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Why Good Guys Go Bad

A lot of people within Sovereign Grace Ministries churches puzzle over how it is that there are accountability issues within the SGM organization.  How is it that otherwise nice and godly guys with a sincere desire to serve the Lord could end up having such a difficult time providing real accountability for each other…especially when they have demonstrated such skill in confronting ordinary church members about their sins?

I was thinking about this question today, in the comments of the previous post.  Here is what I wrote.

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If we examine the process of becoming and remaining a pastor within SGM, it will help us understand why pastors in the SGM system – who can seem like such nice, godly guys who are sincere in their desire to serve God – can easily end up compromising their integrity. I’d even argue that because of the way the system is set up, it’s practically guaranteed that they will compromise their integrity.

How does one become an SGM pastor? Well, as we’ve frequently discussed, the road to a pastor’s job within SGM is one that starts by invitation only, and the invitation is issued by men who are already pastors.

The invitation comes when pastors believe you to be a godly man whom people want to follow – and “godliness” within SGM is characterized primarily by SGM’s concept of humility. In SGM, “humility” is not necessarily the same as it is in the rest of Christianity, where it is characterized by self-forgetfulness and serving “the least of these.” In SGM, “humility” instead is demonstrated by submitting yourself to your leaders and by elevating your leaders through your obedience to them and through your expressions of deference to them. A key part of this is always agreeing with your leaders about their assessments of your sin.

Elevating your leaders and deferring to your leaders – as well as demonstrating in front of your leaders that people also want to follow and defer to you – will be the behaviors that cause your leaders to believe that you are humble…and thus godly.

This deference – always agreeing with your leaders’ assessments of your sin, always speaking to them in the most respectful, honoring way, doing whatever you can to serve your leaders and lift them up through praise – is amped up to a whole other level at the Pastors College. There, you are paired up with a pastor-mentor who proceeds to make you strip spiritually naked. Your (and your wife’s) deepest darkest sins are confessed and discussed freely and openly with your pastor-mentor and his wife. Your every weakness is probed relentlessly.

Just like in the army, you are broken down to nothing through the weekly meetings you have with your pastor-mentor as well as through the use of “humorous” put-downs and even some silly hazing rituals.

After you are broken down, to where you truly believe you are nothing and have nothing to offer, you are then built back up – in the image of your pastor-mentor, who himself is patterned after CJ.

It’s little wonder that the guys who come out of SGM’s Pastors College have so often ended up talking and even looking exactly the same. They were taught that they should “follow their leaders, even as the leaders follow Christ.” Unfortunately, in SGM, that mandate has been interpreted in the most literal and wooden of ways, to where all too frequently, “following Christ” has been equated with following CJ and CJ’s followers.

After being in the environment of the Pastors College – which, incidentally, is a very expensive 9 months of SGM-centric study that is more about learning the SGM way of doing ministry than it is about actual Bible knowledge and real Spirit-led growth – the newly minted SGM pastor comes out completely re-made, ready and willing and completely submitted to do whatever his leaders tell him to do.

He’ll be placed on staff at a church somewhere and given a salary decent enough to allow him to afford to buy a nice-enough home and support a family with a stay-at-home wife. Almost immediately, he will get to enjoy the fruits of his labor, as the deference he paid to his SGM leaders for the previous several years will now be paid to him. He will be talked up in an introductory speech as the greatest, most humble and wonderful guy ever to come out of the Pastors College…and he’ll quickly be extended the same sort of obedience and submission by the church members. He’ll find himself counseling people and assessing their sin and having people agree with him.

That’s some pretty heady stuff.

Some years go by. Our PC grad is now a senior staffer. He’s not the senior pastor, but he’s one of the more established church leaders. His family owns their nice-enough home and has enough money to live well enough. His wife perhaps homeschools the kids…and in her own way also enjoys a level of influence in the church community as a women’s leader.  One of the main fruits of their labor is that they are regarded all around as godly leaders to be revered and honored.  Although they don’t misuse anyone, they have nonetheless grown accustomed to having people want to serve them.

Now, think about what happens when the proverbial fly gets into the ointment. Our now-veteran PC grad established pastor is cruising along, when lo and behold, he begins to get inklings that all is not as it should be in something the senior pastor is doing. The senior pastor is not behaving with integrity in some fashion. What does the junior pastor do?

Well, although he’s quite used to directing the lowly church members’ attention to their own sins, it’s a different game with his boss. So he must proceed very carefully. He doesn’t just barrel into a confrontation. Perhaps he approaches it in a round-about way, hinting at the problem. When that doesn’t work, he bucks up and – with much trepidation – dares to try and put his concerns into words. All the proper flowery flattery does come first…but then he does his best to oh-so-gently lower the hammer.

It does not go well. The senior pastor is even more used to the deference from everyone in his world, and “everyone” would include the junior pastor. Having Junior attempt to correct him just feels…wrong. Plus, if Junior just knew how things really were, he wouldn’t be asking questions or insinuating that something was wrong. Junior is misinformed. Moreover, Junior is arrogant! Junior must be put back in his proper place!

So Senior Pastor does what by now comes naturally. He directs Junior’s attention back to Junior’s own sins and shortcomings. Certainly Senior Pastor is very familiar with what those sins and shortcomings are – he’s had enough years with Junior to know just how to bring up the besetting sin, the Achilles heel.  He knows just how to hit the sweet spot.

Despite his best resolve, Junior finds himself responding the same old way when he hears the same old song about his sin  – with automatic deference, because it has been by now beaten into him.  Especially if Senior Pastor happens to be someone like his own dad (who was trained in the 90s to spank a 2-year-old Junior with a glue stick until Junior joyfully obeyed), Junior will find himself folding like a cheap lawn chair the moment he faces his first real challenge from Senior Pastor.

End of confrontation.

End of potential accountability for Senior Pastor.

And this was for an area of real concern to Junior. This was for an area of actual sin in Senior Pastor’s life.

Imagine what the relational dynamic is like for more prosaic, less obvious dilemmas. Imagine what a meeting looks like where some neither-here-nor-there church decision is being made. Whose will is almost always guaranteed to prevail…even if lip service is paid to making a mutually agreeable choice?

But let’s say that the Holy Spirit is at work in Junior’s life, and Junior begins to experience real and genuine conviction about something he knows is not right in the inner workings of his church. Let’s say that rather than folding, as he’s been so conditioned to do, Junior instead continues to stand firm. He continues, stubbornly, to refuse to bow and bend as he always has. Going against all his training, he refuses to submit to Senior Pastor – who is, after all, Junior’s spiritual authority, his covering, his head.  Instead, Junior sticks up for what he believes.

What’s going to happen to Junior?

At that point, Junior faces the very real possibility of having Senior Pastor decide that Junior is exhibiting “ungodly” behavior. Junior is demonstrating pride! After all, Junior is no longer submitting to his authority. Junior is unteachable. Junior is not humble, despite his most ingratiating preambles.

The wheels are then set in motion, and Junior finds himself on the fast track to being disciplined out of a job. Junior looks around and wonders what he can do.  Unfortunately, SGM’s Pastors College training isn’t really acknowledged or accepted as adequate pastoral education in the rest of the non-SGM Christian world. If Junior is lucky, he will have earned a college degree prior to being sent to the PC. If he’s really lucky, he will have some sort of other non-pastoral vocation that he can once again embrace so that he can make a living. But it’s going to be a struggle. Junior discovers, to his dismay, that what had seemed like a moderate salary is actually quite generous when compared to what he’ll be able to earn just starting out in his new profession, if he’s even lucky enough to get a foot in the door and get an interview, let alone land a job. As a pastor, he enjoyed all sorts of tax advantages. As a manager at Home Depot, on the other hand, he can no longer count on things like a tax-free parsonage allowance. All he’s left with is the same old ordinary mortgage interest deduction that’s available to all little people.

Junior begins to have serious doubts about his convictions. Who is he, to ask questions? Really – who is he? He knows his own heart. And of course, his heart is deceitful. His pastor – Senior Pastor – is the one who knows Junior’s heart better than Junior knows it himself.  That’s the answer!  He will do the (SGM version of) the godly thing and go back and submit himself to Senior Pastor once again.

Who wants to go work for Home Depot anyway? Far better to be sacrificing for the gospel.

THIS is how SGM’s dysfunctional lack of formal accountability happens.

This.

128 comments to Why Good Guys Go Bad

  • Stunned

    Eric, I’m not trying you to change your views in the least or argue with you. I am delighted to see someone take the bull by the horns and study scripture for themselves (as the bible tells us).

    Here is another scripture you may want to add in to your equation in figuring this all out. It is from Matt 5:23 and 24. It says, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”

    Here’s what I am pondering about this. Going to someone who has something against you is even more important that leaving a gift at the altar! Wow. To me, that seems super powerful. If someone has repented, wouldn’t that include recognizing that someone has something against them? And this is just a thought, but if I really recognized that my changing of definitions, or if my harsh leadership or anything else truly damaged people, then by scripture, I am commanded to GO TO THAT PERSON. As a leader, I’d imagine they have many people to go to.

    This may be a stretch, but, how can you recognize you’ve done wrong and change, without beginning to see the damage you’ve done? Or at least having an inkling and going to the people to learn more? I don’t know. It’s not so much chapter and verse for me in this, as much as common sense. You’ve come to realize you wronged somebody and did them harm, aren’t you going to just naturally want to run to them and apologize?

    (Last night I had a discussion with a man about this and he said that some men think differently than that. That if they are emotional, it can take them a looooonnnng time to say they are sorry. I believe him, but I think that is also a strong indicator that the person has some other more serious issues if “I’m sorry” doesn’t come to mind as soon as they have seen they have done wrong. Then again, I can be a really self righteous person, so maybe just because it’s not too hard on me, doesn’t mean there’s something wrong if it’s hard for someone else.)

  • Fried Fish

    B.R. #121 –

    Just to be clear, in my #112 I was just quoting Dave Harvey of SGM to point out that Josh Harris’ comments referenced by C. Jones in #107 were not inconsistent with those of a top SGM leader using an approved SGM communication vehicle as of a couple years ago – Josh is not deviating from the SGM position as expressed by DH.

    Actions by SGM leadership, and recent statements by CJ, MC, and others, might lead one to believe that position has changed for SGM.

    I’m not disagreeing with you.

  • Bridget

    Eric NS –

    I believe you have defined the word “repentence” and I don’t believe that God requires a list of sins from us before he forgives us. I have found that as I “turned from sinful ways” and took on “the mind of Christ” that God was/is, by the work of the Holy Spirit, showing me areas of sin. It’s been a 30 year process that will continue until I’m face to face with Jesus.

