“Trust Me” Versus Total Depravity

What follows was originally posted as a string of comments, but it struck me as thought-provoking enough to deserve its own post.  So here goes.


Commenter “Argo” asked,

Does anyone know if Sovereign Grace Ministries applies the concept of total depravity in the orthodox way, or do they twist it to mean that since you are so full of sin, even after salvation, that you cannot think for yourself and you must have specially appointed pastors to control the mindless, sin-wracked sheep?

I think it depends on what you mean by the word “know.” There’s what we can know about SGM through their official doctrinal statements and through what pastors might tell us if we asked them.

And then there’s what we know about SGM through observing the realities present throughout their long history. There’s what we can know about SGM through watching the role that pastors think they are called to play in members’ lives.

If we were to go by the first concept of “know,” I would say that SGM’s ideas about total depravity harken back to a person’s inability to do anything to initiate the salvation process.

But if we go by the second concept of “know,” I think it’s obvious that your description –

Since you are so full of sin, even after salvation, that you cannot think for yourself and you must have specially appointed pastors to control the mindless, sin-wracked sheep

– would be very accurate.

We can see this view of total depravity at work in the underlying assumptions behind Mickey Connolly’s recent instructions to the members of CrossWay.

I know this might be a bit tedious, but I’m really going to break it down, so we don’t miss any of the implications:

1. Since the meeting was a “Family Meeting,” intended for CrossWay members only, and since being a professing Christian is a requirement for membership at CrossWay, Mickey had to have believed that he was addressing a room full of certified believers (as best as any SGMer could ever experience assurance of his or her salvation).

2. So, Mickey’s remarks at that “Mark Brent!” meeting were directed at people whom he believed to be Christians.

3. Presumably, Mickey believes that Christians have the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide them.

4. Yet he still felt the need to give very detailed and explicit instructions about what to do to carry out his command to “mark” Brent. He still felt the need to convey to his people a wholesale condemnation of Brent’s documents and “the blogs,” judging them several times to be “gossip” and “slander.” He still felt the need to tell people what they ought to think about the question of Brent.

5. The question is, why would a pastor who, on paper at least, believes that each person in his audience is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, Whom the Bible promises will “guide us into all truth,” see the need to try his very desperate best to get people to avoid reading anything contrary to what he wants them to think? And the only answer I can come up with would be that Argo’s statement about total depravity is precisely what Mickey believes about his people.

Sure, SGM pastors would say that they think their church members (who, remember, must be professing Christians in order to obtain member status) have the indwelling Holy Spirit. But SGM pastors also clearly believe that people are still so sin-addled and so stupid and so weak that they need their pastors to attempt to control what they read and think.

THIS is the how-it-works-out-in-real-daily-life truth of what SGM pastors’ believe about the total depravity of their Christian members.


Here are some additional thoughts about the interesting tension present in the way SGM’s ideas about total depravity are really at odds with SGM leaders’ commands to their members to “trust them”:

Y’know, I just can’t get over how bizarre it is that Mickey Connolly felt the need to do what he did in the “Mark Brent!” meeting…and that he obviously believed that people in his audience would listen to him.

Imagine for a moment this same scenario playing out in any other context.

Imagine this scenario playing out in a corporate setting, for example.

You have a company where a former top executive releases hundreds of pages of documents that contain dozens of verbatim emails from all the other top executives, including the CEO. Along with the former top executive’s commentary, the emails clearly demonstrate a problem of leadership-with-zero-formal-accountability within the company. All the shareholders of the company are talking about the documents released by the former top executive. The CEO himself initially steps down…although a couple of months later, he tries to retract anything resembling an acknowledgement of the former executive’s criticisms. He also instructs all the remaining executives to put the kibosh on anyone who openly tries to investigate the matter for himself or herself.

So, one of the other executives gets up in front of a portion of the shareholders and instructs them to trust him. Trust him. And don’t go reading anything related to the documents! The documents are slander! They are gossip! They are divisive! Have nothing to do with the former top executive. Don’t follow him on Facebook!

What would any halfway sane thinking person conclude about the CEO and his remaining top executives?

What would any halfway sane thinking person say about these guys’ motives for telling the shareholders to ignore the former top executive and his criticisms?

Really. Think about this. If this same scenario that is playing out right now within the SGM family of churches were playing out in any other context, about 99% of us would be 99% certain that the CEO and his remaining executives were simply desperate to hang on to their power…and that they were instructing the shareholders not to read the former executive’s documents because they didn’t want the shareholders to be exposed to anything criticizing the company or questioning the CEO’s leadership.

Yet when this scenario takes place within the context of a family of churches, we are supposed to suspend all logical thought and just trust the remaining executives?

This is especially bizarre and illogical when you consider what SGM believes about a Christian’s ongoing tendency toward depravity. SGM believes that its members will always and forever be leaning toward choosing sin rather than choosing righteousness. Either they believe this about all Christians across the board, INCLUDING PASTORS, or they believe that pastors are somehow above the ongoing pull toward sinfulness and are thus worthy of being given the constant benefit of the doubt.

I wonder which it is. Do SGM pastors acknowledge in themselves the same pull toward sin that they are always seeing in their ordinary membership? Or do they believe that they themselves are above this pull?

If they would acknowledge that they, too, remain completely polluted by their total depravity, then why should anyone extend unquestioning trust to them? Why should anyone defy all logic to “believe the best” about them? Why should they expect their people to assume that their motives are totally pure and not self-serving when they condemn unflattering information as “gossip” and “slander” and tell people not to read it?

Since they are expecting unquestioning trust, and since they are demanding that people suspend all logical thought in order to “believe the best” about their motives, it seems pretty clear that SGM pastors actually do not believe that they struggle with the same sinful tendencies as poor plain old ordinary SGM members do.

There’s really no other way to look at this. Either Mickey Connolly’s railings against Brent are legitimate and Mickey is deserving of people’s illogical blind trust because there’s just no way that Mickey could be operating with impure motives…or else Mickey Connolly is just as depraved as any other ordinary SGM member and consequently ought to be regarded with suspicion, ought to be viewed as the desperate-to-maintain-control despot that his actions would make him out to be in any other context.

479 comments to “Trust Me” Versus Total Depravity

  • Jason

    Wow Kris, you nailed it. Something to add:

    Mickey equates reading the documents and the blogs with gossip and slander. He asks, do you want to be “informed or biblically obedient?” Therefore if you read the documents and blogs, you are sinning. He then goes on to say, “If you cannot obey your pastors and what we are asking you to do biblically, then you need to find another church.”

    So Mickey is really saying, “If you can’t stop sinning, you need to leave the church.” Where is this in the Bible?

  • Jimmy

    He (mickey) asks, do you want to be “informed or biblically obedient?”

    Informed = aware of what is going and knowing the truth. He didn’t say, do you want to be lied to or biblically obedient. Therefore, the blogs are not gossip or slander. Rather, they are discussing truths that are inconvenient for sgm. How is my logic wrong?

  • ExClcer'sMom

    HappyMom, I had to let you know I so agree with your last post in the previous thread! :goodpost :clap

    Honestly, the bigger picture here is what has been going on in SGM for decades and what they have gotten away with for far too long. The Body of Christ has been damaged because leaders have done as they’ve pleased and attempted to build His church in their name with no regard for the wake of pain they have left.

    I wish folks from Fairfax had shown as much concern for the lies and deception that spewed out of their Family Meeting regarding their history of horribly mishandling three published sex abuse stories, all involving children. No one from Fairfax seemed to be bothered by the slander and deception that came from the staff. It appeared no one was willing to take V. Hinders or L.Gallo to task for the lies and misconceptions they shared in front of their church. I don’t know what kind of man it takes to lie and distort the facts regarding the sex abuse of an 8 year old little girl for the sole purpose of protecting his reputation and job. To me, they are no different than the coaches at Penn State.

    Regardless of whether the “if” was there or not, Mickey’s purpose for that meeting was to mark Brent as divisive, that is very clear.

    Plus, how many times, when we know we are dealing with truth and facts, do we say, “Go ahead, try to prove me wrong”, and then wait, with confidence, to hear the words, “You were right”. If one KNOWS they are correct, there is no problem letting someone become more informed on the subject, because that will prove to them the truth. It is only when trying to keep something secret that one would want to say, “Don’t look further”.. :koolaid

  • Martha

    Right, he admitted the truth of the posts by saying “informed” rather than using a word that implies untruth.

  • Friendly Observer

    Note to self: you must guard against much pride today, as this new thread appeared just as you were about to suggest to the esteemed Kris that her #315 comment from last thread (reproduced above) was worthy of — indeed, almost begged for — its own thread, in order to pursue a very sound and pertinent question of theology concerning indwelling sin and the “need” (or not) to receive dictatorship instructions on how to think and how to live one’s own Christian life.

    Thank you, Kris — your CEO/corporation analysis is world class, provocative, meaningful, fitting, applicable, and (in my judgment as something of a historian) very important and germane to the discussion.

    Staying with your analogy, let’s also remember that the origins of the corporation (then, we might say, a “pre-corporation”) were long before the electronic communication system today’s world has at its command (to enjoy or endure, depending on one’s vantage point — i.e., news headlines, including criminal actions at both lowest and highest levels, flash around the globe and across all time zones in mere seconds.)

    Thus, those who began with the “family” (when it was only a “newly married couple” (let us say) or a very small family) learned methods of communication that kept certain “skeletons” hidden, kept them from becoming widely known. This led to secrets, certain ways of thinking, practices whereby the underlying mission (and its “doctrine”) was molded into practices that could not be easily investigated, were easily kept under wraps for years, etc. Now, that world has utterly changed, and one of the former bosses can “suddenly” publish an entire history of written communication that some of the writers thought would never again see the light of day. (That is the main reason, IMO, that Brent is disliked now and is being shunned — he is a whistle-blower, and those with secrets and with power do NOT want any whistles blown. Let us not forget that no one liked the boy watching the parade who first said of the Emporer, “He has no clothes on,” but no one could dispute that he was correct.)

    Thus none of the bosses — and we’re talking about Mickey’s insistence that he (et al.) be trusted and listened to and obeyed implicitly — would deny that the belief in human depravity and sinfulness does NOT apply across the board. (Even the soon-to-be-reinstated top boss says frequently that he believes he is the worst sinner he knows — says it frequently and “on the record.”) And so there is no denial that top dogs AND peons/peasants/folks in the pews share alike the ravages of Adam’s sin and mankind’s fall. However, like Communism, which believes all the people are or should be equal, yet some are more equal than others. And so the leaders become dictators (in essence).

    This is long, but to conclude, Mickey (I believe — and I do not know the gentleman) is doing and saying merely what he has been trained and commissioned to do and say. He was trained in the old school, which meant when he and Brent were working together, it was a routine matter to throw his own mentor and discipler (overseer?) under the bus and move on with impunity — indeed, more than impunity, with commendation. He was and is convinced he is doing the will of God in citing Brent, in warning “his people” to embrace his own belief that now the once-esteemed brother and leader is an enemy of truth and must be shunned. He could not do otherwise and be true to what he believes he is called to do. It is his job, and he wants to be faithful.

    So his stated theology may be sound. (And depravity doesn’t mean that any of us necessarily sins to the extent or degree of which we are capable — only that we are sinners and capable of committing even the most vile sin.) Of course he knows he is a sinner. But his job is to be an overseer and guide (“pastor”) to other sinners who are less gifted — and thus he can demand to be heard and demand to be obeyed simply because he is in charge; he’s a boss now.

    Makes sense tro me. This is an important thread — very important discussion. Others will have insights far beyond mine. I’m an amateur theologian at best and have little history.

  • Heather

    Does this news article sound sadly familiar?

    “Just don’t bring your cellphone or BlackBerry, don’t try to send an e-mail, don’t plan to stroll down a street, and never try to talk to strangers or take pictures of ordinary people. None of that is allowed.

    This is North Korea’s unusual experiment in opening its door a tiny crack — allowing foreign tour groups, their cash and investors into the country, but under strict admonition to restrict movement and to avoid even the most casual contact with daily life.

    The vast majority of North Koreans are cut off from e-mail, the Internet, cellphones and almost every other form of contact with the outside world. Most days, there are just two government-run television channels — not on all day — with a third on weekends showing old Chinese movies. Opening this isolated country to tourists means risking the government’s near-total control over every aspect of what average citizens here can see, read, watch or hear.”

  • Dan

    Great post!

    I do honestly believe that there is a definite seperation of sinlessness/sanctification in the minds of the SGM pastors. A definite clergy/laity divide.

    When I was in my excommunication meeting, I explained how I did not feel I could go along with the ultimatums that the SGM Board Member had laid down – and how I had prayed and thought about this and read the Bible and felt that I had to withdraw and resign from such leadership that would lay down such demands.

    I was told clearly and absolutely that “because I was in sin” – I did NOT have the ability or capacity to “think clearly or biblically” hence the excommunication.

    So it seems clear to me that if they can suspect or accuse you of being in sin, then everything and ANYTHING you say is null and void – hence Brent. THEY on the other hand are pastors and so have the “mind of Christ” because (as Jeff Purswell said) they “stand in the very stead of God”.

    Although when I confronted them on this, they laughed and said; “Well we do not speak with papal authority”.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Wow! I so hope the folks from CrossWay are reading.

    That’s it! You’ve nailed it, Kris (and Argo).

    It’s why ALL of SGM do what they do!

  • Oswald

    Jimmy #2 — Good point. Unintended by MC, I’m sure.

  • sgmnot

    Dan #6: Your testimony about your own excommunication, written out so clearly in this comment, just chills me to the bone! If you are able to explain (or feel comfortable doing so) what ultimatum was the SGM Board asking you (forcing you) to do?

  • So, when Brent was an Apostle over dozens of SGM churches, we and our own pastors were supposed to trust him unquestioningly with our souls and obey everything he said (which was often over the top). But now that he has fallen from (Sovereign) Grace and wants truth to be known (yes, he is still sometimes over the top in his approach but still has a very valid message), we are to shun him like a pariah and not listen to a thing he says? I vote for listening to what the Holy Spirit is saying to our own God-given brains and grace-bought hearts. We might disagree with one another, but we can never disengage from the thinking/discerning process. There must always be liberty of conscience.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    I don’t think the problem has anything to do with the doctrine of indwelling sin. The problem is shepherding doctrines recycled from the 70’s and early 80s.

    Back then, we knew people who sincerely believed that within your sphere of authority (pastor, care group leader, father, parent) you were essentially infallible because God delegates His own authority to people, and we obey it as we would God, because it reperesents the authority of God himself. God speaks through His delegated authority.

    It isn’t that people are so sinful, or don’t have the Holy Spirit. But God by the Holy Spirit will tell the authority who somebody should marry, or what job to take or what house to buy, and so forth. The Holy Spirit may lead somebody about what to do first, but it MUST MUST MUST!!!!! be confirmed by the authority because yes, we are fallen humans and might be led astray by our fleshly desires.

    You can’t understand SGM or Mickey or CJ unless you understand shepherding error and men in the place of God, including as your spiritual covering (blood atonement) protecting you from Satan. They would not claim to be replacing the blood of Jesus, but in essence they talk that way. Google the Ft Lauderdale 5, Bob Weiner, shepherding doctine. CJ and Larry were totally into this crap since day 1, maybe Larry came out but CJ never did.

    Mickey is just doing his job- being God. He is God’s delgated authority telling the sheep what to do. Classic shepherding. Those of us who suffered under it a generation ago can see it, but the young folks in it now are caught up in the same fears of being rebellious and independent and not under covering. So, they will dutifully defriend Brent as God through their authority told them to do. I understand it, 35 years ago I was the same way, except that it wasn’t indwelling sin we talked about, just our fallen tendency to be “in the flesh.”

    I hope God wipes SGM out. What a disgusting mess. Ugh.

  • Yellow is a Happy Color

    Kris, you are spot on in your word choice:

    (the CEOs, ie SGm) “are desparatly trying to hang on to their power”

    I think that is exactly what we are seeing, and I am afraid it will only get uglier!

  • SA

    Perhaps I’m wrong yet I don’t think Mickey, despite calling himself Reformed and/or Calvinist per SGM’s company line, knows or cares very much about what those systems of belief have to say about total depravity.

    People who are truly Calvinist and Reformed believe in the priesthood of all believers and that you have the right to read and interpret the Bible on your own in your native language. Arguably this was the whole point of the Protestant Reformation, as well.

    The concept of total depravity has never precluded questioning those in authority over you.

    Thus I don’t think that Mickey thought long and hard about the theological issues underlying his treatment of Brent Detwiler and the members of his church. He simply complied with a directive from at least one member of the SGM board to “shun” Brent Detwiler as a crude means of intimidating Joshua Harris and the rest of the CLC pastors by showing them, “this could happen to you too” following their strong criticisms of SGM at the CLC family meeting on Oct. 30.

    Your pastors don’t think that our leadership in this time of crisis over the past four months is the real issue. We believe what has caused the crisis is deficiencies in the structure of Sovereign Grace, as well as deep-seated problems with the unaccountable and arbitrary ways its authority has operated.

    Two Main Issues

    We see two main issues that Sovereign Grace needs to address: First, deficiencies in the leadership structures of our family of churches, and second, the need for fair and objective evaluation of the many charges and criticisms being leveled against Sovereign Grace.

    1. Deficiencies in leadership structures…

    Presently, the board of Sovereign Grace is a self-appointed authority without constitutional accountability or checks and balances. And all authority within Sovereign Grace exists within this board.

    Member churches and pastors have no constitutional means of voting upon the membership of the board or of redress to the board’s decisions.

    This would be reasonable if Sovereign Grace were only a parachurch ministry that seeks to come alongside local churches for the purpose of producing music and literature, or for the purpose of furthering mission, but it is unreasonable if Sovereign Grace assumes authority over the leadership and policies of local churches.

    Therefore, in order for us to maintain genuine and mutual partnership, our desire is to work with Sovereign Grace to clarify its purpose, to increase its accountability and to establish appropriate, biblical boundaries in its relationship to Covenant Life and other local churches.

    2. Due process for the many charges and criticisms being leveled against SGM…

    We remain convinced that a comprehensive and impartial review of Sovereign Grace leadership would serve everyone well. Much has been said about proper due process. We think it is very important for all sides to have an opportunity to share their thoughts. We won’t make progress without working through grievances, and we want to see that done with integrity in an orderly manner. The Sovereign Grace board has set in place plans for a Group Reconciliation Process and the evaluation of Brent’s charges, and we’re looking forward to see how the they will act on what they learn.

    We are deeply grieved by any way in which CJ and his family have been slandered. However, to characterize everything that has been said about CJ as unproven or slanderous accusations or allegations is inaccurate. It is important to note that there have already been significant admissions and confessions from CJ about patterns of behavior and specific leadership decisions and sins that have been brought to light and witnessed by many. When someone confesses to something, it’s no longer an allegation. To be fair, CJ has said that he doesn’t agree with all of the charges that have been brought against him, but his public confessions indicate that he is aware of the truthfulness of some of them.

    Where an individual confesses his sins, there ought to be full and unreserved forgiveness. The Lord has forgiven us of so much, and we want to graciously extend forgiveness ourselves.

    But the issues we are facing as a church are not primarily about CJ and his sins. It would be a significant mistake to see this as dispute between Brent and CJ In fact, there are many other former leaders with grievances, as the need for group reconciliation reveals. Our concern is primarily about the organization and structures of Sovereign Grace, which we believe failed to guard the organization, its leadership as well as its membership from arriving at just such a crisis as this. We think that this controversy should lead to a thorough reexamination of all of Sovereign Grace’s leadership structures and ideas about biblical authority.

    We’re doing this kind of self-examination at Covenant Life, and we see hopeful signs that Sovereign Grace is recognizing that this season calls for similar examination on their part. They’ve told us they are committed to this process of evaluation, and we are watching to see it unfold.

  • Dan

    Hi SGMnot! #9,

    Don’t mind at all – have shared this before a while back when we were “SGM Uncensored”!

    They/he wanted me to;

    1. Move back from my flat to my parents house (also SGM members) despite the fact that I was in contract to my rented accommodation and to move out would have occured huge costs in breaking contract..
    2. Make a FULL confession to my father of my “sinful” behaviour/history (I had already shared with them that he was very homophobic and could not cope with hearing ANY detail of my life).
    3. VOW to attend every Sunday/care group (despite the fact that I was a nurse and required to work various shifts and could not do so).
    4. And one other – that I’ve forgotten!

    Hope that helps fill in!

  • Stunned

    Some of these SGM leaders are hysterical. I swear, you couldn’t write this stuff in abook of fiction because people would say it is too outrageous to be believable.

  • CHBC Member

    This is a good, thoughtful post. It’s interesting, but this is exactly what Mark Dever did. He told CHBC members what they ought to think about the situation and discouraged us from reading Brent’s documents because he said they would not be edifying.

  • griefofwisdom

    Agree with ‘5 years’ above, problem is with sheparding movement more than doctrine of indwelling sin. Regarding the effect of ‘total depravity’ on our thinking, it is taught in SGM that we need others to help us evaluate our motives, total depravity keeps us from accurately assessing it ourselves. I think though that it is taught we need others “in the local church” for that, thus the importance of the local church. I don’t remember it being taught that we need our pastors to do that for us.

    So while I think total depravity is used in SGM to teach that we cannot think for ourselves, it is generally not used to reinforce trusting those in authority. Maybe total depravity is being utilized though to reinforce the authoritarianism of SGM in this case, which derives from the shepparding movement. It is just a sick mix of a number of toxic ingredients.

  • Muckraker

    Kris: Your detailed breakdown makes so much sense. Their actions and statements as leaders reveal their actual operational belief system, including aspects that are not verbalized.

    Since they are expecting unquestioning trust, and since they are demanding that people suspend all logical thought in order to “believe the best” about their motives, it seems pretty clear that SGM pastors actually do not believe that they struggle with the same sinful tendencies as poor plain old ordinary SGM members do.

    I have been noticing shades and undertones of Roman Catholicism in their application or emphasis. CJ stated at the Pastor’s Conference that his first reason for taking a leave of absence was to “protect the office of President of the SGM”. That smacks of RCC doctrine. Why is the job of “President of the Board”, considered in his mind, a separate office, which foremost needs to have its reputation be “protected”?

    Is that concept normal is the corporate/business world? :scratch

    Do they think that pastors are immune (by their “office”) from the affects of depravity on their OWN minds and thoughts, and thereby are called to “think” on behalf of church members “under” them?

  • Oswald

    SA #13 — You said, “He simply complied with a directive from at least one member of the SGM board to “shun” Brent Detwiler as a crude means of intimidating Joshua Harris and the rest of the CLC pastors by showing them, ‘this could happen to you too’ following their strong criticisms of SGM at the CLC family meeting on Oct. 30″.
    This nails it for me. Everything that’s happened lately; the letter to pastors, MC words to CWCC, bookended around the pastors conf, were obviously the work of one strategic mind, geared to get the attention of the pastors to guide their thinking. Can we dare a guess who that strategist would be?

    He (MC) simply complied with a directive from at least one member of the SGM board to “shun” Brent Detwiler as a crude means of intimidating Joshua Harris and the rest of the CLC pastors by showing them, “this could happen to you too” following their strong criticisms of SGM at the CLC family meeting on Oct. 30.

  • sgmnot

    Dan #15 Sorry, I have only been reading/commenting for the past few months so I don’t know your story. Were you excommunicated because you didn’t follow their specific directives, as you outlined above, or because of some other unrepentant sin, such as living out a homosexual lifestyle? (Forgive me for being so direct, just wanted to be clear on what you meant.)

  • Friendly Observer

    This may well prove to be among the most important — if not THE most important — thread (and the discussion contained herein) since I have “joined” (i.e., followed) the flow.

    Along with Kris’ intro, we’ve had around a dozen or so entries (only), and yet some real dynamite has been put into play, blowing the lid off any further “hiding” except for the most stubborn and closed minds who might read here. It’s amazing how truth can take on a life and mind of its own.

    Here’s from Dan @#6 — and maybe the most “chilling” to me of all the data posted:

    “THEY on the other hand are pastors and so have the “mind of Christ” because (as Jeff Purswell said) they ‘stand in the very stead of God’.”

    Isn’t Mr. Purswell the resident theologian? This is pre-Reformation heresy (and post-Ref, of course), but the Bible coming in the language of the people and the clear Anabaptist and post-Reformation doctrine of every believer priesthood should have precluded someone like Purswell from sayng such a thing even under torture. The purswell statement makes a special priesthood out of pastors and other “clergy.” I am actually stunned over this disclosure that he ever could have uttered those words.

    Then, “5years in PDI” @#11, wrote this:

    “Mickey is just doing his job- being God. He is God’s delgated authority telling the sheep what to do.” And this, not to toot a horn of my own, reflects my own thought in #5:

    ” … Mickey (I believe — and I do not know the gentleman) is doing and saying merely what he has been trained and commissioned to do and say. … He could not do otherwise and be true to what he believes he is called to do. It is his job, and he wants to be faithful.”

    And 5years and I don’t know each other and have never privately communicated. It is simply truth emerging, inexorably, and the result may not be healing for the aggrieved, but it might result in eyes being opened and freedom for those still in such severe, cultish bondage.

    Doctrine, therefore — whether of sin or of sanctification — doesn’t matter one whit. It is the power of the (special) priesthood that counts. Speaking with apparent infallibility. Mickey is. at this point, merely a cog in the machinery, part of a gear box (no offense intended) to keep the SGM “family” (Machine!) moving forward.

    Brent can never be reconciled. Whether flawed or virtuous, he has committed the unpardonable sin, namely, questioning the Authority and taking a diverse position.

  • 5years and “griefofwisdom” –

    I should have made this more clear in my post, but I do NOT believe that SGM’s ideas about total depravity represent the way the doctrine is viewed within traditionally Reformed and Calvinist circles.

    I think SGM has twisted the doctrine of total depravity to mean that members’ hearts are forever and always utterly deceitful, desperately wicked, and unknowable (a la Jeremiah 17:9).

    SGM pastors tacitly demand blind trust and unquestioning obedience. (After all, what was it that Mickey Connolly was asking from his members, if not that? Under no other circumstances would any normal person suspend all logic and not investigate all the literature out there on a topic like CJ’s and SGM’s issues, just because the very leaders the literature discusses are asking them not to. Under any other circumstance, such a command to “Trust me!” would be regarded as blind trust. Likewise the command to “Obey me!”) SGM pastors believe that if people question their motives and have a desire to examine the available materials for themselves, the people are in sin. They are entertaining “gossip” and “slander.” Anything that reflects negatively upon SGM pastors and the SGM organization is by default “gossip” and “slander.”

    So I think it’s obvious that SGM leaders must not believe in the desperate wickedness and unknowability of their own hearts in the same way that they believe in the depravity of their members’ hearts. Otherwise they could not in good conscience stand up in front of their members and demand that the members trust them blindly. They would acknowledge that the definite possibility exists that perhaps they are presently sinfully motivated…that perhaps they are guilty of at least some of the accusations…and they would freely welcome their members to examine all the charges and with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, decide for themselves what to think.

    SGM leaders have sliced off a tiny corner of the traditionally Reformed view of the doctrine of total depravity – the tiny corner that would cast suspicion, always, on the post-conversion, post-indwelt-by-the-Holy-Spirit hearts and motives of ordinary non-pastoral members only.

    The leaders themselves, however, float above this cloud of suspicion.

  • Bridget

    Dan –

    Thanks for sharing. I’m sorry if the ways of SGM affected your walk with Jesus adversely. I hope not. Jesus has a better way, as most of us know. I was curious about the comment in your post attributed to Jeff Purswell. Is “they stand in the very stead of God” in his teachings to PC students somewhere? :scratch

  • Muckraker

    Friendly O. #22: I concur.

    Here’s from Dan @#6 — and maybe the most “chilling” to me of all the data posted:
    “THEY on the other hand are pastors and so have the “mind of Christ” because (as Jeff Purswell said) they ‘stand in the very stead of God’.”

    This gave me chills, as well. These actions and words are revealing aspects of their doctrine which is faulty. We all need to guard our doctrine. We all need to continually seek the truth IN SCRIPTURE, and re-adjust our thinking when necessary.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    November 22 marks the 4 year anniversary of this blog. Take a look at the titles of some of the first posts back in 2007…

    “SGM/PDI – part of the shepherding movement?”

    “Is Sovereign Grace Ministries “Charismatic”?”

    “Courtship and the Gospel”

    “Gossip and Double-Speak”


    “What makes a cult?”

    “What C.J. Mahaney Teaches About Submission And Obedience Within The Church”

  • Wasabi

    SGM’s obsession with total depravity, even after receiving Christ, is one of the main reasons I pulled my family out of this denomination. Scripture certainly supports Christians’ fight against the sinful nature (Jer 17:9, Rom 7:24), but overemphasis and reinforcement of this concept by SGM then establishes a doctrine that minimizes the role of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives. How many times have you heard SGM pastors state that attempting to know your own heart/motives is analogous to looking at yourself through a carnival mirror? This belief is entirely appropriate when balanced against our new creation (2 Cor 5:27), but overemphasizing it to the extent SGM does negates the regeneration we experience as believers: we have the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16) and we have the Holy Spirit who convicts us of sin and guides us in truth (John 16).

    I once questioned the pastoral staff on the logical conclusion of this “carnival mirror” doctrine and was told “Wasabi, whenever you think you’re right, you are actually wrong”. But doesn’t that mean we are all floundering without guidance if everyone is wrong? No, I was told, that’s where the counsel of the pastoral staff is critical to my daily walk. I actually had a pastor tell me that he prefers to have the senior pastor make decisions for him (e.g. regarding his own personal finances), because he doesn’t trust his own heart. I kid you not.

    IMO this is why “sin sniffing” is so prevalent in SGM, and especially in Brent’s documents. Brent’s pit bull obsession with CJ’s sin is consistent with this indoctrination – where the role of the Holy Spirit has been relegated to the pastoral staff.

  • SA

    Thanks, Oswald. Guessing is fine yet one could also simply ask the Crossway pastors, “Did you come up with idea to ‘shun’ Brent Detwiler shortly after Joshua Harris publicly threatened to cut off funding to SGM or were you acting on someone else’s orders?”

    It seems as though the Crossway Members have a right to know the answer to that question especially as the SGM board has not repudiated or even commented on the actions of their pastors.

  • Someone with more time than I have right now ought to do some digging about the “stand in the very stead of God” line. If memory serves, Protestant Knight wrote some very good analysis of this line, wherein he documents who first said it and so forth.

    I seem to recall, also, that after PK’s analysis was floating around out there for awhile and more SGMers were questioning their pastors about this twisted teaching, Jeff Purswell (I think it was Purswell) put out a “What I Really Meant” post, where he tried explain that he wasn’t actually saying what he’d so clearly been trying to imply.

    But – my memory isn’t always perfect, so I’m hoping that someone who either has the time to do the research or else remembers more accurately than I do will provide links and correct my inaccuracies.

  • El Pastor

    Kris, I think your analogy to the corporate world is very illuminating, like opening the blinds in a very dark room and letting the sunshine in. One of your best!

    I also think 5Years and Friendly Observer are spot on, too.

    I was doing some casual reading in a book on the church last night, and came upon this quote. I think it is very appropriate, and it’s clear which error SGM has fallen into. If only they could see it.

    In evangelical circles today we are witnessing the abuse of ecclesiastical authority in two directions. There is, on the one hand, an abdication of church authority by some. Confronted with the individualistic, anti-law spirit of our time, cowardly church officers refuse to exercise biblical oversight entrusted to them by Christ. In many churches, authoritative preaching and corrective discipline are conspicuously absent.

    Equally dangerous, however, is the tendency by others to overreact against such laxity. Church leaders lose sight of the fine line between the virtue of biblical counsel and guidance and the vice of usurping control over the conscience. Wise pastors recognize that parishioners who emerge from the social, moral, and domestic of modern society need order and structure in their lives. In view of the Christian’s struggle with uncertainty and confusion of life in a post-Christian environment, watchful shepherds of God’s flock see the need for firm direction and predictability. Yet in grappling with these challenges, godly overseers can blur in the minds of their followers the distinction between God’s word and man’s word and unwittingly shift the standard of God’s will from the Bible to human pronouncements. Counsel becomes control, control becomes coercion, and coercion becomes tyranny over the conscience. Christian freedom is eroded as lay people become more and more enamored with the decrees of elders and the commandments of men. It all has the appearance of wisdom, but it represents a slippery path into slavery.”

  • Ozymandias

    Kris #23 said:

    SGM leaders have sliced off a tiny corner of the traditionally Reformed view of the doctrine of total depravity – the tiny corner that would cast suspicion, always, on the post-conversion, post-indwelt-by-the-Holy-Spirit hearts and motives of ordinary non-pastoral members only.

    The leaders themselves, however, float above this cloud of suspicion.

    I would only add that, given the amount of linguistic kabuki that one sees in the back-and-forth emails provided in Brent’s materials (especially in everyone’s salutations and conclusions), I wonder if many of the leaders felt like they just might not be completely outside that cloud. Or at least wanted to signal that they understood the cloud existed, and wanted to make sure that they weren’t put into the same category.

  • Wasabi wrote,

    I once questioned the pastoral staff on the logical conclusion of this “carnival mirror” doctrine and was told “Wasabi, whenever you think you’re right, you are actually wrong”. But doesn’t that mean we are all floundering without guidance if everyone is wrong? No, I was told, that’s where the counsel of the pastoral staff is critical to my daily walk. I actually had a pastor tell me that he prefers to have the senior pastor make decisions for him (e.g. regarding his own personal finances), because he doesn’t trust his own heart. I kid you not.

    IMO this is why “sin sniffing” is so prevalent in SGM, and especially in Brent’s documents. Brent’s pit bull obsession with CJ’s sin is consistent with this indoctrination – where the role of the Holy Spirit has been relegated to the pastoral staff.

    It is this set of beliefs and practices, coupled with SGM’s pyramid-shaped polity structure (that has ever-narrowing spheres of accountability, the farther up toward the top one moves, until you’re CJ with nobody who can truly confront you on your sins) that has led to the vast majority of abuses.

    The assumption that pastors have a clearer view of their people’s sin than do the people themselves is woven throughout much of what SGM has taught over the years. Read CJ’s Dearest [Happiest] Place On Earth sermon transcript from 2009. He pretty much says this in so many words – that where we are blind to our own sin, our pastors will see it clearly for us.

    This is the main source of SGM’s crazy-making. If you can grasp the mentality, everything falls into place. Brent’s documents and his seeming obsession with getting CJ to confess his sins (as Brent assesses them) makes perfect sense. This is why I’ve said all along that even though Brent was for years a main contributor to the issues, I now have a lot of admiration for the fact that at least the guy was consistent with what he was taught and with what he believes/believed. The bottom line is that if CJ is going to create and sustain a system based upon the premise of pastors playing the role of the Holy Spirit, he’d better have some sort of built-in version of the “pastoral Holy Spirit” for himself, so that someone can see his own sins clearly for him.

  • For the record, the consensus among Brent D, Jim from Refuge, Steve S and his wife, and I is that Mickey Connolly did indeed quickly mumble the controversial modifier “if.”

    So basically, Mickey tells people they must obey him and not read any of Brent’s materials, not on blogs or on Facebook. [If] that means unfriending Brent to avoid temptation, then you have to unfriend him.

    I still say what I’ve said all along, that the “if” hardly matters. Mr. Connolly still commanded his congregation to put blind trust in him and forbade them from reading blogs and Brent’s documents. The implication of what CrossWay folks were being told they ought to do was quite clear, with or without the “if.”

    But Mickey slipped us a Mickey and gave a quick “if.” :D

    Whatevs, peeps. Those of you who want to be good little CrossWayites still know what you need to do.

  • BB

    @ Friendly Observer. This is the article from CJ’s blog referring to “standing in the stead” It also says, that preachers are in the same succession as Moses, the apostles and prophets. Wouldn’t that imply their words have the same weight as scripture???? For me this was the last straw. We discovered this before things “broke” over the summer. Glad to be out.

  • Here is the direct quote from CJ’s Dearest [Happiest] Place On Earth sermon:

    Why you need godly pastors to watch over your soul. Number one, the continued – the continued presence and influence of remaining sin. The continued presence and influence of remaining sin. Sin is subtle, sin is active, and sin is present. And so we read in Hebrews chapter 12 verse 1, “Let us lay aside every weight AND SIN which clings so closely.”

    Second, the deceitfulness of sin. Not just the presence of sin, not just the influence of sin, but the deceitfulness of sin. So we read in Hebrews chapter 3 verse 13, “Exhort one another every day as long as it is today that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” We need good and godly pastors to watch over our souls because we are vulnerable on a daily basis to the deceitfulness of sin, the hardening effect of sin upon our souls. So sin is deceptive. That’s the DNA of sin, the DNA of sin is deception, therefore we need the discerning and caring eyes of pastors and others because so – so often I’M BLIND TO WHAT IS OBVIOUS TO THEM.

    Here’s a semi-new thought (one I don’t remember having before) – in this teaching about the pastor’s superior sin-sniffing abilities, there’s no acknowledgement of the FACT that sometimes a pastor’s judgment could easily be clouded by selfish motivations that would drive him to believe the other person was in the wrong, was the sinful one.

    How many times have we heard stories of SGM situations that did not end well for members because members butted heads with their pastors over the pastors’ assessments of the members’ sins? (Dan just shared one such example in his #15.) Always, the assumption was that if a pastor sees sin and has ideas about how the member should deal with the perceived sin, the pastor simply has to be right – regardless of the possibility that a pastor’s own deceitful heart could be clouding the pastor’s perceptions and assessments.

    THIS is why I believe SGM pastors do not really and truly believe they have the same totally depraved hearts that their members have.

  • “This is a good, thoughtful post. It’s interesting, but this is exactly what Mark Dever did. He told CHBC members what they ought to think about the situation and discouraged us from reading Brent’s documents because he said they would not be edifying.”

    Maybe this explains why Mahaney changed churches. Mahaney wanted to be at a church where the pastor specifically told the members to not read the documents while Josh almost encouraged members (at least head of households) to read the documents. CJ doesn’t like his sin being pointed out so he finds another place to go where people are encouraged to ignore his sin.

  • Liberty

    I’m signed up for a daily devotional that comes to my email.

    A portion of today’s verses:

    Acts 3:22-26 —

    “For Moses said, The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.”

    Maybe Mickey and company are just confused on how to study scripture in context and thought that this was applicable to them :wink:

    This would be laughable if it weren’t all so sad. Isn’t there a scripture that talks about grieving the Holy Spirit?

    I cannot even imagine, if my human heart is grieved over all of this, how much MORESO the Holy Spirit is.


  • Rejected

    We have a much clearer picture now of why our family was never really accepted by our SGM church. We cannot and would never avoid someone because a pastor- SGM or otherwise- told us to. We used to wonder why we weren’t accepted but over the past few months we have seen the big picture.

    We can see that if you don’t do exactly what they want, including avoiding the “undesireables”, you are dismissed and seen as devisive and may tarnish their reputation by being known to associate with you.

    We are not angry about this but pray that God touch the hearts of each and every member and pastor to see that this is not Christ’s way. We all need to be praying for the hearts of these people caught up in this entangling mess.

  • Kris

    Interesting quote from Mahaney’s “Happiest Place” sermon. It is too bad that Mahaney apparently didn’t listen to his own advice when he said “We need good and godly pastors to watch over our souls because we are vulnerable on a daily basis to the deceitfulness of sin, the hardening effect of sin upon our souls. So sin is deceptive. That’s the DNA of sin, the DNA of sin is deception, therefore we need the discerning and caring eyes of pastors and others because so – so often I’M BLIND TO WHAT IS OBVIOUS TO THEM.”

    If you listened to what Mahaney said at the recent SGM Pastors’ conference it sure looks like that is what is happening to him such as the “hardening affect of sin” and it being “deceptive.”

  • Defender

    Wasabi #27;
    I think you touched on a key issue.

    In our (Defended & Myself) story, the roll of the Holy Spirit was challenged on a number of levels.
    We were told by Steve Shank that “We were too dependent on the Holy Spirit.”
    Keith Jacob said “our over dependence on the Holy Spirit was preventing us from sanctification.” and stated at one point that it was unfortunate that he (Keith Jacob) was not the Holy Sprit or we would be more sanctified. Keith Jacob’s words were “Regretfully, I’m not the Holy Spirit.” He said that, intending to be sarcastic.

    It has been discussed here over the years, that C.J. and other SGM leaders have “Dis-invited” the Holy Spirit in SGM life and activities.
    In their words and actions, they keep proving that they have not only erred or strayed, but are running and barricading against God in their little self made kingdom.

    When the Holy Spirit is blasphemed, God no longer lives in them. Satan is their father. God is not their father.

    It is a hard thing to say, but just how much evidence do we need to see, before it is clearly and universally understood that these SGM leaders are not in the same Kingdom as are we?

    I take no pleasure in saying this, but the evidence is there for all to see.

  • Sick With Worry

    OK – I am ready to be blasted for this, but I can take it. :( This is a little different perspective here.

    I see two sides of the “blogs are unhealthy” debate. I will try to explain.

    It is certainly unhealthy for the organization and the morale of the “followers” to read a constant barrage of data that casts doubt on the leaders’ ability to lead. If that is what Mickey, Dave H and Mark Dever said, I do not disagree. If I was running a company and being subjected to a detailed public critique of every move, and every word that came from my mouth was questioned, I can see myself telling employees, “Look, we have our detractors, but you need to trust me. If you cannot trust me, please look for another place to work, because you are making this more difficult than it needs to be”.

    I think the issue with SGM, is that they actually (indirectly) created the documents, and the blogs, and have made them more and more popular. It is SGM themselves that keep feeding this monster, because of their own lack of communication and openness. I just cannot figure out why, when the blogs first popped up, these men could not remedy these issues, make restitution, and fix these issues behind closed doors. While the sins of some of the leaders are great, none of these issues are so complicated that they could not have been addressed years ago.

    Have any of you guys in SGM leadership wondered why the “anti-John Piper blog” never grew? How about the “Charles Swindoll Survivors” site, or “Tim Keller refuge”? Even with all the criticism the liberal churches get, like Joel Osteen’s, I do not think it has risen to this level. Why? It is because with all the criticism others receive, they are down-to-earth regular guys and for the most part they are not misrepresenting themselves. If my memory serves me correctly, even the Machen versus the liberals debate at Princeton was pretty much an open debate – none of these men were disguising themselves or hiding anything.

    So, from Mark Dever’s perspective, no, the blogs are not edifying. But, I am surprised that he thinks that it can be reduced to that. This has moved far beyond telling people “do not read the blogs and Brent is a bad guy”. If you need to tell your people that, then you have not lead them in the first place. I think someone else mentioned this too.

    I am a little disappointed in Mark Dever, if this is all true. I know him as an advocate for elder rule, but he also espouses a lot of congregational accountability with good training from within and a good track record of installing lay elders. I do not know him, only what I have read and heard from him. In the back of my mind I have been wondering if Mark Dever will pull the trigger and give CJ a good talking to. I am still hoping that the Lord will use some of CJ’s friends to talk some sense into him.

    BTW – I think the strategy at Mickey’s church is this. They realize that the people reading the blogs will not stop. And the people that do not trust leadership probably never will. The longer those people stick around, the more likely they are to influence others. What Mickey is trying to do is split the church down that line now, before the line moves. This will allow him to cut his losses quickly and “re-launch” with a clearly defined team of supporters. If all that I read here is true, Mickey is not the kind of leader I would want as a pastor. It does not appear he has a shepherd’s heart at all. Nonetheless, if I was consulting for him and did not have an opinion about his behavior as a pastor, I would advise him to do exactly what he did in that meeting. It is simply the way that organizations work.

    OK….. one clarification, I do not think I could ever mention “de-friending” someone in a business meeting, for fear of looking like a sour 12 year-old girl. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  • Blues0080

    i was hopeful that cj and sgm would embrace god’s correction and let the spirit of god move and bring about change…but it is so eveident that the sgm leadership hearts have been hardened and sgm has officially “jumped the shark”. with cj’s pronouncement that the inquisition has begun against those that question his/sgm’s autority/polity and the mickey connoly marking of brent, they have reached the point where we’re at the beginning of the end….so sad…

    for those of you unfamiliar with “jump the shark”…it’s a phrase used to describe a tv show that goes off of its original premise and begins it’s inevitable slide towards canciliation….more specifically, it refers to a happy days episode where fonzie did a waterskiing jump over a shark ….


  • Guy

    sick with worry…

    great comment. i’m going into a C-level meeting in a few minutes and will make it a point to tell a couple of them that I’m de-friending them from fb…just to see what the reaction is

  • equus asinus

    From what I’ve personally experienced (I’m a recently departed Ashburnian), I find that SGM pastors consider themselves to be just as likely to sin as any other Christian. I think that they would expect that the average member would still want to follow them because they have the specific role, given by the Holy Spirit, of leading and oversight within the body. That’s all pretty reasonable, assuming you accept this particular church model.

    Where this breaks down, though, is that a pastor is not any other Christian. A pastor is a Christian for whom additional standards apply. When a pastor sins, shouldn’t we ask the question: “has this sin changed this Christian’s status as a pastor”? Now that people are voicing these kinds of questions, SGM as a whole does not seem to be answering them, or not answering them very well. I most certainly classify “marking” the questioner as “not answering very well”!

    So, Kris, I think that the disconnect does not reside in the doctrine of depravity, but rather in the inflated understanding of the role of a pastor. SGM pastors, for some reason, have a hard time seeing their flaws in light of their role. Their sins seem to apply to them as Christians, but not so much as pastors. 71, 71, 71.

