The Biblical truths we learn at church each weekend are intended to not just be heard on Sunday, but put into practice Monday through Friday. We should be seeking weekly to understand what God teaches us and begin to practically apply it to our daily lives. For part four of our series God’s Will Is Whatever, we watched the testimonies of several people in the church, showing how they seek God’s will everyday in the workplace. This is one of those stories.
Archive for the ‘Elevation’ Category
Which job should I take? How do I know if he’s the one? What am I supposed to do with my life? All our greatest questions are rooted in the same desire – to understand the will of God. We don’t want to make a bad choice or the wrong decision. We just want to know what God wants us to do and where God wants us to go. So how can we know? And are we even asking the right questions?
Join us for our new series, God’s Will Is Whatever as we take a closer look at the will of God – and how we fit into it all.
A recent Super Bowl commercial used Paul Harvey’s 1978 speech entitled ‘So God Made A Farmer’ as a backdrop to sell pick-up trucks. Inspired by that piece, Pastor Steven closed this year’s Easter Worship Experiences with his own spoken word journey through some of the Bible’s greatest stories, shining a spotlight on the Savior at the center of it all.
Special thanks to Amena Brown for her help on this piece.
The guilty. The hurting. The ashamed and cast out. In scripture, when the Pharisees confronted Jesus about the company He kept, He told them who He really came to save – not the well, but the sick. In part seven of our IN•FIN•8 series, as we walked through the parable of the prodigal son, our church heard the story of Norm. It’s a story of a redemption. A prodigal restored. And as we enter the week of Easter, let his story remind you of who Jesus came to rescue – sinners like Norm. Sinners like you. Sinners like us.
Today is the release of the fifth album from Elevation Worship, Nothing is Wasted. The songs of this project were birthed out of Pastor Steven’s book Greater, and its message of laying down our lives to follow Jesus and make Him greater. Each chapter of the book has a corresponding song inspired by that chapter, creating a deeper experience for readers of the book.
Nothing is Wasted is also a double album, with two expressions of the same songs – a live version recorded at a night of worship with our church, and a deluxe edition that includes unique studio versions of the same songs.
Tune in to the Elevation Network throughout today, from 8:00AM EST to 8:00PM EST, to see live acoustic performances, go behind the scenes with Elevation Worship, hear the stories behind the songs, and preview our new live worship DVD. We’re excited to share this album and its message with you.
One of the questions we get asked the most is, “What is your secret to your success?” The honest answer is there isn’t one. There isn’t a marketing machine or a boardroom full of church-growth experts. We are simply a church with a singular vision on reaching people far from God, a faith that is fully reliant on Him moving on our behalf, and an obedience to Jesus’ call on our lives.
We’ve learned a lot over the past seven years and we feel like we have plenty of experiences to share and teach other new young leaders. Not necessarily the best way or the only way, but the way we do ministry. That’s the heart behind the Prodigy Program. Check out this short video as Pastor Steven explains our new six-month, hands-on apprenticeship beginning in January 2013.
For their upcoming album, Elevation Worship used the 12 different chapters of Pastor Steven’s new book Greater as the source for the themes for 12 new worship songs. The song “Nothing Is Wasted” is written from the chapters of the book about Elisha and the Shunnamite woman in 2 Kings 4. The following is a behind-the-scenes look at this song followed by a clip from our weekend worship experience.
Click here to watch the sermon “Upon Further Review,” also based upon this chapter of Greater.
For their upcoming album, Elevation Worship used the 12 different chapters of Pastor Steven’s new book Greater as the source for the themes for 12 new worship songs. Many of the concepts and teachings from Greater originated first as sermons Pastor Steven preached in our church, so it seemed both fitting and cohesive to write worship music that drew from the same inspiration. The following clip is a behind-the-scenes look at one of those songs – “I Have Decided” that we showed in our weekend worship experience.
Click here to buy music and download chord charts from Elevation Worship.
At Elevation Church, we charge our students with not just being a part of this generation, but leading it. To emphasize this charge, we kicked off this year’s Student Takeover worship experience with “Lead The Generation.” Our goal through this piece was to engage and inspire students to do just that – to no longer conform to the culture around them, but to redefine it.
“Who Am I?” is a motion graphics piece we recently showed in our weekend worship experience during our series I Know God Is But Who Am I? This project from our Creative Department stemmed from a common problem we all face – where do we find our identity? Often times we look to the world to measure and define who we are and the value we carry. But God defines who we are much differently. This piece explores this challenge and helps to answer the question we all ask: Who Am I?
To view and download some of the free resources from Elevation Church that we have made available to churches, please check out our Resources site.
Last year, under Pastor Steven’s leadership, Elevation Church set an audacious goal of service for our city and solidified our commitment with what we called The Orange Initiative. We vowed to serve 100,000 hours of community service and donate $750,000 to outreach partners working to feed, house, clothe, and care for our neighbors. We wanted to make an impact this city has never seen. Watch this video to see the results of a year’s worth of effort.
Seven Mile Miracle Easter at Elevation Church was an amazing experience. Pastor Steven took us through the story of the road to Emmaus, a seven mile journey Jesus walked on the day of His resurrection with two disciples who didn’t recognize Him, and the seven last sayings of Christ on the cross. You can watch the whole worship experience here.
Our church was so impacted by this worship experience that we plan to launch a small group DVD curriculum available for churches to use next Easter season.
Easter 2012 was a banner weekend for Elevation Church. With 21,730 people in attendance for our seventh Easter, it was our largest weekend ever and we saw over 1,480 people make public professions of faith in Jesus. As Pastor Steven said this weekend, “Every number represents a life and there’s more work to be done.”
We’d like to take a moment and share some of those lives that were changed forever this Easter through a few of the #7MileMiracle tweets.
Christy Seay tweeted her joy this weekend when two of her daughters accepted Christ, one in our eKidz program, and one as first time guest, a VIP, at Elevation.
Larry Brey, our University Campus Pastor, shared the story on twitter of Deondra, who almost lost her life last year, saw Pastor Steven in the ICU, decided to come to Elevation for Easter, and gave her life to Christ.
And finally, proving that it’s never too late for Christ to change a life, Heather Dooley, the wife of our Blakeney Associate Campus Pastor, Nick, tweeted this photo of Grace, who gave her life to Jesus this weekend at 102 years old.
At Elevation Church, we exist to see those far from God raised to life in Christ, and every statistic, every number, is a life changed, an eternal destination altered. Join with us, as there’s so much more to do!
This weekend wrapped up LOVE Week 2012 at Elevation Church. Three years ago, LOVE Week started with a goal of serving 5,000 hours as a church in one week. This year, Mayor Anthony Foxx officially declared February 11th-19th as “LOVE Week” across the city of Charlotte. Thanks to our 93 partnering churches and non-profit organizations and 4,861 volunteers, we were able to serve 50,340 hours and impact countless lives for the glory of Jesus.
Along the way, we built a house, made 20,000 sandwiches for homeless children, and donated $40,000 to a free medical clinic. This barely scratches the surface of the impact God made on our city this week. Check out some of the highlights.
This weekend, we had the privilege of sharing one of the most powerful testimonies we’ve ever seen at Elevation Church. Her story was so poignant, we built our entire worship experience around it. Meet Fasha Davis—living proof that God uses us to initiate the turning points that may actually save someone else’s life.
God moved in a mighty way during the past 12 days of Code Orange Revival! Our team put together this video to celebrate what God has already done through the first part of 2012. This is not a highlight reel – it’s a preview of what God is going to do this year.
This is such an exciting time for our church. Not only did Code Orange Revival kick off last night, but we have also launched a brand new initiative that will open up unlimited opportunity to reach people all over the world with the power of the gospel. As a church we have always sought to leverage technology to increase our platform for ministry, so we have launched The Elevation Network: a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week Gospel preaching ministry.
The Elevation Network is our gift to you, and is a free online network that will stream round the clock gospel preaching. When you tune into the network, you will see our current sermon of the week airing every four hours, past sermons from our archives, creative elements from our sermon series and worship songs that were birthed right here in our own church. It’s your channel for all things Elevation with the sole purpose of reaching people far from God all over the world.
The Elevation Network also gives us the ability to stream live events, so it is only fitting that we are launching it with Code Orange Revival. The network will be the only place you can watch the revival as it’s happening, and we hope that you take advantage of it and join us in the incredible things we are going to see God do over the next twelve days. It is built so that you can easily share with others, so we would love your help in getting the word out.
The network is broadcasting right now and goes live again tonight at 6:12 PM EST with our revival pre-show, and then Code Orange Revival begins at 7 PM EST. Join us at www.elevationnetwork.com.
Click on the banner to visit the Elevation Network now. Watch the video from the Network below to learn a little more about the vision behind the Elevation Network.
I ripped off that phrase-be a bringer- from my friend @KevinGerald. He uses it to remind his church of their responsibility to be witnesses for Christ. Not only should we invite people who are far from God to come to church-we should bring them with us. We should do whatever we can to compel them. Because there is a great chance their life will be changed in the presence of Jesus Christ.
Of course, as our Christmas worship experiences approach at Elevation, we’re putting a lot of effort into motivating our people to be bringers. If you’re planning on worshipping with us this Christmas, I hope you’ve got tickets already, not only for your family, but for someone in your life who needs to find hope in Christ.
You can still get tickets to most worship experiences at codeorangechristmas.com
They’re free, and they’re simply a tool for us to guarantee we have a spot for everyone who makes the effort to come.
There are 30 different worship experience times to choose from in the Charlotte area, and many more at Elevation Extension locations around the world.
You can see a list of those locations here.
We’re going all out to present the Gospel this Christmas. The opportunity is great. The need is urgent. And although public worship gatherings aren’t the only way someone can come to Christ, we’ve seen thousands respond to Jesus in this environment. We believe God moves in a special way when His Church comes together. Not just in our church, but anywhere the Gospel is preached.
The other day, I was standing in a particular place that made me think about how much difference one invite could make. I decided to pull out my phone and record a video on the spot.
Believers all over the world, let’s be bringers this Christmas season.
You never know the impact your invitation could initiate.
At Elevation, we place a high priority on naming stuff. Events, Meetings, Teams, Rooms, People who need new monikers, we name them all. It’s part of who we are, and we have fun doing it.
For a season I ate lunch every week with our lead staff. I didn’t just call it Lead Staff Lunch. No siree, I called it XLC. X-treme Lunch Challenge. Our strategy meeting that took place right after lunch was called CN. What that stands for is confidential. Now the meeting is called Preview. Before CN it was called something else, I can’t remember.
Just now, before writing this blog, I spent an hour trying to come up with a tagline for our Code Orange Revival. That was after a whole long segment of a meeting where we banged our heads on about 20 taglines that didn’t work. Coming up with the name Code Orange Revival itself was a whole other, multi day on and off process. I used two pages of research to nail that one down.
