing out what I consider to be hypocrisy.

    Although, I have to say, you do seem to have a mind for philanthropy. I congratulate you on this and hope you will lead your own life based on your own high standards.

    Thanks. I feel like I do.

    Since Christianity doesn’t interest (or maybe it does…),

    Christianity is fascinating.

    why not take control of your own life and don’t worry one way or the other about what the Pastor next door is doing.

    I find it unfortunate that people are taken in by what I consider to be, essentially, con artists. Indeed, it’s my care for the people around me that leads me to worry one way or the other.

    Control is an illusion. The only person’s life you can control is your own. Best of luck to you.

    Ok. Thanks.

  • If Furtick wrote any part of his books in his church office or on church property or using church-owned equipment or used any part of a sermon or lecture series that he wrote as part of his employ, then legally those books belong to the church. They would not be his own effort; they would be paid for by the church itself. The church should have received those royalties, not Furtick. Even if he negotiated that with the church as part of his employment, this would be Furtick using the church for personal gain.

  • I knew this dude wasn’t legitimate when I saw him wearing a jacket with a huge grin on his face while he was in an Alexander McQueen store. McQueen didn’t design a jacket for less than $1500. Why does a guy, especially a pastor, need a $1500 jacket?

    I’ve begun to hate the word Pastor.

    Driscoll, Noble, Morris, Chandler, Piper, Furtick.

    Can anyone see Furtick opening his quite large house to people who are homeless because of some catastrophe? Nah.

    I believe Warren Throckmorton needs to start covering Steven.

  • Ms Jo,

    How do you feel about the Catholic Church and where the Pope lives? Are you cool with that or do you think it’s too ostentatious? The Pope DOES live in much more humble quarters at the Vatican than his predecessors. I like that. The Pope has more rock and roll in him than Steven has in his pinkie, especially when it comes to humility.

    Perhaps Steven lives in his attic?

    Regarding the coloring book. Maybe you or others have never seen it but it WAS in that church for CHILDREN! It’s never been refuted. But I guess….oh never mind.

    Steven has a huge comeuppance coming soon.

  • Jo, I’m beginning to think you’re Steven hiding behind your avatar!

    Too much hostility, blaming and ridiculously defending this pastor.

    What flavor of Kookaid do you/Steven like best?

  • I ask the author two questions: What do you lack? What can I pray for you to have? James 4:1-2 “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.”

    Since we know that no one can preach Christ’s Lordship apart from the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:3), why attack him for arbitrary things like how much his house costs, his ‘lavish’ lifestyle, etc? Why not spend your time seeking Christ and letting Him get in your heart so that you can wage a good warfare with the enemy rather than your brother?

  • “…we know that no one can preach Christ’s Lordship apart from the Holy Spirit…”

    And yet Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

  • Indeed, so if this man preaches Christ’s lordship, he does so under inspiration of the Holy Spirit and should be endeared as a brother. As we see in scripture, you do not need the Holy Spirit to do miracles and drive out demons, as even wicked men did so, but you do to preach Christ’s lordship.

    Does Paul contradict Christ? No. So either those scriptures contradict, or you’re justifying why you would attack a brother. I ask you the same as the author- what do you lack? What can I pray for you to obtain so that you wouldn’t envy any longer.

  • Ok, I do apologise for reacting to your comment. It came across to me as very smug and condescending and I retaliated. I don’t usually throw bible verses at people because it’s not very helpful.

    BTW, in case you are genuinely unaware, offering to pray for complete strangers on social media rarely sounds sincere. It is usually received as a patronising put-down.

    I hope you can accept that there are people out there who love Jesus and who feel that it is important that we are ALL honest and transparent when we claim to represent God. I believe it is important that we live with authenticity and integrity and not hide behind the titles we give ourselves. Otherwise we are simply selling a bankrupt religion.

  • No offense taken- love you brother/sister. I used to make it a point to ‘go after’ people that weren’t authentic. But then I realized that I was striving and quarreling because I was lacking something (thus why I quoted James 4). Turns out what I was lacking was the gumption to take the gospel to the streets. The River of Life was pent up within me and I was stagnating it, so instead of allowing it to flow into the lives of others, it infected me and I made an enemy out of brothers and sisters.

    Now I take the gospel to the lost and I see things for what they are. Attempting to argue doctrinal superiority of every topic is a sign of a deeper spiritual infection, a sign of not letting that river of life flow out of us. Thus my question- if this man, who has some arbitrary amount of money (people always feel that those who make more than them are ‘wrong’) is preaching the Lordship of Jesus, why do we make it a point to criticize him? We murder our own, and furthermore the lost stay dead.

    So I really mean what I say- if we’re walking around quarreling and striving about random things that don’t really matter (truthfully), we need God to meet a need in our life and remove our enviousness. And I sincerely will pray for anyone who is lacking.

  • All the answers are answered directly if you’ve every watched any of his sermons that are free for anyone to view online, via YouTube.

    Why would a journalist ask questions that have already been answered and posted for global consumption?

  • I believe that some of these questions were kind of rude, like some people believe you are not qualified to lead, it reminded me of when the Pharisees were questioning Jesus. Did you want genuine answers or a debate. His silence to me is powerful Jesus too was silent when he hung on the cross. Let’s love our brothers and sisters and instead of putting them down we should be praying for them. Steven Furtick ministers to millions of people everyday as long as Jesus is being exalted who are we to judge.

  • Shannon, you are assuming that it is Jesus being exalted…

    Christian celebrity culture does a great deal of harm, and as brothers and sisters I believe we have the responsibility to question when we see “another gospel” being preached. Loving our brothers and sisters includes correction (as Jesus himself modelled).

