Why Would a Mega-Pastor Elevate His “Vision” Over Scripture?

Steven Furtick is apparently pastor of a really big church. He’s also denigrating the word of God.

As Matthew Paul Turner noted in a recent post, Mr. Furtick’s church has developed (with his approval) a disturbing Sunday School resource. A look at its pages shows they are extremely concerned with indoctrinating the children of their church into allegiance to Mr. Furtick.

Mr. Turner’s post focused on the indoctrination in general, but there’s one aspect of it that I think needs our attention. Mr. Furtick elevates something he calls his “vision” above Scripture.

Notice the size font used for the Scripture, how small it is in comparison to everything else on the page. The point of these pages is simple to see. It’s right there on the bottom of that first page:

Elevation Church is built on the vision God gave Pastor Steven. We will protect our unity in supporting his vision.

Notice what’s missing:

These coloring books do not teach children that the church is built on Jesus.

These coloring books do not teach children that the Bible is the source of sound doctrine and guidance for God’s people.

These coloring books do not teach children that no person but Jesus should be seen as the source of God’s revelation.

No, they are teaching that the Bible is secondary to Pastor Steven’s “vision”. They are teaching their children that Pastor Steven has a relationship with God no one else has and that anyone who does not support the “vision” he espouses is out of unity with the church.

What a horrible thing to teach children.

Jesus had strong words for people who did this to his little ones:

If anyone causes one of these little ones — those who believe in me — to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. (Matthew 18:6.)

Shame on Mr. Furtick and his leadership team.

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58 Responses to Why Would a Mega-Pastor Elevate His “Vision” Over Scripture?

  1. Jeannie says:

    Tim, yesterday my son totally unexpectedly came out with the expression “That’s crazy talk.” I think that applies really well to your post. It would be funny if it weren’t so NOT funny.

  2. SJBeals says:

    Another cult in the making….so sad.

  3. Erica M. says:

    Sad and slightly creepy. I’m praying this gets cut off before it grows too big to manage.

  4. Patrick Pedat Ebediyah Golston says:

    Good job, Tim!

    Oddly enough, I'm actually looking at this from an even more common, or mundane level which leads me to ask: 

    What the hell kinda Sunday School lesson is THAT?

    Shouldn't they be learning about the books of the Bible, beatitudes, baptism, and the blood of Christ?

    That's weird even for adult parishoners.  The visions that immediately appeared to me were those of the old WWII propaganda posters, and other foolishness of that day.

    "Pastor Steve smokes Chesterfields!  He's a Chesterfield man!  The Apostle Paul was also a Chesterfield man!  What's YOUR excuse, soldier?!"

  5. I never heard of this Steven Furtick pastor, but I have read a Matthew Paul Turner book. I’ll go see about it.

  6. It is odd to me that there are coloring book pages based on the pastor and not on Biblical happenings.

  7. Aimee Byrd says:

    This has been so disturbing. It seems like these coloring books would be enough to turn people away from the church, and yet he has thousands of followers. I just don’t get it.

  8. Mary Anne says:

    Kind of triggering for me, I’m afraid; this is spiritual abuse just waiting to happen if it hasn’t already. I vividly recall being part of a congregation in which the leadership decided God’s call wasn’t what they wanted to be doing and so they changed it (several times). We heard things over and over again from the worship leader about “not raising your hand against God’s anointed” and “rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft” etc. Usually trotted out when one of us questioned just “what in the Wide World of Sports is going on here?” (Thank you Slim Pickens.)

    The crayon scribbles all over the pages amuse me, though. Scratch paper is about all these things are good for . . .

  9. Rev. Carlene Appel says:

    You are right on target Tim! This man is not a man of God and is about as godly as Jim Jones was. Leaders like this are experts in their ability to detect weaknesses and unmet needs often from childhood inside individuals. They are quick to fill them with their narcissistic selves and parade it as the will of God.” May this guy’s crown and kingdom be removed from him with “holy fire” from God and leave his soul naked for all to see the fraud he is.

  10. Its sad to see this. I loved Steven’s story on how he started Elevation Church and the bold moves he did to lead the church when it was young (Easter Egg hunt where eggs were dropped from a helicopter!) This curriculum is focused on him and not Christ. Sad

  11. Oh dear. The anagrams that come to mind every time I look at his last name knowing he Elevates himself above God’s word.

  12. Hmm. I watched Furtick as part of the Global Leadership Summit in 2011, so I’m aware of his story. I would be very concerned if my child came home from Sunday School with something like that. But I just can’t imagine it. It is my considered belief that any church which does not allow questions (or elevates the word of certain people over the Word) is a cult. What kind of faith doesn’t stand up to questioning? Not a true faith. A true faith will have room for doubts and disagreements. Is the person who posted these photos certain that this has come from the leadership of the church?

    This is off topic, but I am praying over and waiting for what God may be calling me to. I have had a ‘vision’ (it’s not clear what it means, yet) but I am quietly waiting to see where it leads. I don’t know if God is calling me to ministry. Right now I’m incapacitated and God is making me rest so it’s not going to be in the near future. But the thing that has bugged me is ‘how can God possibly be calling me?’ I am acutely aware of the need for leaders to be primarily servants – and of the temptation to want to be admired for oneself and to want to elevate oneself. I am acutely aware of this and of the difficulty in getting the balance right. Maybe Mr. Furtick has fallen into this trap. A nasty trap, but this is why leaders and people in positions of responsibility have to be so careful; they are responsible for all those souls :-/

    • Tim says:

      Here’s a screen grab from Mr. Furtick’s Twitter feed showing he is not only aware of the coloring book created by his children’s ministry team but is “blown away” that it is being used by kids in his church:

      Your quiet patience in seeing where God is leading you stands in stark contrast to the crowing Mr. Furtick engages in with his own ministry, Sandy. I’m praying for God to use you mightily for his kingdom purposes!

