Team Pyro Opens It Up…

Frank from the Pyromaniacs blog has put up a post that permits commentary about Sovereign Grace Ministries.

I haven’t yet decided if I have the courage to join that discussion.  Frankly, I’ve found the interactions over there pretty intimidating, even just as a lurker.  I’d strongly encourage anyone who chooses to participate to abide by the established rules, work hard to contribute concise and focused points, and do your best to keep your cool.

389 comments to Team Pyro Opens It Up…

  • David Conner

    When one takes the time to read through the events described and present circumstances of a Christian organization called “Sovereign Grace Ministries” one can conclude that SGM is an oxymoran.
    Is the main emphasis and focus “sin” in the life of believer in Christ and that of sin management or the “Grace of God?”

    If you want to look at and focus on your “sins” SGM will help you do that.
    If you want to look at the alternative of a focus upon God’s “grace” that is present in your life, I would suggest two books that were very helpful to me personally: “God Without Religion” and
    “The Naked Gospel” by Andrew Farley.

  • Persona

    OutofSteford387 That quote reminds me of CJ’s infamous “Captain Obvious’ sermon where he warned members not to be so quick to judge others.

    Another ‘sin’ sermon described how you could walk around with a shmear of cream cheese on your face and not be aware of it unless someone else tells you.

    In other words, sin can be obvious to all one day and I guess invisible, the next.

    One thing is certain: CJ is adept at preaching sermons that serve him and his every whim. How did we not have chronic stiff necks with him yanking us around every Sunday?

  • OutofStepford

    “It doesn’t require discernment to point out obvious deficiencies in your church. @CJMahaney #thisisnext”

    Oh, Mr. Mahaney, if only the deficiencies in SGM were more obvious! They are subtle–a proverbial “Pandora’s Box” of corruption. There would be no need for these blogs if everything were obvious. If/when your followers do get the gift of discernment, you will have to go a lot farther away than Kentucky to continue your little game of “King of the Mountain.”

  • One thing that I missed but now find so sad it the title of Ken Mellinger’s document: ”How to Avoid Grieving the Holy Spirit of God.”

    Does Ken Mellinger not think that the “whitewashing” they did of C.J. Mahaney’s sing grievies the Holy Sprit not to mention the sin they have allowed to stay in their group?

    Does SGM’s differing measures on if and how the discipline leaders not grieve the Holy Spirit?

    What about abused sheep over the years? Does that not grieve the Holy Spirit?

    What about the child molesting cases where there have been coverups and more siding with the perpetrator vs. the child moleted and the child’s family?

    Ken Mellinger seems to be so concerned about speech and not wanting there to be “gossip” or “slander” but shows no concern about the sad practices that SGM Leaders have shown over the years.

  • Fruit Filled

    Today BK posted five tweets from NEXT on Facebook. Two of the tweets were from CJ. It seems he is still on the offensive.

    “The less you hold fast the gospel, the more you’ll complain about everything else. @CJMahaney #thisisnext”

    “It doesn’t require discernment to point out obvious deficiencies in your church. @CJMahaney #thisisnext”

    The first statement is a perfect example of the twisted, abusive judgement of some in SGM leadership. Apparently any complaint I bring forth should remind me of my condition as the worst sinner.

    The second statement is also twisted. If I point out an obvious deficiency, I must be judgmental and therefore sinning. If I point out an area of strength, then I am discerning and therefore a better Christian.

  • Guy

    Off of this topic, but on topic with today….

    A big thanks to all of you that have served our country. The sacrifices that you, and your family members, have made are truly appreciated. Thank You!! You are all heroes in my book! :THANK-YOU:

  • Stunned

    5 years, good post

  • Rick Malament

    5years @ 375,
    More like sheered sheep!

  • MAK

    Persona, your last sentence hits the nail on the head.

    Also Mr Mellinger appears to let members meetings be dictated by member interest. But how could there be any interest when you give a sermon on grieving the Holy Spirit by your speech? And he also quotes the AOR admonishment on members meetings.

    BTW. CLC’s next members meeting is scheduled for June 28th and everyone was encouraged to attend from the pulpit this morning. Topics to be discussed: AOR report, new clc constitution, annual budget.

  • Persona

    Steve240 #372

    One thing we need to keep in mind is Ken Mellinger fully represents SGM. He also represents their apparent intransigence. They indeed seem to be ‘regrouping’ but, unfortunately they are merely digging themselves in deeper.

    With a return to teachings about watching your speech, they are just beating a dead horse by exorting members (and, now even x-members!) to speak no discouraging words about SGM and trust your leaders without question.

    However, the subject, “How to Avoid Grieving the Holy Spirit of God” would have been better preached to themselves, the perpetrators of so much grief to the members of their unhealthy churches.

  • Sopwith

    The New SGM ‘Fandango Court’?”


    Ozymandias #325,

    Figurative meaning or Fugitive meaning? 

    “…You sit around getting older, there’s a joke here somewhere and it’s on who?, shakin this church world off your proverbial shoulders, but -come on baby, the laughs on who?” You SGM gun’s are for hire, even if it is just proverbially fandango dancing with the ‘dark’?

    As a result of the extravagant features of the new SGM dance, the proverbial term “Fandango Court ” now used as a synonym for “a unresolved SGM quarrel?,” “a big SGM fuss?,” or “a proverbially brilliant SBC exploit?”

    You decide.

    Parsed, it could be called a proverbial  air condition doghouse convention ? (ACDC?), 

    Praise.  The.  Lord?



  • Former CLC'er

    I was so appreciative this a.m. at church, realizing how there are no super personalities put forth – not in the pastor, in the worship leader, or any other person. In fact, things are so low key in honoring people that it almost feels like a step down. But wasn’t that what Jesus did? He humbled himself to be born a man and identify with us.

    As far as buying a house in the hood – I work in the hood (SE DC), and though it can get wearying and there are cultural differences and systemic issues to deal with, yet I find it a privilege to serve children in that environment, and consider it a ministry ( esp. since my commute leaves me little time for other ministry).

  • lee

    Correction: That quote above by John Piper was on Facebook, not a Tweet.

  • Lee

    Here’s an interesting tweet today from John Piper in light of the conversation about an SGM leader buying a mansion in Louisville:

    “Pastor,why are you buying a house in a depressed hood? “We’re not here to make money. We’re here to make a name for Jesus.””

  • 5yearsinPDI

    God’s purpose is in even the SGM warnings against people like Jim at Refuge, and Kris here. Thousands of people who might never have even known that anti SGM blogs existed now are aware that such blogs exist. Right now they would not want to look at them and get all defiled, or whatever it is that supposedly happens when you read these blogs, but if the powers that be turn on them, they will remember, and then they will come reading.

    Many members will probably contently go on in SGM not making any waves and never realizing what sorts of problems exist. Some however, will come up against the same abuse that drove out scores of good pastors and hundreds of good people. And when they do become victims of heavy handed abuse or lies by men on power trips, in their shock and pain they’ll be googling for the blogs. You can count on it.

    It isn’t over. The new regime in Louisville may start out with glowing fanfare, but crushed sheep are on the future menu. No doubt some SBC members or seminary people will get smacked down by Al along the way and they’ll be reading here too. There has been no repentance by CJ and the ones going with him, and all that means is more future victims, but this time the victims won’t feel alone and isolated. They’ll be looking for the blogs. Should be some interesting posts down the road.

  • Sea change

    Steve 240, I read the link you posted, and am shocked that there were yet more warnings against gossip and slander and evil bloggers (sarcasm!!)
    I feel offended every time I read what is being fed to SGMers. I keep hearing “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, people!”

  • Luna Moth

    So sorry to hear about the problems over at Wartburg. I hope it can be resolved without too much difficulty. Praying for peace and clarity for your team.

  • In case people didn’t see this, someone posted this link in Refuge:

    This was written by one of SGM’s new board members Ken Mellinger who is also Jared Mellinger’s dad.

    The most shocking statement in this was:

    The history of Sovereign Grace is, in my view, largely the story of the grace of God in the life of C.J. and
    Carolyn Mahaney. Their influence has been large (even opponents see this value).

    This statement confirms what other people have said before that the image of SGM and C.J. Mahaney are so intertwined that if SGM was admit there was a problem with C.J. Mahaney then they would be admitting there are problems with SGM. Thus leadership seemed to want to hide and cover C.J. Mahaney’s sin and hypocrisy rather than admit and deal with it.

    It is also sad that this statement seems to forget Larry Tomczak and the input he had on the group in the early days including the teaching and support Larry gave to C.J. Mahaney before Larry was apparently marginalized and then blackmailed by C.J. Mahaney.

    Ken Mellinger is also seeming to ignore I Cor 3:7 that says “ So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. ” God could easily have used anyone for the growth.

  • Persona

    Rick 364

    The upgrades were likely made to accommodate the Bradshaws in the lower level of their home. Still, they were likely planning to stay a long while in G-burg. The move was abrupt and can be directly tied to offenses between CJ and Joshua.

    Joshua took the high road and CJ took the low one.

  • Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone!

    For those of you who peruse The Wartburg Watch, just wanted to let you know that our website went down yesterday for some unknown reason. Our tech guy says the problem is extremely serious.

    For those of you who have been enjoying our EChurch services, we apologize. We will post it when the blog is up and running again.

    Rest assured that we are more determined than ever to get the truth out. We will not be hindered.

    Blessings to all!

  • Stunned

    Bob’s daugther and the grandchildren are not moving with him.

  • izze

    Doesn’t Bob still have his daughter and her kids living with them? This was discussed a while back. Bob’s son in law wanted to leave SGM but Bob’s daughter wouldn’t.

    A reason for needing some room but still that is a lot of space.

  • Izze

    Stunned- the amount of money spent on BK’s home isn’t really the issue. 400k isn’t much in my opinion ( I’m from dc). It’s more the appearance that Erks me. 6500 sq ft is ridiculous when you’re on the cusp of being an empty nester. Just my opinion though…

  • MAK

    I put on my Celebration 2004 t-shirt today. Great memories…sad outcome.

  • Stunned

    I just thought of something. Kaufflin was in a band. And frankly, I have no idea where his money comes from. Could be savings or could be family money. He may not make all that much money from the tithers. Bob, please forgive my presumption. God bless you in your new home.

    (Though I still wouldn’t be part of a church where the pastor lives like that, unless it was some major family money he comes from. It would def make me feel more like Tammy Fay came to stay or the c word.)

  • Rick Malament

    Okay, this has probably been asked already, but I’m just curious. According to the April 19th SGM BLOG entry (Sovereign Grace Ministries Relocation Announcement), the move to Louisville was not a “done deal even before the events of July 2011″, and that “conversation long preceded these events and, for the reasons given above, it has been an increasingly strong likelihood for several years.” SO, with all that in mind, why would someone inject $125,000 of upgrades into a home with strong likelihood of moving? Now, I understand painting, replacing older items, and other improvements to aid in resale, but $125K? Just wondering. :Thinking: :Thinking:

  • Yellow is a Happy Color

    Regarding the ‘first kiss’ flaunting at weddings……… It is quite possible to “technically” have your first kiss at your wedding but still do plenty of other fooling around….. Just saying, because I know of a case where things weren’t as pure as they appeared.

    Regarding public schools………there was a CLC pastor in the past year who set up a meeting for parents of public school students to fellowship/pray etc. BUT the meeting was held on a Tuesday morning, during the time that most working parents would be unable to attend. Really? I mentioned it to the pastor/staff and never heard back. Perhaps that meeting was only intended for public school families with stay at home moms…? Nice try, CLC.

  • ExClever'sMom

    Stunned #357, Funny how they put so much ‘stock’ in someone being a virgin. When I met my now ex husband, he was a virgin, I was not..Many people, myself included, automatically assumed he was ‘healthier sexually’ than I. Boy, was that ever a mistake! My point is, if we are saved by Grace, and forgiven of our past, then boasting of being a virgin is insignificant! Yet, Romans 6:1 still applies..Love does not ‘push the limits’ to see how much one can ‘get away with’..And that is what it truly all IS about, correct? Love. God’s love for us, and our love for Him.

  • newbie

    KWIW #305: pretty sure that moving truck was in prep for setting up in Orlando for the NEXT conference this weekend.

  • Persona

    Schooling is a very complex issue and our memories may bring a unique nuanced view into the CLC schooling experience.

    I knew several CLC families who sent their children to public schools or other private schools, in MD, DC and, surrounding counties. They did so for various reasons, having to do with behavior, expulsion, learning disabilities, athletics, affordability or convenience and location. But, the only ones I ever heard claim to be ‘persecuted’ for their decisions, were the ones sending their children to public schools.

    According to police reports, public middle and HS schools in all DC suburbs are ‘incubators for gangs’. And, Gaithersburg has dozens of gangs. Drugs are more easily accessed there too. So, there is some reason for caution in choosing a public school. But, there is also greater need for encouragement, from the church. And, I don’t think that traditionally happened at CLC.

    In our experience, CLC primarily encouraged children and families int their day schools. They hold a special golf tournament and auction each year and, one Sunday a year is devoted to sharing about the school and taking up a special collection. One CLS principal explained to us that they would always give preference to the day school because ‘parents were paying tuition’. End of discussion!

    Therefore, even though home school families eventually got a support group (FSP), and in the last four years, the pastors allowed them to create a home school co-op, which meets on church property, two days a week, home school children still don’t have equal access to the building or fields.

    Home school kids were also given the least beneficial afternoon slot for standardized testing. And, the actual tests appeared to be recycled from the morning session as, some were already marked-up. It was hard to turn a blind eye to those slights.

    But, if home schoolers sometimes felt second-class, I can only imagine what public school kids felt. Maybe that’s why many of them left the church?

  • Whirlwind

    Incidentally, that homeschooling resource I posted in #356 was published last November – just over 6 months ago. My only hope would be that CLC, while trying to support those who do homeschool, isn’t regularly promoting their homeschooling resources such that the freedom they claim is overshadowed by “the best choice of homeschooling.”

    It would be interesting to see if some public schoolers were able to form a similar support group within CLC and have help sessions published on the church website. (I’m not at CLC, so maybe they do, or maybe there just aren’t enough public schoolers who want such a thing.)

  • Stunned

    Whirlwind said, “And, of course, when marital problems are shared in care group, we may be able to trace them back to how they conducted themselves before the wedding.”

    Isn’t that ridiculous judgment the truth? As if, because you didn’t kiss before you got married, that somehow indicates that your marriage is going to be good. What the heck? I can only see that POSSIBLY (certainly not necessarily), but possibly that the yearning just isn’t there to begin with. I mean, give me a man who is chomping at the bit! (Please, God, hear my prayer.)

    I know just too many SGM men who waited til the altar to kiss their brides and as it turns out, didn’t have much drive to kiss them (or anything else) all that often after the wedding, either. That is supposed to be ignored or even praised, but if they did kiss before the wedding, THAT is supposed to be an indicator of looming problems? Twisted. Mighty twisted.

  • Stunned

    Whirlwind, exactly!

    I was at a wedding a few years ago. (Non SGM wedding.) At the reception, the groom’s brother made a BIG deal out of how the groom was the 41 year old virgin. Big deal. Speech and all.

    Now, I never knew whether the bride was a virgin or not. Not really anyone’s business in my book. Yet, that was ALL anyone was trying NOT to think about. The groom is standing as his brother is toasting him for remaining a virgin. (Why is the bride sitting down and not getting toasted, as well?!?!) The groom is laughing as people are applauding him. (Why is the bride not being applauded?!?!) The groom is smiling modestly as speeches are made about his ability to remain a virgin til 41. (Why is noone giving speeches about the bride?!?!!?) Oh dear heavens, how do these people NOT see that by posting one person’s virginity report, by their silense, they are posting EVERYONE’S virginity report?!?!

    I am often aghast at how we Christians can be the most vulgar people on earth, all the while trumpeting our modesty. What goes on underneath the gown or the tux is no one’s business but the bride’s and the groom’s. For heaven’s sake, where is Ms Manners when you need her?

  • Whirlwind

    It does seem the “first kiss” thing (though I’d personally encourage the practice) can become yet another mark of “true sanctification” when it’s put on such display (I wouldn’t encourage that practice).

    Whether they realize it or not, it puts the pastor in the position of giving a special blessing to the couple that doesn’t kiss because at the next wedding when it’s not mentioned, everyone’s left to assume, “Oh, that’s too bad – I guess they must have already kissed.” :(

    They’re setting up tiers among couples in the church where they might as well be announcing at the wedding, “This couple has already kissed, but, hey, at least they’re not sleeping together.” And, of course, when marital problems are shared in care group, we may be able to trace them back to how they conducted themselves before the wedding.

    None of this is expressed by the pastors, but it runs through the minds of those of us in the congregation because of what’s been emphasized as “the best choice”.

    As for the homeschooling emphasis – I remember listening to the “options” discussion a few years ago and was glad to hear CLC consider them all acceptable. But, as others have mentioned, the peer pressure can be overwhelming if you’re about to be one of the first to put your child in a public school. And posting resources like:

    doesn’t make it look like all options are equally acceptable because there is no “Why Public School Makes Sense Now More Than Ever” discussion – even if you start and end every presentation like this with a caveat stating other options are equally valid. (Now, I assume this is intended to encourage those who have decided to pursue homeschooling. That’s great, but in the SGM culture it will carry more weight than that.)

  • rorschach


    Wow – that kinda sounds like how I was married. We were so “gonna be pure for Christ!” – how is kissing impure? How is parading the first kiss at a wedding “the gospel?” It just kind of wierded a lot of people out. Seriously – they thought we were wierd. And cultish. *shudder*

    I didn’t think about this until I started evaluating everything after the levvies broke, so to speak.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  • rorschach


    What burns me also is that I’ve seen people, families languish in want under SGM “care” at CLC. Cupboards empty. Kids going to school without lunches. With no REAL help from SGM, besides “counsel.” Praying is cheap in that situation. How about getting some food for the family? Nothing made me more sick to the stomach when I found out they were in such a state and I was like “why didn’t you say something?” And I knew they were receiving “care” from SGM… it perplexes me that the situation was like that…

    meanwhile CJ, Brian, Mike, and Steve – order their specialty coffee drinks at Starbucks, typing on their oh so expensive Macs that are tethered to their oh so expensive iphones. They’ll wax poetic about something theological and drive to their very nice home(s) in their nice cars. Where they’ll decide to order pizza for everyone on a whim.

    Thanks for suffering for the gospel! Oh wait – the suffering they’re going through is for evil done… NOT the gospel.

  • rorschach

    Izze – looks like SGM has L. Ron Hubbard material in their library!

    And as far as the Mansions as SGM move out west – BIG FAIL. They need to realize – as much as they are under shepherds, they are using (selfishly) the LORD’s money for themselves. He calls for us as Christians to care for the poor, the weak, the needy, the oppressed. Here these guys preach the gospel to Christians, squeezing large amounts of money out of them for each conference, they live in a festering decadence from the tithes intended for the LORD. A leader that cares for leaders (only) is a cheap one. When I look at Jesus and all he did for the people, children, and his disciples to the point of washing their feet – who are his undershepherds to reserve for themselves mansions, exclusive big ticket dinners, luxuries, and basically have every good thing? Who can defend these guys who live like kings and call themselves apostles? AND I MEAN KING IN A LITERAL SENSE.

    Some people defend them by saying “but they’re so generous.” That falls on deaf ears when one lives in luxury.

  • NameGoesHere

    Louisville is a bigger and more affluent city than most people realize. The rest of Kentucky does not consider it to be part of the state. :) Some of the ZIP Codes of Louisville Metro have very high per capita incomes.

  • Stunned

    PS. It goes along with the conference for pastors that CJ is speaking at in Palm Springs, CA. If my church were spending money that way, instead of taking care of others, I would be pissed.

  • Stunned

    bwahaha, Ellie.

    Polo grounds?! Heee heee heee. I think Jesus spent a LOT of time hanging out at the Jerusalem Polo Club, too.

    (In all reality, no offense against the polo culture. Jesus totally wants people at polo clubs to be loved, too. Just thinking of all the good that amount of money could do there.)

  • Ellie

    I noticed that Bob’s new home is next to the Polo Fields Golf and Country Club. Guess that’s where they’ll all have their fund raising golf tournies. :D

  • Stunned

    Kraftig, down right creepy, eh?

    “This is holy and special and intimate meant only for two people. Now crane your necks to make sure all the hundreds of you can watch the consummate their first kiss.” Blech.

  • Fruit Filled

    Kris in 336 & 337,

    Yes, that was the meeting. And, yes, after reading the transcript, it was certainly not a balanced presentation of options.

    I remember sitting there knowing that we had chosen to place our developmentally delayed child in public school. Our doctor had strongly recommended a school setting and we knew that CLS would not be appropriate. Yet, I felt guilty that we had failed to have faith and continue to homeschool.

    I wish I had realized then that whenever I felt guilt at CLC, that I should examine the motivations of my heart. Was I being led to conform to Christ or simply to the appearance of a “superior” Christian?

  • Izze

    Anyone wanna start a cult with me? I hear it’s rather lucrative ….

  • Kraftig

    CoraSusie #316
    As I read your account I was astounded by how precisely identical it is to my family member’s wedding at FFX years ago. It is amazing. People were visibly cringing as the pastor put on his soft, breathy, gentle voice to make a speech honoring their “commendable” kiss.

    I think what they [the pastors] are completely blind to is the contradiction they create when they hold a kiss to be the paramount standard of purity in intimacy, and then put it on display for a sanctuary full of people to watch. Huh? I suspect that is part of what makes it so awkward — and cultish, to be frank: the coercion of a couple to put on parade and make a big show of something that has been built up as the threshold [so to speak] of private intimacy. Such a disconnect.

    In any event, it was so strange to witness.

  • Izze

    About Bob Ks new digs. I suspect the reason for the filing being on his new mansion is simply because he sold his house first and bought first. I believe he had his offer down around the timing that T4G took place. Another thing I want to mention is that 4500 sq ft is likely not accurate. That’s probably only the top two floors. With that size house I guarantee the basement boasts another 2000 sq ft. Go to google images on that address and you will see the back of the mansion. Its pretty insane. They can say all they want that they will need a house that large for “hospitality” for their new church split but they shouldn’t believe their own delusions. It’s for them! Believe me im all about prospering and doing well, and mostly have the opinion that people can do as they please with their money but this situation reaks to high heavens. These are pastors folks. Lousiville folk are pretty modest. I dont even think they realize the temptation they just created the people they are about “to serve”. So there you have it folks… The money you and your family sacrificed for years is about to purchase a bunch of mansions in the KY area. This is just the first one we know about. How do you feel now? Can anyone tell I’m kinda pissed?:)
    PS. On the other hand I have a feeling the other “elders” will choose a bit more wisely on the housing front….even cj.

  • Stunned

    Kris, that is REALLY interesting information found at the zip code comparison site.

    So, while many of us ignorant northerners ;-) think of KY as not as sophisticated or poorer, seems that zip code actually has MORE individuals who make over 200K a year than Gaithersburg has. The zip code also has fewer unemployed people than Gaithersburg. And they have also have fewer people living below the poverty line than Gaithersburg does.

    It is a heck of a whole lot whiter than Gaithersburg (84.6 % compared to Gaithersburg’s 60.6%) and the Asian & multi race population is nearly non-existent. (I’m curious how many more bald heads they are going to have in 3 years time.)

    That’s a pretty cool demographic tool, Kris. Think I’ll go take a look at some places I might move to!

  • Stunned

    Kris, who is this Mr S who has expressed concern for the way some were treated? I think it is important to get the praises about SGMers out there, as well as revealing the abuses.

  • Stunned

    Defended said, “You are precious to the Lord and let me say I’m truly sorry your wedding was co-opted by men with an agenda other than celebrating you and you bright shining marriage.”

    Yes, Defended! That was so sensitive of you to see.

  • If Bob K’s new house is near where this church plant is going to be, here’s an analysis of how that zip code reflects SGM’s income requirements for spreading the SGM gospel:

  • Stunned

    Kaufflin is the name on the filing and not Mahaney? Does that seem strange to anyone else?

    Psst, Bob, look at all the other people who have been “close” to CJ over the decades and take warning. Larry Tomczak. Brent D. Josh Harris. Please, reconsider this.

  • Stunned

    Unass, wow is right. A 2005, 4,500 square foot home on .85 acres for @ 400K! The move may cost SGM a lot of money and some of the “lower” people their jobs, but the move will def benefit the higher ups personally. (If one counts a big house as a benefit. I would rather be able to look my coworkers of 5 years in the face and know they aren’t in the unemployment line.)

    Who bought that house?

  • I don’t mean to direct the conversation to the particular topic of homeschooling, but I did just now go back and read all three parts of the transcript again…and was once again marveling at the way the speaker (Mr. S) presented his information in such a way that he appeared to be laying out options…but in the end, one of those supposed options was set up as impossible…while another of the options (homeschooling) was almost never impossible. Here is a snippet of my commentary that summarizes how Mr. S laid out the choices:

    I really hope these parents do more than “think about” those things. Come on, Mr. S. If you’re bedridden for some medical condition, isn’t it obvious that you SHOULD NOT be attempting to be your kid’s only teacher!

    But let’s see. Public school has been set up as this “almost-never-but-occasionally-maybe” choice. It’s a choice that is “legitimate” for SOME parents in SOME situations. Mr. S isn’t willing to go on the record, however, as endorsing his examples’ choice to send their kids to public schools. After all, even though they followed his prescribed method of making a thoughtful decision, he had to slip in that disclaimer.

    Secular private school was set up as a sort of pie-in-the-sky, excruciatingly expensive proposition that might work for the one guy who is on the faculty…but if you really dig deeper, your motivations for choosing such a hoity toity luxury are probably worldly and selfish, so you should reconsider.

    Christian schools were discussed fairly honestly, in my opinion, and Mr. S did do a decent job of discussing the sometimes prohibitive tuition costs.

    But now, in his discussion of homeschooling, he’s seeming to bend over backward to imply that almost NOBODY has an excuse NOT to homeschool. Even if you’re dying in bed, there’s apparently still a possibility that you COULD homeschool, if you had the “faith” for it.

    For the record, I am NOT bringing up this particular presentation to say anything mean about Mr. S. I know that many people love him and have been blessed by his ministry over the years. He also was one of the only SGM pastors to ever express concern and regret to us here for the way people were mistreated by the system. So this is nothing against Mr. S.

    But, I think in order for us to gain a better understanding of the SGM experience, it’s important to examine how pastors use their platform and their power as spiritual authorities to influence people to make specific lifestyle choices that are NOT as clearly “biblical” (versus “unbiblical”) as they would have us believe. Mr. S probably had little realization of what he was doing, but there was a great deal of manipulation at work in his presentation. Everything he said was geared toward leaving his audience with the impression that one choice (public schooling) was clearly inferior on almost all levels. On the other hand, another choice (homeschooling) was presented as something that “required faith” – which, if you think about it, implies that those who homeschool are exhibiting faith…while those who do not are NOT exhibiting faith.

    This is precisely how it is that SGM’s culture became what it has been: pastors, who are our spiritual authorities to be obeyed and submitted to, set up certain choices as spiritually superior. Members easily perceive which lifestyle choices will make them look better (more spiritual) in the eyes of their leaders. So they do the things they know will make them appear to their pastors as though they are exhibiting faith.

    The end result is a church world where “anyone who is anything” homeschools (or puts their kids in the church-sponsored Christian school) and then makes sure those kids find their spouses through courtship.

    Yes, these are practices that at least some SGM churches are trying to distance themselves from. But until people fully grasp how they were manipulated – until people grasp that they were indeed manipulated – it’s just a matter of time before they are manipulated again.

