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Here And There

The world of Sovereign Grace Ministries has seen some interesting developments over the past few weeks.

  • According to several sources, Covenant Life Church held a meeting and announced that the pastors are going to allow members to vote on the question of whether or not to leave the SGM organization – that the pastors have reached the point of wishing to part ways from SGM but are going to permit members to either affirm or reject their decision.  At this meeting, members were asked to keep the whole process confidential.
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  • The much-anticipated Polity Proposal was released in draft form.  This 81-page document, put together by a committee comprised of SGM pastors, is entitled Sovereign Grace Book Of Church Order Proposal.  You can download a copy here.
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  • Reading through this Book Of Church Order, it’s interesting to note that there doesn’t appear to be a job description that would fit C.J. Mahaney’s current role – which dovetails with something else that several people have shared with me, which is that there have been whispers and even an informal announcement or two that Mr. Mahaney will be stepping down from his position as president at some point in the near future.

For the most part, SGM continues to minimize the lawsuit brought against the organization and several of its pastors last month.  However, it sounds like more parties are going to be signing on as plaintiffs because of inappropriate pastoral counsel in situations of abuse, including spousal and child abuse.

EDITED TO ADD:  Shortly after this post was published yesterday, Sovereign Grace Ministries released the following updated statement:

Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) leadership has obtained a copy of the civil lawsuit filed Oct. 17 against SGM and several pastors from its associational churches. This complaint makes broad allegations that SGM pastors were negligent, resulting in errors and omissions in pastoral counseling and spiritual care, which was voluntarily sought and provided years ago to some families of child abuse victims.

The suit does not allege child abuse by any current or former pastor of SGM or any church associated with SGM. The suit does not allege child abuse by any employee or staff of SGM or any church associated with SGM. The suit does not allege any child abuse occurred on any SGM property or any church associated with SGM.

SGM leaders provided biblical and spiritual direction to those who requested this guidance. This care was sought confidentially, as is a right under the First Amendment. We are saddened that lawyers are now, in essence, seeking to violate those rights by asking judges and juries, years after such pastoral assistance was sought, to dictate what sort of biblical counsel they think should have been provided. SGM believes that allowing courts to second guess pastoral guidance would represent a blow to the First Amendment, that would hinder, not help, families seeking spiritual direction among other resources in dealing with the trauma related to any sin including child sexual abuse.

SGM is not in a position to comment on the specific allegations at this time, but upon review it appears the complaint contains a number of misleading allegations, as well as considerable mischaracterizations of intent.  Legal counsel is preparing responsive pleadings.

Child sexual abuse is reprehensible in any circumstance, and a violation of fundamental human dignity. We grieve deeply for any child who has been a victim of abuse. SGM encourages pastors from its associated churches to minister the love, grace, and healing of God to any who have suffered this horrific act.

SGM is committed to integrity and faithfulness in pastoral care, as are the pastors of local congregations. We take seriously the biblical commands to pursue the protection and well-being of all people – especially children, who are precious gifts given by the Lord and the most vulnerable among us. These biblical commands include fully respecting civil authority to help restrain evil and promote righteousness as Romans 13 instructs us. SGM also encourages the establishment of robust child protection policies and procedures based on best practices.

SGM churches are separately organized and constituted in their respective communities. They voluntarily partner together for certain aspects of their broader common mission: to plant churches, develop resources, train pastors and serve international ministries in order to proclaim the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We ask that you please join us in praying that God guides and leads all of us in these challenging circumstances, ministering his grace, comfort and peace to all who are affected by this situation, and that His truth would prevail.

Um, yeah.  That’s what the plaintiffs are working toward, too – that the truth would prevail.

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The topic of child abuse as it relates to SGM’s past parenting teachings is an interesting one.  SGM leaders’ standard defense is to maintain that anything they may have taught about the so-called secondary issues (like courtship, dating, and the use of the “rod” as the only truly biblical form of parental discipline) was simply misapplied or misunderstood, and that therefore, they bear no responsibility for the way things may have turned out in situations where their advice resulted in abuse.  At the recent Sovereign Grace Ministries Pastors Conference, Bob Kauflin spoke about this topic.  You can access audio for Mr. Kauflin’s teaching here.

Toward the end of discussions following the previous post here, there were several interesting exchanges about Mr. Kauflin’s talk and about what SGM churches have taught, particularly with respect to parenting.  Commenter “QE2″ had this to say, about her recollections on SGM’s parenting teachings:

Fairfax in the late 80′s/90′s had Benny and Sheree Phillips always teaching on parenting and holding parenting seminars.  The major part of their “method” was to spank.  Only it was called loving correction.

