Peacemaker’s Ministries: Honest Conflict Resolution?

They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly, Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace.
Jeremiah 6:14 NKJV
 

 

NASA

Earth-The Blue Marble-NASA

 

Deb and I are both excited and grateful to have Cynthia Kunsman write a post for TWW. We have long been admirers of Kunsman's blog. Here is proof. Not only do we link to her excellent blog, we wrote about her when this blog was in it's infancy in a post called, The Patriarchs Are Coming. LINK Back then, we did not know her. Can you imagine our excitement when she began to visit our blog and commenting here? We asked her if she would be willing to do a guest post for us and she graciously obliged. 

 

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At first glance, the Peacemaker Ministries (PM) model of conflict resolution seems virtuous, blessed, and benign. What Christian would resist the urging of Jesus to emulate the Beatitudes? Who would not want to pursue peace with a fellow believer? But closer examination of the foundational principles and practices of PM should give all Christians ample reason for concern. And though many have enjoyed a favorable experience through the use of the PM process of conflict resolution, this does not negate what many orthodox, conservative, traditional Evangelical Christians consider to be problematic. To some degree, even Sovereign Grace Ministries' (SGM) pastor Mark Mullery recently admitted to the limitations of the PM process by stating his church “unwisely used a Peacemaker model for conflict resolution” when finally addressing the harm, neglect, and abuse suffered by his parishioners in his Fairfax, Virgina SGM congregation LINK  and Transcript LINK 

Mullery's July 2011 statement addresses events that took place several years ago and follow a more recent and allegedly unrelated eruption of controversy within SGM. LINK  Early in 2009, a member of Mullery's church came forward online to tell of their painful experience of how the church and denomination revictimized them LINK after their child was sexually abused by a church member. LINK   Ken Sande, founder and president of Peacemaker Ministries, contacted the family personally (parents “Noel” and “Wallace”) to allegedly seek “peace” between their family and SGM. Sande also contacted the host of the SGM Survivors website (where the family’s personal account appeared online) in order to discuss “peace” through PM's interpretation of Matthew 18. “Kris,” the host of that website, declined to participate because she deemed the PM model and the use of Matthew 18 to be inappropriate for her situation. She also cites the obvious and gross conflict of interest presented by the longstanding personal relationship between CJ Mahaney of SGM and Mr. Sande.

In her online open letter to Mr. Sande in response, Kris presents an excellent summary of the primary concerns regarding the prototypical example of Noel's experience with SGM. LINKThe nature of Noel's situation demonstrates problems that PM intervention would likely exacerbate, merely serving the desires of SGM at the expense of the needs and basic rights of SGM members. Kris describes her perception of SGM's “deep-seated distrust” of and sense of superiority over any outside agents (e.g., mental health professionals and law enforcement), SGM’s desire to maintain a positive public image at all costs, their pattern of redirecting any problem back onto members as “sin issues” and lack of “submission” to their unquestionable authorities, and the tendency of SGM leadership to use humility as a cloak of justification to alleviate themselves of responsibility when grievances occur.

Much ongoing discussion exists among Protestants about the proper exegesis and application of the principles found in Matthew 18:15-17 as a formula that can be applied beyond the germane intent of the passage. This definitely factors into the manner in which PM approaches such conflict. LINK (The discussion of the interpretation and application of Matthew 18 concerning offenses among Christians poses a related universe of discussion of its own. LINK ) In addition to these specific matters concerning SGM, the fact that Sande and PM apparently receive fiduciary benefit from the relationship with SGM adds to the existing conflict of interest of the personal relationship Sande shares with Mahaney. But what of the more obvious foundational problems within the PM paradigm concerning conflicts among Christians?

Is it appropriate to involve attorneys in matters concerning church life?

Full Disclosure

When I looked at the PM website for the first time a couple of years ago, I had a great deal of difficulty finding Mr. Sande's specific credentials. He presented himself to Kris as a neutral party (not as an attorney) who was interested in resolving conflict and promoting “peace." The PM website does not specifically state that Sande is an attorney, but it does state that their group also provide services of legally binding arbitration with mediation as a preliminary course of action as is necessary. LINK 

After much searching, I finally learned that Sande was both an engineer and an attorney – not by reading the website, but through an article in Christianity Today. I found the lack of full disclosure on Sande's part which would allow for true informed consent to be a bit disturbing from the perspective of a layperson.

Signing of Covenants

PM recommends that churches require members to sign Covenants when they join, a practice that was very popular among the participants of Shepherding and Discipleship during the 1970s, prior to the disbanding of most formal groups who followed the practice. In several documents including the longer document entitled “Relational Commitments,” PM offers a sample covenant that can be tailored to an individual church's needs, “to promote peace, preserve relationships, reduce a church’s exposure to legal liability, and ultimately to improve a church’s ability to model and proclaim the gospel of Christ.” LINK Why would a verbal commitment to Christian conduct be considered insufficient?

Should a church be concerned with having a new member sign a statement that reduces the church's exposure to legal liability, and shouldn't such a request be a red flag to a new member at the beginning of their relationship with a new church? As a layperson, would the knowledge that a group of attorneys crafted the church membership document that you were about to sign give you some pause? I suppose that it depends on your perception and what you see as the role of the local church in the life of a Believer. Manipulators often use such commitments against their targets to get people to make stubborn commitment to some course of action that eventually causes them to act against their own best interests. LINKThis was very true of the Shepherding/Discipleship movement of which Sovereign Grace Ministries was a part in its former incarnation as the spiritually abusive “People of Destiny.” LINK (Would that fact also give you pause if asked to sign a Church Covenant by SGM?)

Ambiguous definition of the term “forgiveness”

In Chapter 10 of Ken Sande’s book “The Peacemaker,” Sande does present a definition of aphiemi, the NT Greek word for “forgive” (to remit or release). However, he chooses to blend the definition of the word forgiveness with that of “reconciliation” and argues that Christians are not only required to release others from their debts, they are also required to reconcile. In the context of the culture and the original language of the New Testament, the word forgiveness was a term that was usually applied to money. If someone owes you money and does not pay it, you have the right to go to them to demand the debt from them. If you forgive them, you waive your rights to collect on the debt. LINK 

Reconciliation is a different NT Greek word altogether, katallage. This is also a term used to describe financial transactions, and it is very different from simply forgiving a debt. Reconciliation is a reckoning and agreement that the parties make that essentially wipes away all history of the debt. You reconcile the books and start new ones. LINK  

Consider that you go to market and pay $1 for a pound of meal. You get home, and you realize that you’ve only been given half of a pound. It is your right to go back to that vendor to demand that they either give some money back or give you a half pound of meal. When you forgive that debt, you agree to not demand anything of that vendor. You just let it go.

When you go back to the vendor again, what happens if they repeat this error and fail to take responsibility for their error? You may again decide that you will forgive the vendor, releasing your right to go back to demand justice. But consider that when you need more meal, are you going to go back to this same vendor to do business, or are you going to take your business somewhere else? Would it be wise to give place to strife, knowing that you will likely be cheated again and again?

If you were wronged and decided to reconcile with this vendor (above and beyond forgiveness of debt), that is a decision to forget that any wrong was ever done, and you affirm them as a legitimate party who has done right by you. You agree contractually to go do business with them, behaving as though they’d never cheated you before. That is quite different than forgiving a debt.

Paul did not declare the Gospel of Forgiveness to us in 2 Corinthians 5. He declared the Gospel of Reconciliation to us, a far more powerful act. Forgiveness means that we don’t have to pay the debt we owe to God. Reconciliation means that Jesus not only pays our debt, He declares us righteous before God, and then He goes to prison for us, too. We get His righteousness and He gets our sin, and then by the power of His Blood, He wipes those sins completely off the books. That is far more than just forgiving a debt but is atonement, expiation, and a complete extinguishing of the wrong.

God requires us to forgive our enemies, but He does not require us to reconcile if there is no contrition. PM merges forgiveness with reconciliation, describing “forgiveness as a decision to make four promises”: LINK

1. I will not dwell on this incident.
2. I will not bring up this incident again and use it against you.
3. I will not talk to others about this incident.
4. I will not let this incident stand between us or hinder our personal relationship.

Points 1 & 2 are essential for true forgiveness; however points 3 & 4 which define reconciliation and are not required for forgiveness alone. Point 4 also suggests and infers that pragmatic considerations, e.g., avoiding someone who assaulted you, though you may have forgiven them in earnest, should not be considered as separate from personal considerations. The personal accounts of families of molested children demonstrates that SGM interpreted such pragmatic concerns as personal ones, requiring families to allow their children and other children to mingle with their abusers as a demonstration of forgiveness.

If your child was molested, you can forgive the offender, but is it right to never speak about the incident with others or to be required to have intimate contact or unhindered contact with the offender? Sometimes peace is maintained by avoidance, a measure that resists the development of strife. Should your child be forbidden to work through the long lasting and profound effects that the incident created for them through discussion? Should they be forbidden to take measures in the interests of their own safety through forced social interaction with their abuser? That’s appropriate? It is if you’ve been following shepherding and were raised to believe that this is proper conduct and what the Bible demands of a Christian.

Promotion of an Inequitable Balance of Power

In the event of a conflict between church leaders and a 'rank and file' parishioner, the previously stated concern over the church's interest in “reducing exposure to legal liability” suggests if not predicates an inequitable balance of power. The parishioner has already agreed to relinquish some rights and privileges which might allow them legal recourse in the event of legitimate mistreatment. LINK

More specifically, parishioners are required to sign a commitment to church discipline and submission to church leadership in their Covenant when they join and again when they agree to use the conflict resolution services of PM. In an ideal situation when leadership is well qualified and legitimate, this system should work well; but not all situations are ideal, particularly the volatile ones. What if your leader is corrupt or has repeatedly refused to deal with your situation appropriately? What if they are lacking in true moral character and the PM mediator does not recognize your concerns?

If a pastor or a favored member of a congregation spiritually abuses another member, that leader already holds an upper hand over the abused member. Without any kind of pre-existing formal commitment to submit to authority, it is quite easy for the leadership to exploit their position to get what they want and to cover their errors. How more powerful do they become if the member is also asked to sign a formal commitment which guarantees their submission to their church authority? Does that balance power to provide the opportunity for the member to find justice, or does it stack the power against them? Does not the benefit of the doubt formally and informally then fall to the church leadership?

If you're a member of SGM who must present disturbing and unpleasant problems that leadership would rather ignore, do you believe that Ken Sande (the attorney) can be fair, considering that he gets paid by Mahaney, derives business from Mahaney, and is personal friends with Mahaney, and that Mahaney has been very satisfied with the PM system for many years?

Commitment to accept PM's paradigm, principles, and decisions

Complexity of the Paradigm

It is certainly important to commit to resolve conflict amicably, especially among Christians who are in disagreement; however, just a cursory review of the myriad of documents and statements and principles on the PM website alone is quite overwhelming. Imagine the burden of a layperson who must review such information while under the duress resulting from a personal conflict with your church. The purpose of the group involves resolution of conflict to avoid legal recourse but with legal recourse as a tool that the mediators take into consideration from the beginning of their intervention. Given all of the documents and books and other materials, should a layperson employ their own attorney to help them? Must you hire a lawyer to review the membership covenant document before you join the church as well?

Control of Milieu and Criticism

One of the foundational principles of the PM model that can be found in “The Four Promises of Forgiveness” states that those involved in PM intervention will never talk to others about the incident. LINK The paradigm deems discussion of such matters to be gossip and against Christian principle when discussion of certain matters may actually be highly appropriate.

I know a pastor who became so angry at a church member that he picked up a metal chair and hurled it at her (about 5 feet to the side of her), with such force that it broke the chair and damaged the wall. If your child was molested by a teenager who often works for many families in your congregation as a babysitter, should that matter not be discussed among those others who place their children in the care of this teen? Under such circumstances involving a lack of character which disqualifies a church leader from their position or a situation that threatens the safety of lambs, should such matters really be kept private? Should church members be sworn to silence regarding these types of events? Why should there be any need to enlist a paternalistic organization like PM to make those decisions for mature believers?

Declaring others unbelievers to trigger the option to sue

Despite the safeguards of a blanket pledge to uphold PM principles, commitments, and covenants, the PM paradigm does NOT likewise require a blanket commitment to the principle of 1 Corinthians 6 which requires Christians to handle their disagreements outside of the court of the State. In the book “The Peacemaker” by Ken Sande, Appendix D lists conditions that Sande believes satisfy a Christian's right to take another Christian to court. Page 282 states that “if your opponent still refuses to cooperate [with church discipline measures], and if these advisors conclude that your opponent is behaving 'as a nonbeliever' and that your action is worth pursing, you may be able to proceed with a lawsuit.” This tactic is well known within Reformed homeschooling circles as a means of keeping controversy quiet and threatening others into compliance through not only legal threats but through archaic and legalistic ecclesial court procedures wherein individuals are deemed nonbelievers and are even discharged from their churches.

How simple would it be for someone in leadership at a church use their influence the church to declare a problematic member a nonbeliever? Is it not ironic that in the early process of negotiations, parties must commit to certain rigid principles and standards of conduct, but in the end, parties are also afforded the option to abandon the proceedings? I've known of several incidences where manipulators used the PM process to not only silence critics, but to also play out the statute of limitations so that it became impossible to pursue legal action when the PM failed to produce reconciliation.

Please also note that the requirement to seek the advisors within the one's church to gain permission to pursue legal action found in Sande's book suggests a Shepherding Discipleship style model of ecclesiocentricity (church-centeredness). Is it necessary for a church member to submit such decisions to church leaders to deem an action “worth pursuing” for permission to follow that course of action? In that case, are these church leaders advisors, or are they paternalistic overseers?

Summary

Peacemaker Ministries follows a model which requires all participants to surrender to what is much like what Robert Lifton described as the Sacred Science: neither a leader nor the group’s doctrine can ever be wrong or misguided because PM's model suggests an a priori preference for the authority of leadership over the rights of a member. LINK  The group also demands perfection and purity from participants, as well as a willingness to assume blame, even when such blame is inappropriate. LINK and LINK  

As Kris of SGM Survivors pointed out in her open letter to Ken Sande, SGM has historically favored the manipulative practices that were and are common within the Shepherding/Discipleship Movement LINK and their overt focus on submission doctrine LINK , factors which the PM model seem to magnify. Any problem suffered by a church member is assumed to be ultimately created by that member who must therefore bear the stigma of failure and sin, usually through some lack of submission or failed compliance with unwritten and unofficial cultural demands and expectations of the church. The initial commitments required by PM puts a heaver weight of value on the virtuous and lofty end of the global mission of the larger church which seems to justify any injustices suffered by the individual member.

One must also understand the shame-based culture of SGM and the grid through which it articulates the PM process. The principles of PM may work within a healthy church that does not capitalize on shame and does not use heavy-handed means of control. One must understand the connotation and the loaded language as it is understood by the member which creates informal double messages and moral imperatives from the “Biblical” language and unique terms used within SGM.
 

  • “Don’t spread discord among the brethren.” (Understood: You’re never allowed to voice legitimate complaints or problems, even if people are grievously sinning and harming one another.)
  • “Touch not mine anointed (ministers), and do my prophets no harm.” (Understood: It is a sin to criticize any minister or voice anything remotely problematic concerning them.)
  • “The gifts and callings of God are irrevocable.” (Understood: Your anointed apostles have a higher connection with God and gifts to minister, permanent offices that are not dependent on their behavior, so it is sinful to do anything which might cause them to be removed from their position.)

Rise to the challenge and compare the practices of both SGM and PM to David Henke's model of Spiritual Abuse. LINK  Decide for yourself whether the paradigms employed by both groups correspond to the characteristics of spiritually abusive systems and the behaviors of their leadership. The choice is yours.
 

