THIS is what @StevenFurtick is teaching the kiddos!

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While the grownups are listening to Pastor Steven preach, the little ones are in Sunday school learning about “unity.” I actually cringed when I saw this. Not even the fundamentalist church I was raised in featured coloring pictures of our pastor.

There’s nothing good or holy or trustworthy about this kind of b.s. It’s dangerous religion. It’s the kind of evangelical brainwashing that all of us should be calling out. This should make us angry. Because its wrong. And because it’s not Christianity.

And even if the members of Elevation Church challenged this idea, who would listen? Their visions don’t matter. Only Steven Furticks’s vision matters. It’s his way or else.

That’s not unity. That’s not a community. That’s an idea bordering on cult. That’s a one-man led gathering masquerading as a church.

And if this is the kind of stuff that they proudly hand out in Sunday school to small children, what’s happening that we don’t know about?

This picture represents the smoke.

And where there’s smoke…

**UPDATE**

Here’s another coloring page from the Elevation program.

-1

The information on these coloring pages also matches Elevation Church’s “The Code.”

Also, check out THIS about how Elevation Church manages to secure baptisms.

**UPDATE #2**

This is for those who still remain in doubt…

This is the Tweet that Pastor Furtick sent out when the first edition of this coloring book released (there’s a second edition in the works according to one source).

Furtick_Tweet

Where does that image link take us? HERE.

Or to this image…

***ANOTHER UPDATE***

This video presents Pastor Furtick talking to the kids about whether or not they should take the blue pill or the red pill The Code. THE. CODE. Asking the kiddos to memorize The Code. Giving the dice to help them remember The. Code…

Pastor Steven’s April Video to eKidz: The Code from Elevation Church eKidz on Vimeo.

Thanks to Chris for the heads up.

***COMMENTS ARE CLOSED***

Comments

  1. theonetruemyles says

    My reaction is best described by the cartoon of Tom and Jerry, where smoke starts coming out his ears in a slow whistle right before his head explodes.

  2. lukeharms says

    When I look at this, the line from Jesus Feminist about “baptizing injustice and power in sacred language” immediately springs to mind.

  3. CoolingTwilight says

    Very scary. But at least the kid who had this seems very willing to break the rules and color outside the lines!

  4. LeanneZeck says

    What this coloring page says to me is visioning is the job of the pastor and the pastor alone. God doesn’t give the people the vision but the pastor. It also tells me the congregation sees unity in a very shallow way. To them unity is following and supporting the pastor.  Unity is found in the pastor. And this church is not interested in dialogue or teaching dialogue. These are all dangerous places to be. 

    But visioning doesn’t have to be only by the pastor. And unity doesn’t have to be in backing the pastor’s vision and work. For example:
    Adam Hamilton, pastor at the Church of the Resurrection, just went through proposing a new building plan to his congregation. He spoke about going into the congregational vote–if the proposal didn’t pass by a certain percentage like something around 80%–he was going to slow down the project and reassess the needs of the congregation and work with the congregation in visioning for the future. It doesn’t seem like it is the pastor’s way or the highway at the Church of the Resurrection. And it doesn’t seem like only the pastor can have the vision.

  5. rebornempowered says

    I would assume they have it already but just in case you should forward this to the television reporter who has been exposing Elevation Church.  This is some extremely scary stuff.

  6. says

    So this is a cult. When a group voluntarily submits to a charismatic leader in unquestioning support, that’s the classic pattern of a cult. I don’t know who this guy is, but he is entering into a very select community.

  7. Sharideth says

    I read this, quite literally, while watching a documentary on Jim Jones. The similarities are horrifying.

  8. KnowTea says

    I don’t know: there may be a subversive message hidden in this coloring page. Notice how the image is slanted. It’s not that the camera is crooked. The text at the top is straight but the image itself is tilted. That’s the sort of camera angle they always used on “Batman” for the villain. Hmm.

  9. FindingFruit says

    As an adult I can glean some good from precarious teaching but our children don’t have the critical thinking skills yet to do that and this coloring sheet discourages such thought. Scary. And sad.

  10. gbdill says

    I am also bothered by the Flock of Seagulls guy sitting in the front row and the floating ear on the right of the age behind the lady’s 1950s ponytail.

  11. AllanThompson1 says

    What do you mean “Bordering” on a cult. Based on all the info that has come out of Elevation (contracts, silencing members, this coloring book) this is ABSOLUTELY a cult.

  12. deannaogle says

    Creepy and bullying and dangerous and horrible. This makes my blood boil!

    “Not simply because it’s wrong, but because it’s little more than humanism disguised as Christianity.” 

    I wouldn’t say humanism because humanism promotes critical thinking, which is something Furtick is clearly against.  Unless you were just trying to say he’s using a dangerous non-religious philosophy and parading it as God’s will and as a Christian value, in which case I would agree with.

    Also, where did you get the coloring book sheet, by the way?

  13. MariaDorsey says

    “Not simply because it’s wrong, but because it’s little more than humanism disguised as Christianity.”
    Humanism is good for HUMANS. This isn’t good for anyone except Steve. 
    This is NOT humanism!

  14. partofaplan says

    MPT, I love you bro, but you need to check facts first. I don’t know if this is used in an official capacity in ELevation church, but you should ask the artist who has it up on her DeviantArt page here; http://badwhitney.deviantart.com/art/Elevation-Church-Coloring-Book-161511632 

    It could be someone’s attempt at humor. 

    I think Furtick is awful. Just awful. But let’s not make fires where we don’t need to. OK?

    • Matthew Paul Turner says

      This isn’t fake. This is or was used in their Sunday school. The person who sent it to me visited the church. That coloring was done by their child. And that artist isn’t fake. Check out her resume.