    In your comment, though, you seem to leave out the earthly “relational” aspects of offences, forgiveness, going to your brother if he has offended you, going to your brother if you “know” you have offended him. If hundreds of people (and maybe thousands have been harmed) have come to you and said this is how you have offended and harmed me and my family, wouldn’t that be reason to “know” and ask for forgiveness and seek change? Do you have to “categorize” it all first, as some seem to want to do? Yes, go to God first, but to your brothers and sisters immediately following. The scripture does not tell us to be “concerned” about how the other person will respond (including possible lawsuits arising from confession), although there is scripture that speeks to the persons response. It is the heart that God is changing. He will right His laws on our hearts!

    We are called to live in a way that shows “love” for one another – such that the world will see and take notice.

  • Moniker

    Here’s an interesting article recently posted at Forbes that is relevant to this blog post – “Study Finds That Having Power Can Make You Stupid” http://www.forbes.com/sites/frederickallen/2012/03/06/study-finds-that-having-power-can-make-you-stupid/ It starts out:

    “Do you ever get the sense that the more powerful people get, the more foolish they become? You’re not the only one. Four university professors thought the same thing, and they devised a test to find out if it’s really true. It is, they concluded.

    That is, they found that power dependably breeds overconfidence, and overconfidence dependably leads to bad decisions.”

  • Eric NS

    B.R. Clifton #45, #46, #117,
    Thanks to you, and to others, for answering my question about repentance. B.R., you provided a good example of the answer that I thought I would get when you said in #45 “Actually repentance begins with recognizing that you committed a sin (whatever it may be). Secondly one immediately confesses that sin to the Almighty. Thirdly there’s the request for forgiveness, both from God and then from one who might have been offended (if any). Lastly, one stops doing the sin and begins practicing the right thing to do.”

    This is what we are often taught, and is consistent with what SGM has taught. I thought I’d respond to you but I’m not “picking” on you in particular – after being taught too many wrong things in SGM, I’m a Berean now and I’m not believing anything that I can’t find in my Bible.

    One of the things that I’m looking for now is good biblical evidence of needing to ask forgiveness (or expressing grief for one’s sin) in order for repentance to take place. I’m not saying that that doesn’t often take place, or that it isn’t a good thing to experience, but rather, I’m trying to figure out whether asking forgiveness or experience grief for one’s sin is required by God before repentance has happened.
    Jesus said in Matthew 4:17 to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He said in Luke 5:32 “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” In your post #117, you provide an English definition of the Greek word for “apostle” that I have no problems with. Well, the meaning of the Greek word behind the English “repent” is “metanoeo.” From what I find about this Greek word, it has two parts: meta and noeo. The second part (noeo) refers to the mind and its thoughts and perceptions and dispositions and purposes. The first part (meta) is a prefix that regularly means movement or change. Therefore, the word “repent” means to move, change, or to turn from, in your mind and actions. The word repent does not seem to include, by definition, a four part process like you describe (other than the fourth step about changing, and probably by default, the first step about recognizing that change is necessary).

    Don’t hear what I’m not saying. I’m not saying that seeking out offended people isn’t a good thing. I’m not saying that responding to godly grief in an appropriate way isn’t a good thing. But Jesus didn’t elaborate on what he required when we repent. He didn’t say that we should detail all of our sins to him, and let him see how sorry and broken we are about them, and then that he’ll grant us forgiveness.

    What I am saying is that I think that repentance (which is simply “change”) can happen without necessarily having all of the requirements (in particular, for public grief and confession) that you and others might be thinking are necessary. But if someone can show biblically that those things are required, I would find that compelling to change my own views.

  • Argus

    By the way, Brent has another post up:
    http://www.brentdetwiler.com/brentdetwilercom/2012/3/16/what-goldman-sachs-and-sovereign-grace-share-in-common.html

    I think it goes along nicely with the theme of “Why Good Guys Go Bad.”

  • Muckraker

    B.R.Clifton @117 :goodpost Especially this part.

    The position of an apostle is to deliver the message and establish a theological or doctrinal foundation. It’s not a governmental position. The governing part ofthe church belongs solely to Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

    I think this is another example of a word that SGM redefined from its true Biblical meaning. I know they have kept the concept of the “Apostleship” of the SGM Board “under the radar” so to speak in recent years as CJ aligned more with RBD, but their definition is STILL rearing its ugly head in their brand of authority.

  • B.R. Clifton

    Fried Fish #112:
    The “apostolic ministry” is still around, or should be. It was one of five specific gifts to the church that Jesus gave when He ascended to the Father as told in Eph. 4. If Jesus had rescinded the “apostolic” ministry, then why would He not have rescinded the other four ministries He gave at the same time also? Jesus/God doesn’t take back what He gives to His people. As it says in scripture: “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” That being true, it matters as to whether we are willing to abide by Jesus’ design for the church or we go off on our own and try to run it according to our own design and vastly flawed opinion.
    :beat

  • Fried Fish

    @ Stunned –

    who is not a greek scholar but has her PhD in google

    That’s a good PhD to have, sis. I often tell people at work that Google is the only reason I still have a job. :)

  • Stunned

    Shoreline,

    I like what you said. Welcome.

  • Stunned

    Apostle. Greek: “apostolos” / a person sent by another; a messenger; envoy

    Signed,
    Stunned
    who is not a greek scholar but has her PhD in google

  • B.R. Clifton

    Nickname #114:
    That is the precise English translation of the greek word. By extension it means a messenger, or someone sent to deliver a message. Think of it in terms of the little guy who used to work for Western Union delivering telegrams on his bicycle. That’s apostleship in a nutshell. By the way, apostle is spelled with a small “a” and not a BIG “A” as is believed in some circles. The position of an apostle is to deliver the message and establish a theological or doctrinal foundation. It’s not a governmental position. The governing part ofthe church belongs solely to Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
    :beat

  • Shoreline

    I am with Roadwork in 101. There is nothing to salvage but plenty of lessons learnt.
    I am much more interested in how to salvage shipwrecked faith as a result of the experience of sgm.

  • Res Ipsa

    A Kindred Spirit, I wish I had responded sooner to your post, but I promise you I have never in my life had the patience of Job. About anything. Ever. I’m probably the most impatient, unsubmissive person you’ll meet (seriously, just ride in the car with me once) and I’m the least likely choice for a secretary in the history of SGM. This isn’t false SGMesque humility – me as Brent’s secretary was just nuts and my friends still laugh about it today.

    But you learn to survive, so you learn to put staples back in the holes, to keep the blinds in your office turned at a specific angle so they match the blinds in Brent’s office, and you make 5 trips to Target to buy the perfect wastebasket for the kitchen. I don’t want my point to be lost among the staple references, though – a man who focuses on details like these does NOT just sign Articles of Incorporation without scrutinizing them. Brent would surely have known that the Articles would be significant, would be filed with the Secretary of State and would be a public document that bound SGM. To now contend that he signed it without reading it simply blows my mind.

  • Nickname

    The very word “apostle” — ok, you Greek scholars among us — does it not mean “one sent forth”?

  • Nickname

    We asked the apostle question before joining, and were told that they didn’t really mean “apostles” as in those who had actually seen Jesus, apostolic succession, etc. The explanation was that they use the word apostle because it meant that they were the top step in oversight of other churches — simply a label, and not meaning that the SGM aspotles had any kind of extra-spiritual insight, power, or authority.

    Actually, several years later they de-gifted the guy who gave that explanation. Too bad, because without him, our entire new members class would’ve headed south over the little ‘a’ thing, and they’d have missed out on some impressive tithe money. Not from me, but from some of the others who pulled down some longgg green. (Come to think of it, that gravy train has long left the station. Not ONE family who was in our enlistment class remains in an SGM church, and most of them left before any of the recent unpleasantness came to light.)

    Sooo — was the guy who gave the definition to us lying at the time? I think not. But it was one of those words that got redefined, only nobody bothered to publish the new definition.

  • Fried Fish

    Re: Contentious Jones’ 107 –

    “So the question: did “apostolic ministry” cease with the passing of the first apostles?

    If we’re talking about the writers of the Scriptures, yes. Apostles of that brand are done, gone, they’ve left the building. However, this does not mean that they were the last men God would call and grace to extend the mission of the gospel through church planting. Such men are still around and quite essential. Here’s the thing: the continuity between the original recipients of the Great Commission and the present practitioners who extend it on behalf of the church is not one of office, authority, or anointing. It is function.”

    Anyone wanna take a stab at who said that? BTW it wasn’t CJ. Here’s the link to the full post:

    http://www.sovereigngraceministries.org/blogs/cj-mahaney/category/apostolic-ministry.aspx

  • Nickname

    Argus #12 — your nice neighborhood adjacent to a nicer neighborhood — we stopped calling it by its given name years ago, and started referring to it as “The Promised Land.”

    And you probably aren’t even in the same city, but its the same Promised Land nonetheless!

  • Con-Jones #107 – Re: Interesting that you mentioned Joshua Harris declaring “no more apostles” in the NT sense… I blogged about apostolic ministry – http://sgmnation.wordpress.com/2012/03/16/wayne-grudem-interview-on-apostles-elder-plurality/

    I believe the topic of apostolic ministry is going to be a keenly debated point within SGM in coming days. I believe there is a part of SGM board leadership seeking to re-establish old school apostolic ministry – a paper defending SGM position on apostolic ministry was written and released by an SGM church in NC. Apostolic ministry = power and control over SGM.

  • Persona

    C-Jones 107

    Joshua seems to pretty comfy sitting on the fence between dependent and independent but, I agree he cannot ultimately have it both ways.

    He and the other elders cannot continue to give sgm money if they lack congregational approval. The congregation will merely stop giving money to them.

  • Oswald

    ConJon #107 — Who says Josh is speaking at the Renown conference as a de facto rep of SGM? He has other identities you know.

  • Contentious Jones

    Apparently Josh Harris said in one of his recent sermons that there are no more “apostles” in the NT sense, and in his most recent sermon he believes CLC sheep should have a say in the election of elders (although the current “elders” will have the final say – go figure). So how can he speak as a de facto representative of SGM at that upcoming SBTS Renown conference while he publicly denounces many of SGM’s distinctive polity doctrines at the mother ship? He can’t have it both ways…

  • B.R. Clifton

    Kris #103: It’s called positive reinforcement.

  • Roadwork,

    I got it. I was gonna add a :D but it didn’t take. Your humor is always welcome here.

  • Roadwork

    I know. Just having a little fun. SGM leadership never seemed to like my brand of “fun”.