  • The writer has all these things to say, and yet, doesn’t highlight any of the good. Uuuhhhhmmm….yeah, P. Steve isn’t “Poor” – but neither is Bill Gates? Kanye? Mark Zuckerberg? But you know, all these “millionaires” got their millions making music, computers and – well, ‘facebook’ – Pastor Steve is prosperous by helping people? Inspiring people? Changing people’s lives???? He’s in the business of running a church which thousands come to to get saved??? And thats – wrong? Another thing – he just gave away a quarter of a million dollars – you tell me, when was the last time beyonce gave away .25 mil to anyone? Pastor Steve just finished a 3 million dollar church building – quite far shy from the temple Solomon built back in the day. Hey, do me a favor, why don’t you WRITE about how it’s a waste to give $20 mil to an athlete for throwing around a pig skin for a few hours on a Sunday and lay off the Pastor. You should write up on all the ways he’s impacted his community, changed the lives of people. He’s in this thing called “LOVE WEEK” where he’s feeding the homeless and veterans of his community and doing so much more. The guy is a visionary and quite frankly, men like him deserve to be paid VERY WELL – you expect him to do it for free? YOU DO YOUR JOB FOR FREE then, why don’t YOU take a pay cut give half your paycheck to the poor and vow never to make a six figure income ever! And ask yourself, “When was the last time I did something worthwhile for my community (other than reporting about visionaries you don’t know half the story about)????” 😀

  • Aren’t enough non-christians attacking Christians? I don’t think we need help from each other.

    I also wonder how you are qualified to place judgment on someone because they refused an interview with you. I might add that your questions look very passive aggressive.

    I’ve never met Pastor Steven or been to his church, but his ministry is changing people’s lives, directing them to Christ, glorifying God on an international level; literally, making disciples in various nations. The church has an anointing: the worship, the teachings I’ve steamed, the books produced…

    You are not his judge and jury. God is. I think if you and people like you spend more time driving people TO the church instead of criticizing SINFUL people trying to connect people to Jesus, this world would look a lot different.

    Matthew 28: 19-20; 1 Corinthians 1:10; Colossians 3: 14-15

  • That might be true, but he should be responsible for his actions, should he not? I happen to LOVE his sermons. They speak to me…truly! But what I am reading here gives me pause.

  • What were you doing there, playing “Christianese Buzzword Bingo”?

    Regarding Paul, he proved his repentance by spending the rest of his life as a missionary, and without a salary to boot. Also, he remembered his former life with humility, refusing any preferential treatment.

    Vigue, on the other hand, was only recently released from prison when Furtick feted him, so his repentance has yet to be proven. And autograph signing parties are not a good way to foster humility.

    I, for one, am not saying Vigue can’t worship at Elevation. But Furtick has no business treating him like some hero or celebrity. The pervert hasn’t done a single thing to earn it.

  • For the life of me, I cannot believe more people don’t see this guy for the fraud that he is. But then the same could be said of Osteen, and he’s found no lack of sheep to fleece.

  • many of the answers for these questions have been answered in some of his sermons. i think for myself, and i have listened to many of his teachings and it has dramatically impacted my life.. but that said.. have you seen the impact his ministry has had on the communities they touch? God said we will know them by their fruit and guys.. they are changing lives!! changing communities!! people that have not been to a church in many years have found a new zeal in their faith by online church or YouTube clips.. seriously.. you make this much difference to the world, and then you point fingers…
    ps.. he gives large amounts to several organizations, and the Word says that the more you give away the more God will give you!! so what that he has a fantastic house??? he worked and still works for it!! no one questions movie stars with big homes that is filled with drugs and booze and fornication, but oh my gosh… just not a Christian.. they are not allowed to have anything!! that is so narrow minded and ridiculous!! i live in SA, so not ever going to have the opportunity to sit in one of these churches, but i would love to experience it for myself!! maybe take some time and listen to what he says and stop looking for faults because deep down your just jealous that someone else is making it… by the way, what does the President earn? or Donald Trump? or some basket ball player? if they don’t want to tell you their salary, are you gonna do a piece on them also?? by the way, i’m not telling you what i earn either..
    so, how much do you earn? how did you pay for your house? do you have any sin in your life?
    it is ridicolous for me to expect you to answer these questions here.. same of you to expect it of him..

  • He is totally within his right to decline the interview, communication in any medium is difficult on so many levels. I don’t know what the full story is and I doubt anyone does but its pretty harsh to say he must be hiding and dodging hence he doesn’t want to do the interview. He wants to focus on promoting the book, not offering fodder about something that other people are too ready to jump on.

  • Amen, Bro. Haters gotta hate hate hate… #ShakeItOff! 🙂 And this is why people hate Christians. There isn’t ANYTHING wrong with him owning a mega-house! So what if he name drops- you are on here trolling and trying to verbally bash another Christian. Which is more shameful?

  • How do you know Paul did it without a salary? He had to eat. He couldn’t steal food.

    I know that because he said so, especially in 2 Corinthians. I think he sometimes received emergency support from other believers, but for the most part, he supported himself by manual labour, not by paid preaching.

    …you do not know Steven Furtick’s personal life either.

    My main target for criticism was Furtick’s feting of Vigue, not Furtick’s lifestyle (though I do have concerns with that, as well). Please stay on topic.

    One thing I was taught being raised in church all of my life is that if it doesn’t concern you, then keep quiet and mind your own business. Putting your nose into other people’s business spreads gossip.

    Ah, yes, the “gossip” card. A classic silencing technique of enablers and allies of abusers, and of those who are just plain ignorant.

    So, were the journalists on the Spotlight team “gossiping” when they reported on sex abuse of kids at Boston churches? Since I don’t go to Fellowship Memphis Church, is it “gossip” for me to read or share the following?

