This past weekend I traveled with a group to Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC. I think I have finally digested everything I learned and now want to put it in writing. This will be a four-part post. Stay tuned for the rest!
First a disclaimer….if you are reading this and are a small church, please know that I am not cracking on you. I would say that in numbers we are a small church. And so we went to a much bigger church to learn some things that we could apply in our situation. So no comments about how there are effective small churches doing God’s work…I’m not arguing that. I am just dumping out what God is working out in my life. Doesn’t mean you have to like it.
Many churches will visit another church to get equipment ideas. Not us. We wanted to know what Elevation was doing that allowed God to bless them in the short time they have been in existence…which by the way is the same time my Pastor and myself re-launched Lighthouse. In a year and a half they are seeing 2200 in attendance, and over 500 baptisms since the beginning of the year. God is undoubtedly moving. You may say ‘they must have a watered down service’. Quite the contrary. Chunks, their executive pastor said this, "We like to think of ourselves as seeker-sensitive till the message starts." And he is right. Pastor Furtick’s preaching style is hard-hitting, hard-core, biblical, relative, and exposing.
So what did I learn…and what am I learning? Here are a few things.
1. Be a Big Church – Now this is a tricky one. Chunks said this to me, "When Pastor and I were praying for a location to start Elevation, we knew we would be a big church and looked for a big city." Did you catch that? I’m not even sure Chunks realized what he said, but it resounded in our ears. We KNEW we would be a big church. That alone was worth the trip. Most churches start small and think small. Some churches start small and try to ACT like a big church. Elevation started by being a big church…not in numbers but in practice. What do I mean? Their systems, organization, and vision was nothing short of what a big church would require. And they KNEW this is what God would want. I asked Chunks if he knew that they would get that big so fast…."No way! But if we didn’t have the capacity to handle these people they wouldn’t be here." Which brings me to my next point.