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Not Talking…But Talking About Talking

Yesterday, a reader posted the following in a comment:

Observation 1: Since the reinstatement announcement on 25 January, there have been *no* denominational updates over at Plant and Build blog.  We’re going on nearly a month.

Observation 2: In the same period, multiple SGM congregations across the country have been on the receiving end of unity-related and godly speech/slander/gossip-related sermons.

Earlier, when people had been discussing the recent barrage of “Don’t Talk” messages flowing out of SGM pulpits, I wrote this:

I haven’t had an opportunity to listen to any of the messages that have come down the pike about gossip, slander, and “passing along bad reports,” but I think it’s tremendously revealing that this particular topic is what some SGM pastors have chosen to focus on at this time.

I mean, if you consider the amazingly wonderful scope of the Bible, with its pretty much endless store of sermon fodder, and if you consider how the “Gossip & Slander” meme has already been so thoroughly beaten into the SGM culture, to where a significant cause of SGM’s present issues has actually been SGM’s code of silence, where nobody dared speak up, it seems pretty obvious that yet another teaching about “Gossip & Slander” is the very last thing your average SGMer needs.

Yes, godly speech is important.  Christians ought to be mindful about what they say.  They ought to make every effort to avoid mean-spirited conversations where the goal is to tear others down.

But in my experience, SGMers are already hyper-sensitive about this.  They have already been taught frequently about the pitfalls of “Gossip & Slander.”  They are very careful in their attempts to honor God, even to the point of trying to steer clear of “Gossip & Slander” according to SGM’s expanded definition, where “Gossip & Slander” no longer means what the Bible or the dictionary would tell us, but instead has come to mean, “Anything one might say that would show one is questioning one’s pastors.”

So, why hammer away on a well-worn subject yet again, when SGMers have already proven themselves to be almost paranoid about avoiding “Gossip & Slander”? Why not just crack open the Bible to some Psalm that celebrates God’s goodness…or focus on our identity as new creatures in Christ…or talk about the glories of the resurrection…or any of a thousand other topics that SGM pastors have tended to neglect over the past decades? Why revisit “Gossip & Slander” now?

(Especially since such messages would seem to be more topical in nature and not the sort of preaching that would be characterized as expository…which is the type of preaching SGM claims its pastors do?)

Sometimes SGM pastors are pathetically obvious, and to me, this is one of those times. Carting out the old “Gossip & Slander” chestnuts at this point in SGM’s history is a desperate attempt to do damage control by controlling the flow of information by controlling what people feel they can say to one another…and even what people can READ. These pastors ought to step back and realize how bad a choice this is. The church members who will listen to them unsuspiciously and eagerly imbibe their directives to not discuss church problems are the very same people who are already so drunk on the SGM Kool-Aid that the pastors have nothing to worry about with them anyway.

But those who have had their eyes opened even just a little bit almost can’t help but see how utterly self-serving yet another sermon about “Gossip & Slander” is…and what a desperate attempt it is to try and put the rain back into the storm clouds.

SGM pastors who are trotting out your “Gossip & Slander” sermons, you might want to rethink that idea. Honestly, I know this line has been mentioned many times here, to the point where it’s become something of a cliché, but you’re so obviously like the little man in Wizzard Of Oz, desperately trying to get people to “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”

Talking about SGM’s problems, and objecting to CJ’s reinstatement, and rising up and demanding that church leaders make themselves formally accountable to the people whom they supposedly serve – none of that is sinful. None of that is “Gossip & Slander.” It’s just a much-needed dose of honesty, a much-needed reality check, from other members of the Body of Christ. If SGM’s pastors don’t accept this honesty and respond correctly to the reality check, they are going to lose the very kingdoms they are trying so hard to preserve.

195 comments to Not Talking…But Talking About Talking

  • oldtimer

    These g&s messages are just another example of control tactics used by the leadership of SGM.

    Back in the day–we attended for 14 yrs–if I wanted to know anything about the members I just asked in the community or a relative who didn’t attend the church. Everyone in town knew what was going on in someone’s life except the people they went to church with.

    Anyone who considers themself a sheep in the pasture needs to know that they can get up on their own two feet before the Lord and become a child of God by hearing God for themselves and not relying on men to do it for them. (heard that from a prophet last week)

    Transparency, honesty and meekness do not run in the current SGM government.

  • Tom

    No anti-slander messages at my SGM church.

  • Tom

    Come to think of it, there hasn’t been a whole lot said about the situation, other than that the pastors are open to hearing the congregation’s concerns and questions. I also appreciate that they haven’t taken sides on the issue. The pastor’s daughter was actually the one that first pointed me here about 2 years ago, and she was reading with her father’s consent.

  • Tom –

    I don’t think anyone said that these sermons are happening at all SGM churches.

    But it’s still significant that the “Gossip & Slander” topic has come up as often as it has, in as many places as it has, in just the past month or so.

  • Somewhereinttime

    SGM is finally getting “smart” about their own speech … by not saying a word. Dave Harvey and company couldn’t fit a round peg in to a round hole so I think they finally started listening to people with brains and decided to cease all communication because every time they opened their mouths they stuck their foot in to it.

    And these are the guys that are going to lead SGM to the next level???

  • Tom,

    What is your church’s response to the reinstatement of CJ?

  • Muckraker

    From the former thread, thought this was important to carry over:

    PhillyInDC and Lynn asked about CLC’s apparently male only staff:

    PhillyInDC:

    I happened to be perusing their website and noticed that they removed all of the women from their staff page. At one point, they had listed (and pics) of the women who worked there, mostly as assistants and secretaries, but now it has been changed to an all boys club.

    Persona:

    As for photos of employed-females-who-sacrificially-serve-the church, I don’t know why they omit them. Have they ever had them on their website? I don’t remember any.
    But, I think having photos of the receptionists or secretaries helps callers put a face with a name. All I know is, it is a rare church that neglects to post the church secretary on their website. I know this because I’ve looked at quite a few church sites over the past few years.

    PhillyInDC:

    CovLife screenshot from July 20, 2011
    http://web.archive.org/web/20110720034149/http://www.covlife.org/about/staff

    Current link to their staff: http://www.covlife.org/about/staff

    They do have a female answering the phones. But to me, this looks, frankly, creepy. It does not look welcoming or inclusive to women members of CLC. Basically, it appears like some website for a Mosque!

    Any CLCers know the answer to this?? Did they fire/let go most of the 20+ females working there during the past few months??

  • SMP

    TOM,I am completely confused. Why do you pop in here to tell us only one sentence about your church? If you want to provide balance here so that we are all not so “one sided” about SGM,(by the way…this blog IS in pursuit of right ness with what is wrong with this SGM system.)you will need to do better then that! Your comment appears flippant and I am not sure it is helpful IF you don’t give us more information. You may think it is fine to say, “Nope, not my church” but in fact this blog has proven time and time again that no church is immune. Did Kris not address the fact that SGM churches for the most part have been saturated with the G&S teachings? Are you trying to say that your church is isolated from the gossip and slander teaching?
    (We call this, “do this or else instruction”) It would be helpful if you would QUALIFY your statement with the intention of serving the BROKEN members of this blog.

  • KL

    Regarding the female staff members’ photos being removed from the CLC website: there was a message just came out on the members’ blog that it is a temporary issue related to some incidents that apparently made some of the women feel unsafe. Message said they are working on a better long-term solution.

  • Golden

    Muckraker – Before you jump to conclusions, the removal of the ladies from the staff page is addressed on the member’s only blog. No conspiracy theory or boy’s only club issues going on.

  • I realize my opinion isn’t that significant…and might not reflect that of many readers…but at least on some levels, I don’t think the removal of female employees’ pictures is that big of a deal.

    We know that SGM churches are tightly complementarian, to the point where situations have arisen in which some congregations have gone to ridiculously legalistic lengths to avoid letting it appear that women have any voice at all in any situation. SGM’s complementarianism shouldn’t be much of a surprise to anyone…right?

    I also believe a great case can be made for the view that SGM’s sometimes-legalistic approach to complementarianism is not the source of SGM’s problems, but merely a symptom.

    Redesigning a church’s website to make the church appear as if it has no female staff members would (in my view) be just another sign of SGM’s concern for its image…a concern that the organization be perceived as strictly complementarian.

    While I suppose that there are some good questions about the wisdom of directing energy right now toward that area, when it’s clear that SGM has much larger problems than not seeming complementarian enough, I don’t know that having photos of the church secretaries and support staff would do a whole lot to make women feel more valued. Anyone who is part of an SGM church for any length of time will be VERY aware of the fact that men are in charge at church. Typically, people don’t stick around if they’re not OK with that.

    In one way, I actually think it’s great that an SGM church would seek to make its website line up better with its reality, rather than attempt to pretend that women have a voice in leadership.

  • RE comments #9 and #10…and my #11 –

    Good to know that every once in awhile, a seemingly trivial change really is trivial! :D

  • Tom

    Kris,

    I wasn’t insinuating that they were happening at all SGM churches, I was just letting you know that none have happened in my church.

    As for a response, there hasn’t been an official, or even unofficial response yet. There is a church meeting in the works that will address our relationship with SGM. It’s a challenge for us to have non-Sunday meetings, as we don’t own our building.

  • yentl

    I’ve been surprised nobody has commented here on this, but the women’s classes should definitely indicate a shift in direction for CLC. It’s not just laundry anymore.

    http://www.covlife.org/ministries/equipping_for_women/mini_courses

    Also, Tom – ignore the bullying. If your church is doing great, keep it off the blogs.

  • Tom,

    Thanks for the reply.

    I asked that question – about your church’s response to the reinstatement of CJ – because I have a theory that the churches that are not so excited about CJ’s reinstatement are the same ones that are not attempting to control people’s speech through the “Gossip & Slander” teachings. The “G&S” sermons seem to be coming out of places where pastors have proven themselves to be in lock-step with SGM Corporate.

  • yentl,

    “Bullying”????

    That’s pretty inflammatory language. If anything, I’d call people’s questions “challenging.”

    But you do bring to mind something I’ve found really puzzling, which is this: If an SGM church is “doing fine,” that would (in my thinking) mean that it is free from the authoritarian abuses that have been associated with SGM and CJ’s leadership of SGM. If such a church really does exist, why would that church want to continue its association with SGM? What possible benefit could there be for a healthy church to take on the brand identity and all the baggage that goes with CJ’s recent woes?

    What possible benefit could there be for such a church to keep a low profile (in your words, “…keep it off the blogs”) and remain in SGM’s good graces, if it is really so different from the rest and has none of SGM’s historical problems?

  • WaitingPatiently

    Wow. I was going to mention that our church had not had the G&S teachings either but then almost decided not to after SMP’s tirade of Tom. You know, not every “newbie” that comes to post here is anti-SGM Survivors. Please give a person a chance before you shout them out of here. And yes, I’ve been reading for 2+ years and I’ve seen others do it here before. I saw nothing snarky in Tom’s short response. He was merely answering a question.

    Anyway, I think Kris, your theory is at play in our SGM church.

  • It is also interesting that there has been no response back on Larry Tomczak’s statement about SGM finding C.J. “qualified.” I figured there wouldn’t be response. It was easier to ignore and stonewall than respond.

    http://larrytomczak.com/responce_sgm_tomczak.pdf

  • Perhaps it might be interesting for us to ponder this question:

    “What do ‘healthy’ SGM churches get out of maintaining their association with SGM, especially in light of SGM Corporate’s recent leadership decisions involving the blanket reinstatement/endorsement of CJ’s leadership?”

    I’m not asking this to be snarky or sarcastic…and certainly not “bullying” (ugh!). I’m asking because I find it genuinely puzzling, why a healthy church (one that thinks CJ ought to have been held more accountable than he has been) would want to be identified with those who are so grimly determined to overlook CJ’s issues.

  • Tom

    Kris,

    That’s a possibility. I don’t see that as being the case for my church though, they like CJ a lot. But they aren’t the controlling types.

    Please don’t think I am trying to brag. That isn’t my intention at all.

    yentl,

    Could you elaborate? I’m not sure I understand, and if having a girlfriend has taught me anything, it’s that I should never assume I understand anything.

    SMP,

    I’m sorry I didn’t explain myself. I felt like Kris’ post was saying this is what was happening in all SGM churches, I just wanted to point out that it wasn’t the case in mine. I reread what Kris wrote, and I see that I interpreted it wrong. You said I sounded flippant, I’m sorry, I didn’t intend for it to be that way. Maybe I’m too blunt.

  • SamMcGee

    I am sure many have seen this but soon after the panel report was released, a paper written by Nathan Sasser made the rounds. The panel report was released on Jan 25 and Nathan’s paper is dated Jan 27. It showed up on an at least one SGM Church blog on February 1. Here is the link:

    http://sovgracenc.org/2012/02/taming-the-tongue-in-an-age-of-twitter/

    Now, Nathan’s paper is 9 pages long so I am assuming he did not write it in between the time of the release of the report on the 25th and the 27th. And, in fact, the report was scheduled to be released on Friday the 27th so Nathan’s paper is actually dated with the same date as the original release date. They were to coincide.

    So their original plan was to release the panel report and on the same day, release a nine page treaties on gossip and slander.

    You couldn’t make this stuff up.

  • After reading Steve’s comment, I was struck by a thought.

    It suddenly seems obvious to me that SGM Corporate’s communication decisions have much more to do with a concern for how the organization is perceived in the eyes of SGM outsiders (specifically, the Reformed movers ‘n’ shakers) rather than a concern for those who are actually SGM members.

    The average SGMer who has any sort of handle on SGM’s issues – the questions raised in Brent’s documents, the Larry T debacle, CJ’s waffling repentance, and the SGM board’s panel findings and subsequent reinstatement/endorsement of CJ – that person is typically NOT satisfied with the idea that we should all just move along now. I think it’s safe to say that most SGMers believe that there’s a lot of unfinished business, especially in light of Larry T’s most recent letter.

    Yet SGM Corporate has chosen not to respond.

    I think that’s because they have carefully engineered their statements and actions for how those statements and actions appear to the outside world. Thus far, this strategy seems to be working pretty well for them. How many Reformed Big Dog bloggers reported (some with palpable glee) the SGM in-house panels’ findings…with nary a mention of how the AoR report hasn’t even been released yet? In the perceptions of the outside world, the in-house panels’ findings are totally blurred and indistinct from the AoR report (that hasn’t even been issued). I’m guessing that most of the RBDs would say that CJ (and by extension SGM) have already been given a clean bill of health.

    I think SGM Corporate wants to keep that perception going and minimize whatever impact the AoR report might have when it’s finally released in a month or so. If they were to respond to Larry T’s statement, that would alert the outside world to just what a kangaroo court their in-house panels were…and how very much the panels were limited, due to the wordsmithing and limited scope of the questions given to the panels to answer.

    SGM Corporate’s main concern right now is NOT for the actual members of its member churches. SGM Corporate’s main concern is for how the organization and CJ are perceived in the minds of the outside world that does not know the details. Responding to Larry T would bring fresh attention to many of the details that incriminate CJ. That’s the last thing SGM Corporate wants…even if it would be the honest thing, the thing that would actually serve SGM members.

  • WaitingPatiently

    I certainly can’t speak for all churches and maybe not even my own. I think some of them may be doing a wait and see (or wait and let all the shoes drop) before they start moving forward on making a decision. I think there is a segment of people that want to see it all go away and that there is nothing redeemable to SGM (it’s name, it’s churches, etc). I think there is segment of people that think it definitely needs a major overhaul but if anything can be redeemed, then let it be so. I think there is also a segment of people that think there is nothing wrong with SGM.

    Since it has been pointed out clearly that there is top heavy lean to SGM churches and again I can’t speak for all churches but some churches have a pastoral staff that are seeking a lot more input from the congregation than they ever have in the history of their church, then with a mix of congregation from the 3 different perspectives above, it’s not easy to just “pull out.” Oh man, that was a terrible run-on sentence. I’m not sure there is any one answer to your question Kris. And I think any answer would most like offend one or more of the groups mentioned above.

  • SamMcGee

    Kris, you said:

    In the perceptions of the outside world, the in-house panels’ findings are totally blurred and indistinct from the AoR report (that hasn’t even been issued).

    That’s true even in some SGM churches. Check out this from the February 5, 2012 Bulletin Announcements from Grace Community Church in Kingsville, MD announcing the release of the panel reports.

    2. Sovereign Grace Q & A Today… Ambassadors of Reconciliation has released the panel reports with the evaluation of the allegations against CJ Mahaney. These reports have been released on the Sovereign Grace website. We will have a Q & A today, after the service in the Spurgeon Room, to discuss these reports and any questions you may have.

    Source: http://www.gracecommunity.org/bulletin-announcements-02-05-12

  • Sam –

    Wow! I would understand confusion among SGM outsiders, but it seems like SGM pastors ought to be fully aware that the in-house panels’ reports were not connected in any way to the report that has not yet been released by the Ambassadors of Reconciliation.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    A theory- and only a theory- but the lab results will be known within a month or so:

    Harvey promised to put the entire AoR report online when it comes out in March.

    It would appear from blog posts that the victims who interviewed or wrote to AoR are in the multiple hundreds. AoR also reportedly asked excellent questions and showed great sympathy, even tears, to those who were wronged.

    AoR by reputation will be gracious and kind and speak carefully, but will also be truthful- and there are hundreds of sordid unresolved wrongs and unreconciled relationships. All the facts will be in the report. SGM paid for the report and it only belongs to SGM, not to anybody else like us lowly ex-or current-SGM members.

    So, how can SGM put the final report online and maintain their image in the eyes of the celebrity Big Dogs and the world? How can they put it online and not be forced to apologize and admit wrongs? Maybe step down? Lose control?

    They can’t. So, what can they do to wiggle out of Harvey’s promise to put it online?

    There is only one solution. Harp on gossip and slander now, so that when the report comes out Harvey and crew can sadly imform us that while they really did want to openly publish it, there are some things in it that refer to individuals (even if not by name, with enough details that somebody somewhere might guess who is being written about)….and so they have to keep it secret because publishing it would be- you guessed it- gossip and slander.

    I will be the first to admit to my cynical negativity, and my conjecture that sociopaths by nature are liars and we have some sociopathy operating at top levels. And maybe since Harvey said they’d put the entire AoR report online I should trust him and believe him. Maybe my theory is not worth the bandwidth it takes up and I’d be better off speculating that last night I saw Elvis on a UFO. Maybe my explanation for this sudden burst of sermons from the pulpits-that they do not want to gossip and slander as laying the groundwork for hiding the AoR report- is horse hockey.

    We will see. Hope I am wrong.

  • Roadwork

    Something I’ve been thinking about for awhile.

    I’m seeing a pattern with polity change occurring in the SGM franchises.

    And I think it comes out in the “A Way Forward” doc from the Crossway church in Canada:

    “The eldership has historically fallen short in the work of ‘equipping the saints’ for mutual ministry.”

    I find the word choice interesting: “Mutual” not “individual”.

    Eph 4:11-12 “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ…”

    It’s their job to equip the congregation, the saints, for the work of ministry. “Mutual” is out of context here. They refuse to relinquish control. In SGM, it must be a “partnership” – in other words, individual initiative is still not encouraged.

    “We will be broadening our eldership to involve ‘non-vocational’ or ‘lay’ elders to share the load of pastoring the flock. The men will come from the congregation, be known to the congregation, and be affirmed by the congregation.”

    Not “chosen” by the congregation, but “affirmed” by the congregation. The congregation is only allowed to confirm or ratify the “lay elders” that were chosen only by the paid pastors.

    Again, they refuse to relinquish control. What would you rather have – real elders chosen by the church (the representation of Christ’s body on earth) or “elders” chosen by men that have been appointed by other men?

    Faith does not coexist with control.

    “The team is increasingly passionate about establishing the Biblical role of deacon at Crossway. A Biblically qualified deaconate is necessary for developing, maintaining and flourishing ministry in the church.”

    A deacon in a SGM church? What? I haven’t heard them use the term deacon in 20 years! They just now find deacons “necessary”?

    Once again, I find SGM’s understanding of the bible lacking. They’ve had 2000 years of history and 30 years in business to figure it out and they still don’t get it.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    And, in fact, the report was scheduled to be released on Friday the 27th so Nathan’s paper is actually dated with the same date as the original release date. They were to coincide.

    So their original plan was to release the panel report and on the same day, release a nine page treaties on gossip and slander.

    You couldn’t make this stuff up.

    Sam- wow!!!! I saw this after I posted. Welcome to the laboratory! So, you think we are gonna see the AoR report???

  • Roadwork

    This bears repeating. From EMSoliDeoGloria 299 in the previous thread:

    My best definitions:

    Gossip is sharing personal, non-public information with an individual that does not have a need to know it for the good of the parties involved. Often the information is not confirmed as true.

    Slander is making false statements that are damaging to someone’s reputation.

    There is a significant difference between gossip and slander, though both are destructive. Gossip may be true of false. Slander is false. Gossip may be told without malice, and even with goodwill. Slander almost always carries the intent to damage and is known to be false.

    It is not slander to tell another person that Newt Gingrich has been married 3 times, although it might damaging to his reputation, because the information is both true and public.

    It is gossip to tell my friend that our mutual friend is 6 weeks pregnant, even though I have only good intent, because the information is both personal and non-public (assuming my friend did not specifically give me permission to share her good news with others).

    I hate gossip and slander. I am also deeply troubled that ministers of the gospel would misuse these terms in a way misleads the people of God and discourages them from taking an active role in calling leaders to accountability. The call to godly speech is entirely appropriate and biblically necessary. But with the inaccurate definitions, it is manipulative and provokes fear and suspicion of one another among God’s people.

    This is printed and posted here in my office.

  • SMP

    Tom,
    Thank you for your apology. All is forgiven. For those that felt I was bullying, Please, please forgive me. This is why after years of reading here I hardly post. Somebody is always going to mis interpret or in my case just say the wrong thing. I hope you all will consider the point I was trying to think through in an environment I trust.

  • Tom and SMP –

    Thank you both for your graciousness.

    This is why, most of the time, moderating this site is not a burden. It’s because the participants here are great!

  • Moniker

    Steve240 (#18)said “It is also interesting that there has been no response back on Larry Tomczak’s statement about SGM finding C.J. ‘qualified.’ I figured there wouldn’t be response. It was easier to ignore and stonewall than respond.”

    Exactly. I know that at a recent members’ meeting at Crossway, Mickey C. basically said that everything is hunky-dory with the Larry Tomczak case. Mickey mentioned that Larry “gave CJ an A+” for his humility in his (Larry’s) July 4th letter about their reconciliation that was posted on the SGM Plant & Build blog. But Mickey did not mention Larry & Doris Tomczak’s public response to the panel reports. Not at all. I think this was very deceitful.

  • 5years,

    I have the same questions, about SGM’s publication of the unedited AoR report.

  • Roadwork,

    Although reportedly, that Canadian SGM church’s new approach to governance is a radical departure from SGM Corporate’s ongoing condemnation of ANY sort of congregational voice in church leadership, I would agree with you that it’s still not THAT radical of a departure.

    As long as the pastors remain in control of the elder selection process, they still remain in control of everything. Not much will have changed in the end. Pastors are NOT going to choose men whom they have not carefully vetted to be elders. They will only pick those who they know will share their own views and represent them – NOT necessarily guys who would represent the congregation.

    That’s not really formal accountability to the congregation. It’s just adding more people to the pastoral team.

  • SamMcGee

    5Years,

    Let’s look at what SGM has already said about the AoR report due out in March. This is from the “Why Not Vote” document. I have highlighted a key part. Keep in mind as you read this, they are referring to people who have suffered significant harm under their leadership. In any event, this was released at the same time as the panel report and appears, at least to me, to be a preemptive move with regard to the AoR report that will be released in March. I think we will see all of it because I think SGM believes they have blunted its impact by characterizing it this way.

    One final thought: the AoR Group Reconciliation Report

    A few people have suggested that we delay the decision concerning C.J.’s reinstatement until AoR presents us with its report from the Group Reconciliation (GR) process.  We understand this impulse but feel that would also be inappropriate due to the distinct difference between the panel review process and the GR process.

    The panels were designed specifically to address the potential areas of disqualification stemming from Brent’s charges and leading to C.J.’s leave.  These panels could call anyand all witnesses they desired, and they produced a thorough and objective accounting of their findings.  AoR’s GR process was not designed to evaluate C.J.’s qualification for the presidency, and to use it that way would be inappropriate.  In the GR process, individuals with grievances from across SGM had the opportunity to weigh in on their experiences.  We certainly want to learn all that we can from this, but this was not designed to render a judgment on CJ, nor would it be effective in doing so—that is neither the intention nor design of this process.  These are simply interviews with a view  toward personal reconciliation; there is no cross‐examination, no hearing of witnesses,  no corroborating testimony, nor any other factor which is necessary to establish fact, allocate guilt, locate culpability, etc.  So it would be illegitimate to use the GR report as an instrument of adjudication or to extract from it an objective assessment of CJ and his  qualification to be president.

  • Muckraker

    KL @9 Thank you for that info. I’ll check out that message.

    Golden @10:

    Before you jump to conclusions, the removal of the ladies from the staff page is addressed on the member’s only blog. No conspiracy theory or boy’s only club issues going on.

    First of all, not jumping to conclusions here, I was asking questions–I was expressing concerns. It’s great CLC is presenting a reason of why this was done on the Members’ Only Blog, but you have to admit, what does it look like to anyone else from the “outside”? And I would say that CLC as a strictly Complementarian structured church IS a “boys’ only club” in regards to policy and decision-making, even for non-doctrinal issues, AND oddly enough, even for Women’s Ministry issues.

    Kris @11

    I don’t know that having photos of the church secretaries and support staff would do a whole lot to make women feel more valued. Anyone who is part of an SGM church for any length of time will be VERY aware of the fact that men are in charge at church. Typically, people don’t stick around if they’re not OK with that.
    In one way, I actually think it’s great that an SGM church would seek to make its website line up better with its reality, rather than attempt to pretend that women have a voice in leadership.

    Interesting thought.

  • Sam,

    You make some interesting connections in your #35.

    I wonder if the SGM board understands just how a true and honest reporting of all the individuals who have been harmed by SGM over the years would serve to disqualify all of them, to the point where their own reinstatement/requalification/endorsement of CJ would be meaningless.

    In the end, how meaningful is it anyway, that a group of guys with accountability issues and a love of unhealthy control believe that their leader shouldn’t be disqualified because of his accountability issues and his love of unhealthy control?

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Sam- Thanks. We will see. It could just be that they know the AoR report would raise many questions and instigate talk among the members, and they need to preempt that. Anybody who dares to even mention it will be labeled a gossip and slanderer. This helps instill enough fear of being kicked out to squelch members responding to the report.

    I don’t know, but I have to admit I’ll be surprised if they actually do publish it online.

  • Roadwork

    Kris:

    I think I first saw the same thing in one of the California churches a few months ago. It’s my opinion that this version of polity will be their new enlightenment and rolled out as their “proof” of change.

    “New and improved!” It’s the same old crap but wrapped it in a new shiny bag. It’s not about change, it’s about the marketing.

  • Lynn

    I didnt mean to make a big deal of the pictures being removed, it was was more of where did the women go. I was just curious. After posting my comment, I did think that maybe some women felt unsafe with their pics on the website.

    As for the AoR report, I think it will get posted because Dave said it would and I’m sure he doesnt want to look like they are covering anything up, please note my scarcasm. What I think will happen is:

    A) They release it in full.

    B) They dont release it and say it will be gossip and slander, as 5years said.

    C) They do release it, but tell the congregation if they think this is something they want to read to pray about it, making them feel guilt because they know the pastors don’t want them to. And tell those who do to remember they themselves are sinners too.

    Also, someone else said this in another post, but I’ll just paraphrase it. If people have not left their sgm church, I highly doubt that the reports would make them leave. It will be more or wait and see. The sgm board will take forever with that attitude. Even if you want to stay in your sgm church and want to wait and see. Wait and see at another church. You dont have to withdraw your membership, but just be like CJ, and say I feel better cared for in another church.

  • Uriah

    5yearsinPDI #26,
    I think you’re on to something…

  • SamMcGee

    Roadwork,

    You wrote in #27: A deacon in a SGM church? What? I haven’t heard them use the term deacon in 20 years! They just now find deacons “necessary”?

    There is actually more than one SGM church that currently refers to their care group leaders as “Deacons”. Here is one example but I think that cases like this are probably an over-site rather than intentional (by over-site, I mean that if they thought about it, they probably wouldn’t choose to actually use the word):

    http://www.sovereigngracepearland.org/community/care-groups/

    I always suspected that caregroup leaders were considered Deacons but, like a lot of things in SGM, there is a perpetual vagueness in the language. I mean, if they are Deacons, why not call them Deacons? It seems like there is always a need for wiggle room. Calling someone a Deacon, I mean officially, implies and requires a Biblical application. Calling someone a Care group leader doesn’t require anything.

  • Roadwork

    Sam:

    Thanks. SGM specializes in vagueness.

    I have been in 3 franchises over a 20 year period and don’t recall ever hearing them use the term “deacon”.

    So what real authority do these “deacons/caregroups leaders” exercise in a SGM church? (Insert sound of crickets chirping in background here.)

  • yentl

    Tom – If your church does not have the issues described on the blogs, and I believe you it doesn’t (I know quite a few churches that have none of these issues and they are laying low right now waiting for things with AorR to unfold), your pastors need the TIME to separate themselves from some of these scandalous situations and educate your congregation. They can’t just up and leave SGM when the congregation is oblivious to the issues. That would wreak havoc. They need to wait for the AorR report and let it inform the congregation of issues. Then, they need to gently respond how they philosophically differ from previous practice and how they would like to proceed. Those loyal to SGM need to see and understand why there should be change. If they know nothing about these issues and all of a sudden the church is in the spotlight, they will be angry. Those who are upset by things at SGM need to hear the pastors have heard their cries and are taking the church in a different direction. Both sides need educating.

