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The Report From Ambassadors Of Reconciliation

Well, the AoR report is out.  You can view it here.

485 comments to The Report From Ambassadors Of Reconciliation

  • Frankly, I’m rather blown away at the level of scorn and disdain these guys have reserved for “the blogs” – particularly considering I emailed Mr. Kober early in the process and offered to HELP him but never received any sort of response.

    If they were so very offended by “the blogs,” why didn’t they ever make any effort to make things better? Why didn’t they at least express their disgust personally by responding to my emails? Why save it for the report? Isn’t that the very same kind of sinful communication (talking disdainfully and dismissively of “the blogs” without actually talking first to the bloggers) they are accusing us (me) of?

    :spin

  • Somewhereintime

    Nothing that we haven’t heard. Blogs singled out on page 4.

    Funny, my new church, which is quite large, doesn’t have survivor blogs written about it AOR!

    They exist and were created due to the sin of SGM leadership.

  • MagruderHighDays

    blogs blogs

  • MagruderHighDays

    1) In addition, people were actively writing on blogs with complaints against the SGM Board, AoR and the process.

    2) Contrary to false assumptions and complaints that were widely distributed through blogs and emails…

    3) However, one unusual aspect in this case was that the gossip and personal attacks began within hours of SGM Board announcing that it planned to use
    our organization. Usually, groups wait until we begin working with them before criticizing us and our work. The first evidence of this appeared on the blogs…

    4) False information was apparently posted on one of the blogs…

    5) Obviously, a number of people were misled by false information posted on the blogs…

    6) While some may have been influenced by the blogs..

    7) ..Was greatly exacerbated by those writing and reading blogs..

    8) During November 8-10, a number of people made appointments after reading some of the positive reports on the blogs…

    9) Blogs can provide a way for people suffering with similar hurts or problems to share them with others who can sympathize and at times provide helpful advice. Blogs have at times served as electronic support groups.

    10) Some bloggers claim that such media provide a way for the oppressed to speak out with power against unfair treatment by those who control communication and cause hurt to the multitudes.

    11) Nevertheless, the sinful effects of the blogging and judgmental….

    12) It appeared to us that many were vulnerable to easily believe anything written on a blog and then add their own condemning
    thoughts, whether or not the blogger’s identity was known

    13) However, blog support groups rarely have a professional leader who guides the group and helps them avoid sinful talk.

    14) the judgmental criticism we received from the blogs…

    15) One man in particular told us that he was hoping that SGM would be destroyed and cease to exist, and he was intent on writing what he could on
    blogs…

    16) One of the greatest factors that inflamed the conflicts and increased people’s wrath and clamor was the extensive use of sinful communication in talking on the blogs

    17) Unlike verbal gossip to one or two people, posting sinful talk on web sites or on blogs becomes a public venue, which has even more potential to destroy
    reputations, harm innocent people, and escalate further attacking.

    18) The Bible is full of admonition and teaching against sinful communication because of the natural tendency of human nature and the harmful effects of such talk. For example, leaders in meetings or those who sponsor blogs could remind people of things such as…

  • MagruderHighDays

    I was trying to Bold all the Blog words but Ted sure does mention the blogs around 20 times. Pretty negative attitude towards “the blogs”

  • Mr Stretch

    If it wasn’t for the blogs I highly doubt that AoR would have ever been called.

  • Isn’t the AOR report being released through a blog?

  • Dylan

    I wish I got paid to write this report. Just sweep everything important under the rug, and when something is too controversial just say it isn’t your “expertise”.

    Very much a PR move from SGM to have these people weigh in on anything.

  • Oneofthem

    You know, in a perfect world, we wouldn’t need a large disgruntled faction of bloggers to bring to light inconsistencies and problems within a church. The truth is that the blogs should not exist but they do because of the failings within SGM. This is where members and non-members can hear the truth, stay updated and seek justice. This AOR review is in direct response from the pressures of these blogs. Yes, there may be some misinformation and snarkiness, but for the most part these blogs are the best we have. While we who frequent the blogs can certainly examine our hearts for times when we have engaged in sinful conversations or jumped the gun about motives, the AOR board should at least acknowledge God’s grace in having the blogs at this time. If there is any reform, any progress made, it is in part from these blogs and the willingness for SGM to be obedient to God’s reproof through reports like AOR. For this we are wholeheartedly grateful to God.