      Tim

      • What do people mean when they say God uses people ‘mightily’, or the like? It may be why idolisation of certain people happens – what I mean is that God always seems to do things in opposite ways to the world. If you want to find God, the enormity of our Great Big God, you have to start small, Smaller than small. But it is so so so tempting to want to be ‘special’, to want to be singled out and admired, to find your worth in your job, your role, the way other people view you, instead of how God loves – which is by grace alone. I don’t know if I’m making sense. It’s just so easy to fall into that trap. I don’t want to be used mightily if that means God making me seem bigger than somebody else. Someone always gets hurt that way (I know you didn’t mean it that way – why would you when you’ve just called someone else out on that exact thing – but I really do think that’s how it can start – with those kinds of words). I’m rambling – it’s nearly 10pm here and I need to sleep. Good night. I am enjoying this blog enormously :-)

  13. Keith Kraska says:

    What’s disturbing in the coloring book is not just the point size of the Scripture, but that it applies Romans 13:1 to the pastor. Romans 13 is clearly about civil government, as it mentions rulers, taxes, customs and “the sword.” To apply that passage and its instruction about submission to a pastor is amateurish and scary. If Steven Furtick signed off on that use of Scripture, he has no business being a pastor. What else are his people being taught? What other mangling of Scripture are they feeding on? Is the genuine Gospel taught there at all?

  14. Noel says:

    As a former member of a mega I think it is really difficult to see when you are in the midst of it. It’s group think to some extent and so “exciting” to be a part of it. When real need hits it becomes apparent it’s not about “church family”.

    It also seems to be connect to the purpose driven church (Youth ministry) stuff (not that I think it was the intent of it). Ya know, defining the church’s (or ministry’s) purpose. We already have the definition of that . . . Jesus gave it to us: Love God, Love people.

    Thanks for your thoughts on this!

    • Tim says:

      Thanks for bringing it back to basics, Noel: love God, love people!

    • Pat Pope says:

      That’s where being “in” a place, but not “of” it helps one to keep that critical, discerning eye lest we get sucked into that hype and are unable to see our own weaknesses.

      • Tim says:

        Good points, Pat. It’s about testing the spirits too (1 John 4:1) so we can discern what is of God both within us and in what’s coming out of others.

  15. dgregoryburns says:

    Reblogged this on Darian G. Burns and commented:
    Not my work but worth reading. This is what happens when the church invest in “sucess” and numbers over wisedom, knowledge, and character.

  16. Doug says:

    Notice Steven’s hand gestures on the first page? Is he a Catholic saint now?

  17. Bellesmom says:

    This reminds me of the things they use to teach children in North Korea to teach total loyalty to the country’s leader.

  18. Ilfring says:

    Wow. I came to this page for information. I read all the comments, and wow, you Christians (“Christians”?) really do exemplify judging. I don’t know this pastor any better than I know any of you commentors, but I don’t care for the bitterness oozing from this page any more than I do for fake leaders. Good night!

    • Rev. Carlene Appel says:

      Ilfring,
      I’m sure Tim will respond to your post. These comments would make much more sense read in the context of what this man teaches. There are links in the post to what he teaches and when Tim responds he will likely provide more. The Scriptures tell us we are not to judge those outside the church, it is reserved exclusively for those inside the church and their works. Paul is pretty adamant in multiple places that false teaching/doctrine is to be exposed for what it is. He says to expose those to the light. Read 1 Cor. He went up one side of them and down the other. Those who are teachers of the Word the Scriptures tell us God will judge more severely because they should know better. As a preacher/teacher myself, I’m acutely aware of this and I spend generally an hour in preparation for every minute I preach. Even so, I will still encourage people to go and study for themselves as my teaching is not the end all be all. Like John the Baptist said “I must decrease so that He (Christ) can increase. That’s the difference. If a leader in the Church is making himself or herself into some kind of “door of salvation” whose teachings must never be questioned they must be exposed for the false teacher & false teachings for which they are and held accountable that they might repent and be reconciled to God. As a teacher of the Word, such people anger me because they abuse the very people who trust them, destroy lives and turn people away from God. Tim will have more to say.
      There really is a lot of good stuff on Tim’s blog if you will stick around and get to know him.

    • Tim says:

      Ilfring, I’m glad you came by the blog. The purpose of this post (and some others on the blog) is to expose false teaching. Have I judged Mr. Furtick’s teaching to be false? Yes, I have, and that’s because – as I showed in this post – it runs contrary to what the Bible says. Have I passed judgment on Mr. Furtick? No.

  19. This is so sad. Let’s pray those kids learn discernment.

  20. Keith Tauber says:

    I came here because I saw a short clip on YouTube were Mr. Furtick said. “If you are saved or accepted Jesus already, this “church” is not for you. He clarified and said. If you just accepted Jesus in your life last week as a result of this ministry, that is the last time this ministry is for you”

    Now this clip was being used in a video exposing Schofield so I did not watch the original clip. But unless he was joking, there is no way to defend that statement. And here, I thought the Church was for believers all this time and that we were the Bride of Christ. Little did I know there was this secret “church” out there just for unbelievers. NOT!

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