I recently had the opportunity to visit the Blakeney Campus of Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. Pastor Steven Furtick planted Elevation in February of 2006 and in just over five years, they have reached over 8,000 people in their weekly attendance, earning them multiple spots on Outreach Magazine’s “Fastest Growing Churches” list
First Impressions: Elevation Church, without a doubt, had the best first time visitor experience that I have ever encountered at a church. As I pulled onto the property, there were signs directing new visitors to turn on their hazard lights. As soon as I did, I was directed to a special section of parking in the front row. Walking into the building, I was greeted and handed a CD with music from the Elevation worship team, as well as a message from Pastor Steven. They even gave me an Elevation Church t-shirt just for visiting.
Atmosphere: The lobby was full of life. There were walls of flat screen displays that showed all sorts of information about the church. The worship center had stadium seating with blue LEDs everywhere to mark walkways. The room was dark, but the stage was anything but unlit. The stage had lights everywhere; LEDs, intelligence lights, and a backdrop that was an illuminated cargo net filled with lights. There was even a pre-service DJ playing as the countdown was shown on the screens.
Sermon: The week I attended was the last week of their “Summer Concert Series.” The guest speaker was Lysa Terkhurst, who is the best selling author of “Made to Crave” and founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries. The sermon was entitled “Reaction Determines Reach” and was taught out of 2 Chronicles 20.
Worship: Elevation Church has four different bands on each of their campuses, with the same set list on any given weekend. The band at the Blakeney campus consisted of three worship leaders, who lead without instruments, two electric guitars, bass, keys and drums. Let me tell you, it was loud! So loud in fact, that they offered ear plugs at the doors of the worship center.
Over the past few years, Elevation Worship has released a number of albums containing original music. A few of these contain songs that I love in my own personal worship, as well as some that I am excited to teach at my church. Their program was incredible from a technical standpoint, as well. There never seemed to be a break in the service, as each element seamlessly transitioned into the next. Their set that weekend was:
Go – Hillsong
God Be Praised – Elevation Worship
One Thing Remains – Brian Johnson
‘Tis So Sweet – Traditional hymn
Offering/Sermon Series Trailer
Kingdom Come – Elevation Worship
Their arrangement of Tis So Sweet was probably one of the best arrangements I have heard. They used this as a time of reflection, with passages of Scripture shown on the screens, and pastors and leaders praying with those in need. They ended the service with an original song that is an anthem of the church and definitely had me leaving quite pumped up!
Bottom Line: Elevation Church is definitely reaching a specific demographic in Charlotte and they are not afraid to say that Elevation is not for everybody. Their program was extremely well excited, their worship was loud and very well done, engaging the crowd from the front row to the back, and the message was rooted in and taught directly from scripture. If you are ever in the Charlotte, stop by Elevation Church as they are a great resource for modern worship teams.
Photos from Elevation Church: