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Not Talking…But Talking About Talking

Yesterday, a reader posted the following in a comment:

Observation 1: Since the reinstatement announcement on 25 January, there have been *no* denominational updates over at Plant and Build blog.  We’re going on nearly a month.

Observation 2: In the same period, multiple SGM congregations across the country have been on the receiving end of unity-related and godly speech/slander/gossip-related sermons.

Earlier, when people had been discussing the recent barrage of “Don’t Talk” messages flowing out of SGM pulpits, I wrote this:

I haven’t had an opportunity to listen to any of the messages that have come down the pike about gossip, slander, and “passing along bad reports,” but I think it’s tremendously revealing that this particular topic is what some SGM pastors have chosen to focus on at this time.

I mean, if you consider the amazingly wonderful scope of the Bible, with its pretty much endless store of sermon fodder, and if you consider how the “Gossip & Slander” meme has already been so thoroughly beaten into the SGM culture, to where a significant cause of SGM’s present issues has actually been SGM’s code of silence, where nobody dared speak up, it seems pretty obvious that yet another teaching about “Gossip & Slander” is the very last thing your average SGMer needs.

Yes, godly speech is important.  Christians ought to be mindful about what they say.  They ought to make every effort to avoid mean-spirited conversations where the goal is to tear others down.

But in my experience, SGMers are already hyper-sensitive about this.  They have already been taught frequently about the pitfalls of “Gossip & Slander.”  They are very careful in their attempts to honor God, even to the point of trying to steer clear of “Gossip & Slander” according to SGM’s expanded definition, where “Gossip & Slander” no longer means what the Bible or the dictionary would tell us, but instead has come to mean, “Anything one might say that would show one is questioning one’s pastors.”

So, why hammer away on a well-worn subject yet again, when SGMers have already proven themselves to be almost paranoid about avoiding “Gossip & Slander”? Why not just crack open the Bible to some Psalm that celebrates God’s goodness…or focus on our identity as new creatures in Christ…or talk about the glories of the resurrection…or any of a thousand other topics that SGM pastors have tended to neglect over the past decades? Why revisit “Gossip & Slander” now?

(Especially since such messages would seem to be more topical in nature and not the sort of preaching that would be characterized as expository…which is the type of preaching SGM claims its pastors do?)

Sometimes SGM pastors are pathetically obvious, and to me, this is one of those times. Carting out the old “Gossip & Slander” chestnuts at this point in SGM’s history is a desperate attempt to do damage control by controlling the flow of information by controlling what people feel they can say to one another…and even what people can READ. These pastors ought to step back and realize how bad a choice this is. The church members who will listen to them unsuspiciously and eagerly imbibe their directives to not discuss church problems are the very same people who are already so drunk on the SGM Kool-Aid that the pastors have nothing to worry about with them anyway.

But those who have had their eyes opened even just a little bit almost can’t help but see how utterly self-serving yet another sermon about “Gossip & Slander” is…and what a desperate attempt it is to try and put the rain back into the storm clouds.

SGM pastors who are trotting out your “Gossip & Slander” sermons, you might want to rethink that idea. Honestly, I know this line has been mentioned many times here, to the point where it’s become something of a cliché, but you’re so obviously like the little man in Wizzard Of Oz, desperately trying to get people to “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”

Talking about SGM’s problems, and objecting to CJ’s reinstatement, and rising up and demanding that church leaders make themselves formally accountable to the people whom they supposedly serve – none of that is sinful. None of that is “Gossip & Slander.” It’s just a much-needed dose of honesty, a much-needed reality check, from other members of the Body of Christ. If SGM’s pastors don’t accept this honesty and respond correctly to the reality check, they are going to lose the very kingdoms they are trying so hard to preserve.

195 comments to Not Talking…But Talking About Talking

  • oldtimer

    These g&s messages are just another example of control tactics used by the leadership of SGM.

    Back in the day–we attended for 14 yrs–if I wanted to know anything about the members I just asked in the community or a relative who didn’t attend the church. Everyone in town knew what was going on in someone’s life except the people they went to church with.

    Anyone who considers themself a sheep in the pasture needs to know that they can get up on their own two feet before the Lord and become a child of God by hearing God for themselves and not relying on men to do it for them. (heard that from a prophet last week)

    Transparency, honesty and meekness do not run in the current SGM government.