  • Roadwork,

    I didn’t mean that followers necessarily legitimize a person or vet his ministry or doctrine. Just that I could understand if CJ took the crowds clamoring for his leadership as a sign that leading them was what God wanted him to do, even if CJ had no elders to commission him or send him.

  • Roadwork

    Kris said,

    To be fair to CJ, the guy obviously had followers, people who wanted him for their leader.

    Sun Myung Moon has followers too. Hmmm… Actually, there are some parallels…

  • Roadwork

    DB:
    Just so you know my perspective, it’s going to take a lot more than 16 churches to sign an “Unhappygram” voicing their displeasure with the Board’s latest shenanigans. It’s going to take men (and women) of courage to stand up and say, “Enough!” “This system has hurt far too many for far too long and rather than try and salvage the system, we are going to start completely over regardless if it costs us members or our building or even if we have to affiliate with some long time denomination that has a proven track record of accountability and godliness. Neither we nor SGM are the head of this church, only Christ.”

    As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing salvageable in SGM, the Movement.

    Let loose the Holy Ghost Wrecking Ball.

  • To be fair to CJ, the guy obviously had followers, people who wanted him for their leader. Having dozens of people looking to you for direction would probably feel like more of an apparent endorsement from God than having a couple of old-man pastors lay hands on you and commission you. You know? Any sort of commending or laying on of hands probably seemed like more of an unnecessary technicality in light of the fact that a crowd was already gathered, ready to follow him.

  • Bridget

    Kris and Seeking the City –

    I understand not going to seminary, but it appears he was never commended to the ministry by the laying on of hands by elders or men who knew him and recognized the giftings of God in him. He was self appointed. Was he ever ordained? If someone knows something different, please let us know. If he was cautioned not to start a church by someone who mentored him early on, but did anyway — that’s just plain scarry. This is more than enough reason for men and woman to not want to be led by him.

  • seeking the city to come

    Re: my #97, I should have clarified that I recognize that there are members and pastors of SGM churches who do see things as they are and are not okay with the double standard and are hoping for a better day. But I also know that there are still many who refuse to see anything irregular going on and are not seeking to think for themselves. Sadly, one of my good friends is among the second group. In any case, I offer my apologies as I should have noted the distinction in my post. I would never want to hurt someone’s feelings on here, nor do I want to fail to acknowledge the fact that Aslan IS on the move. Thanks be to God for opening the eyes of the blind to see truth! May He continue to do so!

  • seeking the city to come

    Persona 94 —
    I appreciate the recap of CJ history (also thanks to Kris). BUT, were they actually members at Halpine Baptist under Pastor Kline? I guess I’m trying to figure out if they were ever active members of a church (not including the Catholic Charismatic movement) or if they’ve always been pretty much free agents. (I probably shouldn’t lump Larry and CJ together–it’s just that my first encounter with them was with them as a team.) If they have indeed functioned as free agents, CJ can hardly make a case now (or for that matter, over the last 30+ years) for his supposed “authority.” To have done so all these years is utterly beyond presumptuous. It is a clear example of arrogating to himself a position of power based on absolutely nothing–no education, no credentials, and most importantly, apparently very limited life in the steps of Jesus, who humbled Himself and made Himself of no reputation and submitted to His Father’s will. Why can’t more SGM pastors see this and raise questions of their own? More remarkable is that CJ’s pals, who have spurred him on in his arrogance (notably Mark Dever and Al Mohler, who actually have an education), not only can’t (won’t) see the hypocrisy and lack of humility, but happily give CJ his get-out-of-jail-free card. I can hardly believe that Sovereign Grace Ministries pastors and members are really okay with this “do as I say, not as I do” behavior. Truly stunning! Perhaps the SGM theme song should be “If I Only Had A Brain” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOKK8mAkiUI). Sigh. The more time that goes by, the more absurd this all becomes.

  • Saint Elsewhere

    @Kris #91
    Years ago, when the teaching about “five fold ministry” was strong, CJ saw himself as a prophet and saw Larry as an apostle, and strongly insisted that his role was to be submitted to an apostle.
    A humorous anecdote was that someone prophesied over CJ that he would write a book (analagous to Larry’s book, “Clap Your Hands”) called “Stamp Your Feet.” CJ insisted that his place would always be supportive to Larry since Larry was the apostle and he was the prophet. this was of course many moons ago.
    But it does clarify the early roles between CJ and Larry, although they were certainly more peers than in a superior/subordinate relationship.

  • Lee

    Persona @ #89,

    Perhaps it is a good thing Joshua Harris is speaking at that conference. Maybe Al and him will have some good face to face talks and Al can say “what the heck is really going up there in Gaithersburg?”

    I noticed yesterday that Joshua is also speaking at Fairfax on April 1.

  • Persona

    Seeking 88

    Kris is correct about the Catholic church featuring large in both Larry and CJ’s early life. Together, they even focused for a time on reaching out to Catholics. Larry’s first book might even still be given out by nuns to Catholic youth.

    CJ has spoken about an older Christian women who apparently privately discipled him very early on. She introduced to him some of the books he still reads and quotes heavily from.

    I think the church you are thinking of, was led by Pastor Kline. It was Halpine Baptist(Rockville). Pastor Kline cautioned the young men against planting their own church.

    TAG met at Christ Church, in DC. I believe Larry T and R. Boisvert were on staff. In the early years, as members left their denominational churches behind, they were careful not give the appearance of sheep stealing. That was a big no-no.

    But, both these churches featured large in their early years. CJ and Larry broke away and took up leadership of Lydia Little’s small group. They met in the Patton’s basement. When they outgrew that space, they rented a park building on Muncaster, near Norbeck Rd. Magruder HS, which the church rented for many years, is located further north on Muncaster Rd. and CLC is a few miles north of there.

  • Stunned

    For a time, didn’t they go to a bible study led by a … gasp…. woman? Actually, isn’t that how TAG started? By a chick?

  • 5yearsinPDI

    old time #82…excellent link. Thank you.

    * * * * *

    “The SGM Board has final say on how all monetary donations it receives are spent, including donations specifically given for particular purposes (such as the Haiti relief fund).”

    Is this legal? I thought designated offerings to a non profit must be used for the purpose stated, minus maybe any administrative costs. Is this talking about cash? I mean, I am pretty sure if people write a check with “haiti” or whatever in the memo line, it has to go to that. I was in a church that tried to pull some of the building fund donation money out for some charitable cause and they were told in no uncertain terms that you cannot do that with designated offerings. (Not sure you can do it with cash either if it was given to a public designated appeal.)

    I understand that Haiti relief has a lot of problems and they could be waiting before they give it…but is this a typical practice in SGM?

    just curious…..

  • “seeking the city” –

    RE your #89, I could be mistaken, but it is my understanding that during the entire time he has been a believer, CJ has never been under the authority of anyone other than (technically) those who would have considered themselves under his authority.

    In other words, CJ went from lapsed nominal Catholic dope-smokin’ hippie to co-leader of the TAG group to co-leader of GOB to co-pastor of CLC to senior pastor of CLC to president of SGM. Perhaps in there somewhere was a mentoring relationship…like the one in which (reports are that) CJ and LT were advised not to start a church until they’d themselves been part of a church for awhile – advice they disregarded.

    Otherwise, though, I do not believe CJ has ever functioned in the role of “average non-celebrity church member” under the authority of an ordinary pastor.

    Someone correct me if my understanding is wrong here.

  • Luna Moth

    Thank you, Michael!

    I have considered printing out the Articles and By-Laws so I can make notes on the pages. I guess I should do that…

    (I had visions of printing out the Docs and carrying them to church in a big black binder, just for fun. :mrgreen: :lol: Maybe I should carry around the Articles and By-Laws instead.)

    Seriously, anyone that doesn’t know the contents of the Articles, By-Laws and Membership Agreement for churches, ought to read them. Me, too.

  • Persona

    As I read the SGM by-laws, I had to ask myself why any church leader would sign such a one-sided document, especially in churches that are already firmly established, like CLC. Why would they need SGM?

    And so, I wondered if, in #9, CJ suspects them of some degree of “heresy, immorality, financial impropriety or substantial and unrepentant breaches of the leadership qualifications appearing in 1 Timothy 3: 1-7 and Titus 1: 6-9.”?

    Perhaps that would explain why CLC elders would continue their partnership with SGM? It wouldn’t take too much stretching for CJ to skew the definition of the word “heresy” or ‘unrepentant breaches of the leadership qualification”, to fit the occasion.

    And, not only does CLC continue to partner with SGM, but, Joshua is also participating this week, in Al Mohler’s SBTS ‘Renown’ Conference, alongside Devon Kauflin’s NEXT band. http://events.sbts.edu/gmaa-student/

  • seeking the city to come

    Bridget #75 —
    Your post prompts me to raise the question:
    Does anyone know the name of the church either Larry T or CJ Mahaney were members of or at least attended when they first came to know Christ, and how long were they members there before they were put into some sort of leadership position? And who was it that discipled them or helped them grow in their faith in the very early stages of their walks with Christ? I’ve never seen this discussed, though I may have missed it. I do remember them trotting out their dog and pony show at Penn State some time in the late ’70s, but I don’t recall if they came because a church sent them or if they were doing their own thing then.

  • DB

    The youngest is still a minor child.

  • Lost in (cyber) Space

    Michael,

    Wow! Thank you for laboring through all of that and presenting a concise summary. Very helpful!

  • Michael

    Brent’s last post on his website is very helpful, and I finally got through it all this morning. Since a number of people have mentioned that the length of it is very daunting, I thought I would outline the important points of his post as concisely as I can so that I can be helpful.

    (Anyone of course may feel free to say, “I think Brent actually meant THIS,” or summarize differently)

    1. The pastors and members as a whole of SGM churches do not have any authority over the actions of the SGM Board. The SGM church membership agreement specifically forbids this, and also requires all leaders of an SGM church to “demonstrate a humble willingness to open their lives and local church to the gracious evaluation of a Sovereign Grace representative.”

    2. The SGM Board is vested with all legal authority to do anything and everything to fulfill its vision as a movement.

    3. The SGM Board elects its own members, including the President, who the bylaws describe as having all the usual powers of a corporation’s CEO. Only the Board is authorized to appoint and remove a President or any Board member.

    4. The SGM Board is authorized to ordain ministers who are to lead local churches and “serve the Corporation.” They also can determine, in addition to typical Scriptural qualifications, their own qualifications for ordaining ministers. These ministers are responsible to their local churches and to typical duties of ordained ministers but are specifically required to “serve in various positions and perform various duties in fulfillment of their calling to the Corporation as an association of churches or to one or more local churches affiliated with the Corporation.” In effect, this means that the SGM Board can relocate a pastor wherever it chooses to, and the pastor agrees to submit to this decision in all cases.

