Revisiting Pastor Training On Counseling

In a radio interview in which she discussed the lawsuit filed against Sovereign Grace Ministries, plaintiffs’ attorney Susan Burke said the following:

Basically, what the church did was elevate its kind of own reputational concerns, its own financial concerns.  So they [SGM pastors] didn’t want anyone to think that – they didn’t want anyone to know about it, because it reflects badly on the church.  And so what they tried to do is they tried to portray secular authorities – you know, police, the prosecutors and the like – as, you know, folks who could not be trusted.  And that, you know, that the parents of families would be, would be SAFER putting their trust in the  church members and the church hierarchy.

For a long while, we’ve been discussing and analyzing the mindset behind some of the Sovereign Grace Ministries pastors’ seemingly mind-boggling responses in situations where they learned of child abuse.  It’s my belief that this deep-seated distrust of non-SGM counseling and non-SGM authorities has long been part of the fabric of SGM culture.

As recently as November 2009, SGM pastors sat through sessions at their pastors’ conference in which pastoral counseling was portrayed as something superior to non-SGM professional Christian counseling.  Those who want to understand the theological and intellectual underpinnings of the pastoral behaviors and responses described in the lawsuit ought to read the transcripts from the November 2009 Pastors’ Conference entitled, “The Pastor and the Counseling Process.”  Yes, the transcripts are lengthy.  And yes, my own commentary is included.  (If you don’t want to pay attention to my commentary, ignore whatever is in blue font.)  But I believe these transcripts provide a great window into the SGM mentality.

I also believe that even if SGM leadership tries to portray this mentality as something from a long time ago – an old relic of its ancient, unenlightened past – these 2009 teachings would prove that that is not the case.  Moreover, as far as I know, there are no sound files out to indicate that there has been any UNteaching of the distrust of the mental health profession and outside authorities.  Even the seeming open-mindedness discussed in the 2009 teaching was actually more about training pastors to give off the appearance of open-mindedness, rather than any true openness to different points of view.

Anyway, here are links to the three parts of the transcript.  I know I have harped on this a lot lately, and I know we have discussed this before.  But if you have not yet read the transcripts, or if it’s been awhile since you took a look at what pastors were taught as recently as just three years ago, it might be enlightening to look at them.

2009 Pastors’ Conference Teaching On Counseling – Part 1

2009 Pastors’ Conference Teaching On Counseling – Part 2 (with Kris’ commentary)

2009 Pastors’ Conference Teaching On Counseling – Part 3 (with Kris’ commentary)


Also, I would encourage anyone with knowledge of the situations mentioned in the lawsuit, or other similar situations relating to Sovereign Grace Ministries churches, to get in touch with Ms. Burke.  She can be reached at or (202) 386-9622.


  1. Kris says:

    By the way, in case this was not clear in the post, I am interested in hearing sound files of teachings where SGM leaders were instructed in how to be less hostile and more open toward non-SGM authorities and non-SGM Christian counseling resources.

  2. Kris says:

    Also, I have made an edit to the “Terms of Use” tab above. We will no longer be publishing comments under words like “Anonymous” or “Guest” or any variation thereof. Please choose some sort of name or handle for your comments. It does NOT need to be any part of your real name. It can be a nickname or some word. But it may not be “Anonymous” or “Guest.” If you’ve previously posted under one of those words and your comment is automatically put through, I will go in and edit it to something else (a “handle” of my own choosing). So consider yourselves forewarned. :-)


  3. Mary says:

    I think equally damaging is the don’t get any counseling at all practice of SGM…if you suffered severe abuse growing up: you should just get over it this minute. If you have any affects from it you must be bitter. Focus more on your own heart to find out what sin of yours is holding you back from being 100% healthy, work harder at your sanctification, strive to please your leadership and you’ll be fine. And if not dig deeper for your sin that is holding you back. And while you already feel worthless from the abuse, we will heap into every message how utterly depraved you are.

