The numbers-obsessed evangelical church will do anything to produce results—and those results are understood to be only and always the blessing of God. Stephen Furtick, pastor of Charlotte’s Elevation Church, revealed the magic behind the massive number of “spontaneous” baptisms at his church: put 15 planted people in the audience who quickly rise up just after he gives a call for people to come forward during the service. Here’s the plan of attack, outlined in “Spontaneous Baptisms How-To Guide“:
When this came to light was Furtick ashamed or repentant? Of course not. Out came the explanations (denials and indignation)…
When they started talking this week on the news about our baptisms, I got hot. Yes, sir. I got hot. They were saying that we manipulate our baptisms, that we have people planted in the audience who pretend to go get baptized. For the record, we have never planted anybody in our church to pretend to be baptized. I am too scared of God to do something like that. Please. Please. … And to take the fact that we have volunteers who get up and lead the way so that people know where to go and to act as if they were pretending to be baptized and to negate the sincere faith decision of precious people who had one of the most meaningful experiences of their life, that’s just sick.
Essentially what he is saying is that none of the 15 plants were actually baptized. They certainly did make people think they were going forward to get baptized. It’s manipulation and Elevation Church continues to practice and promote it. It results in people having “one of the most meaningful experiences of their life” and so a little dishonesty is not so bad. The end justifies the means.
Then there is this which is worse… Back in the mid and late 20th century the evangelical church and most mainline denominations made clear their disdain of God’s creation order for the two sexes. Now we have a generation of young evangelical churchgoers who don’t give the slightest deference to what God’s Word teaches on the difference between the sexes and the corresponding work God has defined for each of them. Sex-anarchy is in full swing and the church is doing it’s best to keep up appearances. One way for the evangelical mega-churches to appear #relevant and #super-relevant is to give women the opportunity to preach from time to time…even though God forbids it. This might be a difficult doctrine to accept because of our culture’s hatred of Biblical sexuality but that does not make Scripture’s teaching unclear: “I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet” (1 TIm. 2:12).
If your ministerial philosophy is “the end justifies the means,” such dusty, hidden verses don’t mean a thing. Mega-churches sometimes keep up conservative appearances by having all-male pastoral staffs (like #NewSpring) but the exercise of authority from the pulpit is open to women because to not do so would be to alienate women. The goal is 100,000
members owners and it would be doubly hard to do that without women or with angry women.
So, this past week Perry Noble handed over his physical and virtual pulpit to Rosie Snowzell, who, I believe, is the daughter-in-law of co-senior pastors Heather & Gary Snowzell of the worldwide Freedom Church (main campus in UK).
God’s Word gives clear, precise, unambiguous guidance to leaders: a man is not qualified to preach if he loves sordid gain (Titus 1:10-11)—even sordid gain in baptism stats—or is a woman (1 Tim. 2:12). But Perry Noble and his ilk have a goal, and they will allow nothing to cause their zeal to waiver, not even the clear teaching of God’s Word. They will continue to justify their means by their unfulfilled end and, because of that process, will make thousands of disciples who will share the same disdain for God’s Word.