Elevation Church just released its 2016 Annual Report – it proved to be another groundbreaking year for the church and its leader Steven Furtick.
- Weekly Attendance: 22,036 (up 18%)
- Baptisms: 1,258
- Youtube subscribers: 146,120 (up 256%)
- Instagram Followers: 163,077 (up 95%)
- Facebook followers (193,411 (up 87%)
Wow. Freaking impressive.
In a story titled “Elevation Church’s annual report shows more growth, but leaves out key details” the Charlotte Observer highlights Elevation Church’s $47.1 million in revenue – and the non-disclosure of Furtick’s salary (people don’t know his pay)
Furtick created a perfect storm for local media in recent years when news broke that he was building a 16,000-square-foot house in Weddington.
Neither Furtick nor Elevation Church disclose Furtick’s compensation.
But they should.
Because it’s OK if he makes a ton of money.
Pastor Steven Furtick should share his income given his leadership role and the fact that his income is generated through the contributions of his congregation.
What does the Bible say?
1 Timothy 5:17-18, “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For Scripture says, ‘Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,’ and ‘The worker deserves his wages.'”
You can call Furtick lots of things, but you can’t call him lazy. He’s an ox. He’s grown Elevation Church from an idea in his family room to a thriving church that draws 22,000+ worshippers on Sundays.
Furtick is valuable.
For argument’s sake, let’s just say he gets paid $1 million (I made this number up). Would his congregation care? Probably not. Why? Because he’s worth it.
Making money is morally neutral
Making money isn’t bad. If you think the leaders at other prominent churches in Charlotte aren’t getting nice compensation packages, you’re kidding yourself. But they don’t have to deal with this drama because their finances are transparent.
It’s not about the money, it’s about what the money does to you and how you use the money. That’s what Furtick needs to be accountable for.
Ultimately, it’s up to Furtick to practice what he preaches with his own finances — and that’s a good thing. This is what his congregation should (and probably does) hold him accountable for.
Some critics pull out Matthew 19:23-24, “And Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.’ Again I say to you, ‘it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.'”
This is an oversimplification and you’re asking Furtick not to be a real human being that wants a good life for his family. If you take this scripture as law, you’re condemning a lot of people.
What should Furtick do?
In a recent interview with Morgan Fogarty, Furtick said this about disclosing his personal finances: “I know that we have to have integrity and we have to be generous, and I know the extent of which that is true for me and Holly. So, to go on record and say here’s how much money we’ve given and here’s what we do with our finances, to me, that would be the most arrogant thing I could do and it would rob me of the blessings of what Jesus said, which is that when you give, you don’t get up and tell everyone how much you’ve given.”
He’s basically playing the Sermon on the Mount card. Matthew 6:2, “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”
Furtick is answering the question by lumping together sharing his income and sharing his giving.
But here’s the deal — critics are not asking him to share how much money he gives away, they’re just asking about the income part. Furtick should answer it.
It’s OK if Steven Furtick makes a lot of money because he’s worth it. But it’s not OK if he doesn’t disclose his finances because he needs to be accountable to his congregation.
Honestly, I’m unsure what he gains by not being transparent and accountable.
By all accounts, he’s a remarkable spiritual leader who has made an incredible impact on tens of thousands of Christian Charlotteans.