"...When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matt 9:36

"Do not rob the poor, because he is poor... for the Lord will take up their case and plunder those who plunder them." Proverbs 22:22-23

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pastors' Mutual Admiration Societies or "Cult of Personality" - It Borders on "Creepy" at Times

What is it with megachurch pastors these days flying to speak at each other's churches, to heap praises and admiration on each other, and to tell the peeps what a great pastor they have? Is one of the functions of a pastor to fly to other pastors' churches to convince them how great THEIR pastor is?

Below is a video montage of the mutual love and admiration expressed between Craig Groeschel (pastor of LifeChurch)and Steven Furtick recently, when Groeschel flew out to North Carolina to speak at Furtick's Elevation Church. The praise they heep on each other borders on creepy. Furtick explains that Groeschel once flew to a conference on a whim recently, just to introduce Furtick and then to jump on the plane that day and fly back home, and Furtick gushes about how flattering that was for him. It is unnatural for two men to express this much love and adoration for each other in public. I'm glad they are best buds, but please, spare us the details guys. And guys - don't advertise in these difficult economic times how you are wasting air fare to simply introduce each other at a conference!

Groeschel actually tells the people of Elevation Church:
"I feel it is one of the most important callings on my life simply to support your pastor, to stand behind him....it's an honor and a calling to protect him, guard him, support him."
All an attempt to let the people of Elevation Church know how "special" their pastor is. Craig Groeschel is the pastor of perhaps the largest church in America and he uses his celebrity to endorse Steven Furtick. You'll see in the video below clips from when Furtick was a guest at Groeschel's church, where the lovefest started, and Groeschel gives a nice plug for Furtick's book.

But really, we know what this is sort of behavior is all about. We can call it the "cult of personality", or "narcissistic leadership". Ed Stetzer has spoken about the trend of "cult of personality" among big name preachers. The "cult of personality" phenomena is defined as:
"A cult of personality arises when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, or other methods, to create an idealized and heroic public image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise. Cults of personality are usually associated with dictatorships." Wikipedia
Indeed, megachurch pastors want to be seen as heroes. Many crave the praise and unquestioned followship of their subordinates and don't tolerate opposition.

Narcissistic leadership is defined as:
"...narcissistic leadership is driven by unyielding arrogance, self-absorption, and a personal egotistic need for power and admiration." Wikipedia
In the past several years I have spoken to people who have experience with narcissistic mega church pastors who demand absolute loyalty, have very sensitive egos that need to be stroked constantly. They speak at each others' churches and conferences, and pour enormous helpings of praise on each other. They preach sermons that are centered more on the pastor and how great he is, how much the Lord has anointed him, how "godly" he is, and how the people of the church should "support" and follow the pastor's leadership.

Author Jack Watts wrote earlier this year about this narcissistic behavior in today's "electric church":
"Like others who have a narcissistic personality disorder, the lords of the electric church are self-centered but, unlike their secular counterparts, the leaders of the electric church are never outwardly boastful. People may be forgiving of narcissism in movie stars, beauty queens and exceptional athletes, but certainly not of Christian leaders. This is where they differ from the classic model of narcissism. Because Christ was humble, these leaders are expected to behave similarly. Outwardly, they do, especially by the message they convey to their followers. Their demeanor is always that of a humble servant, eager to follow God's will. They have taken self-deprecating humility and made it an art form, cleverly masking their compulsive craving for attention, approbation and admiration."
Yes, they have to maintain a demeanor of humility, but they pay their friends to fly in and do their praising for them.

So enjoy the montage of praise and love and adoration between Steven and Craig...and at the end you will hear Steven gush about how his rock star friend flew out to introduce him at a conference.

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sickening.
Why anybody continues to give their money to these creeps is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

"The Steven Furtick Show" Now Playing at Harvest Bible Chapel

http://revelation22-20.blogspot.com/2011/08/steven-furtick-show-now-playing-at.html

Sharon said...

That whole business of "protecting" the pastor-protecting them from what? It sets up the idea that if there's a scandal or any problem, the pastor is automatically a Man-of-God who has been victimized in some way.

To me, it kinda comes across as a show of force, a word to the wise that if you are opposed to these men, well, they have a strong network of powerful people that you'll be going up against.