    The personal information you gave about the pastor’s family subjects him to a firestorm and puts him in the crosshairs of SGM as well as his own congregation.

    Don’t drop the name of your church on here and throw it into the controversy when the congregation in uninformed. Let things unfold.

    All of the pastors of healthy churches will have to show their congregations that they waited for the evaluation before making a decision. Otherwise, there will be a church split. All they can do right now is lay low, teach the Bible and prepare for the storm.

    It is my hope the AorR report is so clear, that all parties will agree in the need for change and church bodies can stay intact.

  • His Name is Jesus

    I also find it very interesting that there is a number of SGM churches speaking on the whole gossip and slander thing. There is one church where the pastor is in a series on Genesis, and in a sermon that mentions chapters one through three, the title of the message is something to the effect of, “Words that give life and words that give death.”

    He spent a while on gossip and slander – now I could be wrong here- but I do not think that the point of Genesis one through three is about gossip and slander. Anyhow, just an observation to that end.

    SAMMCGEE #35

    As I read what you posted there, I couldn’t help but see once again the control that SGM has had through out this whole ordeal (by the way I hate the word process now). They were able to control the scope of what the panels would do, as well as the scope of what AoR would do. Everything that has been done has been done with their hand in it. And they have been able to turn the tables, making the real issues disappear by making everything else into problem (ie the blogs, the manner in how people have brought these issues to light, their “policies” etc.) rather than the true problems (lording, manipulating, control, abuse and that it is not just CJ but other members of the leadership team – which if I remember correctly – Brent said it was more than just about CJ).

    I realize this is pointing out the obvious, but man, this is so much worse than I initially thought.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Moniker,

    Don’t look for Mickey C. to ever be truthful about SGM.

    Deception, manipulation, and spin is his specialty.

    If SGM were the mafia, Mickey would be at the top of the list of “hit men” to get a job done.

  • StvMac

    At my former SGM church, KWCC, care group leaders have always (in my 8 years or so) been regularly referred to as deacons. The man in charge of children’s ministry was also “installed” as a deacon. Just how much and how often the pastors actually consulted the deacons before everything hit the fan is another matter. It was sporadic at best and more often to simply inform the deacons of pastoral decisions.

  • One thing that should be pointed out is that the concept of not giving an “evil report” and only saying good things about people was a concept that Bill Gothard introduced when sexual misconduct was coming to light in Gothard’s group. It was Gothard’s attempt to contain what had happened. Thus I would question what the motives were of anyone who is quick to point out that one shouldn’t pass on an “evil report.”

    If you read Veinot’s book “A Matther of Basic Principles” which exposes a lot of the problems with Bill Gothard and his seminars you will a lot of similarities with C.J. Mahaney including lack of accountability and intimidating those who question.

    There may be some valid points in suggesting one not spread “evil report” but just realize why they someone came up with this; it was to hide problems in their group. It sure seems like SGM is trying to do the same thing.

  • musicman

    Yentl-

    Not to be overly argumentative…but your insisting that there are quite a few healthy SGM churches seems to be a stretch. And your other insistence that people not drop their church name seems equally suspect.

    If your church is not abusive, then why would it matter to say, I got to such and such SGM church and we have none of these issues?

    Trying to control information flow is a red flag that your church is may not be healthy and has abusive practices…

  • musicman

    oh my…I need another cup of coffee. Let me try that again, but in proper English. :D

    Yentl-

    Not to be overly argumentative…but your insisting that there are quite a few healthy SGM churches seems to be a stretch. And your other insistence that people not drop their church name seems equally suspect.

    If your church is not abusive, then why would it matter to say, I go to such and such SGM church and we have none of these issues?

    Trying to control information flow is a red flag that your church may not be healthy and has abusive practices…

  • Lee

    His name,

    You said “He spent a while on gossip and slander – now I could be wrong here- but I do not think that the point of Genesis one through three is about gossip and slander. Anyhow, just an observation to that end.”

    Maybe if these guys were seminary trained there would be a whole lot less of this. Wow, that is really sad!

  • Lee

    Musicman,

    I think a person should be able to support or criticize their SGM church without giving a location. It does not make them suspect. Given the wild speculation that can happen on blogs, I don’t blame Yentl one bit.

  • Like I mentioned in the post, SGM churches have historically emphasized certain teachings – like the need to submit to and obey leaders, as well as the redefining of “Gossip & Slander” – way more than they are discussed in the Bible…and at the expense of other themes and ideas.

    I mean, obeying one’s leaders and submitting to them has been hammered into the ground at SGM churches, whereas Jesus’ own words to His disciples – about how whoever wants to be great must be the servant of all, and how Christians are NOT to “lord it over” others as the Gentiles do – are rarely taught.

    Likewise, there’s been a tremendous emphasis on avoiding “Gossip & Slander” – to the point where people are paranoid about discussing ANY information that might not reflect positively upon leaders, or might make the average member appear to be questioning leaders. “Gossip & Slander” have expanded, extrabiblical definitions and meanings within SGM.

    The Word of God is packed full of limitless sermon topics. There are only 52 Sundays each year. If “Gossip & Slander” are emphasized once every few years, that ought to be more than enough…and you’d think SGM pastors would want to put their expository (cough, cough) preaching skills to better use anyway.

    It seems obvious to me that SGM pastors are not revisiting the “Gossip & Slander” topic because people haven’t been taught about it before. They’re preaching these sermons out of a desire to keep people paranoid about talking.

  • I didn’t see ANYTHING in Tom’s comments that would indicate he was about to reveal his church location (aside from a mention of his pastor’s daughter…and the majority of SGM pastors have daughters, so that factoid tells us pretty much nothing).

    Moreover, maybe I missed something, but I didn’t see anyone demanding to know the name of Tom’s SGM church.

    That’s why I didn’t understand Yentl’s strong directive to Tom not to reveal his location…like mentioning his (purportedly) healthy SGM church here would be a problem?

    It’d only present a problem if people were to come forward with stories that would demonstrate his church is actually not as healthy as Tom believes it to be.

    (NOT saying that that is the case – just that that’s the only reason I can think of for believing that something negative could result from naming a healthy SGM church.)

    And again – I’m NOT asking Tom which SGM church he attends. Nobody is, as far as I could tell.

    I’d agree with Musicman, though, in that it’s weird to be so paranoid about identifying healthy SGM churches. What are people worried about?

  • EMSoliDeoGloria

    @SamMcGee #42 –

    I wouldn’t assume that is accidental. I believe that just as “pastors” are to meet the biblical qualifications for and are considered “elders” in SGM, so the “care group leaders” are to meet the biblical qualifications for and are considered “deacons” in SGM. This is based on a conversation with my pastor many years ago.

    Now they are very ambiguous about whether women are included in the description of CGL / Deacon and that may vary church by church. In the church you linked to, it appears that men and women are both included in the description. When I visited CLC not too long ago, the phrase used from the pulpit was “CGL leaders and wives or assistants” and that would be the verbiage I am used to hearing, even from leaders who will admit that the biblical description of “deacon” is open to both men and women.

    @Roadwork – thanks for the re-quote – I get pretty passionate about that issue.

  • musicman

    Lee-

    I second what Kris says…I saw Yentyl’s suggestion that no one should reveal their church location as odd. Again, it seems like trying to steer the conversation away from specifics. It’s up to Tom whether he wants to do that and I think it’s fine he didn’t name the church.

  • Bridget

    Luna Moth (from previous thread) –

    “Likewise :D ” about the glad part!!

  • Persona

    I love that other posters on this site are amateur sleuths, too. Years ago, I realized that just being a member of clc honed my skills at detective work. This was not any entirely happy thought.

    If the pastors only knew how poor they are at hiding what they do and, if they would only remember that EVERYTHING they do will be brought to light when Jesus returns, maybe they would start being more honest with others and we can quit our part time investigative work.

    I also LOVE this post from Kris:

    “I wonder if the SGM board understands just how a true and honest reporting of all the individuals who have been harmed by SGM over the years would serve to disqualify all of them, to the point where their own reinstatement/requalification/endorsement of CJ would be meaningless.

    In the end, how meaningful is it anyway, that a group of guys with accountability issues and a love of unhealthy control believe that their leader shouldn’t be disqualified because of his accountability issues and his love of unhealthy control?”

    And, on a different topic, my guess is that Dave Harvey and the pastors of clc will only post portions of the AoR report on closed access sites. I do not think they will post them for all to see.

    Also, in the category of clc trivia, there were deacons at clc in the late 80’s, for a few years. They helped the pastos oversee home group leaders – 5-7 of them each. But, they represented pastors, like care group leaders. They did not have any autonomy and they were not chosen by the congregation. They also did not last very long because they ended up creating too great a distance between the pastors and the flock.

    ClC has yet to get the deacon thing down right. I guess the lesson is, if you are only trying to dish off some of the ‘work’ of the pastor, you may not serve the congregation well at the same time. Josh should remember this as establishes his ‘new church order’.

    p.s. I wonder if Yentl, Tom or Lee are buddies?

  • Leo

    So, these SGM Sr. Pastors at different SGM churches all decided on their own to “teach” the ol’ gossip and slander message?

    This sounds like a top down push on what to “teach” at the meeTing.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Aren’t these messages on gossip, slander, unity, etc. a result of what CJ said at the pastors’ conference?

    Didn’t Mickey C. start the ball rolling with his infamous family meeting on “defriending” Brent?

    Am I mistaken?

    Did anybody really think a narcissist would just sit back and wait for a report from AoR?

  • just a girl

    maybe tom and i go to the same, healthy SGM church, but my pastor hasn’t taught on gossip and slander at all. also, i wanted to try to answer kris’s question, if i understood it correctly, about why healthy sov grace churches are staying in the movement. i think part of it is because we haven’t heard from AoR yet. i think another component that could be good or bad is the relational connection between churches. please understand, my rose colored glasses regarding the movement and its leaders are off, but still, i think i have benefited more than i have been harmed by my church’s affiliation with the movement. i know there are other reformed/continuationist movements out there, but this is where i have invested over 20 years of my life. i’m not picking up and leaving in the middle of a mess because i don’t do that with any of my committed relationships. again, i admit, this may be wrong. it’s an explanation, not an argument. I, along with many of us who have been around a long time, desire and pray that this is being used by God to make the movement more God-glorifying, and more useful to the people in the churches and the communities they are in.

    I truly don’t know whether God is bringing refinement or judgment to SGM. But I do know that God’s grace is such that whatever happens, I am going to be okay. My hope is in God alone, not in man or in ministries. He is weaving all of this together for His glory. i think things will get messier before they get more beautiful, but they will be beautiful…even if sgm folds, or lots of churches pull out, God will work all things together for His glory. for now, i’ll pray, watch, and wait.

  • Fruit Filled

    It saddens me to know that the gossip and slander messages are being disseminated throughout the collective. I would agree that SGM is preparing for the release of the AoR report by squelching any possible healthy discussion among church members and especially among those who have fled. Their other tactic of shunning also seems to be in effect.

    My family and I left our SGM church about six months ago. Until very recently I had been in contact with a number of ministry leaders within the church, both paid staff and volunteer. It seems as though communication has come to a screeching halt. Even general communications like “how’s the family?” or “congratulations on a new birth!” have not been returned.

    Perhaps these folks are afraid to maintain relationship because anything said concerning the church would be considered gossip. Perhaps members are under an even more oppressive microscope than before.

    In worship we used to sing lyrics that stated, “In His Name there is freedom, life and peace – in the Name above all Names…”, to me SGM has forgotten that Jesus is that name. Instead of freedom, life and peace; the current deluge of sermons on gossip and slander perpetuate a church in bondage and fear.

  • Lee

    Persona,

    I doubt I know Yentl or Tom. I attended FCC for three years back in the late ’90’s.

    If this is a “Survivors” site, then I feel that people should divulge as little or as much as they feel comfortable doing. I don’t think there should be pressure on anyone to give out names. If they claim their SGM church doesn’t have issues, then just take that at face value. They might be wrong, they might be right but either way it’s their perspective.

  • KMD

    The following message was emailed to members of CLC this afternoon:

    We’re writing to share our thoughts concerning the recent panels’ findings released by the Board of Sovereign Grace Ministries. Thank you for your patience and encouragement during this unique season in our church. Many of you have shared your questions and concerns with us for which we are grateful. We value your ongoing partnership in the gospel.

    As a pastoral team, we’ve spent significant time considering the difficult issues addressed by the panels. As you will recall, last summer hundreds of pages of documents were released by Brent Detwiler. We sought to care for our members through the initial shock caused by this release. Given the charges he made against our friend and former Senior Pastor, C.J. Mahaney, we asked the church to allow a thorough process of evaluation to unfold.

    The hope of having a completely independent, outside organization review and adjudicate Brent’s charges against C.J. never materialized, but based on the counsel of Ambassadors of Reconciliation, the Sovereign Grace Board did establish an internal process to evaluate the charges and have now released findings from three panels. Each was made up of two Sovereign Grace pastors and one SGM Board member along with a facilitator, Bryce Thomas. While we wish the questions assigned the panels had been broader in scope and would have preferred a selection process for the panel members that avoided any appearance of partiality (e.g., a blind draw instead of ones chosen by the Board), we view these panel reports as a good step toward more openly addressing questions raised by the documents.

    We believe the men selected for these panels acted with integrity to address the questions assigned them by the SGM Board, and we thank these men for their sacrificial efforts.

    In regard to the first panel, those of us who were directly involved with these events (Kenneth, Grant and Joshua) each communicated to the panel when they interviewed us that we felt C.J.’s written confession to Brent in the fall of 2010 (referenced in the first panel report) was a specific, humble acknowledgement of his sins. We also agree with the panel’s recommendations and trust they will be followed. (We’ve appended all the recommendations from the three panels to this letter.)

    In regard to the second panel, Covenant Life had no personal involvement with Brent’s dismissal, and we are not in a position to question the panel’s findings. But we hope that improvements in polity and procedures may help prevent future occurrences of the types of problems the report describes. And it is our prayer that reconciliation among offended brothers will be pursued.

    The third panel’s findings regarding Larry Tomczak were arguably the most important of the three panels because of the seriousness of the charges leveled against C.J., Steve Shank and Dave Harvey, and because Larry was a founding pastor of Covenant Life. Reading this report left us deeply grieved by the sin committed against the Tomczak family. We regard the panel’s report to be a rebuke of the men involved in this action. We are grateful that the panel did not gloss over the sin but acknowledged the damage created by the coercive threat and lack of pursuing reconciliation. We agree that honoring the Tomczaks would be appropriate. We also agree that this panel’s recommendations for further reconciliation between C.J., Steve, Dave and Larry should be pursued as a good faith effort in assuring member churches that this type of sin will not be tolerated in the future.

    While the Board was functioning within its purview to reinstate C.J. as President, we believe that it would have been better for the Board to have carried out the panel’s recommendations prior to reinstating C.J. and forming a new Board.

    We share these points of disagreement out of desire to participate in a constructive dialogue about the future of our movement. We love all the men involved and count them as brothers and gospel partners.

