The Sovereign Grace denomination recently held a regional leadership meeting. Several of the bullet points were of interest to me, heading the list is the one about praying for revival in their churches. Undoubtedly revival in the Sovereign Grace denomination is needed, but I think it may be slow in coming when your denomination allows its former leader, C.J. Mahaney, to flee his home church to “plant” a church in Louisville. It should be well established by now that he is an unrepentant blackmailer and covered up sexual abuse of children while he was the senior pastor of Covenant Life Church. If you need more information on this topic check out Brent Detwiler’s blog. And then there is the ongoing lawsuit brought against several current and former Sovereign Grace churches and several current and former Sovereign Grace pastors alleging actual sexual abuse of children and covering up of said abuse. Rather than sorrow, repentance and restitution the denomination and its pastors have “lawyered up.” In light of Ephesians 5:11-14 it is rather difficult for me to see a revival in the future of Sovereign Grace churches. ( “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.””)
The next item of interest is the recent hiring of a new Communications Manager for Sovereign Grace. Bryan DeWire, the man hired for the position, is probably a nice guy. I don’t know him, but from reading his Twitter account he seems like a decent family man who loves the Lord. One may wonder why he would choose to work for a beleaguered outfit like Sovereign Grace Ministries, but perhaps Mr. DeWire is totally unaware of what has been termed “American Evangelicalism’s biggest sex scandal to date.” (As a side note, is it just me or does Bryan DeWire seem like a Freudian slip of Brent Detwiler?) The really interesting thing is Mr. DeWire previously worked for “Desiring God,” John Piper’s ministry! It seems to me that Sovereign Grace is quite cleverly shoring up their support amongst the Celebrity Big Dogs by either outright brown-nosing (see this post ) or now, hiring an employee who worked for one of the Celebs.
Also, if you have the interest and the time you may wish to check out who Bryan DeWire follows on Twitter. He definitely has the correct pedigree, following all the Sovereign Grace leaders as well as T4G, DeYoung, Challies, Piper and even a couple of the heavy hitters from Dubai. As I have shown previously these guys seem to be one big, happy family.
C.J. Mahaney’s tweets contain numerous quotes of John Piper, Al Mohler, Mark Dever and a few other Celebrity Preachers. Most of the quotes are not what I would consider to be “earth-shaking,” but Mahaney has developed brown-nosing to an art form and these celebs seem to love the praise of men. (Either that, or they believe their pithy pearls are of such value that they deserve wide dissemination.) I would guess Mahaney directed his son in-law (and fellow ministry partner) Brian Chesemore to post the following blurb on their church web page:
I previously blogged about an “epic” episode of “Ask Pastor John” here. Go to the end of the post and listen to the voice recording. Wisdom and insight for every Christian is on display!
The third and final item I found of interest is the leaders of SGM will begin to utilize “The City” software throughout their churches. This software is a “web- and app-based engagement platform for your church” which allegedly “empowers community and enables mission, seven days a week.”
I say let the buyer beware. All is often not as it is portrayed. If you recall I wrote a short article about another software program for churches which seems to play into the hands of authoritarian, control freak pastors. You can read about that program here.
While “The City” doesn’t seem as creepy as the “Downline” software there are still elements that concern me. First off it is designed by a member of Mars Hill church – Mark Driscoll’s church. That is enough information to cause me to want nothing to do with it.
Then there is this little gem on their website: “As a leader, you have the opportunity to not only accomplish a task but also shepherd people. Consider the possibilities:” Possibilities like keeping close tabs on your underlings at all times, seeing how involved they are in church functions and pulling up a record of their financial donations. I am not jesting!
Are you concerned yet? You should be. “The City” software folks know there may be a few souls resistant to this invasion of privacy so they give the following advice:
Ah yes, keep the mind-numbed sheeple happy and enthusiastic during the roll-out stage and soon they will warmly embrace the latest item to control and manipulate them. It’s a win-win sort of deal for the pastors and the software company. As I see it the only loser is the lowly member. What’s in it for the software company? $$$$. There is an ongoing cash stream flowing into their coffers.
Just think what the Apostle Paul could have accomplished with this technology! He could have skipped all those arduous missionary journeys and been able to keep his finger on the pulse of all his church plants from the comfort of his tent.
I have seen firsthand the abuse wielded by authoritarian pastors when armed with a signed “membership covenant.” I would never again join a church that has as a requirement to sign one of these. (See this great article on membership contracts. And here is another one.) Add to this some invasive software program and I would caution you to run, not walk away from any church with this combination. Nothing good can come from it.