  • Mr Stretch

    Kris, I would be honored that you were mentioned so often in the report. It means you are/have been making a difference.

  • katie

    “The irony to us was our impression that some were proud of their accomplishment in humility.
    They talked about it in such a way as to distinguish themselves from people outside their
    fellowship in that those in SGM were better at humility than others.”

    a ministry of narcissists…

  • Kris

    That is quite sad that you offered to help Mr. Kober and he never heard back. As you indicate AOR seems to practicing what they say shouldn’t happen. They should have at least gone to you in private and discuss their concerns vs. only posting them in their report.

    One thing I didn’t see the report mention was a distinction or talk about qualifications for leaders or consequences of sin, especially a leader’s sin. Sure it was sad that C.J. after his “confession” to CLC in 7/11 (which he later just about rescinded) should have been encouraged about forgiveness. On the other hand there are consequences to sin.

    AOR also failed to mention how Mahaney basically retracted his “confession.”

    The report left a lot to be desired IMO but really didn’t have high hopes either.

  • Based upon their report, I’d say that these guys are not really equipped to see SGM’s issues for what they are. They seem awfully quick to shoot the messenger down for what they perceive to be “sin” in the way the message is communicated…rather than just listen with open ears for truth in the message itself…

    And after reading the first half of their report, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say that AoR had been paid to critique and put in their place those who post on “the blogs.” They seem far more concerned about the sinfulness of those who have been hurt by SGM than the fact that an organization has managed to create a culture where those hurts can take place and fester without any recourse until “the blogs” came along.

  • SamMcGee

    I think a fundamental problem is AoR is in the business of reconciliation. But this isn’t primarily a reconciliation situation. It is a situation of spiritual abuse and abuse of authority.

    I only quickly glanced over the report but even in my brief review, I found many problems. Really, they are too many to mention and I don’t want to minimize all of them by only mentioning a couple here. Having said that:

    On page 24, they essentially conclude that all these problems happened years ago (they through out the number of 7 years) but that there has been improvement recently. This conclusion is erroneous and demonstratively so.

    They also spend a large portion of the report talking about things that happened after July 2011. To me, that is nothing but more misdirection towards how people reacted to the problems rather than the problems themselves. This is consistent with their focus on reconciliation I mentioned above rather than abuse.

    Without mentioning names, they take CLC to task for holding Family Meetings saying that this shouldn’t have been done in public. Again, from a personal reconciliation stand point, I get that but from an systemic abuse stand point, which this is, a public airing is absolutely appropriate and essential because it has to do with actions taken under a corporate umbrella.

    Other parts of the report sound like they could have been written by CJ. It makes we actually wonder if AoR submitted a draft to the SGM Board for comment and then made revisions. I would like to know if that was the case. If it wasn’t, then this report is even sadder than it looks.

    So much more could be said.

  • Defender

    I’ve just “skimmed” the report, (took about an hour.)

    Yes the blogs have taken a “hit” but I don’t see that as totally misplaced.
    I really don’t want to go back and re-read my every post here, but I’m sure there are things I’d wish I can take back.

    I broke into worship when I read at page 27 “Significant Factors; Lack of proclaiming forgiveness”

    As someone who was raised in the Lutheran Church, I find it appropriate that the Lutherans notice that proclaiming forgiveness is lacking in SGM.
    If I may quote Luther, “This is Most Certainly True!”

    I’ll be digging deeper in the report over the next few days, but at first read, I am thankful and hope that SGM doesn’t twist what they read and hear in this report.

    May God be glorified!

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Kris, I don’t think they grasp how hard it was for soem of us to see things, and feel like we were the only one, and struggle with wondering if we were just overly critical and unsubmissive. I don’t think they understand how much we want others to not feel so alone and to know that it wasn’t just them, hence the blogs.