    5. The SGM Board has no established policy regarding grounds for removing or disqualifying ordained ministers from ministry in SGM churches. Brent describes this as “grounds for a class-action lawsuit.”

    6. The SGM Board has final say on how all monetary donations it receives are spent, including donations specifically given for particular purposes (such as the Haiti relief fund).

    7. The SGM Board has sole authority to amend, alter or repeal its bylaws. All actions by the Board are matters of unanimous agreement unless a Board member specifically has his dissent recorded in the official minutes of the meeting, and not officially registering dissent at the time of the action will then make the Board member forfeit the right to dissent from an action.

    8. All SGM churches are according to the Membership Agreement solely responsible for any “claims, loss, damage, liability, or expenses occasioned or claimed by reason of acts or neglects of their own employees or visitors or of independent contractors.” The Agreement says that this is because all SGM churches are “ndependent and autonomously governed entities.” Brent says that this is a legal CYA move on the Board’s part, because according to everything else in the bylaws and the membership agreement, SGM member churches are not autonomous.

    9. I will quote this section of the Membership Agreement verbatim: “When a member church chooses to no longer affiliate with Sovereign Grace, the apostolic team of Sovereign Grace will relinquish its role in a God-honoring manner, and grant that church the freedom to withdraw unless the leadership of the member church is suspected of heresy, immorality, financial impropriety or substantial and unrepentant breaches of the leadership qualifications appearing in 1 Timothy 3: 1-7 and Titus 1: 6-9.” Anybody recall what happened to North Coast Church?

    10. Brent emphasizes repeatedly that the February Board letter sent out to the SGM pastors, which claims to be making significant changes to the bylaws of the SGM board, has made no significant changes and is pretty much keeping to exactly what it has always done.

  • Stunned

    PS. I have full belief that God is working in my brother, Brent’s life, just as He is working in yours and mine. God is at work full tilt there. He brought us out of Egypt and He isn’t so worn out from all the hard work to bring the rest of them out, too.

  • Stunned

    Roadwork,

    the beer can thing reminded me of your childhood. can i tell you what i see as an amazing man i believe you are. especially impressive given your childhood.

    i feel i had one of those lucky childhoods and i just barely make it through some days. i don’t know where i’d be if i had a different childhood but i don’t think i’d be the man you’ve become. (especially since i am a woman)

  • old timer

    also, here is a good post about gossip and gospel from apostasy watch. Perhaps confused occasional reader would enjoy it.

    http://apostasywatch.com/GossiporGospel/tabid/244/Default.aspx

  • old timer

    Kris, In # 51 you wrote ” Brent, you’re now at the back of a very, very long line of people that were marginalized and subsequently judged as proud, arrogant, unteachable, unentreatable, divisive, judgmental, etc.”

    Your etc was ‘unfaithful and rebellious’ for us.

    We preferred to be faithful to the Lord and submissive to Him rather than to a group of men.

    Musicman # 63 I agree with you–what goes around comes around–big time in Brent’s case—-but I also agree with Roadwork #66 that the Holy Spirit is still working on Brent and needs more time!It’s hard for a leopard to change his spots but not impossible with God’s help.

    Hey my spots lighten up every day. (most days anyway!)

  • Muckraker

    Bridget @74 My thoughts exactly.

  • Muckraker

    Roadwork @72 Now, I had to look up what was “Up in Smoke” LOL

  • Somewhereintime

    DB,

    I wasn’t happy with what Brent did either, but they really aren’t “children”. They are adults.

    Someone coming in here and reading your statement would read in to it that he threw young children under the bus. He didn’t … just adults who happen to be children of bad pastors.

  • Roadwork

    DB, my apologies. I wasn’t attempting to convey “warm fuzzies”.

    You’re right to be angry and even outraged. God has given you a momma bear instinct for a reason.

    But I do see that if Brent “gets it” that we may have a stronger advocate than adversary for all that we hold dear. But it may take a Saul (Pharisee of the Pharisees) to Paul (I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung) experience.

    We know what was and it was wrong. And the wrong was at all levels.

  • DB

    Thanks, Stunned.

    I don’t mind his detailed note-taking, that is Brent in the center of his gifting.

    Making some poor sap put the staples in just so is Anal-retentive Brent.

    I have my areas of detail-oriented nitpickkery that generally is limited to the lab but it’s there.

    I am really not feeling the warm fuzzies for Brent because he threw children under the bus.

    Don’t throw children under the bus already.

  • Bridget

    It’s very upsetting for me to see CJ writing about the local church. He has not functioned in a local church nor as a “normal” member of a local church for 25 years (actually NEVER), since he PUT HIMSELF in a leadership role. From what I understand from his beginnings as a Christian, he was advised against starting a church, but did it anyway (in typical CJ fashion). Why does he feel that he is some kind if expert on the local church when HE does not function within the local church. I would rather a shepherd teach me of the imoortance and place of the local church. When you add his inexperience as a part of a local church to the state of the local church he came from and the state of those he was overseeing as an (a)postle, why would people listen to him pontificate over at the “cheap seats?”

  • Kris said:

    I do NOT actually wonder why we get accused of gossip and slander. I already know why – because that’s a tactic SGM has used for years to keep people from questioning anything they do.

    They have also use this accusation to keep questionable actions done by SGM Leaders (local,regional and national) secret. When questionable actions of leaders aren’t known by many it allows leaders “freedom.”

    Some of the more egregious actions include:

    – Ex CLCers Mom’s child being molested by the mom’s husband and CLC Leaders pushing for leniency and not helping Ex ClCer’s mom with her family. This support would include
    – Other child molestation issues such as the 2 at Fairfax VA SGM
    – The blackmailing of Larry Tomczak
    – Why some pastors were forced out.

  • Roadwork

    More on the Moses thought:

    It took Moses 40 years to learn how to go from being a leader in Egypt knowing nothing but authority to being a leader of God’s people knowing nothing but humility.

    I think Brent’s current address may be in Midian somewhere.

  • Roadwork

    I learned my vocabulary from watching Up in Smoke.

    Learned to count using beer cans. too. (Actually that’s the truth as apparently we had more of those than anything else in our house.)

  • Muckraker

    Roadwork: HaHaHa! It is a Bill O’Reilly word, that’s close to biblical, right? :wink:

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Stunned
    the woman who actually enjoys cleaning little crevices with a toothbrush and who gets paid to organize other people’s homes and offices but knows there is a difference between detail and control

    Haha…I enjoy similar but you’d never guess it by the looks of my home these days. There was a day “My extreme detail giftings” drove my husband and kids crazy. Not now. I fear the pendulum has swung a little too far in the other direction. :wink:

  • Roadwork

    Wow Muckraker. I had to look that word up. Had to use the big dictionary too.

    I thought we were only supposed to use “biblical” words? Hah!

  • Stunned

    Amen, Roadwork!

  • Muckraker

    Roadwork @66 On CJ’s blog: No, cause “talk IS cheap”. :wink:
    i.e. these blog posts on the local church etc. etc. is just bloviating.

  • Roadwork

    musicman said:

    But the other part of me has very little empathy…it is because Brent never seems to have considered how cruel and punishing SGM really was for those on the receiving side of their “pastoral care” and “loving pursuit”. In that sense, I would say that Brent is a lot more perpetrator than survivor.

    I actually agree with you. The chasm he has yet to cross is the perspective of how the regular members were treated in this system. I would suggest that the only reason they didn’t call Brent an unbeliever is that they were able to marginalize him before having to lay down that card.

    On the flip side, we have all been perpetrators of this system in one form or fashion. How did we view, treat and talk to people that went to non SGM churches? How have we viewed parachurch missions organizations? How have we viewed women as worship leaders? (Heck, how have we viewed women in general?) How long did we ignore the obvious because we “believed the best” and not the evidence? How did we treat our own flesh and blood as we sacrificed to “the local church”?

    The only difference I see is the number of lives we each affected in one way or another. And that was only because of position.

    It took time for us to get it. I don’t think I would deny that God is certainly working on his heart now. It took Moses 40 years. I think I can give Brent a few more days.

    A lot of SGM’s leadership is currently displaying more the character of Pharaoh than the character of Christ. In comparison, Brent has come quite a ways. But what did it take? His brethren stripped him of his coat of many colors and sold him to the blogs that were headed to Egypt. It’s a rough way to travel.

    Stunned said:

    But the minute MY extreme detail giftings force itself on another, then it’s no longer a detail thing but a control issue.

    I agreed with you as well. I think that the Holy Ghost is working on these areas and more in Brent. Time, of course, will bear out the evidence one way or another.

    Last thought for now: CJ should change the name of his blog from View from the Cheap Seats to View from the Owner’s Box. Just another spin on reality. For once, can’t they just call something the way it really is?

  • Stunned

    Roadword,

    God made some of us to be detail oriented. He made others not to be. All cool and all good.

    But for one person to force another person to put staples back in the previous staple holes is some serious control issues screaming for attention. Not merely being a detail person.

    Nobody said there was anything wrong with being an extremely detailed person and taking great notes. (You should see the attention I pay to certain minute things. Friends often laugh.) But the minute MY extreme detail giftings force itself on another, then it’s no longer a detail thing but a control issue. DB seems to see the difference between the two things. She never once made any negative comments about Brent taking detailed notes.

    One can be very detail oriented without having an anal retention issues, either. Please don’t assume that DB was confusing the two. Much as I will support Brent in doing what is right, (You go, Brent), doesn’t mean it is wrong to point out where he has serious issues of control in regard to how he treats others.

    Stunned
    the woman who actually enjoys cleaning little crevices with a toothbrush and who gets paid to organize other people’s homes and offices but knows there is a difference between detail and control

  • Wonder Red

    Kris – I am utterly astonished at how spot on you are with this post. Yes, yes, yes. That’s exactly how it plays out.

  • I have mixed feelings about Brent…on the one hand, I feel for his loss, because I think most of us can relate to the blindsiding, the accusations, the shunning, and the outright misrepresentation of your intentions that happens, when you cross the line in the sand that you didn’t know existed.

    I think Brent is a sincere man who was trying to play by the rules of accountability that he himself had taught and enforced on others in PDI/SGM…now it was CJ’s turn and the fury that is CJ turned on him. He missed the memo that the rules only flow downward, not upwards.

    But the other part of me has very little empathy…it is because Brent never seems to have considered how cruel and punishing SGM really was for those on the receiving side of their “pastoral care” and “loving pursuit”. In that sense, I would say that Brent is a lot more perpetrator than survivor.

