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I get asked all the time if Elevation is all about the numbers.

Let me just clarify something:

Our church is all about the numbers.

The number of lives that Jesus can permeate and penetrate with the gospel.
The number of marriages that can be restored.
The number of teenagers following the Lord.
The number of depressed people who can find hope in Jesus.
The number of dads who don’t give their kids any attention who will learn to order their lives by the Word of God and start prioritizing their families.

What else matters? What else should we be about?

This might come as a shock to a lot of people, but measuring numbers and putting an emphasis on them isn’t a new phenomenon.

Two thousand years ago, Luke by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wrote:
41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day…47 And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Acts 2:41, 47

Apparently, God is all about the numbers. So I want to be, too. And so should you.

It’s unacceptable to me as a pastor that we would stop growing when the Lord wants to add to our number daily those who are being saved. And in order for that to happen, we need to track every scrap of statistical data at our disposal. We’ve got to make sure we’re measuring ministry numbers to measure our effectiveness and enlarge the Kingdom of God. I don’t want to waste a single dollar or second on a program, piece of equipment, or ministry position that isn’t the best option for reaching the most people.

You might be averse to numbers for a number of reasons.

Maybe you don’t like the idea of big crowds. If that’s the case, you wouldn’t have liked the New Testament Church. And you really won’t like heaven.

Maybe you think it steals away from discipleship. It’s possible. But it’s just as possible for that to happen in a church of 10 people as it is in a church of 10,000.

Whatever your reason is, remember: every number is indicative of a story.

Personally, I don’t want to put a cap on the number of stories God wants to redeem. Especially when I read this:
9 I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God.”
Revelation 7:9-10

Now that’s a number worth shooting for. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to wait until I die to see this. I want to see this partially fulfilled in my lifetime. More people worshipping Jesus than I can count.

I want to see a little heaven on Earth through Elevation Church. Through every church. I think it’s what God wants, too.

And that’s why we’re all about the numbers.

Pastor Steven Furtick is the lead pastor of Elevation Church. He and his wife, Holly, founded Elevation in 2006 with seven other families. The church has been listed by Outreach Magazine as one of the fastest growing and largest churches in America. 

Pastor Steven holds a Master of Divinity degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also the New York Times Best Selling author of Crash the ChatterboxGreater, and Sun Stand Still.

Pastor Steven and Holly live in the Charlotte area with their two sons, Elijah and Graham, and daughter, Abbey.

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Talk about it...

Keith B

commented on Oct 21, 2011

Feed the sheep, Steven, and the numbers will take care of themselves. God will make it grow if it's his will. But is it not possible that maybe God would want a pastor to feed a smaller group every week and help them grow into solid believers?

Pastor Jeffrey Turner

commented on Oct 21, 2011

Honestly, I think that that preoccupation with adding numbers to the pews, as created a seeker sensitive mentality that has adversely affected true discipleship. You wrote"we need to track every scrap of statistical data at our disposal. We’ve got to make sure we’re measuring ministry numbers to measure our effectiveness and enlarge the Kingdom of God. I don’t want to waste a single dollar or second on a program, piece of equipment, or ministry position that isn’t the best option for reaching the most people." You shouldn't be wasting dollars meant for evangelism, meeting the needs of the brethren, and missionary work on such things...period. It is the Gospel that saves, not our manufactured efforts to appease the sensibilities and personalities of the masses.God is sovereign and it is He who will bring His children to salvation in Christ. Your mention of peter's pentecostal sermon it truth behind what I say, for he preached the Gospel without adornment and yes, 3000 were saved. Pastors, this is not our church, it is the church that Jesus is building and our role is clear as under-shepards. The fact is is that the church in America is not saving the teens and youth, for the vast majority leave the faith . The fact is that Christian marriages fair no better than the secular world. The reason, in my humble opinion, is that we have words with no power. We have lives with no conviction. We have robbed the power from the Gospel through our hypocrisy and focus on the things that are of this world and not the Kingdom. Scripture is also clear that narrow is the path and few there be that find it...we need to feed the flock to put them on this path, so that we fill Heaven and not just pews. God bless you and keep you all in the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ.