    I am disappointed by their apparent failure to come down real hard on the shepherding movement errors. While they do speak about abuse of authority in some cases, I doubt they see this as a systemic repeat of 70s shepherding with the Ft Lauderdale 5 all over again- which it is. They didn’t seem to zero in on the priesthood of all believers and the legalism imposed from the top that we had to submit to that went far beyond elders leading in the church, but into homes and personal lives.

    They do point out areas where SGM has supposedly changed…..but what bothers us bloggers is that the changes happen with no admission that what they did last month was wrong and now we are doing it differently. Nothing is apologized for, the past history disappears.

    Well, may the Lord take all of us who want Him into a deeper relationship with Him. Maybe SGM will dry up, maybe God will pour out revival, but all we can do is pray and go on with our lives. As somebody who has known three sociopaths up close in my life, I know the total disconnect between how they can charm everybody in public and how they can turn relentlessly and viciously on their victims and/or competition in secret, and seem to get away with it all their life. But God is just and He will not be mocked. God is good.

  • Greg

    Kris

    While I realize the report is not everything we may have wanted, it is helpful. It did call out quite a few of SGM’s faults. It may be biased in it’s view of the blogs, but can I suggest that for your first reaction to be criticism would be missing what is beneficial in this case?

    One of the points of the report is that the tendency to criticize that wounded so many of us is being practiced in response. I thank God for this report, I would suggest that a Christ-like response would be for each of us to ask God how we may need to change in light of it’s findings before evaluating it’s deficiencies.

    I have my own opinion of what is lacking in the report, but that is not my first response. Rather I ask the Holy Spirit if I have harmed anyone or promted sinful attitudes by what I have written and I receive the grace of God to me more forgiving and gracious in my speach.

    The leadership is now accountable for what is in this report, but I trust God with that process.

  • Defender

    On “Sinful Communication”
    AoR says:

    “Those who truly want to love a person, including opportunities to restore gently (e.g., Galatians
    6:1; 2 Timothy 2:24-26), can find God-honoring ways to do so. Tearing people down publicly,
    speculating on others’ motives, and sarcastic and caustic talk are anything but loving and gentle.”

    I’ll be looking for scriptural passages to deal with leaders who have stopped up their ears from the cries of the afflicted….

    Oh! Look what I found!

    Titus 5:19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses.
    20 Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also may be fearful of sinning.

    My wife and I tried to respond “gently” on several occasions.

    For now, SGM, please forgive me for NOT LYING, but proclaiming the TRUTH in my report here, when my wife and I were lied to, and about, by yourselves.

    Also, AoR, I do forgive YOU for being just a little lopsided in your report…..

  • Christiana

    Kris #13, SamMcGee #14 :goodpost

  • BrokenHearted

    I seriously want to just curl up on my floor and cry.

    They are basically doing what SGM was doing for decades (and I really felt had been doing BETTER in lately…) – if you don’t have “biblical terms” and “right attitudes” then what you have to say is invalid.

    The man from AOR that I spoke with showed compassion and was very open about the fact that a LOT of people in SGM have been hurt…obviously these men who wrote the report do not share his giftings.

    I know that y’all told me over and over not to expect much from the report – and I didn’t expect SGM’s reactions to be super surprising, but I really DID expect the reports to be harder on SGM. Now I know why the men in leadership didn’t mind posting the report in it’s entirety.

    Off to cry….

  • Defender

    BrokenHearted,
    The Lord God, King of the Universe, hears your cries.

  • Freedom

    I took a quick read though of the report and it is pretty much what I expected – a joke.

    It had a few “SGM could do this better” ideas, which was to be expected. It also seemed to give a case for SGM to strengthen its grip on the churches, which I am sure ceej is just salivating over (considering his recent statements about not wanting dissenters in his organization).

    The report took a passive/aggressive approach to the blogs. The end point of all the writings about the blogs was that AoR thinks they are tabloid sites on the scale of the National Enquirer or Weekly World News. Yes, they talked about it being a a support group – that was right before they went in for the kill (see post # 4).

