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Section 10A .. The Contemporary Church

 

003white  Section 10A .. The Contemporary Church     >     Shepherds or Wolves     >     Lifestyles of Wealthy Celebrity Pastors - 2

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Church-Index
 

 Lifestyles of Wealthy Celebrity Pastors And Their Self Serving Shallow Theology 

Ch 2. Joel Osteen and Steve Furtick

By Carol Brooks

Index

Introduction

Chapter 1: The Investigation: Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Paula White, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer and Eddie Long
Chapter 2: Joel Osteen, Steven Furtick
Chapter 3: Ed Young, Kevin Gerald, Joseph Prince
Chapter 4:  T.D. Jakes, John Hagee, Fred Price, Jesse Duplantis, Juanita Bynum
Chapter 5: Franklin Graham, Mark Driscoll, James MacDonald, Wendy and Casey Treat
Chapter 6: Jordan and Jordan. Rev. Run
Chapter 7: Others - Here and Abroad
Chapter 8: Conclusion

These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever. (Jude 1:12-13 NASB)

Joel Osteen Steven Furtick


Joel Osteen (March 5, 1963) Tele-Joel-Victoria
In 1999, Osteen, a product of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, took over as "senior pastor" of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas that was founded by his father John Osteen. The following information is from the Lakewood church web site, (All Emphasis Added)

    In 2004, his first book, Your Best Life Now, was released by Time Warner debuting at the top of the New York Times Bestsellers List and quickly rising to #1. It remained on the New York Times Bestseller for more than 2 years and has sold more than 4 million copies. Most recently, Joel was named as one of Barbara Walters’ "10 Most Fascinating People of 2006" and he was selected as the "Most Influential Christian in 2006" by the readers of Church Report Magazine.

    According to Nielsen Media Research, Joel is the most watched inspirational figure in America. His weekly sermon is broadcast into every U.S. television market where it is viewed by seven million Americans each week and more than 20 million each month. His weekly broadcast is also seen in almost 100 nations around the world. [01]

There is little question that Lakewood church does a lot of good. For example, it is partnering with World Vision in Houston's Fifth Ward,

     "where nearly half the residents live below the U.S. poverty level, providing technical expertise in long-term community development. With World Vision, Lakewood is reaching out to Zambia, El Salvador, Indonesia and India, countries where the church sponsors about 5,000 children each year... The church is also planning to partner next year with 60 small churches in Indonesia, ministering to the ministers, as well as supporting work in the slums of Bangalore, India." [02]

However, the question has to be asked how much more good they would have done without the expense of the fancy and very expensive renovations they made when they moved into the Compaq Center - to say nothing of Joel and Victoria's high flying lifestyle.

A Church That Cost Close to $100 Million
In July 2005, Lakewood Church relocated from its old building in northeast Houston into its new home, the former Compaq Center, a 16,000-seat arena that was once home to the Houston Rockets professional basketball team. The church was required to pay $11.8 million in rent in advance for the first 30 years of the lease, and renovated the new campus at an estimated cost of $75 million. As said in a 2005 article in USA Today (All Emphasis Added)

    The facility, which took 15 months and about $75 million to complete, features two waterfalls, three gargantuan television screens and a lighting system that rivals those found at rock concerts. Two choir lofts with 12 rows of rich purple pews sit between the waterfalls, accented by live foliage.

Absent, however, is a cross, an image of God or Jesus Christ or any other traditional religious symbols. Osteen said his father never displayed such symbols and he simply continued the tradition. Instead, the new location will feature a larger version of the church's trademark globe, rotating slowly behind Osteen as he preaches. [03]

In 2007, Lakewood reported spending nearly $30 million every year on its television ministry. [04]

And How Can Lakewood Afford all This? 
With an average weekly attendance of over 40,000 people the church itself is a cash cow. In March 2014 a safe containing the donations from a single weekend was robbed. In total the cash, checks and credit card donations amounted to approximately $600,000. Online or electronic donations were obviously not affected. [05]  


Osteen and The Hurricanes
Much is made of the fact that Joel Osteen's church gave a million dollars to the victims of Hurricane Katrina and one can certainly appreciate him doing so. However, in view of the fact that the church's annual budget is reported to be some $70 million [06] $1 million seems like a drop in the bucket.

On the other hand, Osteen was severely criticized after his 16,000 seat megachurch initially closed its doors during hurricane Harvey that killed 40 people and left thousands homeless. "Pictures and videos that surfaced online seemed to contradict a Lakewood Facebook post announcing that the church remained closed due to flooding conditions. One video was made by some very angry Texans who showed no more than one cm of water outside the church and that the front lobby's plush carpet was apparently dry and clean. Be warned they do use some language. [07].

However, a storm of social media criticism and coverage by CNN and Fox seemed to cause a change of heart and the church re-opened as floodwaters began to recede. Osteen addressed the criticism by blaming "misinformation" and claimed he had not opened church doors because he had not been asked to by the state and due to "safety concerns".  [08] However, to give the devil his due, after the criticism, Osteen did manage to redeem himself. Lakewood served as a

    "major distribution center" for essential supplies needed to help families weather and recover from the storm. In total, the church received over 1,050 shipping pallets of supplies that included nonperishable food, clothing, water, necessities for children and babies, as well as medical supplies. And "continues to provide "significant" home rebuilding assistance through the purchase of over $1.1 million of building materials, furniture, appliances and paid labor". [9]


Osteen's 10.5 + Million Dollar Home
In 2007 an article on Religion News Blog about high-living pastors was titled Televangelist Joel Osteen Shuns Lavish Lifestyle, and began by saying

    "If the evangelical world is looking for a poster child to offset the negative publicity surrounding rich televangelists, Joel Osteen would be a good choice".... "Osteen lives a much different life. He has not taken a salary from his Houston mega-church for two years. He owns one house — the same one he and his wife, Victoria, have lived in for 13 years — and until recently he drove a 9-year-old car he inherited from his late father. Osteen pays his own hotel bills, and there is no private jet". [10]

I suspect that at the time the author belonged to the Osteen fan club, was smoking something he shouldn't have been, or needed to have his head examined.