Maybe this seems eccentric, but I won’t even commit to doing something until I can figure out what we’re going to call it.
The upside is that this helps me think about an initiative at a vision level before I get all bogged down in the details.
Asking the question: What are we going to call it? helps me make decisions about who is it for? What should it feel like? How big will it be? Before we ever roll it out, and get it in the works.
There is creative power in our language.
Put a little extra thought into naming the stuff you’re responsible for. It might make more difference than you think.
Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.
(It only took me about 5 seconds to name this blog entry, ironically.)
Guest Blogger: Wade Joye, Worship Pastor
At Elevation, we are always looking for new ways to leverage technology to reach people and to creatively present the gospel. Recently, we were inspired by Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir featured in a recent TED Talk, and got excited about the potential to use voices from all over the country in a creative and unique way this Christmas by putting our own spin on this idea. So we decided to launch our very first Elevation Global Choir which will be a main part of our Christmas worship experiences this year. It will be such a powerful way for people across the country and the world to sing the same song, all together at the same time, for the Glory of God.
So we want everyone to participate. If you have ever wanted to sing on stage but were too nervous to get up in front of people, this is your chance! You can do everything right in front of your computer. This is also a great thing for churches and worship ministries to get your teams engaged in as we join together as the global Church.
To make it even more fun, we want to bless the worship leader or choir director whose team submits the most videos. You will win a trip for 2 to the Code Orange Revival in January 2012 for 2 nights and get a chance to hang out with our worship team and experience what promises to be an unforgettable way to kick off the New Year. You have 2 weeks to submit your videos, and the last day to submit for the Revival contest will be Thanksgiving Day! Winners will be announced on Nov. 26.
All details and instructions can be found at
Don’t miss out on being a part of worshipping with us this Christmas!
I’m so excited to be able to share some great news with you on the blog today.
On November 22, Elevation Worship is releasing its next album, For the Honor. I’ve already had a chance to listen to it and it really moved me in a deep way. I believe it’s going to help countless people connect to God through worship in a life-changing way.
This album is special for so many reasons.
- It’s the first live album Elevation Worship has ever created. The presence of God was incredibly tangible the night we recorded and we’re praying that the people who listen to this album will experience that same presence. In their car. Their house. The coffee shop. And anywhere else they may be.
- It’s the first album we’re releasing with a record label. Partnering with the Essential Worship/Provident record label is going to help us tell the story of what God is doing through Elevation Church all over the country. And it means that in addition to being able to buy the album on iTunes, you’ll also be able to buy it on November 22 in retail stores across the country.
- While we’re excited to release our first live album, we also want to capture the opportunity to be generous with this release. So we’re partnering with Compassion’s Child Survival Program to help support the people in Kamwokya, one of the poorest slums in Uganda’s capital city. On the weekend we release For The Honor to our church, we’ll be giving away Elevation’s proceeds to the women and children of Kamwokya. Additionally, on November 22, all of the sales from iTunes will go towards this program as well. You can find more details here.
For the Honor contains 13 songs, but you’ll also be able to buy a digital deluxe version of the album that will contain 3 bonus songs, 5 music videos, a documentary, chord charts for all songs, and more.
So go ahead and plan on buying a copy for yourself on November 22. Then go out on Black Friday and buy 10 copies for friends. I really do believe it’s one of the best investments you could make into your life and their lives this holiday season as we seek to honor the God who is worthy of the highest glory.
In case you want a little taste of the album and what it was like recording it live, I’ve included a video of the title track and the latest album teaser below.
It’s hard to put words to something that leaves you speechless.
So I’m not going to use too many.
2,158 baptisms. In two weeks.
All we can say is all glory to Jesus!
I taught a few of our staff recently that baptism is a portrait. It paints a picture of Jesus’ death and resurrection and our participation with Him in it through faith. So it seems fitting to give you a few portraits of some of the baptisms we saw this past weekend, and the weekend before that as well. I’ve also included our video recap from the first weekend at the bottom. If you haven’t had a chance to see it yet, take four minutes and watch it. I believe it will inspire you like few things can.
Elevation, let’s wildly celebrate all that God has done these past two weeks.
But also remember that the best is yet to come.
It’s hard to know exactly what to say after this past weekend.
Without a doubt, it was one of the most phenomenal experiences of not just our church, but our entire lives. 1,426 people were baptized Saturday and Sunday in our first week of spontaneous baptisms during our Follow series.
We give all the glory to Jesus!
Elevation, this is why we started this church. This is why we put in all of the hours. This is why we lead the way in generosity. This is why we issue all of the invites. To see the sights we saw this past weekend (I’ve included some pictures at the end of the post). Grown men crying. Fists pumping in the air after being raised to a new life. Husbands and wives hugging and kissing after being baptized together.
To hear testimonies of life change like the ones found in the tweets below:
- @ashortell: Just watched my mother in law get baptized!!! God is SO GOOD!!!
- @KarmaZolanski: HALLELUJAH!!! My sister just got BAPTIZED @ElevationChurch! I’ve been praying 22 YEARS!
- @hopester31: Just witnessed almost an entire football team get baptized. God’s incredible.
- @kellyhubatka: Tons of people left the Uptown auditorium to go get baptized…whole rows, entire families.
- @kristine_webb: Just saw a dad leading his children to be baptized. And he was sobbing.
- @kdraddy: A mom and her 2 daughters just baptized together!!
- @stephenwebb: Favorite moment tonight: Claudine stepping out of a wheelchair to be baptized with 2 daughters.
- @TaylorKnock: Blessed to see my wife baptized, and to be a part of the amazing things God is doing at Elevation this wknd.
Those are just eight of the hundreds of stories you can read on Twitter if you search “#follow2011.”
There’s absolutely no stopping this advance of the Kingdom of God in our city. We’re realizing that what we read about in Acts 2 isn’t just an indication of what God did a long time ago but an expectation of what He still wants to do today.
And it’s not over yet. God’s just getting started. Please pray that hundreds more will take the plunge and be baptized this coming weekend. Remember, the right time to do the right thing is right now.
It’s weekends like this that make me proud to be a pastor.
From the day we started Elevation, we knew we wanted to create a church with a strong and cutting edge kids ministry. A church that our own kids would want to come to. And because of an amazing team of eKidz staff and volunteers, that’s just what we have.
And so it seemed natural earlier this year when I made the decision to let our kids take over our worship experiences for a weekend. After all, we need to be reminded that our kids aren’t just the future. They’re the present. And what better weekend than the 4th of July?
Our staff, volunteers, and kids pulled off an incredible worship experience all weekend. And to top it all off, we got to see over 50 of our kids baptized on Sunday night.
You can catch some pictures of the weekend below, as well as a video I shot to cast vision for the weekend. But for now, let me say thank you to all of the people who not only made this weekend happen, but who also tirelessly pour themselves into our kids week after week.
The impact you’re making is incalculable. Not just for the future. But in the present as well.
Words can barely describe what we saw this past weekend. So I’m not going to use many.
We prayed big and asked God for 1,582 salvations in three days. It was a request that honestly made me a little nervous.
But then God did what He always does – He completely blew our expectations out of the water.
21 worship experiences.
19,593 people in attendance.
2,277 decisions for Christ!
One God glorified through it all.
I’ll leave you with a video that we showed this past weekend. A few weeks ago I said that Elevation is all about the numbers. After this past weekend, I believe it now more than ever because once again we know that behind every number we record there is a story.
Here are a few of the numbers and the stories behind them that we’ve encountered over the past few years:
We’re just nine days away from an Easter weekend you’ll never forget.
Last year we did Time Warner Arena. Three campuses in one location.
This year, we’re upping the ante. Four locations in three dimensions.
That’s right, we’re going 3D this year at Elevation as we look at the message of Jesus in a way you’ve probably never seen before. My team and I traveled across the country to film this year’s Easter Experience in 3D over a four-day period, and all of the work was more than worth it (For a hint at one of the locations, check out our promo video below). We’ve got incredible footage, and even more than that, an incredible, life-changing message that will speak to everyone who comes – whether you’ve grown up in church your entire life or spent your whole life avoiding it at all costs.
For those of you wondering if you’ll have to wear 3D glasses during the whole experience, don’t worry. There are three 3D segments and we’re going to have incredible elements interspersed between them. And I’ll be there speaking live as well.
With 21 worship experiences across four locations, you’ve got plenty of options to choose from. But choose quickly. Due to high attendance on Easter weekend, a free ticket will be required to attend and they’re going quickly. To get yours, go to this site that gives you times, options for ordering, and even allows you to invite people to come with you.
If you’re already coming, I encourage you to invite someone with you who needs to hear the gospel. Invite twenty people even. Family. Friends. Coworkers. There’s no limit to the amount of people we want to see filled with life in Christ. And it all starts with the simple, but powerful step of your personal invitation.
We’re expecting a big harvest this Easter. We’re praying for God to pour out His salvation in a way we’ve never seen before. Bring yourself. Bring people with you. And we’ll watch it happen together.
I’m very excited to announce one of our biggest initiatives ever at Elevation Church.
We’ve seen God do unbelievable things during Elevation’s first five years. Over 11,000 people saved. Millions of dollars given to our outreach partners. Thousands of people reached. All in just five years.
It’s been incredible to see God move the way He has and we give Him all the glory for it. But I also believe He’s just getting started.
So far everything we’ve seen through our Weekend Worship Experiences has taken place in Charlotte.
Now it’s time to take the vision God has given us to a national and global scale. We want to see God to do the same kinds of impossible things that He’s done here in communities across the United States and the world.
And we want you to be a part of it.
Enter Elevation Global. Our way of expanding the vision of Elevation Church beyond the city of Charlotte and our current locations. No, we’re not about to plant and build hundreds of campuses everywhere someone asks us. But starting today we are looking for qualified leaders who would like to partner with us to start an Elevation Global Site as an extension of Elevation Church to reach your community.
Any adult (18+) can apply to lead an Elevation Global Site in one of five categories: outreach (ex. Men’s and women’s shelters, prisons, nursing homes), universities, residential, military bases, and international locations. If you’re approved (a lengthy process), we’ll empower you with resources and training, and you’ll be a part of the Elevation movement.
If you’re interested or know anyone who would be, check out this site we’ve created for you. It will answer some of your basic questions and there’s a place to fill out an application to be a Site Leader. Don’t hesitate as we’re only taking on a limited number of leaders during each season of training.
Elevation Global is not designed to replace or compete with the local church. It is just another way to see people far from God filled with life in Christ.
Elevation showed some serious love this past week in the city of Charlotte with our second annual Love Week.
The call to action was simple – to see our church partner with 25 other churches in the area and commit to serving 25,000 hours of community service in our city. In one week. Our people responded and stepped up in a big way.
60,000 meals made for families. 30,000 sandwiches made for the homeless. 28 tons of trash collected. 17,000 shoes processed in one weekend. A goal-shattering 34,257 hours served.