  • Roadwork

    DB:
    That might have been a bit harsh. (That’s almost funny, look who’s calling who harsh.)

    For all his faults, note taking is not one of them. And without him being so “anal retentive”, those notes would not have been so detailed over so many years. Those notes confirmed so much of what some may have considered speculation previously.

    And at least he has enough man in him to hang around here. More than I can say for Curtis Allen’s very brief appearance on this blog. I’ll speculate that Allen went rogue, posted and then got the big smackdown from above. We all know how SGM treats rogues. I mean “individuals”. Especially individuals with some modicum of Holy Ghost inspired initiative.

    Cue Steve Taylor’s I Want to be a Clone here.

    My “speculation” is that it has taken a lot for Brent to see what a true accountable leadership at the apostolic level should look like. It had to happen to him before he saw it.

    My further “speculation” is that the one piece of the puzzle he still lacks is what an accountable leadership structure should look like at the local level. He’s seen the damage at the corporate level, he just needs to see it at the individual level. In other words, from our point of view. The real “cheap seats”.

    He’s been marginalized, subsequently judged as proud, arrogant, unteachable, unentreatable, divisive, judgmental, etc. The only thing they haven’t called him (yet) is an unbeliever.

    It’s the same names we’ve been called for years. The leadership structure of the “movement” is wrong not only corporately but locally. When Brent gets the idea that he’s on the same level as the rest of us before Christ, regardless of his calling or gifting, I think we’ll find a truly repentant and changed man.

    And a “Survivor”.

  • griefofwisdom

    Question for Brent Detweiler, if it is not too late:

    Brent discusses SGM’s “reasserting its commitment to apostolic ministry,” in his Cotton Candy post, concluding with the statement, “So if you don’t believe in apostles, it is time to get out of your SGM church.”

    Doe this paragraph regard SGM’s disingenuous replacement of the term “apostle,” or does it regarding their practice of “apostolic” leadership and authority?

    If towards the practice of apostolic leadership, has Brent’s opinion regarding this type of leadership and position in the church changed over the years since he himself was practicing apostolic leadership and authority in SGM? I am not intending to be critical if his perspective has changed (I would celebrate it), but mostly I am curious as to his thought process. I remember the days when the role of the importance of the “office of apostle” in the church was much proclaimed in PDI.

  • Happymom

    Confused Occasional Reader,

    This is not speculation. Kris’ account above is unbelievably accurate. How do I know? I witnessed a very similar transformation in someone I’ve known since I was 11 who is now an SGM pastor.

    I can’t speak for everyone but I am no longer affected by accusations of slander/speculation. I know better. I’ve seen it and I’ve lived it and this is about as real as it gets.

  • Stunned

    According to Kris, Reader and Brent wrote the following:

    READER QUESTION: Is it your intent to sue Sovereign Grace Ministries for lost wages and mental anguish? I know I would.

    BRENT SAYS: Not for mental anguish. More like mental annihilation. I plan to write a blog post on the subject in the coming weeks.

    ___________

    Now I am back to speaking as me, Stunned.

    Hey Brent, if you do make this move, and if it comes to a court hearing, I will be there for you if you need it. You and your wife should not have to sit alone. In spite of your misunderstanding about who I am, it would break my heart to think of you guys being alone in that circumstance.

    Just let us know if you or your wife need/want people there and at least I will show. I suspect others may, too.

    (And I promise no fist pumps of “Go, Judge!” or “You tell ‘em, Brent!” Decorum at its best.)

  • Stunned

    Confused Occasional Reader,

    Did you just speculate that this site has no credibility? I hear that in the world of SGM that is supposed to be the same as slander. Or is it OK to speculate as long as you’re doing it to those you look down on as opposed to your supposed leaders?

  • 2confused

    Confused Occasional Reader,
    Sadly this post is VERY true. There are some variations I’ll give you that, but not many. I have served the PC students many times in many ways for many years. So if you consider truth and honesty gossip and slander your just the person SGM wants.

  • Confused Occasional Reader –

    I do NOT actually wonder why we get accused of gossip and slander. I already know why – because that’s a tactic SGM has used for years to keep people from questioning anything they do.

    And you really don’t need to be so concerned about the “credibility” of the site, either. We have never claimed to be an “All news, all the time” sort of place. There will be news here, but there’s also going to be speculation based upon what we know to be true. Speculation is NOT “gossip and slander.” It’s speculation, based upon facts.

    Try to find someone out there who will tell you with a straight face that Pastors College students have NOT been paired with mentor pastors and were NOT expected to strip spiritually naked in front of these mentors for the 9 months they were there. You won’t be able to, because it is a fact that these relationships were set up like that.

    Try to demonstrate that accountability among SGM pastors is NOT a voluntary exercise that happens less and less the farther up the leadership food chain one goes. You won’t be able to, because it is a fact that there is no required formal accountability for SGM pastors that does not depend upon the continued willingness of the pastors to go along with it. (Which, if you’re tracking with me, would still make it a voluntary exercise. :D )

    Connecting facts together with educated speculation creates a picture not unlike what happens when a preschooler does a dot-to-dot page in his coloring book. Nobody looks at it and says, “Wow, call CNN! We have photographic proof that you can draw a doggie!” But that does not stop the shape that emerged on the page from looking like a dog.

    The dots are all there. It’s not that confusing to connect them and see the big picture. If you think that’s somehow wrong, then I’d say you are a “confused” occasional reader because you want to be confused.

  • Confused Occasional Reader

    Speculative posts and comment threads like this do not help the credibility of this site. And you wonder why you are accused of “gossip and slander”?

  • 2confused

    Section 4.1 Roles as Directors and Members, Number, and Term. The Board of Directors of the Corporation shall consist of not fewer than four (4) persons and not more than eleven (11) persons, as may be determined from time to time by resolution of the Board of Directors, one of which shall be appointed by the Board of Governing Pastors of Covenant Life Church, Inc., as provided by the Articles of Incorporation. Although the Corporation has no members, its Directors shall be entitled to exercise the rights and powers that members of a nonstock corporation would otherwise enjoy under any Maryland law or rule relating to members of a nonstock corporation

    So which of the current nominees where/was appointed by CLC? I would venture a guess of None.
    PLEASE SGM tell me how much you love CLC, respect the pastors,and are adhering to YOUR OWN by-laws put in place by CJ.
    :koolaid
    Can I get the pink lemon aid flavor maybe it’ll go down better

  • DB

    Not a fan, either. Staples in the holes.

    What a tedious narcissictic anal retentative privileged man full of his own reflection (narcissist)

    Even now, he doesn’t get it and only seems concerned with males in leadership.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Credit where credit’s due…

    Not ready to call myself a “survivor” yet. I’m on life support and SGM SWAT teams are circling my house as I write.

    That was funny, Brent. Good to see you still have your humor as you and your family go through this. Obviously, I’m not a “fan”, but you’re my brother-in-Christ and I AM praying for you.

  • I missed a question that was submitted for Brent in the previous post:

    Something else that Brent described that maybe he hasn’t realized yet…
    Read this again (from Brent’s blog):

    Get Out of Jail Free Card for C.J. – No Adjudication Hearing
    Saturday, October 29, 2011 at 10:33AM
    There will be no hearing of charges against C.J. Mahaney. Like the board game, Monopoly, C.J. was given a get out of jail free card from the Sovereign Grace Board of Directors this week.
    That’s right, the SGM Board has adamantly refused to have C.J. appear before his peers so they can evaluate charges against him. There will be no trial. There will be no defense. There will be no hearing. There will be no evidence. The Board refuses to let me present witnesses and a fact based case against C.J. He is off Scott Free. And the Board won’t listen to any appeals to the contrary. They are moving on so get out of the way or you’ll be run over.

    Hasn’t Brent described the very experience of every SGM member that has ever been wronged by the leadership in this ministry? Seems that at all levels, the pattern is the same. They’re right, you’re wrong.

    Brent, you’re now at the back of a very, very long line of people that were marginalized and subsequently judged as proud, arrogant, unteachable, unentreatable, divisive, judgmental, etc.

    A member of SGM has no advocate when wronged. We were all expendable. It just made its way up to your level this time.

    Ready to call yourself a “survivor” yet?

    Here is Brent’s response:

    Not ready to call myself a “survivor” yet. I’m on life support and SGM SWAT teams are circling my house as I write.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    If I removed a staple from a document, Brent told me to put the new staple exactly in the old holes (a skill I perfected, by the way).

    Think about that, folks.

    (Res, you obviously had the “patience of Job” with Brent – I wouldn’t have lasted 2 hours working with him.)

  • DB

    Kris, #33 gag me.

    And how much does PC cost (like $45K/year?)

    God-willing, I am about to get my MS and it wasn’t that expensive.

    And I can make my blog anything I want it to be, imagine that.

  • Roadwork

    B.R. Clifton RE: 45

    And this bunch that’s so prideful and self righteous about their “biblical understanding” (SGM leadership) can’t seem to figure that out?

    Why does anyone bother with them? Seems that they are still in need of milk.

  • Stunned

    BR,

    AMEN!!!!!!!!! (to both posts)

  • B.R. Clifton

    BTW, in reference to my last post, if one leap-frogs to number three without going through one and two then it’s probably not repentance. Then it’s called trying to get off the hook.
    :beat

  • B.R. Clifton

    Roadwork #4:
    Actually repentance begins with recognizing that you committed asin (whatever it may be). Secondly one immediately confesses that sin to the Almighty. Thirdly there’s the request for forgiveness, both from God and then from one who might have been offended (if any). Lastly, one stops doing the sin and begins practicing the right thing to do.
    :beat

  • Unassimilated

    “Integrated Auxiliary of a Church” Defined;

    The term integrated auxiliary of a church refers to a class of organizations that are related to a church or convention or association of churches, but are not such organizations themselves. In general, the IRS will treat an organization that meets the following three requirements as an integrated auxiliary of a church. The organization must:

    Be described both as an Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3) organization and be a public charity under Code section 509(a)(1), (2), or (3),
    Be affiliated with a church or convention or association of churches, and
    Receive financial support primarily from internal church sources as opposed to public or governmental sources.

    Men’s and women’s organizations, seminaries, mission societies and youth groups that satisfy the first two requirements above are considered integrated auxiliaries whether or not they meet the internal support requirement.

    Source: Publication 1828, Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations

    Found here – http://www.irs.gov/charities/churches/article/0,,id=155750,00.html

    Not sure what the implications are for CLC, other than SGM was first an auxiliary of CLC prior to becoming and auxiliary of a ‘family of churches.’

