“For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” (ESV)
Pope With the College of Cardinals (courtesy Malta Diocese)
“Change is here to stay” is the mantra long-time SGMers have heard over and over and over again. You see, Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) has been morphing itself over the years. First it was called “People of Destiny”; then its name changed to “PDI International”. Finally, in 2002 this family of churches became known as “Sovereign Grace Ministries”. The “Gathering of Believers”, which is the Gaithersburg fellowship, also had a name change. Now it is called Covenant Life Church.
Names aren’t the only things that have changed in SGM. Methodologies and theological interpretations have been subject to change since it was formally organized in 1982. The most recent change was announced on the SGM blog earlier this week, which you can read here.
It seems that two Sovereign Grace church members wrote SGM headquarters to inquire about whether the apostolic team still exists. Yes, Sovereign Grace Ministries has had “apostolic” leaders until very recently. Here’s an excerpt from the SGM website:
“The apostolic team, for those of you new to Sovereign Grace Ministries, was for many years what we called the team of pastors who help us facilitate church planting, international ministry, and church care. But over time, we discovered the name confused more people than it helped, so now we’re considering alternatives.”
Confused people? Dee and I weren’t confused and we doubt many others were either. Using language like “confused” is sometimes used as a method of intimidation. We knew exactly what SGM meant by this grandiose title. Instead, people were extremely CONCERNED and likely knew what they were up to by using such lofty titles. Truly, it was embarrassing!
The explanation on the SGM website continues with the following:
Gained a better understanding? After existing for ALMOST TWO DECADES!!! Who’s really confused here? Is SGM admitting that its hermeneutics were flawed when they first defined their ministry? Could it be that their hermeneutics are still flawed and that we should be questioning other aspects of their church polity? Not only that, Sovereign Grace Ministries dares to train future ministers in its very own Pastors College instead of hiring seminary graduates. Truly, it boggles the mind to realize that significant theological changes are still being made in SGM.
The SGM website further states:
“So for now, the team is more commonly just called the regional leadership team. (For more on the role of apostolic ministry in the church’s mission, see Dave Harvey’s blog post, “Apostolic Ministry and Church Planting.”)”
The “regional leadership” moniker comes from the fact that Sovereign Grace churches are currently grouped into eight regions, and each pastor on the team is responsible for serving the churches of one region. It’s a broad role, but primarily involves the following:
- Helping pastors develop and execute church planting plans
- Providing care and counsel for pastors when requested
- Facilitating cooperation among churches for regional events, mission trips, or other activities
- Coordinating the ordination process for new pastors
- Building relationships with other churches who are interested in joining Sovereign Grace Ministries
- Assisting in the assessment, training, and deployment of church planters”
What really concerns us is that Sovereign Grace Ministries appears to be changing titles without really changing roles. We believe those on the “apostolic team” will continue to operate in the same manner, so what’s really changed? This appears to be the “Lipstick on a Pig” syndrome.
Apparently, there have been so many concerns about Sovereign Grace Ministries that its leaders appear to be morphing it into a new entity that is more palatable to the new reformed homies they’re running around with. What a contrast between SGM’s mantra “change is here to stay” and God’s truth, as stated in Malachi 3:6: “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” (ESV)
It’s Happening Now Alert:
There has been an outcry about a commercial that was supposed to air during the Superbowl. This was an entry in the annual Pepsi-owned Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” ad contest that will never see airtime . It presents the bread and wine used in communion as snack food. However, as our readers will discover, this commercial is in poor taste and will offend most Christians. Apparently, Frito-Lay, a division of PepsiCo has wisely pulled the ad. To be fair, USA Today reports, link here, that “the maker of the ad, a Philadelphia firm called Media Wave Productions, however, says that interpretation is way off base….Dave Williams, president of MediaWave, says he pulled the ad from Pepsi’s site and from YouTube. “We felt bad,” he says. “Our intention was to win, not to offend.”
The writer of this article for USA Today further notes: ” Williams says in a comment on this blog that it walks a bit like a duck but is not a duck — that there are tiny signs throughout that this is not really a parody of Communion. I watched for a second and third time and yes, those little signs are embedded but … overall, I’d conclude like most viewers, I suspect, quack quack quack.” I am curious if our readers can spot these clues.
However, I find this commercial almost a parody of today’s “seeker-driven, get ’em in the door by any means possible in order to improve our bottom line” church. Those clues are far easier to spot. See what you think.