  • Earlier, in #314, “Fruit Filled” had mentioned the talk CLC did a few years back, about school options. “Fruit Filled,” is this the one you’re referencing? I hadn’t heard about the info tables and the lopsided representation, but if you read the transcript, you can see how even the very talk itself was extremely biased so that homeschooling seemed like just about the only viable choice, with private Christian schooling coming in second…and public school set up as basically impossible. Here’s the link to the transcript:

  • Persona

    5 Years 334

    About half of the Kauflins are going to Louisville; Megan and her kids are not part of the exodus.

    The Cooks are moving to Louisville, too.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    I am wondering if Megan and the kids are going with BK. Hope they are all OK. Kerrin, still praying for you all on occasion.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    CoraSusie, I am ‘reading backwards”, as I felt compelled to respond about the homeschooling issue, but I also want to welcome you, and commend you for your courage to speak up! Despite your ‘caving to fear of man’, or whatever pressure it was at the time of your wedding, what I see is a remarkable example of self control for one’s belief. It was not needed to show to any ‘man’, for God saw your heart. If your ‘first kiss’ was ‘front and center’ for whatever reason, that is done and gone..I think of much greater significance is how strong you and your fiance stood by your beliefs, and how strong you both stand from here on out. That is what is important. Obviously, you look to The Lord for conviction of your heart, and you are honest and humble enough to speak out when you feel you have been wrong. IMO, you are awesome, and I wish you and your dear husband many years of bliss!

  • Square Peg

    Haven’t posted in awhile, but I’ve been checking in and reading from time to time. I just recently became a member of an evangelical presbyterian church this past Sunday. I left my SGM church last summer. So, I visited around through the fall and winter. Been going to this new church and just joined. So far…a very different culture than SGM. For one thing, my small group leader…the wife is a lawyer. The small groups are centered around different topics. Everybody isn’t sitting around reading the same book together. One group is doing one thing, and another group another. It’s very nice. I can sit in a Beth Moore bible study…a Kay Arthur…or an R.C. Sproul…or just a bible study, period…not associated with a particular “name.” Kids are homeschooled, publicly schooled, and privately schooled. It isn’t a big deal in whichever way. Some people like the whole courtship idea, but that’s just some people. Others have no idea what you’d be talking about. I appreciate that they don’t make a big deal about the “non-essentials.”

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Kris, I do have to say about homeschooling-I believe my family was one of the first to homeschool. Actually, I remember pushing Gary to start a “Church School”, when I was so dissatisfied with the schooling choices for my oldest daughter (This was 1978-1979, when my daughter was in 1st grade). I made friends with Steve and Denise Griney that summer, who had been public school teachers, and together, we pressured the pastors to begin a school. Our ‘train of thought’ was: If ‘The Church’ was meant to be lived out daily, and part of “The Church” was to help Believers in their Faith, and part of that Faith was to rear their children, then “The Church” should also play a part in that education, instead of send our children out “into the world” at “such a young, impressionable age”….We were thinking of how “anti-Christ” the school system was-which I still see..They learn about Dreidles, and Hannakuh,and Santa Claus, but dont dare mention Jesus! When my oldest daughter became High School age (9th grade:I think I was one of a few who had a child that old in those days-Me, The Roberts, and a few others)..I know I was afraid of sending my child to the closest “Church School”, MCCA (at Goshen and MV Ave in Gaithersburg)..I chose to Home school her, and met some other people from another Church who were really big on Homeschooling. I am pretty sure I was one of the first parents to Homeschool….I really believed it was the best for my child at that time..I homeschooled her for 9th grade, and my twins for Kindergarten (part of it anyway-that was the same year I discovered my now Ex Husband was a child molestor; 1987). I dont believe that anymore. I actually think Homeschooling can be good for the first few years-like Pre-K, and Kindergarten..In some situations, maybe even up to 3rd grade…maybe..for some kids, in some situations..But, after homeschooling some kids, and having some kids in public schools, I think ti is best to be really, really involved in your child’s life while they are in school. Get involved in the school, with the teachers, and your child. Everyone wins that way. Just my opinion. I fully believe every family has to choose what is best for them individually. But, homeschooling really did not ‘begin’ with the ‘leaders’ in CLC.

  • Defended

    CoraSusie, God bless you. I love the window into your heart that you gave us. You are precious to the Lord and let me say I’m truly sorry your wedding was co-opted by men with an agenda other than celebrating you and you bright shining marriage.
    God bles you and your young family as you go forward in God’s Truth and Love.

  • Defended

    Thanks Ozymandias. Interesting that Kauflin is the name on the filing.
    Nothing happens by accident with these guys, so it’s just interesting.

  • NameGoesHere

    Yes, there will need to be a substantial investment in new property. However, real estate costs in Louisville are probably half or less of what they are in Gaithersburg. Also, they wouldn’t have to build everything at once because there are already very substantial assets in place built by various evangelical entities in Louisville that they can borrow or rent as needed.

    They may come out in a better financial position if they saddle Covenant Life Church with the maintenace costs on facilities that are too large for an organization that’s been forced to downsize.

  • CoraSusie

    I would also like to welcome you to the blog.

    With regard to courtship and “kising dating goodbye” you might find my blog of interest where I critique it:

    One of my biggest concerns is that those who promote courtship and IKDG want to point out all the problems they see with dating but won’t admit the problems that courtship/IKDG have caused. It is as if there are only advantages to coursthip/IKDG and no disadvantages or problems.

    Similar to what Kris said my thought about courtship is that it became a “group think” (look it up in Wikapedia) situation This especially can happen with SGM’s definitions of “gossip” and “slander” that makes people fearful of questioning.

  • Hi CoraSusie –

    Thanks for joining us. Welcome!

    Thanks for the apology…although truly, I was (mostly) only joking. But that is really kind and gracious of you.

    I think the SGM culture (especially at CLC and Fairfax and the other churches that were greatly influenced by them) just sort of swept people along. Much loved, much admired pastors would stand up and commend people who made certain choices…and I can totally see how easy it would be for others in the congregation to want to make the same choices that the pastor had called commendable.

    I think the pastors believed they were doing what they were called to do, spurring people on to “greater righteousness.” I don’t believe they meant any harm – it’s pretty obvious that most of them did indeed have deeply personal convictions that certain lifestyle choices (courtship, homeschooling) were obviously superior and more conducive to holiness. They only were trying to get people to do what they thought was best.

    But your story of caving to pressure to highlight the “first kiss” at your wedding – it’s a relatively small incident, and yet it’s a perfect illustration of the way that even the most well-meaning pastor could use his unique position to coerce people to behave in certain ways that weren’t biblically mandated.

    It’s this kind of thing that has separated SGM from “normal” churches.

  • Stunned


    How gracious of you! Thank you for coming along and sharing those regrets.

    May God’s grace cover you all over!

  • anon,
    Yes, and AMEN!

    Each of us will give an account.

    Kinda makes you want to fall down and worship HIM doesn’t it?

    “Thank you Jesus, for your spotless robes you clothe me in!”

  • CoraSusie,
    I forgive you.
    I am proud to have you as my sister in Christ. (Assuming, of course, you’re female.)

    Ya know, we were all, at one time, to varying degrees, deceived and perhaps judgmental as well.

    But God…….
    In His mercy, is calling out each of us, in His timing.

    There are friends I (We, Defended & me) know and love who are still in SGM, and sipping on the koolaid. All I can do is pray for them, and hope they answer the call when God gives it to them.

    Thanks for posting….


  • anon

    Defender, yes, I see what you are saying. I know what you mean about using the “c” word. When we left a year ago. I would not have called SG a cult. I was more of the “they are Christians in an organization with many cult-like tendencies”. Now I call SGM [the organization, not the people] a cult, it is plain to see now, and feel sorry for the good Christian people inside that are completely unaware, sincerely unaware, of where they are. I do not feel sorry for the ones who chose to stay even when they see. I pity those. Deeply pity them, because I know that there is something so much better on the outside: True Freedom in Christ! Ahhh, feels good.

    With some time and distance between us and them, we could see more of the mountain since we were no longer in the trees. Wow. It continues to be very eye-opening to view things from a distance, not being “in” the system.

    Do you know what I have concluded? That we, all who profess to know Christ, will each be held accountable INDIVIDUALLY one day before God. That is a sobering thought for me and puts the responsibility right where it lies in this big mess: with each person. I will be held accountable if I lie, deceive, manipulate, play favorites, pander to abusers, control or abuse anyone. So will each pastor, leader, and congregant in SGM. The ones who actively made decisions to sabotage our destiny, halt our desire to walk in God’s will, and who tried so hard to keep us from walking in obedience and fullness in Christ calling it “caring for our souls”, WILL be held accountable. Our story was nothing compared to some here. Woe to the ones that actually abused others and to the ones that protect the abusers. Woe to them.

    Saying, “we’re a group of men” and don’t make decisions in isolation [actual quote from a SG pastor]” will not cut it before the living God. God will not judge SGM, God will judge individuals for their part in all things good AND bad.

    That revelation has been very freeing for me. It has helped me to have the courage to confront the die hard SGers that cries “Gossip! Sin! Slander!”, because I can see past that now and see that I am doing them NO FAVOR before God by participating in this debacle and not speaking the truth.

    I remember the FEAR I had when we were on our way out. If it’s true Christianity, there will be NO FEAR in leaving. God is love, in Him there in no fear. Perfect love casts out all fear.

  • anon,
    I don’t “go there” very often, but it is rather clear to a watching world, that if Jesus said He was the TRUTH, and came to bring the TRUTH, AND if Satan is the father of lies, …… well gee whizz, how do these SGM leaders measure up?
    As we both experienced, and I said several times while in our situation, “These guys don’t like TRUTH.”, and “These guys don’t have TRUTH in them.”

    And here it is, a few years later, and I am amazed to find so many occasions where they will not even speak His name.
    “Savior” is a reference to something He did.
    His name is JESUS.
    Jesus is TRUTH.
    (“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.”)
    I’m sorry, but that nasty “C” word comes to mind again….”CULT”.

  • Persona

    CoraSusie 316

    I am sure your sentiments will go far to encourage Kris. She knows how fear-driven SGM churches are and, how brave you need to be to speak-up publicly. Thanks for doing it. May many more take the opportunity to update us on their journey.

  • CoraSusie

    I’m sorry.
    Though I’ve never posted here before, I have drunk the kool-aid for years on end. This past year turned everything upside down. Just one year ago, we attended a small group meeting and the “blogs” were talked about and how they say horrible things about SG. Little did we know what would drop two months later.

    I’m sorry.
    I’ve gone from never coming to your site to checking it every day.

    Your post today struck a cord. I rode the wave of courtship. I hated saying to others outside the community that I was “courting”…but I did it because that was the way to show that we were set apart in this world. And was supposed to strike up conversations on how courtship is different (and thus superior) to dating. And even with the uncomfortableness I felt in communicating it, I did arrogantly carry myself as doing something far better. I am very much a mixed bag.

    One aspect within our SG church at this time, was that while courting and also during one’s engagement,it was the ideal to save your first kiss for one’s wedding day. This was held up as the way to show purity in a culture that had gone to the other extreme.

    I am not here to debate the aspects of what is right and wrong in this area. I share that to explain that one of my regrets (and I have hundreds) is when my husband and I were planning our wedding. I wanted the ceremony to just end normally no highlighting the fact that we had saved our first kiss for our wedding (others had done this). I felt it would not be understood by half of those in attendance and strike them as odd. Pastor who was doing our wedding (and love this person, grateful for him) but he strongly urged us to reconsider because what we had done was “commendable” it was an example for a watching world of walking in purity. We buckled and just went along with it. I chalked it up to me “fearing man”. And yet…it was our wedding! But this first kiss had to be front and center.

    So Kris…I am sorry. There is so much more I could write and maybe some day I will. I felt today appropriate in light of your post though. I may not have defended SGM on this site but I judged you all and I was wrong.

  • Fruit Filled

    Bob Kauflin has a new post on the Worship Matters Blog, “Moving to Louisville”. It’s an interesting read.

  • Fruit Filled

    just saying… & Kris

    A couple of years ago CLC had an evening meeting dedicated to addressing three options for schooling one’s children. The pastor leading the event did address that it is best for some folks to choose home-school, some folks to choose CLS, some folks to choose public school, and others a combination of approaches. The emphasis of the meeting was choosing the best option for the child and family.

    However, as Kris pointed out, “talk is cheap”. At the back of the room were several tables set-up. At the tables were folks representing CLS (Covenant Life School) and FSP (homeschool umbrella). These tables were filled with information about programs, curricula and options. The folks staffing the tables were very helpful and friendly. Then there was the MCPS (Montgomery County Public Schools) table. There were a couple of brochures with contact info and nothing more. There was no representative of MCPS at this meeting. There was no friendly face to help guide parents considering the public school option.

    I left the meeting with the only obvious conclusion…CLC wanted my kids to be either home-schooled or in CLS. The attempt to equate the three options failed miserably.

  • anon

    Defender, wow. I just read your story. That’s cuh-RAZY-making.

    We, too, were in quite a few of those meetings that just go on and on and on for months and make you wonder, “What the hell is going on here? Am I crazy, or are these people NUTS?”. I’m sure now you can see that they are in fact nuts. Lord have mercy.

    We were in a series of meetings, phone conversations, and more meetings for 8 MONTHS once just to get a YES or NO answer. No joke – yes or no, folks! How hard can that be?? After we got our NO answer, the pastor led the whole church to believe the answer was actually yes. It still boggles the mind.

    It is tragic the web of deception, blidness, control, and manipulation the entire denomination is stuck in, pastors and congregation alike. I remember a leader’s wife telling me once how hard it was because her sister is involved in a cult and to please pray for her. Because I remember being shocked and thinking “wow thank God we’re not in a cult!”, I now understand how completely blinding deception can be. Mercy.

  • KAZ

    KRIS #301
    When will the SGM defenders apologize ?
    BBBWWWWAHHAHHHAHAHAHHA ok thats funny…..or at least I thought it to be such a unfathomable event :o)
    The SGM defenders would first have to detox from the koolaid then learn humility as God teaches it …….

  • just saying...

    Kris #306

    Yes. Talk is cheap. I think when a church is focused on recognizing and deploying leaders and not on the Great Commission, the focus becomes all of those who recite the mantra.

    Homeschooled kids are more likely to recite the mantra than kids in school because it’s all they’ve ever heard. So, the are given attention.

    In a “parent driven” youth ministry, where almost the entire responsibility for biblical training and discipleship falls on the parent, those whose parents aren’t stellar have no place to become involved. A once-a-year retreat is not a youth ministry and pastors don’t interact with kids outside their leadership team.

    Hopefully things are changing???

    I have never seen any teenager wander in without a parent, become a Christian and plug in at church. There’s nothing in place for that.

  • Oh man!
    I’m having “flashbacks” on the move out to Colorado to plant the Denver South church.

    As we would gather to pack up each others moving trucks, one at a time, we all called ourselves “Sovereign Movers”.
    “If it’s broke, it ain’t our fault! God did it!”

    (We, Defended & I, had quite a few “Sovereignly” damaged pieces of furniture in our move. Never hard feelings though. It’s just “stuff”.)

  • KWIM, You’re a hoot!

    Drop a box marked “FRAGILE” for me….
    (And tell me how it sounded when the contents broke…)

    (I really don’t want to see CJ’s things broken. God will take care of that.)

  • Argus

    justsaying #304 & Kris #306 — Plus, when C.J. was casting for a stand-in, he passed over SGM stables and plucked a bright star from conservative homeschooling circles.

  • KWIM

    I actually took a pic of it! I almost got out and asked if they needed help moving! Haha

  • “just saying” said,

    But, I know at CLC at least, the church addressed the arrogance of the homeschoolers many times over the years and reminded them of the many acceptable schooling options, including CLS and public school.

    It’s great that they did talk about it. But in the end, isn’t talk sort of cheap? Isn’t it true that many of the pastors themselves also homeschooled their kids? If the vast majority of leaders within a movement make a certain choice, doesn’t that indicate that the movement itself favors that particular choice, especially since the SGM movement has always made such an issue out of emulating one’s leaders?

    I do agree that the practice of homeschooling and certain churches had a symbiotic relationship where, as my dad would say, “One hand washed the other.” But the partiality toward homeschooling had to start somewhere, and I believe it started with SGM’s leaders.

  • KWIM

    Saw a big yellow penske moving van in SGM dock yesterday? Na na na na na na hey hey hey Good bye! :Whistling:

  • just saying...

    @Kris – #301

    The homeschoolers shaped the church movement more than the church movement mandated homeschooling.

    The homeschoolers consumed a lot of homeschool propaganda and had some militant views. Unfortunately, many of those militants were also respected leaders in the church. The culture was very conducive towards homeschool and had lots of activities, so homeschoolers from all around came to the church.

    Unfortunately, because the focus was all on honoring the super-sonic overachievers, the homeschoolers received a lot of praise and honor from pastors and it would appear they gave a lot of preferential treatment to them with little plan for engaging others.

    But, I know at CLC at least, the church addressed the arrogance of the homeschoolers many times over the years and reminded them of the many acceptable schooling options, including CLS and public school.

  • KWIM

    What kills me is that this conference is not for “regular” people ( you know people like you and me) or God forbid unbelievers, but pastors! Wth? Why are this men preaching this to themselves? Isn’t this like preaching to the choir? Aaahhh! I’m sure the messages are great. I think all these men can preach their @$$ off. However, why preach it to a bunch of men who are already confessing believers? How much further could the gospel go if it was preached to the world? Yeah yeah I know the big dogs don’t slum it with “normal people”. They need to be told how great and wonderful they are by fellow big dogs.

  • Ellie

    That was a GREAT article, Argus!!! Brought back LOTS of memories.
    (btw: I guess I was getting judged because I was wearing sandals & I didn’t even know it.) :D

  • About SGM’s former embrace of the “one size fits all” beliefs about homeschooling – this is going to sound silly, but I continue to feel like a lot of SGM defenders owe me (and others who discussed the topic here) an apology.

    Back in this site’s early days, I didn’t have a clue about SGM’s real abuses. But I did have this gut sense that something was really odd about SGM’s culture…that there was a level of perhaps unspoken yet mandated sameness among members that just could not be right. That was really the whole reason SGM Survivors came to exist – I’d spent the better part of a year looking for something, anything, online that would corroborate what I knew I was seeing at our SGM church, but had only found glowing descriptions of CJ’s wonders and excited blog posts about SGM’s music. The general consensus online seemed to be that SGM was absolutely no different than any other “biblical, Reformed” denomination – except SGM had CJ and great new “doctrinally sound” music.

    I finally found one place where some folks had meandered onto the topic of SGM. It was in the comments section of an old post where a blogger (whose blog was about other topics unrelated to SGM) had happened to mention visiting an SGM church. There were a good 20 or more comments where several people had talked about SGM’s past, as well as about SGM’s darker side. When that post disappeared sometime later, and I discovered that I’d coincidentally happened to have copied several of the comments discussing SGM’s non-publicized hyper-Charismatic history, it seemed fortuitous, meant to be. Guy created a WordPress blog in a matter of minutes, and I tossed up a few posts of stuff that I’d copied and saved, along with our own impressions of our time at an SGM church.

    A lot of the ensuing discussion focused on debunking my observations about SGM’s odd culture. A lot of SGM defenders were simply adamant that SGM did not advocate (and had never advocated) for homeschooling. Many even tried to argue that courtship was not the norm. “We are NOT a ‘homeschooling church’! We are NOT a ‘courtship church’!” became the battle cries of the SGM defenders.

    Now, though, something like 4 years later, plenty of SGM leaders, including Josh Harris, have acknowledged that yes indeed, homeschooling and courtship did become de facto norms within a lot of SGM churches. The alternatives – public school, ordinary dating – had been treated too often with suspicion, with a lack of social acceptance.

    Enough members and former members have told of experiences where this was the case, so that SGM leaders realized it was necessary to speak out and teach better acceptance of non-homeschooling and non-courtship lifestyle choices.

    So I just wonder, when will the people who were in such denial back in 2007 come back and acknowledge that those of us here who had described SGM’s cultural oddities were right in our observations? When will the defenders apologize?

    (Yes…like I said…this is silly. As I’m typing it out, I am saying the words in my head in a fairly tongue-in-cheek way. I know that the really diehard SGMers are just like their leaders when it comes to an inability to fully own up to mistakes and admit and discuss them publicly. So I’m not actually holding my breath, waiting for any apology.

    But I have to say, I think it’s funny to look back on the early defenders’ insistance that our observations here about pressure to homeschool and practice courtship were inaccurate.)

  • Argus

    Last sentence should read: Too bad he and those like him who dare to offer a dissenting voice are NOW being marginalized and soon cast out.

  • Argus

    This is an off-topic article about Bill Gothard’s organization, but it is so well written and exemplifies the sort of pressures that SGM put on member families, especially when it was more caught up in the legalist/Gothardesque/homeschooling lockstep approach:

    That extreme degree of cloned homeschooling lifestyle seems to have lessened in SGM, a change which may be due to Josh Harris’ apology for ‘one practice’ a few years ago. In fact, it seems to have lessened across most of homeschooling except for pockets like ATI, Vision Forum, etc. That is probably because it not only doesn’t produce the expected outcome — it backfires and damages people.

    Anyway, C.J. and the old line hardcores (some of whom sit on the Board today) were reportedly angry that Josh Harris apologized. Others, rank-and-file members, were angry he waited so long and didn’t go far enough. Still, by speaking up, he may have broken a stranglehold and cracked open a door that allows people to now follow their own consciences in educational choices. Too bad he and those like him to dare to offer a dissenting voice are not being marginalized and soon cast out.

  • Fried Fish

    @M – sorry, more specifically to your comment, SGM did make a statement about where the money went, MM was just trying to verify. There was a long delay between receiving and disbursing a significant amount of the funding.

  • Fried Fish

    MM #295 – sounds like a better match.

    M #296 – in the flurry of activity after the Haiti earthquake, there was a groundswell of giving to help those affected. Sorting out the potential recipients to separate the scammers and the incompetents from those who would use the funds effectively was and still is no small task. I wouldn’t fault SGM for being cautious.

  • M

    Wait – they collected money for a relief fund for haiti but never officially announced which organization(s) would/did receive the money?

    Is there no accountability at all to the members? I can’t imagine any real corporation doing that, much less a church or church-related organization. I know this is minor compared to the other things SGM has done, but what would it cost them to announce who received the money??

  • Totally off topic…but a while back Fried Fish posted this about the Haiti fund and it’s possible recipient:

    “Not sure if it would help connect the dots on Haiti, but there is a Lutheran mission in Haiti run by a Pastor Daniel which has a school and a girls’ orphanage —

    I checked in with with the US sponsors and they did not receive any funds from SGM. However, I did come across a ministry that is the possible recipient of the SGM Haiti fund.

    I’ll contact them in a few days, unless someone has already confirmed it on their end.

  • Unassimilated

    Studio construction plus equipment was close to $600,000.
    They have the funds to manage, besides, Bob gets to influence Nashville, priceless.
    Could use the barf icon right now.

  • Sea change

    Gross. That promo video is creepy. Some of the audio clips they chose are really wonderful too.

  • NameGoesHere said:

    Those staffers that make the move to Kentucky, if they can survive long enough to sell their house in Maryland should be able to dramatically upgrade their digs by moving to Louisville.
    There are real financial benefits to this move but the question is the same for any company that moves operations to a lower-cost area: is the disruption to processes and loss of experience and talent worth it?

    I am sure there for the people moving they will find it cheaper to live there. Especially if SGM gives them dollars for relocation then it won’t hurt them financially.

    For SGM I am sure there annual operating costs will be lower in KY than in MD but there will be a signficant cost to relocating the headquarters that may take a long period of time to pay back. SGM has no facility where they are relcating so will have to start from scratch. SGM has also been able to jointly use some of CLC’s space for events and other times that they won’t have out in KY.

    Didn’t someone state that SGM has an expensive recording studio in the CLC building? If they want this same type of facility in KY that will be a considerable cost. I am sure this is just one of many examples of up front costs that SGM will have to incur for this move. If they are paying employee relocation expenses then that is another.

    Thus apparently you have a situation where yes the group’s operating costs will be lower in KY but moving there will be a significant cost and take a number of years to pay for these moving costs.

  • MAK

    I just watched that promo video. OMG. I mean…whatever…for guys who admit to being so humble…the heavenly rays are such a nice touch…

  • MAK

    I just received my personal invitation to the SGM Pastors College graduation ceremony on June 10, 2012 at CLC. It’s nice to see that everyone’s coming back to CLC for the ceremony. So CLC will have to use their auditorium and then put on the reception afterwards. For the last time.

  • Unassimilated

    Persona, the Sgm gospel message is so much
    more than the life and sacrifice of Jesus. It is about how you commit to your local church, it is about how you submit to your God appointed spiritual authorities. It is about investing time and tythes. It is about how you spend your life and who you share it with. Its about humility, accountability, and you leaders infalability.
    Its about not waisting your sports, modesty in dress, and doing Gods best.

    There is so much more than just the savior, that
    is what they are preaching and why it is for those
    who have already found Jesus.

  • anon

    re: video in #270 = OMGROTFL!

    Sorry, but I was rolling on the floor laughing with that one. Nice ending scene with epic talk of our savior and visions of CJ juxtaposed with rays of light shining from heaven! Oh, glory be!

    Bottom line: my savior has come, and I NEED to get out to PALM SPRINGS (?!?) to meet with him! Whatever shall I do? Woe is unto me!

    (the 3rd guys words were right on, though. who is he? do i want to know???… nevermind. just give me Jesus and the Scriptures.)

  • Persona

    This seems to be the last Resolved conference. And, CJ is allegedly hosting the last NEXT conference.

    So that leaves the CLASH as the remaining way SGM rattles the bushes for youthful members in the future.

    But, I wonder why they advertise that they preach the Gospel at these conferences if preaching to the choir seems to be the main thing happening?

    Anyone thinking of attending the CLASH would likely be a Christian and probably already a member of an SGM church. How much preaching of the Gospel to the unchurched or unbelievers is really happening at these conferences?

  • One incredible Savior?

    Hey guys!
    His name is JESUS!

    Name above ALL NAMES!

    Oh great pastors….(of the apocalypse), just what is your problem with proclaiming that name?

  • Unassimilated

    Video makes perfect sence once you realize that they are not preaching salvation, they are selling
    & promoting a man made version of sanctification.

    Big difference.

    While salvation is free to all that would believe, sanctification, the CJ & friends version, is a very
    pricey scheme. If you want a better experiance in this world and the next, and by better I am refering to better than the rest of christianity,
    its going to cost you.

  • Happymom

    Regarding the RESOLVED video, it’s hard to imagine these men really take themselves that seriously. The light streaming from above, are they serious??

    RESOLVED to exalt who?????

  • NameGoesHere

    SGM can replace a lot of the current Maryland staff with Southern Seminary students for probably half cost, even before accounting for benefits.

    Those staffers that make the move to Kentucky, if they can survive long enough to sell their house in Maryland should be able to dramatically upgrade their digs by moving to Louisville.

    There are real financial benefits to this move but the question is the same for any company that moves operations to a lower-cost area: is the disruption to processes and loss of experience and talent worth it?

  • Stunned

    Argus said, “The ad struck me as the typical hype surrounding a multilevel marketing convention.”

    Argus, I thought the same thing. I am not trying to be funny, but I kept picturing Mary Kay conventions mixed with the people of Israel saying “We want a king to rule over us!”

  • Ellie

    Sorry, Ellie, I must disagree.
    It’s like the Harry Potter trailer, with the mark of the Dark Lord in the sky.

