Saturday, December 3, 2011

SGM Chronicles: A Preamble

For nearly 15 years my wife and I were involved in an SGM church. While I believe the Lord used the church to minister to us in many ways, at some point it became a place of bondage.

I want to initially say that I believe we bear the responsibility for submitting ourselves to the organization beyond the bounds of scriptural instruction. While we did much of this in ignorance, the power of submission was always ultimately ours. We have since repented of what we now recognize to be profound idolatry. A religious brand, a “local church”, alleged spiritual leaders, and other things became the focus of attention above Jesus himself. And to any of you whom we may have played a role in compelling to submit to this, we ask your forgiveness, and we open our lives to any reconciliation for anything we may have done to cause you to stumble.

Today we stand joyfully in a place of glorious liberty, with others who know the true spirit of sonship purchased by Jesus with his own blood.
And yet we also have heavy hearts for dear brothers and sisters who remain under the grip of religious bondage. That burden extends to the leaders who labor under the same bondage (maybe greater) in their perpetuation of a religious system that is run by “philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ”. (Colossians 2:8) Sadly their alleged pursuit of “sound theology” perpetuates a knowledge of Jesus that is according to the flesh.

THE GOSPEL produces a love of Christ that controls us and compels us to live for him, not for ourselves. This is the glory of the new creation. In him we are the righteousness of God. (II Corinthians 5:11-21)
The “church” gospel produces a counterfeit love… one that is directed back at itself. It refuses to find life through death, but instead seeks to control others to live for the church rather than Jesus. And sadly it insulates people from the power of the true gospel that liberates us from sin consciousness (Hebrews 10:1-2)

We are profoundly thankful for the Lord’s faithfulness to deconstruct us from “human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” We enjoy the blessing of true Ephesians 4 leadership that continues to equip us “for the work of ministry”. These are not overlords, but brothers who have the entire Body of Christ in view, not a sect or brand of their own creation. Their purpose is that we “attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may not longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine….” (Ephesians 4:1-16). The church gospel previously bound us in eternal infancy at the feet of endless teaching no one ever graduates from, and few are ever equipped. All too many are simply corralled and controlled and their God given gifts are suppressed. Though the motive for this is probably sincere, the result is kingdom resources are bound up in this system of religious cronyism and nepotism that prevents God’s people from truly being HIS “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works… “ (Ephesians 2:10)

Today we stand as ministers of the New Covenant, now boldly renouncing “disgraceful and underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.” (II Cor 4:1-2) Sadly we believe the idolatry of the “local church” gospel has extended a veil over people that blinds them “to keep them from seeing the light of the glorious gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is NOT ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with yourselves as servants for Jesus’s sake. (II Cor 4:3-5 emphasis mine).
So today, my heart is not to “recruit”you to join us or any entity. It is to appeal to you to treasure “treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” (II Cor 4:7) Jesus is the treasure… not a “local church” or its leaders. If we are truly “dead”, there’s nothing to defend or protect.

I’m reminded of the song we often sang, “Jesus, Lover of My Soul”. The chorus sums it up so accurately.
It’s all about you, Jesus
And all this is for you.
For your glory and your fame
It’s not about me,
As if you should do things my way.
You alone are God and I surrender
To your ways.

So this is what burns in our hearts. We, as brothers and sisters desire to see all of His people walk in liberty. For this reason, as the Lord leads, this will be the first in a series of articles to uncover the “veils” of religious deception that captivated us. By God’s grace we hope it will lead others to true freedom in Jesus. And as always, we stand ready to help and encourage you in any way we can.





11 comments:

Anonymous said...

May your efforts be blessed to help people see truth of God...no "man's" truth. May people who read here let go of those man made filters of what the Word teaches and allow the Holy Spirit to be their guide instead of man.

ray said...

When i became a new believer, I was involved with " Gathering of Believers" in Gaithersburg Md. Although the worship was wonderful and engaging, the sin consciousness frenzy, was terrible for my walk with the Lord.

I went to a "retreat" and was in a casual conversation, and happened to say the phrase, " Oh my goodness" .... the person I was speaking to said, "YOUR GOODNESS".... you have no goodness , only the Lord...

