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According to the Charlotte Observer, Elevation Church is planning on an expansion that could cost around $30 million: Elevation, one of the country’s fastest-growing evangelical congregations, plans to build a $20 million facility in Ballantyne to house its administrative staff, along with a 1,500-seat sanctuary. Elevation also is considering two sites in Huntersville for a campus there. In all, the projects will cost more than $30 million. This month, Elevation hopes its new “Banner Years” campaign will raise the up-front money needed so the church can pay cash for the sites – $3.5 million for 20 acres off U.S. 521 in Ballantyne, and another $2.5 million for the Huntersville tract of its choice. “We are not building a church for our own benefit. We are designing a movement for the glory of God,” Pastor Steven Furtick said in announcing the campaign. “Which means we can’t stop or back down … We want to be available and ready to launch new Elevation locations anytime and anywhere God leads.” Elevation, a Southern Baptist congregation that is only 7 years old, already has seven Charlotte-area campuses plus an extension church in Toronto. In 2008-09, the congregation raised $4.6 million to build Elevation Matthews. Its 2010 “Kingdom Come” campaign funneled $5.1 million toward its Blakeney location. Church leaders say they have pre-approval for a loan to pay the estimated $25 million needed to build and equip the Ballantyne and Huntersville projects. Plans call for the work be completed by 2014. As of Saturday night, and a little more than a week into its “Banner Years” campaign, Elevation had already raised $5 million, most of which will go toward buying the land, spokeswoman Tonia Bendickson said. // Read more here…

Wow… Steven Furtick is getting some bad blog press from some of the watchdog blogs about publishing a resource kit for churches on how to host a ‘spontaneous baptism’. You see, Elevation Church baptized 2,158 over two weekends recently, giving people the opportunity to get baptized on the spot. And they’ve published a guide and learning piece showing what they needed to do behind the scenes to make this happen. Logistics, you might say. But one blogger finds the document proves that the goal was ‘clearly numbers, and an opportunity to create excitement, get people in the community talking, hence new people keep coming through the doors.’ Hogwash. It’s called being prepared for what God might do. Whether you agree with the whole ‘spontaneous’ baptism thing that many churches are doing (which I think is probably more biblical than announcing it a few weeks beforehand and asking people to mill it over as we do in most churches), the document is interesting… and it shows the amount of planning and leadership that it takes to be prepared. In our churches… there are few things that just happen.  Most everything takes a good measure of planning and leadership… even spontaneous baptisms. What’s YOUR take? Todd

Current Events
According to the Christian Post, Elevation Church is kicking off a 12-day “Holy Ghost, old-school revival” on Wednesday in hopes of seeing God move in a big way this new year. Craig Groeshel, Pastor T. D. Jakes, and Christine Caine are the speakers – for what it is calling the “Code Orange” Revival. Code Orange is meant to imply a heightened sense of urgency. The website states: “Probably the most fitting example that relates to our revival is the description for the Code Orange stage of a volcano: Exhibiting heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption, timeframe uncertain.” The hope for the revival is for it to be “an eruption of [God’s] power and movement among us in 2012,” according to Elevation. “The purpose of this revival isn’t to develop a bunch of lazy Christians where we can all get fat and happy off the Word of God but so that we can become what Ezekiel (Old Testament prophet) calls a ‘vast army’ or what the disciples experienced in Acts 2 when on the day of Pentecost 3,000 people were saved that day,” said Elevation Pastor Steven Furtick on Sunday. He noted that “even in a religious city like Charlotte there’s a lot of dead, dry religion” and what he wants God to do is “revive us, bring us to life in a brand new way.” More here from the Christian Post.

Steven Furtick says he is asked quite often how Elevation Church has been able to see so many people come to Christ in just five years.  Here’s his answer: Outside of the favor of God, I could give you a lot of specifics. Tell you a lot of things that we’ve done. But none of it will help you until you make a decision we made in the early days of our church. And that was the decision to be more focused on the people we’re trying to reach than on the people we’re trying to keep. To be fishers of men, not justkeepers of the aquarium. We’re not going to cater to the personal preferences of the few in our pursuit of the salvation of the many. And that includes if the few is ten people when we’re pursuing one hundred. Or 5,000 when we’re pursuing 10,000. Or 10,000 when we’re pursuing 20,000. Most people and churches aren’t willing to do that. They’re keepers of the aquarium. They say they want to reach people, but in reality they’re more focused on preservation than expansion. On keeping people rather than reaching them. They let saved people dictate style. Saved people dictate focus. Saved people dictate vision. What kind of church is yours? Do the SAVED dictate your style, focus and vision? If so… why?  Is it on purpose or just the way your church’s culture is? Read more of Steven’s thoughts here… Todd