Cool Pastor Steven Furtick Draws Fire for Fashion ~ Praxis Habitus - On Race Religion & Culture

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Cool Pastor Steven Furtick Draws Fire for Fashion

Steven Furtick, 28-year-old pastor of Elevation Church, is founder of one of Charlotte's newest megachurches and used to getting attention. After three years and over 4,000 attenders, Elevation is considered one of the fastest-growing evangelical churches in America. Now, his sense of style has been the source of some local comment.

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:

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.

(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...)

In the interview Furtick is both revealing and practical in covering:
Q: What piece of clothing can't you live without?
Q: Do you have any fashion role models?
Q: What fashion advice can you give to other ministers?
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."

(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


Shawn said...

I think you have fantastic style Gerardo. Don't sell yourself short!

Gerardo Marti said...

Thanks, Shawn. I'll wear my Rockports with pride.

Anonymous said...

Ya know, I think this is quite a crock. I can see where the author of this article is coming from, however, I bet she would be the same person to criticize Furtick if he were to wear something not "relevant." She most likely is coming at this piece from some sort of personal experience. Each of us need to examine our personal experiences before we post them as truth.

And, what's funnier, is Pastor Furtick probably saw her coming a mile away and doesn't care what she or anyone else thinks. Why should he when we draws 5000 on a weekend.

stephy said...

This was interesting. Thanks.