I would like to introduce what will be a regular feature of my blog: For Your Consideration. Each ‘FYC’ post will be a link to a piece by somebody else that I think is worth your time. It will include at least one paragraph by me, summarizing and responding to the article, poll, study, essay, etc., then it will include the link at the bottom for you to follow up, read, and be able to think about on your own.
The first entry For Your Consideration is about a Southern Baptist church in Charlotte, North Carolina that calls itself “Elevation Church.” In the article, local journalist Stuart Watson investigates Elevation’s published strategy for increasing church membership titled “Spontaneous Baptism How-To Guide.”
Let the title sink in for a minute.
If you haven’t punched a hole through your computer or phone yet for that oxymoron, please read on. In the guide, emotionally manipulative tactics are detailed in how to get more baptisms through what is, essentially, a mixture of peer pressure, crowd mentality, and Disney-level marketing. That’s right. You are supposed to plant actors in the crowd who will come up to get baptized first, taking the longest and most highly visible path to get there. This little bit of theater, combined, no doubt, with emotionally manipulative song selection and the lure of a willing speaker (“pastor” just doesn’t seem the right word to use for someone utilizing these tactics) will bring about the desired results of getting a bunch of people wet so you can pad numbers.
Speculation aside, one thing is clear. This is a misunderstanding of the doctrine of the church. Church is not a building padded to the rafters with people you got wet. The church is the Bride of Christ, filled with people who intentionally follow Jesus because he has made a change in their lives, saving them from their sins by his death on the cross. This is what I believe as a Christian and a member of the Southern Baptist Convention. I am ashamed that a church in my denomination is manipulating the people of the Charlotte, N.C. area.
For your consideration, “How Elevation Church, Pastor Furtick produce ‘spontaneous baptisms'” by Stuart Watson.