Shepherds Of Our Souls?

March 12, 2008 in Sovereign Grace Ministries

One of the multitude of objections that pro-SGM people have raised regarding this site is that some here have inaccurately and unfairly portrayed Sovereign Grace leadership as being controlling and overly involved in their members’ lives.  Several folks have posted comments or written me to declare that Sovereign Grace Ministries does NOT engage in teachings or behaviors promoted by the “Shepherding Movement” of the 1970s.  (“Shepherding” or “Discipleship” refers to the practice where church members are counseled by their leaders and where pastors assume a level of authority over members’ personal lives.) 

Yet people have shared stories here about being expected to “receive counsel” from their SGM pastors about matters such as whether or not the members are “released” to move to a particular city.  Also, it’s been stated many times and in many ways by both past and current SGM members that their pastors’ advice somehow carries far more weight and “authority” (and is far more “Godly” and “reliable”) than the members’ own thoughts and feelings.

So how can we know the truth?  How can we determine whether or not Sovereign Grace Ministries does indeed currently promote the mentality of “Shepherding,” where members are trained to look first to their leaders for direction, rather than trusting in their own ability to discern Scripture and follow the Holy Spirit’s leading?

Although proving ANYTHING about Sovereign Grace Ministries can sometimes feel like trying to nail the proverbial Jello to the wall, I think the answer to this particular question – “Does SGM practice a measure of ‘Shepherding’?” – can be proven by something that hit my “in” box last night.

You see, last night, I got a very interesting email from someone who must be on the inside of Brent Detwiler’s Sovereign Grace Church, Crossway Community Church.  The email contained an attachment of a document distributed at a recent meeting, as well as links to information about his church plant.

Although there was nothing incredibly mysterious about any of this stuff – the links are readily available to anyone who goes to the church’s website, I guess – I did find an interesting little nugget tucked away in the attached document, which was entitled, “Church Plant in Mooresville / Mickey’s Pastoral Direction at the Family Meeting.”

This document was dated October 5, 2007, by the way – which I think any reasonable person would define as fairly “recent.”

In the midst of the 2-page outline for “Mickey’s” talk, in the section about how to know if you might be called to uproot your family and move to another city to be part of the church plant, there was this piece of advice:

8. Make this decision with the counsel of your pastor. They have been uniquely called to shepherd your soul.

Thoughts, anyone?

(Also, if you’re interested, I’m going to post the full text of this outline in a comment.)

© 2008, Kris. All rights reserved.