Stevie Furtick and the Great Big Make Believer
Several sources have expressed alarm over a self-indicting “How To Guide” from Elevation Church called “spontaneous baptism resource kit.” This church has claimed a “sun stand still” “miracle” after baptizing 2,158 people, and now it claims it can export the same type of results to other churches. But its techniques have critics crying foul.
Christian and mainstream sources alike are taking exception to the Elevation Church’s “kit” because in it the church admits it plants people in the audience who will be the first to move in order to get the stream of baptisms started. As the “How To Guide” itself says, “Fifteen people will sit in the worship experience and be the first ones to move when pastor gives the call.
“Sit in the auditorium and begin moving forward when pastor Steven says go.”
“Move intentionally through the highest visibility areas and the longest walk.”
I’ve known about Steven Furtick and Elevation Church for some time now. Those who’ve left his church lacking for depth and substance in his teaching and preaching become the spiritual pariahs of his preaching to his faithful attendees. He congratulates himself as a “New York Times bestselling author”.
Nielsen Bookscan numbers do not include some church bookstores and Christian booksellers, but even so authors like Furtick do not have to sell millions or even hundreds of thousands of books to make the bestseller list as an advice book.
“Greater” made the Times’ advice list for only one week, never to reappear but that was enough for Furtick to forever be labeled a “bestselling author.”
The New York Times listed “Greater” with a small “dagger” symbol beside it indicating that some retail bookstores included bulk orders of the inspirational Christian book in their reporting.
So Stevie stacks the deck in his church. It’s this sort of thing I was addressing some time ago in a series of previous posts about imitational churches. Growth in numbers has to be left to the work of the Holy Spirit, but it often becomes a measure of the success or quality of a church, and especially its pastor. Growth in the spiritual maturity is overlooked as such a measure. Moreover, of all the points I’ve ever read or heard about a church touting itself on, spiritual maturity of the membership wasn’t one of them. Why? Because it doesn’t appeal to the mercantilism so prevalent in the culture. Think of it.
The human manipulation comes in many ways and the Christian church has its share. A measure of the spiritual maturity of a congregation can’t be faked which is probably the biggest reason there’s no mention of it. Baptism numbers can, such as Stevie demonstrates. Modern Christianity has become too self absorbed in the same stylized metrics of business or government. This is a huge flaw of the current Christian church paradigm, the imitational church, as it were. The things that Stevie and his crowd are doing, unfortunately, aren’t the exception to the rule, they’re the rule itself toward bigger as better. Christian popularity isn’t a good thing, it’s a warning sign to the dangers of secularism.
I foresee a time when bigger churches and congregations will be broken apart. Smaller will be desirable, not only because of the persecution of the church which is ever on the horizon, but because the integrity of the church will be kept in that way.