October 31, 2011 by
Bob Kauflin traveled to Australia for ten days of teaching and musical worship leading in October. On his blog he recently posted some reflections from the trip.
How well would a charismatic worship leader be welcomed into the non-charismatic conservative Anglicanism of Sydney? From that angle writes Tony Payne, an author, the Publishing Director at Matthias Media, and the editor of The Briefing. He wrote a trio of posts on Bob's visit that turned out to be mostly positive. "If I’m honest, I also didn’t expect to enjoy the day as much as I did, both the talks and the singing," he wrote. You can read his posts here:
Two additional updates on Bob’s trip to Australia appeared on the blog of Garage Hymnal, a Sydney-based worship band:
And coming up, Bob will be participating in a free seminar on corporate worship with John Piper at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. The seminar will be held on November 11-12 and live streamed online. More details can be found on the Desiring God website.
October 28, 2011 by
Well everyone, it has been a busy month and I’m grateful to have some concrete updates on what the board has been doing. We have some final direction on the adjudication process, so let me fill you in on how we are proceeding.
On October 13 we informed readers here that Brent Detwiler had declined participation in a formal adjudication to try his allegations against C.J. Mahaney. We also said that we would work with Ambassadors of Reconciliation, adjudication facilitator Bryce Thomas, and SGM pastors to develop and launch an alternative process. We’ve done that, and I’ll outline the plan in a moment.
But first, a word on the latest with Brent. Two weeks after declining our offer, Brent wrote us to say that he changed his mind and wanted to participate. Unfortunately, he also said that he considers the process “unjust” and “bogus,” the logical implication being that even if he participated, he would also consider any unfavorable results for him unjust and bogus. Meanwhile, we had been working with those mentioned above to define an alternative to seriously examine the substance of Brent’s allegations. In recent weeks we developed a plan together, and in the last few days we discussed it with our pastoral teams. It’s with their broad support that we are going to move forward with the plan outlined below. It doesn’t involve Brent as a plaintiff, instead relying mostly on SGM pastors to ask the tough questions, prepare reports of their findings for our churches, and issue recommendations to the SGM Board. Given Brent’s consistently strong rejections of our appeals for reconciliation and adjudication, his public statements that our proposal was unjust, and our respect for and confidence in the pastors of Sovereign Grace churches, we think the issues can be more sufficiently and satisfactorily reviewed in this way.
Here’s what we’re going to do.
This component was already in place, but is worth mentioning again. The team from AOR will review all of the documents they receive related to SGM—including Brent’s—and assess those as part of their review of SGM’s practices, teaching, processes, and culture. So even though he has declined any further discussion with AOR (although the option is still available), Brent’s allegations and documentation will factor into the final assessment and recommendations that AOR gives to us, and which we will publish online. While this is not an adjudication—i.e. it doesn’t deliver a verdict on Brent’s specific charges concerning C.J.’s qualification for ministry—it will be an outside assessment of how we should proceed in response to Brent’s allegations in terms of reforming policy, evaluating leaders, and reconciling broken relationships. And since it will also take into account the testimonies of everyone else participating in Group Reconciliation, we hope to learn if and where AOR finds common ground in others’ perspectives.
The board will also commission three panels (1 board member and 2 senior pastors per panel), each guided by Bryce Thomas, for an internal review. Each of these panels will review one of the three major events around which Brent builds his allegations: Larry Tomczak’s departure from SGM in 1998, C.J.’s conflict with other SGM leaders in 2004, and Brent’s removal from ministry by his local church’s leaders in 2009. The panels will interview the key witnesses of these events, evaluate their testimonies for consistency with Brent’s interpretation of events, and determine if and where Brent’s allegations and conclusions have merit. These panels will then issue their findings and recommendations to the board, who in turn will publish them online and make a final determination on C.J.’s future in ministry with SGM.
Pursuit of reconciliation
For more than a year we have made our desire for reconciliation known to Brent. Beyond C.J.’s many appeals for a personal meeting, this included the board sending a representative to his home to meet with him earlier this summer, offering to let him pick a mediator to meet with any or all of us, appealing for him to participate in Group Reconciliation with AOR, and even two appeals this week for Brent to have his pastor contact us so we can take immediate steps towards reconciliation. Our thinking was that perhaps the help of his church’s leadership might result in some much-desired progress. We maintain hope for this and will continue our appeals.