  • Authoritarian: Over-emphasis on authority, submission, and chain of command and anointed leaders assume the right to command members because of their special identity and their relationship with God
  • Image Conscious: Appearances validate members' and the group's specialness to God which creates a sense of elitism within the group
  • Suppresses Criticism: Questioning doctrine and leadership are forbidden and punished
  • Perfectionistic: Performance and conformity to group expectations and norms is rewarded while noncompliance is punished
  • Unbalanced: Group majors on minor doctrines, displacing central and core Christian beliefs which become secondary to the pet doctrines and interests of the group

Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.
And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
Joshua 24:14-15 ESV

Cynthia Mullen Kunsman, RN, BSN, MMin , ND

www.UnderMuchGrace.com
(Discussing the phenomenon of
Spiritual Abuse in Evangelical Churches)

Comments

Peacemaker’s Ministries: Honest Conflict Resolution? — 167 Comments

  1. 40 years ago, I studied conflict, its causes and resolutions. Among other things, our study group predicted the 1973 Arab-Israeli war within a couple of months, two-three years in advance, based on analysis of media from the region (the prediction became more accurate over the period). I mediated my first conflict situation in the spring of 1970, helping to resolve the takeover of a campus building without property damage, busted heads, or arrests. I have since mediated or conciliated environmental disputes, occupational safety and health issues, property settlement in divorce proceedings, public housing disputes, a church dispute involving a sexually straying pastor, and numerous quibbles between my children.

    One process or approach does not fit each situation. However, the goal is always to help the parties reach a fair resolution that the parties all agree upon, freely and without coercion. We always strive for conciliation when it is likely that the parties will continue to interact with each other, such as during a divorce where there are children involved. The difference is that conciliation seeks to help the parties to have a positive relationship with each other, rather than merely resolving the present dispute on terms agreeable to the parties.

    When one party has done serious harm to the other party, and cannot recognize or admit that they caused the harm, conciliation is not a viable goal. In the SGM child abuse cases, the church leaders failed to insist on full confession by the perpetrator, and to remove the perpetrator from circumstances that might result in additional harm to the victim or harm to other children. They put a great burden on the family of the victim to conciliate with a non-confessing, non-repentant, non-atoning party, a resolution that is contra-biblical.

    That made the church leaders perpetrators of additional harm to the victims. Again, the PM process requires parties to conciliate, even when the perpetrators, in this case the church leaders, do not confess their error and and place the blame for the conflict on the victims. The process just does not fit.

    Professionally trained mediators and academicians that have studied conflict resolution understand these problems, which is why few would participate in a PM style attempt to resolve a conflict.

    The PM approach works with the parties are of equal authority, are equally wrong in the situation, and are equally willing admit their wrongs and committed to resolving the situation. Those situations are rare, and especially rare when a pastor is involved or is trying to protect the reputation of the church.

    Thus, applying PM to a pastor-congregant dispute, involving child abuse or other event that threatens the public image of the pastor and the church, is, a priori, doomed to failure. Toss in a biased third party, a non-neutral, and you have the ingredients for further abuse of the victims, as has clearly happened in SGM churches over decades.

  2. Unequal power or authority in a conflict makes the PM process unlikely to succeed and likely to cause additional harm.

  3. This is very well done. I am very familiar with Peacemaker’s Ministries (been there, done that, have the t-shirt). They are typical of way too much of so-called evangelicalism, looking to the Scriptures for “methods” and “systems” and “how-to’s.” In the best case the “evangelical” is looking to the Scriptures for such so as to apply them to oneself. Too often, though (and unbelievers can spot this at 1000 yards) the “evangelical” is primarily looking to Scripture for “methods” and “systems” and data by which they can judge and/or control OTHERS (all the while feeling better about oneself as someone who “knows” and even “follows” God’s ways, unlike the OTHERS).

    But in either scenario God’s Word is trivialized and domesticated. When Peacemakers (and their devotees) draw near to the Word of God to find the “how to’s” and “methods” and “systems” (complete with glossy tri-folds, catchy phrases, and diagrams) for putting one of the holy, mysterious, and unfathomable beatitudes from the Incarnate Son of God’s mouth into practice, they are like the Scoutmaster who advises his Boy Scout troop to get up close to the raging forest fire to get their hot dogs and marshmallows roasted. Assuming the Boy Scouts survive (not necessarily a safe assumption, as some of the brave testimonies of former evangelicals here at TWW demonstrate), one thing is clear. No matter what, that guy needs to never again be a Scoutmaster.

    The Word of God will not be domesticated.

  4. Arce

    Do you think that it is ethical to have members in a conflict sign a covenant about things such as nondisclosure, etc. without informing said congregants that these documents have been drawn up by an attorney? I am becoming more and more concerned about these types on documents/covenants that churches are using from Peacemakers and other groups that do no reveal that attorneys were involved in the process. However, I would guess that the covenants could be thrown out by a court if push came to shove because of nondisclosure.

  5. Pal

    interesting statement. It always fascinates me when a group picks and chooses amongst Scripture to justify any sort of process.For many years i was guilty of this myself. I know of supposed Christian who justify slavery because of certain passages.

    I, too, saw a “board” investigate something at a church and, of course, exonerated all the pastors and cast aspersions at those folks who raised legitimate questions, including spreading unfounded rumors about those raising the questions.

    I would far rather take my chances with the legal system instead of the biased church “leadership.”

  6. “I would guess that the covenants could be thrown out by a court if push came to shove because of nondisclosure.”

    Only in a fantasy world. There is not time nor space to detail all of the case law/court rulings regarding lawsuits against a church in the area of church discipline (or abusive church authroitarianism). Courts are loathe to violate the precious “wall of separation” and in almost every case will opt not to interfere in “internal” ecclesiastical affairs.

    A quick Google search turns up these gems:

    Paul vs. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society
    (9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, San Francisco, 1987)

    Summary: A Jehovah’s Witness in Washington withdrew from the church because she felt her parents had been unjustly excommunicated. The denomination said members who quit should be treated just like those who are excommunicated. When the member visited her hometown, friends in the church shunned her.

    Outcome: The court said she had no standing because shunning is part of the faith and protected by the Constitution.

    Williams vs. Gleason
    (14th District Texas Court of Appeals, Houston, 2000)

    Summary: Elders at a Presbyterian church disputed a Sunday school teacher’s lessons. The teacher filed a complaint against the elders. They in turn accused him of lying and disciplined him. A deacon’s wife called another Presbyterian church where the teacher preached and questioned his qualifications.

    Outcome: The court said it was constitutionally prohibited from ruling on an ecclesiastical dispute over church discipline.

    Bryce vs. Episcopal Church
    (10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Denver, 2002)

    Summary: A Colorado Episcopal church sent letters and held meetings with members after learning that its youth minister had entered into a same-sex civil commitment with a minister in a non-Episcopal church. The letters said homosexuals are promiscuous and get terrible diseases. The youth minister and her partner said members made offensive remarks at the church meetings.

    Outcome: The court said the two women had no standing to sue. Though the partner wasn’t a member, the church still had a right to discuss their religious beliefs.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120061470848399079.html
    /

  7. Oh my word. Just found another error that makes me sound ignant of the Englesh lankwich. (But I’m honored that Arce seems to like what I’ve written!)

    Paraklete,

    Wouldn’t these rulings have more to do with the primary reluctance of the courts to insert themselves in a church discipline conflict under religious freedom and less to do with the fact that a person signed a “covenant agreement” (another buzz term among the Calvinistas)?

    And wouldn’t it also depend somewhat on the degree of suffering and harm sustained by the plaintiff?

    If a church staff member assaulted someone physically, or if someone met the burden of committing libel against a minister, wouldn’t that signed membership covenant carry much less weight than if the plaintiff merely found it necessary to find a new church (such as in the case of these examples concerning shunning)? The law protects people against real physical harm or violation of the law concerning libel (which is also hard to prove) but doesn’t provide for socially ostracizing a person.

    ??

  8. Cindy, Excellent summary of the problem. The big one for me is how they twist forgiveness. You laid it out well. To suggest that we are to reconcile with those who have commited vile crimes and not repented or even dealt criminal charges for the consequence is ridiculous.

    Forgive, as in our giving up any right to revenge. Yes.

    Reconcile and pretend like your child was never molested at all even being expected to not to press charges and then fellowship with the predator? No Way.

    Are some churches practicing their own form of Sharia law?

  9. @Dee “However, I would guess that the covenants could be thrown out by a court if push came to shove because of nondisclosure.”

    The problem is that challenging the arbitration clause will cost you at least $100,000 and four years of your life irrespective of the outcome, which I agree is not likely to be favorable for a long list of reasons whether the issue involves a church or not.

    So for all practical purposes these covenants are binding on a civil level. Criminal issues are a different story.

    I think the devil personally invented three things over the past 20 years and binding arbitration, especially mandatory binding arbitration, is one of them.

  10. Keep clear of all written covenants within this or any other religious setting. My forefathers signed the ‘Ulster Covenant’ in their blood at the founding of the Northern Irish ‘state’ and looked what happened there! Lots of spilled blood throughout its history.

    Covenant is not the channel through which Divine grace flows in human affairs. It looks good but at its heart is a religiously self-righteous system, often used as a means of dissent control.

  11. Shazam, we don’t like Peacekeepers either.

    A strong and righteous female blogger has pointed out the many flaws of this ministry headed up by a man, Ken Sande (weak and sinful), who has now joined the long list of men in ministry with whom Wartburg and others, have problems.

    The list of men who shouldn’t be in ministry does go on and on.

  12. Seneca,

    There are a lot of people who treat the ministry as an opportunity for a career that can give them wealth and power over other people, and both motivations are wrong. Some did not start out that way, but came to believe that they are SPECIAL and that that gives them the right. Others started out there. Some are the children of pastors and “inherited” ministry as a family business.

    The bible teaches that God requires of people that they act justly (defined throughout the bible as taking care of those in need), have mercy (being willing to help and to forgive others their sins against us), and to be humble in our walk.

    Humbleness is not generally a characteristic of those who are abusive in their ministry or who participate in abusive ministries. “Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble . . ..”

    The Wartburg Watch could write up one pastor a day for 30 years and not deal with all of those who do not belong in the ministry because of their abusive practices. They lack a servant’s heart and harm the cause of Christ by those abusive practices. The reputation of Christians as a group is created by those.

    As a Baptist, evangelical, etc., Christian, who reads the bible and understands that I do not stack up against its teachings, I support and endorse those who stand up against abusive pastors, whether male or female. And some female pastors are just as abusive, but there are fewer female pastors in total in the US, and the theology and ecclesiology that supports abuse also mitigates against female pastorates in those churches and denominations.

  13. Cindy K,

    Thanks for writing this excellent post!

    I just started reading Sande’s book The Peacemaker yesterday and plan to finish it this weekend. I will likely follow up your post with some additional “observations” on Monday.

    Blessings!

  14. Dee

    A covenant that does not limit reporting of crimes to the civil authorities is not likely to be tossed by a court, but a court can also choose to ignore the covenant, if it is not mutual and balanced, or places unreasonable restrictions on one side but not the other. Courts generally enforce arbitration clauses unless they are egregiously unfair. Agreements that restrict discussing a settlement are also generally enforced, IF the settlement or agreement was voluntarily signed.

    Suits by current or former members against the apparently duly appointed, elected, etc. leadership of a church are generally tossed, unless there is a clear tort by an individual or small group that is outside the parameters. Sexual abuse, theft, fraud, assault, and the like are not likely to be protected from reporting to the civil authorities, since those are crimes.

  15. Dee

    As an attorney, I would want any such covenant to be drawn up by someone with legal training and a commitment to biblical justice in the church. The problem is that the covenants so drawn tend to be one sided in how they are worded and implemented. They are like the “contracts” you enter into when you get a credit card — totally written to protect one side and granting them extraordinary powers, such as the power to change the terms with fairly short notice (one or two billing cycles). All of the power or authority in the covenant rests with the duly elected, appointed etc. leadership of the church, because that’s who it protects. Such covenants should be developed by a broad committee of the church, in consultation with an attorney, and the committee should be directed to create a document that protects the members as well as the entity. Then it should be amendable by the congregation through several iterations. Balance should be achieved prior to adoption.

    Such covenants should also exclude certain issues from their coverage. Further, when disputes are resolved, the nature of the dispute and its resolution should be shared with the congregation, in a fair and balanced presentation, and the congregation should be the final arbiter.

  16. A Great Example of an Egregious Abuse of an Arbitration Clause: Jamie Lee Jones, the Woman Who Was Unable to Sue Halliburton After Being Raped

    Hello folks, the legal issues at hand are complex and I’m certainly no lawyer. However, you can get a great overview of the implications of mandatory arbitration at the site of one my favorite heroines, Jamie Lee Jones, the woman who was raped while working in Iraq and unable to sue her employer Halliburt/KBR due to a mandatory arbitration clause in her contract. I won’t spoil the ending but the story got a lot of press in 2007 and then 2011 when Ms. Jones finally got her day (literally) in court.

    It’s a sad but inspirational story about how one person truly can make a difference in the lives of many. http://www.jamiesfoundation.org/index.htm

    @Cindy K

    I second Deb’s thanks for writing a great article. Corporations have seized on ways to stick it to people since the Supreme Court ruled that binding arbitration was a legal means of resolving problems.

    Peacemakers is just a manifestation of the fact that mega churches are businesses first and churches a distant second. in my opinion.

    What scares me is the idea that Christians shouldn’t sue other Christians. In the U.S., the civil legal system is the best means we have of pursuing justice fairly, something the Bible indicates we should prioritize, all legitimate concerns about Mat. 18’s application notwithstanding.

    Best to all – Janna

  17. @Seneca: Find Me 10 Prominent Women Ministers and I Will Ask Dee and Deb to Write About at Least One of Them

    I’ll make you a deal, my friend. Do some research and if you post the names of 10 prominent women ministers, defined as women who have been featured in at least two non-Christian media sources that are not blogs, I will intercede on your behalf (because I probably have a little more credibility with Dee and Deb than you presently have) to write about at least one of them.

    This is far from being an impossible task. You can make me look like an idiot and prove you’re not a troll with just a little effort on your part.

    In fact, you can even hit the jackpot and find the name of a woman who’s been in the news lately that Dee and Deb almost certainly don’t believe is qualified to be a minister for reasons having nothing to do with her gender.

    Rooting for you, buddy!

    Janna

  18. Seneca

    Do you know what grief we took over Joyce Meyer? How about some minor critique of Beth Moore? We still get emails on both of those from folks who think we are Satan’s spawn.

    Because most evangelical churches reject women pastors, the ons who are getting into trouble are men. Now, if the church would open the door to more women in the pulpit, perhaps the stats would change.

    This is akin to saying that the press in abusing only male Roman Catholic priests. What other kind are there?

  19. Arce

    At least credit cards have all those thousands of unreadable words that give some form of warning.The mere presence of the words mean “buyer beware.” In some of these abusive churches, these covenants are presented from the pulpit as being from the very word of God Himself.

    We wrote a post on Membership Covenant red flags. http://thewartburgwatch.com/2011/02/25/membership-covenant-red-flags/

    I have signed these before but they were written by decent churches with no history of abusive practices. But, with the way this authoritarian stuff is infecting the SBC, SGM, and other such groups, I think it would behoove everyone to be very, very careful.

  20. @Seneca Dee is right and I certainly don’t determine the content of this blog. But you can still make yourself look great and make Dee and Deb want to smack me upside the head even more than they probably already want to do so.

    I know you can rise (you people have dirty minds) to this challenge, my friend!

    @everyone

    Regarding church covenants, asking oneself the following question and praying about it may be helpful:

    Is there any good reason for me to sign this thing?

