New SGM Board Update – Why It Does Not Inspire Confidence

The new SGM Board – appointed hastily and without affirmed support by some of the key local church leaders within SGM – has rolled out an update on their priorities for the upcoming year.  The following are major portions of their update with my comments interspersed in italics.   I confess that I found the update disappointing.   My comments are strongly worded – hopefully not uncharitably – but at this critical moment, I think it is important to speak honestly.   

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Excerpt:  First, we decided to create a polity committee to consist of two members of the Board, two members of the Leadership Team (including C.J. Mahaney, who will chair the committee), and at least three Sovereign Grace pastors not on the Board.  This committee will pick up the work that has already been done on polity and develop it to give better definition to the ministry, to how SGM as a ministry relates to pastors and their churches, and to policies and procedures for making decisions and selecting leaders.  We are tasking this committee to solicit a broad range of views within SGM regarding how we are governed and how we define our connections between churches and the ministry.  Once the committee’s work is done, they will submit it to the Board for review, amendment, and approval.  The resulting governance and our partnership agreements will then be presented to Sovereign Grace pastors for their review.

sgmNation:  SGM Board – We were told that the interim Board’s role was to adjudicate and to restore CJ as President – a move thought to be temporary.   Why are you not actively seeking a replacement for CJ?  Please tell us what happened rather than have us wonder.  

Frankly, this is clear and undeniable evidence that this new Board does not “get it”.   It had a chance to do something honest, bold and courageous but missed the opportunity.  Appointing CJ Mahaney to chair the polity committee is like setting sail with the captain of the Titanic at the helm.   It is precisely his inability to put polity in place sometime in the past 30 years that has led to this debacle.  Unfortunately, when he tried to clarify this in the past few years, he was unskilled in leading the churches through a collaborative process.   I’m not trying to be unkind but the results speak for themselves.  To be clear – this is not about his qualifications as a pastor but rather his abilities as a corporate leader.  Honestly, there is little evidence that CJ is qualified for this task and it is his top down, declarative style leadership that has frustrated many of the member churches.  Sadly, this Board has responded to the humble appeal from almost 20 churches for a open process with a move that speaks to SGM’s autonomy – their right to do as they please – rather than the spirit of partnership, emerging from the local churches.  This organization’s inability to move beyond the personality of CJ Mahaney is both sad commentary and painful indictment.   Fellow members  – this approach is more of the “old school” thinking that has so pervaded SGM – “we know better, we will figure it out and then we’ll tell you what we came up with”.

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Excerpt:  Second, we expect to receive the Ambassadors of Reconciliation report in the coming two weeks.  We plan to begin discussing the report on a retreat in Louisville April 9 & 10 and then to make plans for responding.

sgmNation:  SGM Board – better than huddling up, discussing and responding is first fulfilling the expectation of churches and church members by releasing the FULL report, without editorial.  Fellow members – I have no idea what SGM is planning to do but I would suggest that we MUST hold them accountable to releasing the report publicly.  If they choose not to do so or to edit the undesirable parts in the style of Thomas Jefferson, then there is no hope for reform.

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Excerpt: This Board will operate differently from the interim Board.  We will not involve ourselves in day-to-day ministry decisions and communication.  Our priorities are appointment and evaluation of the Leadership Team, broad evaluation and strategy for the ministry, advising the Leadership Team on key concerns, and providing accountability to the Leadership Team regarding doctrine, finances, and governance.  Our primary interactions, therefore, will be with Leadership Team members and others who can inform us about the ministry and counsel us regarding decisions.

sgmNation:  Actually as a body, you appear to operate very similar to the interim Board.  Here’s why – first, it seems from the outside that it”s still all about CJ.  Second, you continue to have a “closed approach” – no church council, no open dialogue.  I wonder if you’ll also resemble the interim Board in this third regard – marginalizing those who disagree. We truly hope not but we’ll stay tuned.

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Excerpt:  This new Board is aware of the significant responsibilities we carry for the future of SGM.  Please pray for us and more importantly, please pray for this family of local churches and your own local church so that we can—individually and connected together—plant and build local churches that proclaim the gospel and bring praise to our Lord.

sgmNation: Amen.  Fellow members – do pray indeed.  Pray for this new Board.   Also pray for local church pastors to discern how to navigate these times with courageous faith for better things than what has been served. 