But most of all, countless lives touched for the glory of Jesus.
This is what I got into ministry for. This is what the church exists for. To show a city that it’s loved by the churches in it more than it knows. To show a city that there’s a God who loves them more than they could ever possibly know.
To everyone who participated and planned this momentous initiative, thank you. You’re the real heroes in all of this. God gets all the glory. But He used you to get it done.
Now let’s keep being known for what we’re for and loving this city until it’s turned upside-down with the gospel.
We just wrapped up an incredibly special weekend at Elevation that’s hard to put into words. Simply put, we made a movie.
To conclude our five-year anniversary celebration, we premiered our first feature-length film, This is How We Change the World. It covers the first five years of Elevation’s story. How God has blessed us. What it took to get where we are. The stories behind the numbers. Pretty much everything that we could say in 65 minutes.
And I want all of you to see it. Not to glorify ourselves. Or to say that our story is the only story worth telling.
Just the opposite. This film isn’t only about us and our story. It’s about what God stands ready to do for and through every person. Including you. As I said in Sun Stand Still, I believe our story hints at a God-sized transformation that is available to every follower of Christ. And every church.
What you’re not going to get is a formula. The five easy steps to church growth. The seven-point plan to changing the world. What you’re going to get is a story of how God has shaken a city. And through that story you’re going to see what God has always and will always use to change the world.
His favor. Sacrifice. Love. Hard work. Unity. Audacious faith. Risk.
And none of these are owned by us.
These elements can be a part of your life. Whether you’re a church planter or an entrepreneur. A retiree that just got finished or a college graduate that’s just getting started.
You can change the world.
We’ve put the documentary up on the Elevation Experience for this week only. Catch it while you can. If you’d like a copy for yourself or your team to watch after this week, you can buy one here. We’ve got a special price going right now for those who pre-order, so don’t wait too long.
What has happened here can happen there. Where your church is. Where you are.
I hope that our story inspires you.
To not give up on your dreams.
To sacrifice whatever it takes to be a part of a move of God that leaves you breathless.
To live a story worth telling.
To change the world.
I usually don’t post on Fridays, but I wanted to let you know about a special season we’re in at Elevation.
We have two big weeks coming up as we’re celebrating our five-year anniversary. Anniversaries are a big deal to me. I look at them like milestones. And I think it’s always important that we take time at each milestone to celebrate what’s important.
We’ve seen God do unbelievable things during our first five years. Over 11,000 people saved. Millions of dollars given to our outreach partners. Campuses built. Countless lives changed.
And none of it could have happened without the favor of God. We know that’s what has gotten us here. And we know that it’s what is going to keep us moving forward as we chase after the vision God has given us.
With that in mind, over the past month I felt like God was calling us into a short season of fasting and prayer leading into our five-year anniversary. It’s a way for us to look back in acknowledgement and look forward with expectancy.
We’re calling it the 5:11 Favor Fast. Obviously the 5 comes from the fact that this is our fifth year and we’re celebrating five years of the favor of God. And it’s the year 2011 and we’re fasting the first 11 days of February.
But it also comes from Luke 5:11 where the disciples leave everything to follow Jesus. That’s the kind of sacrifice that the core families made when we planted the church. And it’s the kind of sacrifice we’re going to have to continue to make to move forward with what God has for us.
Please know my purpose here isn’t in any way to violate Matthew 6:16-18 where Jesus warns against fasting for the sake of recognition. That isn’t our motivation. It’s just a call to any of you who have had a connection to Elevation to join us in some capacity. Or maybe you want to fast and pray over your own church.
We’ve created a website to provide you with resources and guidelines for the fast. I want to give a big shout out to Stovall Weems for supplying us with a lot of great content. He organized an incredible movement called Awakening that called churches across the world to 21 days of fasting and prayer in January. For our timing and purposes, we just wanted to wait until this first part of February to fast as a church.
We’re already four days in, but there are seven days left. Join us if you can. God has already been doing incredible things. Both in the last four days and the past five years.
But the best is yet to come. In the next seven days. And in the years ahead.
Guest Blogger: Larry Hubatka, Creative Pastor
There are so many amazing stories from 2010 to remind us of God’s faithfulness at Elevation. If you haven’t put your own list together yet, take a few minutes to create one. Remind yourself of how God showed himself over the past 12 months and use it as a motivation and encouragement to make 2011 your best year yet.
Here are some of our highlights from this past year…in no particular order:
1 – Christmas Eve Salvations and Attendance
It was amazing to see over 13,000 people in attendance and 1,172 salvations. Nothing reminds us of why we do what we do like successful events like this and all the changed lives.
2 – The Gratitude Teaching
This was a teaching from Pastor Steven that transformed my take on gratitude. Check out the podcast for week 3 of The Highest for this teaching in its entirety. Favorite point from the teaching: Gratitude is never silent.
3 – Easter at Time Warner
This was the fulfillment of a dream for us. To see one of the largest venues in our city being used to advance the Kingdom of God, it was an unbelievable feeling. Over 11,000 people in attendance. Over 700 salvation decisions. 18,000 items donated for our Community Outreach partners. One God glorified through it all.
4 – The Release of Kingdom Come
I love the original music God has inspired through Pastor Steven and our worship leaders. The release of this album marked a major breakthrough in how worship music from this house was being used by ministries across the country.
5 – The Release of Sun Stand Still
I got to walk through the release of Pastor Steven’s first book from the front row. I had no idea how involved the process was, but there is nothing more rewarding than hearing a story from across the country of how God is using this church and the message of audacious faith to inspire people everywhere.
6 – 24 Hours of Preaching
The more I think about it, the more I can’t believe Pastor Steven literally preaching for 24 hours straight and having the entire event streaming live…it was insane. He’s a preaching machine.
7 – New Thru 30
It was an aggressive approach to immersing our church in God’s Word, but it worked. We had thousands of people get familiar with the Bible over the course of 30 days by reading through the entire New Testament.
8 – The Opening of Blakeney
Building a new facility from the ground up was a challenge for our team, but the payoff was well worth it. To see the overflow seating being used every single week is a good problem to have. Thank you God for good problems.
It’s been an incredible year. We’ve seen God move in countless ways and the reverberations of all that He’s done are still impacting us. But we believe the best is ahead.
And whether you’re one person, your church is smaller than ours, or twice as big, the best is ahead for you too.
Guest Blogger: Wade Joye, Worship Pastor
We’re still catching our breath. What we saw God do this past week at our Christmas worship experiences is still difficult to fully wrap our minds around. But for now we can definitely say it’s something we’ll never forget.
18 worship experiences. Over 13,000 in attendance. Over 1100 salvation decisions! 1 church in 4 locations worshipping the same Jesus who came to bring us hope, rescue and salvation.
Our staff and thousands of volunteers pulled off one of the best Christmas events we could have ever asked for. This year we went with a modern-day retelling of the Christmas story that included everything from songs by Snow Patrol and Kanye West to hip hop dancers and even a British narrator. Then Pastor Steven capped off the night with one of the clearest and most powerful gospel presentations I have ever heard.
Thousands of lives were changed. And God deserves all the glory.
It would be hard to do the event justice by describing it to you, so here are a few pics to give you a glimpse of what we experienced.
(If you would like to watch Pastor Steven’s Christmas message, you can catch it at the Elevation Experience this week, every hour on the hour.)
Guest Blogger: Wade Joye, Worship Pastor
This weekend Elevation Church is launching an additional 168 weekly worship experiences.
Yes, you read that correctly.
But we’re adding them all online. Starting this Sunday at 11 AM EST and updating weekly at the same time, The Elevation Experience will air every hour on the hour. It’s our new, specially programmed worship experience that is customized for online viewing.
This isn’t about replacing the local church. Or simply giving people who miss a Sunday a way to make up for it, although we hope they’ll do that. Above all, our prayer for this experience is that it will provide yet another way to reach people who are far from God with the life-giving message of Jesus. We’re in a day where we can use technology to carry the gospel to places the early church couldn’t have imagined and at a speed they would have envied. So why not use it?
The Elevation Experience will include a short worship set and a custom sermon that Pastor Steven will preach just for our online viewers. To go along with the sermon, we’ll also be posting live expanded sermon content that will be available only at The Elevation Experience and will appear as the sermon is rolling. You’ll be able to send in prayer requests. Give online. And take notes. All in one place. It’s highly interactive and easy to use.
If you or anyone you know would benefit from this kind of an experience, all you have to do is go to elevationexperience.com beginning this Sunday at 11. Or any of the other 167 online worship experiences that will air after that.
We’re praying and expecting God to use the Elevation Experience to reach thousands. Help us get the word out. And we’ll see you online.
Guest Blogger: Wade Joye, Worship Pastor
There is no way to adequately convey what we experienced at Time Warner Cable Arena this Easter. God has blown us away time and time again with the way He exceeds everything we pray for, but this took it to a new level.
Over 11,000 people in attendance. Over 700 salvation decisions. 18,000 items donated for our Community Outreach partners. Our church worshipping the risen Jesus and celebrating baptisms together under one roof. Elevation Church and our city will never be the same.
All glory to God for allowing us to experience such a powerful move of His Spirit.
Elevation is showing some serious love this week in the city of Charlotte. Love Week kicked off on Saturday, February 13 and ends Sunday, February 21. The call to action was simple – to see our church commit to serve 5,000 hours of community service in our city. 5,000 people serving just 1 hour of their time. Our volunteers responded to the vision and have stepped up in a big way.
As of Thursday morning, 4,917 hours have been served since Saturday!
Some of the outreach opportunities have included: sorting clothes at Crisis Assistance Ministry, making 11,558 sandwiches for Operation Sandwich, sorting over 5,300 pairs of shoes for Samaritan’s Feet, building a soccer field for Jackson Park Ministries, serving breakfast at the Charlotte Rescue Mission, reading to children at Piney Grove Elementary School, adopting a teen mom with Safe Journey, and the list continues.
Elevation, we are well on our way to breaking through the goal of 5,000 hours. There is still much to do, so find out more and register here. Let’s finish strong as we continue to transform our city with the love of Jesus.
Guest Blogger: Larry Brey, Connections Pastor
Pastor Steven has asked a few of us this week to share some of the strategic things we’ve done this fall to create momentum. In the connections world that I operate we overhauled two major processes that have produced considerable momentum, our First Time Guest process and our Connections process.
As a church we have consistently created a welcoming experience for our guests, but Pastor Steven challenged us to create an honoring experience. So this summer we overhauled the First Time Guest process and created a new VIP team. We changed the look through new black tents, red VIP volunteer t-shirts, tables and implemented new systems to ensure guests are honored.