  4. claude says:

    I am wondering if the Pastor Conferance scheduled for Oct 30 in Orlando, FL will continue as scheduled? I am sure it will three very stressed days for SGM leadres. :scratch:

  5. Jenn Grover says:

    Claude – if they cancelled the conference it would give me hope that their hearts are softening, but don’t expect it. What I expect is that it will be the biggest sales pitch of CJ’s life as he fights to save his ministry. Truthfully, I think the lawsuit was the last bend in the road for SGM and it will begin a slow, painful process of falling apart.

    Pastors and churches who leave of their own accord are doing so with a vision for something different. Churches who stay but end up on their own, anyway will be left with no vision forward and disillusioned. Pastors who avoid paying the price for acting on their conscience now will pay the price later.

  6. Jenn Grover says:

    Claude, let me add that more than likely, they will go on as if nothing is wrong with little to no mention of the lawsuit.

  7. Breeezey says:

    I see we have smaller emoticons. Are we going to get the train wreck and the kool-aid back? We reeeeeally need them now more than ever. Maybe a pick of CJ riding the train into the collision…

  8. Whirlwind says:

    Based on the approach to “allegations” that CJ revealed at last years conference, I’d expect “innocent until proven quilty” will rule the day with very little mention of the lawsuit. And unless you’re very comfortable talking to another pastor about it, you’ll be sure to avoid any appearance of “gossip” in discussing the matter.

  9. Glad i am out says:

    Kris, i must have missed this whole thread when you originally posted and commented, and the question you raised was probably answered by now. But in describing ones sinful life, counselors draw two trees, one with good fruit and one with bad. They show us how we try to replaced the bad fruit w/ the good, directly above ground surface, and how this can not be done. We are doing so in futility because we do not look below the surface at the roots – The root of one tree is Jesus, and the other is Sin, or something like that. The “heat” that you asked about are the rays from the sun – they represents the trials in our life that either reveal bad “dwindling” fruit, or good “healthy” fruit – so that is what Mr. Farmer’s comment was about with “choosing one’s heat.”

    You are spot on in describing how SGM’s prescription in counseling, despite talking about grace, is, in fact, to perform various works. I have sat under Mr. Farmer’s counseling, and though i love him dearly, that is just what i got – he does not know better. It is part of the SGM culture. Problems in your marriage? “what books are you reading?’ Problems with addiction? “How much quiet time are you having?” I have posted on this a few times on this blog a few years back. NO MENTION of true GRACE – the FREEDOM WE HAVE IN CHRIST which will free us, if only we know about it. I was in SGM 20 years and a few years out before i heard the real “GOOD NEWS” of who i am in Christ!! That would have been more helpful to know than what books to read and how many hours a week to have quiet time.

    Regarding medications: I felt, and eventually knew, for almost 2 decades, that i needed SSRI medication – that is seratonin-re-uptake-inhibitor (or something like that – Prozac, if you will). I had seen it help others that i know closely and i also knew that my mental health was just not being helped by prayer and striving. I spoke with Mr. Farmer about it and he discouraged it – and prescribed, instead, for my problems w/ and unbalanced mind and emotions, you guessed it – works. Again, he did not know better, and i wonder if he may have changed his tune by now. I finally, after years of inner turmoil, and horrible Bi-Polar episodes that affected my family, job, and whole life, went behind his back and got a prescription. OMG!!!!!!!! I was normal for the 1st time since an early teen!!!! Not a zombie, not high… just NORMAL!!!!! I am a huge advocate for this type of science!!!!! I used to drive down the road feeling unhappy and saying “God, why am i unhappy, i do not even know why?” Then i started taking paxil, and i drove down the same road feeling happy, and wondering why. What has happened to make me feel so happy? I did not know, but was glad anyway, and who cares why. And if i ground a coffee-pot’s worth of beans and did not tighten the lid, and the grounds flew all over the kitchen, instead of losing it, i would laugh, and then clean it up.