    The entire way Survivors and Refuge were dealt with in the report was a classic passive/aggressive approach. Those are also the only two blogs they identified in the report (the only two they said they know of). It was a way to dismiss the blogs and those who post as angry, bitter people. I am not at all surprised – SGM are the ones that funded the report. AoR is working on a contract from SGM. Of course it’s going to be SGM friendly. It’s no different that the GAO auditing their own trips to Las Vegas.

    Everything in the report about what SGM needs to be better is just “slight adjustments”. AoR’s judgement is impaired, they are serving the group that signed their contract.

  • Wow

    I just got to this statement and had to stop and say EXACTLY!

    “The irony to us was our impression that some were proud of their accomplishment in humility. They talked about it in such a way as to distinguish themselves from people outside their fellowship in that those in SGM were better at humility than others.”

    :word

  • 2confused

    Did anyone else notice the date on the first page?? Its dated April 10th! Didn’t SGM recieve this report before then?? If that is the case why is it dated 4/10?

  • Ellie

    The only thing that keeps running through my mind is “God will not be mocked, God will not be mocked”.

    “On the SOLID ROCK we stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

  • glad i am out

    One question raised here several months ago has been answered: Yes, AOR definitely was reading the blogs!

    A few things i highlighted when reading the report:

    1. SGM, apparently, was right, the blogs are most of the problem.

    2. Though they later said something to the contrary, they do seem to discount many of the reports from abused people due to how many years have passed – they seemed to go out of their way to say “but that was a long time ago.”

    3. Unlike SGM, aor does seem to understand the purpose of the Law, it’s to prepare us to hear and receive the good news, and by faith, through Grace, receive salvation… It does not save by itself, in fact it only condemns, if one lives by the law and does not keep it all, and it does not restore us – Grace does. Although i heard that at SGM once in a while, it was not actually lived out that way or modeled for us by leaders… The HUGE emphasis on indwelling sin in SGM seems to be the way they get people saved and then keep them yoked once they are saved… No good News about it… Which brings me to point 4.

    4. Aor’s report on sinful speech: They said they’d never seen anything like it and were shocked! Well, they don’t seem to understand that this has occurred because of the whole emphasis on indwelling sin, which has trickled down through the masses from the pulpit. The sin sniffing has caused more sin, in our speech and actions. No surprise there. That is what happens when grace is never taught or modeled, or otherwise demonstrated… And it has made us angry for being judged and disciplined and never w/ grace applied (which AOR correctly notes). They should not be shocked, and this should cause them to look back at the leadership and what is taught – they didn’t quite make that connection.

    5. They emphasized again and again the fact that they only talked to less than 1 half of 1 percent – well, so what? Maybe they should have made an effort to visit several more churches around the country and make themselves more accessible to the rest of the 28000 members… Their statistic that they present as so small and use to discount much of what they heard, should really be a percentage of just the members in the greater DC area.

  • Christiana

    Brokenhearted #21 —
    My heart aches for you! My first thought on reading the report was to feel so sad for all those who decided to be brave and talk to AoR in the hopes that it would do some good. The attitude in the report is exactly what SGM has dished out. I’m so sorry! God knows the truth about everything and he loves you so very much! Let him comfort you in your grief. I am praying for you and everyone else who shared. It makes me want to cry too just thinking about how you must feel.

  • BrokenHearted

    The Holy Spirit just reminded my heart that I don’t need to be afraid. HE is in control, and that is no less true now than it was yesterday or will be tomorrow!! Whatever else SGM taught me that was NOT true I know this – My God Is Sovereign!! My God Is Good!! MY GOD LOVES ME!!! And He will take care of me!! :)

  • Oneofthem

    Is it just me or do these AOR guys seem like a new breed of Christian pychologists? I just think of the fact that while they were conducting interviews with people expressing their pain, they were also taking notes on their body language. Is it that important that people had “clenched fists” or some raised their voices? Just because everyone doesn’t display the most gracious behavior in reconciliation,doesn’t mean that they are part of the problem. Hurt people act hurt and angry. If you were truly wronged by someone by no fault of yourself, how is it helpful to try to find ways in which the problem is your fault before sharing how you were offended?