  • Tom

    No anti-slander messages at my SGM church.

  • Tom

    Come to think of it, there hasn’t been a whole lot said about the situation, other than that the pastors are open to hearing the congregation’s concerns and questions. I also appreciate that they haven’t taken sides on the issue. The pastor’s daughter was actually the one that first pointed me here about 2 years ago, and she was reading with her father’s consent.

  • Tom –

    I don’t think anyone said that these sermons are happening at all SGM churches.

    But it’s still significant that the “Gossip & Slander” topic has come up as often as it has, in as many places as it has, in just the past month or so.

  • Somewhereinttime

    SGM is finally getting “smart” about their own speech … by not saying a word. Dave Harvey and company couldn’t fit a round peg in to a round hole so I think they finally started listening to people with brains and decided to cease all communication because every time they opened their mouths they stuck their foot in to it.

    And these are the guys that are going to lead SGM to the next level???

  • Tom,

    What is your church’s response to the reinstatement of CJ?

  • Muckraker

    From the former thread, thought this was important to carry over:

    PhillyInDC and Lynn asked about CLC’s apparently male only staff:

    PhillyInDC:

    I happened to be perusing their website and noticed that they removed all of the women from their staff page. At one point, they had listed (and pics) of the women who worked there, mostly as assistants and secretaries, but now it has been changed to an all boys club.

    Persona:

    As for photos of employed-females-who-sacrificially-serve-the church, I don’t know why they omit them. Have they ever had them on their website? I don’t remember any.
    But, I think having photos of the receptionists or secretaries helps callers put a face with a name. All I know is, it is a rare church that neglects to post the church secretary on their website. I know this because I’ve looked at quite a few church sites over the past few years.

    PhillyInDC:

    CovLife screenshot from July 20, 2011
    http://web.archive.org/web/20110720034149/http://www.covlife.org/about/staff

    Current link to their staff: http://www.covlife.org/about/staff

    They do have a female answering the phones. But to me, this looks, frankly, creepy. It does not look welcoming or inclusive to women members of CLC. Basically, it appears like some website for a Mosque!

    Any CLCers know the answer to this?? Did they fire/let go most of the 20+ females working there during the past few months??

  • SMP

    TOM,I am completely confused. Why do you pop in here to tell us only one sentence about your church? If you want to provide balance here so that we are all not so “one sided” about SGM,(by the way…this blog IS in pursuit of right ness with what is wrong with this SGM system.)you will need to do better then that! Your comment appears flippant and I am not sure it is helpful IF you don’t give us more information. You may think it is fine to say, “Nope, not my church” but in fact this blog has proven time and time again that no church is immune. Did Kris not address the fact that SGM churches for the most part have been saturated with the G&S teachings? Are you trying to say that your church is isolated from the gossip and slander teaching?
    (We call this, “do this or else instruction”) It would be helpful if you would QUALIFY your statement with the intention of serving the BROKEN members of this blog.

  • KL

    Regarding the female staff members’ photos being removed from the CLC website: there was a message just came out on the members’ blog that it is a temporary issue related to some incidents that apparently made some of the women feel unsafe. Message said they are working on a better long-term solution.

  • Golden

    Muckraker – Before you jump to conclusions, the removal of the ladies from the staff page is addressed on the member’s only blog. No conspiracy theory or boy’s only club issues going on.

  • I realize my opinion isn’t that significant…and might not reflect that of many readers…but at least on some levels, I don’t think the removal of female employees’ pictures is that big of a deal.

    We know that SGM churches are tightly complementarian, to the point where situations have arisen in which some congregations have gone to ridiculously legalistic lengths to avoid letting it appear that women have any voice at all in any situation. SGM’s complementarianism shouldn’t be much of a surprise to anyone…right?

    I also believe a great case can be made for the view that SGM’s sometimes-legalistic approach to complementarianism is not the source of SGM’s problems, but merely a symptom.

    Redesigning a church’s website to make the church appear as if it has no female staff members would (in my view) be just another sign of SGM’s concern for its image…a concern that the organization be perceived as strictly complementarian.

    While I suppose that there are some good questions about the wisdom of directing energy right now toward that area, when it’s clear that SGM has much larger problems than not seeming complementarian enough, I don’t know that having photos of the church secretaries and support staff would do a whole lot to make women feel more valued. Anyone who is part of an SGM church for any length of time will be VERY aware of the fact that men are in charge at church. Typically, people don’t stick around if they’re not OK with that.