    It’s important for us to state that the ways that we disagree about the Board’s handling of this process are distinct from issues of personal forgiveness. God’s forgiveness has been purchased for us by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Whether or not we agree on all the details of these matters, may we all remember that our God has shown each of us undeserved mercy and grace in pardoning our sins.

    Extending personal forgiveness toward our brothers is vital as followers of Jesus Christ (Col. 3:13). But it does not mean that we can’t respectfully disagree with the decisions of an organization or express concerns about how leaders are appointed and positioned or ask questions about what authority they hold. Right now for example, the SGM Board is working on a new membership agreement for the churches. They are also appointing a new permanent Board. Both of these issues are very important to us as a church. While we strongly desire to maintain our connection and relationship with other Sovereign Grace churches, we won’t feel comfortable signing a new membership agreement with SGM until the Board has clearly defined how it is accountable to member churches and the nature of its authority and relationship to them. The Board has stated its commitment to clarifying these issues, and we are grateful.

    Some additional factors are also in play:
    We expect the report from Ambassadors of Reconciliation scheduled to be released in March will give further opportunity to clarify how God is calling for reform in our movement.
    We have asked the SGM Board to publish benchmarks for follow-through on the panel’s recommendations.
    We want to close this letter with a call to pray for your pastors in Covenant Life and all of the leaders of SGM, asking the Lord to continue to bring conviction and reform any sinful patterns of leadership in the past or present, while also praising God for the good fruit in our church and across the movement as we partner together in days ahead. We believe God wants to do a reviving work among us and position us for greater fruitfulness for his glory.

    We appreciate you taking the time to read through this and welcome your thoughts. Feel free to contact your pastor if you have any questions.

    Sincerely,

    The Pastors of Covenant Life Church

  • SMP

    Fruit Filled: I am so sorry to hear what you and your family are going through. Even in the secular world there runs a common thread of being able to say, “Congratulations on the new baby!” I will be praying for you this evening that God will fill the holes where relationships seem barren. Lastly, CONGRATULATIONS ON THE NEW BABY!!!!! Of this I am sure, that IS God’s gift and worth HIS praise and honor. Enjoy this precious little one!!

  • “just a girl” –

    Thanks for the response to my question.

  • Oswald

    KMD #64 — Thanks for sharing this with everyone reading here. This seems very encouraging to me. It seems to be well thought out and well communicated. I thank God for this and look forward to what lies ahead.

  • Mr Stretch

    A new membership agreement??? I wonder if this is where members will sign off not to view the blogs anymore??? And if you don’t sign the new agreement??? Remeber CJ said you either for me or against me.

  • KMD

    Mr Stretch #68:
    Are you referring to this statement?
    “While we strongly desire to maintain our connection and relationship with other Sovereign Grace churches, we won’t feel comfortable signing a new membership agreement with SGM until the Board has clearly defined how it is accountable to member churches and the nature of its authority and relationship to them. ”
    In context, I take that to mean any new agreement between CLC’s pastors and SGM. It says nothing about an individual membership agreement.

  • Fruit Filled

    SMP –

    Thanks for your prayers. The “congratulations on the new baby” was my sentiment to a “friend” from our SGM church. Thanks for the congratulations anyway! :spin

  • Mr. Stretch

    KMD #69 You are correct. I got a little ahead of myself. I still believe SGM will try to clean house among it’s members in some way at some point in the future, but things are a little early for that to happen.

  • Ozymandias

    Mr. Stretch #68, #71; KMD #69 —

    It’s a new agreement that will replace the following [most recent available online version from 6 September 2006] — http://www.counselingsolutionresources.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/Membership-Agreement.pdf

  • Rick Malament

    Okay, I realize I’m often a bit slow on the uptake, so could somebody please give me a one sentence synopsis of the 1,072 words and tell me exactly what was meant! :huh \

  • Rick Malament

    Um, and I was referring to this afternoon’s letter to the members of CLC (sorry, forgot to mention that)

  • Persona

    Rick, I volunteer to encapsulate the letter for you in one long sentence..

    CLC Pastors think CJ and Larry should reconcile to a greater degree and additionally, they feel SGM could make changes in their organization that would enable them to continue their membership in SGM.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Rick…..

    While the Board was functioning within its purview to reinstate C.J. as President, we believe that it would have been better for the Board to have carried out the panel’s recommendations prior to reinstating C.J. and forming a new Board.

    ……

    While we strongly desire to maintain our connection and relationship with other Sovereign Grace churches, we won’t feel comfortable signing a new membership agreement with SGM until the Board has clearly defined how it is accountable to member churches and the nature of its authority and relationship to them.

    Rick, the bottom line is that CLC is not kissing the SGM board Apostolic rear end with humble submissive approval of everything they say and do, and may not stay in SGM.

  • Epaphras

    The Board will not release the AoR report. They will summarize it, quote selectively, express sorrow, commit to make changes ‘soon’ and promise to be transparent in the future.

    What do they have to gain, humanly speaking, by releasing an avalanche of bad news focused squarely at them? A controlled release of the entire report is impossible. Releasing some of it and then defending the selections chosen is also a loser – reader will assume that only the least damaging things were made public.

    C.J. will transition by stages into an elder statesman role and have tons of fun in the years to come. His future fingerprints on SGM will be undiscoverable. Best of all, he will never have to go through THIS again.

    The new SGM board will be far more sophisticated and cautious about handling relationships with the churches. Incremental organizational and local church changes will occur throughout 2012 and into 2013. Taking a year or three to define a long-term polity, etc, really wouldn’t even be slow – if one assumed a normal, healthy organization.

    Were SGM’s problems neither systemic nor disqualifying in the sight of God, this would be a measured, wise, pastoral approach. CLC’s analysis of both process and result re: Detwiler’s charges show that they do not view the problems as systemic. They have stated, with masterful subtlety, that the panels handled a tough situation superbly and CORRECTLY.

    The CLC letter, for good or ill, thus reveals the outcome that will emerge from the past year. The CLC pastors/elders have decided to cast their lot with SGM, but be a bit more frank in their public relationship than before. Without CLC to lead, no SGM churches will leave in 2012 – probably, never.

    I am not being witty or snarky. It is easy to forget that very many SGM leaders are as sincere in their convictions about the current ‘troubles’ as those on the blogs, but have a different view of what those troubles are – and are not remotely close to separation from SGM, barring some unexpected PR catastrophe.

    It all comes down to whose discernment about SGM matches the discernment of the One who walks among the lamp stands. I hope CLC is correct, but I believe they must now be seen as disastrously, and culpably, wrong – as wrong as the Board, just somewhat nicer about it.

  • Uriah

    I agree with Epaphras #77, “The CLC letter, for good or ill, thus reveals the outcome that will emerge from the past year. The CLC pastors/elders have decided to cast their lot with SGM, but be a bit more frank in their public relationship than before. Without CLC to lead, no SGM churches will leave in 2012 – probably, never.”

    Also, if you listen carefully to last sunday’s message at CLC, Josh says the following:

    Minute 38:25 – “We see a pattern in Scripture of the congregation participating in affirming key decisions”. Josh then cites Acts 6 and continues….
    Minute 38:35 – “In Acts 6, when the deacons were appointed, the apostles asked the congregation to appoint men who could serve in that role”.

    These statements seem to be a clear indication that the elders at CLC will maintain control over the people. The congregation did not participate in affirming key decisions. They participated in making key decisions. Acts 6 is one of the instances where the church chose or picked or decided who the deacons would be. The apostles are the ones who affirmed the decision of the church, not the the other way around.
    The fact that Josh phrased the passage this way protects the notion that elders have authority in these affairs, not the church. If he would have communicated the passage the way it reads it would have undermined where I believe he is headed….. the elders have ultimate authority in the church, not the members, and the church is ancillary and only affirms the decisons of the elders.
    This is strong evidence that Josh fully intends to not change the core belief of SGM doctrine regarding polity. My prediction is that CLC remains with SGM and the people are convinced that much has changed when, fundmentally, nothing has or ever will.

  • Greg

    KMD #64 I think it is a wise letter. In short, though the panel preocess was neither independent nor comprehensive, and it reinstated C.J. without any demonstration of repentence, the recommendations are of some value, and CLC’s continued membership in SGM will be dependent on SGM’s follow through on those recommendations and the AoR findings. I see it as a warning to the Board that a lack of measurable change will cost them CLC membership. I’m sure there is significant doubt that those benchmarks will materialize and that CLC is establishing a documented basis for leaving.

  • Persona

    Uriah 78

    I agree with you.

    And, I also believe a much better starting point for Josh and all the other clc pastors would be for them to repent for their many sins against the flock. CJ and Co. are not the only ones with blood on their hands.

  • Epaphras

    @Greg – You stated the wrongness remarkably well:

    “… the panel process was neither independent nor comprehensive, and it reinstated C.J. without any demonstration of repentance”.

    These are hardly minor wrongs, but sinful responses (which received official SGM Board approval) piled upon sinful actions.

    “(however) the recommendations are of some value.”

    I agree, actually, but that is rather what I meant by incremental changes at CLC. This includes some CLC expectation that the Board will also change incrementally. Alas, it pales next to CLC’s explicit agreement with the Board that the panel did right by C.J., Larry T. and Brent D.

    Compared to the past, CLC seems daring. Compared to healthy church life in the face of gross sin, theirs is the height of timidity – particularly for leaders boasting always of their courage to deal with sin.

    If we humans do not act decisively at the moment when right-wrong is clearly revealed by heaven, history teaches that we will surely not do so later when the fog of spiritual warfare has obscured the battleground once again.

  • Nickname

    Welcome, Tom!

    Tom #20 said:

    I’m not sure I understand, and if having a girlfriend has taught me anything, it’s that I should never assume I understand anything.</blockquote.

    :clap :clap :clap Applause to Tom for admitting that he has a girlfriend. Whether or not he's in the one-size-fits-all courtship camp, I have no idea — but oh, how refreshing that 'girlfriend' has not been banished from his vocabulary.

  • Mole

    Outstanding Epaphras #81 ….. this is going on the fridge!
    “If we humans do not act decisively at the moment when right-wrong is clearly revealed by heaven, history teaches that we will surely not do so later when the fog of spiritual warfare has obscured the battleground once again.”

  • I don’t mean to pick on “just a girl” at all, but as I was reading her comment again, I was struck by her use of the word “movement” to refer to SGM.

    Brent D also used that term throughout his documents, to the point where it started to sound like one of the reasons he didn’t speak out sooner was because “the movement” had taken on some sort of life of its own, some sort of gigantic spiritual significance that would have been jeopardized if its key leader were known to have issues.

    I wonder how many SGMers have absorbed the notion that SGM is some sort of “movement”? And, I wonder what that even means?

    What does it mean, for a denomination to think of itself as a “movement”?

    Throughout a lifetime in conservative Evangelical/Reformed Bible-based Christianity, I have NEVER encountered anyone who thought their particular church represented some sort of “movement” – aside from SGMers.

    Any of you have any thoughts about why people think SGM is a “movement”?

    (Even just the more I type out the word, and say it in my head, the weirder it sounds. I do NOT think that “normal” Christians view their particular denominations as “movements.”)

  • Fried Fish

    Kris #84 –

    That may very well deserve its own post – with full acknowledgement that you sure as heck don’t have to listen to me :)

    From an outsiders view, it seems that the history of SGM intertwines and parallels closely with other Apostolic reformation (look up C Peter Wagner) and Shepherding groups (Vineyard etc.). While SGM may have its own unique characteristics, the thing which seems to define the “movement” is the apostolic structure, which Wagner defined as the primary thing missing from the modern Church which keeps it from reaching its full potential.

    This could well be why SGM and it’s churches (even mildly “rogue” CLC) can not depart substantially from the top down authority structure – it’s key to what defines the movement.

    Just a thought.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    …the thing which seems to define the “movement” is the apostolic structure, which Wagner defined as the primary thing missing from the modern Church which keeps it from reaching its full potential.

    Interesting, Fried Fish.

    Any SGMers out there ever heard their “movement” defined?

  • Lee

    Perhaps SGM uses the word “movement” because they want to stay away from the word “denomination”.

    I personally don’t think the use of the word “movement” is all that unusual in Christian circles.

  • Lee

    Here’s an article on Wikipedia about Christian “movements”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_movements

  • A Kindred Spirit

    They’ve been described as a “pioneering church planting movement” (whatever that means).

    Larry Tomczak is an apostolic leader and evangelist with over 35 years of ministry experience. He led People of Destiny International, a pioneering church planting movement which has established almost 60 churches in the US and abroad (though now under a different ministry name and leadership).

    http://larrytomczak.com/ministry.php

    Kris, you’ve read “Clap Your Hands.” Was there anything mentioned about the “movement” in the book?

    They were closely tied to NewFrontiers once. Did/do NewFrontiers folks make references to a “movement” of some sort?

  • intheNickoftime

    Tom way back in #3 –

    Come to think of it, there hasn’t been a whole lot said about the situation, other than that the pastors are open to hearing the congregation’s concerns and questions.

    This makes is sound so open and simple, but my first reaction was why did the pastors need to tell the congregation they were open to hearing concerns and questions.

    In my world that is a given. You don’t need to tell people that. The pastors didn’t have to tell the people to breathe. Didn’t have to tell them they can turn right on a red light. Why in the world would they have to tell them they were open to concerns and questions? That goes without saying… Maybe not.

    Just seems strange to me. “We are open to your concerns and questions. Also we are open to praying for you. And we are open to doing marriages and funerals as well.”

    I’m just sayin’.

  • intheNickoftime

    5YearsinPDI #26 – We hear it here, first! (great prdiction)

  • Lee,

    The way SGM uses the word “movement” is totally different from the way the term is defined in the Wikipedia article you link to. Here is how the Wiki article defines “Christian movement”:

    A Christian movement is a theological, political, or philosophical interpretation of Christianity that is not generally represented by a specific church, sect, or denomination.

    SGM has a far more tight and homogenous approach to everything – order of service, lingo, church culture, lifestyle expectations, even the way SGM pastors enunciate and mimic CJ’s speech patterns and speaking style – than do ordinary denominations. I would say that SGM very much represents a VERY specific way of “doing church,” to the point where for years, SGM equated “missions” and “spreading the gospel” with planting more SGM churches in already-churched areas.

    According to how “movement” is defined in the Wiki article, SGM’s use of the word to refer to itself is even more weirdly inappropriate.

    And grandiose.

    And self-important.

  • intheNickoftime

    Musicman and Yentl 49 –

    ALL SGM church are INFECTED. But some are seeking vaccines and medical/spiritual healing.