Please pray for each of these efforts. And please remember the upcoming Pastors Conference in your prayers a well. Thanks!
October 28, 2011 by
Near the end of 2009 pastor Mike Bullmore picked up a half-finished copy of George Marsden's biography of Jonathan Edwards and completed it. Then it dawned on him: "We have biographies in our church bookstore but I really haven't pushed them, not like Christian living books," he recalled in an interview. "Yet, in my experience some of the most profoundly shaping books for my Christian living have been biographies."
So Mike set out to lead his church, CrossWay Community Church in Wisconsin, through what he called "Read a Biography in 2010." He put together an initial list of biographies, published the list in the church bulletin, stocked the church bookstore with the titles, and began a year of discussing and promoting biographies with his church.
“Biographies are a great way to learn history and church history," Mike said. "But they will also get you up close to people who followed God. When you read a bio, your own life seems so paltry. I tried to disabuse them of that from the start. These are ordinary real human beings. God is what's amazing about these biographies. But we can learn from them and be encouraged by them and even pick up practices from them."
So how did the year go? "We had a marvelous response," Mike said.
Bullmore invited the church to send him emails about how they were being affected by the biographies. Many folks in the church wrote him. And to maintain the momentum throughout the year, each month he selected one email to read to the church. "It was sweet to hear from a mother reading the autobiography of Corrie ten Boom with her family and the effect it had on their children. It was profound. One lady tackled the Edwards bio, and halfway through she wrote a hilarious email questioning what was I thinking when I recommend the book! At one point she was ready to throw the book across the room, but she persevered, read it, and found her faith strengthened."
Along with reading one email, each month the church continued to add new biographies to the bookstore and Mike introduced them to the church from the front.
He was surprised by the overall popularity of the Edwards biography. "I said it would be a challenge. It's large. Yet it was the most popular biography." Also popular was Eric Metaxas’s biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. "Here's a brilliant guy in a circumstance none of us are going to face, yet people related and identified with him. They saw his bravery. That's a character trait I want to have in my life. Even though God played this bravery out in a life on a stage that warranted a marketable book, I can still be brave. All of us are compelled by virtuous character. And there's also the historical interest factor, too. The Bonhoeffer biography was a hit because it helps make sense of that period of world history."
The "Read a Biography in 2010" experiment has left an enduring mark on CrossWay church. "I encouraged people at the beginning of the year, if a biography affects you, tell others about it. And here we are late in 2011 and this practice continues, it's still got momentum, in fact we’re still adding new biographies to our bookstore."
Today if you walk into that bookstore you’ll find 23 biographies in stock, ranging from large and intimidating titles all the way down to books suitable for a very young audience, all of which you'll find listed here (ordered by length).
Jonathan Edwards: A Life by George M. Marsden. 640 pages.
- Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. 608 pages.
- Fearless Pilgrim: The Life and Times of John Bunyan by Faith Cook. 528 pages.
- John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace by Jonathan Aitken. 400 pages.
- A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael by Elisabeth Elliot. 384 pages.
- Through Gates of Splendor: The Event That Shocked the World, Changed a People, and Inspired a Nation by Elisabeth Elliot. 277 pages.
- The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. 272 pages.
- Faithful Witness [William Carey] by Timothy George. 265 pages.
- God's Smuggler by Brother Andrew. 256 pages.
- George Whitefield: God's Anointed Servant in the Great Revival of the Eighteenth Century by Arnold A. Dallimore. 224 pages.
- Hero Tales: A Family Treasury of True Stories from the Lives of Christian Heroes by Dave and Neta Jackson. 192 pages.
- Contending for Our All: Defending Truth and Treasuring Christ in the Lives of Athanasius, John Owen, and J. Gresham Machen by John Piper. 192 pages.
- Jim Elliot: One Great Purpose by Geoff and Janet Benge. 183 pages.
- The Hidden Smile of God: The Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd by John Piper. 176 pages.
- Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God by Noël Piper. 176 pages.
- The Roots of Endurance: Invincible Perseverance in the Lives of John Newton, Charles Simeon, and William Wilberforce by John Piper. 176 pages.