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2016/08/31/fellowship-memphis-should-contact-families-with-children-who-attended-during-peter-newmans-tenure/

    What happened to doing unto others as you would have them do unto you? What happened to love your neighbor? Love your enemy?

    I have no problem with showing love to Norman Vigue (I hope). But I have every problem with his “repentance” being celebrated before it’s proven, and Furtick hawking his autographs like he’s something special. Out of love for the kids around him, I don’t think Vigue should be trusted or treated like a hero.

    Also, Pastor Steven Furtick must be doing something right because of how the enemy is using the people on this site and other sites to bash in.

    Another logical fallacy. By that thinking, the Catholic Church must have been “doing something right”. After all, it had all those “Satanic haters” filing suit against it after they were sexually abused and molested over the course of years. Those lawsuits, and the public criticism against its policies, are all a sign of God’s favour. Right?

    Remember the story of the woman who committed adultery in the Bible?? Ever wonder why and how she got caught? Perhaps she was sleeping with one of the Scribes and Pharisees. After all, they were the judge mental and holier than thou.

    What’s your point?

    Forgiveness doesn’t have to be proven.

    Trustworthiness does. And whether or not Vigue is forgiven, he shouldn’t be treated like some hero just because he claims to have found Jesus in prison. Especially since he was there for wanting to view the rapes of children for pleasure.

  • you guys just can’t see someone doing good, huh? But they spoke about Jesus himself. So what are they not going to say about us. The man is as good as God made him to be. Deal with it.

  • is anyone who actually gave him money “demanding answers”? Or just people who have nothing to do with him wanting to nosey about. Wonder how many celerbrities with wierd and woppy lifestyles are interviewed with demands about the money their fans have paid them? What a load of baloney. These people are not public servants or voted officials. They are people to whom other people have been willing to give money to and you just cant’t handle that for some reason – actors, singers okay though. And you act like everyone who’se ever given to him is somehow deluded and couldn’t possibly be as intelligent and enlightened as you. Or if they only knew the details behind they’d re-think their giving. Seriously? Who are you and whose lives have you affected?

  • Here’s what I know. I posted a very cheerful and polite comment on the newest videos on Youtube pointing out the real ending of the Bible story Ms. Caine opened her “sermon” with. I concluded where the story actually ended (Pharaoh losing his son as consequence for his hardened heart and disobedience), and that he put his people through 10 total plagues as a result before finally keeping his word and letting God’s people go. Even after that, he still went after them to try to enslave them yet again. I questioned the decision to preach the sermon from the Pharaoh’s POV, but pointed out where the story ended for him anyway. Yes, with God all things are possible, but in this section of the Biblical text, it was negative.

    Today, my comment was removed, and my account is banned from commenting again. Even a neutral, yet Biblically sound comment, is not allowed on Elevation church’s Youtube commenting section. Without all of the other bright red flags I’ve noticed in the past year I began looking into and listening to them, that alone is enough to say “not of God” and move on.

    I will now be praying that they are exposed for the false prophets they are (they and HIllsong, who I just this year became aware of – what a scary “church” that organizing is. Immediate pit in my stomach before I knew anything about them. Over night successes in this world are an immediate tip off, Friends), and that the true Lord Jesus Christ will save the souls they are trying to lead astray. This is serious, Folks, and his manipulations are subtle.

    Many people I love have started being duped by them. To them, I will say (and anyone here who wants to like them – I admit that it’s tempting): cease listening for two straight weeks and isntead read your Bible in sections of chapters, meaning at least 1 chapter and if you want more do another full chapter, etc. Do this daily for two weeks. Then, feel free to go back and listen, and WRITE DOWN A SCRIPT OF WHAT THEY ARE SAYING (Important). Now read it, and test it. Does it seem Biblical? This is your test.

  • Drove by there today and was astounded at the crowds. I think this ministry has cracks that will break the fishbowl eventually. Perhaps another Joel Osteen.

  • Wow. As the mother of a child molested by her own biological father, I can tell you this stinks. It sounds like Furtick (is this a real name?) leans more toward a globalistic view of life rather than Christian.

  • They do not get better. Most get worse. I’ve lived it. I know. Parents, never take your eyes off your kids. Sometimes they are not safe in their own homes.

  • You apparently don’t know Furtick at all and have not heard a single sermon or read 1 page of 1 of his books. The book unqualified for example has nothing to do with Furtick defending himself saying he is qualified. He admits he is not qualified and points out that God used unqualified people all through the Bible. As far as his lifestyle he lives in the boonies lol where the land is cheaper and drives a Nissan lol. Sounds like a baller to me lol oh and his house is half the size as reported. It’s closer to 8square foot not 16. He has plenty of money off book sales don’t get me wrong but he’s far from these preachers that buy jets and crazy celebrity toys.

  • I am furious! Americans are CRYING OUT for SOMEONE to guide them, to educate them, to mentor them, and all these FALSE PROPHETS like Furtick and Warren and Cairn, et al, are in it to be IN IT. They are as FAR from the Truths that The Word of God has given through the BIBLE, as the east is from the west (if I may use that phrase). He and others are rounding in innocent people who are SEARCHING for the love, peace and joy of Christ, COMPLETELY FOOLING THEM by his arrogant rhetoric. Watch out for this guy and others like him. It’s CULTISH, and as crooked as a dog’s back leg. After all, it’s how you FEEL. It’s another lie to vulnerable people, in order to rake them into his web of deceit. Personally, I am heartbroken that there are ‘PASTORS’ and self-appointed ‘BISHOPS’ out there of whom TBN pushes down our throats.

