My wife and I attended Elevation Church again this past Sunday morning. We had attended one service previously and I had listened to a sermon on-line but that was the extent of our exposure. Based on what was presented last Sunday, this weekend was the start of a new series program called “Kingdom Come.” Unfortunately it seemed to be an introduction to a building campaign more than a study series. Of course, those attended might differ wildly with that appraisal.
What I came away with was rather simple – Elevation, for all it’s exterior posturing as being different from main stream churches is simply put, the same circus – bigger tent. Now that’s not intended to be disparaging as much as a rather basic critic. It’s true they have grown from just a couple of hundred people five years ago to over 5,000 today – but does bigger mean better? It may in the sense that a church can do more with 5,000 than it can with 500, presumably, but not always. Having given over a million dollars to assist community needs is laudable, however balanced out over five years and a growing group of 5,000 people, it may not be that “significant” in the scheme of things. Good but perhaps not great. Influential, but perhaps not community changing.
If I could there was one more observation that may seem supercilious. A good portion of what the pastor talked about that Sunday was a thinly disguised version of a “name-it-and-claim-it” theology. That may not be bad, but it certainly seemed rather in-congruent with their attempt at being different.
After all is said and done – Elevation Church is what it is and certainly is making an impact in our metropolitan community. There is no doubt about that. Are they more effective than what they describe as the average ninety member congregation – perhaps, at least if you go by the numbers. But then, numbers do not always tell the story. The governments attempt to claim “jobs created or saved” through the stimulus program should convince anyone of that. Neither did Jesus seem to be concerned about numbers. As I used to say when I was pastoring, I would rather baptize 50 and know exactly where those 50 were in their walk with Christ at the end of a year, than baptize 500 and wonder were the hell most of them went.
Now, we’ve determined Elevation Church is not a good fit for us. Not merely because of this experience, but rather because it’s not our style of worship. There is something creepy about applauding when the pastor walks out on stage that makes me a little nervous. 🙂