    QE2 – well, that too. :)

  • JeffB


    Maybe He’ll show up in Person. How could He miss this? Really, the vulgarity of this thing is amazing, quite apart from the most footage given to someone running from his church.

  • Bridget

    The video seemed like a trailer for the next great epic movie being released.

  • Argus

    Whirlwind #277 — I would take great joy if these men were to go into the highways and byways preaching the amazing good news of Jesus Christ to the poor, the needy, and the unreached.

    I am less impressed when they market their wares to the upper-middle-class, highly-churched American consumer.

    The ad struck me as the typical hype surrounding a multilevel marketing convention.

  • Whirlwind

    I’ve struggled for some time with some of the modern Bible conferences and the celebrity associated with some teachers. Watching the commercial for the Resolved conference with the light shining down from above, I was reminded of the medieval paintings that would have halos around the heads of the Saints or other godly figures to identify them. Since the Israelites expressed their desire for a human king to represent them, it seems we’ve struggled with the need for iconic figures to lead us – whether it’s popular CCM artists or Reformed pastors – we seem to demand celebrity. Some theme music and pyrotechnics (something like a WWE entrance) as each teacher takes the stage would really seem to give expression to what we seem to desire.

    However, I’m trying to hash out how much of my response should mimic Paul’s writing to the Philippians:

    Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Phil. 1:15-18

    If there are a mix of motives in the speakers and those who promote these conferences, can I just quietly find contentment in the fact that people will hear the good news? I do struggle with seeing more people drawn to “big-name” men, but why wasn’t Paul concerned about the possible effects of people being drawn to teachers filled with envy, rivalry, and selfish ambition? Why would he rejoice that these men were winning converts?

  • Moniker

    I agree. I was disgusted by the Resolved promotional video. One of the voices says something like “This conference is really about the Gospel.” Really? Seems to me like it’s all about a bunch of celebrity preachers.

  • Stunned

    5 Years, I felt just the same way. I don’t want to put down the person who made it, but who’s ever vision it was, it did not seem to glorify God to me, so much as man. Or a few, very few, choice men. It could just be us, though.

    But with the rays of holy light coming down from above, it was the same as the images of Jesus coming up out of the water after His baptism. Just in my own personal opinion, that kind of stuff might be best reserved for Jesus, not some mere humans.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    That ad is blasphemy in my opinion. The entire mood, the music, the still photos….it is a worship tribute to the preachers. I mean it is like “bow down, we are your Lord.” I found it sickening. Am I over reacting? Not a single shot of the gathered masses worshipping or reading bibles? Just the golden idols of the celebrities? Ugh. How can people fall for this crap? Matthew 24…..many will come in my name claiming I am the anointed one (Christ), or the voice of Christ. Do not be deceived.

  • Izze

    rorschach- I agree that it’s difficult to make a firm conclusion when it comes to numbers. I’m really curious though about the member loss in the last 11 months. That whole members (new and leaving) paper we get at memebers meetings (you know what I’m talking about?) will be slightly awkward this time around…if they hand that out…

  • QE2

    Sorry, Ellie, I must disagree.

    It’s like the Harry Potter trailer, with the mark of the Dark Lord in the sky.

  • Ellie

    Overblown is definitely the word. It’s like a Lord of the Rings movie trailer or something. Sheesh.

  • JeffB

    Video ad for the RESOLVED Conference. It’s bad enough that it’s so overblown, but look who gets the prime spot. Be sure to watch to the end.

  • rorschach


    Very acute thoughts! I wonder if there could be something not unlike an online voting/poll to aggregate who is very concerned/offended/etc with SGM leadership and/or CLC. What a better way to get a pulse of the body of Christ. Right now all we have to go on is what AOR reports and the number of people leaving.

    Although – I know that there were groups of folks leaving SGM (not just CLC, but other churches), being appalled over all the hidden things that the Lord brought to light. So the 200 estimate – is that just CLC and is that a swag number of folks that are pro-SGM? Or simply people that have left?

  • StvMac

    This is part of what was in SGM’s relocation announcement:

    We don’t want to give the impression that a move was a done deal even before the events of July 2011—it wasn’t. However, this conversation long preceded these events and, for the reasons given above, it has been an increasingly strong likelihood for several years.  Over the past few months, our staff has explored various locations for a potential move, including visits, demographic studies, many conversations, and much prayer.  They shared this information with the new Board when it was established, thus confronting us with this question: if we were starting SGM tomorrow, what would be the main factors for determining location and where would those factors lead us?

    The way that his worded one could easily had been “thinking” about relocation but really not exploring it till last July when Brent’s documents were released. I could for years be talking about moving but not really do it. Thus when I decided to move, I could say that I had been exploring this for years. Just cause I said that doesn’t really mean I was seriously exploring it.

    As others have said before, SGM announcing this was more like a business where decisions come down from on high vs. a group or association where decisions are done more collectively.

    Brent has done a good job in one of his posts in raising a number of questions about how finanacially wise or what savings SGM would really get from this move.

    SGM Leadership had to find a way to justify this decision and the have found a number of statements to give that would appease the more loyal people that always wnat to “believe the best.”

  • Former CLC'er

    As far as the secrecy, that was standard at CLC when I was there. I remember people telling me, “Don’t tell anyone, but…” and they’d proceed to tell me about a care group splitting or a new leader being appointed, or a new church plant, or something “monumental” like that – sarcasm intended. Another sign of a dysfunctional and controlling group – trying to control who has access to information.

    And as far as the two-week lake vacation – I wish I had enough time off to take a two week vacation!

  • Persona

    STvMac 265

    It seems to me that CJ spoke first with his wife and his daughters and their husbands, during the 2 week lake vacation that immediately followed his psuedo-confession at the initial CLC family meeting. But, no matter what the exact timeline was, the wheels starting turning early and progressed rapidly last summer.

    After making the important decisions with his family, it seem like CJ spoke to Jeff and Dave and then Bob and others, a few weeks later. They, in turn, told their staffs to prepare for big changes but, not many details were leaked.

    CJ may have contacted Dever and Mohler and other Big Dogs, to kick around ideas before he spoke to anybody on the SGM staff. But, I doubt CJ ever thought twice about leaving CLC. Nobody gets away with disagreeing AND disrespecting CJ, in this lifetime.

  • StvMac

    Steve 240,

    I agree with your end conclusion, but who is to say it was not discussed among a core group of Sr. Pastors? Certainly CJ could have picked any number of sycophants that he could trust to not go Wiki on him (Mickey, Gene, John L, Dave, Phil, and on and on). I bet there were plenty of those guys in the know.

  • Izze

    I’m not quite sure how to communicate this, and I admit some of the numbers will be suspect since no one really knows the number of people leaving CLC at this point. But the number 200 was thrown out there for the amount a people that have left CLC based upon loyalty to CJ, or issues with how CLC has handled this process since July 2011. When Persona mentioned that figure 200 it made me think about the AoR report and how many people contributed to interviews which was also around 200, which according to AoR is less than 1% of total members of SGM. I read that with the impression that AoR communicated this to make a point. That less than 1% of people “disgruntled” with SGM was not enough to bring about any sort of resolution to SGM problems or make any definitive statements. However on the other hand you have about the same amount of people that are more “pro SGM” that have obviously been vocal enough that they decide to uproot their lives and leave CLC (I have no problem with this btw, they can do as they please). So my thought/question is why does AoR in a sense “$ide” with that same percentage of people who are “pro SGM” than those who are “disgruntled”? Did they really hear from more than 1% of people that were overwhelmingly positive about SGM? And if not, why does it even matter what percentage of people throughout the ministry contributed to these interviews, if abuse took place at all? Just a thought…

  • Rick

    I sometimes wonder what would have happened if just one person at the SGM leadership table would have laid their weapons down in this and just chosen to be wronged–with full disclosure. Not acquiescence, but just a firm statement of full disclosure that a) this is where the disagreements are and b) an unwillingness to go forward with the charade of machinations that have been observed these last months.

    What if the remaining CLC pastors had proffered there resignations as a statement that the system is broken–and we cannot engage it anymore rather than the weirdness supporting some of what SGM does, and not other parts of SGM. I know it would be a lot to ask people to give up their livelihood and, frankly, personal power or stake, but I don’t sense a cure for what ails SGM short of a willingness to dismantle–and start over.

    The over the top (at least it seems to me) statements of appreciation for those leaving, the perpetual fog–I wonder sometimes at the lack of concern for the congregaton members who have to exist in this perpetual fog of (it is OK to term it) misinformation, either by omission or deliberate blurring of the truth, attempts at holy obfuscation? Whatever one calls it, seems like truth is a casualty–and really, the only hope of healing and freedom.

    I wonder…

  • One certainly would have expected that there would have been discussion before the move was announced. It would have at least been discussed amount a core group of SGM Sr. Pastors one would think before being announced as a mandate. With none of this apparently happening it appears this was a decision done due to C.J. Mahaney having a falling out with CLC Leadership.

  • Whirlwind

    @Kris #250 – But…let’s just say, for the sake of a silly “what if,” that CJ and his enablers are NOT actually lying, and that they actually had been planning this move to Kentucky for a couple of years. What does the secrecy say about SGM and SGM’s leadership style and lack of respect for its members?

    One other question this raises in my mind…if you were considering a significant move like this, wouldn’t you want to solicit prayer from the people for wisdom in this kind of decision? I’ve heard recent requests for prayer for the polity committee because of the significance of their work. As you suggest, let’s just say they’ve been considering this move for a couple years, wouldn’t they make it public that they were looking to reduce expenses and needed people to pray for them to see clearly what locations might be better suited to the PC’s goals? So IF they’ve been deliberating on this for as long as they suggest, it appears they’re a bit confident in their own ability to make these decisions (or at least in the efficacy of their own prayers apart from the rest of the church).

    Again I’m reminded of CJ’s own words from last fall’s pastors conference, commenting on how quickly he can make decisions and fail to communicate those decisions well.

  • rorschach


    Yes – CLC did withdraw its “tithing” to SGM. I was simply ranting about the arm-twist accusation by some individuals that doing such a thing is going to affect SGM’s employees. While it certainly isn’t a happy time for those folks who, due to budgetary or organizational constraints, are being dropped… I feel like it shouldn’t be part of the equation or dialogue. Sorry – sometimes my typing is not in sync with my brain. ;)

  • Oswald

    Defended #255 said “…would go with him to China if that was where he (cj) needed to go for better real estate anyway!” And I would add “…or Jones(Ceej)town”.

  • Oswald

    Sopy #244 — Thanks for the link to the Christianity Today blog. I hope it will be read by many who otherwise might not see the info provided, even though it was small.
    BTW, you’re my favorite DJ.

  • Persona

    SGM is not taking all their MD employees to KY. Some got pink slips. That might mean SGM won’t need quite as much money for their new arrangement.

    Joshua also mentioned that CLC would fulfill their commitment to the North African church plant. They also said they were open to funding similar ministry opportunities with SGM in the future.

    As far as the exodus from CLC goes, some CLC members, like the Wethjes, already transferred their memberships to Solid Rock. At least one member of the CLC staff, Mark Donovan, is making the move to KY with his family. And some left-behind family members of those moving to KY, now attend other ‘local’ SGM churches. Who knows how many have left CLC for other denominations, like us? When all the dust settles, I wouldn’t be surprised if the total number of souls leaving CLC will be more than 200.

  • newbie

    defended 255: CLC is currently with holding funding to SGM on an interim basis. i expect we’ll hear more at the big family meeting on June 28.

  • Defended

    excellent post (#250) Kris! The move is a split, an angry man leaving in a huff and taking his “guys” with him. I got in trouble for saying “your guys” to a pastor once but sheesh, it looks like he’s got his cronies and so what’s the big deals with telling THE TRUTH about the move? The people who are following to KY would go with him to China if that was where he (cj) needed to go for better real estate anyway!

    Rorshach – I’m confused, did CLC withdraw its contributions to SGM or not?
    I thought they did.

  • MAK

    Persona…I couldn’t agree with you more. Yes, this is not a church plant but a church split (albeit a small one). I was walking into CLC yesterday and was greeted on their leaving by Mike Bradshaw’s parents. They’re there every Sunday serving in children’s ministry (of all places…where their son was the head). They did not follow to Solid Rock. This is splitting up families and 30 year friendships. It is really hurting a lot of people.

  • rorschach

    Good point that one or a group shouldn’t feel compelled to continue giving to a group to “save” employees jobs. On top of that, it was pointed out that SGM has significant reserves and if they had to let people go they could give these employees nice severance packages similar to what C.J.’s son in laws were given.

  • rorschach

    I agree – excellent thoughts Kris #250!


    Something that has irked me before and I don’t remember if I mentioned this – is the question about CLC withdrawing its funding to SGM and suggesting that the collateral damage would be the SGM employees.

    To me that smacks of a great confusion over serving and working for a ministry. If someone has lost faith in that ministry, to insinuate that one is adversely affecting its employees as an arguement or excuse or and accusation … is downright disgusting. Isn’t the point of donations for [anything] for the cause it is championing? In this case… the witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

    I’m not giving in order to keep X people employed. SGM is NOT a mercy-employment ministry for the middle-class. That kind of sentiment needs to be thrown out the window, it is too dangerously reminiscent of the vendors at the temple… whom Jesus confronted (to put it lightly).

    And yet those employees who are being “left behind” and have nary an idea what to do with their lives now … are they going to imply that their unemployment is the fault of the departing SGM hive mind? I wouldn’t think so.

  • Izze

    Kris #250…Where’s the “good posting” emoticon when you need it?!

  • The thing is, if CJ wants to take his toys and leave the sandbox in a huff, that wouldn’t really be the end of the world for the people who adore him and would follow him no matter what. But it’s amazing to me (even though I suppose it shouldn’t be, after all this time of studying SGM) that they really think they can utter such obvious untruths and somehow manage still to maintain people’s good opinions of them.

    But…let’s just say, for the sake of a silly “what if,” that CJ and his enablers are NOT actually lying, and that they actually had been planning this move to Kentucky for a couple of years. What does the secrecy say about SGM and SGM’s leadership style and lack of respect for its members?

    Shouldn’t such a move have been more of an open, corporate decision? With plenty of open honest discussion beforehand?

    I think they look like bumbling idiots either way. But the way they’ve presently chose to attempt to spin this makes them seem like lying bumbling idiot control freaks.

    I wish they’d just be honest already. We all know the truth. They’re only fooling their most die-hard constituents who would happily swallow the truth anyway.

  • Patrick

    How many CLC members (non-SGM employees) are following CJ and company to Louisville? Does anyone have an estimate? What about from other churches? Has anyone heard of others moving there from other non-CLC churches?

  • Unassimilated

    Kris & Persona,

    I am sure it was devastating. I recall that Steve Cook and family just returned recently to SGM/CLC.
    Time to pack again….for the gospel?? *big sigh* It is so sad for me to witness
    the families who have hitched their beliefs and spirituality to CJ & Friends latest gypsy caravan.
    As one poster pointed out, SGM’s cash reserves have increased over the last ten years, reserves
    that are in the millions of dollars.

    It’s a move of pride and arrogance.

    Yet, what were we to expect when CJ, the purveyor of self examination and group accountability,
    could not even bear to show his face at CLC on a Sunday morning? He may profess publicly that
    he did nothing disqualifying, but his actions speak loud and clear as to his
    culpability and sense of shame.

  • I think the whole “we’re moving to Kentucky for financial benefits” spiel is one of the most breathtakingly bold lies SGM’s leaders have ever uttered to date.

    I have heard from numerous people who have been devastated by the move…who say it came out of left field, the direct result of CJ’s anger over Josh Harris’ response to Brent’s documents.

    For them to try and back-date it and pretend that it was in the works for a long time – that is such poppycock, and they know it.

    But they also know that people will persist in “believing the best” (in other words, unquestioningly swallowing everything their leaders tell them), so they can lie without consequence. I guess that’s what emboldens them. In any other universe, it would be an amazing undertaking, to lie about this issue the way they are lying.

  • Persona

    30 Years

    Some SGM employees, in the process of relocating to KY, also seriously upgraded their homes in the past 2-4 years which seems to indicate that they weren’t planning to leave the area any time soon, as well. (The upgrades I am talking about are unrelated to the staging of their homes for resale)

    In fact, until last July, when CJ and his sons-in-law began making their future plans, SGM employees weren’t anticipating a big move anytime soon. From what I know, many or most SGM co-workers were planning to retire in the Gaithersburg area. CLC is their church home and the center of most of their extended families.

    This exodus is breaking up more families than I can enumerate. And even as they call it a financial decision or a church plant, we all know it is one big church-split, initiated by CJ Mahaney.

    And, CJ and most of the others are leaving the area because they have been offended by Josh and others at CLC.

  • 30 years


    I am curious as to why SGM installed new high-end carpet and repaved the front entrance of their office last year if they knew they were leaving?

  • Sopwith

    When The SGM Levee Breaks?

    “…What is even more telling is how SGM is packing up and leaving CLC. I dont care how many times I’m told this was in the works before July 2011. CLC not standing beside SGM is really what made them move to KY.” -KWIM # 241


    …♪♫♪If it keeps on rainin, SGM, levees goin to break, 
    When the levee breaks you’ll have no place ta stay. 
    Mean old levee taught me to weep and moan, 
    Lord, mean old levee taught me to weep and moan, 

    …♪♫♪Got what it takes to make a Gaithersburg man leave his home?, Oh, well, oh, well, oh, well. 
    Don’t it make you feel bad when youre tryin to find your way home, 
    And you don’t know which way to go? 

    …♪♫♪If youre goin down South,
    They got no work for you to do?
    If you don’t know about Kentucky,
    Cryin wont help you, prayin wont do you no good, 

    …♪♫♪Now, cryin wont help you, prayin wont do you no good, When the levee breaks, DaCeege , he gotz ta move?
    All last night sat on the levee and moaned, 
    Thinkin bout ma legacy, and my happy to pastor church, no mo!

    …♪♫♪Going, gone to Kentucky, gone to Kentucky,
    Sorry but I can’t take you. 
    Going down, going down now, going down…

    One Way?!?


    Comic relief: Robert Plant  Jimmy Page – “When The Levee Breaks”

    Bonus: Memphis Minnie-(1929) “When The Levee Breaks”

    “When The Levee Breaks” lyrics © Memphis Minnie and Joe Mccoys; adapted by Robert Plant, James Page for LED ZEPPELIN. (parody adaptation, US Title 17 infringement unintended.) 

  • Muckraker

    For the record: the AofR report is now off SGM homepage. The only way to find it is to scroll through the Plant and Build blog archives.

  • KWIM

    I like Revival. It sounds more churchy. haha

  • KWIM

    Very off topic and just my personal opinion.
    SGM will not change from a top down leadership. This is how they have done it for the last 30 yrs and it works for them. There are many on this blog and others that have questioned SGM and their practices and been shunned for it. What is even more telling is how SGM is packing up and leaving CLC. I dont care how many times I’m told this was in the works before July 2011. CLC not standing beside SGM is really what made them move to KY.
    I say don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya SGM :Bye:

  • rorschach

    KWIM – you make a good point about the revival! Although is it revival or liberation? ;) maybe both.

  • KWIM

    Rorschach, here’s what bothers me. Most people dont have a freaking clue about apostolic leadership. When you go to their church websites do they say ‘We believe in Apostolic leadership and here’s what it means?’ I dont think so. I mean members of CLC didn’t even know what the heck that was or meant. Which is telling since CLC birthed SGM (or are they considered siblings since CJ really birthed them?).
    Revival…well I might disagree with you on this one. Since everything went down I feel like there really has been a revival of sorts at CLC. I mean people who where blind are now seeing. People who were hurt are being cared for (to some extent). Pastors are standing up and saying I did _______ wrong and I am sorry (these were spefic and/are geniune). CLC pastors are more available to the congregation. Aren’t some in normal CGs now? now you Know What I Mean about a revival of sorts.

  • Unassimilated

    rorschach _ I was going to post this yesterday, did not get the chance, just a rant on my part, but yes,
    why more churches?

    I would agree with many priorities in the article. However, emerging from my almost 30 years
    of SGM’s many years of little a apostles, whose call and role was defined very much like the article
    makes it a difficult read. Why, because SGM professed little ‘a’ publicly, they practiced big ‘A’ in
    many heavy handed ways behind their curtain.

    Obviously, given my tenure at SGM, I would have agreed with much of the little a priorities going back to 1982.

    That being said, I am not sure we need is more church planters, I pass about 15-20 christian
    churches on my way home. I don’t see them in short supply. I would prefer men who behave like Christ,
    point to his word in truth and love, and have selfless ambition for the Gospel. Men who remember that
    their first love is Christ, and their relationship with Christ, rather than the bride (brick and mortar
    church). These types of men, who put their personal relationship with Christ first, and the public display
    from the pulpit second, are IMO, more effective in spreading the Gospel of Christ.

    I have no use for those that point to books, ministries, conferences, attendance numbers, or buildings
    as proof of righteous work or deed. These are all things that corporations, worldly men, and false
    prophets can point to. These conference Christians seem to only garner the same type of emotive
    consumerism that companies like Apple have with a gadget at the core of their i-religion.

  • rorschach

    Since I have similar vision and priorities as my Pastors, does that make me pastoral? Heck – I’m stating it! I’m a pastor now – affirmed by me (and my mom).

  • rorschach

    Ellie #225:

    Again – playing footsies imo with grabbing a reserved and holy title to oneself. “I’m not a REAL apostle, but I’m apostolic and have apostolic vision and share their priorities, some of their duties (authority over churches), but not their office.”

    1) I can’t believe they are bold enough to flaunt the title and honor of such. It’s ludicrous, it’s like saying “I’m a surfer…. at heart.” When you don’t own a board and have never dropped in on a wave outside of a bodyboard.
    2) “Praying for the other guy’s church” – these idiots don’t get revival. It happens in the streets for Pete’s sake. NOT in church. Revival isn’t needed IN the church. It’s NOT going to happen in the church. It’s needed where druggies, prostitutes, gang bangers lurk. It’s needed where the rich/smart atheists are. Look at the ministry of the early church and even the Christian churches in history. Revival IN or AT a church isn’t talked about. They were in tents and street corners.

    Sorry – I’m lathered up!

  • Stunned

    It seems more like an effort to redefine words. Once again.

    Keep that in mind, Commrades.

  • rorschach

    the articles by rickthomas and were excellent, btw.

  • rorschach

    I’ve taken a long look at the bible concerning the Apostlic ministry (still am, there’s much to learn) – there aren’t really qualifications listed “to be followed” but rather exemplification of how apostles were legitimized as well as their duties. One of which where Paul defends his ministry by the fact that he’s raised churches. But as far as SGM goes – that’s where it stops, imo. Paul also defended his apostolic ministry actively (as his laying out what made him qualified) and since there isn’t a “list of quals” I believe we need to look at the example in his life. As in signs and wonders, living amongst the people, preaching without charge, living sacrificially & humbly, preaching the gospel to the lost to one’s own endangerment. You look also at how Paul was accepted and legitimized by the other apostles of the day by going to them and being affirmed as the real thing (is this a succession-ary thing?). Look at how Matthias was chosen to replace Judas. Then we have Barnabas and possibly Timothy (as Sasser argues) as apostles or “sub-apostles” (whiskey tango foxtrot). Which were not self-proclaimed-came-out-of-the-woodwork guys – but soberly chosen by apostles, elders, and congregation. And I disagree with downgrading the qualifications as exemplified in Scripture so that guys can claim apostleship or sub-apostleship (that which borders upon insolent presumption and possibly heresy, imo).

    Now whether or not one believes that present day apostles are biblical, in my opinion is besides the point. SGM HAS PROVEN ITSELF OF NO LEGITIMACY OF THEIR CLAIM TO BE APOSTLES.

    You live an insular life? You receive honorariums for preaching wherever? You drive nice cars, live in nice homes, eat together with other princely-preachers at expensive steak houses while those who you charge to tithe languish in their poverty? You sin in such a way against a brother that not only is it clear in scripture as egregious but also felonious on multiple counts? No signs or wonders? Self proclaimed by self and inner circle “good ol’ boy” network and presented as such to the churches with no affirmation… “it was decided [by the inner circle] so accept it, people.”

  • intheNICKoftime


    I too read the article.

    I couldnt see the reason for using the term apostolic! Is sounds evangelical to me. What else would you call reaching out to the unsaved, working with outside para-church organizations, sending out missionaries, etc. Why is all that evangelical stuff now being termed apostolic?

    Because when you use the term evangelical there is not boss in the background. When you use the term apostolic there is a boss sitting in the shadows some place.

    Tyrants never give up. Remember that. They rework their image. They use new names. The put on different mannerisms. They shift and change but they are always tyrants…and they never give up!

  • Oswald

    An article titled ‘Wanted: Apostolic Pastors’ written by Mark Dever, is linked by “Ellie” #225, and it’s not what we might think. I read it and found it to be quite good. It does NOT suggest calling themselves Apostles with a big ‘A’ nor a little ‘a’. It’s actually a description of what pastoral ministry should include and it’s worth the read.

  • Unassimilated

    If only they were on high horses. Felt like they were riding on the backs of the congregants.

    They have sent more people packing in the last 30 years then they currently ‘Serve’.
    How nice that they have accepted the role of sorting out who belongs to God and who doesn’t.
    I’m also curious as to when the Gospel and name of Jesus took a back seat to “Church planting”
    and “Gospel priorities.”

    It is all very apocalyptic.

  • Apocalyptic Pastors.

    I recall here some years back, referencing “Apostolic Team”, when it was CJ and the 4 apostles, the 4 apostles were refereed here as “the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse.”

    Particularly Shank. When he showed up, someone was getting “shanked”. (De-gifted.)

  • Unassimilated

    Apostolic pastor Mark Dever!?!

    If CJ is having any influence, the correct term is Apocalyptic Pastors.

  • Oswald

    Ellie #225 — I noticed this article, too. It makes me wonder who is influencing whom. And why is this ‘apostolic’ buzz-word so ‘out there’ lately. Are the ‘really smart guys’, as CJ calls them, trying to convince us of something?

  • intheNICKoftime

    Rick in #217

    yes, rick, those were good times. We spent many hours in the hall and often with our pastors.

    And you may also recall that that was about the time CJ stopped the SGM magazine.

    It was probably around the same time he stopped being the head pastor at CLC. I dont know if he decided it was too much trouble now that he didnt have the huge CLC staff to get things done or just didnt want to take the time to have someone from SGM do it. Maybe then he had a new vision for SGM and didnt think it was necessary or helpful for the family of churches to know what was going on outside each little community.

    But in retrospect, there was certainly a was a life altering change happening at that time. It is almost like two different worlds when you think back to the way things were when celebration was canceled.

    THAT was when the “family” dynamics of SGM really changed. Not that they were perfect before, but now, in isolation, the dark and controlling side of CJ really came out.

  • Ellie

    Something interesting is going on. “Apostles” are ok now?

  • Deuteronomy 32:35

    SGM Overcomer #210:

    Thanks for your post with the link to The Sword of the Kingdom.