The VIP process begins when guests drive onto the campus. They are directed to the best parking spots where our VIP team is waiting to host them as their personal concierge. We put a great gift in their hands, escort them through the children’s check-in process, by-pass the auditorium lines and put them in the best seats in the auditorium. To create a personal touch every VIP team member gives their guest a personal Elevation VIP team business card.
The VIP follow-up processes also changed. Volunteers come to the office on Monday night to make a follow-up phone call to each VIP that visited over the weekend and send them a thank you letter from Pastor Steven. Each VIP that we speak with Monday night is given another touch on Tuesday night; we have a pizza delivered to their house, on us.
The results have been incredible. We are not only increasing the number of guests we connect with, but they feel like they are being treated like a VIP. This honoring process creates a personal connection that makes a big church feel very small.
The second system we overhauled was our Connections process, the system for people to sign up to join a community group or sign up to volunteer. The overhaul wasn’t a process change, but rather a branding and accessibility change. We operate with the principal that things should be “easy and obvious.” We have great systems to connect people, but they were not obvious. The Connection teams were in a poor location and it was branded as a “do you have questions” with an information feel rather than a “here’s the next step if you’re ready to jump in” feel. With this overhaul, everything went orange. We bought a big orange tent, put volunteers in orange t-shirts and put up orange signs that read “ready to start volunteering or join a community group.” We placed the tent right in the middle of the traffic flow.
The process was already easy; the changes just made it obvious-“go to the orange tent that you walk right by on your way out.” The results have been staggering, in the short time we’ve implemented the changes sign ups have more than tripled. These principals of honor and easy and obvious have produced great results. As we have grown as a church, we have not arbitrarily changed practices; rather we have gained a greater revelation of our guiding principals to build our practices upon.
Guest Blogger: John Bishop, Ministries Pastor
Pastor Steven has given us the opportunity to share some of the things that we did this fall to harness and create momentum at Elevation Church. I’m excited to share some of the details surrounding the launching of our first semi-permanent facility (The Matthews Campus).
On August 22nd and 23rd we opened The Matthews Campus as a way to create momentum moving into the fall.
It was an intense move on all fronts:
The construction time-line was insane; we didn’t actually get the certificate from the city to occupy the building until the Tuesday before our launch.
This “up-to-the-wire” move-in meant that we had 3 and 4 days to finish installing and dialing in all of our audio/visual equipment and we saw an “Old Testament caliber, Red Sea parting miracle” in making it happen.
We mobilized hundreds of people in coordinated prayer efforts over 24 hours, we signed up 300 new volunteers and, we witnessed hundreds of faithful, fired-up Elevators serve 3, 4 and 5 worship experiences throughout the weekend without missing a beat!
Some of you reading this post might be thinking, “Why put yourselves through all that craziness?”
1) God will get ALL the glory for this one! Though we worked hard, there is no way anyone will ever give us the credit for all that God did to pull off that weekend.
2) We knew that God had big plans for that weekend – and as a reward for our faith we watched God do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we could have asked for.
Since the opening Sunday of our Matthews facility we have seen over 500 people give their lives to Christ and over 1800 people visit our church for the first time.
We have had one of the most exhilarating rides of momentum we have ever been blessed with and it was all done in a new facility that just screams, “We’re going to reach our city, no matter what!” I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
Guest Blogger: Larry Hubatka, Creative Pastor
It’s not exactly what you think. Might be better.
We are opening another campus-an online campus. We’re going to launch elevationchurchlive.com September 27th at 7pm, and it’ll be the home of our new online experience.
Nothing can replace the local church. We’re not trying to. But we do want to provide another option for someone to hear the life-changing message of the Gospel. If it starts at an online experience, thank God for another person hearing about Jesus.
We know everyone knows someone they’d love to invite to church. Our online experience may be the best first step for some people. Many people love the thought of being a part of Elevation Church, but for whatever reason simply can’t attend one of our existing locations. Now they can.
The online experience will capture the entire worship experience-start to finish. From the opening worship song to the closing prayer of Pastor Steven’s message, you’ll get to experience it all. And, of course, it’ll all be customized for you to interact online.
Grab your neighbors, rally your college buddies or tune in on your own, whatever you do, it’s one more option to experience Elevation Church like you’ve never seen it before.
It’s less than a month away. We’ll be asking you to tap your social networks soon enough to spread the word. Stay tuned.
The topic of marketing came up at our recent staff advance. I presented a paradigm to our entire team that I’ve embraced since pre-day-one of our ministry:
There is no marketing department at Elevation Church. We are all the marketing department. We are all marketing. All the time. We are marketing the greatest message in the history of mankind. Everywhere. To everyone.
The whole team was nodding, and I felt like I was preaching pretty good, so I continued:
A lot of times, we think it’s the job of the creative department to make everything cool and attractive. Like they have some sort of magical process where they can make everything shiny, slick, and exciting with the touch of a button. In reality-
All of us are responsible for both the content and presentation of every message we send. Every initiative we initiate. Every communicative process we instigate.
Then came my favorite line. I thought of it on the spot:
There is no phone booth where we put in crappy and it comes out cool.
(Please tell me you got the Superman reference. It’s the best part!)
In what areas are we putting in crappy ideas and expecting them to come out cool? How can we be more strategic about the presentation of every message we send? Especially considering that it’s the only message that will matter for eternity-
(My acknowledgments to the venerable Seth Godin for ingraining this idea into my mindset)
Last weekend at Elevation we strongly urged our people to invite their friends who are far from God to church this coming weekend. We believe very strongly in the power of a simple invite to church. It’s not the only evangelism strategy. I won’t even argue that it’s the best. But we’ve seen over 5000 people indicate that they placed their faith in Christ in the last 3 ½ years through our weekend worship experiences. While we can’t make any assertions about which of these conversion experiences were genuine, we’re so thankful that God has allowed us to scatter so much seed and see such an evident harvest in our city. He will separate the wheat from the chaff. We’ll just keep sowing the Gospel and celebrating the life change we can see.
I wanted to issue one final challenge to our Elevators: don’t come alone this weekend. We’re adding so many worship experience times at our campuses it makes my head hurt trying to keep it straight. Jesus will be preached. Lives will be changed. We’re partners in the Gospel. Let’s do this together.
Below I’ve included a few tools to help you. Take a moment and send an e-vite. Or send 20. I’ll pay the postage.
And I’ve also included the very compelling testimony detailing how Danny Kellas, one of our all-star volunteers who is now with the Lord, invited a friend to church-and now the legacy of Danny’s love for Jesus lives on through Kelly’s changed life.
God wants to use you in a big way-through a small sentence:
Will you come to church with me this weekend?
You can’t imagine what kind of impact your invitation could initiate.
See you this weekend for the first week of Give. Me. Faith.
And the first week of new life in Christ for hundreds of people.
Guest Blogger: Chunks Corbett
If you came to Elevation Church on August 9th, you were sorely disappointed. You weren’t greeted, nobody was there to help you park. There were no ushers to help you to your seat. The worship leader carried a powered speaker out on stage and delivered an acoustic set without a band.
Overall, it was not a day to remember for the programming. But the day’s impact will be felt for a long time. A few months ago Pastor Steven came to the Lead team with the idea of “No Show Sunday”. We weren’t thrilled with the idea but the more we talked about it the more it made sense.
So on August 9th we pulled off the most unimpressive worship experience ever and it was awesome-kinda.
The goals were simple. We wanted to appreciate our current volunteer base and motivate the rest to get plugged in. It was a huge success with 500 people signing up to volunteer. It was also a great chance for Pastor Steven to cast vision for our upcoming fall as we add 3 new Worship Experience times and our first permanent campus.
He was also able to dispel the myth that Elevation is a “one man show” with some stats like these. It takes 860 of our current 1800 total volunteers over 3400 hours per week to pull off our 8 Worship Experiences at 3 portable locations every Sunday. The volunteers are the lifeblood of Elevation.
Here are a few more fun details on the day: The only sign we had up was “Elevation Church is meeting today”. We intentionally printed crooked black and white programs with the song lyrics and scriptures. Pastor carried a rickety music stand on stage to preach from with no fancy bumper or video playing in the background. We did have full children’s ministry (the goal was to create an experience not a distraction). It was Bizzarro-Sunday.
Pastor tied it all together with a powerful message of Jesus turning the water into wine. He pointed out that though everyone at the wedding got to experience the product of the miracle, only the servants who fetched the water got to see the actual miracle take place.
I think there’s a tendency for people to conclude that because Elevation Church has grown at a very fast rate, we must be experts on all subjects related to church leadership.
I fear that every time I hit post on a blog entry (ok, I don’t actually know how to post them. I hit send, MBA hits post) I reinforce this misconception.
Hey, check out my insight! We’ve cracked the code to save the world! Here’s how you can do it too!
And that’s not our heart. If you only knew how much we know that we don’t know much at all. I’m not playing humble pie here. I do recognize that I have certain gifts, abilities, and skills, given by God for the good of others. Our church has discovered, borrowed, and occasionally invented some concepts that have helped us reach our city well. And we take immense pride in what Jesus is doing through Elevation. We share our philosophies with passion because we’ve seen God bless them. No apologies there.
But, to paraphrase something Bobby Gruenewald told me the first time we met:
Outside of the Bible, we don’t have ministry philosophies. Everything is a theory.
When we share something about ministry or leadership, we’re not saying:
This is how you do it.
We’re simply saying:
This is how we did it before or this is how we’re doing it now.
Any ministry paradigm that is not clearly prescribed by the Word of God is subject to change: by the Holy Spirit, increased revelation, or cultural shifts. We reserve the right to disagree vehemently with ourselves if and when we learn a better way to do something.
So let me be the first to tell you:
I have said, and will say, some dumb things. I’ve said some inaccurate things. Sometimes, I’ve said accurate things in dumb ways. If it ever sounds like I’m schizophrenic because I say one thing in August and another thing in November, it’s because I’m learning. I’m progressing. I know it’s uncomfortable to watch me change clothes right in front of you. But at least I’m fresh.
Be patient with me. I’m not preaching, teaching, blogging and tweeting because I think I’ve got it figured out. But I figure our church owes it to you to figure it out in front of you. To learn out loud.
We’re bound to hit some bad notes. But at least we’ll have ‘em recorded for playback. Should make some fun blooper reels.
A well-known ministry leader and close friend told me 2 years ago:
“In many ways I don’t envy you. Your church is growing up in the public eye. That’s not easy. I pray the pressure won’t paralyze you.”
I had never thought about it like that. I had never thought of our now 3 ½ year old church as being in the public eye. We’re not on TV. I haven’t released a book (I’m working on my first one as we speak).
But thanks to our podcast, blogs, and opportunities to share the Elevation story at leadership events and conferences nationally, I guess we have been in a spotlight of sorts since about 14 months into our ministry. We’ve been putting it all out there for the world to see. We’ve been showing people our baby pictures since the very first ultrasound.
