The death of Apple founder Steve Jobs in October 2011 had a profound effect on Steven Furtick, lead pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, N.C. At that time, Furtick's church averaged between 8,000 and 10,000 people in attendance, yet the death of Jobs, a great innovator, still caused him to question whether or not he was doing great things for God.
In an interview with The Christian Post about his new book, Greater: Dream Bigger. Start Smaller. Ignite God's Vision for Your Life, on Wednesday, Furtick explained that having thousands of people in his church wasn't as satisfying as he thought it would be.
"I think I had a barrier in my mind since we started the church that, when we hit this mark, then we'll be great for God. And then I'll know that I'm a great pastor and I'm a great man. And you hit those barriers, and we hit a lot of those barriers relatively quickly, and I didn't feel what I thought I'd feel," said Furtick.
"At some point you wake up and realize that it's not something external, it's something internal," he added. "It's something within my own relationship with God that's going to give me that."
Greater challenges readers through a study of Elisha the prophet to not settle for "good enough" or pursue vague notions of "greatness" in their lives. Instead, he says, people need to trust in God to do greater things through them. They need to surrender their lives to God and, in doing so, do greater things for His glory.
"I think there's no question that my book is no theological masterpiece," said Furtick. "My intent in writing the book wasn't to create a new brand of Christianity, or to say things that have never been said, but really to invite people in on a journey ... We want to start something in someone's heart and life and then let God show them what that looks like."
The book is based, in part, on a Bible verse that Furtick read the night of Jobs' death. The verse is John 14:12, in which Jesus promises those who believe in him that they will do greater things than he did.
"Jesus isn't calling us to be greater than he is," Furtick says in the book. "He's calling us to be greater with Him through His Spirit within us."
But being greater doesn't always mean leaving everything you know behind. Sometimes, he says, it means becoming more passionate about where you are, what you have and what you are already doing.
"When you're in a season where God is calling you to stay put, and He's calling you to step up where you are rather than step out and do something new, the moment that you embrace the surrender of that a lot of the agony goes away ... A lot of people are so focused on getting out to the next thing that they miss the greatness of God as it presents itself in opportunities where they are," he said.
He also hopes people will see his temper, insecurities and other flaws through the personal stories in the book so they will be encouraged, because it shows that God can use anyone to do greater things.
"What I hope to show, as the book progresses, is that it's really something different than accomplishments. That, at the end of it, it's really something different even than your contribution. All that plays in, but really what it is is obedience," he said.
Last weekend, Furtick began preaching a new series called "Greater" based on the book, and at the same time Elevation Church launched its seventh campus in Gaston County, N.C. The new campus, which started out with a core group of about 200 people, successfully launched with 1,200 people in attendance during its first weekend.
The Gaston campus is the seventh location established by the church in the seven years of its existence. And while Furtick says he was "blown away" by the results of the campus' first service, his church continues to push to reach out to others.
A core team of people have been meeting in Toronto, Canada, for example, as an extension site to Elevation Church with the hopes of eventually becoming yet another one of the church's campuses. Furtick says they are still learning what the needs are in that area, however, and no official launch date has been set for what could become the church's eighth campus.