Can You Say Cult?

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118 Responses

  1. RiBo says:

    Yup. Cult.

    Looked like a Cult-of-personality, now I’m concerned they’ll be buying an island, erecting a Furdick statue and then comes the kool-aid.

  2. RiBo says:

    Elevation will circle the wagons and the more they defend against being a cult, the more closed in they’ll get, and the more cult they’ll become.

    “Us against the world!”

    That’s how those things tend to go.

  3. Andrew says:

    Are they tongues of fire on his head or is it just a youngster coloring outside the lines?

  4. Nonnie says:


  5. Nonnie says:

    Of course if you have a pastor centered church, instead of a Christ centered church, this is what one should expect.

  6. Is this verified as true? Or a satire?

  7. Andy says:

    I wouldn’t want to follow Furtick to the grocery store, let alone follow him spiritually. I wouldn’t go anywhere he teaches in the first place. If he’s going to teach even as part of a conference, I won’t be there for any part of that conference, in protest.

    But having said that, I’m not as shocked at this coloring page, as others might be. He’s being honest about what his place is all about. He’s being honest with it. His place is about his vision. He’s the boss, he’s calling the shots, and if you don’t like it, get out. That’s his message, and he’s being clear about it.

    Someone has to call the shots, in a collection of people doing anything together. Someone has to be the direction, the final word. It’s a form of organization. It might seem cult-like, but then I could argue the same for a small group of elders calling the shots. They can create the same atmosphere.

    Even the whole congregation voting, can create tyranny of pure democracy (the USA is a representative republic, not a democracy, in order to protect minorities).

    It looks cult-like, and it might very well be a cult. But someone has to make decisions.

  8. Andy says:

    “Is this verified as true? Or a satire?”

    It is verified as true, and it is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of other “precepts” they force there.

  9. Neo says:

    Andy. Good point. As nasty as that coloring page is at least he’s not Machevallian about it.

  10. Sounds like a typical independent American Evangelical situation to me. Note I said independent.

  11. Andrew says:

    Actually the first time I saw a org. chart for a mega church, I was shocked.

    God —>Sr. Pastor —-> Associate Pastor —-> Board —->Congregant

    Elevation church is definitely cult like but not much different from many other churches out there.

  12. Larry says:

    Wow. They’re starting the indoctrination at such a young age. Lord have mercy.

  13. Andy:

    Yes, someone has to call the shots. In our church it’s called the Book of Church Order. But we don’t study it and it’s not the Sunday School curriculum.

    Turn people to Christ, not leaders.

  14. Jim Jacobson says:

    That is scary. “Elevation church is built on the vision God gave pastor Steven”
    This seems like it would be a story in “The Onion”

  15. Andy says:

    “Yes, someone has to call the shots. In our church it’s called the Book of Church Order. But we don’t study it and it’s not the Sunday School curriculum”

    So a Book of Church Order makes the final decisions, and that leads to the question, who wrote it? And what if they weren’t really following Christ? It’s a legitimate question.

    “Turn people to Christ, not leaders”

    You know that if you ask Furtick, he will say that it is Christ leading him, not him leading him. Your statement is pithy and won’t solve the issue.

  16. This breaks my heart.

  17. At least they are upfront about it right out of the gate.

  18. Our Ort Chart reads
    Jesus Christ
    Leadership Board

  19. EricL says:

    I’m jealous. I want to star on my own coloring pages too. Does anyone know what company marketed this fine stuff to Elevation? I think my first page will be title HUMILITY: Eric is the most humblest man in the world- just ask him. Page two will be SHEEP: Remember that you are the sheep and Eric is the guy with the stick that gets to whack you if he thinks you aren’t obedient enough. Page three will be MONEY: God will get you if you don’t give lots to me and my ministry.

    Yup, I need to become a pastor and get me some coloring books. So much potential here…

  20. Andrew says:


    You got a point. Its the same bible verses that are quoted to dissenters on their boot out in other churches that aren’t so up front.

  21. Reuben says:

    The whole church is built on the vision God gave Paul. Eph. 2-3

    2 Cor. 3:5-6

    So I guess I have to ask the stupid questions…

    How exactly is this different?