    My hunch is that SGM only has an issue if both their church associations & revenue streams from the family churches drop below other sources. This could be why they are hyper-focused on the tithe from the family churches. No formal ownership of SGM by CLC is there, it is more of an affiliation/definition for tax purposes.

    I am having lunch with a college who is well placed in the IRS this weekend. I will add this to my list of SGM questions.

  • Persona

    Os 41

    CJ seems to be preparing the way for his new church plant.

    I remember well when he planted the first church and I was there the night he and Larry ended T.A.G. But, somehow I think the next time I will see him will be after we have all gone home.

  • Res Ipsa

    Kris, thanks for compiling the questions for Brent. I appreciate that he took the time to answer them. I am perplexed by his answers to my questions to his role in the Articles of Incorporation. In the time I worked for him, I never saw or even imagined him signing something without first reading or even scrutinizing it. If I removed a staple from a document, Brent told me to put the new staple exactly in the old holes (a skill I perfected, by the way). That`s not a guy who approves or signs important legal documents without readimg them. Very odd.

  • Oswald

    There is a new ‘View From the Cheap Seats’ today, over at the SGM site.

  • Just for the record, the conversation can go in any direction or no particular direction. I posted Brent’s responses to the questions because he’d sent them to me and I didn’t want anyone to think he hadn’t answered yet. But we don’t have to talk about that.

    Greg, I agree with you that a self-focused organization is one that is not thinking so much about evangelizing the lost – which would go right along with the observation that typical evangelism within SGM has for too long been about bringing already-saved Christians into SGM churches.

  • Greg

    We may be shifting direction with Brent’s replies, but I want to add an aspect to Kris’ post.

    You have described the politcs of deference perfectly. It exists in organizations that are self focused and self perpetuating. When people are grieved by the state of the lost, the poor, and the oppressed, they quickly forget internal politics and selfish gain and work together for the sake of the less fortunate. When they labor in prayer, they are not concerned with eachother’s sins.

    There is a component of the disregard for social justice in the “Good Guys Gone Bad” dynamic. In the early days of GOB, most of the congregations were urban. We were reaching the homeless, the poor, the oppressed. I spent afternoons dealing with strung out addicts showing up at my door, many a night counseling the demonized who where contemplating suicide.

    When we loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly (Montgomery County), we left behind the people and the mission we were called to. I was told not to waste my time with the hard cases I was dealing with. The church was sanitized and was left with nothing better to do than perfect itself. That has proven to be a very self destructive process.

    If CLC wants to be heard by God, it needs to return to its call to prayer and reaching “the least of these”

  • Earlier today, I received Brent’s response to the questions that had been directly addressed to him. In the email I sent to Brent, it’s possible I missed a question or two. If so, please let me know. Anyway, here are the questions, followed by Brent’s answers:

    READER QUESTION: Can I have a timeline on this? Is this a response to the Fairfax et al letter? Or was their letter a response to this 2/28 email of proposed bylaws? I started to read on Brent’s site but honestly, when I couldn’t find the context of timing I walked away.

    BRENT SAYS: “An Update from the Board” was sent out to all SGM pastors regarding “finalized details for the upcoming Board transition” on February 27.

    Mark Mullery, on behalf of 13 churches (more now), responded to the Board on March 7 saying, “Our dear brothers, we appeal to you to slow down. Please stop and listen to the churches you are connected to and emerge from; create forums for pastors to speak together and with you; and call a council of pastors from each church together to discuss our future and make decisions together.” See “An Appeal from Thirteen SGM Churches for the SGM Board to Stop and Listen.”

    I wrote “Cotton Candy” on March 12 to expose the superficial changes being put forth by the SGM Board and to help the SGM pastors understand the issues as they fight for change. I sent “Cotton Candy” to each of them with this note, “This was written for your benefit as you decide the future of SGM under the Providence of God.”

    —————-

    READER QUESTION: Does Covenant Life Church Inc. in affect own Sovereign Grace Ministries? It would seem to me that the board is acting scared that Covenant Life could in effect put SGM down by themselves if they saw fit to. I wonder if Covenant Life is just now realizing that they have this authority over the corporation?

    BRENT SAYS: I don’t think CLC owns SGM but I’m sure a lot of people are looking into the legal ramifications of being “an integrated auxiliary.” I’ve not had time to investigate what this entails but it certainly complicates things for SGM.

    —————-

    READER QUESTION: My question is based on if Covenant Life gets to appoint a board member why not the rest of the SGM churches?

    BRENT SAYS: CLC was given this legal privilege because of its unique role when SGM was incorporated under them as an integrated auxiliary. But now all the SGM pastors should nominate, vett, and vote upon potential Board Members “in order to further develop and perpetuate the close working relationship between Covenant Life Church, Inc. [all the churches] and the Corporation, as well as to ensure mutual faithful adherence to our shared religious bonds and convictions.”

    —————-

    READER QUESTION: Will this post be read by Mohler, Duncan, and Piper, etc.? Are they following the situation enough to read this? Will it be sent to them by anybody they respect? Is it just “pornographic evil” that they would not even consider looking at? I know Ted Kober/AoR probably read all sorts of things, but what about the Big Dogs, especially T4G? Any thoughts?

    BRENT SAYS: When I first released The Documents last July, Mohler and Duncan wrote them off as hate speech and spurious. I doubt any of these men read my material. I suspect they rely on C.J. alone for updates and perspective. Ted told me he has a tough time keeping up with my writings. I hope he takes them seriously. He has been given that task. Big Dogs don’t eat my dog food. I’m afraid they lift a leg and urinate on it.

    —————-

    READER QUESTION: The Articles of Amendment/Restatement from 2002 that are on your blog show you as one of the five Directors. As a Director, did you not approve these Articles which made you and the other four Directors “all powerful”?

    BRENT SAYS: Yes, I signed it but I doubt I read it in 2002. We were changing the name, addresses for legal resident, etc. Just technicalities. I suspect the document was put in front of us to sign as a legal necessity.

    READER QUESTION: The original Articles of Incorporation were filed with the Maryland Secretary of State in 1988. Did you sign or otherwise approve of the 1988 Articles?

    BRENT SAYS: I’m sure I signed and “approved” the 1988 Articles and Bylaws. But to be honest, I don’t remember discussing them or looking them over carefully. Hopefully, I read them. I know that sounds crazy but in 1988 I was not much concerned about legal documents. Larry Tomczak was team leader and he came up with them in conjunction with our lawyer, Chip Grange, and the executive director at the time. I don’t remember playing a part in the process. That doesn’t absolve me. The documents reflected all of our thinking. C.J. replaced Larry in 1990 and carried on the tradition.

    Here is another crazy point. We didn’t really follow them or use them. They were just there. Now they have come into play. Like a will or testament. You don’t need it until it’s time to divvy up the estate of the deceased.

    That is what Al Mohler did when he removed all the liberals from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He got out the founding documents, including the Statement of Faith, and asserted his extraordinary authority as President. Southern Baptist Churches are congregational in polity. SBTS is not. C.J. is using the same strategy with Mohler in mind. Here’s the difference. Mohler got rid of liberals. C.J. is freezing out men that don’t agree with him or have challenged him.

    The Articles and Bylaws were poorly written. There should have been more checks and balances on the apostolic team and provided for greater involvement by the SGM pastors. I am partly to blame. I should have taken them more seriously in 1988.

    —————-

    READER QUESTION: Is it your intent to sue Sovereign Grace Ministries for lost wages and mental anguish? I know I would.

    BRENT SAYS: Not for mental anguish. More like mental annihilation. I plan to write a blog post on the subject in the coming weeks.

    —————-

    READER QUESTION: May be a little off topic. How many churches have been adopted by SGM and of those churches how many still have the original senior pastor?

    BRENT SAYS: These are rough estimates. One third have been adopted. Two thirds planted. Half of all churches have the original senior pastor. Maybe less.

    —————-

    READER QUESTION: Has anyone discovered the reason why so many SGM churches changed their names to ‘Sovereign Grace Church” (starting about 2008)? SGM rarely does anything like that without cause, especially something that would cost a lot like changing signs, ads and stationery. Wondering if it had to do with legal issues?

    BRENT SAYS: A lot of guys changed the name of their church to “Sovereign Grace Church” because of the added name recognition and media exposure on the internet that came from associating with SGM. I expect some churches will come up with a new name now.

    —————-

    READER QUESTION: I can’t help but remember the NUMEROUS times when Brent came to speak at KWCC and when he did the primary teaching at our Men’s Retreat and he and Gene would just GUSH over each other and what brothers they were and how much they loved each other and on and on. I sure would like to know what really happened behind the scenes there, or if it was just hypocritical crap to begin with.

    BRENT SAYS: Gene was a very close friend (or so I thought). We did gush. If you’ve read “A Final Appeal” you know I worked with Gene on issues of pride for a long time (pp. 136-154). It was not until he was placed “over me” by C.J. that I discovered the extent of his ruthlessness and ambition. C.J. flipped Gene and Gene turned in order to please C.J. Gene sacrificed our friendship in order to gain favor with C.J. The betrayal was sudden and complete. It was excruciating for my wife and me. I can’t really put it into words. Here is an excerpt.

    “C.J., you and Gene share common characteristics. Gene can be very affable, kind, encouraging and generous. He is capable in many respects. I’ve worked with Gene on all the issues above for over a decade but I did not know how serious they were until you placed him over me and assigned him to deal with me. I admit to being shocked. I thought he had made more progress. Gene first confronted me with your assessment and on your behalf in March 2008. Up until then Gene had been empathetic toward me. But his disposition suddenly changed as a result of conversations with you and counsel from you [Footnote 166: Gene was now loaded for bear having been armed with your sinful judgments of me.]

    “A onetime friend began to act more like a pit bull than a pastor. At the end of his first confrontation, I asked Gene if he thought I even loved Jesus, so harsh and condemning were his words. He didn’t answer the question. [Footnote 167: And yet you have no concerns for Gene. This was one of the worst experiences of my life – Jenny’s too. How many other people has Gene treated in the same way? I confess, I did not care for Gene adequately. I am partially to blame for his abuses. God forgive me.]” (AFA, p. 154)

    —————-

    Thanks to Brent for his responses.

  • Marians

    Spot on, Kris!

    I think you understand how SGM works better than many in there who can’t see these things for what they are…or, at the very least, are denying them. Though some of this is conjecture, the part about the salary, house, respect, etc. are very true because many of my good friends who attended college with me are now in either the “junior” or “senior” position and it’s certainly true of them!