  • Bridget

    Kris –

    The use of “movement,” which has now been replaced with “family of churches,” always seemed to convey that PDI/SGM was somehow different than what you call “norman” Christianity. The constant use of the terms by the leaders always gave me the impression that they did not want to be “normal.” They wanted to stand out as unique and NOT the “norm.” I don’t know what drove this attitude. It could be that they really believed they were introducing something “new under the sun.” It was certainly driven by those at the top. In hindsight, it looks like a form of spiritual arrogance, but it could have been plain foolishness by young bucks who thought, and were encouraged, to do their own thing as directed by God. Whatever the reasons, the movement (aka family of churches) did manage to get noticed . . . but I’m sure it’s not the way they intended to be noticed. Maybe there was a lack if spiritual growing up “because” of the exlusiveness and wanting their “own” thing. From Brent’s documents and the fruit we see, one does get the sense that much of what occurred came about at the direction of CJ. Could that be why they don’t want to embrace the many different polities that are proven and want to create something of “their own?”

  • Bridget

    Kris –

    I was writing when you commented :D

    That should be “normal” – iphone typing is not fun :(

  • PhillyInDC

    AKS said “They’ve been described as a “pioneering church planting movement” (whatever that means)”

    McDonalds is also described as a “pioneering family gathering and eat good food movement” lol :wink:

  • The more I think about how SGMers have used the word “movement” to characterize SGM, the more that word indicates to me just how very special SGMers have been taught that their church is.

    I’ve long believed we could make an excellent case for the idea that SGM has had a spiritual superiority complex, even as its leaders tie themselves up in knots talking about humility and trying to sound humble.

    In no particular order, here are the ways in which SGMers have exhibited a spiritual superiority complex about their “family of churches”:

    —- If someone came to SGM after having been a Christian in another church, his testimony won’t typically focus so much on Jesus but will instead emphasize how radically he has been transformed since joining his SGM church.

    —- Historically, it has been common for SGMers to go through great sacrifice and inconvenience to plant more SGM churches in areas where there are already other good Bible-believing, gospel-proclaiming churches. SGMers have actually vied with one another for the “privilege” of being part of a church-planting group, even though it often meant making major life changes, like switching jobs, moving to another city, selling a home, uprooting one’s children, leaving one’s extended family, etc.

    —- SGM saw the need to establish its own “Pastors College,” even though what the PC offers is arguably far academically inferior to the education at other seminaries…and is actually, come to think of it, more about indoctrinating guys into the properly submitted SGM mindset than it is about in-depth learning.

    —- SGM has its own lingo, and its own ever-so-slightly twisted ways of using commonly understood Christian terminology so that it doesn’t mean what the outside Christian world would think it means.

    —- While this is not necessarily said aloud, SGMers – if they are honest with themselves – would have to admit that when they hear of someone who left SGM, they often assume that the person just “couldn’t hack” SGM’s spiritual rigor…and, in fact, might be backsliding (“not doing well,” in SGM parlance).

    —- Along those same lines, when SGMers defend SGM’s oddities by saying, “SGM isn’t for everyone,” what they are really saying is that SGM is only for people who are tough enough and care enough to want the very best.

    —- A good percentage of SGMers wouldn’t dream of living anywhere where there wasn’t an SGM church. In fact, many SGMers have refused job promotions that involved moves that would have taken them away from the SGM organization.

    —- Similarly, despite all the talk about the “local” church, many SGM members are actually anything but local (geographically near) their SGM churches. Instead, they drive many miles to attend their SGM churches, frequently passing dozens of other good Bible-believing, gospel-proclaiming churches along the way, churches that would be far more “local” to them than their SGM churches.

    —- SGMers (leaders in particular) exhibit a tremendous amount of concern for SGM’s image, particularly in the eyes of the outside Christian world. People have used phrases like “bringing shame to the gospel” or “weakening the gospel” when referring to speaking openly about SGM’s problems, clearly confusing SGM’s reputation with Jesus’ own reputation. While yes, it is true that Christian organizations are supposed to represent Christ, normal Christians understand that no one expects an organization to be perfect or without publicly-acknowledged flaws in order to proclaim the gospel. SGMers often seem to believe that if the organization’s past mistakes and leaders’ foibles and missteps are acknowledged openly, that will somehow detract from the story of Jesus. SGMers will usually pay lip service to the notion that “No church is perfect,” but their obvious discomfort with admitting SGM’s actual imperfections is a sign that they actually do think SGM is about as close to perfect as church can get.

    —- The rewritten history and leaders’ seeming inability to talk openly about changes, small and large, along with the reasoning behind these changes, would also indicate that SGM wants to present a perfect face to the world…another sign of a spiritual superiority complex.

    —- Pastors have often made remarks in their teachings that are blatantly and horrifically arrogant. One example (and if I had time, I could probably dig up many, but this one is handy since it was in an already-transcribed talk posted to the site) comes from Andy Farmer’s teaching about The Counseling Process, which was given at the 2009 Pastors’ Conference, just a little over two years ago. Here’s the quote from that teaching, where Mr. Farmer is describing one of the counseling situations he encountered, with a couple he refers to as “Jeff and Jenny”:

    It also comes out in – that – that – that Jenny is seeing a counselor. Um, a Christian counselor, someone I know. Uh, and I’ve talked to. But someone who I would say, though they’re Christian, and respects what we do, would be more what we – would be called an integrationist-type counselor, someone who would use the Bible, but is – but drops over into therapeutic categories, psychological categories, as well. Um, I think, frankly, from interaction with our church, and materials, this person has been moved toward more of a Biblical approach, but I don’t assume that what she’s telling is what I would be telling.

    So – but you know what, it’s an opportunity for me, so I can, “Oh really? So tell me what you guys are talking about.” So one of the things I do when someone is meeting with a counselor is I – “Tell me what you’re talking about, tell me what you’re hearing.” You know, and – you gotta do it with a happy face. [Crowd laughs.] Um. You know, if you fold your arms like this and say, “So what are you hearing,” you know – you’re not gonna get anything. “Oh, we’re just talking about my life.” But – “Tell me what you’re talking about. Oh really?” And – [unintelligible] try to find connections, try to find similarities, even with a secular counselor. “Oh really, they’re saying that, now why do you think they’re say – that’s interesting, where does, what” [unintelligible] – you’re intaking all the time. One of the things you have to do as a counselor is always intake with a happy face. [Crowd chuckles.] Um, uh, it’s a poker face. Sometimes you’re hearing things and you’re cringing inside. But you realize that, “I can’t let them know my game, and so I’ve got to be able to relate to them.”

    SGM pastors believe that what they are taught is the “most biblical” way. Look at the emphasized portion in the above quote. Mr. Farmer is describing his reaction when he learns that the wife he is counseling is also seeing a non-SGM Christian counselor. Note how Mr. Farmer says, “I think, frankly, from interaction with our church, and materials, this person has been moved toward more of a Biblical approach…” Why would he think that “our church and materials” would lead this counselor to a “more biblical approach,” unless Mr. Farmer believed that CLC held to a “more biblical” and thus spiritually superior way of doing counseling?

    —- My last thought (at least for now) on the topic of the spiritual superiority complex exhibited by SGMers is more difficult to articulate than all these others have been. But I’m going to try to explain it. Here goes.

    I have sensed, especially over the past 8 or 9 months – as SGMers have come to terms with Brent’s documents and the idea that AoR had to be called in and even CLC’s leaders were acknowledging that CJ had problems – that even when faced with irrefutable proof of SGM’s dysfunction, many SGMers have a blinding loyalty to the idea of CJ and SGM that leaves them oddly confused and almost paralyzed at the idea of leaving “the movement.” They can’t actually explain what it is that they have gained from their association with SGM. SGM doesn’t exactly do denomination-wide conferences anymore. Sure, SGM produces books and music…but those are available to a broader audience. Sure, SGM proclaims itself to be both “Charismatic” and “Reformed,” but – well, even how they define those terms is pretty mixed up.

    The bottom line is that there’s little tangible benefit to the input and oversight coming out of Gaithersburg…and a LOT from which I’d think people in “healthy” SGM churches would want to distance themselves. Yet many SGMers have responded to this reality with squishy talk about intangibles and seem strangely stymied at the thought of their “local” church functioning apart from the SGM organization…even as they still claim their local churches are totally independent and “not anything like” CLC and “not at all affected” by CJ’s and SGM’s problems.

  • intheNickoftime

    #77 Epaphras –
    :goodpost

    Well stated. I think all the SGM churches that have issues with CJ/Harvey/SGM will still stay within SGM marriage. I view it much like a wife who has been abused in her marriage. She knows it is bad but the thought of leaving and being completely on her own is just too scary. She is afraid to make the change and hopes some therapy (new board)and church counseling (new polity) will help “him” to change enough so that there can be a peaceful co-existence. Not that there will ever be the true love that once existed. And not that there will even be a mutual respect. Just that the beatings and abuse will stop enough to allow regular life to go on.

    Sad for anyone to contemplate. But that is what you will see from CLC, Fairfax, and a handful of non-groveling, non-complicit, non-gossip/slander teaching churches. In the Melinger/Connolly/Sassar type churches, the beatings will continue until morale improves.

  • musicman

    No disrespect to the current direction of the comments, but Epaphras’ #77 could be a post of it’s own…I agree that the very small and timid changes coming from CLC and some corners of SGM are indications of just how dysfunctional SGM has been for decades.

    It is a little like a battered child/spouse who after years of abuse/neglect are flying high again because their abuser gave them a crumb of affection. It’s just not normal…it is not normal to allow someone accused of blackmail (well documented) and a documented history of not allowing himself to be held accountable (as in being the President of a “movement” while attending a completely different denomination) to waltz back in and be “reinstated”. This is called Stockholm Syndrome…Josh’s/CLC attempts to change are admirable, but feeble in light of all that has come to the surface.

    You can not talk about radical discipleship, doing hard things, real accountability etc… and then act like all that’s needed is a little Roberts Rules of Order to help set things right. We all (myself included) helped fund and enable people involved with committing crimes and shielding sexual predators of children. No more!

    Talking about tweaking polity will not hold CJ and the whole board (including Brent) to account…they need to resign, repent, and report to the proper authority all that they know concerning crimes committed, past and present. They need to make restitution to those who have been damaged by their lack of action and their over aggression at other times.

    Anything else is just self preserving cowardice….

  • Muckraker

    musicman @99 :goodpost

    You can not talk about radical discipleship, doing hard things, real accountability etc… and then act like all that’s needed is a little Roberts Rules of Order to help set things right. We all (myself included) helped fund and enable people involved with committing crimes and shielding sexual predators of children. No more!
    Talking about tweaking polity will not hold CJ and the whole board (including Brent) to account…they need to resign, repent, and report to the proper authority all that they know concerning crimes committed, past and present. They need to make restitution to those who have been damaged by their lack of action and their over aggression at other times.
    Anything else is just self preserving cowardice….

    I expected more from leaders who have stated regularly for decades, that they stand for integrity and truth!

  • Bridget

    77 – 98 – 99 –

    Does SGM’s attitude about the issues indicate a sense of “spiritual superiority complex?”

    Anoher thiught is that if a group “talks” about humulity SO much, are they actually humble? To me, anyway, if you talk about it as much as they talked about it, then it’s no longer humility . . . it’s now “pride” about how humble you are :scratch Or, pride about how humble your leader is . . .

  • I know I sound like a broken record on some themes, but that’s OK…I guess… :D There are enough new people cruising through here that it probably doesn’t matter if I repeat myself…

    I was always taught that true humility is self-forgetfulness. NOT self-denigration, but self-forgetfulness, where one loses oneself in the greatness of Jesus and in serving Him, to the point where one is consumed with much greater thoughts, focused upon Jesus and others.

    At the point where one reaches self-forgetfulness, one is truly humble…and one doesn’t have the mental space to even be thinking about humility, let alone talking about it.

    What passes for humility within SGM – phrasing things precisely right, so that you don’t come across as too sure of yourself in the face of your superiors up the leadership food chain, engaging in the appropriate amount of flattery with your superiors, groveling the right amount, even forcing oneself to get all beat up by thoughts of the cross – that is all by definition such a self-conscious exercise that I don’t think it can be true humility.

  • Just a girl

    I’m doing this from a phone, so I didn’t read everything carefully, and I won’t get real specific here, but I used the (yeah, now that you mention it, weird) word movement because we aren’t a denomination. I just dont know what else to call it. I agree that there has been an over arching feeling with “the movement” being of spiritual superiority. This was most strongly felt at and among CLC and it’s pastors. The further away you are from rock star churches and pastors, the less that superiority thing exists. But I must say this, the feelings of superiority ( that I have since repented of, and been humbled by all of this crap hitting the fan,) are over as far as I can tell. We are a humbled and hurting “family of churches”.
    Just out of curiosity, what do the other groups like acts 29 refer to themselves as? Organizations? Just an honest question. I need to get “movement” out of my sgmese vocab.

  • Just Deb

    Uriah Heep to David Copperfield on maliciously using “umbleness” to get ahead:

    “‘When I was quite a young boy,’ said Uriah, ‘I got to know what umbleness did, and I took to it. I ate umble pie with an appetite. I stopped at the umble point of my learning, and says I, “Hard hard!” When you offered to teach me Latin, I knew better. “People like to be above you,” says father, “keep yourself down.” I am very umble to the present moment, Master Copperfield, but I’ve got a little power!'”

  • musicman

    Bridget-

    You nailed it-talking about humility is just that, talk….true humility does not need a preamble, an audience, and the band to come up during the last 5 minutes in order to be humble. Humility on parade is arrogance in a party dress…

  • Lynn

    I’m so sick of those that say so and so was so humble, makes me want to :barf: . If CJ was so humble, then yes I would say he would have stopped the parade.

  • In CLC’s statement:

    While we wish the questions assigned the panels had been broader in scope….

    We believe the men selected for these panels acted with integrity to address the questions assigned them by the SGM Board, and we thank these men for their sacrificial efforts.

    As I have said before, we these men on these three committees that constrained that they couldn’t have gone beyond answering the question put before them? I am not so sure you can say the men on these panels had true “integrity” if they failed to point out other issues. I am sure they could have gone beyond answering the question had they chose to do so.

  • Let My People Go

    Hello Just A Girl- #104: “what do the other groups like acts 29 refer to themselves as? Organizations? Just an honest question. I need to get “movement” out of my sgmese vocab.”

    I hear your question. I was confused when I was in my SG church. This is what God taught me after I left….if you are part of the “church,” you will refer to yourself as the “church.” Why would we rename what God has already named? Ephesians 5:23 – “…Christ is the head of the church.”

    God bless.

  • Luna Moth

    But, “just a girl”–SGM is a denomination.

    It has an authority structure. It has distinctive beliefs and practices. It has a financial dimension (sorry for the vague term).

    It is a denomination.

    They don’t like to call it that, because back in the 80’s they scorned the idea of being like all those “traditional” churches. But they are one.

    They used the word “movement” because they had this feeling that they were part of some amazing new thing God was doing, and they were going along with God’s sweeping through the world more than those staid old fuddy-duddies. And I guess there was an element of moving and shaking and changing things, not keeping it the way it had been. “Movement” sounds more Significant and Awesome.

    But there is no reason not to call PDI/SGM a denomination. Denomination just means a particular kind. It doesn’t mean “stuffy old pompous hidebound group of churches that hasn’t felt the Spirit move since 1882, if then.” (Sorry, got carried away there. Hee hee.)