Joel is one of the wealthiest pastors in the country. In Your Best Life Now, Osteen talks about how his wife Victoria, a striking and fashionable blonde, wanted to buy a fancy house some years ago, before the money rolled in. He thought it wasn't possible. "But Victoria had more faith," he wrote. "She convinced me we could live in an elegant home... and several years later, it did come to pass."

In the first few years of this century, Joel and Victoria Osteen lived in Tanglewood (5587 Doliver Dr?), a neighborhood in western Houston, in a home valued at about $2.9 million that they owned. However, a July 2010 article in Houston's Daily Digital Magazine, CultureMap, says theyTele-Osteen Satellite View (Emphasis Added)

    "... moved to a 17,000-square-foot stone mansion in the Tall Timbers subdivision in River Oaks. The Osteens' new home is situated on 1.86 acres and surrounded by an ornamental fence. It has six bedrooms, six bathrooms, three elevators and five wood-burning fireplaces, with a one-bedroom guest house and pool house. The Harris County Appraisal District valued it at $10.5 million.

    The River Oaks home is technically owned by the Covenant Trust, which means the Osteens do not qualify for a homestead exemption on it. They will pay around $260,000 in property taxes on the new home this year. [11]

Osteen's Book Royalties
However, Osteen is fond of telling anyone who will listen that he hasn't accepted a salary from the church since 2005. His "income comes from best-selling books and related products, such as calendars, daybooks and inspirational pamphlets".

In other words, he doesn't need a salary from Lakewood.

    His book Your Best Life Now was originally published in October 2004 and remained on the New York Times best-seller list for more than two years. It is estimated that the book has sold 10 million copies, and that he got a $13-million advance from his publisher for his second book, Become A Better You. And the trend continues. In January 2018, Osteen's Blessed in the Darkness came in at #9 on the Top 25 nonfiction bestsellers [12].

So even without his salary from Lakewood, Osteen has likely earned at least $25 million in book royalties between 2005 and 2009. [13]

However, it is with these books that we encounter the largest problem.


Is Osteen Preaching Christianity Lite Or Peddling Concepts From The Occult World?
Joel Osteen has often been "lambasted by critics for being light on theology, preaches about staying positive. He says he doesn't want to be "too religious" in hopes to reach the "everyday person." [14]

On June 20, 2005, Osteen was interviewed by Larry King on CNN’s The Larry King Show. King introduced Osteen as "evangelism's hottest rising star, pastor for the biggest congregation in the United States." And what does he preach? Osteen said he doesn't get into controversial subjects like sin and judgment. False religions such as Islam, Hinduism, and Judaism don't concern him. He doesn't really know who's going to hell and who isn't" (Details on THIS page. Scroll about halfway down)

In 2008 CBS quoted Rev. Michael Horton, a professor of theology at Westminster Seminary in Escondido, California, who called Osteen's Gospel a "cotton candy gospel", adding that.

    "His core message is God is nice, you're nice, be nice," Horton says, laughing. "It's sort of a, if it were a form of music, I think it would be easy listening. He uses the Bible like a fortune cookie. 'This is what's gonna happen for you. There's gonna be a windfall in your life tomorrow.' The Bible's not meant to be read that way." [15]

The problem is that Osteen's message is FAR more dangerous than "cotton candy". He has made himself very rich by peddling practices that come not from Scripture but from the occult.

Osteen's first book, Your Best Life Now, was released in October 2004, just two or three short years after he read Positive Imaging:The Powerful Way to Change Your Life by Norman Vincent Peale. In it, Osteen uses exactly the same phrase that Norman Vincent Peale did. In turn, Peale got the expression from Napoleon Hill, who learned it from his Council of seven men - none of whom were human.

At this point, I strongly suggest you read The Word of Faith Doctrine and New Thought - Chapter V of the article on the Prosperity Doctrine and Chapter VI, The Blind Leading The Blind. They shows that not only are Osteen's doctrines indistinguishable from those of well know occult leaders but that he uses one of Napoleon Hill's hallmark expressions was also used by Norman Vincent Peale.

All assuming that Joel Osteen ever knew what the Bible teaches and what Jesus' message was, he has ignored it in favor of appealing, comforting and supposedly empowering, but almost completely erroneous codswallop that he calls 'positive thinking'.

Roman 4:17
For example, in one of his newer books The Power of I Am, he writes 

    Romans 4 says to "call the things that are not as though they were.” That simply means that you shouldn't talk about the way you are. Talk about the way you want to be. If you're struggling in your finances, don't go around saying, "Oh, man, business is so slow. The economy is so down. It's never going to work out.” That's calling the things that are as if they will always be that way. That's just describing the situation. By faith you have to say, "I am blessed. I am successful. I am surrounded by God's favor.”

