An Interesting Quiz…

September 14, 2008 in Sovereign Grace Ministries

I stumbled across this quiz and thought it was interesting:

Are you “UNDER THE INFLUENCE” of

a destructive group or belief system?

Find out with this Self Quiz:

Does your group discourage doubts, criticism or ideas that differ from their belief system? Yes____No____

Do you tend to rationalize whatever the group does even when it goes against your sense of right and wrong? Yes___ No___

Do you often feel exhausted from lengthy group activities, meetings and projects? Yes___ No___

Does your group have its own unique words, cliches, slogans, chants, prayers and doctrinal phrases that reinforce the group viewpoint? Yes___ No___

Are doubts viewed as a lack of faith, dedication, commitment or disloyalty? Yes___ No___

Have “your thoughts and questions” become “the enemy?” Yes___ No___

Do you often find yourself doing more and more things in the group because of group peer pressure that you would not have done on your own? Yes___ No___

Does your group publicly humiliate or criticize members? Yes___ No___

Does your group have a system of punishments and rewards for behavior? Yes___ No___

Group paranoia: Does your group obsessively think other groups or people with different beliefs are out to get them? Yes___ No___

Does the prospect of leaving your group seem scary, difficult? Yes___ No___

Do you feel the need to leave in secret? Yes___ No___

Have you been told something bad might happen if you leave? Yes___ No___

Does your group/belief system think they have/are the only or highest truth, or have the solution for the world’s problems? Yes___ No___

Are your leader’s ideas or belief system considered beyond reproach or sacred? Yes___ No___

Do you follow a particular individual or belief system that requires unquestioning obedience and loyalty? Yes___ No___

Do members of your group feel specially chosen, superior, exclusive, elite? Yes___ No___

Do you feel the need to save or convert others to your belief system or ideology? Yes___ No___

Is your group secretive to outsiders about its inner workings, teachings, activities or beliefs? Yes___ No___

Does your group equate purity and goodness to being in your group, and impurity or evil to those outside your group? Yes___ No___

Do you place your group’s mission or agenda above your own goals and ideals? Do group interests come before your own interest Yes___ No___

Do you find yourself thinking in a we-they, us-versus-them mind set? Yes___ No___

Does your group/system have a clear outside enemy? Yes___ No___

Do you see less and less of your family and friends who do not belong to your group or who do not subscribe to your group’s belief system? Yes___ No___

Does your group use frequent public testimonials, confessions, or sharings that reinforce the group’s mission or agenda? Yes___ No___

Is communication within, into and out of your group controlled or censored in any manner? Yes___ No___

Does your group criticize, shun, abandon or demean individuals who leave the group? Yes___ No___

Do members seek approval or get permission from group leader(s) for personal life choices? Yes___ No___

Do you feel pressured to attend meetings, events, lectures, seminars? And do you feel guilty if you don’t attend? Yes___ No___

Do you feel pressured to give a portion of your income to the group, or spend money on special projects? Yes___ No___

Are the group’s financial needs more important than your own economic well-being? Yes___ No___

Does your group discriminate against anyone regarding race, gender, or belief? Yes___ No___

Does your group have a totalitarian structure: a strict, top-down centralized control? Yes___ No___

Do you wonder if you have been in a destructive group? Answer these questions:

Do you have difficulty forming new friendships and intimate relationships? Yes___ No___

Do you have low self-esteem, poor self-image or loss of identity? Yes___ No___

Do you have difficulty making simple decisions and choices? Yes___ No___

Do you often feel depressed, anxious and nervous? Yes___ No___

Do you feel isolated, lonely, guilty, cynical? Yes___ No___

Do you feel like you are just now growing up, becoming a mature adult? Yes___ No___

Do you have short-term memory difficulties? Yes___ No___

Do you feel you have nothing to believe in? Yes___ No___

Do you often feel anger and rage towards the group? Yes___ No___

This quiz has no scientifically predetermined number of “yes” answers to indicate a destructive group. However, answering “yes” to any of the above questions means you may need to examine your group and its influence in your life.