- The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God's Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin by John Piper. 160 pages.
- Out of the Depths by John Newton. 160 pages.
- The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World by Stephen J. Nichols. 160 pages.
- Filling Up the Afflictions of Christ: The Cost of Bringing the Gospel to the Nations in the Lives of William Tyndale, Adoniram Judson, and John Paton by John Piper. 128 pages.
- Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce by John Piper. 80 pages.
- Martin Luther: A Man Who Changed The World by Paul L. Maier. 32 pages.
October 26, 2011 by
Categories: Pastors College
This week Mike Bullmore is lecturing in our Pastors College on the theology and practice of the spiritual disciplines in the Christian life. Bullmore is a frequent teacher in the Pastors College, is a former professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and since 1998 has led CrossWay Community Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
He began the course with a clear definition of the sometimes fuzzy concept of spirituality: “Christian spirituality is the pursuit of godliness.” And after reading “the key text for this course” (1 Timothy 4:6–16), Bullmore said to the pastors-in-training,
There’s a lot at stake in your godliness. There’s heavy, weighty things attached to your personal pursuit of godliness. This week is all about attentiveness to your spiritual life—the pursuit of godliness. The most important factor in your pastoring is not your gifting; it’s your godliness. And that’s the most important factor in your parenting, and your being a husband. Your people are going to appreciate your gifting and your wisdom, but what they will look to, and long for, is your personal godliness.
Proverbs 14:26 is directed towards fathers: “In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.” I think the same thing is true in pastoring. It’s a leadership issue. A man who fears the Lord has a fortress. And for your people that will be a refuge.
Bullmore later quoted Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s famous adage: “My people's greatest need is my personal holiness,” a sentence where, Kevin DeYoung once wrote, “almost my whole philosophy of ministry is summed up” (DCIC, 26).
No doubt this will be a rich week of leadership training. For more on the topic you can listen to Bullmore’s 105-minute message “Spiritual Disciplines” recorded at his church in June. See here.
October 26, 2011 by
If you’re interested in an in-person interview with Ambassadors of Reconciliation staff at the Pastors Conference next month, please note that the request form closes tonight at midnight.
Also, some have asked if AoR will review all the information they receive regarding SGM, whether or not the information is received through interviews or the AoR forms. This is how Ted Kober answered:
AoR is collecting all information received regarding its work with SGM and plans to review it, keeping in mind what the Scriptures teach such as in Proverbs 18:17: "The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him." This means that while AoR desires to collect all thoughts and feedback, Scripture indicates that one-sided reports have a more limited value in understanding the entire situation. A one-sided report does not render a perspective unhelpful or unnecessary, just it is limited in what can be derived from it.
Those who listen to the seminar and complete the AoR forms provided will be better prepared to present their information in a way that will be most helpful to AoR's work for SGM in this process. For those who meet with an AoR Reconciliation Team member (in person or by phone), AoR will have opportunity to speak with those providing input, discuss and ask questions regarding that input, and thus receive better information. For those who agree to meet together with an AoR Team member and a representative from SGM (such as in mediation), AoR's Team will have the best opportunity to understand both sides of the stories presented.
For those of you who want to take part in Group Reconciliation Assistance but can't make it to Gaithersburg, we will provide means for online and telephone participation around November 10.
October 14, 2011 by
Since we opened registration for the Group Reconciliation Assistance, a number of people have written both SGM and AOR with related questions and suggestions. These have been helpful.
One good suggestion that SGM received several times was to allow the churches more time to circulate the information about GRA, so we wrote to our pastors about that earlier in the week and have extended the deadline to October 26. That gives churches two additional Sundays to work in this announcement or otherwise circulate the news as they see fit.
AOR has received a lot of correspondence as well, especially related to the seminar requirement and some misconceptions about their confidentiality requirements. To clarify and update everyone on the process AOR is using, Ted asked if we would post this letter on the Plant and Build blog. The original is also available as a PDF.
October 13, 2011
TO: Members and former members of Sovereign Grace Ministries
FROM: Ted Kober, President
Greetings to you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.
I write this memo for four purposes:
- To provide some background information on the Group Reconciliation process and
reflect on initial feedback we have received so far regarding the process.
