this is not a post about steven furtick’s coloring book

date header separator

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Steven Furtick Coloring Book

this is not a post about steven furtick’s coloring book

this is not a post about steven furtick’s coloring book.
this is not a post about steven furtick’s coloring book.
this is not a post about steven furtick’s coloring book.
this is not a post about steven furtick’s coloring book.
this is not a post about steven furtick’s coloring book.

i’m making myself write sentences just to make sure this doesn’t turn into a post about steven furtick’s coloring book. because it isn’t. now, it will certainly contain information about steven furtick’s coloring book, but it isn’t a post primarily about that.

ok, so let’s get the steven furtick coloring book part out of the way. (by the way, i’m attempting world record usage of the phrase “steven furtick’s coloring book” in a single post…)

for those who might not be familiar with furtick, he’s the founding pastor of megachurch elevation church in the charlotte area. more prominently, furtick is known as one of the inner circle of neo-calvinist bros, notoriously led by mark driscoll. and, much like the other bro-pastors, he’s particularly revered amongst that brand of christianity. further, furtick recently garnered quite a bit of attention in the headlines for his extravagant, 16,000-square foot, $1.6 million home.

in a post yesterday by matthew paul turner, we got a glimpse into the children’s ministry at steven furtick’s church. in a nutshell, the children are taught a curriculum that includes a lesson about how they should be singularly united in support of furtick’s vision for the church.

not the church’s vision. not of a community of people working together in the way of jesus. not of jesus. but of steven furtick’s vision.

naturally, matthew paul turner—and scores of others on social media and in the blogosphere—was particularly critical of this, comparing this to the kind of literature produced by cult leaders. quite frankly, all the criticism is fair and deserved.


this is not a post about steven furtick’s coloring book.

so, let me attempt to make a bigger point than steven furtick, his church and his coloring book.

years ago, prior to starting eikon church, i was involved in a denomination that would serve as the funding and sending agency for the church (spoiler alert: i ended up leaving the denomination prior to starting eikon after making a decision that the vision of the church couldn’t be fulfilled within that partnership). in preparation to start the church, they sent me to multiple church planter training conferences. one of the biggest and most consistent themes is that in the new era of church planting, church planters had to have an unwavering, singular vision that solely directed the shape and trajectory of the church.

it wasn’t that the church planter should have a clear vision for the church. that’s a good thing. that’s necessary. rather, what was taught was that the vision of the church planter is a locked-in certainty—paramount to the gospels—that dare not be challenged by others, lest they be viewed as detractors and malicious spirits.

the church planter is chief. the king. the end-all decision-maker.

in fairness, the denomination where i was taught these things certainly isn’t unique (quite frankly, they were simply copying material and ideology from other larger movements like southern baptists and the like). nevertheless, though, what i learned within that denominational church planting experience was that the church plants that were touted as the successes and models for new churches were all led by dictatorial church planters who lorded over every detail of the church. that, along with other factors, led me to leave the denomination.

while megachurches like furtick’s continue to undeniably grow and flourish, i wonder how many scores of people are turned off by this type of cult-like church leadership. it caused me to walk away from tens of thousands of dollars of church funding, so i can only imagine that on-the-faith-fence people are checking out when they experience this kind of leadership.

but, there’s a better way. there’s leading like jesus—sacrificially, humbly, with a team of people who screwed it up regularly. pastor-as-CEO isn’t a biblical model of leadership. neither is pastor-as-dictator. and neither is teaching children to have unquestioning, unwavering allegiance to a pastor.

the modern church planting movement needs to embrace a generous leadership that invites people in and empowers people to lead and question and serve and present new ideas. when that time comes, i think people will be able to more fully connect to the church in a way that looks more and more like jesus.

but, until that time comes, i think i’m gonna go find a good coloring book and learn about church leadership… 😉