The Charlotte Observer characterizes the pastor of Elevation: "Part spiritual athlete, part rock star preacher, Furtick is the talk these days in Charlotte religious circles." True enough. Now the talk has turned to his sense fashion.
Focus on Fashion
Last week in a quirky interview, the Observer decided to run a "style" question-and-answer piece focused on Furtick and his fashion sense. Here's a sample:
(On a personal note, I don't understand most of what Furtick is talking about. No one's asking me, but I wear Docker's and 501's from Kohl's. Anyways...)
Q: Do you wear designer clothing?
I like certain lines. I love Monarchy, mainly the shirts. I like Antik Denim jeans.
Q: Do you have a favorite brand of jeans?
I like Rock and Republic Jeans. We buy a lot of jeans from Jordano's. We also like to Shop at Saks Off Fifth at Concord Mills. I like to go to Pure Denim in South Park.
In the interview Furtick is both revealing and practical in covering:
Q: What piece of clothing can't you live without?I found that Furtick's wife Holly supplements her husband's interview by making one thing clear: "The preacher's wife is responsible for his look."
Q: Do you have any fashion role models?
Q: What fashion advice can you give to other ministers?
(See the interview and some pictures with Steven Furtick.)
Fashion Draws Fire
But that's not the end. What's interesting is that some readers apparently balked at church donations supporting the young pastor's wardrobe.
The columnist, Dannye Romine Powell, called them "a bunch of pious fuddy-duddies."
Powell makes the point that the hubbub is "more about culture than religion." And she's right. There's no surprise to most that styles of fashion have changed for pastors. As culture changes, style changes.
But more importantly clothing worn by leaders on the platform signals the culture and identity of the church. Whether pastors wear torn jeans, Hawaiian shirts, or some sort of liturgical vestments (I've seen them all and more), visitors draw cues about the priorities of the congregation.
In the fashion interview, Furtick says, "You will see a person with a piercing, and a person with a suit, and the person with the suit is probably a guest, and the person with the piercing is probably a staff member." Elevation is not a suit-and-tie church.
Savvy pastors are more aware of their public profiles -- just like any other person who is dependent on first impressions for their livelihood. They come to understand which markers are important and how they come to be defined by people. Identifying fashion trends and becoming intelligent on matters of personal style is an important source of credibility.
Even further, dressing "in style" among evangelicals like Furtick is another way of communicating the contemporary relevancy of religion. The message and morality of this Southern Baptist Church is still quite conservative, but the earnest attempt by church leaders like Furtick (and Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill and Erwin McManus at Mosaic and Phil & Holly Wagner at Oasis and Naeem Fazal at Mosaic Charlotte) is to translate this orientation in a way that navigates immersion in today's urban/suburban lifetstyle with a vital Christian commitment.
More on Elevation
- Charlotte Observer did a nice profile of Elevation Church in Charlotte back September '08 with an article titled "Cool Pastor, Hot Church."
- A few pictures give a glimpse of the pastor and the ambiance of the services.
- Pastor Furtick also keeps his own blog.