Actually Roman 4:17 does not instruct us to "call the things that are not as though they were.” What it says is God gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were. It means that something that didn’t exist at the time was spoken about by God as if it had already happened. In this case, Abraham was childless at the time, yet God told him "A father of many nations have I made you"

One of the most interesting uses of verbs in the Hebrew Old Testament was how future events (prophecies) were spoken of as being in the past. Very often, prophecies about the future were expressed, not in the future tense as we might expect, but in the past or perfect tenses. In other words, the future was described as having already occurred. The following promise was also made long before Abraham had any descendants.

    On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, "To your descendants I have given this land, From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates: (Genesis 15:18 NASB)

In fact, if you think about it, even modern English users sometimes use the past tense to indicate that some action is as good as completed. For example, we often say "done" when asked to do something.

God's "Great Plan"
As he said in an interview done some years ago "we cheer and we shout and there's joy. And I try to leave them better off than they were before". Osteen adds that his message (Emphasis Mine)

    is a message of hope that God is a good God, and that no matter what we've done, where we've been, God has a great plan for our lives. And when we walk in his ways they can take us places we've never dreamed of”

    Your future is filled with marked moments of blessing, increase, promotion. God has already ordained before the foundation of the world, the right people, the right opportunity. Time and chance are coming together for you. Why don't you get your hopes up?” Osteen tells his audience. "Why don't you start believing that no matter what you have or haven't done, that your best days are still out in front of you." [16]

Except that he neglects to tell us that God's "great plan" is conditional (See Salvation on THIS Page), nor does it look anything like the picture Osteen paints.

See What and Where is Heaven? And The Message of the Bible  

When asked if his message was being a pastor or being Dr. Phil or Oprah, He replied (Note the words I have underlined )

    "No, I think we use God's word. I think the principles that you hear Dr. Phil and some of those others talk about many times are right out of the Bible," Osteen says.

And there in a nutshell you have Joel Osteen who is perfectly happy to quote occult sources and write more than one book that revolves around principles that were given to humanity by supernatural beings, but isn't quite sure if he is using God's word, or even whether Dr. Phil's principles are out of the Bible.

Dave Martin
It is no wonder that serious orthodox Christians leaders never seem to be part of the Lakewood speaking line up. Instead he chooses to entertain people like "success coach" Dave Martin -  founder and president of Dave Martin International who is described as a mentor, inspirational speaker and business leader with a mission to communicate the principles of success. In sharing what he calls "shares timeless truths", he teaches people how to achieve a life of success.

In addition to speaking regularly in corporations, colleges and churches, Dave is a keynote speaker at the Get Motivated Seminars, America's Largest Business Seminars. He is also a part of the teaching team for Hillsong Church under the leadership of Brian Houston, and is on the board of Joel Osteen's Champion's Network.  [17]

As a by the way, Dave Martin was also scheduled to speak at John Hagee's Cornerstone church on August 26 2018.

And finally we have

Osteen and Trump - A Mutual Admiration Society
During an October 2015 interview on Fox News radio show Kilmeade & Friends, Joel Osteen hinted at his longstanding support for Trump.

    I'm not really up to speed on all the politics,” Osteen said. “[But] Mr. Trump is an incredible communicator and brander,  He's been a friend to our ministry. He's a good man.

Other excerpts from the article include

    Osteen's kind words for Trump are but the latest example of a relationship unusual for both its coziness and its reciprocity. Trump himself spoke highly of his friendship with the megapastor in 2013, tweeting that the two are "REAL friends."

    What a lot of people don't know about Mr. Trump is he's a giver,” Osteen said. "He gives to not just to our ministry, but all sorts of causes, friends that I know. You can't find a more giving, gracious person than Mr. Trump. And we can't feel more blessed to have him as a friend.” [18]

End Notes - Joel Osteen
[01] Joel Osteen. http://www.lakewood.cc/pages/new-here/joel-osteen.aspx

[02] Dr. Paul Osteen’s latest operation: ‘Elevate the poor out of poverty’. World Vision.
https://www.worldvision.org/charitable-giving-news-stories/dr-paul-osteen-latest-operation-elevate-poor-poverty

[03] Pat Sullivan, AP. America's largest church opens in former arena. Posted 7/14/2005. Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.
http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-07-14-largest-church_x.htm.

[04] Lillian Kwon. Christian Post Reporter "Interview: Joel Osteen on the Future of America's Churches and Him Pastoring One".
http://www.christianpost.com/news/interview-joel-osteen-on-the-future-of-americas- Page is no longer available

[05] Nick Sanchez. Joel Osteen's Lakewood 'Tithing' at Least $32M, Based on Theft Math. 18 March 2014.
https://www.newsmax.com/TheWire/joel-osteen-lakewood-collection-32m/2014/03/18/id/560167/

[06] America's 10 Biggest Megachurches.
http://www.forbes.com/2009/06/26/americas-biggest-megachurches-business-megachurches_slide_2.html

[07] Daily Mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4833836/Joel-Osteen-s-church-says-welcome-flood-victims.html

[08] Tom Porter. Newsweek. Joel Osteen: Televangelist Whose Church Closed During Hurricane Harvey Tells Victims Not To Have 'poor Me' Attitude. https://www.newsweek.com/joel-osteen-televangelist-whose-church-closed-during-hurricane-harvey-tells-659302

[09b] Samuel Smith, CP Reporter | Aug 15, 2018. Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church Honored by Houston Mayor for Hurricane Harvey Recovery Efforts

