Five Questions Every Sovereign Grace Member Should Be Asking

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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18 thoughts on “Five Questions Every Sovereign Grace Member Should Be Asking

  1. Thanks for putting this up, I am not trying to criticize, but there are some typos and sloppiness on the site that I think you should tighten up to help your credibility.

    Your about page still has the WordPress filler text on it, and misspellings,

    The first post is still the WordPress example post, which is meant to be deleted,

    And the template is fine, but is clearly the default WordPress template, with the default graphics, you should put in one header graphic unique to your blog, even if it’s just text. (or even changing it to a non-default template would be better)

    Please receive this unsolicited advice as encouragement towards your goal, unfortunately those oversights tend to make readers see a blog like this, and its author by extension, as less legitimate.

    Hopefully you will read this comment in moderation and then delete it, it is not meant to be a public critique.

    You have my email address, feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need a hand getting those edits done.

    • Thanks Sean – I actually have a writing disability. 🙂 I was trying to edit it on my iPad and some of the pages were not displaying correctly – on my about page, it didn’t show the text as i was editing and i kept having to preview to see how it read. It was really frustrating – anyway, I finally got to a laptop.

  2. I’m NOT part of SGM.
    But – I’ve endured a fair share of “Spiritual Abuse” over the years
    from Pastor/Reverends who had taken “Titles” and “Positions”
    NOT found in the Bible…

    These five questions certainly speak to the rampant “Abuse” in SGM.

    You ask others here to “Ask -Your Pastor” and “Pray for – Your Pastor”…
    Nine times in the five questions and the last paragraph…

    IMO – “The First Question” that needs to be answered – from the Bible is…

    Is the “Title” and “Position” “Pastor/Reverend/leader” – In the Bible?

    Because Jesus warned us in Mark 7:13…
    KJV – Making the word of God of “none effect” through your tradition…
    ASV – Making “void” the word of God by your tradition…
    NIV – Thus you “nullify” the word of God by your tradition…

    In the Bible – Does anyone know where to find…

    A “Disciple of Christ” – called – to be a Pastor/Reverend – leading a church?
    A “Disciple of Christ” – called – to be hired, or fired, as a Pastor/Reverend?
    A “Disciple of Christ” – called – to have the “Title Pastor” – the “Title Reverend?”

    A “Disciple of Christ” – called – to be a “Leader?”
    A “Disciple of Christ” – called – “Leader?”

    A “Disciple of Christ” – calling – another “Disciple of Christ” – “Pastor?”
    A “Disciple of Christ” – calling – another “Disciple of Christ” – “Leader?”

    If the “Title” and “Position” – “Pastor/Reverend/Leader” – IS NOT In the Bible?

    Then the whole “SGM Abusive Religious System” is “Corrupt” – NOT biblical…
    And – these five questions are NO longer important, or needed. 😉

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall “hear My voice; “
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

    • A. Amos – Sincerely sorry to hear that you’ve suffered spiritual abuse. I know it can have long lasting effects of hurt. I love your focus on Jesus as One Shepherd but as you might surmise, I do believe in the office of pastor/elder as biblical. Here are a couple of reasons –

      First, there is evidence that appointment of elders were critical in establishing of local churches (Acts 14, Titus 1). In fact, it was important enough that Paul deemed it necessary to spell out minimal qualifications in 1 Tim and also in Titus
      Second, Peter exhorts elders to shepherd (or pastor) the flock without domineering over them, alluding to Jesus as Chief Shepherd… elders = shepherds
      Finally, Ephesians 4 actually highlights shepherds/pastors as a gift from God.

      Sorry this isn’t more extensive but IMHO, position of a pastor/elder is established in the scriptures.

    • Pete – thank you for the paper. I have previously seen it – and while it offers a thoughtful viewpoint, it remains unconvincing and problematic (in particular for SGM) for reasons that I cannot cover right now. However, I will in some future post offer a short response to the paper explaining my views. However, I do appreciate you offering the paper up as an explanation and welcome future dialogue about this topic.

  3. sgmNation

    Question on that paper: do you know if it is a position statement that reflects wider views from the board / key SGM personalities or just an individual’s opinion? I read it and also had some concerns with it, but had no idea what I was reading.

    On the one hand, I could imagine that it was a draft of some future justification for a re-entrenchment of the SGM view of leadership. On the other hand, I could imagine that maybe SGM pastors were asked to consider questions of polity and present papers for mutual critique and review (ok, maybe that took a lot more imagination to come up with as an explanation, but I guess it would be theoretically possible)…

    One of the problems with so little communication and transparency from SGM / church leaders… It’s really hard for an average SGM church member to get answers to even the most basic questions, like this.

    • EMSDG – not sure which is why I didn’t overreact to the paper when I read it the first time. I think it’s fair to say that there are different views on this topic within the “family of churches”

  4. Could you please share your reasons for desiring to be anonymous? It’s not that I disagree with your anonymity, it is merely a question to understand your reasons.
    Thanks,
    Diane Kummer

    • Diane – it’s funny you ask because I was thinking of doing a short post on why I choose to be anonymous. There are some reasons that I cannot unveil right now but one of my primary reasons is that my opinions are mine and not a reflection of my church or pastors. However, because I am at times critical of SGM (hopefully in a gentle, constructive way), it may unfairly reflect on my church. Another reason is that I think I’ll be more effective and less self conscious if I’m anonymous. I prefer to write without wondering what my fellow church members might think, either good or bad. If my identity is known, I am more likely to be tempted to pride (if I’m praised widely) or tempted to discouragement (if I’m viewed poorly). I hope this makes sense to you … perhaps there will be a time when I won’t blog anonymously but I’m not there yet. I’m hoping my anonymity isn’t too much of a distraction. Thanks for asking

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