  • P.S. By the way, “pastor” Furtick, GOD and Allah are FAR FROM ONE IN THE SAME, buddy. SHAME ON YOU, it’s all about ‘ELEVATION’ (nice choice) and mainly about YOU and what YOU preach and how YOU believe, and NOT what THE ONE AND ONLY GOD PREACHES.

  • After reading these comments wow lol. I don’t know furtick personally or go to his church. I am curious how many here who have seemed to already made up thier mind about him do. Not saying I agree with what he is doing, especially if it really is what the comments say he is doing, but I won’t cast judgment either. One because I am on the outside looking in and two because I am not a member of his church and three cause I don’t cast judgment.

  • Why does a loving and caring Lord speak about how vengeance will be his? When I pray to God, I think I am praying to someone bigger, wiser and more mature than me. I can see me wanting revenge, because I am an imperfect being that doesnt have the best control over his emotions, But when the Lord sounds like a character from The Expendables, I have to exercise my spiritual discernment and draw the line.

  • I’ll tell you this, I do not think that God means revenge when he says
    “Vengeance is mine…”, I believe He means that it is not our place to
    judge, condemn or punish others, but His. Each will be judged. I don’t
    believe that God seeks revenge on any of His children. If this is how
    you’re interpreting the word, I’d love to know what translation you’re
    reading and who’s preaching to you. Methinks you take things literally
    where you shouldn’t. I sincerely hope that the reverse is not the case.

  • Thanks for that. Yeah, I somewhat have a distorted view of what God is, partly due to my upbringing, partly due to the way Christianity is taught today. I am by no means the only person who thinks God is a benevolent tyrant who is capable of love but also bloody revenge. Christianity today is more related with intolerance, bigotry and extreme views and I am tainted with that because I’ve been religious all my life and had an authority figure growing up that is very similar to the authority figures in holy books: sexist, intolerant and with anger issues.

    Ultimately, my life didnt turn out very well and even though I can see a blessing in disguise, I dont have a leader or mentor that teaches me another way to see God other than the way I already know: punishment and judgement. I stopped going to the Church I went to my whole life because they talked more about the devil than God and every action or thought was bad enough to send you to hell, “hell” being their favorite word. So, I know that I dont want to go back to that, but I dont know anything else.

  • Many churches will not allow even innocent men to be unsupervised with young children in a nursery or Sunday School setting. I realize there are liability issues involved because of the higher statistical risk of pedophilia from a male vs. a female. Yet, there seems to be a willingness in these same churches to place known predators back in authority positions.

  • I would think more of justice rather than vengeance. Most would agree that ultimate justice is a good thing. All will be judged on the last day.

  • Like everything in life, there is a balance. God is love. God is good. God is holy. God is the Creator. The Father loves you and wants the best for you, even when we mess up, which we all do. I have had disappointments in life, some due to others, some due to me. And tbh, my life has not turned out to be the one I thought I was going to have. But the Lord is still with me, as He promised.

  • Maybe interesting questions but they come across as accusatory, not curious. I’d decline an interview too, thinking someone is not interested in talking about the good I have to offer but instead, desires to pursue a hard agenda.

    Furtick is someone I watch casually. I learn some tbi gs from him but my church and some other leaders grab me more. Yet, Furtick seems like a man with a heart for God and people to me. So he benefits, I think his following is ok with it.

  • I dont think any pastor should be living in a million dollar mansion. but they should not live in a trailer either.

  • It’s interesting to me That nowhere in this article is there an accusation of misrepresentation of The Word of God. It’s one Christian Group imposing their opinions on what it means to be a Christian on another Christian in a public way. That’s not what God would have us do! He said speak the Truth in Love and this is not that. I appreciate what you’re organization is attempting to do, but please be sure to stick to fundamentals and not preferences or semantics when determining if someone is or isn’t “of God”. It’s divisive and doesn’t further your foundational purpose which is to inform us 😊 Be blessed and keep fighting the good fight of Faith!

  • Every one of these questions is a “gotcha.” I could understand one or two used to probe a little, but every question is intentionally designed to shape a preferred narrative, and it’s pretty obvious.

    “How have you pretended to be something you are not in your own life and ministry?” This piggybacks on #5 and has nothing to do with his book.

    This whole blog post is emblematic of the the Evangelical “Guardians of Orthodoxy ” complex in the blogosphere. I would’ve passed on these too. It’s obvious you’re not interested in his book.

  • Dee parsons and apple faced you say there is a difference between being a pedophile and “any routine sin” as you call it. You obviously do not know your bible. In the eyes of god there is no sin greater than the other. All have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. You sound like the “religious” people who think it’s by works we are saved rather than grace. If the Lord can change you he can change anyone. The bible says in romans 12:3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

  • WOW. No idea this guy was THIS twisted. Giving someone with a Child Molestation C O N V I C T I O N access to children is like giving a Rapist access to young girls. Or making someone who went to prison for Extortion and Robbery the head of the Bank. There comes a point when common sense should kick-in (not the case here!) and research bears-out that these individuals WILL most likely repeat the offense (the % of repeat offenders is off the charts, look it up).

  • Hello, I am so sorry to hear that. I do know of some men of God that can help you with some questions you might have.

    You can YouTube: Carter Conlon, John McArthur, John Piper, Charles Lawson, David Wilkerson, Paul Washer .. I hope this helps!

    Editing: everyday the Lord shows us new things as we grow and mature in His grace. If you have any questions for our Lord, he will answer them Himself. Do not trust in men. This is in His Word, He’ll speak through His Holy Spirit.