  10. intheNICKoftime says:

    In the last thread QE2 said,

    I think a lot of these pastors are just not competent!!

    This is one of the pillars of our issues with SGM.

    CJ is out searching for young guys to be pastors. Young guys dont know much. You can teach them a few tricks but in worldly wisdom, they just come up short.

    Then CJ subjects them to a “rigorous” 10 months of mixed education. (Remember part of the PC experience is playing touch football, pick up basketball, Sumu wrestling, and other pseudo sporting events to prove their manhood). And the majority of time actually spent in the classroom was on Greek. So it would be hard to say where they squeezed in their teaching on counseling. And since pastors were expected to counsel on ALL issues in EVERY situation, you can see this is a recipe for disaster. These links Kris provided are a perfect example of what the boy-pastors were expected to learn and implement.

    Then…throw in a top down evaluation system where any mistake was grounds for dismissal. Mistakes would be not teaching the party line well enough. So if you let anyone go out to get “real” help you were, a)unprofessional, b)not called of God, c)not managing your flock well.

    So CJ/SGM trained pastors minimally (see Kris’s links) in their own type of counseling and then evaluated them by those standards and eventually dismissed them if they did not produce expected results with members of their flock.

    So every pastor had every reason to a)follow the company plan, and b)make certain that no sheep or news ever got out that he did not “handle” things well.

    While I revile the pastors that would be comfortable in a situation like that, I ultimately hold CJ responsible. He had slowly eliminated any dissenting voices and surrounded himself with sycophants so that his word was law. Everywhere you looked you saw CJ and his influence. So it is no stretch to see all counseling as influenced and controlled by CJ. You cant take all of the credit and not be responsible for the mistakes.

    So as much as everyone gasps at the stories of misguided counseling in the child abuse cases and the spousal abuse cases and the hundreds of other cases that were significant in the lives of the people that suffered…Those pastors were only carrying out the orders and regulations and expectations of the head of the family of churches. Every pastor was doing what CJ wanted! They were ultimately CJ’s tools. And they bear much of the blame, but nothing near the culpability that CJ should own.

  11. Change is Coming says:

    Here is a video on SGM’s web site to get everyone excited for the conference. It is not going to be canceled. If you watch it you will not see any CLC pastors ( at least not highlighted like other pastors are)

  12. MAK says:

    I wish we still had the beating the dead horse icon…but here it goes…to annon from the last post…there is still a link to SGM on the Redeemer Arlington’s website. Look under “About” then “beliefs” and then under the subgroup “statements of faith”. I’m not sure what additional proof you’d need. If you need more just do a google search on redeemer arlington sovereign grace and you’ll get plenty. No one is against you because you’re new…only because the your facts are incorrect.

  13. Live Free says:

    To distinguish between healthy and unhealthy churches [and as it relates to this thread on healthy vs. unhealthy counseling practices], here are some questions to consider:

    “Does the group’s leadership invite dialogue, advice, and evaluation from outside its immediate circle?

    Authoritarian pastors are usually threatened by any expression of diverse opinions, whether from inside or outside the group. Displaying an attitude of spiritual superiority, they will… often make a conscious effort to limit influence from outside the church. When outside speakers are given access to the pulpit, they are carefully selected to minimize any threat to the leadership’s agenda. Coercive pastors are fiercely independent and do not function well in a structure of accountability. For the sake of public relations, they may boast that they are accountable to a board of some sort, when in actuality the board is composed of “yes-men” who do not question the leader’s authority.

    Do members appreciate truth wherever it is found, even if it is outside their group?

    Whether they admit it or not, abusive churches tend to view themselves as spiritually superior to other Christian groups. This religious elitism allows little room for outside influences…

    Does the group encourage independent thinking and the development of discernment skills?

    Control-oriented leaders attempt to dictate what members think, although the process is so spiritualized that members usually do not realize what is going on. A pastor or leader is viewed as God’s mouthpiece, and in varying degrees a member’s decision making and ability to think for oneself are swallowed up by the group. Pressure to conform and low tolerance for questioning make it difficult to be truly discerning.”