  21. “Do you know what grief we took over Joyce Meyer? How about some minor critique of Beth Moore? We still get emails on both of those from folks who think we are Satan’s spawn.”

    There you go, Seneca. There are two right there. Meyer is so off the charts, I don’t think she needs explanation. Moore is a bit more difficult because people really believe she is more mainstream. But recently she taught that Hebrews 10 is about “self” confidence. There is more on Moore, but that is bad enough.

    And you are a teddy bear compared to the Moore defenders!

    It is a simple matter of numbers. There are about 10,000 to 1, male to female ratio of preachers/leaders in American Christianity. :o)

  22. Cindy, this post is a bookmarker. I wish I would have had it years ago to send people to to warn them off this process. I have known people in the past who used PM to their own detriment. I think you know at least one of whom I am talking about… but the poor man has been through enough misery brought on by these people.

  23. Deb/Dee

    I actually researched your site to see if you had done Joyce Meyer ( you had, two articles).

    I think you got about a total of 25 comments. I would have thought there would have been more (lack of comments not your fault).
    As the St. Louis Post Dispatch pointed out, hers was the number uno money making ministry in 2005 or so (my recall about 95 million.)
    I confess, I’m not a Joyce fan but she does draw them.

  24. @Seneca – Thanks for Revealing Another Incident in Which Ann Coulter Has Lied…That Makes the Total Tally of Official Lies about 301 Perhaps

    Thanks for the link. Professional fact checkers have found several hundred factual errors (such as lies about dates and times) in Ann Coulter’s books, speeches, and general schtick so she’s not my favorite source of quality information.

    True to form, she’s lied about Jamie Lee Jone’s case as well while seizing on the opportunity to demonstrate that once a woman reports sexual harassment no one takes her seriously anymore. Incidentally, that’s why many women don’t report such crimes.

    Go Ann! A few simple lies of omission and outright lies in one non researched post have probably set the women’s rights movement, without which you’d be nothing but arm candy on some guy’s lucky arm, back about 20 years! That’s a great accomplishment even by your standards.

    I can’t post the whole court transcript/history of the case here but let me make a few points:

    1) Ms. Jones went to an army doctor who created a rape kit for her and confirmed that she had been raped.

    After that kit was given to KBR/Halliburton, they “lost it.” Halliburton/KBR does not dispute this.

    2) Ms. Jones was held in a container guarded by Halliburton/KBR employees, with no food and water, for at least 24 hours following her decision to give them said rape kit and report the alleged crime.

    Halliburton/KBR does no dispute this.

    3) KBR/Halliburton desperately wanted to silence Ms. Jones as her advocacy efforts threatened and still do threaten their whole relationship with the U.S. Government.

    To date, she is the sole reason (the bill is named after her) that contractors doing business with the U.S. Government cannot write mandatory arbitration clauses into their contracts regarding rape and false imprisonment. They must also disclose any incidents of reported rape or sexual harassment to potential employees.

    AS such, KBR/Halliburton almost certainly offered Ms. Jones a seven-figure settlement in exchange for her silence via an arbitration process which she declined.

    So, if Ms. Jones was the con artist that Ms. Coulter strongly implies she might be, she’d be sipping Pina Coladas in Belize as opposed to being the subject of this post.

    The fact that Ms. Jones couldn’t be bought is the best indicator that she’s telling the truth.

    Incidentally, any chance you’ll take me up on my challenge to you. Ann Coulter has probably written a few posts about women ministers and I’ll let you cite her as one of your two sources to make my challenge even easier.

    @Dee and Deb: thanks for the great call in letting Seneca continue to post.

  25. Hey folks! Seneca’s comment is a great complement. Aren’t Christians called to be strong in the Lord, in the power of His might, and aren’t we righteous under the Blood? I rejoice that Ken Sande is as well and pray that it is so.

    I missed the part where I specifically called Sande weak and sinful, however. We are all weak and sinful, myself included, and it brings God glory because when we are weak, His strength shines through us. And as Romans 8 states, God takes everything and even works our failures together for His glory, conforming us into the Image of His Son, and the ultimate end of that process is salvation for many who are born into the Kingdom.

    I also missed the part where I allegedly argue that any believer let alone Ken Sande should not be in ministry. Every believer is in ministry, and because we are imperfect creatures that pesky sin nature, we each have our strengths and weaknesses. What amazes me is that God works mightily through us where we are and in spite of ourselves. The real goal is to grow in grace so that we end up with a whole lot less of the wrong ideas and beliefs at the end of our days than we did when we started.

    My mom got saved in a shepherding church that ultimately traces its roots back to William Branham but left that group after about a year, back when I was a little girl. I was raised as a dispensationalist with lots of Word of Faith influence. Over time, I’ve moved away from many of those beliefs and am still grateful for the many blessings I reaped from those theologies such as a love for the Word of God and sound basic doctrine. I attended a shepherding church with no idea about what it was and grew in faith and wisdom there, but a faithful God used that experience to bring more liberty into my life than I ever could have sought or imagined by means I’d never anticipated. And I pray that God draws, leads and guides me into more truth and all truth as the rest of my life unfolds.

    I’m grateful to God for every person and every Believer, and as a Christian, I look forward to the day when Jesus’ desires for us to be one are truly fulfilled. The Holy Spirit is working in all of us to will and do of His good pleasure, and He is bringing all of us together into the knowledge of the truth. Part of the discourse and dialogue concerning different doctrine is a part of God’s working out of this bringing of us together into truth. If our faith is in Christ, we will one day stand in full unity, but until then, we each must give a defense of our faith and the reasons for the hope within us. It’s my heart’s desire to see all believers, especially those who are influenced by legalism, to be rightly fit together to do what Peacemaker says it intends as well: to most effectively minister and model the gospel. Until then, we are iron sharpening iron, and so may we go on sharpening one another. We are making one another better and stronger as God brings us together into the knowledge of the truth.

  26. Seneca, I couldn’t figure out how you got the idea that Ann Coulter claimed that Jamie Lee Jones lied about anything until I took a closer look at the “article” she wrote.

    Contrary to what Ms. Coulter, as a professional attorney implied, (the Univ. of Michigan law school admissions team sure blew it on that one) the fact that the jury did not rule in her favor does not mean that Ms. Jones lied. That line of thinking is in all “logical fallacy 101” books and courses.

    It means that without the rape kit that Halliburton/KBR “lost” (Ms. Coulter suggests that it mysteriously disappeared at the last minute) the case became a he/said scenario in which the men involved claimed the sex was consensual.

    Most Jones acknowledged that without that rape kit, she understood why the jury ruled the way that it did but she was still happy she got her day in court as a judge made history by throwing out the arbitration clause in her contract.

  27. I got distracted by Seneca’s Red Herring: Info About Mandatory Arbitration

    Sorry folks. I got so distracted by Seneca’s red herring regarding the veracity of Jamie Lee Jone’s case that I forgot that this post is about PeaeMakers/the general implications of arbitration/signing away your right to a trial.

    Whether you’re interested in Jamie Lee Jones’ personal story or not, she has some interesting things to say about how she and many other people were denied the right to a trial by jury while working overseas due to the mandatory arbitration clause in their contracts.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rS5XwwmQbDY

    One last statement on the Coulter thing – the criminal investigation didn’t “go away.” It was never finished or even started seriously because it was determined that U.S. criminal law does not apply in Iraq regarding rape and false imprisonment.

    All right, others can get a word in edgewise, now. I’m done.

    Best,

    Janna

  28. Seneca,

    We spent over a month on the Prosperity Pimps back in January 2010 if memory serves me correctly. I remember writing most of those posts because Dee was recovering from knee replacement surgery.

    Our readership has grown quite a bit since then, so that probably attributed to relatively few comments on the Joyce Meyer post you read. Transparency Regarding Meyer’s Commode and Ministry

    Since you obviously believe we are too harsh in our coverage of those whom we label “Calvinstas”, do you likewise think we hammered the prosperity pastors too hard?

  29. Deb, haven’t had a chance to see article on prosperity pastors but I’m certainly not a fan.

    Clearly they distory scripture then they make the mega pastors with their significant saleries look like paupers in comparison.

    I WILL read some of the post.

    BTW, Benny Hinn is officially divorced. Maybe you could get ex Mrs. Hinn to post. grin
    (I’m sure the divorce decree shuts her up pretty tight actually.)

  30. Seneca

    Many critics prefer to send us emails since we have said that emails are confidential. So, they can call us all sorts of names and then not see them published which shows their character. We get regular emails on both Moore and Meyer.

  31. Thanks everyone, especially Dee and Deb, for the kind comments and for the honor of the opportunity. I’m glad that those items that appear here and there, buried in blog comments, can be of use to someone. Sadly, I know more tragic stories regarding the final outcome of the intervention of PM, and I wish that those trusting people had been more scrupulous before they engaged PM. There are many people who are quite satisfied with these services, but there are some that have met with very sad circumstances as a result of whittling down the statue of limitations.

    I have no clue about anything about Beth Moore, but my own mother thinks I’m something just short of an heretic for rejecting Joyce Meyer’s and Gwen Shamblin’s teachings on the Trinity (and other aspects of their ministries as well). I’ve paid a deeply personal and high price for taking that stand.

    Mary Kassian, Nancy Leigh DeMoss….and all of those homeschooling patriarchy women think that I epitomize where the Church went wrong and deny that I’m even a Believer. Lin, you were around to witness some of that stuff! And some kinist women called me a spideress, whatever in blue blazes that is!

  32. Seneca,

    Since we obviously agree on the prosperity “pimps” who fleece the flock, you will probably enjoy all of our posts under the “health and wealth” category, where the Joyce Meyer’s posts can be found.

    When it was announced that Hinn’s marriage was in trouble, we wrote about that, too.

    Healer Hinn Cannot Heal His Own Marriage

  33. While there are some problems with SGM, I still thank SGM for keeping this movement cross-centered, Christ-focused, and faith-fuled. Let’s try to keep this in mind when we are listing our complaints!

  34. Cindy K,

    We’ll be getting around to Nancy Leigh DeMoss and her highly privileged upbringing, as well as Mary Kassian, who spoke at a Women’s Conference sponsored by a Reformed Baptist church in our area several years ago.

    I have both of Carolyn Mahaney’s books Feminine Appeal and Girl Talk, and at some point I’m gonna struggle to read through them (so far I haven’t had any success – gag!) and do candid book reviews.

    These women disgust me just as much as the Prosperity Pimps. They are leading so many astray.

  35. “While there are some problems with SGM, I still thank SGM for keeping this movement cross-centered, Christ-focused, and faith-fuled. Let’s try to keep this in mind when we are listing our complaints”

    What saddens me most about your comment is that you seem to equate these leaders with Christ. There are not just problems but actual cover up of crimes. When a movement teaches that molesting a 3 year old is just experimentation, then there is deep evil. And it is systemic. That is not a complaint. That is a declaration of truth.

  36. Just for the record….

    I looked over at that old link when TWW talked about me getting into trouble with the SBC and ending up in Ethics Daily articles.

    I never attended any church where Doug Phillips was an elder.

    We moved to San Antonio about a year or so before Doug did (when he started Vision Forum), and attended Grace Orthodox Presbyterian Church for part of the time we lived there. Doug came up in conversation because of the discussion of his cultic homeschooling weirdness, and he recruited some of the people who also went to the church. That’s the only reason I knew that he was a member there.

    Doug and family attended services there, claiming that he was out of town most of the time. He was most definitely not an elder there.

    Sometime roughly around 2000, he left and founded his own church, Boerne Christian Assembly, recruiting some of the families from the OPC. I went to one affiliated function/bible study for women that was not at the church, and but for the woman who invited me whose name I can no longer remember, no one there knew me. I would not ever go to another one.

    I moved away from that part of the country several years ago.

    So let it be known that I never recognized Doug Phillips as an elder and I have never attended what is known now as a Family Integrated Church service. (I’d argue though that my own Assemblies of God growing up was very family integrated, however.)

    I was seen as enough of a pariah/anantema as a physically ill and childless young woman in the Presby and Gothard oriented churches I’d attended — plenty enough cruelty to deal with there without seeking more of it. The likes of me are not welcome at an FIC!

  37. Condemned, I noticed that you have been on several blogs with this message…. ignoring so much. And on one blog, even insulting victims.

  38. Lin,

    In my own former group in Maryland, so similar to SGM and friendly with them, it’s my experience that cross-centered and Christ centered often mean something very different than what they mean in the larger Christian subculture.

    Cross-centered nearly always referred to submission doctrine and renouncing qualities of self that were neither good nor bad but were something that the church didn’t like. My gifts tend to be related to music and speaking and the like, so I learned what could be spoken by making mistakes, unaware of the unwritten rules and expectations of the group. Once we were well-entrenched in the church, and even holding the position as director of R&D in the seminary, I was told to renounce my “speaking gifts” and lay them up on God’s altar as my sacrifice to Him.

    Half of the time, I didn’t even know what people were talking about. I didn’t seek power or position — I was zealous to serve Jesus and to minister to wounded people in our church and through our church. One elder came to me after I sang a special solo at Easter, and he had some lecture about how God had given me so much, but that I had to set that aside. I was confused, because all I’d done that was notable within that time frame was sing that one song that the assistant pastor asked me to sing. Was I expected to sing poorly, or should I have said that to sing to celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord would be vain and declined? I could never figure out the rules. I’m not sure what any of them wanted, save to remake me into a person that I could never be. (I think you’d have to give me a lobotomy to make it work, actually.)

    But the cross and dying to self were always a part of those discussions, and that is my understanding of what many mean by cross-centered, particularly among those who also attended SGM ministry offerings and such. It is an aspect of submission theology and making oneself subject to authority, even if it means you have to behave far below your general ability to make others feel comfortable — like not sing a solo on a special day (even though you’re asked all the time).

    It was not true in our church, but I know that in many SGM churches, there is a reluctance to talk about Jesus as Jesus. The use of Christ or Messiah as a term is also somewhat limited in some churches also, and I have to wonder about them when they do claim to be Christ centered. Some churches are healing centered. Some are humility centered. Some are submission centered. The Christ centered ones talk about Jesus as the Messiah more than anything else, and for all of its faults, I believe that when we first joined our former group, they did talk about Jesus.

    ???

  39. @Deb –

    Can I borrow the Mahaney Stepford Wives From Hades books when you’re done? I’ll glad pay the shipping costs, as I’d like to gag my way through them as well but don’t want to put so much as $0.24 in Carolyn Mahaney’s pocket by buying the wretched things.

    Thanks!

  40. “But the cross and dying to self were always a part of those discussions, and that is my understanding of what many mean by cross-centered, particularly among those who also attended SGM ministry offerings and such. It is an aspect of submission theology and making oneself subject to authority, even if it means you have to behave far below your general ability to make others feel comfortable — like not sing a solo on a special day (even though you’re asked all the time”

    So, basically the thinking is you should give up your GOD GIVEN talents in order to Glorify Him so that you would be more submissive to HUMAN authority. Ooooookey dokey.

    Funny how the leaders don’t practice this false doctrine with their oratory and writing skills! Then, we would never have heard of CJ Mahaney. (wink)

  41. @Cindy K –

    I have been so blown away by the singing of a Christian evangelical woman via a venue like You Tube that I expected to see nothing but hundreds of compliments.

    Instead there’s a long list of complaints along the lines of, “Godly women shouldn’t sing in such a sultry manner” or “her ankle was showing during part of the video.”

    I will never understand the mentality behind comments like that but I’d really to know what you found appealing about the Church you were in.

    I really want to understand why anyone is attracted to a church anything like SGM.

    Thanks. No pressure to respond if that’s too personal a question.

