Elevation Church pastor Steven Furtrick has just granted his first interview in seven years, to local TV news station WCCB, with Morgan Fogarty as part of their new series “The Get.” You can watch the interview above.
Steven Furtrick, controversial figure
Furtrick is a controversial figure in Charlotte. As the charismatic leader of one of the fastest growing megachurches in the country, he is attracting a lot of attention, both regionally and nationally.
Yet he has stayed rather quiet lately concerning the media, avoiding interviews after facing backlash over what many call a lavish lifestyle for a preacher. His $1.7 million home, which he says was built from profits coming from his books and speaking engagements, drew headlines from the likes of the New York Daily News, World Magazine, The Charlotte Observer, Christianity Today and others.
Furtrick was guarded when the topic of his and his church’s finances came up.
“I would never make a decision about how the church’s finances were communicated based on the agenda of a reporter or a newspaper,” Furtrick said when Fogarty asked him if he ever thought he would just release financial records in order to “shut everybody up.”
“What about your personal finances, or your personal lifestyle?” Fogarty pressed.
“In my personal lifestyle, I know that we have to have integrity, and we have to be generous, and I know the extent to which that is true of me and Holly (his wife).” Futrick answered. “So, to go on record and say, ‘This is how much money we’ve given away, and here’s what we do with our finances, to me that would be the most arrogant thing that I could do. And it would rob me of the blessing of doing what Jesus said, which was when you give, you don’t get up and tell everyone how much you’ve given.”
He additionally said that what his staff members make is “between them and God.”
The church once again drew fire when word of not so spontaneous baptisms began to make headlines.
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Furtrick and Elevation Church have also drawn headlines recently for buying up the Matthews Plaza Shopping Center. Furtrick discusses the church’s rapid growth in the interview. They just made Newsmax’s list of “Top 50 Megachurches in America,” at number 31.
“I imagined that we would have influence. I dreamed big, I dreamed big,” Furtrick said in the interview when asked if he is surprised with their size, adding, “I certainly didn’t think that in ten years we would be reaching 20,000 people every week.”
Elevation Church on gay people
Elevation Church has tried to stay quiet on the gay issue recently, but Furtrick has stated from the pulpit in the past that the church does not “endorse homosexuality,” and that if people came there “wanting (Furtrick) to condone any particular lifestyle that you choose to live, you’ll be disappointed.”
Furtrick went on to classify homosexual sex as sin, as well as any sex outside of marriage, clumping those in with other “sins” such as adultery and drunkenness. These quotes come from a 2009 sermon given ahead of an appearance by Ted Haggard.
More recently, when concerns were raised as Elevation Church began a volunteer school mentoring push, the church avoided answering the question of whether or not they view homosexuality as a sin. They are an affiliate of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as such are prohibited from acting to “affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior.”
The topic did not come up in the interview. There is bonus content available online as well, covering topics such as the church’s impact, his relationship with wife Holly Furtrick, self doubt and what he thinks of the term megachurch.