Steven Furtick, the visionary pastor of Elevation Church, is responding to a media report of the manipulative methods his Charlotte, NC megachurch uses in its Baptism services.
The only problem is, Furtick is responding to accusations the news story does not make.
In a February 22 sermon titled, “It Will Happen,” Furtick said:
They were saying that we manipulate our Baptisms. That we have people planted in the audience that pretend to go be Baptized. For the record, we have never planted anybody in our church to pretend to be Baptized… It’s different territory when you start picking on people who made a decision to be Baptized for Jesus Christ.
Furitck’s is a classic Straw Man dodge: Don’t respond to the real issue in the story. Instead, respond to an accusation the story doesn’t actually make.
Read the WCNC story for yourself. There’s nothing in the story about people “pretending to be Baptized” or “picking on people who made a decision to be Baptized.” It’s easy to respond to your critics when you are allowed to put words in your critics’ mouths.
The WCNC story simply reports: “the first people instructed to respond to Pastor Steven’s call to baptism were not converts suddenly inspired but Elevation volunteers carefully planted in the crowd.”
This is precisely what Elevation’s own “Spontaneous Baptisms How-To Guide” requires, namely:
15 people will sit in the worship experience and be the first ones to move when Pastor gives the call. Sit in the auditorium and begin moving forward when Pastor Steven says go. Move intentionally through the highest visibility areas and the longest walk.
Again, it’s easy to respond to your critics when you are allowed to put words in their mouths.
Furtick also said that he wasn’t going to play defense, but offense. He said he planned to “feed the fire” of media criticism.
Furtick knows if you want to feed a fire, nothing burns like a straw man.