Thursday, February 27, 2014

Controversy. Part One.

I have lots of fears.
I fear stinkbugs, most of all... creepy little devils.
I fear the idea of people not liking me.
I fear never being able to go to Europe. 
But one of my biggest fears that I face and wrestle with everyday is this: 


Over all other things, nothing twists my insides more than controversy. I hate it and rarely take part in it except for times I feel it is necessary to voice my thoughts on whatever matter is being battled. And lately that has had to be done more than I wish.

Because there are just SO MANY controversies in this world that need to be looked at from a different perspective, I think it is only necessary to write my views on some of these topics over a series of posts. 

As I mentioned in a previous post, since I have been in college I have began attending Elevation Church in the Matthews location. There has been some serious battling between Christians and non-Christians alike over this church that I attend and I think this is a controversial topic that needs to be DROPPED. 

I go to Elevation to be with other believers to worship Christ. Why do you go to church?

When I came to school, I never wanted to actually get completely plugged in to a church when doing my visiting mainly for the fact that I have a home church that I know and love back in Statesville (Front Street Baptist Church). I only actually visited two churches in my area- a place called Redeemer and Elevation. And I have to say, after my first visit to Elevation, I was sold. 
Somehow and someway someone is bound to turn upside down the fact that I said "I was sold" after my first visit and once again put a negative light on the church and it's values. 
But to anyone who reads this, I just want to ask you to put away your opinions for a second and read this without wanting to defend your opinion. There is one thing that I will be defending in this post and that will be identified later on...
But here were my first impressions when visiting:
I was skeptical going in. I had listened to one of Pastor Steven's messages online before my first visit and at the time, it had really spoken to me in a positive way. Despite this, I knew that Elevation's way of "church" was a lot different than what I was used to. I went in with an open mind, though.

Elevation Matthews is located on a strip mall beside Ashley's Furniture store. When you first drive into the parking lot, you are welcomed by really REALLY nice people. I mean you're kind of bombarded with nice people who just want to love on you. Which can sometimes be intimidating, especially when you're new to this whole scene.

At first, I was turned off by what I beheld. There was EXTREME loud music coming from the Elevation building resonating across the parking lot of the entire strip mall. It sounded like a night club. You walk into the building and its very mod and hip and you ask yourself, "Is this a church?"

Me and the friend I was with that first visit sat near the front of the auditorium/sanctuary/whatever it should be called. The worship experience starts and I'm just like "...these people are cray." 
The music is bumping and the majority of the congregation are completely engaged with hands raised. My first point to pay attention to were the words of the songs, of course. I didn't know any of these songs because most of what Elevation plays is specifically written by Elevation staff. Paying attention to the words, it became evident on what the focus was:
Jesus saved us.
Jesus defeated the grave. 
Jesus is victorious.

With the message following the worship experience, I can only say that again, Jesus is what was being preached. As it always is, every. single. week.

Leaving the building with that loud music blasting even on the way out, I realized that the very thing that turned me off because I was used to my "church" ways could bring in people who visited that strip mall who could actually be afraid of "church" ways. That blasting music could potentially bring in people to hear the gospel. Maybe if some of us Christians would step out of the comfort zone of our perspective, we would be more accepting of the unusual. Maybe if we stopped worrying about ourselves and start worrying about people who need Jesus, we would see from their perspective.
Just a thought.

All judgements were thrown aside after I realized this.

I left my first visit with full intentions to come back, despite that it is a 30 minute drive from school. My reasoning was because I had went in skeptical and left feeling refreshed by being surrounded by people not afraid to worship God with everything they had in them. If anything, it just inspired me to be more passionate about my love for Jesus. Even after that first visit.

I don't plan on addressing every matter that has been thrown against this church because I feel as if that is only feeding the fire. No, I have something else to say which sadly may be a new thought for many.

I asked that those who read this would withhold defending their opinions. 
What I am here to do is to defend Christ.

"I thought I was reading this to hear out your opinion on Elevation?" you say.

I gave my information on Elevation. If you're to this point, you read it.
But I don't go to church to talk about church. 
I go to church to talk about Jesus.

To my brothers and sisters in Christ...

The controversy has to stop. 
Whether you are Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Catholic -- whatever, this has to STOP. 

I can scroll through my Facebook page and see people saying that Elevation is not a church and is a horrible addition to society and its expansion must be stopped. I also see people standing up for the church and addressing all of the follies that the media has tagged to Elevation's name. 
Is Elevation moral?
Is Paston Steven a bad man for having a big house built?
Are spontaneous baptisms totally planted and illegitimate? 

It quite frankly makes me angry to read these things. And it is not because I attend Elevation.

It is because the controversy is superseding Jesus. It is ultimately taking precedence over the Gospel.

In fact, what I see as I scroll through social media is people glorifying their own opinion rather than glorifying God. 

My heart literally aches as I see Christianity turn into this fight over doctrines and personal preference.

Heres the thing, I could care less about Pastor Steven in the grand spectrum of things.
Personally, I think he's a good man that some members of the congregation like a little too much. And those people who think Elevation is built from Steven Furtick rather than the graciousness of God need a good smack in the head to jog their spiritual mindfulness. And really, the entire population of Elevation is not tainted with that mindset. Just a few. 
Anyways, my point is that I go to worship among fellow Christians and to be refreshed in new perspectives of the Word. And I get that every time I go. 

Never ever ever are all of us going to agree on worship styles, church settings, ways of preaching, etc... Its just not going to happen. I could preach all day about how things like that should not matter but it will never NOT be a factor in people's opinion of their worship-place.

But for once, could we take the spotlight off of OURSELVES and put the spotlight back onto JESUS?

I can't say that I love every single thing about Elevation Church. But I can't say that about ANY place. We are ALL sinners with our own kinds of flaws and we fill that building to the brim with us sinners and we lay ourselves out in front of God looking for cleansing. There is no such thing as a "perfect church." And even when we get down to it, lets remember that a church is not a building. 

The church is all of us, brothers and sisters. 
And to bash each other because people go about things differently than you is what I call stupid.
Christ came to show the most extravagant kind of love.
How can we show love to the lost when we cannot even show love to those who worship our same God and Savior? 

I could go on and on about this but I'll end with this:

Forget about the media.
Forget about your opinion or your neighbor's opinion.
The next time someone brings up the controversy surrounding Elevation, change the subject.

Change the subject to Jesus.