  • Jayson

    #42 “If all that I read here is true, Mickey is not the kind of leader I would want as a pastor”

    Sadly, Mickey was the pastor we had for some years at SRC, before he moved to CW. Hi Mickey if you are reading this blog. I can say, Mickey is definitely of the shepherding mindset and worse. One guy was not as athletic as Mic wanted, so Mic referred to him, behind his back, as a panzy.

  • “Sick With Worry” said,

    I just cannot figure out why, when the blogs first popped up, these men could not remedy these issues, make restitution, and fix these issues behind closed doors. While the sins of some of the leaders are great, none of these issues are so complicated that they could not have been addressed years ago.

    I think SGM leaders were unable to address and fix these issues for two different reasons that are actually two prongs of the same reason.

    First, contrary to what some may think, the problems actually ARE pretty complicated. The abuses HAVE BEEN pretty bad, and they ARE systemic. The whole way that SGM is structured and has grown is (dare I say it?) rotten to the core. In order for the problems to actually be fixed, to where there’s no danger of similar stuff happening again, SGM leaders would have to surrender their authority, and they would have to dismantle and reconstruct the government of their churches. That would take away their power.

    A lot of these pastors genuinely believe that their absolute unchecked authority as pastors is “biblical.” They’ve been taught that, and until fairly recently, this structure seemed to be working without too many major flare-ups. So many are reluctant to change what they think is the “right” way to do things.

    Then, a lot of the pastors – let’s be honest – are reluctant to relinquish this kind of authority. The power trips are kinda fun…kinda ego-boosting…and for at least some of the guys, are one of the main reasons the SGM pastor job appealed to them in the first place. It feels good to be an officially recognized Humble Authority with higher-level sin-sniffing capabilities. I think a lot of these guys would lose what has provided a key piece of their identities as believers, if they were to move to share their governing power with some form of congregationally representative governing board of elders (or some such).

    Interwoven with this first point is the second part of the reason why the problems weren’t addressed when they first started being made public. And that is this: without changing the whole system, trying to make one issue disappear (i.e. “solving it behind closed doors“) would be like playing the game Whack-a-Mole. Try to stuff too many secrets down, and they’re going to keep popping up. A “behind closed doors” approach would never have worked…because it is an inappropriate way to address widespread and systemic issues.

    Mixed in with all of this is the sad reality that for many of SGM’s leaders, the SGM entity itself – “the Movement” – has gotten all tangled up in their thinking with the gospel of Jesus. SGM leaders have been extremely reluctant to do anything at all that would indicate that SGM has made mistakes and that SGM’s leaders have gotten it wrong occasionally. Because of how tangled up their ideas about “the gospel” and “the [SGM] Movement” are, SGM leaders seem to labor under the delusion that if they admit a flaw or fault in SGM, the gospel will somehow be dishonored.

    (If you doubt that SGM has confused promoting SGM with promoting the gospel of Jesus, just think for a moment about how SGM has historically thought of its church-planting efforts as synonymous with missions work. Where have most SGM churches been planted? Right down the street or across the road from lots of other decent Bible-believing, gospel-proclaiming churches. So SGM simply has to be about something more than just a church that proclaims the gospel. Spreading the gospel to these guys has been about spreading the specific SGM way of handling the gospel and looking at the gospel and working out the sanctification process, through all of SGM’s many systems.)

    So you have these guys who are reluctant to share their own power. Couple that with what they’ve been taught about the rightness and superiority of the SGM way of doing church. Mix in the fact that promoting SGM has been confused with promoting Jesus. Add the fact that these guys see revealing SGM’s mistakes and flaws openly as somehow “threatening the gospel.” And what do you have?

    A system on your hands that will do almost anything other than openly talk about problems.

    I could add to this mix the fact, too, that SGM leaders have heavily imbibed the notion that anything that is not directly flattering to SGM or SGM’s leaders is “gossip” and “slander.” And we’ve seen what happens to those who are labeled “divisive.”

    Is it any wonder that nobody would – or even could – do anything to solve SGM’s problems?

  • Oswald

    Jayson #46 — You said “One guy was not as athletic as Mic wanted, so Mic referred to him, behind his back, as a panzy.” Isn’t this CJ’s attitude in the same situation? The leader leads.

  • Dan

    Thanks sgmnot and Bridget :)

    No worries at all – very aware that some may be not aware!

    And definitely don’t mind directness – in fact like it!

    No, I have struggled with same-sex attraction since I was sexually abused at school. I have slipped and sinned a couple of times, but during my time in SGM I was attempting to live a celibate and godly life and because of that struggle got very depressed and down because I felt I was making no progress or seeing no victory.

    The senior pastor stated he believed I was living a “sinful life” with a dear friend of mine who was more like a brother to me. I asked if he had proof and he said no – it was “just a feeling”. Reminded me of Mark Driscoll’s “TV on abuse” story?!

    So the whole excommunication was based on his “feelings”.

  • Persona

    “Thank you, Kris — your CEO/corporation analysis is world class, provocative, meaningful, fitting, applicable, and (in my judgment as something of a historian) very important and germane to the discussion.” Amen!

    I also agree with equus asinus # 45 that SGM has a faulty doctrine of the role of the pastor. This becomes abundantly clear whenever you have a disagreement with them.

    Over the years we have clashed horns with several sgm pastors, including one senior pastor. In each case, as soon as they get you to confess any sin, they immediately take over the case by saying you can no longer think clearly because you have been caught in sin and are ‘blind’.

    In practice, they disqualify members from any more ‘thinking’ or disagreeing with them. It’s a maddeningly effective control technique.

    They can also get ‘caught in sin’ themselves but, in the main, members did not often confront pastors about their sins.

    I notice that CJ is not following this practice as he seems to be thinking and rejecting a lot of sin that he is been accused of. I wonder if the top dog in the organization has immunity?

    I am also thinking that Crossway might be a test case for CJ. He may be planning to ask all his churches to make suggestions similar to the ones Mickey made about avoiding reading blogs and Brent’s docs. I’m sure CJ wishes Joshua had done this at CLC.

  • El Pastor

    Dan, #49

    You were terribly, cruelly wronged by your pastor. I hope you are in a good place, and finding strength in God’s grace.

  • Paul


    There is an anti Tim Keller blog. It’s called the baylyblog and it’s a fascinating read if you need to remind yourself of what it’s like to deal with the vicious reformed. DPV”s old friend Darryl Hart is also regularly insulted on that blog and can’t reply because he’s banned from it.

    FWIW, in my view, Keller does indeed misrepresent himself (in his views on women and on hell to name two issues) but RPCNY doesn’t have the other issues sgm does. For example, I don’t think Keller would say that he has a clearer view of his member’s sin than the member themselves has. I doubt that Keller would write a book on humility while his employees were sending him emails saying he was proud, unteachable etc. You can (and people do) criticize Keller’s sermons in his church’s own cg meetings. So the other issues sgm has don’t apply to Keller even though the misrepresentation one does (in my view – I assume he would disagree).

  • AnotherPresbyterian

    Paul, baylyblog (and others in the stridently TR circles) may be anti-Keller, but it’s hardly in the same league as Survivors, Refuge, etc. baylyblog is anti-Keller because of his theology not because there are hundreds of walking wounded from his church.

    Of course, just reading baylyblog will illuminate all this.

  • Paul


    Just my $0.02. Feel free to ignore. It’s just a minor thing.

    I think there’s a better analogy than a public company with shareholders. The thing about a public company is that the shareholders own the firm and can vote the ceo out. There’s nothing similar to that in sgm.

    A better analogy would be a company with a single owner (cj), employees (pastors), customers (members) and a consumer advocate website that doesn’t like the product (the “anti-sgm” blogs). In the corporate world, there’s no way a single owner company would respond to criticism from blogs or a senior former employee (Brent) in the way sgm does (even though the single owner couldn’t get fired for it). A company would never say to the customers, “Do not listen to our former employee and do not read what Consumer Reports says about us”. Instead, they would try to dispute any critical factual claims they could and they would change the product they sold so the criticisms didn’t apply any more.

  • Paul,

    You are right – that is a much better analogy. Good work.

  • Paul

    Another Pres:

    Of course, you’re right that the baylyblog isn’t like survivors or refuge because redeemer doesn’t spit out walking wounded like sgm (in fact, it doesn’t spit out walking wounded at all, as far as I know). And you are right that the bros. Bayly do strongly disagree with Keller’s theology and that’s the big reason they dislike him. But they do think he misrepresents himself and that’s another reason they dislike him.

  • Dan said:

    “The senior pastor stated he believed I was living a “sinful life” with a dear friend of mine who was more like a brother to me. I asked if he had proof and he said no – it was “just a feeling”. Reminded me of Mark Driscoll’s “TV on abuse” story?!
    So the whole excommunication was based on his “feelings”.”

    What made Dan’s excommunication even worse IMO is that with him having family in SGM it split his family. Sad that this SGM Pastor apparently didn’t take this factor into consideration before just relying on his “feelings.” It would have been one thing to have done this and Dan not have family in SGM but when it caused a family split was much worse. I wonder if this pastor really thinks he will have to one day “give an account” to God.

  • sick With Worry

    Thanks for the responses – by the way, in my last post when I mentioned “fixing things”, I did not mean the way that the Mafia would fix things. I meant taking 100% responsibility and making it right in accordance with the Scriptures, and firing leaders as needed. That is what real leaders would do, and that would have prevented this mess.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Kris, I think these links could be what you were referring to? Interesting, how when I did a google search using the words, “in the stead of God” Cj’s article was the only one to come up exact.

  • Patti

    Wasabi said:
    “I once questioned the pastoral staff on the logical conclusion of this “carnival mirror” doctrine and was told “Wasabi, whenever you think you’re right, you are actually wrong”. But doesn’t that mean we are all floundering without guidance if everyone is wrong? No, I was told, that’s where the counsel of the pastoral staff is critical to my daily walk. I actually had a pastor tell me that he prefers to have the senior pastor make decisions for him (e.g. regarding his own personal finances), because he doesn’t trust his own heart. I kid you not.”

    I don’t know if anyone has posted this youtube video here yet. I never quite felt like tipping the scale over to posting it, but I sure do now after reading Wasabi’s post.

    Don’t you want to become a cult leader?

  • sgmnot

    Dan #49: I am so sorry for what you went through “under” the misguided “care” of SGM pastors. I think that your situation appears to be an example of what Kris is actually pointing out, pastors deep down believing that they have a preeminence and greater perception in the what is God’s will in another believer’s life. Not to mention, excommunicating someone based on a hunch! It sounds like they had no witnesses against you, just suspicions.

    So sorry. I do hope that you are in a better place about all of this now–and that God has given you victory in this struggle. I would love to converse with you on email, if you want, please feel free to ask Kris to send you my email addy. God bless.

  • Bridget

    Dan @49-

    Thank you for sharing and I just wanted to say how hypocritical their response was in light of what we are seeing played out now. You were excommunicated based on a “feeling” (BTW aren’t most SGMers advised to not trust their fleshly feelings) that the pastor had?!? Yet, now, we have 1000’s of pages of documents and 100s (1000s ?) of stories of those who have been hurt, abused, and pushed to the side as you were, but we still have very little public (to everyone) repentence on the part of the leaders of SGM.

    Doesn’t there need to be repentence whether the pain and abuse was intentional or not? The leader’s sound like four year-olds who would claim that they had no intention in their hearts (don’t forget depravity leaders) of hurting anyone as they were swinging the bat in the living room and their brother walked by, not noticing the bat swinger, and got clunked in the head. And SGM leaders seem to be waiting until Daddy (AoR) comes home and sorts out the problem. SGM leaders can’t weigh what they see and hear – oh, wait, they can claim depravity now, maybe?

    Wow, it just dawned on me – SGM leaders are responding to critisism and sin the same way they insist everyone else SHOULD – let the pastor be the Holy Spirit. So they are waiting for AoR to play the Holy Spirit when they should be judging themselves with what scripture says. They realize they had some? errors – but they can’t make a decision (judge) that what they did was hurtful, abusive and wrong AND repent/apologize/seek forgiveness. Why? – they don’t listen to the Holy Spirit at all? Yet they have accused others (Defender(ed) of depending too much on the Holy Spirit (who is God) and not enough on their pastors (men) – hmmm!

    BTW, Dan, has that pastor ever come back to you to ask for forgiveness?

  • Bridget

    Paul @54 –

    This is exactly what they are trying to do:

    “Instead, they would try to dispute any critical factual claims they could and they would change the product they sold so the critisisms didn’t apply any more.”

    And this would only prove that they are running what they call a “church” organization as a business. :beat

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Dan, thank you for your transparency with us. I can remember the pastors telling me I should not take my 14 year old daughter bowling to the “Rock & Bowl” at the nearby Bowling Center. (Gary Ricucci) I challenged him to show me Scripture to back it up, and his response was, “Well, of course it is not in the Bible, but it just does not SEEM right for a Mother with all the children you have to do that”. Of course, I never stopped..(I am so unsubmissive! LOL)

    Besides, if one sin is no better or no worse than another, and we are all sinners, how does one ‘excommunicate someone for sin’??

    They really appear more and more just like the Pharisees that Jesus expressed such anger towards! Remember how accusing the Pharisees were of Jesus hanging out with sinners, like they (the Pharisees) were “the perfect ones” that He should want to be around?

  • Muckraker


    It has been discussed here over the years, that C.J. and other SGM leaders have “Dis-invited” the Holy Spirit in SGM life and activities.

    I am curious on this. Do you or anyone else have an SGM quote to back this up? I’ve never heard that term. Or can you explain the back story on this?

  • Square Peg

    I’ve not heard this term either…

    I don’t know “disinvite” or “degift”…

  • Bridget

    BB @36 –

    Thanks for that information. I had a hard time even getting past CJ’s introduction to Jeff’s article. I pretty much lost it when CJ says “as we stand behind the sacred desk this Sunday and speak on behalf of God.” What extreme importance and holiness he attributes to the words he and other pastors share on a Sunday morning, as if they are equal to God’s Word. What is a “sacred desk” anyway? Is that the same as holy altar? He sounds like a RC priest.

  • Square Peg

    Recently, we celebrated October 31st…the date of the nailing of the 95 theses on the church door of Wittenburg by Martin Luther.

    I sure hope nobody read them. I mean…that would be GOSSIP and SLANDER! :(

    Martin Luther was divisive. He should have just “trusted” the bishops and cardinals, and all those other guys. How dare he try to inform anybody of anything. People didn’t need to be informed. They need to just listen to what the “church” of that time told them to do.

  • Defender

    Muckraker #65:
    I gotta run right now, but I want to get back with you on that.
    There are reports of C.J. “taking the meeting in another direction” at a Celebration conference back around 95 or 96. Holy Spirit was moving in the room and C.J. squelched it. It has been discussed here.
    Also another like happening with my wife and Keith Jacob in a Sunday meeting once.
    Gotta go, ….. My full reply will be much later tonight.


  • Bridget

    Muckraker –

    I don’t know that it is so much about what they say or teach or that they actually “dis-invited the HS”, as it is about how they act and treat members, along with the kind of fruit (or lack of good fruit) that many see.

    Defended and/or Defender might be able to shed some light on this. I thought I read something in their story about the work of the Holy Spirit and how it was viewed. I could be wrong though.

    Even in Dan’s story above, he was told that since the pastor “felt” that Dan was in “sin,” then he didn’t have the ability to think biblically about his situation anymore and the pastor needed to discern for him. What does that mean – the Holy Spirit left Dan and wouldn’t continue to work in his life? And this was based on “feelings” not factual information and the testimony of several. IMO – Dan’s scenario is the opposite of what is going on with SGM at the moment. I also believe it is somewhat similar to Defended/Defender’s story. They were also accused based on perceptions and feelings. Again, I could be wrong.

  • I talked about this in my #33, but Brent D wanted me to be sure everyone knew that he has edited his transcript of Mickey’s remarks to include the almost-inaudible “if.”

    I still don’t think it changes much of anything about Mickey’s instructions to his church. He made his wishes quite clear, “if” or no “if.”

  • intheNickoftime

    Kris – #47 ! ! !

    Just read your cogent summation. YOU are a ROCK STAR!!!

  • Happymom

    Dave Harvey said on SGM’s latest post:

    “Some of those mistakes have hurt people. In fact maybe you’re one of those people. If so, we still want to hear your story. And if you’ve been hurt by things we’ve done wrong, we want the opportunity to say we’re sorry”

    SGM pastors know where those sheep are that they’ve wounded. Let’s see which ones are willing to do this regardless of the risk to their jobs/reputations. Which ones are willing to admit they lied to protect themselves. That they threw women and children under the bus…let’s see if any of them have learned what true Godly sorrow looks like.

  • exCLCer

    Dan…….Im so sorry to hear about your experience. Bottom line is before anyone is gay or straight or anything in-between, they are first and always human, and these SGM pastors cant even seem to afford anyone the dignity or respect as such. Pitiful. IMHO, dealing with the sexual abuse with a REAL professional (not a pastor) should have been recommended as a priority before you struggled with a label or identity…..these pastors have a long track record of just making things worse every time. Sigh……

    It is, at best, divisive for them to pick some traits to determine some peoples existence as sinful (based on a feeling),and expel that person, and yet so flippantly disregard others (notably criminal traits based on evidence that they seem to be so willing to accept in their midst with no problem). And they actually wanted to forcibly out you to your family? Unacceptable!

    I know many avid christians on this blog may disagree heartily with me, but regardless, and for the record, I do not think it should matter if you identify with any one particular sexual preference or another. I do not think that makes a person any more or less good than anyone else, and I would think it nobody’s business but your own and your consensual partner, and definitely not pastors, or congregation members.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Happymom :goodpost :clap

  • intheNickoftime,


    (In case anyone is wondering, I always appreciate the kind words. I just never know what to say in response. So it’s easier to say nothing. :oops: ) (That’s supposed to be a blushing face…)

  • musicman

    Hey Dave….why don’t you start with the Baker’s. Maybe when we’ve heard that you and your pastoral team have apologized for driving them out of your church and shunning them for a doctrine/ practice that you no longer teach or defend…then maybe, just maybe, some of us ex Covenant Fellowship people would be willing to believe the sincerity of your offer.

    Until then, why would I believe you? This is exactly the same spiel you use to gush from the pulpit as pastor, but in practice, you were never available, nor interested in hearing from us. Your lack of actual pastoral care, is notoriously lacking. Good luck with your puppet show….

  • Jeff

    Kris –

    You made an important point when you wrote that SGM identifies their way of doing things with the gospel itself. Yes, this will be the most difficult obstacle in their way if they truly intend to repair their ministry.

    DH’s latest post on the Sovereign Grace site includes this: “We want to be a ministry that better glorifies Jesus Christ through the proclamation of the gospel.” If he really means it, he and his colleagues face a more awesome challenge than they are probably aware of.

  • glad i am out

    Dan, I agree w/ all exCLCer said…
    And i will add that no pastor can possibly understand what most of us go through… and you, even more so, of course. I know what i am saying sounds awkward…. I feel awkward but want to provide some kind of encouragement… and love… I, for one, have become much more liberal as a christian and a human being… You are who you are, and am made and loved by God, and not to be judged by me or any pastor….. I cringe at the thought of a pastor guilting you like this… BTW we have an old connection, you may still be friends w/ lydia from the grace blogs.. although we are not together anymore, still i feel as i am am an old friend too… God Bless you!!!

  • musicman,

    Good point. DB’s story has been publicized here, and at Wartburg, and it even appeared as part of the SGM Wikipedia article for awhile. She and her husband and family were kicked out because DB refused to stop speaking out against SGM’s insistance on Ezzo and Pearl (To Train Up A Child) parenting practices – scheduled feedings, relentless spankings, forcing young preschoolers to shake hands and look adults in the eye when spoken to, and so forth.

    SGM has been backtracking from those practices for quite awhile, now (although they’ve never spoken clearly about how their beliefs have changed, and to the best of my knowledge, they’ve never given any detailed retractions to the people who sat through the old teachings and were expected to fall in line or be kicked out the way DB was). There almost could not be a clearer situation where SGM was totally in the wrong.

    If they don’t make an effort to reach out to DB – whose story has been out there for ages…who has posted under her real name, complete with link to her blog…and whose disfellowshipping by SGM was one of the most obvious cases of SGM wrongdoing – then Dave Harvey and his cohorts cannot be taken seriously.

  • SA

    Per Dave Harvey’s blog post…

    As we’ve grown we’ve made mistakes. Plenty of mistakes. Some of those mistakes have hurt people. In fact maybe you’re one of those people. If so, we still want to hear your story. And if you’ve been hurt by things we’ve done wrong, we want the opportunity to say we’re sorry.

    Brent Detwiler told you his story and you invented a new form of excommunication just for him despite his influence and rhetorical skills. One hates to think about what you’d do to the “divisive” little guy…

  • Argo

    equus asinus, I found your point at the end of 45 to be very interesting. I had never thought about the fact that the pastors may apply different standards to their ROLE as a pastor, versus when they are not acting necessarily in that capacity.

    Hmmm…I guess what I’m sensing is that perhaps there is a particular SGM way of interpreting the tenants of Calvinism, or some of them, that may not be what the founders of these concepts in their orthodox form intended. Maybe they are just handling them in a hyper-authoritarian way. Regardless, it is obvious that they feel that somehow they are in a position to dictate terms, and that on some level, when push comes to shove, they will demand blind obedience because they presume that God has given them the final word of authority in spiritual matters, which to me is extremely presumptuous, especially considering that most of the pastors I believe have no level of higher education in their “profession” (not that I’m saying that’s required to be a pastor; but then, if you are blindly following your pastor in serious spiritual issues, wouldn’t you at least want him or her to have some evidence that they’ve been exposed to higher level thinking, insight, various theological perspectives, eschatology, etc., etc.,etc., not to mention that a graduate degree would at least show some serious commitment to the study of the Bible and pastoring/preaching…I mean, at least it’s something tangible, you know, as opposed to…hey, I’ve been called, so obey me and stop reading those D**ned blogs! Maybe I’m way off here.). And anyway, I’m just not sure that that can be backed up biblically. Seems to leave a huge door open to the whims of pastoral interpretation, mistakes, lording, abuse, and cultism. Which, let’s be honest, there’s a LOT of going on.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    ExClcer, you pretty much said exactly what I wanted to say to Dan, but hadn’t yet. :goodpost
    It is none of my business what goes on in anyone’s bedroom, or the privacy of their own home, unless it is abusing someone defenseless, which those leaders dont seem to want to deal with! Whether Dan was involved with this other man or not is between him and God, but when something DOES involve a child being hurt, like in the case of Taylor-they want to say the perpetrator should remain in that house?? SMH-they seriously make no sense, and it is not because of God’s way being higher than ours, that’s for sure!
    And, basically, Dan, just like other victims of sexual predators, is left to carry that alone, is told to “step in line”, and “walk the walk” and everything else will fall into place. No wonder pedophiles love that church~! :bang

  • Argo

    I guess maybe this is more Shepherding Movement than Calvinism (though…I’m starting to study Calvinism more and more, so, regardless of SGM, I’m not saying yes or no to it until I get a better grasp).

    I was thinking today: How can CJ and SGM operate in such a paradox? Like, how can CJ be the “worst sinner he knows”, and yet be in a position to define everyone’s reality (you ARE in sin if you are reading the blogs), and have the exclusive right to moral authority? I think the answer lies with Jeff Purswell’s little post on CJ’s blog, “Standing in the Stead of God. Does this make anyone else a little squeamish? It seems to sum up their authoritative perspective completely. I think CJ presumes that when he, or another SGM pastor (who’s towing the line, so to speak) is speaking, teaching, blogging, etc. that they are not simply charged with speaking ABOUT God and His Word, but FOR Him and AS His Word. Thus, by some mystery special dispensation from God and for taking control by assumption (hey…let’s start a church, and we’ll be pastors), they are “in His stead”. Therefore, there can be no discussion, no argument because to argue with CJ (or other “towing” pastor) is to argue WITH GOD. So, for all the railing our SGM churches do against Catholicism, CJ sure does look more like a pope than a servant of the sheep to me. And, like the Pope, he is above question because he has special revelation by God due to…er, that’s just a matter of faith, I suppose.

    And Mickey, in his “Marking Brent” sermon strangely makes the point that being “informed” and being “biblical” are mutually exclusive in Brent’s case. Now, I’m no M.Div or anything, but only pastors who believe their words and commands are, practically speaking, God’s words and commands would make that distinction. That is, you don’t need to inform yourselves because I’m informing you of the only information you need which is biblical information that only I am qualified to interpret for you. In which case, my question for the pastors is: if you can’t trust the sheep with “information” why even give them a Bible in the first place…wouldn’t that be like giving a rotary saw to a three year old? Why, he’d just cut his fingers off with that thing, or his sister’s…my gosh, it would be carnage! Why not just give them your interpretation of scripture on ANY given matter. For them, because they are too stupid and depraved to understand it, the Bible is just a stumbling block; it’s superfluous…I mean, if they are going to be corrected and admonished to “trust and obey” the pastors in any event they come up with a different interpretation than you, what’s the point of them reading it at all?

    So again, I say to SGM members and pastors who aren’t towing the line, beware. You better hope that CJ or Mickey never come for you, or be prepared to accept their perspective unconditionally, without thought to your own defense, for in the end “it is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living (SGM pastors)”

  • equus and Argo –

    I meant to comment on equus’ comment. I was going to say much the same thing that Argo said.

    I think equus’ observations are exactly right. SGM pastors are able to acknowledge their own personal sins – the wrong things they do when they’re off the clock. But when they are operating in the role of pastor, I think they suddenly no longer think they have any of the depravity that ordinary members do. That’s why anything they do as pastors is almost automatically right. And that’s also why it’s automatically wrong to question anything they do while functioning in the role of pastor.

  • Argo,

    Your #85 is stellar. :goodpost

  • Donald Philip Veitch

    Off topic: a 29-page document has been written by yours truly on SGM. It will be submitted after several further edits to Mr. Kober. It’s an outsider’s review. Now, back on topic and not missing a beat with the posts. Regards to all.

  • Luna Moth

    Regards, Don! Will we get to see your Document?

  • Unassimilated


    If you can’t trust the sheep with “information” why even give them a Bible in the first place…wouldn’t that be like giving a rotary saw to a three year old? Why, he’d just cut his fingers off with that thing, or his sister’s…my gosh, it would be carnage!

    Spot on and hysterically funny!

  • Mary

    Argo, “or do they twist it to mean that since you are so full of sin, even after salvation, that you cannot think for yourself and you must have specially appointed pastors to control the mindless, sin-wracked sheep?’

    That would be a big yes. One time I was contronted for a sin; when I said their assessment was inaccurate, I was told I was too deep in my sin to hear from God for myself and that I needed to just trust their assessment and do what they say. That tore me up because to me that would mean that I can’t trust the Holy Spirit….to me it meant I could get so deep in sin that the Holy Spirit coulnd’t get through to me..what kind of good news would that be? But where the Holy Spirit was incapable of reaching me – they could???…utter nonsense. The constant harping on total depravity at CLC was beyond dark. So sad really.

    Dan – I feel your pain. Excommunication in the bible was for a very outward well-known blatent sin being carried out within the walls of the church. This should not have happened to you. Even though you struggle with sin – which we all do – you are justified by Christ. CJ is not any better than you. The moment you accepted Christ God declared you righteous. Not the tinyest word spoken by SGM can subtract from that. They don’t have that authority or power. Who can separate us from the love in Christ Jesus? Not SGM. Their authoirity is not as big as it appears in the mirror.

    Excommunication is done way to lightly at SGM – without concern for its power to damage someone. You would hope CJ would have felt a touch of that pain and realized the harm he caused…but instead we just hear…make room in your hearts for poor whittle CJ. For a church that is humble, and keeps the cross the main thing, and preaches the gospel to themselves – they often act like they have little of the love of Christ. A love that be-friended sinners and died for the ungodly.

  • Argo

    Thanks, Kris! And to return the compliment, you summed up equus’ point perfectly.

    Again, I think that is a really interesting perspective. I hadn’t thought about it that way, but, though it stretches credulity to rational people (in my opinion) now that equus mentioned it, I can certainly see how they apply this idea from personal observation. Now, it might not be something that registers with the “pastorate” on a conscious level, but I do agree that this kind of weird dual role/position plays out “on stage”.

    Donald V: That’s awesome! Can’t wait to read it. Please post it as soon as you can!

  • Mary

    Kris – really good post! The total depravity thing is WAY off at SGM – that is for sure.

  • Bridget

    Argo @85

    It makes me squeamish! Maybe more importantly do they want to stand before God one day and have to say, “We had YOUR back covered God?” If I was them I’d be trembling instead.

  • Remnant

    @ Defender Your #41:

    It is a hard thing to say, but just how much evidence do we need to see, before it is clearly and universally understood that these SGM leaders are not in the same Kingdom as are we?

    I think the evidence testifies to the reality of this truth.


    If you can’t trust the sheep with “information” why even give them a Bible in the first place…wouldn’t that be like giving a rotary saw to a three year old? Why, he’d just cut his fingers off with that thing, or his sister’s…my gosh, it would be carnage!

    SGM HAS historically cut people off from Bible study. Women meeting in homes for Bible study have been forced to cease meeting to study. Tales are told of those who go to weekly SGM small group meetings that they do not bring Bibles because the Bible is not opened or studied. People have been routinely encouraged to purchase books to study from the SGM bookstore, rather than being encouraged to study the Word itself.

  • Donald Philip Veitch

    Luna @88, and Argo @92yes. In time. It needs much work, but yes, in time. 29 pages minimally scratches the surface. Again, regards to all. But the best reporters are here, working and writing, day in and day out. This includes the gracious hosts. Survivors and Refuge has provided years of a skilled and substantive substratum for inquiry. Phoohey on Harvey who oppugned the blogs in late 2009 (in an email when Detwiler resigned)and phoohey on CrossWay’s leading anti-intellectual, “Old Mickey Boy” Connolly. (Where’s Irv for a round or two? Irv and I have a career here with Bob Kauflin with a potential music release and some $$. Anti-intellectualism is unacceptable in my puny world.) Again, respect and regards to all here.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    SGM pastors are able to acknowledge their own personal sins – the wrong things they do when they’re off the clock. But when they are operating in the role of pastor, I think they suddenly no longer think they have any of the depravity that ordinary members do. That’s why anything they do as pastors is almost automatically right. And that’s also why it’s automatically wrong to question anything they do while functioning in the role of pastor.


    Classic shepherding. This was actually taught by guys we related to at the big conferences (70s, 80s) where Larry and CJ also went. Harmon Johnson, Ray Ciervo, (Bob Wright too IIRC)….it was taught from the pulpit that when you step into your leadership position you are God’s delegated authority and He uses you in an infallible role to the flock. Husband delegated authority also was infallible to wives and kids, at least for major decisions and spiritual leadership in the home. This is probably why one pastor’s wife I knew of would say that it was up to husbands to disciple their wives.

    I am not saying the big Ft Lauderdale 5 taught this, or all the shepherding churches, I don’t know. Back then it was all one hazy focus on authority all the time but I don’t remember specifics from teacher to teacher. And Larry and CJ didn’t really get along with the three stooges I mentioned above, but I don’t know that it was doctrinal conflict, more like a bunch of alpha males in one room sort of thing.

    It is perhaps seen as analogous to the bible- men moved by the Holy Spirit wrote the words of scripture and the bible is infallible and perfect. The men who wrote it were sinful and fallen and unclean, but, when God used them in their roles as a prophet or apostle, the result was a perfect word of God because the Holy Spirit inspired them to write infallible scripture, despite their sinfulness. So, if you are functioning in your divine anointed delegated pastoral role, you are sinful as a person, but always right under the pastoral anointing.

    Right before we left a brand new PC grad, Aron Osbourne (now on the board) said in my hearing- I heard this with my own ears- that to ask a question about pastoral policy was to imply- even if it was just a question- that it was possible for the pastors to be wrong, and thus to ask a question was to not trust the pastors to always make the right decisions. That was when hubby said we are outta here, this is what they are teaching them at the Pastors college? Hopefully AO has wised up over the years, but it was frightening to see the PC boys being indoctrinated in this infallibility crap.

    Read up on 70s shepherding and you will learn everything you need to know to understand SGM.

  • Irv

    Don — I have to confess that I have not been faithful to the Don Irv Duet. I was greeted by Bob K in MD; and in my conversation with him I forgot to mention we needed his help putting together the sound track for ‘Old Mickey Boy’.

    However, after hearing old Mickey at the AoR seminar and his rendition of ‘trust in me or leave’ at the member’s meeting, it might be more appropriate for us to contact Bruce Springsteen for his sound track “Dead Man Walking” or Katy Perry’s “Trust in Me” but I am willing to submit to the wise old marine! :D

  • Donald Philip Veitch

    Convinced 5YrsinPDI that you are spot-on re: (1) Shepherding Movement and (2) the Infallibility-Apostolic matter. These two things had a governing, controlling and influential role, historically, over 32 years, 1979-2011. Ceejie-boy was the Chief Apostle. He still hasn’t unlearned those ways.

  • Yellow is a Happy Color

    Dan, how terrible to be excommunicated, and for a pastor’s ‘feelings’? Ugh.

    Any pastor worth his salt would say “Gee, I don’t have much experience dealing with same sex issues. But I’ve done some research, and here is contact information for a couple groups that specialize in this kind of ministry. Check them out and we can talk again in 6 months.”

    And not just you, Dan, but how many others have been in your shoes simply because a pastor didn’t humble himself to realize he didn’t have the training or expertise to deal with …..eating disorders, anxiety, cutting, PTSD, depression, attention deficit……

    It would take a mighty big man of a pastor to admit that he didn’t have all the answers……. I’m so sorry your SGM pastor failed you.

  • Donald Philip Veitch

    Irv, let’s keep working the angle. We have a future in music. Regards.

  • Muckraker

    Claims of “Preachers Standing in the Stead of God”, infallibility, special authority that shouldn’t be questioned AND must be completely trusted, a special “office” higher than regular members, pastoral directives that must be obeyed to be in obedience to God, limiting Bible reading/studying, regular excommunications, claims to hear the Holy Spirit better than regular members, extra-biblical rules and regulations on baptism and breaking of bread…

    How is this any different than Roman Catholicism? It is just more insidious, because it is not openly-declared dogmas.

  • Irv

    5 years — you also have to look at the influence of Bill Gothard during the 70’s as well. I was speaking to a ‘former pastor’ earlier today and we talked about the three major influences to PDI’s ‘doctrines and polity'; the shepherding movement, Bill Gothard’s umbrella of authority (and beyond) and Watchman Nee’s “Spiritual Authority”.

    Mix that with men who hungered (and competed) for influence and authority and “voila” you have the “PDI polity and processes”

  • Irv

    Also forgot Bill Gothard’s ‘Divorce and Remarriage” teaching and handbook. That has been used more times that can be counted in their counseling, church discipline and ex-communication.

    Very very sad!!!

  • I had a random thought. It’s only partly related to the post, and only kinda sorta connected to some of the other comments.

    We’ve been discussing what I think is a key to understanding the SGM fiasco – the way that pastors are taught that they obtain what I think I’ll call “Depravity Immunity” when they are operating in the role of SGM pastor. Somehow, when they are functioning as pastors, they “stand in the very stead of God” and what they say takes on another level of authority and (practical) infallibility.

    My random thought was this: I think understanding the SGM pastoral belief of “Depravity Immunity” for pastors also helps to explain at least a piece of the allure of the job, and why so many SGM pastors really are such nice guys, such (as my mom would say :D ) “sweet Christian men.”

    As I was thinking about all this, I had this sudden random hunch that Depravity Immunity would be very appealing to a certain type of person…the type of person who is already very in tune with his own personal sinfulness and sometimes obsesses like CJ over being the “worst sinner he knows.”

    But somehow, when you’re ordained as an SGM pastor and start functioning in that role in a “local” church, you are guaranteed a level of sinlessness, or at least of immunity for any potentially sinful tendencies. I have heard defenders of SGM’s botched pastoral counseling sessions say that even if a pastor completely missed the boat in how he counseled a member, it doesn’t matter at all – because, since the pastor is the member’s ordained spiritual authority, the inept or abusive counsel was all God’s ordained will for that person anyway.

    I can imagine that the sudden inability to have your mistakes count against you, and the sudden always-rightness you would possess as you strolled around church or stood behind the pulpit or offered up counsel would be highly appealing to guys who long for a new level of righteousness and may even feel frustrated with how their personal sins keep getting in the way of their spiritual growth.

    Since this kind of longing for righteousness is actually a very good thing and a mark of a very sincere and sweet type of believer, it’s easy to see why so many SGM pastors do seem like great guys.

    They are.

    But they’ve also experienced the corrupting influences of the twisted thinking behind their own authority…behind their own “Depravity Immunity.”

  • Donald Philip Veitch

    Muckraker @102. Vatican 1 decreed Papal infallibility, a real backstep that painted Rome into a corner. It was rigourously protested on historical ground by one Romanist scholar, Cardinal Dollinger. Cardinal Newman in England was exasperated as well. Long story. However, short version, Rome has judiciously and excruciatingly avoided claims to “ex cathedra” statements by Popes. The Jesuits have led in the protective arguments over Papal claims here and there, over this and that, since 1870. Rome has scholars, readers, and academics. Rome is commendable in this respect with a centuries-long tradition. (I’m quite Protestant by reading, prayer and conviction.) Big similarity to Vatican 1: CJ thinks his thoughts have had Papal and apostolic supremacy. Big difference: Rome has been exceedingly careful, historically, while “Ceej” hasn’t been cautious or even concerned…at least, until Detwiler challenged the SGM Pope.

  • Fried Fish

    Funny how sheep sin and SGM leaders “make mistakes”…

    Irv #98 I’d lot rather hear “Thunder Road”… Well there were ghosts in the eyes of all the boys you sent away… (because they didn’t court you properly)… They haunt this dusty beach road in the skeleton frames of burned out Chevrolets (which you couldn’t ride in with them)….

  • Donald Philip Veitch

    Muckraker @102, revising and extending for a moment. Another major difference between “Ceejie,” “Old Mickey Boy” Connolly and the Popes. For the last 100 years, at least, the Popes have been highly educated men. (This wasn’t the case during the Renaissance or Reformation.) The current Pope, the Bavarian German Shepherd, formerly Cardinal Joe Ratzinger of Germany, now Pope Benedict XVI, is a top-drawer academic. Careful, thoughtful, deliberative as academics are. (I’ve read everything Joe has written, umpteenish #s of books and academic articles.) Of course, Joe is Roman. I lived in Italy for 3 years when JP2 ruled and was in Rome in 2000, the millential celebrations, when JP2 affirmed or reaffirmed the Council of Trent (1545-1563).J oe, the current Pope, was in the wings. MAJOR DIFFERENCE: CEEJ thinks the sun rises and sets with CH Spurgeon, a few quotes from Calvin, and a few others. I am impressed, again, but the substantive insignificance of Mahaney’s books and the utter absence of any bibliography or “Works Cited” references therein. The same applies to books by Tomczak, Harvey and Harris. Utter and total absence of scholarship. I’m reminded of a lingering and governing conclusion offered by Argus, threads ago: “Sir, a Mountebank.” Been pondering that. That’s my sense, a real “Mountebank.” Surely not a scholar like the Popes of the last 100 years.

  • Fried Fish

    Good and relevant stuff from John Immel over at (btw I do think that the SGM view of total depravity with a God-sanctioned pastoral override fits into their control model, whether they really believe it’s true or whether it’s just useful to them) :

    The foundation of the unfolding fight with SGM (and the broader Neo-Reformed movement) is over rational equality.

    This is what every anti-SGM critic presumes… and what SGM leadership NEVER concedes.

    And this is the crux of the problem: Rational self-appointment and Pervasive Depravity cannot live in the same metaphysical world. No matter how many definitions one tries to amend, no matter how often they try to cobble together a “biblical” interpretive equality, if the metaphysical starting place of human existence is Plato’s worldview, man is forever incapable of knowing and obtaining TRUTH, the only logical conclusion is a group of Oligarchs uniquely qualified to dictate GOOD to the barbarian masses.

    At the root of every fight with an SGM pastor is the premise that no matter what council they give, no matter what action they take, it is superior to any objection and purer by the imputation of Grace to govern God’s church. And how dare you challenge, how dare you accuse, how dare you fail to make their lives a joy? How dare you challenge their authority to do what God has appointed?

  • Fried Fish

    I’m having some cognitive dissonance trying to figure how Ephesians 4 figures into the “biblical” view of the sheep not having any control over themselves… Guess CJ is still being misunderstood and misapplied.

    ‘night all. Fish out.

  • Friendly Observer

    Ozymandias offered a link (#72) to Dave Harvey’s recent blog entry, “How to Pray for Sovereign Grace Ministries.”

    I do not know Mr. Harvey personally, and I don’t want to pile on here just to make noises at his expense, but I do want to offer an unemotional and non-prejudicial assessment of his “request.”

    First, I can’t help but note that it is not, “Please Pray for SGM,” but “How to Pray . . .” Even in what appears to be a heartfelt entreaty, there is still an air of direction/instruction as to “How” such praying should be done. I wondered whether the need to give direction is so strongly ingrained that a simple prayer request must be defined within acceptable procedure.

    Second, while I appreciate all softness of spirit (and there are folks writing here who put me to shame at their degree of faith and hope that if all of us will only keep on praying, maybe some good things will happen among SGM board members and everyone will “live happily ever after”). I myself am not there (in one sense I am not a real player, but I am participating with interest on behalf of certain friends and relatives who participate in SGM churches).

    To be honest about where I am, I think it’s past prayer time. What Dave Harvey is saying is patently false as to his and the board members’ intentions, since tons and tons of intercessory prayer has been raised but without desired results. It has already been pointed out that he is still talking about “mistakes” rather than sin (and his plea for prayer is filled with self-pity and self-interest, not a genuine desire to settle anything and to help anyone who has been hurt). The SGM board doesn’t need prayer to do the right thing. They need to get some spine, some backbone, and some determination to look at the ruins around them and ask God for mercy and for the courage to make things right and to put into practice biblical principles that spring from repentant hearts.

    Third, and my final observation, is about the nature of prayer itself. There is clear instruction throughout the Bible — mostly by example — of when prayer will be effective and when it is NOT the time to pray. If I may say so, there are situations where praying is essentially a waste of time, even a detriment to seeing results.

    No one here needs me as a Bible teacher, but I will cite a most dramatic example. After Moses’ death, Joshua led God’s people into the land of promise and to a miraculous victory over the walled city of Jericho. God had given Joshua a plan, and as it was caried out, the city was taken without much of a battle. Israel sustained zero casualties. Because of that, the next tiny little place called Ai seemed like a pushover, and so the army set out to take it with a relatively small number of men.

    But what Joshua didn’t know was that a man named Achan disobeyed the rules of engagement at Jericho and stole some stuff, which he then hid away. God was not pleased (to say the least).

    So despite complete victory at the huge city of Jericho, the army at tiny Ai was defeated (the blessing of God had been lifted). There were 36 casualties. (Yes, 36 men died unnecessarily because of Achan’s disobedience.) The lesson is clear: there are conditions necessary for any effort or enterprise to secure and enjoy God’s blessing and protection.

    Joshua, understandably ticked off at God for letting them fail, came to pray and didn’t pray a bad prayer (see Joshua 7:6-11). He even appealed to God’s glory and the reputation of “Your great name” (v. 9). However, God wasn’t impressed, and He interrupted Joshua’s prayer and said, “Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face? Israel has sinned . . .” In other words (and I paraphrase God respecfully), “Stop praying! I’m not interested in hearing or answering your prayer. There is hidden and unconfessed sin among you, and until you make it right — root it out and deal with it — you are knocking on a closed door.”

    In the light of that, I find Dave Harvey’s request condescending (as though speaking to kids or to adults with special needs) and vacuous, devoid of biblical insight, empty, meaningless,and without any hope of being answered. With the history plainly laid out here — and known in their own hearts — to say, “We’ve made a few mistakes, but we’re trying, really we are … please be patient,” is tantamount to suggesting that Jack the Ripper had some minor problems keeping his penknife closed and under control.

    There is a time for prayer, of course, but this is a time for resolute action born of broken, repentant hearts and a renewed love for God’s people.

  • Oswald

    FO #110 — Amen and amen.
    However, I will continue to pray for broken and contrite hearts and a renewed love for God’s people, and for God’s truth.

  • Mole

    Friendly Observer,
    I think your insights and perspective in #110 are very prophetic. The story of Achan is like a running prophetic narrative of what has been happening in SGM. I especially think your concluding remarks sum up the current state of God’s heart regarding SGM,…. “However, God wasn’t impressed, and He interrupted Joshua’s prayer and said, “Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face? Israel has sinned . . .” In other words (and I paraphrase God respecfully), “Stop praying! I’m not interested in hearing or answering your prayer. There is hidden and unconfessed sin among you, and until you make it right — root it out and deal with it — you are knocking on a closed door.”

  • Bridget

    FO @110

    You are seeing clearly, I fear. It seems that this has been the circle for years. People come to them, yet they do not want to hear or see. They won’t judge themselves either, which can be very convenient for them. They appear to be self-deluded. (see my 62) I pray their hearts will soften. People have been praying – but this is the first time I have seen a post specifically requesting prayer even though, as you say, they think they have to tell people what to pray. Good grief! people have beem praying for these specific issues for years! They’re a little late to the table on this one.

  • Unassimilated

    Friendly Observer –

    Your post brings up the distinction of sin vs mistakes.

    The reason Dave is pointing out mistakes rather than sin is because in SGM, there is a difference. If you do the wrong ‘biblical’ thing for the right ‘biblical’ reason, or as they say in SGM, ‘correct heart motive to serve the gospel,’ than it is not necessarily sin, it is a mistake. But a mistake only if and when a newer understanding exposes a previous misunderstanding or application.