  22. For me Reuben,. I believe the account of Paul’s calling in Acts 9.

  23. PP Vet says:

    Any time one joins a church, one should try to connect to the pastor’s vision and be supportive of it. That seems kind of obvious – what am I missing here?

  24. Andrew says:

    PP Vet,

    I don’t think you are missing anything; however I do think you are adding something. The bible doesn’t talk about supporting a pastors vision.

  25. Andy says:

    “what am I missing here?”

    Yeah, that was kind of my question about the matter. To me, the greater surprise is that he is honest about it.

    I’m not under his umbrella, so I can openly speak against him and his teachings. Nobody can stop me.

    But if someone wants to be under his umbrella, they should support him. What choice is there? Church revolution?

  26. Michael says:


    Furtick isn’t an apostle to start with.
    Further, Paul spent much effort in defining what church should look like and it doesn’t look anything like this according to Paul.
    He defined my role as a pastor as a “servant” not a visionary.
    The fact that men have abused or ignored his writings is not the fault of Paul.

  27. Nonnie says:

    Exactly Michael. A servant leader would not have to “remind” his flock (the flock God has graciously given him to SERVE) that “HIS vision” needs to be upheld. A servant leader serves and loves. The Lord takes care of the rest. Of course when you have a guy who plants “shills” in his church/audience for a “spontaneous baptism,” what should we expect?

  28. Andy says:

    “A servant leader would not have to “remind” his flock (the flock God has graciously given him to SERVE) that “HIS vision” needs to be upheld”

    I know you mean well with this. 🙂 And it should be right.

    But, we live in a world where people come into a church with agendas. If you think the pastor has an agenda, be sure that other people entering the church, can also come in with agendas, and want to pull things in different directions.

    It is because of this, that a reminder of the general direction of the church, will eventually become necessary.

    I’m not supporting this coloring page. I’m just sayin’…

  29. Larry says:

    This reminds me of something that Peter Lee, the now-retired Episcopal Bishop of Virginia, said around the time some of his congregations were considering disaffiliation from the Episcopal Church. He said that if one had to choose between heresy and schism, it was better to choose heresy. Evidently Bishop Lee’s views on unity aren’t much different from Pastor Furtick’s.

  30. Xenia says:

    You know that if you ask Furtick, he will say that it is Christ leading him<<<

    Isn't that what every "Just me and my Bible" Christian says?

  31. Andrew says:

    Everyone has an agenda. Its not all wrong. A vision is different. It implies direct revelation from God. Agendas can be dealt with in a good system of church government. Visions, however are something you should run from cause most likely its a cult.

  32. Andy says:

    “Isn’t that what every “Just me and my Bible” Christian says?”

    Well, every religious leader, past, present, and future, says it. The historical Orthodox leaders presume to be right about their assertions, do they not?

  33. Papias says:

    Run…do not walk to the exit doors.

    This guy is using God to further his own agenda…

  34. Xenia says:

    The historical Orthodox leaders presume to be right about their assertions, do they not?<<<

    As long as they follow the Apostolic teachings of the Church, they are right. If they get some novel idea out of the Bible and think they know better, they are wrong.

  35. Ixtlan says:

    “at least he’s not Machevallian about it.” To be clear, did you mean Machiavellian?

    Does it matter whether Furtick was veiling his means to control both the present and future attendees at his church?

    What a subtle way to condition the next generation to follow his leadership. This will help in years to come when he has become old, fat and predictable, to keep some of the young guys from challenging him.

  36. Michael Sewell says:

    Andy, I think you’re in the wrong room to get many supporters for your reasoning. Many of the folks here have been deeply wounded by church leadership and your arguments are the same ones used against the wounded to rationalize what had been done to them.
    While your principles are sound if people are behaving in a reasonable manner, this piece of coloring book art speaks of a culture that has become inappropriate. The caption on the picture is at best distasteful and it should at least be called into question.

  37. Ixtlan says:

    “As long as they follow the Apostolic teachings of the Church, they are right. If they get some novel idea out of the Bible and think they know better, they are wrong.”