  15. BryanMcKaig says

    timspivey  Also would love to see the source. I want this to be fake, but unfortunately I could easily believe that it’s real.

  16. tourguidepastor says

    And then there’s this:  http://www.wcnc.com/news/iteam/How-Elevation-Church-Pastor-Furtick-produce-spontaneous-baptism-246072001.html

  17. timspivey says

    piratechristian The illustrations may be real. Can we verify the content on the pages is actually from Elevation? Not trying at all to be snarky. But, we live in a trolling age, and though Furtick has his problems, he’s got a really vicious and dishonest group of trolls chasing after him. If it’s legit, it’s a problem. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if someone simply grabbed a .jpg and went to work.

  18. piratechristian says

    timspivey I spoke with Elevation Church on the phone and they’ve verified that the “The Code” coloring book is real and that the pages on line are authentic. And I’ve asked them to send me a copy.

  19. piratechristian says

    partofaplan Matt and I don’t see eye to eye on most things. But, on this issue we’re in agreement.

  20. dariustgiles says

    The extent to which so many people are willing to jump on a guy whom they’ve never met and criticize a church they’ve never been to is astounding. Ironically, they do it in the name of “critical thinking” and “sound judgement” if you have a problem with Steven Furtick write him a letter and shut up.

  21. henryimler says

    dariustgiles  I’d be more inclined to give your comment weight if you’d do the same with regard to the specific artifacts listed in the post.  

    If it were vague whinings, you might have a point.  
    If it were a pastor with local accountability, you might have a point.

    But, this is a church and a singular man who has built a multi-million dollar operation and insulated himself from correction or even constructive feedback.

    The images listed above are specific artifacts that tie in directly with the campaign to produce hegemony within the church and to stifle that critical thinking you mention in your comment.

  22. says

    dariustgiles The letter would never make it past Furtick’s handlers or his security detail… and shutting up is exactly what people shouldn’t do. Shutting up is what has happened within churches for centuries. Shutting up breeds and harbors abuse…

  23. says

    tourguidepastor  I just read through the document they still have listed on their website. That 15 person seeder brigade is no joke.
    I literally can’t believe this. I’m amazed that they are upfront and honest about the manipulation. It is surreal. 
    Link to source < http://elevat.io/n/sssbaptismhowto >

  24. Brit Windel says

    I’d do the same for my church plant… but the kids would think they are colouring Al from Toy Story Toy from Al’s Toy Barn… I need to lose weight!

  25. says

    deannaogle  Neither! THis has nothing to do with humanism and arguably little to do with Christianity. He is a charismatic leader propping himself up as the one with special revelation. Even if he does not see himself that way, his people are or will. Cults form as a kind of transaction between magical explanations and expectations and the one through whom that power flows. The leader is a conduit of sorts and without the leader, the group loses its power and sometimes even its significance. This is why after the leader dies, the cult all but disintegrates. But the longer the leader sticks around, the better chance the cult will survive. For this see the Unification Church.

  26. jeffdaddy says

    The image is narcissistic enough, but the actual messaging is *seriously* disturbing.  It’s not hyperbolic to call it cult-like.

  27. deannaogle says

    drew_psu Exactly! Co-opting these ideas under the guise of it being a “good Christian thing to do” only goes to show just how manipulative this stuff is. It’s bad enough to assert authority like this, but tricking religious people into thinking that GOD is asserting Furtick’s authority … and to children!? This is a disaster.

  28. timspivey says

    I still haven’t seen the image from this site actually in the coloring book. It’s not a huge deal… I’ll trust MPT did this with sound judgment of facts–not a desire to bear false witness against his neighbor.

  29. BrendtWayneWaters says

    Matt, I have one nit to pick. It’s with your line: “And if this is the kind of stuff that they proudly hand out in Sunday school to small children, what’s happening that we don’t know about?” Doesn’t that imply that (at some level) they recognize that they’re doing something wrong, and thus seek to hide some factors?

  30. BrandonRenfro says

    This is why family oriented worship is the Biblical “Code”. Never abrogate the responsibility of being the spiritual leaders of your children to ANYONE else. ANYONE! 6 days a week I lead morning and evening family bible study. It is MY responsibility as the head of my house hold.

  31. says

    The added worry for me is how many evangelicals try to explain why such behaviour might not be bad. Sometimes they seem to prefer shooting the messenger rather than dealing with the issues raised.

  32. RobMcQueary says

    Scary stuff. I met Steven a few years ago at a mutual friend’s conference. Certainly one to watch.

  33. Bob1221 says

    In normal Sunday School, you assimilate teaching. In Elevationist Sunday School, Furtick’s teaching assimilate YOU.

     https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=521018971351313&set=a.521018961351314.1073741826.100003296436503&type=1&theater

  34. JodyJennings says

    Could you clarify the purpose of this post? What is your intent? Is it your desire that others repost this info, pass it along, stand against Furtick? Please explain…

  35. dariustgiles says

    MatthewPaulTurner dariustgiles  I agree that people IN steven’s church shouldn’t shut up if they’re being abused. You are right that we shouldn’t allow clergy or any other leaders to abuse power and hurt people using their gifts. But I don’t see any people from his church talking about this. I see a bunch of people from the outside looking in judging someone. Which is ironic to me for someone like you because it seems like you’ve probably felt judged by religious people in your life and that strongly shaped your world view. 

    I honestly appreciate your response, but I still think that people posting things like this about people they don’t know is not only harmful to those people, but also harmful to the collective identity of mankind. When we talk about 1 person and judge them without love and knowledge, we set a precedent for society as to how people in general should be treated. 

    Again, respectfully, have you sent him a letter? Do you know a lot about his security detal? I’m asking this honestly because I may be misjudging but it seems like that is an assumptive statement and from what I can glean about you from this site you don’t seem like you want to be an assumptive individual.

