Elevation Church pastor Steven Furtick calls it the most ridiculous sermon series he has ever attempted. But he's diving in to talk about what many churches aren't.
Titled "Cow Tipping," the new series kicked off last weekend at the Charlotte, N.C., church – a church that doesn't believe in avoiding controversial topics.
"I want us to be the kind [of church] that will confront anything with the light of the word of God," Furtick told thousands of attendees at the fast-growing megachurch.
The church, he says, has many "sacred cows" – things the church doesn't like talking about.
But at Elevation, "we will speak about anything that God speaks about in love and grace," he said.
"We will not sacrifice truth."
Furtick began the series last Sunday with the issue of sexual sin – including divorce, abortion, sexual orientation, cohabitation, and friends with benefits.
His motive was not to deliver a sermon explaining the various sexual sins, as he has already done that in the past, but to convey a larger point – hypocrisy.
"We (the church) have gotten really good at ... cultural condemnation but not as good at personal repentance," the 29-year-old pastor said last weekend.
While Christians are quick to judge those outside their circle, they forget that they're held to a higher standard as followers of Christ, he indicated.
"We must pass judgment on sin but we need to start with ourselves ... not with groups of people and marginalizing them so that they don't even want to hear the message of Christ that we have to offer," he emphasized.
"I want to call your to a higher standard ... a standard of one who's been forgiven."
Addressing specifics and answering questions voted on by the congregation, Furtick listed the church's positions on highly debated issues. Elevation Church believes abortion is a sin, marriage is between a man and a woman, any sexual activity outside of marriage between a wife and husband is a sin and divorce is a sin.
"The primary problem with sexual sin isn't the sexually transmitted diseases or emotional scars," he noted. "The real problem is that when we live outside of God's established parameters for our lives we preach a false Gospel.
"We say that we know Him but we live as if He does not exist."
Calling out the Christians, Furtick urged, "If you're naming the name of Christ and continually rejecting his standards for the sake of your own pleasure, judge yourself today and repent."
Being a Christian doesn't mean being perfect, he noted, but believers should strive to be like Jesus. Otherwise, they should no longer bear the name of Christ.
"Don't play the game," he said. "If you're struggling with sexual sin, your real problem is a deficiency of Jesus."
Once Christians begin to follow God's standards and get better at preserving their own marriages, then the rest of the world will more likely be ready to hear what Christians have to say about the laws passed in this country. Moreover, the church will have more credibility and validity, Furtick added.
The Cow Tipping series continued today with the subject of wealth (Can a Christian drive a BMW and wear a Rolex without going to hell?). In the following weeks, Furtick will address "How could God send someone to hell who has never even heard about Jesus?" and "Sometimes I cuss, have a glass of wine with dinner and rent R-rated movies. Does this mean I'm going to hell?"