Elevation Church pastor Steven Furtick says that churches are in essence selling the Gospel short when those outside the Christian community who are looking in see little difference in the lives of Christians, including mediocre displays of celebration during worship.
"The Church is fond of saying that the world offers everything but has nothing. And that's true. But from my experience, the Church offers everything but doesn't know how to really advertise it. Either corporately or individually," wrote Furtick in a recent column appearing in Outreach Magazine and headlined, "Jesus and Bad Advertising."
Furtick, who is the founder and lead pastor of Elevation in Charlotte, NC, added, "People come into our worship experiences and hear us say Jesus is great, but then they see us celebrate Him with mediocrity.
"People look at our lives and hear us say we're Christians, but then they see very little difference in us that would compel them to want the supposed hope and joy that we have."
Furtick used the illustration of how on a family road trip he pulled into a gas station that advertised "clean restrooms," only to discover they were filthy. His son asked why the gas station would post a sign promoting clean bathrooms when they were not. On the other hand, not too long after the incident, while at a nice hotel, the bathroom was clean, prompting Furtick's son to ask, "Why do some restrooms say they're clean and they're not, and then other restrooms are clean and they don't say that they are?"
Furtick answered, "I don't know," and wrote in his column, "And I also don't know why this same dynamic continually plays itself out in the Church either."
He believes that "the most important message in the world deserves the best presentation" and that is why he would like to see the Church be known for excellence. He wants to see people living up to their "full potential in Christ."
He explained, "It's not that we're trying to impress people with how great we are. It's that we're trying to impress into people how great Jesus is."
He also emphasized that "Jesus doesn't need us to make Him look good."
Then adds, "But I also don't think He wants us to make Him look bad either. Or neglect to reflect how great He is. We've got the greatest message in the world.
"Let's not make it harder than it has to be for people to realize how great it is," wrote Furtick.
Elevation Church is rated as one of the fastest growing churches in the nation. In just the last seven years, it has grown to more than 12,000 people in weekly attendance, meeting at seven locations in the Charlotte area, according to Outreach Magazine. Furtick, who recently spoke at Saddleback Church during its current series about following Jesus, has gained national attention as a speaker at other churches and Christian conferences.