Saturday, July 16, 2011

Honesty from Dave Harvey

For those following events in SGM, it became evident that the "Board of Directors" note upset a lot of people - both ex-SGM'ers but more importantly fans and SGM members. I was incredibly impressed to notice that over this season, the SGM moderators have begun allowing comments of all flavours on the official blogs and this really seems to show integrity and a willingness to admit they are not perfect.

Dave Harvey (interim President of SGM) released "An Honest Take on a Difficult Week" and I have to admit (not being a fan of Harvey admitted) I was very impressed with this statement. He wrote;

"Friends, critics, and curious onlookers,

I guess I'd fit under "curious onlooker" - as I'm not a critic (although accused strongly of being so).

"This week has been very challenging, and heading into the weekend I am aware of some places where we screwed up. I’ll make no attempt to be exhaustive, but here are some highlights:

Lack of clarity in Wednesday’s board announcement.
When we posted our resolutions on Wednesday, people were quick to infer that we were “circling the wagons.” And I think I understand that interpretation. We should have been a lot more clear about our resolve for self-evaluation, growth, integrity, and honest dialogue. So I’m not surprised that folks wrote to tell us of their heartbreak and stomach knots in response to our post, and I do regret that. Believe it or not, at the time we had a lot of people contacting us saying, ”We need to know exactly and without qualification what you think about all of this.” Communicating our “resolutions” seemed a precise way to convey all that. More seem to disagree than agree, and we’ve heard you. On top of that, we got more criticism even from our biggest fans on the lack of clarity in a couple of the resolutions. We amended the post to answer one common question, but I wish we had just nailed it the first time. All that to say, we messed up our delivery and in the process confused our #1 audience—the people in Sovereign Grace churches. It was a halting start for our new board, but we’re determined to do better. You all have asked a lot of valid questions and we’re grateful that these events mean so much to so many.

Lack of emphasis on self-evaluation.
When people are tempted to think that you are (and I’ll pull from our vast supply of quotes here) “gaming the system,” engaging in “cronyism,” “going to war,” behaving with “hubris,” “presumptuous and self-serving,” and, well you get the idea—you’ve got the burden of ensuring they know you get the point. What’s the point? God is drawing our gaze inward as an organization. Not in a hyper-introspective-there’s-no-mission-out-there manner. But in a way that makes it clear to everyone, we have problems. Some of these were already on the radar, others surfaced more recently. But we’re going to face them. All of them. What I want to get across to people through how we handle this (and not just with what we say) is that we want to be more rigorous in our self-examination than anyone else is with us. We want to be leading the charge in that, not playing catch up.

Process over people.
This insight came from a Sovereign Grace pastor, and looking back at our communication I have to say we are guilty as charged. For some reason we had this impulse that if we explained a series of steps of evaluation to everyone, that would somehow address the concerns that some members of our churches have about SGM more broadly. Now I think it would be wrong to paint every pastor, pastoral team, and church member with the same broad brush. But that doesn’t mean that there are no areas of our hearts and practice that need rigorous attention. I’m going to discuss some of those in a post next week. But even that isn’t the point here. The regrettable fact is that some dear members of Sovereign Grace churches have been hurt over the years, and no independent panel’s evaluation of us can fix that. We hope to do a better job of listening to those folks, learning from them, and owning where we’ve been wrong. See, if all we do is self-evaluate and improve our systems, failing in the meantime to pastor people through the process, we’ve missed the point. I’m committed, actually the whole board is committed, to not letting that happen".

Dave Harvey ended with an important reminder that is worth remembering in the heat and upset of the whirl-wind blog updates, comments from all;

"Before I close out, let me just say something that I think will resonate with all of us. God’s not asking us to choose between sides or between people here. He wants us to choose Him. We don’t have all the answers, but because of the cross we’re connected to the One who does. And he will help us show a watching world the unity we have in Christ. God is at work…for our good and His Glory!".


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