  • Bridget

    Steve @ 108 –

    I don’t know about them being able to go beyond the scope of the question. It is quite possible that they were instructed to consider the question at hand “only” and not go beyond the scope of the “specific question.”

    That being said, they could have ignored the instruction they might have been given and done what they believed to be good and appropriate in the sight of God. It is also possible that they were asked beforehand to answer the “specific” question only, and if they didn’t feel they could do that in good conscience, then they may have been asked to excuse themselves from the panel.

    We really don’t know in what manner they were asked to participate or what instruction they might have been given in regards to their response. They could have been given a great deal of “biblical” instruction so as to feel guilty if they didn’t have the desired outcome. It was all done behind closed doors as is the custom of the leaders of SGM.

    I am aware that an AoR representative was involved with the panels, but again, to what extent. From what I understand, after reading at Brent’s blog, AoR was involved, but did not instruct SGM as to HOW they should carry out the process. AoR may not have been involved with any instruction to the panels either.

  • Persona

    When we attempt to predict the future of the sgm church ‘movement’ we need to ponder what the biggest issue is for each senior pastor. I think their biggest concern is first, how to retain the most pastors in his stable and second, how to retain the greatest amount of members in their church.

    In other words, they will make choices that effect the least amount of attrition of all people involved. Sadly, I do NOT believe moral questions about CJ and SG are central to the equation for them. Although, I would have to say, that is the #1 issue for the membership.

    And, if I had to guess what the central issue for CJ and Co. is right now, I believe it is the preservation of the ‘movement’ known as, SGM.

    I agree with Lee that the use of ‘movement’ is a substitute for the word ‘denomination’ in the way SGM uses it.

    But, because so many ‘movements’ arose in the 70’s, I would say the G.O.B. was only one of MANY that emerged in the midst of the rebellion of the baby-boom generation. The conceit of that generation was that they could make a better world than their parents.

  • the leftovers

    KMD #64

    So refreshing to read of an SGM church that actually took the time to think and pray about the panel’s findings. I’m sure CLC isn’t perfect but at least they didn’t do what my former SGM church did (Bristol Grace church) which was to instantly send an email out regurgitating what the Board had written and declaring the problem solved and over.

    I wonder how much of the churches response has to do with their notion of whether they could survive without SGM? I mean somewhere like CLC probably has at least some educated, capable, God-fearing leaders but little Grace Church Bristol has a congregation of around 80, has no building and is lead by a pastor not much older than me who has never even been to university, let alone seminary.

    Back to the G&S sermons- what a joke! G&S was one of the biggest problems at Bristol Grace church BUT it didn’t start with the ordinary members, it would always start with one of the leaders/pastors knowing something private about someone and then ‘warning’ others that so-and-so was not to be trusted or not a good influence and best avoided. What hypocrits to preach that the congregation should not gossip or slander.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    So many good comments. I wonder how many people write something profound and wonder if anybody notices it. Well, I do, I bet loads of lurkers do, and I suppose I should give compliments more often. (But if I did I’d be quoting and sticking in emoticons all the time! Although that is OK since I am a female and can be effeminate :roll: ) At any rate, if you post something really funny or insightful or emotional, I think we do notice it. What an intelligent and thoughtful crowd. To think we are all evil and worth shunning :scratch .

    mm 99, excellent.

    nick 98: Profoundly put: “I view it much like a wife who has been abused in her marriage. She knows it is bad but the thought of leaving and being completely on her own is just too scary. She is afraid to make the change and hopes some therapy (new board)and church counseling (new polity) will help “him” to change enough so that there can be a peaceful co-existence. Not that there will ever be the true love that once existed. And not that there will even be a mutual respect. Just that the beatings and abuse will stop enough to allow regular life to go on.”

    Kris 97: “Sure, SGM proclaims itself to be both “Charismatic” and “Reformed,” but – well, even how they define those terms is pretty mixed up.”

    I am convinced that almost all, if not all, of the spititual superiority does come from having a national reputation and self identity of being Reformed and charismatic (even if they are truly neither on many points). The Reformed community as a general rule believes in the cessation of 1 Cor 14 gifts like tongues, prophecy, and miracles, and the charismatic/Pentecostal camp almost entirely is Arminian. Calvary Chapels are into dispensational pre trib rapture.

    So, to be fair, SGM did try to merge something that is not commonly merged. In the earlier 90s I think there did seem to be a nice combination of Calvinism and desire for the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. They were, as a denomination, unique in that respect so far as I know, with some exceptions in New Frontiers as Virgo is a Calvinist Charismatic.

    I think the following things killed it:

    1. Failure to admit from the heart that all we have received is by grace, and we are not superior even if our doctrine is better. I cannot feel superior even to a Muslim or Mormon, even if I think they are wrong, but must give God the glory for opening my eyes to truth that I think another is lacking.

    2. Lack of dependency on God in prayer.

    3. Lack of concern for the poor in the church (well, it sure seemed that way in mine, and I don’t mean us, we were giving money away to desperate people)and lack of concern for the poor and missions in general.

    4. Shepherding errors- man in the place of God, loss of the priesthood of all believers and body ministry.

    #4 pretty much killed off being Reformed and took them back to Roman Catholicism and a Pope and an unbiblical clery-laity distinction. The others pretty much helped axe the Holy Spirit I think.

  • Muckraker

    And the Muckraker Award for Best Literary Analogy goes to….

    Just Deb @105 :D :D :D

  • Roadwork

    It’s not a movement… It’s not a denomination…

    It’s a mob run family of franchises.

    This level of conformity and “unity” comes with a price.

    If that doesn’t get the attention of the “sin police”, I don’t know what will.

  • Fried Fish

    Roadwork # 116 –

    I’m wondering, when they mark you as divisive, what will they use? (this could be a poll)

    1. Chalk
    2. Pencil
    3. Red Sharpie Marker

    :)

  • Muckraker

    #3 Red Sharpie fo’ shizzle :D

  • Luna Moth

    I’m thinking a sharpie. :mrgreen:

  • Persona

    They could use a branding iron. That’s what they used to brand us so it won’t wash-off :)

  • Oswald

    FF #117 — I think they would use chalk or a pencil, in case they decide to re-mark you as indivisive. (new word, like re-gift)

  • Roadwork

    I allowed them to set me aside, lead me away from who I am in Christ, allowed our gifts to wane and I let them silence my opinion for 20 years…

    We woke up one day and asked, “Hey, anybody seen the Holy Spirit around here lately?”

    More seriously, the wife and I looked at each other after reading about Chesapeake and Richmond and asked ourselves, “If we stay, do we possibly subject our children to the same abuse we see written here in these stories?” It was an absolute no brainer decision. See ya SGM. You’re not going to turn my daughters into slaves to men and my boys into abusers of women.

    After we made the decision, I wrote 11 pages describing what we’d seen and questioned over the years. (Things like, “Elders” shouldn’t still be using Clearasil.) At the time, I thought some of my insights were unique. And after some time of reviewing stories here and on then Refuge, I discovered that many had already reached the same conclusions before me and at times used the same analogies. SGM’s issues are consistent and follow the same pattern over and over.

    And now they say they’re “changing”. But what is real change? It begins with repentance and a pattern of changed behavior. Even their paid pastors will tell you that. They want you to buy into the idea that they’ll let the congregation in on things (Lay elders! Deacons!) but they still wield all the power. They haven’t even managed to get to first base (repentance) yet.

    They can’t even figure out that they’re a denomination. Why hang around stupid people?

    I no longer “believe the best”. I believe the evidence. If it quacks like a duck…

  • Persona

    Roadwork 122, You ROCK! This would make a great bumper sticker

    “… what is real change? It begins with repentance and a pattern of changed behavior.”

  • Yellow is a Happy Color

    Roadwork in #122——–Excellent!

  • Roadwork

    I think today’s bumper sticker should be from musicman in 106:

    Humility on parade is arrogance in a party dress

    Ouch!

  • Fried Fish

    Roadwork 122 –

    Humor aside, praying for you and your family – praying more for anyone who will willingly allow these patterns of leadership behavior in SGM to continue and submit themselves to it. Freedom in Christ does NOT mean slavery to men.

  • Bridget said (about the panel only specifically answering the question):

    Steve @ 108 –
    I don’t know about them being able to go beyond the scope of the question. It is quite possible that they were instructed to consider the question at hand “only” and not go beyond the scope of the “specific question.”
    That being said, they could have ignored the instruction they might have been given and done what they believed to be good and appropriate in the sight of God. It is also possible that they were asked beforehand to answer the “specific” question only, and if they didn’t feel they could do that in good conscience, then they may have been asked to excuse themselves from the panel.
    We really don’t know in what manner they were asked to participate or what instruction they might have been given in regards to their response. They could have been given a great deal of “biblical” instruction so as to feel guilty if they didn’t have the desired outcome. It was all done behind closed doors as is the custom of the leaders of SGM.

    I am sure it is a reflection of what some call the “submissive pyramid” that exists in SGM. This is where one moves up based on how submissive and obedient they are to those above them in the pyramid. Thus these men on the committee in all likelihood “submitted” and “obeyed” those giving them instructions if they were in fact instructed. Even if the weren’t given instructions I am sure the mentality of not really thinking for yourself was in force.

  • intheNICKoftime

    I dont think you will see anyone leaving the SGM fold. Everyone, including CLC is too fearful of what being independent means.

    But I have a question for you ex pastors out there (or ex admin types). What do the churches receive from SGM that is so valuable?

    I heard that 40% of the churches send in 5% or more and 15% are giving a full 10%. But I asked the question before…what do they get for their money?

    First and foremost you can say the Pastor’s college. But you pay through the nose for that option and it is NOT covered with your church’s regular giving. It costs the church $70K. Now that is a full four year degree at most state universities so that nine month education/indoctrination is not cheap.

    You get to BUY they music and books, but then anyone can without becoming a member. You can attend their conferences, but again anyone can attend most of them. And now the big Kahuna CJ is doing the group thing whenever possible so there goes the need to become a card carrying SGM member.

    They can offer mediation services or help with your problems. Well, in reality so will most of the other churches in your area, AND they will likely give godly advice and not try lording over you or pushing a warped view of the gospel onto your pastors.

    They don’t offer hospitalization or dental, that is taken care of by each different church. They dont have a retirement system. They dont have a discount system. Just what the heck does SGM provide?

    I know…you get to partner with them in evangelizing the world. You get to pony up money for their pet projects around the globe and down the street. But you dont need SGM to do that. You can donate to any number of good mission organizations. You can start something of your own in your neighborhood. Most of us could get out of our white bread suburbs and do some mission work in the less fortunate areas of the city/county.

    I really can not see the value added part of being a member of SGM. I dont understand the worry of our pastors when I suggest winging it alone.

    Someone help me…what do we get by associating with SGM that I am missing?

  • Persona

    Nick 128 It’s not what you GET from SGM that counts it what they do to you if you leave that scares them. SGM has honed the cold shoulder treatment and you can be smeared the whole world over…look what they did to Larry. And look again at the list of things they want reformed in SGMville. The bulk of their concerns have to do with how SGM treats past and present pastors.

  • Nick –

    You have articulated the very thing I was trying to get at in my #16.

    I’m with you in that I don’t understand what “local” churches get out of being part of the SGM brand, especially these days.

  • intheNICKoftime

    AoR told SGM to hold the panels. They said pick 20 Pastors from all over SGM. They should have been a pastor for at least 8 years I think. When that list is created Detwiler or someone in his camp could object to 3 and Harvey could object to three. (Just like legal juries are seated) Then all names go into a bowl and three names were pulled to be on each committee. The same was to be done with the board members (any old board members were prohibited from sitting).

    But that didnt happen.

    HARVEY picked 3 guys he has worked with for over 20 years (and put them all in their present positions), 4 guys with extensive SGM pedigrees who will bleed kool-aid if you cut them, and two men who appear to have no ill reputation or shady association with SGM. Josh pointed this out when his recent letter to CLC congregants said they hoped for a “selection process that avoided any appearance of partiality”.

    The questions were worded by Harvey and were wordsmithed and tweaked so that there was very little chance anyone would be able to come to a decision against CJ/SGM. (Interesting how question 1 was …is it biblical but the other two questions had nothing in them about being biblical) Josh mentioned this in his recent letter to the CLC faithful by saying he “wished the questions had been broader in scope”.

    So when you hear that AoR did the panels, that just isnt true. Harvey didnt do it like AoR suggested. Josh also mentioned that in the recent CLC letter to members when he lamented the “hope of having a completely independent, outside organization review and adjudicate” never materializing. AoR did provide their own man to sit in on the proceedings to answer questions and monitor the process and weigh in on any procedural questions.

    Just so you know.

    And as this post is already long I would also state that I thought it was a stretch when Josh said these men on the panels acted with integrity. I posted a while back, on a different blog, that if my grandpa drove Fords, and my daddy drove Fords and owned a Ford dealership, and I went to business school and did an internship with Ford, and drove a Ford Mustang myself, and my two kids drove old Fords, and one day I was asked to sit on a panel that was going to decide what the best car was, I might come to a conclusion with integrity but is there any doubt what kind of car I would think is the best? That is what Harvey put together. So yea, maybe the guys had integrity but then again, if they had REAL integrity they would have recused themselves. “Thanks for asking me to sit on the committee Dave, but since you sent me to Pastor’s College and then you sent me on a church plant and then you brought me back and made me a head pastor over several other more qualified and older pastors and since you also gave my dad a job, maybe I’m not the best guy to sit on your panel…But I am honored and humbled that you would ask me.” THAT WOULD BE REAL INTEGRITY ! ! !

  • glad i am out

    In the Nick – excellent points as always

    I have been in contact w/ a CFC member recently about the 3 panels – boy – are they sold out!~ “these men have integrity, are you calling them liars?”… and “AOR oversaw the whole thing.. etc..”

    People,especially those raised in the church, just LOVE Cj… he can do no wrong… No one seems to read their bible these days… This is not a popularity contest – we are talking about, as one moron puts it – “ministers of the gospel” – and Ceej has definitely, w/o a doubt been disqualified from being one – how can people be so blind!!

    Roadwork: “We woke up one day and asked, “Hey, anybody seen the Holy Spirit around here lately?”

    This is what i experienced… Once we had altar calls, healing services, holy spirit baptising meetings, and i am not just talking about the toronto blessing era… We had all of that and more… and then a few years went by – took me a while to notice.. – just stopped… Holy Spirit of the most HIGH GOd was disfellowshipped…

    Current SGM members – are you nuts!!!!!????? yes, i am afraid you are,.

  • Breeezey

    Just wondering if CJ is bound by what Dave said. Dave said the AoR report would be released. But CJ is back in cahrge now. So is CJ bound by what Dave said? If the report is totally unflattering and truly blasts him would he release it in its entirety or just some selected edits? We already know what he considers integrity…

  • Breeezey

    Just wondering if CJ is bound by what Dave said. Dave said the AoR report would be released. But CJ is back in cahrge now. So is CJ bound by what Dave said? If the report is totally unflattering and truly blasts him would he release it in its entirety or just some selected edits? We already know what he considers integrity… :bang

  • Moniker

    glad i am out(132): I have been in contact w/ a CFC member recently about the 3 panels – boy – are they sold out!~ “these men have integrity, are you calling them liars?”… and “AOR oversaw the whole thing.. etc..”