    After reading the writings of C.S. Lews, Dorothea Sayers and Os Guiness, I have arrived at the conviction that a large segment of our culture has had western corporate business philosophy as its true source of inspiration and not Scripture. These folks were warning long ago that this could become a serious problem in the culture of the west but also the evangelical church. Couple that corrupt ethic (can anyone believe Citigroup lost another $2billion large with essentially the same personnel who got them in trouble the last time?) with 30 or 40 years of children in the US being raised to adulthood by an educational system wired to produce followers and not leaders, and you have a church culture breathing very toxic cultural air. There is a crisis of fatherhood in our culture at large because if this toxic mix, and the church is not immune. I think the church, as we have seen with SGM, is more ripe for tyranny than out culture. It became clear to me while at SGM that their true sacred writings were books like “Good to Great” and “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. These kinds of writings (let’s throw in “the Art of War” as well) are what they functionally and philosophically defer to, and by and large they have a populace willing to go along with whatever they decide. Learning how to think, instead of letting your “leaders” tell you what to think, is paramount to living the Christian life. But it requires a mind trained to imagine, a mind trained to process logically, and you won’t get that from leaders who feel a primary part of their calling is to tell “sheeple” what to think. I couldn’t agree more with Swords belief that the evangelical church is being led by Papist leadership philosophy.

    It is encouraging to see that out there. It needs to became far more available.

  • Brent has a new post up:

    Brent is asking about what happened to CJ stating he would be replaced with a new leader. That hasn’t happened.

  • Unassimilated

    sgmovercomer –

    Thanks for the article. This was spot on –

    Immunity from criticism is expected and promoted by those who have the reins of control in these wicked and toxic church cultures. In order to maintain this immunity, dissent must be portrayed as disloyalty, and disloyalty must be punished, either overtly by demotion and shunning, or by more subtle methods.

    One way a leadership immunity culture is maintained is by inordinate and unidirectional emphasis on honor. That is, honor is defined as never disagreeing with, challenging, or confronting a leader on anything he or she teaches, or in his or her behaviors. In this type of universe, honor flows in only one direction . . . up the hierarchy. The biblical admonitions to honor one another and to honor the least honorable are lost in the sea of leadership privilege. A healthy kingdom culture of mutual honor (including double honor to elders who Gr. proistemi “go before well”, not KJV “rule”) is not to be found, and in its place is a docile, groveling, emasculated servility and the insecure controllers call it “sonship,” loyalty, submission to authority, and honor.

  • That Bad Dog, #196
    As I read your composite story about “Pastor Bigpants” I was having flashbacks about our specific experience.

    Up to this moment, I have been thinking that these guys (in our story) were just bizarre in their willy nilly manner of how they handled us. But your citing these doctrinal statements, well that makes it more evil on an organizational level.

    It’s crazy making!
    It’s practically SATANICALLY inspired!

    I mean, lately, I have been thinking that “Pastor X” was just STUPID.
    Now it looks to be calculatedly deliberate.
    If anybody talked about their experience with anybody else, it is Slander.

    That explains it!

    It is indefensible!

    I’m reminded of a T-shirt I saw back in the 70’s. I wanted one, but my Mother would not let me get one….
    The front was a picture of Jesus coming back in the clouds.
    The back had these words,
    “Jesus is coming back soon. And boy is He PI$$ED!”

  • Apparently I failed to properly parse the “em” tag after the 1 Tim 5:20 citation. Sorry about all the italics. I would fix it, but I can’t get in there.

  • re: #212


    I can tell you exactly how it works with Driscoll and Pyro/MacArthur.

    The modern Reformed rule is:

    There is no 1 Tim 5:19 “pastoral immunity” for public behavior or teaching; also, there is also no necessity for a Matt 18 process (though it may be followed as a courtesy), because the sin or error is already public.

    This is typically reasoned from Paul’s rebuke of Peter and also 1 Tim 5:20 Them [i.e., the elder(s)] that sin, rebuke before all, that others also may fearem, as well as some other verses.

    So, in the case of Driscoll, Pyro/MacArthur can condemn his public behavior, his published writings, his visible persona, and even pronounce him unfit for the ministry (though that last step was unusual, and considered bad form if not altogether unlawful).

    However, they will most likely remain entirely mum about the Bent Meyer accusations, and any other first-hand accounts of abuse which have or may surface. The fact is this – if Mark Driscoll had been a little more restrained in his behavior, and stayed within the approved Calvinist and complementarian phraseologies, he could engage in an unlimited level of private bullying without even drawing attention – much less criticism – from Pyro and the like, and no amount of first-hand testimony would change this.

    Of course, that’s just the stated rule.

    The real rule is this:

    There is no 1 Tim 5:19 “pastoral immunity” for public behavior or teaching, unless of course we decide to grant it, in which case there is, and anyone who disagrees with us is a contentious, schismatic, rebellious person who should be shunned.

    That is, when an “anointed one” begins to engage in crazy-talk (God sent tornados to warn the ECLA about gay ministers), or unwittingly reveals the tradecraft of the authoritarian regime by becoming a visible tyrant, the grant of immunity is typically extended anyway, because in this business, it is “all for one, and one for all.”

  • You make a good point about celebrations. Thanks. Celebration was really a different animal, as you suggested. Our family went, our small group, and our church. A large number of us would sit in the hallway of the dorms at Liberty U way into the night. The preaching was good, but the community was excellent. Those were good memories. But, again, that is a different animal from the article. And thanks for the reminder by the way. It brought back some good memories …before it all hit the fan.

  • intheNICKoftime

    Rick in #201 –

    Thanks for a great article. You did a nice job or pointing out the benefits but more importantly the costs.

    I couldnt help think about all the positives that come from that type of conference and how we HAD all those benefits back when we had celebration.

    And that made me think about CJ killing celebrations because of the time and effort. BUT…he still does the conference circut. He just doesnt do the planning and the cost has been shoved off on the people.

    Instead of cost effective college campuses and bringing in the whole family for less than a K, now he just calls up a conference center and lets them do the rest. The co$t is much greater but then, it’s not coming out of his pocket, is it? And he never stayed in the dorms anyway, did he?

    The benefits of the conferences were wonderful and refreshing. But CJ wasn’t getting enough money for those so he canceled them and went to the more lucrative speaking circuit. Am I wrong in my view of the change in the playing field?

  • Bridget

    Kris –

    CJ is teaching at “Resolved” in a few weeks. I don’t think Team Pyro, especially Phil Johnson, would want much negativity about a man that Mac is supporting at the conference. I wonder how much this plays into the equation of RBDs not speaking up? It will be interesting to see how the conferences play out over the next few years ans who is speaking where.

  • Kris-

    I would want to remind folks that John MacArthur is responsible for introducing Gary Ezzo to the Evangelical church on a broad scale. Ezzo was able to become an international “expert” on parenting while on staff at MacArthur’s church.

  • Bridget

    I would love to see Steve Shank go to all the churches, where chaos ensued after his help and discernment was brought, and apologize. Forgiveness between individuals is wonderful and helpful, but it needs to happen with congregations as well. In some cases men need to to address the whole family of churches. I have not seen this happen.

  • “That Bad Dog’s” #196 is a great analysis of what is likely going on among the members of Team Pyro and other Reformed Big Dogs when it comes to their seemingly willful blindness to SGM’s problems, their refusal to listen with even a TINY bit of an open mind to SGM’s critics.

    I’ve honestly been mystified by the way the Reformed bloggers and tastemakers have been so eager to defend SGM. It’s been really hard to understand why they desire to continue to align themselves with CJ and SGM and so purposefully ignore the reality that so many former SGMers have spoken out about their negative experiences.

    But of course, if you really and truly believe that you cannot entertain an accusation against an elder unless two or three people have witnessed the elder’s bad behavior, then a significant percentage of SGM’s critics would automatically be silenced.

    Do those guys really believe, though, that anything a pastor might do wrong one-on-one (or one-on-two) cannot be spoken about publicly?

    I wonder what the Team Pyro guys have to say about the Survivor-type blogs that have sprung up recently among former members of Mark Driscoll’s Acts 29 network of churches? They have quite vocally criticized many elements of Driscoll’s ministry. Do they now find themselves nodding with understanding as former Mars Hill members discuss how Driscoll abused his authority?

    Is there something about bad public teachings that then legitimizes voices of the abused, the (oh-so-mocked) notion of survivors?

    I’m starting to think that in these Reformed bloggers’ minds, there is.

    Then there’s another good question that someone (I’m too lazy right now to go back and try to find who it was) asked recently – have the Pyro guys asked themselves why it is that there’s not a similarly vocal group of survivors of a ministry like John MacArthur’s?

    Will they fall back on the old saw of faulting a group’s Charismaticism? (As I’m writing this and sort of “thinking aloud” here, I realize that yes, they probably would blame the negative Acts 29 experiences on Mark Driscoll’s loosey-goosey moments of quasi-Charismaticism, rather than any of his hardline Reformed stances on scriptures about pastoral authority.)

  • EMSoliDeoGloria

    #196 – it’s lunacy, but yes, that seems to be how “do not receive an accusation against an elder” is interpreted in some circles.

    Personally, I think the sense of it is more “do not convict / remove / discipline” an elder except on the evidence of at least two people. In other words, elders are held to very high standards biblically – they are to be an example of following Christ that other believers should be able to emulate – if they being accused of not meeting that standard, more than one person should be making the same or same kind of accusation before any action is taken to address the issue. It’s not an excuse to disbelieve a credible accusation or deny justice to the aggrieved.

    What would this look like? Well, like most of Scripture, we must apply the principle with WISDOM. It’s not a legalistic rule book but it is “good for doctrine, reproof, correction and training in faith. So, one accusation that the pastor was angry and harsh in counseling doesn’t mean he should be removed as a pastor, although someone should follow the Matthew 18 steps with him about it (pastors aren’t above that). BUT if several people say that he has been harsh and angry in counseling sessions with them, and a pastor is supposed to be gentle and above reproach, the church should consider restorative discipline and additional training for their pastor – especially if his response to any attempt to address this issue in his life is argumentative, angry, harsh, etc…. You don’t have to have multiple witnesses to every incident before you can consider the issue. But you should have more than one person testifying to the type of concern before you discipline the pastor. And, in this we are talking about accusations that the elder does not meet the Lord’s standards for shepherding the flock of God. We are not talking about criminal matters. If someone makes a credible accusation that the pastor raped them, you don’t require them to bring two witnesses to the rape before you take any action. Common sense, please.

    And of course Matthew 18 applies to elders too. After all, elders are brothers, are they not?

  • sgmovercomer

    Those of you calling for repentance and reform within SGM, take heart

  • Lee


    You are my new blog hero. I love what you had to say about national conferences, why you love hearing your pastor preach, and what you had to say about SGM that was linked to on Refuge.

    Keep up the good blogging!

  • Ozymandias sent me a link to an interesting post:

    About that post, Ozymandias says:

    I think the kicker lines for me — whether it comes to discussions of (a) how Matt. 18 process should precisely work, biblically, or (b) is there a Biblical defense of Brent’s actions re: whistleblowing; or, re: my email to Nathan Sasser, (c) whether there’s a Biblical mandate for using parachurch organizations — come from the following paragraph, particularly Leithart’s first line:

    “Scripture is ethical paedeia, not an ethics manual. All Scripture is practical because God breathed all of it to form people, both individuals and community. God tells stories to stock our memory with a common moral past that projects his people into the future. God’s word expands our imagination to grasp more of what’s really there and to envision what might be there in the future. The Bible is useful because it opens our eyes, and because it’s highly impractical to walk through life with our eyes closed.”

  • SB –

    I think you raise an interesting point, which is that “good guys” can still engage in hurtful behavior, especially when taught and empowered by a particular church system that it is their right and their duty to do so.

    Lots of people love Steve Shank and think he’s a good guy. I doubt he would ever have climbed as high up the SGM leadership pyramid as he has if that were not the case. But it also seems clear to me that Mr. Shank has gotten up in front of congregations and engaged in a whole bunch of double-speak (perhaps even outright lies) as he presided over firings and de-giftings of various pastors under his management. That doesn’t mean you need to stop liking him…or even thinking of him as a “good guy.” But I do wish he would be called upon by ordinary members to own his part in the SGM mess.

  • Someone asked about Seneca/Jimmy. I take kind of a dim view of people who post under multiple names, especially if they’ve struck me as disagreeable in the past. (Subjective, I know, but that’s just the way it is.) After “lmalone” mentioned the other forums where Seneca/Jimmy has participated, I did a quick perusal and decided that I don’t feel like providing additional space for him to play the perpetual contrarian. As far as I can tell, the dude never even had any connections to SGM. Yet he kept pestering for “first-person accounts” of people who had been “personally abused” by CJ…yet (naturally) he was quick to discount the people who did share their stories. I just have no desire to interact with the sort of person who involves himself in these kinds of discussions just to defend the indefensible.

  • QE2

    Was Matthew 18 ever really supposed to be a one size fits all, the only way to do things, rule?

    Is NOT following Matthew 18 sin?

    Could perhaps the Lord want someone to do things a little differently in any given situation?

    Or is the Lord of the universe straightjacketed into solving every relational issue this one way?

    I see a very creative God-in-the-flesh, Jesus, in my Bible. He never healed the same way twice. He answered the pharisees in different ways-outright rebuke, asking a question for them to answer first (You tell me this, then I will tell you that), giving them a chance to figure things out the right way (I have a question for you, Simon) and agreeing with them (sure, you should pay the taxes, get it out of the fish’s mouth).

    Did Paul sin because he confronted Peter in front of everyone? According to the Matthew 18 formula, yes.

    Wait-did Jesus really tell people to take it to the “church”? What specific church was that? At the time Jesus walked the earth, there were only Jews that went to the temple and gentiles who worshipped false Gods. Hmmm…wasn’t the original word he used ekklesia? That means the called out ones and is a political term, not a religious term.

    Thayer’s Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament says, “an assembly of the people convened at the public place of council for the purpose of deliberating”.

    I often find these famous celebrity Christians really don’t even know what they are talking about.
    They just think they know what scripture says.

    In context, at the time, telling it to the church did not mean a small inner circle at local XYZ church.

    I guess I feel differently than the self-appointed rule enforcers. Those that really know the shepherd’s voice and follow it find themselves doing things in sometimes different and surprising ways.

  • SB

    I went to John MacArthur’s school-I’ve dealt with Phil Johnson. I think many people are suspicious of CJ in those circles.

    Anyway, here is a transcription of an old sermon of Steve Shank’s. He’s a good dude no matter what you guys say.

  • Unassimilated

    What happened to Seneca “Jimmy” Griggs? I know its of topic, just curious.

  • Hey Kris,
    I know you moderate this, so please feel free not to post this. I don’t want to use your site to push “my stuff” and that is not my intent, but I read a comment in this string–forgive me, the string is long and I don’t remember which one. It was something about the liabilities of “national conferences.” I have been thinking about this–along with a thousand other things since I left SGM and decided to put some thoughts together here:

    Again, this is not meant to be a platform for me to do my thing, but there is a real issue here about conferences and somebody needs to say something. There may be other arguments out there about the liability of national conferences, but I’m just not aware of them.

    One more thing: there were a few questions or comments here addressed to me. I wish I had more time, but I don’t…so following the strings is not an option for me with my time demands. I’m not ignoring folks here…just super real busy with our ministry. Thank you for how God has used your work. Regards, rick

  • BeenThere

    I haven’t had an opportunity to totally study this out or its implications, but under pyro’s understanding of Matthew 18 was Paul in violation of this principle when he confronted Peter publicly without a private meeting first (see Galatians 1)?

  • @Kris #185 – was CJ a joy to pastor? I wonder what his former pastors at CLC would say? Just wondering…

  • Bridget

    Bad Dog –

    It is a no win situation. I imagine that you can’t bring a witness with you the first time you go to speak to your pastor either, because you then would not have first gone to your brother in private. You are always at the mercy of your “depraved” pastor. You have to trust that he will be honest. We know that Brent refused to meet with CJ in person after a point. He must have known how it worked.

  • Ellie

    ThatBadDog – that sounds downright demonic! =:o

  • One of the issues that came up repeatedly with the Pyro post was the persistent deletion of first-hand accounts of abuse. Why, they ask, would my story be deleted, when this is something that, you know, actually happened, which I know about, because I was there? This they think, because they make the error of acting like a rational being, not having been schooled in modern Reformed ecclesiology.

    In daily life we regularly accept first-hand accounts of events – life would not even be possible without it. Our court system so highly values the first-hand account that it is the only kind of account that is normally admissible, and then we allow the jury to determine if they believe some, all, or none of the testimony presented.

    This method is highly objectionable to modern Reformed leaders, and a doctrine has been promulgated that I call “Pastoral Immunity.” It is based on 1Tim 5:19, Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. There is an interpretation of the verse that is now so common as to be uncontroversial in Reformed circles. For example, I found this statement of the doctrine readily accessible on the Founders (SBC) site.

    Pastors are protected against a charge that is brought by a single individual. Paul is not simply saying that a pastor cannot be indicted and convicted based upon the testimony of one. He is saying that if there is only the testimony of one person, that testimony is to be thrown out of court. It is not be entertained or heard.

    It does not take a genius to see how this verse can be wielded as a deadly weapon in the hands an authoritarian, abusive elder.

    [The following story is not fictional, but is composited]

    Let’s imagine you are a member of FBC Authorityville. You grow concerned about statements or actions made by Pastor Bigpants. You arrange to meet privately with Pastor Bigpants. During your meeting, Pastor Bigpants comes completely unglued, accuses you of a number of outrageous sins, and threatens to “expose you” for various imagined sins before the church if you don’t submit to him. In fact, Pastor Bigpants even pulls a gun out of his desk and waves it menacingly.

    What to do? Do you go to the police? The other elders? The congregation? Your spouse? No. According the Reformed doctrine of Pastoral Immunity, there is absolutely nothing you can or should do (except pray, I suppose). You cannot tell anyone, because you are the only witness. It doesn’t matter that it actually happened – that is, that you are making a factually true and accurate record of events that you are willing to swear took place.

    I cannot emphasize this enough, so here it is in bold – under this doctrine, a factual, first-hand adverse record of events is morally indistinguishable from malicious and intentional lies.

    It gets worse.

    Several people have said that people who give first-hand, public accounts of what happened to them were to be faulted for “failing to follow Matt 18.” This is a particularly cruel twist of the knife, because according to the doctrine of Pastoral Immunity, you are barred from seeking redress through Matt 18, and in fact are yourself guilty of sin if you attempt it.

    Once again, this is non-controversial amongst today’s Reformed. Here is the Founders site again:

    …not only is this accusation not to be acted upon, it is not even to be received. Rather, 1 Timothy 5:19 ought to be cited and the accuser ought to be asked if he or she has another witness to substantiate the accusation. If not, we are not to receive it. The Scripture tells us not to even listen to or entertain an accusation that is unsubstantiated. If it cannot be substantiated, you and I must not participate in the sin of the accuser by listening to it.

    Do you see how this works? As long as the abusive pastor engages in his behavior privately, there is literally no limit on what he can do or say, and there is an absolute limit on what you can do or say about it. If you attempt to follow Matt 18 by bringing two witnesses to accompany you in your confrontation, not only are they not to accompany you, but rather, you yourself are to be reproved for your sin. Moreover, people like Team Pyro believe that they are morally obligated under these terms to “not participate in the sin of the accuser by listening to it” by providing a forum for its discussion, or allowing such accounts to be posted. That is why they delete all negative first-hand accounts.

    And it still gets worse.

    This multiple witness immunity is reserved for church leadership. You don’t get any. Let me explain by returning to our story.

    Pastor Bigpants realizes he may have gone too far, and decides to get out in front of the issue. He goes to the other elders and says that during your private meeting, it was actually you who became angry and violent. You are called before the elders and confronted. No substantiating witness is required of the charges against you, because you are not a church leader. Furthermore, your disaffection is already proven – after all, didn’t you request a meeting with Pastor Bigpants to “complain about his ministry”?

    Worst of all, you cannot even contradict the accusations made by Pastor Bigpants, because to do so would be – de facto – to accuse a church leader of telling lies, and therefore would require multiple witnesses, which is what you don’t have. And so, in the Kafka-esque world of modern Reformed ecclesiology, just denying the false accusations made against you by an elder makes you guilty of malicious slander.

    But what happens when there is documentary evidence, or multiple witnesses? Well, that’s where the Matt 18 Machine really gets to cranking. You saw some of it on Pyro. More on that later.

  • just saying...

    In response to comments about pastor’s having super-powers:

    I know someone who asked a pastor about the practice of soliciting negative reports about people behind their backs and why that wouldn’t be entertaining gossip and slander.

    The pastor said they believed pastors had a special grace to hear negative reports (gossip and slander) and not be affected.

    They may have super powers, but we don’t have the ability to be slandered and not be affected.

    It should not be surprising abusive practices of slander have led to members who aren’t holding that in high regard now.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Nice article for pastors that can apply to all of us.


    I’m not surprised by bitter, socially uncomfortable pastors with messy or dysfunctional relationships at home, tense relationships with staff members and lay leaders, and secret, unconfessed sin. We have become comfortable with defining ourselves in a less than biblical way. We approach God as less than needy, so we’re less open to the ministry of others and to the conviction of the Spirit. This sucks the life out of the devotional aspect of our walk with God. Tender, heartfelt worship is hard for a person who thinks of himself as having arrived. No one celebrates the presence and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ more than the person who has embraced his desperate and daily need of it.

    I know I am not alone. Many other pastors have developed spiritually treacherous habits. They are content with a non-existent devotional life constantly kidnapped by preparation. They are comfortable with living outside of or above the body of Christ. They are quick to minister but not very open to receiving ministry. They have long since quit seeing themselves accurately and so tend not to receive loving confrontation very well. And they tend to carry this unique category identity home, making them less than humble and patient with their families.

    You are most loving, patient, kind, and gracious when you realize you desperately need every truth you could give to another. You are most humble and gentle when you realize the person you are ministering to is more like you than unlike you. When you have inserted yourself into another category that tends to make you think you have arrived, it is very easy to be judgmental and impatient.

  • Whirlwind said:

    I was also thinking the other day — has CJ ever had to submit to anyone? From what I understand of his history, he’s pretty much always been in positions of leadership. When has he ever had to submit to the leadership of anyone — even fellow leaders? How well can he really understand what he’s teaching on these issues? It seems like he could very well be completely blind to what he’s actually saying. Of course, at this point, he’s willfully blind to go on teaching a shallow submission to church leaders.

    C.J. has never been under or submitted to anyone’s leadership that I can see. He has always been either the top leader or a joint leader. This goes back to the TAG days in the mid 1970’s.

    Thus C.J. has always been in a place where people have looked up to him as a leader. Sadly this shows. Even if C.J. had gone to seminary during the TAG days instead of just reading the books he chose it would have been good for him. Just being in a class where your opinion can be questioned and you have to logically prove your position would have been a large value for him.

  • ATC

    There’s an excellent website which deals with a John Bevere book (‘Under Cover’) but also has lots on Hebrews 13, etc.

    Mr Rick Thomas – THANKYOU.

    I hope lots of people read your article.

    I truly think that some of the commentators on the recent ‘Pyro’ thread should feel convicted by the Holy Spirit of Jesus if they read your article with an open heart.

    Also, Kris: with the benefit of hindsight – do you think you should change the title of this thread?

    ATC, Bristol, UK.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    oswald 179…amen and amen.

    Kris…well said.

    Wow…..just to keep a balance, yeah, you see a major problem indeed. But the other side is that “I believe the bible” is what every cult and heretic in history says. People take verses and twist them to mean all sorts of things. That is why it is good to have statements of faith and confessions, and to thoughtfully consider what pious and brilliant scholars of old have concluded when they study the bible, and why it is good to check out Greek words in the commentaries.

    We all need the body of Christ, and God gives teachers to the church. The problem is not books exactly, but deciding that we will only read books from our narrow insular modern group, and not reading much if anything about history. I think a stint in a real seminary, reading lots of old books and lots of history, would actually be a real plus for these SGM and neocalvinist young guys.

  • Bridget

    Whirlwind @ 188 –

    I wish someone who might know would speak up about CJ’s participation in a local church as a regular member. From all the reading I have done, I don’t see a time when he was not leading in some capacity.

    How does someone become a “servant leader” if one is not predisposed to that style of leading already? Anything is possible with God and he can change one’s disposition, but one would need to be working toward that goal as well. I don’t think just “humility” would make a servant-leader.

  • Bridget

    If you want to know what is meant in the texts that talk about submission, one should do a study of the specific word(s) in the original language and how those words are translated throughout the NT.

  • Whirlwind

    @Kris #185: I can’t help but wonder (though it’s been brought up before, your post brings it back to mind) how much of SGM’s error have occurred because of shallow theological education. CJ reads, “Obey your leaders and submit to them…Let them do this with joy and not with groaning,” and he comes away with “God wants pastors to be happy by having a submissive congregation.”

    Now this could be a completely self-serving attempt to get a congregation to go along with whatever you want to do, but for the moment, let’s “think the best” and assume this is honestly what CJ thinks the text says. The problem with a shallow theological education is that you haven’t been challenged to consider how this understanding can go incredibly wrong (as it did with SGM). Then as the teaching is passed down, I think it tends to be received at more and more shallow levels (i.e. CJ teaches it without thorough consideration, PC students receive it with even less consideration because it’s come from above).

    Now, I’m all for submitting to leaders (those are the words we find in Hebrews – I’m even complementarian – I’m not wanting to somehow empty the word submit of all its meaning), but a shallow theological understanding also gives a shallow understanding of words like “leader” and “submit,” and it replaces “joy” with “happy.” I’ve known people who make their pastors groan and I feel for those pastors, but CJ’s teaching seems to make these things absolute without ever considering that a pastor may be groaning because he’s being appropriately challenged on the use of his “leadership.”

    I was also thinking the other day – has CJ ever had to submit to anyone? From what I understand of his history, he’s pretty much always been in positions of leadership. When has he ever had to submit to the leadership of anyone – even fellow leaders? How well can he really understand what he’s teaching on these issues? It seems like he could very well be completely blind to what he’s actually saying. Of course, at this point, he’s willfully blind to go on teaching a shallow submission to church leaders.

  • I agree with what “wow” wrote – that we tend to place too much importance on leaders – but I also think it’s probably a little too simplistic to dog on leaders and believe that church congregations can function well without leaders.

    I’ve watched a couple of families I know leave their traditional churches for the “home church” movement. Nothing particularly wrong with that…but it’s been interesting to observe that “home churching” hasn’t turned out to be any sort of utopia, either – at least not in the long run. It seems like it’s almost inevitable that after awhile, the relentlessly democratic attempts at home churching will devolve into situations where someone does end up functioning as a leader. Whenever you get a group of people together, whether it’s 500 people or just a dozen, someone (or a group of someones) will end up taking the lead. And the rest will follow them.

    Seems to me there’s something built into human nature to want a leader, to seek out leadership. And since that appears to be the case, I think it would be more realistic to set aside blanket condemnation of the concept of leaders. Instead, it would be more productive and helpful for churches (or any group of believers that wants to worship and learn together) to examine how best we can put safeguards into place so that leaders can lead while yet being enabled to retain the servants’ hearts that will make them truly great in God’s eyes.

  • Bridget

    Wow –

    Thanks for your input. It is so true! Many words added to the mix often makes a convoluted mess!

    Leaders are offen put on a pedestal because many teach that they are God’s anointed ones to their churches. Leaders also build each other up as truly outstanding men of God when they introduce each other at conferences. It goes way over the top at times. You seldom here that these men are being sanctified like the rest of Christendom (their church members).

  • 5years said,

    It was my understanding based on various things I heard over the years (1990s), that most of the pastors and CG leaders did believe they were right, not necessarily because they were proud, but because they held to a wierd sort of thinking I look at as shepherding movement error. God had anointed them for their task, and they were functioning within their sphere of authority, so because of their position they were indeed right- even when they gave imput to husbands about what to do in marriage, and to parents about what to do with kids. It was almost like when you stepped into a leadership position, a magic mantle-oops, spiritual gifting- came down and fell on you, enabling you to have a direct hotline to God for anybody under your mantle.

