Should Leaders Create Controversy?

“One of the things preventing many pastors from reaching their optimal level of impact is their fear of controversy.”

One of the greatest things preventing many pastors and churches from reaching their optimal level of impact is their fear of controversy.

Controversy over how they approach ministry compared to other churches.
Over an unpopular stance they take.
Over their dedication to the truth.

They’re so afraid of upsetting anyone, they compromise their message and the unique calling God has placed on them. They avoid criticism, which no one likes to receive. But they forfeit something far greater:

Influence. You can’t have influence if you are not willing to be controversial.

Just ask Jesus. People in Jesus’ day sharply differed on their opinions of Him. Wherever He went, people loved Him. And loved to hate Him. They flocked to Him to hear Him preach and see Him heal. But also to argue with Him and accuse Him of being the devil.

Jesus was controversial. And for that reason, I don’t think it’s a coincidence His message spread and made the impact it did. Nor is it a coincidence He went to the cross. They didn’t kill Jesus because He was nice and agreeable. They killed Him because He was a threat. He was different. He challenged the accepted system. And they hated Him for it.

If Jesus’ ministry was controversial, why do we expect ours should be any different? If people hated Jesus, what ever made us think everyone would be cheering us on?

If you want to be like Christ, expect controversy. If you’re faithful to what God has called you to do, you are going to be misunderstood. Criticized. Maybe even hated.

But don’t worry when people are criticizing you. Worry when they’re not criticizing you. Because at that point you’ve blended in too much to be worth noticing. Personally, I’d rather be misunderstood than ignored.

From Outreach Magazine  Call and Response Conference (Oct. 4–6)

You’ve got to become comfortable with controversy.
Controversy is a sign of progress. Controversy is a sign of impact.

And that makes it worth some of the baggage that might come along with it.

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Steven Furtick is the founder and lead pastor of Elevation Church. In just under seven years, Elevation Church grew to more than 12,000 people in weekly attendance, meeting at seven locations in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. Elevation has been named one of the fastest growing Churches in America by Outreach Magazine for each of the past six years.

Pastor Steven has been privileged to minister to a global audience, speaking at conferences and churches around the world, including Catalyst Conference, Hillsong Conference, and the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit. He is the author of the best selling book “Sun Stand Still” and the New York Times Best-Selling follow-up, “Greater.” Pastor Steven holds a Master of Divinity degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife Holly live in the Charlotte area with their two sons, Elijah and Graham, and daughter, Abbey.