These have been some pretty crazy times, huh?
It seems like ever since Brent first released his documents, everyone has been forced to pick sides. Either you’re on CJ’s side or Brent’s side. Or maybe Larry’s side. Or Covenant Life Church. Or Sovereign Grace Ministries. There has been lots of criticism and lots of speculation. There have also been a lot of questions raised.
In the midst of this rough season, can I make an appeal? Can we be more committed to unity and to the name of Jesus than anything else? Yes, I realize that I sound naive and a bit “we are the world”-ish, but I really mean it. Because what’s at stake here is so much greater than any of us individually, or our churches, or even Sovereign Grace Ministries. What’s at stake is the name and reputation of our wonderful savior, Jesus Christ.
In John 13:35 Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” The way that we treat one another is a visible demonstration to the world of the reality of the gospel. The gospel is what brings reconciling power to our relationship with God and reconciling power to our relationships with one another. The fact that we are disciples of Jesus should also shape the ways that we speak about other people, both in person and on the Internet. If we bite and cut and lash each other, we’re making a loud statement about what followers of Jesus are like.
So can I make a suggestion? For every minute that we spend criticizing people, let’s spend two minutes praying for them. For every minute we spend reading on the Internet, let’s spend two minutes in God’s word. For every minute that we spend condemning the actions of someone, let’s spend two minutes praying that God would bless them.
Now please don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying that we should ignore all the problems. Does Sovereign Grace Ministries have problems. Yes. Does Covenant Life Church have problems? Yes. Does Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, PA have problems? Absolutely. Does Stephen Altrogge have problems? Yes. Double yes, actually.
And yes, people have been seriously hurt, and that needs to be dealt with appropriately. And if you have serious concerns, I would encourage you to get involved in the Ambassadors of Reconciliation process that Sovereign Grace Ministries has set up.
So, in faith, let’s identify the problems, address the problems, work on the problems, and work on our churches. But let’s do it together, in faith that Jesus Christ is in our midst, at work in all of us. Let’s cover a multitude of offenses with the love of Christ. The Bible is one gigantic story of God working through really messed up people. It shouldn’t surprise us that we are where we currently are, and it shouldn’t surprise us when God keeps working in us and through us.
And can I just dispel one notion that I see on the blogs every so often? The pastors in Sovereign Grace Ministries are not stooges. We’re not drinking the Kool-Aid. We don’t blindly follow anyone. I can say with absolute confidence that my dad will lead our church according to the Bible, and nothing else. He doesn’t blindly follow CJ, or Dave, or anybody else for that matter. I can say the same thing of my friend CB in Reading, Ricky in El Paso, Dave in Gaithersburg, Tom in Altoona, Mike in Pittsburgh, and Pat in Vancouver.
In fact, CJ and Dave and the board would not want us to follow blindly!
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Just last week I had an extended conversation with Dave Harvey in which I strongly voiced to him my concerns and suggestions for Sovereign Grace Ministries. And do you know how he responded? He listened to me and thanked me and asked follow up questions. He has invited me to share further thoughts. Even though we disagreed on some points! I’m just a 29 year old punk. Dave has more ministry experience than I have years of life (I think). So I really respect Dave. Do we disagree on certain things? Sure. But isn’t that normal in the church?
So could you please pray for the pastors in Sovereign Grace Ministries? We need help. And I know that Jesus will help us, because ultimately, all our churches belong to him.
NOTE: I’ve left the comments open for the time being, but I don’t want this post to be a place to debate what is taking place in Sovereign Grace Ministries. Thanks!