    In one way, I actually think it’s great that an SGM church would seek to make its website line up better with its reality, rather than attempt to pretend that women have a voice in leadership.

  • RE comments #9 and #10…and my #11 –

    Good to know that every once in awhile, a seemingly trivial change really is trivial! :D

  • Tom

    Kris,

    I wasn’t insinuating that they were happening at all SGM churches, I was just letting you know that none have happened in my church.

    As for a response, there hasn’t been an official, or even unofficial response yet. There is a church meeting in the works that will address our relationship with SGM. It’s a challenge for us to have non-Sunday meetings, as we don’t own our building.

  • yentl

    I’ve been surprised nobody has commented here on this, but the women’s classes should definitely indicate a shift in direction for CLC. It’s not just laundry anymore.

    http://www.covlife.org/ministries/equipping_for_women/mini_courses

    Also, Tom – ignore the bullying. If your church is doing great, keep it off the blogs.

  • Tom,

    Thanks for the reply.

    I asked that question – about your church’s response to the reinstatement of CJ – because I have a theory that the churches that are not so excited about CJ’s reinstatement are the same ones that are not attempting to control people’s speech through the “Gossip & Slander” teachings. The “G&S” sermons seem to be coming out of places where pastors have proven themselves to be in lock-step with SGM Corporate.

  • yentl,

    “Bullying”????

    That’s pretty inflammatory language. If anything, I’d call people’s questions “challenging.”

    But you do bring to mind something I’ve found really puzzling, which is this: If an SGM church is “doing fine,” that would (in my thinking) mean that it is free from the authoritarian abuses that have been associated with SGM and CJ’s leadership of SGM. If such a church really does exist, why would that church want to continue its association with SGM? What possible benefit could there be for a healthy church to take on the brand identity and all the baggage that goes with CJ’s recent woes?

    What possible benefit could there be for such a church to keep a low profile (in your words, “…keep it off the blogs”) and remain in SGM’s good graces, if it is really so different from the rest and has none of SGM’s historical problems?

  • WaitingPatiently

    Wow. I was going to mention that our church had not had the G&S teachings either but then almost decided not to after SMP’s tirade of Tom. You know, not every “newbie” that comes to post here is anti-SGM Survivors. Please give a person a chance before you shout them out of here. And yes, I’ve been reading for 2+ years and I’ve seen others do it here before. I saw nothing snarky in Tom’s short response. He was merely answering a question.

    Anyway, I think Kris, your theory is at play in our SGM church.

  • It is also interesting that there has been no response back on Larry Tomczak’s statement about SGM finding C.J. “qualified.” I figured there wouldn’t be response. It was easier to ignore and stonewall than respond.

    http://larrytomczak.com/responce_sgm_tomczak.pdf

  • Perhaps it might be interesting for us to ponder this question:

    “What do ‘healthy’ SGM churches get out of maintaining their association with SGM, especially in light of SGM Corporate’s recent leadership decisions involving the blanket reinstatement/endorsement of CJ’s leadership?”

    I’m not asking this to be snarky or sarcastic…and certainly not “bullying” (ugh!). I’m asking because I find it genuinely puzzling, why a healthy church (one that thinks CJ ought to have been held more accountable than he has been) would want to be identified with those who are so grimly determined to overlook CJ’s issues.

  • Tom

    Kris,

    That’s a possibility. I don’t see that as being the case for my church though, they like CJ a lot. But they aren’t the controlling types.

    Please don’t think I am trying to brag. That isn’t my intention at all.

    yentl,

    Could you elaborate? I’m not sure I understand, and if having a girlfriend has taught me anything, it’s that I should never assume I understand anything.

    SMP,

    I’m sorry I didn’t explain myself. I felt like Kris’ post was saying this is what was happening in all SGM churches, I just wanted to point out that it wasn’t the case in mine. I reread what Kris wrote, and I see that I interpreted it wrong. You said I sounded flippant, I’m sorry, I didn’t intend for it to be that way. Maybe I’m too blunt.