[109] Televangelist Joel Osteen shuns lavish lifestyle. https://www.religionnewsblog.com/20007/joel-osteen-

[11] Clifford Pugh. July 2010. After move to $10.5 million River Oaks mansion, Joel Osteen offers Tanglewood land for $1.1 million. http://houston.culturemap.com/news/real-estate/07-04-10-after-move-to-river-oaks-joel-osteen-wants-to-sell-tanglewood-land-for-11-million/#slide=1

[12] Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA). Announcing Christian Bestseller Lists for January 2018.
https://www.ecpa.org/news/news.asp?id=381979&hhSearchTerms="Joel+and+Osteen

[13] Book Royalties Allow Some Preachers To Live Like Kings
https://www.baptistmessenger.com/book-royalties-allow-some-preachers-to-live-like-kings/

[14] Jesse Bogan, America's Biggest Megachurches, Forbes, Jun 26, 2009,
https://www.forbes.com/2009/06/26/americas-biggest-megachurches-business-megachurches.html#7227ac3d40ec

[15] 60 Minutes. Joel Osteen Answers His Critics. June 8, 2008. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/joel-osteen-answers-his-critics/2/

[16] 60 Minutes. Joel Osteen Answers His Critics. June 8, 2008.
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/10/11/60minutes/main3358652_page2.shtml

[17] [Dave Martin Your Success Coach. About Dave. http://davemartin.org/about/

[18] Jack Jenkins. Trump's Pastor Friends Have One Thing In Common: They're All Rich. Mar 2016,
https://thinkprogress.org/trumps-pastor-friends-have-one-thing-in-common-they-re-all-rich-b1e7b8ca702/

 


Steven Furtick (Larry Stevens Furtick Jr. February 19, 1980)
38 year old Steven Furtick is pastor of 'Elevation Church' - a Southern Baptist multi-site church based in a suburb of Charlotte NC. The church currently has 17 locations - 9 of which are in the Charlotte area.

Elevation has neither deacons nor elders. Furtick's salary, that he wont divulge, is set by a Board of Overseers made up of five out-of-town mega-church pastors he chose including

     Dino Rizzo who resigned as pastor of Healing Place Church in 2012 after an inappropriate relationship with a female friend,

     Stovall Weems - lead pastor of Celebration church in Jacksonville, FLA, whose home on Tortuga Point Dr. on the Intracoastal Waterway was listed for sale in May 2017 for $1,250,000 but was dropped to $1,190,000 in August 2018.

     Perry Noble - of New Springs Church SC. who has been a close friend of Steven Furtick's for years. He has however been ousted by his church for various problems including alcohol. I have no idea whether he is still on Elevation's board of overseers.

     Jack Graham, of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. See Footnote I

     Kevin Gerald from Washington state (Next Page),

I do not understand how men who have no official connection with Elevation church are on the board that sets Furtick's salary, yet the church members who actually pay all the bills - salaries included) are not privy to that information. One can only assume that Furtick made quite sure that the pastors who approve his salary are men after his own heart - mega-church pastors who all preach their own brand of Christianity. It is said that they are often paid to speak at Elevation events and vice versa. Also note that this is quite the band of brothers - Rightly or wrongly, they look out for each other. Also See Footnote I for examples.

When asked about his lifestyle, Steven Furtick said

    he planned to stay mum about his personal finances. "To go on record and say, 'Here's 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 is, 'When you give, you don't get up and tell everybody how much you've given.’ ... (And) I wouldn't do that to my wife and my kids.” [00]

Actually, what Jesus said was when people call attention to their giving it is very likely that their generosity is because they want to be seen as 'good' people. Jesus was warning that when we do good deeds for our own glory, then the attention and applause we receive will be our only reward.

    "So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.  (Matthew 6:2 NASB)

No one is asking how much Steven Furtick is personally giving - They are asking how much he is spending - on himself.

    Incidentally, every North Carolina state employee's salary including university staff, from the professors down to the cleaning staff is a matter of public record on THIS www.newsobserver.com/news/databases/state-pay/ web site. In other words, the secular government is more transparent about its spending than Elevation church and many, many more like it.

Elevation Church's Code Orange "Revival"
Several of the Elevation church's Board of Overseers were (paid?) speakers at Elevation Church's Code Orange "Revival" that drew thousands to the church.

    However, while that was to be expected, it is interesting that Matt Chandler, reformed evangelical pastor of The Village Church in Highland Village, TX. was also invited. Chandler "came out both guns blazing and blew the head off Steven Furtick’s favorite Bible technique of allegorizing a text. He (Chandler) said the Bible is not about you.” This obviously didn't go down well with Furtick who is said to have shaken his head during Chandler's sermon with the result, that this sermon was never rebroadcast afterwards like the other speaker's talks were. Later, after various bloggers and Tweeters broke the story of the "censorship", Elevation "reversed their decision" and the sermon was rebroadcast with a lame apology from Furtick. [01]

Note: Calling this event a 'revival' displays an astounding lack of Biblical knowledge, unfortunately shared by many an orthodox church. A revival is not a planned church service or event. It is an unforeseen almost miraculous happening that comes about when God directly acts to bring a reawakening or revitalization to a group of people. It brings with it a change in character and lifestyle combined with a strong desire for the coming kingdom and much less taste for this one. Men can produce evangelistic campaigns, but they cannot produce a revival. However, God's fire hasn't fallen largely for two reasons.  See Why The Fire Hasn't Fallen.

