Church Check: South Mountain Community Church, Draper, Utah

Updated: Apr 29, 2019



The Quick Check


Summary:


After all is said and done, there is very little I can say about this church that is positive, unfortunately.


The lack of the Gospel in the sermon and the lack of the Word of God being used is severe.


The worship service neglects glorifying God in favor of glorifying the church's own performance and entertainment value.


All in all, we don't recommend this church.


The Money:


The blatant, over the top preaching and defending of tithing is the worst I've seen from any church I've ever attended, and to make matters worse, they refuse to be financially transparent with the same people they're demanding money from. Or anyone for that matter.


The Grace Scale:


Gracious: 30%

Legalistic: 70%


(See the Full Check for details)


The Political Scale:


Neutral (See the Full Check for details)


The Verdict:


Not recommended.



The Full Check


Okay, churchgoers. We’re back in Utah for our third Church Check, and this time I decided to take things in a different direction. I was actually working on another Idaho Church Check when I received the Questionnaire back from pastor Rick Henderson with South Mountain Community Church in Draper, Utah.


I had just barely sent the Questionnaire out to them through their contact page on their website, and based on the amount of time it’s taken me to get any kind of response from almost anyone else, I figured it would take just as long to get any word back from these guys, too.


I was pleasantly surprised to find a response Pastor Rick shot me back within just a few days. Then, a very interesting email discussion followed. So, we’re pushing Real Life Ministries down a place and pushing SMCC Draper to the top of the Checking Block.


Hold onto your hats, folks. This is going to be a bumpy ride. But first, some background information about the church.


About South Mountain Community Church


South Mountain Community Church in Draper is just one of FIVE locations for this massive megachurch. The Draper location was the first to be planted by Paul and Jini Robie back in 1998. The church grew rapidly and so more locations were planted.


Overall, SMCC has about 3,000 people in regular attendance, and they like to talk about it. At least on the website they do. They also seem to enjoy talking about the size of their buildings. If you go to the “History of SMCC” on their website at smccutah.org, you’ll find out just how much. (http://smccutah.org/about-us/history-of-smcc/)


SMCC Draper seems to have the largest congregation of the 5 locations with about 1500 attendees. They also mention on the website that they’ve done over 1,000 baptisms over the years. I’m not sure why building size, attendance and baptisms are important to a Christian church, but okay.


Before I get into the Questionnaire and the rest of the Check, it’s only fair to note that the email discussion between Pastor Rick Henderson and I wasn’t exactly the most friendly. As soon as he discovered that I am an attendee of CAMPUS Church where Pastor Shawn McCraney has been known to criticize SMCC over the years, he was not happy.


But let's not let that get in the way of giving the best Check that we can. This is, after all, not about fighting against flesh and blood. It’s about giving churchgoers the information they need to pick a good Christian church for themselves, and today, we desperately need them more than ever.


So, here we go!


1. The Questionnaire


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


“We believe it's taught in the New Testament. See attached: Giving by Paul Robie (SMCC Lead Pastor)”


Yes, you read that right. They believe that tithing is actually taught in the New Testament, and Pastor Rick sent me a copy of their 40-page ebook written by Paul Robie to support this position.


I am currently working on writing an ebook for our Church Checkers about tithing myself, and will make it available for free download as soon as I can. Forty pages is a heavy read on one tiny subject which is barely even mentioned in the New Testament at all, so mine will probably only be half that length, but I figure since so many churchgoers have been duped into believing that tithing is a legitimate demand on Christians today, the Tithing Manifesto should be refuted in writing.


If you’d like to read SMCC’s case for paying tithes, you can download the 40 page ebook on their website here, which they call a “Giving Ebook.”


2. Does your church have a particular set of rules or requirements that members must follow or abide by in order to retain their membership status with the church?


“We don't have membership: http://smccutah.org/next-steps/membership/”


So, while SMCC does not have traditional memberships, their Membership page actually does answer my question in a way. It says:


“Since we don’t have traditional membership, you won’t be able to “join” the church as a “member” – but we hope you become fully engaged in the life of the church. You can engage with us through being on a team, in a group, inviting others, and being a growing giver. Those who are fully engaged with us are considered our members.”