  • SamMcGee

    I am sure many have seen this but soon after the panel report was released, a paper written by Nathan Sasser made the rounds. The panel report was released on Jan 25 and Nathan’s paper is dated Jan 27. It showed up on an at least one SGM Church blog on February 1. Here is the link:

    http://sovgracenc.org/2012/02/taming-the-tongue-in-an-age-of-twitter/

    Now, Nathan’s paper is 9 pages long so I am assuming he did not write it in between the time of the release of the report on the 25th and the 27th. And, in fact, the report was scheduled to be released on Friday the 27th so Nathan’s paper is actually dated with the same date as the original release date. They were to coincide.

    So their original plan was to release the panel report and on the same day, release a nine page treaties on gossip and slander.

    You couldn’t make this stuff up.

  • After reading Steve’s comment, I was struck by a thought.

    It suddenly seems obvious to me that SGM Corporate’s communication decisions have much more to do with a concern for how the organization is perceived in the eyes of SGM outsiders (specifically, the Reformed movers ‘n’ shakers) rather than a concern for those who are actually SGM members.

    The average SGMer who has any sort of handle on SGM’s issues – the questions raised in Brent’s documents, the Larry T debacle, CJ’s waffling repentance, and the SGM board’s panel findings and subsequent reinstatement/endorsement of CJ – that person is typically NOT satisfied with the idea that we should all just move along now. I think it’s safe to say that most SGMers believe that there’s a lot of unfinished business, especially in light of Larry T’s most recent letter.

    Yet SGM Corporate has chosen not to respond.

    I think that’s because they have carefully engineered their statements and actions for how those statements and actions appear to the outside world. Thus far, this strategy seems to be working pretty well for them. How many Reformed Big Dog bloggers reported (some with palpable glee) the SGM in-house panels’ findings…with nary a mention of how the AoR report hasn’t even been released yet? In the perceptions of the outside world, the in-house panels’ findings are totally blurred and indistinct from the AoR report (that hasn’t even been issued). I’m guessing that most of the RBDs would say that CJ (and by extension SGM) have already been given a clean bill of health.

    I think SGM Corporate wants to keep that perception going and minimize whatever impact the AoR report might have when it’s finally released in a month or so. If they were to respond to Larry T’s statement, that would alert the outside world to just what a kangaroo court their in-house panels were…and how very much the panels were limited, due to the wordsmithing and limited scope of the questions given to the panels to answer.

    SGM Corporate’s main concern right now is NOT for the actual members of its member churches. SGM Corporate’s main concern is for how the organization and CJ are perceived in the minds of the outside world that does not know the details. Responding to Larry T would bring fresh attention to many of the details that incriminate CJ. That’s the last thing SGM Corporate wants…even if it would be the honest thing, the thing that would actually serve SGM members.

  • WaitingPatiently

    I certainly can’t speak for all churches and maybe not even my own. I think some of them may be doing a wait and see (or wait and let all the shoes drop) before they start moving forward on making a decision. I think there is a segment of people that want to see it all go away and that there is nothing redeemable to SGM (it’s name, it’s churches, etc). I think there is segment of people that think it definitely needs a major overhaul but if anything can be redeemed, then let it be so. I think there is also a segment of people that think there is nothing wrong with SGM.

    Since it has been pointed out clearly that there is top heavy lean to SGM churches and again I can’t speak for all churches but some churches have a pastoral staff that are seeking a lot more input from the congregation than they ever have in the history of their church, then with a mix of congregation from the 3 different perspectives above, it’s not easy to just “pull out.” Oh man, that was a terrible run-on sentence. I’m not sure there is any one answer to your question Kris. And I think any answer would most like offend one or more of the groups mentioned above.

  • SamMcGee

    Kris, you said:

    In the perceptions of the outside world, the in-house panels’ findings are totally blurred and indistinct from the AoR report (that hasn’t even been issued).

    That’s true even in some SGM churches. Check out this from the February 5, 2012 Bulletin Announcements from Grace Community Church in Kingsville, MD announcing the release of the panel reports.

    2. Sovereign Grace Q & A Today… Ambassadors of Reconciliation has released the panel reports with the evaluation of the allegations against CJ Mahaney. These reports have been released on the Sovereign Grace website. We will have a Q & A today, after the service in the Spurgeon Room, to discuss these reports and any questions you may have.

    Source: http://www.gracecommunity.org/bulletin-announcements-02-05-12

  • Sam –

    Wow! I would understand confusion among SGM outsiders, but it seems like SGM pastors ought to be fully aware that the in-house panels’ reports were not connected in any way to the report that has not yet been released by the Ambassadors of Reconciliation.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    A theory- and only a theory- but the lab results will be known within a month or so:

    Harvey promised to put the entire AoR report online when it comes out in March.