    When better understanding, or ‘clarity’ comes about, there is not usually something to apologize for, as it was up to God to bring the better understanding forward at that time. Trust that SGM god had a reason for them to make the decisions that they made when they made them. If SGM god wanted something else, he would have provided the better ‘biblical’ instruction, or ‘better understanding’ at that time.

    Know also that a better understanding is in progress when you start to hear terms like, “New direction, opportunity to grow, fresh revelation, or simply, better understanding.” These can be exciting times in SGM BTW, as it is confirmation that God is working.

    Sometimes you may hear nothing, or notice something like a polity booklet vaporizing
    as if it was the ghost of Christmas past. Well, rejoice, SGM god is at work, but may not want this work revealed to the congregation as it may, ‘unnecessarily tempt,’ or ‘confuse’ some members. All in SGM gods timing mind you.

    Why trust?

    The leaders, taking their roles with all seriousness, prayer, and from the perspective that comes from being in the elevated company/accountability of each other, do all things for the sake of the SGM gospel. This to the best of their ability, and with the best understanding that they posses at that moment. Who are we to question or go rouge? SGM god has called them to this most ‘elevated of task.’

    This is also why they are your ‘covering.’ When you obey them, you do so with the assurance that they have a better understanding, have properly labored over their decisions, and are going forward with the right SGM ‘god honoring’ motives. Between biblical instruction to obey them as your SGM god ordained leaders, as well as them being better ‘positioned’ to make ‘biblical’ choices, one has a better opportunity to do SGM ‘gods best’ in said obedience. Who want’s do risk SGM gods second best? Yikes!

    In other words, why follow your deceitful heart when you can benefit from the wisdom and instruction of those that SGM god has called and chosen to represent him here on earth?

    The big danger is, even if you do something ‘biblical’, yet with the wrong heart motive, that is still truly sin. (Heart posture is a tricky thing BTW, better left up to the experts. Obedience, not so tricky or risky.) Being that we have mixed motives in all things, at least on the flock/congregant level, there is always a component of sin all we do. (Does not apply to the upper ranks BTW.)

    To not trust obey them is to not trust or obey SGM god.

    Achan BTW, ‘unbiblical’ actions with the wrong heart motive, seriously bad stuff. Your example underscores the SGM concern of how the congregants sin can really undermine the SGM leaderships calling. Achan did not make it a ‘joy to serve.’
    That is why YOUR sin is so much more important to SGM leaders.

    (If the sarcasm or tongue in cheek tone did not come through, apologies. The aforementioned is what I was taught and believed while at SGM, and all seems pretty ridiculous and self serving to me now.)

  • Defender

    Re: Muckraker #65


    It has been discussed here over the years, that C.J. and other SGM leaders have “Dis-invited” the Holy Spirit in SGM life and activities.

    I am curious on this. Do you or anyone else have an SGM quote to back this up? I’ve never heard that term. Or can you explain the back story on this?

    The term “Dis-invited” is mine, just like the term “degifted”.
    It was a long time back on these blogs that I recounted one conversation with a member of CLC, (around 1999) a new believer, asking about PDI’s stance on the move of the Holy Spirit that had been observed in Toronto and Pensacola where people were exhibiting outward expressions of uncontrolled laughter and other things (of a more weird variety.) He was asking because it was understood that PDI was not wanting that to happen in their churches. Apparently it had begun to happen, and then it was squelched and they wanted to start acting more respectably reformed.
    I told him that if this is (was) a real move of the Holy Spirit, they are dancing with danger if they are squelching it. Also that you can always expect that if God is moving, Satan will try to mimic and distort what God is doing, and that our actions will require true discernment. PDI officially discouraged any further association with that movement.

    Years later, when we began to discern some “friction” from Keith Jacob, one Sunday morning, Defended wanted to offer a word of encouragement to the congregation. (She is quite prophetic.) She approached the “Prophesy mic” and shared with the man controlling access to the mic. Keith Jacob then approached and inquired what was she about to share. She stood there awaiting the end of the song, and then Keith stepped in and told her to sit down. He then took to the stage and said to the congregation, (to the best of my recollection) “[Defended] has a word from the Holy Spirit for the congregation, but I have decided that we don’t have time for it today. We need to stay on schedule.” (Looks like the Holy Spirit was “dis-invited” to me.)
    One family left the church over that. They said that if a known word from the Holy Spirit is not given time in the meeting, than this is not a church they want to be a part of.

    As I mentioned earlier, C.J. was on the stage at a Celebration Conference, and there began a supernatural move of the Holy Spirit on the people in the audience, (I don’t recall the specifics, Canary was there and if she is reading here perhaps she can expand on it.) and C.J. took control and said something to the effect that he did not want the session to go in that direction, and the demeanor of the room had changed. It was a wave of confession and repentance taking place in all the people, and then it just stopped! Cold!

    These events have been discussed on this and/or Refuge blog in the past. It shows a lack of understanding of the importance of the roll the Holy Spirit plays in congregational worship. It looks to me that, PDI/SGM does not want to share control of their churches with one so unpredictable as God The Holy Spirit.
    If this is true, may God help them!

    Hope that helps answer your question.


  • Persona

    I hear what you are saying in #111-114. But I guess I see the things from a different perspective. I think that God answered prayer by removing CJ and Co. from CLC and Fairfax. They are gone! If that isn’t evidence of answered prayer I don’t know what is. If you would have asked me even three months ago if this would happen I would not have thought it possible. It’s a modern-day miracle for real.

    I propose that we continue to pray for all the other pastoral teams in sgm. Pray that they would rise up and say enough is enough to CJ. Pray for whatever it takes to bring CJ to his knees in repentance. But, if he is not willing then, pray that no one follows him any more. God always answers the prayers of the righteous and he will answer ours.

  • Donald Philip Veitch

    An aside and off topic, but big Al reports in on molestation issues at Penn U. Why big Al feels the need to comment on PA-issues is perplexing as a Kentuckian, but Al seems to latch onto anything in the wider press. Too bad big Al (who is small to this scribe) has failed and refused to address molestation cases here (e.g. Taylor, HappyMom, Noel, Al’s failures need to be addressed here. A publicity and ambulance-chaser? Methinks so.

    As I age, Al growingly annoys me, including his preachy-appearances at the home church, Tenth Pres, Phila, PA. Al doesn’t fit.

    Back to topic.

  • Bridget

    Persona –

    Pray for the rest of the SGM Board as well. Many of them were around and even supported the actions of CJ re. Larry T. I don’t trust any of them to lead. They all hid sin for years and continue to wait for AoR when they have known about issues for years. And the current board . . . do we even have a clue what they think or “perceive?” I think Harvey stated something to the effect that the current board doesn’t know how to function without CJ?????

  • Donald Philip Veitch

    I mailed an innocuous and rather tame letter to (Dr.) Mark Dever with significantly rougher handwritten notes affixed to those in the cc: line. The WTS crowd and RC Sproul Sr heard my remarks, aside from the tame letter to CBHC. I don’t know Mark, but I do know several others. I don’t know Al Mohler. Mohler needs to be bench-pressed and booted hard-core on this molestation issue. He, big Al, can start with Taylor, WallaceMom and Noel. These are cases that ain’t going away…there are children and grandchildren to consider in these stories. I think Al is an ambulance and media-chaser. Al increasingly irritates and annoys this scribe. Al, let’s get some answers on felonious behaviour by SGM-perps and Pastors.

  • Persona

    The board is made up of senior pastors representin various church so they would be included in my proposal. I know that some of them are guilty of the same things as CJ. The spokesman for the group may bear the most guilt but, I don’t know any that have clean hands. Still, like Brent they could have a change of heart. Nothing is to hard for God.

  • Persona

    Ha, *representing and *too

  • Donald Philip Veitch

    It is my intent to start pressuring these big YRR dawgs, or neo-Calvinistic, big dawgs like Al, RC Sr, the ever-malleable Tim Challies, and others. SGM is not Reformed in any deeper sense across several lines. (I was reared in old school Presbyterianism as a son of a manse.) SGM has illiterates throughout the ranks, including “Ceej” and now, quite evidently, “Old Mickey” Connolly. Genuine and high-Calvinists, like myself, need to excise celebs like CJ, Piper and Mohler. That’s another story for another time. Am deeply unamused by this celebrity culture and the hubris, even arrogance, that presumed to speak nationally without the decency and humility that directed reading, learning, deliberation and inquiry. Yet, Ceejie and Mickey spoke and continue to speak. Is there no humility? More later.

  • Persona

    Thanks for all your efforts, DPV. Coming at them from every angle is not a bad strategy. You definitely have a military mindset! And, from the look of it, you take no prisoners.

  • Donald Philip Veitch

    Persona, am offended at the “opportunism” of Al Mohler with a “press opportunity,” while comfortably and ignorantly giving berth to “Ceejie’s” incompetence on the pastoral abuses and felonies in the Wallace, Taylor and Noel stories. Al looks like a media-opportunist. Let big Al make inquiries of Sir Mahaney. These stories, e.g. Wallace, Taylor, Noel…adults to the side…have children and grandchildren who will measure Christian responses. It’s about the kiddoes and grand-kiddoes. May the children and grandchildren say, “A fine hour for our parents…they were honourable, honest, decent, thinking, biblical and rational Christians.” I am crafting a tougher letter to big Al…tougher than to Mark at CBHC. More as it develops.

  • Donald Philip Veitch

    Persona, “my ire” is up. Not good. Highly agitated, offended, and ready to go on a literary offensive here. Not good “for those to whom” the ire is rightly, lawfully, thoughtfully, justly, carefully, deliberatively, fairly and decisively directed. The time for some “throw downs” is in order. Big Al Mohler, while enthusing and opining about the Penn U. sitrep, should weigh in on the reports at SGM Survivors and SGM Refuge. Persona, the “ire and dander” is up. More later. (Checking the inkjets and paper supply for tomorrow.) Imagine big Al on molestation issues while cutting slack for SGM, Sir Mahaney, Lou Gallo, Mark Mullery and others. I hope AoR deals with the utter incompetencies and injuries on the molestation cases.

  • Mary

    Dear Yellow (post 100) and Dan – What SGM does that makes excommunication beyond the limits of horrible is they take a sin you have repented of and they use that has the basis for your excommunication – claiming that you are somehow still in your sin. That makes the chances for PTSD even higher. With their level of authority, how they wrap your entire life around the church, and the hint of sin from your past, excommunication becomes like the cross and grace is for everyone but you, you’ve lost everything in your world, and like even God is in on the excommunication. It is powerfully damaging. Who know how many people’s faith they have injured. So very sad.

  • Donald Philip Veitch

    Contrary to Mickey Connolly’s expressed directives at CWCC last Sunday on 13 Nov, 2011, perhaps a trial balloon for Ceej in Gaithersburg, MD, and Harvey in Glen Mills, PA, Brent’s FB numbers have inched up to 1317, about 100 above the numbers in the pre-Connolly missive from Charlotte, NC. Nobody is defriending Brent.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Go get ‘em, DPV! In my family, we always refer tot the Marines being the “Big Boys”, who go out an knock down the front line of the offensive enemies. I agree with you about big Al seeming to be a media-opportunist..nothing else explains it, really!

  • Happymom

    Friendly Observer:

    Comment #111 –
    “The SGM board doesn’t need prayer to do the right thing. They need to get some spine, some backbone, and some determination to look at the ruins around them and ask God for mercy and for the courage to make things right and to put into practice biblical principles that spring from repentant hearts.” :clap :clap

    Fairfax & CLC may cut away from SGM, they still have a lot to answer for.
    Noel’s Story, Taylor’s Story, Wallace & Happymom’s Story, SGMnot’s Story, exCLCer’s Story for starters.

  • Donald Philip Veitch

    ExClcer’sMom, I intend to become a close friend of Mr. Mohler, perhaps in ways he may not like. I’m old, quite retired and in need of no friends. No one owns me. Quite liberating. Ex, more to follow. Big Al can and should call for a full, complete, thorough and unbiased investigation of the sexual molestation cases here. Big Al just did with Penn U. While big Al yaps in the public media, rank opportunism and media-blips, let him come down here to Survivors and Refuge and call for a resolution of these standing cases. Ex, Big Al is human, fallible, wicked but justified, and is no icon of adulation or worship. His poops stinks like our’s, put rather baldly. Al is Al. Time to check the inkjets and paper supply. A bit fed up with the Big Dawgs. Regards to all.

  • Donald Philip Veitch

    Ex, while we’re at it. Let Harvey, Harris, Emerson, Mark Mullery, Lou Gallo, Shank, Prater, Loftness, Curt Allen, Mickey Connolly and others come here. Let them manfully own up in print to these substantive and felonious behaviours, the consequences of ignorant, illiterate, hubristic, proud, ill-informed and proud postures. The entire top leadership stinks, Ex, stinks. Let them come forth, as defendents, and defend themselves. In a court of law, if the defendants fail or refuse to appear, the Judge cedes the case to the plaintiffs. Where are the detailed, informed, and substantive rebuttals to the plaintiffs? SGM has failed, quite simply, to appear in court…other than a few interent tap dances at Regards to all analysts.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    I totally agree, DPV! :clap And, Happymom, and Friendly Observer, I agree-time to get some backbone! :clap
    While I can appreciate Josh Harris taking a bit of a stand, ready the posted letter he wrote, it seems like he is trying to be ‘extra reasonable’, to walk the fence line, and stay in partnership with SGM..These supposed leaders-none of them so far to me-know how to stand strong and lead on conviction, to have backbone-they only seem to know bullying,and following the bully-a totally different thing from strong conviction!~

  • Tomcov

    DPV #108
    I have been enjoying your posts on virtually all matters including singing these past few months and certainly welcome your marine corps scrutiny of Ceej. However you posted a couple of times around 105-108 on matters of the catholic church, scholarship, education and Ceej. In it, there was something way to sympathetic and generous to the Catholic church (are you Anglican perhaps?? sensed a kind of affinity) and the virtues of so called educated men. CJ isn’t university educated or seminary trained. Thats not a model to be followed, but he certainly isn’t the only one in protestant christianity. But let me just say this – the world is filled with highly educated depravity. The Liberal wing of Christendom has more ph.D’s per capita in the pulpit and in the academy and they mock the foundations of our faith. Out best universities (harvard, yale, princeton, etc) have seminaries and religion departments with fantastic “scholarship” and they, by their convictions, are going to hell. Personally, I don’t care how many popes or cardinals have two masters and a ph.d (as much as I respect scholarship). They are still leaders in a religious system that is denying the gospel. They lead a religion where the doctrine of atonement is an abomination, the slavery of works righteousness is preached every week and where the idolatry of Mary is evident. Well, at least .they are great scholars. Im sure their theses will be many, the papers properly footnoted and their publication lists growing. Meanwhile back at the ranch, Ceej is still creeping around and frankly scholarship isn’t the issue. Power, control, ambition and insecurity are.

  • Jimmy

    Unnassimilated 115

    I can’t understand how I went along with that for years. Thinking like that again while reading your comment scared the crap out of me.

    The benefit of the doubt they extend themselves is unreal. Where are their three trees?

  • Roadwork

    Fried Fish in 109 brought over a quote from

    At the root of every fight with an SGM pastor is the premise that no matter what council they give, no matter what action they take, it is superior to any objection and purer by the imputation of Grace to govern God’s church. And how dare you challenge, how dare you accuse, how dare you fail to make their lives a joy? How dare you challenge their authority to do what God has appointed?

    No wonder so many of us felt conflicted and confused inside when the counsel given to us ran counter to the truth – the Holy Ghost living in us.

    SGM counsel forgets this… The Holy Ghost lives within each believer. In Him, we live, and move, and have our being…

    Depending on how you personally process this internal conflict, I can see where this leads to everything from stifling one’s spiritual growth and maturity to shipwreck – leaving the church and one’s faith.

  • Mr Stretch

    Muckracker #65

    There was a purposeful move away from the Holy Spirit and a move toward reformed doctrine in the 2000-2002 time frame. This was a planned chanmged led by CJ. The unfortioante thing is they forgot to tell the members. For years our family was trying to figure what was different. Knowing what we do now it’s very easy to put the puzzle together.

  • Reconsidering

    Heartily agree with DPV regarding Big Al. Was surprised to read of his public outrage over PSU scandal and subsequent pledge to change policies under his watch. Maybe a little outrage for your friends at SGM, eh, Al?

  • Friendly Observer

    For Oswald (@112) and Persona (@117) — and maybe others — who have prayed regularly and faithfully for many if not all the nuances of the SGM unraveling, and who continue to pray and will continue:

    Thank you for pushing back and balancing my rather cool and “bookish” analysis of the Dave Harvey/SGM prayer request. I tried to make a respectful distinction between my perceptions “from a distance” and those who will still pray intercessory prayers. I thank God for you and, while I stand by my post (#111) as being my own viewpoint (and probably a potentially good exhortation for Mr. Harvey), I write again only to commend the faith and “soft” (toward God) hearts of those who will not quit calling out to God for divine intervention and justice, fairness, and “truth in the inward parts” — in short, for a godly resolution to all that is taking place. Surely, God is honoring and will honor such praying.

    When I wrote these words last night: “Second, while I appreciate all softness of spirit (and there are folks writing here who put me to shame at their degree of faith and hope that if all of us will only keep on praying, maybe some good things will happen among SGM board members and everyone will “live happily ever after”) — when I wrote that, it was not in a mocking or sarcastic way. I am not the man of prayer I should be or want to be, and the last thing I intend to do — even by small implication — is to discourage anyone’s faith or continued prayers.

    I believe God is at work in all the details. “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.” My own hope and prayer — for reasons I will not post here — is that SGM will be fully dismantled and men’s hearts fixed so as to be instruments God can and will use to rebuild something in His image and for His glory.

    To the intercessors, then: Right on!

  • Fred

    Irv @103, :clap A must add – the practice and doctrine of both the Catholics and Mormons! One can easily see a combination of both demonstrated in SGM.

  • Oswald

    FO #138 — I like your analysis of things and especially liked your retelling of the story of Joshua/Jericho/Ai. These are the types of stories that tell us what our living God is really like, and how He operates. We are reminded of His holiness, justice, and mercy. We need these reminders every day, lest we drift from the truth. Thanks for your input
    What an awesome God we serve!

  • Phoenix

    Oh, I see. You mean that little boys ought to keep their promises. Very true: most right and proper, I’m sure, and I’m very glad you have been taught to do it. But of course you must understand that rules of that sort, however excellent they may be for little boys — and servants — and women — and even people in general, can’t possibly be expected to apply to profound students and great thinkers and sages. No, Digory. Men like me, who possess hidden wisdom, are freed from common rules just as we are cut off from common pleasures. Ours, my boy, is a high and lonely destiny.

    Another CS Lewis quote that has kept coming to mind, this one from The Magician’s Nephew. This scene is between Digory Kirke and his narcissistic uncle who has deliberately risked a little girl’s life. Shortly after this, the same culminating phrase is spoken by Jadis, the heartless witch queen who destroyed an entire world rather than be wrong.

  • Lynn

    wow! so much good stuff! I was pretty busy and couldn’t keep up with everything.

    Irv- I would like to say how dare you listen to Katy Perry. She kissed a girl and liked it. ha ha.

  • Lynn

    a sgm pastor said this on his twitter. “Jesus is amazingly predictable and unpredictable at the same time #whatasavior”

    Maybe its me, but I have never said that Jesus was predictable. I don’t know what God will do. I am not God.

  • Muckraker

    Defender and Mr. Stretch: Thanks for explaining about that. I remember that season, never knew how it was stopped! We were told that the leaders were trying to avoid manifestations that were overly emotional or ones that were not genuine. I always was disturbed as to why all the genuine ones disappeared as well!!!


  • Unreformed

    DPV said, “…Muckraker @102. Vatican 1 decreed Papal infallibility, a real backstep that painted Rome into a corner. It was rigourously protested on historical ground by one Romanist scholar, Cardinal Dollinger. Cardinal Newman in England was exasperated as well. Long story. However, short version, Rome has judiciously and excruciatingly avoided claims to “ex cathedra” statements by Popes. The Jesuits have led in the protective arguments over Papal claims here and there, over this and that, since 1870. Rome has scholars, readers, and academics. Rome is commendable in this respect with a centuries-long tradition. (I’m quite Protestant by reading, prayer and conviction.) …”

    If it is not already clear, my soapbox will be evident.  My concern with so-called protestantism is that the protest exists in proclamation but not in practise. For example, protestants still favor the “venerable day of the sun” ove the LORD’s sabbath.  Protestants still prefer the Greco-Roman festivals to the LORDs appointed times. Protestants generally consider the LORD’s commands obsolete despite apostolic writings to the contrary.

    The end result is that logically, subconciously if not consciously, people recognize they can declare their own rules in a papal bull like fashion. The SGM spin is just another iteration.

    Reformed, Calvinistic, Anabaptist, Episcopal, Pentecostal, this-ism, that-ism, the other-ism…it all comes under thecategory “man’s structures.” Many of them have their value. But all must be submitted to the Bible.

    It calls to mind these words of the prophet Jeremiah:

    “O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit. Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods? Therefore, behold, I will this once cause them to know, I will cause them to know mine hand and my might; and they shall know that my name is The LORD.” (Jeremiah 16:19-21 KJV)

  • SA

    @Happymom and others:

    I agree that CLC has things to answer for irrespective of its relationship to SGM. Joshua’s statement indicating that the pastors of CLC believe “it’s all SGM’s fault” does not appear to be an accurate or mature way of summing up the problems at hand.

    Your pastors don’t think that our leadership in this time of crisis over the past four months is the real issue. We believe what has caused the crisis is deficiencies in the structure of Sovereign Grace, as well as deep-seated problems with the unaccountable and arbitrary ways its authority has operated.

    However, Joshua took the huge step of publicly threatening to defund SGM if it doesn’t reform. Nor has he retracted his strong statements to that effect in the past three weeks despite witnessing SGM’s new tactic regarding publicly shunning divisive folks and dealing with the behind-the-scenes forms of intimidation he’s likely also enduring on a daily basis.

    Thus I think he’s really drawn a line in the sand this time. I give him credit for exhibiting courage others have not and hope that he will help reform the church he is personally responsible for. He can’t fix everything overnight but he does seem to be the only leader of stature on the right track.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Kris 105- excellent.

    FO 111- very thoughtful insight, thank you.

    DPV- keep it up dude. :D

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Irv said…

    5 years — you also have to look at the influence of Bill Gothard during the 70′s as well. I was speaking to a ‘former pastor’ earlier today and we talked about the three major influences to PDI’s ‘doctrines and polity’; the shepherding movement, Bill Gothard’s umbrella of authority (and beyond) and Watchman Nee’s “Spiritual Authority”.

    Mix that with men who hungered (and competed) for influence and authority and “voila” you have the “PDI polity and processes”

    Irv, I think you’re correct.


    I’m not a “former pastor,” but in my 4 years of researching and trying to connect the dots, I’ve come to a similar conclusion. (Also add Nee’s teaching on the “local church.”) Take that “whacked hodgepodge” and throw in SGM’s twisted version of “reformed” and you’ve got an absolute mess.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    And add the “patriarchy crap” to my #148 which can mostly be attributed to the homeschool influences.

  • Blues0080

    There was a lot of pressure back in the Gathering of Believers days to attend Gothard’s Basic Youth Conflicts. It was indoctrinated into the congregation. I remember being confronted by others with surprise when they found out that I hadn’t attended. I was so put off by his stance on music that I wouldn’t go and looked at his basis for such claims and realized that he was teaching on preference and was stretching scripture to meet his ideas..I have enough to do to get cleansed of the PDI/SGM attitudes that became embedded. I’m thankful that by God’s grace, I avoided the Gothard indoctrination…look at the fruit….

  • OutOfStepford

    Hi! Usually, I’m more of a “lurker,” but I’ve commented randomly here for a few years.

    Kris-In comment 105, you said: “But somehow, when you’re ordained as an SGM pastor and start functioning in that role in a “local” church, you are guaranteed a level of sinlessness, or at least of immunity for any potentially sinful tendencies. I have heard defenders of SGM’s botched pastoral counseling sessions say that even if a pastor completely missed the boat in how he counseled a member, it doesn’t matter at all – because, since the pastor is the member’s ordained spiritual authority, the inept or abusive counsel was all God’s ordained will for that person anyway.”

    At our SGM church, I seem to remember hearing teaching and/or being apart of conversations on the meaning of “prophesy.” It’s been awhile, but my understanding of their teaching on the subject is that when someone prophesies, he/she is just a vessel speaking GOD’S ACTUAL WORDS to the intended hearer(s). This might have been discussed here, too. But, doesn’t SGM teach that in order to be considered as a pastor, one must possess the Gift of Prophecy? If that’s the case, then the “depravity immunity” you are talking about is really just their view that the pastor is prophetic, therefore, there is no such thing as “inept/abusive counsel,” since the counsel given wasn’t the pastor’s, per se…it was God’s counsel. In other words: questioning pastors = questioning God

    This, combined with SGM’s polity structure, is a breeding ground for some serious spiritual abuse! Sorry if this is too repetitive, but reading through these posts sort of awakened that thought in me :)

  • Muckraker

    AKS and Irv: I would like to add that Watchman Nee’s “Spiritual Authority” emphasized, to an extreme, submitting to EVERY authority, as to the authority of God. What is one exception in SGM practice to that kind of submission???

    Reporting physical and sexual abuse against women and children in their midst–specifically when it was done by a male church member! :scratch

  • Argo

    Unassimilated and Unreformed; your posts above were great, great analysis. Thank you.

    Well…been listening to the SGM Pastor’s conference sermons, as well as others from Mickey, Jared, All I can say is that I’m very discouraged; very sad. I believe their hearts are very hard right now…no evidence of humility, no sign of remorse, no indication of culpability in any of this. They are just victims, and the only thing they think they need to learn right now is how to “respond properly” to those bringing unjust accusations. I can’t believe it.

    So, I’m gonna jump on the humility bandwagon and take my own “leave of absence”. I’m witnessing the spiritual death of a church org that I gave more time and money to than I can count, and I need to grieve. I need to grieve for their hardness of heart, and also for the fact that in my support for SGM, I’ve been a tertiary supporter of their “authority”, and so that makes me sad.

    So, I’m going to take time off from commenting and try to come to terms with the fact that I’ve been listening to hypocrites for the past fifteen years. They preached humility; there was none. They preached specific confession of sins; there was none. They preached no “damage control”; there was more than you find in a governor’s election. They preached caring for the weak,the sick, the abused; there was none, only disdain and revulsion for the “evil” blogs. They preached change and promised to examine their hearts; there was only a digging in of heels, excommunication, and a forbidding of “information”.

    So, I need to grieve, I need to study, and I need to find out where I can be a part of a community of believers who practice love, forgiveness, and the need for all men and women, pastors or not, to truly humble themselves before Christ, and focus on the primary issues of peace, love, kindness, comfort, and understanding and forgiveness, without the worshiping of a man, or an orthodoxy, or an office.

    I’ll keep reading these blogs: you all are brilliant; you all are the remnant.

    So take care, God bless, pray for SGM…but their hearts are cold. So pray even harder for the few that are listening to the Holy Spirit, like Josh, and pray that He would give them strength and courage in this time.

  • Bridget

    Argo –

    Have you written AoR? Sad to say but you have a story as well – send them your post @153.

    Enjoy the immesurable riches you have in Christ Jesus!

  • 5yearsinPDI


    New International Version (©1984)
    So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.

    English Standard Version (©2001)
    so practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice.

    New American Standard Bible (©1995)
    therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.

    King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
    All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.

    International Standard Version (©2008)
    So do whatever they tell you and follow it, but stop doing what they do, because they don’t do what they say.


    Argo…may God bless you and lead you. This is just my experience, but it took me about a year to get past church grief. More like two for my husband. Don’t try to rush it. God is in it. You will be a better intercessor when it is over. I am sorry for your pain.

    Thanks for all your contributions here. I hope you will keep commenting if something comes up where you have insight. There are many folks out there who will be going through this also as God opens their eyes and exposes the truth.

  • Bridget

    That’s “immeasurable”

  • Reconsidering

    So, my wife and I are pretty much decided we’re leaving our SGM church. Priorities in choosing our next church – local, accountability in authority structure (i.e. Presbyterian) and educated ministers (i.e. real theological degrees from accredited institutions).

    What are your priorities if you’re searching for a church?

  • Ellie

    {{{{{{{{{ Argo }}}}}}}}}}}

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Praying for you, Argo…and all those that are experiencing similar…and thanking God that He rescued you.

  • sgmnot

    After hearing Dan’s story on his excommunication yesterday, I was very disturbed and moved, hence, this digression:

    Dan alluded to the fact that child sex abuse was part of the reason, that he has had a life-long struggle with his own sexuality. I have read that often women have issues with their sexuality, after experiencing rape–it would make sense that the same can occur for males, who have been victims of child sex abuse or other victimization. (I am not trying to make the claim that all homosexuality stems from sexual victimization–just discussing that aspect of it, in this limited comment) This is just another one of the life-long affects of sex crimes, that some victims face.

    Besides, struggling with their own sexuality and/or self-image, victims of child sex abuse can often allow themselves to become victims again (re-victimization) by subconsciously or in some cases consciously putting themselves in dangerous sexual situations. This can directly stem from the low self-esteem, that a person often struggles with from the child sex crime done to them.

    Without a doubt, child sex abuse has direct, longstanding, very serious affects on a child’s entire life, that they often will continue to have to deal with on deeper levels as they mature. There is even research, that shows that this pattern of realizing, and hopefully dealing with, the affects of child sex abuse occurs in cycles of approximately 7 years. This cycle of dealing on deeper psychological levels (like an onion) is exactly what has occurred with our daughter, who is now 21.

    If you are a victim of child sex abuse, you should be in therapy with a trained counselor, so that you can really deal with it and overcome it.

    Also, research has shown that child sexual predators have an extremely high rate of recidivism (i.e. repeating the crime with other victims). If you are the victim of a child sex abuser, whom you or your parents never turned into the police, the possibility is very high (I would say probable) that the person who abused you, is still abusing other children. That means other little children, could very possibly be victimized and will have to face a life-time of psychological trauma–which you have the ability to stop, if you turn your former abuser into the law.

    I want to state this, as clearly as possible, there are other unreported child sex abusers from SGM (based on comments and stories from this blog) and others that I know of, who have not been turned into the law.

    What has recently come out into the open at Penn State is exactly the same thing–not reporting child sex abuse to the police–or a cover-up of child sex abuse. It does not matter, if this abuse was many years ago or not. These pedophiles should pay for their crimes and should be stopped from having the opportunity from victimizing other little children.

    If you are one of those victims from an unreported child sex abuse case in SGM, I implore you to stop your abuser from further crimes against children, wherever your abuser may be. You could not stop your abuser, when you were a little child. It was not your fault. But you do have an opportunity and responsibility, now, to stop them from further crimes.

    I pray and hope, that whomever this is for will have the strength to do what they need to do. If you want to contact me, thru Kris, please feel free to do so.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Back to the “Gothard influence”…

    I think it was Kris that said she remembered a pamphlet (or something) by Gothard on “courtship” that was very similar to Josh’s books.

  • Unreformed


    when I left CLC, my priority was a congregation with theological compatibility. Ifound two congregations in my general. At one, I felt comfortable right away. At the other, I didn’t care much for the leaders’ style, BUT, I had peace. I followed peace. It turned out, those leaders were ideally suited for the season I was entering.

    Chalk one up for Holy Spirit!

    My recommendation, go with Holy Spirit’s leading.

  • Patti

    I do not trust people who are silent about injustice. I do not believe the best about them. I believe one of these things about them:

    1. They have unconfessed abuse which they personally perpetrated.
    2. They know someone personally who has abused, such as a family member or friend, but they consider their social and family status quo of higher value than the victim’s or their perp friend’s or perp family’s future victims.
    3. They have suffered abuse and they have not yet told anyone and are letting their perp still perpetrate.

    Dr. Drew said on his show last night that 117 is the average number of victims per sexual abuser. How many testimonies are on this blog? Some posters have said that they know personally of more stories that are not on here. How many more testimonies does Josh know about? When you do the math think of the staggering numbers in SGM alone! The only way I will even start to trust Josh is if he starts speaking up. Josh will not earn any respect from me until he does justice.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    A good thread of discussion where we discussed the influence of Watchman Nee…

    (Current SGMers, you need to read the blog discussions on shepherding, Bill Gothard, Watchman Nee, and patriarchy to know where some of this stuff originated. It ain’t the Bible!)

  • Patricia

    Kris and everyone, this recent two-part broadcast by Chuck Swindoll will blow you away. Everything he said applies to what is going on with SGM although he probably doesn’t even know SGM exists. This will validate the decision of any person who has left SGM or is considering leaving.

    Titled: Don’t Forget to Add a Cup of Discernment

    Part One:

    Part Two:

  • Foot

    ARGO, my thoughts and prayers are with you, you are NOT alone. God bless you! God bless your time of reflection on our Lord Jesus Christ’s (LJC) goodness to you. You have listened to the LJC as your true Shepherd (Ps 23:1) and that is cause to REJOICE. As one who has been there (my tears are in the bottle, so to speak), done that. I want you to meditate on Who Jesus IS and what HE has done for you. It is HIS performance and righteousness that has been imputed to us (i.e. justification). Take as much time as you need (“and it does and will take time”). This is a hard time but a “true” blessing also. Think if you had NOT heard the Lord’s voice (Jn 10) in all of this. Consider yourself blessed and redeemed by the ONE who holds and comforts you in this time of reflection. II Corinthians 1:2-7, II Corinthians 6:14-18. Bask in God’s goodness through and ONLY through our Lord Jesus Christ, He alone is worthy! :word

    Parts is parts, but this comes from my heart to yours! I Corinthians 12:14-26
    Foot :!:

  • Happymom


    Comment #160 – Thank you for all the thought, truth and compassion that went into that excellent post. I’ve never witnessed anything as evil as the affects of sex abuse on a child. Unless you live it or see it first hand, it can be impossible to understand just how devastating it is.

    Thank you for sharing here. I appreciate your input.

    You are in my prayers. Thank you for your contributions.

  • Tomcov

    Just posted this at Refuge after reading Jim’s update that AoR won’t have their final report till at least MARCH!!!!
    I too am deflated right now. When this thing blew up in July and I heard about CJ taking a break then AoR coming in, I was optimistic. I figured that after 4 months of study or so that AoR would make serious recommendations and then SGM would respond. But, the fact that AoR might have their report by March (another 4-5 months from now!!!) means really that CJ and company will be right back in their roles now, read the report in months from now, while all the dust settles and act on a few small things. Its really disappointing. AoR isn’t really going to be a determining factor as much as I respect them. By all means people should get interviewed…but this is all taking too long which only plays to SGM’s ability to do what they want to do. The identification of divisive elements has already started and the restructuring of the SGM polity will go on as they have already determined. How did this happen? So much time.

  • MikePhila

    Reconsidering #157

    You said “So, my wife and I are pretty much decided we’re leaving our SGM church. Priorities in choosing our next church – local, accountability in authority structure (i.e. Presbyterian) and educated ministers (i.e. real theological degrees from accredited institutions).What are your priorities if you’re searching for a church?

    My answer … I want to go to my SGM church that I go to now. Without the current board in the leadership role, No CJ, No Dave and none of the current Board Members (let them start their own new “denomination”). I want spirit-filled pastors that KNOW, HEAR and OBEY the Holy Spirit. I want accountability up and down the chain of leadership. I want major change to our polity.

    Is that too much to ask for???

  • Argo said:

    “I guess maybe this is more Shepherding Movement than Calvinism (though…I’m starting to study Calvinism more and more, so, regardless of SGM, I’m not saying yes or no to it until I get a better grasp).”

    Despite my not agreeing with Calvinism I don’t feel that the problems in SGM are due to the group’s stealth switch Calvinism. As you indicate, I see it more due to the influence of the Shepherding Movement than Calvinism.

    As I have said before, the group may claim to believe in Calvinism including predestination but at least some of their actions contradict this claim. This includes holding pastors accountable for their children not coming to Christ when Calvinism teaches that it God that decides who He elects to salvation.

    I found what is quoted below a few days ago on Wikapedia. This gives a good synopsis of what is meant by Calvinism or a “sovereign grace.” Sometimes the word “sovereign grace” is another term for Calvinism. I have some churches use the term “Free Will” to indicate they don’t believe in predestination.

    I have mentioned this before but Larry Tomczak on his site has for sale a good “primer” on what determines how a person gets saved including discussing Calvinism. It is titled “What Do You Believe About How People Get Saved?” Larry Tomczak doesn’t believe in Calvinism and is one of the reasons he left the group he cofounded with Mahaney but the book does discuss various beliefs.

    “sovereign grace

    Calvinism stresses the total depravity or total inability of humanity’s ethical nature against a backdrop of the sovereign grace of God in salvation. It teaches that fallen people are morally and spiritually unable to follow God or escape their condemnation before him.[3] It is seen as the work of God (divine intervention) in which God changes their unwilling hearts from rebellion to willing obedience.
    In this view, all people are entirely at the mercy of God, who would be just in condemning all people for their sins, but who has chosen to be merciful to some. Thus, one person is saved while another is condemned, not because of a foreseen willingness, faith, or any other virtue in the first person, but because God sovereignly chose to have mercy on him.[4] Although the person must believe the gospel and respond to be saved, this obedience of faith is God’s gift, and thus God completely and sovereignly accomplishes the salvation of sinners. Views of predestination to D**nation (the doctrine of reprobation) are less uniform than is the view of predestination to salvation (the doctrine of election) among self-described Calvinists (seeSupralapsarianism and Infralapsarianism).”

  • @FriendlyObserver #111, @Mole #113 and @Unassimilated #115 – Yes, excellent observation and analysis. That’s a big reason that I use their language when speaking to someone still in SGM. Not in a condescending way, but in a way that they understand my meaning. For instance, I call Jared and Mickey’s sermons unBiblical – it’s a big statement, because it basically means against God, something that everyone in SGM understands is very bad. I don’t use the language exclusively though. I’ve been known to utter some “French” regarding the poo like status of how the word of the Lord has been manipulated.

    After hearing Ted Kober’s message, I can’t imagine that they will not recommend that the leadership make some sort of apology or confession. Whether or not they actually offer one will be up to God, if He finds it in His good will to soften their hearts. Regardless of their action or apologies, we’re called to forgiveness, to humility, to truth, to love and to hope in the eternal. The hope is that we see this reconciled here on earth, but if it doesn’t, IT WILL BE SETTLED in heaven. The broken will be healed. There will be no more tears. And there’ll be no more SGM Survivors :) That’ll be a good day.

  • Remnant

    I’m not understanding why the perps and SGM pastors, including those in the president’s office and other board members, have not previously been legally questioned – and perhaps arrested – for their role, their continuing role in the case of Mr. A – in covering up the reported child sex abuse cases we know about. How many others will need to be brought to light before these so-called “men of God” do something legally responsible and Biblically righteous?

  • Liberty


    Your post at 160 brings me to tears. I truly believe that the Lord is allowing the light to shine in the dark places. He wants freedom for the captives, and for those who have been abused and have not received proper counseling, they ARE captives. Maybe no longer physically to their abusers, but certainly mentally.

    Oh how I wish I could turn back the clock and know the things I do now that I did not know when I was a part of SGM.

    I will agree 100% with your plea for those who are still hurting and have not received help: DO NOT BE AFRAID. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. THERE IS LIFE AFTER THE ABUSE. THERE IS FREEDOM.

    Please don’t be afraid. I am praying for all of those who have felt like God has abandoned them, like there was something ‘wrong’ with them that they were unable to ‘clean themselves up’ enough for God. OBVIOUSLY even the leaders can’t do that. None of us will EVER be clean enough in our own efforts. That’s what Jesus came here for. THERE IS GREAT FREEDOM IN THAT.

  • Friendly Observer

    Argo —

    Godspeed! Vaya con Dios! Grieving is good and healthy and, at times, utterly necessary for ongoing health on the other side.

    One of the great sermons I remember hearing in a long Chrisitan life was from Gen. 23, which is the record of the death and burial of Sarah and Abraham’s grief and mourning. “… and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.” Even as a young man, I felt the impact of the pastor’s heart (a true shepherd) as he assured his flock (I was a visitor) that it is entirely normal and natural to mourn when such a loss occurs — and that we do sorrow, though not as those who have no hope.

    Then, he said, after we have mourned the “death” sufficiently (whether a person or a dream that doesn’t happen), we move on with God and put to use the lessons learned and blessings granted. Freely we have received, and freely we are to give.

    I trust that will be your experience.

  • Lynn

    Reconsidering #157,

    I would have loved to stay at covfel, but just counldn’t. I do love some of the people there. I made some of my good friends there. However, the pastors I just cant trust. There is not a single pastor there that I would trust with my life, except maybe Jim. I think that Jim really cares for people and sgm/cfc has brain washed him.

    Anyway, back to your question I looked for churches that had elders who had jobs that were not at the church. I looked for one that let women study together. Also, I looked for one taht did baby dedications. also, I looked for one with small groups. However, when finding a new church, I wouldn’t get too involved too fast. give it some time to get to know how the church functions and meet with the pastor. The church I go to know has one pastor, but many elders. It’s not a huge church. Also, seek God.

  • Mary

    Dear Reconsidering at 158: I used to always look for non-denominational churches, but SGM was my third bad experience – so they were out for me. I actually found some denominational churches to be suprisingly refreshing. I am currently attending a baptist church and I love it. The main thing I love is the people are genuine. While I don’t always agree with my pastor – it is refreshing to be allowed to disagree. I didn’t think I would ever find another church but from the moment I walked in the door – I couldn’t find any reason to not give this church a try. I would say to pray and ask God’s leading and listen for the Holy Spirit. I am a fan of seminary. I love that my pastor encourages education. He encourages you to read whatever you want (not just books that agree with him). After a handful of visits, I outright told my pastor my story and asked if there was a place for me there – because if not I didn’t want to waste my heart and time. I think you will know the things that are important to you. I would just say don’t cross off the denominational churches – as it turns out there is a foundation there that is good. I am praying right now for you and your family. Peace. And, happy hunting :D

  • Mary

    SGMnot 161> Amen. I totally agree with your post. My heart breaks for Dan – truly. Nothing victimizes a victim more than pulling God and the church out from under their feet. The very place that should have been a secure foundation for Dan – where he could find hope -was meanly pulled from him by SGM. Heartbreaking to say the very least. Dan is a brother and deserved way better.

  • Mary

    Reconsidering: One more thought. Our lead team is entirely non-paid staff. Men of true courage. I was a victim of much abuse growing up. I have never really felt safe with men. I feel safe with the entire lead team at my church. They are truly humble, they love Jesus Christ, and they have healthy relationships within the church. The other day a lead team member walked past me and reached over and touched me on the shoulder. It made me feel loved in a 100% healthy way. One of the damaging things for me at CLC was having been a victim of abuse then being in the church the men and women were kept separated. It might not be that way now. But, it was when I was there. There is a reason for brothers and sisters. I needed brothers in my life. I think it becomes unhealthy when you withdrawal all male influence from a women’s life. At any rate, a non-paid lead team is a very good idea.

  • Mary

    Kindred 165. So very interesting for you to bring up Watchmen Nee. The church I went to when I first got saved was into the Spiritual Authority book – more than the bible. What a load of crap. :wink: LOL!

  • Guy and I are traveling with the kiddos and have been away from internet access all day. So I’m having to catch up here, and I don’t have a ton of time to do so. Very quickly, here are some scattered thoughts…

    “Friendly Observer” –

    I really understand your comment #111. Dave Harvey’s instructional tone sort of irked me, too. It’s like no matter what happens, these guys just cannot relinquish the illusion that they’re in charge, even over areas like how interested parties are to pray for SGM. Oy.


    “Unassimilated” –

    Your #115 is SO illuminating! Seriously. I might make it into its own post, after we get to a more reliable internet connection.


    “Defender” and those who have wondered over some of the funny phrases used here, like “disinviting the Holy Spirit” and “de-gifting” –

    RE Defender’s #116, I’m pretty sure the first person who talked about “uninviting the Holy Spirit” was a commenter named Don. He was around almost from the site’s earliest days, back in December 2007, and he was the author of the original comments (about SGM’s early history and the fact that SGM had two founders) that had appeared on the disappearing blog post that caused us to start this site.

    And the term “de-gifting” – well, Guy and I are Seinfeld fans, and when Mark Lauterbach (from the San Diego SGM church) became the second SGM pastor in just a couple of months’ time to be fired because it had JUST been discovered that he (purportedly) actually “wasn’t gifted to be a pastor” (despite the fact that the same apostle had waxed eloquent about Mr. Lauterbach’s amazing pastoral gifts just a few years earlier, when Mr. L had been installed at his SGM church)…well, it reminded us of the “Re-gifting” episode of Seinfeld. So the term “de-gifting” came into use here.

    It was intended as a slightly more humorous way to refer to the notion that a pastor could be declared “gifted” and then a few years later NOT be “gifted.” Somewhere along the line, he must have been “de-gifted”?


    And finally…

    Tomcov –

    RE your #134, I really could not agree with you more.

    Sorry, DPV – I greatly appreciate your service to our country, and I respect your zeal for analyzing SGM and SGM’s issues. But (as I’ve said at least a couple of times before), I just do not see where your fixation on some vague notion of “scholarly” behavior has ANY real bearing on a discussion of SGM.

    Yes, we know that CJ and some other key SGM leaders do not have much formal education. And yes, I would be the first to say that I think pastors ought to pursue as much education as possible. It is irresponsible to be a pastor (especially one with as much authority and power as SGM pastors possess) without seminary training. (And no – SGM’s Pastors College is not sufficient.)

