The church network pushed back against renewed scrutiny around SGC and former president C. J. Mahaney’s response to abuse claims.
Despite continued calls for an independent, third-party investigation into Sovereign Grace Churches (SGC) and its response to abuse allegations, the network has officially taken the option off the table, calling it “inappropriate, impractical, unjust” and “impossible.”
Controversy has surrounded SGC—previously Sovereign Grace Ministries, or SGM—and its founder C. J. Mahaney since at least 2012, when SGM’s flagship congregation faced a lawsuit alleging a sexual abuse cover-up, which was later dismissed on procedural grounds.
This year, as evangelicals ramp up their response to abuse, top leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention have joined the scrutiny over Mahaney and his current congregation, SGC Louisville, which is also affiliated with the SBC.
In a statement released this week, SGC declared that there hasn’t been enough credible evidence against its leaders or churches to necessitate an investigation and that an outside query would violate the church’s ecclesiastical accountability structure.
“We remain persuaded that an investigation of the sort we’ve been challenged to authorize—both in good faith and otherwise—is inappropriate, impractical, unjust, and finally would be unsatisfactory to all interested parties,” the 2,300-word statement concluded. “Most importantly, as far as we’re able to discern, we believe this course, the theological capitulation it would represent, and the precedent it would set, would ultimately dishonor Christ and harm the cause of the gospel.”
SGC, a network of 72 evangelical churches with headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky, said the decision was made in consult with fellow pastors, Christian ...
Let me give you a recommendation.
Choosing a college can be a daunting task. If you are going into ministry, you don’t just have to decide the college, but you have to decide the type of college.
You have to consider majors, locations, costs, student activities, school reputation and more in order to make one of the biggest decisions of your life.
If God is calling you to ministry, there’s a whole new set of questions you will likely ask yourself. You’ll be considering the school’s view of Scripture, denominational affiliation, areas of expertise, and how your time spent in college will be used for kingdom purposes.
Let me tell you why I think you should consider Wheaton College for your undergraduate degree.
First, Wheaton College is continually ranked one of the top colleges in national publications both in academics and affordability. With its long history of training some of the world’s most known religious leaders like the late evangelists Billy and Ruth Graham and missionaries Jim and Elisabeth Elliot, Wheaton College has demonstrated its commitment to educational excellence and solid Christian values.
If you are planning to go into ministry, let me particularly tell you about the degree where I serve as dean—the B.A. in Christian Formation and Ministry. Here are a few reasons I’d encourage you to consider to come study with us.
First, there is value in studying at an evangelical school.
When you’re deciding if a Christian college is a good fit for you, you have to think about the school’s mission and vision to make sure it aligns with your convictions regarding the calling God has placed on your life.
Wheaton is an evangelical school where we’re working to show Christ in every aspect of our lives, ...
Denominations that support and enhance the biblical mission of the local church will thrive. Those that don't will continue to decline.
There are only two forms of the church that ultimately matter.
The universal church and the local church.
Everything else is an add-on. Including buildings, furniture, styles of music, types of preaching, curriculum, and the subject of today’s article, denominations.
I’m not against denominations. I’ve been in one my whole life and it’s been a blessing to our church and to me personally.
But, like church buildings, pews, choir robes or skinny jeans on the worship leader, it’s a temporary condition that has a limited life-span.
As I’ve traveled around the world over the last several years, I’ve ministered in churches of almost every denomination and non-denomination. By doing so, I’ve learned a lot about the state of denominations today.
Here are 14 of my observations:1. We are in a post-denominational culture.
It’s not coming. It’s here.
Like hymnbooks and pews bolted to the floor, there are still a lot of denominations around, but they’re becoming less common, especially among younger, newer churches.
Also like the changes from pews and hymnbooks to portable seats and video screens, this is not all good or all bad.
Whether we like it or not, the Baby Boomers are likely to be the last generation that will care, commit to, or fight over denominational labels. (More on that in point 12.)2. Denominations are still extremely helpful, especially for small churches.
Big churches have the size, the money and the infrastructure to operate independently far more easily than small churches.
Plus, as I’ve pointed out in Small Church Essentials, bigger churches have a lot more in common with each other than small churches do, so they have a greater ability to lean on each other ...
Leverage agile frameworks to provide a robust synopsis for high level overviews. Iterative Iterative approaches Iterative approaches Iterative approachesSummer Finn, a narrator tells us, is an average woman in many ways— like height and weight,
though slightly above average shoe size.
Yet something about her arrests men's attention. She gets an average of 18.4 double takes per day. This is, we are told, "the Summer Effect."
She's the new assistant to Vance, who runs a greeting card company. Tom Hansen, one of the card writers, is struck by her presence. A few days later, in an elevator, she overhears the Smiths leaking from Tom's earphones. "I love the Smiths!" she says, then softly sings along, "'To die by your side, is such a heavenly way to die.'"
