Sunday, March 18, 2012

Does This Sound Familiar?

I ran across this post a while back from SGMSurvivors Blog and bookmarked it because a lot of it rang true to my experience.  I wonder if anyone else can identify with it:

1. A person has a difference of opinion, a question, or a problem.

2. As he’s been trained to do, he approaches leadership with this issue.

3. Leadership is, for whatever reason, not receptive to this person’s point of view, or not equipped (in the professional sense) to deal with the person’s problem. (Here, actually, is where this process hangs on one rusty nail, like my dad would say. As satisfied SGM-ers have pointed out, oftentimes leadership IS approachable and happy to take a seemingly “negative” observation under advisement…or offers up approaches to the member’s problem that the member finds useful and acceptable. When this happens, all is well, and the rest of the steps do not occur. But when the observation is NOT well-received, or the member is NOT helped, we move on to step 4.)

4. Since leadership did not receive the question or negative observation well, or since “indwelling sin” is essentially the only counseling tool in leadership’s toolbox, leadership turns things around and offers up “observations” of its own, directed at the questioning member’s motives, heart, and eventually, sinfulness.

5. At this point, the member is left with two choices. Either he “receives” what leadership says and accepts leadership’s assessment of his sinful motives, or he holds out for his original point. Again, the SGM folks who are satisfied with their church’s structure have found themselves ending the process at this stage, if they weren’t already finished at step #3. However, if the member does NOT accept leadership’s assessment of his sinful motives, and if he does NOT choose to “repent” and give the issue a rest, then he moves on to step #6.

6. Leadership gives the member something of an ultimatum. Either the member submits to what leadership says, or the member is placed on some sort of discipline plan. Failure to submit to the discipline plan will result in step #7.

7. The member is disfellowshipped until he chooses to submit to leadership’s “restoration plan."


  1. Thank you for posting these articles and findings. They have been very helpful for us. This particular posting was true, through and through in our experiences here at this church.

    1. I'm glad you've found the articles helpful. Thank you for your comment.

  2. I saw this not only with your family, but several families over the years while I was at BGB. Thank you again Julie Ann for your diligence in exposing the darkness and having nothing to do with it. May God continue to bless you in this trial, you are truly a blessing to me and many others, grateful God had your family pass through to expose the deception and to stand strong in Him.

    1. I have issues with those who try to prevent people from doing/saying what they know to be right. No one should have that kind of control over anyone. Thank you for standing for the truth, Meaghan.

  3. This is absolutely what happened to us and many others at this so called "church". The control tactics displayed at BGBC are eerily familiar to that identified in this spiritual abuse survey:

    •Does the head of your church and his “fellow elders” appear to be intolerant or consider it evil persecution when criticized or questioned?

    •Are you discouraged to associate with former members, being warned that they are "evil" or "defiling"; a “danger to your spiritual welfare”?

    *Do you fear being rebuked, shunned, or ignored for expressing a different opinion?

    •At church, is there a sense of control, rather than support?

    •Is there a relentless obsession of reminding the sheep of “who’s in authority”?

    In my opinion, Matthew 23 describes the attitude of leadership in this "church". Where is the love, mercy, and grace?

    Jeremiah 5:30-31
    An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land: The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power; And My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?

    Matthew 20:25-28
    But Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave-just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

    Julie Anne, thanks for your courage to stand up to this tyranny. It seems the Lord has seen fit to use you for such a time as this.

    Stand firm!

    1. The following was helpful insight after leaving this church:

      'When Should a Christian Leave a Church?'
      By John G. Reisinger

      "Lording it over the flock provokes church fights and splits. A domineering spirit in elders provokes mature men of strong minds and independent judgement to leave the church. These very ones would have the greatest potential for future leadership in the assembly. Dictatorial measures make lesser men craven and dependent, stunting their true growth. But it also has its harmful effects on the "lords over God's heritage." It makes them egotistical and self serving. can stay in that church. However, you will have to shut up and obey the "duly authorized eldership" and totally dry up spiritually. You will be sinning against Christ by allowing your pastor to be the lord of your conscience--and believe me, that is a grave sin! If you stay under such a ministry very long you cannot help but yield your conscience to the leader. However, the moment you do that you will begin to live in fear of that leader and his authority over your soul. When yu reach that point, you are actually part of a cult and you have totally given up your true liberty in Christ. You will be afraid to even think for yourself, let alone speak and act that way.

      Unfortunately, there are some churches that actually demand that kind of submission from you in order for you to be a member in their church, or cult, as the case may be. They will bounce you in and out of membership according to your "rebellion" (questioning anything the elder says or does) or "repentance" (treating the pastor like a pope).... These kind of churches use the office of elder and deacon as a carrot stick to award the "really loyal devotees." It is sickening to see men grovel and lick boots in order to be in favor and power with "the man of God".

      ...The next time some key families leave a church, don't be too quick to believe that the "duly authorized" pastor and his devotees were right and the people who left were all "rebels against authority." It just may be that the pastor was a power mad paranoid that had begun to think of himself as the infallible voice of God. It is possible that the power structure in a church can be wrong!"

    2. Thank you so much for posting this. I may have to use it for a blog post so that others will see it. Not sure how many people are reading comments.

  4. Just found your blog, keep up the good work!

  5. Julie Ann,
    Thank you for standing firm and exposing the dangers of that church!! Mia

    1. Hi Mia!! So good to see your name. I hope you are doing well. Thank you for your support.

    2. Hi Julie Anne,
      I'm so glad that you have this blog opened up. I had wanted to write down my thoughts and did write sometimes. But I didn't know what to do with them or if I should do anything. After seeing your blog, I finally realized that it was only the right thing to warn others. Thank you for loving others in action. Love you and I am praying for you and everyone involved including Pastor Chuck. Mia

    3. Hi Mia: I so appreciate your prayers. Last week there were 4 people I spoke with who had left several years ago - one from around the time Chuck was a new pastor. It's hard to believe people have suffered for so long. There is no authority in place to turn to. This story needs to come out and those who experienced it need to know that they weren't alone. Thank you for posting and if you ever want to share something that you write, send to: Your story may really help someone else who went through something similar. Hugs to you, friend!
      Julie Anne

  6. I think there is a vast ocean between step 3 and 4. What if the dissenting member (after not getting heard in step 3) continually harassing/criticizing the leadership about the subject? What if the person start to campaign personally, mass-emailing other members about the disagreement?

    On the one hand there is the reality of spiritual abuse from the leadership. On the other hand, there is also the reality of divisive members in the church as well. Our sinful nature often get ourselves into a mess and usually create splits in the church.

    What would be a reasonable way to resolve these conflicts then?

  7. Wow, this exact thing happened to my husband! At one point, the leadership had even convinced me that my husband was in the wrong and should submit to their "restoration plan". Eventually even though he followed the plan, they decided he wasn't doing it in the right spirit and wanted to discipline him before the congregation. That's when I decided enough was enough and supported his decision to leave the church.

    It was a painful period. I eventually found a healthy church and my husband decided that not going to church at all was best for him. We watched from a distance as others began to leave that church - some driven away, some leaving by choice.


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