It's the modern version of what I grew up with-good ole boy Baptist pastors in suits, patting each other on the back, and proclaiming each other to be a Man-of-God. It bothers me that anyone would even want that title placed upon their shoulders. That's quite a special category of human beings.

It would be refreshing if a pastor was introduced by another pastor as-my friend, so-and-so, I think you'll enjoy hearing what he has to say and will benefit from it. That would be lovely-simple, real, human, down-to-earth. Plus, is there ever any value attached to those listening to these men? What about what THEY think? Are the listeners on a lower level? Obviously they are, because the listeners (and givers)are not Men-of-God. No one is "protecting" them.

Anonymous said...

Furtick 's church removed a boy with cerebral palsy on Easter when he said his own 'amen' after the opening prayer. When the media contacted the church The statement was that the church focused on worship not ministries. Later on the church said they were all about ministry. The pastor was going to meet with the boys mother but cancelled when he learned she had contacted the media.

So much for loving the "least of these". If any person is a constant distraction that is one thing but it looks like this was a disaster the way they treated him. It does appear to fit in with the whole narcissist mindset.

Havent you written about another church that doesn't allow young children in th service and actually locks the doors when the service begins? The thief on the cross wouldn't have made it into the kingdom there because he came to the Lord at the last minute.

Anonymous said...

Its just typical behavior and yet he has the largest church in America? He must be doing something right or there are a lot of people who are wrong. Sometimes people can over-analyze things into oblivion and that might be the case here. You might be looking for something when there is nothing to be found.

Remember Jonathan and David were pretty good buddies too.....

Ed Franklin said...

Agreed, this is disgusting...but it's a natural evolutionary step in the "good ol' boy net" process. Even the "good" SBC pastors have always exchanged back scratchings in "you hold a revival for me, then I'll come to your church...." What was a $300. "revival" meeting trade in the 70s have become a real money-maker today where I see pastor-buds sharing the wealth by trading intercontinental "meeting" events at rates like $25,000. for four or five sessions (e.g. Sun-Wed). You see the same guys in the same churches every year....and contracts which allow these pastors time off for 6 meetings a year.....so it's not only a racket, it's a lucrative racket.

Anonymous said...

WD, find something better to write about. Seriously.

Anonymous said...

They are like teenage boys with lots of money and fame.

There is a lot of this bring someone else in to "tell my church how wonderful I am". They do this sort of thing for each other all the time.

It is creepy. Let us pray that people will have eyes to see that Jesus is wonderful.

Anonymous said...

PMS.

Pastors' Martyr Society.

Could be huge.

Anonymouse said...

Anonymous October 15, 2011 9:26 AM,
Why in the world would you NOT want a light shown on that racket? Are you a travel agent?

Jennifer McSparin said...

It is sickening how much they go on about each other. I've seen pastors build each other up in front of groups before, but it's usually brief.

As for Groeschel, I have to wonder about anyone who would invite Furtick to speak at their church. Here's a guy who is not only an obvious narcissist, but he's invited heretics to speak at his church and conferences, and is leaning more and more towards word faith all the time. Only a matter of time before he's a regular on TBN along side the Crouch's.

Anonymous said...

Both are apostates in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

The pastor at my church had more vacations this year than I did. He's also been flying all over the country attending various conferences and eating pricey hotel meals all with the blessing of the elders at my church! The men who run these church's are so stupid. They are being robbed right in plain sight.

Bojac said...

even though i pastor a mini church compared to the mega church i am well aware of this kind of activity between pastors. Pastoring a group of people carries a large responsibility. Some seem to seek approval from someone egaged in the same activity. I have always felt that it is our Lord's approval we should seek. We seem to have forgotten that Jesus said "He who would be great let him be servant of all". Keep holding feet to the fire w.d. to those not guility of charge it is a needed warmth to thosee who are guilty as charged it burns.

Anonymous said...

False idols

And yes -- it is CREEPY.

Anonymous said...

BOJAC said:

I have always felt that it is our Lord's approval we should seek.

You are so right in that comment. That could be a THD disseration right there,and a needed one.

My younger brother is a pastor of a small SBC, not a lot of hoopla and accolades from big woo's. Just staying in the call, whatever it takes, no speaking gigs or book signings. All pastors need to be reminded of your one line there. THanks

Anonymous said...