  36. dariustgiles says

    henryimler dariustgiles  I suppose that’s fair. 

    I honestly don’t agree with your assertions that his influence and the amount of money his operation functions with should be a determining factor about how you treat him as a man. He has the same right to be spoken to directly that you or I do. And as a man I think that if you have anything to say to Steven you should say it to him. 

    I don’t know where you get the idea that he has insulated himself from correction or constructive feedback, those are very serious allegations and while I really hope they’re not true, I also hope you have some substantial evidence to back them up because otherwise that is extremely inappropriate. 

    I’m not even saying that I agree with what I’m seeing in the above pictures. I’m just saying that if we want to talk about these things it should be loving and with respect. I may have been a tad overzealous in my OP but I stand by my principle: if you want to confront someone be a man and do it.

  37. slufi says

    dariustgiles MatthewPaulTurner  It seems clear that he has implemented brainwashing techniques if these images are authentic. Those in his church are likely not capable of voicing concern.

  38. says

    Well. I disagree. I’ve received 6-10 emails from former members with horror stories they want to share. And every single one of them write that nobody inside the church listened. So while you try to get me and others to shut up, the church is shutting up the victims. So get behind us…

  39. JacobHelsley says

    dariustgiles MatthewPaulTurner  While I appreciate your push to keep the dialog loving and gracious, the premise of such public reproof is this: Public error should be met by public correction.  It is not necessary, in the context of public discourse, to address someone privately (as in a private letter).

  40. KatherineRay says

    dariustgiles MatthewPaulTurner  This is exactly what people like Furtick count on – that he will be able to control his people from the inside, and that individuals like you will shut down any kind of inquiry or help for his victims from the outside.

  41. BrendonCoetzer says

    dariustgiles henryimler
    I think all of us (myself
    included) have become somewhat cowardly from one extent to another, with the invention of social
    networking, blogs etc.  We’re all too quick to judge and make critical
    remarks about church leaders who we disagree with. 
    This is my own opinion but in the eye of the global population, the church
    (even with it’s various denominations) is generally perceived as a whole
    so while someone might drill one church’s reputation into the ground you put doubt into
    the minds of those souls whom we are trying to reach out to.

  42. ChristinaEntzMoss says

    New party game idea: Apples to Apples, celebrity pastor edition. Clearly Pastor Steven has visionary in the bag.

  43. 317Russ says

    So many Bible teachers that I used to listen to are falling in love with this guy… it is getting to be sad for me.

  44. LindseyGallagher says

    Friend, you should clarify that this was 2010.  The wording has changed.  It’s “We are united under one vision.”  That vision being “So that people far from God will be raised to life in Christ.”  An 8 year old church is going to have growing pains and when you grow at a rapid pace, people grasp on to every little thing but forget the learning curve.  It’s a little deceptive to not clarify or note that wording has since changed.  There is no more coloring book and to say the Code borders on cult like…that’s culture and if you tended to clarify further, it’s rooted in scripture.  Being generous, giving honor to others, giving our best to Him…when did all of that become wrong??

    • Matthew Paul Turner says

      I don’t see the difference. They are still united under the vision that God gave Pastor Steven. It’s not misleading. It’s a little less creepy than it was. But it’s still creepy and not good.

  45. AzierTheGray says

    One of the things that unsettles me even more than the things mentioned here is I frequently find myself asking myself concerning churches like this:

    “Now, is God or was God ever involved in any of this? Is God actually present in churches like this, partially there, or completely absent? Does God ever have anything to do with the founding of churches like this and/or does He work through them?”

    I ask these questions speaking as someone who once attended a church that was similar to Furtick’s (though smaller), and, though I distinctly remember some positive aspects at different points, it ended up being very nearly responsible for me leaving Christianity and never darkening the door of a church again. (But still, I clearly remember a few moments where it really did feel like I made a legitimate connection with God on that point of my spiritual journey.) (I’ve also been writing some of these experiences into the plot of my next fiction book which is the primary catalyst for my thoughts on this subject.)

    I also ask as someone who once read Furtick’s ‘Sun Stand Still’ book several years ago and remember it having a positive impact on myself during a very trying time when I was having a hard time holding onto hope for the future and hope in faith. (Although I still identified as evangelical back then and do not now so I don’t know what my reaction to the book would be on reading it again now.) But do I completely write off the positive impact it had at that point?

    Also, I have a friend who is a member there and part of their team. I have not presently read any of the “horror stories” of members you have mentioned. She is completely convinced that God is touching and changing many people’s lives through the ministry and doing a lot of good. Should I consider her completely deluded/brainwashed?

  46. deeks says

    Have you read his wife’s blog?  She sounds brainwashed, always praising her husband and their “church”.

  47. GaryAllum says

    LindseyGallagher
    4. We Are United Under One Vision
    Elevation is built on the vision God gave Pastor Steven. We will aggressively defend our unity and that vision.
    Direct from their website, 2/19/2014

  48. canwealljuststopandthink says

    The Emperor has absolutely NO CLOTHES ON!
    The idea that people are getting angry at you for posting this just cracks me up. 
    I guess we all have our priorities! 
    Thank you for sharing this insanity!!!

  49. BrendtWayneWaters says

    LindseyGallagher  “There is no more coloring book…” So when piratechristian called the church to confirm its existence, were they lying or was he?

    Regardless, though, your insistence that “[i]t’s a little deceptive to not clarify or note that wording has since changed” cuts both ways. If things have changed so radically (hint: they haven’t), it would be more than a little deceptive for Elevation not to note the change.

  50. BrendtWayneWaters says

    DonnyPauling  The height of irony generated by simultaneously decrying MPT’s alleged self-promotion while stating that you’ve spoken to over 6,000,000 is staggering — even the Sherpas are getting nose bleeds.

