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Church Check: South Mountain Community Church, Draper, Utah

Updated: Dec 18, 2020




Basic Church Information


Church Name: South Mountain Community Church

Senior/Lead Pastor: Paul Robie

Address: 14216 S Bangerter Parkway Draper, Utah 84020

Phone: 801-901-8472

Denomination: Non-denominational / Signs of Calvinism & Lordship Salvation Doctrines

Preaching Style: Topical

Membership Requirements: No (See Question #2)

Tithes/Compelled Giving: Yes

Financial Transparency: No

Answered Questionnaire: Yes. Pastor Paul Robie answered the questions for us this time.

Affiliations: Mennonite Brethren, Calvinism/Lordship Salvation, Celebrate Recovery/Rick Warren

Red Flags/Other Information:


I've had several interactions with SMCC regarding multiple topics of concern. The following list is an ongoing record of many, but not all of the reactions and disagreements I've had with this church and the people who work on their staff, either as volunteers or paid employees.



(Please Check Here Periodically for Updated Information on SMCC)


Questionnaire


1. What is your church's official position on tithing?


"Please see my ebook on Giving. We do teach that tithing is commanded in the New Testament - see 1 Corinthians 9:13-14 We do not require tithing for anything except for those who work on staff and for a position on our elder board. Other than that, we ask that everyone be a growing giver."


Note: I have read Paul Robie's ebook on Giving and have written a point-by-point response to it in a short ebook of my own. I have sent it to Paul and we've had a back and forth email discussion on the topic of tithing for a few months. Read my recent post on what happened as well as my pdf response to Robie's ebook on giving if you're curious about what SMCC teaches on this topic and how it can be refuted.


2. Does your church have official memberships, and if so, does it include a membership agreement or contract?


"We do not have official membership."


While SMCC does not have official memberships, they do have something called being "Fully Engaged," which they ask people "who call SMCC their home" to become. It involves the following:


- Participating in a Group

- Serving on a Team

- Being a Growing Giver (which is someone who, according to Paul Rober, "has the desire to grow the amount/percentage of income that they give to God through the ministry of a local church.")

- Investing In & Inviting Others


3. Is your church financially transparent or accountable to either the local church, a third party (such as the ECFA), or the universal church/public?


"All our financial information is available upon request to those in our church. We have an annual meeting in which the church is given an update on our budget and how we are doing financially."


By "those in our church," Paul has confirmed that he means people who are "Fully Engaged" or those working in SMCC Ministry. The information given at their annual meeting is not a display of true financial transparency. No meaningful financial information is shared with the congregation.


4. Which denomination does your church align with, if any at all?


"We are a non-denominational church. We do have a voluntary affiliation with the Mennonite Brethren."


We also see signs of Calvinist or Lordship Salvation teaching at SMCC. For a simple explanation of what Lordship Salvation is, check out this video.


One sign of this includes the church's recent promotion for their small groups on Facebook on August 25th. You can see a still-shot at the beginning of the video which reads: "How do we put to death sin in our lives? The best way to do it is with the support of other people."


The reason this aligns with Calvinism and Lordship Salvation is that while the Free Grace Salvation view says Christ has already put our sins to death on the cross, the Lordship Salvation view says that we must put sin to death in our lives to prove our salvation.


Another sign that SMCC leans toward Calvinist teachings is lead Pastor Paul Robie's frequent references to Calvinist Christian leaders such as John Piper and John MacArthur, Timothy Keller, and others. They also use Celebrate Recovery, which is a Recovery program created by Rick Warren, who is a Calvinist.


5. Is the church's pastor available for questions or comments regarding the church's doctrines or policies?


"Yes."


6. Is your church tolerant and accepting of differing non-essential doctrinal views, such as differences in eschatology or ecclesiology?


"We are on a mission to help as many people as possible take their next step in becoming fully devoted to and fully delighted in Jesus Christ. We are not on a mission to be right on minor issues and to prove that others are wrong. At the same time, we want to get doctrine right and fulfill the words of the Apostle Paul to Timothy, "... faithfully handling the word of truth.""


7. Does your church require its members to be baptized?


"We don't have membership. We do teach that a person glorifies God by being baptized = it is an outward symbol of an inward reality that is to be shared publicly."



8. Please describe what a typical service and/or meeting looks like at your church.


"A typical Sunday Service at SMCC consists of contemporary worship music, prayers, a hopeful and helpful message from the Bible and perhaps some announcements. We keep it simple and straightforward. We are hoping that when a new person leaves our church after having attended the first time that they will say, "I liked it, I understood everything, and I think I would like to come back... it seems to me something I could do.""