- To answer questions regarding confidentiality in this process.
- To adjust the teaching requirement in response to the feedback.
- To confess my part in contributing to confusion and hurt among people invited to
Background and Reflections on Initial Feedback
At the request of the Board of Directors of Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM), Ambassadors of Reconciliation (AoR) began meeting in July with the SGM Board and a few other people to learn about the reconciliation needs of SGM. As a result, AoR produced a report in August recommending different approaches that SGM could take in order to address their current needs for reconciliation and adjudication.
One of those recommendations included Group Reconciliation Assistance. This is a process we have developed over many years to assist organizations that are struggling with conflict. It incorporates five elements:
- Teaching biblical peacemaking
- Interviewing individuals and leadership groups for gathering information and coaching people to take steps toward reconciliation
- Mediating a few key parties (if willing) and identifying others who may desire mediation assistance (often from other providers)
- Evaluation of documents, interview information and other material received
- Reporting observations and making recommendations
Many organizations that suffer from conflict share common characteristics, and yet each one is unique in strengths, weaknesses, polity, beliefs, and culture. While the process we use works well in many settings, there are times we adjust the process to better serve the unique needs of the people in that organization.
As we are receiving inquiries and responses to the invitations for people to participate in this process, we have received a number of different messages that set this case apart from others. These responses have included both criticisms and encouragements.
Two areas receiving a number of criticisms include issues regarding confidentiality and the teaching requirement.
- Individuals have been sensitive to the application of “confidentiality” and its application in the various parts of this process. While people in previous cases have asked about confidentiality, this intense focus on it has been unique from other organizations we have served.
- Speculation on our motives, inaccurate information, and misinterpretation of our standard procedures have been shared broadly regarding what AoR is requiring regarding confidentiality. For example, an inaccurate claim has been made that if people talked to someone from AoR they cannot talk to anyone else about these issues again. This false impression appears to have increased anxiety for some regarding this process.
- There appears be confusion of what should remain confidential from a biblical and legal perspective and what should be more transparent (as opposed to inappropriate secrecy).
- There appears to be significant distrust of leadership from those who believe that they have been hurt as a result of how "confidential" or "secret" information has been handled.
- Teaching requirement1
- While in past cases, a few people grumbled about the training requirement initially,2 we have not experienced such an intensity of strong negative reaction from so many as we have in this situation.
- Some have pointed out to us that they have received lots of training in biblical peacemaking and either don’t want more or don’t need more.
- One person indicated that he felt this was belittling to him because he has been involved in past teaching on this topic.
- Some people indicated that they felt this requirement was burdensome and unnecessary.
- A few messages compared their situation to one who has been abused, indicating that such a requirement was another way to inflict pain on someone who was already victimized.
- Others have referred to the teaching as “jumping through hoops.”
While we have received these and other criticisms of the process, we have also noted some unusual encouragements:
- People have thanked us over and again for our willingness to serve SGM, more than we have experienced in other cases. This appears to be one of the positive reflections of the culture.
- People have expressed their personal encouragement and indicated that they are praying for us, more so than we usually experience. This has been true even of many who have criticized the process.
- Some people have already demonstrated a teachable spirit. This does not mean that each one always agrees with everything that we say, but rather that they are open and have actively sought counsel.
While it is early to draw final conclusions from this initial feedback, our initial observations include the following:
- Initial responses reveal that there are strong positions ranging from strong loyalty and support of leadership to strong opposition of leadership.
- Strong emotional responses from the various positions sometimes result in communications that do not reflect godly behavior.
- It is apparent to us that something significant has impacted a number of people over time and their views of such things as confidentiality, transparency, and secrecy. This seems to have resulted in increasing sensitivity to these topics.
- While support for leadership is present, there is also an obvious mistrust of leadership past and current, including those serving SGM and some of its churches.
- We at AoR failed to anticipate the intensity of the concern regarding confidentiality and the requirement for the teaching component.
Whenever a part of the reconciliation process becomes a major focus, it may indicate some repeated patterns or themes of behavior that have made that area such a hot button. However, there are usually a number of factors that contribute to such an emotional response, and one must use caution about making quick conclusions regarding those factors.
As we continue our process, we will be seeking to learn more about why these issues have brought about such intense reactions.