The goal was to spank your child through to repentance.  Somehow, you were to discern when they were repentant and then the spanks stopped.  If the child did not accept the rod, they got more rod.

They had all sorts of advice-don’t spank near open windows, interior bathrooms were good.  If shopping, go back to the van to spank.  You really spanked for anything short of perfection, which was everything.

Patsy Jacobs even had Keith carve out a bunch of rods and gave them out to all of the moms in a weekly short term moms group, with some scripture about discipline written on the handle in nice sharpie calligraphy.  This was because so many moms were breaking wooden spoons and admired Patsy’s, which was really thick.

They said to start at a early age to flick your baby on the thigh when they squirmed in the changing table to teach them to lie still.  I still remember all of the ladies, rods hanging out of their back pockets, with 1 year olds in their reclining strollers being walked back and forth in the lobby during the messages.  If the baby lifted their heads, the moms would say “head down”and deliver a swat so the child would learn to nap in the stroller on Sundays.  I always felt so guilty because I was not a good devoted mother like they were, because I didn’t do that.

Commenter “Unassimilated” had this to say:

In later years they added that you should teach your child to accept and receive spankings willingly, as an expression of Gods correction. Maybe this was always the case. So basically as a parent your child was to willingly present their hind quarters for spanking on demand, and with a happy heart.  This junk came from the pulpit, yet given the laws, they were always savvy enough to not record those sessions for later listening. We were supposed to say something like, “I’m doing this because God loves you, and I love you.  Corrections are a form of both our love for you, and our love & obedience for God.”  You made sure it hurt, and were to do your best to not seem angry when you did it.

The word ‘correction’ could bring a hush over any roomful of CLC kids.  But the pastors had no idea?

There was one parenting teaching, shortly after the new building opened up, where a Pastor mentioned that one needs to be careful ‘not to leave marks as the laws of Maryland, as we have learned, dont always agree with scripture.”   There were some in the audience that greeted this comment with chuckles, apparently I had missed the inside joke/situation that this comment was based on.

Bob is a liar, there is no other word for it, and they are all cowards.  His recent teaching on this seems like an attempt to create a narrative that could be used in court as a defense tactic.  “But your honor, we have gone on record as saying…..”  We have never taught that…” SGM is very adept in erasing/rewriting their history as it serves them.  I hope any Judge that comes across SGM sees right through it, and sees them for who they really are.  I hope their attorney is paying attention too.  I have no doubt that many sermons to come will be crafted to create a shiny example of what is acceptable and lawful in today’s world.

I thought this comment from “Stunned” was a logical response to the kind of dissembling we continue to get from SGM leaders whenever someone tries to hold them accountable for what they have taught:

Let me get this straight- these guys never taught brutal parenting, yet somehow tens of thousands of people, across the country, ALL just happened to simultaneously misunderstand SGM. For thirty years straight?

Yeah, that is likely…..

Anyone else seeing a trend among the current leaders at the top of the Sovgramin.org pyramid? “It’s not my fault. It must be yours!”

249 comments to Here And There

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  1. Muckraker
    November 19th, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    **”typical operational expenditures” meaning shouldn’t that ALREADY be covered by the normal day-to-day budget of their non-profit? Don’t they already get paid for their time? How can they in one sentence say

    Every dollar donated to the Haiti Disaster Relief Fund is being set aside to help churches and ministries in Haiti who were affected by the earthquake, and every dollar is being accounted for to make sure this happens.

    and in another say they are withholding $25K for “contingencies” WHAT CONTINGENCIES???

  2. Jenn Grover
    November 19th, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    Muckracker – maybe there are perfectly legitimate explanations for the $25,000, if there are, they should have no problems providing explanations.

  3. Persona
    November 19th, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    All I can say is whenever SGM announces they are ‘activating their crisis relief fund” hold onto your wallets.

    We did not contribute to the Haitian fund although we did contribute to Katrina. I hope the money went somewhere other than the bank.

    This time, I could see right away that they were merely activating a big vacuum cleaner to gather money to replenish their empty coffers.

    In truth, CJ has a history of giving large gifts to RBd’s, not the poor.