  • ExClcer'sMom

    BrokenHearted, my first thought was , “Oh, please dont cry-let me hug you!”..Then, I thought..”Sometimes crying is just plain soothing-a release..and then I thought, ‘The disappointment you feel is a fraction of what God’s heart feels…
    Further thoughts, but I will not have the quiet time to read the report until later:
    It seems they are trying to mix generalizations along with personalization.
    -They did not respond to you, Kris (although I think they should have) because you were not ‘an individual’ injured by SGM, and they planned from the beginning to stand generally against the blogs..Using the thought of dealing with personal matters in a public forum is wrong.
    -On that thought, I think of the ‘divide and conquer’..As “a group’, our voices combined are louder, to be heard, and more powerful, to make a difference. Divide that, instead, into personal, individual stories, and the voices are quieter, but can have huge impact by personalization. I think History has proven that it often takes both to effect change. AoR seems to only want to acknowledge the personal (except, of course, with SGM)
    -The individuals within AoR were compassionate, of course! That is natural with most humans. But, were they the same people who wrote the report? I am thinking the whole thing is about as personal as a corporation. The 1st level managers may care, but “Corporate” makes their decisions not responding to the emotions or personal needs, but ‘the greater good’. So often we see examples of this in life..people genuinely cry with you, but are powerless, except in prayer, to actually DO anything.
    -They criticized ‘the blogs’ quick criticism of them, not even seeing that everyone was suspicious due to SGM, not AoR at all! That, I find disappointing. To truly empathize and understand, I would think another would have to recognize how that would be a natural response to hurt and distrust.
    Once again, we knew who paid them..it was not wrong to hope, it is not wrong to be disappointed..but I am certainly not surprised.
    I will try to read the report before I post again. I only posted from what I read here so far because it all sounds so ‘par for the course’, and many of you I do trust.
    All this really has me looking forward to that final day..It is gonna be way more interesting than the end of ANY other book I have ever read! (Even when I already basically know the ending!)

  • El Pastor

    # 29 One of them

    I too was struck by the detailed study of unholy body language and shrill voices. It is as though despite all the information they had, they never consulted any experts on spiritual abuse. The blogs are not a Sunday School class or a Ladies Tea. People are hurt…by their shepherds! Those they trusted most. Some are lost, some have renounced their faith, others are just crying out for justice. The blogs are inherently messy because of this. But AOR looked at everyone as typical Christians who needed a little mediation. So they were SHOCKED. How un-Lutheran!

    The expression of SHOCK at such ungodly attitudes shows how AOR was in deep over their heads. It seemed like they noticed that early on, and we assumed they would look deeper into this unusual situation. Study it, try to understand it. They didn’t. They stuck to their program, and interpreted everything according to their reconciliation paradigm.

    It is sad, but please, everyone be encouraged. I was hoping for more, too, but consider all that has happened in the last year. Mountains have moved (at least to Kentucky), and it’s not over yet. People are taking notice, and God is working.

  • KAZ

    I liked the report. They did have truths to say about all of us. Wether or not SGM trys change is another story altogether.
    I do have one gripe :evil:
    Near the bottom of page #5 they discuss the percentage of people actually reporting as less then one half of one percent of the total membership. I believe this percentage should have been calculated based on the number of people reporting and the number of SGM membership THAT ACTAULLY KNEW WHAT WAS GOING ON :roll:
    How many regular members knew that they had an opportunity to give a report of some kind to the AOR ?

  • A Kindred Spirit

    #28 & #30…I’m with you!

    I feel sorry for those who mustered up the courage to share.

  • Bridget

    ExClcer’s Mom –

    I had the same thoght about AoR being like a corporation and reporting up the ladder. As I was trying to reconcile what people on the blogs had said about their experiences with AoR staff in interviews being compassionate and understanding and what the report seems to say about the interviewees.
    I realized that the interviews would seem very different being read by a third party from a piece of paper with no emotions involved. The person compiling the report has no interaction with the offended party. This might be why scripture tells to “go” to your brother.