  51. AzierTheGray says

    Don’t get me wrong, btw. The more I look into it, the more things about this church I’m finding a little (extremely) creepy. Point 4 in the Code is one primary example.

  52. LynnKalinosky says

    I left a place like this after four years.  The Pastor was THE last word on every decision you made for yourself. (#4, The Visionary) The congregation grew huge.  All the money we were exhorted to give (#3), got funneled up to him and he became very rich. 
    Meanwhile I struggled to feed and clothe myself at two jobs.  I was told it was because I was somehow not pleasing God, perhaps not giving enough of my paycheck to the Pastor, or  because my roommate was Jewish and I was “pitching my tent toward Sodom”.  I will never know what that meant.  (#4 Aggression)
    I once got caught listening to a local music station and was humiliated in the congregation for it. (#4 Aggression)
    The Pastor eventually had several affairs with his elders’ wives and got caught and thrown out.  It’s only a matter of time for this Alpha Male too.
    My observation on the coloring book; although the purpose is different, it reeks of Jack T. Chick.

  53. LindseyGallagher says

    GaryAllum LindseyGallagherKey words – God gave.  Are we saying God doesn’t speak to us anymore?  Give people a vision for their lives and their future?  I would hope most churches have a vision for their life and their church.  Who wouldn’t defend a vision that seeks unity and reaching people far from God?  It’s less about who it was given to and more about the church.  In the end, as someone attending the church I can honestly state that while I’ve wondered about some things in the past, when you get in the midst of the congregation it is NOT about Pastor Steven.  In fact, what’s said is “It’s not about Pastor Steven.  It’s about Him.”  Twisting words in the church – the body of Christ – is getting to the point of hurtful.  It makes me wonder how much good we could be doing in the time it takes everyone to write and respond this way.  

    Sidebar: as a pastor’s kid, I also have to say that YES, it was hard for me to wrap my mind around a church like this.  I grew up in a small church and my parents (dad in particular) would be on me about the “crazy” if there were anything to it.  They’ve actually attended with me several times and enjoy it, listen at home sometimes, etc.  On the other hand, look at the book of Acts and what Christ did through the church.  Shouldn’t we have the faith to believe He can still do that today?

  54. LindseyGallagher says

    BrendtWayneWaters LindseyGallagherNo denying it did once exist, but it’s not produced anymore.  Hasn’t been for several years.

    If you look at what was posted previously by someone, they went directly from the website.  The wording is not “We are united under the visionary.” anymore.  It is “We are united under one vision.”  THAT is the clarification and change.

  55. LeanneZeck says

    DonnyPauling  Nice self promo. You’ve spoken to 6 million people. Bravo. As a pastor, I find posts like this challenging. How am I presenting the values of the church and leading the church? It is easy to fall into a trite definition of unity where everyone agrees and follows the pastor. It is harder to lead people through disagreements and finding unity in the disagreements. And so I look at a post like this and ask, what kind of unity am I promoting? I ask is my leadership beginning to go towards top down or am I able to work along side the people and help them hear the vision of God.
    It may not be interesting to you. But for some of us it useful. It is cautionary. It challenges. And just perhaps, MPT is not out to go viral. Perhaps he just wants to build a site where Christians come and dialog about what is happening in churches. I don’t know him personally. But I am wondering how well you know him to make that kind of judgment.

  56. LeanneZeck says

    LindseyGallagher GaryAllum  I think the key words are God gave pastor Steven.
    As a pastor, I don’t want to be the only person given the vision for the church. Its not my church. And I am not the only person who can hear from God. I need my congregation to be listening to God and God’s vision. Whenever I do visioning for the church, it is not on my own. It is with the leadership. And I hear where they feel God is calling us. 
    That is the problem they are teaching the children that it is the pastor’s place to vision and to tell them what to do and what it means to be a Christian.

  57. RyanEwing says

    LindseyGallagher GaryAllum  The only thing you should be “aggressively defending” is the Gospel.  Pastors are called upon to be leaders, but also to have a servant’s mentality to the congregation.  

    My question would be:  why doesn’t the coloring book exist anymore?  Steven Furtick is still the pastor, so why was something he thought was “awesome” swept under the rug?  Is there a public denouncement of what was in the book?  If not, I have to assume that he still approves of the cult-like rhetoric.

    Nobody is saying that charity work is wrong, of course, but where do you direct your glory?  Do you give it to God, or do you turn your pastor into a folk hero in coloring books?

  58. BrendtWayneWaters says

    LindseyGallagher BrendtWayneWaters  I’ll assume that that’s your version of addressing the points I raised.

  59. theplea311 says

    LindseyGallagher GaryAllum  The part that will always be unsettling for me when it comes to “church” is the idea of a hierarchy.  You always have terminology like “Lead Pastor” or “Executive Pastor”.  There’s something about the stage that not only creates chaos in the person that is on the stage but most importantly in my opinion in the congregation.  The fact that most of the time we have to elevate our eyes to someone on stage internally creates an hora around that person and causes much controversy in the heart of the people that they are teaching.  I’m not saying here that leadership isn’t necessary, it most surely is.  How that leadership is conveyed is another thing.  We all too often follow the model of our forefathers and forget about our heavenly Father.  We follow the Pharisee rather than the one who called them out.  Unfortunately with these kinds of issues they do nothing the Glory of God.  They bring nothing but discord and separation.

  60. DonnyPauling says

    BrendtWayneWaters DonnyPauling  A quick read through the bio of this poster would illuminate the reason for my “PS.”