To me, this is a red flag. It could translate to, “If you want to be considered a member, even though we don’t have “memberships,” you must perform for the church and give us money."


3. What is your church's official position on the doctrine of salvation? Through grace, works, both?

http://smccutah.org/missionvisionvalues/”


I found this answer by going to the link provided.


“We believe that Jesus Christ, by offering Himself on the cross, paid the penalty of man’s sin, and all who receive Him by faith are born of the Holy Spirit and thereby become children of God.”


4. Are you transparent with your church's financial information? How much does your church bring in through donations and tithing, and how is that money distributed? What do your profit on average?


“We publish this information each week in our bulletin. This Sunday I'm giving an annual update at the beginning of the message in both services, at SMCC Draper.”


When I asked if he could just give me the bulletin directly instead of insisting I attend his church in order to receive it, I was ignored.


**Financial Update: 2/19/19**


After watching the sermon that Pastor Rick referred me to, which you can watch here, the financial update given to the congregation merely consists of telling them how much they've given to the church in tithing for 2018. The total for the Draper campus in tithing alone for 2018 was $1.6 million. With a congregation of about 1,400 people, that means on average each member at SMCC Draper is paying the church over $1,100 a year, or just under $100 a month.


Rick does not tell us how much money the church has been given in total through other means, however. We know based on the financial statements from other churches that tithing alone does not account for all that a church receives in income.


He doesn't say how that tithing was distributed, or how much was spent to maintain the costs of the church before salaries are paid out either. So the lack of financial transparency is concerning.


5. Which denomination does your church align with the most, if any?


“nondenominational”


6. Is your church's pastor available for other questions or comments regarding the church, its doctrines, etc.?


“Yes”


7. How is your church's doctrinal flexibility and tolerance? If a member has a disagreement with the pastor or leadership on a certain doctrine, how is it handled? Does the church change its position on doctrines fairly often, if at all?


“You should read our values: http://smccutah.org/missionvisionvalues/


“Anyone can disagree. That's not a problem. We tell people, "We would never ask you go against your better judgment." As a church and as pastors, we place ourselves under the authority of the New Testament. We invite people to trust Jesus and follow him as the authority for their lives.”


No argument there.


8. Does your church require that its members be baptized? What is your church's official position on baptism?


“Baptism is a public celebration and declaration of a personal commitment to follow Jesus. Jesus commanded it, so it's very important to us.”


9. Please describe what a typical service and/or meeting looks like in your church.


http://smccutah.org/im-new/


“The best thing to do is check it out. The music will be lively. The people will be warm and the coffee is hot. We want every service to make sense and to be both helpful and hopeful.”


The failure to mention God or the Bible here was another red flag.


When you go to the I’m New Page on their site as Pastor Rick instructed me, they’re extremely focused on making people feel welcome and entertained, but apparently not at all on preaching the Word or talking about God that much.


I might be acting hasty here though. I’ll wait until after the sermon to make that judgement.


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


"We are one church, with 5 locations. At my campus (Draper), there are 12 staff members, 7 of which are full time. We have over 400 volunteers at our campus."


11. What is the pastor's educational history?


"B.A Thelogy

M.A. Theology, concentration in philosophy and ethics

1 summer term at Oxford University

various leadership conferences and training"


12. How does the church discipline its members with their sin?


“That question may assume an approach that doesn't exist here. We don't have worthiness interviews or disciplinary counsel's. Our church attracts many people who aren't Christians, who are getting questions answered and evaluating if they want to follow Jesus. We don't expect that everyone at our church will "act like a Christian." Our hope and invitation is for people to not only attend Sunday mornings, but to join a small group or Bible study. It's inside those smaller groups that people are known, cared for, challenged, encouraged and held accountable. Our church runs on the rails of truth in grace. Inside of those small groups, you would find that people are honest, vulnerable and real with each other struggles, doubts and even sin. We think that's the absolute best context for it.


