“Steven Furtick’s financial empire was built with BLOOD MONEY — money earned twisting God’s Word, preaching false doctrine & deceiving people IN THE NAME OF JESUS.” – Chris Rosebrough, 23/10/2013.
Could the same be said of Phil Pringle of C3 Church and Brian Houston of Hillsong Church?
In the last few months, people have been hassling or giving us links to report on the lavish lifestyle of Phil and Chris Pringle, Senior Pastors and Founders of the C3 Church Movement. The Pringle’s recently purchased a $3.5 million house and had no problem flaunting their lifestyle on twitter or instagram.
It’s been reported in the past that Brian Houston and his wife Bobbie have property deals of up to $1.4 million and that they are tenants of waterfront properties at Bondi Beach and the Hawkesbury River that they sold to LMI. Not to mention, it was reported that Houston said his total salary was “just over $300 000″.
My! What Big Faith You Have! (From Hillsong Church Watch)
Just recently, Steven Furtick (close associate of Phil Pringle and Brian Houston), has come under scrutiny over his $1.7 million house and his CEO approach to church ministry. Before looking at some news articles, we thought it would be good to provide an article and some links from the Pajama Pages blog on this issue. After reading the Pajama Pages articles, we have media articles reporting on Furtick’s mansion. We hope these articles help you understand the nature of how mega churches like C3 and Hillsong run.
Pajama Pages reports,
The problem with businessmenpastors. A reader’s contribution
A comment in the Walt White article is impressively on point that I think it deserves to be read by people who may not have made it to the end of that article. PP reader, Josh, posted the following this afternoon:
The problem with Furtick isn’t that he’s rich, or even that he’s a rich pastor. The problem is that he’s rich because he’s a pastor. If professing Christian Steven Furtick started a successful bakery, retail store or construction company in 2006 that was incredibly successful, so much so that he could buy a $3 million home, few would criticize him for enjoying his earnings. In fact, the world and people in the church generally look favorably on successful Christian businessmen. No one questions how Truett Cathy spends his Chick-fil-a money, for example.
The problem is that Furtick and others got their money by turning the church into a business. Pastors like Furtick are obsessed with business leadership because they fashion themselves as the CEO and identify more with celebrity CEOs like Steve Jobs than with non-celebrity pastors. Decisions are made by the CEO to build the brand, to create a larger customer base, to increase the giving margin, and to expand into new opportunities. Church personnel decisions are made in the same way. Is the youth pastor growing the youth brand? Is the worship pastor stylish enough? While such decisions are constrained at some point by biblical considerations…they aren’t going to hire a guy who publicly rejects the Bible…the biblical standards of Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3 aren’t really considerations.
This creates two problems, though. One, churches aren’t businesses and aren’t supposed to be run as such. There is nothing wrong with Macy’s developing a non-fraudulent pricing and promotional strategy designed to extricate consumers with as many spending dollars as possible. Macy’s should offer products and services designed to produce high margin income. But churches aren’t businesses. The pastor shouldn’t spend time developing (or, more likely, purchasing from consultants) “offering talks,” or message series, or coaching services, or conferences with a goal of increasing the church’s income. The church shouldn’t be selling books and t-shirts and lattes and Bibles or anything else. God’s house is not a house of merchandise!
So when the Furticks of the Christian world stand up and talk about money (and they talk about money a lot!) it sounds a lot like Macy’s running television commercials for their two-day After-Thanksgiving sale. When they preach on tithing (a subject on which Bible-believing Christians can easily disagree), it sounds self-serving because it is self-serving. Is it Furtick the preacher of God’s Word talking, or Furtick the CEO of Elevation Church, Inc. talking? Nothing has changed in two thousand years. A pastor cannot serve two masters.
The second problem is the conflict of interest between the company (the church) and the CEO (the pastor.) Former GM CEO Charles Wilson reportedly once claimed that “What’s good for GM is good for the country.” (A misquote, but that’s not the point here.) Celebrity CEO pastors seem to believe that what’s good for the Lead Pastor is good for the church. That’s why they freely write and promote books on the church’s time and bring in other celebrity CEO pastors to “teach” (with undisclosed and sizable speaking fees). Does Furtick invite Craig Groeshel to teach for $____ because Groeshel brought in Furtick to teach at Lifechurhc for $_____? No one knows because it’s all a big, big secret. Is the five-week sermon series on “Sun Stand Still Prayers” for the edification of the church, or to promote the CEO’s new book, which is conveniently for sale in the church bookstore. Building the CEO’s profile will help him sell books, increase his demand as a guest speaker, and feed his ego. But does it benefit the church? None of your business.
The clear conflict of interest is exacerbated by an utter lack of accountability. Sure, if Furtick gets caught sleeping with his cute personal assistant (which has happened in at least two smaller CEO-style churches I’m aware of), he couldn’t salvage his position. But no one from inside his inner circle is going to question his business dealings, his use of church time to work on and promote his books, his purchase of his own and friends’ books by the church, his speaking fee at churches with mutual relationships, or his promotional choice of message series. Anyone from the inside who did ask such impertinent questions would suddenly find themselves on the outs, and in a personality-driven organization, loss of access to the leader is a dire sanction. Outsiders in the media or blog may ask questions, but they won’t get answers. And the rank and file members will stay on and keep giving…
Source: The problem with businessmen pastors. A reader’s contribution, Pajama Pages, http://www.pajamapages.com/the-problem-with-businessmen-pastors-a-readers-contribution/, 30/10/2013. (Accessed 01/11/2013.)
Here are some follow up articles on Steven Furtick you can read up on.
Articles from The Charlotte WCNC.com:
By STUART WATSON / NBC Charlotte:
NBC Charlotte obtains confidential Elevation report
Charlotte WCNC.com, http://www.wcnc.com/home/NBC-Charlotte-obtains-confidential-Elevation-Church-report-230557491.html, Posted on November 4, 2013 at 11:31 PM, Updated Tuesday, Nov 5 at 12:42 PM. (Accessed 10/11/2012.)
By STUART WATSON / NBC Charlotte:
I-Team: Pastor’s salary set by board, not congregation,
Charlotte WCNC.com, http://www.wcnc.com/news/iteam/I-Team-Pastors-salary-set-by-board-not-congregation-229010291.html, Posted on October 23, 2013 at 7:34 PM, Updated Thursday, Oct 24 at 10:21 AM. (Accessed 10/11/2012.)
Articles from The Charlotte Observer:
Elevation Church pastor building big home in Waxhaw,
Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/10/23/4407782/elevation-church-pastor-building.html#.Un9tVvnI2So#storylink=cpy
Posted: Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013. (Accessed 10/11/2012.)
By Stuart Watson:
Elevation Church pastor Steven Furtick responds to his critics,
Posted: Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013. (Accessed 10/11/2012.)
By Elisabeth Arriero:
Elevation Church pastor Steven Furtick: 16,000-square-foot house is gift from God
Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/10/27/4420172/elevation-church-pastor-responds.html#.Un9i9_nI2So#storylink=cpy, Posted: Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013. (Accessed 10/11/2012.)
Any more articles that are found on this issue, we will gladly add.