Whenever Pastor Steven Furtick has introduced me to preach at Elevation, he has always spoken kindly of what he sees as a very particular gift at Renovatus, a different gift for the sake of our city–and it is true that our churches have different flavors. But let me tell you, there has not been a more genuine supporter of Renovatus anywhere than Pastor Steven and Elevation Church. I say without malice or whining that we have at times felt a little homeless in our own tradition. We are at times celebrated and affirmed in our unique calling, and at other times feel like the sentiment is “I don’t know about those folks and their bushy-headed preacher….we’ll just have to see if this thing lasts.” (Of course my personal favorite critique came from the right reverend Joe Chambers, who referred to us on his radio program this year as “Satan’s whore.”) At any rate, nobody in or outside our city has come close to the level of support for the Renovatus vision as Elevation. It’s unprecedented.
Pastor Steven says Renovatus is “too futuristic for our city” (and we like this, since we say “We are people from the future” in the Renovatus manifesto). But instead of watering down our identity, he challenged our leadership this year that “what makes us a little weird is what makes us great, what makes us special.” It was Steven that gave verbiage to what he sees as a unique cocktail of theological depth, Pentecostal passion and experience, and cultural engagement that rarely comes together in one place. It was also he who dubbed me “the big brainy Pentecostal bear,” a moniker that has had a longer shelf-life than I could have anticipated (and prompted an awesome podcast listener in Georgia to have a desk and door plaque with this title made for my office). The very specific, hand-tailored message he brought to our leaders only a week after getting the news that Eastland Mall was about to shut down (and thus news that we would have to vacate) was devastatingly precise, a pivotal word for Renovatus in a pivotal season.
In addition to this, I had the opportunity again to minister at Elevation this summer, where I was received with mind-blowing grace and hospitality. As if that wasn’t enough, when we transitioned to Little Rock Rd. this summer, Elevation blessed us with $50,000 sound system. How often do you think a Church makes that level of investment in another Church in the same city, with which it has no sort of formal ecclesiastical ties? The way that Pastor Steven and Elevation have gotten behind God’s vision for Renovatus has been a tremendous blessing and inspiration, and brought us even deeper into an understanding of the nature and character of God’s kingdom–a defining experience for Renovatus in 2010.
To hear Pastor Steven’s message to Renovatus leadership from May of 2010, click here.