And so a relationship begins. But what kind of relationship is it? In a conversation soon after at work, Tom says it's possible to meet the one you were made for and fall in love forever. Summer says she doesn't believe in love; all she wants is to "have fun and save the serious stuff for later." At this, Tom's bug-eyed coworker McKenzie blurts out, "She's a dude!"
This movie charts 500 days in Tom and Summer's relationship, skipping forward and backward during that time (though preceding each scene with the day's number, to keep us oriented; this is not one of those artsy time-shuffle films that sets out to confuse you). And, though it's billed as a comedy, it casts a powerfully romantic spell. There will be proposals in the wake of this movie. Yet it's determinedly unsentimental, and there's nothing about it to repel male viewers. It doesn't look particularly romantic from the outside. It sneaks up on you.
What it does look like is an extraordinarily creative stretch of filmmaking. There are segments that recall Michel ...
These meetings are dry, contentious, and sometimes crucial for discerning God’s will.
The room felt like a balloon about to burst at the meeting that night. The church council was assembled to make a decision destined to divide the church. People sat on one side of the aisle or the other, based on their vote preference. It was like a grim wedding.
Representatives from the two factions made speeches in support of their proposals, couching their criticisms of the other side as compliments and prayer requests. After what seemed like a never-ending discussion, it was time to decide.
What was the topic up for debate, the issue for which people were ready to leave their beloved church? The naming of a new building. Some wanted it to be named after a lovely saint who had just passed—Mr. Joe—and others wanted it to honor a living saint—Mrs. Divine.
The tension was high because everyone loved the church. No one actually wanted to leave, but the fighting got so heated they were on the brink of hurting themselves and the church.A Biblical Process
Every time a major Christian denomination or local church gathers for their business meeting (I recently reported for Christianity Today on The United Methodist Church doing just that), people hurl critiques about that method of discernment. Surely these stilted, bureaucratic proceedings can’t be effective or holy. The process of motions and amendments and points of order is a far cry from our typical discernment process which might involve personal prayer and, in my case, a good cup of coffee.
How could the Holy Spirit speak through something as dry as a committee meeting or as acrimonious as a church council? Or if you want to phrase it in the terms of an angry Twitter user, “You can’t take a vote on God’s will!”
As it turns out, ...
Why You Can't Predict Church Growth, But You Can Predict Church Failure (And, Thankfully, Church Health)
Church growth is a mystery. Church failure is predictable. Church health is what really matters.
Everyone wants the sure thing.
If we just learn the right principles, follow the latest How To Grow Your Church list, or (my favorite) “do it like the early church”, then Boom! Our church is guaranteed numerical success.
Here’s the reality behind church growth.
You can predict church failure. Do enough of the wrong things (or not enough of the right things) and almost anyone can predict that a church body is doomed.
But you can’t predict church growth.
You can remove the obstacles to growth. You can put in systems that will help you be ready for growth. You can pray for growth, work for growth, preach about growth, evangelize for growth…
But none of that makes numerical church growth guaranteed or predictable.Why There Are No Growth Guarantees
How can I be so sure? Because there are so many great pastors and congregations that followed all the right steps but didn’t see the promised results. And there are other congregations that have made a ton of mistakes, but experienced rapid growth.
One church says “we followed the latest research, changed what needed to be changed, upgraded our music, our facility, our discipleship program, and that’s why we grew.” Another church says “all we did was preach the Word, and that’s why we grew.”
Meanwhile a third church says “we followed the latest research, changed what needed to be changed, upgraded our music, our facility, our discipleship program, but didn’t grow at all.” While the church down the street says “we’re just staying faithful and preaching the Word, but we’re not growing either.”
What you won’t ever hear is “we argue a lot over music, it takes forever ...
Just as my identity is not in my body, a church’s identity is not in its building – or it shouldn’t be.
In the next decade or two, we are going to see an unprecedented number of churches close their doors.
Unprecedented for North Americans churches, that is.
We know this is coming because we’ve already seen it happen in Europe. Many of their historic church buildings are as likely to be museums, offices, stores, apartments or empty shells as active places of worship today.
These losses will not just be among small churches. In the next 10 to 20 years, a lot of of big and megachurches will be gone, too. Especially those that have been built entirely on the talents and personalities of celebrity pastors.
In fact, it’s already happening. And the pace will increase.
Thankfully, many of those shuttered churches will be replaced by church plants, church restarts and so on. But, even so, when a church does close its doors, we need to do it well.
The church will last forever. Jesus promised that. But that doesn’t apply to individual congregations. History shows us that congregations have a finite life span – as I wrote about in 9 No-Fault Reasons Some Local Churches Close Their Doors.
The decisions about how to come to the end of a church’s life span need to start long before the final “sold” sign is on the lawn. Unfortunately, we have not been doing this well.
We need to downsize better.
Today I want to take a look at this difficult, but necessary topic by focusing on just one area that we could be making much better decisions in – what to do with the physical assets (mainly the land and building) of a dying church.What Not To Do
There are three mistakes I constantly see being made by dying churches when it comes to property management.
First, the slow fade.
Some call it faith. Some call it hopefulness. ...