Influence
Although Furtick is said to have a Masters of Divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he admits that he was greatly influenced by Ed Young, pastor of Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas. Next Page

    "No conference has had a greater impact on my life and the life of our church than C3," Furtick says in a video published online. "It was at C3 before we started our church, that I sat in the back of the room and saw for the first time what the local church was capable of. It was through Ed and Lisa Young's leadership that I saw the creative potential of the church." [02]

And it didn't take long for him to make the transition to the Prosperity doctrine. For example, he

     Has preached at T.D. Jakes' church giving Jakes $35,000 dollar gift to honor his "ministry." [03]

     Was one of the speakers at Rod Parsley’s Dominion Camp Meeting 2018. [04] See Facebook picture of Furtick and Rod Parsley HERE

     Calls Joel Osteen a great and humble "man of God"

     Has preached on TBN. In their words, "Beginning on Tuesday evenings at 6:30pm, in February (2014,), Steven Furtick, a young, dynamic pastor, will bless and revive our TBN viewers with his energizing ministry of the Word of God." [05]

However, he sometimes approaches the Prosperity Doctrine's version of Give And It Shall Be Given Unto you in very subtle ways. For example in his book Greater.


Furtick's 2014 book - Greater
The fact that Furtick's books Greater made it to number four on the Times list for advice books the week of Sept. 23, 2012 has given him lifelong bragging rights. However, it should be noted that the book was only on the bestseller list for one week and never again. Also note that the dagger "indicates that some retailers report receiving bulk orders." [https://www.nytimes.com/books/best-sellers/2012/09/23/hardcover-advice/]

In the usual fashion of the prosperous "good ol' boys" club, Greater was endorsed by Stovall Weems, Dino Rizzio, Perry Noble, James MacDonald of Harvest Bible chapel in Chicago, Ed Young of Fellowship church in Dallas, Israel Houghton, worship leader at Lakewood, etc. etc.

In Greater Furtick writes that Steve Job's passing made him feel somewhat inadequate inasmuch as Jobs changed the world through technology but he, Furtick, felt like he wasn't doing anything that mattered and would continue to matter. Reading his Bible that night, he felt "compelled" to read a particular Bible verse - John 14:12 that he quotes,

    I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

He then discounts the idea that by 'greater things' Jesus meant that we would do more powerful miracles or impact more people than He did. Instead He is "calling us to be greater with Him through His Spirit within us". Furtick then spoke of many people he had spoken to who were stuck in their relationship with God and/or unsatisfied with the kind of Christian life they were living - in danger of wasting their lives.

Later on (pages 82-83) he relates the story of Elisha, the widow and the miracle of the oil when he was in danger of losing her two children to her creditor. He asked her what she had in the house to which she replied that she had nothing but a little oil. He then instructed her to to pour that out into borrowed vessels that, miraculously filled. In the end she had she had enough oil to sell, pay off all her debts and live on what remained.

Furtick points out that she was focused on what she didn't have, but the prophet was focused on what she did have. He gets to the point around pages 86 - 87 when he says you need to work with your limitations and with what you have. In his words (italics in original. Bold mine)

    If you'll do your part, God will begin to do what only He can do:

    He'll make your box bigger.

    How much money do you have? What talents has God given you? How can you grow your church or business with the assets and resources you currently have in place. And God will begin to work with it, making much more out of it.

    Think of your limitations as fish and loaves that Jesus is eager to bless. He can bless only what you bring. So bring it. And since He can multiply it to the highest power He desires, it really doesn't matter what you start with. As long as it's not zero.

    As Elisha would ask, what do you have in your house? [06]


Furtick's Mansion - Paid For by His Mediocre Books?

And in the true tradition of the Prosperity Gospel, Furtick is unapologetic about his $1.7 million 16,000 sq. ft home (8,400 sq. ft, heated)Tele-Furtick he and his wife had built on 19 acres in Matthews, NC that he told his congregation was a 'gift from God. As said by world.wng.org

    During a service he also told his congregation the station (a local TV station) had flown a helicopter over the house, suggesting the helicopter was an excessive measure since "it isn’t even that big a house, really."

    It turned out that the station needed a helicopter because the house sat on a 19-acre lot surrounded by gated communities and similarly sized mansions, posted with no trespassing signs: A helicopter was the only way to get close enough to see it. [07]

Tele-Furtick AerialUnless of course the aerial view on Google maps happened to be taken in winter when the trees were bereft of leaves.

You will not find Furtick's home in public records unless you are aware that the deed and tax records are under the name Jumper Drive Revocable Trust - the trustee being James "Chunks" Corbett - Chief Financial Officer of Elevation Church. [08]

Has Furtick Sold Enough Book to Pay For That House?
Furtick has claimed that his home was paid for with money from his book sales and publisher advances, rather than his salary from Elevation Church.

    "I didn't even build that house with money from the church. I built it with money from my books and I gave money to the church from the books and you start getting real defensive and being like this ain't right. This ain't right," Furtick said during a sermon at Elevation. [09]

However, something that people rarely take into consideration is that Furtick (or any of the other pastors of mega-churches) would never have become so well known and sold that number of books had it not been for the church. Not only are his books sold in the church's bookstore, promoted in church sermons, but also on the church's television broadcasts? In fact,

    "Elevation Church has reportedly paid for full page ads to promote Furtick's books. The tax-exempt church has also dished out money for sermons featuring Furtick's books to run on TV. [10]

In 2014, WCNC-TV of Charlotte reported that Furtick was promoting his latest book Crash The Chatterbox from the pulpit at church and that Publisher Waterbook Multnomah, a division of Random House, was pre-selling the book with a buy-one-get-one-free offer through Feb. 14. The timing of the offer gave the book a shot at getting on a New York Times Best Sellers List. [11]

    In other words, "you get as many people as possible to buy your book in the first week and that gets reported to the NY Times, which then reports that you are a bestselling author" [12]

Mark Driscoll, pastor of the former Mars Hill Church in Seattle is a prime example of how so-called Christian leaders are not above manipulating book sales to get on the New York Times bestseller list.