  • Being from the same area that this house is located, maybe I can help shed some light on things. Here are a few facts about the very rural area that he built in
    – Weddington is in fact a suburb of Charlotte, and compared to Charlotte, it is still rural, yet growing very fast

    – Weddington and it’s next door neighbor Marvin are the most affluent town in Union county. By a large margin

    – There are literally *thousands* of homes in the area that are valued at over a million dollars

    – The largest home in the area is over 20,000 sq foot, however his home is the second largest in the area. That said, a lot of that space is exaggerated as it includes the garage and basement, which is (according to tax records) only partially finished. The listed sq. foot of the home is just over 8,000 sq feet, which puts it at around $175/sq/ft to build. While that may not be upscale to a Donald Trump, it’s certainly not skimping and I would imagine is quite high end on the inside

    – He paid around $350k for the 19 acres of land to build his house. That land is located next to a very upscale neighborhood where homes sell for a million and up. Those lots are typically around an acre, and the land for those homes sold for around the same as what he paid for 19 acres despite being right next door.

    – Yes, those other homes are in a gated developed community, so there is some markup there, however, the land was also appraised for nearly 2 million dollars, not $350k.

    If you look at the records (you’re allegedly in Real Estate, you should know how to do this. But, I’ll save you the work http://gis-web.co.union.nc.us/tax/Property.aspx?PIN=06153015), you can see details of the home

    You can also see all shell of shell companies that were used during the sale of the land. The most recent ones all show a sale price of $0.00. Since the tax records only go back so many transactions, and the price declines with each sale, it’s not out of reach to assume that a prior sale (aka – the actual legitimate sale) sold for much higher – likely in the millions, reflecting what that land would likely fetch under normal conditions (if you do not believe me, look up similar land transactions for that size and location to prove for yourself).
    I understand why he would set up shell companies for privacy reasons, and that may very well be what the intent was. It is however puzzling to see so many different shell companies taking part in all of the transactions. When you google the others involved, more questions are found than are answered.

    It looks suspiciously like that land may have also been a gift and/or that it was paid for by other means outside of his personal income. If it was in fact purchased with money that he had in another shell company (money that me may have earned in his business) and that money was used to purchase the home, this could be construed as a form of embezzlement and/or tax evasion. I’m not pointing fingers and accusing because I don’t know the exact details of what happened, however give the circumstances surrounding it, does raise some flags

  • that is very true.
    but for me as a citizen of uganda…all the way in Africa…i believe that whatever goes on at Church is What the lord Almighty God Has planned for the church because Jesus Christ with the Almighty power know all our thoughts and we are a product of our Actions,thoughts and intentions.

  • The Scripture in Deuteronomy 32:35 “Vengence is mine……..” Meaning that God will avenge himself on his foes (Isaiah 1:24); Deuteronomy 32:41 “I will repay those who hate me.” 1 Corinthians 5:11But now I am writing you not to associate with anyone who claims to be a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a verbal abuser, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. 12What business of mine is it to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13God will judge those outside.”
    We are to judge those within the Church, (are they true, the Holy Spirit dwells within them?). Those that are not in the church are not ours to help live righteous lives, the unsaved belong to God to reveal His Salvation message as we preach the Good News.
    God does NOT “seek revenge on any of his children” His vengence is on his enemies.
    You seem to want to make a public desplay of “your” knowledge of Gods’ word. We are told to study to show ourselves approved. Perhaps something you should give a try before trying to come across as God’s mouthpiece.

  • Nothing in the questions seem to be out of line. Unless of course ego is an issue. When one is truly touched by God and has a truly personal relationship with Jesus……one of the most visible fruits from that is a humility and sense of real gratitude. So far……it appears at least to not he found as an obvious fruit in this man’s life. For me…….the moment people would look at me as if I’m some kind of specially favored by God……..that is when it becomes very uncomfortable for me. It is NOT about me. Jesus is the only one that needs to be seen…….ever. If they don’t see Jesus when they see me………that’s a problem and I need to get it fixed immediately. That is when one knows their heart and intent are in line with God’s. Sadly……..egos and pride come in and become self inflicted idols sometimes. God is dealing with an awful lot of egos at this very moment and many who thought they were on solid ground by trusting in the wrong things are soon to be getting a wake up call and will either repent or lose it all. God is not playing games and will absolutely have a pure and holy church. That starts right with the pastor.

  • That is actually a pretty naive statement from you as well. Being outed as a pedophile does not automatically mean that everyone’s radar will now be on guard. That said. ….God can deliver a person from anything but in this case perhaps not enough information is being shed about just what position this person holds. It pays to be really wise. However….I’d be hard pressed to EVER call a pedophile my hero in any situation.

  • U really need to wake up jo faulk your comments demonstrate a total lack of understanding the issue of judging

  • About the Furtlick Article. I think it is between Steven and God what Steven has done or not done in his life. I also think insinuating his church is a semi cult,
    who insidently are just trying to bring people to Jesus Christ (Not to Furtick), is a sad way to describe him and what God has called him to do. We all are called by God to do a task or job. He is just doing his. And if I write a book and that book is sold I assume I would make a profit. If that happens I assume I would have a nicer home than I do now. Makes me wonder where Billy Graham lives. And How God has blessed his life. Christianity is never going to survive if we keep back biting eachother to death. He preaches to the Broken. People who don’t feel good enough to even walk into a church. People who don’t look or smell the best. People who are drug addicts and felons, you know the People Jesus died to save. I myself am unqualified. We all are. And I am not in a cult and neither is he. I am not even in the same state. But I know when God uses someone. And God is using Steven. And If God has an issue with the way Steven does things He will bring it up with Steven. God is a personal God who still speaks and leads us today. We can debate bible verses all day. We all can say this or say that. No one but God alone knows all of everything. So why don’t we all practice a little faith that we claim to have and leave Steven Furtlick to God. We should be busy trying to help save others and bring them to Jesus Christ. Not criticize those who are out there doing it. We all need accountability. But we all also need to get on the same team as Jesus and encourage those who are encouraging others.