Randy Helm

commented on Oct 21, 2011

I have served on staff of mega churches and small to medium churches and would have to say that if we had 20 churches of 250 we would accomplish much more than one church of 5,000. Numbers are so deceiving and I have not served with a large mega church where the numbers did not compete with the quality. I am sure those churches exist but they would be the exception. In a large church setting there are few opportunities for the development of ministry and gifts. Worship is professional (you had better be very good) in musical abilities and vocal abilities. Leadership is primarily paid professionals with little opportunity for development of gifts and talents. We spend way too much time trying to get the church filled with "people" and we miss the fact that the priority should be doing everything we can in filling the church with the presence and person of God. Youth ministry is one of the great concerns I have for the mega church mentality. We create things that youth want to attend because it is dynamic, fun and entertaining and then wonder why they lose interest when in adulthood or college. Partially it is because we have created an appetite that cannot be sustained in the real world or the real church but we justify it by numbers. Numbers gives us a false sense of success. The truth is the vast majority of church growth seminars appeals to our own pastoral egos. That said... there are some great mega churches that focus on small groups, relationship building, discipleship and the ability to do amazing things in their cities and in missions that a smaller church cannot.

Todd Forsman

commented on Oct 21, 2011

Guys, I don't think he is saying that small churches aren't reaching people. I don't think he is saying that if you work or attend a small church that you aren't doing what God wants either. I think he is speaking to those that aren't doing anything in their churches and using the excuse that "It's not about numbers!" Jesus talks about leaving the 99 to go after the 1 and I think as long as we all focus on saving the 1 then our churches will grow because there will always be another 1! God created all kinds of people and some are to minister in large churches that will be reaching untold millions (i.e. Billy Graham) and others will be reaching small communities of people that need that personal touch from their pastor. Neither one is bad and we need all of them so please understand as long as you are reaching for the 1 then wyou are doing as God commanded you to do.

Keith B

commented on Oct 21, 2011

Todd...I get what you're saying. I'm certainly not suggesting that we need to ignore the lost--we absolutely need to be trying to reach them. But honestly...I've listened to a lot of Furtick sermons and I don't know that I've ever really heard him present the Gospel. He really seems to be about growing the herd of goats he has coming in every week rather than increasing the flock.

Steve Defrain

commented on Oct 21, 2011

What a waste of time to criticize this article. Maybe if Pastors would spend more time being obsessed with reaching their cities, and less time being obsessed with what someone else is doing "wrong", they would have more success reaching those far from God with the Gospel of Jesus Christ! The truth is that only the losing team doesn't like to keep score, maybe we see to much of that in the church. The Bible is clear in Luke 15, that heaven rejoices when what was lost is found! I don't see that same rejoicing going on in heaven over a room full of already found sheep. Keep doing work Pastor Steven, we got your back up in Philly! The church exists for the world!!!!

Steve Defrain

commented on Oct 21, 2011

What a waste of time to criticize this article. Maybe if Pastors would spend more time being obsessed with reaching their cities, and less time being obsessed with what someone else is doing "wrong", they would have more success reaching those far from God with the Gospel of Jesus Christ! The truth is that only the losing team doesn't like to keep score, maybe we see to much of that in the church. The Bible is clear in Luke 15, that heaven rejoices when what was lost is found! I don't see that same rejoicing going on in heaven over a room full of already found sheep. Keep doing work Pastor Steven, we got your back up in Philly! The church exists for the world!!!!

Keith B

commented on Oct 21, 2011

What a waste of time to defend this article. Maybe if Pastors would spend more time being obsessed with reaching their cities, and less time being obsessed with what someone else is saying about what someone is doing "wrong", they would have more success reaching those far from God with the Gospel of Jesus Christ! The truth is, we are told in Mathew 28 that we are to not only go out and reach the lost--but we are told to make disciples, too!!!! Maybe if Furtick would realize that and feed the sheep we wouldn't criticize, and others wouldn't be wasting their time defending him.