    Yeah, I’m an old timer for sure and feel pangs of guilt for bringing some “good guys” into all this madness. :(

  • Persona

    El Pastor 32

    I think it would be great if some men from the PC would dare to post their thoughts here. It might even be more interesting to hear from those who have either NOT been accepted in the PC despite years of pursuit or hear the stories of those who were tossed out of the PC mid-year. Nothing was ever announced about those ‘errant students.’

    At the very least, the churches who sent the student should be apprised about their dismissal. They sacrificed so the church could send the PC candidate and they were expecting their return. One student our church sent went MIA mid-year. He did not graduate with the class and others were missing as well. He turned-up later in another state involved in a new career. Why the secrecy? And, why were some guys chosen over others?

  • I could be wrong, of course, but I have a hunch Kerrin’s PC experience would not have been the norm, since he was a regular CLC member and also already had a mentor pastor relationship with his SGM celebrity father-in-law.

    But he could, of course, talk about the academic side of the PC.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Kerrin was a PC grad. I’d love to hear his analysis.

  • El Pastor –

    Thanks for clarifying. I confused you with someone else.

    I agree that it’d be fascinating for someone to post here openly about what the PC was like. I have gleaned a lot from email correspondents – especially a couple of the PC students’ wives. But I think we could learn a lot from a former student or two who would be willing to take our questions.

    From what the wives shared with me, the Pastors College was an odd tango. PC candidates and their wives were the recipients of MUCH extravagant “care” – dinners with elaborate decorations, special meetings, people eager to host the students in their expressly-built-for-that-purpose basement apartments. Being a PC student carried with it quite the caché.

    But at the same time, with all the fawning and the positive strokes came the expectation of absolute and complete submission to anyone in a pastoral position – but particularly a student’s mentor pastor. The student (and his wife, if he had one) were expected to open themselves up without reservation. No topic could be off limits. The mentor pastor would disciple the PC student. The mentor pastor’s wife would do likewise with the PC student’s wife. The couples would meet together for additional meetings. This all happened on a weekly basis.

    Frankly, it sounded awful.

    So from what I’ve pieced together, there was a continual push and pull between building up and then tearing down. I can imagine after awhile the PC students would just become bowls full of mush, not really sure which way is up, but willing to do whatever they’re told.

    Another source of what I know about the PC comes from reading various blogs I discovered (or was directed to). Blogging appears not to be “porn” as long as it’s done by a PC student’s wife, with liberal use of sepia-toned photos and lots of Spurgeon quotes. Or by a PC student himself, as he waxes eloquent with dramatic weariness about how hard he’s studying and how intense the curriculum is. It’s easy to read between the lines of these blogs and hear (especially in the wives’ words) the wistful longings to be everything that people are wanting them to be…along with a disturbing sense of just how much time they’re spending obsessing over their sins.

    Intriguing stuff.

  • El Pastor

    # 31 Kris

    I am an SGM outsider…seminary trained, independent church pastor. That’s why I don’t post much. I am a learner. I do wish I could peek inside the PC! I have been following for a while now (since the public kerfuffle on The Documents) and find all of this fascinating. I’ve been in the ministry a long time, but I have learned a lot here, and all that I have learned about abusive leadership has impacted my teaching about leadership and my own ministry. My current series on 2 Corinthians has been deeply impacted by what I have gleaned here.

    You are actually doing a lot of good outside SGM, where CJ has had an influence and has been respected as a model leader and teacher. Much of what has come out about SGM culture is quite shocking and disturbing on so many levels. It is by God’s grace and goodness that it is all coming out. You are truly doing God’s work. I am actually encouraged by recent events. And although I’ve never been a big T4G conference kind of guy, my opinions about the Reformed Big Dogs has changed markedly as well.

    Clearly from your post, you have been given some insider information on the PC. I would be interested to hear more. Until now, I couldn’t understand how a ministry training school in this day and age could be so brief (nine months?). If there are any former or current SGM pastors who could reflect on the training they received at the Pastor’s College, especially as it relates to the topics in view here, it would be very helpful to many if you would share some of that.

  • El Pastor –

    Since you’ve “been there,” I’m guessing you’re only too familiar with the way SGM pastors are trained to revere and submit to those above them. I know you don’t participate here much, but I think it’d be fascinating to hear from a pastor’s perspective what this was like.

    ————–

    Roadwork –

    EXCELLENT explanation for what true repentance would be like.

    I’d add to the D**ning quotes from Why Small Groups? that I would be more prone to think the current changing that SGM is doing is “repentance” if it didn’t feel like there’s still so much concern about how everything plays out in the minds of the non-SGM public.

    Honestly, that’s how it seems – like just as much (if not more) energy is expended thinking about SGM’s reputation than on openly addressing faulty teachings and practices, seeking out and apologizing to the victims of those faulty teachings and practices, and just…well…seeming like they were actually sorrier that their “mistakes” had hurt people than they were sorry their “mistakes” are being discussed publicly.

    Change is not necessarily evidence of repentance. Repentance will always include change, but change does not always include the godly sorrow that must come with repentance. Sometimes change happens because the old ways cease to work, and sometimes change happens because people get embarrassed that the problems with the old ways were publicly revealed. Neither of those is repentance – they’re just change.

  • Much afraid no more

    Kris, I love this post!! I think you captured exactly the way the “system” compromises and corrupts these men who may have really wanted to serve God with all their heart, but ended up tangled in a web they couldnt extricate themselves from. And when they counted the cost of standing up to their leadership, they found that cost too great, and instead settled for the tangled web…. So Very Sad

    And even though Brent is Brent… a mixture of strengths and weaknesses and mixed motives, (just like most people are), I am still grateful for his courage to be a whistleblower in the midst of this mess.

    Thanks for this post, it brought me clarity and understanding.

  • Persona

    Bridget 25

    “…CJ assumes that he/they have the power to change a man.”

    Exactly! This error is one result of SGM’s exaggerated elevation of the role of pastor/elder. In doing so, they extend far too much value and power to mere men.

    I believe this issue might be responsible for the growing gap between the two leadership camps in SGM. CJ seems to think Joshua, et al had sufficient power to shut down criticism of CJ and SGM, beginning in July.

    Joshua, et al, apparently disagreed, at least in part and, they look like they are giving some measure of freedom to members, in their thought-life, anyway.

    They would still probably all dearly love to see the blogs silenced but, that won’t happen as long as sgm continues to block the free-flow of information to it’s members.

  • Roadwork

    Putting youngsters through the PC and into leadership was simply the breeding of “Yes Men”.

    The last thing any young man needs is the idea that he might be infallible or that he’s some sort of “oracle”.

  • Ellie

    Bridget,

    #25 – putting prideful & arrogant young men in positions of authority is another part of the control puzzle. Such men are not led of the Holy Spirit & are more likely to consider what their flesh wants rather than what God wants when it comes to following what CJ wants in the churches.

  • Happymom

    Similar to what Kris said in #5 – and THIS is why they will throw friends, family, children under the bus to protect that job.

    What a sad, humiliating and deceptive ladder to climb.

  • Bridget

    @ 19 the person who sent the email –

    Did you read one of Brent’s articles back in the fall, when he revealed CJ’s thoughts and ideas about “young men that might be arrogant and prideful in leadership,” but CJ was ok with that — “they could adjust the issue of pride later?” Some of the other (a)postles were not on board with this, but CJ prevailed and wanted the “young men” to be leading. (This is all paraphrased.)

    Wow! For one, CJ assumes that he/they have the power to change a man. Secondly, the idea of putting young, unproven, and inexperienced (in life) men in to pastor/elder positions is totally unscriptural. Timothy was the exception to this in that he was young, but this should not be the norm.

    Some of this nonesense just boggles the mind. It seems that CJ wanted to emulate some other ministry at the expense of proven wisdom in scripture. I hope Josh is one of the exceptions because of the truth he finds in scripture and the Holy Spirit at work in him, and not for any other reason.

  • Epaphras

    The most flagrantly unbiblical element of SGM’s doctrine of ministry/government is their disregard for elders by age and experience. This is far from a minor oversight, but grossly contradicts the biblical world view of governance tribally, familially and spiritually.

    In other words, preaching and practicing ‘hierarchy’, SGM systemically subverted the gracious hierarchy instituted by God creationally.

    And God is going to bless that … how? and when?

    No. And never.

    (…. which does not mean young men/women are barred from exercising gifts, even spiritual authority, in great power; only that they do so under the loving encouragement of wise, seasoned older ones. God gives young men, for instance, great energy and boldness so they can go forward and make all kinds of useful mistakes, as well as bear courageous fruit that I have forgotten I used to once bring forth myself …

    Of course, this is normative. Doctrine establishes norms per the Spirit’s edification throughout scripture. As sinners, we fall from God’s norms. Thankfully, He offers the churches counsel for how to handle that too, also graciously, in the same Book.)

  • Ellie

    [the] young whippersnapper PC grad, who comes in thinking he stands in God’s stead who has been told by folks like Kevin DeYoung, that the world is not worthy of him.

    WHAT?? What??
    This is all so nauseating. I can’t take it.
    Thank God, for His eternal justice. He will make it ALL RIGHT.

  • Izze

    @Argus- Don’t forget the same OB/GYN too. When I was way more “fearful” to leave I had the same thought “let’s just move dear”! How weird.

  • Dan

    Hey the jiggler – #17,

    Just a point about Brent and your comment; “solicits donations”.

    Brent has never “solicited donations” – he put that option on his blog at my (among others) request and insistence.

    It very much upset and grieved me that Brent was cut off from SGM, his previously decent salary – simply because he fell foul of C J Mahaney. Whereas C J on the other hand took his “voluntary leave of absence” – we are guessing – on his full decent, substantial salary plus book royalties.

    So whatever disagreements you may have with Brent – he is not to be blamed for agreeing to allow voluntary donations. That’s my blame.

  • Somewhereintime

    Kris said … SGM apparently appeals (or has appealed) to highly talented and intelligent people

    Note to Pastors from CJ: Ensure that you make highly talented and intelligent people feel subservient to you. Make them feel as though they have little value outside of what value you bestow upon them. Remember, YOU are the smart ones! Remember, YOU are the talented ones!!! Remember most of all … I AM OVER ALL OF YOU!!!

  • Someone emailed me with the following (and gave me permission to post it anonymously for them):

    The flip side to this whole scenario, Kris, is when the founding pastor is drummed out by young whippersnapper PC grad, who comes in thinking he stands in God’s stead who has been told by folks like Kevin DeYoung, that the world is not worthy of him. He thinks he knows all, and Senior, who either went to a normal seminary or no seminary at all, who still believes in the priesthood of believers, is defenseless to this warped way of thinking.