Besides which there are a couple of other interesting facts to consider.


It Is Extremely Unlikely That Steven Furtick Has Sold Near Enough Books To Pay For His Mansion
James Duncan, the owner of the site Pajama Pages, used the Wayback Machine to review the sales ranks of Furtick’s first two books over the first year or so of their release. He discovered that Sun Stand Still (Furtick's most popular book) and Greater both made a strong start, but sales dropped off rather quickly.

For example, Sun Stand Still was ranked 62 in September 2010 but dropped to 3,804 by Oct 2013. Greater started out similarly placed in September 2012, but dropped far more quickly to 114,724 just one year later in October 2013.

However, this doesn't tell us how many copies were sold - something that Amazon doesn't reveal. However, Amazon authors have calculated the relationship between rank and sales. See THIS for some information. Using their estimates James Duncan went on to say

    We can reasonably estimate that Furtick has sold around 87,000 of his books through Amazon, each one contributing about $1.12 to his mansion fund. The New York Times estimates that Amazon has a 25% share of printed books (though much larger for ebooks), so let's quadruple the 87k and say that Furtick has sold 350,000 books through all retail channels. If anything, that's dramatically underestimating Amazon's share of Furtick’s sales because his book is really only going to be available online for most consumers; it's not going to show up often in traditional brick-and-mortar bookstores. That means that he has almost certainly sold fewer than 350,000 books, but we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he has. It's quite impressive, though it still "only" puts $392,000 into the Furtick house fund. [13]

Furtick went on to write others books including Crash the Chatterbox which, in spite of all efforts ranked at 5,626. (Un)Qualified ranked #46,101. [14]

Changing His Story
If you remember, Furtick told his congregation that his new $1.7 million home was being paid for with his book royalties.

    The church has since revised the claim to say advances for book sales paid the down payment for the property but Furtick receives a housing allowance from Elevation Church that is exempt from income taxes, a standard practice among clergy. [15]

Which of course makes Steven Furtick a liar.

It also bring us to a second consideration regarding the 'pastor's' home, or should I say homes.


Steve Furtick's First Two Homes
Elevation Church held its first service in February 2006. According to public records, Steven Furtick had already purchased a home on 2703, Ballade Drive in Matthews, a suburb of Charlotte. They bought the house in in September 2005 for $190,000 and didn't sell it until August 2012.

Then, in November 2007, just a year and a half after Elevation opened its doors, they upgraded to a beautiful 5 bedroom, 3.5 bath, 3440 square foot home second home on on 11915 Jumper Drive in Mint Hill, NC. - another Charlotte suburb [16] that again according to public records they paid $362,500 for. [17]

The church was less than two years old and Furtick was able to move to a second rather high end house without selling the first one - and managed to hold on to both for close to five years. The second house on Jumper Drive was not sold until December 2014 for $312,000. What is worth paying attention to us the fact that Furtick's first book, Sun Stand Still, was not released until 2010. In other words, he owned two houses on what had to be a pretty comfortable salary.

Besides which, well before his second home sold in December 2014, Furtick was already building the mansion he now lives in.

    Home 1 - Ballade Drive - September 2005 to August 2012

    Home 2 - Jumper Drive in Mint Hill - November 2007 to December 2014

    Home 3 - Weddington - Was under construction or already built by 2013.

In other words, in the entire period from November 2007 to December 2014 Furtick was paying for two houses.

Although Furtick has several streams of income - royalties from the sale of his books, being paid to speak at other churches and possibly royalties from the sale of Elevation Worship CD’s, the fact remains that in order to qualify for a very substantial loan one has to show a very substantial regular income. As most people know,

    When you apply for a mortgage you generally have to provide the bank with a year or two of tax returns, as well as document all your current sources of income. And in today's tough lending environment, especially in regard to a bank that is going to lend somebody over 1 million dollars to build a home, underwriting standards tend to be very strict. Income received from unusual sources of income, like book royalties, are going to receive a lot of scrutiny. A lender is going to want to see a very solid source of regular income before they approve you for a mortgage. [18]


Celebrity Status
A 2013 article entitled On God's Stage: Elevation Church says (Emphasis Added)

    Furtick does give critics who call him vain some material to work with. He autographs Bibles and likes to mention that Carolina Panther Steve Smith is a friend (Furtick recently preached while wearing Smith's jersey). Elevation's website specifies that being part of the church means believing "Elevation is built on the vision God gave Pastor Steven. We will aggressively defend our unity and that vision." [19]

And a quick look at Furtick's Facebook page [20] makes it very clear that it is all about Furtick. And no wonder considering the exalted opinion the church has of him. Presbyterian-raised Tonia Bendickson, a member of the church who oversees the outreach program believes that "Pastor Steven is anointed by God". [21]

I guess others must believe that as well. The church also produced an infographic called The "Reasons Elevation Church Is the Best Place to Work" that was featured on their web site and follows in the footsteps of notorious cults. It stated among other things.