Every archived blog entry, every 27 month old sermon where I preached too fast and too long about too much-it’s all there to be analyzed, scrutinized, plagiarized-we’re growing up in the public eye.
This week I’ll discuss some of the assets and liabilities that have been a part of our church growing up in the public eye, as well as some disclaimers about our imperfections. Don’t worry, I’m not planning on being all whiny or pompous. I just want to process some of this stuff, and I may as well do it the way we’ve done everything else:
We enable experiences and interactions that leave our people saying:
I love my church
So they’ll tell their friends:
You’ve got to come check out my church
The friends come.
We worship Jesus and preach the Gospel with excellence.
The friends leave saying:
I really like this church
Inspiring them to come back again and again until they say:
I love my church
And tell their friends:
You’ve got to come check out my church-
Guest Blogger: Wade Joye
This weekend is going to be an all out party extravaganza at Elevation as we celebrate the release of our brand new worship CD, God With Us.
One thing we really know how to do well at Elevation is celebrate, so in true 4th of July spirit, our festivities will include free hot dogs, cotton candy, lemonade and other goodness before and after each worship experience. We have baptisms going on at some of our campuses, and I couldn’t be more excited about the worship experience we have planned.
Our volunteers even get their own private party on Sunday night, with a special volunteer worship experience at our Butler 6 PM service. We have the best volunteers in the world, so we have some extra surprises just for them!
The reason for all the excitement on Sunday is that each song on God With Us represents what our God has done and is doing in this movement. What we have seen over the past year can only be attributed to Jesus, and these songs are monuments to the faithfulness of our Savior. I can’t wait for our church to have these songs that we have been singing for months as a constant reminder that our God is with us.
To find out more details about how to get the CD, check out the Elevation Worship blog here.
And wait until you hear what we are doing with the proceeds of all the CDs sold this weekend. But you will have to be there on Sunday to hear about that!
Yesterday I preached on taming the tongue from James Chapter 3. Today the staff will be twittering every inappropriate thing that is said throughout the office. Whether they say it or hear it second hand.
Follow the action on the side bar all day long. Parental advisory: explicit lyrics.
Guest Blogger: Wade Joye
Let me go ahead and say that I have the best job in the whole world. I really can’t believe I get to do this and that I have a front row seat for this move of God.
You could say the same thing soon. There are several job openings currently and we are looking for the best of the best. If that is you, we have positions ranging from being the Project Manager for the Executive Pastor to producing the worship experience at one of our campuses.
The current positions that are open are:
Project Manager – Creative Department
Project Manager – Executive Pastor
Student Small Group Coordinator
If you are interested, go here or email email@example.com.
We’re happy and sorry to announce that the THR3E event is completely sold out. Even though the official deadline isn’t here yet, we’re full. Registration is closed, and I’m excited to be with all 150 of you who bought a ticket.
God is filling me with concept and revelation, and I believe April 28th will be an incredible day of impartation. We’ll never be the same.
See you in a month!
My generation of church leadership will have a hard time ever understanding how good we have it. Mainly because we have no frame of reference to appreciate the freedoms we enjoy.
Elevation is a staff led church. When we meet about a decision, we’re also able to make the decision. There are sufficient checks and balances (the ultimate oversight rests with an external board), but when it comes to the day-to-day ministry, the staff runs the show.
One of my mentors/heroes was a pastor at a traditional deacon-led Southern Baptist church for over 10 years. He salivates over how much freedom our staff has to actually lead this church. He tells me horror stories about having to beg the chairman to allocate $1000 of the $500,000 budget for evangelism.
Meanwhile, we’re able to spend every dime of our budget for the purpose of evangelism (ultimately).
He had to spend 3 months one time getting permission to move furniture in the sanctuary to accommodate his vision for altar calls.
We launched our second campus in less than 30 days. No church vote.
We’ve got it good, boys.
But trying to explain this to those of us who have never had to maneuver our way through dysfunctional deacons meetings is like trying to explain the stress of paying bills to my 3 year old.
We are blessed to begin every day with a blue sky. The only limit to our ingenuity is our imagination.
We start every drive in the red zone. The only limit to our effectiveness is our ability to execute.
In the words of Thomas Paine:
“What we obtain too cheaply, we esteem too lightly.”
I hope my generation gets that we’ve got it really, really good.
It’s a recap of Year 3 at Elevation. In 5 minutes.
Our anniversary festivities were out of control-as always.
We were praying for 650 new volunteers to sign-up yesterday.
They printed 750 t-shirts just to be safe.
We were 730 t-shirts short.
That’s 1480 new volunteers.
The best is ahead-
In honor of Elevation’s 3 year anniversary, today our staff will be twittering their 3 top moments/memories of our third year of ministry.
Check the sidebar throughout the day and relive the magic.
Show up this weekend for an unforgettable celebration.
Next week I’ll resume regular blogging. Here are a few pics from our Uptown Christmas extravaganza to tide you over til then. Happy New Year friends.
Before I go on a mini-blogging break for the holidays, I wanted to let our Elevation friends and family know the good news:
Over 6000 people showed up for our Christmas Eve worship experiences, and over 400 people indicated that they received Christ.
Glory to God in the highest!
Thanks for a phenomenal year Elevation. The best is yet to come. Merry Christmas
Very proud of our Creative Department for putting together this video.
Check it out on Wes’ blog.
Countless children were doubtlessly scarred by this video in our services Sunday.
Join me in praying that many people will receive Christ tonight in our Christmas Eve services.
If you were fortunate enough to score a ticket, or you’re planning on breaking in the back door (not a bad idea), I’ll see you there.
Gonna be the best Christmas ever…
Got plans for Christmas Eve? We do too, and we think you should join us. An Uptown Christmas is going to be unlike any Elevation experience you’ve had. We wish we could explain it, but this one you’ll just have to experience for yourself. It’s a (free) ticketed event and they are selling out faster than you can imagine. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll do our best to accommodate everyone for this event. It’s going to be a Christmas you’ll not soon forget!
Guest Blog: Lori Black, Assistant to Pastor Steven Furtick
It’s end of year staff evaluation time here at Elevation. As a staff, we all have mixed emotions about our evaluations. In fact, I think we’d describe it as a love/hate relationship.
And here’s why- we hate them because it challenges us to take a long, hard look into our work performance, our ability to meet goals and deadlines, our personal character and our walk with God. It’s a grueling process that forces us to get really truthful with ourselves. And I’ll be honest; I’d really prefer not to dig in to all of that because sometimes it isn’t pretty.
But, we love staff evaluations because Pastor Steven is intensely committed to seeing us reach our full potential. We know at the end of the process we’ll be encouraged, motivated and directed on how to take our areas of ministry to the next level and the action steps needed to develop our disciplines and character.
I can’t tell you how valuable it’s been in my personal development. Pastor Steven establishes clear, consistent goals and expectations and that enables me to operate with clarity and confidence. I really believe the intensity of our staff evaluation process is a huge part of the continued improvement of our staff as well as unity. When Pastor invests so much thought, prayer and time into my personal growth, it makes me feel valued and I’m motivated to operate at a higher level. And since he places such a high priority on development, it creates a unified staff committed to helping each other reach their full potential.
So, bring it on. I’ll gladly endure the process and face some hard truths to allow God to take me to a new level in my ministry. And I’m thankful Pastor Steven has the vision to see my potential and call it out-it’s been life changing.
Elevation Church is looking to hire the best Communications Director in the United States of America.
If you’re him/her, send an attention grabbing, experience loaded resume to our Creative Pastor, Larry Hubatka.
(He’ll reply if he thinks you’re the one. If he doesn’t think you’re the one, he won’t have time to respond-thanks for understanding.)
This Sunday I shared how our church is increasing our community outreach partners from 4 organizations to 20–we’re not backing down in this economic crisis. This is the time for the church to be the change the world is waiting for.
Yep, we’re pulling out all the stops for the Real Change Campaign this Sunday-and there’s one change that I can’t tell you about-you’ll have to see it for yourself.
And you’ll know it when you see it.
Hope you like it.
Our leadership team is acutely aware these days that we’ve got a long way to go in our ability to develop those under our leadership in accordance with Ephesians 4.
It’s been keeping me up at night: if a lack of development is our biggest problem, how do we fix it?
Here are some of my thoughts, straight from my journal, subject to change without notice.
1. We made a distinction between isolated development opportunities (we’re pretty good at these-conferences, meetings, etc.) and a deeply embedded emphasis on development.
The opposite of isolated opportunities is integrated emphasis, demanding a cultural shift:
The desire to develop people must color every conversation, and factor into every encounter.
2. The cultural shift will become effective when we assume a posture of: what do you need from me to improve in this area? when addressing the shortcomings of those under our leadership. It is not me against you, it’s us against the problem.
3. When addressing failures and deficiencies in those we lead, the underlying sentiment and motivation must be: I believe you’re better than this, not just: fix it or else.
This could be called the potential paradigm, because it ensures that we’re challenging each other on the basis of a sincere belief in one another’s potential.
4. In correcting the mistakes of those we lead, it’s not enough to identify the issue. It’s also inadequate to simply drive toward a solution. We’ve got to over communicate the reasoning behind the decision making. Otherwise, we will never enable those we lead to make the decision better next time, resulting in an ongoing culture of decision dependency (my original phrase, I think..)
5. High standards demand a commensurate high commitment to development. Our young staff (starting with me) has been forced to develop at warp speed. Development is not a side project, a luxury, a future ambition or a distraction from the “real work”. It is the marrow of our continued growth.
So many of you are hurting, uncertain, and discombobulated in this freak show financial crisis.
Help is on the way.
Sunday, I’m beginning a 5ish week series in which I will speak boldly and prophetically to the issues that are keeping us up at night.
This is not just another series.
God has given me a fresh, burning, kill-shot Word.
Ask someone to meet you at church Sunday.
A season of hope, favor, clarity, and blessing is upon us-no matter what CNN says.
I’ll see you Sunday. Change is coming.
Recently, the Charlotte Observer wrote a news article about Pastor Steven and what God is doing in Charlotte through Elevation Church and this past Sunday, the story made headlines on the front page! We’re excited about the platform God is giving us to reach this city.
Lori Black, Assistant to the Lead Pastor
It’s time to unleash the full fury of the Elevation Church creative team on you, the stevenfurtick.com reader.
From now on, this blog will feature daily posts from the members of our creative team in addition to my regular leadership posts. Just click on the tab.
I think they’ll post a lot of funny stuff, which is good. There haven’t been enough fun and games around here, you know. And they’ll give you some great insight to the creative process at Elevation. But mostly, I think they’ll be funny.
Tell your friends. A fresh wave of creativity is hitting the shores of this here blog. And check us out twice a day for twice the impact at no additional cost to you, the reader.
Leadership and creativity. A refreshing combination.
Click the tab and experience the magic.
The Gospel Works:
We saw over 900 people give their lives to Christ during the 3 weeks of The Gospel series. Outstanding. To God be the glory.