    But condemning CJ (or Carolyn or Josh Harris) because he (or she) isn’t “scholarly”…well, that’s just…silly. It’s like railing against the government because politicians don’t go to church as often as you’d like them to. You’re taking something good but not always present within SGM pastors (formal education and formal, stuffy-sounding academic lingo) that SGM members and those who love SGM already know is not present, and you’re turning this into THE standard for why they are not functioning well in their roles.

    But here’s the thing – as I already mentioned, the vast majority of SGMers, as well as non-SGMer CJ and SGM fans (like Mark Dever and Al Mohler), have always understood that CJ and Josh Harris and some of the other key SGM guys don’t have a lot of formal higher education. Most of us are OK with their lack of education. We may not think it’s wise. We may think that a lack of formal education, particularly a better historical understanding of church history, has contributed to SGM’s woes. But it has never been an issue.

    And it’s still not really an issue.

    The fact is, going to a proper seminary and learning how to write like “scholars” (a vaguely defined characterization, by the way, if there ever was one) would NOT have prevented SGM’s problems. If anything, I think it would have made CJ even MORE insufferably bombastic in his preaching style, and even MORE confident in his own rightness and his own authority.

    Tomcov is right. A “respectable” education, as the world would define “respectable,” has never guaranteed the production of pastors who are faithful to the Bible and who lead their churches with true humility, grace, and love.

    Education (or a lack thereof) has little to do with SGM’s issues. For the record, many of the men with whom CJ has surrounded himself actually ARE educated and DO have advanced degrees from respectable universities.

    So I really really REALLY wish that this arbitrary standard of “scholarly” would quit being bandied about as a reason for why CJ is wrong and SGM is dysfunctional. DPV, this is especially true if you’re writing to CJ’s friends/fans (like Al Mohler). Let me repeat myself – you’re not telling these guys anything they don’t already know and haven’t already decided doesn’t matter to them. And since they’ve already decided that CJ’s lack of education doesn’t matter to them, your mention of it as some sort of arbitrary disqualifier is just going to make them write you off as snobbish and bombastic.

  • Lynn


    I agree with your post at #178. I was always looking for non-denominational and never could find one that i didn’t get a sign from God saying to move on. I have just started going to a prebryterian church. so far so good. I mean it will take me a while to deicde if I want to be here. I don’t want to rush into things. Mary, did you give your story at one point? I would love to hear it, if you don’t mind.

  • JustAnAverageSGMPastor

    ok – let me just say that I’m really not interested in engaging in a lot of dialog here about all of the Brent, CJ, Mickey stuff in SGM currently…. 

    It’s all unfortunate though and it takes away from what we are all called to do primarily as Christians – to follow Jesus and to disciple others to follow Jesus. In the end though, God will use all of this garbage somehow and work all things together for the good of those who love Him. 

    As Christians, it brings peace and hope for the future of the church universal (including SGM, no matter how flawed and imperfect it is) knowing that God is for us and no one (or no group) can be against us and nothing can separate us from the love of Christ Jesus our Lord.

    The unfortunate reality is that SGM, like all churches and church groups is full of flawed and sinful people (pastors and leaders are no exception whatsoever  in this). The good news is that all of the sins of all Christians (including those of us in SGM) have been paid in full. It is also good news that God is in the process of conforming us all into His image, by His grace and through the working of the Holy Spirit. 

    So, are there problems (even serious ones) within SGM? Clearly yes – as there are in all churches. Are there flawed people (including all pastors and leaders) within SGM? Clearly yes, as none of us are righteous on our own and all of us (no exceptions for us pastors) still battle remaining sin, just like the apostle Paul did.

    This doesn’t mean I take our problems cavalierly or treat the areas where we (me and all pastors included) have sinned, failed or completely blown it lightly. No, instead we must learn from our mistakes, confess our sins and seek to grow in Christ by His grace.

    And we must forgive. We have all been forgiven much – each and every one of us is like the sinful woman in Luke 7, who anointed Jesus’ head and kissed His feet – we’ve been forgiven much. And this same forgiveness we’ve received  is meant to be extended to those we deem the worst of sinners too (we SGM pastors in some people’s eyes perhaps?). 

    Because of the love we’ve been shown by Jesus, we should love much too – even if and when we are wronged and sinned against.

    This doesn’t mean we don’t seek to right wrongs or correct mistakes though. No, in fact, we should want to quit sinning, repair our wrongs and correct our mistakes because we love Jesus and want to love other people better too. 

    Have I sinned as an SGM pastor? Yes, of course. And I try to confess and grieve over the sins I’m aware of.  Have I failed, led poorly or just messed up as an SGM pastor? Absolutely. And I am sorry for the many areas I’ve blown it (even if unintentionally). 

    Because one person or many people sin or because some pastors sin or some churches mishandle things, does that mean that ALL people and ALL churches do likewise? No, we are all different both within SGM and outside of SGM. SGM is also not uniquely full of sinful people or pastors. And SGM has some church leaders, like all denominations do, that sin, mess up, are guilty of group-think and make mistakes. We all could name every denomination we could think of and tue truth is that we all have problems. 

    But ultimately, our hope is in Christ alone and in no mere mortal man or body of churches. 

    I’d just ask that in all of this current mess, please don’t lump all Christians within SGM into the same category, unless that is the category of sinners who have been saved by God’s grace alone, through faith alone and made into His saints who are in the process of being confirmed into His image. 

    And please don’t generalize as if all SGM churches or all SGM pastors or all SGM church members are the same. We’re not – no more than everyone on this blog is the same. 

    Some people on these blogs are sinning, some aren’t. Some people here have been grievously hurt, while others haven’t. Some people here have legitimate complaints (I know you do), while others are just joining the bandwagon. Some people here are bitter, while others aren’t and are just trying to pick up the prices of their lives and make sense of it all after people, leaders and churches have failed them. Some are deep thinkers, while some are just repeating what they’ve heard. Some may find comfort here for good reasons, while others may not. Some may follow Kris & Guy blindly, while some don’t. 

    As an SGM pastor, I don’t assume all of you on these blogs are all the same and I wouldn’t want to lump you into just one category. You are all uniquely created in God’s image. Each of you is a person loved by God. Each of you has your own motives, desires, experiences and thoughts. I don’t agree with you all but I might agree with some. I do want to consider what you have to say and learn where I can. I don’t assume what is written here is inaccurate or wrongly motivated (i know much is accurate and some have righteous motives too). But I don’t assume everything here is completely accurate or rightly motivated, any more than I would think I would be completely accurate (I’m not) or totally rightly motivated (I’m not) when I am hurt too. 

    So, please remember, we’re not all CJ Mahaney, Mickey, Brent, Dave, etc. And we don’t all blindly follow the leaders, even if some  do. And please don’t lump us all together, as if all SGM pastors misapply the doctrine of sin, evaluate harshly, royally mishandle cases of sexual sin and abuse, etc.

    Look – I know SGM has problems and I know we all are sinful too. Also, I don’t think that somehow I, as a pastor, am  above or better than, or even more discerning, wise, (you name it) than those in my church. I am called to love, care for, shepherd, instruct, admonish, correct, exhort, serve and encourage the local body of Christ that I’ve been called to though. 

    Also, just because Crossway in Charlotte may be mishandling the whole marking Brent publicly thing, it doesn’t mean we all agree. I don’t.  And I don’t think we pastors should ever call for blind trust (like Crossway did) from the church or assume that our folks are dumb or more sinful than us either. 

    I am grateful to God for this time in SGM and I think God is using it all to conform His body, (including SGM), into His image. I think God is using these blogs too, because God is a big God and He uses all things to work towards His purposes. 

    But I must admit I’m a little tired of it all and just want to get back to serving and caring for the church that I dearly love. 

    I’m not ignoring anything – in fact, I’m speaking up to the SGM leadership and doing so regularly where needed. But I’m also aware of many good things that God has done through this flawed group of churches. And I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to try to be “always reforming”, as the Reformers said but I don’t assume that the grass is greener elsewhere and if it is, it may be because it is full of manure too.  

    I don’t share my real name here because I don’t want to put up with the hassle that guys like Curtis and others have endured as a result. 

    Brothers and sisters –  please don’t continue to make broad and sweeping comments about all of SGM or all SGM pastors or even all SGM church members. It is unfair and simply not true and you wouldn’t want others to do this to you. 

     I know I could be mocked or derided here for all of  my comments but I am going to just trust you all to treat me as you would like to be treated as a fellow brother in Christ and co-laborer in the gospel. I’d be glad to answer your questions if I remember to come back to this site – or you can email me at the email I gave when I registered here (I assume Kris will give it to those who request it privately – I’m ok with that).

    I’d also be glad to try to help mediate for those who have not felt comfortable bringing their grievances to SGM.

    For now though, I bid you farewell as brothers & sisters in Christ Jesus. May the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you, keeping your heart and minds in Him. 

  • “JustAnAverageSGMPastor” –

    I know you already bade us farewell. But on the off chance that you’re still reading here, I’m going to reply to you anyway (if my sketchy wifi connection will permit :D ).

    First of all, I just had to laugh at your “some of you may follow Kris and Guy blindly” comment. Uh, where would people be “following” us, and where would we be “leading” them? (I’m sensing in that statement a bit of one of those unfair judgments you say you don’t like.)

    If anyone has ever been “led” here by anyone else, I would say that the readers and other commenters have led us. Guy and I were random SGM visitors who attended an SGM church for a little less than a year and had weird mixed feelings about what we experienced there. When we put up a blog and I wrote about my vague impressions, it was as though the floodgates had burst. Suddenly, we were inundated with all kind of stories and comments from people who had had really terrible and really abusive experiences. We were also harangued by some of your own – loyal SGMers. They immediately accused us of “gossip” and “slander” for talking about our impressions of SGM.

    It has been the readers and commenters – particularly those who have shared their stories of SGM’s abuses, as well as the irrationally rabid SGM defenders – who have led Guy and me to form our opinions of SGM. Guy and I have never seen ourselves as “leaders” of anyone or anything.

    If people agree with my observations, that’s because my observations make sense to them and jive with their own SGM experiences. But that’s a far cry from my “leading” anyone.

    My “second of all” is (I now realize) in the form of a question, which would mean, of course, that you would have to return and answer me. I know you’ve already insinuated that you’re done…you’ve said your piece.

    But I’m going to ask it anyway. Here goes:

    How, exactly, does your “local” church’s relationship with SGM Corporate work? Are the members of your region’s SGM “leadership team” (formerly known as your “apostles”) your bosses?

    Along those same lines, who decides who is employed at your “local” church in the capacity of pastor? How are hiring and firing decisions made? Is there ever a situation where your regional SGM overseers would weigh in on hiring and firing decisions?

    Have the leaders in Gaithersburg ever sent you people or made suggestions about the guys you ought to hire?

    In case you do return, I would appreciate your perspective on these questions.


  • ExClcer'sMom

    JustAnAverageSGMPastor , I am on my way to bed, but will give more thought to your post than this. I did want to respond right away, though. I, for one, love many people within SGM organizations. I do not believe ALL pastors are as prideful ad stiff-necked and uncaring as CJ, John Loftness, Or Gary Ricucci. Actually, from my own point of view, it seems the longer one is in leadership within SGM, the more like those guys one becomes. I honestly will pray for you. I mean that seriously, with heart.
    The reason why some of us (myself included) will group all the pastors together is because I am trying to warn people that they cannot ‘trust’ a “pastor”, they must trust God Himself, because it is sometimes not easy to discern a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’, and children must be protected. We ALL sin-we are human-that’s why we need a Savior, BUT, we cannot allow for one to continue to protect child molesters, cover up child abuse, and NOT protect our children. Parents need to know that they cannot trust anyone to protect their children, and that pedophiles roam freely within the organization of SGM.
    I’m sorry this truth may hurt your feelings, but it must be said. I dont know who you are-I may have never even met you, but you ARE affiliated with a group that knowingly protects pedophiles..people have to be warned about this organizaton, for the sake of their children.I appreciate your openness, and pray God uses you in a constructive way, and leads you in His will.

  • Unreformed

    As I began praying for those who have experienced abuse, my attention was immediately directed to you who have turned from God because you never received a satisfactory answer to this question:

    “God, why did you let this happen to me?”

    I don’t know that what follows will be satisfactory, but I believe it expresses the heart of the ONE who can satisfy the longing deep inside you.

    I presumptuously wrote this in the first person. No, I don’t present myself in the stead of God. I’m simply hoping it may help you see past my words and hear HIS heart.
    I ache when you ache.
    I grieve when you grieve.
    I weep when you weep.

    My sorrow began long before you know.
    For I saw  when the abuser first thought to do so.
    My pleas were not heeded; my warnings were ignored.  
    Even they didn’t know what was behind the door.

    So, why did I not intervene?

    Let me first say, I did not create you to be abused. I did not create you to be used, except for my glory. However, what I planted, another supplanted; what I created, another contaminated.

    Now, I assure you, the day is coming when evil, that contamination, will fully and finally be eliminated! The only reason for delay is because I am determined to harvest what I planted. So, I dare not uproot evil until my righteousness has been fully formed in my people, lest they be uprooted, too.

    By the way, No, all sin is not the same.
    But all unrighteousness is sin just the same. So, I am letting evil run its course, only until my righteousness comes to fruition.

    In the mean time, I myself, accepted an abuse far greater than you have known. Why? It is the means by which I will remove that contamination.  It is the means by which I can ensure my righteousness is fully formed; even in you.

    So, yes, I could have kept evil from happening to you.
    I could even prevent the things you sometimes do.
    But my way of dealing with evil is through and through.
    So, I’ve waited in hopes I might save even you.

    Not quite what you wanted to hear, I know.
    But my truth, alone, is what you need to grow.
    My comfort and peace I long to show.
    It’s time….. It’s time to let it go.

    Forget? Not at all. That idea is not mine.
    Not ready to forgive? That will come in time
    I’m only suggesting a place to start.
    I’m asking that you would dare open your heart….to me.
    “Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” (Matthew 13:24-30 KJV)

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Oh puhleeeze, average pastor dude…

    “The unfortunate reality is that SGM, like all churches and church groups is full of flawed and sinful people”

    SGM is not one more group of churches full of flawed and sinful people like the PCA or OPC or RCA or southern Baptists. It is a freaking evil cult that has been ruled with an iron fist by an “Apostolic team” for over three decades. You and every single member who thinks they are in just another denomination, like all the rest of the denominations out there, are blind and deceived and no idea of just how very different SGM is from other groups- especially groups that hold to Reformed doctrine which SGM claims to believe.

    Some of the pastors may be very nice and very kind and caring indeed. Some of the people are surely equally so. It does not change the fact that you are in a CULT that has been a cult of worship to CJ and leaders since the very start. Some of the nicest folks in the world are in cults- just visit the Mormons. Or the moonies.

    You ARE submitted up the chain to the SGM board. You ARE willingly submitted to them by your own volition and your local church is NOT ruled by local elders, it is submitted to the A team, or whatever they call themselves these days. Plead with us all you like here, and I will plead with you- break with SGM, and you and your local elders take control of your church and kick CJ, Harvey, and all the rest out the door just as hard as you can kick. Until then, you remain a cult submitted to false apostles.

    Thanks for visiting us here on the evil blogs. :D

  • ExClcer'sMom

    I ache when you ache.
    I grieve when you grieve.
    I weep when you weep.

    My sorrow began long before you know.
    For I saw when the abuser first thought to do so.
    My pleas were not heeded; my warnings were ignored.
    Even they didn’t know what was behind the door.

    So, why did I not intervene?

    Unreformed, I think that is beautiful. I believe God gives us all free will, and He is such a just God, He will not take that free will back-even from an abuser. He will, however, give us strength to overcome our pain. (Rom 8:28) I have found that what I have gone through helps me to work harder towards protecting others. You are right; God will bring us healing and strength. Thank you, for sharing those words.

  • Mary

    Dear SGM pastor. You stated, “Some people on these blogs are sinning”…within SGM is SO much evaluation on sin. I just don’t understand why everyone is so focused on sin. We have died to sin. I seek to submit my life to Christ daily – but it is not my place to constantly worry if others are sinning. And the women in Luke 7 is my hero. She is my hero because in spite of what the religious leaders thought of her she had the courage to go to Jesus! I wish I had her courage and her understanding while I was at SGM. When leaders told me I was separated from God, that they didn’t like to worship with me, when I was called Judas, when I was told that I was going to hell, when I was not allowed to attend a small group, when I had to get permission to attend any church functions other than Sunday mornings, when I was left to beleive God no longer loved me, when I was left to beleive that the cross was for everyone but me, when I was left wanting to die because SGM left me feeling like a worthless piece of garbage. Yes, I love the woman in Luke 7…she was the first woman to give me hope after SGM. Like her I love Jesus Christ very much. And, He does love me back. As a matter of fact I am in Christ. And, oh yes, I love very much!Indeed. I am so sorry that I don’t feel bad for SGM’s reputation. I respect you for being here though and I would hope you stick around. It actually does matter that you are here. And, I mean it when I say I respect your showing up and it is appreciated ~ it is what SGM should have done years ago. I hope you stay.

  • justanaveragesgmpastor


    thank you for posting my comment and for your reply, I appreciate it.

    i was just checking back in to see if my comment was posted – and so, i’ll reply as well.

    as for my comment about some may be following you blindly – nope, I didnt intend that I beleived that folks were blindly following you – just that the potential exists like it does when anyone is leading in any forum/place. I was not intending to infer this is the case or to unfairly judge you. I am sorry to give that impression.

    I also don’t mean to insult or harangue you in any way – I am sorry I came across that way.

    As for your questions, I’ll try to answer them below, however feebly. Please bear with any weaknessness or flaws in my answers though and I’d be glad to engage in some sort of dialog – preferably via e-mail though.

    QUESTION: How, exactly, does your “local” church’s relationship with SGM Corporate work?
    That’s a good one. SGM has been in the process of trying to refine its government/polity over the past two years but has taken an abysmally long time doing so, although rightly desiring to be cautious, because not everyone was on board with the proposed changes.
    I cannot answer for all of SGM, just my local church and our relationship with SGM corporate… it doesnt mean I agree fully, just what it is now.
    We are an independent local church, with local elders, functioning in a plurality, with local bylaws, etc. We are not financially controlled by SGM in any way, although it is indeed desired that all member churches give 10% towards SGM, we haven’t always and we don’t feel obligated to do so.
    Our team of elders/pastors is first and foremost accountable to Jesus and then the flock that we serve. After that, we voluntarily seek the input of our regional team leader when we are making large decisions, etc because we find it a helpful, biblical practice to seek counsel and input from others.
    We benefit from SGM’s music(though the music style could still improve, we love the gospel-centered lyrics) and resources (though we don’t accept them all blindly)and I benefitted personally from the PC and hope others will in the future too.
    SGM currently holds the final keys to the ordination process, although elders are recognized locally, discipled (locally and extra-locally) and appointed locally. we are in the process of discussing the ordination processes with sgm and giving input, etc.
    We attend conferences when we feel like they are in the benefit of our team and our local church but we are also free to say no to conferences and meetings when we dont believe it serves our local body.

    QUESTION: Are the members of your region’s SGM “leadership team” (formerly known as your “apostles”) your bosses?
    funny. i have never believed in the idea of apostles like Paul and the 12 but there is an apostolic function in ephesians 4 that seems to continue. although I would not beleive in an apostolic “role” of one who weilds authority over us. I believe there are men who are gifted in spreading the gospel through caring for and establishing churches
    but, the short answer is no. no, our regional team leaders (or the artist formally known as prince – sorry couldnt resist)are not our bosses although they used to be viewed that way, i beleive much to the harm of many churches.

    QUESTION: Along those same lines, who decides who is employed at your “local” church in the capacity of pastor?
    Good question. We do locally. however, the uncomfortable answer is that to some degree SGM does, because they oversee ordination (similar to almost all other denominations – but that doesnt make it right). in the past, sgm has not given any input or asked that we hire someone specifically at all and i dont see them doing so either. if we need to hire someone in the future, we may ask our regional guy if he knows of anyone who is looking to move but that would be the extent of input…

    QUESTION: How are hiring and firing decisions made?
    We make them locally as a plurality, seeking the input from an independent advisory team of men who would meet the qualifications of deacons. if they are in agreement and we want to move forward, we would make sure our caregroup leaders were on board as well and seek input from others who function as deacons, etc…

    Question: Is there ever a situation where your regional SGM overseers would weigh in on hiring and firing decisions?
    yes, probably – when replacing the senior pastor. but we/sgm are in the process of refining and clarifying this, since we aren’t exactly in agreement with this. i think there is traction here though

    QUESTION: Have the leaders in Gaithersburg ever sent you people or made suggestions about the guys you ought to hire?
    no – not unless we’ve asked.
    the only exception may be if SGM asks us to independently evaluate outside candidates for the PC, etc.

    thanks for your questions – i may not answer them all but i hope it helps.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Brothers and sisters – please don’t continue to make broad and sweeping comments about all of SGM or all SGM pastors or even all SGM church members. It is unfair and simply not true and you wouldn’t want others to do this to you.

    You are right, I wouldn’t like it if I was within an organization where the ‘broad and sweeping comments’ being applied were not favorable, and were generically being applied to me also. It would make me examine the organization, and leave. I dont think I would want to be part of something where the ‘broad and sweeping statements’ that were being made were offensive. I am not trying to be mean or even critical, I am just sayin..

  • Unreformed

    Ex Clcer’s mom,

    Yes, and amen. He will.

    Thanks for confirming. I was very hesitant to venture into such a sensitive area. Yet, I’m confident Holy Spirit was leading. Hearing affirmation from you is especially helpful reassuring.

  • justaneveragesgmpastor

    thank you for your prayers – i need and appreciate them.

    I agree our trust is in Jesus ultimately and we need to evaluate everything by His Word. we all must use discernment and not blindly follow any man.

    I agree with your statement, “that we cannot allow for one to continue to protect child molesters, cover up child abuse, and NOT protect our children. Parents need to know that they cannot trust anyone to protect their children, and that pedophiles roam freely within the organization of SGM.”

    indeed, we try our utmost to make sure this is the case in our church.

    I wouldnt agree that my church knowingly protects pedophiles, but i do beleive that some churches in sgm have done this and where that is the case, we should hold folks accountable.

    i really appreciate your comments and pray that God uses you as well.

  • Darkwingbird

    The best thing about SGM has always been The laity…the ekklesia of those who truly loved and cared deeply, who served Jesus first and foremost. In my experience, the majority of these folks were NOT in leadership. Some were CG leaders. A few were pastors. Generally speaking, the more caring they were, the less time they ended up staying in leadership…eventually stepping down or getting degifted. Some remained, of course. I know a lot of people still in SGM churches and count them as some of the greatest folks I know. It was always the corporate leaders and the majority of mid-level managers that I always felt wonky about. …and the fact that everyone always left because they were “prideful and unteachable.” …and the control that was exerted over backyard bible studies that started with lay-folk. …and the default sort of shunning that took place. …and the very evident issues of pride or outright error in some pastors that was only confessed generally. Nonetheless, I still miss so many of my SGM friends that it is painful. For a time, it really felt like the happiest place on earth. But it should only be for a few pieces of time, for the happiest place on earth is always passing away until the day we meet in Glory and I would always be willing to eat, laugh, grieve, mourn and wail with anyone in SGM…even CJ. Especially CJ. May God have His way in all this mess.

  • Mary

    Lynn #183. I was disfellowshipped from SGM for a past sin..that I was accused of still being in..and was not. I had no voice. No one would listen. No one even asked me one question. Or, drew me out. Or, cared one bit what my thoughts or affections were. Hearts were tightly closed to me. My care group leader tried to appeal on my behalf and was labeled a non-christian and also disfellowshipped. I have been sexually, physically, and emotionally abused my entire childhood – by grandfather, father, and stepfather. And, I must say what SGM did to me hurt way more because of their level of authority and their rejection, and mostly because they took away the only source of strength I had – Jesus Christ. If I was blind to my sin like they claimed – how did they expect me to be convicted – if they convinced me that Jesus didn’t love me? Who would be left to convict me? I almost didn’t recover. But, God in His extreme mercy rescued me. I am doing very well now. Madly in love with Jesus Christ. People from SGM would never beleive – even now – that I am not in sin – but I am not – at least not the sin they accused me of. Yes, I battle sin like everyone else – but I am not entangled in any sin. I am Jesus’ bride and I am madly in love with my Husband. And would never allow anyone the control over my life SGM had. It was wrong. I am in a good church. I am finally convined that nothing can separate me from the love of Christ. I am justified – not condemned. I love theology now and understand why it is so important to know what we beleive. I thank God for the life I have now. :D

  • justaneveragesgmpastor


    i apologize – I wasnt trying to call attention to sin – i meant to say the opposite actually – all of our sins are covered and I dont assume anyone here is sinning any more than any of us beleivers in Christ are.

    i am so sorry you were treated so wrongly too. that is terribly grievious to me and our Savior too.

    i don’t feel bad for SGM’s reputation either by the way – except where it takes away from the reputation of Christians and Jesus – then it is something I dislike.

    I know it may be too painful to think of, but have you been able to talk to anyone in sgm who has apologized to you or helped reconcile? if not and you want to, i could try to help. i’m just sorry you’ve been wounded and pray that you experience healing and freedom in christ.

  • justanaveragesgmpastor

    Kris – i tried replying to 3 of the comments but it doesnt seemt o be working for me.
    please feel free to give this email address to those who are looking to earnestly dialog and/or those who would like help addressing their grienvances with sgm.

  • Mary

    Dear “Not” Average SGM pastor, I call you not average because out of the 100’s of SGM pastors – it seems you are the only one here??? That makes you above average. Also, I would say that I have no grievance with SGM and I don’t want any apology. I don’t need a single thing from SGM. As a matter of fact, I have prayed for my old SGM church to prosper. In extreme honesty, I am here because I am waiting. Waiting and watching. Watching to see if SGM will be the leaders they claim to be. Will they confront their own sin as harshly as it’s members? Will they leave their gifts at the altar and reconcile with the people they know they have hurt? Will they publically acknowledge that extreme spiritual authority is not going to be tolerated? Will they get a non-paid board of elders in every SGM church? I am waiting to see if they will step up and be the men they claim to be. Maybe that is wrong. But it is real. So, I wait…..and when that finally happens – I will be very happy to ride off in the sunset with a smile toward heaven. :wink: If I could have all I want – I would want peace and unity. I would want God to be extremely honored. But, for now I wait.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Mary, I love hearing where you are in Christ now! Seems to me that God is the one to put on our hearts which sin He wants to deal with, and when..anybody else other than god should be looking at their own heart.
    This so reminds me of dealing with my own children, when they were young. Little kids are so quick to tell on each other, to focus on what the other one did wrong, before looking at their self. Each one wants to be “the favorite”, the one to ‘stand in the stead of Mom’, so to speak…”Mom put ME in charge”..
    Thankfully, when we stop listening to mere men, and cry, “Abba, Father”..he answers, because He loves us. I love Him too. :All-I-See-is-Love:

  • ExClcer'sMom

    justanaveragesgmpastor ,the way the blogs are set up is that one “responds” the same way they post initially..everything is public. Many of us feel more secure in a very public setting, rather than dealing with SGM privately. I may not be speaking for all, I am just saying how it is set up here to ‘respond’ to a post.

  • Mary

    Dear ExClcer’s Mom: I really like that analogy! Thanks for liking hearing where I am at now. I like sharing what God has done for me. The thing I love most about being free is that being submitted to Christ is now the joy of my heart. It is no longer fear and forced and control…it is sheer love. I sometimes have so much joy that I feel like I could burst. Jesus is extravagant with His love!! Life is very good!

  • Unassimilated

    JustAnAverageSGMPastor –

    Just an FYI – Comments may appear broad and sweeping at times. In my years with PDI/SGM I had the opportunity to work with roughly 20+ SGM churches. I comment from the years of work, attendance, teachings, experience, as well as many direct conversations with your ‘Bosses’ as some would call them. I am still very active in ministry, and I do not see in others the systematic problems and abuses you seemed to broadly and sweepingly dismissed as common to all churches.*

    The problems are pretty unique with SGM, and I have yet to see the wide spread systematic damages that replicate in SGM with other ministries. I will say that if we are talking about other churches that have re-packaged the Shepherding Movement methodology, then yes, your ministry has some common flaws with other churches.

    Second thought is that the good news is that Jesus came to establish a personal relationship between each one of us and himself. We are not called to emulate the examples of other men, nor do we need your instructions as to what a christian is, isn’t, or what we are to do, let alone how to do it. We all have bibles and brains, and the Holy Spirit to guide us. Thank you for your opinion though.

    Third thought, there is a difference between forgiveness, and trust. By SGM’s own teachings and ‘qualifications’, many of your leaders have disqualified themselves from the positions that they are now fighting to hold onto. Is it not reasonable, is it not biblical, or in the interest of the Gospel to do whatever one can to hold them to the standard that they promoted, taught, and held others to? Is it not our ‘biblical’ responsibility? They sure are not doing it for themselves.

    You are a Pastor, what value is the Gospel or scripture when it is not applied evenly and consistently?

    What example do we set when our leaders are held to a lesser standard?

    I would submit that this blog will never cause the scale of damage and strife to SGM as SGM has inflected on itself through its own arrogance and ignorance. It is from SGM’s arrogance and ignorance that this blog sprang up in the first place. From the cheap seats of the ‘international’ ministry that I am now a part of, CJ and company are a disastrous train wreck, and only fooling themselves. It is only a matter of time before the church universal may need to speak out.

    It is sin that is allowed to go unchecked, or that is minimized as garden variety that brings damage to the Church universal, not blogs like this. This blog is too specific to a particular culture, the culture of SGM. The casual passer by will not understand this blog, in the ways that the tens of thousands of former SGM members can.

    When you speak here, you are speaking to a former SGM audience, and quite a few current ones. If you guys were truly doing it right, we would not be here, nor would there be 12,000 other christian denominations. The term SGM survivor would not exist.

    Finally, if Gods word is universal, and self evident, than why does the SGM Gospel only really work in upper middle class, predominately white areas? The best answer I ever got was from CJ himself. He said it grieved him at times, but he did not know why. It was good to know that he was at least aware of the issue I suppose.

    I do know why, but I don’t think you would appreciate the answer.

    *”So, are there problems (even serious ones) within SGM? Clearly yes – as there are in all churches.”

  • Mary

    Kris – someday… it might be interesting to have a post asking people why they are here. I think the public gets this idea that we are all bitter peeps. Or, that we all have an unresolved grievance that we want SGM to hear. I bet the majority of people are here because they lived through something difficult and want to comfort others with the same comfort they have received. I just think it might be an interesting post..someday. :wink:

  • Liberty


    Thanks for sharing your story. YES YES YES to happily submitting tp Jesus now. When it is done as a result of genuinely thanking GOD for what he has done for us, it brings such joy and freedom. FORCING someone into obedience by control and threats may be effective for a time but it eventually has an ugly ending. Your story is an encouragement.

  • Unassimilated

    Oh, I am not as concerned with my grievances as you may call them, as I am with my SGM body count. Both in mortal terms and eternal in scope.

    Unless you guys have got yourselves into the resurrection business, there is nothing you have to redress my list.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    The thing I love most about being free is that being submitted to Christ is now the joy of my heart. It is no longer fear and forced and control…it is sheer love. I sometimes have so much joy that I feel like I could burst. Jesus is extravagant with His love!! Life is very good!

    Mary, my heart exactly! :goodpost

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Mary and Liberty, :goodpost :clap

  • Mary

    Liberty – I love your name!!! Thanks for your encouragement! Yes!! Exactly as you said! I never want the gospel to be ordinary to me. It is amazing! No greater love (Jesus)….creates no greater devotion (me). We all are saved by faith and therefore not one of us can boast. When a church gets so focused on sanctification more than justification they create self-focused people. I fix my eyes on Jesus..the author and finisher of my faith. This chick just ain’t got nothing without Him…but has everything with Him. God is amazing and life with Him is full.

  • Mary

    Thanks ExClcer’s Mom! :D

  • ExClcer'sMom

    You know, Mary, when they started to focus on all of that from the stage on Sun days, my mind just heard “wah, wah wah”..generic bickering small talk, because I believe as you do-we are saved by Grace, loved by Jesus, who took our sins on the cross, and created by a God who created us to love and for us to love Him back..It IS so much more simple than many want to admit-it is Love in it’s truest form..I am so proud to call you sister! :Heart: (But not ‘proud’ in a bad way. :wink: )

  • Lynn


    Thanks for sharing your story. So sorry that happened to you. I’m glad you’re at peace now. Which goes to show that sgm doesn’t believe what they teach. If they believe you have indwelling sin then why get on your case about sin. ugg

  • Mary

    ExClcer’s mom: Thankful and LOL on the proud comment – that is so funny! I am reading a book right now called “Beautiful Outlaw” by John Eldredge. It is wonderful. I think if more churches fell back in love with Jesus – and allowed people to freely love Him – we would be more powerful and inviting. At one point in the book the author points out that after the resurrection Jesus never showed up at the temple. He was at the beach, fishing with the boys. God is fun and wonderful and beautiful and relational and there is so much more to Him to draw us close – there is more to relating to God than confessing our sin and turning christianity into a self-help program. Anyway, it is a great read!

  • Mary

    Lynn, LOL about indwelling sin. That is so true. I will agree with them that I am horribly sinful. I am alot like CJ in that way! LOL! But…thanks be to God that declared me justified; Who took Christ’s righteousness and declared it mine. You don’t get more giving and loving than that! That is why I don’t need SGM. I have all I need.

  • Lynn


    I really have moved on with my life. I have moved on from sgm. I could no longer stay in the church because well, they hurt so many people. And I do know that other non-sgm churches do the same, but just because there is sin doesnt make it right. If someone molest a child, he/she doesn’t get a get out of jail free card because of sin. If that was the case, then nobody would be in jail. I’ll give you an example, so lets say I didn’t give to my local sgm church while I was attending, and you came to me about that, and I said, “well its indwelling sin I have”. From what I heard is that sgm believes you are sinning when you don’t give. I’m not going to start anything about that topic, but what I’m saying is that you cannot come in here and say people are sinning when that goes against yout teaching. You teach that you will always be in sin.

    My main problem with sgm is that they think they know how to handle every situation. When it comes to child abuse you don’t know how to handle it. Let the proper authorities take care of it. If a wife comes to you or anyone else tells you that their kid is being molested, hand it over to the police to let them investigate it. That is what beung humble is. You need to realize that you are not good to take care of these criminal acts. I’ll break it down for you, how you can call the police without others in the church finding out.

    step 1)a parent tells you their child was molested.
    step 2)pick up phone and call police.
    step3)police investigate it and find that its true.
    step 4) tell parents that their child should seek outside counselling.
    step 5) tell every parent that has a child in the church.
    Or if it comes to not be true, then simply, tell the parents the police found it to be untrue, and the child needs to figure out why they would tell such a lie. As for the person, they lied about, tell them you are sorry, but were only acting to protect a child. If you call the police and let them take care of things, then you wouldn’t have hurt many people. I know it would suck to have the police called on you for a child molestation, I know I would be mad if some kid said i did something to them, but I would be more curious to know why. I would ask them if they were covering for someone else. anyway, sorry for the long post. If I dob’t respond it will because i will be in bed.

  • SA


    So, please remember, we’re not all CJ Mahaney, Mickey, Brent, Dave, etc. And we don’t all blindly follow the leaders, even if some do. And please don’t lump us all together, as if all SGM pastors misapply the doctrine of sin, evaluate harshly, royally mishandle cases of sexual sin and abuse, etc.

    I have a question for you. I inquired as to whether SGM had or was developing a comprehensive public policy for addressing sexual abuse complaints. I was told that SGM did not/could not do this because it didn’t have the right to tell other churches what to do.

    I further researched the issue and while I haven’t looked at the websites of all 95 SGM-affiliated churches none of the ones I have seen post any such policy.

    Does your church have a public policy or statement about how it addresses sexual abuse issues like the one Al Mohler just revised at Southern Seminary?

    Does it follow any of the mandatory statewide reporting laws referenced on this U.S. Government site:

    If your church has no policy about addressing sexual abuse issues and/or complying with mandatory reporting requirements how can it be sure to avoid mishandling them?

  • Lynn


    You know if a pastor came to people and said they were sinning by not giving and we said, “its because of out indwelling sin”, they would not take that well and not see it as an excuse. Just like child molesters, they see it as they just have indwelling sin.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Mary, I will look for that book! I love fishing with the boys. :D I came to know Jesus from the Bible and searching-not from a church or a person. I remember in the 70’s, having ‘met jesus’-I felt His pure Love in a very destitute state..I felt His arms encompass me, and tell me He would see me through..Once (NOT in SGM) I was with some people who were talking about God:They were relating to Him as a power and strength..I voiced at that time, “I think He is about Love” . They actually scoffed at me, but I knew what I knew!
    The Bible says “Money is the root of all evil”, and “Love conquers all”, and “God is Love”..somewhere in there I agree power gets put in with money somewhere along the line, but the rest is simple..”Become as little children”. Not meaning little children as in we listen to ‘man’ to hear from God, but that, as little children, we are focused entirely on what ‘our parent(God Himself) and no other has to say, and that is that! Hey, I could be wrong, too, cuz I am just human! We have to ask God Himself-which is what He wants-communion with each of us as individuals, because He loves us individually.He loves us individually, wants a personal relationship with each of us, yet want us to get along collectively. Okay, let me jump off this soapbox before I REALLY get started! LOL!

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Beautiful Outlaw has come to steal us away from all misrepresentations of Jesus. Like Jesus Himself, some will find it scandalous, but this book is indeed beautiful, and it inspires deep, deep love of Jesus.

    I think I am going to seek this book out..Thanks, Mary!

  • SA


    I have a question for you regarding rhetoric and logic. I agree that people who have gone to college for seven years are more likely to manage a church well than those who have not. There’s probably empirical evidence to that effect as insurance carriers usually ask a church if it requires its pastors to attend accredited seminaries prior to deciding whether or not to issue that church a liability policy.

    However I think there’s a difference between stating that there’s likely some correlation between educational background and professional conduct and insulting people who haven’t been to college or seminary by calling them illiterate unless one really does believe that they cannot read or write.

    In fact, the latter action seems like an ad hominem attack most logicians would regard as a logical fallacy that detracts from rather than adds to an argument.

    What do you think? :-)

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Not trying to answer for DPV, cuz I know he can answer for himself, btu my thoughts are:
    When one tries to appear as though ‘expert’, despite any evidence of knowledge, by experience or book, then he calls them into question. Even colleges will now give “accreditation” for “life experiences”, btu one must show the knowledge. Therefore, I think when DPV calls CJ “un-scholarly” he is not just referring to CJ’s lack of education, but CJ’s lack of wisdom or knowledge-something CJ leads a title to seem necessary of one other or another. DPV does not chide me for my lack of education, but I do not boast to be able to lead 1,000s..I “have lead” 13 or more, but he does not call me to lack of entitlement either, barbecue I have accomplished it-despite whatever formal education someone would think it requires. Therefore, what I am assuming, is that DPV recognizes “knowledge and wisdom”, and/or education, to which CJ seems to have neither.
    Sorry for answering first, DPV..I know you are able..I am going to bed. G’night, all! :Zzzzzz:

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Obvioulsy, I must improve with editing and proof reading..meant *because I have accomplished it*, not “barbecue”… :spin

  • NameGoesHere

    DPV, regarding your post at #118:

    In corporate America, when the boss tells you “your job is safe” then you know it is time to look for a new one.

    When the Federal Reserve chairman says “the banks are safe” then you know a big one is about to fail.

    When Al Mohler fans his plume on the subject of sex abuse, then you can be sure he is taking advantage of the opportunity to convince people that he’s not capable of doing exactly what he’s done.

  • Mole

    5yearsinPDI summed up alot of what I would say. In addition I would include the following, I think you are being very naive and are minimizing the horrific abuse that has been propagated by SGM doctrine and practice, over a long period of time. You speak as if SGM has incurred a scratch, and all other churches out there have scratches too.
    Unfortunately, the difference with SGM is, they do not have a scratch. They have a cancer that needs to be radically removed. Additionally, as long as you are a pastor in SGM or a member of SGM (unless you are aggressively fighting), you are vicariously supporting an organization that has destroyed many lives, and despite that destruction, refuses to confess sin and ask those they have hurt for forgiveness.
    I believe A of R will confirm what I am saying. There will be no place to hide. Once you become aware of the atrocities done by SGM and decide not to adamantly and courageously confront them, you become an accomplice and are complicit in the harm they conrinue to do (unless you are aggressively confronting them). By the way, have you done this? Have you tenaciously confronted SGM for the irreperable harm they have caused the flock of God? I imagine you think we (x-SGMers) are deceived because of our vastly different perspectives. One thing for sure…… one of us is deceived. Are you willing to embrace A of R’s findings and take responsibility for what they will expose? It will not be a scratch. I’m afraid their diagnosis will be, “You have a malignant cancer”. Do you know what happens to people who live in denial regarding cancer, and instead believe they just have a scratch? Kris has my permission to give you my email address. I would love to talk to you.

  • NameGoesHere

    Let me be clear: I am not accusing Al Mohler of ever having covered up a child molestation. I do not believe he would do so.

    However, in 2007 a local Louisville television station, WHAS-11, reported that two Southern Seminary students were on the sex offender registry.

    As for the seminary students, a seminary spokesman confirmed that the students are at the school, but could not confirm their sex offender status.

    “Our current policy is that no student on the sex offender registry can be admitted as a student at Southern Seminary,” said Lawrence Smith. Asked if students admitted prior to the implementation of the current policy can remain on campus even if they are on such a registry, Smith said, “You could draw that conclusion.”

    When asked if he could say that is the case with the particular students in question, Smith said, “I can’t,” citing privacy issues.

    The seminary did the right thing in changing their reporting policy in the wake of the Penn State fiasco. However, they could have gone further in 2007 and changed their handbook to require sex acts against children to be reported to the police. The current fanfare is hypocritical but typical.


  • Persona

    Kris, I had to chuckle when I got to the list of questions you asked of Average Pastor. Ha! You may very well be the first person to ever ask Average Pastor those questions.

    In three decades as a member of an sgm church I never heard even one person ask such questions. To my knowledge, there is no open discussion about SGM hiring practices, the specific role of the apostle, or the role of headquarters in situations that occur in SGM churches.

    And, I am pretty sure there are no open discussions about salaries or raises. Not one person knows what their pastor earns each year, how they are evaluated, or anything at all about their employment package. We don’t even know how much vacation they get. Members are simply not privy to that level of detail. And, I have never met an SGM pastor volunteer any of that information to me or anyone I know.

  • Liberty


    I read your barbecue sentence several times :scratch and finally just moved on. Lol! Thanks for the laugh :)

  • SA

    Thanks, Exclcers Mom. My question was open even though I addressed it to DPV because he’s interested in logic and rhetoric, I believe.

    I agree with you regarding the word “unscholarly” as that’s a broad term. It was the word “illiterate” that I was taking exception to as it denotes an inability to read and write. In particular the generalization that SGM is “full of illiterates” (sorry if I don’t have the quote down quite right, DPV)is arguably an insult that is difficult to substantiate and therefore does not strengthen a logical argument.

    While I’m at it I might as well say that I do think educational issues have played a big role in SGM’s problems to date. For one thing many accredited seminaries have taught students how to put together and adhere to a coherent policy regarding sexual abuse allegations for many years. By contrast SGM’s pastor’s college hasn’t touched this issue till this year and we’ve all seen the results of that omitted that topic from the curriculum.

    Also SGM pastors without seminary degrees are virtually unemployable outside SGM and therefore likely feel more pressured to do unethical things than their better educated peers.

    For example ministers who go to college and an accredited seminary can have a falling out with their denomination and seek work in another denomination, become chaplains at hospitals or in the army, and perform many other tasks for the church that pay living wages. They can also change careers.

    By contrast someone who has only attended an unaccredited pastor’s college, acknowledged by less than 100 churches, may face a decision such as caving into pressure to cover up a sexual abuse incident or becoming homeless with no job prospects.

  • Happymom

    SA said in comment #224 – “By contrast someone who has only attended an unaccredited pastor’s college, acknowledged by less than 100 churches, may face a decision such as caving into pressure to cover up a sexual abuse incident or becoming homeless with no job prospects.”

    IMHO THAT explains a lot.

  • Happymom


    “But I must admit I’m a little tired of it all and just want to get back to serving and caring for the church that I dearly love.”

    Am I reading that right?????….YOU’RE a LITTLE TIRED of it ALL????? Get my email address from Kris and I’ll fill you in on the life of Child B and all that she goes through to live another day.
    I appreciate your attempt here but I find your cavalier “if I remember to come back to this site” and “I don’t want to put up with the hassle” rather offensive. Is that how you view YOUR church members…cause we are the Body of Christ too. If you want to “get back to serving and caring for the church that you dearly love” perhaps you should start by challenging your leaders to deal with what is on these blogs.

  • Todd Wilhelm

    Reference post #184 from justanaveragesgmpastor:

    Thanks for weighing in, I appreciate your comments. I attended Sovereign Grace Church in Gilbert, AZ from approximately 2002-2007. I having nothing but good things to say about Rich Richardson, Trey Richardson and Chris Daukas. All three of these guys were great pastors; kind, compassionate, and down to earth. They all love the Lord and His people. I was happy to sit under their teaching. Were they perfect? No, nobody is, but I had no problems with them. I would also add that I met many great people in that church. So I don’t lump all together. That said I think the leadership of SGM has some problems. It appears CJ surrounds himself with men who will only say what they know he wants to hear. It appears to me that if you are a dissenting voice you will not be around for long. I would say the recent move by the pastor of the Crossway Church in Charlotte to “mark” Brent Detweiler is evidence of what this unhealthy type of leadership breeds – underlings whose actions are motivated less by thoughtful application of scripture to life as opposed to blatant attempts to suck up to CJ.

