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."