    Janna

  42. I’m attracted to SGM because it really does keep “the main thing the main thing”…the gospel. Yes, SGM does have some problems like any other movemnet, but at least this movement in cross focused and faith fuled, unlike many others.

  43. @Condemned no more – thanks for the response. To me it sounds like SGM makes you feel safe in that you believe that being part of the community is inherently Godly so you don’t have to worry about being lead astray by other movements that’s focus you’re not aligned with.

    Is that what you mean? I really want to understand and I am not being hostile toward you or trying to undermine your argument in any way.

    Thanks for the response.

  44. Condemned —
    Add misogynistic, hierarchical, ignorant (by choice) of many important Christian doctrines, abusive of any who do not follow their program the way they preach it, continually denying the capabilities or servanthood of any not chosen by them for ministry, authoritarian.

  45. Condemned

    All the churches that I have attended, bar 2, were wonderful. As for Cross centered, that unfortunately has become a code word for keeping the Jesus on the cross and the focus on one’s sin. Such an emphasis is fertile ground for abuse by guys who like to be ” in charge.”

    Do you not see legalism in these churches? How about all those “observations” of sin in one another? How about care group leaders making “reports” to the pastors? How about all the people who have been accused of “pride” and been removed from leadership-as if those who did the removing were somehow a bit better at this?How about a hierarchy which believes in pastors who rule and a congregation that shuts up? And how about the overwhelming forgiveness offered to CJ and others of the “in group?”

    I am in a church that keeps the main thing but does not do any of the above.

  46. Seneca Griggs said …
    The list of men who shouldn’t be in ministry does go on and on.

    Glad you agree. 🙂

  47. Janna,

    As Wendy Duncan (a SWBTS seminary grad and social worker) stated in her book “I Can’t Hear God Anymore,” she subtitles a section with “I never wanted to join a cult.”

    I will refer you to my own testimony and bio on my blog and the FreeCWC talk I did which appears on Vimeo. http://vimeo.com/15050051

    In short, people who have been through major life events or stressors and are in need of answers to problems or friendship become more vulnerable to cultic systems. And groups like this cull and recruit members in particular ways in the early stages. All of these groups use manipulation, exploitation, and deception to bypass people’s critical thinking in order to get them to accept ideas that they would reject under normal circumstances and while they had access to more support.

    We’d just relocated from halfway across the country. Such a major life event requires that you rebuild many things in your life all at once, especially friendships. Everything about life becomes a little stressful, and you are off balance. Along comes the love bombing and the offering to satisfy basic needs that one tends to find in a good church. Our group also used pointed “mystical manipulation” to recruit us, collecting personal info, passing it up the grapevine, and then telling us those details about specific personal things that we saw as both divine and as a sign of doctrinal safety. They seemed spontaneous but were all calculated and disingenuous.

    Idealism is always a part of the mix, and wanting earnestly to make a difference out of zeal for the Lord (or an ideal) is seized like a weapon to be used against a person while they are vulnerable.

    We are all vulnerable to a cult if the conditions are right.

  48. @Cindy K – Thank you for your answer and I will certainly look at your blog directly.

    Sorry I didn’t word my question very well. It probably came across as “how could anyone as intelligent as yourself fall for this kind of thing” in a judgmental sense which is NOT what I meant.

    As someone who had lived in 7 countries for 1-4 years by age 19 and also inherited the family history of anxiety and depression I know about major life stressors and the vulnerability that accompanies them.

    I don’t fully understand the cult mentality because I benefited from an essentially Jewish secular education (I had many Jewish teachers at an International School in Israel), even though I’m not Jewish, in which the prizes went to those who could think for themselves and act courageously.

    I am complimenting Jews by making that statement as Jews historically put a big emphasis on intellectual acumen and social justice and generally make no exception in emphasizing those focal points when teaching a non-Jew like me, in my experience.

    I do still agree that we’re all vulnerable to cults though just as we’re all capable of committing truly evil deeds no matter how much we want to deny that’s true.

    So I realize that the cult thing is the “fix” for many at churches that seem like the picture of hell to outsiders.

    But in the same way that I have seen God’s grace in Joshua Harris for years prior to this recent debacle, I keep hoping I’ll find something truly redeeming about SGM.

    Not this time, I guess, but you can’t blame me (you can but please don’t) for trying.

    Thanks again.

    Best,

    Janna

  49. @Seneca – you have my respect for what it’s worth

    I thought you were a troll but you’ve taken heaps of abuse from us in addition to dishing it out to us periodically. The worst thing in the world is someone who can dish it out but can’t take it, and that’s not you, my friend.

    And forget about my challenge. I’d much rather that you point out what I consider to be revolting articles by someone like Ann Coulter than that you worry about a comparatively pedestrian subject like researching women pastors.

    If I had a hat it would be off to you.

    Janna

  50. A very good article and very much needed.
    2 years back I was asked to join in a conflict resolution being conducted by Peacemakers at my home church.. After much thought I declined because of the ‘covenant and silence’ requirement… much like was detailed in this article.
    Having been a Pastor in my ‘past life’ I was hesitant about signing something that restricted my comments and by inference also restricted any comfort and counsel to the many hurt folk in this situation… Unfortunately I saw first hand -the way that authoritarian measures resulted from such ‘covenants’
    Incidentally and on a related matter, Mat 18 may not be altogether a ‘pattern’ of church discipline that it is often made out to be.
    Not wanting to disagree with such an eminent person as Dr.D.A Carson, to whom you link in this article, there is another way of interpreting this passage and I would commend R.T France commentary on Matthew .He suggests that this is more a personal approach dealing with disputes between 2 people and it is the option of the ‘offended’ person whose last resort is to ‘take it to the church’.
    I know this passage in Matthew 18 has become somewhat of a ‘pattern’ for church disputes and as such its stood the test of time,but in the interest of careful exegesis,
    it may be well to note that most of the passage beginning with verse 15 is addressed in the singular and refers to how we conduct ourselves when disputes arise between brother and brother…
    Just a thought… to place in with the others.

  51. Dear Janna, thanks so much for your grace in responding, and I know I can be dogmatic in my tone a lot. I was saved 3 yrs. ago out of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, after being a Witness for many years, and I tend to bring the same zeal I had then to my new found faith now…but SGM is everyting to me and there’s a lot of good and it distresses me that there is so much negativity said about it, when we do need an organization to submit to to some degree for guidance. And yes, I find comfort and guidance in this organization now….more later….but thanks again for your interest and gracious tone…

  52. CDM

    I hope you don’t mind me shorting your name a little 🙂

    Yes, I too, sense that there is goodness in SGM even if I think it is an unhealthy organization.

    And I’m glad that you stuck around even after we threw some hard balls at you. Very few of your fellow congregants do that. Usually they pull more of a judge and run act.

    I’m also glad you thought my tone was gracious as I had a mini-intervention about that issue with one of my mentors.

    Blessings to you – Janna

  53. “@Seneca – you have my respect for what it’s worth

    I thought you were a troll but you’ve taken heaps of abuse from us in addition to dishing it out to us periodically. The worst thing in the world is someone who can dish it out but can’t take it, and that’s not you, my friend” Janna

    Well Janna, how nice was that. Seneca

  54. Rusty,

    I specifically picked that reference to the Gospel Coalition site because it was a source that I expected would be respected by someone like Sande or Mahaney and following. If you look at how PM used Matthew 18 (as Kris describes anyway), the info in Carson’s statement counters the use of it somewhat. In stating that the subject was its own universe, I hoped to communicate that one link would not do it justice. It was a subtle demonstration that there’s controversy about how it should be applied, even within the same subcultures within Evangelicalism.

    I also tend to think that this applies to people who attend the same local body, who interact with one another regularly and can easily go to those who love them within their local body who can help them deal with serious problems. But I agree with Carson also when he says that the degree of sin and difficulty must be pretty significant if the endpoint might be turning someone out of the local church.

    It should not have applied to my girlfriend who was taken up before a homeschool co-op’s little tribunal which found her “guilty” of bringing her girls to volleyball too late, so they kicked her out of the co-op. Seriously. The motive was really that her girls were excellent players and presented too much competition amongst the other kids, and certain parents wanted them off the team, but the result and the “verdict” was the same. They were “disfellowshiped” from the co-op altogether (not just volleyball) on the basis of Matthew 18 at a Christian Missionary Alliance homeschoolng outreach co-op. Amazing. The mom was in shock and awe, too.

    A universe…

    🙂

  55. The really rough thing about spiritual abuse is the way in which it intermingles the very good with the very bad. You will often hear of people who come out of a group that the members in the group were the truly nicest people that they’ve ever met. I have a friend who goes on at length about her confusion about Bill Gothard’s stuff, saying that the kids that come out of the families of ATI (Gothard’s homeschooling system) are so nice and are good kids as adults. But she admits that the colateral damage is too high, and if the whole point of everything was nice kids and nice families, we might all consider becoming Mormons.

    The first two years in my own group were really pretty great, and the next two were increasingly horrible. I stayed and tried to be an agent of change there for many reasons, primarily because of those good things that the group did and because of the things that I liked.

    There are many similarities between spiritual abuse and abusive marriages. Members of the group, like battered wives, stay there because of the threads of love and connection that are there. It’s the intense mix of love and pain that makes things complicated. That wife might begin to understand a beating as an expression of love.

    With kids that are abused, it is easier to work through the abuse with a kid when the parent was either entirely neglectful or entirely domineering. The kids that have the worst struggles and the worst symptoms of anxiety and obsessive compulsive behaviors are the ones that had very inconsistent parents. The parent who is fun loving/indulgent one day and angry/exploitative the next creates a great deal of this same kind of traumatic bonding and confusion within the child. It is hard to work through.

    I think that in situations like SGM, this same kind of struggle occurs. I remember how my own counselor said to me that after expressing my frustration with my abusive pastor, I would then start listing the good things about him. She stopped me and said, “Do you know that you are his biggest defender?” And she repeated back to me the list of things I’d said. It was a watershed moment for me. None of it makes sense, and they can be the best and the worst at the same time.

  56. “But in the same way that I have seen God’s grace in Joshua Harris for years prior to this recent debacle, I keep hoping I’ll find something truly redeeming about SGM.”

    You will need to explain that one since he has been teaching all the heirarchical stuff, including the courtship debabcle. He grew up in this legalism and has promoted it since a teen. He might come off as a nice guy but he has invested himself in the legalistic ‘Jesus is never off the cross’ teaching.

  57. “Not wanting to disagree with such an eminent person as Dr.D.A Carson, to whom you link in this article, there is another way of interpreting this passage and I would commend R.T France commentary on Matthew .He suggests that this is more a personal approach dealing with disputes between 2 people and it is the option of the ‘offended’ person whose last resort is to ‘take it to the church”

    Thank you, Rusty!

    It IS about personal offenses. But it is way too convenient for the leaders to use for their benefit. It is a way to censor and shut people up from pointing out bad behavior or bad doctrine in public. It is the most misused and misapplied scripture out there these days. It is a way to control people.

  58. “but SGM is everyting to me and there’s a lot of good and it distresses me that there is so much negativity said about it, when we do need an organization to submit to to some degree for guidance.”

    I fear you have been ‘saved’ to another organization that is cultish. I say this with serious concern and love. Why not look deep at what attracts you to these groups who are so controlling? Cindy has a ton of resources on her blog you can read up on.

    You need to submit to Jesus, not humans. Your making that claim above about submitting to an “organization” is a red flag. J. esus is not an organization. He is a relationship. The Body is organic and functions so as every member is important and has input.

    Please figure out what it is that attracts you to such organizations. You could be submitting to evil, again.

  59. Dee and Deb,

    Gonna take on Matthew 18 as a future topic sometime? Let me know. I have a graphic that a friend of mine made for me that says, “I’ve been Matthew 18’ed” that features tire tracks, etc. I’ll hunt it up if you want it!

  60. Lin,

    I was thinking the same thing. What is the role of the local church? Is it to be a parent to adults that should be capable of living and making most of their own decisions? We are to assemble to worship God together and for fellowship with one another in love. Isn’t the role of a pastor to care for and to bear up the sheep? Or is the pastor more like a mean English boarding school teacher who makes you sit at attention? My first pastor when I was a kid said it was his job to make sure that I was both trained and nurtured, and that made him the biggest servant in the church, a lowly position. I loved him so much because he lived this out.

    I didn’t see church as a place where I went to submit but a place where the members of the body and the pastor held up the arms of the other so that they could minister.

  61. Lin

    I’ve written lengthy posts on several sites trying to explain why I support Josh Harris, and why I believe he has exhibited courage and integrity to date in being the only SGM leader to prioritize the needs of his parishioners over the needs of the ego-driven leaders in his church.

    But I think the time for lengthy posts about Josh Harris is over.
    Let’s just say that I sense God’s grace in him because God’s love rather than God’s authoritarian anger comes through in his sermons and books regularly. I have had this opinion of Josh Harris for years so it’s not just based on his recent actions.

    I understand why others have a different opinion of Josh Harris and don’t feel that they’re wrong and I’m right. Yet I frequently ask those who sense what I sense in Josh to pray especially hard for him as he’s in the dictionary under “between a rock and hard place” right now in addition to grieving for his mother who died slightly more than a year ago at age 54.

    That’s the best I can do for now.

    Blessings,
    Janna

  62. Janna, Thanks for the explanation. But I find that in authoritarian groups or movments, when we see someone being nice or humble, we tend to forget they have been actively involved in promoting, supporting and maintaining the authoritarian system. It is not like he resigned and said, I cannot be a part of this. That, I would respect. I am seeing this very thing over at sgm survivors. It is like they cannot see the leaders for what they really are.

    Josh was weaned on this stuff. There are a lot of victims out of SGM who have suffered horribly.

  63. “Has Mark Devers weighed in the the SGM controversy”

    BeneD, Not sure he has to since CJ seems to be attending church there now. :o) That kind of says it all.

  64. @Lin – thanks. I agree that Josh Harris is an adult responsible for his actions, and that he had to have known about some of the major problems in his church.

    However, I think that resigning/washing his hands of a situation he helped create and living off his other sources of income would actually be the easy way out for him. I think he’s choosing to stay in a miserable situation because he knows he is a voice of reason for people who would never listen to you or me, and he knows that the right thing to do is stay and try to fix the problem instead going into hiding like his mentor.

    And I, too, have been part of abusive authoritarian cultures such as the financial services industry prior to the crash of 2008. Even if I didn’t do unethical things I certainly tolerated watching others doing so for some time.

    Sure, I can say I was just a peon in the whole thing but that’s what the men who drove bus loads of people to Auschwitz said too, if you’ll pardon the extreme analogy. And “I had to pay the mortgage” has rightly been called the Yuppie Nuremberg defense in my view.

    Many of the people at Survivors are victims but also helped perpetuate an abusive system for years by spying on others, excommunicating those who “saw the light” before they did, and doing any number of other less-than-ethical things. The victim/perpetrator line can be quite fine at times.

    What we emphasize does tend to get bigger so I pray that what I respect in Josh Harris will manifest itself more and more.

    That is what it is. Thanks for the feedback.