Questions on Confidentiality
What are expectations for confidentiality in the Group Reconciliation Assistance Process?
For Phase 1 (Seminar and personal interviews)
Individuals requesting interviews will not be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement. However, AoR's reconciliation team members will hold identifying information confidential.
As will be explained at the end of the seminar and in our feedback forms, the general substance, but not identifying details, of information collected by the Ambassador team will be shared with SGM in a report. An individual may provide his/her name and contact information on AoR’s feedback form, which will be helpful if the AoR Team has questions or if the individual requests a coaching interview, but individual names will not be shared with SGM leadership.
Contact information will also be useful if someone indicates on the form a desire for reconciliation assistance. Should a person give permission for this situation, his/her contact information may be forwarded to SGM only as it relates to follow-up in reconciliation assistance.
For Phase 2 (Personal coaching, mediation, and oral report to SGM)
Following Phase 1, a few key individuals will be invited to participate in additional coaching and possibly mediation. No one can or will be coerced to participate in any coaching or mediation. All parties and mediators involved must agree to mediation in order for it to occur. AoR does not know if its reconciliation team members will be involved in any mediations, since no one can be required to participate in this voluntary process. Because it is a voluntary process, a party may withdraw from mediation at any time.
Moreover, AoR will not be conducting all the mediations requested by individuals in Phase 1, but rather identifying those who wish assistance through mediation. Some of those requesting assistance may utilize other mediation services or SGM people who have received training.
Those who may be invited to participate in mediation led by an AoR reconciler will be given the opportunity to review and discuss with the mediators the Rules of Procedure3 including those that define the application and limits of confidentiality. Anyone considering such an opportunity will have the privilege of declining mediation if the rules or procedure or limits of confidentiality are not acceptable. Note that the rules provide that parties in a mediation have the right to agree in writing on what will not be kept confidential.
Adjusting the Teaching Requirement
At AoR, we were taken by surprise by the negative reaction from a number of people regarding the teaching requirement. Initially, with support from the SGM Board, we made provisions for both a live teaching event and a recorded teaching event available on the SGM web site. Based on what we were told that many had already been exposed to biblical peacemaking, we decided to reduce the total teaching time and focus on material that went deeper than basic peacemaking. Nevertheless, these plans failed to meet the expectations of many we hoped to serve.
In response to the feedback we have received, we have decided not to make the teaching component a requirement prior to receiving feedback or meeting with people. We do not want the teaching requirement to become a roadblock for people participating.
Nevertheless, we encourage people to either attend the live training or watch the training on the web. We believe that doing so before providing feedback to us will be beneficial to everyone.
We will continue the rest of the process as planned. We will conduct on-site interviews in Gaithersburg November 8-10 following the live presentation of the teaching. After the presentation has been made available on the SGM web site, we will receive requests for telephone appointments for the following two weeks. Then, we will set up as many appointments as we can for the following weeks.
AoR proposed the Group Reconciliation Process that the SGM Board accepted. I take responsibility for designing and recommending the process.
Although I had some preliminary information that could have informed me prior to our proposal, I confess that I failed to anticipate the sensitivity to confidentiality. Thus, I failed to provide better information on explaining confidentiality in our initial proposal.
I acknowledge that the requirement for attending the teaching portion contributed to confusion and hurt for people. I failed to provide a better explanation for the process in the initial proposal or in a follow-up description. My hope is that the change in our process will open the door for more to participate.
Thanks to everyone who has provided feedback so far. I ask for patience as we continue through this process. Obviously, there is much that we at AoR need to learn about SGM before we can make recommendations, and that will likely take some months. We pray that through our teaching and coaching we can also share some things with you that you will find helpful for personal healing as well as corporate change that will be God-pleasing. But, in spite of our good intentions, we are likely to disappoint people in various ways, for we are imperfect people. As we work through these challenges together, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2-3 NIV).
These are difficult times for SGM leaders and members, current and former. Attempting to address these issues will continue to be a challenging work for anyone involved. I encourage all of us to use caution and patience as we respond throughout this process. While God does not desire for us to ignore important issues, he does call us to respond to them in godly ways. He also calls us to trust him and seek his guidance in all that we do.
May Christ’s love have its way with all of us, as Paul writes: “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15 ESV).