C. Vernon Reed

commented on Oct 21, 2011

As hard as I look, I have never found a "mega-church" talked about or described in Scripture. I'm just saying...

Pastor Jeffrey Turner

commented on Oct 21, 2011

Steve, I can appreciate your fervor for reaching the lost, as I too, share such conviction. However, you make a fundamental error in supposing that filled pews equals a winning team. The passage in Luke 15, if you will endulge my placing it here... 6And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. 7I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. This passage would indicate quite the opposite of Pastor Steve's, as well as your assertion. I suppose that we have a basic difference in what we see as the role of the "church." As Peter tells us in 1Peter 2:5..."Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." The believers and followers of Christ are the church, not the building down the street with the steeple. The building is only a location where those believers come to worship the God of their salvation, fellowship with one another, but most importantly to grow , under the leadership, guidance, and instruction of the pastorate in discipleship suited for evangelism. The church is not a magnet to entice people to enter. The Holy Spirit is the one the brings the lost to Christ. The church should be about raising evangelists, who then, go out into their respective "worlds" and preach the Gospel. We , in America, have created a "church" whereby the congregants serve their God one day a week and serve man the remaining six. James 1:27 reminds us of the heart of true faith, "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. Pastors need to be more concerned with raising and nurturing the congregation in discipleship, evangelism, and doing what Christ commanded all of His followers to do. May God guide us to His perfect will and give us the faith to do as we should. Amen

Pastor Jeffrey Turner

commented on Oct 21, 2011

Steve, I can appreciate your fervor for reaching the lost, as I too, share such conviction. However, you make a fundamental error in supposing that filled pews equals a winning team. The passage in Luke 15, if you will endulge my placing it here... 6And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. 7I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. This passage would indicate quite the opposite of Pastor Steve's, as well as your assertion. I suppose that we have a basic difference in what we see as the role of the "church." As Peter tells us in 1Peter 2:5..."Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." The believers and followers of Christ are the church, not the building down the street with the steeple. The building is only a location where those believers come to worship the God of their salvation, fellowship with one another, but most importantly to grow , under the leadership, guidance, and instruction of the pastorate in discipleship suited for evangelism. The church is not a magnet to entice people to enter. The Holy Spirit is the one the brings the lost to Christ. The church should be about raising evangelists, who then, go out into their respective "worlds" and preach the Gospel. We , in America, have created a "church" whereby the congregants serve their God one day a week and serve man the remaining six. James 1:27 reminds us of the heart of true faith, "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. Pastors need to be more concerned with raising and nurturing the congregation in discipleship, evangelism, and doing what Christ commanded all of His followers to do. May God guide us to His perfect will and give us the faith to do as we should. Amen

Nelson Blount

commented on Oct 21, 2011

I would highly recommend the book "Radical" by David Platt (at one time he was known as the youngest mega-church pastor... and he writes about being mentored by the youngest mini-church pastor, Jesus Christ). He pastors Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL. You can google Brook Hills.

Pastor Jeffrey Turner

commented on Oct 21, 2011

Agreed Nelson, if you look at the model for Pastor Platt's church it is geared towards growth in discipleship and worldwide evangelism. But to accomplish that in a large scale model requires planning, people, and the infrastructure to succeed. I have respect for Dr. Platt in his heart for Christ, his congregation, and the lost and dying world. This, however, is Atypical in the realm of mega-churches.

Todd Forsman

commented on Oct 21, 2011

Ya know K.B. I think we just need to be looking at ourselves and what we are doing for God and like David said not raise our hands or our words to God's anointed. I think we should all be praying for these men because they as the Pastor will someday stand before God and I hope and pray they are doing all they humanly can to follow what God has for them, and pray for me that I will do the same.

Sterling Franklin

commented on Oct 21, 2011

May we be faithful in doing whatever God puts in front of us, whether small or large.

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