It was not for me.. I have encountered very few Christians who actually exude Gods incredible grace. But there are many people who love to live by the flesh, and cloak it in Christian babbletalk.

Virginia Knowles said...

Vince, I was a member of an SGM church for 8 years until we left in July 2010. I wrote my thoughts on SGM this past summer at www.watchtheshepherd.blogspot.com:my-thoughts-on-CJ-Mahaney-and-Sovereign.HTML (I hope this link works - having a hard time with my iPod touch screen.)

I am now a member of a spportive little PCA church, but still have adult children who are part of SGM.

Virginia Knowles said...

P.S. I just subscribed to your blog via Google Reader and look forward to reading your SGM Chronicles.

Bob Dixon said...

Thank you for your heart for God's people and the integrity and humility in demonstrating a Christlike example to the body of Christ, especially to our brothers and sisters who remain captivated and bound by SGM's oppressive doctrine and practice. May God bless your efforts.
Your brother in Christ and fellow warrior, Bob Dixon

Lynn said...

Excellent! I too repent and am grateful for fellowship with all believers!! Thanks Vince for telling it so well.

Anonymous said...

Hi! Thanks for starting this up. Like the rest o' the blogs, I'm sure it will be a place of healing and refuge for so many who've been hurt and/or deceived.

In the beginning of your post, you mentioned that you felt you bore the responsibility for submitting beyond the confines of scriptural obligation? Can you explain at what point you became aware of this? That is, at what point did you become aware that you were submitting to the church in a way that was not in keeping with your biblical responsibility. And, also, when did you begin to become convicted of sin in this area after you realized that perhaps you were following the church in an extrabiblical way? I'm asking because as an ex-SGMer myself, I'm not feeling that same conviction, but I'm thinking maybe I should. That is, I feel more like I was deceived by the leadership, and so I'm not yet convicted that I have sinned by being a member for so long. But...again, maybe I should be.??

PamS said...

Amen, Amen, Amen! I couldn't have said it better. What a ride
,

Vince said...

Anonymous said...
Hi! Thanks for starting this up. Like the rest o' the blogs, I'm sure it will be a place of healing and refuge for so many who've been hurt and/or deceived.

In the beginning of your post, you mentioned that you felt you bore the responsibility for submitting beyond the confines of scriptural obligation? Can you explain at what point you became aware of this? That is, at what point did you become aware that you were submitting to the church in a way that was not in keeping with your biblical responsibility. And, also, when did you begin to become convicted of sin in this area after you realized that perhaps you were following the church in an extrabiblical way? I'm asking because as an ex-SGMer myself, I'm not feeling that same conviction, but I'm thinking maybe I should. That is, I feel more like I was deceived by the leadership, and so I'm not yet convicted that I have sinned by being a member for so long. But...again, maybe I should be.??

Thanks for writing, Anonymous
My realization of the error of my ways came in stages.
First as we left the church we realized our submission to these specific leaders was inappropriate because it became clear it was more about following them than following them as they followed Christ.

The problem is we then submitted to a similar ministry in the same way and found the same authoritarian leadership. Actually the Lord was using this to show us this vulnerability. We simply exchanged taskmasters.
The turning point was learning the true biblical teaching on leadership and authority. Dr. Steve Crosby's book "Authority, Accountability and the Apostolic Movement" was very helpful in clarifying scriptures that have been misinterpreted and abused to promote this method of controlling God's people.

I would add that because of a leadership call in my life, I had the added concern of people who came with us in this "church plant" and were abused again.

I chalk it up to me being a slow learner. As for you, ask the Lord to search your heart. Don't look for sin that may not even be there. If there is, the Holy Spirit will be faithful to convict, but not condemn.

Virginia Knowles said...

Sorry my link didn't work! Here it is again...
http://watchtheshepherd.blogspot.com/2011/07/my-thoughts-on-cj-mahaney-and-sovereign.html

Anonymous said...

Vince, this is very encouraging! I was recently introduced to a book that amazingly chronicles what took place in my mind under the abusive leadership that I subjected myself to. I think you will find it a beneficial read. It's: http://www.amazon.com/Twisted-Scriptures-Mary-Alice-Chrnalogar/dp/0310234085

You should have my email info, please feel free to email me. And praise God for HIS faithfulness to you.