  65. @ Lin, Thanks for your kind words.
    @ Cindy K…You have put a lot of thought and prayer into your article and I for one appreciate that.. The use of Mat 18:15 has in my opinion been used to justify intervention by the ‘church’ [read Leadership] in some of the most grievous situations,with good intentions,but as stated previously I am convinced the involvement of the church in these verses was not unilateral but at the instigation of the one who was hurt.. should they choose to be..’Tell it to the church’ and if he still will not listen,treat him as an unbeliever.. [some believe this was giving that person the green light to use legal means-which was not an option if they were a fellow believer]
    I remember only too well when I was an elder,that I loaned a sum of money to a friend who was in the same fellowship. For many reasons he did not pay this back and I shared this with a fellow elder and was directed to Mat 18 as the means to proceed with this friend. My fellow elder encouraged me to share this with the full elder board [Church in his eyes].
    I chose not too for the reasons I outlined previously. This was a personal matter and the response was in my hands as to how to proceed. If I had gone to the church,it would have made this public. I didn’t and over a period,received every penny back.
    My reason for underlining this is that organizations and churches that use this Scripture to discipline and ‘ex-communicate’ members are in my opinion missing the underlying point in this passage of Scripture… Our behavior when we are personally sinned against and how we react in situations like this..
    It surely is not an instruction for church discipline. There are many more verses in the NT that deal with that but again If I remember correctly,most of them have the end result,repentance,forgiveness,reconciliation and where possible restoration.

  66. “However, I think that resigning/washing his hands of a situation he helped create and living off his other sources of income would actually be the easy way out for him. I think he’s choosing to stay in a miserable situation because he knows he is a voice of reason for people who would never listen to you or me, and he knows that the right thing to do is stay and try to fix the problem instead going into hiding like his mentor”

    Now, there is a new twist. Problem is, he must turn dictator with Machiavellian strategies to make a coup in order to do what you are suggesting. And he is way too nice for that. :o)

    Because Mahaney now has Mohler, Dever, Duncan, Truman, Ortlund and DeYoung backing him. Not to mention the SGM big shots have all gotten in line. So, you are expecting Josh to stand up to all that? Nice as he is and as wishy washy as he has shown he is in he last few weeks?

    Are you sure it is not cause you think he is cute? :o)

  67. @Lin Comparing Harris to Mahaney Helps, Too

    Comparing Josh to Mahaney helps, too. I travel in many worlds and read a lot about many things. I haven’t seen behavior as craven and selfish as C.J. Mahany’s decision to hide behind his board of enablers while continuing to draw a full salary during his “season of reflection” in some time…if ever.

  68. “It surely is not an instruction for church discipline”

    Jay Adams, the church discipline guru even adds a step to the process. He does this in his talks and teaching on this as church discipline. the step he adds is before taking it to the whole church, take it to the elders/pastor.

    That is not in the text. The text says nothing about witnesses being elders. Jay keeps the generic witnesses in the process and adds elders/pastor as the next step before the whole church.

    This is blatent false teaching and adding to the Word what is not in there. Adams is the guru for the fast growing church discipline movement. And you will have most SBC pastors telling you Adams is the expert. It is unbelievable what is going on out there.

  69. @Lin – Mohler and the other big wigs have cut C.J. loose. This was painfully demonstrated by SGM’s board’s need to get B – D list pastors to sign off on the preliminary panel material. People deeply ensconced in evangelical culture had to Google Truman and Ortlund to figure out who they were.

    I don’t think that Josh Harris has the ambition to run an organization like SGM. I think that the board would gladly let him do so without an machinations behind the scenes, but he’s happy just being a pastor.

    Truth be told, I think that Josh will crack at some point, but at least he played a hand. Sometimes that’s all we can do.

    Much as I’m enjoying this exchange I sense that focusing on Josh is not the best use of energy right now.

    You’re welcome to respond, of course, but I’ll have to let this be my last post on Harris for now 🙂

    Thanks. Janna

  70. @Lin

    Never say never. I just looked at your post again. I think that Josh can keep caring for the church he personally pastors without engineering any coup regarding SGM. CLC is his church and his first priority. He made that clear by not signing the board’s initial declaration of war against Detwiler and then resigning from said board.

  71. The concept of submission in the NT is almost always and almost entirely mutual. Even the “wives submit to your husband” is predicated on the husband loving the wife enough to be crucified for her. It is not that the member is to submit to the pastor or to the church, it is that the pastor and the members are to mutually submit to each other, and the church is defined as the laity (people of God). That is why the priesthood of each and every believer is an important concept. The church is a collection of priests, all on equal footing (the ground is level at the foot of the cross), none superior to the others, except that the pastor is to be a servant of all, as Jesus said.

  72. “@Lin Comparing Harris to Mahaney Helps, Too

    Comparing Josh to Mahaney helps, too. I travel in many worlds and read a lot about many things. I haven’t seen behavior as craven and selfish as C.J. Mahany’s decision to hide behind his board of enablers while continuing to draw a full salary during his “season of reflection” in some time…if ever

    Perhaps I am not as traveled as you but I do know that Harris was mentored by Mahaney as young as his teens and that New Attitude deal. Harris knows little else. He reminds me of a boss I used to have who agreed with whoever talked to him last. Nice guy….but would not want to depend on him.

    And even though not as well traveled, I have seen such craven behavior in leadership in several very large churches. CJ is not the only narcissistic mega church (family of churches) leader out there. There are many. And they fight hard to keep their image up.

    Harris might not even like Mahaney as much as he used to. Does not matter. Harris only knows the authoritarian system. he has certainly not denounced it. In fact, he changed his views real quick about the blogs. Why? It is not wise to put so much hope in someone who is so wishy washy.

    In fact, resigning would have been very hard for Harris. But it would be the right thing to do if he really sees the problems as you think. He would not have it so easy as you think since the Reformed big dogs have backed Mahaney. Josh would be seen as a traitor and many avenues would not be open to him. He is not even qualified to preach in the SBC. He has no education beyond homeschooling. He might be accepted by the Domionists but there is no money there. Nothing like what he makes at CLC.

    It would be a financial hardship. Nor has Harris come clean about his courtship book and the devestation it has caused. Even within SGM and the example of Kauflin’s daughter which was the poster marriage for courtship now in ruins.

    Nope, Josh is right up to his ears in this. But resigning, taking it on the financial chin for truth. Now, that would have sent shockwaves throughout patriarchy land.

  73. Lin,
    I have never been able to understand how church discipline evolves from this passage.

    NIV. reads on verse 15-‘just between the two of you’ and ends in verse 17 with ‘you’ being the one to treat him as you would a ‘pagan’ or ‘tax collector’
    Now maybe I cannot see what Jay Adams sees but even the witnesses are called in ,not by the church,but at the choice of the one who has been sinned against !! Whatever may have been the involvement of the church,it wasn’t to discipline this man,whose spiritual aspect is unknown and its left to the individual how to proceed.

    Well I have written enough on this matter,I will leave it to others to interpret this Scripture passage and do it justice.

  74. “Mohler and the other big wigs have cut C.J. loose. This was painfully demonstrated by SGM’s board’s need to get B – D list pastors to sign off on the preliminary panel material. People deeply ensconced in evangelical culture had to Google Truman and Ortlund to figure out who they were”

    Oh, he has not been cut loose at all. In fact, getting the B-D list was politically astute of them. They took it out of SGM’s hands. Recruiting one of the YRR was brilliant. Make a bet: Mahaney will have a standing O at T4G next year and perhaps a new book on the way.

    Many of us have heard of Ortlund for years. Truman was the only one I had never heard of. And now I see why he was chosen. young cool prof at WTS. His creds are perfect. This panel was chosen by th T4G guys. Has their fingerprints all over it.

    Janna, the people they have to influence are the young Reformed pastors and seminarians out there. No one else matters in their marketing niche. People listen to and follow their pastors these days. See, I think Mahaney has bigger plans for SGM based upon his past behavior, associations, etc and all of this will probably help.

    That panel has more education and gravitas in the Reformed world than all SGM pastors put together.

  75. “He made that clear by not signing the board’s initial declaration of war against Detwiler and then resigning from said board”

    Janna, look at another picture. As pastor of CLC, Josh is CJ’s pastor, in effect. That is no big deal until something like this happens then it is huge. And being on the board AND his pastor brings all kinds of problems when looking at the typical SGM discipline model. The model everyone is used to. So, how would it work if Josh is his pastor and on the board?

    Now, Josh is off the board. And,CJ is not attending CLC right now but Dever’s church. Are you seeing how it all fits perfectly?

  76. Clarification regarding the stories out of Fairfax, Noel & Grizzly’s story happened first, around 1998.
    Wallace and I (Happymom) posted our story in April 2011.
    We were never contacted by Peacemaker’s.

  77. @Lin – excellent points. Like I mentioned earlier I’m not saying I’m right and anyone who disagrees with me is wrong. I’ve just thought and prayed about the matter and have to leave it at that at some point. Only time will tell what’s what.

  78. “I’ve just thought and prayed about the matter and have to leave it at that at some point.”

    Are you saying you have heard a “prophetic word” from God about it?

  79. @Lin – No, nothing that exciting. Just heard that I should pray that Josh Harris specifically serves God as best he can under difficult circumstances as prayers will help him a lot right now.

  80. @happymom

    I find it very interesting that Peace Makers never contacted you directly. It sounds like you weren’t the problem, your published story was.

    Perhaps Ken Sande was testing the waters to see if the Survivors site owners would accept an offer to take down their site and then backed off after the open letter response to him was published.

    There’s no perhaps about it. That’s exactly what he was doing. I’m just curious as to how much would have been on the table at that point.

  81. “@Lin – No, nothing that exciting. Just heard that I should pray that Josh Harris specifically serves God as best he can under difficult circumstances as prayers will help him a lot right now”

    Don’t forget the victims of the sgm system. The leaders seem to have everyone’s attention. It seems to be all about them, all the time.

  82. Rusty,

    Thank you for your kind words. There was quite a bit of material to discuss from Sande’s book, so I didn’t want to also take on the many variations in interpretation that different Protestant Believers have. That’s an issue here, too. Sande cites Presbyterian sources as a basis for many of PM’s works, and not all may share the same interpretations of Scripture.

    You’ve pointed out several important distinctions from Matthew 18 alone, and many forget to consider Matthew 18:15-17 in context of the whole verse which explains in many ways how heavy of a thing it is to offend those who are less mature or resourceful (little ones), what lengths a person should go to prevent sinning against another, as well as the profound significance of a unique individual who may be the only one offended within a group. The discussion in Matthew 18 starts with the question of who is the most significant in the Kingdom. Jesus says that deference should be given to the lesser party (not the most powerful or the authority). The section is an explanation of what loving kindness looks like.

    Some people in the church today take those three verses and construct a formula that is not focused on the overarching discussion of showing God’s loving kindness to others but rather as a procedure for how to excise sinful individuals from the local church in order to purify the group. They exploit three verses out of context in order to pit piety and procedure against loving compassion. (PM materials do not encourage this and actually do an excellent job of laying the foundation of the attitude that Christians should have for one another, despite the other critical problems that I see in the overall model.)

    How do you (and/or your church) define the following from the passage:

    brother (Is it just the local body, or could it be within your denomination, within your theology [Calvinism, Covenant, New Covenant, Dispensationalism?] Can it apply to all Christians in general with whom you have no relationship? Does it apply to those who don’t share your doctrine and interpretation of Scripture and the discussion of doctrinal conflict? Are any special provisions made if the brother is a novice/new convert which might be considered in how an offense is approached which makes the interaction more complex, requiring special considerations of the offended? The more complex the situation and its specifics, the less formulaic these verses become.)

    sin/tresspass (Does it apply to those who arrive to church services chronically late, or is it reserved for a specific list of overt sins or group expectations? I was once disciplined for wearing trousers to make an announcement before the church. You discussed a situation involving money. Does it have to be an offense that would cause you to consider plucking out your eye, or does it include all? Who decides what goes on the list?)

    “if he hears you” (How is hearing determined? Attrition, contrition, restitution, taking measures that amount to cutting off a hand or foot to avoid continued offense?)

    “you have won a brother” (Do you have the appearance of compliance from the offender? Or are parties just required to perform play acting of the outward appearances of reconciliation because of social demands within a manipulative group, losing sight of the less powerful party? Is a “truce” and option, wherein both parties commit to leave a matter go but do not have to feign brotherly intimacy — or does the group demand a feigned brotherly intimacy to meet the expectations of others?)

    “one or two more” (Are these impartial peers who are known to both parties as opposed to church leadership, and are they there as witnesses or as advisors? Many people use this as an opportunity to involve leadership who then see the matter that calls upon their position in leadership as opposed to just serving as a witness to endure that one party is not distorting what has transpired. Today, Jesus might have said “video tape it to make sure we have a record of what was said” as opposed to “bringing in” others who serve as both witness and perhaps arbiters.)

    heathen and publicans (Some consider this means complete disdain/complete shunning, while others consider that the offending party can be interacted with but is only shown a general level of kindness and is not treated with the intimacy that you would share with a family member. They become the person you pass on the street, but still a Samaritan whom you should care for if you find him wounded along the wayside whom you would send on his way when able. Is treating a person with the same consideration as you would give a heathen the same as giving them over to Satan as described by Paul in 1 Cor 1-5? Some believe it is.)

    ETC.!

    How you (and/or your church) defines, interprets, and applies these few elements of just a couple of verses of the whole passage makes a remarkable difference in the journey of forgiveness — in both the process and the outcome. What is the goal– restoration and reconciliation with someone who has committed a serious sin or purity and piety of a congregation at the expense of one person who doesn’t quite measure up? There are may more goals I could list, too.

    I see it as a measure to restore a family member to the intimacy of the relationship you would share in a family. Can you restore intimacy if there was no intimacy there to start with? And that does not mean that we can’t apply the principles of what I consider assertiveness and good communication with those outside of a more intimate group, but what is the endpoint and what does it look like. This verse is often used against the little ones who have been abandoned to keep that braying lamb quiet about what another person may have done or not done, resulting in harm and risk to others. The witnesses are used as arbiters who are really an early judge and jury as opposed to those with an interest in reestablishing relationship.

    Sigh! If we follow the new commandment that Jesus spoke to us at the advent of the Last Supper, for us to love one another so that we are known for that love, this whole process works pretty well. But some loose sight of that love and see only procedure.

  83. @Lin – As I recall, you read some of my posts at Survivors, right? Yes, I advocate for and pray for the victims and one family in particular is dear to me personally.

    There are lots of people, including me, judging everyone involved to the max. Thus praying about the good things about SGM one senses may be helpful is one of the messages I received from God.

    Again, what we think is the right thing to do is between us and God and I certainly don’t impose my views on anyone else.

    Best,

    Janna

  84. @Cindy K

    I’m enjoying reading your posts about Mat. 18 and other subjects. What concerns me is that I’m a fairly well-educated and fairly well-read person, and I can’t make heads or tails of the nuances of the Mat. 18 debate.

    Hence I think many Christians will buy the simplified idea that it’s just plain wrong to involve civil authorities in any dispute involving another member of your church group.

    That’s a receipt, not just a recipe for abuse, in my opinion.

  85. “Look on the bright side of SGM” can be difficult to put into perspective, depending on where a person stands on this subject and just when and how that is introduced in the discussion.

    This open forum invites participation from many people who hold different views about the nature of SGM’s system, the integrity of the leadership, and whether the leadership and the followers love that SGM system (how SGM applies and often distorts the Bible, merging it with extra-Biblical moral imperatives) more than they love the Word and God and even their honor for the Image of God within themselves (self-respect and self-care for basic personal and relational needs). The group’s needs and public image should not outweigh the basic personal rights and needs of the least powerful member/lamb.

    Within the SGM system itself, the group demands several unofficial and unwritten requirements of members. You are not ever permitted to speak ill of any leader or of the system. You are not permitted to speak directly and frankly about matters that are not pleasant, and if you do, you must coat them in SGM-speak, or you will be shut down and perhaps punished. As a means of avoiding and covering and excusing unpleasant matters, SGM is notorious for throwing in the red herring of “always look on the bright side” which is inappropriate when it is the appointed and appropriate time to discuss those unpleasant matters. It minimizes and belittles the concerns at hand and those who suffer for those concerns.