    Apostolic Tradition and the recognition that the church is the depository of truth has been the standard since the days of the Apostolic Fathers.

  38. Andy says:

    Xenia wrote: “As long as they follow the Apostolic teachings of the Church, they are right. If they get some novel idea out of the Bible and think they know better, they are wrong.”

    There are tons of people, as you know, that would say no to the assertion that the historical Orthodox leadership were or are following the Apostolic teachings of the Church. You know this. So you are in the same boat as “Bible only Christians” like me.

    Michael Sewell wrote: “Andy, I think you’re in the wrong room to get many supporters for your reasoning”

    I never said that they should follow Furtick. I started by saying that I consider him a theological nothing. I wouldn’t follow him.

    But if a person wants to follow him, if they insist on attending his place and being a part of it, then they know going in, what he’s all about. And what are they supposed to do? They have to support the “vision”. What choice do they have? Other than to leave. And as you mentioned those that have been deeply wounded, they chose to leave, and now know what warning signs to look out for. I’ve also been deeply wounded by a particular church, and left a whole movement over it. But I still say that Furtick was honest about how the rules go there, so let the buyer beware.

  39. The video that Paps put up at #31 is the exact same tactic that CC uses at the Harvest Crusades and Billy Graham used at his Crusades.

    All of the ushers and counselors go down on the field at the time of the altar call, not so much to look like large numbers – but to prime the pump so others will get up.


  40. Bob says:


    “the church is the depository of truth”

    It may have been the standard, but if you believe the church is without great debate and that the doctrines have been standardized then you are in error and are ignoring the history of the church.

    A simple stop at any point in church history, from the days of the Apostles until today the debates rage on. This web site is proof by observing just the two most simple traditions of baptism and communion that no there is are no standardized doctrines in the church.

    I do believe the church proves one thing, men are 100% foul-able able need God’s grace in Jesus our Messiah and Lord. That is the standard.

    PS. If Furtive did develop this coloring drawing then people ought to put on their Nikes and “run, Forest run!”

  41. Michael Sewell says:

    Yes Andy, I’m sure the 4 year old kid who colored that page has the sophistication to understand buyer beware.

  42. Ixtlan says:

    ” … but if you believe the church is without great debate and that the doctrines have been standardized then you are in error and are ignoring the history of the church.”

    Did I say that? Didn’t think so.

    And yes, there were some groups that rejected the depository of faith and they were considered heretics, in spite of some groups who have attempted to resurrect their legitimacy through revisionism.

  43. Andy says:

    Michael Sewell, there are plenty of things I would shield the world’s children from, if I could. But I can’t. I can’t control where people send their children. So that is why parents need to be educated. Why are you blaming me for Furtick’s organization, and the parents going there? I’m only saying he’s honest about his place.

  44. Ixtlan says:

    I think the purpose of the message is speaking to both parents and the kids. Some of these four year olds will still be in that church upon graduation from high school. Fourteen years of coloring book ideology……hmmm. context 😉

  45. This doesn’t just say “cult,” it screams “CULT!!!!!!!” They’re giving these kids a taste of kool-aid at a young age so they will unwittingly stomach the full-strength, spiked stuff as they grow up. This is scary!

    Lord, please protect these children and their families. Wake up the parents and give them the guts to walk out!

  46. gomergirl says:

    let me see if I have this right…. this guy has a “vision”, and from what little reading I have done on him and his church, they do a lot of good in their community and that is good. But As I see it, and correct me if I am wrong {i’m sure you will 😉 } he is getting out of these works what he wants…. glory to him and his followers for the great works they are doing. He wants to be a rock star, and he has that. Now, for him (and his followers) to be saints recognized by God, it needs to be about Him (GOD) and not them. They are getting glory and adulation and I think they may be woefully surprised when that is all they get for this stuff: the praise of men. And now, by making such a big deal, we are in essence feeding the monster personality cult.

    Egomaniac on display, nothing more to see, move along now.

