Dear sgmNation readers – This is a letter sent by SGM Polity Chair, Phil Sasser to pastors back in June. I’m posting this in response to questions by some as to why the process is confidential. Since the question was asked, I thought it might be interesting to some of you. If I can’t make the papers available, I could at least shed some light on the process. [Note: bolding is by me for emphasis]
Dear Fellow Pastors,
We have been encouraged by your response to the planned polity presentations in Louisville next month. Several pastors have indicated a desire to make a presentation, and we are looking forward to hearing from them. Many more have expressed a desire to listen to the polity presentations. In light of this, Tommy Hill and the SGM staff have found a suitable venue to accommodate additional seating for these presentations at the Legacy Hotel. As previously announced, the polity presentations will take place on July 10-11 and July 24-25. These presentations are only open to SGM pastors, the Leadership Team, and staff supporting the Committee.
[Pastors presenting papers, pastors expressing a desire to hear presentations, are welcomed but not ordinary, regular members. Should a local church should seek to include members, it is apparently not welcomed. The letter even ends with instructions to a password secured website accessible only by pastors [not included in this blog post]. Mike Bradshaw who authored those instructions reminds everyone that – “resources are confidential materials that are intended for the sole use of SGM pastors.”.
Just stop and think about that for a moment – why are ordinary members treated as 2nd class citizens in SGM? Here’s the answer: pastoral exceptionalism – yes, it’s a phrase I’m coining but it so appropriately describes the SGM culture.
Pastoral Exceptionalism = “Pastors are special, pastors are above questioning, pastors are wise, pastors know best”. And all members who buy into this foolishness will deserve what they get. Don’t get me wrong – as I’ve mentioned many times before – I love my pastors – they are among my dearest friends – so this isn’t about respecting the office of the pastor/overseer. They would never subscribe to such exceptionalism and that’s why they have earned the trust of many who know them. I pray for their tribe to increase in SGM because far too few pastors think and live this way.]
The Polity Committee has set aside two additional days (July 12 and July 26) in order to discuss and process what we’ve heard from you; these meetings will be with the Committee members only. SGM Board members have been invited to sit in on the Committee’s meetings, but only to listen. The presentations will begin at 8AM on July 10, so if you’re planning to attend we’d recommend you arrive in Louisville on the evening of July 9. At this point, we will assume that the July 24-25 meetings will have the same start time. If you wish to make a presentation, please send me your paper and indicate that you would like to present; and I will put you on the schedule. If you have a preference for when you would like to present, let me know and I will try to accommodate your request. Of course, you may elect to send a paper without actually making a presentation if you so desire.
[Truth be told - there was far too little time given to allow pastors to even consider the topic of polity in a meaningful way, much less, give themselves to study or write a paper. It's either poor management or cleverly designed process to minimize opposing views]
All of you who plan on attend (but not present) please contact Nora Earles at firstname.lastname@example.org so that she can reserve a place for you to observe the presentations. For those pastors who can’t attend the polity presentations, we will post all of the papers (assuming we get permission from the authors) on a password protected website. Directions for how to use this website can be found at the conclusion of this letter. You are all welcome to view the papers. We will post them as soon as we have the author’s permission to do so. We hope the creation of this website will be helpful to you.
The Committee members will seek to make themselves available to talk to any Sovereign Grace pastor at any point in this process. The Committee’s work of formulation and writing will likely not begin until early August. We realize that we have established an aggressive timeline. At the same time, we are committed to doing a good job. If upon further review, we do not think that we can meet our objectives by the fall of this year, we reserve the right to adjust the timeline. Please know that we will do our very best to serve you in this process.
[SGM procrastinated on the polity issue for years and now they want to wrap it up in a matter of days, months... this is absurd - there's too little time for them to be in a hurry over something as important as this. This is about control - asserting it, maintaining it and propagating it for the next phase of SGM]
On behalf of the Polity Committee,
[It's instructive that Phil Sasser is functionally leading the Polity Committee and not CJ. I think it's a clear acknowledgment that CJ does not have the requisite skill and mind to tackle these issues... which is ok. But why then must we continue to prop him up as the figurehead Chair of this committee - would it hurt to just say, Phil Sasser will chair the committee and CJ Mahaney will watch from the "cheap seats"? The answer: SGM is actually the CJM ministries - it's CJ's world and we're all actors in it.
Finally, here's my challenge to all SGM pastors who presented or sent in papers - you are the authors, you have rights over the content - make a statement by posting this openly to your local churches and to the SGM church network at large. Members, especially members of your local church deserve to have access to this. There is nothing to fear. ]