Joshua Harris Steps Down From Sovereign Grace Ministries Board

July 14, 2011 in Sovereign Grace Ministries

From the Sovereign Grace Ministries website comes the following statement:

This past week we (the Sovereign Grace Board and Joshua Harris) came to the mutual decision that it would be best for Covenant Life Church and Sovereign Grace Ministries for Joshua to step down from his role as a board member.

While still committed to our shared theological foundation and partnership in Sovereign Grace Ministries, as well as a common desire to walk through this unique season in a God-glorifying way, this change seems wise in light of certain points of disagreement over how best to proceed. Joshua also faces a sizable responsibility of steering Covenant Life through this trial and stepping away from his board role allows him to focus entirely on that task.

What remains unchanged is our affection, respect, friendship and partnership within Sovereign Grace. Joshua’s work on the board for the last three years has been important and we still want him to be a source of counsel for the board. To that end, Joshua has graciously agreed to continue joining board meetings as requested.

We celebrate the fact that in our family of churches, unity in the gospel doesn’t mean unanimity on secondary matters. Ultimately we believe this change will better preserve our essential unity while allowing Joshua to focus his attention on leading Covenant Life and the Board to provide leadership for Sovereign Grace in a time of crisis.

Later, the SGM board added this statement:

A few minutes ago, we announced that Joshua Harris is resigning from the SGM board. If you’re wondering what that may represent, let me just make a couple of points.

First and primarily, as a board we still have a strong desire for Josh’s input, and all parties involved are eager to keep the partnership strong between SGM and CLC. Josh has graciously agreed to keep attending our board meetings as requested to give us counsel, and for that we are very grateful.

Second, Josh and the board agree on many things about our current season.

  • We are grateful for how C.J. has confessed to sins and leadership failures in this process and we agree that other accusations against him require further examination.
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  • We agree that giving C.J. his requested leave of absence is key to facilitating that examination.
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  • We agree there are other problems in Sovereign Grace Ministries that need attention.
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  • We agree there are people hurting over this situation for a number of reasons, and that we need to take that seriously.

But we disagree on some important matters too. For example, we disagree in our interpretation of this current season of ministry. Is God disciplining all of Sovereign Grace Ministries right now? Josh says yes, and we’re open to that conclusion. But before arriving at that conclusion we would want to walk through a process of evaluating all of SGM, which we have not done yet. It also became apparent that Josh and the board think differently on how best to help C.J. engage with an evaluation, and how the board should exercise leadership as that process unfolds. These differences in our thinking are important and it recently became clear that the other 10 board members and Josh are in a different place on these issues.

And that’s okay. Individual churches like Covenant Life have the flexibility to do things differently. We don’t force Covenant Life to adjust where they are at, nor does Covenant Life demand that we respond differently.

The disagreements remain, which explains why Josh could not sign the board statement that we released on Wednesday. Josh also wanted to be free to focus on leading Covenant Life Church through this season.

The important thing is that Josh and the board continue to affirm our ministry partnership together. Josh’s resignation from the board is not a grand statement about our future together. It’s not even an indication that we disagree on most things. We don’t. In fact Josh and the board agree on about 98% of things, especially on our shared mission we have been given to see churches planted and built in this country and around the world. We share this vision, even if we find disagreements elsewhere.

So that’s pretty much what is going on. If you have any questions or thoughts, please feel free to talk to your pastor or email Sovereign Grace Ministries. And please continue to pray for us during this time!

On behalf of the board,

Dave