From my personal faith statement: I believe “…in the mystery of the Church: A perfect God has equipped a group of fallen human beings to be His body.[i] As individuals, we stumble through the darkness of life, but by God’s grace the corporate body becomes the light of Christ to the world.[ii] Through Christ-centered worship, education, fellowship and service,[iii] the church is sent to proclaim the Gospel so all may see Jesus.[iv]”
Just last week I was surprised that the Charlotte Observer had let the Elevation story slide. Having read the 600 page account called the Rise and Fall of PTL, I studied in college the determined work of the Charlotte Observer to pull apart Jim Bakker’s crumbling ministry. This has given me more of a lens of understanding the Charlotte Observer, then Charlotte ministers, because they seem to enjoy stories that humble the wealthy (i.e. the CMC private jet story). I imagine most Elevators are annoyed by the constant warning of PTL, but the #1 thing a church planter must do is exegete his culture, and Furtick/Elevation must recognize that PTL is very much part of Charlotte’s spiritual legacy. So I had been waiting for todays paper that the Observer turned its attention back on Furtick: Article
This recent article about Elevation does highlight one important thing for me. How our core theology informs even the way we structure our church governments. As a Presbyterian, I hold strongly to Calvin’s assertion that man is totally depraved. Therefore, when left in isolation, power becomes consolidated and sin lurks at the door like a devouring lion (God’s metaphors not mine). America’s political environment was chiefly informed by Scottish Presbyterians and the system of checks and balances flows from this theological belief. So much so that Madison recommended that there be 3 Presidents to avoid centralized power–however, he relented when he realized at some point (i.e. declaring war) would require singular decision.
So, being in the same industry and in the process of starting a new church, I understand Furtick’s decision to develop external leadership. And on a much smaller scale have done a similar process by relying on Presbytery leadership to set budgets and salaries at this early stage. However, this is not the long term strategy. Ultimately the goal is to raise up local leadership to guide the ship, because this is the sign of discipleship.
Disciples were always making new disciples…Paul witnessed this in his missionary journeys.
- During his first journey (to Galatia), while he had tremendous initial growth once he left they quickly were deceived into a false gospel because Paul had failed to create local leadership.
- During his second journey, Paul was intentional about bringing along compatriots, Timothy and Titus, so that there would be some longer impact yet this missionaries eventually left as well, and therefore the churches need constant reminders from Paul.
- But it was not until his third and forth journey’s did Paul learn the importance of grooming local leadership for long term success, such as Priscilla and Aquila, Titius, Crispus.
Neil Cole has a great book that dissects these four stages of leadership and ministry within Paul’s life.
Ultimately, the question is what is the primary goal of the church–to save lost souls or to glorify God–and our theological underpinnings will determine every aspect of the church in order to reach the goal even down to who gets to see the pastor’s salary.