    I was glad to read you are not afraid to voice your concerns with SGM leadership. I think if all Pastors within SGM followed your example change would have to occur. Polity would be a good place to start. I am really encouraged to see CLC is taking steps to do that and I hope other churches follow their lead. As you said we are all brothers in the Lord. I think if SGM leadership would actually admit their sins and also admit that a true brother can have a dissenting opinion on any subject matter and still be loved and embraced in the inner sanctum of their leadership things would get much better. It strikes me as just a bit ironic that CJ is one of the guys in the T4G leadership, and yet doesn’t seem to be able to allow differing opinions in the SGM “family.”

  • Mary

    Dear Happy Mom – Well said # 226

    average pastor for sure seems more concerned about himself being treated unfairly by being associated with sinful leaders from the blog than he does about the body of Christ. But, that is part of being a “family” of churches instead of being independent. As a family, you will have to deal with the family issues. If you don’t want to be associated – pull your church out of SGM. But the pastor made it clear he ain’t going no where:”I’m also aware of many good things that God has done through this flawed group of churches. And I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to try to be “always reforming”, as the Reformers said but I don’t assume that the grass is greener elsewhere and if it is, it may be because it is full of manure too.”

    If the average pastor has not sinned against his church, and he thinks these problems are by a small handful of few – why not dismiss the few from leadership? Or, does average pastor not really have any say in the organization. How healthy is a family when the members of the family have no say. Even he stated he doesn’t want the flack Curtis and others got…really. So he admits that SGM has a family has a “don’t talk” rule…that screams unhealthy.

    And, the grass is greener on the other side. My church my from time to time not smell the way I want – but it is a beautiful church.

    If SGM pastors don’t want to be associated with those that smell bad – that is up to them to fix – not us.

  • Mary

    ExClc’ers mom: Let me know once you start getting into the book. It is so wonderful. All about rediscovering the true personality of Jesus. :D It is delicious!

  • Square Peg

    To Mary #204,

    I originally came here because I knew that CJ was stepping down, and I figured I’d get more insight into what was/is going on at SGM. Also, I had decided to leave my own SGM church anyway…had been told previously to avoid the blogs because of dissention, distortion, twisting of truth by disgruntled people, etc.

    But, having been through an abusive church environment once before in a non-SGM church before the days of the Internet, I knew better. When you seen numerous people gathering together over concerns…then, you know that something is rotten in the state of Denmark. I’ve seen it before, and in that lesson I learned that you MUST talk to those who have gone on and left. That’s how you find out what has been covered up and hidden. That is not gossip or slander. It is uncovering truth. Sure, there may be a mixture of hurt feelings, sour grapes, distortion, etc. But, the discerning person can see through to the hurts and valid situations that are real. I didn’t know about the child sexual molestation situations until coming here. I’ve no reason to believe that these numerous stories are all made up. What gain would there be in doing such a thing?

    I’ve had my own SGM ups, downs, and challenges (but nothing of the caliber experienced by some)…plus I am struggling in my faith because I came into SGM to get AWAY from an abusive church situation. I specifically didn’t want to go out of the frying pan and into the fire. Yet, that is what happened, apparently. Although, I didn’t know it until this last year. So, I am jumpy and nervous about finding a new church home. I am struggling in my thinking…how can I trust God to lead me to a safe place. How can I trust God? I thought I was trusting Him in my last 2 selections of a church community…about 10 years in each church…yet each one of those turned out to be “shepherding” situations and then-some.

    So, I am here trying to find solace in knowing that I am not alone, and it isn’t just me. I am also looking for the positive stories to encourage me…of those who have made it through to the other side…and still love and trust God.

  • Happymom

    Hi Mary,

    I don’t want to take credit for Persona’s comments in #226. :)
    Also, thanks for your comments here. I am so sorry to hear what you have gone through.
    I hope finding others who can sympathize with you has been helpful and I am so glad to hear you have moved on and found a healthy church.

  • Former CLC'er

    @Square Peg – I feel your heart, because I am right there with you. I was in a good church for awhile after leaving CLC, but for the past three years was in a church with a narcissistic pastor without realizing it. Earlier this year, I started a mass exodus of people from the church after confronting the pastor, so I am a bit jaded on church leadership. I said never again would I financially support a church and would not trust a pastor. Some days I wonder where my faith is, but thankfully I do read my Bible and on most days get something out of it, and also am able to pray. I have started attending church again and enjoy it. But last week when the pastor preached on Acts 2 and the church being a community, I became so angry and spouted off to my friend that that doesn’t exist and I won’t believe in it any more. That was on of CLC’s signature passages back in the day. May the Holy Spirit heal all of us and bring us back to a simple relationship with Jesus, and perhaps someday to the church as well!

  • ExClcer'sMom

    HappyMom, post #230..I haven’t finished catching up with the posts, but I HAD to stop to post this to you! :clap :goodpost :clap

    THAT is what this is all about! This is not about, “I’m sorry I may have hurt your feelings once or twice”, this is about real lives with real devastation going on! :bang

  • Hi all –

    Guy and I are getting ready to get on the road again for another day in the car with the kiddos. (Pray for us! :D ) (Actually, so far, everyone has been really good and there haven’t been any squabbles, which has been amazing!) (But now that I’ve said that, we all know what will happen.)

    Anyway, we’re going to be away from the internet until at least tonight, and I don’t have time right now to respond to any of the comments (although I’m itchin’ to).

    “AveragePastor” – thank you so much for returning and answering my questions. I agree with whoever it was who said that the fact you’re here interacting with us shows that you’re actually NOT an “average” pastor. :D

    Our lovely moderation system may also cause some of your comments to go into the moderation queue. If that happens, it’s not personal – it’s just the vaguaries of the system. (Sometimes, even MY comments have ended up there. Go figure.) We’ll clear out the moderation queue tonight if possible.

    Anyway, have a great day!

  • ExClcer'sMom

    So, I am jumpy and nervous about finding a new church home. I am struggling in my thinking…how can I trust God to lead me to a safe place. How can I trust God? I thought I was trusting Him in my last 2 selections of a church community…about 10 years in each church…yet each one of those turned out to be “shepherding” situations and then-some.

    Square Peg, I understand how you feel that way. On another side, however, consider that, good or bad, perhaps God led you where you have been to bring you into the person you are today. You now have something to ‘contribute’, because you have ‘been there’..Therefore, you HAVE been trusting Him as He led you in and out of each church in your walk with HIM..we never know how and where He may use us. Just a thought..

  • Argus

    Unassimilated, I am troubled by some things you posted. If I am reading correctly, I am deeply upset by the implications of some stories I apparently missed.

    Would you please clarify what you meant by “body count” in post #206? It seems you are saying people have literally died over SGM situations. Am I misreading that?

    I do know some have suffered grievous wounds from pastoral mistreatment that added insult to injury, and some have suffered needlessly because proper psychological or psychiatric therapies were virtually forbidden to them.

    Even in my own family, my marriage and some of our children’s lives only survived because we violated ‘protocol’ to seek outside therapeutic intervention.

    I have a spouse who loves the Lord and seeks His face daily, who dearly loves the family, and who works valiantly to make life work, yet is dysfunctional and crazy-making to live with when untreated, yet is suddenly wonderful, lovable, and “in right mind” with just one pill of prescribed medication daily.

    I have had a child who suffers from similar issues rushed to the emergency room for psychiatric lock-down for being a danger to self or others in a manic-depressive meltdown.

    I have had another child almost suicidally depressed who has made a wonderful recovery with proper medication and treatment.

    Everyone in my family is a born-gain believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, raised in church, and in SGM for the last 13 years or so. Yet medical, mental-health issues run in the family. SGM could only deal with presenting symptoms as sin issues. Certainly, sin is present — but not causative. If sin were the root of the problem, medication would not be the immediate and ongoing effective remedy.

    Anyway, I wonder what you meant in your post.

  • Argus

    Also, for Unassimilated in #203, your said

    Finally, if Gods word is universal, and self evident, than why does the SGM Gospel only really work in upper middle class, predominately white areas? The best answer I ever got was from CJ himself. He said it grieved him at times, but he did not know why. It was good to know that he was at least aware of the issue I suppose.
    I do know why, but I don’t think you would appreciate the answer.

    I have opinions, but I would like to hear your answer for that one, too.

  • Argo

    Ah…shoot. I KNEW this would happen. So sorry everyone, for crying wolf. Dang…man, I think I fell of the wagon. Well, if CJ can do it… Just think of this post as my previously scheduled “speaking arrangement”.

    Well…I think my last post, I was giving into the fear of man, and fear. I know that may not make sense, but, well, it does to me.

    And THEN an Average Pastor chimed in. Dude…that’s not fair to do to a guy who has a big mouth like me and lots of opinions to spare…if opinions were gold, we’d not have a national debt.

    Average Pastor? Is there such a thing for one who “dies to himself so that each Sunday they may give life to the listeners”…per CJ at the Pastor’s Conference 2011? Or for one who stands in the “very stead of God”. Dear Average Pastor, I’d be very careful who you are calling average. Clearly, your leadership does not share your views.

    I have one question, and yes, I am cynical, and please, don’t be offended, but we here on the blogs (which, by the way, your leaders, whom you answer to, have forbidden members to read or comment on…so, what are you really doing here?) need, and I think deserve to know your true heart. My question(s) is/are: Why are you posting on this blog? And does this have anything to do with damage control, or a realization that many current members of SGM might be on these blogs and trying to make up their minds whether or not SGM is a place where they should be giving their time and money? Have you told anyone that you are posting on this blog…anyone in leadership, that is, either in your church, or SGM or another SGM church? And were you asked, or encouraged to post on this blog by anyone in leadership?

    Please understand, this is not an accusation…at all. I understand we need to be VERY careful when we question people’s motives, so I’m NOT going the accusation route. But I do want you to be totally honest about why you’ve decided to post here after it has been made abundantly clear by the SGM authority that these blogs are off limits for anyone who wants to remain a part of SGM. For me, until I know why you are here, honestly, without spin, half-truths, or equivocating, it is difficult for me to trust you. Again, by all public announcements, you are to view these blogs as gossip and slander and serving no practical purpose to SGM.

    To summarize: Why are you here? Were you asked to come on here by anyone in authority, and if so, why? Is this damage control? Is this to sway people “on the fence”. Have you told anyone in authority over you that you have posted on this blog; does anyone know?


  • Argo

    Thank you so much to all of you for your encouraging words. My gosh…you are the best. So sorry for waffling on this; please forgive me.

  • Mary

    Dear Square Peg, Wow! Me too! 10 years in 2 authoritarian churches = 20 years of heartbreak…but I have to tell you there are actually really good churches out there. Both of my bad experiences were in non-denominational churches. The first one was worsh than SGM. I started seeking denominational churches and found them grounded and refreshing. I actually joked with the pastor of my first church after SGM that I don’t seem to pick churches very well – so he might as well prepare to fall off the deep end once I join :) but he never took me up on it!I think the enemy likes to come and say it is something wrong in us to pick the controlling church and to stay. But, I think we stay because we are told it is sin to leave – and we love Jesus – and don’t want to sin. But, it is ok to leave. I love my new church. I would have to give it a 10. But, I promise you – they ever lean toward control, and don’t repent, I would have no problem walking away. I bet you too have learned enough from SGM to know when to fold ‘em. But, we are a body and I think church is great…SGM not so much. I think it is better for churches to be independent. SGM has too much control and the “family” is not independent. I am so sorry you went through such bad church expereinces and I pray you find a church where you can just be free to love Jesus! You can for sure trust God. Religious leaders – not always. Even the ones in Jesus’ day couldn’t be trusted. If you get a chance you might benefit from the book I talked about, Beautiful Outlaw. It really talks about getting away from the religious fog and rediscovering Jesus. It is really good. I will pray for you to find a good church.

  • Roadwork


    To preface this, normally I’m more gracious but my patience is wearing thin at the moment.

    Please stop with the “plurality of elders” crap and use terms the way the rest of the normal Christian world uses them. You mean “paid pastors on staff”. Call it what it is.

    QUESTION: How are hiring and firing decisions made?
    We make them locally as a plurality, seeking the input from an independent advisory team of men who would meet the qualifications of deacons. if they are in agreement and we want to move forward, we would make sure our caregroup leaders were on board as well and seek input from others who function as deacons, etc…

    In other words, the paid pastors have the final say. “Input” and vote are two completely different things. “Input” can and has been ignored.

    We were in SGM for 20 some years spanning three different churches. If I’ve made any “sweeping comments” it’s because of my observations over the years and across different churches. There’s a lot more “commonality” than independence.

    And I’m done with the “independent advisory team of men” thing. There are way too many women in SGM a lot more sensitive to humbling themselves before God than many of the “leaders” that believe in a way of doing things rather than Him who is The Way.

    My wife went to our new church’s women’s meeting Thursday night. She returned overjoyed that they actually studied the BIBLE by itself! Not a book, not some sermon. They studied the only thing that brings life – the Word of God.

    The way SGM “serves” women is a joke and I personally find it degrading to any woman with half a brain and that has the Holy Ghost living inside.

    Allow caregroup to study the bible. Give caregroup leaders the freedom to go any direction the Holy Ghost may lead so that the people are edified and built up in Him. Stop playing traffic cop (micromanaging) in every part of church life.

    In Him we live and move and have our being not the SGM script for “how to do church the ‘biblical’ way”.

    Those are my “sweeping comments” spanning two decades and three churches.

    Here are some hard questions:

    Per capita, SGM seems to leave a trail of spiritual wreckage more than it produces real disciples. Why is that?

    Although SGM would say they “value women and women’s roles” could you please explain why the SGM churches we’ve attended put forth no time, effort or money into organizing any sort of church-wide women’s ministry?

    What missionaries or missionary organizations does your “independent” church directly support?

    Since you have some level of disagreement with current SGM leadership, have you or are you willing to, remove books authored by CJ, Harvey, etc, from your bookstore?

    Would you allow the caregroup to direct and study scriptures on their own or must they continue to review your Sunday message? Why? Does your Sunday message carry more importance than group Bible study?

  • Luna Moth


    I appreciate your answering people’s questions. You said you’d rather engage in dialogue through email. I would rather you would engage in dialogue here, where we can all “hear” what you have to say. Otherwise it is likely that you will be answering the same questions over and over, because many of us have the same questions.

    So my vote is for continued dialogue here, out in the open.

  • Luna Moth

    And here’s a question for you~~

    You said:

    Our team of elders/pastors is first and foremost accountable to Jesus and then the flock that we serve. After that, we voluntarily seek the input of our regional team leader when we are making large decisions, etc…

    You say you are accountable to “the flock.” How does that work out in practice? How do you seek and receive input from the church members? If you are heading in a direction that most of the members do not agree with, will you stop heading that way?

    Do the church members have any sort of real, binding influence on how the church is run?

  • Oswald

    justanavg,etc #191 — States that local pastors attend conferences if they feel they would be beneficial to them, (not a quote). I listen to many conference recordings of messages as well as Q & A and I enjoy the things I hear. At the 2010 T4G conference someone was saying that in their large group of attenders there were (so many) from this denomination and (so many) from this denomination, but the largest group represented was SGM then he added, “but we know that’s because they are required to be here”. I heard this spoken. Then, of course, everyone laughed. Sounded like they all knew that corporate gets what corporate wants. SGM was represented so well by design.

  • SA


    Thank you. Your humble opinion means a lot considering your experiences with SGM. As I recall several people commented on Brent Detwiler’s blog, when it was till taking comments, to the effect that they knew pastors who wanted to leave SGM but could not because they don’t have skills that are valued by the broader world. The large number of SGM pastors who have not been to college and/or seminary suggests that SGM prefers to hire people that will quickly become financially dependent on its system.

    Joshua Harris, by contrast, can stand up to SGM because he comes from a prominent family and has a huge personal following. If things don’t work out with CLC/SGM he can find other sources of income. He’s not financially dependent on the system.

    Esther Dyson, a prominent public intellectual in the ’90s who went to Harvard at age 15, said that she learned early on that if you want to change the world you have to study economics not politics.

    I’ve often wished I had learned to think that way earlier on. :-)

  • ExClcer'sMom

    SA, thank you! I believe you just gave me a direction for picking next semester’s classes!!

  • covfel barcode 451

    @ 177 Lynn

    I’ve been a member of cov fel for a few years now, leaving soon, and Jim is the only one I would trust. I get the same feeling that he’s not sgm-washed. He shoulda been the senior pastor… Did I say that outloud??

  • FashionablyLate

    For those who are looking for a new church and are having trouble trusting themselves and/or God after their time in SGM or other unhelpful churches….

    I can relate! I was in a very controlling, cultish group for years and then spent time in SGM. After I realized the extent of the dysfunction, I completely doubted my ability to find a healthy spiritual community. For me, it was important to look at the reasons I was drawn to SGM and the other group in the first place. Why did I not recognize the red flags? This involved counseling, in my case, as well as reading books like The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse (Johnson & VanVonderen). This was a process. I think that realizing it’s not going to happen overnight is important. Extend some grace to yourself.

  • SA

    Dear ExCLCers Mom:

    Good luck with your classes. I learned more in one project management finance class than I learned in two years of college even though I had to spend up to 30 hours a week on it and barely acquired the requisite passing grade of 80%. If your program has any project management classes I recommend takiing them.

  • Nickname

    Given the current situation, I believe there are many ‘average’ pastors who’d like to abandon the SGM Titanic, but there aren’t enough lifeboats — hey, it was supposed to be unsinkable with all that sound doctrine.

    But these guys –earnest, sincere, pastors who just want to love God and His people — are stuck between a rock and a hard place. If they wish to continue pastoring, they have few options outside SGM — their Pastors College certificate isn’t worth a dime, and the competition for pastoral positions is stiff these days. One tiny non-denominational church I know of, with very little to offer in a compensation package, placed a notice in ONE online site –and has received over three hundred applications in less than two weeks.

    SGM has ways of keeping pastors arranging the deck chairs in the same way they keep young women from jumping ship. Keep ‘em uneducated and working at home until it’s too late for other options.

    Suggestion: Pastors and congregations could withdraw from SGM. They don’t get much bang for their buck there anyway. If they want to order stuff from SGM, they still could do that. They could still pay SGM speakers to come visit, in the off-chance they’d want them to come. They could still buy SGM music and attend conferences if they want to.

    Congregations could keep the funds they previously kissed goodbye when they paid dues to SGM, plus a designated fund, to help their current pastors get seminary educations, few strings attached — which would help them both internally in their current situations and in the greater Christian world should they need/want to go elsewhere for employment.

  • Lynn

    What if the women had one of those work from home jobs? I mean they would be working from home, then ;)

  • QE2

    I have given thought to why “Well, no person/church is perfect” really irritates me. After all, it’s a true statement. It’s not that I think any person or church IS perfect or possibly could be-we all know that only Jesus was sinlessly perfect.

    I think it’s because the only time I hear it is when someone is accused of serious sin and is trying to weasel their way off the hot seat.

    It’s a way to deflect-let’s stop talking about my sin-because, actually, we are all the same-no one is perfect!

    And while that’s true, the issue is never about perfection- it is about specific sin being pointed out and exposed, sin that needs to be acknowledged and repented of, and the person/church in sin needs to ask forgiveness from the people they sinned against.

    So please, when we are talking specific sin issues that have harmed a great many people greatly, let’s stick to the topic at hand and not minimize the issue at hand by pulling out the “No one is perfect” card.

    Or you will cause me to stumble…

  • Diego

    Luna Moth 246
    Been my experience when a layperson panel is put together to advise or “hold pastor/elder accountable”, recommendations from the lay-panel easily put aside at the corporation (non-biblical church govt) board or group of elders vote. Laymember panels give an illusion of layperson involvement with decision making in some SG churches.

  • Unassimilated

    Argo The simple answer to your question of the SGM Gospel is;

    Point #1 –

    – The Gospel simply stated is “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

    – The SGM Gospel is a program of sanctification that brings the local church in as the next ‘logical’ and ‘biblicaly’ appointed step in the process of drawing closer to God in this life, and in preparation for the next. To simply accept Christ in SGM is not sufficient. One is required to plug into the local church, and preferably the local SGM church. If other churches were truly sufficient, SGM would not plant in heavily ‘churched’ areas.

    Now I am not here to debate or weigh in on weather we are required to formally join a church, or if, as believers, we simply and sufficiently become part of the church universal. It would be my expectation that once a believer, one would desire to seek out other believers to share their experience. Where that brings you, and to what it brings you to, is ultimately between you and God.

    Point #2

    Provision – SGM has long held the belief that there are three ways to know if ‘God is in something.’

    – Is there a ‘biblical need?’ This confirmed by wise council/each other.
    – Is there provision, i.e., funds, faith, people, resources?
    – What is the anticipated ‘biblical’ fruit.

    Provision is the most key to defining the SGM Gospel. A church plant should become self sufficient in two years. It should constantly be growing, and it should bring a return, that is, support the missions of the parent ministry. This support comes not only as tithe to SGM, but also as consumption of SGM product, as well as a growing commitment to the ‘God ordained leaderships practices and policies.’

    So that brings us to the dirty word of money.

    The SGM program is not for the light in pocket. There are many things to see, hold, listen to, attend, or buy, which CJ would be the first to point out, ‘the benefit will far exceed the meager financial cost.’ Without Money, SGM does not grow, without money SGM does not plant, without money, SGM does not have influence. But don’t call it money, call it provision.

    I will note that in the poorer areas, the logistics of ‘participation’ alone make SGM membership difficult a best. I’ve worked in inner city programs, and where the people work, there are long grueling hours, dual incomes, and second jobs. For those that don’t, there are circumstances that prevent them from full time employment. If someone has a medical, physical, or situational condition one that prevents them from working, chances are the 10-15 hours a week of SGM attending are going to be a challenge as well.

    Point #3

    Authority – Simply stated by one of the SGM apostles, “Do you want to be the white guy that tells an inner city brother that you are his God appointed authority?”

    Point #4

    Rapid expansion – If you still can find a copy of Dave Harvey’s Polity book, there was a section where he said that the perceived benefits or safety’s of a congregational leadership are unnecessary, and cumbersome. He goes on to state that SGM has intentionally dismisses this form of governance for the sake of rapid growth. On the whole, there are many things in the polity book that support a rapid growth system.
    (If you need the quotes I can dig them up.)

    Summation –

    In short, if your Gospel program is an add on to the life of Jesus, designed for rapid growth, and requires self generating ‘provision’, you will need to avoid the poorer areas. They can not generate the provision, nor are they as receptive to the concepts of authority that in part, help secure said provision. You will constantly be at odds with them in trying to encourage SGM spending, and SGM attending. They have tried in the past, and failed.

    In closing, the ‘good news’ is free, and for all. God does not need SGM to stay in ‘business.’ I trust that the life and sacrifice of Jesus were sufficient. However, SGM does need the name, image, and likeness of God to promote their brand, otherwise it would simply be called for what it is, spiritual or cosmic extortion.

    In SGM, yes Jesus saved you, but without the full participation, agreement, and obedience with SGM, they will claim otherwise.

    So Argo, I hope that is helpful. This could have been a few pages, but I kept it as short and concise as possible. I could have just said that the SGM gospel is a false gospel, or a tiered gospel, but I am not sure that would have been as helpful.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Unassimilated, I totally understand and agree with all you just wrote! The “tiered gospel” is something I recently realized, but did not know how to articulate properly-Thanks!

  • Unassimilated

    Argo –

    The now public knowledge that CJ does not practice what he preaches threatens to strip
    away the name, image, and likeness of God that is required to promote their brand.

    This site, and others, have served to strip away the amnesty that SGM requires from their past, and now present, to survive. It has been amnesty from their past that has also helped them to hold onto the image, and likeness of God. Albeit a false image.

    They kinda look silly promoting this, “God ordained authority,” thing of theirs when they won’t follow their own teachings. IMO

    The notion that anyone is adding to the provision of SGM in this time, for me, is astonishing. However, for many, they know not what they do. SGM faithfulness comes with quite a price tag, spiritually, financially, and eternally, wouldn’t you say.

    Be encouraged though. We were all there at one time. It was our desire to draw closer to God, and be a part of his kingdom here on earth that drew most of us in.
    If we knew what they were before hand, I would like to believe most of us would have never darkened an SGM door.

    Do not loose your love for God simply because of a group of self serving, delusional men. That desire to draw closer to God is a divine, sprit led desire, and he is always there for youWe have his word, his example, and his promice.

    Our relationship with Christ is first and formost, a personal one. He is the source, not the SGM church. I know I grew weary of trying to ‘recharge’ at a Sunday corporate.
    Believe & receive my friend. A heart felt time in his word can be more powerful, more meaningful, and more transformational than a month of Sundays.

    PS – Ever wonder why Christ spent his forty days with the Apostles, rather than with church leaders? Some say it was to underscore the personal nature of our relationship. Others say that there was nothing redeemable in the denominations of the day. What say you?

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Ex Mom, where ya been? We bring forth fruit thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.

    I knew a church many years ago where they openly taught that the only way to have 100 fold fruit was to have their prophets prophesy over you and impart spiritual gifts. I knew another church with the same basic message, but at that one the 100 fold Christians had to have enough faith to never go to doctors, use medicine, or confess sickness. Then there were the ones where if you didn’t speak in tongues you were on a lower level and could not be 100 fold.

    SGM is just more of the same old- same old. They have a different definition of what it is to be a hundred fold Christian, and they don’t openly use those words, but you get the message loud and clear. Follow the rules, rise up in the ranks, salute the masters, and you too can advance from 30 fold to 60 fold and eventually 100 fold. ( unless you are a woman….not sure women can ever make the grade at all).


  • Unassimilated

    from the SGM what we believe –

    Women play a vital role in the life of the church, but in keeping with God’s created design they are not permitted “to teach or to exercise authority over a man”

    Leadership in the church is male.

  • Unassimilated

    I wish SGM would expand on what that ‘vital role’ looks like on the SGM site, rather than on ‘girl talk’. Perhaps they should link the words vital role to the girl talk page.

    Hey Dave Harvey, dare ya to!

  • Mr. Stretch

    Unassimilated #256

    You are spot on.

  • Defended

    Happymom, I sincerely hope that Mr. Average Pastor emails and engages you.

    Avg Pastor (#184) said:

    ok – let me just say that I’m really not interested in engaging in a lot of dialog here about all of the Brent, CJ, Mickey stuff in SGM currently….

    and again…….

    This doesn’t mean I take our problems cavalierly or treat the areas where we (me and all pastors included) have sinned, failed or completely blown it lightly. No, instead we must learn from our mistakes, confess our sins and seek to grow in Christ by His grace.

    The part where you could prove that you aren’t cavalier about the superiority of those at the top, or how CJ and Dave don’t even HAVE anyone holding them accountable… or how they completely failed to hold Gene accountable last year (or for 10 yrs for that matter) or how Mickey brazenly sounded like a true cult-leader giving specific and controlling orders to others…I will stop there… is missing in your opening post. Or did I miss it?

    Thank you for exalting Jesus. If He is your Lord then many of us here are your Brothers and Sisters in Christ. SGM doesn’t preach that we are very accountable to our brethren outside of SGM but your post here makes me think maybe you see that differently?

    If so I hope and pray for you. And I hope and pray you will reach out to Happymom, Wallace and anyone else who offers to reach out to you. I hope and pray that you might consider the fact that despite what your Brother and Co-Pastor Mullery et al said publicly, that Wallace and Happymom have nothing to gain by deception or spin and so there might be gaps in the truth in the public airing at FCC (or its new name). Can you encourage your brethren at the Ffx church to consider where or how they have concealed Truth? Is there ever any sense of accountability among pastors within SGM?

    Finally, back to the first quote, and your answers to SGM, I have a real question I sincerely wonder about:
    Why would a church want to be affiliated with SGM? If the board members are so unaccountable to you and so embarassing in their actions, as Mickey has been, and as CJ, Brent and all that mess has displayed, what benefit does your congregation get from SGM? Couldn’t you hire from them otherwise? Or use teachings or invite them to come visit? I was part of a church plant at one point but now this question really stumps me.

    I’m sorry if this is tiring for you. I hope you have considered those words in light of what so many have suffered over exhausting months or years at the hand of, or in the midst of ongregations few, if any of us wanted to leave before we had to.

  • SA

    Regarding the original question,

    Does anyone know if Sovereign Grace Ministries applies the concept of total depravity in the orthodox way, or do they twist it to mean that since you are so full of sin, even after salvation, that you cannot think for yourself and you must have specially appointed pastors to control the mindless, sin-wracked sheep?

    I see no evidence in its statement of faith that SGM concerns itself with the basics of being Reformed or Calvinist much less nuanced questions about a concept such as total depravity.

    Contrast that with the info page on the Christian Reformed Church, which is the American version of the Dutch Reformed Church that reads in part –

    How did Calvin get along with other church leaders of his day? Opposing Roman Catholic teachings of the time, he agreed with the other Reformers that Salvation is by grace alone through faith, and not by our own good works.

    The Bible alone is the authoritative Word of God for our lives—not church tradition or what church leaders say.

    All believers are priests of God, anointed in Christ to serve him always, everywhere, in all they do.
    God gave us two sacraments, baptism and communion, which are signs and seals of God’s promises.

    A clergy’s blessing of the communion bread and wine do not really turn them into the actual body and blood of Christ.

    The original sinful condition in which we are born as well as our actual sins are all fully washed away by Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross.

    Prayer should be directed to God alone, not to saints or to Mary. In fact, all believers are both sinners needing God’s constant forgiveness and saints whom the Holy Spirit is already remaking to be like Jesus.

  • Unassimilated

    SA – In his Happiest Place on Earth Sermon, CJ says this

    “And the eternal perspective is not only revealed with the writer’s intentional use of the word “soul.” The eternal perspective is also clearly revealed as he reminds the pastors that they will one day give an account. Yes they will. They’ll give an account to none other than the chief shepherd.

    And, I can tell you, even this moment, their souls tremble. They’re perplexed. [Lowers voice to dramatic whisper] “Oh, why. Why did you delegate temporarily to me the souls of those for whom – which – you died? Doesn’t seem to be your wisest move.” But they’re aware of their weakness, their need for grace. They’re also aware of their responsibility. They’re aware – one day, it’s gonna be eye to eye with the one who did die for your sins, giving an account for how – how they did. And the questions are all here. Won’t be any surprise questions. You got all the questions for the final exam right here. “Did you watch over their souls? Did you prepare them for that final day? Did you?

    This helps CJ to establish the requirement for oversight, and illustrates that
    Christ authority has been delegated to the leaders, “Oh, why. Why did you delegate temporarily to me the souls of those for whom – which – you died?”

    Cj’s next statement is –

    Number two, the responsibility of church members. The responsibility of church members. Verse 17. “Obey your leaders and submit to them.” I mean – I’ll read those words and I completely understand why any pastor would be reluctant to preach from this passage.

    As I said earlier, it can appear self-serving. I also think there are many pastors who are aware that this is a most unappealing passage to the average American Evangelical. There are many Evangelicals who are uncomfortable with this language. “Obey” and “submitting to” leaders.

    The question of depravity aside, it is clear in CJ’s mind that he is the recipient, as the rest of his pastors, of the delegated authority of Christ. We as SGM members are to –

    Number two, the responsibility of church members. The responsibility of church members. Verse 17. “Obey your leaders and submit to them.” I mean – I’ll read those words and I completely understand why any pastor would be reluctant to preach from this passage.

    As I said earlier, it can appear self-serving.

    Christ has handed them the ball so to speak, so does total depravity really matter?

  • Unreformed

    ..A heart felt time in his word can be more powerful, more meaningful, and more transformational than a month of Sundays.

    Well said, and oh so true. My advice to people wanting truth is to stay home a few weekends and just read. Then upon your return, ask questions and discuss what you have been reading. Of course, such a one should be prepared to be unwelcome.

  • SA


    Thanks. I don’t know how total depravity may factor into the speech you were kind enough to reference in a broader sense. However, I see no evidence that SGM formally or even informally applies the concept of total depravity to anything it does or says it believes per the following question:

    Does anyone know if Sovereign Grace Ministries applies the concept of total depravity in the orthodox way, or do they twist it to mean that since you are so full of sin, even after salvation, that you cannot think for yourself and you must have specially appointed pastors to control the mindless, sin-wracked sheep?

  • AKA Annon.

    Kris, Post #182 Re: DPV Thank you :goodpost

  • Lynn

    covfel barcode #251-It’s ok to say that aloud here. Dont say it at covfel because it will make some mad. Let me tell you how leaving worked for me. I let a few friends know that I was leaving and they understood and didn’t try to make me feel I was wrong for leaving. Well, one did throw the no church is perfect quote at me, but she understood why I wanted to leave.

    Yes, Jim is amazing and I think he wasn’t senior pastor because he wasn’t like the rest of them. He’s a great guy and I’ll miss him the most. I don’t have anything against the rest of the pastors, it just always seemed they were more after caring about sgm than the congregation. Thats my opinion though. You have your own, and unlike in covfel, you’re entilted here to have one, and nobody(i hope) will tell you to submit. I really do hope and pray Jim will open his eyes up fully and see how weird sgm is and start his own church.

  • To everyone who emailed me today – while I have internet access right now, I am not able to reply to messages. I apologize. It may take until after the Thanksgiving holiday for me to get caught up with my email. So if you didn’t get a response from me, I’m not ignoring anyone. I’m just not able to reply right now.

  • Lynn

    I will tell you that those people who try to tell you to stay in sgm and trust your pastors,thats your cue to leave. A friend wouldnt tell another friend to stay somewhere if that friend was just not enjoying themselves.

  • Unassimilated

    Thinking out loud here –

    In my SGM experience, there was was the concept of election/predestination in the Calvinist tradition.

    However, in holding with the tradition that only God truly knows ones heart, and therefore only knows our salvation, they, the SGM leaders were always looking for evidences of ‘Grace’ that would communicate fruit of conversion as the best evidence of said conversion. (Outward signs reflect inward change)

    That is of course, why when one’s ‘behavior’ became, or was deemed, ‘unbiblical’, ones conversion could be called into question.

    The question of whether one continued to be sinful, the answer would be yes.

    Pursuing sin was important as it lessened our ability to fellowship with God, that is we may be afforded less grace. From the pulpit this was explained in CJ’s attracting more of God’s grace speech.

    The do more, get more teachings based on the parable of the talents, that is the more you do in his name here, the more reward you get in heaven, was more of an insider/upper level teaching. (Provided you were truly one of his own) It did hit the pulpit of CLC about 1996 though.

    We were spared from Gods wrath, but when in our post ‘conversion’ sinful behavior we might get resistance from God. Based on the tradition of God resisting the proud/arrogant/sinful. God’s resistance was then likened to Gods righteous anger, which was different than God’s wrath. God could still get angry with us and bring fourth seasons of correction. Though it was usually the SGM leaders that headed the corrective charge less they not have a good report for themselves before the throne. I recall this was a CJ teaching, may still have the cassette somewhere.


    In the end I guess the answer I would give is that in SGM yes we are still sinners,
    always in need of the savior. Always in need of going to the cross to experience his mercies ‘afresh.’ We were given the opportunity to fellowship with God, and become part of the local church through the atoning sacrifice of the savior. The Church, being the recipient of God/the Saviors delegated authority, are to be watchful of us; keeping the bride clean by calling us to further sanctification, and by identifying those that are ‘His’ and those that are ‘not.’

    I guess that make Jesus the real “Starting Point.”

  • Unassimilated

    Or in other words, they may not specifically say that we are dumb sheep that cannot think for ourselves, but that notion/belief is still prevalent at the core of their teaching, and methodology.

    They would be the first to point out, ‘that with few exceptions such as Paul, sanctification just does not happen effectively apart from true participation/membership in the local church.’ Those that tried the ‘solo’ christian thing were affectionately called charismavericks, or rebels without a clue.

  • Friendly Observer

    To the so-called “average” SGM pastor —

    You wrote — among your other thousands of words —

    “But I must admit I’m a little tired of it all and just want to get back to serving and caring for the church that I dearly love.”

    Okay, what’s stopping you? Did someone “higher up” in your food chain coerce you to come here and sound off? Why would you think anyone here cares whether you are “tired of it all” or not? Don’t you think some of the “survivors” are tired of it all too? Get in line. Take a number. Some have been “tired of it all” lots longer than you have been around (that is, if you are “average”).

    What is the moth-like attraction to the bright light of “Survivors”? Do you not have control of your mouse and your “Favorites” choices? Why not hang out somewhere else? Sorry, but I have an extremely low tolerance for people to come here (though it is open to all, apparently) and who start bringing correction. To that extent, maybe you are an “average” SGM-related guy. How about a bit of humility? How about coming in softly and quietly and as a learner, not an alleged, self-appointed “teacher.”

    You are at least the second SGM-related person to come here recently to command attention to share what you believe, what you are (or are not), and how you feel about what is being discussed. The other person — I’m going to assume he/she was quite young (certainly was immature) — from an SGM-related church in Charlotte (and defender of Mickey Connoly) jumped in and immediately commanded everyone to stop what we/they were doing and to listen to him because he had the BIGGER PICTURE. That was nonsense, as he had no complete picture at all.

    Now you’re here telling the “brothers and sisters” what we should or should not be doing and saying — as though relieving and/or comforting your “tiredness” should be our primary occupation. That appears to be arrogant to me — and to that extent, perhaps you really are “average” among your peers.

    I speak bluntly, not to wound, but to appeal to truth — I’d like less “verbalized religious garbage” (even though I think yours is inadvertent) and more honest interaction, sans religious jargon.

    I myself do not believe you exist — that is, I do not believe that an “average” SGM pastor exists. From what you describe of your church, you are certainly not average (and I am being neither complimentary nor disparaging). For example (and this is rhetorical; I’m not expecting an answer — would prefer you do not answer), are you the worst sinner you know? Your top guy is — at least says he is. Or are you merely an “average” sinner? If you are/were the worst (or somewhere in the mid-chain), do you engage in repentance and confession of your sins, and do you seek to make restitution with those against whom you sins have brought damage? If not, you probably are “average” with regard to your top guy. If you do act in a righteous way when becoming convicted of your sin, then you are certainly not “average.” In fact, if you respond righteously to an awareness of your sin and act redemptively upon such conviction, you are light years ahead of your leader — which is not average. If so, who is actually leading you? Sounds as though you might be well ahead of the curve.

    BTW, what makes you think you are average? What does “average” actually mean? Do you know? (I do, by the way so I’m not seeking a definition; just that you would think through what you are saying.) I think it has no meaning in the context in which you are using it. Sorry. I don’t get it. Have no idea what you are after in coming here. Do you think you can make an entry or two and suddenly everything is changed? For whom do you speak? What is the rational basis on which you honestly believe we should care who you are and what you are saying to the blogosphere? What is it that you wish to accomplish? Are you trying to heal the wound(s) of the daughter of God’s people lightly, saying,”Peace, peace,” when there is no peace” (yet)? If you want to be an agent of true righteousness, take your message — and it appears you do have a message — to your peers and overseers. I think — if you are “average” — SGM needs more who are average.

    Forgive me if I appear offensive. I have no reason and no motivation to hurt you. But please come in the doorway humbly and learn what this population is about before being so quick to sound off and tell us how we should be feeling and what we should be doing. Thanks.

  • Irv

    Friendly – 276


  • Persona

    # 276 It is true that CJ and anyone who works for SGM is without defense right now. How can one defend oneself if you are naked anyway?

    Simple truth: if you join SGM and you work in any capacity for CJ, you have identified yourself with him. Anyone who joins SGM is branded. By that, you receive the benefits and detriments of than brand. It is not possible to say you somehow different to any great degree once you join that organization.

    We have personally visited several SGM churches during our 30 year membership and they were all essentially the same. I could not tell any substantial difference. Almost every one has pastors trained in the PC and they try and mimic CLC in every way. It is also well-known that CJ has historically not allowed more than a tiny percentage of variety in his churches. So that is a moot point, in my opinion.

    One suggestion: If you do continue to comment on this blog it would be far better to come back on your knees with sincere repentance and grief for all the hurtful things that have been done in SGM churches, in the name of the Savior (I say ‘the Savior’ because CJ almost never says the name of Jesus).

  • Persona

    The suggestions in # 278 are to the ‘Average Pastor”.

  • Nickname

    To “The Average Pastor” —

    One thing I would like to thank you for (I’ll refrain from saying “I commend you for” or “I’m so grateful for” — is that, for the most part, your post is written in plain English and not couched in SGM Pig Latin.

    When you said, “I’m not going anywhere”, my immediate thought was, “No, he can’t go anywhere, at least not as a pastor…” It’s possible that you may be one of the few who does have a seminary degree. If so, I encourage you to GO somewhere. If not, I encourage you to do something to broaden your horizons — start working on a degree, online if necessary, so that your God-given gifts can be honed, sharpened, and you will have options for employment should the need arise. No matter where you are, there will always be need for ministry — if God gifted you, you will always BE in ministry, though it may be avocational. If you have a recognized degree, you will have far more options for vocational ministry.

    It is one thing to be linked to a denomination wherein there are leaders you have disagreements with. It is another thing entirely to be linked to a sect whose self-appointed leader has no accountability to anyone else, and has admitted to, then later denied, documented activities (deficiencies / sins) bordering on illegal activity (coercion / blackmail) and many other documented actions that raise character questions.

    Please lead your church into a new season of freedom in Christ, and get yourself away from documented corruption, cronyism, nepotism, and financial finagling.

    Just my two cents. Thank you.

  • Happymom

    Comment #265 – :clap :clap
    Haven’t heard from “averagesgmpastor” yet but I’ll let you know if I do. I promise to be nice :)…among other things,I am tired of the “no church is perfect” statement as if we are all here, spending all this time blogging just because we expect perfection?

    Friendly Observer,
    Comment #276 -YES and AMEN! :goodpost :goodpost

  • Square Peg

    To Former CLC’er, ExCLCer’s Mom, and Mary…thank you for the encouraging words. I am off to visit a church service this morning at an EPC Presbyterian church that I have been back and forth with. In my visiting around, I keep looping back to this one.

    Mary…thank you for the book recommendation…I may try it. I am battling being skittish about reading “Christian books” too. :(

    I am reading about spiritual abuse though. Also, I am reading church history. I feel a need to connect the dots with church history, movements, sects, etc.

    I am also engaging in my own Bible study.

    There is hope.

  • QE2

    Nickname in #280, encouraging pastors with only PC training to get more education, got me thinking that SGM young pastors are treated a lot like SGM young women are.

    I have heard many in SGM say that because their daughters are only going to be wives and mothers, that a college education is not necessary. A young man who wants to be a SGM pastor is told that a college education is not necessary-only the PC is needed.

    My belief is that, even if a women and her husband choose to have her be a stay-at-home wife and mother,
    an education can only broaden her horizons and she will be become a much more interesting and intelligent person, and what she learns will be able to be applied in whatever task she currently undertakes. I think the same could be said for a young man wishing to be a pastor-his college experiences and view of the world, who is in it, and how it works can only benefit him.
    One of the issues I have read here is that a young man who has grown up in a SGM church, been homeschooled and then attends the PC has a very narrow life-
    experience mindset, and cannot adequately counsel people because their problems are so outside the SGM lifestyle that there is very little he can do for the hurting, other than try to squeeze them into the SGM box that has worked so well for him.
    (And I am talking regular college experience-never mind seminary!)

    And then there is the truth that things might not work out the way we hope-your husband dies, or becomes disabled, or cannot find work-a woman’s education and career training would be a tremendous asset in these situations.

    Which is just like the situation a pastor might find himself in if he is de-gifted, or his church cannot afford to keep all the pastors on staff anymore. Or even if he must choose between speaking out with the truth or toeing the SGM party line. Having an education and training would be a tremendous asset here, too!

    So how funny to realize that it’s not just the young women, but the young men pastors who get shafted as well!

  • QE2

    Square peg-John Eldredge is not your typical “Christian author”. He is never recommended at SGM, so that should tell you something.
    “Waking the Dead” is fantastic, as is “Wild at Heart” for men(a good read for the ladies, too), and “Captivating ” for women.

    While I might not agree 100% with everything he says, he’s on to something. When I first read “Waking the Dead”, I struggled because it was so different from the ‘you are only a sinful worm saved by grace’ SGM mindset that I felt like it was heresy. But actually, it opened the door to a more vibrant, free Christianity.

    I didn’t realize he had a new book out, and I can’t wait to read it!

  • QE2,

    Whenever the discussion veers onto the topic of SGM and higher education, I will almost always field at least one email from someone who talks about how SGM actually does NOT discourage higher education…how lots of SGM girls end up going to college…and how, unlike CJ and Josh Harris, most of the guys attending the PC now actually DO have 4-year college degrees…and that going to college first is the preferred course of action for a potential PC candidate.

    Someone even wrote me awhile back to assert that there has never been anyone at the Pastors College whose previous education had consisted only of homeschooling. I don’t know the accuracy of that statement – I thought someone here had mentioned at least a couple SGM pastors’ sons who had been homeschooled and then attended the PC without going to college beforehand. But maybe that’s inaccurate.

    At any rate, while it’s still theoretically possible for a guy to head off to the PC without first obtaining a college degree, it would sound like most of the time, that doesn’t happen.

    However, if we’re talking about attending seminary, that’s another story. I’m pretty sure the majority of PC candidates do NOT have seminary degrees before attending the Pastors College and becoming SGM pastors. Some do. But I don’t think the majority do.

    As best I can understand, the “no college for girls” thinking varied from church to church…and it seemed to depend upon what the senior pastor was doing, and how much the pastor idolized CJ and CJ’s choices for his own daughters. Some churches never even conveyed a clear preference one way or the other.

    At many churches, though, people were subtly (and sometimes not-so-subtly) influenced to believe that girls did NOT need to attend college…and if they did, they would be wrong for moving away from home (and from their “local” SGM church) to do so…and it would be “wiser” for them to pursue traditionally feminine degrees.