  47. Andrew says:


    No, we are warning people. Furtick is manipulating people. There is enough gospel that you got real believers in the church. When that happens, people will start obeying Jesus. They may not realize it at first that Furtick is abusing his pastoral position and what will eventually end up happening is rebellion and the sheep ultimately will get slaughtered metaphorically.

  48. Michael Sewell says:

    Andy, I’m not sure how you understand anything I said to be blame. I do not. Sorry if I made you feel that way. I’m merely saying I think your guileless reasoning is possibly being misapplied in this context.
    In some cases being honest is a virtue, but in the case of this coloring book editor, it looks to me more like a suck-up, a deceived person, or a brazen manipulator.
    I’m sorry I don’t have more time to speak today, so forgive me if I don’t engage further.

  49. Xenia says:

    So you are in the same boat as “Bible only Christians” like me.<<<

    Andy, I don't deny this. We all pick something to hang our hats on.

  50. PP Vet says:

    “depository of truth”. Actually, this is highly intellectual site. So let’s change that to “repository of truth”.

  51. Andy says:

    Doesn’t everyone realize that Furtick is THE VISIONARY???


  52. Andy says:

    THE VISIONARY sounds like a new series coming to NBC next fall.

  53. London says:

    That can’t be real.

  54. Might be time for us all to go to Rome or Constantinople or even Canterbury because it is getting weirder here all the time.

  55. Neo says:

    Ixtian. Regarding your question on post 36: the answer is yes. It does matter. Veiling under the guise of Christianese, pseudo spirituality is nothing less than hypocrisy. At least, when one is overt and blatant (even if obnoxious, as in this case) there is less hypocrisy. Jesus couldn’t stand hypocrisy in religion. Neither could Paul. Both tolerated obnoxious religious leaders such as Paul saying, “Well, at least Christ is being preached”. But those feigning sincerity to further their agenda….no dice.

  56. Paige says:

    I confess I have not read every post so far on this thread. I saw the Sunday School coloring page on Facebook and commented there and will here as well. I looked for more info on Steven Furtick…. frankly, I wasn not appalled. At all.

    Ya know what? I’ve taught Sunday School for 40 years. I HATE SUNDAY SCHOOL CURRICULUM. I’m serving in a Black Baptist church that uses Standard Publishing’s children’s ministry materials. The White European Jesus. Ridiculous.

    IMO, ALL traditional Sunday School materials are less than worthless. Children in 2014 do not learn about the Christian life or about Jesus Christ from funky 1950s “art” of the European Jesus in a bathrobe and other traditional Bible stories. Kids don’t get history. Seeing Bible characters in primitive clothes & settings is irrelevant to children in terms of actual application. IMO

    Typically, we consider Bible stories appropriate for children if the story contains animals, such as Daniel in the lion’s den. Wow…. That has nothing to do with being a young believer in 2014, and the potential of frightening a child with thoughts of “if you are a person of faith, you get to spend the night with the lions at the zoo”…. Nightmare City.
    everyone’s fave: Noah’s ark. It has animals…. and Phil Robertson in a bathrobe…great kids’ story. Right? It’s about the destruction of all life on the planet. Death death death.
    Not for immature audiences, IMO.

    Most of what typically goes on in children’s “ministry” is merely caring for kids while the parents ‘go to church’. Parents belabor the need to ‘teach the Bible’ to children, building whole huge programs on the concept of memorizing verses, (destroying the kids who are not good memorizers), while the parents don’t even know the verses and certainly don’t live them. After 40 decades of being involved in children’s ‘ministry’, I see it as largely fruitless.

    Do I have a solution, you may ask? No. Not entirely but I know it’s not the White European Jesus in a bathrobe coloring books. While on the surface, this item from Steven Furtick may look ‘cultish’, he may be on to something besides self worship….. There needs to be more energy and talent aimed at developing legit children’s programs for teaching ‘the faith that was once delivered to the saints’ in a more creative way that actually makes sense in 2014.

  57. Neo says:

    Additionally, feigning simplicity when in actuality nothing could be further… dice.

  58. Neo says:

    I hate hypocrites. Including myself when guilty.

  59. Michael says:


    Well said…I couldn’t agree more.

