My patience with the SGM saga has been rapidly waning. Like all the other former members and pastors of SGM - we have all been watching with aching hearts hoping that reconciliation and forgiveness will come and that God will be glorified. But the spin, the financial huge costs of "mediation" and the evil emails to and fro are just plain disgraceful to God and His glory.
The final straw for me this week was to read that Brent Detweiler apparently has been "threatened with excommunication" by the pastors of an SGM church - Crossway - which I believe he was key in founding. I admit up front - I don't know the ins and outs. Brent has not pretended he is faultless. Indeed he has admitted he founded the faulty and abusive system that is causing so much damage and heartache.
My problem is the "excommunication card". I have never even HEARD it mentioned - let alone used - until I encountered SGM. There were disciplinary measures taken at very rare occasions in my home church in Dunstable. But these were rare and shook the whole church to the foundation - and I NEVER heard the word "excommunication" used. And to me - and my understand of Scripture - this is correct! Excommunication is the absolute, last sorrowful act when there is absolutely no other option - in a final desperate plea to reach out to the member. Paul spoke about it only once or twice (which we will get to).
I was absolutely horrified when two SGM pastors sat in a room 5 years ago and told me I was being "cast out to Satan". It felt so unreal - it was almost laughable (had I not been weeping tears). I now learned that they were simply doing what they were told by the now-SGM Board member. And that is forgiven and history.
But clearly the "E" card is still being shown and it is disgraceful. It seems to me that the Crossway pastors are floundering. Brent Detweiler has valid grievances that he has shared. The Ambassadors of Reconciliation wrote in their report that he should be pursued with love to try and mend this. Maybe the SGM Board feel this has been done - frankly rejecting his request to be involved does not really match up to "pursuing".
My thoughts with the "Excommunication" threat with Brent are - and?! He has already been forced out of SGM and his place on the then-"apostolic" team. He has already been forced out of his pastorship of the church and has no guaranteed income apart from voluntary gifts. C J on the other hand still DOES have his rather substantial income, royalties from books etc etc. It's an empty threat and it stinks of playground tactics. I hope Brent carries on speaking up - because there are many thousands behind him. He is not alone. How he keeps going with the snide emails, and open threats from some SGM pastors is beyond me.
There are no winners here. It will be interesting to see and hear how the SGM Pastors conference goes next week - with the lingering presence of C J Mahaney and the maybe/maybe not "special guest" Larry Tomczak. I just pray and hope that this gets all heads to a conclusion because the world is watching and frankly - it isn't impressed. Lost people are going to hell daily and burning - while SGM fiddles on the roof (while paying a hefty sum to mediate).
But ending on a positive note! There is much to be grateful for and excited about. Covenant Life Church had an important members meeting that shows their hearts are still open to seeking God - led by the wonderful Josh Harris. And my former church - Grace Church Bristol - where my family attend are seeing signs of the manifest Presence of God coming. I was tremendously encouraged by a prophetic song that worship leader and former friend Angi Sussex shared and also my parents told me that they were holding a prophecy workshop! So God is at work.