The Worst Sunday Ever at Elevation 10

Or at least that’s how Steven referred to it when greeting attenders last week. You see, Steven said he was tired of hearing that Elevation was a one-man show, so he decided to have all the volunteers take the week off…

First, let me stop here for a moment. This is disingenuous to begin with. Steven knows that no one is accusing him of showing up early, greeting visitors, setting up equipment, and increasing the potential of breaking a sweat. The “one-man show” critique is aimed at the fact that all the “vision” for the church is birthed in Steven’s head. In fact, he said himself that if you go against his vision, you are fighting God.

Anyway, no volunteers showed up and apparently it was a nightmare. Here is what the executive pastor had to say, via Steven’s Blog:

The worship leader carried a powered speaker out on stage and delivered an acoustic set without a band…. The only sign we had up was “Elevation Church is meeting today”. We intentionally printed crooked black and white programs with the song lyrics and scriptures. Pastor carried a rickety music stand on stage to preach from with no fancy bumper or video playing in the background.

He goes on to call it “the most unimpressive worship experience ever.”

This clearly begs the question, who are you trying to impress?

  • I can understand if you want to impress God, but do you really think God gets bummed out because the programs weren’t printed in color?
  • It seems more that Elevation’s goal is to impress (entertain) people. Particularly sinners. If that’s the case, then perhaps, yes, the un-believers in attendance were slightly disappointed at the lack of loud music and over-produced video clips. Then again, I’m sure not all un-believers are fans of loud music and MTV style video editing.

This is really the crux of my argument with Elevation, Newspring, and the hundreds of other churches like them that join the bandwagon everyday. Elevation is saying they had a terrible week…worst ever…because there weren’t elaborate programs, a band, flashy videos, and a proper podium for Steven to preach from. Every other week, regardless of criticism, they always shout, “look at all the people that were saved!”. Were people saved this week? If so, even if it was just one soul, how is that the worst week ever?

If people weren’t saved…why not? What if there was an energy crisis? Would Elevation still be a viable ministry, or can God only use them when all their gadgets are up and functioning?

The priorities here are so far out of line, it is actually scary. For the record: There is nothing wrong with color bulletins, bands, videos, or podiums. When these things are used as tools of worship, they can be very effective. However, when your worship actually depends on these things, that should be a wake-up call that something is wrong.

Here’s the sad thing about the whole deal: I watched the service. If they were truly trying to deliver an experience far worse than other Elevation services…they failed miserably. It seemed like every other Elevation service to me:

  • One Bible verse, and a great deal of effort to make it fit the situation.
  • a few jabs at critics.
  • a few jabs at other churches.
  • 90% of the talk centered on Elevation.

And most of all…     A whole lot of…

Steven Furtick

The one man show.

10 thoughts on “The Worst Sunday Ever at Elevation

  1. keitho Aug 18, 2009 10:57 am

    Downing, you said, “If people weren’t saved…why not? What if there was an energy crisis? Would Elevation still be a viable ministry, or can God only use them when all their gadgets are up and functioning?”

    A good question that raises another: What do we do in worship when the trappings, technology and electricity are taken away? What should worship look like and be like?

    James tells us that pure religion is taking care of the orphans and widows and keeping oneself unspotted from the world? I think that sums it up pretty well.

  2. Paul Aug 18, 2009 1:35 pm

    At the end of the day, it comes down to theology…no matter how much one wants to deny it. What you truly believe always dictates the methods you use. Furtick’s view of the gospel is clearly man-centered. I have heard him deny the doctrines of election and unconditional grace. He sincerely believes that man ultimately is the one responsible for his salvation by the choice he makes. This is the reason why he does what he does. Give him credit, his methods fit his theolgoy. The problem is that many of his methods and practices as pastor and as a church are unbiblical because his theology of salavtion is flawed.

  3. James Downing Aug 18, 2009 2:23 pm

    Paul, I’m not sure that Furtick’s theology is that linear. I think he is just pragmatic. Whatever will draw and appease the crowd, that’s what he does.

  4. Paul Aug 18, 2009 3:08 pm

    true, but then again, that leads to the question, what is the reason behind drawing and appeasing the crowd? why does he do what he does? his theology of salvation and the church anwers that question. man is responsible, so we have to have all the bells and whistles or they won’t come, and church is for unbelievers/seekers, so theology/doctrine is negative. I do think also, he does not understand the true nature of conversion, but that’s another topic.

  5. James Downing Aug 18, 2009 4:36 pm

    Paul, either your answers are correct, or he does it for the money. I sincerely hope that you are correct.

  6. Josh Aug 19, 2009 3:12 pm


    If you think a theology of salvation wherein man is justified by his faith in Jesus Christ is flawed, your theology is flawed. I’m not sure when believing on John Calvin became necessary to believe on Jesus Christ. Believing that we are saved if we believe on Christ and damned if we don’t isn’t man-centered; it’s biblical.

  7. James Downing Aug 19, 2009 3:18 pm

    Josh – let’s not turn this into yet another Calvinism debate. Do you have any comments on the post?

  8. JT Aug 19, 2009 5:41 pm

    Josh said, “I’m not sure when believing on John Calvin became necessary to believe on Jesus Christ.”

    Well played, sir. Well played.

  9. Paul Aug 19, 2009 8:33 pm

    In my defense, i must say that 1. i did not say or ever will is that one must be reformed to be saved. only the repentant sinner who is trusting in Jesus’ righteousness is one who is saved. 2. one can not be reformed, and still be a godly servant of Jesus…case in point…john wesley of whom i have great respect. 3. My point is that theology dictates methods. One who believes responsibility of salvation rests on man in his decision leads one to do a “whatever works” type of evangelism/church service, etc.

  10. James Downing Aug 19, 2009 8:36 pm

    Thanks Paul. Very good explanation, and fully agree.

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