    And Mickey C. said that the men on the panels and the SGM board are “men of impeccable integrity” and “have the inability to be biased or unjust”. Yes, he actually said that.

  • oldtimer

    Nick asked……Someone help me…what do we get by associating with SGM that I am missing?

    They get a man(king) to rule over them that’s what!

  • Ozymandias

    The question of “what benefits do local congregations derive from the relationship” has tangible and intangible aspects. First, I don’t want to dismiss out of hand the very real situation that, for many SGM churches, the relationship is a multi-decade one; hence, there is bound to be hesitancy about walking away precipitously. There are also bound to be painful feelings of “sunk costs” — that is, We’ve been part of this for so long, invested so much time, and now we’re just going to walk away? IntheNickofTime’s post (#128) questions a lot of the tangibles, but I wonder if the conversation that we’ve also been having here on the blog re: the use of the term movement sheds some light on the intangibles. If a local congregation leaves the movement, is there a fear that it becomes “just” another local congregation — no “different” from Community Bible Church X down the street. Right now, as part of a movement that is closely tied with the resurgent Reformed, that local congregation has a brand. And that intangible (“brand”) has tangible implications: built-in advertising, “quality control” assumptions by “co-religionists” in the resurgent Reformed world.

  • Moniker said:

    And Mickey C. said that the men on the panels and the SGM board are “men of impeccable integrity” and “have the inability to be biased or unjust”. Yes, he actually said that.

    I really wonder how Mickey could believe or say this. Two of the board members Dave Harvey and Steve Shenk participated in the blackmail and conspired to cover it up. CLC’s statement said ” We regard the panel’s report to be a rebuke of the men involved in this action.” This statement was referring to Mahaney, Harvey and Shenk.

    It is baffling that Mickey could say this about these men when their actions show otherwise.

  • Fried Fish

    # 135/138 –

    Sounds like a sort of hyper- Wesleyan view of Entire Sanctification – totally incompatible with the SGM theology regarding indwelling sin, unless there is one theology for normal people and another for pastors and board members. I’d love to hear an SGM’er explain this without waffling or making excuses.

  • Fried Fish

    Bear with me in a little folly… :)

    From the Roman Catholic Catechism:

    Christ, high priest and unique mediator, has made of the Church “a kingdom, priests for his God and Father.”  The whole community of believers is, as such, priestly.  The faithful exercise their baptismal priesthood through their participation, each according to his own vocation, in Christ’s mission as priest, prophet, and king.  Through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation the faithful are “consecrated to be . . . a holy priesthood.”

    The ministerial or hierarchical priesthood of bishops and priests, and the common priesthood of all the faithful participate, “each in its own proper way, in the one priesthood of Christ.” While being “ordered one to another,” they differ essentially.  In what sense? While the common priesthood of the faithful is exercised by the unfolding of baptismal grace –a life of faith, hope, and charity, a life according to the Spirit–, the ministerial priesthood is at the service of the common priesthood.  It is directed at the unfolding of the baptismal grace of all Christians.  The ministerial priesthood is a means by which Christ unceasingly builds up and leads his Church.  For this reason it is transmitted by its own sacrament, the sacrament of Holy Orders.

    Would that SGM were more Catholic in their understanding of the priesthood of believers and the role of the “ministerial priesthood”.

  • Mr Stretch

    Roadwork #122

    Spot on.

  • intheNICKoftime

    Oaay #137 –

    That is why I compared a church leaving SGM to a marriage where the wife has been abused. There are lots of intangibles there as well. And most women in that situation know the love is gone and the respect is gone. The real issue is they dont know anything else.

    As you pointed out some of these churches have been inSGM since the start so there is that sense of tradition and belonging. But if they really were introspective they would see there is no benefit to staying and there MIGHT BE BENEFITS IF THEY LEFT.

    To follow my bad marriage example, the woman knows things will not get good and only hopes for a little room to let life move on without too much injury and destruction. But if she left she might find a spouse that would respect her and cherish her. But that can never happen until she leaves the abusive relationship.

    So all these churches holding on to long time relationships are cutting off any possibility of finding something better. And the abuse they endure is a heavy price for remembering good ‘ol times with CJ. (I never heard of anyone who had good times with Harvey)

  • Roadwork

    Ozymandias said:

    And that intangible (“brand”) has tangible implications: built-in advertising, “quality control” assumptions by “co-religionists” in the resurgent Reformed world.

    I think you’re on to something – “The just shall live by their brand.”

    Very little faith is exercised when you allow yourself to be paralyzed by fear.

    Fear or faith? Pick one.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    I really wonder how Mickey could believe or say this…It is baffling that Mickey could say this about these men when their actions show otherwise.

    I can help you out, Steve.

    Mickey C. is JUST LIKE THEM…he’s ONE OF THEM!

    Everyone reading needs to understand that when you read Mickey C.’s name, think Mahaney, Harvey, etc. I’ve often wondered why Mickey stays in Charlotte as CrossWay’s senior pastor when he could be farther north running things with Harvey and the rest of the gang. Maybe it’s an “undercover” type thing, looking like “one of the boys (pastors).” Actually, I think it’s simply that he enjoys the admiration that typically comes with pastoring; and let’s face it, in SGM, pastoring is a “good life”.

    Mickey’s a “bad guy”…a REALLY bad guy…the worst kind of bad guy – the kind with a particular cunning charm and the ability to manipulate others.

    I personally think Mickey exemplifies everything that CJ would say makes a “good SGM pastor.”

  • Fried Fish

    intheNick 142 –

    I never heard of anyone who had good times with Harvey

    Maybe Mrs. Harvey?

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Dave said the AoR report would be released. But CJ is back in charge now. So is CJ bound by what Dave said? If the report is totally unflattering and truly blasts him would he release it in its entirety or just some selected edits?

    Hum….interesting perspective and one I had not thought of, but yes, CJ does not need to abide by what Dave or anybody else under him in the pyramid says.

    I’d say the AoR full disclosure gets more unlikely all the time…..hope to be wrong, but CJ would never publish gossip and slander…..

  • Sick with Worry

    Fried Fish #145 – that is humorous but perhaps a cheap shot.

    I think that A.K.S in #144 hits on something. Mickey stays where he is because the SGM machine wants him or needs him there. I cannot imagine that it has anything to do with loving the flock there. He would probably pack his bags in no time if that was what he was told to do.

    That is one of the big problems I have with SGM’s “polity” (not that they have one)…. the way that SGM is set up totally removes the element of the Holy Spirit directing a man to really serve, really love, and really shepherd his flock. The system forces a pastor to view his congregation as customers or consumers, rather than God’s people. Over time, the pastor that started out even with the most Biblical intentions, ends up viewing himself as a “sales manager”, doing his best to keep the customers engaged and coming back for more.

    Who are the exceptions? I would say guys like Don Shorey may have been an exception, or perhaps his brother Tim Shorey. I know enough about those guys to know that they never totally lost that original calling.

  • Alex Houston (formerly Alpologist)

    @Persona 112:
    :word :goodpost
    Spot on!

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Can SGM change?

    Those who find themselves in authoritarian churches often remain despite the difficulties because there is an underlying hope that the church can change. Even after they leave they often remain keenly interested in the affairs of the former church because they hope restoration will still occur.

    Can abusive churches change? Although with God all things are possible, it is my opinion that it is highly unlikely that this will happen. Although a few have, they are the exceptions.

    Why is change in these organizations so difficult? One reason is that change usually begins in the leadership. However, the leadership structure is designed so that the leader has control over the personnel. Although there may be a board, the individuals on the board are ultimately selected by the authoritarian leader. He selects men and women loyal to him, who do not question him, or hold him accountable. Therefore, he insulates himself from dealing with difficult issues or addressing his unhealthy practices.

    Dysfunctional leaders also resist change because it is an admission of failure. In order for a genuine change of heart, leaders must first acknowledge a problem and repent. However, a leader who considers himself “God’s man” or the spokesman for God will rarely humble himself to confess his shortcomings. Spiritual wholeness and renewal cannot be achieved until unhealthy behavior is recognized and dealt with. Unless this behavior is confronted, the likelihood of real change is diminished.{11}

    In most cases, the leadership focuses the blame on others. Those who left the church were not committed, were church hoppers, etc. Stephen Arterburn writes, “Anyone who rebels against the system must be personally attacked so people will think the problem is with the person, not the system.”{12} It is often useless to point out flaws because an abusive church lives in a world of denial. Many of the leaders are themselves deceived. Although sincere in their efforts, they may have no idea their leadership style is unhealthy and harmful. They are usually so narcissistic or so focused on some great thing they are doing for God that they don’t notice the wounds they are inflicting on their followers.{13} These leaders often twist Scripture to justify their unhealthy behavior. Most members will go along with this because they assume their pastors know the Bible better than they do.

    Lastly, authoritarian churches make every effort to ensure that a good name and image is preserved. Therefore, the leadership often functions in secrecy. Disagreeing members are threatened and told to remain silent or are quietly dismissed.

    For these reasons, it is my opinion that it is best to leave an abusive or unhealthy church. Learn to let go and let God deal with that group. Only He can bring people to repentance. Although painful, leaving an unhealthy church and joining a healthy body of believers will begin the healing process and open new doors of fellowship, worship, and service for you.

    http://www.probe.org/site/c.fdKEIMNsEoG/b.4227405/k.55B6/Abusive_Churches_Leaving_Them_Behind.htm

  • Fried Fish

    SWW 147 –

    You’re probably right, regardless of whether I thought of it that way at the time. I’m sorry,all, including the Harvey family.

    I’m sure Dave doesn’t need any cheap shots distracting him from strategizing how to spin the AoR report.

  • Sick with Worry

    FF #150

    True – Dave is probably very busy right now.

    Curious to know if anyone has sent an email or called any of the board members to express their concerns. I mean – are they accessible at all? I have not done that since the stuff hit the fan in the Summer. They must eat lunch somewhere. It has crossed my mind to try to hook up with one of them – like Dave or one of the DC guys.

  • Uriah

    I think you also have to factor in the possibility that members of SGM have succumbed to being deceived by the leaders of SGM and therefore, cannot make rational and reasonable assessments/decisions…. because doing so would not square with what they have come to embrace as truth.
    This dynamic keeps members and entire churches captive to SGM. If one becomes skeptical of SGM’s doctrine/teaching/behavior, by extension, one must begin to question one’s investment of decades of loyalty and come face to face with the reality that one has led themselves and their family into what might possibly be a cult. To leave SGM is to admit poor judgement, a lack of spiritual discernment, and allowing oneself to having been duped. That’s a very large pill to swallow. It is tantamount to being blindsided with the realization that your life savings has been invested in a ponzi scheme.

  • Let My People Go

    Roadwork #122 – “You’re not going to turn my daughters into slaves to men and my boys into abusers of women.” Wow. Wow. Wow. How true and sobering. I appreciate your comment and your heart. :goodpost

    AKS #149 – “Learn to let go and let God deal with that group. Only He can bring people to repentance.” :word
    Thank you for taking the time to post that. I think it is a tough, painful process to get to the point of letting go and turning relationships over to God…especially ones that have been abusive. But what a place of freedom to come into when we do let go. I am grateful for this site that has a body of believers who help one another in that walk to freedom. I thank God for all of you.

  • StvMac

    Steve240 – RE: # 138

    I don’t think that one should assume that just because MC says something that he necessarily believes it. He gave a sermon (I mean MESSAGE) not long ago at CrossWay where he said that a pastor must have the trust of his flock and that if he thought for a moment that he did not have that trust he would be gone in a heartbeat. I guess the exodus from his church hasn’t told him much. Or maybe it just means that the ones you have not driven out trust you.

    Brent’s post about MC’s deceitful use of scripture is perhaps the best objective example (http://www.brentdetwiler.com/brentdetwilercom/2011/11/26/mickey-connollys-deceitful-use-of-scripture-and-commentaries.html). There is no way a man with as many years of pastoral experience could really believe the things he chose to say.

    I used to admire this man. I have heard him give numerous excellent, biblical sermons. But like so many other SGM pastors, when push comes to shove there is greater fealty to the machine than to their congregations or the Word. Here in the mid-Atlantic we have seen this close-up and personal – and this is where MC is now the “regional apostle”, or whatever they are calling that position now. Oh Boy!

    With anyone you deal with, if you have to ask yourself constantly if the other person is being truthful, you are in the wrong company. If you look at his track record in the Brent situation, his handling of his own church’s problems, his “caring for” KWCC, his statements as a Board member, and you come to a not very charitable conclusion, and then you think about the fact that if you are wrong about the majority of your conclusions, it’s still not pretty. Kinda’ like if you think the only thing CJ is really guilty of is the Larry blackmail.

    Above reproach?

  • A Kindred Spirit

    As an aside note, with reference to Roadwork’s concern for his daughters and for those concerned about the many “negatives” that have resulted from patriarchal teachings…

    Those in the reformed world need to beware of the Doug Wilson types. (Doug Wilson especially appeals to the intellectual folks and those that embrace covenant theology.) Satan always mixes “good” with the “bad” when trying to deceive people. I’m very concerned about the circles Wilson is running in these days and those who are listening to him for the first time. You may agree with some of his theology, but don’t forget his deep ties to the patriarchal crowd.

    Be very cautious, my reformed brothers and sisters. Be very cautious and discerning with all that you listen to and read. Always trace a teaching as far back as you can to the original person that first taught it, careful to observe the various circles it has passed through. And thoroughly check out the “gurus” doing the teaching, tracing their biography as far back as you can, also.

    A sampling of Doug Wilson’s books…

    http://www.canonpress.org/store/pc/viewCategories.asp?pageStyle=h&ProdSort=0&page=1&idCategory=139

    Some of Wilson’s books were once a staple on the SGM shelves. (Wanna guess which ones?)

    The culture within the CREC (Wilson’s movement/denomination) has many similarities to SGM’s. It’s interesting because theologically they’re very different, but culturally similar (with one of the exceptions being the “no-college-for-daughters” mentality – Wilson is the classical education guru).

    I don’t think many of you would want your daughters and sons affiliated with a CREC church, either.

  • Philly Girl

    Regarding the word ‘movement’…When we first met with BP and AR, original pastors of CFC, we were told that we were NOT a denomination. That was taught throughout the years while we were there. It wasn’t said, but I think ‘denominations’ were bad….’movements’ were good! Another funny thought, once DH came to CFC, oops, there goes BP, oops, there goes AR, oops there goes LT. Look out CJ, DH is on his way to rule the ‘kindgom’! Let’s watch and see.

  • DB

    Philly Girl,

    I have thought the same thought, DH is like the the egg a bird lays in another bird’s nest and the big bully peep will kill his nestmates one by one and end up the only one left in the nest to be given the caretaking the murdered genetic offspring deserved.

    But wen they use the word, “Movement,” I tend to think BM particularly since they’re full of it.