Finally, I remind you that your hope should not be in AoR, what SGM leaders do or not do, how other key people respond to what lies ahead, or what results might occur. Our hope is found only in our Savior, Jesus Christ. In him we not only have forgiveness of sins and the assurance for eternal life, but we have his promises to be with us always, even to the close of the age.
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7 ESV).
1 AoR’s Group Reconciliation Assistance process typically requires that people attend a full-day seminar on biblical peacemaking before meeting with one of our reconciling team members. Because the SGM Board indicated that many throughout SGM have had exposure to teaching on peacemaking, AoR proposed a half-day seminar on the topic Getting to the Heart of Conflict, a study on deeper topics of idolatry, its relationship to conflict, and healing through confession, repentance and forgiveness. Our plan was to focus on our confession to God and hearing his forgiveness proclaimed to us personally through a brother or sister in Christ, based on promises found in Scripture. The reasons for the teaching is to help prepare people to give us their feedback in light of scriptural teaching, and to help prepare people to receive brief coaching on how to apply that teaching. Past experience has shown that those who attend the teaching benefit more from the personal interviews because they better understand how to approach the matter in a godly manner and are more ready to receive coaching. Interviews with those who do not attend the teaching tend to be less satisfactory for the participant as well as AoR’s ability to gather information. The purpose of the interview is not simply for gathering information but also for helping each person take one step toward reconciliation or personal healing. In past experience, the teaching has served people and their organizations well. (Back)
2 Often the most ardent supporters of requiring the teaching as part of the process were those who initially grumbled about it. Moreover, a number of people from past cases reported that they found the teaching helpful for dealing with other relationships in their lives (e.g., family, work, and community) and encouraged us to keep this as an essential part of the process. (Back)
3 The Rules of Procedure utilized by Certified Christian ConciliatorsTM can be found at http://www.peacemaker.net/site/c.nuIWL7MOJtE/b.5378801/k.D71A/Rules_of_Procedure.htm. Rule 16 explains the biblical and legal reasons for the rules on confidentiality and the limits and exceptions to confidentiality. (Back)
October 13, 2011 by
Below is an update from the Board about the status of our adjudication process.
On August 24, Ambassadors of Reconciliation (AOR) sent the SGM board their Consultation Report, which recommended that we proceed in three areas:
- Adjudication of Brent Detwiler's allegations against C.J. Mahaney
- Group Reconciliation with others who have offenses
- A follow-up consultation with AOR staff to review their assessment of and recommendations for SGM (which we will publish online)
To implement the first step, we asked AOR if they could recommend a trained facilitator who could help us write procedures for and facilitate a fair and unbiased adjudication process, and they highly recommended Bryce Thomas. Bryce has practiced law for 37 years as a trial attorney with extensive experience with arbitrations. He has been involved in over 100 arbitrations, either as a sole arbitrator or with a panel of arbitrators, in both the secular and Christian arenas. In addition, he has been involved in Christian peacemaking since the mid 1990s and is certified by Peacemaker Ministries as a conflict coach, mediator, and arbitrator since 1999. Based on AOR’s recommendation and because of Bryce’s credentials, we asked him to facilitate the adjudication process. As facilitator, Bryce helped the board create and write an adjudication process (PDF), which he described as “comparable with the procedure used by Peacemaker Ministries and by the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.”
On October 3 Bryce sent the adjudication proposal to Brent Detwiler and C.J. Mahaney, giving them both five business days to ask questions and accept or decline. C.J. replied to Bryce on October 5 and agreed to participate in the adjudication; however, on October 11 Brent informed Bryce that he would not participate.
As you'll see if you read the adjudication procedure (part 12), this means that the next step for the Board is to consult independently with both Bryce and AOR about what prudent next steps we can take toward resolution of this issue. We'll also be asking some SGM pastors for their perspective. We welcome your thoughts and need your prayers.
The Sovereign Grace Ministries Board
October 12, 2011 by
Tim Kerr, the pastor of Sovereign Grace Church Toronto, recently wrote a trio of blog posts on the role of intercessory prayer in pastoral ministry. His series appeared on the Desiring God website and you can read all three of the posts here:
Tim is also the author of the free 196-page ebook Take Words with You: A Manual for Intercession (2010), a useful tool for intercessory prayers that echo Scripture.