    To read the full list of questions go to the bottom of the page here: (taken from Free online e-book, Recovering from Churches That Abuse)

  14. Pamela says:

    @Persona from the last thread
    Thanks for stating what I missed, “We should not allow former SGM churches rewrite history, like CJ used to so at CLC.”

    Eric was selected to be a pastor of the plant Redeemer Arlington by CJ himself over another individual and told to wait because of the Fairfax debacle and other stuff that I’m sure other people reading know about. To infer that because nothing official was signed or that you didn’t pay the tithe that is not even required of church plants during the initial process of planting is misleading.

    The word on the street to the second generation of the elite church families is that Redeemer Arlington is the place to be if you disagreed with Josh’s leadership regarding CJ. This is why you will see a disproportionate amount of the membership of the Arlington church being the elite who mislead themselves and others into believing that they are so different from Covenant Life and Fairfax even though you have the same legacy of thought and process.

    If you want to say you are different now, cool, but just be honest about how you got there. Don’t scrub yourself a new identity just to appeal to your new demographic who might be embarrassed to tell their friends that their ‘family’ of churches is involved in a cover up scandal.

  15. Kris says:

    “Glad i am out” –

    THANK YOU for explaining the trees and the “choose your heat” so well. It makes more sense now.

    It’s pretty amazing to think that SGM pastors were taught, as recently as 2009, that it is acceptable for them to weigh in on a member’s decision to take prescription medications. I know Mr. Farmer has the reputation of being a very nice man and I don’t doubt that he meant well, but it’s just ludicrous to think of these SGM pastors, most of whom have no psychiatric training beyond maybe Psych 101, listening to this and chuckling along and thinking this is acceptable.

    Reading the transcripts again, I was also freshly appalled by the frequent undertones of pastoral superiority, along with the idea that it’s OK for pastors to wear “poker faces” and try to fool and manipulate their members with false statements and fake leading questions.

    I am a broken record…I know I am. But anyone trying to understand this lawsuit needs to understand how SGM pastors have been trained in the art of control and manipulation.

  16. Sidney says:

    “The Pastor and Pastoral Counseling”
    Andy Farmer
    April 2009

    I don’t have time to read it now and perhaps you’ve already seen it, Kris, but here’s a link.

    And here’s footnote #12 on that same file. This is where they get the “Three Trees” method from. It was the hottest thing when I came to CLC in 1996. Not sure how long they’d been teaching it at that time.

    The tree analogy is in reference to ‘the three trees’, a counseling and discipleship tool
    developed by the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation. For a full exposure to this
    ministry model, see How People Change, but Paul Tripp and Tim Lane.

  17. Live Free says:

    Kris #15, “SGM pastors have been trained in the art of control and manipulation.”

    Bingo! Bingo, bingo, bingo. It is ALL ABOUT CONTROL. That’s what makes this “family of {severely dysfunctional} churches” ABUSIVE, just like an abusive boyfriend or husband: It’s all about control.

  18. equus asinus says:

    This is very tied up, if you ask me, in the inflated sense of “Pastor” that Sovereign Grace Ministries – may your name ever Google with embarrassing results – continues to promote. To “counsel” is to “teach”, and to “teach” is the sole purview of the “Pastor”. If you can get broken people to think correctly, then you can get them to act correctly – that is counseling 101. Actually, that is the whole course. I’ve heard it said that “teaching” during the Sunday “meeting” is actually considered “counseling”.

    So what is thinking correctly? If you are confessing your sin, you are thinking correctly. Notice that the only way to apply this to a victim is to get them to talk about sin. Since the perpetrator is being “humble” because they actually have some serious “bad fruit” to confess, they appear to be more compliant to the process than their victim. In fact, in this approach, there are no victims, there are only sinners – those who confess, and those who resist confession.

