As a pastor, I have several churches that I want to attend, but because of my personal church obligations, it becomes difficult to travel to these churches. One of the churches that I have wanted to attend is Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC. Actually, this church has been near the top of my list on “churches that I want to attend one day.” This is one of the fastest growing churches in the world. Elevation was started a little over 6 years ago by Pastor Steven Furtick, and now runs over 10,000 people. They are a multisite church, and are starting a 7th campus this fall. I wanted to give you a few thoughts about the church that impressed me. These thoughts can be some thoughts to implement in your church to grow your local church.

  1. Incredible Hospitality– Elevation was hospitable from the get go! As you drove onto their campus, you sensed a joy that you were present. I mean, their parking lot crew was stoked that we were there. I mean if you have the parking lot crew stoked, the entire church is probably excited. One neat idea that they did was put signs up for visitors to turn on their flashers so that everyone knows that they were first time visitors. Then, they parked us close to the door since we were visitors and directed us to the visitor tent. The volunteers at this tent were helpful, but not overwhelming! Then, we went in, and the hospitality continued. If your church’s hospitality is not being executed at a high level, let me encourage you to improve in this area. It means a ton to your visitors. We need to start thinking like visitors if we are going to reach visitors.
  2. Excitement & Energy– The entire church was filled with energy and excitement. It was not just the staff or even the volunteers. I saw everyone excited. By the way, this starts with the Pastor. If Pastor Furtick did not seem excited about church, the people probably would not, but the Pastor is stoked and so is the church! It was evident. I wish our church could be this excited about worshiping the Lord!
  3. Thought out Services– The worship service was creative and very thought out. One thing you will notice about growing churches is that they continue to keep things fresh and creative. They rarely get in a rut or a routine of doing something. They choose to keep things creative and new. The service was well thought out, and very creative!
  4. Vision & Mission Oriented– Essentially, I would say that most churches carry the same vision of the Gospel, but few carry out effectively! Sure, we all would all agree that the glory of God and the Gospel should be the focal point of our church, but few act like they believe this! Elevation believes it 100%! They have their vision written on the walls…literally! It is everywhere, and you can tell that the Pastor and the entire church believes in the mission that God has called them too.
  5. Unbelievable Preaching– Say what you want, Pastor Steven Furtick is a great expounder of the Word of God! He can take the Bible, and practically tell people how to live it. It is surely a gift from God. You can tell that he studies and relies solely on God to give him what to give the congregation.

[Question]: So, how is your church doing? As I saw a few of things lived out at Elevation, I was convicted about our church, and I want to improve. Let’s all gain the vision and mission, and allow God to live it out through us! Remember when the church is functioning like it should, it is the hope of the world!

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14 thoughts on “My trip to Elevation Church

  1. Josh,

    You beat me to it! Thanks for sharing a blog about our visit to Elevation. I too had a great time and left convicted about what my church is not doing. God is using Elevation and Pastor Furtick in awesome ways and we need to learn from churches like Elevation.

    Austin

  2. I think I greeted some of you guys! I love my church and what God is doing through us. Glad you had a wonderful experience. I am so blessed and honored to attend and serve at Elevation every weekend.

  3. I haven’t been to the church, but I went to their website. At the risk of being critical, I was a little concerned with some of their codes. Like this one: 4. “We Are United Under the Visionary – Elevation is built on the vision God gave Pastor Steven. We will aggressively defend our unity and his vision.”

    They call their Pastor the visionary? And they will aggressively defend his vision? This sounds a little cult-like, no offense. And then their Code Orange Event, at which T.D. Jakes spoke. I heard not presentation of the gospel, just a health and weath message, no offense, but Jakes is his favorite preacher, according to Furtick.

    Then there is this code: 5. We Need Your Seat – We will not cater to personal preference in our mission to reach this city. We are more concerned with the people we are trying to reach than the people we are trying to keep.

    I see nothing to convince me that this church is trying to disciple, or feed the sheep, btw, which is the main job any Pastor, imo. The great commission specifically commands us to make disciples out of all men, not just evangelize them. The evangelization cannot, nor should not, be to the exemption of the discipleship.

