March 16, 2004
Dear Summitview Members,
The pastors have asked me to communicate with you my reasons for resigning my position and withdrawing from a church that I loved. This is a good step towards encouraging open and honest Christian community.
In what I am about to share, I am not writing these things to vindicate myself or to defend myself. Also my goal is not to cause any additional pain. Enough tears have been shed already. My desire is as Paul shares in Ephesians 4:15 to speak the truth in love so that we may grow up in all aspects of Him who is the head, even Christ.
To keep my resignation very simple there are two reasons why I am resigning:
- 1. Truth as I see it in the Scriptures has been lost.
- 2. I cannot help the pastors find it.
I know this sounds vague. I will explain. In what I am about to share, I have shared in detail with your pastor and Rick Whitney, a national director in Great Commission.
First, let me say that I have reviewed the core values of Great Commission and its statement of faith. I have no issues here. I accept these as part of my life. Neither do I have issues with Summitview's core values or statement of faith. My issues are with what is taking place in Summitview. Your experience may be different from mine. Please search the Scriptures (Acts 17:11) and determine what God is saying about your experiences. Also feel free to discuss these issues with your pastors.
I feel that truth has been lost in the following areas:
1. There is a greater emphasis on authority than I see in the Scriptures. I do not sense the pastors laying down their lives for the sheep, but an entrenchment. Pastors work hard at defending each other rather than listening to the sheep.
There is an overemphasis on loyalty to the leadership team compared to the emphasis on loyalty to God. When loyalty to God is equated with loyalty to leadership, the sheep become confused as to who God is – is it God or is god the leaders? A distinction needs to be made between who God is and who the leaders are. We are never told to trust the leaders. It is written that we are to trust God and not man. I also think the line gets blurred when we say we are to trust God through the leaders. This thinking begins to set up a clergy-laity system where men are the mediator between God and man. In the early years of the movement we took pride in that we did not have a clergy system. Perhaps that expressed our youthfulness, but I think there is a certain element of truth there that God was pleased with.
1Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus
1 Peter 2:9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royalty PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of the darkness into His marvelous light;
1John 2:27 As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.
Decisions are handed down from the pastors rather than developed through consensus. Yes, there is a place for pastors to lead. But I think it has been taken too far.
Members are motivated to serve the pastors. I was told that my growth would be that my wife and I would cheerfully serve the pastors. I think this overextending what Jesus said:
Mathew 20:25-28 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. "It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall 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."
Divisiveness has been expanded beyond the Biblical explanation in Titus 3. Titus writes that anyone who shares something that one particular group of people (whether they embrace some specific teaching or based on ancestry) is blessed over another group should be warned and rejected from fellowship – having Jesus is our only basis of blessing.
Since there are consequences to violating any authority philosophy, perhaps a careful articulation of Summitview's authority philosophy could be added to the core values document.
2. The ability to reconcile relationships has been lost.
3. Respect for the Holy Spirit in the individual has been lost. I have not experienced a safe environment to share my concerns. Also as a church I feel that there should not be secrets about what is taking place. Yes, there is a place of protecting one another's honor, but I do not think it is necessary in my situation to be so protective. In short, I wish full disclosure of my situation both past and present. There is a line between protection and secrecy.
In adult relationships there should not be any secrets. However, it may be appropriate to have secrets between the children and adults. I believe there is an over emphasis in Summitview on the immaturity of the sheep and a "putting down" of what they can understand and handle. Some of the sheep have been discipled for over 19 years. They have grown in maturity and discernment. Summitview is their church as well. They will get married here, raise their families here, and die here. They are the ones who are paying leadership's salaries. They are mature adults who want and should be a part of the government of their church. I know this may mean rethinking some foundational teachings. But it could be a profitable exercise.
Secrecy does not promote walking in the light, rather it encourages suspicion and assumptions. John writes: "If we say we have fellowship with Him, yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, His Son cleanses us from all sin." 1 John 1:5-7
I believe there should be a greater transparency of the leadership team as a group and as individuals. People need to hear the struggles of their leaders. They need to know that it is OK to struggle, to lose, to fail.
A number of years ago, the entire church went through Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby. In Unit 10 of the workbook, God's Will and the Church, a dynamic of interaction between the people, the pastors, and God himself is described that I really have not experienced at Summitview. I may have missed it, but everything seems very choreographed here. Maybe I helped choreograph it, but I don't think it is right.