  • Bridget

    El Pastor @ 32 –

    Do you think the AoR people believe that the response from those they interviewed is wrong on the offended parties part and the offended are just not being Christ-like? Or does the AoR organization see these responses as a clue to the depth of hurt people have experienced by their shepherds? I wonder if the AoR organization even recognizes spiritual abuse as a legitimate priblem. If they don’t, then they wouldn’t understand any of the interviewee’s responses. I think it would have been better to be seen by someone in the medical profession. They would have seen more of the signs of abuse by the way interviewees shared their concerns and hurt.

  • JeffB

    I would not say that the report was a complete whitewash, but some things were definitely bothersome to me. One was the peevish attitude toward the blogs. Another was the mixed message about hurts that occurred a number of years ago: The length of time does not “invalidate” these hurts, but the implication is…get over it.

    Something that really annoyed me is in the following section (my remarks are in brackets]:

    “Lack of Proclaiming God’s Forgiveness

    In our August 24, 2011 Consultation Report, we observed that SGM appears to not have a practice of declaring God’s grace to one another when sin is confessed. Since that time, our observation has been confirmed over and again as we met with individual members, pastors,and SGM leaders.

    We saw evidence that C.J. Mahaney’s preaching and teaching does proclaim God’s grace. [How often? Once in every message? Every 5 messages? 10? And how much in comparison with mentioning sin? Very vague.] When he began to sense that some in SGM were over-emphasizing the Doctrine or Sin at the expense of extending God’s grace, he warned against such behavior and urged leaders to balance the addressing of sin with God’s grace. [Over what period of time did this happen? Within a few weeks? Months? Years? Decades?]

    Nevertheless, when Ed Keinath and Ted Kober taught how to proclaim God’s forgiveness in confession during the Getting to the Heart of Conflict at the Pastor’s Conference (November 8), a number of pastors expressed appreciation for the teaching and personal experience (in the exercises we provided) and explained that this was a new concept for them. Further, as we talked to individuals and proclaimed God’s forgiveness to them, they indicated that the way in which our team members did this was new to them.”

    So – despite CJ’s warning leaders of over-emphasizing sin at the expense of grace, “a number of pastors…explained that [proclaiming "God's forgiveness in confession"]…was a new concept for them.”

    Gosh, even Catholic priests know this “concept.” Obviously, the pastors didn’t listen very hard when CJ warned them, or else they were just too dumb to understand. It couldn’t possibly be that CJ didn’t do much of a job in warning them. Apparently the writers of this report didn’t see a contradiction here.

    And then there’s this:

    “As noted in our August Consultation Report, when C.J. Mahaney made his public confession at Covenant Life Church, no one took the opportunity to publicly declare to C.J. a message of hope based on Christ’s forgiveness. For example, someone could have said the following based on the Bible’s teachings: C.J., I have great news for you. God promises in his Holy Word: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9 ESV). The Apostle Paul also declares: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV). Having heard your confession of sin, and based on the promises of God, I remind you that
    God loves you and forgives you all your sins because of the atoning work of Jesus Christ. You are forgiven by God. Go in his peace, which transcends all understanding. In spite of his open confession, C.J. Mahaney was sent out without the comfort of God’s good
    news for him. Instead, many discussed the merits and weaknesses of C.J.’s confession and his other wrongs in a large group meeting.”

    First of all, there’s a rather sickening attempt to gain sympathy for CJ, particularly ironic since he later regretted his “confession.”

    Secondly, we see, once again, that, despite all of CJ’s no doubt diligent attempts to warn against over-emphasizing sin at the expense of grace, somehow the message didn’t get through. And poor CJ himself was punished because leaders and members were apparently too dense to heed his fervent warnings.

    Of course, his being “hoist on his own petard” is not a possibility.

  • Oswald

    Greg #18 — “One of the points of the report is that the tendency to criticize what wounded so many of us is being practiced in response. I thank God for this report, I would suggest that a Christ-like response would be for each of us to ask God how we may need to change in light of it’s findings before evaluating it’s deficiencies….I ask the Holy Spirit if I have harmed anyone or promoted sinful attitudes by what I have written and I receive the grace of God to me more forgiving and gracious in my speech.”
    Thanks, Greg. My thoughts exactly. God spoke to my heart through the report.