    I think this is a great summary of one main assumption that is at the root of SGM’s patterns of hurting people. In his Happiest [Dearest] Place On Earth sermon, CJ Mahaney himself puts forth what had always been SGM’s position on the role of pastor (and that transcript is from a version of the message that CJ presented to the Knoxville church less than 3 years ago, in August 2009). The pastor’s task is to “watch over souls.” And the members’ task is to obey and submit and make their pastors happy, because “God wants happy pastors.” According to CJ, a pastor will be effective in ministry only if people are obeying and submitting to him. If a pastor is NOT effective, it is his people’s fault for not obeying and submitting to him like they ought to.

    Embedded in this idea is the assumption that as long as they are functioning in their pastoral role, there is basically no way they can truly mess up or truly hurt anyone. If a member is hurt by a pastor’s actions, it cannot, in the end, really be wrong. The pastor cannot really be wrong – for he was performing his biblically commissioned duty, which is watching over souls. Almost no matter what, no matter how that “watching” works itself out, it cannot be bad. If there’s a problem, it’s always because the member is just not submitting and obeying well enough. The pastor has been given the authority to “watch,” however he makes that happen. The member’s only truly correct response is to obey and submit.

    Even the pastor does something egregiously hurtful, the member has no right to complain or take offense…because if the pastor isn’t functioning properly – if the pastor is not “fruitful” in his ministry – it is the member’s fault for not obeying and submitting properly. CJ started out his Happiest Place sermon by saying this:

    The undeniable emphasis in [Hebrews chapter 13] verse 17 is not on the pastoral team, the undeniable emphasis and accent in verse 17 is on the responsibility of the congregation TO the pastoral team, and here’s why. Here’s why.

    The effectiveness of pastoral ministry is dependent upon a proper response TO pastoral ministry. THE effectiveness of pastoral ministry is indeed dependent upon a proper response TO pastoral ministry.

    Toward the end of the message, CJ says this:

    Now, finally. Number three. The relationship between church members and the pastoral team. The relationship between church members and the pastoral team. So having made this distinction between the role of pastors and the responsibility of church members, here’s where I wanna conclude, I wanna conclude in impressing upon you really the inseparable nature of this relationship, because I said at the outset, as I said at the outset, the effectiveness of pastoral ministry is dependent upon a proper response TO pastoral ministry. So. If a congregation does not respond with the appropriate obedience and submission to their pastors, then the leadership of those pastors will not be fruitful, and those pastors will not experience joy in pastoral ministry. And here is what you as a member of this congregation are commanded by good and wise God. Look with me again at verse 17, where we read, “Let them” (your pastors) “do this” (watch over your souls) “with joy and not with groaning due to disobedient, uncommitted church members, for that would be of no advantage to you.” Let – let them do this with joy. Let them do this with joy.

    God wants happy pastors. That’s what He wants. Wants happy pastors.

    And a few moments later, CJ then says this:

    But let us not assume that you are all a joy to pastor. Therefore, let us humbly go to our pastors and say, “Am I a joy to pastor? And if not, why not?” Listen, do this because – if – if – look at the end of this verse. “That would be of no advantage to you.” If they aren’t happy – if they’re groaning instead – if their pastoral ministry is characterized by groaning and complaining, that is of no advantage to you. It is of – listen – follow this – it is to your advantage for you to be a joy to pastor, through your appropriately biblically defined and described obedience and submission to the pastors of this church. It is to your advantage to be a joy to pastor. I mean – doesn’t it – when you read that, you – it seems like the writer is appealing to self-interest as a motivation. Actually, it’s just another illustration of the following: God’s commands are always for our good. His wise commands are for our good. This is what grace is like. Ultimately for His glory.

    This – this – this – you show me an effective church, you show me a gospel-centered church – this is present in that church. You show me a church that’s fruitful, this is present. You show me a church where the gospel is advancing, this is present. Listen, whenever I encounter a fruitful church, I observe a demonstration of this particular verse. Which is why I thought it would be appropriate to bring this message to your attention.

    Basically, in this Happiest Place message, CJ makes it impossible to have a real complaint against someone in leadership. He sets it up so that the only reason a pastor would be “ineffective in ministry” (capable of making real, lasting, problematic mistakes) is if the church members aren’t obeying him and submitting to him properly. In other words, if you have a problem with your pastor, the problem always comes back to you – because if you were just doing your job (obeying, submitting, making your pastor happy), your pastor would be “effective in ministry”…thereby nullifying your complaint.

    Deeply embedded in all of this is the assumption that if a man has been placed into the role of pastor, then nothing he does can truly be wrong (or produce “ineffective ministry”) – because “ineffective ministry” is always because of MEMBERS who aren’t submitting and obeying properly.

  • I have a part-time job that’s been consuming a lot of my time and attention lately, so I haven’t been able to interact here as much as I wish I could.

    First of all, I want to give a shout-out to any of the new readers and commenters who have just joined us. Rick Thomas, thanks for interacting. Your article is really a good one. And “deciBel” – welcome!

  • Stunned

    wow- WOW! Agreed. “Where words are many…”

  • Moniker

    wow (#179) – AMEN!

  • wow

    I have friends who were born and raised in Europe who really look weirdly upon the way we Americans put leaders on pedestals. One went so far as to say that this is our downfall. I asked her how their churches differ from ours. What he said was that in their churches, it is simply about what the Bible says, whereas in ours, the people want to know what we are to make of it.

    If Scripture is truly supreme, complete, and adequate, why do our TG4 leaders and their cohorts feel so much need to put forth and endless list of books, blog posts, etc. of their own opinions? Shouldn’t at least one of them author a three-word publication that simply says, “Read the Bible”?

  • deciBel

    I have been a lurker on this site for over a year since my first visit to an SGM church and subsequent short stint there. My approach to SGM was one of ignorance and an open and unbiased mind, but not without an understanding of theology and an amount of discernment, for which I thank God. This site helped me to understand a lot of questions I had about SGM after attending there a short while. All that to say, I’ve been following SGM’s happenings, but I did not join the church, nor did I feel I needed to post here. It’s been confusing for me and sad to watch what has been happening I have really believed that there are major issues within SGM and SGM thinking that need attending, but no one on the “outside” seems to get it or see.

    Anyway, Rick Thomas, thank you for your courage to write the article you did and to interact on this site. I have great respect for you and your ministry. I became aware of you through Wretched Radio with Todd Friel,( and my wife and I own and enjoy “Drive-By Marriage”. Thank you for your very gracious, yet transparent and convicting article. It should be convicting to the three facets of this situation; SGM, those who have sinned in their reaction to SGM, and mainstream blogs/personalities who have not responsibly dealt with this situation. I have been perplexed as to why, if all these issues in SGM truly exist, no one in any sort of Christian leadership role or one possessing similar clout to those in SGM leadership has publicly pointed out the issues and sought for SGM’s reform. Your article gives credibility most importantly to those people who have been hurt, but it also gives weight to the situation on hand that seems to be perpetually spiraling.

    I have been praying since last summer that the truth would be made evident, whatever it is, in this situation. I haven’t really been sure how to pray about this whole deal other than the Truth–that God would bring the truth to bear, and that we would humbly submit to Him.

    Thanks Mr. Thomas. Your ministry is effective and a gift from God.

  • Oswald

    This is way off topic but I am appalled that Liberty University, as a Christian center of education, would have a Mormon as the graduation speaker. Maybe it’s more important to them that he’s a Republican. What are they thinking? Christians, organizations as well as individuals, must wake up and see the way things are going, and speak out. There is far, far too much tolerance of non-Christian thinking. We don’t need to be ‘in bed’ with non-believers to win the White House. Winning the White House is not the most important thing for our country. National revival and repentance, beginning in the house of the Lord, is what’s needed. We need to trust in God and always make right and good choices.

  • Foot

    Eph 4:11, true. But, just as there were false apostles in the early church, so it is today. Nice touch by these false “a”postles to hold the AOR report till after Easter (a big time of giving), these are your tithe dollars at work, PAST, present and future…this is your partnership, PAST, present and future. Time to re-evaluate your investment and partnership people. Phil 1:5, partnership is also accountability, you yoke yourself the wrong way and the yoke is on you. People forget, our Lord Jesus Christ is “The Apostle!” And, these so called “a”postles are not “sent” by Jesus! They are false apostles, greedy men, foolish men that think they can get away with this stuff they have pulled for decades, including Brent Detwiler, who was partnership in the design. The Lord is near, watching for hungry hearts that will stop feeding on slop and turn to Him, who is Truth, the God of Truth.

  • BeenThere

    I was listening to the Janet Medford show the other day, and she was interviewing the head of Cult Watch (, and they were talking about pastors and leaders taking on more authority then is Biblically warranted. The leader’s name escapes me, but he was from New Zealand, and he said something that I thought was right on. He referenced how we had the Tea Party movement here in the states due to people being upset about what was going on with their government. He said we need a Tea Party movement within the Christian Church to rise up against all the things that are happening in Christianity right now. They’ve got some good articles on their site about the abuse of spiritual authority.

    I don’t think it is a coincidence that the SGM story along with a host of others are coming to the forefront right now. I really do believe God is exposing what has been going on for far too long in way too many churches across all denominations and non-denominations.

    On a side note on the Janet Medford interview they were talking about the fallacy of tithing, and how this has led to abuses. They referenced a good resource site located at Just today I ran across this article where a minister compared the failure to tithe with the sin of Annanias and Sapphira. I think trying to control people through their money is a big part of the spiritual abuse that is happening today, but it is hiding underneath the politically correct banner of tithing so pastors feel they can threaten, guilt, and control because of what they believe is a Biblical mandate.

    Lots of good stuff happening. Just hope Christians are waking up.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Brent has a new looong post on SGM apostles that I only read half of. Excellent analysis of the situation from a former A.

  • 5yearsin PDI

    Rick T- question for you. By the way really nice article you wrote.

    It was my understanding based on various things I heard over the years (1990s), that most of the pastors and CG leaders did believe they were right, not necessarily because they were proud, but because they held to a wierd sort of thinking I look at as shepherding movement error. God had anointed them for their task, and they were functioning within their sphere of authority, so because of their position they were indeed right- even when they gave imput to husbands about what to do in marriage, and to parents about what to do with kids. It was almost like when you stepped into a leadership position, a magic mantle-oops, spiritual gifting- came down and fell on you, enabling you to have a direct hotline to God for anybody under your mantle. I saw several examples of this over the years. The most blatant seemed to be the PC grad who claimed that to even ask a leader a question implied that the leader was capable of making a wrong decision, and you sinned to even ask something.

    So, would you say that the consistent abuse pattern (leader always right, sheep always sinning) was actually logical, given the mentality that leaders have this special anointing?

    When it came to marriage they didn’t seem to say that wives submit because the husband is right. They seemed to be rational that wives submit even if wife thinks hubby is wrong, and hubby might be wrong, but it is respect and obedience to God’s order to let hubby be the head even when he made mistakes. But they didn’t demand the wife actually think the hub was always right, and label her sinful if she disagreed.

    So why didn’t this pattern carry over to leaders? It wasn’t like the leaders rule, and even when they botch things and make stupid mistakes, you still submit to God’s order. No, it was more like the leaders are always right by virtue of the work of God through their position. Especially the apostles. CJ was never ever wrong, never.

    Was it this way all over, or just where the big A’s had a tighter grip?

  • Bob Dixon

    Thanks Rick for your excellent article (Appeal from former SGM pastor) and heartfelt appeal to the body of Christ to begin to heal. In that regard, I want to remind folks….. I will be in Gaithersburg on Saturday, May 26th to meet with anyone who feels they need help understanding and/or processing issues related to spiritual abuse. Please go to and fill out the contact form so we can set up an appointment. It appears there are enough individuals to consider starting a Support Group in the Gaithersburg area. I will be exploring this possibility with those I meet with on the 26th.

    God has begun the process of healing and closure for those hurting from negative church experiences (see May Newsletter). Please keep Symboulos Ministries in your prayers, especially for wisdom, discernment, and insight on the part of myself and those receiving counsel. Our goal is to be set free and return to our first love, Jesus Christ. Thank you for your encouragement, love, and support. Bob Dixon

    PS Thanks Kris and Guy for letting me use your vine to get the message out.

  • Rick

    Rick T–thanks; and to you, El Pastor–I came to the conclusion after being in leadership for awhile, is that we who led were just better at hiding our pathologies than regular members of the congregation. Being around leadership, especially at the extra-local level could tempt one to early disallusionment if not for the awareness, as Luther siad, that “we are sinners in the best of life”.

  • Hey Rick, I take no offense at all, but I appreciate your humility. The only reason I pasted that part of the article was to say we’re saying the same thing: the point is the hurting, not the packaging. That was the main thing about the article and hopefully the main point people takeaway from it.

    I understand the tenuous nature of the problem and I most CERTAINLY understand SGMs two greatest commandments: (1) I’m right; (2) You’re a sinner…and how this can make one gun shy when sin is mentioned. Their hammer is heavy and it hurts. All that to say, I agree with you. Peace.

  • Unassimilated

    El Pastor –

    Your 168, spot on!

  • Rick

    Rick Thomas–just one more thing–an area in which we may disagree (respectfully) is that I don’t see the use of what I would term ‘psalm language’ as inherently sinful. I think that many church cultures do–SGM being one of them.

  • El Pastor

    Lots of wisdom there, Rick. We have lost the essence of servant leadership as defined by our Lord Himself.

    I was at a Russian ordination service several years ago, and the men being ordained to the ministry were each given towels with these words on them, “Do as I did to you.” What a great reminder!

    If we have to have conferences, we need new conference subjects:
    “The Limits of Pastoral Authority.”
    “Feeding, Not Flailing the Flock”
    “How to Repent for Failure in Ministry.”
    “Ministry is a Privilege, but a Pastor is Not a Privileged Person.”

  • Rick

    Rick Thomas–I did read, and probably did not state strongly enough how highly I thought of your article; its wonderful. I centered in on the caveat regarding sin for a reason–those defending SGM use that as a club to swing in justification for ingnoring the very pleas for help that you communicated so clearly. I did not think it necessary in the context of your writing, but I gladly own any offense I may have caused you–will you forgive my breaking out that small piece of what you wrote?

    My sense from your writing is that you probably already have–but just in case. Those who have read my past posts know that I have a particular sensitivity to statements like that.

  • Rick

    Lest I seem to be assuming a mantle of righteousness as I make these grand statements regarding the respnsibilities of leadership, I must confess this. I was in church leadership for a number of years–I judge myself in these areas. I am no longer in leadership and don’t know if I will be in the future, but I am thankful for this. I had the opportunity, before a gracious church body, to publicly repent for some wrong actions taken and words spoken while in leadership. Even in the best of our lives, we do harm, knowingly or unknowingly–I am thankful for those who spoke to me regarding certain issues.

    Some of what I felt called to repent for came without the intervention of others–God is good to that, I think. But everyone in leadership needs a Nathan–someone willing to scout them and let them know how they are relating to the body. We can be so ingrown–and think so well of ourselves.

    I have always sensed God’s love in a great way as I have engaged public repentance–and honestly, for leadeship, for wrongs we do to the body, I think public repentance is necessary–we do not have the option to hide the wrong that we do in exercising authority in the church. Basilea Schlink referred to ‘a glad repentance’. Oh the freedom that comes with this.

    I am typing on an IPAD–bear with my spelling and grammatical errors.

  • Hey Rick, Perhaps you missed the part where Rick Thomas said what you’re saying. It is here:

    These people have been wounded and they are hurting. Every counselor who has ever counseled the hurting understands the temptation of a person to sin back when sinned against. I’m not promoting allowance here, but understanding.

    People who have been sinned against will be tempted to sin in return. Have you ever sinned back when you were sinned against? Okay, let’s move on. We’re all guilty – every blooming one of us, especially me because I know my fallen tendencies the best.

    I never condone my sin and I don’t condone the sin of others, but I get it. When people are hurting, more than likely they will respond sinfully. In such cases I listen to them, but I listen through them first – I listen to the real story, the hurt, not the sin that is coming out of their mouths.

    I want to help them. In time, after they have been heard, helped, and are on the road to being healed, you can begin to address their sinful reactions. If I rebuked them or marginalized them because they did not say it the way I wanted them to say it, I would never be able to help them.

    One of the many wonderful things I learned while pastoring a SGM church was that if someone comes to you imperfectly, you should have the grace to hear the critique more than the imperfect approach from the person who brought you the critique.[5]

    My friends, there is a critique that is being brought imperfectly to SGM, but the most important part of the critique is generally being marginalized or ignored. We’re being asked to ignore it, and the argument has instead focused on the methodology of how to bring critiques.

  • Rick

    One more thought–I beg your indulgence in this. I worked for 14 years in critical care medicine, with experience in both ER and ICU. When a battered woman came into the ER, a victim of spousal abuse, or children who had been abused by one or more of their parents, no judgment was ever made regarding the nature of the complaintant. It was understood that the person with the power had the responsibility to restrain himself. Whether the wife was non-compliant in some way, whether the children were misbehaving in some way, was irrelvant. The responsibility of those with power is self-restraint–and they are held to a higher level of accountability.

    Those we entrust our souls to in church leadership have a responsibility to first, do no harm. Restraint, consideration, dying to selfish expectation–to serve, rather than be served, to take the lowest, rather than the highest place. Its tough–not many should even attempt to do it. Its evident by what we read, here and at other sites, and too many assume this mantle before counting the cost.

  • Rick

    I thought the Rick Thomas article overall very constructive–well worth reading. I do have a problem, though, with one aspect of the article and that is this–the statement that “no doubt many of the people in this group are sinning”. Then the reference to anger and bitterness that follows as evidence.

    Is it sin to tell your story, or air your complaint, with honest emotion? I would be careful to limit a judgment of sinfulness to something that is posted that is demonstrably and purposely untrue. Many, if not most, churches, use in the context of worship psalms that register complaint–we don’t decline to read those psalms–we understand that God has a purpose in preserving them for us. God is gracious in abundance, demonstrating that in His hearing our complaints–and loving us through and in them. Isn’t interaction here an opportunity to participate with Him in this loving work.

    35+ years in Kingdom experience has taught me this–censored communication leads to stunted change. We have to hear–with grace. We have to speak–with grace–but it may take being our story being listened to in its rawest, ugliest form before we can embrace this graceful speech that so many are concerned with. Truth needs to matter more to us than the packaging.

    I am open to correction–

  • Neverinsgm

    It’s interesting that Team Pyro has not yet put up anything about a nationally reported news story– Julie Anne being sued by a pastor who CLAIMED to have gotten advice to do so from someone at Grace Community. Mr Johnson being an elder there, you’d think he’d want to set the record straight with his blog audience.
    Instead, we find Mr Turk once again goading his commenters into saying something HE deems negative so he can delete/ban them, “Negative comments will simply be deleted without any warning or recourse.” The third friend, Mr Phillips, appears to break the rules but HE doesn’t get deleted.

  • Ellie

    Good article, Virginia!

  • old timer

    Wow Virginia, thanks for a great article….and such wisdom!

  • After reading again on Wartburg Watch about Julie Anne, and realizing I was getting a lot of traffic on my blog since she linked to me, I just posted more about recovering from negative experiences with churches and Christian organizations.

  • OffMyRocker

    A note I received about Julia Duin — sounds like an interesting opportunity for those in the G’burg area: “Current and former SGM members may wonder if they are the only ones in Reform/charismatic circles to undergo these trials. Not at all: Those of you living in the Washington, DC area have a chance to hear Julia Duin, the former religion editor of the Washington Times, now writing for the Washington Post Sunday magazine, talk about her book about what went on with Episcopal and Catholic charismatics, whose problems with community life and control make what happened with SGM seem like child’s play. Her book “Days of Fire and Glory: The Rise and Fall of a Charismatic Community” talks about how a famous Texas church underwent very similar experiences and the lessons learned from the debacle. She will be talking about her book Saturday May 19 at the Gaithersburg Book Festival, specifically from 11:40 a.m-12:20 pm in the Rachel Carson tent. Her web site
    has more information about the book. Or you can buy it from

  • Persona

    Yes, KWIM 154, that is a well-written appeal to the Band of Bloggers and the SGM pastors to care for the sheep. Great exhortations there. Let’s hope they can hear it from one of their own.

  • Ellie

    Good article, KWIM. Thank you.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    KWIM….thanks. Very kind and caring article.

    Kris, might make a nice featured post.

  • KWIM

    A friend sent this to me. Thought I would share it with you all

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Julie Anne, my prayers are also with you! May God cause you to be strengthened and invigorated by the path you are paving! If I had any funds, I would certainly donate them to your legal fund! I cannot even imagine how any lawyer would think it a credible lawsuit at all, no matter what the pastor thought! Either he must be a member there, or just figure he will take the money anyway! I pray God uses what that church started (the lawsuit) to take all of their funds and make them have to pay it back to you instead, that you may further fight against spiritual abuse! May God send Angels you way daily, to gird you up for battle!

  • Nevermore

    Julie Anne, you have my support and prayers! Exposing spiritual abuse is a cause that’s close to my heart as well. I wish astounding headway for you. :)

  • Nevermore

    ATC, I’d move over there for the weather alone! :D Most of the time, as a shade-loving goth girl I find LA sunlight rather too hot and bright. :P THen there’s also that bit about being a huge Anglophile. Yeah, that. ^^

    It’s really hard for me to fully trust any church or Christian group, given that I grew up in the likes of SGM. The church I’ve visited since childhood and attend now is so very kind and affirming, and that’s why I trust them. I still differ a bit on views about doctrine, but I appreciate the way the pastors (one of whom is a woman by the way! She is fantastic) go out of their way to show God’s love to people.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    …he [CJ] never looks you in the eye, he just squints and looks above your head. That man has some serious issues.

    I know EXACTLY what you’re describing. I find it fascinating that so many men with issues do similar.

    People need to observe adults’ behavior similar to the way educators observe children’s and suspect possible ADHD/ADD/Autism/LD/etc. I can’t tell you how many men I’ve met in my lifetime who act similar to CJ and ended up being a narcissist, etc. And please understand…I’m NOT comparing such children with the likes of a narcissist – just using it as an example that when certain behaviors/symptoms present themselves there’s a good chance something’s going on.

    I don’t understand how sharp individuals like some of the reformed big dogs miss the obvious “symptoms.” And it’s not just them. The church is notorious for overlooking such in their leadership.

    The church’s discernment should be keener than that of the world’s. We have the Holy Spirit!

  • Thank you. It’s been crazy – multiple interviews each day. Please pray for my strength. God has used my lawsuit to become a platform for the topic of spiritual abuse. My blog used to average 250-400 hits per day. Yesterday 18K, today 15K. Crazy! I am now getting so many private stories sent to me. Just what happened to me when I came here is happening to others as they are reading my story and the story of others – people are identifying with the stories. The bottom line is that spiritual abuse is rampant and we need to educate others.

    my blog

  • Defended

    Mr. New York – I HOPE your church is different than the ones listed in #101. But please note that the gentleman Kris was quoting had been in not less than THREE different SGM churches. Our family has been in 2 different ones, with intimate knowledge of a third. And that gentleman could have been posting all of that and more, if he was in the two where we had membership.

    So I hope your congregation has Bible Study groups!
    I hope your pastors receive real accountability from members! (there’s one big way to test this) But I doubt that the polity is really and truly different, since CJ is completely in charge of that. And polity and corruption are the two problems that seem to be so universally present if you know how and where to look.

  • Stunned

    Thank you for helping me with the links!

  • His Name is Jesus

    I do know a little bit about this Mr. Chantry. Mind you, I have had very little contact with the man himself, but I was in a church he had been the pastor of. I arrived there maybe 6 months after he left. From being there I know there were families and individuals in the church that had been hurt deeply. His was not a good parting. Although a small church, many in that church were hurt and working through some very difficult things for years after his tenure.

    The church was a part of RBCA; Reformed Baptist Churches of America. Now, I know and love one pastor of a church that is a part of that group, and I am thankful for the time I was under his leadership. The problem, however, is that at least in that group, there is an elitism. I believe that group idolizes education to such an extent and in such a manner that, in general, has led to a very unhealthy view and pride in having correct doctrine. One friend put it this way, “Reformed Baptists have their theology right, but the refuse to be happy about it.”

    Any how, I am not surprised that “Pyros” stated that the problems come from being charismatic. As if believing in the gifts today is what makes people emotional. Even Reformed Baptists are emotional and are not all neat and tidy when it comes to living life with others(this should go without saying). However, their declaration, I believe, gives a glimpse into the mindset of at least some (if not most)of these guys.

    I have to go…I’ll finish later.

  • ATC

    Great post, El Pastor at 138. Thanks for your opinion which seem insightful and based on experience.

    Apart from his charismatic book, I’ve greatly profited from everything I’ve ever read from MacArthur. He was interviewed here on 40 years of ministry and he was thoroughly interesting and personable. When my wife and I honeymooned in the USA back in 2000 we visited Vineyard in the morning and Grace church in the evening!

    The ‘Da Gifts’ piece of the MacArthur/Pyro-pie seems a shame, but then I switch on GOD TV and look at some of the nonsense and think ‘Good grief…’

    It makes it all the more disappointing to see Mahaney and him sharing a platform at yet-another-massive-American-conference. (Only a bit jealous here in secular UK).

    Could some of you Christians over there forget the conferences and come across here to be missionaries? Please?!?

    ATC, Bristol, UK

  • Lee


    The conference CJ is speaking in California at the end of June is called Resolved.

    It is put on by Grace Community Church.

  • Remnant

    Julie Anne’s story was reported yesterday by Fox News online (perhaps via TV as well?).

  • New York

    as i read Kris #101 post, im realizing right off the bat that New York SGM is different. hm.

  • old timer

    Stunned, here is the link to Julie Anne’s blog. Click on her name on her # 10 post.

  • JeffB

    Stunned –

    The Wartburg Watch has the story at Also, there is a follow-up on today’s post there.

    Concerning Tom Chantry, we have to remember that he is a pastor, and that the 11th Commandment for some pastors is: Thou shalt not discuss the activities of the leaders of your church. It’s even less tolerable for them when it goes public.

    At the dysfunctional congregation I used to attend, there is now the inevitable Bible study about gossip, tale-bearing, unproductive talk, etc. Not that these are not sins, but often the motive is to get members to shut up.

    I think the “C-word” (cult) is partly behind the fear of Reformed leaders who circle the wagons around CJ and SGM. The merest possibility that cult-like practices may be occurring in an ostensibly Reformed church is, I think, intolerable to them – maybe more so to them than to leaders of other denominations.

  • Stunned

    Sea Change, post 133 was very good. Thank you for sharing it.

    Julie Ann, I am not aware of any way to discover your blog or your story. Would you, please, share it with us?

    As to having to have a biblical mandate to do something, I see no biblical mandate to use electricity or zippers. But just because I can’t find a biblical mandate for it, doesn’t mean it is wrong. It isn’t up to me to judge whether or how God is leading someone else.

  • El Pastor

    Kris has it exactly right. Promoting a certain church, group, or teacher, as the Reformed blogs do, as conferences and book recommendations do, rightfully opens the door for believers most familiar with said group or teacher to share serious problems, terrible experiences and concerns about that church or teacher’s doctrine or practice. How can it not be so? Not only does cooperation and promotion of SGM and Mahaney open that door, but it is the strategic purpose of SGM to influence the broader Reformed world with their way of doing things. There is a moral and spiritual duty to examine any such teacher or group in the light of Scripture. There is an obligation to reveal problems in doctrine and practice.

