Sovereign Grace Ministries And Evangelism

September 22, 2010 in Sovereign Grace Ministries

Every once in awhile, someone will post a comment or write me an email that accuses us here at SGM Survivors of getting in the way of evangelism.

They’ll usually say something like this:

Kris, what if a non-Christian being evangelized by someone at a Sovereign Grace church finds this site?  Won’t that keep the person from finding Christ?  Aren’t you harming the cause of Christianity by talking about SGM’s issues?

These questions have both given me pause and caused me to chuckle.  Yes, of course I’d be concerned if this site could get in the way of evangelism.  But on the other hand, when SGMers say things like, “This blog could keep a non-Christian from getting saved,” such statements reveal quite a non-Reformed view of the salvation process.  After all, ever since C.J. Mahaney and his boys at SGM Corporate Headquarters decided about a dozen years ago to move their organization away from Arminianism and towards Calvinism, the prevailing wisdom taught to SGMers is that God is sovereign over the evangelism process, and that ultimately, nothing we might do can thwart His will.  In other words, SGM’s official position is supposed to be that we don’t choose Christ, He chooses us.  And obviously, no blog is going to get in Jesus’ way.

Yet SGMers exhibit a lot of angst that would belie what they really believe about this…and about the importance of their church organization in the evangelism process.

Still, I do believe that these folks raise legitimate questions.  Yesterday, a new commenter – “Mike” – joined us by posting the following:

Let me start by saying that I have not been “saved” but I am looking for something, who knows what that is. A very good friend of mine has patiently asked if I would like to attend church with him for about three years and I finally accepted a month ago. I have experienced no judgement or condemnation. The message I have heard is that acts alone will never make “good enough” for god. The pastor is a regular guy, I took him up on an offer to get coffee this week and he didnt flinch at my filthy mouth or cigarrette smoking. He shared what happened to him, and I shared what happened to me. I’ve never been big on church, and I googled sovereign grace just to read up on it and came across this. Just isn’t what I’ve seen. I had a freakin horrible experiance with the episcapalian church, but then again people have failed me again and again. Thats why I’m tryin to find god.

Ah.  What to say?

I have to confess that my first thought upon reading Mike’s comment was that it could be yet another hoax written by some enterprising SGMer trying to make people feel like telling the truth about their bad SGM experiences is somehow going to tarnish Jesus’ reputation.  After all, the vast majority of growth within SGM churches does NOT come from new converts to Christianity.  When new members are added to your “local” Sovereign Grace congregation, they almost always will have been Christians for years, and will be coming to SGM after leaving other churches.  With the exception, perhaps, of SGM churches that heavily emphasize their college ministries, it’s unusual for the newcomer to SGM to be a newcomer to the Christian faith. 

But even though “Mike’s” situation isn’t a common one within SGM, I think it’s important for us to address his concerns – as well as the concerns of SGMers who worry that warning others about the past and potential abuses of the Sovereign Grace organization could turn people off on Christianity altogether.

So, people, what do you have to say to Mike?