  4. Oswald
    November 19th, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    Muckraker #200 — I noticed that the title at the link you posted uses the words ‘final update’. Do you think this mean that they have nothing more to say about the matter? That’s how I take it. This sure makes me shy away from any future giving.

  5. Oswald
    November 19th, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    Giving to a special fund appeals to our pride; ‘maybe someone will notice how big a gift I’m giving’, etc. I’m sure they know this, and go for it.

  6. Persona
    November 20th, 2012 at 9:57 am

    Os 205 They also play the ‘pity card’ knowing American suffering from a communal sense of guilt for our wealth. The problem is not every penny goes to help the targeted people group and yet they give the impression it will.

  7. Critical Mass
    November 20th, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Muckraker #200

    Thanks for bringing that blog post to my attention. I took a look at all their posts on Haiti. First, my apology to SGM for saying $400K was raised. Maybe I was thinking of the number raised for Burma years ago. Anyway, almost $305K was raised. After reading the posts I was reminded that this Haiti example is a good case study in how SGM communicates. It’s funny how one interprets a post when you have a lot of trust in an organization. Now that I’m more skeptical and read what they send more carefully I walk away with a different view and in this case have questions.

    What’s important is the timeline, which they really don’t provide clearly. We have a situation where almost 300,000 are killed, 300,000 are injured and a million left homeless in early January 2010. I can’t remember exactly when SGM makes an appeal for funds but it was probably soon after. If you’re like me, when a natural disaster of this magnitude hits and I want to help, I’m thinking immediate help = asap. SGM seems to have a different definition for “immediate.” They never said they had a short-term plan and a long-term plan when they took the offering, which makes me think that they really didn’t know what they got themselves into, and struggled on how to distribute the funds.

    The very first update was in October 2010 where they report that they gave $90K to relief efforts. Well, when exactly was the $90K distributed? As late as September? Who knows if it was really distributed immediately to relieve the suffering started nine months earlier. Over the next few days there are two more posts on Haiti. Post 2 is the “short-term” plan and post 3 is the “long-term” plan. So at the end of 2010, one year later $215K is sitting in a bank and we’re then informed there’s a long-term plan. I can understand the scramble to put together three posts in the span of a week that shows a “plan.” Okay, let’s see how this plan is executed after showing us all the pretty graphs.

    Fast-forward to the post you refer to in April 2012 – 18 months later and what do we learn? They say that as of December 2011, they had $205K left in the fund. If I understand this correctly, this means that they spent only $10,000 in all of 2011. Their apparent explanation is that they have a long-term plan. Please, someone correct me if I’m wrong. I want to be wrong. Maybe it’s me, but I wonder if they’re like deer in the headlights without a plan, so what is their solution? They hand $180K off to the church in the Dominican Republic and talk about investing in the future. And they say in this April 2012 post that this is the final update. They should have titled the post, “We punted the ball to the guys in the Dominican Republic when we realized we didn’t know what to do.”

    Now, why am I harping on this? Yes, I’m not happy with how they managed this program. I’ll be generous and give them a D. Not great leadership. But I’m not upset about the money. I’m glad the church in the Dominican Republic has the balance. Finally, something will be done. What irks me is that SGM leadership just can’t seem to admit to its mistakes unless they are in a situation where they are up to their necks in verifiable proof. Where’s all this humility they preach about? I believe that to them admitting to mistakes equates to poor leadership. This is the only explanation I can come up with on why they bob and weave their way through all the mess they’ve created. Can’t they admit that the reason why a bomb went off is because they built the bomb in the first place? It’s not just because Brent Detwiler and others lit the fuse. And so they carefully craft their explanations to avoid any appearance of wrongdoing or any mistakes made. They think they’re being led by a brilliant, masterful strategist through all this. There’s only one problem. The flock is smarter than they give them credit for and when the leadership of SGM believes they are the smartest guys in the room they really don’t see the reality of their behavior and that we can see it.

  8. Argus
    November 20th, 2012 at 11:44 am

    Critical Mass #207 — Add in to the timeline the information that no movement happened with the Haiti fund for a long time UNTIL someone here tracked down SGM financials (typically vague though the report was)and blew the whistle on the Haiti funds sitting unspent and earning interest in SGM coffers. Shortly after that, SGM reported that they had been looking and had finally found an organization that would do more good than harm with the funds.

    In other words, the public exposure here made them act. This has happened many times that something will be made known on the blogs first, and then SGM deals with it and acts like that was their plan all along, like they were always on top of things, no problems.