    Then there is this: 9. We Are All About the Numbers – Tracking metrics measures effectiveness. We unapologetically set goals and measure progress through all available quantitative means.

    That kind of speaks for itself.

    Finally, I get your point about enthusiasm, and it is needed. Liberty University taught me that if you present the gospel as anything but good news, then you haven’t presented the gospel.

    P.S. I won’t even get into the dress, except that; chest hair showing on the Pastor during a sermon? Button the shirt up or wear an undershirt. That was offensive to me. Just being honest. I could deal with what he wore, but not the immodesty of how he dressed.

    So now you have if from the old school opinion. I don’t mind change, but I am wary of popularity not built upon the word of God. I am not condemning the church yet, but I see red flags. I would like to visit it myself sometime to get a better feel for things. So I will reserve judgement for now.

    1. Grant, thanks for stopping by the blog. I will be the first to say that I do not agree with everything that Elevation does, but this blog was more about what I saw and agreed with rather than what I disagreed with.
      As for the points that you brought out. Pastor Steven’s vision is from God. He will make that clear, and does so regularly in his church services. Also, his vision is evident considering they moved there with several families without income, but just had a vision to start that church. That is a God thing, and look at what He has done. He is a visionary, and he is constantly casting vision [from God] on where the church needs to be. Their vision is to “reach people far from God, and bring them to new life in Christ.” That is their goal, and they are not going to allow anything to stand in their way. Their doctrine will not change, but he makes it clear that personal preference will not stop them. He is bold in his approach, and I understand the line “we are more concerned with the people we are trying to reach, than the people we are trying to keep” is a bit harsh, but if you see the context of his point, it kind of makes sense. He wants the Gospel to be their focal point. If they are not reaching new people, then it is worthless, and they are not accomplishing God’s mission (to save sinners). He comes from a southern baptist background, and I bet you that he has seen how so many baptists (especially independent baptist) have split and argued over personal opinions while people are dying and going to hell right outside of their walls. I see his point, because I am a pastor I guess and I see things a bit differently. Now, your comment about discipleship. They have egroups. These groups meet during the week at homes and locations and have Bible study and prayer. So, this is where most of their discipleship takes place. In a church of that many, it is impossible to personally disciple each individual. So, they created these egroups. It is a mega church model, and I understand not a Union Grove model, but it just might be working for them. Also, his teaching from the pulpit actually can disciple people as well. It is very practical and Biblical! I think evanglism is a biproduct of discipleship so they are reaching tons of people which could be a result of their discipleship program. The people are growing and therefore reaching people and inviting others to church. As for the numbers comment, I see his point, but I would probably tend to agree with you more on this one. I personally am not a big “numbers” guy. Now, for the dress! haha. Honestly, he is extremely trendy! Way more trendy than I will ever be, but that is him. I personally have never seen chest hair, haha. Must have missed that sermon out of the many that I have watched. I know that is a bit different from our culture, but it is what it is.

      Thanks for the thoughts, and I hope that this helps some.

      1. Pastor Josh,

        Thanks for your reply. I have been saved 30 years and I have seen a lot of people come and go like this Furtick. I have learned that all glitters is not gold. His vision did not come from scripture, but one word someone spoke. Now I will not say it didn’t come from God, but in my experience, God speaks to me thru the Scripture- especially for big things. Where are the other families now that sold all they had? Does the ministry now sustain them?

        Let me be plain here. Furtick is part of the emergent church imo. More than that, he wants to be like the word faith preacher, T.D. Jakes, the name it claim it health and prosperity preacher. Jakes is a heretic imo, yet Furtick introduced him at Code Orange as the greatest preacher of our generation. This speaks poorly of Furtick’s understanding of the scriptures. I guess he would call me a hater, but I don’t care how many people go there, I don’t care what charities he gives to, I don’t care how nice his people are, but I do care how he handles the word of God, and I don’t see that his preaching is very scriptural. He attempts to put himself into his preaching as the hero, if you will, instead of expository preaching and telling what the scripture says about God. But that is the new norm in preaching, it seems. We are such a narcissistic society that we think everything revolves around us. I found it ironic that Chapman preached against doing this at Code Orange and Furtick didn’t post his sermon until he received great pressure to do so.

