In this very special audio version of his blog, Pastor Furtick and a few special guests from his creative team have a round table discussion about how the sermon series are planned at Elevation. In an act of selfless bravery, I listened to all thirty minutes of this, so that you don’t have to. You can thank me later.
Here is what we learn about the process from this enlightening discussion:
1.) Steven gets lots of really cool ideas. It may come from watching the Foo Fighters, listening to T.D. Jakes, or talking to his kids, but just know, Steven comes up with tons of really cool ideas.
2.) Steven is really cool.
3.) The ideas for sermon series come from Steven’s imagination.
4.) Steven is unique and relevant.
5.) Sometimes, Steven lets the creative team help him to form his really cool ideas, but sometimes he doesn’t.
6.) Steven is a visionary. (Actually referred to himself in this way.)
7.) After Steven shares his awesomely cool ideas, the creative team does things like “build a brand” and “create a buzz.” Not really sure what those terms mean as they relate to church, but they seem to be getting increasingly popular among the seeker types.
Not a lot was said about Scripture, except a couple of subtle jabs towards Pastors who teach eighty-one week series on the book of Genesis, and things like that. So basically, in thirty minutes, we learned that the ideas for the series come from Steven’s “vision”, and everything else falls in line after that. Oh yeah, and that Steven is really cool.
What I found more interesting was the spreadsheet that they use to help for the series:
Note the placement and wording of question number 7. “What Scriptures do you think you’ll use during this series?” Wait…you mean to tell me we’ve already came up with the concept for this series, with how we want it to make people feel, movie tie-ins, target audience but haven’t decided upon Scripture backing for this series yet? Wow.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen multiple times where Furtick and Noble have made great errors in misapplying Scripture, and we’ve wondered how that could keep happening. I think we’ve found our answer. At least in Furtick’s case, he openly admits to dreaming up cool, gimmicky sermon series, and only later tries to come back and tie in Scripture to justify his stance. If you are selective enough, and willing to ignore context, you can make the Bible seem to say anything you want. Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, David Koresh, and Jim Jones all claimed Scriptural backing for their whacked-out beliefs. This is exactly opposite of how a Pastor (or anyone else) should approach Scripture. The Furtick model is to decide what you belief and then try to find some Scripture to back that up. We should always approach the Scripture first, and let God’s Word dictate what we believe.