    Yeah, so Haiti was a roaring disaster, people were dead and dying, SGM members gave money for relief of desperate life-or-death needs, but the bulk of the money sat for over a year while SGM supposedly looked for someone worthy to partner with. And, when SGM help for Haiti did finally arrive, it did so as a church-planting effort from the Dominican Republic?

    Even their humanitarian aid is more about them than about those in need. Do they just have an abhorrent fear and disdain for the poor and needy?

    The world did a better job in response to Haiti than the SGM church did. What a disgrace and a laughingstock these ‘Christian leaders’ are.

  9. Sgmnation
    November 20th, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Critical Mass – I think you make some great points! It raises questions if SGM is competent to administer such relief funds both from a directed giving and timeliness standpoint. Even giving to church in Dominican Republic isn’t satisfactory to me as a donor – there is no detail on how it reached Haitians in need – how did it benefit the intended needy. Also it took way to long to get there.

  10. Persona
    November 20th, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    I heard the ambassador from Haiti on the radio shortly after the disaster, as the country dealt with widespread medical emergencies and the threat of plague. They had no electricity and much clean-up and rebuilding ahead of them.

    The ambassador said relief help from outside rarely hit the nail on the head as far as what exactly was needed there. People typically came in with the help they thought was needed but, it wasn’t usually accurate. What she said was needed was a way to help the the Haitians help themselves and of course, you need to ask them first.

    The SGM team (Greg Somerville, Claude Allen, etc.) arrived and presented CJ’s proposal for planting a Haitian church. The people made it clear that they didn’t want that; they already had plenty of churches. Oh.

    SGM essentially whispered, “Well, I guess we can’t help you”. So, SGM was left with a lot of donations…with no way to do what THEY wanted to do. I guess it took them a few months and some goading from the blogs, to find recipients in the Dominican Republic, who wanted some money to extend their mission over the border. (This action, likely had the desired effect of gaining CJ, Dave and Jeff regular invites to speak at the Dominican Republic, “Por Su Casa” conferences every year since then).

    But, as far as I know there has been no recent update on whether the people there were able to build a facility or hire staff, or even whether or not the Haitians welcomed them there.
    I think historically, the two countries have not gotten along well.

    We had a friend who was a missionary in Haiti in the 80′s, but she had to hide the fact, as she provided home ec training to locals. The government at the time, did not welcome Christian organizations. And, I’m not at all sure they welcome them now. The SGM video guarded the identity of the Haitian pastor in their video and that might be the reason.

    So, my question is, did CJ ‘activate the crisis relied fund’ before or after he discovered that Christian organizations were not very welcome in Haiti?

  11. Muckraker
    November 20th, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Oswald #204 my impression too…”This is our FINAL update, now shut up!!” :(

    CM #207 Thanks for trekking through all of that. It belies the fund title of “Disaster Relief” if it is dispersed years later!

    Sgmnation #209 My thoughts exactly. Giving a large portion to a church in a neighboring country doesn’t fly as disaster relief!! Is it going to be used for expanding the SGM franchise instead? This should definitely NOT be the “final” word from SGM. And like Critical Mass, now when I read/hear SGM’s words/blog posts etc., I hear what appears to me to be so much duplicitous “talking out of both sides of the mouth”. So grievous!

  12. Muckraker
    November 20th, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Thanks Persona for the background. We were posting at the same time apparently.

    I guess I don’t understand WHY in such a horrible disaster can’t Christians give money straight up for food, shelter, medical supplies? Did the good Samaritan in the NT stop helping the bloodied man on the side of the road and say: “Wait here, until I build an appropriate ministry with all the trappings of the clearly expressed Gospel, and then and only then, after you listen to me, I’ll take you to get your wounds washed?” I know SGM has always rejected the “Social Gospel” and I understand that as Christians we have the responsibility to proclaim clearly the Good News, but come on, give something to the destitute w/o strings attached in a major crisis!

  13. Critical Mass
    November 20th, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Argus #208

    I agree with you. It’s only after some pressure to be accountable do they seem to respond.

    Persona #210

    SGM had success with the Burma Disaster Relief fund because there was a highly effective ministry in Burma who had a plan. I suspect the Sandy Relief funds will go to good use because they have SGM churches in NJ who will figure it out on how best to give there (at least we can hope). Haiti, I believe, is the number one money pit in the world. No country has received more humanitarian support than Haiti and yet it remains one of the most impoverished nations in the world. All the more reason why I believe SGM should have paused and thought this through before asking for our money since they did not have any relationship with anyone in Haiti. Dah.