  60. Paige says:

    Michael, your “Make your own application” stories are much more real as lessons in living a life of Faith and how it fleshes out. Maybe between you and Nancy, you can develop some legit and real Children’s (and Adults!) Ministry materials! 😀 It is sorely needed.

  61. RiBo says:

    Furdick is evangelical mega-church at its worst. There is a hierarchy and the holy trinity of d-bags are Furdick, Ed Young and Benny Hinn.

  62. Xenia says:

    My church has no Sunday school at all, not even a baby nursery. We all participate in the Liturgy, every one of us.

    1. Babies receive communion.
    2. Toddlers can kiss all the icons and crosses at their level.
    3. Little kids can do a lot. The boys can be altar servers at a very young age, other little kids can snuff out candles that have burned too low, and all can sing.
    4. Older boys can have more responsibility as altar servers and older girls sing in the choir and help watch the toddlers.
    5. Teenage boys can be readers (the Epistle, readings from the OT) and teenage girls really come to their own in the choir.

    We have no pews and the services typically last two hours.

    Moms (or godparents) take crying babies outside or to the church hall until they calm down.

  63. I see we have to hide profanity in names now.

  64. Xenia says:

    We don’t have special children’s sermons, either.

  65. Xenia says:

    There’s a lot of physical stuff to do at my church: candles to light, crossing oneself, bowing, falling to the floor (forehead on the carpet) now and then- kids enjoy these things. My little granddaughter, who is a Catholic, flings herself into it all with joyful abandon. It’s great!

  66. Sometimes you struggle to find a proper expression to something that seems so incredibly narcissistic and simultaneously insecure. I am aghast but hoping that in context it is not as smarmy as it seems. Nah, I am sure it is.

    Insert video here… of Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now …. “the HORROR!”

    Help me out RiBo all I know how to do is link it.

  67. RiBo says:

    There ya go Dreadly:

  68. Very bizarre.
    Josh, didn’t you know Furtick personally?
    I saw your previous post, but I mean what happened?

  69. filbertz says:

    Ten Things I Think (about the coloring page)
    1. Clearly the child who colored it has no future in leadership at Elevation.
    2. The children in the class need to share the crayons–blue and brown are inadequate.
    3. The hipster teacher is telling a fishing story instead of teaching a Bible lesson.
    4. One boy’s head is shaped like the back of a VW bug without fenders.
    5. It is not a racially mixed SS, therefore the heading “Unity” is misapplied.
    6. Wearing a tie and rolling your sleeves up is a fashion faux pas.
    7. The hipster teacher’s carefully coiffed hair indicates confused sexuality.
    8. There is a floating ear next to the 50’s style pony tail–big brother is listening…
    9. Steven’ is a verb at Elevation.
    10. OTC medication can be applied at the hairline to prevent fur-ticks.

  70. Michael says:


    You have redeemed the day again… 🙂

  71. filbertz says:

    you provide the fodder, I provide the poop. 😉

  72. filbertz says:

    …we have been Stevened, and now understand what was beforehand hidden…
    …apply the Stevening agent and your teeth will be whiter…
    …Steve up and be a man!
    …I wish my man were more Stevish…
    …it’s time to be Steven to church, kids…

  73. filbertz says:

    Bonus, #11. There is a giant box of kleenex behind the hipster teacher.

  74. filbertz says:

    filbertz, noun. From the Greek fil-be-te-o, meaning “Thread-killer.”

  75. John says:

    I heard about this guy when he was on elephant room

  76. berean says:

    If SF had a clue of who he is and who he is not he would have nixed that book. He would have called his leaders in for a meeting, called out the “creative director” or whatever euphemistic title said 20 something has, handed out sackcloth, threw ash on their heads and proclaimed a fast.

    It worked in Nineveh, but unlike Escalator Church, humility, repentance and shame is needed for such a display of brokenness.

  77. Chile says:

    Andy @39, “But if a person wants to follow him, if they insist on attending his place and being a part of it, then they know going in, what he’s all about. And what are they supposed to do? They have to support the “vision”. What choice do they have? Other than to leave.”