Seriously? Find something worthwhile to write about. Maybe even write about something with a heart for the Kingdom of God. The fact that you cite Wikipedia just goes to show the lack of thought you actually put into this. At least lives are being changed and the Kingdom is being advanced through some of the popular mega churches. Which can't be said of most large SBC churches. Legalism and fear of change are crippling the SBC. God is not confined to cultural preferences and traditions. So unless they are being heretical (which despite criticism they are not. Ive worked with Pator Steven many times personally over the last 10 years and he is a guinely passionate guy)l let them do church their way in peace.

Anonymous said...

it's hard to imagine how flying somewhere to just introduce someone is good stewardship of church finances.

Ed Franklin said...

one of the countless anons sez: "let them do church their way in peace."

Nice summation! "their way"....never mind God's way, i.e. as prescribed in His Word..but "their" way, according to the dictates of the relevant culture and the preeminent flesh....the Church of Celebrity.

"in peace".....for now. "... for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account..."
(Hebrews 13:17) Too bad so few "pastors" take that giving of account to God as any serious matter as they continue along "their way"

Anonymous said...

LOL!!!

'The fact that you cite Wikipedia shows how little thought you put into it.'

The fact that that was the best insult you could come up with shows how little thought you put into it.

Anonymous said...

This is from their website at Elevation Church....

"Who sets the Pastor’s salary?
Pastor Steven has a Board of Overseers that he is accountable to and their primary purpose is to set the salary of the Lead Pastor as indicated in the church bylaws. The Board is comprised of five members. Three of the five are senior pastors of large churches in the Southeast and understand the pressures of a fast-growing church."

So....his buddies set his salary!

WOW!!! Would you not LOVE a job where your Friends set your salary!!

The old saying is true....there is a SUCKER born every minute...a lot of them live in Charlotte NC!!!

Anonymous said...

By the way, Rev. Ed Young Jr. is one of the "influential" Pastors that sets up "Pastor" Steven's salary.

Mr. 10,000 square feet, jet flying, limo driving Ed is actually allowed by Elevation Church to set their Pastor's salary.

This is like Wall Street where the salaries of the CEO's are set by their "Board" that is made up of other CEO's....

Come quickly Lord Jesus!!!!

Scottie said...

Is an Occupy Pastor Street in the near future?

Anonymous said...

Yikes! I thought Steve was going to bend Craig over backwards and plant a big sloppy one right on the lips! Gag me!

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute...Is it legal for a Pastor to have his friends set his salary???

Do the 10,000 members know this stuff?

Could Franklin Graham have his friends set his salary at the BGEA?

Oh?

Have you read this little article about Brother Franklin (Charlotte NC gave us Jim and Tammy, Steven Furtick, and Franklin Graham....what is wrong with those folks?)

"I enjoy and love what I do…It’s not a job, it’s a calling…. I’d do it for nothing.” -Franklin Graham

I’d say $1.2 million – what Billy Graham’s son makes double-dipping a full-time salary from Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association – is quite a bit more than nothing for a job he is “called” to do.

I wonder how many shoe boxes he could fill for $1.2 million

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

I did remove the post featuring the little girl being baptized. I did see a video of her family's testimony, and I am very sorry for using that picture. My sincerest apologies to the family for any hurt I might have caused in that post.

cheezewhizchurch said...

The congregation must have ultimate confidence in the trustworthiness and quality of its leaders. What better way than to have very important people continually dropping in to reinforce that confidence? Without the constant affirmation of greatness, they might begin to harbor doubts about their leaders' apotheosis. Then where would they be? No, guest appearances constitute essential services in the megachurch world.

Karen said...

Does anyone know who the five people are who set Steven Furtick's salary?

Someone mentioned Ed Young, so that's one. I would bet that Perry Noble would be one of the five. And, given the love fest between Groeschel and Furtick, how could he not be a part of the gang?

I find that Elevation puts out information that gives folks the idea that everything they do is above board (group that sets the salary, annual report, 12% of all monies coming in go to missions, etc.) when in reality it stops way short of telling the whole truth. Transparency is not a strength of Steven Furtick or Elevation Church.

KarenM in Charlotte, NC (yes, the place that supports religious hucksters)

David said...