    The only biblical requirement needed for this is the hearty approval and approbation of Luke when he called the Bereans “noble-minded” because they examined the Scriptures daily “to see if these things were so.” Solid churches do not fear their people being Bereans, and asking questions, and making proper, gracious, and biblically informed judgments about their teachers, their doctrine, and their practice. Every Christian has a right to raise concerns and ask questions of leadership, even publicly, and they are owed a gracious hearing and a charitable, biblical response.

    My spiritual formation took place at John MacArthur’s church. He baptized me. One thing I always appreciated back then (decades ago now) was the way John MacArthur had open mic sessions when he answered any questions people had. There was no sorting, or pre-screening. It was people to pastor. I don’t remember him ever suggesting that a question was out of line, or inappropriate.

    The Grace Community Church I have known is a fine, Bible-centered church. Sure, there is a tendency to let MacArthur have his way about everything. In doing that they have gone off-center a few times over the years…got caught up in fads that they later completely repudiated. It happens when you have a strong person at the top. But there is something self-correcting there…a little more openness. MacArthur one-on-one is a very humble and gracious man.

    I think the TeamPyro guys should think about why there isn’t a Grace Community Survivor’s blog. Grace has seen thousands come and go over the long years. MacArthur has been controversial in some circles for his theology. He has plenty of detractors. His reach is global…much bigger than Mahaney’s. It’s a large church so there is bureaucracy and gaps in ministry. People get dissatisfied. The church practices church discipline steadily and regularly. But no “Grace Community Survivors.” Why not?

    I think because with all the church’s faults, there is accountability, and a self-correcting openness there. Pastors don’t typically exceed their sphere of authority. There is a tendency to not go beyond Scripture, or take stands on things that do go beyond Scripture. And if MacArthur does do that from the pulpit, as he does sometimes, people can disagree openly.

    All that to say TeamPyro should realize the difference between GCC and abusive churches. They should see that the SGM blogs are serious, and reflect real problems. They should be passionately concerned about spiritual abuse, no matter where it occurs, and at least show genuine sympathy in Christ’s love for it’s victims. There are few ministry issues more important than the abuse of authority.

    Sorry for the length of this…I am quite disappointed in the TeamPyro boys.

  • NameGoesHere

    A lot of the Team Pyro guys came out of Independent Baptist Fundamentalism. They know the game and at times have complained about it (when they were the victim). It is wrong to think CJ just has the wool pulled over their eyes. They have seen it all before and should recognize what is going on.

  • Whirlwind

    For those who haven’t seen, 9 Marks most recent theme is “Apostolic Pastors”. Wonder what Mr. Turk and Mr. Chantry think of this nomenclature.

    I expect some of the articles on church associations will influence the polity committee, but Dever is still Baptist, so those associations carry no authority over the local church.

  • Izze

    Julie Anne #10- If you are still reading…I quickly read over your comment a couple of days ago and was very surprised but didn’t think about it much further…THEN…this morning on my way to work our local Wash. DC radio station mentioned your story (this is a non christian top 40 radio station, most listen to station in the area). I was definitely taken back that it had become national. All I can say is.. I’m praying for you. You are brave.

  • Trish

    “Don’t know if you saw my post or not above, but CJ is speaking at a conference put on by MacArthur’s church in just a few weeks.”

    Tell me it ain’t so! Which conference is this?

    The charisma C.J. Mahaney possesses is so strong as to make one wonder how deep the spiritual darkness is behind it.

    I got to the Team Pyro blog too late to post, since it was closed down. Not that my input would have helped anyone there think more deeply about looking behind the curtain, but as a former member of the Worldwide Church of God and having visited SGM in the past, I know a cult when I see one.

    If John MacArthur falls into this tomfoolery, then all I can say is the time is overdue to seriously hunker down in our Bibles with contrite spirits in much prayer – for the Lord is our Shepherd and Him alone.

  • Sea change

    Getting so hung up on the details of the law while ignoring the big picture just strikes me as a modern example of acting like a Pharisee. Jesus sees people in pain and heals them. Pharisees say
    “No no no, that was an unbiblical way of doing it!”
    Now we have wounded and hurting people coming from a bad system, and all these people can talk about is how the approach to exposing things is unbiblical. At least to them. They can’t see past their laws to consider the evidence of wreckage before them.

    Common sense, and the heart of God would tell you that healing someone of their pain or stopping the progression of death and disease is a good thing. But when you have your nose buried so far in your obsession with doctrine and systems and rules, while not balancing it with mercy and compassion, things start to look differently. God is perfectly balanced in justice and mercy. We, obviously, struggle with this!

  • Lee

    Don’t know if you saw my post or not above, but CJ is speaking at a conference put on by MacArthur’s church in just a few weeks.

    Can’t help but believe some of the behavior can be attributed to that.

  • ATC

    Hi Kris,

    It’s like using the Regulative Principle for something that (*gasp*) isn’t SPECIFICALLY in the Bible! Apart from the rather massive thematic issues of love, grace, righteous judgment, etc.

    I was reminded yesterday of the critics of our Lord who were so concerned in getting the written Law correct that they missed it:
    John 7:24 – ‘Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.’

    ATC, Bristol, UK.

  • This whole thing seems surreal sometimes. I mean, I have great respect for people who are genuinely committed to aligning their lives with what the Bible would establish as God’s standards for conduct. I would consider myself one of them.

    And yet sometimes it feels like the cries of “Unbiblical!” are just an excuse, an excuse to not deal with reality. I mean, come on – on Saturday, Mr. Chantry devoted a whole lot of words to explaining why in his view, the information contained in Brent’s documents and other information about SGM’s issues was “unbiblical” for Christians to know. He kept asking people to find instances in the Bible where we are mandated to know other churches’ business. I saw at least a couple of people post comments that gave examples from the Bible of leaders and churches being called out for negative reasons by name/location…but Mr. Chantry kept arguing that those situations weren’t applicable to the SGM debacle.

    I have to say, I just did not understand why this question – of whether or not SGM’s internal problems are other Christians’ business – looms so large in Mr. Chantry’s mind, and why he seems so determined to believe that they’re not. Maybe I’m just not as spiritual as he is. But it strikes me as crazy that a “biblical mandate” to address SGM’s issues is what he got hung up on. For one thing, isn’t it kind of a no-brainer that we’re probably not going to find a situation in the Bible that will be a perfect parallel – because denominations (or de facto quasi-denominations that insist on calling themselves “families of churches”) did not exist in New Testament times? I doubt Mr. Chantry gets so hung up on finding “biblical mandates” for a lot of other activities he engages in…like driving a car, or having health insurance, or, even, blogging. Why the sudden obsession with what is by definition going to be a fruitless search, hunting for a “biblical mandate” for something that is not specifically addressed in the Bible because it’s a relatively new set of specific circumstances?

    What I think is even more bizarre, though, is that this hang-up about whether or not to allow ourselves to know about SGM’s issues and whether or not we ought to care about them and discuss them misses a larger point, which is that if you’re going to speak about SGM’s positive attributes in a public forum, you then bear responsibility for what people do with that information. In other words, if you willfully present a one-sided positive picture of something, without a corresponding concern to investigate and inform your audience of the potential negative, you might very well end up causing people to use your information to put themselves in situations where the negative aspects of the thing can hurt them.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that maybe SGM’s problems would not be Mr. Chantry’s business – maybe he actually would not have a “biblical mandate” to concern himself with them – if he weren’t associating himself with bloggers who present SGM in otherwise positive lights. But he does. The Pyro guys do. They write about conferences where CJ preaches, and they speak well of the messages CJ gives. By all indications, they seem to think SGM is a great church organization…and it’s inevitable that people in their audience are going to act on the information they present.

    In a peculiar way, they have already made SGM’s issues their business, “biblical mandate” or no “biblical mandate.” They have already waded into the topic of SGM because of the way they otherwise promote SGM, by acting like SGM is just another great denomination and CJ is just another great church leader and preacher.

    I dunno. Maybe I’m just not as spiritual as these Pyro guys. But getting all hung up on whether or not there’s a “biblical mandate” to address the negative, the concerns, seems like a no-brainer when you’re already using your influence to talk about the positive and promote the thing.

  • Nevermore

    Sea change #125: I wish that All The Time. XD I really do. Whenever someone talks about “gossip” or “sinful attitudes,” or “pride” I smugly remember that Jesus wasn’t exactly polite and institutionally approved when he rebuked the Pharisees OR (my favorite) drove the merchants out of the temple. With a whip. Yesu, I LOVE how kickA you are. ^-^ Just saying.

  • Breeezey

    I know this is off the current topic but some months ago someone posted all of the ways that wives were taken, found, met, captured (whatever) in scripture. I forgot to copy it. Could someone post that again please? Thx

  • Diego

    YofJ via Kris: Spot on. Your testimony is that of many others.- Recently shared a trial that I am presently going through with the Young Guns of PC. Was congratulated that I was able to see my sin in the situation. Other pointed out that I still have more/better than I deserve. Other shared his story that he though was similar to mine… . Thank you Jesus that I have Your Word and Holy Spirit for counsel…your young shepherds are falling short.

  • Another Joe

    When i think of C.J. i honestly cry.

    I cry for the churches and for my family…

    I cry for the board of directors and for all who have been hurt.

    It is truly a heart breaking situation for all…….

    But somewhere God is in the midst of it all.

    I love C.J. like a huge spiritual father.

    I guess that’s why it hurts so much mr turk you sad little man. C.J. was a hero to me.
    When i thought of C.J. i was like now thats who i want to be like

    Only to find out that i wasnt gifted to serve in anything other then being a usher.

    I was also asked not to share the gospel or what God did in my life for their fear of me not understanding the Gospel.

    So how do you respond to that Mr Turk….. Thought so, how would you like for your hero’s pastors tell you your not good enough.

    They stopped my heart and laughed so sorry if im bitter………

  • Sea change

    Ugh… I don’t know if you can chalk it up to burying my head in the sand or what but I couldnt even bring myself to look at this pyro kangaroo court post. I figured it would trigger my justice violation alarm, just like so many other things revolving around sgm. Is it wrong to want Jesus to come through and drive sgm out with a whip?

  • Ozymandias

    For those who hadn’t already seen (and forgive me if it’s already been posted — I’d not noticed it), more from Nathan Sasser on apostles. I take this as a possible window into the current thought-process among multiple SGM Polity Committee members:

  • Luna Moth

    I went and read the post and the first eight or ten comments. Didn’t go back. Not going back.

    I’m so sad to hear how it all played out. So sad that those men were so wickedly rude and unkind.

    To them I say: If you are sons of God, I am your little sister. But you hate me already. Before I have spoken a word, you despise me. You have aimed a clout at the side of my head.

    But our Lord put His hand over me so that your blow missed.

    (And He will put balm on the bruised ones too.)

  • I noticed other logical inconsistencies in the way the Pyro folks approached SGM’s/CJ’s issues…

    There was, first of all, debate about whether or not SGM even has issues. Yet nobody was permitted to discuss the blackmail charges revealed in Brent’s documents as evidence that CJ had done wrong. (In their thinking, that would be “slander.”) Furthermore, first-person accounts like the one from “Year of the Jeep” were also inadmissable and removed as soon as Mr. Turk could get his fingers on the delete button.

    I also noticed that the conversation swung from a tacit acknowledgement that SGM did have problems, but “so did everyone else,” as well as, “Y’all just suck because you’re Charismatic, so what did you expect?” and then (my loose paraphrase of) the really kind zinger from Mr. Chantry, “All I’m hearing is complaints from people who didn’t want to be led,” which was a denial of SGM’s problems.

    Which is it? Does SGM have problems that are unique? Some of the commentary would seem to indicate so, particularly Mr. Turk’s statements about how SGM’s problems are all connected to Charismatic theology. But then you have Mr. Chantry’s assertion that there were no actual survivors, just whiners who didn’t want to submit to a pastor’s leading.

    I think these guys are trapped in their thinking. I wrote the following in an email just a little while ago:

    It’s like, if they acknowledge that it could happen within SGM, then they are forced to admit it could happen in their own backyards.

    They love CJ’s hardline stance about the essential-to-salvation nature of the local church and the notion of a “ruling pastor.” (Did you notice Chantry’s remark about how most of the “Survivors” were just complaining because they “didn’t want to be led”?) But their gut-level affection/admiration for CJ does fly in the face of their suspicion of all things Charismatic.

    And of course, all the Reformed thinkers who affirm church discipline are torn when faced with questions about spiritual abuse. At some level they have to know that if their theology about ongoing indwelling sin is correct, then the possibility always exists for fallible men to make mistakes and mistreat members. So they MUST minimize any situation where spiritual abuse might have happened – or blame it on bad theology. Fascinating stuff.

  • JeffB

    ATC –

    “Welcome” to Turkland. I went through pretty much what you did with him, except that it continued through emails and even Tweeter. He seems to open up a little, then he shuts you off when you have broken whatever new rule he just made up. This time he did it with a whole group of people. My comments were deleted also, natch.

    Despite the transparent tactic of posting on Saturday, I agree with others here that just acknowledging, on a blog like that, that there is a problem, gives it (the problem) some legitimacy. If so, this would be inadvertent on Turk’s part.

    It’s amazing to me that he could chalk it all up to Charismaticism, which, as a side issue, I saw little of when I attended CLC. I am a cessationist myself, but I don’t think all dysfunction in a church can be traced to doctrines, whatever they are. There does exist such a thing as “the human factor.” People are not doctrine-machines (though some seem to be). I would rather be in a healthy charismatic church than an unhealthy non-charismatic one.

    I’ve been more personally involved in this type of “where there’s so much smoke, there must be NO fire” situation before. They are reminders that our warfare is spiritual.

  • What I find ironic is that when asked, a couple of the Pyro guys have acknowledged that they are CJ’s admirers. They like him.

    Even CJ’s Charismatic roots, which would normally garner much scorn and loathing from them, along with great suspicion, don’t seem to give them any pause.

    It’s bizarre.

  • BeenThere

    I think you can sum up Pyro’s sentiments in two sentences.

    “You went to a Charismatic church. You got what you deserved.”

  • Ellie

    Reading that blog yesterday was truly like an experience in Cognitive Dissonance Land. As ThatBadDog said, it was phoney baloney and futile. “If we say it is so, then it is so. It doesn’t have to make any sense in the real world, just as long as we can throw out some “biblical” sounding reasoning & call it Truth. Same kind of thing we experienced in SGM – you sit there stunned because what they are saying just swirls around your head like some theatrical fog and has no basis in reality.
    Stunned said: “God sees…” – for which I am SO glad!! He is our anchor, our fortress, our strong tower.

  • Two Feet Out

    Persona #108 and Kris #112, I can absolutely verify what you are saying b/c I worked at PDI/SGM. Persona, you said: “He prefers to converse with other pastors rather than the flock and he prefers to tell the flock what to think, from a pulpit, not face-to-face where he might be challenged. He likely only talks candidly to with family and a few close advisors.”

    Yeah, and even the employees of SGM, he might (rarely) come into contact w/, and even then, he never looks you in the eye, he just squints and looks above your head. That man has some serious issues.

    And Kris talked about how if CJ recommended a book, folks would line up right after a conference to buy it. Yeppers! I used to work in the Resource Center and helped w/ many conference resource tables, and before any conference, I had to get CJ’s “list” so I could order the books and have plenty of his recommendations on hand b/c they would move like hotcakes. It was definitely one of the many things we would all “chuckle” about. CJ and his funny little ways. Constant change is here to stay (b/c it’s no big deal to have my sheeple’s spiritual experience subjected to the roller coaster of my whims….wheeeee!!!).

  • ATC

    To be honest, maybe one of my comments DID break his rules. I remember writing something along the lines of ‘Has that broken the rules? It’s hard to not break the rules when talking about this!’

    I really wish I’d been more like Brent and cut and pasted my comments to Word!

    It’s also amazing how little of the actual commentating on the Pyro thread is about Brent’s primary source documentation and what that reveals.

    And so to bed….

    Regards all,

    ATC, Bristol, UK.

  • Stunned

    ATC, I have NEVER experienced your writings to be rude or emotional in any way. (My heavens, can’t he tell that you are English?!) I have only known you to communicate in an extremely gracious, loving manner. I am shocked that you were accused of any such rudeness.

    Please, be encouraged that God sees, even when man cannot.

  • ATC –

    I agree with what Defender said. I didn’t really see how you had violated Frank’s discussion rules.

    I know the Pyro guys have talked before (somewhat defensively, in my opinion) about their “tone” and how there’s nothing, absolutely nothing, to the accusations that they aren’t very nice to people with whom they disagree. But there was a level of cantankerous eagerness to prove SGM’s critics wrong that really did not come across as kind or loving or gentle or patient at all. I like a spirited discussion as much as the next person and don’t even mind arguing sometimes. But I wonder why they (Mr. Turk and Mr. Chantry in particular) exuded such scorn for people who tried to explain what made SGM dysfunctional.

  • ATC

    Defender. Just wanted to add more thanks and say that your kind words meant a lot.

    I was feeling a bit nonplussed about it today, actually. I get special mention from Frank at the end as if I’d really been an awful commentator who blasted his way through his rules in an ungracious manner. I’ll cut and paste what he wrote so please forgive the spelling and grammar errors:

    – – – – It has already gotten “allancaire” banned because ther are no rules he’ll abide by to speak about this subject — except to be personally offended that someone thinks his opinions is not good. – – –

    I think the first comment he deleted from me was when I took exception to his following words directed at me:

    – – – you have yet to present a single comment of substance which advances this topic in any way but down the sewer hole of sideways accusations and emotionalism. – – –

    Aaah well. My very first words on the thread had hoped that the comments would be useful for the Church. Not many of them were. And, as Frank says at the end, ‘The subject, and the thread, is closed.’

    ATC, Bristol, UK.

  • Bad Dog –

    Interesting stuff. Keep going.

    I’d say, though, that while I agree with you that the abuses seen in SGM are not necessarily unique to SGM, I think SGM is unusual because its culture was so homogenous for so many years. SGM’s pastors were taught that their holiness was in proportion to how well they followed (copied) their own leaders. It was a well-known little joke that if CJ mentioned at the Pastors Conference a particular book he was reading, there’d be guys lined up afterward to buy that same book. Many pastors also were quick to follow CJ and the other leaders with lifestyle choices. Things were a little more loosey-goosey at some of the adopted churches, and at some of the newer churches further from Gaithersburg, but because of the way SGM did its church planting, there would usually be a core of people with connections to another well-established SGM church who could transplant SGM’s unique culture to the new city.

    The homogenous culture has contributed to making pastors lead in similar ways – which includes responding to conflict in similar ways. Yes, things are now changing, because few SGM pastors want to be associated with this silliness, now that it’s been talked about openly. But for decades, rigidly copying one another – and particularly the guys at the top – was a way of life for SGM pastors, especially those who wanted to be recognized as very humble and very godly.

    That’s why it was uniquely easy for the authoritarianism to manifest in such similar ways in churches spread out all over the country (and even in other countries like the UK).

  • Rick

    I don’t know that SGM leadership is smart enough to have planned this out but I find it interesting what the last months have achieved.

    1. Bringing AoR in to mediate allowed them to hear grievances through a filter–I have no doubt that AoR reported what they learned from their interviews faithfully, but it removed SGM leadership from the vulnerability of confrontation with the emotions and body language of those who have been harmed by them. Makes the report rather sterile, in that sense–they don’t have to smell, taste or touch the consequences of their actions. At the same time, they can say “we listened and will follow their recommendations; see, we did our part”. Evading these confrontations seems cowardly to me; does it seem that way to others as well?

    2. The AoR report enables others who want to defend SGM leadership, whether solicited or not, the coverage to say, essentially, that all is well, there is much fault on both sides, and SGM is sincerely trying to respond in humility, blah, blah, blah… The opening of the pyro blog to comments, though edited, provides more cover in the realm that “we tried to understand, but the response was incoherent or sinful”–nothing to see here, move along.

    I don’t think things from the SGM leadership perspective could have gone any better–

  • ATC

    Thanks, Defender. I thought so too!

    ATC, Bristol, UK.


  • As I said, in #1, utterly predictable, though also revealing in some ways. I’m afraid to those without a heavy Reformed background, much of that discussion, and especially the things on which it fixated, just seems bizarre. But after 20 years of experience in and with Reformed, Neo-Reformed, Quasi-Reformed, and Pseudo-Reformed churches, I think I could have scripted it (it is still bizarre, though).

    The reason it was a futile debate was not only because it was phoney-baloney to begin with, but because of a series of specific underlying ideologies which determine the responses (and eventual outcome) pretty much automatically. I feel a bit of a soapbox coming on, so I think I’ll do this one at a time, and only keep going if anyone is actually interested in my prattling.

    Reason #1: The Charismatics did it

    This one was right out there for everyone to see, and supported by a number of the approved comments. I think of it this way:

    I thank thee God, that I am not like these other men, believing in a contemporary apostolic office and the continuation of sign-gifts, but rather have been enlightened by thee to hold only to the plural eldership and approved cessationism.

    I am not denying that a mode of church government may have specific consequences, or that one may be closer to a NT model than another, but there is a narrative here that is easily falsifiable. SGM is unique in its blending of elements of Reformed theology and Charismatic practice, and the authority structure is rather obviously prone to misuse, but all of the documented SGM abuses have been occurring for decades across the Reformed community in Baptist, Presbyterian, and Independent churches. None of these churches have an apostolate, nor do they believe in contemporary revelatory gifts. But somehow they have still managed to persecute, abuse, and grievously wound Christ’s sheep.

    FACT: No system of church government is ultimately any better than the people who are in it.

    This was true in the NT, where Paul himself(!) had to contend with people using the ministry to promote themselves and denigrate his work and character, churches that were unable to maintain an adherence to the Gospel, and churches that seemed to veer wildly between libertine-ism and cruel zealotry. It is still true today.

    The argument that all the problems were the predictable result of charismaticism is ultimately a red herring, and demonstrably false. But it is a comforting narrative for non-charismatics, as it safely places the blame well away from home for any problems which they are forced to admit may exist.

    More later…

  • Persona

    Kris 105 I wouldn’t put be surprised if CJ has asked reformed comrades, near and far, to support him in every way possible, particularly online, since that is the forum he most fears.

    No matter what, CJ will not come forward himself. He won’t compose a letter to explain his position or intent. And, he relies entirely on others to speak for him like puppets.

    It is a strange world CJ lives in but he has always been like this. He prefers to converse with other pastors rather than the flock and he prefers to tell the flock what to think, from a pulpit, not face-to-face where he might be challenged. He likely only talks candidly to with family and a few close advisors. He also speaks with RBD’s but I hardly think he is close friends with any of them.

    Sadly, he hasn’t changed in any noticeable way since the late 70’s, when I first met him. Even in his 20’s he exhibited the same cowardly traits.

  • Defender

    I found none of your comments offensive, and I saw a few BEFORE he deleted them.

    Pyro conducted another kangaroo court.
    That’s all.

  • El Pastor

    There was a time when pastoral ministry was about the care of souls. I’m not sure when that changed. Maybe it got burned up when the Pyromaniacs set the world on fire.

  • Yeah, that last comment was downright deceptive. The only people who truly “had their say” were Mr. Chantry, Mr. Turk, and anyone willing to criticize SGM’s critics.

  • Another Joe

    @ kris

    Did you read that Idiot Frank Turks last post,

    (With that, there you go: SGM survivors have had their say, and then some, on a popular Conservative bog.)

    What a Jerk lol!!!!!!!!!!!

    I am so glad sometimes that Christ will be the final judge on this subject. Because if it was left up to those jokers i would be frying in hell.

  • Bridget

    He deleted one that was first hand experience that was rather mild. It’s like saying we don’t believe you, unless CJ or another pastor comes confirms that this happened to you.

    What was the point of them doing that post?

    He also put that post up on Mother’s Day weekend . . . because everyone is so enamored with their blog that they would spend Mother’s Day weekend looking at it? Or they really didn’t want feedback?

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Being told that if we had questions to “Ask the pastors” and upon asking, receiving no more than, “It’s being handled”.

    As I read that, I remembered a time when I told my CGL about concerns I had (with my now ex-husband) that I could not quite place..well, some I had specifics, but I also shared how the word, “pervert” would come into my head about him, yet I had no specifics to really point to a reason for that word, but it was nagging me..I was told, “It is being handled”..No, it wasn’t being handled-my little girl had to be the one to ‘handle it’! The anger wells up in me when I think of those things. It is not an anger of ‘unforgiveness’, it is an anger for righteousness sake-because they still do the same thing! When someone asked a pastor at CLC about mr A’s involvement with children, they were assured that he was being held accountable-that he had to make sure that anyone whose child was in his presence knew about his past..yet I know for a fact that was not true! How many lives have to be so negatively affected before people accept the truth?

  • It’s interesting to note the comments Mr. Turk ended up deleting. Here is one, submitted by “Year of the Jeep,” which was later removed:

    This is brief and you are closing comments today. As we were members of SGM for 20 some years and in three of their churches, I offer what I observed firsthand:

    Caregroups that either reviewed the pastor’s latest message or a book study. Actual independent “Bible” study was discouraged.
    No women’s ministry in the churches we were in for over a decade.
    Women that did initiate small women’s groups for bible study and ministry to other women were discouraged from continuing. (My wife was in one of those groups.)
    Women that were taught “what to do” and not “who to be (in Christ)”.
    Counsel that wasn’t much more than, “Whatever has happened, it’s better than you deserve”.
    An Assistant Pastor once told me that I was 100% responsible for my wife’s sin. (They were into the Federal Husband thing.)
    A general “looking down upon” any ministry that wasn’t SGM.
    Lockstep agreement in secondary issues required for leadership considerations.
    Disagreement (not dissent) on secondary issues preventing participation in church ministries. (I signed up multiple times.)
    Being told that if we had questions to “Ask the pastors” and upon asking, receiving no more than, “It’s being handled”.
    Severe lack, and at times discouragement, in participating in events that would promote and/or support missions activities. (A missionary – brother of our CGL’s wife was prevented from speaking at our church.)
    Those that did not homeschool, have large families and a stay-at-home mom being viewed as doing less than “God’s best”.
    My emails to senior pastors regularly ignored. (I’m not a serial emailer – we’re talking maybe once a year.)
    As a ministry leader (for many years), constantly having to initiate (chase down more like it) communication with leadership in order to “serve” them. They hardly ever communicated first their needs for special church functions.
    One of my daughters told by others in her youth group that no one would marry her because her interests in her teen years weren’t solely about preparing to be a wife and mother.
    The same daughter was counseled that her treatment by others in the church was “persecution for the cause of Christ”. (IN the church, mind you.)
    Young impressionable leadership chosen over men more mature, wise and skilled in the faith. (We experienced one of those newly minted PC grads as the senior pastor of the church plant we participated in.)
    Seeing multiple pastors “degifted” for vague reasons. (We were in Fairfax).
    Seeing that what we were taught was not lived out by the leadership in our region.
    Discovering that Taylor’s Story occurred under our very noses and we were never told. The perp in that story was one the set-up crew at the school we met at and there were always children running around backstage, etc., where he was. We also knew Happymom and Noel.

    We finally took the only course of action available to any SGM member: We voted with our feet.

    Since being out of SGM, here are my firsthand observations:
    SGM pastors aren’t well skilled in scripture.
    Most churches support missions directly and you’ll find them posted on a tack board in the lobby.
    You don’t have to live up to people’s expectations of you.

    Like my personal testimony of salvation, this is my testimony of my experiences in SGM. It is my testimony and you can’t change or debate it.