    Gomergirl @47, “let me see if I have this right…. this guy has a “vision”, … they do a lot of good in their community and that is good. But As I see it, … he is getting out of these works what he wants…. glory to him and his followers for the great works they are doing. He wants to be a rock star, and he has that. … we are in essence feeding the monster personality cult.”

    Wait … I’m confused. Are we talking about Elevation or Calvary Chapel?

    I guess Andy is talking about Elevation, because he wrote, “… they know going in, what he’s all about.” CC is not that clear … more like opaque.

  78. brian says:

    I sort of have a nasty habit of doing this, showing empathy I read this with interest and it was a bit touching, another habit I am trying to get out of.

  79. Chile says:

    Found here:

    The Code
    “We understand what God has done in and through our church is not normal. The only explanation is God’s hand of favor and mercy over a group of people willing to follow Him faithfully. To help maintain our unity, tone, and trajectory, we developed 12 core values as a church that make us unique. We call it The Code.”

    This is the ONLY explanation? Then I guess God is really blessing the Mormons and the growing Atheist population.

    “… makes us unique.” If a church is truly unique, they should be a bit scared.

    You should glance at “The Code” in the link above. It’s revealing.

    Here’s a couple of nuggets:

    “Our staff and church will go above and beyond to give sacrificially to the work of God in our city.”

    Note, it doesn’t say the pastor will give sacrificially.

    Elevation is built on the vision God gave Pastor Steven. We will aggressively defend our unity and that vision.

    Note, “aggressively defend our unity.” What do you suppose that means?

  80. Chile says:

    Hi Brian!

  81. j2theperson says:

    I think the big question doesn’t that coloring book page show Furtick’s sole patch? It captures his goofy hairstyle just fine, but the sole patch is mia. Wherefore?

  82. brian says:

    “Hi Brian!”

    Sometimes that is all we need, thanks Chile a Hi goes along way in this world.

  83. Chile says:

    I agree!

  84. Anon says:


    VIDEO of “Pastor Steve” handing out special dice to children to make it easy for them to memorize “The Code” (not Scripture):

  85. PP Vet says:

    What this church is doing is encouraging in many ways, and better than the alternative of doing nothing. People are obviously being touched by the gospel. How wonderful.

    Some of us that have been around a long time wonder though whether the principles and personality of this church have legs, that is, the ability to endure.

    Human beings can live on Rah Rah for only so long.

    Then the question becomes, When the overexcited movement inevitably crashes, was the net effect worse than nothing?

    Or, best case, the mania grows and evolves and adjusts into something that can be healthy for the long term.

    Many of us here grew up in off-balance moves.

    The difference between us is that some of us look back with gratitude, and others with scorn.

  86. Derek – Yes, Steven was a close friend for many years. We haven’t spoken in a few years, but I still speak to the other campus pastors and employees on a regular basis. We all worked together at a different church. They left to plant Elevation, I stayed and took Steven’s spot at the old church. Steven and I talked several times about me going with them, but I prayed about it and didn’t feel led to go.

    I have disagreed with them over the years about church methodology, but have kept many larger concerns quiet, just to avoid confrontation. This is going to cost me a lot of friends.

  87. Andrew says:


    Thanks for the video. The symbol for UNITY on the dice was moving gears. Calvary Chapel is using a similar symbol for their new regional leadership structure. I didn’t know if anyone off hand knows if gears somehow represent UNITY around visionary thinking?

  88. RiBo says:

    Chile quoted, “3. WE LEAD THE WAY IN GENEROSITY
    “Our staff and church will go above and beyond to give sacrificially to the work of God in our city.””

    Ya, I’ll believe that propaganda when Furdick sells his Mansion, buys a regular home and gives the difference to those in real need.

  89. I don’t care about Steve F’s style etc – since it has come up not too many here may be familiar with his teaching.
    You will hear more ‘biblical’ gospel at a Tony Robbins rally that you will at an Elevation Sunday morning sermon.

    Oh, Steve does preach Good news – it’s all his good news and how you can make his good news your own good news.Remember, he is a Perry Noble knock off.