And God is Good:
Today is the 21st and final day of our Daniel Fast. I’m so glad we did it. I’m also glad it’s over. At 6:00 tonight, hundreds of Elevators will be eating meat and drinking caffeine for the first time in 3 weeks. Deliciousness will prevail.
We glorify the name of Jesus for these past 6 incredible weeks.
We prayed for an awakening, and over 1000 people were baptized in 2 weeks.
We preached the Gospel, and over 900 people professed faith in Christ over 3 weeks.
My most heartfelt gratitude to the staff and volunteers of Elevation Church for fasting, serving, praying, and seeking God like never before during this season.
He has honored your faith in bigger ways than we could have ever imagined.
Now go eat something that’s really really bad for you. You deserve it.
The blogging has been a little light around here this week. Sorry bout that.
But starting Monday, stevenfurtick.com will be a whole different place.
We’re adding a featu-
Well, you’ll just have to check in Monday. Great stuff, great stuff. Trust me.
See you then.
Just wanted to let you know that 145 people received Christ this Sunday at Elevation. That’s over 750 so far during the Gospel series, and we’ve still got a week to go.
Thank you Lord for your ever increasing blessing on this ministry.
The best is yet to come!
Today marks the halfway point of our 21 day Daniel Fast. Along with each day that we’re fasting, we’re reading one chapter in the book of John. Since today is day 11, we’re reading John 11. It just so happens that my sermon this week comes from John 11, too. So throughout the day, the staff will be twittering an insight or two that God spoke to them this morning. (They may also be sharing what meal they are most looking forward to at the end of the Daniel Fast.)
To all Elevators who have not yet jumped in to the Daniel Fast, why not consider doing the last 10 days with us. All the information you need is right here. God is doing awesome things and the best is yet to come.
The Elevation Uptown campus is opening up this Sunday, and I hear a few of you are still debating on whether you’ll make it the campus you attend. Let me just remind you about these little nuggets that should make your decision much easier-
1. You may get to see one of our worship leaders in a flirting-with-inappropriate deep plunging Vneck tee.
2. Parking is free at the 7th Street Parking deck on Sundays just a half block away.
3. You may get to meet Louie. He’s one of the security officers onsite. He’s great and one of the most intense fire code regulators I’ve ever met. You’ll want to shake his hand and get on his good side. Look for the handlebar mustachio.
4. If you’re in the front row, you may actually get hit with a little bit of anointed saliva-you’re that close.
5. You may get to meet a Bobcat or a Panther or a Checker. I mean, they play Uptown, they’ll probably all come to church every week.
See you Sunday.
-Larry Hubatka, Creative Pastor
Our most important series of the year kicks off this Sunday. Remember Elevation, the Gospel is a partnership. I’m counting on you to invite all of your friends who are far from God to encounter Christ through the Gospel this week. I can’t wait to see what God does.
Leo was the first of the 1044 to be baptized. I’ve been watching his story unfold for several months now. He is on staff at the gym where I work out, and has been coming to Elevation since the first part of the year. I had my sights set on Leo every week that I gave an invitation since March. It has been incredible to see his life change. And it’s just beginning-
Here’s the story of his salvation and baptism.
(NOTE: This was the first time we ever had to bleep an expletive in a testimony video. Enjoy.)
We prayed that God would allow us to baptize over 1000 people in 2 weeks during the Awakening series.
Today God made that dream a reality. Over the past 2 weeks, 1044 people have been baptized at Elevation Church.
We are more grateful and ecstatic than words can express.
All glory to Jesus!
Over 600 people were baptized Sunday in our first of 2 weeks of spontaneous baptisms at Elevation Church.
We give all the glory to Jesus.
Today the staff will be twittering their thoughts about yesterday’s events. It was certainly one of the most phenomenal experiences of our lives.
Elevation, this is our season of Awakening. There’s absolutely no stopping this advance of the Kingdom of God in our city.
Please pray that hundreds more will take the plunge and be baptized this Sunday. Is there someone you could invite to church who needs this experience? Your invitation could initiate one of the most important days of someone’s life.
Thanks for your remarkable generosity, Elevation. When God laid it on my heart to give all of the money from the sale of our new worship CD on release day to Wade and Ferris for medical expenses, I just knew you’d step up. You did.
As a result, we’re going to be able to bless the Joyes with over $17,000.
They are ecstatic. So am I.
I’ve always wanted one of the first words that come to mind when people think of Elevation to be generosity. I think we’re getting there.
Keep it up.
If you haven’t picked up a CD yet, it’s available online.
Or pick it up at the resource center on Sunday.
(Note: The funds for Wade and Ferris have already been apportioned. All future sales will support the ongoing worship ministry of Elevation.)
I’m very proud of these songs, and even more proud of the people I pastor. You’re exceptional.
Keep praying for Adleigh and Liana.
And to all of you who allowed me to pray with you in our services Sunday, I’m standing in faith with you, believing God to make the Sun Stand Still in your situation, and to cover you with His grace.
Guest Blog: Larry Hubatka, Creative Pastor
An encore wouldn’t be an encore unless people starting screaming and yelling for more. During our current series called Encore we tried to track all the screaming and yelling to hear what people were excited about. I’ve posted the top 15 songs and series below.
Now that we’re back in the swing of things let me add a little plug about this weekend. Going back to visit an old series is fun, but don’t think for a second it means we’re not going to bring something fresh to chew on this Sunday.
As a matter of fact, this Sunday’s message would’ve fit perfectly in a series we did forever ago called Stars, but lucky you, you get it fresh out of the oven. What could be better, a new message, your favorite worship songs and Pastor Steven ready to preach after almost a month off?
See you Sunday.
-Larry Hubatka, Creative Pastor
Here are the top 15 songs:
You Never Let Go
I Am Free
To Know Your Name
We Have Overcome
Sun Stand Still
Mighty to Save
Let God Arise
Take It All
God Of This City
Song of Hope
Jesus Paid It All
And the top 15 series:
Bringing Sexy Back
Sun Stand Still
When Life And Truth Collide
Confessions Of A Pastor
What Should I Do With My Life?
Old Time Religion
Shoulda Coulda Woulda
We had our first Elevation Uptown preview service Sunday night. If the response and energy of our people Sunday night was any indication of what’s in store this Fall, things could get dangerous. We actually got in a little trouble with the police-we had “too many greeters” outside and they were “greeting too hard.” Yes.
We packed the house, man. They tell me around 800 people were there. (Clarification: most of these folks were Elevation regulars and volunteers, coming to get a sneak peak of the campus.)
One of the McGlohon Theater employees told our Ministries Director it was the largest event ever held at McGlohon. That made me happy.
I think it’s my favorite venue I’ve ever spoken in. Somehow, it felt incredibly large, like an arena, energy wise, and really small, like a club show, intimacy wise. Hard to explain. You’ll have to see it for yourself.
In the meantime, here are some pictures. This Uptown Campus is already a dream come true. And I don’t think I’ve ever felt this much excitement from our people about an initiative. Dominate.
While taking 3 Sundays away from Elevation during One Prayer, I thought a lot about this:
What—as a pastor— do I need to do that I’m not doing?
I came away with this:
I need to enjoy it more.
Man, this is the greatest ride a guy could ask for. It’s a waste to let:
rob me of even a sliver of the joy of being the pastor of Elevation Church.
So I’m working on it. Drinking it all in, smelling the roses, all of that.
Bottom line: I need to be more grateful to God, present in the moment, and satisfied but never complacent.
I’m sure you can relate-
Check out this video we showed in our Sunday worship experiences. One of our favorite strategic outreach partners in the city is Communities in Schools, Safe Journey. I don’t know about you, but this is the church I’ve dreamed about being a part of all my life. Thanks for your generosity Elevation.
Please don’t ask me if I’m excited about being back at Elevation beginning this Sunday after 3 Sundays away. It’s a silly question, and you’ll be annoyed when you have to listen to me ramble for 15 minutes about all the things we’ve got coming up, how much I miss my church, etc.
Now, let me take a moment and tell you how excited I am about being back at Elevation this Sunday, and explain some of the things we’ve got coming up. I’ll close with a line or two about how much I miss my church.
This Sunday will be special on several accounts.
1. We’ll be releasing the new Elevation Worship CD, which, as you’ll soon find out, is freaking good. I’m so proud of our guys. I’m proud that we’ll have these songs to remind us for years to come of all the great things God did at Elevation in 2007.
Sunday I’m cutting our band loose for a bit of an extended concert-but that’s not the best part.
2. I’m going to share a little with you about Ferris and Wade’s tremendous faith. It’s a story you need to hear. Our services Sunday will be the most inspiring and encouraging 70 minutes we’ve experienced on a Sunday in a long time.
3. Meet Me at McGlohon! Sunday night will be your first opportunity to see the new Uptown Campus. The event starts at 6:30pm and you’ll want to get there early-the first 500 get a free worship CD!
This Sunday is loaded, man. Don’t be the loser who misses it all because you didn’t plan to get back from 4th of July vacation on time. I’ll see you there-
Our Staff just completed a 2 day Staff Advance (Elevation Church never retreats). We prayed and planned through our goals and plans for the fall. God is about to do awesome things. I asked my staff, “What was the greatest thing God impressed on your heart at staff advance?” Today you can read their answers all day long in the twitter section on this side bar of this blog.
Get ready to make history, Elevation! The revolutionary, groundbreaking experiment One Prayer launches this Sunday. Over 1,325 churches representing 779,111 people are participating. I believe it’s the beginning of a unity in the body of Christ unlike anything we’ve seen before.
If you’re not familiar with the series, you can catch up here.
This week I’ll kick things off with a foundational sermon. For the three weeks that follow, we’ll hear messages from some of the greatest communicators of our generation. Please send an evite (Butler, Providence) and invite someone to be a part of this with you. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m so glad we’re in at the ground level.
This Fall Elevation Church is launching our third location-
-in Uptown Charlotte.
I’ve never seen our staff so giddy about an opportunity. They are predicting that this thing is going to explode. I’m inclined to agree.
We’ll be meeting on Sundays at 10am (tentative time) at the McGlohon Theater, in Spirit Square at the corner of 7th and Tryon.
We want several hundred of you to get on board and help launch the campus-especially students, singles, and young married couples, but hey, everyone’s invited.
Email: email@example.com for more info.
And we want all of you to help get the word out.
We’ll keep you posted on the details.
In the meantime-if you work uptown, let the devil know as you’re driving in that he’s got 3 months to evacuate the area.
We took the title from Seth Godin, but the idea is something God has been working up in my heart for quite a while now.
This Sunday, we start a 2 week mini-series at Elevation called Small is the New Big. I’ll be making a connection between Malcolm Gladwell and Nehemiah-sharing a pretty profound reality that has its Genesis in the Word of God.