    You can see where this simplistic model leads to horrible results. Couple this with the inflated sense of importance and unique sense of calling of the Sovereign Grace Ministries “Pastor” and you have the presently unfolding disaster.

  19. Two Feet Out says:

    Glad I am out, your #9 resonates with me. Similar futile battle w/ trying SGM “counseling” for me and for my husband and I for our marriage. (Read books; “knit in” with another couple [barf]; husband read book about being a man, etc. :wacko: ) I especially identify w/ the finally feeling normal bit. My doc explained to me how our brains make serotonin so we can handle stress, and if we use it all up, it is then very difficult for us to handle the next stressful event. After two babies, a move and a death in the family, my serotonin was gone and then some!

    I felt so relieved to sit down with a doctor and then with a counselor to learn all the non-sin-related reasons to my depression and anger. I tell you, I was unburdened. And I have so much more joy and freedom in the Lord now. I actually enjoy reading my Bible again. I spent some time right before and shortly after leaving SGM wallowing in a desert of condemnation, b/c I must not be doing something right.

    I, too, am glad to be out! Both feet, in fact! :yahoo:

  20. Sick with worry says:

    Brent has a new post…. A good one. He will be CJ’s “Rambo” now….. As in “I’m your worst nightmare!!”

    Also…. The SGM website has a slideshow for the conference?? As Oswald said…. WTF! They have gone nuts! I say SIDESHOW is more like it. This is downright funny to look at.

    If you are a hard-working, honest SGM pastor that really is caring for his people…. At what point are you simply embarrassed by this?

  21. Kris says:

    And just today, Tim Challies posted a slightly-disagreeing-yet-ultimately-promoting puff piece about a CJ Mahaney talk. When will it ever end?

    Yeah, sure, Challies wrote about how he disagreed with Mahaney’s statement that a wife’s job (as stay-at-home mom) is harder than a husband’s job. But at the end, despite that, he still suggests people listen to the teaching.

    When will these Reformed bloggers finally get off the CJ love train and realize that they are promoting someone who doesn’t deserve their promotion?

  22. Kris says:

    equus –

    Very succinct summary.

  23. lmalone says:

    “In fact, in this approach, there are no victims, there are only sinners — those who confess, and those who resist confession.”

    Bingo. And it serves a bigger purpose: To make all sin the same. Gossip is the same as molesting little girls. So you redefine gossip as ‘talking about your child being molested to warn other parents’.

    Clever tactic for controlling people, eh?

  24. AnneGG says:

    I am new here to this site. Our family recently left our SGM church after less than 3 years of membership. Our experience and observations are almost identical to Kris and her husband’s testimony. We are not wounded by our experience. We always felt like square pegs trying to fit into a round hole at this church. We experienced several red flags during our efforts to assimilate into our new church and home group. But the exterior package looked so good – good preaching, good worship music, seemingly safe and fun children’s ministry. So we kept trying to fit in and all the while, dismissing our growing concerns about polity, apostolic leadership, etc.

    One such red flag was the clear aversion to couples in our home group receiving outside counsel for various issues that were affecting marriages. I had individually received professional counseling as a single, post-college young woman for childhood issues. Later, my husband and I received marriage counseling through an independent Christian counseling center. I had personally benefitted from professional Christian counseling.

    As a couple, we were simply mystified why our home group members would only seek counsel from our pastor, who did not have a professional counseling degree. I felt these couples were being cheated of true healing opportunities.

    This thread really helps bring clarity. This practice of prohibiting church members from seeking professional counseling really confirms in my mind that SGM is very cultish.

  25. Diane says:

    “When will these Reformed bloggers finally get off the CJ love train and realize that they are promoting someone who doesn’t deserve their promotion?”

    As you know, not sure if they ever will — unless SGM explodes. Maybe then?