“There are rare times that something has to be addressed by pastors. If someone is a baptized follower of Jesus, and they are engaged in ongoing, unrepentant sin (e.g. an affair), we will engage that person and situation as Jesus taught. In the event that there is a case of abuse, suicide or other imminent harm, not only will pastors engage but we will involved the appropriate authorities. We take seriously our charge as mandatory reporters: http://www.kuer.org/post/church-doesnt-take-any-chances-youth-safety”


A few things here. 1. I’m not sure what being baptized has to do with being a follower of Jesus. I mean, some followers haven’t been baptized yet for whatever reason, and some never get baptized, such as the thief of the cross. This verbiage makes it sound like baptism is more important to this church than I initially thought. 2. Who determines what “sin” is? Yes, an affair would qualify, but what if someone is a homosexual and struggles to change their orientation? They can be as sorry for it as they should be, but what if they’ve done all they can and they just seem to be stuck that way? Do they get the boot? 3. How did Jesus teach to engage sinners? I mean, I think I know the answer, but I don’t know what they think the answer is. Because he doesn’t say. Makes me wonder just how gracious they really are with people.


13. How is the pastor compensated (income, benefits, bonuses, etc.)?


“I am paid full time. We don't disclose what our salaries are. I can tell you that our total staffing cost is only 35% of our annual budget. The national average is 50%. I can also tell you that I make less than 50% of the national average for pastors who lead a church at this size.”


The fact that pastors are refusing to be financially transparent while they pressure and manipulate their congregation into paying tithes is concerning. This answer may satisfy some people based on the information he does provide, but for others, it's just vague and cryptic.


14. What is the size of your church and any other space the church owns for meetings and church services?


“Our total church average attendance is 3300 a week. At the Draper Campus, where I'm the pastor, we average about 1450.”


2. The Worship Service


Since I didn’t physically attend the service at SMCC I’d hoped the worship service would be a part of the recorded sermon, but it wasn't. I’ve actually noticed this a lot with online sermons. They don’t record and show the worship service, only the sermon itself.

I eventually found a video on YouTube that gave me an idea of what their worship services are like, and I have to say, it was absolutely incredible. Check it out for yourself:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKbqmhkAtHc.


I also found some pictures online that make me want to buy tickets to the next Christian rock concert, but...not really my idea of a good worship service. I’ll explain below.



Here is why these kind of worship services bother me.


They’re not about God really. Or worshiping Him. I mean sure, the lyrics of the songs are about Him, usually. It’s an emotional experience caused by the impressive performances, the environment, the lighting, and the band. It’s not that good, well performed music is a bad thing, but why the fog machines? Why the lighting and the big show? Are we worshiping God, or trying too hard to keep people impressed and entertained?


3. The Sermon


The sermon I watched was from February 3rd, 2019. I watched the sermon on their website. You can watch it too and come to your own conclusions here.


It’s a topical sermon, and this one is entitled The Exchange Rate. Before Pastor Rick appears and begins speaking, we’re shown a video introduction for the new series. They have a logo for the topical series that looks like my bank’s logo and beneath it are the words:


Someday we will be shocked by the return on our investments on the church.


So, already, it’s about the church. Not God, or the Son of God, or the Word of God. We must invest in the church. Not even a minute into the sermon and God is being neglected already.


The video proceeds with a bunch of images showing numbers on a board, graphs, stats, and these words pop up one after the other: Invest, Value, Return, Deposit, Growth.


Then the video shows the words: Our influence will grow at the rate we exchange what we want now for what we value most.


Then it shows a picture of what looks like a bank, and the video ends.


Pastor Rick begins by joking that even though the title of the new topical series is “Exchange Rate,” we need not worry; this sermon is not about money.


He then proceeds to tell the congregation to look at their bulletin and go to the bar code or website link that allows you to update how much money you would like to give to the church and how much they can expect from you this year. Because remember, they preaching tithing.