I’ve taught some of this material to my staff, 400 leaders at a friend’s church, and two groups of men I meet with. The feedback has been so positive that I felt compelled to cancel a series I’ve had planned all year and spend 2 weeks on this instead.
It starts this Sunday, Elevation. Thesis statement: Big dreams start with small steps.
I hope you’ll invite someone to experience the next two weeks with you.
Sunday night I preached for our student event at Elevation. Before I became a pastor, I traveled and preached to thousands of students all over the country every year. I’ve retired as a youth speaker, but I can’t seem to stay away from the students at Elevation. They fire me up.
I didn’t have to tell a single joke to get their attention. Or make a single pop culture reference to earn credibility. I just stood up, shucked the corn, and watched as hundreds of students filled the aisle for an old fashioned altar call as the night drew to a close.
It’s very refreshing to see such a large group of students honor their senior pastor by giving careful and respectful attention to the Word of God.
I’m finding that these days, every time I get up in front of the students at Elevation to address them specifically, I seem to deliver the same message in various packaging:
God has a divine destiny designed for you-don’t miss it.
It’s amazing to watch the students light up as they collide with the concept of their high calling in Christ!
Senior pastors, youth pastors, parents, teachers:
Spend as much time as possible teaching the kids you influence to fall in love with the future God has planned for them. If you do this, saying no to drugs and staying sexual pure will take care of itself.
I know of nothing that motivates students to live God honoring lives than to speak to their potential, and to cast a compelling vision that they wouldn’t dream of abandoning for the passing pleasures of sin.
We’ve got big plans for our students this Fall. I leaked a little about it last night.
And if you don’t know, you’d better ask somebody:
Awakening is an event that is going to shake the foundation of our city.
Elevation students: your pastor loves you and believes in you more than you’ll ever know.
Come out of your winepress and take a bold stand for the glory of God!
I’ve been sick and dragging this week. Hence, ye olde blog has remained relatively blank. Something profound is sure to surface soon. In the meantime:
-Looks like Hubatka is hiring in the Creative Department. Wanna work at Elevation? No, really, do you? Check out the opportunity. I’d explain what the job openings are, but I don’t understand them.
-Did you know Ed Young is hosting a marriage conference for pastors and spouses in Dallas this May? He invited me and Holly to attend, we accepted. Maybe you should join us.
Check out the details here.
-Our Access: Elevation blog has experienced some real problems this month. For now, you can access the site at www.accesselevationchurch.com. Sorry for the chaos.
-Here’s a quote I like a lot (don’t know where it originated):
“The future cannot be predicted because it is waiting to be created.”
That makes me really excited to be alive.
Today I spent a moment reflecting on the resilience of the staff and volunteers at Elevation Church.
The things they accomplish week in, week out, in 2 portable facilities, are remarkable-borderline miraculous.
They don’t make excuses. Ever. Whether it’s using grinders for the Easter service opener without making the fire alarm go off or packing out a 1pm service to make room for guests at optimal times… they deliver, every time.
It fills a pastor with unshakable courage when those in the fight with him refuse to back down, regardless of what they’re up against.
This kind of support wallpapers a pastor’s mind with confidence that nothing is impossible with God.
The reason I’m able to be so bold and audacious as a leader has little to do with my faith in my ability. It has everything to do with the team that I’m a part of.
I’m very proud of you, Elevation staff and volunteers. And today, I just wanted to let the blogosphere know it…
… Over 4800 people attended worship experiences at Elevation this Easter Sunday.
Most importantly, over 500 people accepted Christ as Savior on this landmark day.
All glory to Jesus!
Notable: We were nervous kicking off our new 1 pm service today at our Providence campus… would at least 200 people would show up to achieve critical mass? Over 700 people packed the house at 1 pm… proving once again, our Elevators will do whatever they have to do to make room for our first time guests to hear the Gospel. And that’s just one of the reasons I’m more proud to be your pastor than you will ever understand.
How can I express appropriate gratitude to God for over 500 people placing their faith in Christ today? I’ll tell you this much, after the final service, I fell on my face with my wife and several staff members and gave all the glory to God.
He’s the only one to blame for what’s happening here. It’s so beyond us.
To my Elevators: we’re making history together for the glory of God. Thank you for giving so much-so consistently-to see Jesus lifted high in our city.
P.S.-Trash cans and grinders beat the heck out of Easter lilies and cantatas, don’t you think?
To all of my pastor friends and Ground Level guys… I’m so proud of how God moved in your churches today all across the country. We are living in a special time with unprecedented opportunities. Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus and stay hungry… the best is yet to come.
Elevators-Don’t forget: I’ll be sharing the stage with a true legend this Sunday as we wrap up the My Generation series.
This man embodies what it means to see a true move of God in your generation, perhaps more than anyone I’ve ever met. (No, it’s not Billy Graham. But you’re close. No, not Franklin either. But you’re really close.)
You’ll just have to come see for yourself. I was looking over my notes a few minutes ago, and I realized what a landmark and memorable day this is going to be.
Be there! Bring friends. You’ll never forget it.
I wish I could explain what it feels like as a pastor when you know you have a Word from God.
Let me tell you, Elevators, I’ve got a Word for this Sunday. A fresh Word. An on-time Word. An all-up-in-your-face, dang it, I wish so-and-so would have been here to hear that, Holy Ghost chill bumps kind of Word.
I’m quite enthusiastic about it.
We’re going to see more people give their lives to Christ this Easter Sunday than any Sunday so far-at least that’s what I’m praying for. Pray that with me, would you?
If you attend at Providence, and you’re not meeting a guest at a specific service time, come to the 1:00 pm experience. At least for the next few weeks. Thanks for that, in advance.
And be on time, would you?!? The first 4 minutes will have everyone talking. And you’ll want to know what they’re talking about. So don’t miss a minute.
As I shared Sunday during communion:
The gift of salvation wasn’t given to us to keep to ourselves-
It was given to us to be given away.
I know that so many of you were praying for the launch of our new Butler High School campus this morning…
God heard your prayers and answered in a jaw dropping way. Over 1140 people showed up for the Grand Opening of our new Butler campus this morning!!!
Our attendance at the Providence campus was very strong as well, and we’ve managed to open up a couple hundred seats at our optimal service times.
The greatest miracle of the day: 162 people gave their lives to Christ! Our Next Level ministry leaders actually ran out of New Believer Bibles in the middle of the day. That’s a good problem, I suppose… but it looks like we needed more faith!
I had prayed that God would give us more salvations today than in any single Sunday in our history, and He did just that.
This brings our total number of salvations for Year 2 (which began in February) to over 800!
We serve a faithful, awe-inspiring, miracle working God.
Glory to His Name!!!
The grand opening of our Butler campus this Sunday is going to provide us with some long overdue capacity for growth.
This Sunday morning, for the first time in a long time, we will have a sufficient number of empty seats at all of our worship experiences at both campuses.
This is a rare occasion, and will only last for a limited time, so I’m calling all Elevators to take full advantage of the opportunity to invite, invite, invite. (Providence evite, Butler evite)
I have an extraordinary anticipation about what God will do through the opening message of this new series.
I will be preaching on the power of God to restore hope and accelerate victory.
If you have someone in your life who needs hope and needs to meet Jesus, this is the time to make the ask.
We’re bracing for another record breaking, history making day at Elevation…
Elevators, bring your A-Game.
Everyone else, thanks for your prayers.
There are so many adjectives that I want people to use when they’re describing Elevation:
Intense. Aggressive. Bold. Excellent…
just to name a few.
And the one I’m keyed in on right now:
I felt like my sermon on giving this Sunday was very well received. And even if it wasn’t, I had the time of my life breaking piggy banks with a hammer all three services. Little pig, little pig, let me in… you had to be there.
I know that there has been a lot of abusive teaching on giving in the body of Christ over the years, and a high concentration of it in my very own city. But I won’t be silent on the subject of money. Just because some charlatans have preached on money and then mishandled the money doesn’t mean we should stop preaching on it.
As I said Sunday: if a man who preached against adultery had an affair, it wouldn’t mean we should stop preaching about sexual purity!
We’ve got to get beyond our fear of how Biblical instruction on giving might be misperceived by the few, and speak the liberating truth of God’s Word to the many. We’ve got to get beyond greed based, need based, and guilt based approaches and teach Christ centered, Spirit led, Gospel grounded, grace powered generosity.
Elevation, I’m determined to see that day when 100% of us are bringing the tithe, and running over with the blessings of God.
My wife is 9 months pregnant. During the hottest summer of the last 50 years, or something like that. She hardly ever complains. But she is so uncomfortable. And restless. Of course, there’s an end in sight. God willing, in a few weeks Graham will be here, and the discomfort of pregnancy will begin to subside.
I’ve come to the conclusion that Elevation Church will be perpetually pregnant. There’s no end in sight. We’ll bring new life into the world (new campuses, new growth, new leaders), and then be 9 months pregnant again almost overnight.
So we’ll always be uncomfortable. We’ll always feel awkward, and a maybe little nauseous sometimes.
And we’re very very restless.
But we’ll always be full of new life. That’s just the way it is for a living, growing church.
That’s the way it’s supposed to be.
I’m so excited (predictably) about the Grand Opening of our new campus at Butler High School on September 23rd.
The addition of this campus less than 5 miles from our Providence High School campus is going to almost double our current capacity to reach people.
Who wouldn’t get excited about that? Who wouldn’t be willing to endure some labor pains for that?
Elevators, please remember, beginning September 23rd, we will no longer be holding worship experiences at Porter Ridge High School.
And hundreds of you who currently attend Central have already committed to make the move to the Butler campus to make room at Providence.
If you want to make the move too, let us know. Click here.
Our theme verse for our Dominate campaign at Elevation beginning later in the Fall is Isaiah 54:2:
Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide,
do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
strengthen your stakes.
There are two verbs in this verse:
Both bring growth.
Sometimes at Elevation, life mostly revolves around lengthening our cords… spreading out:
Adding services, adding campuses, adding new technology, etc.
Other times, we’re more focused on strengthening our stakes…
Deeper leadership development, staffing up, shoring up systems, etc.
I’m not talking about the old evangelism vs. discipleship continuum.
Hopefully you know by now that these are two sides of the same coin.
I’m talking about two separate but equal, distinctive yet concurrent phases of growth.
If you’re always spreading out and never digging down, the wind will blow your work away.
If you’re always digging down and never spreading out, what’s the point?
Effective churches learn to walk and chew gum (lengthen and strengthen) at the same time. But it still seems like you will primarily aim at one or the other in different seasons of growth.
That’s what we’re learning… Hope it helps somebody!
Every few months I speak to the incredible staff at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association here in Charlotte. Several of the folks are a part of Elevation, and the more I get to know Paul and the team, the more impressed I am by the spirit of excellence that radiates from every corner of that ministry: from the cleanliness of the bathrooms to the integrity in the boardrooms. I have told them that they are probably the largest crowd I’ll speak to all year, because by speaking to the group of a couple hundred staff, I am speaking to the millions they touch through the largest evangelistic association in the world.