  61. bk4organics says

    LynnKalinosky  He is not in the same camp as the church you came from. You people are wrong. What the heck is wrong with the coloring book? What is wrong with the statement of faith? You don’t like it because its called The Code? This church is the most giving to the community I have ever seen and I have been part of a lot. I am a seminary graduate from a conservative southern baptist seminary. Im not that stupid to fall for fraudulent practices such as the Paula White’s and Randy White’s of the TBN crowd. Pastor Furtick is not in this camp. He is different. He is young, probably has a lot to learn. He loves his wife and kids. He loves his congregation and hates being gone. He’s a young accomplished author already. People forget that all the families who came to Charlotte to start Elevation, sold out everything they had and gave all. Very humble beginnings. Pastor Furtick has always tithed nearly 50% of his income back to the church and still does so. Everything we tithe, 12% of that goes back into the community for ministries. Matthews campus offers a free medical clinic on Saturdays, we have built homes for people, two homes in Haiti, gave close to 100k to A21 campaign that rescues people from human trafficking, the youth packaged nearly half a million emergency meals last summer for disasters. Those meals are being used and feeding homeless families and children as we speak. All of you attacking who call yourselves Christians ought to be ashamed of yourselves and get on your knees and pray. I do not worship Furtick, I worship God. If he has crossed some lines, then it is up to us to pray for he and his family. I do believe the Bible instructs us to do that and to also restore such a person should they fall.

  62. bk4organics says

    JacobHelsley dariustgiles MatthewPaulTurner  Where in the bible does it call anyone to publicly filet their brother or sister in Christ?

  63. ChristianSalafia says

    Aside from the general creepiness of the “united under the visionary” bit of the code and the coloring book, one thing I haven’t seen discussed is the horribly out of context use of Romans 13.

    It’s giving the impression that Furtick is the “governing authority” Paul is talking about, and not, you know, actual governments.

    Furtick was, well still is, one of Craig Groschel’s  (Lifechurch.tv) padawans.  I’ve heard Furtick preach years ago, and he is very charismatic.  Honestly, I think he probably started out with good intentions, but got seduced by the power, money, and prestige that comes from having a huge mega-church with jillions of members.
    What’s sadder is that instead of being honest about the criticism, he’s doubled down and only set himself up for a huge fall.

  64. Darth Board says

    DonnyPauling You’re missing a key ingredient of Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness there, brother. Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother when his brother came to him asking for forgiveness. Neither Elevation nor Furtick has acknowledged any wrongdoing (or even a mistake) in publishing this coloring book, and point 4 of “The Code” still feels the need to name the pastor of the church as the one to whom God has given vision.

    If you cannot see why people are concerned about such things and feel the need to point… well, that is concerning to me. Elevation, for their part, has not changed their message here. They’ve only stopped using a coloring book (and since it came out way back in 2010–may not seem like a long time for you, but for a young church like Elevation it is–that more likely has to do with it being “older” than any problem with its content, considering they have never denounced the content). To assume that they have “backed down” on this teaching and just “forgive and forget” does not appear to me at all to be what Jesus was talking about to Peter.

  65. Bob1221 says

    bk4organics Come on. Indoctrinating children to blindly follow the Visionary? The parallel to the way the Soviets used propaganda posters on children is exact. This is just plain wrong to try to elevate himself in children’s minds this way. A danger signal is that if you replaced all occurrences of Furtick in this book with Jesus, it would be commendable.

    You need to ask yourself, are you falling into the trap of “elevating” a mere human being to the status where he cannot be questioned, no matter WHAT he does or teaches? If so, you should become a Roman Catholic. Do not place Furtick on a pedestal reserved for Christ alone.

  66. Gustafa says

    bk4organics LynnKalinosky  
    I’ve watched this for years. Coming from 10 years or more as the same (not same church) as Lynn.
    As soon as someone questions someone like Furtick, I can set my watch by those that come to defend them. 
    Lynn, I feel for you, there was no spirit of God in any of it.
    bk4 – I also feel for you. I leave you with the advice to get to know God and the scriptures and how to correctly interpret scripture in light of scripture.

  67. JohnChester says

    bk4organics LynnKalinoskyRegardless of educational background, if you can’t see something wrong with teaching children, the overwhelming majority of whom are not saved, that unity around the pastors “god given” vision is dangerous and wrong there is a serious problem.  Of all the “good” that is done by Elevation, there is no mention of the gospel, just works. And while Furtick may not be in the same crowd as Paula White he has joined Benny Hinn and Joel Osteen in teaching that the application of the “I Am” passage in Exodus 3 is that whenever you say “I am a failure etc” you are taking the Lords name in vain, which is clear unambiguous blasphemy.
    http://www.arealchange.com/blog/crash-chatterbox-live-interview-steven-furtick

  68. cnehring says

    bk4organics LynnKalinoskyIn the churches that I serve, I strive for the kids to learn the Creeds and the Bible, not a made-up “code” in which they are told to obey the “leader” and not God. In fact, the “code” basically says that the “vision” of Furtick’s is God’s word to him and thus if you are not following the “vision,” you are not following God. 

    Ask yourself the question-who is being lifted up here-God or Furtick?

  69. Gustafa says

    All the things Furtick says and does are not unique. I’ve seen many a church and lived through being a member of one of them.
    Any time you see a pastor & congregation use phrases like:
    – We are unique, have a specific calling within the body of Christ
    – These are the singular things we are known for…
    – Protect the pastors vision…
    – Honor, honor, honor…
    – Excuses for privacy
    – Excuses for funding
    – Excuses for buildings and costs

    Those along with no level of senior accountability, the pastor great experiences, words and new revelations from God, etc.
    These are all danger signs that a pastor has lead people away from God although seemingly things are still being moved by God and used by God etc. 

    Theres more social psychology in some churches than just plain scriptural teaching.