  • Wow! He’s shown compassion to the local poor for a whole week? That deserves a round of applause!

    “Pastor Steve is prosperous by helping people? Inspiring people? Changing people’s lives?”

    If you attribute great works to him by his ability to change lives, this isn’t the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The One who did have power to change lives in an eternally meaningful way had no place to lay his head.

    I’ve read some comments elsewhere on the internet that suggest a pastor should be paid about as well as the average income of his congregation, and I think this is sound. If that’s the case, Furtick should make $54,159 per year. Regardless of how much money he makes from books, I Timothy 3:3 says that a pastor/overseer should not be a lover of money. Having a $1.7 million house is a bit suspect. It’s excessive and over the top. It’s also suspect (particularly for a Baptist church, since Baptists are all about local autonomy) that his church doesn’t vote on his salary, but rather that it’s determined by people who neither tithe there nor even live in the area. A pastor once said when addressing tithing, that a Christian should give til it hurts. When a Christian (any Christian) is living lavishly (8000 square feet, the smallest version of how big the house is, is still really, really big), they’re not giving til it hurts. I don’t know how much he gives personally to missions, etc., and I hope it’s in line with how he lives.

  • Might want to reconsider Piper on that list. The Gospel Coalition had an interview with him on pastors’ pay in 2013 in which he describes his philosophy on how he handles money.

  • Honestly, I haven’t read any of Furtick’s books. But I have seen one page of a colouring book which, apparently, was being used in Sunday schools at Elevation. On that page (with the huge title, “Unity”) is a picture of Furtick himself — not Jesus, or even Paul or Peter — on stage, with the caption: “Elevation Church is built on the vision God gave Pastor Steven. We will protect our unity by supporting his vision.”

    Does anyone else see self-glorification here?

  • Don’t think a coloring book is bad or evil. They color all kinds of characters but coloring your pastor is wrong? The vision God gave Pastor Steven is to see people far from God raised to life in Christ. Again I’m struggling to find where this is wrong. Christians should support this vision.

  • The colouring book might not be “bad or evil”, but the philosophy behind that particular page is highly toxic! In my experience, “unity” is church code for “submit to your leader… or else!”

    As christians, we are not called to support Mr Furtick’s (or any other person’s) vision. We are all called to follow Jesus, who alone is the head of his church.

  • They color all kinds of characters but coloring your pastor is wrong?

    No, indoctrinating little kids to believe that supporting “Pastor Steven’s” vision is the true meaning of “unity” — that’s what’s wrong. As though Furtick could never, ever, ever be wrong about anything. That’s the message the kids would get from this page: Either toe Furtick’s line, or you’re being “divisive”. Classic indoctrination.

    The vision God gave Pastor Steven is to see people far from God raised to life in Christ.

    And part of that vision, apparently, is to see people line up in front of a criminal pervert, just to shake his hand and get his autograph.

    I’m a Christian, and I would never support this miserable excuse for a “vision”.

  • This is sort of the same conversation I have about politicians that continue to remain popular (and reelected) despite obvious impropriety and scandal. Both the politician and in this case, Furtick are (for a lack of a better word) entertainers. If 20,000 people are sitting under Furtick and are voluntarily surrendering the cash or money to him, then perhaps we should be asking those 20,000 people what in the world they are thinking. In the same way WE have the government WE deserve, here WE have the “church” WE deserve.

    We wouldn’t be discussing Furtick if people weren’t giving. It’s really that simple. No one is putting a gun to their heads, at least that I am aware of. There is no coercion, extortion, or anything otherwise illegal going on here. For me, I’d ask the people in the seats at this church what they are thinking, in an honest and sincere way. If they are stupid enough to engage this megalomaniac then that’s their problem, not mine.

  • I agree as well. I don’t think I’ve heard him preach about sin, and the dangers of continuing in your sin. Or how Jesus can truly change your life. Scripture points to Jesus…..always. And I say this because I struggle with sin in my life and I know there are consequences of that sin. But because of His death on the Cross for our sins I know I’m forgiven. And I know in faith that one day I’ll overcome it. And in the end I’ll be with Jesus in paradise. Hope I’ve encouraged someone with these words……And we know that all things work together for His good for those who are in Christ Jesus.

  • I Can Tell you this, GOD IS NOT RELIGIOUS! HE HATES RELIGION! HE HATES SIN, BECAUSE IT HURTS US, AND HE DOESN’T WANT US TO BE HURT!!! BUT HE LOVES THE SINNER!!! AND WE ARE ALL BORN SINNERS !
    He Chased After Me Loving Me, And Loving Me, Until One Day I LITERALLY TURNED MY HEAD AND ASKED WHO ARE YOU!
    GOD LOVES YOU! !!!!
    FORGET RELIGION, AND FOLLOW GOD! Read and Study The Bible Every Single Day, asking God Directly for his meaning, and what your Purpose IS.
    God Bless You!

  • Remember when Elisha was walking, and a bunch of males ridiculed him, calling him baldy.
    He turned to them and said I Curse You In The Name of The Lord.
    They were mauled by bears.
    GOD PROTECTS HIS CHILDREN!
    He Will Not Harm His Own.
    NO Weapon Formed Against me Shall Prosper!
    HALLELUJAH!

    In The Name Of Jesus! 😉

  • And DAVID Encouraged Himself!

    David Danced Before The Lord!

    On Earth As It Is In Heaven!

    Hallelujah!

    PRAISE HIS WONDERFUL HOLY NAME!

    PRAISE HIM EVERY DAY!!!!

    BE FILLED DAILY!!!

    HOLY SPIRIT!

    FOLLOW GOD!