    Which reminds me, I figured out how Harve is going to lie and get away with it; he made the promise as ceejays stand-in and now that ceejay is baaack, anything Harvey says is moot.

  • Persona

    DB 157

    I think you and others may be correct in thinking CJ does not need to comply with any previous ‘rules of engagement’ made by Harvey during his, hopeful brief, resumed-presidency.

    CJ didn’t even feel the need to comply with his own rules when he repented and then retracted his repentance for sin and again, when he dis-invited Larry to the Pastor’s Conference this year.

    Fact is, there isn’t anyone in a position to tell CJ what to do. He does whatever he pleases and, he still tickles the ears of the Big Dogs and makes them laugh.

    I hope people can see through the charade and refuse to attend T4G. Celebrity Pastors, indeed!

  • Happymom

    Uriah said in #152,
    “I think you also have to factor in the possibility that members of SGM have succumbed to being deceived by the leaders of SGM and therefore, cannot make rational and reasonable assessments/decisions…. because doing so would not square with what they have come to embrace as truth.
    This dynamic keeps members and entire churches captive to SGM. If one becomes skeptical of SGM’s doctrine/teaching/behavior, by extension, one must begin to question one’s investment of decades of loyalty and come face to face with the reality that one has led themselves and their family into what might possibly be a cult. To leave SGM is to admit poor judgement, a lack of spiritual discernment, and allowing oneself to having been duped. That’s a very large pill to swallow. It is tantamount to being blindsided with the realization that your life savings has been invested in a ponzi scheme.”
    :goodpost :goodpost :goodpost

  • Lynn

    For some reason I don’t think CJ will stop the release of the AoR reports. I think he will want them released and he will respond and will look so “humble”.

    On a side note, does anyone know if Next is having problems with people attending? it just seems like I get more emails this year this previous years. I know this is the last Next, but it just seems heavily promoted. They seem to be giving away more free registrations than usual. However, maybe its just me who thinks that.

  • Mr Stretch

    Uriah #152

    You are correct.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    To leave SGM is to admit poor judgement, a lack of spiritual discernment, and allowing oneself to having been duped. That’s a very large pill to swallow.

    Very true. We ourselves did believe for perhaps three years that since doctrinal truth is both Reformed, charismatic, and complementarian, we were in the best possible church situation overall…probably in the world. “The goal of our instruction is love” ( 1 Tim 1:5). It took a long time to see and admit that something was radically wrong.

    I think that a number of celebrity speakers all over the nation are not ready yet to admit they were duped. One only hopes the AoR report changes that ( if published), but I wonder. It is humbling to admit your own gullibility, blindness, vulnerability, and arrogance.

    There is so much joy on the other side though…..

    Thanks again to all the wonderful posters here.

  • Ozymandias

    For those who are interested — John Loftness preached this am on Philippians 4:2-3 (“I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.”) and the issue of church conflict. The sermon link is here: http://www.solidrockchurch.net/blog/index.php/p/Philippians_42-3. Loftness talked extensively about Paul’s use of to auto phronein (“agree/think in the Lord”) and ended with the following about Solid Rock Church:

    — We’re in a season of relative peace and harmony.
    — It won’t always be that way.
    — It hasn’t always been in that way in the past.
    — How do we hear these verses, so as to preserve the sweet harmony and unity we currently have.
    — The church needs to “think/agree together in the Lord”
    — We need to help one another “think/agree in the Lord”
    — He also prayed that God would protect the church from the evil one who wants to divide us through our disagreements.

    For a good discussion of to auto phronein, see page 302 of David Alan Beck, “Paul and Christian Unity: A Formal Analysis of Philippians 2:1-4,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 28/3 (September 1985), 299-308. The article can be found at http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/28/28-3/28-3-pp299-308_JETS.pdf.

  • MAK

    So Ozy…what did you think of the message? What do you think he was REALLY saying in light of the current situation? Looks like that everyone in the church should be in agreement and NOT disagree…what if one disagrees?

  • Persona

    It is so hard not to be snarky about Loftness but, he pulls out the Euodia and Syntyche cards when he wants to manipulate others into believing how ‘grave’ he finds the situation to be.

    Good try, John but, there are plenty of other ‘cards’ in the pack that tell us to be wary of other ‘evil doers’. How about this one?

    “Be careful,” Jesus said to them.
    “Be on your guard against the yeast
    of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
    (Matthew 16:6)

  • MAK

    CLC message today…part 3 or 6 on church government…this week’s topic was elders. Josh explained that CLC will have “non-vocational elders”. These will be leaders who function as pastors/teachers/elders but are not paid staff. Very clear message on a subject that has not been clear in the past. This is teaching that will lead up to CLC’s new constitution.

  • MAK

    Persona… :goodpost

  • Again, if I were a member of Mr. Loftness’ church, I’d be wondering about his decision to preach on this particular passage and this particular topic at this particular time.

  • glad i am out

    sounds like JL’s message is just a more subtle word against gossip and slander – maybe he has been paying attention lately to all of the criticism of preaching ant-GS messages at this particular time when all w/ the panels and CJ’s situation are going down… Other churches have been more obvious.. he is sly… maybe… Just my thoughts

  • This is something that John Loftness apparently thought he could apply to all circumstances what Apostle Paul was applying to a specific circumstance. I am sure for this specific situation Paul was giving the right teaching but there were other times when Paul himself didn’t show “agreeing” for good reasons. Paul rebuked Peter. Paul had strong words for Alexander the copper smith and also referred to some as “dogs.”

    Thus there is a time and place for agreeing. If things are truly of the Lord then people should agree. If things aren’t of the Lord then hopefully there won’t be agreeing and disagreement is really a good thing to point out issues, problems and sin. For too long SGM preached “agreeing” and is one of the major reasons they are in the situation they are.

    As others have said, it certainly is a crafty way to teach people to not question and share concerns they have without using the old “gossip” and “slander” method.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    You know SGM, Steve.

    When folks are on to you, just “repackage” it and send it back through.

    And people really think this bunch can change. :roll:

    (See #149)

  • Moniker

    AKS – Thanks so much for posting that link in #149 on leaving abusive churches. Excellent article! I especially liked the section titled “The Road to Recovery”. It was helpful for me, and I’ve passed it along to some friends who have also recently left abusive church situations.

  • Muckraker

    Steve240 @170 :goodpost

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Steve240 @170, I agree, too! :goodpost
    Common sense and good conscience would tell us especially that one does not agree when it comes to matters that endanger or harm a child. Then again, John Loftness has proven himself, that he has a ‘wide range’ of what is acceptable behavior in that area! I would not trust that man in anything. I lost any minute respect that could have remained when I saw how quickly he responded to a newspaper article, but for 20 years can not respond to a person he severely hurt as a child? SMH

  • Somewhereintime

    I’m not reading nor writing as much on the blogs as I did in the past … probably because I don’t really care any more. I’ve left my SGM church and I’m actually having my socks blessed off in a great independant Baptist church that loves the Lord!

    I wonder if this is the master plan of Cj and the Board. Just wear everyone down!

  • Oswald

    Somewhereintime #175 — They probably want to wear people down, but I doubt that they want people to leave the churches as you did. Blessings to you.

  • MAK

    steve240 :goodpost

    I also wonder why JL thinks his congregation needs this particular teaching. Is there a lot of members who disagree? Does he just want to nip things in the bud?

    At CLC we have been encouraged to bring our concerns/disagreements to the pastors and believe me I have. Each email/meeting has been received and responded to with no condemnation.

  • intheNickoftime

    In regards to JL and Harvey and Melinger and Sasser and Connolly and all the other repressive churches, it is much easier to keep them under control than it is to get them BACK UNER CONTROL. So they think these speeches are needed to hold down the one or two or three people in those congregations who might have heard something that was not SGM filtered.

    At CLC, Fairfax, Frederick and other churches where the whif of freedom has excited the masses, these kinds of speeches would be useless and they would most certainly look like an attempt at control and coercion (because that is exactly what they are…last straw attempts keeping the ignorant people ignorant.)

  • intheNickoftime

    ooops. my previous post is in reference to all the G&S sermons and the charitable judgement speeches cropping up in all the Kool-aid bastions of SGM.

  • Uriah

    Steve240, MAK,
    Maybe JL’s message is indicative of SGM damage control being implemented prior to the release of the A of R report. If we find out that “Gossip and Slander” messages are popping up at other SGM churches then you can be assured a preemptive effort at damage control is afoot.
    Any other SGM churches hearing messages on Gossip and Slander or the need to maintain unity??

  • 5yearsinPDI

    “indicative of SGM damage control being implemented prior to the release of the A of R report.”

    Possibly. Or possibly laying the groundwork for the rational to not release the report at all.

    After all, how can we know if the hundreds of interviewees who told their story to AoR were humbly trying to seek reconciliation in a godly way, or just venting their unforgiving bitterness in a gossipy slanderous way? How can CJ release anything that might contain the slightest criticism of pastors, now that CJ is alpha and Harvey is back to beta?

    Well, we’ll see soon enough. I hope I am just overly cynical.

  • I also wonder why JL thinks his congregation needs this particular teaching. Is there a lot of members who disagree? Does he just want to nip things in the bud?

    It wouldn’t surprise me if John Loftness is being “proactive” (if one wants to use that term). As someone said, it is easier to keep people under control than regain control thus John Loftness use and appeal for “unity” to suppress and questioning or spread of exposed problems and sin within SGM. So sad.

  • Lost in (cyber) Space

    Nick #178

    You mentioned the Frederick Church. I believe this is the first time I have seen it mentioned here. What have you heard about Frederick?

  • Fried Fish

    Ex’s Mom #174 –

    I lost any minute respect that could have remained when I saw how quickly he responded to a newspaper article, but for 20 years can not respond to a person he severely hurt as a child? SMH

    I’ve wondered at times what kind of hard hearted, evil, un-Christian person could ignore those pleas for 20 years… but am coming to the realization that there is something in the psyche of some of these SGM leaders that will not allow them to intellectually or emotionally address an issue where the only possible rational outcome is that they will have to admit they were wrong in the way they treated one of the “sheep”. Cognitive dissonance, indeed.

    :beat

  • Fried Fish

    meant to remove “or emotionally” b4 hitting submit…

  • ExClcer’sMom

    What article did John Loftness respond to? I missed that.

  • Persona

    Fried Fish 184

    It doesn’t help that the American legal system emphasizes defense rather than confession (with the exception of plea bargains) and, Sgm pastors habitually hire defense attorneys.

    Also, Loftness in particular, loves posturing himself as an amateur-attorney. I think he would do well to halt dispensing legal advise to any more church members.

    Hmm, maybe we would have gotten more traction if we had offered CJ and Co. a plea bargain?

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Steve240, I will try to research what article it was..there was a bog title here as well concerning the article, as well as on Refuge, I believe. I think it was the Washington Post, last summer. They quoted Larry Tomczak, and they asked if anyone from Survivors was willing to speak to her on record, using their name, etc. John Loftness was the person to respond for SGM. I will look for a link to it for you.

  • Sopwith

    SGM “GroupThink” In Action?

    HowDee YaAll,

    Ozymandias # 163: “…John Loftness preached…on Philippians 4:2-3…”

    humm…

    …The church needs to “think/agree together in the Lord”…

    What?

    Has JohnnyL shown us the ‘S-e-c-r-e-t’ ingredient in da SGM KoolAid? (“auto phronein”)

    Ahem! 

    Doesn’t he mean: “groupthink” -snark-

    hahahahahahahaha

    Sopy ;~)
    ___
    A Short Presentation – “Groupthink” 
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FdgnMcbet4&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    Comic relief: “A Christian Youth Speaker”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkK6PkUotfc&feature=youtube_gdata_player

  • Bridget

    Persona –

    I think Harvey did create and dispense a plea bargain in Maganey’s behalf as it is. Isn’t that what you would call the 3-panel process? It got CJ back in the saddle with some suggestions of what he can do to wrap things up (in their opinion).

  • KMD

    The following message was sent to members of CLC this evening. I have omitted the specifics of the “Coffee and Questions” meeting, as it is for recipients of the message.

    Dear Members of Covenant Life,

    We are writing to update you regarding another important moment in the events of the last eight months.

    Last month when his leave of absence as President of Sovereign Grace Ministries ended, C.J. Mahaney wrote the elders of Covenant Life informing us of his decision to transfer his membership to Solid Rock Church. At that time we told C.J. that the elders would like to meet with him and discuss several concerns that we had for him, as well as hear his questions and concerns for us.

    This past Friday, Grant, Josh and Robin met with C.J. along with two members of the Sovereign Grace Board and had an honest conversation. We began by asking C.J. to share his concerns and disagreements with our leadership over the past eight months, and then we shared our concerns and questions for some of his actions and statements during that same time. We felt the Lord gave grace for everyone to speak forthrightly and listen to each other. We believe this meeting was an important step, though it confirmed that we have different perspectives on what has unfolded since last July.

    Having had the opportunity to meet with C.J., we have agreed, with sadness, to accept and support his membership transfer. C.J. has communicated to us that he no longer thinks the formal mediation he requested last fall is needed (this mediation was going to be led by Ted Kober and was to address differences C.J. had with the pastors’ public leadership in response to the release of Brent Detwiler’s documents). We are grateful that we’ve been able to talk together, and we expect there will be further dialogue. Because we understand there will be questions on these matters, we have scheduled another “Coffee and Questions” night. We’ve created a simple form to allow you to submit your questions in advance of the meeting.

    C.J. has communicated his love and appreciation for Covenant Life and that he believes God is leading him into a new season of pastoral ministry. C.J. has told us that his time at Solid Rock will be brief as he plans to plant a new church in another state later this year. Details of those plans will be announced by Sovereign Grace in the coming months.

    We pray God’s blessing on C.J. and his family. We will always be grateful for his service to this church. If you want to talk further about this, we hope you can come to the “Coffee and Questions” night on Wednesday the 7th, and as always, feel free to contact your pastor.

    Sincerely,

    The pastors of Covenant Life

  • Luna Moth

    Remind me what church is Solid Rock? Is it an SGM church?

    God forbid CJ just goes out and plants a church.

  • Persona

    My favorite sentence fragment was,

    “At that time we told C.J. that the elders would like to meet with him and discuss several concerns that we had for him…”

  • Persona

    Luna 193

    Solid Rock is an SGM-adopted church, located in PG County, MD, not far from the U of MD. The leadership of Solid Rock was usurped from Barry Woods, the founder. He posted his story here a while ago and it was a sad tale. Mickey Connelly may have been the first SGM pastor there.

    John Loftness left CLC behind, about 4 years ago, to take the same job from the previous pastor, who assumed slot #2. Curt Allen, a new PC graduate was took slot #3. It is a small congregation.

    I believe the Solid Rock building was built with member’s labor. Some say it now has ‘sick building syndrome’ and should be torn down. I hardly think CJ will want to stay there long, if that is the case. It’s quite a step-down for him in many ways. The areas has seriously gone downhill since the 80’s and it is not the typical SGM demographic.

    I’m relieved to think CJ will eventually be going out of state.