Another nuance is how the Steve Bush ordination was handled. For Steve Nelson's ordination there was teaching on divorce and then Steve's testimony about his divorce. In the case of Steve Bush, one pastor knew of the extent and repetition of his moral failures but those failures were not disclosed – not even to the other pastors who had responsibility to watch over his life. The emphasis here is not on Steve's failures. Rather by not communicating this information, it is difficult to create a healthy environment to help Steve's life.
4. Encouraging individuals to know the Word of God and take responsibility for their own lives has been lost. In the early years of the movement, individuals were encouraged to know through a variety of means the Word of God for themselves to be truly equipped and empowered to live the Christian life. I don't know how it got lost, because we all believe this. Maybe it is just the busyness of life.
1Peter 2:2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,
Acts 17:11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so.
5. Women are not provided the same respect that the Spirit would want in His people.
Acts 2:17-18 'AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,' God says, 'THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT UPON ALL MANKIND; AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY, AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS, AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS; EVEN UPON MY BONDSLAVES, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN, I WILL IN THOSE DAYS POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT And they shall prophesy.
Joel 2:28-29 "And it will come about after this That I will poor My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. "And even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days."
6. Confession of sin by the pastors could be practiced and encouraged in a greater way.
James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
1John 1:9 If we confess ours sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
7. Freedom to express a contrary viewpoint is minimized. Oftentimes the person who shares the problem, becomes the problem. Developing a healthy and safe environment to express contrary viewpoints can strengthen a faith community.
8. Greater spiritual transformation, not just behavior modification, must take place among the leaders as well as in the church.
Again I want to say that I am not writing these things to cause further pain. Also I am not trying to argue, debate, or defend. I am just trying to convey my heart in a sincere way.
My second major reason that I am resigning is that I cannot help the pastors find the truth that I believe has been lost. I cannot be a part of the team that works to resolve these issues for these reasons:
1. Each of us in the leadership team has made efforts to resolve the tension in our relationships to no avail. And in my opinion the relationships are deteriorating. I will stop this deterioration now by walking away.
2. The tension and conflict between me and the pastors has gone on far too long, probably due to my indecision. This began as an attempt to provide constructive feedback to one individual. It has mushrooomed to the situation that we have today where I have resigned my position and left the fellowship.
3. I need to focus on meeting the needs in my own life. Some of these needs have been there even before I joined Great Commission. In the past I would deal with conflict with either fear or rage. Now I want to deal with conflict in a straight forward, head-on fashion. Now is the time to heal the most important relationships that God has entrusted to me – my family.
As I have discussed my situation with professional counselors, the question should not be "Why can't Gregg stay?" but "What took him so long to leave?"
4. Often I have encouraged ones not to think that leaving a situation will make things easier. I am not leaving to escape a difficult situation. I have been in a difficult situation for 16 months. I have yielded to every point that the pastors have asked of me since September of last year, 6 months ago.
I have experienced stepping down from being a pastor and having a letter sent to the entire church implying that I was not able to handle the stresses of being a pastor:
"Many of you know the spiritual, physical and emotional pressures of pastoral life can be intense. As a pastoral team, we began to discover that these pressures did not allow Gregg to bring to the church what we all knew he was capable of bringing."
Based on the above quote, one person mentioned that he thought I must be too old for the job. I have tried to carry out every request the pastors have made of me. Between the pastors, myself, and others, hundreds of hours have been spent attempting to resolve this. I know that leaving Summitview will create its own world of pressures and stresses. In fact looking for a new job could create huge levels of stress. I would appreciate your prayers for this.
Saints, I want you to know that this situation does not surprise God. He has brought good into my own life, and He wants to bring good into your lives as well. Jesus Christ is the only one who has died and purchased our lives with His own blood so that we may experience true freedom.
The people of Summitview and Great Commission love God and His Word and desire to make Jesus Christ known. Patsy and I love you all. We hope that friendships made here can endure into the future. It has been a privilege to labor with you these past 26 years.
May God Bless Your Work in Fort Collins,
Everything is already yours as a gift–Paul, Apollos, Peter, the world, life, death, the present, the future–All of it is yours, and you are privileged to be in union with Christ, who is in union with God.
1 Corinthians 3:21b-23, Message