    Here’s what I think you’re missing:
    You’re looking at things from an outsider’s point-of-view. While their doctrine is mostly sound, their polity and especially their practice, are not. You’re living across the street from a family that’s all happy and smiles every time you see them. It’s not until the cops show up to their house one night before you discover that the husband has been beating his wife and children.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    LOL, Stunned! I totally understand! There get to be so many known victims, it becomes harder to list everyone (for our finite minds anyway). The more ‘short sighted’ people may think ‘out of mind, out of equation’, and unless something can immediately be recalled, along with solid proof, something just isn’t so..but we know better..just because one doesn’t remember it all, or everyone involved, does not mean it didn’t happen. You know that, I know that, God knows it all…

  • Stunned


    Last night I suddenly thought to myself, “Did I include exCLCer and fam on that list?!” Ha ha, glad you stepped forward

  • ExClcer'sMom

    I have heard that when lightening is about to strike close to someone, that person may feel their hair or head tingle a little..Now, I only know that 3rd party, but I have heard it from a few 3rd party people, and even if I only heard it from one 3rd party person, if I got stuck in a storm, and felt any tingling at all, I would move from wherever I was!
    My point being that, Kris, I appreciate how you allow all relevant perspectives, as long as they are presented respectfully. You allow each person the responsibility that should be theirs, to seek, discern, and decide God’s Truth for their lives. Even God Himself is not a Dictator-how dare any of us think we should be!
    Thanks, for being strong enough in your convictions to NOT let the whining or criticism of other people cause you to waver!

  • Yeah, although they have already set it up so they can mock those of us who think the topic got an unfair shake, Mr. Turk totally did stack the deck. If Pyro is a typical blog, its moderators know the readership drops significantly on the weekends, particularly since the routine is to post excerpts from Spurgeon rather than anything new. Further, several comments were deleted – and they were ONLY the ones that attempted to point out SGM’s issues. ALL of Jimmy’s/Seneca’s comments were allowed to remain. Anything defending SGM and CJ remains…no matter how it was written and no matter what was said. And now, of course, further mention of the topic is forbidden.

    Like I said, Mr. Turk can pat himself on the back till he bruises, but he did NOT actually do what many of us have been hoping would happen – he did NOT approach the topic of SGM with an even partially open mind. His opinions have already formed, and the good Mr. Chantry was there to respond in SGM’s defense and mock the notions of spiritual abuse and “survivors.”

    If anyone over there wonders why people suspect some sort of conspiracy to protect SGM, all they need to do is examine the parameters of the discussion Mr. Turk set up this past weekend…as well as the comments he deleted…as well as the total closed-mindedness on display.

  • Ellie

    Kris – if there was to be real discussion, they would’ve opened up the post on a Monday not on the weekend and kept it open longer. Only 36 hours? I just happened to read your post last evening & went over to read.

    ATC – you were so mild.

  • Ellie

    Nickname – Yep. Senecca = Jimmy. Wish the real Jimmy that used to post here would show up. Eh.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    IMALONE, post #26, I agree 100% with you! I’m glad you posted that! Stunned, post#44, you left out ExClcer’s family. I certainly CAN trace some of my family’s experience to CJ directly, as well as those who are closely circling CJ..I dont bother with posting on such sites as Pyro, because I feel they are not wanting to ‘hear’ what I may have to post, they are simply lookign to ‘refute’. I could be wrong, perhaps, because I have never even visited the site to see it! However, Jimmy’s comments sound to me as though he may be Turk himself, and I have no interest in arguing.
    Kris, I love what you do here. You allow ‘survivors’ to vent, to express their pain..That is such an important step in healing, for one thing, but another, as each person shares their pain, others realize how they are not alone, and still others more are warned..They can recognize the symptoms and run before they are burned, so to speak.
    I even realized this with speaking to my still young daughters..I used to tell them, “Do not let anyone touch you in a part of your body that is covered by a bathing suit”..Now, I tell them, “Do not let anyone touch you ANYWHERE that makes you feel creepy. They are not allowed to touch your body at all without your permission! As as matter of fact, ‘arms length’ is an acceptable personal space..feel free to politely ask anyone not to invade your personal space.” I dont even stop there! I tell them, “If anyone even makes you feel creepy-that is often your gut feeling-listen to it, and tell me-you do not need a better reason at all to avoid anyone.” Children are often told to ignore such a protective feeling of themselves-I try to encourage my children to recognize those warning signs and give credence to them. They dont need proof, because by the time they have ‘proof’, damage is done.
    Now, I recognize that protecting a child from abuse, and warning others about spiritual abuse, etc are a little different, but Kris, I think you do a perfectly fantastic job of allowing a site to warn others of spiritual abuse! Thanks!

  • Henry

    I think what Turk & Co identify when they talk about issues with charismatics are actually issues in Christianity per se and humankind in general. The funny thing is that they use a different type of emotive and reactive terminology to that which they identify in some charismatics.Reformed, charismatic, evangelical, liberal and whatever else are actually labels that have more association with personality types than being a Christian. I would really like to see more ‘Jesus’ personality types but I guess that is unlikely at the moment. I have been reading Turk & Co and other blogs, on and off for years. Their emotions run high just like everybody else’s and they reek havoc when they don’t get what they think they should have, just like every body else. All Turk and Co are doing are putting a ‘web face’ out there; it is of no lasting value.

  • ATC

    Well, I got banned from Pyromaniacs. Frank even name checks me at the end.

    I really wish I had kept the comments I posted to show you all where I went wrong in Frank’s eyes. Oh well: God see it all doesn’t he….

    Btw: Is rudeness a sin?

    ATC, Bristol, UK.

  • Bridget

    Jimmy and Seneca are the same person. Seneca disappeared completely and Jimmy appeared a few weeks later. It took a few comments, but Jimmy’s true colors soon came shining through!

  • Defender

    Yes Kris, Re: #87
    My last comment there was deleted.
    Jimmy had said that C.J’s threat to expose Larry T’s son wasn’t criminal.

    CJ’s disagreement with Larry Tomzac leading to a threat to let information out about Larry’s son certainly appears manipulative and sinful; but not criminal. Telling the truth about somebody is not criminal unless you’re an employee of the C.I.A. – dryly

    6:54 AM, May 13, 2012

    I replied that Blackmail is in fact a criminal act in the United States.

    My comment was there for a while, but can no longer be found….

    (I’m glad I didn’t waste much time over there.)

  • Nickname

    So, Jimmy is Seneca Griggs. That explains alot. Hey, Ellie, what’s your take?

    The fish rots at the head. In the military, it is expected that the commanding officer takes the fall for what happens down the chain of command.

    Primary sources can be found on every page of this blog. The demand of someone like Jimmy/Seneca to defend oneself is, in itself, spiritual abuse. I owe you no explanation of what happened to me through the SGM chain of command. This is not a court of law. You are not judge, jury, defense attorney, prosecutor and executioner in these cases, and thank God –Thank GOD — you do not stand in the very stead of the One who said, “Come to me, ye who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Nowhere is there an appendage that says “…if you tell your story with proven primary sources to Jimmy/aka Seneca/aka Whoever first.”

    In other words, back off, Jack. Quit kicking good people when they’re down. These people have had enough abuse without having more heaped upon them for no other reason than your own personal edification. According to my Primary Source, the Word of the God who loves you and me both, that kind of behavior doesn’t jive with James Brown OR the Golden Rule.

    Happy Mother’s Day, y’all. On this Mother’s Day, for the first time in over twenty years, not one member of my family was in attendance at an SGM church, but they were all serving the Lord in some church, somewhere, for which this mother rejoices. It took a while, but they all saw the truth of abuse in their own lives and in those around them. May it be so for the Jimmys and the Senecas and the Pyromaniacs and Charismaniacs and Cessationiacs and all other ‘iacs’.

    • Guy

      Yeah, Jimmy and Seneca are either the same person or they share a computer with the same IP address. Go figure.

  • Well, Mr. Turk has now closed comments on that post…as well as deleted several that somehow did not meet his standards. Interestingly, all the comments disparaging the survivors and attempting to cast doubt and criticize SGM’s critics were allowed to stand.

    I think what people (myself included) have been hoping for was NOT for a conservative Christian blog to allow SGM survivors to “have their say” on a post, like Frank Turk congratulated himself for permitting over the past 36 hours. Rather, I’ve been hoping that one of these bloggers would take an open honest look at SGM and questions about SGM’s shady past with an open mind, a mind that was just a LITTLE BIT OPEN to the possibility that maybe there is validity to the things SGM’s critics have said over the past few years.

    That clearly did not happen in the comments on Mr. Turk’s post. Team Pyro was fighting hard to defend SGM and CJ and make SGM’s critics look like lying idiots.

    I didn’t sense any real open-mindedness at all.

    My only hope is that perhaps some of the silent lurkers saw what I saw.

  • Rose

    Re: #77 I don’t think that the first scenario: “An elder in a church questions the rest of the elders in a case of discipline; they call a special meeting without him, vote him off the board, remove him from membership, and announce his departure to the congregation with the explanation that they think he’s gone senile — all without saying a word to him first,” is too far from my family’s SGM experience. Thankfully, we were not members of the congregation, except that we attended regularly for a few months, and my husband was not an elder in that particular congregation, though he had been so ordained by another particular congregation of Christ’s church universal. We were prevented from entering a worship service without discussion, merely because of a pretty minor disagreement – no stirring up dissent, simply initiating a discussion of whether Christ and the Cross are interchangeable, a question easily answered in the negative by anyone who is not trying to prove himself infallible and abuse his position of authority.

  • lmalone

    J”immy” shares his loving concerns over at TWW quite a bit as well. He always feels he is the voice of reason (not logic mind you) to everyone.

    He is always “standing in the sted” for Mr. Mahaney and SGM. I guess Mr. Mahaney cannot speak for himself

    Before TWW, it was FBCJaxwatchdog where Jimmy (aka Seneca Griggs) was the resident apologist for mega church pastor Mac Brunson who used his personal body guard (also a city sheriff) to get subpeona’s on blogs to see who owned them.

    Jimmy cannot stand victims of any kind. That was his big beef at FBCJaxwatchdog and TWW in the early days.

    And btw, Nazi Germany is an excellent analogy for many things. How does one get a mass of people to follow a leader to the point of no return? The psychology and the tactics map to spiritual abuse in movements and churches. Do the homework.

  • BeenThere

    Reading through some of the Pyro guys comments I am so thankful I came to Reformed Theology AFTER becoming a Continuationist and having a more of an experience of the Holy Spirit. What I recognize in their comments (and from my past) is when you try to approach Scripture or any spiritual subject with an Intellectual understanding ONLY. This seems to be an issue with Reformed types especially who have closed themselves off to the fulness of what the Holy Spirit could do in their lives. As I read some of the encounters of the Pharisees and Jesus I see this surface and intellectual only understanding of the Bible contrasted with an understanding that is deeper and illuminated by God’s Spirit. I’ve been where they’re at. They’ve got it all figured out in nice little neat formulas. They don’t intend to be dismissive and condescending, that’s just the position they’ve boxed themselves into.

  • Let My People Go

    I completely believe that there is a community of people that God has drawn to this site to find truth and healing. Not everyone is going to understand what many of us have come to know is truth. The important thing is that you, Kris, have been so faithful to complete the ministry that God has given you. You had no idea what God had planned to do through you when you first posted some random thoughts about SGM years ago. I am blown away by the actual hard work of healing that has happened at this site in so many people lives. Real ministry goes on here. Recovery from abuse isn’t pretty, but it is amazing and I am so grateful for my own healing that has happened here over the last 3 years.

    I read a little bit over at Pyro Team and felt exhausted. Ugh. I didn’t even want to go back to discussions that question if abuse actually happened or whatever. This is my conclusion…they don’t understand abuse. No offense to them; not everyone understands the inner workings of abuse.

    Kris, keep doing what you do. Finish the ministry that God has given you. Your posts #24 and #74 are dead-on, especially about the shame and about the work of the Holy Spirit as Teacher and Helper. You get abuse…God has given you wisdom and compassion that He is using for His glory and for the good of His people. I am completely inspired by your faithfulness to do what you do here.

  • glad i am out


    I was told by my pastor that he would tell my single-mom fiancé he would not recommend me because i disagreed w/ him that we should break off our relationship for 6 months while i was in a discipleship group w/ him while going thru a book on indwelling sin (the book itself was reason for anyone to run, not walk, from sgm, absolute heresy in light of scripture) – like CJ, he was blackmailing me – wonder where he learned that from… Her circumstances as a broke single mother were serious.. and the last thing she needed was to be left on her own… I did ask the pastor to help find shelter and sustenance for her in her circumstances should we not marry and he could find no one to help her.

    My next pastor told me i was un-teachable and “did not accept correction” simply because i chose to live 30 minutes from the church “and that that is not where our church community is” – even though 2 of the founding families of this particular church lived a few miles from where i chose to live…

    Later, this same pastor chose to excommunicate me from the body simply because i confessed to him i was not doing well – still served, still participated, no one in the church knew anything… yet i was struggling in my faith… He prescribed the usual…. read this book, do this, do that, so many minutes a morning in quiet time…etc… and when i said i was the same after a few weeks, he got frustrated and kicked me out… Our planting church intervened on my behalf… This is a typical CJ student from the PC… – i call him… a fool. He also excommunicated a new friend of mine – a young woman who was living w/ a man, and not a christian… she was interested in what she was hearing at church – still not saved… but coming.. and the Lord was leading her… and she needed caring love – only the kind a true believer can offer … But, OH !.. she was living w/ a man, while STILL NOT SAVED, so… excommunicated!! I call that pastor – a CJ student – remember the fish rots at the head – a fool! Gee, how loving is our Lord??? well, i know he is, but how ’bout those who “speak in his stead?” What impact, eternally, has this had on the young woman i have spoken of?

    The stories, just mine personally, with PRIMARY SOURCES, could go on all night!! And i know so many others who post here could tell you theirs, w/ their primary sources – but that is not good enough for you… Tell me why??? you want to call some of my primary sources?… direct abused sheep who only loved the Lord and trusted their pastors.. Call me, i may be able to arrange that – Kris will give you my email, and i will get you my number, and i will connect you to people who personally have almost all but lost their faith over the abuse… IT is REAL… no, not the only denomination to have problems – i hear you on that – but that is a weak argument to excuse the problems that DO EXIST

  • Unassimilated

    LOL, oh dear, I did visit another church, so clearly I was not taking my CLC vows as seriously as I should.
    It was downhill from there. Got quite ugly. The fact that my ex has gone on to find her own CJ is a mixed
    bag for her at this point. I am just one of dozens in the unequally yoked sanctioned divorces from CLC.
    Most of which simply were men or women desiring another less controlling church. Guess Church of the Redeemer
    does not practice Christianity in the eyes of SGM.

    There is nothing like hearing, “Don’t make me chose between you and God” when discussing a different christian church.
    Many of my friends were familiar with this phrase, so maybe I ran with a rebel crowd. Perhaps having your marriage
    relationship put on hold, and a pastor stepping in as the families “spiritual head” was a close second. What followed
    was absolutely stunning.

    My vote is for releasing the tape. To hear CJ’s angered and mocking tone as he tells Larry how it’s going to be says
    more than a thousand blogs. Quite a bit of impact is lost in written word. But hey, there are those that still believe that
    we are all spawned from ancient aliens, so Mr Chantry is welcome to his assumptions. Being that he was never a part of PDI, SGM,
    or CLC, I am not sure how reliable his opinions or sources may be. I listed mine, and care not for his myth of a benevolent CJ/SGM.
    More than happy to open my archive and remind those that have only perused the last few months of SGM of the depth and width of
    carnage SGM has left in there wake.

    To summate that SGM’s sum total of damage is two mishandled abuse cases, and a grumpy day for CJ, is like saying the biblical exodus
    was a dispute over kosher issues that left the deserters homeless.

  • Also, Mr. Chantry’s description of a situation where leaders used children to eavesdrop on their parents and then attempted to hold the parents accountable for what the leaders learned from the children – that very thing was reported as happening to people at Celebration conferences back in the 1990s. I’ve been looking through the old comments to see if I can find the specific situation.

    But I think it’s incredibly ironic that Mr. Chantry is so dismissive and scornful of the notion of “SGM Survivors” when his description of what he thinks constitutes REAL spiritual abuse is quite reflective of situations that have come up within SGM churches.

  • Jimmy, why should I? Wouldn’t that be a “second-person” account and therefore invalid in your eyes anyway?

    Aside from the fact that you’re NOT directing the conversation here, I think we’ll just wait for – perhaps – Unassimilated to come and share his story. It’s quite similar to the third situation Mr. Chantry described.

  • Jimmy

    Kris, which of those 3 stories are you going to start with? I’d like to hear them.

  • The irony is very rich…

    Mr. Chantry just posted the following about what he would consider actual, real abuse, and how what has happened to SGM survivors (whom he then goes on to mock) does not qualify as abuse:

    An elder in a church questions the rest of the elders in a case of discipline; they call a special meeting without him, vote him off the board, remove him from membership, and announce his departure to the congregation with the explanation that they think he’s gone senile – all without saying a word to him first. That’s spiritual abuse. A group of elders worry that a family is getting out of line, so they secretly tell the children to listen in on their parent’s conversations and report back to the elders anything said about the church. Then they excommunicate the parents on the basis of private communications relayed back to them by the kids. That’s spiritual abuse. A man gets into a disagreement with his pastor about some peripheral thing; the pastor declares him a spiritual rebel and then tells his wife she ought to divorce him so that she can marry a “real” Christian. That’s spiritual abuse.

    What he apparently does not realize is that every situation he has described has been reported here. Multiple times.

  • Remnant

    Kris @73: The Pyro-people seem to be missing a key ingredient in their logic: they hesitate to act if the Bible lacks a mandate about something (like reading Brent’s documents), but they clearly miss the fact that the Bible also lacks a prohibition against it.

  • Bridget

    But, Kris, your analogy is Biblical :) That makes it good and acceptable according to the Pyro guys!

  • A few people over at Pyro have also wondered about whether or not sites like this one do anything to help people find healing. Several commenters suggested that it’s NOT helpful to discuss our personal experiences with others who have had similar experiences.

    I think it’s easy for the casual drive-by reader to get the wrong idea of what happens here. The negative SGM experience is often something very isolating. I cannot even begin to tally the number of people who have shared that for YEARS they believed themselves to be totally alone in what they went through. So many people have spoken of how amazing it was to find this site (or Refuge) and realize that actually they were NOT alone, and that what happened to them was not actually uncommon. I think there is an element of healing that comes from the knowledge that it wasn’t you – that you were hurt by a particular system and a particular set of faultly beliefs about the place of the institutional SGM church and the authority and corresponding implied faultlessness of SGM pastors, and that it wasn’t necessarily personal but could happen to anyone if the right factors come into alignment.

    Piecing together that you were mistreated because of your leaders’ adherence to a faulty system of beliefs, and not because of something actually faulty in the GOSPEL ITSELF, can be a very positive thing, very faith-affirming, very gospel-affirming.

    And the thing is, the population of commenters here is continually shifting and changing. Many (or even most) of the people who participated here 3 or 4 years ago have long ago moved on. I have observed a pattern in the process for people who are working through their SGM experiences. They come here, they learn, they realize they were not alone, they participate in the discussion and read others’ analysis of the issues. And then more often than not, they get to a place where they don’t see a need to talk or think about their experience so much. And they leave.

    Most find a place of forgiveness, of healing. And it doesn’t usually involve me (or other “professional moderators,” as the AoR guys would like to see) pointing out their sins and telling them to quit their whining. The Holy Spirit is actually quite a good Teacher, a very good Helper, and perfectly able to lead people into all truth.

  • I had a thought about yesterday’s debate at Pyro, led primarily by Tom Chantry, over whether or not it is “biblical” to share or read information about SGM’s problems. Mr. Chantry kept going on and on about whether there was any sort of biblical mandate for Brent Detwiler’s release of the documents, and whether we see any instance in the Bible of people who are not members of a particular church discussing that particular church’s inner workings and problems.

    While I can appreciate and respect Mr. Chantry’s desire to align his own behavior with scripture, his continual attempts to bring the discussion back to that point – whether the Bible mandated discussion of SGM’s problems – to be bizarrely short-sighted. I mean, SGM as an entity has shown itself to have no structures in place for any sort of meaningful formal resolution of its own conflicts and problems. The AoR report actually stated as much. It was couched in lots of flattering flowery lingo, but the AoR guys nonetheless did tell SGM that they needed to improve in this area.

    I wonder what Mr. Chantry himself would have done, if he had been in my position, interacting with hundreds of people who have shared remarkably similar stories of manipulation and control and downright spiritual abuse (particularly pastors’ abuse of their own supposed authority in the believer’s life). When someone emails you a really terrible story about what happened to them at the hands of their pastors, do you get all hung up on whether or not it is “biblical” for you to hear their story? Or does the love of Jesus make you sympathize and empathize with them and wish to help them make sense of their experience and sort through it and figure out what happened to them?

    I guess I’m reminded of the parable of the Good Samaritan. When the guy was lying injured on the side of the road, Jesus did not seem to approve of the behavior of the clergyman who was focused on following the letter of the law and passed to the other side of the road rather than contaminate himself.

    (And yes – that WOULD be another analogy, for all you analogy-hatin’ soul singers. :D )

  • Lee

    I appreciate Phil Johnson too and used to use read his website long before it was Team Pyro.

    I do have to wonder though (being slightly cynical here) if Phil is staying out of the SGM thread because CJ Mahaney is speaking out in CA with John MacArthur soon at the Resolved Conference. The conference is hosted by Grace Community Church.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Thank you Kris!

    The hard line cessationists don’t know their Reformed history very well.

  • I should add, I have had a great deal of respect and appreciation for the Pyro guys over the years. I have learned a lot from them. I especially appreciate Phil Johnson’s clear thinking and excellence in writing. Johnson also seems to be the least caustic and vicious of the three main contributors, the least eager to participate in the mean smack-downs that happen quite frequently in the comments of their posts. I’ve actually had to take breaks from allowing myself to read the comments there, as I find myself feeling alarmed over the mean-spirited smugness that seems to result from believing in the absolute rightness of their own theology.

  • Unassimilated

    I would love to see Dan Phillips face if had had a chance to visit a CLC service back when they would lay hands on people, and
    had dancers on the stage every Sunday. There were stretchers for those that were slain in the spirit as well. I personally
    used to look forward to bringing my tambourine.

  • 5years –

    The Pyro blog is run by a team comprised of Frank Turk, Dan Philips, and Phil Johnson. I don’t know what Frank Turk’s non-blogging career is like, but I know that after some years spent working in technology, Dan Philips is now a new pastor, recently hired by a Reformed Baptist church in Texas. Presumably, he got this gig at least in part because of the success of his blogging endeavors (which also led to a couple of book publishing deals – his World Tilting Gospel came out within the past year or so, as did another book about the Proverbs). Phil Johnson has worked for something like 20 years for John MacArthur, for the Grace To You broadcast and also as MacArthur’s book editor. Tom Chantry is a frequent commenter who seemed to function yesterday as a de facto moderator, and there have been instances when the main contributors have mentioned that they would almost consider Chantry as part of their team.

    The Pyro blog has been around for approximately 6 years and has been one consistent source of commentary (from a Reformed perspective) on current events facing the present-day Evangelical church. The Pyro guys have had a lot of (what I would consider) good, worthwhile things to say about, for example, the Emerging/Emergent movement. They appear to view themselves as watchdogs for all that is biblical and are eager to speak out against what they believe to be unbiblical.

    They reserve their greatest ire and scorn for all things Charismatic. All those guys despise anything that might indicate the gifts (or, as Dan Philips frequently says, mockingly, “Da Gifts”) are active and happening today.

  • Unassimilated

    There is a tape recording of CJ Mahaney threatening Larry & Dorris Tomczack, or Blackmailing him if you prefer. A clergy man threatening to break the sanctity of the confessional for personal reputation and gain at the expense of others seems like some sort of abuse. Quite the e-mail chain on this made public as well.

    We could start there as an documented and recorded example of CJ behind the scenes, personally being abusive to a member.

    Seven of my sources heard this tape, were appalled, and made statements in response to his threats. This all apart from this blog or any other blog.

    Perhaps the tape should be made public.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    by the way…

    at the top of his blog it says “setting the world on fire”. Who does that refer to? The Holy Spirit baptizing with fire? Or his little blog? Or his little group of pals? Or the new Calvinists? Help me out, am I too cynical? Is this another ego maniac who thinks he is the greatest thing in 2000 years? Setting the world on fire? really? Is his blog part of that?

    So this Phil Johnson, who rejects utterly (see bottom post) any special (non canonical) revelation of the Holy Spirit today……did he never read about the words of knowledge Spurgeon had? And the prophetic gifting of those old guys like Mather, Flavel, Rutherford, etc? How can they quote all that Spurgeon and turn around and say nobody can do what Spurgeon did occasionally under the power of the Holy Spirit at least a dozen times?

    They sound pretty stupid, honestly.

  • glad i am out


    There’s an old saying: The fish rots at the head.

    It’s true on the beach, and it’s true in SGM.

    I have several PRIMARY sources. But i won’t waste another second on a guy who will not see reality and use the brain God gave him to reason and to think for himself.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Kris- I’ve been traveling in Reformed circles for a very long time and I never even heard of this Pyro blog until mentioned recently here. Who exactly is Frank Turk and why does anybody care what he thinks? Seriously? What credentials does he have that anybody should listen to him? Does he teach at a seminary, pastor, write books, or what? Do miracles?

    No matter what we may think of them, I can understand the respect people have for the opinions of Duncan, Trueman, Mohler, Sande, etc. Brilliant men, educated, pastors, writers, influential leaders for a long time. Even CJ presides over a denomination with 28,000 people, and books that have sold to many thousands of others.

    So take away a blog and what exactly does this Turk guy have to offer to the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ? Is he devoted to earnest prayer for revival? Is he the one somebody said used to hang with Driscoll? Why does anybody care what he does? Is he some big new influence with the YRR crowd or what? Not trying to be negative, but I don’t get it. Can somebody clue me in? Thanks.

  • Jimmy

    Ah, my soul brother; the late James Brown. Did he ever get buried?

  • Bridget

    Jimmy –

    Your lack of logic has led YOU to not know where the problem lies. The blogs have allowed people to be free to speak without fear and be heard, which is what should have been happening in their local churches but was not. It is still not happening in many of SGM churches.

  • Yes, James! Yes! I feel good!

    (You seem to forget this isn’t Turk’s blog. I think it’s a good analogy, even though like all analogies it’s a limited one.)

  • Jimmy

    Kris said: “Yeah, I don’t really get “jimmy’s” obsession with whether or not CJ Mahaney has spiritually abused anyone firsthand.

    One of the benefits of being at the top of the heap is that you are able to delegate the dirty work to others. You don’t have to be the one personally putting the poisonous pellets into the gas chamber in order to bear responsibility for the ensuing destruction…”

    ( That’s EXACTLY the kind of statement that Turk said he would not allow in his discussion. Kris, you have opened the door for all of your other commenters to post other outrageous analogies. You have led the way. This is the kind of statement that has made it so very difficult to know where the truth actually lies. C.J. and the gas chambers? No wonder AoR scolded the blogs.)

  • Another Joe

    @ Kris

    You would think that if C.J. felt (as we know he does) that his insights into the Gospel where so special and these blogs where hurting him so bad. Why not just write your books under a different name. Donate all the money to charity and await your reward in Heaven?

    Because Men like him can’t do it can they?

    The men who wrote the greatest works in christian writing and preaching died way before they where ever fully given there celebrity status.

    Sad that men who strive to walk with giants miss there truly greatest works in life.

    The Men that C.J. and the rest of the reformed big dogs love to quote would be sick to see the way there teachings have been distorted.

    Where are the Widows, Orphans, Sick and abused.

    I forgot they’re here on this blog…..