    When Josh Harris spoke at a CLC family meeting last spring and summarized the findings of the series of meetings he had held at his home, this issue was actually talked about openly for the first time. The transcript of that speech is no longer available on CLC’s website, but I seem to recall that when discussing the topic of college for women, it was phrased up as something to the effect of, “Some members have shared with us that they felt pressure not to send their girls to school (or not to let their young adults go away to college). That was never our intention, and we regret that they felt that way.”

    (If someone has access to that transcript, I would love to post the piece that talked about higher education.)


    My point here is that it’s not accurate to say that SGM is anti-college across the board, and it’s not accurate to say that most SGM pastors are “uneducated” (save for whatever they can absorb during the 9-month Pastors College course). I think it’s accurate to say that it is theoretically possible for a guy to be homeschooled only and then attend the PC and become an SGM pastor (if his dad were an SGM pastor). And I think it’s accurate to say that there has been a strong bias against young people leaving home to attend college. I also think that in some SGM churches there existed a very strong bias toward stay-at-home daughters (modeled after CJ’s own daughters’ choices).

  • Square Peg

    Thanks QE2…I appreciate the insight into this author. I do remember him being a little poo-pooed by SGM and associates, now that you mention it.

    I guess I feel I am in a quandary of feeling as though, for years, I’ve been reading books telling me what to think and feel about God, Jesus, the Bible, doctrine, and Christian living.

    For awhile, I need to take a break. I want to wrestle with my Bible and a concordance for awhile, apart from reading other authors.

    It’s just something I need to do right now.

    Maybe at a later time, I’ll be ready.

  • Mary

    Square Peg: My heart breaks for you because I remember being at the same place you are now. Heartbreaking. I am so sorry. If you can push yourself to try the book I promise you will not be disappointed. And QE2 – I think this is his best book yet. I am glad Square Peg that you are still able to read the bible. Lately, I have been seriously encouraged by studying Justification. SGM leaves you feeling like Qe2 said like a sinful worm…but the moment we accepted Christ – God declared us righteous – that is permanent – and no one can take one dot of that away from us. The church is flawed…but Jesus is still beautiful and an incredible warrior that fights for His own. I will be praying for you today.

  • DB

    I have been uberbusy and am trying to catch up with the discussion boards between studying for an exam and writing a paper (among other things, I presented a poster and became a grandmom for the first time last week <3 <3 <3)

    However, I can't help but notice how women are condescended by comments like "women are important" and the statement goes on to tell us what we aren't permitted to do. So, what are we permitted to do?

    Gaze adoringly at our husbands?

    I belong to a private discussion board filled with women that have made their way out of the SGM nightmare and we are all starting to reclaim our authentic selves and it is a beautiful thing to share space with these beautiful gifted women start to walk in the talents that God has given them.

    Some of us are going to school.

    Thriving and making a difference in this world.

    Please, dear sisters, don't let others define or restrict you.

  • Roadwork

    QE2 and Kris:

    My daughter was told by the idiot young men in that “wonderful” parent-lead youth group that no one would ever marry her because she was pursuing other interests rather than being at home learning how to be a wife and mother. That was just a few months ago. Where do you think these idiots got this lame-brained idea?

    When stuff like this came up, the pastor told us that it was because she was being persecuted for the sake of the Gospel.

    Excuse me? Persecuted for the sake of the Gospel from WITHIN THE CHURCH because of the direction she felt God was leading her in her life?

    And, yes, he’s a PC grad.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Square Peg, THAT is exactly how I became to be a Believer-by reading the Bible! There is no reason why God cannot speak to you; as a matter of fact, I personally think that His preferred way of speaking, is to each of us directly! I have honestly found in my life that when I listened to “that still small voice within”, things worked well for me, but when I did not listen, and rather let others change my mind, or ‘rationalized’ away what I was hearing, I was dead wrong. I am not saying that we should not listen to advice from others, but everything anyone shares with us, via written or spoken word, we need to discern before God for ourselves. It doesn’t necessarily make the other person ‘wrong’ all the time, they just might not be ‘right’ for your life specifically, because they do not know you like God does!Others serve as our ‘checks and balances’, to keep us from going way off the deep end, so to speak, but God wants to have a relationship with each of us as individuals, not ‘through someone else’. If your travels and searching bring you to a point of seeking directly from God Himself, then that is a good thing!

  • QE2

    I think it may be one of those areas that is not expressly taught bluntly from the pulpit. But somehow, the message comes across loud and clear.

    (Isn’t this the same problem we have when trying to show AoR how twisted things are? If you haven’t experienced the culture, you would think we were imagining it. So much is unspoken)

    I have been a member of SG churches for over 20 years, so my perspective might be different from someone who has attended one of the smaller churches for a relatively short time. Here’s a few real examples that I have personally experienced:

    Many of the young ladies in one church became nannies, to better prepare for wifehood and motherhood. And tried to persuade the college attending gals that they needed to do this too.

    In one church, the single ladies were encouraged to move in with families, providing them with built in date night babysitters.

    They followed the Girltalk blog with the “our way is the only Biblical way of being a godly woman”-and even had the Mahaney girls, whom they have never met, as their screensaver. So even if your local pastor never commented on women and education, the noxious SG thought patterns subtly spread anyway.

    I have heard parents say that they will be sure that their boys get a name brand college education because they will be husbands and providers, but that’s not neccesary for their daughters. I have even heard a mom say she would not homeschool her son, because he needed a real education, unlike a girl, where it does not matter if you homeschool. There were the moms that felt like homeschool was not about academics, but you were successful if your child attained Godly character, even if they couldn’t add. College was not an option here, because the kids were not ABLE to do college level work.

    I have heard from the pulpit that if our girls wanted a career, it should be in a “helping” career, because women were biblically to be helpers. No dreams of becoming the CEO, but you could help him as the secretary.

    Also from the pulpit-once your children were grown, your biblical function was to be a Titus 2 woman, and help the next generation raise their children. That was pretty discouraging for me. I remember thinking-so I live my whole life doing what I should, but never get to do what I really want? If you did do what you wanted-go back to school, have a career, fly to Africa to be a missionary-you were being selfish, because the young mothers needed you.

    There was the trend for the girls to finish homeschool high school and then take a year for on-the-job training, where they took over all of the mom’s responsibilities-cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, homeschooling the younger sibs, so she would know how to run a household.

    Or the time I was “being persuaded” that my daughter should not be going to college away from home, because wan’t our goal to have her be a Godly home-maker? Or the pastor, who could not contain his surprise when my daughter mentioned hoping to be married one day-he thought that because she had chosen grad school that she had no intention of ever marrying.

    Or when we moved to another SG church, and a family we were getting to know was so happy that we did not condemn them for sending their daughter to public high school, with the goal of going away to college, without trying to talk them out of this unGodly idea like everyone else. (Their daughter was very intelligent)

    I will say that the state I currently live in is fantastic-the state pays for high schoolers to attend the community colleges free (You pay for books and some restrictions apply) so at least in my current church-probably all the churches in this state, the girl education thing is not an issue here, but there are still the unspoken undercurrents about not leaving home, and few go away to college.

    My main thought in my other post, though, was that it’s not just the girls who get backed into a corner by doing educational things the unofficial SG way.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    DB, :goodpost :clap

  • Happymom

    Congratulations on the Grandbaby!! Wonderful news!!


    I remember when Eldredge’s books were clearly discouraged by leadership. His “Wild at Heart” was very eye-opening and helpful in seeing what was wrong in the leadership at SGM. It’s a shame they can’t weed out the good in anything outside their own myopic world.
    SGM’s alternative to that subject is something called “Man-school” no joke. As Wallace says, “as if you can teach a kid to be a man in a classroom.”

  • Mole

    Thank you so much for taking the time to contemplate and write on this blog. Last night I took some time to reread many of your posts. They were an encouragement to my soul and brought into focus many of the nuances of SGM that can be difficult to understand. This might sound exagerated but I pray you will consider writng a book with a view toward helping those who have been exposed to SGM understand its doctrine and practice,…. and foster healing to those who are reeling from such an experience. God bless you on this Lord’s day. :clap

  • SA

    Many people have noted that a belief in the existence of a priestly class, to which laypeople should submit, seems more aligned with Roman Catholicism than Protestantism. Some have tied SGM’s promotion of this view of pastors to the Catholic upbringing of a couple prominent PDI/SGM leaders.

    I’m not sure it’s that simple but those folks have a point given how difficult it is to align the content of C.J. Maheny’s “The Happiest Place on Earth” speech with Reformed doctrines of any kind.

  • For What It's Worth

    Hi Kris,

    I just emailed this to you as well, but here is the link to Josh’s family meeting message from the spring:

  • Lynn

    I think all, but one of the pastors at covfel have a college degree. At when I say college degree they fall in areas of art, business, markerting and engineering.

  • SA

    Those interested in how Girltalk figures into SGM’s concept of Biblical womanhood have got to take a look at the recent Girl Talk post.

    Giving out free screen savers doesn’t seem to be cutting it these days. :-)

  • Lynn

    At this new church I have been visiting. they had a missionary married couple come and talk about what they were doing. They both had their doctorate degrees. When the husband was finished speaking, the wife spoke and said she was a pediatrician, and her husband says, “she is the real doctor, I’m just a reverend”.

  • Persona

    Ironically, some pastors at CLC who once shared they did not plan to send their daughter’s to college, ended up sending their daughters away to college and not their sons because their daughters ended up being more academic. One pastor has a daughter with an advanced degree in a ‘typically male’ discipline and there are a handful of other women with PHDs. But, generally speaking, that is not the emphasis nor the example given. The CLC women’s ministry definitely encourages motherhood and home-making skills and I hardly think that will change.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    I took a look at that girltalk link, 298.

    Its almost like another planet when I think of many Christian people I know personally and what they and their kids are going through. People with kids who started out on the streets of Russia or the wretched state orphanages of Eastern Europe and have PTSD. Kids in counseling or temporarily put in institutions. Kids that are so hurt and so messed up.

    We have people with kids who are bringing their unsaved friends from public school or the neighborhood to Youth group. Kids from broken homes, cutters slashing up their bodies, raped girls (and boys), suicidal kids, a girl on prozac at age 14 for depression whose Mom is on the third husband. Gender identity crisis kids. Kids wanting to kill their parents. Threats to run away.

    The world is a freaking stinking mess. Kids need real answers, a real God, a real way to deal with the depths of unimaginable pain and wounds, and struggles with resulting anger, rebellion, depression. Parents can’t bandaid this, they need real help, deep powerful preaching, people need to meet with God.

    Girltalk? Maybe it works for the nice nondysfunctional families with a nice little bubble to live in. I can’t picture it working at my church youth group and what we are reaching out to.

    Man in the stead of God? You have to be kidding. No man can fix this young generation of anguished children. They need a deep encounter with the living Lord Jesus. They need the Holy Spirit.

    But what do I know. I don’t take pictures of my house and my counters have a blender, toaster, coffee grinder, sugar, honey, breadbox, crock of utensils, and a butter dish. That’s on a good day when hub does not leave the peanut butter out. So maybe I don’t know anything.

    I’d like to see every A team guy and SGM pastor take in some foster care kids who were abused and neglected, maybe raped and tortured. Let them deal with it for a few years and see how their legalistic gospel and rules works with it. They will discover a need for God like they have never known it before. The arrogance will break. The pride will be smashed. The easy answers will stop. The little bubble will stop. They will be begging the Holy Spirit to move and stripped of all their shepherding crap. The real gospel works for real problems, and SGM is not preaching the real gospel.

  • Martha

    So well written, 5years, thank you. Very convicting and I needed the reminder that what I don’t need are more cute photos on my walls.

    Kids don’t need more things or fashionable decor. They need safe adults who are willing to love them and show them what a relationship with Jesus looks like.

    You sound like a very loving advocate for the lost kids of today. May God help me speak up for them as fervently as you do.

  • Muckraker


    I’d like to see every A team guy and SGM pastor take in some foster care kids who were abused and neglected, maybe raped and tortured. Let them deal with it for a few years and see how their legalistic gospel and rules works with it. They will discover a need for God like they have never known it before. The arrogance will break. The pride will be smashed. The easy answers will stop. The little bubble will stop. They will be begging the Holy Spirit to move and stripped of all their shepherding crap. The real gospel works for real problems, and SGM is not preaching the real gospel.

    OMG, 5 years, this is so true!!

    Within the circle of my kids’ teen and YA friends (from church and non-church):
    an orphan with no one but a drug-addict older brother to “care”? for him
    gay/bi-sexual or just sexually-confused kids
    alcoholics or drug-involved/deceived
    ADHD/Tourette’s Syndrome and other Learning Disabilities
    Child Sexual Abuse victims

    You are so right, when faced with loving real people with critical needs, it puts you on your face before God without easy, legalistic formulas!

  • “Friendly Observer” said:

    To the so-called “average” SGM pastor –

    You wrote — among your other thousands of words –

    “But I must admit I’m a little tired of it all and just want to get back to serving and caring for the church that I dearly love.”

    Okay, what’s stopping you? Did someone “higher up” in your food chain coerce you to come here and sound off? Why would you think anyone here cares whether you are “tired of it all” or not? Don’t you think some of the “survivors” are tired of it all too? Get in line. Take a number. Some have been “tired of it all” lots longer than you have been around (that is, if you are “average”).

    What is the moth-like attraction to the bright light of “Survivors”? Do you not have control of your mouse and your “Favorites” choices? Why not hang out somewhere else? Sorry, but I have an extremely low tolerance for people to come here (though it is open to all, apparently) and who start bringing correction. To that extent, maybe you are an “average” SGM-related guy. How about a bit of humility? How about coming in softly and quietly and as a learner, not an alleged, self-appointed “teacher.”

    When I read JAASGMP’s first post, I gotta admit I was torn. I appreciated that he took the risk of coming here and posting, and I understood perhaps a bit of his frustration with not wanting to be lumped together with CJ and some of the other more silly-looking SGM leaders. I could get why he might be tired of having SGM’s widespread organizational weaknesses discussed, and then have the discussion reflect poorly upon himself and his own church, when he probably feels like he isn’t contributing to any of the problems.

    But another part of me felt nagged by something I couldn’t quite pinpoint, and I realized after reading “Friendly Observer’s” remarks what it was. As “Friendly Observer” noted, JAASGMP said,

    But I must admit I’m a little tired of it all and just want to get back to serving and caring for the church that I dearly love.

    As I read “Friendly Observer’s” comment, it suddenly hit me. JAASGMP is frustrated because he is sick of having SGM’s problems discussed and analyzed. Instead, he wants to “get back to serving and caring for the church that I dearly love.”

    I wonder if it ever occurred to JAASGMP that if he is thinking biblically, those of us commenting here would be part of the “church.” If JAASGMP is having the mind of Christ, I would think that his heart would be broken by the stories of people who had endured spiritual abuse at the hands of his SGM cohorts. And if his desire to “serve and care for the church is legit (and not just an illusion, the bizarre twist that SGM puts on “serving,” where people are trained to serve their SGM churches), that would involve having a caring and loving heart toward those who have been hurt by SGM.

    And, as others have pointed out, one of the first signs that a person cares is if the person takes time to listen and takes time to understand where another is coming from.

    JAASGMP, I don’t know if you’re still reading here or not. But in case you are, I would challenge you to think about what it is you meant when you talked about “serving the church you love.” Are you serving SGM – an organizational entity, a very particular, manmade way of “doing church”?

    Or are you serving people? Are you serving souls?

    Your words, about being “tired” of the discussion and analysis of SGM’s problems, because the discussion is somehow getting in the way of your “serving,” would seem to indicate that you are serving an organizational entity, the manmade SGM way of “doing church.” Those words made you sound like you would like to flick off SGM’s wounded like so many irritating gnats, so that you could get back to focusing on what’s REALLY important – serving SGM.

    And despite how much I do appreciate your open-mindedness and daring in commenting here, that “Shut up so I can finally get back to what’s important to me – serving SGM” line rubbed me the wrong way.

  • While I was posting the above, the following was emailed to me, with a request that I post it. Kind of a funny coincidence…

    Greetings brothers and sisters…. I saw the post(s) from “JustanAveragesgmPastor” and was prompted in my spirit to respond. It is in Christ’s love and in continued sadness that I do so. I was a member of an SGM church for over 20 years. As I read what this pastor had to say, many times the words glared at me and sent chills through my soul. I’ve heard it all before. His post sums up some of the issues that make me “very sad”. The independent words and phrases say one thing, and “sound good”, but leave a different impression when seen as a part of the whole post. Sadly, after reading it, I honestly questioned in my spirit if the post was “rightly motivated” (these words were used by the pastor in his post along with “when I am hurt too.”) Much of the post sounded prideful, self-focused, self-defensive, self-serving and manipulative – I wish that were not what I gleaned, but it was. Many of the statements clearly go without saying, “Because one person or many people sin….does not mean ALL people ….do likewise.” O.K., I think we all know that. After he states his case, he then makes the following statement, “I’d be glad to answer your questions if I remember to come back to this site.” That is a perfect example of certain words being used, that do not ring true and may not be totally honest to oneself or others – I believe and sense in my spirit that he had every intention of coming back to the site and waited eagerly to see the feedback generated by his post. I know that may sound judgmental, but that is honestly what I sensed – and strongly. He felt the need to explain later how he could respond to the first comment regarding his post within less than an hour. “I was checking back in to see if my comment was posted and so i’ll reply as well.” Why would he feel the need to say that? All that was said had the feel of being carefully crafted while being sure to get his opinions/thoughts across – ones he maybe has been wanting to relay, but has not done so until now – why now? Perhaps because he is “a little tired of it all”? That is an honest question although I know it sounds sarcastic. I could not shake what I was sensing as I read the post and I have prayed about it.

    Dear, dear “pastor”, please examine your motives, my friend. Do you honestly want to mediate/help or did you simply want to get your thoughts across on the blog, unload/relieve yourself? I truly think you should ask yourself and God this question. If it is the latter, do you “feel” better now? I pray not – and I pray the Holy Spirit will show you your true motive(s). I will take the liberty here of making a statement that we all know: we can do the right thing with the wrong motive and the wrong thing with the right motive. Posting here may seem to be the right thing, but was it done with the right motive? May the Lord help you, friend. From what I am sensing – and I could be wrong – you have shown all here that you still don’t get it and you won’t until you humble yourself and truly “see” with new eyes all that has been and is still WRONG even in your own post. “And I try to confess and grieve over the sins I’m aware of.” Don’t try, friend, ask the Lord to open your eyes and show you your sin (if you are unaware) and then confess, grieve and take whatever corrective action the Holy Spirit leads you to take. Pray, pray – pray long and hard – He will show you – I pray.

  • MAK

    It was announced today that Terry Virgo will be speaking at CLC on Dec 11.

    Terry Virgo hasn’t spoken at CLC for 10+ years. Does anyone have any insight on that? Was there a disagreement between SGM and New Frontiers? Maybe there wasn’t but I’ve always been curious about this since I enjoyed his teaching a lot when he used to come.


  • Mary

    “I’d be glad to answer your questions if I remember to come back to this site.” I think that is an SGM leadership tactic. I remember hearing that from my CGL’s when I confronted them for not following Matt 18…I was told they have other things going on in their lives and other things to discuss besides me. I don’t quite get it…. it is a way of being dismissive and in control. I overlooked this and other things JAASGMP said and the poor me tone – because at least he was here…but alas…maybe he is just average :(

  • Foot

    Yeah Kris, the average PDI/SGM pastor… Blinders on, can’t spiritually find their but with a compass, running the race that CJ has set before them. Getting the giddy-up whip to go faster from CJ and so called A-Team, produce more and SINergistically become the “whatever” they are supposed to be and poop out their backside the collateral damage…as waste-matter.

    Since it is Sunday, time for a quick sunday school story. It is called THE NEW CART AND THE DUE ORDER (II Samuel 6, I Chronicles 13-15).

    There was a King who wanted to bring the Ark of God (whose name is called by the name of the LORD of hosts, that dwelleth between the cherubims, according to scripture, this GOD is the same yesterday, today and forever, Hebrews 13:8) back to the people. It was “all” about WORSHIP (“could it be?”). And, this King consulted with the people, instead of God, as to HOW to do this. A NEW CART was chosen (but not by God).

    This New Cart was made-up of board members and wheels. Now, in order to be a board member, you must carry the load. And, in order to be a wheel, you must have a PROVEN gift of “SPIN.” And, for a time, attention was given to the New Cart.

    So, the leaders used their gifting and appointed the New Cart to usher in God to the people for “worship.” However :mic , in time, things did not go according to the leaders plans and the New Cart was de-gifted by God :clap . Apparently, God really did care HOW things were done and WHY :!: . This was called the DUE ORDER, from “His” WORD (John 1:1-14). God already gave instructions on HOW and WHY things were to be done. Problem was, people didn’t listen to God (John 10:1-30).

    Well, the aforementioned was based on a true story.

    In the New Testament, we have our Lord Jesus Christ as the HEAD of the church. He has already explained how worship is supposed to be done decently and in order. Problem is, people listen to board members and wheels and the result is…death and God’s anger.

    “But God” (Eph 2) IS still working, and our Lord Jesus Christ IS still saving people in the midst of these “situations.” We are to trust Him in His Due Order, which He brought into being on the cross by dying for our sins and rising again from the dead, as the Head of the church, by His own POWER.

    The Key of David to unlock God’s will, is to listen to His instructions and distance yourself from the new cart. In the end, our Heavenly Father does know best and the question still remains: “Whose your Daddy!” :word

    The true End of the matter…

  • Oswald

    Not through reading everything yet, but wanted to report that Cov Fel had a SGM mission video this a.m. I was not all about CJ, though he did have a small part in the video. Also, Dave Harvey spoke briefly in the video. It was well done and obviously care was taken NOT to glorify the (still?) on-leave president. There was also much talk about ‘the mission’ (same mission) activity in other countries. A missions offering was taken, of course.

  • Oswald

    #’s 301, 302, 303 — Amen. :goodpost :goodpost
    This is the real world where Christ is needed most.

  • MAK

    CLC, interestingly, did their own “mission” presentation. They celebrated the completion of a home that CLC built in Mexico at the Rancho 3M Children’s home (you can see the vid on the CLC website). CLC gave over $100K to build this and many teams went there to build this home over the last several years.

    Josh highlighted that this was one of the items that the “Go Forward Fund” is able to do. He also highlighted that if you give to the Go Forward Fund that 100% goes to the designed categories (i.e. none of this gets tithed to SGM).

  • Mary

    My non-SGM church was good this morning. I prayed for Square Peg on the way to church and during the time of worship. Unlike average SGM pastor I like to be busy caring for all people – even those not in my own church. I find myself more and more just wanting to care for people – without an agenda to get them to church. I spent a half hour the other day with a woman I met in Barnes and Noble, helping her pick out a catholic bible, and while doing it got to share about how to read the bible, other resources, and about God. I think we are to be busy taking care of more than our own. We encounter people everyday. We should take time to care for them since we are all made in God’s very own image and are therefore very important to Him. :wink:

  • Oswald

    Mary #311 — Thanks for your example. I’ll take that as a reminder to go and do likewise.

  • Sick With Worry

    The CLC Rancho Mission video is on their website. Good stuff. I could really get excited about participating in something like that. I do think that SGM has done some good stuff with their mission fund, but I would rather have fewer degrees of separation between me and the final recipients of the funds. Sending money to SGM just adds a layer of administration that is not always needed. I wish some of the larger SGM churches would do what CLC is doing and directly support some projects like this. My church had a missionary go out a while back, we prayed for them the Sunday before they left, but as far as I know, there was no offering for the person. A lot of us just wrote a check directly to the person. That kinda bugged me.

  • Friendly Observer

    There are justifiable penalties in football for a violation called “piling on” and I don’t intend to commit that foul with Mr. Average-SGM-pastor (or, as in Kris’ acronym, JAASGMP). In fact, to the moment (7:00 p.m. EST Sunday), he either hasn’t remembered to return, or — as a busy pastor — may simply not had opportunity on a Sunday. I hope he does return here (as one willing to consider his own conduct and perhaps his goals in having visited), since several of us have posted fair and legitimate questions by which he might better define himself as wanting to participate in a way that could prove helpful and redemptive.

    By returning, he will prove whether he visited merely to preach his message or whether he is serious about honest dialog with the real-time, real-life people who contribute here — the literal survivors.

    But I’m back anyway even without his response, because Kris’ #304 was a helpful clarification, and the person who wrote the email to Kris about JAASGMP in #305 tugged at my heart. There appeared in both so clearly a genuine and sincere exhortation toward truth that JAASGMP might be helped by if he has the courage and openness to further engage any who will respond to him. Not privately, by the way (that request was a ploy that no self-respecting survivor would fall for).

    And there is a specific point I want to throw out that I think many of us here pick up on when someone ducks in the door to tell Kris and Guy what to do or not do and how all of us should behave (or not), etc. Kris wrote:

    “And, as others have pointed out, one of the first signs that a person cares is if the person takes time to listen and takes time to understand where another is coming from.”

    Bingo! I have gleaned a lot from the writings and seminars of Stephen Covey (author of “The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People”). No, it isn’t the Bible, but it covers truths that find a lot of foundation in the Bible. One of his principles is, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

    I think that’s one reson I get antsy about people that come to such a site as “Survivors” primarily (if not solely) to sound-off, not really to dialog, not to understand, not to learn. Shouldn’t there be at least a modicum of humility to think, “Hey, I better read for a while, so I can discover what this blog site is about and what these people are about”? I say yes, there should be some reticence, some self-control, some sense of dignity, some forbearance — yes, even a sense of caution, whereby one might ask himself, “Has anyone here ever really asked for my viewpoint? Why should these folks care what I think? Perhaps I should care more about what they think? Why is this site called ‘survivors’ anyway?” And so on.

    What does the saying mean, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread”? I do not want to call anyone any names, nor have I any right to judge, and I know enough about research and the scientific method of discovery to know that no one should state a hypothesis based on one or two samples of data. And yet I found myself reacting twice now to first-time posters who have jumped in with opinions rather than to come slowly, seeking to learn, seeking to understand, perhaps asking questions.

    I am not in charge here in any sense of the word — I am one of the newer contributors, and I am truly a friendly observer and not a victim of hurts or a survivor. However — and Kris can modify this, as I am not to old to learn or to be corrected — but I’d like to say to SGM-related apologists who might come here to defend your leaders or your principles, please don’t imagine that anyone here needs to be exhorted as to your way of seeing things or your patterns of ministry or beliefs. We are learners, yes, but you have not earned the right to be one of our teachers. Stop telling us that yes, you are a sinner, but so is everyone else. We know that. Or that “all churches are flawed and imperfect” blah, blah, blah. We know that, too. Stop coming aboard with a spirit that wants to control the conversation.

    Just come as a person — leave your guns (or your “honey-soaked words”) at the door. Read for a bit before you think that your stance, your knowledge, your comments are going to save us all from horrible ruin. Above all, stop feeling sorry for yourself or your denomination, or your leaders. If you had the grasp on all truth that some among you think you have, SGM would not be in the awful mess it is in. It is a time for humble dialog and for healing. That is what God is about. That is what the gospel is about. If you want to share the cup and the bread of communion and fellowship with us (symbolically), don’t come as a priest who is “above” us — please come as a brother.

  • Friendly Observer

    Sorry about the typos — fingers are old and often disobedient. :(

  • KAZ

    OK I am WAYWAY late to the conversation sorry :wink:

    justanaveragesgmpastor #184

    There could be lots of questions and comments but just three from me…… the “please dont generalize” statement. If we the SGM survivors were to explain in detail everyone of our comments everytime we made it Kris’s blog would run out of space. We have all explained ourselves at one time of the other and if you had taken the time to read all the past blogs you would have learned that we are not generalizing but simply makeing statements about some very disturbing patterns. No one has yet given examples that these patterns are not the norm :bang

    “I don’t share my real name here because I don’t want to put up with the hassle that guys like Curtis and others have endured as a result.” You realize one of the reasons the blogs were named as evil was becuase we were all suppossedly anonymous right ? Many here use there own or most reconizable names. If you truely believe in something you should be willing to put your name of it. Are you that scared of SGM that you would not use your own name? Put your fears where they should be bro :D

    OH and your “fatigue” :scratch maybe try serving the Lord instead of SGM. There is no fatigue when serving God :D Just a whole lotta joy and peace :D ok sure walking with the Lord may cuase some sore feet but that is hardly significant :lol:

  • KAZ

    Friendly Observer #316
    NO WORRIES my fingers have always been to fat for this keyboard and my spell chequer is bustimicated :lol:

  • Unassimilated

    MAK –

    Your 311 is good news as the Go Forward fund originally was to help SGM in large part, who at the time was, ‘In the red.’ As you can imagine, it raised the question of where did the ‘provision’ go at the time.

    It must of been strange to hear that none would go to SGM. Was this part received well?

    Mole, thank you for the kind words, the thought has more than crossed my mind, and what you speak of has been in the works. With recent events though, revisions and new chapters are in order. There are still a few personal bridges to be rebuilt as well.

  • Donald Philip Veitch

    Kris, I will not argue here the case for literate and educated clerics. It’s your forum. You’ve registered your point. You are very wrong. Most wrongly. I am very right. Most rightly. We will never agree, although I could most substantially and quite vigourously argue the case. Trust me, I could ably argue the case. I’m from a different tradition. Nuff said. The academic issue is dropped, but it is duly noted. The reading goes on. That said, regards to all.

  • Muckraker

    DPV@320 I haven’t caught up on all the comments, so don’t know what was said about the academic stuff…but to borrow from Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof”:

    Having educated clerics keeps crazy exegesis to a minimum…but on the other hand….

    There are many sincere and godly, but uneducated men that God has used powerfully in ministry…but on the other hand…

    We have such a wonderful, rich history of well-educated theological works to glean from…but on the other hand…

    God can speak through even a donkey…BUT on the other hand… :D

    (Gotta stop cause it sounds like Kris wants to minimize the controversy!! :spin

  • Donald Philip Veitch

    Leave it there, Muckraker. Leave it there. The head is spinning. :spin Let everyone press onwards.

  • Tomcov

    DVP #320…??? I think you should argue your point so we can understand your point on scholarly catholic popes and the relevance that has to the SGM debacle.

  • ViewFromTheUK

    In response to MAK #306
    Hi, I posted a few weeks ago that Terry Virgo’s blog indicated he will be at CLC for 4 days including preaching on Dec 11th. At our NewFrontiers leaders’ conference in early July he said he’d had a call for help and assitance from a “church in the DC area” so I wasn’t surprised to see his proposed visit on his blog a while later.

    As I said on the earlier post CJ/Larry and Terry Virgo did a lot of exchange ministry trips in the 80s & 90s. Things tailed off in the mid-90s after CJ seemingly backed off on accepting the Holy Spirit move then. We saw something of CJ around the 2000-2002 period but nothing since. TV & NewFrontiers have always had a solid and consistently held Reformed/Charismatic stance and whilst they embraced the move of the HS in the 90s they always ensured the word was preached and didn’t allow the more crazy elements to manipulate and control meetings.

    I am sure Terry’s wisdom will help Josh find a way forward at this time. I’d be interested to know if Terry is seeing anything of CJ since they’ve known each other for 30 years.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Muckraker, post 321, :goodpost :clap Tevye is an awesome character! :wink: DPV, don’t think for one minute that we dont appreciate you, cuz we do! :Heartbeat:

  • ExClcer'sMom

    ViewFromTheUK, :welcome I know the Internet is Universal, but I didn’t realize the SGM debacle was! It is good to hear what the view is like from the UK! :clap

  • Donald Philip Veitch

    Tomcov, will not argue the point. Kris has spoken and the dictum stands. It is her forum and that will be respected. I will leave it there. While disagreeing strenuously with her, it must be dropped. Tomcov, let’s just leave it there. Kris, Guy and Jim at Refuge are experienced and old hands. They need to be heard. They have experience in this battle. This scribe must defer to them.

  • DPV,

    Muckraker may state his/her opinion.

    And I don’t care how well you think you argue. The fact is that if, when you send off your treatises to guys like Al Mohler, you spew snobbishly about CJ’s (and the other SGM leaders’) poor scholarship, your missives are going to end up in the circular file.

    They know CJ didn’t go to college or seminary. They’ve always known that. When sharing the stage with those guys, CJ has actually made a big “Aw shucks” thing out of his lack of education.

    They obviously think it’s cute or something.

    Since highly educated seminary grads like Mohler and Duncan and Dever and MacArthur don’t look down upon CJ for not having a degree, how do you think a guy like YOU will come across to them if YOU are looking down on CJ for his non-scholarly ways?

    They will think you’re nothing but a pompous windbag with grandiose ideas about your own intellect.

    And they won’t listen to you.

    All those hours you’ve spent doing your research and writing your letters will just be time a-wasted, if your audience shrugs you off as some snobbish old boob and tosses what you send them into the trash.

  • Donald Philip Veitch

    Thanks,Kris, for your thoughts, but methinks we ought not litigate it here…unless you want.
    I’m bowing out on the issue and yielding to you. If you wish to litigate it here, we can. I’m actually offering you a nice chance to skate off. I hope you’ll accept the offer.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Kris, as usual, you make an excellent point! If one wants to affect another’s thinking, one must appeal to the person on what THAT PERSON thinks, regardless of what one feels! That is universally true! BTW, I know this is an SGM Survivors’s blog, and I dont want to open a ‘can of worms’, but I remember hearing of Terry Virgo ‘back in the day’, but me, with my ‘SGM history’, I am searching the Internet for anything amiss in New frontiers. I am not asking anyone to bring up ‘stuff’ necessarily, but I really cant find anything! Is this what the Bible means about “being a man above reproach”? It is times like this that I do question how much have I really healed, because I read about that ministry, and my heart melts, but I think, there has got to be something sinister behind it that I am not seeing. I trust God completely, but that is about it. Still trying to figure if that is wisdom or need for healing. :|

  • Mary

    Wow. I know God can use anyone but I like that my pastor has/is going to seminary. I like that he wants to keep growing and learning. I also think that if someone has all knowledge but has not love that they are nothing but a clanging symbol – so I am not so sure education would help CJ anyway. I do think DPV that when you say “You are very wrong. Most wrongly. I am very right. Most rightly.” that comes off a wee bit harshly. Mostly harshly :wink:

  • Unassimilated

    I have to point out that Spanish Inquisition was full of “Educated Clerics.”

    Have a 2 Star General in my family history that only went to a modest “Military academy.”

    Jeff Purswell my have received his doctorate by now. Still shenanigans live on.

    Besides, it’s not what you know, it’s what you do. History is full of ‘brilliant’ people that were prone to buffoonery.

    Is not the great mystery of God that he tends to use the ‘least’ among us?

    I would say, that if CJ had a more formal education, he would be more dangerous as education does not really change who you are, just what you know.

    I have as many ‘degrees’ as I have fingers on my right hand, did not help me.

  • Guy

    DPV….my turn to step in…you’re being an ass right now, and being one to my wife. My advice to you is that you back up your horse and rethink your stance. I don’t care how flowery you can talk or how many medals you may have on your chest. You WILL respect my wife or I will toss you from this blog.

    No reply necessary.

  • Res Ipsa

    DPV, if Kris doesn’t mind, I’d be more than happy to litigate the issue with you. I’ll gladly provide my credentials if you have concern that I might not be capable.

    I am not aware of a single verse in the Bible that advocates formal education. In contrast, there are probably hundreds of scriptures, mostly in Proverbs, that encourage the pursuit of wisdom. And, even more telling, the only requirements for leadership that are outlined in the Bible are silent as to education and instead address character.

    So, I have one question for you: on what Biblical basis do you claim that formal education is a prerequisite for leadership and that those leaders who lack formal education are “ignorant” and “illiterate”?

    And, finally, “sophmoric” is not a word and you routinely misspell “egads”. I would have expected someone who is so keen on literacy to have figured those out without my help.

  • Tomcov

    Unassimilted #332 – Well said.

  • Donald Philip Veitch

    Sorry, I thought respect was being shown. ?? Bowing out, as previously indicated. Without yielding my points in favour of anti-education. Life goes on. Get a grip, man, read.

  • sick with worry

    Gee, somebody must have not been very popular in high school.

  • no category

    awkward moment

  • Oswald

    Interesting that the name Terry Virgo is mentioned here. I know nothing about the man, though I’ve heard his name before, and heard he will be a Cov Life soon. The interesting thing (to me, anyway) is that at Cov Fel this morning, Mark Prater quoted Terry Virgo as part of his message. I’ve not heard him quoted before. As I mentioned earlier today, missions outside our country was brought up this am, and Terry Virgo was quoted in the message; does it look like Cov Fel is trying to imply that they are just as ‘open and moving forward’ as Cov Life is?
    Hmmmm… following the ‘look-good’ mothership.

  • Argus

    Oswald, #339, how interesting. It sounds like CovFel is trying to steal CLC’s thunder, or at least co-opting what they are doing.

    Gotta hurry and get in front of the pack if they want to claim to be leaders, I guess.

    A “me, too!” move.

  • Res Ipsa

    No problem, DPV. If history shows anything, you’ll return in a few days with more comments on intellectualism. I’ll be glad to wait – just let me know when you’re ready to defend your position.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Oswald, I do remember terry Virgo being talked about in the earlier days of CLC..I realize now how much I just lived my life, and only really heard what God wanted me to hear..I really never was submissive to men, only to God.(I am learning more of that now, and thanking God for that.) Anyway, my point is that I remember the name, but no more. I googled him, and searched through pages..Only one minor disagreement, really. I am still searching, and reading more of him, and the New Frontiers far, I am so hesitant to say, they seem good (it was really hard to type that word-seriously, very seriously..I just dont know) I like their whole concept so far as I have read. Lots of reading to do, though!

  • Moved On

    Oswald @ 229

    Terry Virgo was a guest speaker @ Celebration East in 1992. He spoke at Cov Fel back in the 90’s. I remember his wife speaking at a women’s ministry retreat when CovFel use to have them. Also in the 90’s, Terry Virgo’s New Frontiers use to have a Stoneleigh Bible Week somewhere in the UK. Some of CovFel pastors would go. They use to sell the music CD’s for that conference in the book store.

    It is interesting that they are mentioning him again. It has been forever since I heard his name.

    New Frontiers has a church in GA near Atlanta. I am not sure how many churches they have in the USA.

  • MAK

    Viewfromtheuk, thanks for posting. This is helpful. My guess is that Terry may not see much of CJ if he will be spending time at CLC. Maybe he will help both sides. We should pray for that. We at CLC will be grateful for Terry’s help and input.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    I suppose what will be most telling about Terry Virgo is what he says/thinks about SGM..It is one thing to come to CLC, who seems to be possibly drawing a line (albeit very, very weak IMO)with SGM, but what would he say about SGM? Does CJ know the Cov Fel pastor is quoting Terry Virgo??? maybe they are all thinking if they ‘ride the fence’ they can hold on just a little longer? I wont believe any of them as long as they are tied to SGM, or CJ, or John Loftness, or Gary Ricucci, at least until there has truly been fruit of repentance. Sure is interesxting for those of us who are ‘free to read and discern on our own”.

  • MAK

    I looked up New Frontiers website and they have one for just the US. The have quite a few churches in their “family of churches”. A lot located in Missouri and a good number in New England and a few other states. I wonder how their “family of churches” work? What is their polity? Viewfromtheuk can you provide any insight how your churches relate to the covering organization?

  • Oswald

    Argus #340 — Looks like…

  • Argo

    I’m asking once again if the Average Pastor was instructed by a person in administrative/pastoral authority over him to comment on this blog; or if he informed anyone in that position he was doing so. Average pastor, this is a simple question. In light of SGM’s stance on the blogs, you MUST reveal your motives. To not do this is extremely disingenuous.

    To my blog friends: This pastor indicated that he wanted to just get back to business. That attitude sums up my entire reason for leaving SGM. The suffering of the saints should be a priority; to SGM, it’s a distraction. Sorry, that speaks volumes about their heart

    Finally, a word of spiritual caution to Average Pastor: If posting here was damage control, that is VERY deceptive, and the Lord sees your heart.

  • Irv

    Haven’t had time to read through all the comments except for the last few but I am compelled to make a couple of comments for what they are worth —

    Concerning Terry Virgo — one of the best teachers on the planet. He is above reproach, he is humble, he is gentle, he represents the Lord and His church well. (and he is not perfect :D ) CLC couldn’t have a better man of God to help them!! Knowing Terry and some of the men on his team, they would be a tremendous help and resource to CLC.

    Donald – we may have to have an offline discussion but I would like to make some distinctives with respect to the literary and educated clerics. If you are referring to academics you are dead wrong. Academic means “of no earthly good’ or ‘scholarly but lacking in common sense’. Our education institutions (Christian and otherwise) major on academics which means in my opinion they are turning out a bunch of ‘eggheads’ portraying themselves as ‘Bible experts’ or ‘the educated’.(which have proven to be dangerous to our health)

    For me, it isn’t about academics as much as it is the understanding and command of truth with respects to our Lord and King Jesus and His kingdom. Our education systems are more about gaining knowledge, and teaching techniques with a smattering of bible exegesis without application. So much so that our preachers and teachers are more enamored with expressing what ‘they’ know rather than equipping the saints for the work of the ministry — in other words with our pastors today it is about ‘an man and his ministry’ not being a shepherd or servant of God’s people.

    Unfortunately (and bred in the Bible colleges and universities) it is about knowledge without common sense and/or practical application (and little or no servant leadership)

    This opens up organizations/ministries like SGM to come forward in a manner of authority not just offering application but demanding ‘their’ brand of application. There is no need for the Holy Spirit but only how ‘they’ interpret the scripture to the benefit of ‘their’ vision to those they call their own.

    I am personally sick of the incredibly brilliant certified authorities/teachers of the scripture that for all practical purposes over the last 50 years have brought the church to a place of irrelevancy in our culture. It is about what they know not who they know and how we represent Him and His kingdom in the earth.

    In all our knowledge and education, we have created a culture of devouring one another in our ‘rightness’ based not on the foundation of Jesus Christ but on the knowledge of men who claim to know all about Jesus Christ yet seemly lack the personal knowledge and character of Him.

    We have allowed the ‘clerics’ to elevate themselves above the priesthood of believers. They have masked their own lusts for approval and acclamation claiming to be servants, and they have lost the simplicity of Christ.

    Somebody needs help this boy (me) but I don’t see any clergy laity distinction in the New Testament but open for an intelligent discussion from a Biblical perspective otherwise. :huh

    If I am coming off as a bit irritable this evening, I am blaming it on the Redskins who have found another way to lose the Cowboys. :barf:

  • Bridget

    DPV –

    My only addition to 332 and 334, which can stand on their own, would be the consideration of our Lord Jesus Christ. God could have given him the life of an official teacher of the law in the Jewish culture but chose the life of a carpenter’s son instead for the God/man. Please think on this, considering if God indeed had a purpose in that choice and what that purpose might reveal to us. Also consider Jesus’ 12 disciples. They were quite a mixture of young pups. And then there is Paul. He had quite the transformation FROM his scholarly ways before he was able to preach the Gospel. God seems no respector of men and their degrees.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    New Frontiers Churches are much more independent than an SGM church. Virgo is not like CJ the pope with total control from the top.

    That said (and it is probably good) I know of at least one NF church that has an authority freak abusive pastor. So you have to be careful.

    Its like the PCA…..most of them are good but then you have the ones here and there who get into Federal Vision doctrine and think baptizing babies brings them into union with Christ, and works help save us. You really need to check out any church or pastor and not make assumptions based on a denomination or a leader.

  • Persona

    Terry Virgo has a more hands-off approach in leading his organization of churches than CJ. Terry believes it is unhealthy to have the organization depend on him too much. He is also more charismatic and more friendly and loving in approach to the flock. We have a friend who left SGM for New Frontiers and is eternally grateful for it. So, we feel that it is really good news that Josh is consulting with Terry about everything happening here and that Terry is willing to come over and help him in any way he can.

  • Nat W. Clerk

    So, basically I think we can all agree that DPV is what CJ would be like, if he had an education. Right?

  • Lynn


    I do think covfel may “want” to show they are moving in the direction of covlife. I wont say who, but I know a source who said that people at covfel want to go more of a direction of covlife. I believe there are more people who want to go in the same direction as covlife, but are afraid to say so.

    Come to think of it, I just think its really sad how things are going for sgm. At a church I was visiting today, the pastor talked about unity in the church and how so many people struggle in that area. I think he was talking about churches splitting up. I feel that is how things will go. If you ask me, I can see CJ will retire if things don’t go his way. He then may pass it on to Dave.

  • Lynn

    I don’t think pastors need a seminary degree, though I do think it’s important.

  • Donald Philip Veitch

    Kris and Guy, you cut one post out. I tried to stand down. Can I defend myself? Nat, Res, or others?

  • AKA Annon

    Nat W. Clark


    I found a great article for DPV on the Psychological disorders indicated by excessive sarcasm.

  • Bridget

    Nat @353 –

    No. I can’t agree with that. If you knew (and maybe you do) a bit of what DPV has lived through, and with, during his lifetime, you would see how CJ probably wouldn’t be like DPV at all if he had more education. DPV just elevates education a bit beyond what it deserves and belittles those who don’t hold his view. None of which is necessary.

  • Square Peg

    A shout out and a thank you to Mary…for her prayers this morning. Thank you, that was very thoughtful of you. It has been an emotional day for me. I was much in need of prayer, so I am grateful.

