In the wake of the news that area mega-church pastor, Steven Furtick, is building a 16,000 sq/ft (8,400 sq/ft heated) home/mansion, many Christians have been at odds as how they should respond.
As someone who has a degree of pastoral influence among a wide swath of local churches, pastors, and area believers, I feel compelled to help provide some guidance. Some may argue that it’s none of my business and that I should mind my own affairs.
I would love to. Really, I would.
However, over the last week Christians have been debating, arguing, and dividing over issues surrounding this pastors home. That’s when it becomes my business, to be honest. As someone who strives to cultivate unity in Christ’s mission in Charlotte and beyond, I’ll take my chances on being “that guy” to help us navigate this divisive issue.
So, how should you respond to the house that Steven built?
1) Gracefully. Like Daniel, it’s always best to approach any divisive issue with “wisdom and tact.” That means knowing what you believe about the issues at hand, why you believe it, and being able to gracefully and tactfully voice your opinions or beliefs to others. When you aren’t speaking or typing, listen respectfully to others–even when you violently disagree. Then gracefully, with a heart of love for the person (not your beliefs), continue to challenge, affirm, or (Heaven forbid) change your own understanding of the issues at hand.
2) Resolutely. Jesus commands believers that “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” Many have seen this as a call for Christians to be gluttons for punishment. Not true. This is a call for Christians to be resolute in staying present when offended. Instead of slapping back, running away, or breaking fellowship with those who offend you, “turning the other cheek” means to stay put before the one who offended you NOT so that you can win the argument, but so that you don’t lose the relationship. Turning the other cheek means, “I love and value you so much, that I’m not going anywhere until we resolve this conflict–even if you slap me again.” Getting slapped hurts, but walking away hurts more.
3) Fairly. In our postmodern society, if you simply disagree with someone or something (especially a high-profile leader or issue) you are said to be “judgmental.” This is where postmodern dialogue absolutely breaks down. If someone disagrees with you, Steven Furtick, or Elevation Church, this does not mean that they are judging either one–or vice-versa. I disagree with my wife often, but she does not label me as judgmental (which would only serve as a power-play for her not to be disagreed with!). This is why so many Christians (and pastors for that matter) keep silent on issues because if they publicly disagree with someone or something (particularly another pastor or local church), they might be labeled judgmental, jealous, or just plain insecure. This is simply unfair and beyond unhealthy for any form of healthy dialogue. Fair dialogue means allowing someone the freedom to disagree with you without labeling them as one of “them.”
I, like Furtick, am saddened by all this. I’m sorry for how this issue has already caused division among so many of my friends, the good people of Elevation Church, and Charlotte as a whole. It grieves me deeply. Taking my own advice above, I’ll be posting more around this issue in the following week as my heart has much to say–not to slander, but to guide.
I pray you’ll read my words and listen to others this week with grace, resoluteness, and fairness.
If we do, who knows, we all might become stronger and more unified than we were before.