If you’re as curious as I was, you can go to smccexchangerate.com and see this “tithing” card for yourself with some interesting and manipulative language, like, “AS A RESULT OF MY DESIRE TO SEE MY INVESTMENT EXTEND INTO ETERNITY, I WILL: Increase my giving by __%,” and “Because I want to give faith fully and regularly, I am going to automate my giving,” or last but not least, “To be a better steward of my resources I am interested in taking a financial class.”


But enough about that. Onto the actual sermon. If you’d like to see the notes for this sermon provided by SMCC it’s right below the sermon itself on their website here.


Rather than type up every little thought in my head about the sermon, I decided to simplify this portion of the Check by asking myself a few key questions in order to determine whether it’s a good sermon overall or not. This is what I thought of the Exchange Rate sermon given by Pastor Rick Henderson based on the questions below.


What the sermon topical or a verse by verse study of the Bible?


Topical. Yes, I have a bias against topical sermons, because as you’ll see, they don’t feed you the Word. They feed you the pastor’s words.


How much was the Bible used?


The Bible was quoted a total of maybe three or four times. The few verses that were quoted were cherry picked out of context to support the topical sermon, rather than to understand the Bible for what it was actually saying.


At one point Pastor Rick insisted that people read these verses in context in order to fully understand what the Bible is saying and what Jesus means by various statements, but then proceeds to do the opposite, jumping back two chapters before the original verse quoted to find another verse that supports the topic of the sermon, and ignoring the several verses before and after the verse in question, which would actually tell us the real context of what Jesus was saying.


What was the main message or point of the sermon? Is it Biblical and focused on God, or man?


For the most part, the Bible was not the focus at all. The focus was “The Exchange Rate” message, which for a brief moment appeared to be about Jesus and confirming your will to His, but then in the end transformed somehow into “Will you exchange your life for LIFE CHANGE?” which to me sounds more like a self-help mantra than something focused on Jesus.


Were You Fed the Word, or a Self-Help Seminar?


The very little bit of Bible I was given was taken out of context, which I was very frustrated by. After years of hearing the Word read and studied in context at my own church, I wasn’t interested at all in what the pastor had to say about the word “exchange” in a few cherry picked verses. I wanted to know what Jesus said before and after that, and what He really meant by it. Because it sounded a lot more important than simply spending your time wisely.


In fact, after watching this sermon I hunted down a verse by verse study of each verse that pastor Rick quoted just so I could be fed the Word.


I felt like I was fed a tiny morsel of Jesus, but I wanted a whole plate. Or a buffet. I had to get it elsewhere.


Lastly, near the end of the sermon they play a video of a man being interviewed and it quite literally looks like a commercial or an ad for the church. I’ve noticed they have a lot of these hanging around the website and on their Facebook page. Not that I necessarily have a problem with people giving positive feedback for the church, but to play it during a church service seems extremely salesy to me, and was a huge turn-off.


Sermon Overview


Overall, the sermon was about this message of spending your time more wisely, investing more into the church, and for a brief moment, conforming your will to Christ’s. In the end, however, it was severely overshadowed by everything else in the sermon. The Bible, and any talk of God or Jesus fell by the wayside in favor of everything else. If there was more to this sermon than I got from it, it was drowned out.


4. The Grace Scale



Since SMCC preaches tithes, seems to pressure its people into baptism more than the average non-denominational church, and according to their own membership page don’t really consider you a member of their church unless you are “fully engaged” with them, they’re probably much further on the legalistic side of the scale than they’d like to be.


5. The Political Scale


I couldn’t find anything particularly politically biased about this church, except for one Facebook post by Pastor Rick regarding the recent abortion law mess in New York. Otherwise, they seem to steer clear of political discussion at church, so I will put them right smack dab in the middle of the Political Scale.


6. History, Scandals, & Controversies


I couldn’t find anything in the way of scandal at SMCC, but there is something of a controversy between this megachurch and my home church, which is CAMPUS Church in Murray, Utah. As you’ve probably already read in CAMPUS’ review, Shawn McCraney’s differences with the Utah Christian community has created quite a stir over the past few years, and SMCC has been a chunk of it.


