(CBS Charlotte) — You don’t even have to live in Charlotte to know about Elevation Church or the church’s Pastor, Steven Furtick.
But in the last 24 hours, Furtick has become “better known” — in a negative way.
What’s making headlines in Charlotte today is a broader subject that requires more debate. The issue at hand — Steven Furtick, the Pastor of Elevation Church, and a 19 acre piece of land which happens to be accompanied by a 16,000 square foot home that Furtick is building for his family.
WCNC first broke the story last night. Their story sheds light on the lack of transparency surrounding the construction of the home, including lack of clarity regarding who legally owns the home, and why Furtick’s name was purposely not listed on the Deed.
There are three main sides to the argument, and they go far beyond just how many bathrooms Pastor Steven really needs in his million dollar mansion. In case you’re wondering, the house has 7.5 bathrooms … but back to the point — is it wrong for Pastor Steven to build such a lavish home for his family? Does he have a moral obligation to be transparent because of his status in the community, and lastly, is it any of our business what Pastor Steven does with his money?
Furtick has been building a platform for both himself and Elevation Church for several years. In fact, even though it might not have been intentional, Furtick has become more popular than the church he created. His intentions in the beginning were noble, which is evident by the millions of dollars Elevation Church has donated to charity, and the great emphasis the church places on volunteering and making a difference — both in the community and in the lives of others.
Along the way, however, something happened. Both Elevation Church and Furtick became household names — they became famous. And with fame comes money and power.
Perhaps, I’m just one of those people who wholeheartedly believes that money is the root of all evil. Everyone wants to have enough money to live comfortably — but money, power and fame changes people … it just does.
On one hand, being well-known provides you with a network of people lining up to help you with your endeavors or charitable efforts. Undoubtedly, you can do a lot more to make a difference if you have fame, money and power. Many celebrities have successfully assisted charities this way (even though at the end of the day, many of these celebrities were paid by the charity to stand behind their cause.) But, is it different when your cause or passion made you famous?
Today, Furtick seems like more of an entrepreneur, rather than a pastor. His weekend sermon mentioned how a local news station had discovered the home he is building, which Furtick described as “not that great of a house.” The sermon sounded more like damage control than that of a pastor spreading God’s word.
But let’s not forget, if not for Furtick, Elevation Church would not exist — and all things considering, the church has made a significant impact on our local community. Furthermore, Furtick was able to build his dream home with money he earned through his book sales — that’s right … Furtick is also an author. But, not so fast … as it turns out, even though Furtick “donated” some of the money from the sale of his books to Elevation Church, the sale of his books and Elevation Church are intertwined.
Even though Furtick wrote the books, Elevation Church helped promote them by paying for ads … using money from the congregation. Furthermore, many members of the congregation were encouraged to purchase the books. Therefore, church money did help Furtick build his dream home — even though it is indirectly.
Funding aside, has the average church become more like a business and less about God? Is the emphasis more about how much money the church can bring in, and less about helping people? Should we refer to churches as Church Inc.?
The sad reality is that operating a church has been a lucrative business for quite some time. Many local pastors live far better lives than the people that they preach to, and many preach in ridiculously lavish and over-sized churches.
Nonetheless, at the end of the day, how Furtick decides to spend his income is his business, however, in doing so, he should be prepared to suffer the consequences of losing a great deal of support from the community — should they choose not to agree with his choices.
-Nichole Jaworski, CBS Charlotte