    From their final update earlier this year they write, “While we wish we could have distributed the funds earlier, we were advised to proceed slowly and carefully because of the significant turmoil there after the earthquake.” I’ll bet you a million dollars that this advice was given, not before the offering was taken, but after they realized they were way over their heads in how they would actually distribute the funds there without $$ ending up in the money pit. Convenient excuse.

    Personally, the believe-the-best part of me believes SGM had good intentions, especially when so many of us wanted to help by donating. I still believe this, but the SGM-is-not-all-that-trustworthy part of me believes that they also saw a video mission presentation gold mine opportunity. The Burma video was a feel good video and videos like this really help open up the wallets during the mission presentation Sundays.

    Again, my beef is that they should have been honest in making an error in judgment and gotten back to us with Plan B, something like, “Folks, we now realize that we are not in the best position to administrate these funds. Here’s a list of five Christian ministries who are experienced and have a great track record in working in Haiti. We’re giving the money to them with our blessings.” No, instead, we get details in such a way as to blur how ineffective they’ve been and instead of admitting it they try to come across like they’re doing a good job. I find this not only disingenuous but offensive. SGM -please practice what you’ve been preaching to us for decades. Please try to walk in integrity and start communicating openly and honestly.

    I can only imagine what would happen to their marriages if they tried to communicate to their spouses this way. If I’d tried this on my spouse I’d get a loving slap upside the head.

    SGMnation – I’m a big fan. Keep up the good work on your insightful opinion/position posts.

  14. Persona
    November 20th, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    I expect we will hear about some generous giving project to the poor, in a future sovgracemin blogs, a la Ricky Alcantar’s timely post on doing inner city ventures.

    I try real hard to believe-the-best but, sovgracemin gives me little reason to do so as they continue to mask and obfuscate their true intentions.

  15. Critical Mass
    November 20th, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Persona, LOL. Yeah, they’ve gotten pretty proactive. Good SEO move to be putting out, what, two posts a day? I guess, gone are the days where a super minority control, or should I say, write the content. I do miss the excellent communications staff they used to have. Mike B. needs to use spell and grammar check. The number of typos make me wince.

  16. Stunned
    November 20th, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    sovgracemin.org

    you mean these guys worry about SEO and not the gospel? I don’t believe it.

    that said,
    sovgracemin.org
    sovgracemin.org
    sovgracemin.org
    sovgracemin.org
    sovgracemin.org
    sovgracemin.org
    sovgracemin.org

    and last but not least

    sovgracemin.org

  17. Oswald
    November 20th, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    To give to an organization that really helps and it’s a Christian organization, as well; the Mennonite Disaster Service. Google it to read more. It’s based out of Lancaster, Pa.

  18. Muckraker
    November 20th, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    Stunned #216

    sovgracemin.org
    you mean these guys worry about SEO and not the gospel? I don’t believe it.
    that said,
    sovgracemin.org
    sovgracemin.org
    sovgracemin.org
    sovgracemin.org
    sovgracemin.org
    sovgracemin.org
    sovgracemin.org
    and last but not least
    sovgracemin.org

    Such a meaningful quote, I just needed to repost it! ;)

  19. lily
    November 20th, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    So, I’m a little confused. Did SGM give 10,000 or $90,000 to Haiti? I have to wonder if this was kept in the bank so long, not only for possible cash flow needs, since things were already going awry by then, but also for the interest rate the $s accrued.

  20. lily
    November 20th, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    Critical Mass 213, I agree, the right thing to do would have been to get the money for Haiti funneled to ministries which had success helping there and a transparent accounting system, even if the dispersal was reported to the congregations after the fact. Now, it all just looks suspicious.

  21. Sick with worry
    November 20th, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    It is not like they are making much interest on cash in the bank. I have a bit of cash in my 401k….. Just a portion that I keep ready to move into stocks. I have like $48K and the interest is less than .25%. I was actually looking at this the other day, I have a bond fund that pays a nice return, and of course stocks that pay out nicely… but the value goes up and down. Unless SGM put the money into stocks or bonds, they are not making any “cashflow” Maybe they bought Apple or Starbucks stock!!

  22. lily
    November 20th, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    Sick with worry, yes, you’re right about the interest rate return on those kinds of accounts. But it sure is strange that it just sat there that long with skewed reporting of it, at best.