Several years ago when Pastor Shawn McCraney decided to look into the Christian churches in the Salt Lake City area, SMCC was one of the first few he attended. The rock concert worship service and the sermon lacking severely in the Word bothered him as much as it does me and many other Christians, so Shawn took it to the airwaves and openly criticized these churches for starving their congregations of the Word.


One of those instances was on the Mormon Stories show with John Dehlin here:



Churches like SMCC are extremely popular, but they aren’t feeding the flock. Not only do Christians need to change the way they choose their church, but Christian pastors and their church’s need to change the way they do church.


After sending me back the Questionnaire filled out, Pastor Rick checked out the website and quickly realized that I attend CAMPUS Church, and sent me a somewhat haughty email, which concluded with this statement:


“I'm happy for you post whatever you find and all the answers I've given you. But let's not kid ourselves, your evaluations are biased. That's fine by me. I just think you owe it to people to acknowledge it.”


So here I am, people. I’ve gladly changed the description of the site on the Home Page, and I’ll tell you right here and now, I am not completely unbiased. Everyone has bias, but this review has been based on the facts. My opinions are my opinions, but I’ve reported the facts regardless of those opinions.


**Update on 2/18/19**


After reading the review, Rick Henderson has emailed me, threatening me with libel for not quoting him in the context of our entire email conversation. So here it is. The whole thing. I've italicized and emboldened the original quote which I posted alone above. Enjoy. (emphasis is mine)


Pastor Rick Henderson: "I read you blog last night discovered that you're a part of CAMPUS.  I've had coffee with Shawn once.  Paul Robie (lead pastor of SMCC) and Shawn have known each other a long time.  Over the past couple of years he's been quite outspoken and critical of our church.  Interestingly, that outspoken criticism has come without talking to us first or ever responding to us.  All that to ask, what is your standard for evaluating churches and how do you engage in honest reporting without compromising the "debt of love" Christians owe to each other?  


"I find it interesting that you present your group as "unbiased."  And yet you also critique churches for topical sermons.  At the very least, that's an expositional preaching bias against any topical sermons.  Strangely enough, Jesus, Stephen, the Apostle Paul etc. all gave topical sermons.  I'm happy for you post whatever you find and all the answers I've given you.  But let's not kid ourselves, your evaluations are biased.  That's fine by me.  I just think you owe it to people to acknowledge it."


Me: "Hi Rick, I do not feel comfortable discussing your ongoing disagreements with Shawn here since it does not involve me, but I am glad to discuss myself and my blog with you. My standard for evaluating a church is pretty simple. I attend a church's services, watch their sermons online if I need to in addition to attending, I study their website, ask questions of their members and ex-members, send the questionnaire that I've already sent to you, and I look out for three key things in the end: 


1. Does the church preach tithing or any other Old Testament Law?


I do not agree with the preaching of any law that has been fulfilled and finished by Christ on the cross. Anything a church preaches, pushes, or pressures its congregation into such as tithing is antithetical to the grace of God and the New Covenant, which is written on our hearts. Our responsibility and "debt" as you called it as Christians is to love God and love one another. I personally do give to my church, but that is because I want to, not because I have been compelled to by my church. I do it out of love, not obligation to a religious law that a church has imposed on me. 


I have made it a priority to speak on this issue as a part of my mission because the vast majority of Christians when asked would agree that our salvation is by grace alone through faith, and not of works lest any man should boast. Yet churches continue to preach tithing and other laws that contradict this belief. Churchgoers find themselves trying to live up to the church's standard, rather than the easy yoke that a relationship with Jesus should bring us, and so to help them I investigate the tithing doctrines as well as doctrines regarding other things such as baptism, church leadership and so forth and report on my findings to prevent unaware Christians from committing to a church that is intent on trapping them in the bondage of the law in any way. 


I noticed you sent me a 41 page explanation of your church's tithing beliefs, which I will definitely read before I write my review for your church, but my current position remains that tithing is an un-Biblical Old Testament Law that no long applies to Christians living today. 


2. Does the church focus its worship on man, materialistic glory, emotions, and entertainment rather than glorifying God to the best of its ability?