9. How many people do you have on staff at your church, both paid and volunteer?


"We have 33 paid full-time and part-time staff. We have too many volunteers to count. We cannot do church without many faithful and trained volunteers."


10. What is your/the pastor's educational background?


"Paul Robie is the Lead Pastor. He graduated from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo (B.A. Communications) then went to Talbot Theological Seminary (M.Div. - Greek major) and then to Phoenix Seminary for a D.Min. in Christian Leadership... Dissertation on "How a Fully Devoted LDS Person Becomes a Fully Devoted Christian in the Context of the Local Church"."


11. How does the church discipline its members with sin? Does the church have a discipline policy or official protocol?


"We only discipline those that have given us that permission by submitting to the leadership of SMCC's elders. We always follow the Biblical guidelines laid out in Matthew 18."


12. How is the pastor compensated (income, bonuses, benefits, etc...) and how is that compensation established (Ex: board of elders, church vote, etc..)?


"The Lead Pastor is compensated through the gifts of God's people (again, see 1 Corinthians 9). His salary is set by the Elder Board."


When I asked Paul who is on the Elder Board, he declined to answer.


13. What is the size of your congregation and any space or buildings used for church services or meetings?


"SMCC is currently going through a voluntary shutdown of Sunday Services because of the Covid-19 outbreak. However, we did average about 3200 in attendance at five locations before the current shutdown."







10 commentaires


Sarah Leann Young
Sarah Leann Young
16 févr. 2021

Oscar,


Thanks so much for your input. I also don't want to disparage the congregation of SMCC because I agree, the church is made up of some very loving and wonderful people. I know several of them personally and love them, but I agree completely with your insights as well about leadership.


They come off as a megachurch business to me too, focusing on sales tactics and a "church model" that doesn't teach the Bible or allow the Holy Spirit to do His job.


The Fully Devoted & Fully Delighted slogan has bothered me for a long time. They don't consider you "fully devoted" to Christ unless you are following their prescribed list of "next steps." In my opinion, it's…


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Oscar Johnson
Oscar Johnson
16 févr. 2021

Former SMCC-goer here.


I in no way want to disparage the church in this post, because the church SMCC is made up of great people, but I think the way a few people are running things is leaving a bad taste.


Ultimately it seems like SMCC is trying to become a mega church (like Hillsong), and feels inauthentic and for show.


The last day I attended an in-person service was when one of their rotating teaching pastors said this line on stage: "I went to a very prestigious bible college." This was his first time "preaching" at the particular campus, nobody knew who he was, and it felt like he was trying to impress with his credentials.


Did you know…


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Sarah Leann Young
Sarah Leann Young
16 mars 2019

Richard, I have to apologize up front here. Your last response was much shorter but somehow I still managed to make my response to it longer lol. Thank you in advance for taking the time to have this discussion with me.


“The fruit I was talking about is not works, its hearts changing and people making the choice to trust in Jesus and make their relationship with him first.”


While I’m sure there are plenty of Christians that go to SMCC and any other Christian church that put Jesus first and make their relationship with Him their priority, the church itself is not encouraging that. And that’s my problem with this one.


They preach tithing as an actual commandment. That’s…


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Richard Thiessens
Richard Thiessens
16 mars 2019

The fruit I was talking about is not works, its hearts changing and people making the choice to trust in Jesus and make their relationship with him first. Jesus said go and make deciples of men, baptizing them... I can't speak for SMCC leadership but I believe this is why baptisms are celebrated. He didn't say go and build churches of only a certain type that only spread the gospel a certain way.


Tithe in the new testament isn't spelled out as clearly as in the old, but giving is talked about plenty. Two things of note that I've noticed is that SMCC doesn't try to get people to give a set % like 10%. They also only want peo…


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Sarah Leann Young
Sarah Leann Young
15 mars 2019

Hi Richard,


I'm going to quote you and then put my responses to each quote below them.


“The quick notes: The claim on the website is a neutral and biblical based review, I see admitted bias and lack of bible based comparison which naturally causes me to question motive and objective of any review.”


The biases are very fair and directly in relation to the Bible itself. Our bias is really a favoritism for the Bible itself.


Also, how is it lacking in Biblical comparisons? Would it be helpful if I cited my Scriptural support after every criticism of a church? I suppose I just assumed people would know that we shouldn’t worship money and material above God, or turn…


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