  23. Critical Mass
    November 20th, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    Lily, if I’m reading their reports correctly they distributed $90,000 in 2010, $10,000 in 2011 and gave the church in the Dominican Republic $180,000 in 2012 to administrate for them. That leaves the $25,000 they say is left.

  24. JustMe
    November 20th, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    @BrokenHearted – ref 160
    Discipline goes way beyond spanking, agreed. That seemed to be the pointy end of the spear, ahem, topic. :)

  25. JustMe
    November 20th, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    Lily (182)
    We have gravitated to non-denominational churches our entire walk. There was once where we were part of an EPC church plant. It was a nice church, but didn’t make it. The SGM churches were non-denominational, ahem, but with the new polity proposal, it appears they are definitely headed towards setting up an actual, official, denomination.

    If you mean an independent non-denominational church, we’ve been in those too. As a note, we’ve really enjoyed that path in our lives, but it has been filled with challenges of one kind or another. That makes us more sober with the SGM stuff, I think. We’ve been learning through the years, maybe through the shifting boat in the storms, to not put too much focus on the pastor, but on the Lord. What I mean practically, for instance, is to ask our Father questions, first. I remember the children of Israel were once rebuked because they didn’t “inquire” of their God. I found that interesting, they went to each other and pursued other things, or nothing prior to acting, and didn’t inquire of the Lord. In that passage, they were disciplined for that lack. (footnote: I’m not suggesting that’s a singular answer to the issues raised by the creators of this blog, but merely a pursuit we should all esteem to do).

    Thank you for your recommendation!

  26. JustMe
    November 20th, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    regarding funds for disaster relief, we’ve found that giving to proven organizations, e.g. Food for the Hungry, is the best way. some of those organizations already have an established presence on the ground, especially in places like Haiti; they know where to put the money and how to make it be most effective for both aide and sharing Jesus. They’ll be there tomorrow as well.

  27. Marie
    November 20th, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    Wow #176, thank you for the recommendation to listen to that Mark Bickle talk. I have not had a chance to listen to it in its entirety, but I loved the initial point about lack of critical thinking. He was saying something to the effect of critical thinking not being allowed in a cult-like church. In the light of the Haiti funding debacle, I am wondering if the SGM leadership is even capable of critical thinking.

    I have no idea if Mark has gone through a rigorous program of “redemption” if he had gone off the deep end in the past. His points were very well made.

    On the subject of people in the past going through positive character changes, how about Gordan MacDonald? He was a successful author of Ordering Your Private World , had an affair with his secretary, withdrew to do some character building with his organization, and years later (I am pretty sure he reconciled with his wife, or worked through any issues brought up by adultery) wrote this other book: Who Stole my Church .

    The reviews at Amazon are interesting, and a friend of mine said it was very helpful when her church was going through many changes:

    http://www.amazon.com/Who-Stole-My-Church-Century/dp/0785230491/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1353467866&sr=8-1&keywords=who+stole+my+church

    The title of the book is an interesting one for this discussion. I think sometime soon, many people will be asking that very question about SGM churches, or even have asked it already. But it only seems possible to ask the question outside the church, because when I was in an SGM church, critical thinking was always discouraged. And Mark B. did make a point to differentiate between a critical spirit and critical thinking. I look forward to hearing the rest of the talk soon.

    While this book was about churches going through “modernization” pains, which I don’t think applies to SGM churches, it is an interesting case of a person who had an utter failure in ministry (The affair was a shock to many people who read his first book) get a second chance. Will any of the SGM leaders get a second chance, after their “stuff” gets repeatedly exposed? Maybe they can visit MacDonald, and find out what he did to get his inner compass back.

  28. Marie
    November 20th, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    JustMe #225 Great reminders to inquire before the Lord. I don’t think I ever heard an SGM sermon on that topic, but I am familiar with those verses, and how much trouble the Israelites got into when they did not stop what they were doing to ask God about it first. Critical thinking has always popped up in my head after I have inquired of God. The Holy Spirit always brings up objections I had not thought of, and I have always been grateful when I have stopped what I was doing to pray and ask God, rather than motor on, to likely disaster. Thank you for the reminder! :-)

  29. lily
    November 20th, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    JustMe, yes, thanks! No matter how good a pastor or congregation seems, family members and other Christian friends, for that matter, we are all “seeing through a glass, dimly”. The Lord must be first, last and always, the One we turn to with questions and needs. Sure, He uses people, but the best of people will fail us, and we’ll fail them. It is especially important that you mentioned that in our current culture. We need Him.