    Square Peg

  • Mole

    I had the good fortune of being Terry Virgo’s driver/escort at a couple of the Celebrations back in the late 80’s. We would spend 3-4 days together going to and from all the meetings. He and his wife invited me to tea one time and we would have snacks together in between meetings. I was able to have long discussions with Terry and his wife, mostly about their family…. even had a word for their son which they seemed to appreciate very much. All that to say, my impression of Terry was that he is a very gentle, humble, and unassuming man. He reminded me of the verse, “In him is no guile”. He is perhaps the best example I know of someone who is very quiet and soft spoken and yet has a tremendously powerful annointing on his life as a teacher. I do not know what he has been up to these past 20 years. Hopefully, he has only grown to have a greater love and wisdom of God. I pray Jesus will give him eyes to see what the problems are in SGM and help CLC navigate their way through the obstacles ahead of them. I doubt he would remember me after so long a time but I think I’ll make a trip to CLC to hear him preach. May God give him wisdom and use him mightily during this important time.

  • Kathy Tucker

    Dear Blog People,

    Thank you for your hearts for the needy in your comments about Covenant Life’s presentation about the baby orphanage at Rancho 3M. I didn’t see the presentation and I don’t know if they are aware of this.

    If you want to be involved directly, please consider helping the street children in Cebu, Philippines. Founded by former staff at Rancho 3M, this orphanage has experienced a loss of support due to the upheaval here in the states.

    Until they can establish a new source of funding, their situation is URGENT.

    They are the innocent victims in this crisis. You can deposit money directly in their account. No middle man.

    Kathy Tucker

  • Martha

    I’m always surprised when some of you decide to make mean-spirited comments, and then I wait to see if anybody is going to call you out on the unloving responses and the last time this happened, I was the only person who spoke up.

    Eventually someone wrote a passive aggressive “I’m sorry if you got upset at what I wrote” but no one else seemed to be concerned about it.

    Just wondering why do you feel justified in making a point in an unkind way?

  • Persona

    I am all for loving responses and apologies, if needed. And, it is too bad there isn’t a delete button on this site!

  • Res Ipsa

    Martha, who are you trying to call out this time?

  • Martha

    I can give a list but you sound like you’re shocked and can’t imagine how any of the recent posts have been unloving.

  • Res Ipsa

    Shocked? Now that’s just funny. I used exactly 10 words and relying on those 10 words, you discerned that I’m shocked. I’m not shocked. In fact, I’ve come to expect you to call folks out, so I guess it’s really the opposite of shocked. Bored, maybe.

  • NameGoesHere

    Irv @349 raises a good point when he says, “For me, it isn’t about academics as much as it is the understanding and command of truth with respects to our Lord and King Jesus and His kingdom. Our education systems are more about gaining knowledge, and teaching techniques with a smattering of bible exegesis without application.”

    Some of the best ministers I’ve known lacked education. Nearly all of them regretted their lack of education and wished they’d been able to get more. There is enormous value in it.

    However, education can enable men to better hide their dysfunction. For many, learning is an escape real life. For many, learning is a way to feel superior to others. A seminary is one of the worst places to learn how to be a Christian.

    I have heard academics say their job is more important than a pastor’s because they “teach the pastors what to believe.” No, academics are in a support role to the men called to be pastors. Most pastors do not have time to do academic research and rely on scholars to provide summaries for them.

    If academics would accept this rather than pretend that they understand people better from their ivory tower than men who pastor people every day then we’d be spared a lot of problems.

  • Persona

    You can also see how far education can sometime takes you when you review some of the conclusions of men like Darwin, Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking..

  • Martha

    Since most of us have been hurt by fellow members in the Body of Christ, it’s hard for me to understand why anyone here would want to post a personal attack on someone….and why would everyone else act like that’s acceptable by not speaking up?

    But in response to that, you’re saying that my comments are laughable and boring to you because I repeatedly call someone out?

  • Luna Moth

    “So, basically I think we can all agree that DPV is what CJ would be like, if he had an education. Right?”

    No, I don’t agree. You do not speak for me.

  • Mary

    Square Peg – You’re welcome. I will be keeping you in prayer….

    Martha – It would be helpful if you are addressing what someone said to reference the number of the comment. I have to agree that the comment about being popular in high school and being like CJ make me uncomfortable. I think Guy was very straight forward in his response to DPV and not much else needed said. I appreciate Guy’s response because it is refreshing to see a man willing to stand up for his wife; and because Kris works so hard and selflessly with this sight she doesn’t deserve rudeness. At any rate, you should feel free to state if someone was rude in their post without demanding the rest of us do the same. You many find once you do people will agree with you. And, if not you did what you thought was right. In other words, instead of waiting and watching for what we would do…you should have just posted that the comment was unnecessary and offended you.

  • Nickname

    The problem I see is that DPV seems to be tying character issues to educational status– and in the case of MC, citing a high school education when MC does have an earned college degree. Hardly investigative or scholarly –to wit, the pot doth call the kettle sophomoric!

    Ah, if education were the be-all and end-all, we could all espouse humanism as the savior of the world, and Jesus would not have had to die for us.

    IMO, lack of solid Bible knowledge, such as the kind gained by deep study throughout several years of seminary, contributes to the doctrinal, uh, deficiencies within SGM. However, the basic knowledge of right from wrong has nothing to do with higher education. Most kindergartners I know would identify blackmailing anyone, especially a faithful friend, as WRONG, pure and simple. People of “proven character”, as the SGM’ers like to say, would generally not write books on humility when their hand-picked board of directors cannot, in good conscience, support such a project.

    Good character and wisdom can be found In people of all educational backgrounds. Bad character and foolishness can be found in people of all educational backgrounds. Scoffing at a person because of his educational level, I believe, is a character issue. To simply note a person’s educational background is a matter of truth.

    Most professional jobs have a base-level educational requirement. I used to think that some of the things I had to study for my chosen degree were ridiculous and had no bearing on what kind of professional I’d become. Now, I realize that I use that knowledge every day. That’s why I believe a seminary degree is valuable. People who lived through years of ministry learned the hard way that deep study of broad theological topics, infused with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, gave them a knowledge base on which spiritual wisdom could grow — and those theologians, ministers, preachers,and pastors are the ones, down through the years, who’ve identified what kind of courses are needed for seminary degrees.

    SGM apparently thought like I did — that some of the things studied in seminaries did not apply to practical ministry, so they deleted what they thought was extraneous. Come to find out, they need that missing knowledge every day.

    If this post contains any ‘barbecue’ comments like the one from ExCLC’er’s mom a few days ago, please note that the iPad2 is woefully unpredictable in replacing mistyped words!

    Books written by celebrity pastors are generally not touted as scholarly treatises, but are their opinions. Reader beware.

  • QE2

    I was fairly new to PDI when they did a lot with New Frontiers/Terry Virgo. That seemed to last a few years-several Celebrations, maybe, then TV/NF just quietly went away-no explanations, maybe they thought no one would notice?

    I do remember going to a ladies’ retreat led by Terry’s wife Wendy. What I remember was that she was introduced, and then said that during worship, the Lord had spoken to her and told her to put aside all that she prepared.(She held up her stack of notes and laid them aside) For a while we all kind of just waited. We sang Knees Up, Mother Brown, a drinking song-there was a reason, but I can’t remember why. I do remember the Holy Spirit moving-the chairs were removed and people milled about, praying for others, some were “slain in the Spirit”. I remember it being a time of each person standing there, asking God what he wanted them to do at that particular moment, then doing it. Looking back, it must have taken great humility and courage to give up all control of “being in charge” of the meeting, but maybe that’s what it’s like to really follow the Lord.

  • ViewFromTheUK

    In further response to queries about NewFrontiers and Terry Virgo. I have been a member of an NF church for 30+ years in the UK. In the 70s, 80s and early 90s there were many streams of new charismatic churches in the UK, some got on with each other, some didn’t. Now, 15+ years further on many have folded, stagnated, merged etc with many people returning to formal denominations. Through this period NewFrontiers has grown steadily to about 250 UK churches with another 600 worldwide in 60 other countries, including about 25 in the US. This year Terry retired and NF is divided into a number of geographical apostolic spheres.

    Compared to what I’ve heard about SGM there is much more diversity in the churches, for instance quite a few Baptist churches have joined but have kept their name and a lot of their Baptist identity. So it’s a lot less driven from the top. What has impressed me over the years is how well the leaders get on and how long they’ve been together (with newer leaders joining as well). So it’s almost unheard of to find people being “degifted” and disappearing. Having said that, if you search hard enough on the Internet you will find a few examples of former leaders/members who have felt badly treated. About 10 years ago there was a group of NF churches in another country that had got into heavy-shepherding in a bad way that left or were asked to leave NF.

    Within NF, overseas mission has really taken off in the last 15 years hence them being active in 60 countries.

    I would echo all the positive comments about Terry on this site.

  • Roadwork

    Education or no education is not the question.

    The questions are:

    With the grace God has bestowed upon you, are you engaged in His will for your life?

    Have you, by God’s grace, made the best of the opportunities that He has given you?

    Even in light of the gifts God has graced you with, are you following a more excellent way? (! Cor 12-13)

    If the answer to any of the above is, “No”, have you repented, sought forgiveness and have you changed?

    The Holy Ghost living within each of us has far more “education” and wisdom than all of us combined by far. It is He that we should be listening to and following. Earthy education can be an aid if applied rightly but there is only One who gets it all right all the time.

    This applies to Mahaney, Harvey, you and me.

    And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

  • Res Ipsa

    Martha, in #369 you wrote, “But in response to that, you’re saying that my comments are laughable and boring to you because I repeatedly call someone out?”

    That’s not what I said. I said I found it funny that you determined I was shocked after I had written only 10 words, none of which implied surprise. I didn’t say or imply that your comments on the whole are laughable, but I do find your claim to discern my attitude in such a simple post is pretty entertaining.

    As for “repeatedly calling someone out,” well, that’s for you to determine for yourself. You seem very aware of comments that you find to be wrong or offensive. Or, to be more accurate, you seem to feel the need to address or correct those who posted such comments. You know, kind of like SGM does.

    So, here a couple of question for you. Was DPV one of the people whose comments you were trying to address? Are his comments (about education or about Kris’ response) offensive to you?

  • Diego

    Excited to see Terry Virgo’s name! Been a long time.

    Wanted to back track in the posts here to our average pastor’s comments.
    He referred to many of us as bandwagon posters. He can be assured that we are not jumping on a bandwagon, but more like jumping off a sinking ship. There have been many here severely sinned against and injured by SGM leaders or their lack of leadership with injury in their church they are overseeing. Others are seeing what is going on in SGM and it alarms us. He should not view the posts here as a flash mob or a growing fad, but look at the message and examine his role in supporting SGM. It appears from some of the posts that some of the SG Churches are jumping on the bandwagon of turning from SGM. (poster credentials MS non theological degree, theological credentials- discernment given by HS) Just sayin…

  • Square Peg

    I’ve always liked Terry Virgo. I remember hearing him at Celebration back in the 80’s when I was a new believer.

    It is encouraging to know that Josh Harris is having him come to CLC. Perhaps this could be a very good thing.

    I hope so.

    On another note, I enjoyed the church service yesterday. I have been visiting this EPC Presbyterian church. The pastor has been going through I Samuel. Yesterday, he preached about Abigail as a courageous woman. It was very encouraging to hear what he said about women as he preached. We’ll see. I’ve met with one of the pastors with LOTS of questions already.

    So far, they seem to be a very balanced church, and they are very active in the community and with missions. It is well respected in the community as a church. I’m in no hurry though. I am visiting, watching, taking it in…asking questions.

  • Muckraker

    DPV: Forgive my lame attempt at humor. I was just trying to bring something lighthearted into the heated discussion…guess it didn’t help. :( I have always appreciated your detailed comments and research. I look forward to more of your input in the future. Hope you still come ’round here. I, for one love you (in a metaphorical sense :D )

    FYI to All: Brent’s friend count has still been rising. 1323. I know the HUGE “if” or “if not” controversy has been resolved, but I think that it is safe to state that MC and cohorts would probably have preferred to see those “friend” numbers go down.

    To me, it is a comfort that the “folks” aren’t buying it! It, being MC/SGM dictatorial edicts! I think some of the battle is being won. The rank and file SGM christian might be actually waking up and discerning for themselves biblically what is what–Praise God!

    As people used to joke in the olden days of the 1980’s, “they gave Brent the LEFT FOOT of fellowship” versus the “right hand of fellowship”…kicking someone out, especially over the document/blogs/FB issue, doesn’t quite sit right with anyone, I would think.

    Kicking out = Christian love?? :beat

  • Happymom

    “So, basically I think we can all agree that DPV is what CJ would be like, if he had an education. Right?”

    No, you do not speak for me either.

  • lmalone

    “Persona, am offended at the “opportunism” of Al Mohler with a “press opportunity,” while comfortably and ignorantly giving berth to “Ceejie’s” incompetence on the pastoral abuses and felonies in the Wallace, Taylor and Noel stories. Al looks like a media-opportunist.”

    DPV, You have not been reading SBC related pastor blogs. Al is scoring points for his article on Penn State. As he knew he would. This is a big issue in SBC circles…molestation and how it is handled.

    But, You are right. Al saw the opportunity to comment on this issue that was not “related to him” but to have something to point to if questioned. Some of us know the drill.

    The problem these guys are having is that more people are reading “around the subject” matter and that can mean they are caught in hypocrisy. I have seen only one person on the SBC blogs mention Al’s cognative dissonance in rebuking sgm bloggers in a public newspaper while lamenting that Penn State people did not call the authorities.

    So, the question remains, how can Al rebuke sgm bloggers in public if he does not know what they are blogging? And if he knows, how could he defend Mahaney’s and his sgm system who advised victimt to NOT call authorities for molestations?

    Al is hoping more people don’t connect those dots.

    Al has been stepping in it on other issues, too. He is trying awfully hard to be relevant these days. But that is the lot of a culture warrior celeb.

  • lmalone

    Concerning education–

    Here is another view to think about. CS Lewis said in Mere Christianity that one does not need to be educated to be a born again believer. He says that being a Christians IS an EDUCATION in and of itself.

    While we are to have the heart of a child, even children are somewhat prudent and circumspect concerning certain things. But as adults, we are to use our intellectual capacity to gain wisdom, discernment, information, etc. (eat meat) We are told to be gentle as doves but as “wise as serpents”.

    The problem in SGM as I can tell, is that critical thinking is discouraged. That is done for you by the leaders. Analyzing information or their teaching is also discouraged. And this is an abomination because Christianity IS an education.

    Quite frankly, I have seen way too many things come from SGM leaders that show they are not educated, even, as “Christians”.

  • El Pastor

    #367 Namegoeshere. And #372 Nickname Amen!

    A good seminary education is not a panacea for all the church’s ills. It will not make a proud man humble, nor do academics put a weak man on his knees more. But a good seminary education helps…actually any kind of formal training helps to some degree. I have done pastoral training in numerous countries. I am not a better man than the many godly and courageous pastors I have met. However, their lack of training leads to errors, and a weakness in identifying errors that come from the west. Are these godly shepherds content to struggle in understanding the Word, relying on their prayers and servant’s hearts? No. In my experience, they very much wish they could go to seminary, not for pride, or to add letters after their names, but to get it right, to have the best tools, to know how to handle a text in a Book that can be quite challenging sometimes. They want to be the best shepherds they can be, and education can only help a good man be better.

    Knowing the languages, hermeneutics, exegesis, the long story of theology and the great controversies, church history, etc. does help. In the main, I think it gives one tools to “cut it straight” and see through errors and also to appreciate the teachers Christ has given the church over the centuries.

    I know men it hasn’t helped. They came in with an agenda, and left with it. They weren’t there to learn. I think a humble SGM pastor would greatly benefit from seminary, but a man who goes in thinking his “movement” is the greatest thing since sliced bread…well, he might not get much more than another reason for pride in his education. Then again, maybe next to the greats he will see that his movement isn’t so special after all.

    It is not all one way or the other. Seminary is not a cure all…but it helps.

  • SA


    I don’t compare you to C.J. either yet I do think you were rude to Kris and should simply apologize for making a couple of your comments rather than trying to stand down regarding all the feedback you’ve received. Also taking a break might help, too, as blogging can be intense.


    I agree that Al Mohler is a hypocrite about a lot of things. However, sometimes you’re happy that people do what they do no matter what their motives for doing something are.

    In this case I’m very happy that Mohler is addressing sexual abuse issues in a serious way whether he genuinely cares about the issue or is just covering for himself in some way.

    I think it paves the way for telling SGM, “Mohler thinks having formal sexual abuse policies is important so you should, too.”

  • Square Peg

    El Pastor #383

    Great post, and just how I feel about a seminarian education! :goodpost

  • Leo

    Iamalone wrote: The problem in SGM as I can tell, is that critical thinking is discouraged. That is done for you by the leaders. Analyzing information or their teaching is also discouraged

    Me: Good post and very close to the truth – it’s not just critical thinking that is discouraged, ALL thinking is discouraged. And “Thinking” in in SGM is only to figure out how to “apply” the “teaching” to be a better “joy to pastor”.

    They can’t have members running around thinking for themselves – that doesn’t work in a high demand group (or cult).

  • Square Peg

    I can’t say that I ever experienced the overt discouragement of critical thinking, but I have noticed that many people just don’t engage in it. I recall bringing up “thinking” questions in caregroup. I would usually get the “dear in the headlights” stare.

    One time, I tried to engage my CG leader’s wife in a discussion about creation/evolution. She basically said she never really thought about it, and quite frankly, she didn’t care because she felt it was somebody else’s calling and gifting to research and study those things, and she was thankful for that to be the case. She saw it as something she didn’t have to bother with because she wasn’t called to be that “part” of the body, so to speak.

    I understand that she wasn’t a scholar on it, but I would think she’d have certain thoughts to share about it.

  • Luna Moth

    I saw critical thinking discouraged at a youth/parent meeting several years ago. I was so sad. It was a huge missed opportunity to engage a teen’s searching questions. But we had to stick to the questions on the list, whose answers were already known.

  • AKA Annon

    Okay so I was praying and was convicted of my bad attitude towards DPV. As a friend posted on another friend’s Facebook page. “Anyone who tries that hard to impress people is probably very insecure and lonely. He has done all his reading and studying to appear impressive and now he has people dismissing education, the very thing he depends on for his sense of self-worth. That must be very frustrating for him.” I am going to pray that God would give him engaging and satisfying relationships in the real world so that he would not have to try so hard to be impressive with cyber-relationships.

  • Nat W. Clerk

    @ Luna Moth and Happymom:

    I wasn’t presuming to speak for either of you. That’s why my comment ended as a question. Thanks for your input, though.

    And just to be clear, I don’t actually equate CJ and DPV’s attitudes, to be the same on the whole. It’s just been my observation that DPV has near-narcissistic levels of pride, regarding his own education. But perhaps I’m wrong.

  • Martha

    #389 and #390 – More unkind comments couched in disclaimers, back-peddling, and prayer commitments?

    An apology is saying “I’m sorry, I was unkind, I wasn’t considering your feelings.”

    We’re suppose to treat each other like family…brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers.

    And that includes Donald talking about CJ and Kris’s comments to Donald and Guy calling him an ass and Sick’s comments.

    Res, your comment and Irv’s were strong but not personally attacking, just disagreeing with Donald, so I’m not sure why I feel like you’re annoyed at me for speaking up when comments are without charity, as Roadmark reminded us about, also.

    If your sister or mother was concerned about something would you question her like you did me? And why the attitude, Res, Nat, Aka, Kris, Guy, Sick, AND Donald?

  • KAZ

    So I have a thought about the recent education questions and ya I know this may put me on some peoples black list :o( LOL
    I am guessing many of you drive cars and are unable to repair them when they are broken or need maintence. So you bring them to someone like me a mechanic. Now its your car and your choice as to who fixes your car. I am also guessing that you would want the mechanic to be fully trained and certified to repair your car. The only way to get the training and certification is to goto school and seminars and pass way to many tests. Does the schooling make you a great mechanic ? NOPE if your a stupidhead with a wrench before school you will be a stupidhead with a wrench and a diploma after school. As a mechanic going to school gives me the knowledge of vehicles but it does not give me the skill to put that knowledge into practice.

  • Ellie

    FO -“Sorry about the typos — fingers are old and often disobedient.”

    Just had to giggle at this, thanks!

    Ozy – thanks for the article by Steve Altrogge. I was glad to see Eric & Jenn Grover’s comments afterwards.

    Bridget’s #350 post on education sums up my feelings on the subject. Thanks, Bridget!

  • Persona

    The church Altrogge pastors has seen little affect from the seismic rumblings in Gaithersburg but, I am encouraged to learn that Stephen is willing to speak up to Dave.

    His comments may also reveal that Dave will continue to function as CJ’s ears and mouthpiece. I would be surprised if CJ ever again enters into public discussion about his organization. Engaging the masses is simply not his style.

    Josh seems to be going his own way. And watching to see what other churches do the same, is the current game to watch. It seems like even the smaller churches are trying to find ways to distance themselves from SGM, even if it only involves semantics.

  • Unassimilated

    A am glad to hear that Stephen is willing to speak up as well. Both Stephen and Mark
    Altrooge are integral parts of the SGM publishing/music machine. Both also have
    support and reputation apart from SGM. It will be interesting to see how things play out with them. SGM holds 50% ownership of the lions share of Stephen and Marks work/catalog though.

  • Persona

    Unassimilated 396 I am interested in knowing more about how much SGM gets from each song and recording. I know someone keeps track of each time the songs are performed but how much of the actual proceeds ever make it to writers or performers of the music?

    Over the years, so many songs had been tinkered with by Bob Kauflin and I wonder if he does that to enable him to claim full or part ownership for either himself or SGM? In other words, are there mixed motives when he gets involved and ‘tweeks’ songs?

  • QE2

    Random thought on education.

    Education-classes at a seminary, for example-offer a fantastic opportunity to learn and grow, to expand your views and horizons, and to glean from (hopefully)gifted, smart teachers.

    It’s an opportunity. Whether you make the most of it, or finish seminary the same as you went in, only with a diploma, is your choice.

    I only wish that the SGM pastors had had the opportunity. Maybe they would be better people, pastors, and Christians had they been seminary educated.

  • Luna Moth

    AKA Annon, You say you’re “convicted” of your attitude toward Don, but you’re still going to point out what you think is wrong with him. And tell us how you’re going to pray for him.

    And Nat, you said “I think we can all agree,” and I was telling you I don’t. If you want to speak criticism of someone, don’t project your opinion onto everyone else. Own it.

  • Tom

    Next 2012: The image of a foot split from the body is alarming, and it should be. But do you have the same response to seeing a believer split from the body of Christ? Scripture wants us to see danger and wasted potential in that image. Every Christian needs and has a vital part to play in the local church. Because without the church, we’re essentially, well, you get it. So what’s your part?


  • Nat W. Clerk


    As you say, I said “I think we can all agree.” The key phrase there is “I think”, specifically meaning me. By tagging the question on, at the end, I was asking for input on what I thought. I was mistaken in my belief that everybody would agree that DPV is an educational narcissist. If I were to make a statement for the group, I would have said “DPV, we all think this and this” and not added the question at the end. But I suppose that we could be at a semantic impasse.

  • Luna Moth

    Nat, here is my take on your words.

    “I think we can all agree” seems to assume that all your hearers will, indeed, agree with what you are about to say. Adding “right?” at the end does not sound (to me) as though you are asking for input. It sounds like you are expecting that people will agree.

    If someone wanted to present a thought and ask for input, I would expect to hear something like, “Guys, it looks to me like XYZ. What do you think?”

    It is interesting to me to hear that you meant to ask for input. It may be interesting to you to hear that your words projected a great deal of confidence that your hearers already agreed with your opinion.

    Anyway, this is perhaps enough time for us to spend on this.

  • His name is Jesus

    I would agree with #383 that seminary is not a panacea, an education is not going to change the hearts and lives of anyone, only the Holy Spirit, making Jesus known to men, can make those changes. I would also agree that seminary can provide great tools to men who are becoming pastors. (as a matter of full disclosure – I have not gone to seminary, I don’t even have a BA so I could be speaking out of great ignorance. Even so, I do believe that God can call and use someone in ministry ministry apart from a “formal” education)

    That said, I believe that there are inherent problems with the thought that going to seminary makes one qualified for ministry. First, the fruit – if this is correct then something is wrong – 80% of the men who attend seminary are out of the ministry in the first 5 years. That’s a rather large number. So the system itself should be examined and questioned at the very least. Second, the cost – if these figures are correct the cost for three different schools – 1) Gordon Conwell – $53,000; 2)Dallas $41,000 3)Shepherds Theological $22,000. This is just tuition – does not include books or other fees. Neither does it include the $ for room and board. Regardless, that is a lot of money to spend on 80% of people who are not in ministry and cannot use that degree for other things. Third – simply because one takes courses on languages for three years or learn about the science of interpretation, or church history or anything else – does not make them experts of those things. They may be able to use tools better, but in the end, do those three years really make them experts in the original biblical languages, history, etc? I can see how they are more proficient in using other tools (i.e. lexicons)better and have some grasp of the language, but they would be far from experts.

    I think that Paul’s charge to Timothy is the model churches should use in training men for the ministry. That would be more of a discipleship and true training. Jesus himself invested his life for three years into 12 men – just a thought I had now, if Jesus invested his life into twelve men for a three year period, could not a pastor do that as well? Could this be a more effective way to train men for the ministry? How is a seminary biblically justified? Is it a model from scripture or a model used by the world and incorporated into the church? Is not a seminary, or most that are known not under the oversight of a local church? (I am not against para-church organizations just making a point hopefully) What can a church do to model discipleship? What can a church do to model Jesus’ picture of discipleship? Is this a valid question?

    Just to make it clear, I am not anti-seminary, they have been used by God greatly. And I am grateful for the men who have gone through them (even the men who are no longer in the ministry). I am sure they learned much, but my hope for the men who have gone would be that they came to know Jesus better, not simply became better preachers because they went through it. (knowledge puffs up)

    Many good men have not been to seminary and are great pastors and preachers. Many good men have gone to seminary and are great pastors and preachers. The one thing they have in common is the Holy Spirit working in them, and it is his work in them that makes a great pastor and preacher.

    We all know that a simple education is not what is needed, if so, all who graduate from Westminster, Dallas, or Masters Seminary would be great pastors, good preachers and humble saints.

    I think it needs to boil down to Paul’s assertion in 1 Cor 2:2; “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” This is the message of salvation, of sanctification, and of glory. Disciple men who want to know Jesus, train men to boast in the Lord. Jeremiah 9:23-24 “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his strength, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts, boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight declares the Lord.”

    This may be an oversimplification – and a complete rant, but here it is.

    One last thing – I am not an SGM man. I just left my SG church because of what is happening with CJ and the leadership team. Or should I say what has been going on that is now brought to light. So, please don’t take it that I am defending them. These are just my thoughts. If you have any feed back let me know. Where it doesn’t make sense and where I should be quiet also let me know that too!

  • Roadwork

    For what it’s worth…

    Personally, I would have loved the opportunity for more formal education. But due to many issues, it wasn’t to be so. My earthy Father and later a Stepfather didn’t exactly set me up for a successful education and career.

    Life has been more difficult for me than some others. But others have had more challenges than I’ve had.

    In order to provide and so my wife can stay home and homeschool the kids, I’ve worked multiple jobs over the years. I’ve put others’ needs ahead of my personal desires.

    No sour grapes. It’s been really hard at times. I’ve shed tears over it.

    However, my Heaven Father, who owns it all, knows about everything I need, even before I ask.

    Education is great. I’m all for it.

    I would rather spend time with an illiterate plumber that has been to the secret places in prayer than anyone with a pile of Ph.Ds and no prayer life.

    Way too much focus here on secondary issues….

  • Diane

    Roadwork #404

    Your comment touched me. God bless you–you sound like you were/are a great father. And I agree, for what it’s worth- from a stranger, with this:

    “I would rather spend time with an illiterate plumber that has been to the secret places in prayer than anyone with a pile of Ph.Ds and no prayer life.”

  • glad i am out

    amen, Roadwork, amen!

  • tomcov

    Just a point of clarity on the educational discussion. The issue that really touched this off wasn’t so much whether seminary education was desirable for pastors (which it certainly is IF the school is committed to the truth’s of God’s word and not a bastion for liberalism); it wasn’t so much whether SGM has been weak there (which it has in CJ but less so with many other pastors who more and more are going the pastors college with seminary); NO…the issue for me came out of some wide ranging comments DPV made about the Catholic system and Popes over the years who have been Scholars and what kind of significant benefit that was in his mind. Scholars can be found in all of the major university seminary departments – so what. A Ph.D in biblical studies at a school which rejects the idea of the Bible as God’s innerant word or espouses universalism or denies the deity of Christ or emphasizes humanism; or in the case of Catholism which is a different religion than biblical Christianity…is NO SOLUTION to the need for faithful preachers of the scriptures and gospel driven shepherds. In summary: seminary education can be wonderful and an asset to the church; pick your seminary wisely; and pastors should be lifelong students of the word in formal and informal settings. I have to give credit to the PCA for a longstanding tradition of higher education amongst their pastors. Despite my disagreements with their cessationism and occassional rigidity in worship, they are a model to be appreciated.

  • Roadwork

    Further, my comment is not meant as slight to anyone.

    My Heavenly Father is no respecter of persons and He uses all from the highly educated (Paul) to the highly uneducated (Peter) and He deemed their words worthy of recording for all eternity.

    I see that same cross-section here.

    It’s good stuff if we’re gracious enough towards one another to allow it.

  • Unassimilated

    Persona –

    The standard publishing deal with SGM is 50/50.

    So lets say you wrote a song, you own the music, and the lyrics. The two together are a ‘composition.’ SGM decides to record it.

    – You would give/assign them the publishing rights, which entitles them to no more that 50% by law, of the songs ownership. Typically this ownership is for, and literally, eternity, or until it becomes public domain (Many ways for this to happen)
    established writers may opt for a shorter term, if the publisher, in this case, SGM would agree to accept that.

    – SGM pays for the recording, production, releasing, and marketing of the song.
    For SGM, there is the built in market of family churches who will buy the recordings, as well as use them on a Sunday.

    SGM, as the publisher is to pay the songwriter a ‘royalty’, that is an amount of money set out in your publishing agreement (anywhere from five cents on up), for the following;

    – Each physical copy of the song. Tape, CD, LP, format does not matter, just how many were manufactured.

    – Each digital copy sold – think I-tunes.

    – Each performance of the song on a Sunday – this is tracked and reported by CCLI

    – Each broadcast performance – Typically radio, but ventures into TV and Film

    – Each copy manufactured of a compilation, video, program, movie, etc., that uses in whole or in part, your song. This may fall under a separate agreement as well. Residuals become another animal at times.

    – If your song goes into a song book, you get $ for each copy printed of said book.

    These are the basic revenue streams a songwriter may enjoy. Public performance is a mixed bag for christian Music, so I wont go there. As SGM likes to re-record, and re-vamp their catalog from time to time, your song brings in money each time they re-record the song, and create new copies of it.

    Re-recording may generate new interest, and therefor boost sales of previous versions, as well as interest in the printed lead sheets, and music books.

    In regard to Bob’s tampering, he can claim an ownership only on the percentage that is his contribution. Say Bob takes a song, gives it a new melody, than he owns/has publishing only on the new music, not the lyrics.

    Now how much per copy sold, some songwriters only get 2.75 cents per copy, others get up to a dollar or more. I am speaking in general here, as each song is its own
    contract, and pay varies based on the songwriter, publisher, and a bunch of other considerations/anticipations that prevailed at the time of inking.

    So in regard to specifically how much each SGM sonwriter is making is not something I can answer, I do not have their contracts, do not know the manufacturing numbers, nor
    am I tracing usage or performance.

    I can say that SGM falls on the middle of the road, compared to the rest of the industry, when it comes to the ‘generosity’ of how much per copy the songwriter gets. Performance royalties, either broadcast or life, are tracked and collected by CCLI, BMI, or ASCAP. These amounts are divided between the copyright holder for the song, in this case, SGM, and yourself.

    Did i mention that as a songwriter, if someone else records your song, and puts it out, they now have to pay you and your publisher for any of the aforementioned that apply?

    In short, the amount of money you get for a song depends on it’s popularity and useage. It could end up being a hill of beans, or around $100,000 over a seven year period for modestly popular songs. remember too, the more you write, the more opportunities you have. The built in market is a nice springboard.

    I kept this as simple as I can, hope its helpful.

  • Lynn

    Tom #400- I think what they are saying is that you should be more alarmed when you see someone fall from the body of christ. I didn’t think it was saying anything else, other than that. Atleast, thats what I got from it.

  • SA

    @His Name is Jesus:

    Thank you for your thoughtful post. The statistics you quoted are very interesting. Do you have a source for them? I don’t doubt what you’re saying but I’d love to see this research myself. In particular I’m wondering what the definition of being out of the ministry is. Does that mean that people are simply no longer pulpit ministers or that they’re not employed by a church or parachurch organization in any capacity?

    I agree with much of what you’ve said. However, I’m not sure it’s true that a seminary degree cannot be used for anything else. Unless the 80% of the ministers who have left the ministry within five years are permanently unemployed they must be doing something, correct? Having a graduate degree of any kind is often beneficial so their seminary education may not have been totally wasted.

    One problem with eliminating seminary as a professional qualification is that doing so raises the question, “how educated does someone need to be in order to run a church?” If pastors don’t need to go to seminary do they need a college degree? Is a high school diploma sufficient? Can someone with a 3rd-grade education be expected to responsibly manage a church?

    Also, sometimes even arbitrary professional requirements have their benefits when looking at the big picture. For example, I’m sure there are people who could be good doctors without going to med school or good lawyers without going to law school. There are also bad lawyers who went to law school and bad doctors that went to med school. However, few people seem to doubt that requiring professionals to go to professional school does lend integrity to many fields.

    Likewise ministers in 2011 are often expected to be professional administrators. A seminary requirement ensures that ministers will at least be exposed to issues such as following mandatory child abuse reporting laws and responsibly counseling parishioners in need.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

  • MAK

    viewfromtheuk, thanks again for your helpful information. Who knows maybe CLC will join NF? In any event, we will be grateful for Terry’s wisdom and care during this time.

    Mole, if you’re coming up to CLC in December, I’m sure my fellow bloggers would like to meet you and say hi. If you’re open to that let us know and we’ll set something up even if it’s just meeting in the lobby for coffee after the meeting. We’ve appreciated your input and insight.

  • I’ve been meaning to come here and share the following thoughts all day but haven’t had a free moment until now. At the risk of dragging the conversation back to a tired topic, I’m going to try and put into words once more the point I was trying to make last night.

    I woke up this morning with fresh insight about my exchanges with DPV and why they have felt so frustrating to me. I realized that I think DPV has been misunderstanding what I’ve been trying to tell him.

    I know we all greatly respect DPV for his military service. And I also know that many readers here have appreciated DPV’s interest in SGM’s problems, along with his dogged perusal of Brent’s documents. But almost from the beginning, I have found DPV’s writing style a huge distraction…and not because I’m too dumb (or too uneducated, or “not scholarly”) to grasp the meaning hidden beneath all the layers of flowery lingo. My reading comprehension skills are adequate.

    The flat truth is, DPV approaches online conversations like he’s a Supreme Court Justice writing an opinion, rather than a normal everyday person having a conversation with a roomful of other normal everyday people. Perhaps he doesn’t mean to do this, but using phrases like “this scribe” (instead of referring to himself as “I,” like everyone else does) and “to whit” makes him come across as self-important and pompous…like he cares more about how “scholarly” he sounds rather than about communicating clearly with other ordinary human beings. Someone who is truly concerned about communicating clearly with others would explain himself in the most direct language possible instead of trying to make sure everyone knows he’s a Learned Man Of Letters.

    I find the flowery lingo silly. And pompous.

    Again – I respect the fact that many of you have appreciated DPV’s comments, so even though I have fielded a BUNCH of emails about DPV’s irritating windbaggish style, I have tried to be nice. I have restrained myself from saying anything about it.

    But all along, when DPV’s comments have come up, I have found myself not paying very close attention to them…not because DPV might not have said some valuable stuff, but because I don’t like wading through a bunch of self-important catchphrases to get to a person’s point.

    And then, it has seemed like lately, just about everything DPV says could be summed up like this: “CJ is not qualified to run SGM because he’s an uneducated loser.”

    And that sentiment is troublesome – especially if DPV has been (as he says he has been) mailing letters to that effect to the likes of Reformed Big Dogs like Al Mohler – because that sentiment has little to do with what most of the rest of us think is the real problem.

    SGM’s problems have arisen not because CJ is an uneducated loser (who is, consequently, far inferior to DPV), but because CJ has abused his power, has had no formal official accountability, and has created and controlled a system that misrepresents itself, empowering “local” pastors to behave with equal lack of formal accountability to anyone beneath them but then portraying SGM as just a little support group that helps (rather than governs) independent churches.

    I would not dispute DPV’s inevitable assertion that a lack of formal education has contributed to SGM’s woes. But SGM’s woes are not directly caused by CJ’s (or any other leader’s) lack of formal education.

    (By the way, I’m also not disputing the idea that education is valuable for pastors. I think all pastors – and especially SGM pastors, with their supreme authority – ought to be as educated as they possibly can be.)

    But continually harping on education as the lynchpin of SGM’s problems is, in the end, nothing but a big distraction.

    Guys like Al Mohler decided a long time ago that CJ’s lack of seminary training didn’t disqualify him from ministry. If DPV wants to argue with Mohler and the others like him that it ought to disqualify CJ from ministry, that’s really a whole separate conversation from what most of us here would like Mohler and the others to learn about SGM.

    When you combine DPV’s flowery and pompous long-windedness with the fact that his main assertion is really a separate conversation from what almost everyone with a good grasp of SGM’s problems would want to have with the likes of Mohler and the other Reformed Big Dogs, I literally cringe with embarrassment on DPV’s behalf at the thought of his wasting his time and energy composing (no doubt) lengthy letters to the RBDs.

    As I said before, such letters would almost certainly be destined for the trash.

    I’m writing all of this because I’d STILL like to save DPV from irrelevance. Honestly. That’s why I tried so hard last night to convey, as respectfully as I could, that he ought to give the “CJ’s worthless cuz he ain’t got no education” canard a rest. (Oh wait. I should rephrase that into proper DPVese. Here goes. “Mr. Charles Joseph Mahaney is, to this scribe, a fool. This scribe grew up the son of a preacher man manse. This scribe uses phrases like ‘this scribe’ and thus is a far more worthy conveyor of opinions. To whit, an opinion thus: that Charles Joseph Mahaney ought to be deprived of his pulpit and his circle of influence because, to whit, he has not obtained his education.” :lol: )


    I’m not interested in arguing with DPV about the importance of formal education for pastors because – guess what – I mostly agree with him! But I would dispute DPV’s apparent belief that formal education would have solved all of SGM’s woes. And I would love to convince DPV to make some effort to write more concisely and clearly…and more like the way normal people talk. Ditch the “this scribe” and “to whit” b.s. Perhaps go use some of that copious free time to volunteer with a church’s high school youth group. That would help DPV become a more effective communicator.

  • glad i am out

    Kris, you are amazing… How do you find the time to moderate this blog, read (most) posts.. and deal with those who so frustrate you? I feel for you… I like “the donald,” can’t help it, but he can be pompous… I have thought the same thing… It’s like listening to Rush Limbaugh,… he is totally pompous, but i can’t help but like him… I think his pompousness is part of his “schtick” – same w/ DPV… Anyway, God Bless you!!! I think you are right on in, really, everything you say… I don’t think i have ever encountered a more intelligent, cognizant, person in my life… enjoy this blog and especially when you post… he did insult you, BTW, as you know, and i greatly respect “the guy’s” defense….

  • DB

    I think something that DPV is touching on that hasn’t been discussed is education as a control issue at SGM. I see, intentionally or not, keeping people from getting the education that they would likely otherwise get is a way for the Alpha Male (you know, the one the rest of us are on the face of the earth to serve,) to secure his power over those that SGM have deemed to be under his authority.

    This may (and I stress may) have some ties into ceejaaayyy feeling a little insecure because he has eschewed an education but I digress.

    Ironically, good old Brent D. was the spokesman for no college for daughters or, at the most, a degree in some so-called feminine vocations.

    Some of the attitudes around college and gender have and should be discussed. One of the things that happen when someone receives an education is they are emboldened to start really thinking critically which is, in my opinion, the real issue with CJ, SGM and education.

    I suppose I’m a pompous ass as well.

  • Roadwork


    I’m not disagreeing with your assertions so please don’t take it that way. To me, usage of “this scribe” and “to whit” are evidence of a particular writing style. Flowery, yeah, okay, maybe. There are more important issues to deal with than writing style.

    As far as DPV volunteering for a youth group to be a more effective communicator, he would probably have to learn how to text. Texting is a horribly inefficient means of communication. Morse code is more efficient. The youth would receive more lifelong benefit from learning Morse than DPV would gain learning to text.

    Maybe it’s also part of what I’ve been going through in our search for a new church since leaving SGM earlier this year. Is it okay to say that I’m tired of younger pastors? I’m looking for a pastor that is seasoned in the faith and in the pulpit. I’m tired of those that claim to know something yet have little fruit to show for it.

    He doesn’t have to have a Ph.D. He just needs to be an old sheep that knows the road…

  • Mole

    That would be an honor to meet some of the bloggers at CLC. My wife, Marsha, was in Gathering of Believers back in the 70’s. I showed up around 1982 and stayed at CLC until 1986 when we went on the church adoption to Frankling, WV. My wife and I have many dear dear friends we’ve kept in touch with over the years back at CLC. I will keep you posted regarding our plans. Thanks again for your kindness.

  • Mole

    PS… I forgot to ask, does anyone (maybe someone in Terry’s church in the UK) know the best way to get in touch with Terry Virgo. Thanks for the help

  • Mary

    Martha, Thank you for being specific about which comments offended you. I can appreciate that and I am not a fan of comments that demean someone. While, some comments on here I might not care for – I don’t confront them because I am so tired of confronting other people’s sin – because of the years I was made to at SGM. And, I am trying to learn that I don’t have to solve everyone’s problems with my two minutes of godly advice (another SGM learned habit that troubles me); Sometimes, people think we stick up for Kris like we are freaky Kris followers and don’t stand up for others. Part of why I may stand up for Kris is because she doesn’t have to be her. It is a selfless service. Without this blog many of SGM woes would have never come to light. So sometimes, I overlook others faults and there is a scriptural basis for doing that to. I have to be free to follow my own leading of the Holy Spirit without being judged for not confronting someone. But, I do understand why it bothers you. As for Guy, I think what he said is ok. Love is misunderstood in our society. Jesus was love. The very essence of Love…but he was brutal in his honesty – without ever ceasing to be who He was/is love. He called the Pharisees sons of hell, vipers, snakes…yet, he was love. I don’t have a problem at all with what Guy said. But, again, I understand if you do. We each interpret things and feel differently. So, I think it is fine if you feel led to say something bothered you – but that doesn’t mean it is sin if it didn’t bother me and it shouldn’t be addressed that as thought it was. I say that in love. Because, there have been times when comments get too snarky that I just sign off because it bugs me – I am just a grown up girl though that gets to decide myself when I should say something and when I want to overlook. I love the freedom I have in Christ to just be me. Peace and love to you! And, God loves the tender-hearted. Compassion shows His character. And, I respect your concern.

  • Mary

    oops…meant to say Kris doesn’t have to be here …. I do so love her to be her though :D

  • Mary

    Square Peg, I am so glad to hear that church went well for you. I am carrying you on my heart and will continue to pray. I was wondering how it went but was going to give you some time to process before I asked ~ so thank you for the update. Getting into another church after SGM is challenging. After years of being in great church – I still have my challenges of trust and working through how to relate to people in more productive ways. But, all the effort is worth it and I hope you find a good church home. I will continue to pray.

  • Nickname

    To any of you who have the opportunity to meet Bob and Marsha, please do go and meet them. You’ll be blessed.

    And Kris — thank you for nailing things on the head again. Heavens, we’ve all had to re-learn English after SGM-ese. The last thing we need is to constantly translate things out of DPV-ese! And, for the most part, I really like the crusty ol’ Marine, though I must say that I’ve never met a US Marine quite so fluent in King James English.

  • JD

    Anyone have an update on Kerrin and Megan?

  • Nickname

    The references to Terry Virgo brought back a memory from our early days in then-PDI, circa 1990. Having come to the church from a reformed background, I asked the pastor about the theology of the church. Back then, they did not even have a written statement of faith, and the reformed/charismatic terminology was not in use.

    The pastor explained that they were not what would be termed ‘reformed’, but would be generally in agreement with what would be called ‘restoration’ theology, following the leadership of men like Terry Virgo and Arthur Wallis. I had never heard of these men, however, the idea of restoration theology sounded refreshing and intriguing. And I do not know if Virgo and Wallis were somehow related in ministry or not.

    Sometime later, Arthur Wallis’ widow was in town for a visit. On a Sunday morning, the pastor invited her to speak, and he mentioned the tremendous impact she and her husband had on him personally. Mrs. Wallis was an elderly woman who exuded love and kindness in her remarks, and she was shown much respect.

    After that brief encounter, I never remember hearing of Virgo or Wallis being mentioned in SGM-ville again. Just now, I wikipedia’d Arthur Wallis, and found it interesting that the publisher of his books is named Kingsway.

    Bob D probably knows much more about the relationship between PDI/Virgo/Wallis and how it came to be or not to be.


  • MAK

    I just googled Charles Spurgeon…he never earned a college degree (of any kind). Maybe that’s why CJ identifies with him so much. I’m sure there were other great men of the faith that were “uneductated”.

  • Yellow is a Happy Color

    Hello, Saints!

    If you are looking to see what is really relevant to a good SGM woman (snark alert), check out

    where you can see what is on Mahaney girltalk minds. :) You can even buy these prints/artwork at a Black Friday discount—woo hoo! How ironic that they sell a print that says “I can not live without books”. Am I the only one who finds this hilarious!? Clearly it’s not college books they are talking about. Oh, I get it: they are talking about their daddy’s books. They are talking about the SGM approved books.