  90. RiBo says:

    Hi Brian!!! 🙂

    I have heard brian say that I remind him of part of him and Michael another part.

    Truth be told brian is like the good angel on my shoulder. When he speaks it always tends to make me pause and think and remember some important things about being good (notice I didn’t say “doing” good, but “being” good).

  91. Dan from Georgia says:

    Horror! Some churches/organizations will NEVER learn. Worse yet, there are Christians (i.e. human beings) that will be trapped in this situation and won’t have the strength to rise up and leave such a cult.

  92. Dan,
    What strength is needed. all they need to do is read their Bible and say – this Steve guy teaches crap, I’m outta here!!!

  93. Andrew says:

    I think the strength that is needed is what Josh posted in #88. You may end up losing a lot of friends.

  94. I don’t see that as a big loss vs the fact that right now they are losing God.

  95. Andrew says:

    MLD, for one that likes to talk about the mercy of God over the sovereignty of God, I’m perplexed at how you can be quite nonchalant to peoples loses. People may have to loose their entire social structure including friends, family and maybe an employer.

  96. Andrew – so your advise to them is stay for the social comfort.

    My advise to them is it’s better to loose the social comfort vs losing God.

    Again, how am I nonchalant to this issue?

  97. I was doing something else here in my office and I had this thought. In fact this is something Chile has spoken of quite a bit.
    Do people in these so called “destructive” churches really have their social structure all bound up in church and the church people – -even their employers?

    That must be what I am missing – i have never had but a few ‘friends’ from church and my social structure is quite a bit broader.

    Perhaps that should be a warning sign – if too many of your friends are church people …

  98. Andrew says:

    The nonchalant part is appearing to not understand that some people need extra strength to get loosed from the grip a cult has on them. I would imagine everyone on here has certain weaknesses or sins that they need extra grace to over come. An alcoholic may relapse. We don’t go shoving a beer in front of them to see how strong they can resist the temptation. That is not loving. There struggle is different than one who may struggle with something quite different like losing friends, family and a job. You obviously don’t struggle with this. Maybe you are right, it is sinful. I don’t know but the point is that this type of person may need extra strength to overcome the peer pressure and leave their social circle.

  99. Chile says:

    True, when all one’s social circle is at church, it’s a danger sign. Also means one is not spreading the salt, either.

    Problem is that many churches encourage, even require with subtle pressure, to invest in the church and its people wholeheartedly. My last CC even planned church activities on the same day as any town events in order to keep people focusing their time, energy, efforts & gifts in the church, … Not to be sidetracked by the town or town’s people.

  100. Chile says:

    Leaving a church does require strength when one developes relationships with others, at least for those who have feelings, anyway.

  101. Chile, thank you for that comment.

    Andrew, I may be a bit insensitive, but I can’t imaging being convinced that you are in a cult or some type of destructive church and staying anyway because your “social structure” is still there.

    I don’t know, because as I said I have never made strong friend bonds with very many church people.

  102. I remember when I left Ocean Hills right before the blow up, it was for theological reasons, but I had no trouble leaving … and I left behind 2 classes I taught and a position in the food pantry ministry. But I had to go.

  103. Sorry to hear all that, Josh.
    I pray it all goes better than you think.

  104. Wait, this silly post will cost Josh friends? Or what?

  105. Andrew says:

    MLD, Many people that have entered into a cult did so in the first place because they were weak to begin with and the cult provided something to them possibly similar to what a drug does to addict.

  106. Onesimus says:

    How about a dice with a bible icon, for read your bible on the dice, “here at church…” “We are…” I heard more about a church and a man being lifted up, them Jesus, at least that’s what stood out. Something’s wrong with this picture.

  107. Nonnie says:

    SF reminds me of a cross between a motivational speaker and a used car salesman?

  108. Josh Hamrick says:

    BD – Not this post, but the beliefs that lead to coloring pages like this. Don’t know if you missed my quick background up in #88, but I have probably 10 friends on staff at Elevation, maybe 100 that go there, and nearly all my family and friends were involved with Furtick in some way. In the past couple of months, local news has probably ran 20 stories on Furtick and with each one it gets harder to say, “Errr, ummm….I don’t know…I’ll have to check that out…What do you think the Panthers should do in the off-season?”