  30. Nickname
    November 21st, 2012 at 12:02 am

    It’s ironic that a former SGM member was a top executive with World Vision in Haiti at the time of the earthquake. His wife and daughters were injured, but survived the total collapse of their 5 story apartment building. The dad was at World Vision HQ, which was not badly damaged, and the son was working at an orphanage/hospital at the time of the quake. For two days, the father & son thought the rest of the family had perished, and were preparing to go dig for their remains when they found each other. Their story of anguish at believing they were bereaved, and the joy of being reunited is a pure example of God’s grace and mercy.

    But since it’s the SGM/PDI MO to erase former members from all memory, I guess it didn’t occur to them to funnel money through a fine & trustworthy organization where someone who had given them plenty of $ and had labored within a ‘local church’ for several years was in a position to know where and how to use such funds in the best possible ways.

    What this lack of action says to me is that, among the head honchos of SGM, there is no love, no zeal, and no heart for any other country but their own. Oh, to have a heart for China, or for Haiti, or for whatever place on the planet God points you toward. The lack of missionary zeal (among other things) kept SGM from becoming a multi-dimensional, fully-developed ministry.

    How very strange, and even more, how horribly sad. We trusted money people who had no education or experience in disaster relief, just because they told us they were the end-all and be-all of Christianity. Another crock.

  31. Marie
    November 21st, 2012 at 12:29 am

    JustMe #171 – finally had a chance to do some searches to get some current info on Mike B.

    According to this wikipedia article, Mike B. took some public criticism from John Wimber about exaggerating some prophecies, which I think is what the 1991 article was referring to. Then Mark Bickle came out and said that he needed to hear that criticism, and has since taken it into account in his ministry.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Bickle_%28minister%29#cite_note-ihop.org-27

    Below are some current endorsements of his IHOP church. I think it is a decent list.
    http://www.ihopkc.org/about/endorsements/

    Can anyone name any other prominent people who have had a bit of a fall, and then gotten up again, and done some good work? I think there are many out there. This Haiti story is very discouraging, and I think could make some people look bad, but maybe the accounting is done in such a way that it cannot be directly traced to one or two people.

    When I mentioned “stuff” getting exposed in a previous post, I just meant these callous charity accounting practices, mistreatment of physical/sexual abuse victims, and scores of other issues that people have brought up on these blogs. How I wish the lot of the SGM top leadership could be dropped into a third world country, and told to learn to fend for themselves, without any marketing, fanfare, fundage, support team, etc. They would be in a better position to help church planters already doing incredible service to their community with few resources.

  32. JustMe
    November 21st, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Hi Marie (231),
    Good homework, it’s good to note. I have friends who have gone to IHOP, and sent their kids (in the last five years), to their programs. I just think we should be careful, no matter to whom or where we go; one spot-on message does not a ministry make (note the folks that support SGM/CJ for instance).

    I think sometimes our tendency, or mine, can be to identify the bad and excess very near to us, but not consider those in other areas (e.g. ministries, pastors, etc) that are distant, or even wax over them altogether. In my initial post expressing concern, I experienced a very Godly example, this was in the early days.

  33. JustMe
    November 21st, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Marie,
    Here is an example from 2009, concerning. Maybe MB has since changed things, but again, SGM’s primary allegations were in the 80s and 90s, however with many criticisms to current. Not minimizing SGM’s actions, but when providing a critical analysis of any organization, a plethora of material needs to be considered no matter who they are. I hope that this discussion is helpful.

    http://slaughteringthesheep.wordpress.com/2009/12/26/mike-bickle-and-the-kansas-city-cult-called-ihop/

    JustMe

  34. claude
    November 21st, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    I’m wondering what CJ and Gang will be thankful for tomorrow?

  35. Persona
    November 21st, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Just breaking in here to wish Kris and Guy a happy fifth anniversary!

    I trust the last five years haven’t aged you overly much and that you are enjoying the fruit of your service to the Lord. You certainly have been a gift to me and countless others.

    It must also be a gratifying, as we watch CLC send out electronic ballots today to all their members as they vote on their secession from the union of SovGraceMin.

    SGM could have avoided disintegration if they had chosen to follow wisdom rather than folly. But, at least some of the churches in their movement are finally seeing the light.