    If a husband beats a wife, and after he has calmed down, she approaches him with how hurt she feels and how she cannot excuse what he has done to her. Consider that he has done this before, and after each beating, he becomes contrite for a time and lavishes his wife with gifts in order to compensate and to demonstrate his contrition for his loss of self-control resulting in real violence. When she says to him, “I can’t go on, and you’ve hurt me too much this time,” would it be at all appropriate for her husband to say, “But look at all the lovely gifts I bought for you”? The gifts don’t excuse his violence, and they not only fail compensate for the harm, they are a means of manipulation to distract that wife’s main concerns and basic right to safety.

    That wife loves her husband and appreciates those gifts, but they do not negate the harm done to her because her husband believes that he has the liberty to hurt her. NOTHING should give him that liberty, but he believes (for whatever reason — perhaps complementarianism) that he has a full right to take that liberty because he repeats it and repeats it. The gifts and goodness are presented to obligate that woman to tolerate the abuse.

    In the midst of a discussion of the real abuse that has been suffered by those at SGM churches and all that that entails, many here on this blog (at this particular point in this specific discussion) find an admonition to stop to consider the “gifts” that SGM gives its members to be completely irrelevant and inappropriate. At another time and concerning another discussion, it is fine to talk about counting one’s blessings. In this discussion now, some see it as obfuscation, avoidance and offensive.

    It is a given and a basic requirement that a Christian approach a conflict while ever mindful of an attitude of respect and compassion for all others, something that “praying about the good things about SGM” would fall under. That is the basic attitude that one should have and should not dismiss these things. But that is the foundational assumption. But to use “the bright side” at the point at which the offense and harm and the consequences of that harm are discussed is very inappropriate. Because of the timing of it and how it is used, it can be interpreted as a statement that SGM members are obligated to suffer any and all manner of abuse because they have gleaned other good and unrelated benefit from participation at SGM.

    So that is why people may not be so willing to tolerate a moment of “lets all think about how cross-centered and sweet SGM is and how good Josh and CJ are” because it suggests that people are obligated to overlook serious problems, be they functional, theological, social, or political. It is a common control mechanism that SGM leadership uses against members to manipulate them in a way that the leadership benefits and the member suffers. The admonitions to suffer patiently do not give the church license to abuse lambs or to use them for personal gain just because they feed those lambs.

    I think that might be what is underlying some of the comments.

  86. Arce, I really enjoy your comments. They’re short & sweet in the sense they add a lot of depth. Thumbs up

  87. @Cindy K – thanks for your thoughts.

    I’m not sure to what degree you post is directed at me. In my case, if you backtrack on the Survivors blog to about a month ago you’ll see a lot of posts in which I aggressively slammed SGM and advocated for the victims so hard that the moderator publicly and privately chided me for the fact that people had been e-mailing her behind my back saying that they were offended by my aggressive advocacy for victims, especially since I had not attended at SGM church and was not really a member of the group therefore.

    That was the strong implication, at least, as the fact that I had not attended an SGM church and/or had no personal connection to the victims was brought up several times by said moderator although that person later claimed, as a secondary issue, that I was dominating the discussion although at least 6 or 7 people were posting me under the table the entire time I was on that board.

    Since then, I’ve tried to find other ways besides blogging to support victims. Right now I’m trying to bring attention to an antiquated clergy confidentiality law in VA that makes it impossible almost to sue pastors who harbor known predators in their churches. Even if we can’t overturn this law tomorrow, we can make residents of VA more aware that it exists and that once they drop their kids off at the nursery they drop off their rights to sue a church in a civil court over a sexual abuse issue, too.

    I also interact directly with Survivors who would like practical assistance with their SGM issues in lieu of blogging about them endlessly to the exclusion of any other advocacy efforts and then wondering why nothing ever seems to change at SGM.

    Perhaps talking about the bright side of SGM was not the best way to express my attempt to genuinely engage, rather than judge, people like “condemned no more.”

    I’m trying not to look at someone like her as a label anymore. I’m trying to see her as a child of God following her own path which has happened to cross mine for whatever reasons it has.

    As I said, I’m not imposing my views on others but I would offer the following thoughts from people who work with abuse victims all the time:

    1) You can’t change people, you can only support them if they want to change;

    2) People seldom change unless they feel 100% accepted as they are presently.

    Just some thoughts.

    Best to all –

    Janna

  88. @Cindy K – Truly Supporting Free Speech Necessitates Hearing Things We Don’t Like to Hear At All Times

    Forgive me if I’ve misinterpreted your post in any way. You seem to strongly suggest that certain views of SGM are simply off limits at this point, which to me, ironically, cuts down on some of the free speech rights you at least indirectly advocate for strongly in your post.

    This is Dee’s and Deb’s blog and they determine its content. But to my knowledge all views are welcome here as long as the poster is really attempting to engage readers in a dialogue as opposed to posting and running.

    CDM came here and I was more interested in trying to see things from her vantage point than judging her according to my belief systems. That’s my prerogative in Dee’s and Deb’s world to my knowledge 🙂

    And I leave that with you.

    Best,

    Janna

  89. <strong@All -</strong

    Just to hammer home the point: I'm not asking anyone to tolerate anything but my right to express my views and engage others on this blog as I see fit as long as what I have to say is aligned with Dee's and Deb's terms of use policy.

    Others can be as tolerant or intolerant of whatever they like. I'm just not interested in being subtly or not-so-subtly told what to think or post and likely will not respond to posts along those lines further. I say that very respectfully and send thanks to those who have taken the time to comment on my posts.

    Anyone else think it's interesting that PM contacted the folks running the Survivors blog rater than the victims directly?
    🙂

  90. “There are lots of people, including me, judging everyone involved to the max. Thus praying about the good things about SGM one senses may be helpful is one of the messages I received from God

    This is the part I do not get. Call me dense. Why would God want a system to stay in place that teaches cluttered countertops are sin but protecting a predator, isn’t sin.

    Can there really be good enough things to want that system to continue? Seems to me it was founded, built and grown on a totally wrong premise of God and Who He is. I am afraid I have to be judgemental on that one.

    I sincerely want to see people free from that sort of evil system and knowing the true Jesus Christ.

  91. To Condemned no more: Thanks for contributing, but what really is concerning, is that you seem to be carrying over some “baggage” or residual patterns of thinking from your JW days. I know only a little about the Jehovah Witnesses, but I find from your postings similar patterns of thought with that group: loaded language or “buzz words,” a seeming blind adherence or “submission,” an almost robotic repeating of the party line, and an opitmisim about SGM that fails to reconcile with know negative facts and real problems. I hope I’m not insulting you…not my aim…jus trying to help you think for yourself and to avoid another dissappointing religious experience.

  92. @all – Is anyone still interested in talking about PM, church covenants, Mat. 18 or any of the other original subjects discussed in the post Cindy was kind enough to craft for us?

    If not we might as mosey back to the SGM-related posts Dee and Deb created. I’m okay with that.

    Best,

    Janna

  93. Janna,

    You wrote: You seem to strongly suggest that certain views of SGM are simply off limits at this point, which to me, ironically, cuts down on some of the free speech rights you at least indirectly advocate for strongly in your post.

    What?

    What I’ve directly stated is that the SGM culture demands that problems be avoided and addressed indirectly, and when problems are presented, they are either cast as a sin of the person making the comment or they are minimized by stating that the group does good things and this somehow either neutralizes the bad if not tragic things that the group also does.

    Aberrant and spiritually abusive Christian groups are tricky and complicated this way. People are encouraged and trained to do this. There have been several comments here that advocate for the goodness of SGM and the leaders from a few people commenting here. My concern is that they are defensive responses to the painful process of discussing the serious problems inherent in the group.

    Several have now responded to the “lets affirm the good about SGM” statements with concern that this might be a pattern to minimize the concerns being discussed here, statements that I would describe as characteristic of a spiritually abusive system (see Henke’s critera above). If those statements are just an admonition to stay grounded in Christian love, they are fine. I wanted to bring out the possibility of the common tactic of manipulators to draw attention away from main concerns by adding in items of consideration that are red herrings that minimize the painful offenses.

    Is that cutting down free speech? Kris makes these same observations in her open letter to Ken Sande which I mentioned in the main body of the post.

  94. Bob, Your comment reminded me of something I realized a few years back. There are so many parallels in the type of thinking that comes from JW’s and Mormons that are making their way into mainstream Christianity that it is chilling. I think a lot of it is because it is a means of control.

    I learned a lot of this from a friend who has a ministry to the cults of JW and Mormon. She could see it clearly. Besides all the micromanaging of your life (cluttered counters) they tweak the truth about WHO Jesus is. It is very subtle.

    From some quarters it is ESS. In SGM it is the Cross centered Jesus Who seems to never be resurrected. (Therefore you do not need the Holy Spirit but only the leaders to point out your sin). Some of it is downright silly as in CBMW suggesting we will be under our husband’s authority in heaven. Or, Russ Moore writing that Christians should not be cremated because of our future glorified bodies. (My pastor showed me that one)

    Oh how I pray people get out of these aberrant churches! And stop following these guru’s.

  95. “Several have now responded to the “lets affirm the good about SGM” statements with concern that this might be a pattern to minimize the concerns being discussed here, statements that I would describe as characteristic of a spiritually abusive system (see Henke’s critera above). ”

    Cindy, this reminds me of Lombardo’s Lucifer Effect as in bad barrell/bad apples. SGM is a bad barrell. Good apples can be in a bad barrell but it still rots the apples, eventually. Best to get rid of the barrell and save the apples. :o)

  96. Thank you Evie.

    As a former academician, I tend to write long. As a former writer of technical reports and documents, I learned to write short. As an attorney, where words cost money, I learned the value of writing to the point, saving my poor clients money. In law school, to pass the exams, one had to write 4 simple sentence on each issue spotted, and could not write too much on any one issue, since the number of issues put into the answer determined the grade.

    I do not always succeed.

  97. Lin,

    People do this kind of thing without even realizing it. Somewhere early in the comments, I mentioned that my counselor pointed out to me that though I talked about the really terrible things my former pastor did that I just would not even believed if I had not witnessed them. On the heels of those comments, I felt compelled to make statements about how wonderful he was which prompted the counselor to repeat back to me the list of things I’d said to demonstrate that I was the pastor’s greatest defender.

    There was no question that he had the capacity to be truly wonderful, but that did not undo the awful things he did. By bringing those good things up while I was in the process of working through and moving through the trauma, I was trying to wash away the discomfort that I felt, trying to figure out how to remake him over into who I wanted to be so I could feel better about him. But it was entirely inappropriate to feel better about him, at least in that stage of the game. One should not feel good about someone who has harmed them until they are safe from further harm.

    It took me a few years to get to that point, after discerning the nature of his behavior, noting that he had not behaved justly, noting that he rejected submitting to what was right (repenting of his wrongs), and then releasing him to God when I was in a safe place and had experienced deep healing. Those good things then spontaneously came to mind and I reintegrated all of the good and bad, enabling me to love him as he was — a flawed person just like everyone else with whom I look forward to reconciling with one day, either on this side of the veil or the other side.

    I know the tactic well. I’ve done it, and I’ve watched others do it. In fact, it’s very common, especially if a person is kind and good and is loving.

    That moment with my counselor was a wa

  98. @Dee and @Deb

    Do you have any interest in weighing in on the appropriateness of expressing certain views in certain venues on this blog? You certainly don’t have to yet I feel like I’m stepping on your toes by presuming to interpret your terms of use policy.

    @Lin –

    I was referencing the part of your post that I’ve cut and pasted at the end of this post.

    The point is was making is that yes, we may find the views of someone like CDM offensive or off-putting, but I’m scared to suggest or even vaguely imply that his/her opinions should not be welcome here at any time. I believe that part of your post strongly implies such a thing even if your underlying motives, being wary of abusive church tactics, are good.

    Below you have clearly called the comments of those with whom disagree “inappropriate” and “irrelevant.”

    This troubles me. How can I complain when pro-SGM sites censor my anti-SGM comments (which they do frequently), on the grounds that they’re not appropriate at this time, if I’m willing to censor or tolerate the attempts of someone else to censor and/or discourage the comments of pro-SGMers here at this time?

    Perhaps My Posts Were Misinterpreted
    I am sorry if I misinterpreted your post but I will say two things. I certainly think that you misinterpreted my posts if you thought I suggested at any time that people should look at the “bright side of things” regarding SGM. A casual glance will show that I simply expressed my views regarding God’s guidance that I pray for one individual in particular, and I said that others were free to take them or leave them on the table as they like.

    Ditto my decision to engage rather than argue with CDM.

    This is Not an Anti-SGM Site Primarily, to My Knowledge

    I will say strongly that your clear presumption below, indicating that you speak for many on this blog, troubles me.

    You certainly don’t speak for me nor is this the SGM Survivors blog. People here are allowed and encouraged to express any number of views irrespective of their personal experiences with SGM or abusive church tactics.

    That’s why I and perhaps some others post here rather than posting on some of the anti-SGM blogs, although I will give a shout-out to Jim at Refuge for running his blog with great maturity and integrity, in my view.

    I quote:

    In the midst of a discussion of the real abuse that has been suffered by those at SGM churches and all that that entails, many here on this blog (at this particular point in this specific discussion) find an admonition to stop to consider the “gifts” that SGM gives its members to be completely irrelevant and inappropriate. At another time and concerning another discussion, it is fine to talk about counting one’s blessings. In this discussion now, some see it as obfuscation, avoidance and offensive.

    Lin: This Post is About Peacemakers Not SGM, Right?

    The fact that this post is not even meant to be about SGM makes the statement above even more perplexing to me. We’re supposed to be talking about PeaceMakers, right?

    I’m being very frank with you Lin because I and some others fled to this blog because we don’t want to talk about nothing but SGM all the time. Especially when our more nuanced views on the situation are labeled as offensive or irrelevant.

    Thanks for listening.

    Best to all – Janna

  99. “The point is was making is that yes, we may find the views of someone like CDM offensive or off-putting, but I’m scared to suggest or even vaguely imply that his/her opinions should not be welcome here at any time. I believe that part of your post strongly implies such a thing even if your underlying motives, being wary of abusive church tactics, are good.”

    Janna, disagreement, even vehemet disagreement is not censorship. I have no personal power to censor anyone. I did not find CDM’s views off putting. I found them wrong and have explained why. I had also read her comments on sgmsurvivors and on sgmrefuge. I may not communicate in a way you approve of but isn’t that the same thing you accuse me of? I am seriously confused. I simply see the problems differently than you and make that arguement.

    I am trying (not very well, obviously) to stay focused on a bigger picture with the problem with SGM and that it is a “bad barrell”. I like Cindy’s analogy of an abusive husband who also gives nice gifts. It says it all.

    My sincere hope is that people get OUT of SGM. I pray they RUN as fast as they can out of there.

    Personally, I think God has sent a huge neon sign warning to people in SGM that is being ignored. Many are still waiting for God to save SGM from the flood when He has sent a rowboat, a speedboat and helicopter to save them. (As in they hold out hope that CJ will change, Josh really means it, etc. But all indicators point to the fact nothing has really changed and the problem is very deep and even foundational)

    I won’t disagree with you anymore. How is that?

    To get the comment on topic, I would add that Peacemakers helps the bad system. :o)

    BTW: Your quote at the end of your comment was not mine. I am not that good of a writer. :o)

  100. “As an attorney, where words cost money, I learned the value of writing to the point, saving my poor clients money.”

    Good for you! What a blessing not to mention a good way to learn to get to the point. AS one who has paid attorneys in business for years, I really respect your position. I wish they all did. $$$$

  101. “On the heels of those comments, I felt compelled to make statements about how wonderful he was which prompted the counselor to repeat back to me the list of things I’d said to demonstrate that I was the pastor’s greatest defender.”