    It would appear from blog posts that the victims who interviewed or wrote to AoR are in the multiple hundreds. AoR also reportedly asked excellent questions and showed great sympathy, even tears, to those who were wronged.

    AoR by reputation will be gracious and kind and speak carefully, but will also be truthful- and there are hundreds of sordid unresolved wrongs and unreconciled relationships. All the facts will be in the report. SGM paid for the report and it only belongs to SGM, not to anybody else like us lowly ex-or current-SGM members.

    So, how can SGM put the final report online and maintain their image in the eyes of the celebrity Big Dogs and the world? How can they put it online and not be forced to apologize and admit wrongs? Maybe step down? Lose control?

    They can’t. So, what can they do to wiggle out of Harvey’s promise to put it online?

    There is only one solution. Harp on gossip and slander now, so that when the report comes out Harvey and crew can sadly imform us that while they really did want to openly publish it, there are some things in it that refer to individuals (even if not by name, with enough details that somebody somewhere might guess who is being written about)….and so they have to keep it secret because publishing it would be- you guessed it- gossip and slander.

    I will be the first to admit to my cynical negativity, and my conjecture that sociopaths by nature are liars and we have some sociopathy operating at top levels. And maybe since Harvey said they’d put the entire AoR report online I should trust him and believe him. Maybe my theory is not worth the bandwidth it takes up and I’d be better off speculating that last night I saw Elvis on a UFO. Maybe my explanation for this sudden burst of sermons from the pulpits-that they do not want to gossip and slander as laying the groundwork for hiding the AoR report- is horse hockey.

    We will see. Hope I am wrong.

  • Roadwork

    Something I’ve been thinking about for awhile.

    I’m seeing a pattern with polity change occurring in the SGM franchises.

    And I think it comes out in the “A Way Forward” doc from the Crossway church in Canada:

    “The eldership has historically fallen short in the work of ‘equipping the saints’ for mutual ministry.”

    I find the word choice interesting: “Mutual” not “individual”.

    Eph 4:11-12 “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ…”

    It’s their job to equip the congregation, the saints, for the work of ministry. “Mutual” is out of context here. They refuse to relinquish control. In SGM, it must be a “partnership” – in other words, individual initiative is still not encouraged.

    “We will be broadening our eldership to involve ‘non-vocational’ or ‘lay’ elders to share the load of pastoring the flock. The men will come from the congregation, be known to the congregation, and be affirmed by the congregation.”

    Not “chosen” by the congregation, but “affirmed” by the congregation. The congregation is only allowed to confirm or ratify the “lay elders” that were chosen only by the paid pastors.

    Again, they refuse to relinquish control. What would you rather have – real elders chosen by the church (the representation of Christ’s body on earth) or “elders” chosen by men that have been appointed by other men?

    Faith does not coexist with control.

    “The team is increasingly passionate about establishing the Biblical role of deacon at Crossway. A Biblically qualified deaconate is necessary for developing, maintaining and flourishing ministry in the church.”

    A deacon in a SGM church? What? I haven’t heard them use the term deacon in 20 years! They just now find deacons “necessary”?

    Once again, I find SGM’s understanding of the bible lacking. They’ve had 2000 years of history and 30 years in business to figure it out and they still don’t get it.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    And, in fact, the report was scheduled to be released on Friday the 27th so Nathan’s paper is actually dated with the same date as the original release date. They were to coincide.

    So their original plan was to release the panel report and on the same day, release a nine page treaties on gossip and slander.

    You couldn’t make this stuff up.

    Sam- wow!!!! I saw this after I posted. Welcome to the laboratory! So, you think we are gonna see the AoR report???

  • Roadwork

    This bears repeating. From EMSoliDeoGloria 299 in the previous thread:

    My best definitions:

    Gossip is sharing personal, non-public information with an individual that does not have a need to know it for the good of the parties involved. Often the information is not confirmed as true.

    Slander is making false statements that are damaging to someone’s reputation.

    There is a significant difference between gossip and slander, though both are destructive. Gossip may be true of false. Slander is false. Gossip may be told without malice, and even with goodwill. Slander almost always carries the intent to damage and is known to be false.