You may want to ask yourself:   Is my church still financially giving to SGM ?   Is it wise stewardship to continue feeding an organization that is so incapable of moving beyond the “cult of CJ ” and insist on doing things their way with no regard for the member churches?    If the answer is yes, then so by all means, do continue to write those checks.  If you decide no, then please urge your pastors to take appropriate action.

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7 thoughts on “New SGM Board Update – Why It Does Not Inspire Confidence

  1. Whoever covers an offense seeks love,
    but he who repeats a matter separates close friends. (Proverbs 17:9 ESV)

    • Dwight – not trying to pile on here. I love folks sharing scripture but let’s not use it in a “hit & run” fashion. I presume it was shared directed to me. If you think this post was uncharitable, please point me to why or where it was so… if you’re right, I would gladly adjust it. In fact, a friend pointed out that a statement on “coddling CJ” was possibly judgmental of the Board and I’ve removed it. I might point out to you that the passage you shared does not preclude charitable and thoughtful critique in the pursuit of truth. For instance, in Galatians 2, Paul retold how he confronted Peter when Peter was in error…was he sinning in that instance? No, because Peter was wrong and gospel truth was at stake. There is a place for speaking truthfully and critically – in fact, it’s what I’m asking of you – to point out what is uncharitable about this post.

      Grace to you, brother

  2. I am not sure about the purpose of posting that Dwight but it is true when applied to simple offenses between people. This is an organization wrought with sin. This is not about simple offense. If you are applying this to the current posting about the current situation in SGM than i believe this is another misapplication of scripture to manipulate the discussion. This is supposedly a body of Christ that is clearly astray. Is it loving, in a biblical fashion, to ignore the obvious CJ worship of these leaders? They are ignoring the counsel of many to blindly follow the ONE! With that I remind you of Matthew 23 in which Jesus speaks STRONGLY against such leadership.

    sgmNation – Well said. One MUST ask why in the world the new board would appoint (if in fact they weren’t told to appoint) CJ who he himself said is not qualified beyond preaching. Now he leads the Polity team??? Are you joking??? This is so blatantly “CJ cult” it is impossible to deny with a straight face.

    People – CJ himself admitted to not being gifted here. Why in the world would ANYONE think this is a good move not to mention a biblical wise one? May God have mercy and intercede even today in all of this!

    23Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
    “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

    (Matthew 23:1-15 ESV)

  3. Hello Dwight.

    I hope that you have read three important contributions to what is happening with SGM:

    1) the Brent Detwiler documents. (If you’ve not read them, this will take quite a while.)

    2) sgmrefuge.com (Begun in 2008 by an ex-SGM pastor. A good place to start is the ‘Your Story’ link which details hundreds of testimonies from people who have often been pastors, care-group leaders, or members of SGM for three decades. If you have not read these testimonies then be prepared to weep with the accounts from your brothers and sisters in Christ of child abuse and the resultant cover ups as well as the manifest hypocrisy and works of the flesh from those who should have been girding towels and washing the feet of the saints.)

    3) sgmsurvivors.com (It is interesting to go back to when this blog started in 2007 – via the archives – and see the innocent blog question that the author began with: ‘Does anyone know anything about SGM? Has anyone had any experience with them?’ SGM tried to wipe the responses off the internet.)

    If you have read these three important contributions, I ask you in all love and humility: Do you really think that offenses such as these should be covered up in Christian love?

    If you haven’t read these important contributions I pray you will.

    Regards,

    ATC, Bristol, UK.

  4. I found it interesting that they disclosed that CJM will be chairing the polity committee but they did not disclose who was now chairing the board. I have a hard time envisioning the board not having chosen a chairman in its very first meeting.

    I have no problem with the board not doing a lot of direct public communication themselves, but they should ensure that the leadership team treats appropriately transparent communication with the pastors and SGM church members as a very high priority – either via the P&B blog or through the pastors.

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