  • Eagle

    I usually hang out at TWW and IMonk. While scanning through the report a thought popped up in my mind. I wondered if there was a case of “religious espionage” where there was a pipeline into the other “Big Dogs” as you call them. Here’s why I say this….this report takes on a new light in my mind when you consider how the other T4G leaders have been building up Mahaney. It was almost like they knew in advance what he report was going to say. If they did…it makes one wonder…how partial was this process to begin with?

    Also does the report say anything about Mahaeney’s blackmail and extortion of Tomczak at all?

    Who I truly feel sorry for are those who shared. They are now marked, and on the record in some shape or form. If SGM really was interested in reconciliation why didn’t they just practice it?

  • El Pastor

    Bridget # 35

    My read is that they believe those interviewed were in the wrong for ungodly anger and bitterness. Since they are all about reconciliation, the bitter ones are the obstacles to the goal, and the SGM people, who were bowing and displaying their “humility”, were cooperative and therefore not really sinful. Injustice is not given any real weight in the report. It may be, as you point out in #34, the interviewers were genuinely sympathetic, but the final report, which is really very sketchy, does not reflect any real concern for how SGM beat people up spiritually.

    Personally, I thought AoR would catch on to how divergent SGM is from “normal Christianity” as Kris has pointed out over and over. They didn’t catch on, or, more likely, they simply chose not to go there.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    I am now very glad I did not participate with that process. I am sorry for those of you who have been so disappointed. I was reading, and I saw instances where I disagreed strongly with them, but then I thought, to what end? Now, more so then ever, I see a divide between “He who has ears to hear”, and ‘he who does not’. It appears to me that SGMSurvivors and SGM Refuge both have an important part to play in support and healing, and letting the truth be known. I could be wrong, but I honestly do not see any way of reconciliation. Our God is a God of Reconciliation, but He will never reconcile with evil..This is not arguments over doctrine or theology-this is about real people, with real instances of abuse, with real families and lives that are forever changed. It is only by God’s Grace that, despite the abuses within SGM that we have any hope of healing anyway. But, I dont think reconciliation is going to be any part of that. Kris, my thanks to you and Guy, as well as Jim at SGM Refuge, for ‘being there’, to be a place for healing, as well as a voice to be heard by all who has ears to hear. (And, to clarify, I am not meaning that in an ‘predestined’ way or another doctrine..I just think some people become so deceived or hard hearted they dont want to listen and recognize the truth. Yes, my hope would be that they one day will see, but I personally have no Faith for that.)

  • Bridget

    JeffB –

    From what I understand of that “confession” ar CLC, CJ shared his stuff and immediately left. (Can anyone confirm this?)

    Was there time for anyone to address him?

  • Rick

    My concern with the report is the sense of overt protection of the powerful (CJ and the rest of SGM leadership) rather than a coming along side those in vulnerable positions that have been wounded, the powerless. Sadness. There is no moral equivalence between what those in power wrongfully do and say and how those that have been abused by unbiblical authoritarianism respond. Sadness. True, biblical leadership would rush to repent for the past actions, no matter how long ago these occured.

  • Bridget

    El Pastor –

    Thank you for the response. I was hoping that AoR’s eyes had been opened to a reality. It does not appear so.

  • Persona

    I am not sure we can expect a much better outcome to a report that was funded by SGM, an obvious conflict of interest.

    SGM also stuffed the ballot box, in a way, by inviting a lot of Kool-Aid drinkers (from CLC) in to meet with the AoR to ‘balance’ their view of SGM.

    More significantly, Mr. Kober seems to have taken up an offense with CJ/SGM, against a few weblogs. I didn’t find it appropriate that blogs were mentioned at all in the document. And yet, there was much detailed commentary about blogs taking up a sizeable portion of the report. I wonder who requested that?

    And, though Mr. Kober apparently does not consider it biblical to mention specific faults or deficiencies of SGM leaders in a public way, he did not withhold some very specific criticism of SGM members, past and present. This, despite the fact that those members have absolutely no one else on earth, to speak on their behalf, about a group of men who have wielded immense, unchecked power over them, for more than 3 decades.

    This is why I do not feel the report is worth the ‘digital paper’ it was written on. And, this is also why blogs will likely never outgrow their usefulness. So, Mr. Kober has failed if he is thinking blogs will all shut-down after his public scolding.