    It is not slander to tell another person that Newt Gingrich has been married 3 times, although it might damaging to his reputation, because the information is both true and public.

    It is gossip to tell my friend that our mutual friend is 6 weeks pregnant, even though I have only good intent, because the information is both personal and non-public (assuming my friend did not specifically give me permission to share her good news with others).

    I hate gossip and slander. I am also deeply troubled that ministers of the gospel would misuse these terms in a way misleads the people of God and discourages them from taking an active role in calling leaders to accountability. The call to godly speech is entirely appropriate and biblically necessary. But with the inaccurate definitions, it is manipulative and provokes fear and suspicion of one another among God’s people.

    This is printed and posted here in my office.

  • SMP

    Tom,
    Thank you for your apology. All is forgiven. For those that felt I was bullying, Please, please forgive me. This is why after years of reading here I hardly post. Somebody is always going to mis interpret or in my case just say the wrong thing. I hope you all will consider the point I was trying to think through in an environment I trust.

  • Tom and SMP –

    Thank you both for your graciousness.

    This is why, most of the time, moderating this site is not a burden. It’s because the participants here are great!

  • Moniker

    Steve240 (#18)said “It is also interesting that there has been no response back on Larry Tomczak’s statement about SGM finding C.J. ‘qualified.’ I figured there wouldn’t be response. It was easier to ignore and stonewall than respond.”

    Exactly. I know that at a recent members’ meeting at Crossway, Mickey C. basically said that everything is hunky-dory with the Larry Tomczak case. Mickey mentioned that Larry “gave CJ an A+” for his humility in his (Larry’s) July 4th letter about their reconciliation that was posted on the SGM Plant & Build blog. But Mickey did not mention Larry & Doris Tomczak’s public response to the panel reports. Not at all. I think this was very deceitful.

  • 5years,

    I have the same questions, about SGM’s publication of the unedited AoR report.

  • Roadwork,

    Although reportedly, that Canadian SGM church’s new approach to governance is a radical departure from SGM Corporate’s ongoing condemnation of ANY sort of congregational voice in church leadership, I would agree with you that it’s still not THAT radical of a departure.

    As long as the pastors remain in control of the elder selection process, they still remain in control of everything. Not much will have changed in the end. Pastors are NOT going to choose men whom they have not carefully vetted to be elders. They will only pick those who they know will share their own views and represent them – NOT necessarily guys who would represent the congregation.

    That’s not really formal accountability to the congregation. It’s just adding more people to the pastoral team.

  • SamMcGee

    5Years,

    Let’s look at what SGM has already said about the AoR report due out in March. This is from the “Why Not Vote” document. I have highlighted a key part. Keep in mind as you read this, they are referring to people who have suffered significant harm under their leadership. In any event, this was released at the same time as the panel report and appears, at least to me, to be a preemptive move with regard to the AoR report that will be released in March. I think we will see all of it because I think SGM believes they have blunted its impact by characterizing it this way.

    One final thought: the AoR Group Reconciliation Report

    A few people have suggested that we delay the decision concerning C.J.’s reinstatement until AoR presents us with its report from the Group Reconciliation (GR) process.  We understand this impulse but feel that would also be inappropriate due to the distinct difference between the panel review process and the GR process.

    The panels were designed specifically to address the potential areas of disqualification stemming from Brent’s charges and leading to C.J.’s leave.  These panels could call anyand all witnesses they desired, and they produced a thorough and objective accounting of their findings.  AoR’s GR process was not designed to evaluate C.J.’s qualification for the presidency, and to use it that way would be inappropriate.  In the GR process, individuals with grievances from across SGM had the opportunity to weigh in on their experiences.  We certainly want to learn all that we can from this, but this was not designed to render a judgment on CJ, nor would it be effective in doing so—that is neither the intention nor design of this process.  These are simply interviews with a view  toward personal reconciliation; there is no cross‐examination, no hearing of witnesses,  no corroborating testimony, nor any other factor which is necessary to establish fact, allocate guilt, locate culpability, etc.  So it would be illegitimate to use the GR report as an instrument of adjudication or to extract from it an objective assessment of CJ and his  qualification to be president.

  • Muckraker

    KL @9 Thank you for that info. I’ll check out that message.

    Golden @10:

    Before you jump to conclusions, the removal of the ladies from the staff page is addressed on the member’s only blog. No conspiracy theory or boy’s only club issues going on.