    Thank you both for all your sacrifices standing for the truth and being there for all of us with comfort and guidance. You are two of the things I am grateful for this Thanksgiving Day.

  36. Steve240
    November 21st, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    I’m wondering what CJ and Gang will be thankful for tomorrow?

    With all the money CJ has accumulated over the years I am sure he is “thankful.” Then again he might think the money was his “right.”

  37. MAK
    November 21st, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    They’ll be thankful for CLC and the other churches leaving

  38. It's just the beginning
    November 21st, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    Thank you Kris and Guy for starting these blogs. God has certainly used them to bring to light problems that would have continued to be hidden, ignored and unrecognized.

  39. Critical Mass
    November 21st, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    I believe you’re right, MAK. Once you’re considered disloyal by C.J. he wants you gone and this is why I’m grateful for CLC and Fairfax hanging in as long as they have. By hanging around they forced out the true nature of SGM’s leadership. Though things may never be the same with only a few men controlling everything, their DNA has changed little.

  40. lily
    November 21st, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    I do hope the secessions will have been because of DNA changes, and not merely for survival reasons. God can change DNA, I have no doubt!

  41. Wow
    November 22nd, 2012 at 12:50 am

    Steve240…..

    He’ll be thankful that he isn’t like us sinners.

  42. lily
    November 22nd, 2012 at 12:59 am

    Of course, there is also King David’s cry, “change my heart, Oh God”.

  43. Debra Baker
    November 22nd, 2012 at 1:21 am

    When DNA is changed, it is mutated.

    Most of the time, mutations are not good but every once in awhile, a mutation will fuel changes in populations of living things over time. Sometimes they provide phenotypic diversity.

    A good example of a positive mutation in humans is the mutation to the CCR5 transmembrane protein. The mutation is a change that orders the formation of the amino acid change to stop before it is finished being formed. The good thing about this particular mutation is the HIV virus needs this membrane protein to gain access to the T-cell causing the person that is homozygous recessive for that allele to be resistant to HIV.

    If you can muster an analogy from that bit of rambling, I will have done a good deed.

  44. lily
    November 22nd, 2012 at 2:33 am

    Debra, so hopefully, what might look like a digression in the body of Christ at this time to some, (those who are blindly following leaders who appear to be self serving in the name of Christ), will actually prove beneficial for the body as a whole, provided the mutation is accepted. In other words, let God be God, and let’s watch what can happen.

  45. Critical Mass
    November 22nd, 2012 at 7:14 am

    It goes without saying but I should have mentioned that if it weren’t for Kris and others being a catalyst for drawing out and exposing the systemic problems within SGM I can only wonder where things would be, if anywhere.

  46. SMP
    November 22nd, 2012 at 7:50 am

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I am so blessed by all of you and thank God for YOU, yes even you, the one reading this. You have all encouraged me and helped so mzny of us love the Word of God more. Thank you all!

  47. Debra Baker
    November 22nd, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Lily,

    I was mostly tongue in cheek about things being in our DNA.
    But mutations create variation which allows for selection that responds to the environment in populations in the next generation.

    All of life works this way. It allows for adaptation.

    I, too, want to thank God for everyone that posts here. While we hold our own perspective on the issues at hand, we are all members of the Body. Hopefully, no one here immediately thought of the anal spincter when they read that and thought of me (insert evil laughter here.) Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope every is surrounded by people that love them and that are beloved in return.

  48. Phoenix
    November 22nd, 2012 at 10:02 am

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBaHPND2QJg

    Many months after I left Fairfax, I reunited with a long time friend who had also been part of it. During our far-ranging conversation, her daughter told us about the Survivors website. I told Noel, another survivor. Through Survivors, she told her story, which (among others) has touched so many hearts and convicted so many consciences. Through Survivors, Noel connected with others who had been abused and they affirmed, blessed, and strengthened one another. Out of their interactions came the resolve to do something to help other victims and out of that resolve came the lawsuit; which will yet be part of God’s work of shaking down strongholds. And not just in SGM, but throughout His church. And today I am thankful. For my friends, for SGMSurvivors, and for how God does and will INDEED work everything for good. Thank you all, as well.

  49. Happymom
    November 22nd, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Phoenix,

    You took the words right out of my mouth! Thank you for the role you played in helping survivors connect. No doubt Noel’s courage opened the door for so many others to share their stories.

    THANK YOU to Kris & Guy and all our survivor friends. Happy Thanksgiving!

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