    Since groups like T4G and the AoR shrink back from their God-given responsibilities, blogs will remain the single best means to document ongoing abuse by SGM leaders and continue to call for reform, in a very unhealthy league of churches.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    They seem awfully quick to shoot the messenger down for what they perceive to be “sin” in the way the message is communicated…rather than just listen with open ears for truth in the message itself…

    And after reading the first half of their report, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say that AoR had been paid to critique and put in their place those who post on “the blogs.” They seem far more concerned about the sinfulness of those who have been hurt by SGM than the fact that an organization has managed to create a culture where those hurts can take place and fester without any recourse until “the blogs” came along.

    Is there a “how to” book for pastors floating around somewhere out there by some “Gothard-type” author on how to handle situations like these? The consistency in response is amazing!

  • Sea Change

    :( I was hoping for more, like brokenhearted.
    Instead it is just more beating the wounded over the head for acting wounded and not being gentle in their reaction to abuse.

    So who did they expect to “absolve” CJ after his public confession? Nobody was bringing the accusations to him like their example of David confessing and then being forgiven. Nobody stood in front of him and said “you have done this specific thing”. He got to make his vague apology and then retract it later because he didn’t really mean it anyway. The petty and childish part of me sees aor rebuke the people for not being whatever they were supposed to be to CJ after his confession, and wants to yell “well he started it!!”. In a sane world, i dont think that such detailed confession as many people want from the leaders of sgm is really necessary. It’s just that it’s so hard to believe that anything resembling true repentance is coming out of them unless you hear exactly what it is they are sorry for.

    From my perspective it seemed like there was a lot of cj praise going on after the confession, about how humble and sacrificial he was. But maybe that was just me overblowing the number of applauding Facebook posts I saw after it was released.

    The sad thing is that i think the SGM system makes people feel like they are a little crazy and disoriented, like that there might be something wrong with ME for thinking that something is right when the leaders say it isn’t. So it’s tempting to read this report and feel that twilight zone confusion. Maybe it really IS just me after all?…

  • lily

    With what I’ve read here, looks like SGM is hardening its heart further, and simply bought off some para professionals to make them look good and those abused, as bad. That means there is a stronger probability for these problems in SGM to increase down the road, and if that happens, then, it will have become a recognizable cult, not normal Christianity. In the meantime, I appreciate the help I’ve experienced here, but agree with those posters who have been encouraging us to focus on Christ, and move forward with what He would teach us as individual believers and is calling us to in Him. I think most of what I’ve read in the last few months here and in other blogs has been fulfilling a calling from God. He really does care for and about wounded people, and He is just.

  • I’m puzzled, actually, over the amount of criticism the AoR report leveled at SGM’s critics, in particular for the critics’ sinfulness.

    I wonder if it occurred to the AoR guys that all the pro-SGM folks with whom they spoke had a vested interest in presenting themselves as über Christians…while a significant number of SGM’s critics no longer have such a compunction.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Persona, I so agree with you! The blogs should not have been mentioned, and if AoR was not going to speak to Kris, I dont think they should have considered the blogs at all! Did they really validate that their alleged threats actually came form bloggers? Not ALL people who have been injured are bloggers, and in any large group of people, it is not uncommon to get one or two irrational people statistically. Even Kris and Guy have been threatened, but they do to accuse everyone , or even most of the people in SGM to be violent!As a matter of fact, i do believe almost EVERY person that speaks of reconciliation practices will say to stay away from generalizations.
    The way they speak of the blogs would make me think badly, but that is really not the way it is.
    Look at these two ‘presentations':
    They pointed out that since SGM made them aware how “they were fully indoctrinated with the practice of Biblical peacemaking”, so they altered their half day seminar accordingly. (Although, does SGM practice their so-called indoctrination in peacemaking?)
    Yet, the way they describe what the bogs says is: People had “heard all of this stuff before” (a direct quote) and didn’t feel that they needed to hear it again.
    Is there really any difference in the statement, except the wording? Yet, both give entirely different perceptions.
    *sigh*