The response letter from SGC Fairfax, affirmed by a growing list of churches (at current count – 16) may be the first, formal call for reform issued by any SGM church. Yes, there have been questions asked over the past two years by many churches but no one has taken their questions public. The response was not only reasonable, thoughtful and gracious, it was also firm and uncompromising in conviction.
Now that the call for reform is out in the open – now what? What should each “ordinary” member of each SGM church do in response? I would suggest that every member should be processing through 5 fundamental questions –
- Where does my church stand with respect to SGM and in particular, the decisions of the SGM Board? Now that the call for reform is public, no pleas of ignorance will suffice, no “burying head in sand” will be acceptable. Get engaged in the discussion of how your church should be processing the issues related to SGM – the history of association, what the benefits are, how much your church is giving, what your pastors think. Ask your pastors for a response.
- What exactly is SGM? Is it a denominational body or a parachurch organization with a teaching and music ministry? How much authority/influence does it exercise over the local church? People – ask your pastors and if they don’t know, they need to find out.
- From where (theologically, not legally) does the SGM Board and the regional leadership derive its authority or influence over local churches? Chew on this controversial statement – the office of the Pope has more biblical justification than the apostolic ministry as historically defined by SGM. The implication of any answer to this question is important. Does the SGM Board have the right to define the polity for all the SGM churches? Not unless the churches grant it to them… the authority to do so doesn’t emerge magically from the thin, rarefied air that the SGM Board members breathe in. Should the churches have a representative opportunity to shape polity and direction from the movement? Most reasonable Christians would say yes.
- How much does my church give to SGM and why? Giving 10% or any amount to SGM isn’t a biblically established right and is dependent on the answer to question #2. Financial stewardship is important and you need to weigh in on whether SGM has earned the trust of your church’s continued giving levels.
- Is my church focusing on getting its local polity in order? Surprise, surprise – if you haven’t figured it out yet, you will – SGM exercises NO formal authority over your local church. If that’s the case, who is holding your pastors accountable to their substance of their teaching, conduct and financial stewardship? What happens if your pastors can’t resolve differences (re: Ashburn SGM church)? It’s so easy to get caught up in the SGM drama that you forget that how your local church is governed will matter more to you than how SGM Board moves along. Ask your pastor what your church is doing to address local governance structures.
Most of all, I suggest you pray for your pastors. If they are off-course and blinded by ill-founded loyalty to CJ/SGM – they need a serious adjustment. If your pastors are still figuring out what to do – they need wisdom. If your pastors are among those who stepped out to call for reform – they need humble courage. May God bless us all.