    They have to keep the clothes on the emperor. I have read enough of Challies’ posts on his confessions of his “heart idols” – a biggie being the idol of fame (remember his discovery recently that he has the sin of envy?)…why is so and so’s book more famous than his books…the sin of counting how many read his blog, blah, blah, that I think his little idol producing heart really, really, really wants a prime main session speaking spot at T4$. (No breakout sessions for him.) Has he had one yet? I don’t recall that he has. He will not want to ever burn that bridge, in my opinion.

  26. Lee says:

    Kris @21

    You said “When will these Reformed bloggers finally get off the CJ love train and realize that they are promoting someone who doesn’t deserve their promotion”

    Probably not till he divorces his wife, gets a fiance and ticks off World Magazine. (D’Souza)

  27. Lady N says:

    “feel free to fast forward to the 20 minute mark since the heart of the message does not begin until then; everything befor
    e that is classic C.J. preamble.” from Tim Challies post Kris mentioned.

    That’s one CJ “observation” I agree with Mr. Challies. It’s always exasperrated me that his intros are so long, I want to scream “just land the plane!” I know it’s just a style preference, but glad I am not the only one who notices.

  28. Kris says:

    AnneGG –


    As someone who also had a relatively good, easy journey through your SGM church, I’m curious, did you ever look for information about SGM to explain what you were seeing/feeling?

  29. Kris says:

    Welcome to Lady N, too.

    I was chuckling to myself over the fact that Challies’ comments on that post were so positive. He didn’t put any through that said anything about CJ’s recent issues, although you know there probably were some that linked to the lawsuit. He also didn’t publish any that demanded to know if he’d followed proper Matthew 18 procedures or accused him of “slander” for dissing the first 20 minutes of the teaching. :-)

  30. 5yearsinPDI says:




  31. Wizer says:

    Glad I am out #9, thank you for sharing your story about your struggles with your emotional help and how professional counseling/medications brought you back to a full life. It is important for people to hear positive stories like these. :yes:

  32. AnneGG says:

    @Change is Coming #11 – I looked at that video clip of the Pastor’s College Conference, and I couldn’t help but feel sad and think – what an amazing impact for God’s Kingdom this movement of churches could be, if it were healthy and led by upright, theologically correct, humble leaders, instead of it being an association of churches with major problems. So sad, such lost opportunities.

  33. Kris says:

    The bias against medical intervention for mental health issues – with its insistence on “biblical” categories – seems rather intellectually inconsistent to me.

    I mean, has there ever been a situation where a pastor’s child was diagnosed with epilepsy or some other seizure disorder?

    Wouldn’t the “biblical category” for seizures be demon possession?

    Yet I bet there’d be no hesitation about taking anti-seizure meds…even though the “biblical category” ought to be exorcism…

    Why is that?

    Likewise, what about something like Type II diabetes? Certainly one could argue that lifestyle factors like overeating often play a part in developing the disease. A “biblical category” for something like Type II diabetes would seem to require addressing any “sin issues” like the sin of gluttony. But do pastors feel the need to weigh in on whether or not a member should take drugs to help control his blood glucose, if he could regulate his blood glucose through diet alone?

  34. MAK says:

    Yes, it you noticed the video was the 2010 pastors conference video probably edited somewhat to delete the CLC and FFX pastors. There were a few CLC pastors wives that I saw and of course the entire event was held at CLC then. I got a chuckle out of all of Dave Harvey’s facial expressions. Is this video supposed to draw pastors to the conference?…it’s just a bunch of people…with the background “It’s all about Jesus”

  35. Sam McGee says:

    From Brent’s most recent post:

    Every church should have a register of child molesters on their website. The well-being of children is far more important than protecting the reputation of abusers who return to their crimes at a high rate. Even in churches!

    Agree? Disagree? The current policy at CLC (and other SGM churches?) is to conceal the identity of child molesters from the congregation. Does anyone dispute that? It seems easy enough to prove. Ask any current CLC member to name the child molesters in their midst. Forget all. Name one. Better yet, forget names. Ask them how many? Or if there are even any?