Hey Dawg, If you are truly sorry for the baptismal debacle (or for you Tom a complete lapse of Judgment and forethought) then why don't you say so not in convoluted posts of an unrelated thread? Maybe you could entitle your apology: I Officially Suck as a Human Being. Seriously, if you are wrong about something this horrific then why don't you hold yourself to the same standard that you "watch" these other guys? Time to come clean, Dawg, I cannot think of a better place to start than your own blog. Let's see what a man of integrity that you are.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

David - yes, I am truly sorry for that post. It was a lapse in judgment. I assume the family is aware of the post and that it caused them grief, and if so I would like to personally apologize to them and ask their forgiveness.

Ed Franklin said...

I don't know if you're old enough yet to have figured this out WD, but this might be the moment...

When you screw up (as apparently you did), you can apologize sincerely, be repentant, and know that God will forgive you...the victims might forgive you....but the howling mobs will never let it go. Ten years from now, "anon #56783" will remind you of it. It's their "edge"....that which demonstrates (in their mind) their superior spirituality....that they are "not like that watchdog, thank the Lord!"

Anonymous said...

Karen,
The 5 people who set his salary are chosen by him, and like his salary, are not disclosed. I'll say it again: Furtick says there are 5 people, chosen by him, but he won't tell you who they are, who set his salary. The people who attend Elevation continue to defend him, and when you bring this up, they'll say things like "all the financial info is on the web-site," or one of my favorites "he tithes 40% of his salary." I asked the person who said that "how do you know he tithes 40% if you don't know his salary?" Obviously, we also don't know the dollar amout of the 40%, or we would know the salary, assuming the 40% info is correct. Why it doesn't bother the people who attend this "church" is beyond me. If a "pastor" won't disclose his salary, how can you trust them with your money? I have never once heard of a pastor who won't disclose his salary. In most cases, the church board sets the salary, but this church has no board...it is run by Furtick and his LLC. His latest book is $50 a copy, and he has a "conference" that you can attend for something like $700. The man makes millions, and continues to expand. He has to have a large following, because it's mostly 20 somethings that are attracted to his circus, and they obviously don't make that much money for the most part. The church actually has a post on its web-site stating something like "for detailed financial info, just contact the church." I have done so not once, not twice, but 3 times, and guess what...you guessed it, no info. It absolutely boggles the imagination why anyone would listen to anything this person has to say.

Anonymous said...

If you look at the early church as it is defined in the New Testament, a church is supposed to have elders to oversee the church and how it is run. He has 5 guys(other pastors who are not members of his church) They don't even live in the same city or state.

Andrew said...

Charasmatics have been doing this since I was a kid. I remember watching Fred Price and Kenneth Hagin butter each other up to their respective audiences (I won't call them churches). Kenneth Copeland made this practice a regular part of his show.

Televangelists learned early on that, rather than competition, fellow televangelist interaction actually increased the financial pie. It is like getting the Avengers all together in one movie... audiences eat it up.

Nice to see Evangelicals are discovering the tricks to the money trade that Charasmatics have been milking for decades.

Andrew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Judge not lest you be judged guys - God is big enough to take care of His Household but criticism and slander is not endorsed by the New Testament so please be careful what you say about God's kids

Andrew said...

No criticism? No one gets critiqued until they die? No wonder xtian churches struggle with the basics so much.

Anonymous said...

Say what you want about these money hungry church builders, what do they care. They don’t believe in God, or else they would not so foolishly gamble away eternity, and they don’t care what anyone says just so the money keeps rolling in.

Their followers are like those who cried out “crucified him,” blindly following their blind leaders. Will the Son Of God find faith when he returns to earth? Not much, for sure. The smell of burning flesh will be horrific.

Anonymous said...

We are all adults here.No one grabbed my wallet when I was there,in fact I didnt even hear about a collection until the last 50 secs of the service and it was stated if you want to give you can.Nobody twists your arm,unlike the little home town Methodist Church I grew up attending where an offering plate was passed twice a sermon ,lol.I was made feel more welcome there than ANY other church ever.Besides, its about you and gods relationship not you god and the pastor.If you are looking for a pastor to save you ,then you obviously dont understand the word period.The preacher is just a speaker,you accept the holy spirit.I hope I have helped you,peace and love