Holly recently told me that the next time I was speaking over there she wanted to go with me and tour the new Billy Graham Library. So we did.
And I experienced a series of life changing moments as my new friend Don gave us a tour.
I guess you could call it my rededication to the Gospel.
And it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.
I’ve taken a little heat in the last few weeks during the most explosive period of growth in the short history of Elevation, and in the last few days, it really started to sting my soul a little bit. I’m certainly no martyr, but man! When people take shots at your motives and intentions, it hurts! I don’t care what anyone tells you, it’s painful. The impetus behind the majority of the criticism is:
Elevation places an unhealthy amount of emphasis on evangelism…
And after hearing that one too many times, you can start to second guess yourself.
But as I walked from exhibit to exhibit with my beautiful wife, watching video of multiplied thousands respond to the pure and powerful Gospel of Christ that Dr. Graham preached, something shifted inside of me, and I don’t think I’ll ever be the same.
I am rededicating myself to leading people far from God into a relationship with Jesus Christ through the bold preaching of the Scriptures.
I am rededicating myself to the hyper-focus on evangelism that Jesus seemed to advocate in Luke 19:10. Those who don’t like it can happily find a home at one of our 720 other wonderful churches in Charlotte proper. And I wish them well. I really do.
I am rededicating myself to the vivid realization of what is at stake every single Sunday as I stand to preach to dying men and women who have no hope outside of Christ. I will give shamelessly intense invitations for people to enter into a relationship with Christ, and I will let this instruction from Jesus set me free to liberally offer the Gospel to all people, and let Jesus sort out the sincere from the insincere.
I am rededicating myself to selective hearing. Those who have a vision other than this vision: So that people far from God will be filled with life in Christ… will not gain an audience with me regarding the direction of this church. Their complaints will not occupy valuable space in my heart. That space is reserved for the compassion Jesus wants me to feel for the lost and hurting. The people He died to save.
I am rededicating myself to the DOMINATION of this city by aggressive and strategic measures. Dr. Graham’s legacy of unapologetic, Holy Spirit filled, old fashioned Gospel preaching will continue in Charlotte in this man and this church.
I will not waste another nanosecond engaged in fruitless debates about methodologies. I will simply advance the Gospel, by any means necessary. They called Dr. Graham a heretic when his organization started making movies… that was the “devil’s arena.” The church has given up too much ground and run away too far too fast from culture. I am rededicating myself to harnessing and leveraging any cultural medium which will help me communicate the themes which are concurrent in Christ and culture. I will speak into every vital component of this culture, I will not shrink back. The earth is the Lord’s, and I am His child.
I am rededicating myself to the confident humility that Dr. Graham’s ministry so wonderful exemplifies.
Without Christ, I am nothing.
But in Him, all things are possible. And nothing is too hard for Him.
This is just the beginning of my rededication. Elevation, if you think I was edgy before, you haven’t seen anything yet. I’m going over the edge, past the point of no return, as we join together to reach your lost family, friends, and all the others you influence daily.
Only the Gospel matters to me. Denominational loyalties don’t. Program oriented preferences don’t. Misunderstandings about my motives don’t.
Seeing the system of a city overturned by the Gospel, ignited by the passionate preaching of God’s Word, and fueled by the force of the Holy Spirit of God, is my rededicated focus.
Rededication brings revolution.
And the revolution is just beginning.
Now that I remember what I’m fighting for, the blows don’t hurt so bad.
I found out today that about 6 months ago, a prominent pastor in town made fun of me and our church from the stage during their worship service.
First of all: props to my staff, who handled this without me ever knowing about it, because God knows I’ve got better things to do than find out which pastor can spit (I’m cleaning up my language) the farthest in this city. They didn’t even mean to tell me today, it slipped out.
Now on to the point: What in the name of all things holy is this cat thinking? He pastors a church with several thousand members, and he has nothing better to do with prime pulpit time than to pummel a young upstart pastor down the road?
I really don’t get it.
I think my generation of pastors has a lot to learn about honor.
At Elevation, we honor men of God. We honor the ministries of other pastors and churches. We certainly pick and poke at various traditions, but we pick at our own even more.
I try to speak well of other ministries at all times. It’s a part of our culture. It’s a part of our DNA. In fact, you could say it’s a part of my theology.
I don’t execute this core value flawlessly, but I pursue it relentlessly.
When other pastors come to meet with me, I try to pour myself out for them. Whether their church is 10 times bigger or 10 times smaller than ours, I lay my hands on them and pray for them… for God to anoint them with favor and to multiply blessings upon their ministries.
To all who call Elevation home:
The day I start singling out pastors of other churches by name from the pulpit and berating their ministries, leave. Run away as fast as you can, and find a real church.
A church that’s way too preoccupied with lifting up Jesus to call out others who don’t see things from the same vantage point.
Sunday at Elevation I read the testimony of a young lady named Teri. Teri gave her life to Christ at our Union campus a week ago, and wrote a (very long, very awesome) email to me telling me all about it.
It’s worth a 5 minute investment of your time.
Remember, behind every statistic there’s a story.
Oh, and all of you who think campuses that utilize video teaching are illegitimate, I hope this shuts your mouth.
I hope I have the guts to hit the ‘send’ button at the end of this….
OK – Here it goes.
I will try to make this short and sweet, but I’ll probably only be able to follow through with latter the of the two. I am Teri Miller. I am 33 years old and I have never gone to church. Never known Jesus. Never known God.
Definitely don’t know the Bible.
I have a friend, Kirsten Bynum. Kirsten and I have been friends for almost 20 years. Kirsten has always gone to church. Known Jesus. Known God.
Kirsten has always, always asked me to come to church with her. I’ve always put her off, coming up with different excuses each time. Who needs church?
It messes up my Sundays.
Several months ago, I noticed a wedge developing between me and my friend of 20 years. Concerned about this, I asked her if she noticed what I was noticing. Not only did she notice it, she said it was intentional. Scared to death of what was going to come out of her mouth, I asked her why. Her response? “Teri, I have been waiting for the right time and the right way to approach you with this. I love you and that’s why I need you to know Jesus. I need to know that you are saved and I need to know that I don’t have to worry about your salvation. I am not doing my job if I don’t help you.”
There was a different tone to her voice than in the past, so I knew she meant business. This was more than just “come to church with me.” I thought to myself “wow, she really cares about me – that’s pretty cool”. Let me just tell her I’m going to church with her to appease her. That will get her off my back about going. Because who needs church? I’ve been just fine without God.
Then, I realize that we have to haul ourselves all the way to Porter Ridge High School in Union County. At a high school? Really? You want me to come all the way over there for church? I’m in the University area in Charlotte and you want me to come all the way over there? To watch a preacher on a screen? Really? I definitely don’t need this church.
I used to laugh at Kirsten because she would say that she didn’t want her son to be born on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday morning because she didn’t want to miss church. Miss church? What’s the big deal? Church is boring. If you need some churching – turn on the tv and find a preacher – open your bible and read a couple of pages – but who cares if you miss church one Sunday morning? Who needs church?
So…..on Sunday, June 10th me, my husband and our two children packed up for our long haul to Union County for church. A parking crew? Smiling people at church? “Hi! Welcome to Elevation” screamed at us from every direction.
What? People want to be
here? They’ve got to be drinking the kool-aid.
Sunday, June 10th changed my life forever.
The sermon we heard was week 4 of Deep. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed the worship and sermon, I was still skeptical. I’ve never needed church, why do I need it now? So I came back the next week to see last week was a fluke. I felt the same way this week. So I came back the next week. And the next. And I haven’t missed one since.
This Sunday morning, August 19, 2007 I accepted Jesus Christ into my life as my personal Lord and Savior. There was no pomp and circumstance – so I hope it’s official! I was alone in my car on the way for my first day of volunteering for the first time guests. I was playing “The Sound” cd and a song began.
It was a song that I’ve heard over and over again, “Restored” – but just like page 23 for you – this song touched me in a way that I did not expect.
Tears were streaming down my face before I knew what was happening.
“Healer, come and make me whole. Make me over. Here in this moment.
Abandon my will. I am broken and poor…ready to be restored” It was at that moment, sobbing, that I said a prayer out loud in my car asking Jesus to enter my life and my heart and help me to be more like Him. At our small group tonight, I asked Kirsten to pray out loud with me about my decision – so as to make it a little more “official”! I also wanted her to know that she didn’t need to worry about my salvation any more.
Well, as it turns out, Kirsten’s son was born on a Tuesday, so she didn’t miss church! And you know what – now I know why she didn’t want to miss it!
Not only do I not want to miss it, but I crave it. My husband craves it.
My children love it. My two year old, Sophie, doesn’t even whimper when we take her to her class now!
My four year old, Whit, is constantly singing “Oh no, you never let go, through the calm and through the store” – we’ve tried to tell him it’s “storm” but he insists it’s “store” – fine with me, you keep singing it baby!
I am so excited about what is happening in my life, I want to shout it out loud to everyone. That is why I shared my story with you. Pastor Steven, you may not like to take credit for saving people’s lives – but I have to give credit where credit is due. Did you catch me from falling off a building? Technically, no. But your preaching saved me from falling into a fiery pit. So at least take a little credit. You can preach. Boy, can you preach. You preach it like I’ve never heard and you preach it in a way that teaches people and the way you teach it reaches out to people. (There’s something there – a new slogan or something – Preacher, Teacher,
Reacher!?!) Anyway, thank you. Thank you for delivering a message every Sunday morning that gets me through the week. You have a true gift that touches thousands. Thank you. Chris, because I attend Union campus, I wanted to share my story with you. Everything you’re doing there – keep it
up – it’s working! Kirsten, you deserve to know that you are a huge
“turning point” throughout my entire life which is why I shared this e-mail with you.
I’ve cried to Kirsten about finding Jesus so late in life – because I’ve missed out on something so big for so long. She has taken some of the blame for that, thinking that she should have done more earlier in our friendship to get me to church. I disagree. Elevation is what I needed. I think her timing was perfect.
After 33 years of life on this earth, I’ve finally realized that I DO need God in my life. Not only that, but I WANT God in my life.
I bought a Bible and I study it every day. My husband and I both are volunteering. We’re tithing. We’ve joined a small group. I’m watching old
sermons online almost daily. I’m a faithful blog reader. I think I’m
I’ve still got question upon question and sometimes I’m still a little scared, because this is a new way of thinking for me. But with my husband, Kirsten and her family and the rest of my new family at Elevation, I’m going to make it! Elevation’s got something good going on and I’m so proud to be a part of it.
So – who needs church? Me. That’s who.
Sorry – I knew it wouldn’t be short!