  36. glad i am out says:

    Kris, yes, great question! if a PK has epilepsy, how long after the first seizure does pastor call the doctor? I would bet my entire life savings it would be pretty D**n quick. But if i have a
    chemical imbalance, and i am not a PK, how long until i am given the go-ahead to call a doc?

  37. Remnant says:

    Now here is where I am flummoxed: why does someone feel inclined to call a pastor (trained for all of 9 months) to solved personal medical issues, emotional issues, marriage issues, police issues, theological issues, etc., when in the real world, any one of these disciplines require years of study in order to become a qualified expert?

    I know we’ve discussed this many times over the years, but it never ceases to amaze me that seemingly intelligent folk check their brains at the door of an SGM church.

  38. Bridget says:

    Because the Pastor stands in the stead . . . ??

  39. It's just the beginning says:

    @Sam McGee, #35: I have attended 3 churches in my adult life–none of them posted a “register of child molesters on their website” [or anywhere to my knowledge]

    How many people reading this attend church? Does your church post a list of child molesters on their website? Or do they have a list in their church office available for any member to look over?

    I’m all for protecting children, but I honestly don’t know what that looks like in a church with 100 people or a church with 3,000 people.

  40. Only Jesus says:

    I just don’t get the big deal about caregroups. I can see them being great if you are a pastor as you get to be with the same people for years on years and aren’t expected to open up and be all transparent in front of visitors or people you will probably only be in a caregroup with for an average of 18 months (that was our average anyway) before you split. After a split it is always so “fun” to try and juggle maintaining the friendships you began in previous caregroups while being expected to make your new and growing caregroup the “new priority” and the people you are suppose to “build relationships with”.
    After being in more caregroups than I can count (I can remember at least 14),it’s crazy to me! I have wanted to leave for quite awhile and I’m so glad my spouse and I are finally on the same page!

    Another problem I see with caregroups is watching husbands/wives tired from working all day sitting there listening to someone else’s wife/husband share her/his problems. I don’t get it because if I have something I would like to talk over with someone/ask for prayer/whatever, I don’t need umteen spouses of other people to help me…only my spouse,and maybe a close friend or friends. I don’t need to share with this group of people who I don’t have a history with NOR WILL I as the longest I have ever been in a caregroup with the same person was 2 caregroups (which would mean like 2 years…yahoo). I got tired of short lived friendships as my new caregroup was always such a hindrance to maintaining friendships, so I quit making relationships in my caregroup a priority and just began giving my time to those friendships I don’t want to lose. I decided to “release” (a little SGM lingo there) myself and just seek to love others while at caregroup, but feel no pressure to “have to” build close friendships with anyone unless it naturally happens. This has helped a lot, but when we look at other churches I definitely want to go to one that has Bible studies and serving type activities instead of caregroups…or at least no “mandatory” caregroups as I can see how caregroups can at least help new people in a church connect with others. Sorry this is long, but caregroups are :wacko: to me.

  41. Persona says:

    Kris 15

    It might also be good to know what is included in the “How People Change” class, presented by Corby Megorden and Joe Lee at CLC. That may be a closer amalgam of SGM pastors current belief system.

    When we took the class a few years ago, Corby definitely eschewed psychological methodology. In fact he scoffed at it in patronizing tones. He tried to demonstrate in various ways (skits lecture and charts), how the effects of someone’s past had little to do with their current life situation. He harped on sin and focused on a person’s responsibility for that sin.

    There was little to no compassion or empathy, that someone, when they were very young and vulnerable, might have been significantly abused to such a degree that, they might need to take time to sort it out, as an adult.

    His class was embarrassingly simplistic and it seems to me it would harm more than help anyone.

  42. lmalone says:

    “I’m all for protecting children, but I honestly don’t know what that looks like in a church with 100 people or a church with 3,000 ”

    There is an example of how to handle it in the Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, I think. Or it might be one of his other books. Anyway, the people have a right to know if there is a credible charge.

