Steven Furtick is the Lead Pastor of Elevation Church. As head of Southern Baptist-associated, 25,000-member multisite campus with 17 locations, he is known for having the term “narcegesis” (narcissistic exegesis) named after him based on his inability to exegete scripture in a way that doesn’t make every story revolve around him, as well as his penchant for wearing outfits that cost more than most mortgages and buddying up to Trinity-Denier T.D Jakes.
Last year, he replaced Kenneth Copeland at the always-heretical TBN, filling the role of the Innkeeper Monsieur Thénardier from the musical Les Miserables (TBN being the Inn), with these “Masters of the house” doing whatever is the theological equivalent of “Charge ’em for the lice/Extra for the mice/Two percent for looking in the mirror twice” in his efforts to promote his brand of prosperity preaching.
He also recently said that ‘God is a Molecular Structure,’ laughed at the notion of ‘Twerking for the Lord?’, went on a Wild, Wild, Willllldd Rant about Betas and Blessings, went on another Rant About Angels that got Weird Quick and screamed ‘I Am God Almighty!’ in a sermon—all that while saying that God Doesn’t Make You into a New Creation.
Fast becoming one of the most prominent, well-known pastors in North America, positioning himself to possess the same level of prominence as the Franklin Graham’s or T.D Jakes of the world, many have forgotten some of the scandals he has been embroiled in, and none gives perhaps so clear a picture as the infamous’ coloring book’ The Code.
The Code coloring book was created by Ryan Hollingsworth in 2010. At the time, he was a 26-year-old graphic designer but would soon become the Creative Director at Elevation Church. This is where he has spent the last 15 years, now leading a ‘multi-disciplinary team of designers, videographers, social media managers, motion designers, audio engineers, and project managers to design all of Elevation Church’s print and media projects.
In 2010, he hired artist Whitney Cogar, an artist known as BadWhitney and later as Smashpansy, who was commissioned to create a series of drawings for the book. She did the illustrations for it, as per spec, and the church would later fill in the text, customizing and elaborating on her images.
The book was designed to serve as an easily digestible breakdown of “The Code, ” a set of 12 core values at Elevation Church, which they have since altered and given another name to. It was an internal project, not designed for outsiders or mass publication. Each page contained one of these values, with a bible verse and the message modified to be more kid-friendly and easily understood.
We Act in Audacious Faith – In order to dominate a city with the gospel of Jesus, we can’t think small. We will set impossible goals, take bold steps of faith and watch God move.
We Are a Generation of Honor – We freely give honor to those above us, beside us and under us because of the calling and potential God has placed inside of them.
We Lead the Way in Generosity – Our staff and church will go above and beyond to give sacrificially to the work of God in our city.
We Are United Under the Visionary – Elevation is built on the vision God gave Pastor Steven. We will aggressively defend our unity and his vision.
We Need Your Seat – We will not cater to personal preference in our mission to reach this city. We are more concerned with the people we are trying to reach than the people we are trying to keep.
We Think Inside the Box – We will embrace our limitations. They will inspire our greatest creativity and innovation.
We Dress for the Wedding – We will continually increase our capacity by structuring for where we want to go, not where we are. We will remain on the edge of our momentum by overreacting to harness strategic momentum initiatives.
We Are Ruth’s Chris, Not Golden Corral – Simplicity enables excellence. We place a disproportionate value on creating a worship experience that boldly celebrates Jesus and attracts people far from God.
We Are All About the Numbers – Tracking metrics measures effectiveness. We unapologetically set goals and measure progress through all available quantitative means.
We Eat the Fish and Leave the Bones – We will always maintain a posture of learning. We seek to learn from everyone and incorporate a variety of influences into our methodology.
We Are Known for What We Are For – We will speak vision and life over our people. We will lift up the salvation of Jesus rather than using our platform to condemn.
We Will Not Take This for Granted – What we are experiencing is not normal. This is the highest calling, and we will remain grateful for God’s hand of favor.
Faced with a host of negative criticism once the book was released and images of the book started to leak, Elevation changed the wording of the 4th point, taking it from “We are united under the visionary” to “We are united under one vision.” It was this page that caused the most commotion:
Other pages were more benign, but only because none ever leaked. They have been the discernment ministry’s holy grail, and a decade of emailing, calling, and perusing long-dead and archived links has yet to produce any results. We have contacted its creator, Ryan Hollingsworth, and artist, Whitney Cogar, but they declined to comment on the fabled project.
Here are some of our pages, bringing together all known images. You can see the initial draft and then the final result.
If anyone has any more images, please send them along. We’d love to restore and recreate this.
As for Elevation, there are no plans for another coloring book, as they would only leave them exposed. They haven’t changed in the last decade, only gotten bigger and bigger. At the same time, Steven Furtick gets further entrenched and emboldened in seeker-sensitive, prosperity preaching, self-help, moral therapeutic deistic affirmations. His sermons have no hard truths, only soft edges of the pursuits of dreams and visions for your best life.
Even now, they continue to unite under the visionary: sold out and bought into the unique vision that God gave their pastor. It’s heresy, but it’s theirs, and this coloring book will forever be a testament to the cult-like figure their leader has ascended to.