  70. JasCamp17 says

    bk4organics LynnKalinosky  Yet, all those good works will not get anyone into the kingdom of heaven. False Prophets are very charismatic, they do good works, yet do not preach the gospel. Manipulation baptisms and putting yourself out as the Visionary, are egotistical acts .

  71. Darth Board says

    DonnyPauling You act as if this is the only (or the most serious) problem anyone has with Elevation or Furtick. Do not forget that 1 Timothy 3:2 says, “an overseermust be above reproach.” I don’t think Furtick is a fraud or anything like that, but he is certainly not above reproach. And all he would have to do to be so is to be upfront about his church’s finances and denounce bad teachings like this from the past.
    As for his need to confess (I did not say “apologize,” and that was very intentional), consider the Scripture:

    Proverbs 28:13

    “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
    but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”

    Acts 19:18
    “Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices.”
    1 John 1:9
    “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

    James 5:16
    “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another,
    that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power
    as it is working.” 
    I am not judging Furtick or Elevation. Frankly, I think they’ve generally striven to do the right thing, but that doesn’t excuse ignoring lapses that bring shame to the name of Christ. Immaturity can be forgiven, certainly. But that doesn’t mean we are loving brothers by letting a brother continue in immaturity.

    (And by the way, if you’re going to talk about judgment, you might want to note that I called you “brother,” and you called me “Pharisee.” Just sayin’.)

  72. ReasonFilter says

    Funny, we left a church the day the message was titled, “Unity,” in which the sole pastor of the church was attempting to reason why he should exert his control over the church. He had appointed a couple to a leadership role and through some sour business relationship with them ask them to step down. Of course, we had seen turnover of other roles in the church such as the worship leader, which seem to change about every several months. He had asked the couple not to attend Sunday service, but we told them there is no reason for such a thing and that we would stand by them.
    People should think for themselves. I recently read a story where two parents were sentenced for not taking their 8 month old with treatable pneumonia to the hospital, but instead prayed over him. They had another child die due to refusing medical treatment and praying to Jesus for his healing. It is when wishful thinking becomes child abuse.
    While in church, I challenged myself to read the Bible cover to cover. It was during the reading of the Old Testament that I became disillusioned with the whole notion of a merciful, loving god. He was bitter and angry and didn’t care about those whom he hadn’t chosen to be “his” people. Now, I see religion as a failed science. If you accept the tenets of the faith, things can seem logical and reasonable as even Steven Furtick’s point of view, yet the tenets of a Bronze Age religion fail completely looking at empirical evidence. Even the gospels were written well after the life of Jesus and have the same validity of the biographer who wrote that George Washington could not tell a lie about chopping down the cherry tree, which turns out to be a myth.
    It is disappointing to see masses of people mostly blindly following some conniving individual because they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. I used to be proud to be a part of a church that was growing in numbers and really making an impact on people’s lives only to see that it was a boost for the ego of one man, who quickly disenfranchised over half of his congregation.

  73. Gustafa says

    JohnChester bk4organics LynnKalinosky  

    They all teach:
    Faith is a force
    Your words are a container of that force
    Through the force of faith man can speak into existence their health and wealth

    Force of fatih, etc and as if God needs our permission and our faith and words to accomplish anything in this world. 
    Completely blasphemy and I’ve seen Furtick start to swim in these waters. Spreading this and the control aspect to believers is an affront to God. 
    Im sure Furtick and his congregation just view it as “persecution”, which is ultimately sad. I’ve been there, used to think this way.

  74. JohnChester says

    Aside from the significant theological problems here and the wasting of opportunities to evangelize lost children, there is one very distressing practical concern.  This teaches children that anything done to them by Furtick or in the name of Furtick is from God and cannot be questioned (or reported).  This is a recipe for disaster.

  75. Darth Board says

    DonnyPauling Like I say, they haven’t changed their message. “The Code” still lists “Pastor Steven” as the recipient of God’s vision. That goes to being above reproach. And when your ministry is as public as Elevation’s is, the only way to be above reproach is to be public about your confessions of public sins.

    I’m sorry it is so upsetting to you that believers would voice concerns over another believer’s ministry that you need to define that as “judging” in the “condemning” sense. You seem to assume a tone to my remarks that I don’t think is obvious from them. I’m sorry if you have felt the sting of judgment in your own ministry, but I pray that you do understand the need to be accountable and above reproach.

    God bless you, brother.

  76. JonesMelvin says

    ReasonFilter  It’s too bad you have gone the way you have.  God is anything but bitter and angry.  Consider, for instance, how long he suffered the idol worshipers to stay in the land He had promised Israel.  Consider the fact that He shows both the saved and the unsaved tremendous mercy by not wiping us out as he has every right to do.  

    I have to say though, that I am always “amused” at the reactions of people who, as you say, read the Bible all the way through and then come to some rather sudden conclusions.  It’s comparable to the person who looks through all the plans for a very large skyscraper and come to “conclusions” about the skyscraper.  You would do well not to simply read the Bible.  Rather, first make sure you are in fact saved (from your words I suspect you are not).  Then go from there.

  77. EgonCohen says

    DonnyPauling  If I may paraphrase your argument: “How do you know that Furtick hasn’t apologized? You don’t know if he has or not. And why does he owe you an apology, anyway? You’re not a member of Elevation, so you should keep your trap shut.”

    My response to your concerns is as follows: We are, I assume, confessing Christians, and as such, all part of The Church, the body of Christ (see 1 Cor. 12:27). When someone publicly damages the body of Christ (and even you admit there were problems here), they should be publicly accountable to its members — even those outside his/her own personal cult — ahem — ministry.

    This is especially true given that Furtick is still trying to grow said ministry. If you are actively trying to convince us, the public, to join your ministry, then you owe us, the public an explanation for your grossly inappropriate behavior.