October 7, 2011 by
Over the past few months we’ve received many responses to our request for input about Sovereign Grace Ministries, and we’ve learned much from your comments. Thank you for that. I can say with complete certainty that my perspective of this situation is the better for it. We also spent a portion of our recent board retreat discussing your feedback as we prayerfully evaluated what God is saying to Sovereign Grace Ministries.
I’d like to make another request of you now. This one requires even more on your part than the first. Let me explain.
As I detailed last week, on November 8 we begin the next phase of our listening process with the help of Ambassadors of Reconciliation (AOR). In brief, we are inviting anyone who desires to see change in SGM to serve us in the following way:
- Attend or listen to AOR's November 8 seminar about conflict resolution (I’ll be there learning with everyone else),
- Provide written, confidential feedback on SGM for AOR to collect and assess, and
- In some cases, participate in a follow-up interview with AOR staff
When that’s done, AOR is going to provide us with an assessment of where there are unhelpful patterns, unresolved conflicts, and other issues to address in our family of churches. (We’ll share their written report on this blog.) And they’ll help us take appropriate action in response—whether evaluating policy, pursuing reconciliation, or otherwise. We are also working hard to bring in men who used to pastor in SGM churches so that we can hear their analysis and learn from mistakes we have made. We think this will be a significant opportunity to work through past problems that have been insufficiently addressed. And it will be immensely beneficial to the future health of our churches and we are eager, very eager, to learn and grow from it.
Let me quickly say: I realize this could hit some as unworkable—“I need to do what?” We are sensitive to that and we realize this requires something from those who want to provide us their feedback. However, our hope is that this process will enable us to hear from as many people as possible, learning from—and when necessary, seeking reconciliation with—all that we can.
So here is my request: if you’re a part of Sovereign Grace Ministries’ short history and you have a perspective you think we need to hear, please prayerfully consider participating. We are doing a number of things to assess SGM right now: praying, studying God’s word, seeking advice from leaders in other movements, and reviewing our history. But we also want to listen to the people in our churches, and that means we need your help. Please come and be part of the solution.
If you can participate in Gaithersburg, you can register now. For everyone else, we'll provide seminar audio and request for telephone interviews around November 10.
Update on October 17
“Getting to the Heart of Conflict” seminar no longer required
After receiving feedback from a number of people, Ambassadors of Reconciliation has decided not to make the teaching component a requirement prior to receiving feedback or meeting with people. Those who request interviews with AOR are still encouraged to attend the live seminar or listen to a recording of it, but are not required to. For more information, including clarifications about confidentiality, see this letter from AOR president Ted Kober.
Everyone who wrote with questions about Group Reconciliation Assistance over the weekend—thank you. Below are answers to two common questions that seem pressing to clarify to all our readers.
Is there a way for me to participate if I can’t attend the seminar?
Yes. This concern came up pretty early in the planning for Group Reconciliation Assistance, so here is what we worked out the following with AOR. For those who want to participate but can’t attend, there will be an alternative option after the Pastors Conference concludes. We will record and publish on this blog the “Getting to the Heart of Conflict” seminar. Those who listen to the seminar online will have an opportunity to complete feedback forms regarding SGM and send them to AOR for inclusion in their review of SGM (similar to the forms that seminar attendees will fill out). People may also indicate in those forms if they desire a phone interview. If a large number of people make this request, AOR will select a sample from them for phone interviews.
Because the interviews are not just for receiving information but also for coaching, AOR prefers to meet in person as much as possible—so we (SGM and AOR) do hope that many people will attend the in-person event and interviews. At the same time, the second option is designed to give others a meaningful way to participate, receive helpful teaching, and provide input for AOR’s review.
Can a single woman participate?
Yes. The uncertainty arose from the portion of Saturday’s blog post that read, “Women may attend an interview together with their husband, or they may request a separate interview with our woman coach.” This was meant to add, not limit, options. I updated the post to read this way instead: “Married women may attend an interview together with their husband, or they may request a separate interview. If a woman (single or married) prefers to be interviewed by a female from AOR’s team of trained conciliators, they can note that on the registration form.” I hope that's more clear for everyone.