While I do currently attend CAMPUS, I've been a Christian and churchgoer for my entire life. I've attended a wide variety of different types of worship services and appreciate a well done concert as much as anyone, but worship should be focused on God, not the people doing the worship, and not the people supplying the music. Therefore, I appreciate it when a church takes steps to try and keep the worship service as focused on God as possible by not using all the glam and glitz that sometimes happens in modern day Christian churches. 


3. The Sermon. The shepherd's job is to feed the flock. I do have a problem with topical sermons because they tend to neglect the Word in favor of the ideas of men. This doesn't mean that I won't listen to a topical sermon and give it a fair chance before I judge it negatively. I'm sure that it's possible for a topical sermon to be focused on the Word, but the vast majority of topical sermons I've heard have all been much more focused on the pastor, his ideas, and other things that have nothing to do with the Word of God. You can call that a bias if you like, but it is a bias in favor of God's Word rather than yours or anyone else who feels their ideas and messages are more important than the ones laid out for us in the Bible. It is a fair bias, and one that most Christians agree with and appreciate, and so I think it is justified. I do not judge a sermon by its doctrinal positions as long as liberty in Christ is not contradicted with Old Covenant Law, and regardless of my personal doctrinal positions, the only thing I consider to be important about a sermon is whether or not the Word is fed to the flock to the best of the pastor's ability. As for your appeal to Jesus making topical sermons, Christ is the Son of God and the Word made flesh. I think He can make topical sermons about whatever He likes, and the whole world should listen. We are not the Word made flesh. We are not perfect, and we fall to our sinful natures on a minute by minute basis, sometimes even multiple times within the minute. So I don't think comparing ourselves to Christ in that way is really relevant here. As for His Apostles giving topical sermons, you're right, and those sermons became Scripture. I don't think that you believe your sermons should be Scripture. 

I try to evaluate each church as objectively as I can based on this criteria, and while I am an imperfect person subject to my flesh, I do my best to tell the truth and hold to the objective standard that Christ has set Himself in the Scriptures. I will not sacrifice the truth of the Word in order to spare feelings, I do it with a deep love for my Christian brothers and sisters, and I am determined to make a difference in the churchgoing community in order to educate Christians on the churches they're attending and/or are considering attending in the future. 

This criteria does have a bias towards truth, freedom in Christ, love for the church, and the importance of the Word, so maybe you are right in that I have a bias in a sense. Maybe I will even adjust that statement on my website to be more accurate, and I thank you for the challenge. I have no problem being transparent with my goals, biases, or anything else in my mission to check churches for these red flags. It is an unfortunate reality that many churches, including yours, cannot be as transparent with their own congregation as I hope to be with the whole world. 


If anyone disagrees with my review, they are perfectly free to comment at the bottom of any and every post that I make. So please, feel free to disagree and argue against anything I say in the review. It is a single review, but everyone who has gone to your church, left your church, or currently attends your church, has the right to say whatever they like about it. And they should. 

I'm sorry this response ended up being so long. I wanted to answer your questions and concerns as thoroughly as I could. Hopefully I did." 


Rick: "Thank you for the thoughtful reply.  I enjoyed most of what I read until I got to this sentence, "It is an unfortunate reality that many churches, including yours, cannot be as transparent with their own congregation as I hope to be with the whole world." That seems bit grandiose and surprisingly caustic.   What do mean?"


Me: "Forgive me. It was caustic in response to the surprisingly caustic and grandiose email you sent me, suggesting that I am lying to people by calling my reviews unbiased, when actually, unless you consider the fair prejudice towards truth, liberty in Christ and putting God first a bias as a Christian, it is not that biased at all. I don't think it is grandiose to want, or believe it's possible, to be transparent with people. And since my blog is on the internet, the whole world has access to it. That is all I meant by that. 