    First of all, not jumping to conclusions here, I was asking questions–I was expressing concerns. It’s great CLC is presenting a reason of why this was done on the Members’ Only Blog, but you have to admit, what does it look like to anyone else from the “outside”? And I would say that CLC as a strictly Complementarian structured church IS a “boys’ only club” in regards to policy and decision-making, even for non-doctrinal issues, AND oddly enough, even for Women’s Ministry issues.

    Kris @11

    I don’t know that having photos of the church secretaries and support staff would do a whole lot to make women feel more valued. Anyone who is part of an SGM church for any length of time will be VERY aware of the fact that men are in charge at church. Typically, people don’t stick around if they’re not OK with that.
    In one way, I actually think it’s great that an SGM church would seek to make its website line up better with its reality, rather than attempt to pretend that women have a voice in leadership.

    Interesting thought.

  • Sam,

    You make some interesting connections in your #35.

    I wonder if the SGM board understands just how a true and honest reporting of all the individuals who have been harmed by SGM over the years would serve to disqualify all of them, to the point where their own reinstatement/requalification/endorsement of CJ would be meaningless.

    In the end, how meaningful is it anyway, that a group of guys with accountability issues and a love of unhealthy control believe that their leader shouldn’t be disqualified because of his accountability issues and his love of unhealthy control?

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Sam- Thanks. We will see. It could just be that they know the AoR report would raise many questions and instigate talk among the members, and they need to preempt that. Anybody who dares to even mention it will be labeled a gossip and slanderer. This helps instill enough fear of being kicked out to squelch members responding to the report.

    I don’t know, but I have to admit I’ll be surprised if they actually do publish it online.

  • Roadwork

    Kris:

    I think I first saw the same thing in one of the California churches a few months ago. It’s my opinion that this version of polity will be their new enlightenment and rolled out as their “proof” of change.

    “New and improved!” It’s the same old crap but wrapped it in a new shiny bag. It’s not about change, it’s about the marketing.

  • Lynn

    I didnt mean to make a big deal of the pictures being removed, it was was more of where did the women go. I was just curious. After posting my comment, I did think that maybe some women felt unsafe with their pics on the website.

    As for the AoR report, I think it will get posted because Dave said it would and I’m sure he doesnt want to look like they are covering anything up, please note my scarcasm. What I think will happen is:

    A) They release it in full.

    B) They dont release it and say it will be gossip and slander, as 5years said.

    C) They do release it, but tell the congregation if they think this is something they want to read to pray about it, making them feel guilt because they know the pastors don’t want them to. And tell those who do to remember they themselves are sinners too.

    Also, someone else said this in another post, but I’ll just paraphrase it. If people have not left their sgm church, I highly doubt that the reports would make them leave. It will be more or wait and see. The sgm board will take forever with that attitude. Even if you want to stay in your sgm church and want to wait and see. Wait and see at another church. You dont have to withdraw your membership, but just be like CJ, and say I feel better cared for in another church.

  • Uriah

    5yearsinPDI #26,
    I think you’re on to something…

  • SamMcGee

    Roadwork,

    You wrote in #27: A deacon in a SGM church? What? I haven’t heard them use the term deacon in 20 years! They just now find deacons “necessary”?

    There is actually more than one SGM church that currently refers to their care group leaders as “Deacons”. Here is one example but I think that cases like this are probably an over-site rather than intentional (by over-site, I mean that if they thought about it, they probably wouldn’t choose to actually use the word):

    http://www.sovereigngracepearland.org/community/care-groups/

    I always suspected that caregroup leaders were considered Deacons but, like a lot of things in SGM, there is a perpetual vagueness in the language. I mean, if they are Deacons, why not call them Deacons? It seems like there is always a need for wiggle room. Calling someone a Deacon, I mean officially, implies and requires a Biblical application. Calling someone a Care group leader doesn’t require anything.

  • Roadwork

    Sam:

    Thanks. SGM specializes in vagueness.

    I have been in 3 franchises over a 20 year period and don’t recall ever hearing them use the term “deacon”.

    So what real authority do these “deacons/caregroups leaders” exercise in a SGM church? (Insert sound of crickets chirping in background here.)