    In Jesus Name I Pray, AMEN.

  • I think Jonathan Merritt is Just RELIGIOUS. Like Many.
    Too Bad…….

    God Calls Many, But FEW Are Chosen!

    #ENVY??? Rearing it’s Ugly head???

    You Do Not Know What God Told him to do. Every One of Us have a Different Purpose, given by God, The Only Reason You Were Born.

    Live Your Purpose And Leave Others ALONE!!!

    You Will Answer to God.

  • I wouldn’t of answered your questions either 🙂 I find a lot of hearsay in them, and don’t think they are appropriate at all. You could’ve worked on the delivery a little more if you really wanted an answer.

  • Your opinion has no biblical basis. Yes, we are to be the church – but it’s important to be part of a church family too.

  • It’s not an opinion. It’s fact. I’m suspicious of anyone that uses the terms “Christian” and “church” as adjectives, just as you did. I’ve been around long enough to know what kind of people use those words in such ways.

  • But you used church as an adjective also lol.

    Second of all, this is merely your personal opinion and not actually something Jesus said or something you will find in the Bible. It’s a great book to read, I highly recommend it.

  • No, I never used “church” as an adjective. You’re delusional and a liar. Jesus never told anyone to go to “church” and I challenge you to show where He did. I’ll school you in the scriptures any day of the week. I’m your huckleberry. Just give it a go.

  • Not sure why the name calling is necessary, but ok.

    The book of Corinthians (I and II), Phillippians, Colossians, Galatians, and more are all letters Paul wrote to….yes you guessed it CHURCHES!

    Anyway, I’m done commenting because I can see all you want to do is a lot of name calling instead of having a civil convo like normal human beings 🙂

  • Matthew 18:15-20
    “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed[f] in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

    Jesus referring to the church again. I wonder who the church could be?

  • Boo hoo. Those “churches” were groups of people. Church in Greek is ecclesia. It just means people. It’s not a religion, building, service or any other heretical word you people choose to define it. Just as I said in my original post, WE ARE THE CHURCH. Not some religion, organization or building. And no where does it say to go once, twice, three times a week or how many you think you need to go. You’re about ten steps behind me.

    And yes, you are a liar as you lied about what I said. You totally made it up so you are a LIAR.

  • “Stop going to “church” and start being the church.”

    Just as I said in my original statement. Try opening your eyes and reading for a change.

  • I can tell the whole not going to church thing is working for you. The love you show is evident. 🙂 Have a wonderful day. Praying for you Cheyenne. BTW, I go to a church and we meet anywhere and I absolutely love my church family. They are super encouraging, they keep me accountable, and we preach the Good News to people together.

    Yes, I am probably behind you as you said, I still have a lot to learn, and I never claim to be perfect. Thanks for your time. I hope God would heal your heart and give you clarity in this situation.

  • You started all this up with me. You were looking for an argument. You got owned and now you attempt to bow out with a last feeble shot of condescension. Grow up, shut up and learn something for yourself. You’re the classic “church” person.

  • Thought you were leaving 5 posts ago? I knew it. You were just looking for an argument being the phony Christian church goer you are. You people bore me.

  • Obviously I just found the article. And obviously someone has a ton of time in their hands to respond to something after a year 🙂

  • “obviously someone has a ton of time in their hands to respond to something after a year”

    Oh, the irony. Pot meet kettle. 😂

  • “I find a lot of hearsay in them”

    And Furtick passed on an opportunity to clear up the hearsay.

  • Hello Iamhere,
    I will like to have a personal interaction with you, through any medium you deem fit. I may need you to have an open mind when we do; just give it a chance, you have nothing to lose. You can throw me your toughest question about God and Christ Jesus. I will do my best to answer them.

  • Lol I was expecting to see some real hard-knuckle enquiries…did he really turn down a shot at clearing the air with THESE?!!!!

  • First, the all caps thing is annoying. It is Internetese for yelling. Second, the Scriptures actually have a reference to true religion. Far too often the passages about the philosophies, or religions, of men are read omitting the part that says “of men” I would submit that if you are not religious, by the definition of the word, then you don’t have much of a commitment. God opposes the proud. Many are quite proud about how they are not religious and those others are. Also, it is my opinion that the “not religious” thing is an appeal to self and to attract non believers into a faith where nothing is really required of them. I do know how appealing it is, because I was there.

  • You are naive. Pedophiles have a high rate of recidivism. Given a chance to commit further crimes? There is a restroom at the church, correct? Then there is ample opportunity!

  • That sounds very authoritative. Perhaps then you can explain how it is a God that only seeks vengeance on his enemies decided a flood that killed every man, woman, child and unborn child was a just act? What exactly was it about the unborn children, infants and toddlers that made them his enemy?

  • I guess this article of yours is only getting traction because of “Steven Furtick”. I’m not a fan of his. But I felt that you’ve already drawn your own conclusions and there were many biased implied assumptions in most of the questions.

    For example,
    Q5 You say, “God can’t bless who you pretend to be.” What do you mean by that?

    Because of course, the real us, when we are not pretending and putting our best foot forward, is that daily, we still, fall. You are asking Steven Furtick to air his dirty laundry to you.

    Firstly, who are you that he should ‘confess’ to you? The catholics have their own confession booth with the priest of their parish. Much less chance of him ‘confessing’ to a stranger journalist.

    Secondly, if that’s what you are asking, just ask directly, why insinuate? Just ask “are you also the real you at home as who we see on stage”?

    Of course, he wouldn’t answer it. He doesn’t know you. He’s not obligated to answer. And so, you had to rephrase it and then YOU go and cry foul when he rightly refuses to air his dirty laundry.

    Why are you even surprised?