"If you're wondering what I meant by it in regards to you, it is the lack of transparency in some of your answers to the questionnaire. Perhaps I could have pressed harder to receive the answers I'm looking for, and for that I could be at fault, but I wonder if you could just give me the bulletin that has your church's financial information instead of creating hoops for me to jump through in order to get it. I also wonder why you don't disclose your salary information. If it's so much less than the national average and you don't spend that much on salaries as a part of your overall budget, why not disclose it?"


Rick: "Best of luck to you as seek to serve people looking for churches.  If there is anything lacking in our correspondence, I think you'll be able to get all you need should you visit an SMCC campus.  

As far as publishing salaries goes, people bring all kinds of assumptions, hurts, baggage, expectations etc.  We've discovered, keeping exact salary amounts confidential diffuses far more anxiety than it causes.  For us, it's a judgment call."


Me: "Thank you. I will do my best to be as accurate and truthful in my review of your church as possible. Please let me know if I do not, and I will gladly make adjustments."


And then, our last email conversation...


Rick: "I noticed that you published a quote from me, on your blog, that was heavily redacted. You didn't even use an ellipses (...)  to show that the quote was not given in its entirety.

This makes you vulnerable to the charge of libel.  Please correct this on your blog immediately, and with a note stating I was previously misquoted.

I have no problem if you disagree with me.  Misrepresentation, intentional or unintentional is unacceptable."


Me: "I suppose I figured since I was specifying our conversation "concluded with this statement," I'd made it clear that it was not the entire conversation, but if you'd like to make petty accusations and threats to make yourself feel better about it, I'm happy to fix the post. I will include the entire conversation. I thought I was being generous to you by only using one or two quotes from you, but if I'd known you would have preferred otherwise, I would have posted the entire email conversation in the first place. 


"Lastly, it is not misrepresentation. I'd love for you to explain how it is. And it is not libel, as it is exactly what you said, Rick. I understand if you want it quoted in context, and I will do that, but to call it libel, which is only legitimate if I've made a false statement about you, is actually the misrepresentation. 


The post will be fixed asap."


And so, it is.


**And Yet Another Update for 2/19/19**


After watching a particularly troubling sermon wherein which the pastor seems to be emotionally manipulating the congregation into giving money to the church, Check My Church decided to comment on SMCC Draper's Facebook Page on the sermon that they posted live for their followers to watch.


Our comment asked if the purpose of the sermon was in fact to manipulate people financially, and it was immediately deleted. Also CMC is now blocked from commenting on SMCC Draper's FB Page.


So much for answering every question, eh SMCC?


***

Conclusion


I have a strong bias towards the Word, the glorifying of God, and liberty in Christ. If you don’t care about those things, you will disagree with my conclusions, and you are perfectly within your rights to do that.


Because of my bias towards liberty in Christ and my need for the Word, I don’t think SMCC is a good church for Christians.


Rick Henderson seemed to suggest that writing a review like this may sacrifice the "debt of love" I owe other Christians. My answer to that is twofold, and it's important that I state it here.


I am actually doing this out of love for my Christian brothers and sisters who find themselves trapped in slavery to their church but don't know why. For people terrified of trying to find a church when they know how many bad ones there are out there. And for Christians hungry for the Word of God, and unsure of where to go.


SMCC Draper is very focused on making its attendees feel welcome, at home, comfortable, and entertained, which gives a lot of people what they want from a church, but it isn’t giving them what they need: The Word, and Jesus.


It also strips its members of the liberty they have in Christ by pressuring them to pay tithing, to be baptized, and to become “fully engaged” in their church. If they would stop preaching tithes, stop pressuring Christians to invest so much in their church and allow them the freedom they have in Christ, they wouldn’t appear to be so legalistic. And if they stopped spending so much money, time and attention on the material and physical aspects of the church, they wouldn’t come off as superficial as they appear to be.


Lastly, the lack of financial transparency just looks bad. A shepherd of the flock who teaches and speaks in the name of God and pressures his congregation to pay tithes should be completely transparent with his finances.


The final verdict? Not recommended.



Disagree with our check of this church? Have you attended SMCC in Draper, or any of their other locations and would like to put your own review in for the church? Join the discussion and put your two cents in below.

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