    Finally: Your third person language about Elevation is, in my opinion, disingenuous. You’re a semi-public figure and a quick Google search shows your connection to them.

    So if what Furtick is doing at *your church* really doesn’t affect us, and really isn’t any of our business, then why do you care so much what *we* think about *your church*? 

    Oh, that’s right, bad publicity makes it harder for *you* to lure *us* in, doesn’t it? . . .

  78. JonathanEdwardWeaverII says

    JonesMelvin ReasonFilter  Except the plans for a skyscraper would actually make sense.

  79. BrendtWayneWaters says

    DonnyPauling BrendtWayneWaters  “this poster”? Are you going all Michael Jordan on me and referring to yourself in the third person?
    Regardless, there’s no factor that would eliminate the incredible irony that I noted.

  80. says

    Gustafa  

    Other warning signs include

    – Expectation of absolute loyalty to the senior pastor, executive leaders and  elders 

    –  Unquestioning submission to those in authority expected and demanded

    – Loss of voice. Disagreement and differing viewpoints not accepted; they are a  reason for disciplinary action.  

    When this is a church’s culture, get out.  Run, don’t walk.

  81. says

    Gustafa  I’m tracking with you.  And because Elevation is such a high-profile church AND they are so honest about all of this AND they don’t see it all as a problem, it is a great case study of what’s going wrong in the evangelical hornet’s nest at large.

  82. dariustgiles says

    MatthewPaulTurner  I completely respect you as a person and your right to disagree, and I appreciate that you allow open dialogue on your blog like this. But honestly man, I just asked you pointed questions, the same way you have publicly called out Furtick. Instead of answering those questions and responding to them, like you’ve said Furtick should do, you brought up anecdotal evidence (the letters that you’ve allegedly received that are second hand reports to you and now third hand reports that without proof we are being implicated to believe from you. Although I do sympathize if these “horror stories” are true and I hope they’re not) and then gave me a command: 

    “So get behind us…” 

    You commanding me to get behind you is exactly what you’re calling Furtick out for. You just used your authority as a writer and the moderator of this blog to assert yourself and your opinion over me. And you ignored my constructive criticism about the way you handled this blog, which is another thing you are upset at Furtick for… The fact that you’re not taking any of my comments seriously or responding to them is troubling and concerning to me because you, exactly like Furtick, are a public figure who has a following of people who are willing to just get behind you. 

    I’m sorry for the way you were raised and the god that you were subjected to. I’m sorry that you weren’t raised in the church to examine and critically think for yourself. I’m sorry that you feel that you have been wronged by a church. Really. But it seems like what you really want is to attack other religious leaders because of what you’ve personally experienced and that because of your pain you want to hold them to a different standard than you do yourself. Which only ever leads to the mistreatment of people.

  83. dariustgiles says

    BrendonCoetzer dariustgiles henryimler  I appreciate that Brendon. But by telling me that I’m putting doubt into the minds of the shouls you’re reaching out to sounds exactly like something you are trying to do to guys like Furtick. 

    It seems like a pretty big double standard that you can criticize him when he claims to be trying to help people but that when I do it to you it’s ok for you to refuse to critically examine your methods or even your values. If what I say puts doubt in the mind of anyone than they are responsible for examining those doubts themselves as human beings…which I thought was exactly what you are trying to promote…I guess that statement just really confused me.

  84. dariustgiles says

    slufi Really? What evidence do you have to support that he has brainwashed people to the point that they were unable to resist his mind control? Even Hitler had major factions of opponents in nazi Germany that tried to assassinate and overthrow him. So the idea that someone like Furtick can literally control people’s minds seems utterly ridiculous and poorly thought out honestly.

  85. dariustgiles says

    JacobHelsley dariustgiles MatthewPaulTurner  I can see your logic there. Thank you for that. I think that you’re right, but I do think that again in public reproof there should be a tone of loving concern and not militant mockery, which I think you agree with.

  86. dariustgiles says

    KatherineRay fortunately for the human race I am only a man and am not capable of shutting anyone or anything down. Thank God that I do not have that power. I do however retain the right as a person to share my thoughts, observations, and concerns. If people are then moved by that or their examination of that causes a change in opinion then maybe there is validity to what is being said.

  87. jkirky says

    I gotta say, the only coloring pages I had as a child in church depicted Jesus, the disciples, Mary, Joseph, Jonah and that frighteningly huge whale, Noah and his unusually large houseboat, Adam and Eve with leaves for clothes. some of those scare me today, the thought that a pastor is so vain that he wants the littles coloring HIS image is down right freaky.

  88. GaryAllum says

    bk4organics LynnKalinosky  
    #1, “The Code is NOT a statement of faith. If you are a seminary graduate, and think it is, I would venture you must have missed a fair huge number of classes.

    #2, There are large amounts of “accomplished authors”, this has no bearing on his preaching, teaching or leading.

    #3,  “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’  Matthew 7:21-23. The good worksof he and his church, are no guarantee of anything.

    #4, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Matthew 7:15-16. From the very public sharing of their “spontaneous baptism” tactics, I think Furticks fruits are plain for all to see. http://www.sunstandstill.org/baptismkit

  89. says

    dariustgiles BrendonCoetzer henryimler  

    LOL at accusations of being cowardly.  
    There’s no local governance (mega-church pastor board), he refuses to be interviewed by the news, all of the structures and language advocate for uniformity and the stifling of dissent instead of transparency and communication.
    A survey of all available information suggests there is no way to communicate with him nor an attitude within the church of open engagement with people.
    When there are disturbing patterns in conjunction with publicity and re-use of attitudes, materials, and methods, there is a duty to talk about it publicly.  I’m not using a false name, I’m not speculating about motives (I really think they are earnestly doing what they think is best but are tremendously misguided).
    It’s not nit-picking minor things and misrepresenting him / Elevation.  It’s as open and honest engagement as it possible.
    We invite Stephen and others to engage here and elsewhere.