        The people were excited about their church and about visitors. I get that. If we have something that is so great, like salvation, we should be excited. That is one of the things I have always appreciated about you: you are always stoked, as you put it, and that is the power of youth right there, and of someone serving God. But take time to really listen to some of Furtick’s sermons, and see what his critics say. I know some are jealous and I disregard petty stuff. I can’t disregard his words and how he says he got his vision, and who he admires as preachers.

        I have been blunt here, because that is the only way I can be. I love my church, and my sons, and I will defend them aggressively from anything I think does not come from God. That is my direct commandment and it did come from God.

        Sincerely,

        Grant Page

      2. Grant, once again, thanks for the comment. I will respond to the points that you mentioned once again:
        I personally am not a huge fan of T.D. Jakes. He recently did come out and say that he has grown a lot in his theology, and is trying to move away from his charismatic ways. He claimed to believe in the trinity, and in Salvation by grace through faith. This happened with his Elephant Room comments recently. I gained a bit of respect for him through that. Now, honestly, that is Furtick’s business of fellowshipping with Jakes. I personally have not heard anything in Furtick’s teaching to call him a heretic or even emergent. I have always felt that the emergent church is Rob Bell and McClaren’s group who believe that as culture changes, theology and the interpretation of Scripture changes. Furtick never has said anything remotely close to that like Bell did in his book, Velvet Elvis. Also, Furtick does methods that are out of the box and a bit much for Union grove and our circle for sure. Until he begins to teach something that is heresy, I will not call him a heretic or emergent.

        Now, on the depth of his teaching. I personally enjoy hearing him preach. I have listened to probably about 30 sermons of his. I personally listen to him, J.D. Greear, John Piper, John McCaurthur, and even Paul Chappell, etc. I listen to both ends of the spectrum. The progressive, the deep Bible teaching, the practical, and the extreme conservative. I enjoy how Furtick practically takes the Bible and expounds his points. Now, it is not as deep as McCaruthur’s church or even J.D. Greear’s church, but it still is not fluff. He gets up and expounds for 40 minutes, and is no storyteller. He uses the Bible, and gives practical principles about how to live it out effectively in their lives.

        Also, the families that moved there with Furtick are still there on staff. I have always respected that about him, because as he “made it big” for lack of a better term, he did not leave them out to dry, but instead decided to keep them because they were part of the vision that God gave them. I cannot argue against the vision that God gave Furtick and his team. It is much to radical for you nor I to comprehend, because we have never been a part of something that radical IMO. I mean, if I told Abby we are selling everything and moving to a city with no job, but the vision that God has given me to start a church. Then, I get others to do the same and follow it. Also, he is getting them to follow God. Remember Paul said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” Furtick did that with his team, and now they are booming.

        Once again, I could write a blog post with things that I do not like about Elevation, but I chose to write about things that I did like, and things that churches across the world can take and apply to how they approach church. You were the one who brought up each one of the negative things about Elevation which is fine, but just reminding you that was not what the blog post was intended for, but like I do with everyone, I always comment and give a thought about people’s opinions regardless of if they are in favor or critical of.

        Appreciate you Grant, thanks for taking the time to debate things like this. I love discussing church life and theology. I am glad that we can agree to disagree on things such as this. Hope you get better soon from your surgery. It was great hearing that you were able to make it to church Sunday!

        – JE

  4. Elevation is a growing church because it conforms to the world. It feeds the goats and starves the sheep. Sadly I know people who go to Elevation, they love drinking, partying, and have even seen people go to abortion mills with Elevation stickers on their cars.

    The church is to be separate from the world, James 4:4 and 1 John 2:15.

    John MacArthur has a great sermon about churches conforming to the world, and the danger of it.

    If you love God, you must watch this video

  5. Shawn and Grant,
    Please do something with the perfect knowledge you have and leave judgment to the Lord. Or tell me what you are doing for Jesus.
    God bless you

    Doug

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