Pastor Steven Furtick’s “House from Heaven”
“If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . he is conceited and understands nothing . . . [and] has a morbid interest in controversial questions . . . out of which arise . . . constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.” Paul to Timothy, 1 Timothy 6:3-5, NASB, Emphasis added. 
Early the morning of February 10, 2014, 12:00 am, Fox News aired The Fox Files which contained a segment reporting on Samaritan’s Purse’s relief work in various parts of the world, focusing especially on helping the tens of thousands of refugees who have fled war torn Syria to seek safety in northern Iraq. In interviewing Samaritan’s Purse’s President Franklin Graham and its chief operating officer in Boone, N.C., and in traveling to Iraq to observe and report first-hand on the relief organization’s efforts there, Greta Van Susteren brought the heart of the ministry up-close and personal to viewers.
Syrian refugees were shown walking across a make-shift pontoon bridge over the river dividing Syria from Iraq, their only possession being the clothes they were wearing. The scene then shifted to Boone, N.C., where big semi-trucks and cargo planes were shown being loaded with food, water, medical and relief supplies (tents, heaters, water, shoes and clothing, etc.) to be flown to northern Iraq. Little children were shown as they were given their Christmas shoe boxes, the reception of which changed their countenances from the sadness of despair to smiles of delight. Fox Files reported that in most instances Samaritan’s Purse is the first to respond to disaster and refugee crises around the world. At times, it is the only responder. The news program authenticated the ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, the importance of which is crucial in light of recent attempts on the part of the U.S.’s Internal Revenue Service to make life uncomfortable for 501C(3) tax-exempt charities and organizations.
Anyway, my heart was moved to tears as I observed the squalid living conditions of the refugees and the ways in which Samaritan’s Purse was trying to help them, giving something to those who possessed nothing. I point to this legitimate ministry to contrast it with reports that have surfaced over the last months about another ministry in North Carolina located about a hundred miles to the south.
True to the “prosperity-gospel” tenet that God wants his children rich—they are after all, the King’s Kids—a young mega-church pastor (he’s 33 years old) is building a 1.7 million dollar mansion, with reportedly five bedrooms and seven and one/half baths, in an exclusive neighborhood on multiple acres of land. Steven Furtick is the hip, flamboyant and youthful communicator who leads Elevation Church in Charlotte, N.C., a growing 14,000 member congregation with several campuses, even one in Toronto, Canada. Amongst his followers, who claim to be evangelical, he’s not just a rising star, but a risen one. And befitting his stardom, the stylish Furtick is no pauper. His self-indulgence has caused many, mostly outside the realm realm of his followers, to question his ministerial motives in building the extravagant house. Jesus may have promised us a “mansion” in His Father’s house (really the sense is more of an “apartment”), but for the prosperous young pastor that day can’t wait (John 14:2, KJV). He wants the mansion now. So he’s building it with the money received from other of the King’s Kids.
He claims the capital for building the house is coming from “gains” derived from the royalties of book sales and from the honorariums of speaking engagements. In a classic case of conflict of interest, from his influential platform the young pastor promotes his books to thousands of followers. Yet there’s no way of knowing if these royalty/honorarium sources of money are covering the 1.7 million cost of the house because no outsiders are privy Furtick’s compensation package from the church.
Though Elevation Church has a governing body, it does not consist of elders, but rather of a “hand picked” Board of Overseers of other mega-church pastors (Wonder who does the “picking”?). Thus, as Furtick, the church’s CFO James “Chunks” Corbett, other of the church’s administration team and “the Board of Overseers” (“overseer” can mean “bishop”) remain secreted regarding the church’s finances, neither the financial integrity nor accountability of the organization can be verified. Furtick promised Elevation “would always be a ministry of integrity.”  Yet the message being left amidst all the hazy financial reporting is, “Trust us!” So when the controversy initially surfaced regarding Furtick’s almost 2 million dollar building project, the young pastor apologized the next Sunday to his 14,000 plus followers that he was sorry for any “uncomfortable conversations” they had to have over “his mansion” under construction.  Some evangelical celebrities, and there’s more than just Furtick, seem to be imitating lives of the rich, the famous and sometimes, even the naughty.
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