    •We serve a Lead Pastor who seeks and hears from God.

    •We serve a Lead Pastor we can trust.

    •We serve a Lead Pastor who goes first. [22]

Silly me! All this time I was under the impression that it was God that we were supposed to be serving.

One page of a Sunday school coloring book that Elevation produced for its children's ministry depicts Furtick with the caption, "Elevation Church is built on the vision God gave pastor Steven. We will protect our unity in supporting his vision.” As so rightly said,

    "Indoctrinating kids with images and messages that discourage dissent and encourage the, ahem, elevation of a religious leader is problematic on many levels. [23]

See picture of coloring book HERE. I have a copy for when it disappears off the internet.

Elevation Church has very successfully created their own golden calf. They can be very proud. As the prophet of old once said

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!  (Isaiah 5:20 NASB)

The Anointing
Additionally, the word 'anointed' is so terribly overused term that it would be difficult to find a charismatic/evangelical service/program/tract/book that is not liberally sprinkled with the term.  However, a study of every instance of the word anoint / anointing  in the Scriptures shows that they are talking through their proverbial hats.

The Bible makes absolutely NO mention of any preachers or teachers being "anointed". Much to the contrary the fact that so many are being called anointed by their fan club, or are even running around calling themselves "anointed" is an extremely ominous sign of the End of Days. See The Anointing


"Haters"

And finally, some time ago Steven Furtick published a video aimed at "haters" - defined as everyone who openly opposes their heresy and false doctrine. He, like many of this remarkably uninformed generation seem never to have opened an English dictionary. They ignorantly throw 'popular' words around like confetti caring little about what they actually mean and the fact that using a word incorrectly gives entirely the wrong impression.
 

As Webster's College Dictionary says, the word 'hate' means

    "to dislike intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward",

In other words, there is a world of difference between people who hate you and those who disagree with you.

Sadly, they also claim that their doctrine or position is established on what the Scriptures say and teach. Unfortunately this is miles away from the truth unless you are willing to accept a few isolated and out of context verses. An in-depth and honest study of the Bible will contradict their basic philosophy in virtually every respect. And since they never seem to be able to argue Biblically their only recourse is a desperate andTele-Furtick T often arrogant slandering of their opponent's character - generally referred to as an 'ad hominem' response.

Anyway back to Furtick's video, which not only reeks of superiority and arrogance, but is creepy in the extreme. I was watching his eyes during the video and would not be at all surprised to know that there was another less than benevolent being that took over in some way. Even my husband -  one of the most down to earth people on this planet and one who rarely sees beyond the physical, watched Furtick for a minute and then pronounced it "evil". And, judging by the You tube comments we are not the only ones. I’m reallly not sure what to think because the picture on the right is how Furtick initially looked

    Note: If opposition to your doctrine and your lifestyle amounts to "hate", then Jesus and the original disciples/apostles and their often intemperate language were the worst kind of haters.

    Neither Jesus Himself, nor any of the apostles of the New Testament were jolly good fellows who were polite to everyone and pandered to whatever they happened to believe. Much to the contrary they, in complete disregard of the modern sentiment of not 'offending' anyone, had little problem calling a spade, a spade.

    Jesus called the Pharisees, who were respected religious leaders of the day, hypocrites, children of hell, blind guides, fools, serpents, and a generation of vipers. Paul used very 'intemperate' language, and John, the so called "apostle of love", did not mince any words when speaking of people who claimed to know Jesus, but did not obey Him. In fact, he flat out called them "liars".

    Why? Because Biblical love did not and does not include quietly standing by while people are led astray by false beliefs. And, if it means publicly denouncing false teachers who are leading others to their death, then so be it.

    This, by the way, is the sole reason that this site exists at all. See The Fourth Most Dangerous Mistake Any Christian Can Make Is To Believe That We, As Christians, Are Not To Judge Anything or Anyone. HERE


Footnote I
Perry Noble: Noble was fired by NewSpring Church (a megachurch in South Carolina) for alcohol abuse and other "unfortunate choices and decisions". This happened on the first of July 2016. Yet, a mere ten days later in an Instagram post Furtick said that to him Noble was "a living example of bold leadership and a singular vision to reach people with the Gospel". SEE [24]

However, Perry Noble's problems extended far beyond alcohol. He once claimed that perhaps there would be fewer homosexuals if there were less greedy Christians who cared enough to tithe and spread the Gospel. Although he says "maybe", the fact remains that he was insinuating a connection.  See video on THIS page.  

Also read Noble rescinds the Ten Commandments for 2015 HERE  

Dino Rizzo also stepped down from his position stating that he was "not well in his spirit, soul, and body, and in that depleted condition he made decisions in his personal life that were wrong and negatively impacted his marriage, his family and his ability to lead Healing Place Church". There was no admission of guilt, no repentance. In fact the church was not even told that Rizzo was having an affair with a former intern. Chris Hodges, one of Healing Place Church's "overseers", indicated to the congregation that no additional details would be given about the Rizzos. "I know you want more than what's being said here today but can you be OK that the seven of us (overseers) know?" [25]

The end result was that Dino and his wife Delynn moved to Birmingham for a year of "supervised ministry". He served on staff at Church of the Highlands for one year and also serving part-time for the ARC (Association of Related Churches) assisting the team in providing pastoral care for the hundreds of church planters that have planted through the ARC.