  • Unassimilated

    Primary Sources…

    Alister McGrath

    Lou Engle

    Mike Bickle

    Che Ahn

    Michael L Brown

    Steve Shenk

    Chip Grange

    Stephen Strang

    Rick Joyner

    Ken Roberts

    Tommy Hill

    These are are some of my sources. Are we going to have a pxssing match to see who has the most
    authoritative sources now? I was personally part of SGM for many many years as well.

  • Another Joe

    @ Yes James! AKA jimmy

    I believe that what it all boils down to is this.

    1. Are the blogs in accordance with the Gospel?

    Answer Yes

    2. Are the blogs biblical

    Answer Yes

    3. Am i a the worst sinner i know?

    Answer Yes

    I don’t have to explain myself I AM C.J. and i know the Gospel better then you.

  • Yeah, I don’t really get “jimmy’s” obsession with whether or not CJ Mahaney has spiritually abused anyone firsthand.

    One of the benefits of being at the top of the heap is that you are able to delegate the dirty work to others. You don’t have to be the one personally putting the poisonous pellets into the gas chamber in order to bear responsibility for the ensuing destruction…

  • Bridget

    “Jimmy” shares his loving concerns over at TWW quite a bit as well. He always feels he is the voice of reason (not logic mind you) to everyone.

    He is always “standing in the sted” for Mr. Mahaney and SGM. I guess Mr. Mahaney cannot speak for himself.

  • Stunned,

    I do not believe this “jimmy” is the same “jimmy” who grew up in SGM. I’m thinking maybe the new “jimmy” should change his posting name to “Yes James!” :D

  • Considering that “jimmy’s” posting name over at Pyro has been “James ‘Jimmy’ Brown,” Guy and I have been reminded of a very funny comedic riff we heard awhile back, where the comedian was talking about how nobody could ever really be sure of what James Brown (the singer) was saying…so the safest response to everything the musical legend might say would be just, “Yes, James! Yes!”


  • Stunned

    Hi Jimmy,

    Could I ask if you are the Jimmy who has contributed to here in the past? I am referring to the Jimmy who grew up in SGM and who now studies science at a northeastern university.

    Either way, you claimed above that this blog claims that SGM is the only church to abuse its people. I have been reading here for nearly four years and I have neither come across that statement, nor that sentiment. But I agree with you that that would be a ridiculous statement or thought.

    I hope you have never been abused by anyone in your lifetime. I hope you are blessed and encouraged by reading here.


  • jimmy,

    If you can really read here as extensively as you claim you have and come away with such a crappy “working theory,” then nothing I could say now is going to help you get a clearer understanding. So I’m not going to waste my time or yours by attempting to argue with you.

    Suggesting that talking about SGM’s problems is what created SGM’s problems is about the most ludicrous thing anyone has ever attempted to put forth here.

  • Ozymandias

    Jimmy #46 — If the whole SGM thing has been pretty much “business-as-usual” for any type of denomination, how would you explain the comparative silence of the Young, Restless and Reformed world as to SGM’s “nothing new under the son” shortcomings? If it’s nothing that new or different, one would think that there’s been a lot more discussion about it in/around the YRR community. Thoughts?

  • Bridget

    Jimmy –

    Wow! You came out of the woodwork today! What happened to bring you out in all your self-professing rightness? You’re hitting it hard here aren’t you? You seem to only come out at certain times — why is that? Why are you capitalizing the word “blog” so much? Did you help write the AoR report?

    Let’s follow your logic. “There’s nothing new under the sun.” So . . . that means to what, Jimmy? Ignore the problems? Stop communicating with each other and go to your leaders? Sit in a pew and be quiet? Don’t act on anything? Contrary to what you may believe, we are all called to do something. Jesus went about “doing good.” What have you been doing, Jimmy? Are CJ Mahaney’s mouthpiece. He has a lot of those, as I have yet to hear him personally address this “Family of Churches” that he has been leading.

  • jimmy

    Another Joe, actually I’ve said, all along, the hurts experienced at SGM are NOT UNIQUE to them. They happen throughout Christendom in all churches and all denominations. It was the BLOGS that suggested SGM was uniquely guilty of spiritual abuse.

    I’ve always thought it was pretty much business-as-usual found in any denomination.

    I thought the “sins” of C.J. were pretty much the sins of any charismatic visionary. The BLOGS suggested that he was particuarly narcissistic and conniving and if his friends wouldn’t publically denounce him then they were guilty too ( the old independent Baptist “secondary separation.”)

    Reading the blogs you would have thought SGM leadership was particularly sinful. My working theory; they were pretty much an average group of evangelicals trying to do ministry as they saw fit. As for the modern church, it’s alway been stained. “There is nothing new under the son.”

  • Another Joe

    @ Jimmy

    Hurt are you seriously asking these questions.

    This hurts all of us. That is what kills me. You people see this as a SGM related issue. When really its not at all. Its a Christianity Issue!!!!

    Which means that C.J. and Dave have not hurt only us, they have also put a huge stain on the modern church.

    One leaders mistakes hurt all of jimmy.

    I have stated this a hundred times on this blog. C.J. always wanted to leave a legacy. Well he did…….

  • Stunned


    Primary source- Happymom

    Primary source- Irv

    Primary source- Noel &Grizzly

    Primary source- SGM not

    Primary source- gladiamout

    Primary source- Kerrin

    Primary source- Me

    Primary source- Defender & Defended

    Primary source- Canary

    Primary source- Jim & Carole

    There is a start. It may keep you busy for a bit.

    No, my question for you is WHY do you want to read these stories?

  • jimmy

    ATC, have you been hurt or spiritually abused by C.J.?

  • jimmy

    Kris, have you been hurt by C.J. Mahaney personally?

  • Another Joe

    @ Jimmy

    Primary Sources ha ha ha!!!!!

    Even if i have never agreed with Brent i would like to point out to Frank Turk that Brent is a very good primary source lol.

  • ATC

    Jimmy, post 31/32

    I advise people who want to know the issues to go way back to 2008 on here and sgmrefuge. The ‘refuge’ site has a handy ‘Your Story’ (parts 1 and 2) link which is a good place to start.

    I understand that jumping straight into Survivors or Refuge might sometimes feel like a hornet’s nest of incredulous anger, deep cynicism, and outright scorn of anything to do with SGM Top-Of-The-Pyramid-Leadership. I can think of two reasons for this:

    1) It’s partly due to the unique nature of spiritual abuse. (It’s real. It’s damaging. End of.) Many posters have, over the years, gone through a real healing journey on and through the blogs. But, as anyone who posts here will say, there IS often real anger. And there is often real bitterness.

    2) It’s partly due to the fact that if you simply started reading Survivors and Refuge today you wouldn’t have experienced on these blogs FOUR years worth of spin, duplicity, damage control and lies that have issued forth from the SGM Top-Of-The-Pyramid-Leadership. Witness the very start of Survivors and the reason that Kris & Guy started the blog. It was all so charmingly innocent!

    ATC, Bristol, UK.

  • So SGM does not have real problems unless a certain number of individuals share their stories over at the Pyro blog, under (I presume) their full real names?

    What number of stories would convince you that there is a problem?

  • I should add that I have absolutely no idea why a reporter would ask to be put in touch with people willing to go on the record and be interviewed, only to not actually follow through with many of those who volunteered to go on the record. But that’s what happened.

  • Jimmy

    Kris said: “What would constitute ‘proof’ for Frank Turk and the rest of the Pyro guys?”

    ANSWER: Primary sources

  • ATC

    From my reading so far – up to post 100 – one of the most frequent posters (I doubt Tom is actually reading HERE, but ‘Hi Tom’ if you are….) seems more concerned in using the regulative principle to show that no-one should ever have heard of these incidents at all. Or something like that. But at least they’re talking about it. Even if they’re not talking about the bad behaviour of the leaders.

    ATC, Bristol, UK.

  • And about the Washington Post article, I know for a fact that the vast majority of people who asked me to put them in touch with the reporter so that they could go on the record with her were never contacted by her (and thus were not quoted in her article). A couple of these folks even went so far as to call her and leave her voicemails, to no avail.

  • Jimmy –

    I’m gonna channel a bit of the Pyro guys here. You haven’t answered MY question, which was:

    What would constitute ‘proof’ for Frank Turk and the rest of the Pyro guys?

    Don’t bother contributing more until you have explained precisely what you would consider “proof.”


  • Persona

    I agree with El Pastor 29. And, since God started this work, he will use every means possible to get through to CJ Mahaney and his cohorts. The turns may be circuitous and incomprehensible to us but, he will make the issues plain through various means. God is good and truth cannot be hindered.

  • Jimmy

    I thought pastors who were found unfit for ministry might have some legitimate complaints. There appeared to be, at one time, a “catch 22” situation where they would accuse a man of being unfit for the pastorate and if he disagreed, they used his disagreement as proof he was unfit. How much of that was specifically caused by C.J. Mahaney has been hard to discern.

    Finally, the most repetitive club used was the sexual abuse a couple of different times somewhere in the last decade where a congregant was guilty of the abuse of a child outside the watch of their particular church. Out of that, the families of the abused were not well cared for. How did that become a C.J. Mahaney sin? I don’t think he even attended those churches did he?

    I assumed there MUST BE some real serious sins in C.J. and the leaderships. But frankly, reading you blog and the comments just seemed to deepen the fog. I would have preferred more facts and less unsubstantiated allegations.

    As for Brent; if he and I attended the same meeting where C.J. was speaking I’m sure we’d have heard totally different things. After years of hearing pastors and evangelist I pretty much ignore hyperbole. Brent makes a federal case of it.
    Brent has indicated, quite frequently, that not only does he wish to be the prosecuting attorney, he also desires to be judge and jury of C.J. Mahaney. Is it unkind to say Brent is just a tad obsessive?

  • Jimmy

    Kris said: “Jimmy, I guess my question would be, what would constitute ‘proof’ for Frank Turk and the rest of the Pyro guys? To me it seems like the only ‘proof’ they would accept is some sort of signed acknowledgement from the perpetrators of the abuse. Anything less than the pastor’s/leader’s own full confession is ‘unsubstantiated.’ Anything else is deemed gossip and/or slander.”

    Kris, why was the Washington Post article such a let down? Is it not because when rumor, innuendo and 3rd party stories were disallowed there simply wasn’t a whole lot there. And you can’t accuse the Washington Post of either being a friend of, or on the payroll of SGM.

    Kris, I want to know why a small group leader who is over the top all of a sudden becomes an indictment of C.J. Mahaney and all the other leaders?

    Kris, I want to know why you, as blog author, allow commentors to make wide ranging and sometimes ridiculous or scurrilous accusations without reining in the comments; setting out the standards for appropriate responding.

    I will again reiterate that in my consistent reading over the last 12 months it’s been very difficulty to find specific spiritual abuses by C.J. and some of his leaders. It would appear, according to the SGM blogs, the C.J. is practically the father of spiritual abuse and SGM is a uniquely abusing ministry. I really doubt that.

    Kris, has C.J. personally caused you or your family pain or are you just carrying other people’s water?
    I wanted to hear the stories that started with, “This is how I was hurt by C.J. Mahaney.” Not, “this is how somebody I know was hurt by C.J. Mahaney.”

  • JeffB

    I was not online much yesterday, and didn’t see that Frank Turk had written that post, or Kris’s pointing that out.

    Considering the acrimonious exchanges Turk and I have had on the issue, I’m surprised that he even went *this* far. I like to think that his conscience was bothering him. Turk wrote that he was writing the post because of SGM “Survivors.” That’s ambiguous, but it at least shows some level of concern. Or maybe not. It’s hard to tell with him. Maybe he knows about things said about him here, and he wants to get some licks in.

    Concerning friendship between Pyros and Mahaney, I think in Turk’s case it’s more like hero worship. He once wrote that, while attending a conference, he was nervous that Mahaney was walking behind him. (I would be too, but for different reasons.) I think Turk went on to say that he tried to be calm when meeting him.

    I haven’t yet read the comments on Pyro, but I’m gratified there are so many. Kris, I don’t know if you decided to comment, but I see both sides of the issue. On one hand, you are the most qualified to comment; on the other, as you say, it’s most likely pointless, unless someone who never comes here reads what you have to say. Not everyone is as thick-headed as Turk.

    I re-printed what I wrote to AOR. (I go as jmb on Pyro.) Don’t know if Turk will delete it.

  • El Pastor

    Please don’t be disheartened. I am confident that although TeamPyro is using their thread to bash the Survivors, the word is getting out through them that there are serious issues out there. People who know little or nothing about this are starting to hear.

  • lmalone

    “I’ve thought a lot about this over the years, and it seems to me that it’s more nuanced than just friendship. I might be mistaken, but it’s possible that one or more of the Pyro guys haven’t even met CJ face to face, let alone formed any sort of friendship with him.

    I believe it comes down to the fact that CJ has paid lip service to the proper Reformed doctrinal passwords…and has the right alliances with the right Reformed Big Dogs. ”

    Bingo, Kris. Mahaney has been smart and aligned himself with the real movers and shakers. T4G and Gospel Coalition, etc. And most importantly, Mohler, Duncan and Dever.

    No way is Pyro going to dis Mohler who has stuck his neck way out there for Mahaney. Mohler’s job could be on the line and he is pulling out all stops over the problems in the Reformed movement that have come about in the last year. There are many in the SBC (which is 80% non Calvinist and is just now waking up a bit to the Reformed takeover) who are starting to take a closer look at all this Mohler T4G and GC stuff. Many are the non Calvinist pastors who are getting more and more vocal about it. The word is finally getting out. They have been asleep for the last 10 years. And this last Driscoll scandal did not help since Mohler’s guy, Ezell at NAMB, was giving money to plant “Calvinist only” Acts 29 churches. Mohler simply cannot take another major hit. NEver forget, he might look like a pope but he is really an SBC employee. And until they can get the new Great Commission Bapists denomination going, they need the SBC money to plant Reformed churches so he will have something to rule over.

    So, the wagons are circling. Protect Mohler. He is basically the Reformed brand pope. So now he can say, that McArthur agrees that there is no real problem with Mahaney. They even investigated on Pyro and opened it up to SGM complainers. Just digruntled bloggers. That is big. Trust me on that.

    And it will work. It always does because people believe these guys. Mohler is one of the most brilliant political strategists there are out there. He missed his true calling.

  • lmalone

    “Brent’s documents, full of emails from the good man CJ himself – is discounted and theologically inadmissable because there’s no “biblical mandate” to warn others and talk about a church organization’s problems in public”

    Now that is interesting. Guess the Apostle John is in big sin according to Pyro guys since he made the problems in a church with Diotrephes public knowledge in a letter for all the read for 2000 years. Or how about Paul who made the problem with Peter known publicly and then wrote about it to ANOTHER church for people to read about for 2000 years.

    Amazing how they spin things to fit their own advantage. But then, they think we are stupid. And many do believe what they say or teach. They are concerned about the Reformed brand. That is for sure. I am seeing it everywhere. The Driscoll mess, Mahaney, etc. The Reformed/NC guys are circling the wagons on SBC blogs, too.

  • LMalone

    You know, a big problem with this whole scenerio is wanting other “leaders” or “celebrities” to “get it”. Not going to happen. They see unauthorized bloggers as threats to themselves and their little kingdoms. They can see something similar happening to them so they set up these fake forums of “openess” where they control the venue. It is a complete waste of time. They all have some variation of a “Brent” in their closets due to the longevity of doing what they do.

    The best bet is to warn as many pew sitters out there as possible. Ignore the celebs.

    Ronald Reagan did the same thing when he ran for Prez. He ignored the big names and took his message to the every day people. It worked because his message resonated with people.

    The celebs are a waste of time. They have too much to lose to even give it serious consideration. Going in there only helps them to focus it the way they want because they control the venue. They don’t control this blog or other blogs.

    More and more people are waking up to the rise of the Nicolaitans in these institutions they call churches. Some of it is just the economy and people are asking why they are supporting large salaries and buildings when there are seriously hurting people out there. Some of it is that more and more people are taking advantage of all the free study tools at their disposal and are questioning what they have been taught.

    There will always be sycophants who want to follow a celeb or guru. But our task is to warn folks. We do not need the celebrities endorsement for that. Turk has been striving to be a celeb for a long time.He is vitriolic and his bias has shown through for years. I stopped reading over there years back when Phil Johnson said in comments that his wife was not allowed to answer a doctrinal question asked by a man even if she knew the right answer. Does not matter if she was at the grocery or at the park.

    These guys are full of themselves.

  • Rick

    Jimmy, I did not call Frank a spiritual bully–I try to be careful never to refer to someone who is seen by Christ as holy and blameless in terms of personal behaviors. I observed what I believe to be spiritual bullying taking place–I offered as evidence the condenscending tone and use of proof-text scripture as a club. If you have evidence of Kris acting in an abusive way toward those who post here, I’m sure she would want to be made aware of that.

    My guess is that Frank has many to affirm him in his actions and beliefs, as well as perhaps a few who would question him–I have no dog in that fight other than a sincere desire to protect some who are vulnerable from this particular interaction with his blog.

    Kris stated much more eloquently than I could regarding the impossible standard of proof required; thank you.

  • Jimmy, I guess my question would be, what would constitute “proof” for Frank Turk and the rest of the Pyro guys?

    To me it seems like the only “proof” they would accept is some sort of signed acknowledgement from the perpetrators of the abuse. Anything less than the pastor’s/leader’s own full confession is “unsubstantiated.” Anything else is deemed gossip and/or slander.

    What people don’t understand, too, is that there’s a tremendous level of shame involved in working through the fact that you’ve willingly put yourself in a situation where your church leaders manipulated and controlled and mistreated you. There shouldn’t be shame, but there is. There aren’t a whole lot of people who were savvy enough while their spiritual abuse was happening to have documented everything (“substantiated proof”) – and I doubt many of those who do have a paper trail of some sort would be eager to put themselves out there under their real names (another piece of what the Pyro guys would probably require in order to establish “proof” and stay away from the gossip ‘n’ slander accusations).

    So I think it’s true that their house wins. They have set up the parameters of the discussion in such a way that unless a whole bunch of people are willing to put themselves out there under the real full names and happened to have been cognizant enough of what was happening to them while it was happening to have saved emails and recorded conversations and so forth, there is just no way there will ever be enough “evidence” for them.

    In other words, their minds are already made up. You can hear it in the tone of Mr. Turk’s title and his obvious irritation with the topic. He’s already concluded that there’s little more than unsubstantiated rumors to the stories about CJ. The evidence that has been put out there – Brent’s documents, full of emails from the good man CJ himself – is discounted and theologically inadmissable because there’s no “biblical mandate” to warn others and talk about a church organization’s problems in public.

  • Jimmy

    Rick, if the house always wins at teampyro, doesn’t the house always win at sgmsurvivors? Kris does set the rules, just like Frank Turk. Frank just wants more proofs of spiritual abuse.
    You could go over there and tell Frank he’s a spiritual bully. He might actually appreciate that.

  • Rick

    If it is not too irreverent to compare commenting at the pyro blog on the SGM topic to playing blackjack in Vegas, what is true of one is true of the other: the House always wins. The dripping condescension (That Bad Dog and El Pastor are reading this correctly in posts 1 & 2, I think), evident in the invitation and the ‘house rules’, the use of Matt. 18 as a club–I think it is wise to avoid interaction with them. Kris, I would encourage you to rest rather than engage with the spiritual bullying taking place in the guise of ‘sincerely wanting to understand’. I am waiting for a proper exegesis of Scripture regarding the lust to defend those who have abused positions of power rather than coming along side those that have been harmed–I guess doctrine trumps all. Respect is listening first; God demonstrates that to us throughout the Psalms–how I wish leadership had the guts to invite those with complaints to come, and speak uncensored–maybe healing would flow.

  • Stunned

    Kris, wait. When the time is right, God will give you the words and the peace. Until then, I believe He will be busy at work preparing hearts and revealing truth.

  • Jimmy

    Kris, the intimidation factor at pyro is simple; wild accusation or 3rd party accusation are not accepted. They’re taking the same stance the Washington Post did. At blogs like this one; wild and third party accusations often seemed the norm. That makes it extremely difficult to tell the wheat from the chaff.

  • Oswald

    I just spent a lot of time reading at Pyro, too. A lot of good was stated. Interesting that they mention that the one time they open their flood-gates to survivors, not many survivors commented. I wonder why that was. Or is it that some commented but were deleted for breaking their rules. I wonder if it shows that much of what is said here looks like gossip or bitterness. When you read it to yourself, it may not really seem helpful to post among those who probably won’t agree.

  • Oswald

    The pyro guys and many others views of charismaticism, including the RBD’s, is the reason SGM is shying away from it’s charismatic ways. IMO, many feel as if charismaticism is a not much more than a magic show designed to induce emotions. What the pyro guys don’t seem to realize is that SGM doesn’t go there much anymore; so as not to look foolish and ‘down-home’, maybe even a little non-Baptist.

  • Defender

    Kris, you are a competent writer, and very intelligent.

    That said, Don’t do anything the Holy Spirit doesn’t give you to do over there.
    You certainly have your hands full with this blog……

    It looks a little more of an SGM outsiders discussion, even though I have put a few posts up, I’m not sure where it will go. (Not sure I have time to do pyros. Even though I have spent the last few hours reading up over there.)

  • Thanks for the votes of confidence, guys – but I’ve been trying quite literally all day to put something together and have been experiencing total writer’s block. And, not to sound too sanctimonious or anything, but I’ve been praying about this and just have not felt any sort of release to post any of the little paragraphs I have managed to string together.

  • Ozymandias

    And I second Lee’s opinion.

  • Lee

    Would love to see Kris put up a summary at Team Pyro of the issues she sees at SGM.

    She’s better at putting things into words than most of us put together!

  • Defended

    Kris, you can do it!
    I don’t know how far I’ve read into this but I like what I’m reading from some posts. If you are inclined to post there, go for it. I’m sure your blog-friends have got your back.

    I liked what I was reading about the right vs. wrong of Brent going public. It’s not like they really can say, with a straight face that he hadn’t tried every other method of addressing CJ’s unaccountable behavior.

  • Luna Moth

    Just wanted to say welcome, Julie Anne. I’m glad you and others are finding a voice and realizing you aren’t alone, you aren’t crazy.

  • Another Joe

    I never heard of pyromaniacs blog before today, personally i feel like if the guy has kept his baptist loving heart out of the conversation this long he should have just kept staying out of it…

    His writing is high school level at best, but my son does have a girl in his second grade class that could write better i think.

    But i guess his name fits his blog because he would love to burn my arminian butt on a stake…

    Still gotta love him……

  • This is off topic, but I wanted to share a bit of my story as it relates to spiritual abuse. I’ve been a long-time reader here and wanted to thank Kris and contributors of this site for helping me in my journey. It was through this SGM that I came to the realization of spiritual abuse in my former church. As I read the stories, it felt like I was reading about my own church experiences.

    A slight different twist in my case – I posted a negative Google review about my former church and the pastor has sued me and 4 others for defamation for $500,000. My Google reviews were removed by “someone” and I felt my voice was being taken from me, so I started a blog. I’m sorry, Kris, I was not too original in my blog name. The media has now found the story and it is taking off nationally.

    But what I want to express is the heartfelt thanks. The people who were willing to take a risk and tell their stories here gave me the courage to start my blog. Since that time, I have been in touch with countless people from a decade back who also dealt with this same spiritual abuse and suffered silently and alone. People finally have a voice – finally have a way to connect and are finally realizing that they weren’t crazy.

    Thank you, SGMSurvivors!

  • facedown2000

    I don’t think “the pyromaniacs” are friends of CJ at all. They’re rather critical of charismatics, and they haven’t been too kind to TGC lately, either. I found their discussion of “Bond of Bloggers” to be rather amusing, too. So far I’ve appreciated the discussion there on this topic.

    That said, Frank does have a certain way with words, and I thought El Pastor’s first post was hilarious.

  • El Pastor

    I don’t disagree with you, Kris. But I asked Phil Johnson directly about his view of the SGM situation and he said “I know C.J., and I like him.” Then he went on to the charismatic thing.

  • El Pastor –

    I’ve thought a lot about this over the years, and it seems to me that it’s more nuanced than just friendship. I might be mistaken, but it’s possible that one or more of the Pyro guys haven’t even met CJ face to face, let alone formed any sort of friendship with him.

    I believe it comes down to the fact that CJ has paid lip service to the proper Reformed doctrinal passwords…and has the right alliances with the right Reformed Big Dogs. Also, CJ has heretofore advocated a level of unquestioning loyalty to one’s “local” church that the members of Team Pyro would also appear to value. (Never mind that for years, SGM would have considered just about all the Pyro guys’ “local” churches inferior and inadequate for not embracing SGM’s continuationist views and SGM’s particular methods of conducting small groups…and would have viewed them as part of a good target audience for another SGM church plant…but that’s another topic.)

    CJ has thus been bestowed a level of acceptance and protection within the rest of the Reformed community. He says the right words…he has the right friends…he’s very meticulously kept his previous apostolic continuationist Charismatic squishiness from any public scrutiny or discussion…

    CJ has also been crafty enough to distance himself from the crude sex talk and “I See Dead Fornicating People” schtick of Mark Driscoll.

    Therefore, he’s a de facto member of their side, their team. If they fault CJ for anything, it has to be his Charismatic side. It can’t be anything else, because CJ’s ostensibly correct-to-the-letter doctrine won’t (in these guys’ thinking) permit real errors.

    They are not friends of CJ’s – they’re loyal friends of CJ’s purported doctrine.

  • El Pastor

    What strikes me about TeamPyro is their complete willingness to jump all over Mark Driscoll without hesitation, and their complete devotion to protecting C.J. Mahaney

    I have come up with a one word answer: friendship.

  • El Pastor

    Yes, Kris, I was. The condescension in Turk’s post is pretty overwhelming.

  • El Pastor –

    I feel dumb for even needing to ask this…but…you were being ironic, right? :D

  • Well, “Bad Dog” – could you give them a concise summary of the real issues? That would be helpful. I’m contemplating whether or not to try to put one together myself. But conciseness has never been my strong point. :D

    And of course, like I said, I find them all really intimidating. I probably read the comments over there a couple of times a week and am often amazed by how self-satisfied and self-congratulatory they are when someone puts the smack-down on a new commenter.

    I mean, I appreciate their confidence in and allegiance to Scripture. I really do. And I have learned a lot from them. But there’s still something jarring about the virtual high-fives and the scorn they exude when some hapless soul challenges them. They definitely have their own tight little (sometimes unspoken) rules for engagement.

    Right now the persistent question over there seems to be which (if any) outside organization would have been qualified to mediate SGM’s problems. The very fact that this is the focal point of the discussion demonstrates that they don’t see the irony of the notion of an outside mediator in the first place – and how the need for an outside mediator is one of the main symptoms of one of SGM’s biggest issues, which is their underlying belief in apostolic authority and the pyramid-shaped governance structure and lack of accountability that goes with the belief that the guys at the top (the apostles) cannot make real mistakes and don’t really need to answer to anyone who doesn’t work for them and thus occupy an inferior position.

  • El Pastor

    One thing you have to say about Frank Turk. He has a shepherd’s heart that overflows with the tenderest sympathies for the wounded sheep in the dear Savior’s flock. The healing balm of Christ’s love surrounds every word choice he makes. Even the title of his blog post is like good news to the ears of the afflicted and binding on their wounds.

  • An utterly predictable discussion has ensued. We begin with a passive-aggressive opening which frames the debate in impossible terms, and then the Reformed Baptist knives come out against the first person to make a substantive comment critical of SGM, with a response which pretty much shows that they have not even a slender appreciation of the real issues.

    I am once again reminded of why I stopped reading that blog.