Interesting Observations and a Question from a New Reader

August 28, 2008 in Sovereign Grace Ministries

A new reader, who goes by the handle of “non-sgm believer,” posted the following comment just now.  I thought it was full of great observations and contains a question that perhaps someone out there might be able to answer better than I could.  Here it is:

Okay, I have been reading this blog and several others over the course of three days. My friend attends a church that is affiliated with SGM but supposedly not ENTIRELY SGM. They use their same statement of faith, but yet somehow they are independent. In either case, my friends description of this church has been bothering me for the past 4 years. This person has no problem with the teachings of the church but , I see red flags all over the place.

Anyway in my quest for the real truth about what is going on, I have also turned to the SGM blog because even those at SGM believe you should get the information from the source. I came across a blog called “Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor” written by none other than C.J. Mahaney. His blog is ridden with non biblical references and a complete lack of understanding about the grace of God.

First, Mahaney brings up great intellectual and pastoral MINDS and then refers to ordinary christians as “sorry” individuals compared to these great minds.

“But at times, reading these biographies is discouraging, rather than edifying, as we are reminded afresh about the difference between the great leaders in church history and our sorry selves.”

First, Mahaney is blatantly saying that if we are not “great church leaders” then we are sorry people. And if that is not what he intended he is still elevating these REGULAR MEN who, yes were gifted by God, but do not need to be worshipped.

Next as Mahaney is trying to explain that he is an average person, he cites his sinful pride and then proceeds to discourage his congregation from reading biographies because then they will not think he is so great.

“As I read their biographies I know I should be inspired, but at times I find myself increasingly discouraged (and let me be clear—this is because of my pride). Rather than filled with faith to charge into my day and prepare a sermon, care for God’s people, and preach, I feel a bit hopeless.

And while reading these biographies I also hope my church members never read these books because they could only compare me to this individual and that would prove unfavorable!”

Perhaps he did not mean this (although I am sure he did) but he is literally asking for people to not look elsewhere for information because it will change their view of the church. NOT HEALTHY

THEN the kicker–his recommendation for pastors who may be struggling with their “average gifting” IS NOT BIBLICAL

He refers them to a biography written by Don Carson about his father who also happens to be an “ordinary pastor.” Why on earth would a pastor refer other pastors to a biography as a way to clear up any prideful feelings regarding their preaching?

“What’s a pastor to do? Here is one recommendation. For pastors like myself with average gifts, Dr. Don Carson has given us a unique biography of the life and ministry of an ordinary pastor—his dad. It’s titled, Memoirs of An Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson (Crossway, 2008).

If you are like me, this book will provide you with an invaluable reminder of what is most important to pastoral ministry—faithfulness.

This new book will provide you with a biblical perspective if you envy those pastoring large churches…”

Wouldn’t the better biblical perspective actually be THE BIBLE??????? And if someone wants to read a biography on John Calvin rather than some random PhD’s father, shouldn’t they be allowed?? It is again, like many have said, if the books are not stamped with SGM approval than they must be the wrong books….so silly and ridiculous.

Sorry, I just had to share.

And if anyone has any information on the metro life churches sponsored by SGM that would be great.

Does involvement in SGM lead to social difficulties in other settings?

August 25, 2008 in Sovereign Grace Ministries

From my “in” box, shared with the author’s permission:

…I find myself feeling oddly disconnected at the church we’ve been attending.  I’m trying hard to make friends there, but the closeness is a struggle because sometimes I think I just relate to people differently.  Lately I’ve been wondering if my SG “training” has something to do with it! 

There’s something about sitting in a room full of people where everyone is confessing their sins together.  It can be really uncomfortable in one way, especially when the sin of the day is something you don’t struggle with but can’t admit it and so have to make something up or dig extra-deep for something that doesn’t really fit.  Sometimes it can also feel like a heavy weapon used against a person to make them feel so low that they won’t ask questions or think for themself.

But on the other hand, that kind of sharing of sins DOES make everyone get to know each other really fast.  The whole care group knows your struggles and weaknesses, and you will know their’s.

At the church we’ve been attending since leaving SGM, I do go to a small group.  It’s a lot different than our care group was and I struggle to feel the same about the people there.  I’m finding it very hard to feel on the same wavelength with people.  I’ve been there for about 4 months and so far I don’t have anyone I feel I can really talk to or be deep with.  There are people who say hello and make small talk each week but I’ve never gone out to lunch with anyone or shared anything deeper than chit-chat.  I would appreciate any advice that you could give.  I don’t want to post this directly to the site myself but you are free to share anything I’ve written.  Maybe someone else has been through this and can help.  Thank you.

Thoughts, anyone?