Or better, “The Steven Furtick Perpetual Baptism Machine”
UPDATE: Carl Trueman tells the story of his paedobaptist megachurch friend Digby who has a leg up on “Pastor” Furtick, “Digby Done It First!”
Stuart Watson of NBC Charlotte recently wrote a piece about another megachurch spectacle, “How Elevation Church, Pastor Furtick produce ‘spontaneous’ baptisms.” This church has performed hundreds, even thousands of baptisms over the last few years. How do they baptize hundreds or thousands who have “made a decision to follow Christ” in one event?
For the benefit of other megachurches, Elevation Church has shared its “experience” with mass, spontaneous baptisms. Except that the baptisms are anything but, because they’re STAGED and engineered manipulation. From page 4 of their “Spontaneous Baptisms How-to Guide,” we read about one of the duties of the “Celebration Team”:
1. 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.
2. Move intentionally through the highest visibility areas and the longest walk.
Rev. David Key, Professor at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, has called these events a Disney show: “This church has obviously discovered what we in the industry call the ‘Disneyfication’ of religious services.”
This is not new. Charles Finney, another heretic, did these “new measures” more than 200 years ago.
Furtick spent three hours with the author of the article, trying to convince him not to publish this report because it was “unfair.” So in case the Spontaneous Baptism webpage disappears from the church’s website, we still have the image.
I have a few quick observations from the how-to guide:
- It doesn’t have a SINGLE Bible reference. Let me know if you find one. Not surprising for an extra-biblical spectacle.
- The operative word is “experience,” six out of eight times as “worship experience” and “baptism experience.” This is exactly what evangelicals look for today.
- “Spontaneous” is exactly the opposite of what the how-to guide is all about, because everything is STAGED and ENGINEERED.
- “Celebrate” (and “celebration”) is also the other operative word, nine occurrences. Worship and baptism are not means of grace, but a celebration event, devoid of doctrine, meaning and reverence. I’m sure that most of those thousands come out of these “celebrations” not knowing what the fuss was all about.
- I shudder at the thought of how the baptism is actually performed in 30-45 seconds: “Due to our prior experience, it takes us an average between 30-45 seconds to baptize each person. This includes entry into the baptistery, the announcement of their name, baptism and exit.”
- I also wonder who administer these “baptisms,” whether they are ordained pastors, or just whoever.
- Some things border on the hilarious, such as “Wet Changing Team” and Wet Changing Area.”
If you want to see how baptisms are administered at Pasig Covenant Reformed Church, here’s our Form for the Baptism of Adults. These are solemn events of applying the sign and seal of membership in God’s covenant of grace, without a “Media Team” of photographers and videographers “mining great stories” from those who have been manipulated.