    You’re just very SLY. (It smacks of the snake in the garden “Did God indeed say…?”, IMO, which, between Steven Furtick and yourself, to be sly and double-tongued is even worse.)

    I don’t agree with what Steven Furtick is doing but you are devious to deliberately write in order to trip him up, rather than to seek the truth. And then come up with this article to seek support for your (self)-righteous act of ‘exposing’ him.

    And then, sit back to watch the fireworks in the comments.

  • This is so stupid. Whoever wrote this clearly has no relationship with Christ. Poverty is a curse. People who serve the Lord, God does bless.

  • —-PLEASE READ THIS—-

    I experienced a situation like this as a member of Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill Church in Seattle where I was a member for six years, leaving a few months before the plagarism charges.

    This from Wikipedia notes Furtick’s ties to Driscoll.

    In addition to Furtick’s local ministry, he has become a guest speaker in the United States and internationally, including speaking at events such as the Willow Creek Association’s 2011 Global Leadership Summit hosted by Bill Hybels, C3 Conference 2012, hosted by Ed Young Jr.,Hillsong Conference 2012 hosted by Brian Houston and Presence Conference 2012 and 2013 hosted by Phil Pringle. Furtick also participated in The Elephant Room 1 and 2 hosted by James MacDonald along with other speakers such as Mark Driscoll, T.D. Jakes, Wayne Cordeiro, and Jack Graham.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_Furtick

    You’ll notice Mark Driscoll’s name is included, as are other pastors and churches that assisted the rise of Mars Hill and defended Driscol after his authoritarianism was exposed. That’s a warning.

    Based on my Mars Hill experience, I’d suggest these tests.

    1. My first sense of trouble at Mars Hill has happened at Elevation. That’s centering everything on the lead pastor. When I started Mars Hill, there were numerous bible studies on member-chosen topics. Not long after, all members were expected to be in studies whose topics centered on Driscoll’s lastest sermon. That’s a personality cult.

    2. Do an investigation. Cults cannot accept dissent and develop ways to drive dissenters from their ranks. The “lead pastor” quotes above are how a cult sounds. Explore whether Elevation Church also acts like a cult. Find out what has happened to those who question those “lead pastor” demands. Have they been driven out?

    Mars Hill did that, brutally mistreating two of the founding pastors, along with satellite church pastors, and staff. That was among the most convincing evidence that Mars Hill had become cult-like.

    I can testify how difficult that was to spot. People, particularly those in leadership postions, simply quit attending. Since by that point there were satellite churches around Seattle, it was easy to assume they were attending elsewhere. Only when the trouble became public was the fact that they’d been brutally driven out exposed.

    That happened to me, although in a mild form since was only a volunteer teacher for one-year-olds. Sensing trouble, I kept a low profile, although my independence was obvious. When the Sunday school director—a young single guy who didn’t belong in that role, became critical of me—probably because he was told to do so—I was ready and prempted any move to drive me out covertly. I printed up a letter explaining my concerns and gave it to several members who knew me well. That put my story out before Mars Hill could come up with some uncontroversial cover story about why I left. What amazed me was how fast I was shut out of the church’s social media. They must have had a system in place to do that quickly. Cults do not allow a forum for dissent, however well-intentioned. Look for that.

    In short, if this church is a cult or a cult-in-the-making it will have driven out those who either challenged the “lead pastor” or showed independence. A cult cannot tolerate independent thinking or belief. If you find expulsions for challenging the leader, you’ve found a cult.

    3. This is more aggressive. Have several people who live in Charlotte to join without drawing attention to themselves and then have test the system, politely challenging the lead pastor’s claim to hear from God. I cult will not allow that.
    —-
    Finally, while having doubts about this pastor, some Christians adopt a “yes but” attitude, pointing to so-called results. I saw that at Mars Hill. Don’t do that. Much of the hype you get about this church’s success may be manufactured.

    Mars Hill did that. It claimed to have a way to reach the unreached in Seattle, particularly young men. There was cases of that, but not many. I saw the reality one Sunday morning when the worship pastor asked those who’d become believers through Mars Hill to stand. There was about one person in each seating section. Later, I counted those seats and concluded that only about 2% of those attending had become believers there. That fit with my experience that almost everyone attending had grown up in a church and. in the absence of Mars Hill, would have been attending some other church. Mars Hill wasn’t winning new believers. It was using hype to steal sheep.

    Feel free to pass this along and post it elsewhere.

    –Michael W. Perry

  • Steve is a fake, false Teachings BEWARE. “God broke the law for love”, said Steve. Proof: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhQbJZQUZfQ SHUT HIM DOWN ASAP!!!

    KJV Matthew 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

    KJV Matthew 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

    If God broke the Law, where would his kingdom stand? Even God said ” A kingdom divided against it self can not stand”.

  • I wouldn’t want to go into an obviously negative interview set to attack me and my ministry. What else would be waiting? People have so much trouble with people being successful. Get over it.

  • Amen. No one other than God can convey his message to that person the way God him/herself can. Read and decipher….God will listen and speak.

  • You say him as if child molestation is only a”him” crime, but I bet if I wrote God as a ” him” you’d be offended, and give me some literature to follow. You should come down from your self given thrown every now and again and join the rest of us here on earth. Like the true sinner you and I both are.

  • I have been going to Elevation for a about 2 years and some month i hate to see people talking about something they don’t have a clue of what they are talking about i am the first o tel you he doe’s talk about his ministry. He have a great organization and the people that is in the his ministry is just as clam as he is Steven Furtick is a great pastor and his ministry is great you need to go so t you will not be second guess your self about what a great man he is so please know what you talking, go to the church see for yourself. I am going to tel you this or everyone this here once you go you will keep coming ask Amen.

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