    I have done this, too. But I have to admit I did it from a position of pride. It was hard for me to admit I had allowed myself to be taken in. No matter who good they are at what they do.

  102. @Lin @Cindy – the post above was written for Cindy and I committed the egregious error of mixing your names up IN THE ENTIRE POST. That’s why the quote is off and I’m surprised you’re not super irritated at me, Lin, for driving you nuts trying to figure that one out. Please forgive me, both of you, that was awful thing to do

    @Lin – I got it right this time! Your comment about attorneys fees is hilarious as I often say “talk is cheap unless you’re looking at a bill from your lawyer. I almost fainted once and my lawyer talks 200 words a minute so I knew she wasn’t futzing around. 🙂

    You are more than welcome to disagree with me about anything. I just have to limit the amount of time I spend blogging about SGM now that I have off-line SGM responsibilities to worry about.

    I hope people get out of there, too, but that’s between them and God and behind every SGM is another SGM as long as individuals feel the need to create one.

    Hence I’ve shifted my focus to working with individuals and helping one family at a time with their specific needs.

    What do you think of Peacemakers decision to contact the Survivors blog instead of contacting happymom’s family directly to do their arbitration pow-wow?

    Does that seem strange to you, Arce?
    Best,

    Janna

  103. @lin – Harris isn’t really my type but I drool over that picture of Dave Harvey every time the board issues new statements. Such movie star looks combined with such manliness. Move over Brad Pitt, Liam Neeson, and Daniel Day Lewis (in Last of the Mohicans). My heart has been captured by another.

    That was mean. I’ve really done my mean dead for the day. 🙂

  104. Ms. Chan,
    You wrote:
    “…Hence I think many Christians will buy the simplified idea that it’s just plain wrong to involve civil authorities in any dispute involving another member of your church group…”

    You’re not alone, I too am perplexed and cannot make heads nor tails out of the Matthew 18 thing. I guess that’s what happens when one sets aside what others say Scripture says and starts digging for meaning on one’s own.

    You also wrote:
    “…I’m being very frank with you Lin because I and some others fled to this blog because we don’t want to talk about nothing but SGM all the time. Especially when our more nuanced views on the situation are labeled as offensive or irrelevant…”

    In my own experience TWW has been an oasis of tolerance and reasoned discourse. Prior to coming here I was as a wandering Jew (I speak metaphorically of course on account of what some consider to be apostate and heretical views) in the middle ages trying city after city fit only to have a small money changing booth next to a brothel if that, and subject to ejection at any time.

    Long live TWW, its’ kinda’ sorta’ like Al-Andalus before the Inquisition.

  105. Hey all

    Dee here, been out all day. Here is our deal. We allow all comments on all subjects, even though we personally may disagree with them. The problem with many churches is censorship which is why we try not to do that here except under severe circumstances. The only thing we ask is that we try to let everyone have a say and not have dominate personalities overtake the discussion from others.

    For example, I welcome Bob Gram’ input and found what he had to say most interesting. I think he hit on an important point. Sometimes we trade one bad situation for another, perhaps looking for comfort in a system that seems new. I have been guilty of something similar. I have gone from one excellent church to a new excellent church and started off critical because it did things a bit differently.But as one pastor said, “Same batter; different shaped cake pans.”

  106. Muff Potter Ahh…if you keep calling me Ms. Chan I’ll have to call you Mr. Potter and start making Harry Potter references even though I’m not a Potter fan. Call me what you like…within reason. 🙂

    I’m with you on the Mat. 18 thing. I’ve actually called the excuse “I was just following Mat. 18” the fallen pastor’s Nuremberg defense.

    I would suggest prioritizing the Bible’s general passages, indicating that we should pursue justice in the most kind, ethical, and legal matter, over the nuances of Mat. 18 if the issue at hand is very serious and/or has not been resolved through means less structured than litigation. Fighting for true justice generally involves using the civil and criminal court systems in the U.S.A. in my experience.

    I’ll have to look up Al-Andalus but I agree with your general point that this is an oasis for many of us. I have no trouble discussing SGM in SGM-related posts but feel that others should respect the fact that we’re not all obsessed with SGM’s melodrama right now and would rather discuss other things when a non-SGM post is on the table.

    Dee and Deb, any chance you could switch the “Lins” in my post above to “Cindys?” No biggie if it’s too much trouble but I really mucked that one up.

    Thanks.

  107. @Dee

    Thanks for the clarification. As one who can be one of the dominant personalities here because this is such a cool place, I will be cutting back on my commenting when necessary. One way of doing this will be saying, “I appreciate your point, but I’m not inclined to discuss this matter further.” I said that several times in this string of posts and declined to simply stop posting about a certain topic 🙂

    Won’t happen again!

  108. Below you have clearly called the comments of those with whom disagree “inappropriate” and “irrelevant.”

    Janna,

    I stated that depending on what page a person is on and where they are in their recovery from a group like SGM, it can be hard to hear and interpret “remember that SGM is good” statements. It can feel like minimization to the person who is still processing their pain and is not in a place in their head wherein they feel safe emotionally. Those kinds of statements are frequently used in groups like SGM as irrelevant and inappropriate comments because they are introduced to stop critical thought and stop discussion and can be a trigger for people, long after they leave SGM or groups like it.

    That was a caution and what I thought might be a consideration that was an element of some of the exchange here, something that was meant to help everyone understand one another.

    I think that my history of commenting here and elsewhere online bears out that I’m very direct and will confront someone if they are throwing a red herring into a discussion.

  109. Janna and all

    Please do not mistake what I am saying. So many churches chew people up and spit them out, as if they have nothing important to add to the discussion. If John Piper doesn’t say it, it is not important seems to be one of the mantras of today.

    I believe that God’s Spirit resides in each and every believer. Also, all men and women , Christian or no, have been created in the image of God. It is my hope that everyone who steps onto this blog will see that their thoughts are treasured and taken seriously here, even if we may disagree, sometimes, quite vehemently. BTW, vehement means someone’s comments are being taken seriously.

    I want this to be one place where no one is overlooked. Sometimes we may overlook someone if we are having a busy day. But that is why I love all who come here. You have our back and usually make sure that everyone at least gets a welcome.

    Blogging is hard-we can’t see each other and body language is often 85% of a conversation. I am very visual. So sometimes I fail and get myself all up in arms about something someone says. May I get better at this every day. Thank Jesus for grace!

    Just know that I appreciate you all and pray for you and the things that you say. Someday, we will see each other in heaven and I can’t wait.

    Love you guys!

  110. @Cindy K – Blessings. I think we’re on the same page ultimately and I, too, dislike Red Herrings. The problem is that one person’s Red Herring is another person’s great epiphany as I believe Dee indicated indirectly. And Dee has stated clearly that even Red Herrings are acceptable on this blog at any time on any post.

    As for manipulation strategies and hurt feelings, sometimes those things are as much a part of the blogging experience as they are part of life. Instead of shielding themselves from distress and/or being shielded from distress, people sometimes need to learn how to handle difficult situations by thinking for themselves without filters of any kind.

    I say this because, “the victims have been through so much they have to be held with kid-Gloves and we have to be careful what we post” is an argument made on some of the anti-SGM blogs.

    Life is not like that unfortunately. Blogging endlessly in a safe environment about the same issue year after year will not fix your problems. Getting better takes effort and risking failure, Sometimes I see abuse victims back-sliding and have to let them sink or float rather than propping them up all the time because “they’ve been through a lot.”

    In my case, there are times when my anxiety and depression symptoms flare up and I can’t handle some types of feedback with grace. Thus I stop posting (honestly folks sometimes I do:-) ). However, I don’t expect others to walk on egg shells around me because I’m having a difficult time.

    So what if someone is trying to manipulate us by throwing a Red Herring into the discussion. We can handle that without saying that their post is inappropriate at this time, right?

    I hope that makes sense. 🙂

    @Dee – thanks for the clarification.

  111. @Cindy

    Sorry, just looked at your “rebuttal” more carefully. If someone feels hurt or damaged by my posted desire to pray for Josh Harris because they perceive that as supportive of SGM, they need to turn off the computer and go see a therapist.

    🙂

  112. No more Ms. Chan, I promise, honest injun! From here on out it’s Janna. Muff Potter was one of your more ubiquitous antiheros (in the quasi sense) from the pen of Mark Twain. He was the town drunk and beloved of kids who took a shine to him, that is before the prudence and duplicity of adulthood overtook them. I took the moniker after my own battle with alcohol and in celebration of 15 yrs. sobriety.

    Al-Andalus was in the Southern region of the Iberian peninsula (Spain) during Europe’s dark age. It was a center of art, culture, religious tolerance, and substantial material wealth. Christian, Jew, and Muslim lived in relative peace and harmony, with scholars from all over the Mediterranean learning from each other. That all came to a screeching halt with the expulsion of Jews & Muslims from Spain in the late 1400’s, the rest is academic.

  113. Cindy K, you wrote above (in part):
    “As a means of avoiding and covering and excusing unpleasant matters, SGM is notorious for throwing in the red herring of “always look on the bright side” which is inappropriate when it is the appointed and appropriate time to discuss those unpleasant matters. It minimizes and belittles the concerns at hand and those who suffer for those concerns.”

    Exactly what happened to me, nearly 15 years ago, when I approached my CLC/SGM pastor with some questions and concerns. After talking with me patiently for a while, he got exasperated and asked, “But Don, haven’t the boundary lines fallen in pleasant places for you?” [Ps 16:6]

    In other words, “don’t confuse me with facts, and don’t ask me to defend beliefs and policies I can’t defend in good conscience.”

    Coward.

  114. Don

    Thank you for giving a real life example to Cindy’s post. How frustrating. i would have been so frustrated.

  115. “Exactly what happened to me, nearly 15 years ago, when I approached my CLC/SGM pastor with some questions and concerns. After talking with me patiently for a while, he got exasperated and asked, “But Don, haven’t the boundary lines fallen in pleasant places for you?” [Ps 16:6]”

    Don, it is the “blue pill” life I wrote about in my blog post concerning SGM. You took a red pill and messed it all up. :o)

    It is a parallel universe.

  116. Cindy K,

    Just seen your detailed post from this morning and I cannot determine whether you were expecting a response to all the questions you put or whether you were speaking rhetorically?
    For instance surely my church affiliation should not affect my interpretation of these verses.
    I am an ex-pat [from England] who now lives over here and my spiritual journey is still on going and I am learning still [I hope] hence my quotation and reference to a commentary that I was familiar and with which I found a great help in studying this portion of Matthew’s gospel. [RT France]
    My initial post refers to the involvement of Peacemakers in a church situation and my reluctance to join in their endeavors solely because I was uncomfortable with the signing of a ‘covenant’ of silence..which I felt restricted my ministry to assist those who were hurt in this situation.
    This reluctance to sign was also because I felt it was putting me in a ‘contractual’ situation which I as a Pastor [now retired] sought to avoid in Christian ministry.
    Sadly I saw the way this ‘covenant of silence’ was interpreted by some of the Leadership in our church and which effectually put a ‘gag’ order upon the church and left members confused especially. when to question events, inevitably led to accusations regarding authority.
    So I find your original article and post helpful in its comments about MT 18.

    With regard to the other questions you posed… I will pass on them.. Your sources seem good and I have nothing but admiration for Dr Carson and although I may take a slightly different interpretation of MT 18 than he does, I have found him to be fair in other matters such as the reaction by certain members of the Evangelical body in the US to the NIVI and lately the NIV 2011. His is a calm voice in that debate.
    I have strayed into another debatable area and not wishing to digress from the subject under discussion in these posts, I will refrain from commenting further.

    Thank you again Cindy for your fine work in the PM matter
    Keep it up.

  117. Lin, you wrote “You took a red pill and messed it all up.”

    Actually, it was God who administered the red pill! He hit me by surprise in 1994 and 95 – had me on the floor of CLC a number of times (along with many others). Laughing — crying — shaking. All the while, he was doing deep stuff inside. That was the red pill!

    What was it Morpheus said to Neo (about the red pill) — something like, “all I can promise you is the truth”?

    That’s what God started in me, and has continued to do ever since. Praise his name.

  118. @All – Hey there, I seldom just post a verse without much context but this one spoke to me in the midst of all the anger I’ve directed at SGM and places like it over the years:

    But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

    Matt. 5:44, KJV

  119. Janna

    I am not sure that this is what happened. I do not believe that Sande offered money to SGM Survivors. Could you please find the comment that would prove this? For now, I am going to hold your comment.

  120. Hi Don,

    I left the same church over 10 years ago over doctrinal disagreements and I was curious about how you have adjusted since leaving. Have you found a new church yet, and if so, what were some of your requirements, if you will, in finding a new place of worship. CLC put so much emphasis on “not dating the church” and downplaying “church shopping.” Has that been a deterrent to you in any sense? Have you felt free to not be involved in a church, or did you feel compelled to get involved somewhere as soon as possible after leaving CLC? Thanks 🙂

  121. Evie–

    That whole stop dating the church thing is hilarious to me. Apparently, Josh doesn’t like ANY type of dating! Don’t date men and women… Don’t date the church… Don’t date your job… Don’t date nothing, PERIOD! NO DATING!

    Thanks, Josh. I get it. You hate dating anything. Funny how everything looks like “dating” through your lens. What a new loaded word. AFterall, dating doesn’t mean dating anymore, does it? not in SGMese.

    Man, I wonder what he thinks about me dating this blog and Survivors? Do I have to choose one and marry it in 6 months. No handholding or kissing the screen–although, I am so enamoured I just can’t help myself! You know, cause I’m literary repressed. These words entice me. They’re actually real and not loaded here. Im in love with “lite” words. Such a steamy affair!

  122. NLR,

    Please don’t stumble over this post 😛

    Perhaps I should endeavor to systemically manipulate you into obsequiousness with spiritually sounding messages void of scripture while moving rapidly across your computer screen waving my arms and doing my best to distract you from the fact I spent most of my time repeating myself.

    p.s. You’re only allowed to date when you’re married don’t ya know?

  123. Janna

    Please change the trajectory of your comments. TWW does not believe that Peacemakers is offering money to people nor is there any evidence to even begin to go in this direction.

  124. “That whole stop dating the church thing is hilarious to me. Apparently, Josh doesn’t like ANY type of dating! Don’t date men and women… Don’t date the church… Don’t date your job… Don’t date nothing, PERIOD! NO DATING!

    Thanks, Josh. I get it. You hate dating anything. Funny how everything looks like “dating” through your lens. What a new loaded word. AFterall, dating doesn’t mean dating anymore, does it? not in SGMese’

    NLR, I almost hate to ask but how, exactly, does one “date” a church? And how does one “date” a job? Is a job interview considered “courting”? Inquiring minds want to know how they explain this stuff with a straight face

    BTW: When Josh rereleased his IKDG book, did he take Bob Kauflin’s daughter’s courting to marriage story out?

  125. “p.s. You’re only allowed to date when you’re married don’t ya know”

    Gee, I was kinda hoping you could do more than that when married. :o)

  126. Janna,

    Hi! I realize you are not a fan of SGM and you’re definitely interested in keeping them frying in the frying pan.

    I don’t blame you. The heat is on SGM in no small part due to online participation such as yours and others here.

    One of the things that frustrated me while I was in SGM was their tendency to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. Even now people are calling for SGM to account for the way they mistreated victims of sexual abuse, among countless other things.

    While I admire your zeal, instead of putting the responsibility on others (“just delete my comments to that effect so they’re no longer an issue? Leaving them up almost obligates me to further explain them which makes the problem worse. I was just speculating…”)perhaps it might be best to offer an apology for offering rash speculations, and then attempting to further excuse yourself by vaguely hinting that what you said is somehow legitimate, perhaps based on evidence other than your own suspicions.