    Clearly, these ‘girls’ are good SGM ladies!

  • Paul


    As I understand it – others who know more should feel free to correct this ….

    Wallis was a major influence on Virgo and they were two of the “magnificent seven”: self-described and self-appointed “Apostles” in the UK in the early 70s. I believe that calling them the “magnificent seven” was not always understood to be a compliment: as you probably know, the British are gifted at sarcasm.

    Restorationism referred to the restoration of things like speaking in tongues and “Biblical offices” like using the word “Apostle” (big A) to describe oneself.

    I imagine that nowadays, as SGM has emphasized more reformed theology and less charismatic/pentecostal/restoration stuff and has tried to cosy up to the RBDs, any SGM links to or similarities with people like Wallis would be embarrassing and wouldn’t be mentioned.

    Virgo and CJ would have a lot in common in being charismatic, reformed, complementarian and having a bunch of people who think they are single individuals with too much power and influence in their denominations and not enough checks and balances.

  • Paul

    Ooops, should have read further back in the comments before posting anything. Other people know plenty about this too.

    Having never met Terry Virgo, I’ll defer to others about what he’s like and whether he’s anything like CJ. I will say that sometimes people criticize Terry Virgo for being too authoritarian in ways that, to me, sound similar to some criticisms of CJ. Whether any of those criticisms of Virgo are justified is a different question. It sounds like some people’s experiences of NF churches suggest they aren’t.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Happy, LOL!!! :Overjoy: The irony of it!

  • Nickname

    Just read this on a friend’s Facebook post, and it reminded me of our education debate:

    “Knowledge” is knowing a tomato is a fruit. “Wisdom” is not putting it in a fruit salad….

  • Yellow is a Happy Color

    Random Thoughts from Yellow….

    DPV-gate———-I hope you stick around here because you have a lot to contribute. I, for one, like the King James-speak. But Kris does have a point in terms of your word choice and your tone.

    CLC’s work with 3M Ranch orphanage in Mexico——-I am glad to see overseas missions take a rightful place in CLC. A church the size of CLC should have a baby house on EVERY continent!

    I did note that the goal of this orphanage was to get babies adopted, presumably to families in the States, or CLC specifically. I would only hope that CLC would invest so eagerly in global missions even if there was no potential immediate benefit(babies) to its local members.

    I seriously hope that CLC can somehow get healthy enough that it can make a difference for Christ on every continent. I hope it is Christ that is shared, pure and unadulterated, with no product placement, book plugs, sex abuse coverups…

  • Mike Cole

    You know I noticed the ‘recantation of SGM’ went beyond the PC 2011. They removed it from their blog –

    The post was titled ‘C.J. Mahaney’s comments at Covenant Life Church yesterday’

    Anyone else pick up on this fact? I have it in my cache but if you upload the page you get this –



  • ExClecr'sMom

    About that 3M Orphanage..I am not surprised that CLC gets babies from there..What would be awesome is some ministry to the Mothers who feel they must give their own baby away. Any Mother here can only imagine that pain and suffering. Who ministers to them? They walk away, feeling undeserving of the most amazing job title a person can have, what? While everyone is ‘celebrating’ this wonderful ‘new possession” they now have, that will allow them to ‘have status” with all the other parents in SGM.
    Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying there is not a need to help these children, and understand that some may truly be orphans with no parents or family , but how many people really ever think about that hurting Mother, that loved her baby so much she felt she had to give it away, even to another country, to be able for it to have a chance? Does anyone even care to find out, to minister to her in her need? :scratch

  • Unassimilated

    Persona back in #397 asked this

    Over the years, so many songs had been tinkered with by Bob Kauflin and I wonder if he does that to enable him to claim full or part ownership for either himself or SGM? In other words, are there mixed motives when he gets involved and ‘tweaks’ songs?

    While the short direct answer to the main point was that yes, Bob does get to attach an ownership to the songs, and would receive monies for his new contributions to others material, I missed the second part. That is the question of mixed motive.

    I cant speak to motive, but I can question it.

    The though of motive got me thinking about what are the advantages to taking an old standard or traditional hymn and SGMing it. Besides the $$$. This is something Bob and SGM do quite a bit, and not only with music, but with all their ‘dead theologian’ quoting, as well as all the SGM cross promoting/quoting/commending of each other & friends of the ministry. IMO, its all part of building an image, a brand, a sense of instant familiarity with the ministry in a way, evokes a sense history and security, rather than having to win you with true knowledge & conviction.

    A few pithy quotes here, a little comedy, sage time tested wisdom there, and a new take on an old hymnal classic, and boom, what a great show! Then the love bombing for the new people. I may not have really been spiritually feed, but man do I feel great!

    People seldom remember what you do, but rarely forget how you make them fell.


    Saying that your are the best, or should be trusted, or are God’s elected leaders, on its face, does not go over well. But hinting at it, and adding many of the trapings of other institutions, those with a grand and respected history, bring real
    value to ones organization. A feeling of trustworthiness rather than an earned trust. To repackage history as snippets in a sermon, quotes in a book, or perhaps, new music and lyrics to an old hymn, (or creating an entire album from puritan writings, geez Bob), is to make them your own.

    Nothing sells like nostalgia, quotes sound smart, and new music, well its new!
    Boy there is really something going on here, but is it all really God, or various degrees of emotional pandering?

    Making history uniquely SGM is a great way not only marry your legacy with the legacy of others, but it also adds a component of true ownership to the works of others. this is not plagiarism, but it can leave one with the sense of false advertising when things go south.

    Say you have a love for Calvin, or the Nicene creed, or the hymn the old rugged cross.
    These are all things, at CLC at least, that have been part of multiple Sundays.
    Calvin, well that’s Calvin, but the reciting of the creed was nice for the former Catholics, for the Protestants, hearing the old rugged cross was a nice walk down memory lane. Thinking that you in some way have brought the faith of your youth, or from history into the 21st century, priceless.

    Its late and I am thinking out loud. I have hundreds of examples of these sorts of things, but for some reason I hate list anymore. I am more curious if others have noticed this, and if so, how it may have led you to perhaps drop your guard and common sense a bit when coming to SGM? I know it got me.

    To be honest and fair, SGM is not ashamed to admit that they want to win you over, but how far is to far?

    Again, it’s beyond late, it’s tomorrow, which means I’ve been up for about 30 hours now. Hope my post makes sense, cause these things are really weighing on me for some reason.

  • Martha

    It’s been a huge blessing this year to learn from all of you and to realize we weren’t alone on this path.

    We thank God for you and this site!

  • Argus

    Mike, #433, that’s some messed-up stuff right there.

    Nothing like that kind of power — *poof* — C.J.’s apology all gone from the internet.

    No wonder C.J. doesn’t want to give it up.

    Is there any doubt as to who holds the reins of SGM?
    Any doubt about where the Board’s sympathies lie?

  • Friendly Observer

    I sense that perhaps this thread will soon close. I have not weighed in on the “education issue” even though that has been my primary field, and I still get to put the odd word “adjunct” next to my name in certain circles. (Some of my somewhat jaded and cynical colleagues call it “Add Junk,” since we are usually temporary add-ons to the “real faculty.”)

    However, all I wanted to say is that many people (possibly some writing here) often confuse institutional learning and achievements (i.e., various levels of earning degrees) with being educated. The two catagories may not be synonymous. We may all know friends or colleagues with earned doctorates who are not broadly educated in other fields, such as basic English (whether literature or composition, such as writing, grammar, syntax, etc.). Or they might lack what we call “common sense.” This is not to insult; it simply means they are specialists in a particular field but have not ventured out to be well-rounded and thus, are not fully educated.

    The flipside of that is the person who reads widely enough and has an intuitive curiosity to learn, retains much of what he or she reads, and can actually educate himself, though may not even earn an undergraduate degree. What I think DPV is about (and I do not purport to speak for him, nor do I know him, though I would like to) is that his frame of reference for being “properly” educated is in the formal sense of having earned degrees from recognized institutions of higher learning (college, seminary, university, and/or “professional degrees”).

    Or, in the case of “learning” to be a good pastor, may press in to know God and His word and have a true shepherd’s heart (in the spiritual sense), and thus be very successful — and properly “educated” though without much, if any, formal higher education.

    I will refrain from “teaching,” but a study of the etiology of “educate” from the Latin, (should be italics here, but I’m not sure how to do it) “educare” might be instructive if you are not sure of what I mean.

    I’ll quit here, but the rest of the “essay” I’m itching to share is to note two of the best-known and best educated atheists in the world today, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, are famous for their dismissive attitudes toward anyone espousing Creationism (vs. Darwinian evolutionary theory). They share many degrees (Dawkins is an Oxford professor). They are, in the best sense and the worst sense, fully educated — or are they? The Bible calls them “fools” (Psalm 14:1 and elsewhere). That’s the sad side of acclaimed education, but minus God.

  • Roadwork


    One of the things that bugs me most is that guys like Mahaney, Harvey, Emerson, Connolly have each been in full-time ministry for 30 years. Regardless of their academic achievements or lack thereof, that’s 30 years of OJT (On the Job Training). 30 years of applying their trade and this is the best they can do?

    After 30 years, you can’t blame it on a lack of education. They just haven’t gotten any smarter or wiser. Too isolated and insular. Too busy patting each other on the back rather than reaching out to the needy and hurting and spreading the Gospel.

  • Unassimilated

    Roadwork –

    “After 30 years, you can’t blame it on a lack of education.”

    Yes, exactly!

  • Roadwork

    Unassimilated #435 –

    Good points. It’s like saying, “It’s new and improved!” And sadly we bought the marketing for years.

    Boy do I feel like Charlie Brown…

  • Beth

    From a lurker who occasionally posts:

    Mr. DPV, can I help you out from under the bus? From a mom with a son who speaks just like you (I think he was born in the wrong century — maybe the wrong millennium!), you have my utmost respect for remaining “who you are.” When he (my son) speaks to me, I am challenged mentally to “rise” to his level of communication. His vocabulary and “verbiage” are part of “who he is,” and I pray that one day he is respected for his unique communication skills . . . rather than told to change.

    Thank you for your thoughtful posts.

  • Melody

    @Roadwork (439) – You wrote, “Too isolated and insular. Too busy patting each other on the back rather than reaching out to the needy and hurting and spreading the Gospel.” BINGO! I have often thought this of our (now former) SGM pastors – they related very closely with other SGM pastors but hardly at all with local pastors. As a result they failed to see the way God was at work in the larger church body in our city (other SGM churches are several hours away) or validate and get involved in some wonderful ministries already in operation locally. It created a local church that was isolated and very introspective and not shining its light to the world. The other thing that always bothered me about SGM was this general teaching that if all you do is faithfully raise your kids in the fear of the Lord and be an honest employee/employer you will have been faithful to the call of Christ. What?! It always seemed to me like we were being let off the hook for living self-centered lives – perhaps lives that made room for our CG members but actually choose to do hard things? Never. I could go on…still a little bitter about some things and my own blindness to certain things over the years.
    I will say that one would be an absolute fool not to see beyond some of the bitter, bitting and cynical comments here to see patterns of abuse that are consistent across the whole of SGM. Not isolated incidents, patterns of leadership that have trickled down from the top to the furthest SGM churches, like the one I was a member of. Perhaps that is why I continue to check in here periodically – to remind myself that I am seeing clearly.

  • His name is Jesus

    SA #411 here are a few places to look at:

    I just googled the stats, and these are some that I copied. I first heard this from my father-in-law (a pastor at the time and now out of ministry and has no desire to go back) who has a BA from a non-accredited bible college.

    As far as what it means they are out of the ministry – my assumption is that they are out of the “full-time” ministry (pastor) position, to include para-church organizations etc.

    To speak to the question of “how educated does one need to be?” First, I think, and believe you would agree, that character is paramount – regardless of how well a man is gifted. If someone can preach, yet does not have character (is hypocritical, not above reproach etc) it really doesn’t matter – that man should not be a pastor. Again, I think that there can be – and there is – value in receiving an education. But in the end, if you educate a jerk, he has just become an educated jerk.

    Second, is there an education requirement from scripture? Does anything in the Bible require a man to be educated in a seminary? Or what principles from scripture do we get that state a man should be given a formal education? Also, can that be something or should that be something the church does?

    Third, can a man be a pastor – called to preach – and another in the body possess the gift of administration? What does scripture say to this end?

    Last, I am not sure that, regardless of the year we live in if God ever intended for a pastor to be a “professional” position. Now, I agree there are expectations from people, but, which expectations for pastors are biblical, and which ones are not?

    And to speak to the part of how a seminary degree works in other fields – that was a complete assumption on my part.

  • no category

    I feel the same way Beth does about DPV. I assume he’s somewhat older? For that reason, too, I offer my respect and gratitude that he would “peruse” all kinds of documents to try to help us out. I’m not ashamed or embarrassed by him, but am proud that he cares about us. I get the impression that he really loves people and would do whatever he could to help his friends. I appreciate who he is and accept him in the Beloved, as SGM never did me. Happy Thanksgiving, Mr. Donald!

  • Argus

    Agreed in sympathy and support of DPV. His style is his own and not to everyone’s taste, but it is genuine. He’s older, liturgical in worship, and reads, speaks and breathes the language of the KJV Bible and the old Anglican Book of Common Prayer. It is not an affectation with him — it’s his way.

    He is not a pompous windbag or an arrogant buffoon, nor is he insecure or needy. He is an opinionated individual who has taken time to read and speak to painful issues not his own, yet not altogether distant. He is a churchman, a brother in the Lord, an elder in the faith, a warrior (quite literally, as a retired combat Marine officer), and the father of an abuse survivor himself. He has applied himself to seek justice for the oppressed, and he has expressed kindness, support, and compassion for abuse victims here, especially children. Even if some find him annoying, he deserves more respect than he was shown.

    I cannot say I always agree with his points, and I do feel he belabored the education issue, but he is entitled to his personality and his opinion. After all, past of the problem with SGM is the ‘Stepford’ style of cultural homogeneity where anyone who doesn’t fit the mold or who makes people uncomfortable is marginalized.

    As to education, I think he has a point.

    Lack of education is not the MAIN problem with SGM, and higher education in and of itself certainly would not ‘fix’ C.J. and the Old Guard.

    BUT it does say something about them that, as new believers, they rejected all existing denominations, proclaimed themselves Apostles and Prophets, and jumped into ‘reinventing’ church like they had a corner on Truth. They did not take time to pursue more training because what they had to bring, in their eyes, was too important to wait. They did place themselves under sound instruction, but they chased the latest doctrine that tickled their itching ears.

    DPV was correct to call it ‘hubris’ — they were arrogantly unteachable then, and they still are.

  • Argus

    (*part* – I meat to type ‘part of the problem’ above.)

    The biggest problem with SGM is that it was founded NOT on Jesus Christ alone, Not on the Word of God alone, NOT on grace through faith alone, BUT on the ‘anointing’ of men who saw themselves as God’s ‘gifts’ to the Church. Their ‘calling’ and ‘gifting’ trumped all sound reason and colored all their interpretation of the Word.

    They were a ‘band of brothers’ gripped with the heady power of handling God’s glory, probably earnest in their intentions, at least at first. They believed they were following the Spirit, modeling ‘getting it right,’ and leading others to follow them as they followed the Lord.

    It started off track, but they didn’t realize it. They got away with things. Everything worked for a while because it was a time of renewal — God was moving, saving people, doing mighty works. But the fleshly pride of their youthful ignorance asserted itself. My belief is that the faulty set-up, inspired by dysfunction, continuously fed even further into dysfunctions of personality and system, especially in C.J., until we have the inevitable train wreck of today.

    There are lots of good, smart people in SGM, and God’s Word has borne some good fruit among His people. But that does not change the ugly undercurrent that most of them don’t want to see — SGM has functioned to one degree or another as a personality cult. To a large extent, the doctrines and practices of SGM have sprung, by and large, not from systematic theology or sound historical Biblical truth, but from C.J.’s whims.

    The polity, the theology, the culture, the personality, the practices — all are what they are because that is how C.J. wants it. It’s as simple as that. SGM is built around him. (At least, it is since he wrestled the top spot from the more-gifted founder Larry Tomczak, ousted Brent Detwiler and whomever else opposed his rule, surrounded himself with enablers, and crowned himself “King of the Hill.”

    SGM is C.J.’s as long as he wants it.

    He had gotten bored with it, preferring to spend his time running the the celebrity-preacher big boys, soaking up a fat paycheck like he was entitled while neglecting to do the job of “the office of the President.’ Now he has come out swinging, defending his claim to what he sees as his. Even the right to adjudicate himself and to declare his fitness, his ‘gifting’ and his future office, he has claimed for himself. I think he has reasserted himself to prove he can, because he sees it as his due.

    He’ll claim whatever position or role he feels serves his purposes for a time, even though he really itches for the larger arena and will again grow tired of the confines of SGM and move on to brighter lights and bigger audiences.

    I say it again: SGM is built around C.J. Mahaney. It is a personality cult.

  • no category

    P.S. I can be kind of slow, but what others maybe took to be rudeness, I saw as DPV being a bit of a joker.

  • Ellie

    I absolutely agree with Roadwork’s 404 especially this part:

    I would rather spend time with an illiterate plumber that has been to the secret places in prayer than anyone with a pile of Ph.Ds and no prayer life.

    And, I agree with Kris here:

    SGM’s problems have arisen not because CJ is an uneducated loser (who is, consequently, far inferior to DPV), but because CJ has abused his power, has had no formal official accountability, and has created and controlled a system that misrepresents itself, empowering “local” pastors to behave with equal lack of formal accountability to anyone beneath them but then portraying SGM as just a little support group that helps (rather than governs) independent churches.
    I would not dispute DPV’s inevitable assertion that a lack of formal education has contributed to SGM’s woes. But SGM’s woes are not directly caused by CJ’s (or any other leader’s) lack of formal education.

    And with Argus’ 447:

    I cannot say I always agree with his points, and I do feel he belabored the education issue, but he is entitled to his personality and his opinion. After all, past of the problem with SGM is the ‘Stepford’ style of cultural homogeneity where anyone who doesn’t fit the mold or who makes people uncomfortable is marginalized.

    I would not worry about the “big” dogs throwing Donald’s letters out, God will use what He’s going to use. The “big” dogs know the truth about SGM, they are just choosing to ignore it – and God will deal with that, too. I am glad Donald is a brother & I have seen a change in him since he first started posting here and at Refuge. He has seen the pain & was moved to do something. I believe that God will speak to him, if need be. And, to wit, I like that Scribe. I am glad he has chosen to use some of his copious free time with us. (I mean, who else would want to read all the documents & emails that Brent sent out once – let alone 8 times?)

    That said, I love all of yous. :)

  • SA

    @His Name is Jesus:

    Thanks very much for the sources. I can’t comment much without reading through them even though you’ve raised excellent questions.

    However, regarding professionalism: unless some kind of Christian legal system is in place as it was in Geneva under John Calvin the expectation that churches adhere to certain laws, social mores, and professional standards is a secular idea that changes over time. However arguably the Bible does advocate giving unto Caesar what is Caesar’s unless there’s a good reason not to.

    A church that doesn’t handle money per standard accounting practices and whose ministers know nothing about mandatory child abuse policies in their respective states is unlikely to be viewed favorable by the community in which it sits, which it affects outreach efforts. Nor does there seem to be a Biblical reason not to follow secular guidelines involving these things. One doesn’t have to go to seminary or college to learn about accounting issues or how to spot signs of abuse but following a curriculum can be a very efficient way to acquire knowledge.

    Also, churches and other religious institutions that accept the government’s offer of non-profit status are benefiting from a huge contribution made from the community at large that has not been available in the past. For example, the annual property tax on the CLC property alone is likely a 6-figure sum that the people of Maryland and Montgomery County are subsidizing whether they’re Christians or not.

    This again brings up issues regarding following secular laws as some churches forgo non-profit status because they don’t want to be held to standards the government imposes on those who do function as non-profits as they feel those standards are not Biblical.

    No easy answers here I suppose.

    Thanks again for the sources!

  • SA

    @His Name is Jesus:

    Please pardon all the grammatical errors in the post above. Also, I do agree that character is of paramount importance. The problem is that character can be hard to measure as people define it differently and it often isn’t revealed until someone is under a lot of pressure.

    Hence taking concrete steps to ensure someone has character seems tough.

  • Lynn

    Can anyone tell me if SGM has a different meaning of the word unity. My understanding of this word is for believers to come together and be like minded in love for the lost, love for God and love for believers. My understanding is that churches should agree with major doctorine beliefs, and should have unity in that.

    Does SGM think differently when it comes to unity?

  • no category

    Lynn, I’m pretty sure unity in SGM (at least before this blog), meant uniformity and conformity in practically all things. It also meant blind loyalty. It also meant that those who didn’t conform or agree with all things spoken by the lead pastor were subject to ridicule (even from the pulpit), bullying, slander and the like.

    On that note (and really super off-topic and not related well to your question), children of parents who didn’t fit the mold would be slyly bullied or mocked. It used to be the fashion for men to mock each other and boys were taught the virtues of mocking one another. I’m not sure how they overlooked the many passages of scripture that encourage believers to be gentle, meek and humble.

    Some practices have changed for the better at my old church (I’m pretty sure), but never formally or (in my opinion) forthrightly.

  • Lynn

    no category,

    Thanks. I believe that sgm may have taken the word unity out of context. I think they think it means you must agree upon anything. IMO, I think they want everyone to have the same thoughts on how to educate your child, how to date, etc. My opinion of education is that i think everyone needs to agree that it is up to the parents and what form of education would be best for that child. However, I DO believe the church should have unity when it comes to salvation,Jesus Christ and love for the lost. You see my understanding is that we should all come together in unity for the gospel, not homeschool, going to college, etc. This is what i think always bothered me about sgm because everyone thought the same about everything else. Even John piper will say not to pay too much attention to things like post-trib or pre-trib, and free will or predestination.

    I don’t think I will ever understand why sgm makes such a big deal about secondary matters. I have never ever been to a church where the way you school your child was so important. Maybe I’m glad I don’t. This was longer than I wanted it.

  • no category

    I agree, Lynn. I remember at my old sgm church thinking things like, “why are we potentially offending guests by these obnoxious, never-ending clap-fests?” I’m completely fine with offending people by the cross and the gospel- if they must be offended- but why do we risk offending people for the sake of such nonsense?

    Also, y’all, I forgot to introduce myself. I used to post under a different name when the site was new, but I was still entranced by and in fear of my sgm church.

  • (not) still in it

    This is kind of off topic, but I need to vent…badly.
    I know there are others who have gone through or are going through this, so as dramatic as some of this language sounds…it is real and I know you understand.
    I am profoundly hurt by my local SG church. I don’t even want to find another church, I feel hopeless. Crushed. Betrayed. Years and years invested in relationships are just POOF!! Cast aside. We are warned at eveyr turn not to gossip or slander, but what about the “friends” who are shamelessly slandering my family at every turn? We can’t talk about CJ, or question ANYTHING, but talking about the Jones or Smiths who left “the church”? Fair game!!! I want to tell them:

    This is not how the Body of Christ functions!
    This is not the church!
    My feelings, my spouse’s feelings, and our kids feelings still matter even though we left.
    STOP hurting people in the name of Jesus (sorry, “the savior”)
    YOU track down every person who’s will you crushed when they opposed you, every child you mocked for being different, every woman you made feel inferior and repent with the fear of God in your heart!

    I knew this would happen to some extent, but surely we wouldn’t lose THOSE friends, THAT family wouldnt turn their backs on us. Nope, total excommunication. One at a time. My heart literally feels broken. It will heal, my Jesus is near to the brokenhearted and crushed in spirit.

    God help me forgive them. Please open their eyes.

  • Michele

    This makes me so sad. I went to CrossWay for years, from the time I was 13, back when it was still Abundant Life and when it was being led by Brent & Bob Kauflin. I left about 5 years ago. Mickey was my youth pastor, I went on mission trips with him, I am friends with his kids. He officiated at my wedding two years ago, despite the fact that I had long since been going to another church. It breaks my heart to see that it’s come to this, as I had hoped he would not get so deeply involved in the anti-Brent movement. I wish all of this would just end.

  • Persona

    This is a short list of persons who lacked formal education yet achieved a tremendous amount of success in life:

    Albert Einstein
    Thomas Edison
    David Rockefeller, Sr.
    Henry Ford
    Pres. Abraham Lincoln (one year of school)
    Carl Sandburg
    Walt Disney
    Pres. Martin Van Buren
    Andrew Carnegie
    Colonel Sanders
    Mark Twain
    Christopher Columbus
    John Chancelor
    Charles Dickens
    Soujourner Truth
    Joe Dimaggio
    Sir Francis Drake
    George Eastman
    Frederick Douglass
    Ben Franklin
    George Gershwin
    Pres. Andrew Jackson
    Will Rogers
    Pres. Millard Fillmore
    Herman Melville
    Pres. Zachary Taylor
    Ray Kroc
    Pres. George Washington
    Florence Nightingale
    William Faulkner
    Claude Monet
    William Shakespeare
    Davy Crockett
    Benjamin Banneker

  • Mary

    (not) still in it : my heart breaks at your anguished cry. I don’t know your story (exactly) but I hear and understand the cry! For sure. I was one of the excommunicated women left to feel inferior. I do know there are real churches out there that don’t crush people. I have lived through much abuse but excommunication was the worst. Your cry breaks my heart. Vent away…because here…you can be real.

  • just saying...

    I have some random accumulated comments:
    #457 – I’m so sorry that you and all of us are going through this. It is so awful that so many people are hurting so badly right now. I hope in their pain, friends would turn back towards each other and cling together.

    The most astonishing thing about this blog is the number of posts that make me fearful that people will think I wrote them.

    Maybe DPV is British. Do we have British Marines? The reason DPV stands out is because he didn’t get all of the humility teaching and speaks in ways we have all been taught is wrong…especially those of us who spent a lot of time in the principal’s office.

    I agree that DPV made it about education and that is not the issue.

    However, following a new believer with no training has certainly caused this movement to wander theologically in a way that still seems undefined. Years of our lives and our children’s lives wasted with false teaching fads.

  • just saying...

    Not wanting to be insensitive and hurt anyone in any way, but I don’t think child molestation is a primary SGM issue. Although these situations are horrific and cause us all outrage, they don’t characterize the movement. Out of more than 1000 children who have passed through CLC, you have two children speaking up regarding situations that occurred more than 20 years ago. I agree, there may be more. But, in the general population, 1 in 4 children are expected to be molested in some way. That’s .2% for CLC and 25% for the general population. That seems to indicate children are significantly safer at CLC than the mall, the pool, schools, gymnastics class, and regular families. I just don’t think it’s fair to keep representing that as a primary issue. Ex-CLCer’s mom – I love you. I think your situation is awful. You have done a great job of keeping your situation out there. But, readers could think that based upon the amount of discussion about it, that is the root issue. It’s a loud issue. It makes us angry. But, it is only the symptom of a problem.

    A thing to consider is how our society has developed in regards to child molestation. Traditionally, the church at large has always been considered competent to handle hunger, homelessness, counseling, spousal abuse, child abuse, alcoholism, drug abuse etc. Social services have long referred to clergy and judges accept pastoral counseling and involvement of the church as valid treatment for numerous situations. In the 80’s, churches of all denominations handled issues of sexual abuse themselves. Sexual abuse was considered a sin like many other sins and people believed the church was competent to handle it. It was not a unique SGM situation. It was typical in churches everywhere. Sexual abuse was not spoken of and as a result there was little public outcry about it. Since then, our society has changed. Highly publicized cases of abuse led to open dialog and outrage. Statistics on “repeat offenders” changed the way people think. You had Megan’s law, sexual offender registries, and then ultimately the horrific stories coming out of the Catholic church. What was once considered a dysfunctional family matter that could be curred with counseling became deviant criminal behavior…and rightly so. Our entire nation changed after the Catholic situation. People saw a need for this matter to be handled by law enforcement instead of the church. The different denominations have come around on this as well.

    I do not want to excuse in anyway the mistreatment you all have experienced. And, I don’t even want to lump HappyMom and Noel into this mix because things do sound messed up at FFX. I am so sorry that you both and Ex-CLCer and Taylor were hurt by the church when you should have been cared for, particularly by the authoritarian counsel you were given to “get over it”. That was wrong.

    But, I would hope this would help bring you relief. They just didn’t know. They were doing what churches of every denomination had done throughout time.

    I would propose the issue is not SGM handling of child molesters that is a primary problem. It is just a symptom of the primary problem. The issue is the authoritarian counsel you received that gave you no opportunity to heal and ultimately punished you for hurting.

    The issue is authority.

  • Greg

    I recently asked on SGM Refuge why the events from the past continue to cause so much pain aftger many years. An old friend from CLC saw my post and contacted me. He understood how I felt and encouraged me to contact the pastor involved. He assured me that the pastor was genuinely seeking to right the wrongs of the past and repent where necessary.

    I spoke with my former pastor yesterday and shared with him my experience before, during, and after going to the mission field, especially in regard to how I was treated by the church leadership. I have to say, I have not seen such humility and maturity in a pastor. He asked for my input, gave me as much time as I needed, and never uttered a word in his own defense. Rather, he was genuinely broken by my experience and cried with me, repenting in tears. He acknowledge the church had not cared for me and had been pastorally and theologically deficient. It is also clear that recent events have brought the leadership to a better understanding of past errors.

    The details of my story are not unique. After two years of reading stories, I can assure many of you that my experience and pain has been very much like your own. It had all the earmarks of SGM abuse. I can also confess that I have been cynical about possibility of real change.

    However, I want to give all of you hope because God is doing a great work at CLC. There is genuine change happening in the pastoral staff and now is the time for the healing and progress that we have been waiting for. Unlike the past, I felt so honored, affirmed, and cared for yesterday. My long night is finally over. I’ve made a personal commitment to stay in touch with and pray for the leadership.

    I sincerely hope that a new understanding of the heart of Jesus will ripple throughout SGM churches. And I would hope that for many of you, now is the time for healing, reconciliation, and resolution. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

  • exCLCer

    Just catching up……

    Persona 368 said

    You can also see how far education can sometime takes you when you review some of the conclusions of men like Darwin, ….. Stephen Hawking..

    Exactly! I totally agree (although I am pretty sure you meant it far differently than I read it…)

    Luna moth 388 said

    I saw critical thinking discouraged at a youth/parent meeting several years ago. I was so sad. It was a huge missed opportunity to engage a teen’s searching questions. But we had to stick to the questions on the list, whose answers were already known.

    in my experience also, it was totally discouraged, which actually led me to want to learn more, read more, study more, to require evidence, and find out the real truth for myself ….

    Friendly observer 438

    Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, are famous for their dismissive attitudes toward anyone espousing Creationism (vs. Darwinian evolutionary theory). They share many degrees (Dawkins is an Oxford professor). They are, in the best sense and the worst sense, fully educated — or are they?

    I would say they are…..but I would disagree that they are famous for their “dismissive attitude” – that assertion totally passes over (dismisses?)their vast portfolio of work that they are actually famous for (dawkins- oxford professor, fellow, ethologist, lifelong scientist,-and I’m a happy member of his foundation for reason and science)extensive work and research into evolutionary biology, and (hitchens – Cambridge, Oxford, literary genius imo) tremendous journalism career (who by the way was raised christian), though both are acclaimed outspoken humanist.(and somehow you forgot to mention sam harris…together those three make the closest thing to a human truth espousing trinity that I can think of). I’m just saying, there’s got to be better examples of educated people, (ones who actually aren’t such profound experts in their field), to assert your point that formal education isn’t an end all……poor example, I think, to use these two as an example of a “fool” just because they don’t have the same religious beliefs you do. They have backed their assertions up with scientific evidence and research….which is far more than I can say for anything CLC ever taught me in their school…….

    If something is actually true, doesnt it only get truer with time? Critical thinking, education, research, and questions could never disprove something that is actually factually honestly true, right. So I am naturally suspicious of anyone who would disocurage critical thinking.

    Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are two of my absolute favorite authors…. “The greatest show on earth” my favorite book…..and I dont think they are any more dismissive in attitude than conversely most preachers have been in response to their published works …..but, mostly without the education or research to back it up.

  • WahnCovFel

    Can a few people give the definiton and some examples of love bombing? Thanks

  • Persona

    Unassimilated 409 Thanks for the info on the music industry and SGM’s use of it. It’s a complicated web to be sure. Seems like it would be hard to make much of a living writing and recording songs unless you are at the tippy-top of the charts.

    I am also wondering why Steve and Vikki Cook left CLC for FL., set up their own music company there, changing transferring churches once. Then, a couple years ago, they fled FL for MN. And now, they recently came full circle back to CLC to work again for SGM. Strange circular journey! And it seems they may have jumped out of the frying pan into the fire. I wonder how they will fare back in Gaithersburg?

  • Nickname

    Greg — #462 — what an encouraging post. Thank you for letting us know.

    A few years ago, I ran into an old friend, who, as an adult male in his mid-thirties, attended & graduated from a PCA seminary. Prior to going to seminary, he’d been a staff member for a well-respected parachurch ministry, a Bible study leader, and elder in several churches.

    I began to explain a little about SGM — though he’d never heard of SGM in particular, he began to finish my sentences.
    “YES, YES!” — he said, “They fall exactly into the mold of para-church ministries that become churches…” and began to draw parallels from other aberrant groups.

    Because he knew the marks of orthodox Christianity, and the ‘unstandard’ deviations thereof, his education kicked in along with his discerning spirit, and he was able to identify and discuss SGM’s issues in a very cogent way. I was blown away, because I thought SGM was unique in their issues. They aren’t!

    Personally, I’ve grown a little weary of the education debate — and don’t want to keep :beat beating that dead horse. But sometimes, a little education goes a long way.

    I don’t think anyone here who has espoused the benefits of a good education believes that beneficial, authentic, Spirit-led ministry hinges on formal education. But education can be an important tool. I’m thinking that if the SGM leaders, even at an older age, like my friend, had gone to seminary with him and learned about THE CHURCH — the good, bad, ugly, the history, the future and God’s plan, they might have recognized when they were being led into error and kept us out of some of this mess.

    Some of these guys got into error because they just didn’t know any better!

    Ok. I don’t plan on commenting on education again. Thank you, and good night.

  • Mary

    Greg #462 – I am truly glad things are changing at CLC and I believe you that they are. I could never go back and talk to the leadership there – too terrorized. And, the after effects of shunning are so far reaching. Because I no longer want a relationship with them and I no longer respect them – they have nothing for me and I don’t need anything from them. I am just stuck cleaning up a mess their leadership (authority) made of my heart. I hate it. I hate struggling this long. I hate one day feeling like I am completley healed to only have the next day be a day of sadness as great as grieving the death of a loved one. I hate most how it affected my ability to relate to God in wholeness. I think what you did took courage and you should feel good about that. I am truly glad they responded well. I have hope for CLC.

  • Persona

    Mary 462 I think you are right not to trust the leadership yet. They still need to earn our trust. Anyway, many of the original pastors that you may have had issues with back in the day, are yet unchanged. They left with CJ or serve on the proverbial ‘independent board’ which just gave CJ a pass.

    Of the original ten or so pastors that governed CLC back in the 90’s, Robin and Grant are the only ones left at CLC. They purportedly follow Josh’s leadership now but I have not heard them speak enough to know to what degree they have changed.

    Anyway, I think you are right to wait until long after the dust settles to see if you can trust any of those pastors ever again. Take all the time you need.

  • Persona

    *Mary 466 is what I meant to say.

  • Henry

    Many of the posts here are thought provoking and it is surprising how a careful reading and getting to ‘know’ peoples’ positions brings a clearer picture of what this blog is all about.I must admit to not liking the ‘abusive’ bits but it is easy enough to skim over those,as Kris suggests. In the light of trying to understand I have this to contribute.
    I have no formal qualifications but I think wisdom literature in scripture gives us some of the answers we look for as Christians when thinking about education. According to 1 Kings chaps 1-5 aspects of wisdom include knowing between good and evil but also things like politics, botany and zoology, sensitive poetry and skills in legal disputes. Now I guess we all know that cannot be an exhaustive list and we also know that vocational training is not the complete answer. If we look into Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs the panorama for wisdom widens as it encompasses a combination of moral and intellectual pursuits. The list is vast and still not exhaustive.
    From this (over time) we have discovered by God’s grace that learning is part of his plan and we have learned that it applies as a common grace to all humans. So that is why we educate, as a response to God. It may have got lost in the mists of time but that is what the Bible indicates. To what level and in what areas we educate is surely part of our education rather than an idolatrous competition as we in the west are making it.

  • presbyterian

    re: 459: Um, not to argue about education (I think it is not mandatory, but is strongly advisable, and do think that the problems are exasperated and able to continue in sgm because of their lack of educational) but the history major in me could not avoid commenting on this list that is full of people who had formal education.

    Einstein, to highlight one, did finish secondary schooling at Aargau Canotonal School, passed his Matura with good grades, and then at the young age of 17 enrolled in the four year Mathematics and Physics teaching diploma program at Zurich Polytechnic, which he graduated 4 years later, he also started working at universities after that. So I would say that is formal education.

    David Rockefeller Sr. graduated Cum Laude from Harvard university, did a postgraduate year in econ at Harvard and a year at London School of economics, received a PHD from University of CHicago.
    Henry Ford studied bookkeeping at Goldsmith, Bryant & Stratton Business College.
    Carl Sandburg attended Lombord College in Galesburg.
    Walt disney took night and evening courses at Chicago Art Insititue all through middle and High school (before he did drop out)

    I wont go through the whole list, and some of these are from times when going to school to age 14 was a long formal education, or where an apprenticeship was all there was. And some, such as Joe DiMaggio, it really would not matter his education, he was an athlete, or the military leaders who their education would not affect their job either. And none on this list is a theologian, which SGM pastors act in the capacity of.
    Not that any of these peoples educations matter that much, but I am not sure where this list came from, and my history major background dislikes false information portrayed as truth, some especially false such as David Rockefeller not having formal education, when he has a PHD and attended several universities.

  • Moniker

    Brent has a new post on his blog: Covenant Life Pastors Provide Members an Important Update

  • Nickname

    Re: 470 — Update from the CLC Pastors. Reserved :clap from me — looks like they’re moving in a good direction without being knee-jerk impulsive.

    Mary — I sure understand your feelings about your former pastors, etc. For a long time, I had similar feelings. Nowadays though, I have no more fear of them — completely free (oops, almost said released) from feeling ‘under’ them — in fact, I almost feel sorry for them, and they no longer hold any control over me. I’m hearing a vamp song in the background…”One of these days — you’re gonna miss me, baby…” One of these days, they will regret having treated you harshly.

    This excommunication thing has me buffaloed. I remember hearing that term when I was growing up, as Catholic neighbors discussed divorce –wow, they couldn’t take communion anymore — and it sounded like a horrible thing to do to anyone. My heart is broken for anyone who has had to suffer any kind of formal or informal excommunication and/or shunning.

    Shunning is an attempt at behavior modification and playground manipulation– “If you do things we do not like, we won’t be your friend anymore. But if you do things OUR way, we’ll let you in the club.”

    PFFFFT. Who wants to be in that club?

    NO one, no one, can excommunicate you from Jesus. Check out Romans 8:39 — for I am persuaded that neither life, nor death nor any creature nor a whole bunch of other things can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

    Some friends of mine recently left a controlling church, and were in shunned mode — then had to go to a wedding. At the reception, some of their lifelong friends, people they had brought to Christ, did not even approach them — pretended not to see them, looked the other way, avoided them like the plague. So, Tom and Susan took matters in their own hands — walked right up to people, greeted, shook hands, hugged — and had a blast. The controlling pastor passed by their table. My friend jumped up from his seat, extended his hand, clapped the ol’ boy on the back, and said, “Pastor Jim, how the heck are ya?” Pastor Jim was visibly taken aback.

    Tom was amazed at the freedom he felt, and the vindication he received from the Holy Spirit after having been brutally criticized by hyper-authoritarian men. Get this: he was removed from being an usher after making a joke about the newly-required church-logo polo shirts to a couple of visiting muckety-mucks from their equivalent of the SGM Board. Seriously, ‘suspended’ from being an usher for two months as punishment, and, oh, yeah, before that was told to stop taking prayer requests from people and praying for them, the church wasn’t doing that anymore — and that was only the tip of the iceberg.

    Mary, you are ‘kind, you are smart, you are important’ and most of all, you are LOVED by the Greatest Being to ever walk this earth. Mere men cannot change God’s grace.

    Thank you for being here and being one of us. We’re with you.

  • Square Peg

    What, exactly, is the reasoning behind excommunication and “shunning?” Is this some sort of strange mis-application of Matthew 18 that has occurred?

  • EMSoliDeoGloria

    Nickname #474 – I love your story. Your friends refused to accept the unChristian behavior of these brothers and sisters who thought that blindly following the “shunning” edict of their authoritarian pastor was the right thing to do. that’s excellent.

    #457(not) still in it – I’m so sorry to hear your story and I wish I could give you a hug (from one who is – for now – still in my SGM church) for every person who has turned their back on you. Let me say this: what they are doing is WRONG. Sure, sometimes casual friendships drift apart when people change social circles but to intentionally refuse to relate with someone simply because they are no longer part of your local church is a near blasphemous denial of the fundamental unity that Christ has purchased for all who believe in him. They are not only hurting you, they are hurting themselves and grieving the One who bought them. If you have relationships you thought would survive the church change and now you and your family are being intentionally rejected, there may be a place for you to speak the truth in love to these brothers or sisters. It would be a kindness to do so – not necessarily because your words will change their mind – but because God wants to change their hearts toward his great, big Body. How can I know Christ loves you and we will spend eternity together but close my heart to you here?

  • SA

    @just sayin –

    Rather than debate whether child molestation issues have been a primary issue for SGM in the past why don’t we take steps to help ensure kids are protected now as we can all agree that that issue is important even if it only helps one child.

    To date, unlike almost any organization of any type in the U.S. no SGM church appears to have a formal public policy in place for addressing sexual abuse incidents. The SGM board could recommend that churches adopt such a policy.

    A sample policy can be downloaded for free on about 2000 websites and if the SGM board diverted the 6-figure sum it’s paying AOR to tell it things it already knows it could probably afford to pay a lawyer to draft a final policy.

  • I was away from internet access for most of yesterday and am finally getting the chance to catch up. Lots of great comments.

    To “(not) still in it,” about your #457, I am really sorry that you are going through that right now. :(

    In #447, Argus said,

    Agreed in sympathy and support of DPV. His style is his own and not to everyone’s taste, but it is genuine. He’s older, liturgical in worship, and reads, speaks and breathes the language of the KJV Bible and the old Anglican Book of Common Prayer. It is not an affectation with him — it’s his way.

    He is not a pompous windbag or an arrogant buffoon, nor is he insecure or needy. He is an opinionated individual who has taken time to read and speak to painful issues not his own, yet not altogether distant. He is a churchman, a brother in the Lord, an elder in the faith, a warrior (quite literally, as a retired combat Marine officer), and the father of an abuse survivor himself. He has applied himself to seek justice for the oppressed, and he has expressed kindness, support, and compassion for abuse victims here, especially children. Even if some find him annoying, he deserves more respect than he was shown.

    I cannot say I always agree with his points, and I do feel he belabored the education issue, but he is entitled to his personality and his opinion.

    I’m really sick of this topic, too, but I still feel the need to clarify something – I never said DPV is a pompous windbag or an arrogant buffoon. Instead, the point I was trying to make is that if he continues to trash-talk guys like CJ for their lack of education primarily because they don’t come across as “scholarly” (which DPV seems to equate with their lack of using convolutedly formal and flowery lingo), DPV is going to be PERCEIVED as pompous and arrogant.

    Also, although this is neither here nor there in a way, I’m pretty sure DPV is not nearly as elderly as some of you think he is. I think he’s around the same age as Dave Harvey and CJ.

  • Roadwork

    (not) still in it #457:

    I don’t even want to find another church, I feel hopeless. Crushed. Betrayed. Years and years invested in relationships are just POOF!! Cast aside.

    I remember sending a number of emails over time to my former (and last) SGM senior pastor and I don’t believe I ever received a single response. I even tried to provoke a response in one particular email. Nothing. Nada.

    Non responsiveness seems to have been their typical “response” over the past few years.

    The tough part is separating what you know the church should be from the experience you had.

    In the end, if it doesn’t quack like a duck, it isn’t a duck. If it doesn’t behave like a church, it isn’t a church. It’s something other than a church. Business, club or cult. Multiple choice. And you may pick more than one.

    We’ve been out several months now and my daughter most affected by the local franchise’s exclusiveness and narrow-mindedness feels as you do – doesn’t even want to go to a church.

    The upside is that we’re out and although we haven’t yet found a new home church, we’ve enjoyed feeling like we’re a “regular” part of Christianity again. There’s something to be said for being free. (Free in Him, of course.) Leave behind the SGM expectations, conformity, right-ness, unspoken rules and go praise God with others who are free.

    You’ll find a couple of clunkers along the way, but that’s okay. Kind of like dating, I suppose. (Ha! That’s funny right there, I don’t care who you are!)

    It’s been drilled into me, even pre-SGM, that I should be an integral part of a local church. I dislike not having a home church. But SGM “abandoned” me. I didn’t abandon them – I was faithful to attend, tithe, serve but I was ignored and set aside. For all intents and purposes, they turned their back on any usefulness I could have contributed to their efforts. So I filed for a “biblical” (according to SGM) divorce and we’re back on the market!

    Ending any relationship leaves its wounds. Especially when you’ve been wronged by those that should have loved and cared for you. After ending this 20-year relationship, we’ll probably be licking some of our wounds for awhile.