Elevation Church pastor Steven Furtick has sparked monumental controversy over a new 16,000-square-foot home he is building with his wife, Holly. His newly built 16,000 square foot home, he says is from God, he is sorry for uncomfortable conversations the members had to have due to the controversy, but Furtick doesn’t appear to be backing down or apologizing for his lifestyle.
“My wife and I made a decision, and we built a house,” Furtick, founder and pastor of the 14,000-member Elevation Church in Charlotte, N.C., said on Sunday. “It’s a big house, and it’s a beautiful house, and we thank God for it …. We understand everything we have comes from God,” he said before he began his sermon.
The 33-year-old pastor was open about the house, which he described as 8,400 square feet of heated living area and the rest comprising of basement, attic, garage and porch space.
While Furtick didn’t apologize, he did tell the congregation he was sorry that they were forced to have “uncomfortable conversations” in recent days and told the congregation that he has always worked hard to protect Elevation’s reputation.
“I have always tried to make this a church where you could be proud of your church,” the preacher said, going on to pledge a renewed commitment to having a ministry that is characterized by integrity.
No church money has been used to build the home. While Furtick is spending his own money from book sales, Ole Anthony, president of the Trinity Foundation, a group that examines religious fraud, says there are still some ethics issues at play.
“What happens is these pastors are on television or on radio and they write a book, and it’s based on their sermons,” Anthony told The Christian Post. “But then what happens is the church is paying for the time and the place to write the book, and then the church is paying for the airtime to advertise the book. And it’s just unseemly.”
“The idea of being a servant is lost. It’s just a job and they try to make more and more money, and the congregations are losing out,” he said. “It just infuriates me. It’s the opposite of the pastor being the servant and feeding the sheep, the pastor’s eating the sheep.”
Chris Rosebrough, who runs a protest podcast against pastors who profit from their work, agrees. He told WCNC that there is no distinction between Elevation Church and Furtick’s books.
“The two get mashed together in a way that creates a real conflict because the job of the pastor is not to preach his book,” Rosebrough said.
Since the church reportedly paid to promote the book, critics say it’s a problematic interconnection that simply leads to profit for the pastor. However, the church claims that the book also benefited the congregation.
Elevation purportedly makes money from its sale and Furtick donates money from the book’s advance to the church, but neither of these amounts are not public.
It’s unclear what Furtick’s salary is, as staff compensation has not been made public by Elevation Church. Multiple outlets, including the Observer, have reported that the church has given more than $10 million to outside groups during its eight-year history.
Anthony earlier told CP even that does not justify the house. “Well, it’s the same thing that Kenneth Copeland says, it’s the same thing Bishop Jakes says, it’s the same thing that Benny Hinn says. The church is paying for the airtime that advertises their books, and not getting anything for it, and that’s the bottom line,” he said.