    ALL of my friends are dividing and fighting over this as we speak. The people from Elevation don’t like when you disagree with them.

    The Haggard type situations cause you stress because people that you care about are involved. The mess at Elevation is my Haggard situation.

  109. Nonnie – you owe used car salesmen an apology. 🙂

  110. J.U. says:

    My grandpa used to have a saying. He’d say “He’s too big for his britches.”

    I’m not sure exactly what that means, but it may apply here.

  111. Nonnie says:

    Re: MLD’s 111. Ok. You are so right. “I’m sorry.”

  112. Chile says:

    Josh, I feel for ya.

    The Haggard situation ripped so many people apart in my backyard. Local pastors who were in process of receiving training from Haggard at the time of his being caught were totally devastated. The division came when Haggard refused to continue under the program to help him. He went back on his promise to live elsewhere and returned not only to Colorado, but moved within a few miles of the church and started a new church. That’s when it really got ugly around here. In the name of love for a fallen pastor, people became mean and divisive.

    On a smaller scale, the same happened when my CC pastor finally got caught. The division happened as soon as he feigned an apology, imo. He admitted to a fraction of what he did, blamed others, never made one attempt to make anything right, claimed God’s grace and moved on to start a new church up the road taking as many people with him as he could snow, imo. The ugly division continues to this day, and the cost continues to multiply as I type.

  113. Josh Hamrick says:

    Thanks for sharing that Chile.

  114. Chile says:

    I apologize, MLD, for being too harsh.

    You wrote, ” I have never made strong friend bonds with very many church people.” This seems to be a likely reason why you would not understand the difficulty of leaving a church, even if it’s unhealthy.

    When one’s children have to leave churches because their parents believe it is unhealthy, they often get mad at the parents for upsetting their friend group. This, alone, makes leaving very difficult. If one has to leave two churches in a row, they get blamed -automatically- for being a church hopper even if the both churches were unhealthy under the initial radar. Those of us who have had many seemingly healthy relationships with others in the church, know how hard it is to start all over again, most especially in a not so large town.

  115. Chile says:

    One more thought, Josh … I think people have a deep need to be RIGHT. So long before a strong leader type and his empire fall, people align themselves with the leader so strongly (because they sense the pressure to prove their loyalty,) that they can leave no room for anyone to have any other opinions or caution. This may be why you felt the need to keep your opinions or concerns to yourself.

    One day your concerns will be validated even more than they already are.

  116. Chile says:

    JANUARY 31, 2014
    from Elevation Church
    Why Is Elevation Church The Best Place To Work?
    Note: 1, 3, 7 and 16.

    1. We serve a lead pastor who seeks and hears from God.
    3. We serve a lead pastor we can trust.
    7. We serve a lead pastor who pours into us spiritually and professionally.
    16. We serve a lead pastor who goes first.

    MLD, take notice of how the indoctrination starts, before one is even involved, to make one’s social circle consist of those from the church. It’s the sort of situation where you can’t bring in outsiders due to the high level of conformity that creates a culture of inside jokes, unwritten expectations, that do not bode well with mixing friendships.

    6. While we work very hard, we also play very hard (insiders know this means play time is with the same group.)
    8. We are asked of much, but given more (insiders know this means long hours, prohibiting outside interests.)
    9. We bear each other’s armor and fully support one another (insiders know this means all your free time is meeting the needs of those in the group. Ex: CC assistant pastor refused meals when he was sick from the neighborhood, because he said he only needed to rely on his church to provide for him. The neighbors didn’t need to be told twice.)
    11. Our co-workers are talented, yet have great humility. (Read: We are better than others. Want to be cool, hang with us.)
    12. Our spouses and families are included and highly involved. (Read: Your whole family will be at the church all the time, so you might as well, too. No time for outside interests or friends, not even time in your neighborhood.)
    18. Spending time outside of work with our co-workers is something we look forward to.

    There’s more, but this makes the point.

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