    Another thought, is with how SGM emphasizes (worships) youth, the deck is really stacked against more traditional Senior pastor. Makes me sick.

  • Epaphras

    Repentance equals individual churches leaving SGM and the organization itself shutting down or being money-starved and so shutting down.

    This is the only way for member churches to discharge their sacred responsibility before our Lord Jesus. By it, with-or-without the nominal legal standing to exert impact, they address CJ/Board’s brazen and continuing rebellion against discipline. By it, they also testify before God and men that what went before in SGM and in which they participated was systemically wrong. It honors, in the right, loving and merciful sense, all who suffered and were slandered, including those on this blog and the blogs themselves.

    Remaning in SGM declares the opposite, no matter how many sincere tweaks are made.

    Whether God brings something truly new and different to life which include some of these churches together is a separate matter. It will not be SGM, period. He will show that as/when it pleases Him, following authentic repentance.

  • The jiggler

    Kris #6

    Could also go a long way towards explaining why Brent has lost his marbles. Why he solicits donations rather than getting a “real” job like the rest of us. Why he continually fantasises about being Moses or Elijah or Jesus…

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Ah yes, Argus…the “SGM village.”

  • I know this is random, but I just have to say that you guys are AMAZING.

    As I was reading through the comments on this post and the previous one, it struck me anew just what tremendous communicators the participants here are. Seriously.

    I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – SGM apparently appeals (or has appealed) to highly talented and intelligent people. I really appreciate the writing skills and clarity of thought on display here. I’ve always said that this site would never have been anything at all without its participants.

    Thank you!

  • Argus

    @Roadwork — In the words of the venerable Bard, as Hamlet says, they are “Hoist with [their] own petard”

  • Roadwork

    Bridget asked,

    Do you think that they are waiting for the AoR report to see in some totallity the results of their actions?

    Why should they wait? Again, from their own version of Doctrine and Covenants:

    We should not have to wait to confess until someone has confronted us with our sins or a breach in our relationship. When we realize we have sinned against someone or offended him, or even think we have, we should go to him and make things right.

  • Argus

    To the country club idea — we live in a nice neighborhood on the edge of an even nicer neighborhood, and almost all of the original pastors and ‘church planters’ bought homes in this development. I pass the houses of at least seven other church families just on my street, and pass a couple of dozen more within a mile or so. The membership is spread out much further by now, but the original epicenter was where the planting pastor bought his home.

    It is supposed to build community, to show the world a living example of the love of Christ as we love one another, as we share our lives, as we live like a city on a hill.

    Maybe it works that way for some, but I haven’t seen it. Unless you are one of the favored ones, it is pretty darn lonely, in fact. Everybody is so busy being impeccable.

    Anyway, the pressure to stay is strong when leaving a church means you are on the outs with your neighbors and school/homeschool group, too. After all, many people go to the same mechanic, the same hairdresser, etc. It’s weird. And it makes leaving a big giant step. It would almost be easier to move.

  • Bridget

    Roadwork –

    I’m with you on the asking for forgiveness issue. This needs to be happening in the private realm with specific people by specific people. It also needs to happen in churches by men who have been part of damaging specific churches. Lastly, forgiveness needs to be sought by CJ, Dave Harvey, Brent D., Steve Shank, et al from all the members of all the churches in SGM. Their specific sins have affected everyone in SGM to some degree. Do you think that they are waiting for the AoR report to see in some totallity the results of their actions? . . . I can only hope that this is the case but, really, why di they need to wait if they have been convicted by the HS, or if people have told them so already. N

  • Argus

    Continuing that thought in response to Eric NS, I think repentance, to be convincing to the injured parties, needs both WORDS of contrition and ACTIONS to correct the wrong.

    The right words would communicate clearly that the offenders get it, that they understand their wrong and are sorry, that they get what the right course would be and are committed to the right course from now on.

    Then the right actions would prove that they meant what they said.

    I wouldn’t institutionalize a new formulaic practice, the latest SGM Shuffle, but I do think, at this point, that nothing less will quite suffice.

    Spirit-born conviction and contrition, humble heartfelt confession, asking for forgiveness, purposing to change by the strength God gives, and then following through — is that really asking more than the Word of God asks?

    To say all the right words without corresponding actions is hypocrisy.

    To try to sneak in some pacifying changes without first confessing their previous error is simply dishonest damage-control. It conceals all manner of error: pride, arrogance, control, politicking, obfuscation, pretense, a grasping to hold onto power and position, etc.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    I meant to say what a great post #76 was in the last thread. Glad you made it a featurette. Excellent analysis.

    I would not have believe the change that happened in a tender hearted caring guy we knew, before and after the PC. Its like he was taken away and a cold hard glittery eyed critic was put in his place. Your section on the PC is chilling, but oh so true.

  • Mommy2boo

    So true. I saw your billionaire analogy in the last post and I think it feels more like the billionaire doesn’t really care what happens to the people (not that he necessarily likes it), as long as he’s getting what he wants.

    Which, in that case, is to go back to being dead.

    And there’s where the analogy takes on so much zombie weirdness that I think it’s best to just let it go. :scratch :D

    Honestly, though, I do see the craziness of “rewriting the will” to say the same thing, but it seems less like it’s because they “liked” what happened to the others and more because they liked what happened to THEM.

  • Bridget

    Mommy2boo –

    What you explained in your second paragraph is warped to me. Why would everyone need to live in the same neighborhood, in the same big houses? Are they building a country club? The Church is not about our church friends and being with them. We will be with them at times, but in SGM this becomes such a major focus that it takes over and leaves many others excluded from the “club,” which we are trying to claim is the Church. Maybe they are in the exact neighborhood where God wants them :). Maybe the members in the other neighborhood need to stop insinuating that everyone should be in a neighborhood like ours. :scratch

  • The best illustration we have of the dynamic I tried to describe in my post is what happened to Brent.

    No matter what you think of Brent, the way his “de-gifting” went down makes it obvious that life gets hard and then harder for the SGM whistle-blower. Even if the whistle-blower had been right there in the midst of all the policy-making and whatnot, he was ultimately marginalized and then made into the bad guy when he tried to hold his superior to the same standards to which the superior held everyone else.

  • Mommy2boo –

    Then imagine how it’d be when Junior had finally worked his way into the better neighborhood and no longer struggled. How much harder would it be to jeopardize his job at that point?

  • Roadwork

    In the previous post, Eric NS asked:

    There have been numerous posts here and at Refuge about the need for “repentance”. These posts include ideas suggesting that “change” will not be sufficient unless it is accompanied by “repentance”. Most recently, it was Mr Stretch #80, but I’m not pointing to him in particular; its been a frequent refrain by several posters.
    The basic definition of repentance is change (first inwardly, then outwardly). Therefore, I’m wondering if some who feel strongly about this topic can expand on what it is that they mean by the word “repentance”?

    Repentance begins with asking forgiveness. They should do what we’ve been counseled to do by them. If they’re aware that they have sinned against others, they should go to the offended party. Don’t simply say, “I’m sorry”. They should be specific about their sin. They should describe their sin using only biblical terms. They should then ask forgiveness.

    If you don’t like that, use this from Why Small Groups: Together Toward Maturity, pages 72 and 73, written by the Pope himself:

    Confessing Our Own Sins

    I’ve spent a lot of time discussing what to do when other people sin. However, it is far more important to regularly examine our hearts to identify instances where we may have sinned. We should not have to wait to confess until someone has confronted us with our sins or a breach in our relationship. When we realize we have sinned against someone or offended him, or even think we have, we should go to him and make things right. Again, there is a right and a wrong way to do this.
    “Well I guess maybe I might have sinned against you a little but only because you did such-and-such first, so I guess maybe I owe you an apology if you were offended.” This does not meet the biblical criteria. Then what does?
    For starters, thoroughly examine your conscience.
    Determine, with the help of the Holy Spirit, where you have sinned. Ask for conviction and godly sorrow for each of those sins.
    When you get together with the one you have sinned against (and don’t wait for these meetings to “just happen”-make them happen), confess your sins honestly, clearly, specifically, and completely. This means you confess not only your words and actions but your motives as well. Never gloss over your sins, offer excuses for your behavior, or generalize. (“Sometimes I tend to be harsh” is pale and ineffective compared to “I was harsh to you when I said such-and-such.”) This will not be difficult if you have godly sorrow for your sin. Ken Sande’s insight is helpful here: “Specific admissions help to convince others that you are honestly facing up to what you have done, which makes it easier for them to forgive you.” Remember, the goal is not just to clear your conscience but to gain reconciliation with the one you have sinned against.
    Express sorrow for what you have done and for the consequences of your actions. By this you are letting the person know that you realize your actions have affected him or her by causing pain, anxiety, or difficulty. It also lets the person know that you are willing to accept any consequences that may accompany your confession (such as repayment of damages, going to others who may have been drawn in by gossip, etc.) Also, identify the lessons you have learned from the experience and specific ways you are going to change as a result. This will give the person hope and trust for the future and will help him or her see how seriously you are taking your sin.
    Finally, ask for forgiveness. To actually say the words, “Would you forgive me?” is important-for forgiveness is indeed what we need and are seeking.

    In case you missed it, they’ve just been shot with their own gun.

  • El Pastor

    Penetrating insights, Kris. It explains so much that is hard to understand about what it’s like inside SGM. What is so sad is how twisted it is from biblical-informed, “normal” Christianity.

  • Mommy2Boo

    I’m really going to stop with this one, but just think about that for a minute. Think of the dichotomy of CJ’s house compared with Joe New “Pastor”/staff administrator out of Pastors College who struggles to to feed his family.

    I mean, honestly. And I’m not talking about a small-town SGM church. I’m talking about one of the top three BIGGIES. It’s one thing if a small town pastor is pulling in small money leading his little congregation. That’s really sacrificing for the gospel. But when Senior Pastor in this same church is probably pulling in close to six figures and Junior needs help… :scratch

  • Mommy2boo

    Just hit “submit” on this one after the comments closed from last post:

    Bridget #43 – I had the same thought. Sure, they’re in control of all the local churches, until someone like Happymom goes to appeal that someone step in and intervene where some heinous wrongdoing happened. Then they’re totally hands off. Sorry, Ma’am, we have no jurisdiction…it’s out of our hands.

    Cowards. :(

    Kris, I think that your description above is good, except that I know more than one just-out-of PC administrative staff member whose family struggled to get by. And who really wanted to live in the neighborhoods with bigger houses with the rest of the pastors (some of whom could hardly afford to even furnish their houses) but had to settle for living just outside the neighborhood, with a goal of working and saving to get over there with the rest of them. It’s all sacrificing for the sake of the gospel, you know.