  43. Only Jesus says:

    After reading the “Teaching on Counseling” parts 1 and 2, I kept thinking…Where’s Jesus in this…not just “the gospel”, but the person of Jesus? Where’s the Holy Spirit in this? All I hear is sneaky “strategies”, “sin”, “you”, “we”, and “community groups”.Oh, and quotes from reformed thinkers instead of any scriptures. The emphasis on care groups/community groups especially bugged me tonight…hence my previous comment.

  44. Only Jesus says:

    Now here is where I am flummoxed: why does someone feel inclined to call a pastor (trained for all of 9 months) to solve personal medical issues, emotional issues, marriage issues, police issues, theological issues, etc., when in the real world, any one of these disciplines require years of study in order to become a qualified expert?

    Very good point Remnant#37.

  45. oneofthem says:


    You are right on about caregroup! (Which is one of the reasons I’ll be needing a namechange soon). I just don’t understand why they just can’t have Bible study ( aside from controlling the congregation). Plus, when you have kids, those meetings can be a real obstacle. We only allow trusted family to babysit. The sad thing is, you can really buy into the whole “walk together for life” until you are regrouped.

  46. Unassimilated says:

    For what it is worth, I know a few parents that were handed this book, at CLC/CLS up to 2008, when
    considering outside counseling or conventional treatment. One of the book receiving parents had a child with a form of Autism.

    All of this goes back to the unwavering SGM belief in the complete and total sufficiency of scripture.

  47. Learning from the past says:

    #40 The flaws you point out in the caregroup structure are right on. Fabricated, assigned friendships that change frequently is a recipe for disaster. Forced vulnerability without a foundation of trust is not healthy accountability. In fact, it is easier to judge one another and become quite good at “sin sniffing” when you don’t actually know each other well.

    I see a direct correlation between the unhealthy cg structure and the anti-counseling church culture. Professionals are untrustworthy; untrained lay leaders are. Confidentiality (the norm professionally) with what is shared at cg is less important than filling in the pastor about every issue discussed.

  48. Stunned says:

    It’s Just the Beginning said, “Does your church post a list of child molesters on their website? Or do they have a list in their church office available for any member to look over?…I’m all for protecting children, but I honestly don’t know what that looks like in a church with 100 people or a church with 3,000 people.”

    Here’s what it looks like in my dad’s case. Once we found out that Dad had molested someone, we ran the story in his church bulletin so that every Sunday people who came into their church could know. We made an appeal for any other victims to come forward, so they could get help and we could know the extent of Dad’s problem.

    Now, whenever he goes anywhere in public where children could be (especially church) he is escorted. He is never left alone in his church. ALWAYS someone right by his side.

    Unrealistic? Not at all. What better way for a church to care for the children? What better way for a church to care for someone who may have this kind of problem? Most people who are sexually attracted to children do not want to be. Some (not all, but many) of them are as disgusted by themselves as we would be. Their biggest fear… well, two of their fears is 1) acting on their perversion and 2) being found out and being further isolated. OF COURSE, their victims come first. But cutting them out of society does not help society. It only makes them go farther into the darkness, which in my opinion ups the chances of recidivism. Bringing them to a place of truth (usually churches is good- ok, who am I kidding- ideally churches are meant to be a place of light and truth but aren’t always…even usually) can be good. (I get it if no one gives a bloody rip what is good for them. I totally do.)

    So, It’s Just the Beginning, how many churches do this kind of thing? I have no idea. Doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done.

  49. 28 years gone... says:

    You would have thought that with ALL the interviews, AoR might have been able to come up with SOMETHING about the sexual abuse. It doesn’t seem possible. $400,000 (or whatever the price tag was for their service) was a lot of money to white-wash everything SGM does.

    Oh, I forgot, SGM paid for the white-wash.

    Doesn’t AoR look Damm stupid and worthless now? THEY should be ashamed of what they did. Wait, I hear a laughter growing dimmer… headed toward the bank.