  90. slufi says

    dariustgiles for a brief reference on the use of brainwashing within a religious community, consider http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Library/Shelf/wakefield/us-14.html
    I haven’t seen certified proof that this book exists – but if it does and it contains the information indicated here, it is a classic example of brainwashing. Certainly, some people leave the cult, but they would never be heard as offering criticism from within the church -which is what you suggest in your original post. They will be seen as “disgruntled outsiders with an ax to grind” or worse.

  91. LeanneZeck says

    DonnyPauling LeanneZeck  Wow! I say I got something out of this article that I found helpful and suddenly told I am casting stones and condemning people.
    I never said that Pastor Furtick is evil for doing this. I think he and his staff have the best of intentions. I am not sure they are hearing the full message given by their code. But that doesn’t mean they are evil. 
    You originally said this was dumb post. I simply told you I was challenged by it.
    And do you have proof that people are staying away from church because of articles like this? Do you have some names of people to back that accusation up? I deal with people regularly that tell me that there are people mad over this or that. And it always ends up they are inflating things for their argument. I call your bluff.

  92. JohnChester says

    DonnyPauling It would be news reported in all of the Christian media outlets (and many secular ones too) if Steven Furtick publicly repented of anything.  The “how do you know” argument is weak and desperate. And they have continued chugging in the same direction, repentance means to turn and head in the opposite direction. The lack of repentance is self evident.

  93. standupwi1 says

    Baloneysausage. We all have the authority to challenge anything taught by any preacher, anytime. Or have you not read where that authority comes from?

  94. LindseyGallagher says

    standupwi1 It did used to say “…under the visionary.”  As the church started growing, the wording did start to sound funny and it was changed in 2010 to “…under one vision.”

  95. LindseyGallagher says

    BrendtWayneWaters LindseyGallagherI’m not sure how much more it can be clarified that the change was made?  The wording was changed and it’s worded as such on the church website.  Are you expecting personal phone calls to all church members about the change?  I’m not sure how they didn’t note the change if…the words did change?

  96. LindseyGallagher says

    LeanneZeck LindseyGallagherGaryAllumI would agree with you that the pastor shouldn’t be the only one with a vision of where God is leading them in church.  And I don’t think that’s the case with Elevation-our pastor meets with campus pastor’s all the time about leadership, vision, etc.  

    As far as everything with the kids, I have served with the kid’s ministry at Elevation for the last 8 years and actually helped write some curriculum.  Never have I once taught a lesson or seen one written/used that tells kids the only person that can have a vision is the pastor.  It’s the opposite in fact.  Kids have the ability to discern probably far better than some adults do and when you talk about vision with kids – you can back that up night and day with reminding them of who God says they are and can be – who God calls us to be in the world and to the people around us.  We actually just got done with a few lessons that talked about that.  No mention of Pastor Steven in those lessons.  Application to kids lives, teaching them to take God’s word and apply it.

  97. LindseyGallagher says

    RyanEwing LindseyGallagherGaryAllum Why doesn’t it exist anymore?  As I stated previously…  Church plant – there is a learning curve with many things.  As the church grew, the wording did start to sound a bit off track an hence it was changed to “…under one vision.”  Strategies and methods change and evolve over time so as for why “awesome” was swept under the rug…things shifted when the wording changed.  As for a public denouncement, are you expecting personal phone calls to everyone?  I’ll be honest…the coloring books were around MAYBE a couple of months.  I barely remember even seeing them let alone what was in it.  To need a public “denouncement” of a coloring book that didn’t end up being used very much and the wording of which was changed in 2010…  To what end at this point?  We’ve moved beyond that.

    Regarding who the glory goes to, I know my heart and where mine goes.  I can only speak for myself and as someone who attends this church.  My glory doesn’t go to a man, it goes to God.  What other people do and who they give the glory to is between them and God.  And to the end of saying he’s a folk hero in coloring books – yeah, that may have been what it comes across as.  Have we ever considered the fact that that may be one of the reasons it’s no longer in existence?  Hindsight is always 2020 and the learning curve can be steep when you are a young, growing church.  Am I glad it isn’t used anymore?  Yes – it caused people to misconstrue their view of Elevation.  Case in point…this article and most of the comments.  Now that the wording and coloring book no longer exist?  Time to move on.

    • Matthew Paul Turner says

      Lindsey, let it go. You’re long, dramatic replies and statements are absolutely exhausting. At this point, you’re trolling this post and you need to take a break. Thanks for reading. But please take a breather from posting more.

  98. BrendtWayneWaters says

    LindseyGallagher BrendtWayneWaters  Your reading comprehension skills are lacking. At no time did I deny that there was a change; I am taking your word for that. But *making* a change and *noting* said change are two different things — and you’re conflating the two.
    Although I think that, at best, placing so much emphasis on what God allegedly told one man (“the vision God gave Pastor Steven”) is extremely unwise, I have to admit that it’s a LOT better than placing the emphasis directly on the man (“under the visionary”). There is no way to spin the latter to be a good thing — it puts the spotlight on a sinful man and off of the sinless man. So even though I disagree with the new wording, I must admit that it’s a radical improvement over the old wording. Yet, I’ve not heard one word from Furtick or Elevation that the previous wording was less than ideal, let alone (the reality) that it was dead wrong.

  99. PhillipeSalander says

    People who need a book or another person to tell them how to be a decent person and live a good life are terrifying no matter who or what they believe.

  100. BrianMize says

    PhillipeSalander By your simple definition we are all terrifying people since we all need to taught by others – parents, school teachers, etc. – about how we should live our lives in a way that is decent and good. And how many of us read all sorts of books in order to better ourselves?

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