Jack Graham: The blog Stop Baptist Predators tells this story (Emphasis Added)

    In 1989, Prestonwood church officials learned of allegations that a staff minister, John Langworthy, "acted inappropriately with a teenage student.” A former Prestonwood staff intern, who was there at the time, has said that Langworthy "confessed to molesting boys in the church.” With Jack Graham at the helm, Prestonwood church officials responded by quietly dismissing Langworthy. They got Langworthy off their own turf, and in doing so, they effectively unleashed him into the larger denominational body and placed many more kids at risk. This "cover-up" didn't come to light until two decades later.

    John Langworthy left Prestonwood and went to Morrison Heights Baptist Church in Clinton, Mississippi. Like Graham, Mississippi church officials also made grievous mistakes in dealing with abuse accusations. Langworthy has now publicly admitted that he had "sexual indiscretions with younger males" while working at a Texas church. Last week, he was indicted on charges that, even prior to his stint in Texas, he sexually abused five boys from two other Baptist churches in Mississippi. The boys were between 10 and 13 years old. [26]
    [PLACE IN TEXT]


End Notes - Steven Furtick
[00] Tim Funk. Elevation Church pastor: Keeping mum about personal finances fair to family, in line with Jesus' teaching. The Charlotte Observer. November 10, 2015. https://www.charlotteobserver.com/living/religion/article44218650.html

[01] Brittany Smith, Christian Post Reporter [Elevation Church Accused of Censoring Reformed Pastor's Sermon. Jan 18, 2012

[02] Nicola Menzie, Christian Post Reporter Who Are the Megachurch Leaders Who Decide Elevation Church Pastor Steven Furtick's 'Secret' Salary and Influence His Ministry? Oct 30, 2013 https://www.christianpost.com/news/who-are-the-megachurch-leaders-who-decide-elevation-church-pastor-steven-furticks-secret-salary-and-influence-his-ministry-107741/

[03] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-LJmJCkdMg&feature=youtu.be

[04] https://www.rodparsley.com/pages/247-dominion-camp-meeting-2018

[05] Face book. TBN and Church Channel: Experiencing exponential growth! https://www.facebook.com/notes/tbn-trinity-broadcasting-network/tbn-and-church-channel-experiencing-exponential-growth/630044723698727

[06] Steve Furtick. Greater: Dream Bigger. Start Smaller. Ignite God's Vision for Your Life. Publisher: Multnomah; Reprint edition (May 6, 2014) Pg. 87.

[07] Warren Cole Smith. The house that Steven built. Post Date: November 29, 2013
https://world.wng.org/2013/11/the_house_that_steven_built

[08] http://gis-web.co.union.nc.us/tax/Property.aspx?PIN=06153015

[09] Carol Kuruvilla. | New York Daily News | OCT 30, 2013 North Carolina pastor says swanky $1.7 million mansion is a 'gift from God'. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/north-carolina-pastor-1-7-million-home-gift-god-article-1.1501934#

[10] ibid.

[11] WCNC Staff and WCNC.com. Elevation Church pastor sells books from pulpit.
https://www.wcnc.com/article/news/investigations/i-team/elevation-church-pastor-sells-books-from-pulpit/275-292976502

[12] ibid.

[13] James Duncan. How Steven Furtick turns mediocre books into mansions. Pajama Pages.
http://www.pajamapages.com/how-steven-furtick-turns-mediocre-books-into-mansions/

[14] http://www.salesrankexpress.com/?

[15] Elevation Church pastor sells books from pulpit. WCNC Staff and WCNC.com.
https://www.wcnc.com/article/news/investigations/i-team/elevation-church-pastor-sells-books-from-pulpit/275-292976502

[16] https://www.checkthem.com/name/steven-furtick/mint-hill/north-carolina/

[17] https://www.coldwellbankerhomes.com/nc/mint-hill/11915-jumper-drive/pid_26005020/

[18] Why I Think Steven Furtick Makes Over $545,170.80 Per Year!!!. https://efurtick.wordpress.com/2015/02/

[19] Emily Harris. On God's Stage: Elevation Church.
www.charlottemagazine.com/Charlotte-Magazine/January-2014/The-Story-of-Elevation-Church/index.php?cparticle=2&siarticle=1#artanc

[20] https://www.facebook.com/StevenFurtick/

[21] Emily Harris. On God's Stage: Elevation Church.
www.charlottemagazine.com/Charlotte-Magazine/January-2014/The-Story-of-Elevation-Church/index.php?cparticle=2&siarticle=1#artanc

[22] https://goo.gl/74KgEf

[23] Jonathan Merritt. Why won’t Steven Furtick answer tough questions about his ministry?
https://religionnews.com/2016/05/11/why-pastor-steven-furtick-skirts-scandalous-questions/ May 11, 2016

[24] Leonardo Blair , Christian Post Reporter | Jul 15, 2016. Steven Furtick Praises Perry Noble After NewSpring Firing.
https://www.christianpost.com/news/steven-furtick-praises-perry-noble-after-newspring-firing-166499/

[25] Audrey Barrick, Christian Post Reporter | Sep 22, 2012. Healing Place Church Members Dismayed by Dino Rizzo's Resignation.
https://www.christianpost.com/news/healing-place-church-members-dismayed-by-dino-rizzos-resignation-express-support-82057/

[26] Jack Graham: Deceiver, believer or in-betweener?
 http://stopbaptistpredators.blogspot.com/2011/10/jack-graham-deceiver-believer-or-in.html

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