  • yentl

    Tom – If your church does not have the issues described on the blogs, and I believe you it doesn’t (I know quite a few churches that have none of these issues and they are laying low right now waiting for things with AorR to unfold), your pastors need the TIME to separate themselves from some of these scandalous situations and educate your congregation. They can’t just up and leave SGM when the congregation is oblivious to the issues. That would wreak havoc. They need to wait for the AorR report and let it inform the congregation of issues. Then, they need to gently respond how they philosophically differ from previous practice and how they would like to proceed. Those loyal to SGM need to see and understand why there should be change. If they know nothing about these issues and all of a sudden the church is in the spotlight, they will be angry. Those who are upset by things at SGM need to hear the pastors have heard their cries and are taking the church in a different direction. Both sides need educating.

    The personal information you gave about the pastor’s family subjects him to a firestorm and puts him in the crosshairs of SGM as well as his own congregation.

    Don’t drop the name of your church on here and throw it into the controversy when the congregation in uninformed. Let things unfold.

    All of the pastors of healthy churches will have to show their congregations that they waited for the evaluation before making a decision. Otherwise, there will be a church split. All they can do right now is lay low, teach the Bible and prepare for the storm.

    It is my hope the AorR report is so clear, that all parties will agree in the need for change and church bodies can stay intact.

  • His Name is Jesus

    I also find it very interesting that there is a number of SGM churches speaking on the whole gossip and slander thing. There is one church where the pastor is in a series on Genesis, and in a sermon that mentions chapters one through three, the title of the message is something to the effect of, “Words that give life and words that give death.”

    He spent a while on gossip and slander – now I could be wrong here- but I do not think that the point of Genesis one through three is about gossip and slander. Anyhow, just an observation to that end.

    SAMMCGEE #35

    As I read what you posted there, I couldn’t help but see once again the control that SGM has had through out this whole ordeal (by the way I hate the word process now). They were able to control the scope of what the panels would do, as well as the scope of what AoR would do. Everything that has been done has been done with their hand in it. And they have been able to turn the tables, making the real issues disappear by making everything else into problem (ie the blogs, the manner in how people have brought these issues to light, their “policies” etc.) rather than the true problems (lording, manipulating, control, abuse and that it is not just CJ but other members of the leadership team – which if I remember correctly – Brent said it was more than just about CJ).

    I realize this is pointing out the obvious, but man, this is so much worse than I initially thought.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Moniker,

    Don’t look for Mickey C. to ever be truthful about SGM.

    Deception, manipulation, and spin is his specialty.

    If SGM were the mafia, Mickey would be at the top of the list of “hit men” to get a job done.

  • StvMac

    At my former SGM church, KWCC, care group leaders have always (in my 8 years or so) been regularly referred to as deacons. The man in charge of children’s ministry was also “installed” as a deacon. Just how much and how often the pastors actually consulted the deacons before everything hit the fan is another matter. It was sporadic at best and more often to simply inform the deacons of pastoral decisions.

  • One thing that should be pointed out is that the concept of not giving an “evil report” and only saying good things about people was a concept that Bill Gothard introduced when sexual misconduct was coming to light in Gothard’s group. It was Gothard’s attempt to contain what had happened. Thus I would question what the motives were of anyone who is quick to point out that one shouldn’t pass on an “evil report.”

    If you read Veinot’s book “A Matther of Basic Principles” which exposes a lot of the problems with Bill Gothard and his seminars you will a lot of similarities with C.J. Mahaney including lack of accountability and intimidating those who question.

    There may be some valid points in suggesting one not spread “evil report” but just realize why they someone came up with this; it was to hide problems in their group. It sure seems like SGM is trying to do the same thing.

  • musicman

    Yentl-

    Not to be overly argumentative…but your insisting that there are quite a few healthy SGM churches seems to be a stretch. And your other insistence that people not drop their church name seems equally suspect.

    If your church is not abusive, then why would it matter to say, I got to such and such SGM church and we have none of these issues?

    Trying to control information flow is a red flag that your church is may not be healthy and has abusive practices…

  • musicman

    oh my…I need another cup of coffee. Let me try that again, but in proper English. :D

    Yentl-

    Not to be overly argumentative…but your insisting that there are quite a few healthy SGM churches seems to be a stretch. And your other insistence that people not drop their church name seems equally suspect.

    If your church is not abusive, then why would it matter to say, I go to such and such SGM church and we have none of these issues?

    Trying to control information flow is a red flag that your church may not be healthy and has abusive practices…