Updated: Dec 19, 2020
Basic Church Information
Church Name: South Mountain Community Church
Senior/Lead Pastor: Paul Robie
Address: 14216 S Bangerter Parkway Draper, Utah 84020
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.
Online Services: https://vimeo.com/showcase/6607087
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)
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?
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."