    You’re smart. Surely you see the harm that can be done, and how you could discredit your own efforts at exposing hypocrisy by being hypocritical yourself.

  127. Written by Jim, the blog host, over at sgmrefuge:

    Jim says:
    August 8, 2011 at 3:30 pm
    Ellie,

    All of that is common knowledge. The fact remains that Peacemaker Ministries are not involved in the evaluation. There are churches of many denominations that use principles taught by PM. That doesn’t mean that they are affiliated.

    I like the ladies at WW, but the article was full of flawed logic. Some SGM pastors take good things, and infuse them with their culture. Mark M can say that they were using a PM model, and I understand what he means by that, but he is incorrect. PM does not teach conciliators to yank the log out of someone’s eye and poke them with it.

  128. @Evie : Beautifully said.

    However, I would be lying if I said that I was rashly speculating as I don’t think that there was anything rash about my speculation nor did I say anything that was untrue. However, I clearly failed to communicate my message clearly and for that I apologize profusely.

    I also stand by my contention that leaving the comments up but putting me in a situation where I can’t comment on them isn’t a good solution to the problem in this case. Hence I think my request was responsible. I would delete them myself had I the power to do so.

    BTW: Exposing the hypocrisy for the sake of doing so is not one of goals even if that ends up happening sometime.

    I don’t mean to sound like a certain someone in suggesting I’m the worst sinner in the world, but I do hypocritical things each and every day.

    And I appreciate it when someone like you calls that to my attention.

    Best,

    Janna

  129. @Evie : – One whole sentence above was a big typo so please let me try again.

    BTW: Exposing the hypocrisy of others for the sake of doing so is not one of my stated goals even if that ends up happening sometimes.

    Ugg…a little better even though the whole sentence now sounds contradictory 🙂

  130. Lin

    TWW is not a blog about SGM. It is a blog about lots of things in the faith. And there is no question that we might not perceive things in the same way.

    As for flawed logic, well, I wish folks would be specific. What was flawed?

  131. @Lin: Regarding the comment below:

    I think doing more than dating is kind of a 25th anniversary thing. 🙂 BTW you asked me a question about Megan and Kerrin or something of that nature at one point. The whole courtship issue is over my head so I have trouble commenting on it, unfortunately.

    “p.s. You’re only allowed to date when you’re married don’t ya know”

    Gee, I was kinda hoping you could do more than that when married. 😮 )

  132. Lin,

    Oh of course you can do more than that when you’re married. And make no mistake – C.J. Mahaney didn’t hold back from planting his flag of ownership in the sex lives of SGM married couples and acting as though what he taught on the subject was the way for everyone to think. But more so, since he was the one teaching, his way of conducting his sexual relations were the pattern all men should aspire to emulate.

    Remember Eddie Murphy’s line in Coming to America: “When you think of garbage, think of Akeem?” In in my view, CJ presumed ownership over people’s lives in the areas in which he taught. Members were expected to submit themselves to his teachings and to his authority. If he taught on sex, then be a good SGM’er and think about CJ while having sex. I mean think about sex the way CJ does (my bad).

    If you forget, just reference the “Song of Solomon,” which became his “Joy of Sex” playbook.

    CJ. He’s da man. (Nevermind that his submissive wife never denied him under any circumstance.) He’s just so biblically manhoodly sexy!

    Seriously though, SGM planted their flag of ownership in whatever area they taught, and your submission to what they taught was merely used a prop to provide legitimacy to their authority. Obedience to God and His Word wasn’t the issue, unless it meant submitting to their authority was believed to be equal to obedience to God.

    SGM: The Middleman that abrogates member’s obedience to God by placing themselves in the position of God to the members.

    The “members”…all of whom are pathetic sinners. Thanks guys!

  133. “TWW is not a blog about SGM. It is a blog about lots of things in the faith. And there is no question that we might not perceive things in the same way.”

    I hear ya. And the perception problem is what I think the main problem is with his comment. For example, if my perception starts with human hierarchy in the Body, then all my “logic” will flow from that perspective. That is where I think he is coming from.

    Some of us see a problem with PM because they DO start from a perspective of human hierarchy in the Body. So all their “peacemaking” flows from that position. FRom signed covenant to redefinig forgiveness. Those are the logs they beat folks with. Cindy said it best here:

    “Peacemaker Ministries follows a model which requires all participants to surrender to what is much like what Robert Lifton described as the Sacred Science: neither a leader nor the group’s doctrine can ever be wrong or misguided because PM’s model suggests an a priori preference for the authority of leadership over the rights of a member”

    “As for flawed logic, well, I wish folks would be specific. What was flawed?”

    Maybe he will tell us since I see someone asked just that. I found it strange he made such a blanket statement about flawed logic without one example.

    here is a link to some info on a poor man who was ruined financially by agreeing to Peacemakers concering a dispute with Vision Forum. Cindy is well aware of the story,too. The story is complicated but this blog author found an interesting disclaimer from VF:

    http://www.simply-christian.org/blog/2009/04/irony-of-behemoth-proportions/

  134. @Dee and @Cindy @Lin

    Given the complexity of the legal issues alone, it seems that many people will have a myriad of opinions about Christian Reconciliation Services that can’t be addressed systematically. Law school journals alone have probably killed 10,000 trees writing about the issue of arbitration alone, which many of these services facilitate.

    For what it’s worth, I think that Cindy wrote a great short article about the matter.

  135. Just seen your detailed post from this morning and I cannot determine whether you were expecting a response to all the questions you put or whether you were speaking rhetorically?

    Rusty,

    I was just noting how complex the interpretation of that verse can be and the many ways that the principles in the chapter can be applied. All of these things make issues more complicated when relating to others who are not part of your local church or denomination. And people might change their perspective regarding the meaning over time, too. And apart from love and walking in the Spirit, the Word can easily become a procedure manual.

  136. I like the ladies at WW, but the article was full of flawed logic.

    This comment is vague so it hard to discern exactly what it means specifically. I wish that Jim had named me and noted that what I wrote was not written by Dee and Deb, something that might help redeem them a bit more from his criticism of my ideas. On the other hand, if the sentiment behind his comment equates me as a “lady at WW,” I’m proud and honored.

    It’s my understanding that Jim and I don’t share the same premise concerning spiritually abusive groups and how that applies to SGM. Many don’t believe that I understand the dynamics of the group or that I articulate concerns about the issues with SGM in the right manner. I think that it has more to do with Jim’s statement than anything else — we just don’t share the same basic presuppositions about the dynamics in play at SGM or the paradigm of how to put them into proper perspective. And that’s fine.

    I hope that Jim goes to the effort sometime of refuting what I’ve written as opposed to his general comment. Anything that challenges people to think critically about those things that they otherwise take for granted heals people better than anything else.

    What I find interesting about the comment was that it doesn’t mention anything about what I wrote about Sande’s writings, suggesting that any problems with the PM paradigm owe to poor application of the paradigm itself.

    Some SGM pastors take good things, and infuse them with their culture. Mark M can say that they were using a PM model, and I understand what he means by that, but he is incorrect.

    He also states that Mullery poorly stated what he really meant, something that Jim understands. I don’t begin to suggest to know what Mullery meant. I only know what he said. I included the reference to Mullery’s apology to help validate Kris’ assessment of PM and why she believed that PM’s process would do more to hurt people like Noel than it would help them. If he’s got problems with that element of what I wrote, I think he’s got more of a bone to pick with Kris than he does with me!

    PM does not teach conciliators to yank the log out of someone’s eye and poke them with it.

    That, again, is a premise that Kris first introduced, though she certainly didn’t express it in those terms, nor did I. I stated that the premises and assumptions about what forgiveness is and what forgiveness requires poses some serious concerns, especially when the conflict involves church leadership. When you combine that with a shame-based culture of a group like SGM, it can result in great benefit for leadership at the expense of followers.

    I’ve challenged SGM leadership, and that violates the unspoken, informal demands of SGM members. I violated SGM’s sacred science which Sande represents. I think that’s more of a factor here than anything.

    That’s okay. I did the very same thing to defend my pastor and elders when I was in my own group. But I hope that people will find the courage to take the chance to read what I’ve written for themselves as opposed to just defer to Jim’s opinion. If they do come over to read it, I pray that it will challenge them and get them thinking. Creating a safe place for people to be able to think about their doubts without fearing retaliation and awakening a group member’s own critical thought processes will set them free. So I pray that it drives plenty of people over here to consider matters for themselves.

  137. Janna, Evie

    Sorry to do this but I have to get rd of two comments. Evie, I know it was not intentional. But I bet you get the drift of my latest post on comments.

  138. @Understood, Dee. I wanted them deleted so that accidents wouldn’t happen 🙂

    Sorry to have caused you ladies so much trouble. Definitely not my intention.

  139. Lin,

    About how dating relates to churches. I don’t know that this is articulated today because it was highly criticized after Pat Robertson came out to openly denounce shepherding and the groups started to break apart formally.

    Guess what used to be a big teaching in the early days of Shepherding that went hand in hand with the rationale behind the signing of church membership covenants? It was actually one of the early doctrines that gave people cause to question the shepherding movement and related practice.

    These early shepherding churches (like PDI) didn’t teach that people “dated” churches exactly, at least not in the old days. There were two variants of this.

    The first and more popular variant was that the church was a parent to the believer and membership was a binding agreement — a covenant that was as significant as God’s covenant with Abraham. It was not a thing from which you could just walk away, and it bore all of the significance of the cut up animals — if you abandon the covenant, you might as well be cut up like these animals that were used to cut this covenant.

    This dovetails with the idea that you have to submit to a parent, so if you want to leave a church, you have to get permission from the parent to be “sent out” from the group. If you leave, you risk God’s judgement because you abandoned the covenant.

    A lesser number of shepherding churches taught that church membership was like a marriage, and they held up the marriage covenant as a model example for church membership. If you left, it was like getting a divorce. It was taught that visiting another church was adultery, something that was said of me at my church (because I traveled out of town to help my mother when she was getting radiation for cancer). I was accused of visiting other churches, and this was described as tantamount to sexual impurity in the spirit because I was married to them. ?????

    As so many things within shepherding, the underlying concepts and doctrines remained, but how they were framed and described had to be cleaned up so that they sounded less controversial. “Covenant” has been replaced by “federal” in some circles to decrease the negative connotation potential. Pentecostals tend to call themselves Charismatics. Shepherding is now mentoring. I’m sure they avoid some of these old descriptions but keep the concept of fidelity.

  140. @ Cindy K, on the shepherding “covenants: yes indeed, those things were a big deal back then. I’ve heard them both, and probably some other “binding” analogies that I’ve since forgotten.

  141. Lin–
    I don’t know how you date the church! Lol! I was being facetious when I said the job part. That was me, not Josh. But he means by dating the church that you shouldn’t just come to church, sit in the back and then peace out when service is over and never join. He calls that dating the church because you take advantage of the church and never make a commitment to the local church.

    It’s too late to start dating when married. The person is now an a-hole and you would have known had you dated them! Lol

  142. Hmmm… I wonder what the covenants were like. It’s funny…at my old church we had to renew our covenant verbally at every members meeting and everytime we took communion. Thing is, if no formal membership can be proved in the NT then that also makes the covenants worthless and void, and well…unnecessary. It did, for me, create an us vs. Them mentality and I always felt very proud, very part of the elect, very part of the church that was getting it right when we did that. Non-members were asked to stay seated and could silently read it, but they couldn’t stand with the rest of us and renew and recite the covenant.

    The same likeness would halpen in Bible study. There would be questions about the text and in reference to our lives together as members of that local church and non-members were not permitted to answer. If they did, they were politely silenced. And if they insisted, they were silenced more firmly and clearly told it was for members only to answer.

    The thing I thought was that if I were considering joining and this pastor refused to hear my thoughts on church life together because I was not a member, it sure wouldn’t have compelled me to become one.

  143. I’ve had my own difficulties and struggles with this stuff… none of it is good, and somehow, early on, I developed an aversion to signing things.

    one place I lived in back in the 70s actually wanted to have a *house members* covenant, if you can believe that! It was quite the thing.

  144. ” It’s funny…at my old church we had to renew our covenant verbally at every members meeting and everytime we took communion.”

    Are you serious? This is creepy.

    ” Thing is, if no formal membership can be proved in the NT then that also makes the covenants worthless and void, and well…unnecessary.”

    Actually, I think they violate NC principles.

    36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one. Matt 5

    A “covenant” is a sort of contract. And what we are talking about are contracts written by men that we are swearing to when we sign them.

    “It did, for me, create an us vs. Them mentality and I always felt very proud, very part of the elect, very part of the church that was getting it right when we did that. Non-members were asked to stay seated and could silently read it, but they couldn’t stand with the rest of us and renew and recite the covenant.”

    This sounds like a Fraternity ritual. Something done to make people want to be in the club.

  145. Cindy, I do not see any logical flaws in your blog post. And I agree with you that you and he are not on the same page about PM. Maybe he will explain it more in the comments?

  146. Lin–

    Here’s the covenant. Funny thing is I don’t ever remember signing if. Damn! Was I guzzling the Kool-Aid wit my eyes closed??? Jeez!

    Home » We Are » Governed » Covenant
    Covenant

    CHBC has worshiped together under a covenant, or statement on how we agree to live as a church, since our earliest days in 1878. The church covenant is equal parts promise, summary of expectations, ethical statement, and biblical standard. We summarize how we promise to live together in the covenant. It forms the ethics, or the moral principles, of our worldview and holds out a biblical standard by which we live. Our acceptance of this multifaceted document follows the practice of believers throughout the centuries who have pledged to God and one another to live out the gospel in community.

    We use our covenant in two key ways today. We require all new members to sign it before joining the church. We also reaffirm our commitment to the covenant at all members meetings and before taking communion, when we stand as a body and recommit ourselves to it. By featuring the covenant in our life together, we strive to protect ourselves from individual and corporate sin. Of equal importance, we spur one another on to live in light of a greater covenant, one initiated by love, sealed by sacrifice, and kept for eternity by our Savior, Jesus Christ.

    Covenant

    Having, as we trust, been brought by divine grace to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and to give up ourselves to him, and having been baptized upon our profession of faith, in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, we do now, relying on His gracious aid, solemnly and joyfully renew our covenant with each other.

    We will work and pray for the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

    We will walk together in brotherly love, as becomes the members of a Christian Church, exercise an affectionate care and watchfulness over each other and faithfully admonish and entreat one another as occasion may require.

    We will not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, nor neglect to pray for ourselves and others.

    We will endeavor to bring up such as may at any time be under our care, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and by a pure and loving example to seek the salvation of our family and friends.

    We will rejoice at each others’ happiness and endeavor with tenderness and sympathy to bear each other’s burdens and sorrows.

    We will seek, by Divine aid, to live carefully in the world, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, and remembering that, as we have been voluntarily buried by baptism and raised again from the symbolic grave, so there is on us a special obligation now to lead a new and holy life.

    We will work together for the continuance of a faithful evangelical ministry in this church, as we sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline, and doctrines. We will contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the Gospel through all nations.

    We will, when we move from this place, as soon as possible, unite with some other church where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God’s Word.

    May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all. Amen.

  147. “one place I lived in back in the 70s actually wanted to have a *house members* covenant, if you can believe that! It was quite the thing.”

    Maybe I should institute a “chores” covenant.

  148. People need to keep in mind that a contract in law is a covenant and vice versa. So if you get to court over a church covenant it COULD be treated as if it were a contract.

  149. Okay. LMK what you think. I got a few hangups with it. But I will let you peruse unbiased by my own morbid opinions. (Continues watching ‘Mad men’. Great show. Fitting for such discussions)!

  150. Oh and most of “us”, whoever we are, know it by heart. And I dont get that that’s good anymore 🙁