Here And There

The world of Sovereign Grace Ministries has seen some interesting developments over the past few weeks.

  • According to several sources, Covenant Life Church held a meeting and announced that the pastors are going to allow members to vote on the question of whether or not to leave the SGM organization – that the pastors have reached the point of wishing to part ways from SGM but are going to permit members to either affirm or reject their decision.  At this meeting, members were asked to keep the whole process confidential.
  • The much-anticipated Polity Proposal was released in draft form.  This 81-page document, put together by a committee comprised of SGM pastors, is entitled Sovereign Grace Book Of Church Order Proposal.  You can download a copy here.
  • Reading through this Book Of Church Order, it’s interesting to note that there doesn’t appear to be a job description that would fit C.J. Mahaney’s current role – which dovetails with something else that several people have shared with me, which is that there have been whispers and even an informal announcement or two that Mr. Mahaney will be stepping down from his position as president at some point in the near future.

For the most part, SGM continues to minimize the lawsuit brought against the organization and several of its pastors last month.  However, it sounds like more parties are going to be signing on as plaintiffs because of inappropriate pastoral counsel in situations of abuse, including spousal and child abuse.

EDITED TO ADD:  Shortly after this post was published yesterday, Sovereign Grace Ministries released the following updated statement:

Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) leadership has obtained a copy of the civil lawsuit filed Oct. 17 against SGM and several pastors from its associational churches. This complaint makes broad allegations that SGM pastors were negligent, resulting in errors and omissions in pastoral counseling and spiritual care, which was voluntarily sought and provided years ago to some families of child abuse victims.

The suit does not allege child abuse by any current or former pastor of SGM or any church associated with SGM. The suit does not allege child abuse by any employee or staff of SGM or any church associated with SGM. The suit does not allege any child abuse occurred on any SGM property or any church associated with SGM.

SGM leaders provided biblical and spiritual direction to those who requested this guidance. This care was sought confidentially, as is a right under the First Amendment. We are saddened that lawyers are now, in essence, seeking to violate those rights by asking judges and juries, years after such pastoral assistance was sought, to dictate what sort of biblical counsel they think should have been provided. SGM believes that allowing courts to second guess pastoral guidance would represent a blow to the First Amendment, that would hinder, not help, families seeking spiritual direction among other resources in dealing with the trauma related to any sin including child sexual abuse.

SGM is not in a position to comment on the specific allegations at this time, but upon review it appears the complaint contains a number of misleading allegations, as well as considerable mischaracterizations of intent.  Legal counsel is preparing responsive pleadings.

Child sexual abuse is reprehensible in any circumstance, and a violation of fundamental human dignity. We grieve deeply for any child who has been a victim of abuse. SGM encourages pastors from its associated churches to minister the love, grace, and healing of God to any who have suffered this horrific act.

SGM is committed to integrity and faithfulness in pastoral care, as are the pastors of local congregations. We take seriously the biblical commands to pursue the protection and well-being of all people – especially children, who are precious gifts given by the Lord and the most vulnerable among us. These biblical commands include fully respecting civil authority to help restrain evil and promote righteousness as Romans 13 instructs us. SGM also encourages the establishment of robust child protection policies and procedures based on best practices.

SGM churches are separately organized and constituted in their respective communities. They voluntarily partner together for certain aspects of their broader common mission: to plant churches, develop resources, train pastors and serve international ministries in order to proclaim the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We ask that you please join us in praying that God guides and leads all of us in these challenging circumstances, ministering his grace, comfort and peace to all who are affected by this situation, and that His truth would prevail.

Um, yeah.  That’s what the plaintiffs are working toward, too – that the truth would prevail.


The topic of child abuse as it relates to SGM’s past parenting teachings is an interesting one.  SGM leaders’ standard defense is to maintain that anything they may have taught about the so-called secondary issues (like courtship, dating, and the use of the “rod” as the only truly biblical form of parental discipline) was simply misapplied or misunderstood, and that therefore, they bear no responsibility for the way things may have turned out in situations where their advice resulted in abuse.  At the recent Sovereign Grace Ministries Pastors Conference, Bob Kauflin spoke about this topic.  You can access audio for Mr. Kauflin’s teaching here.

Toward the end of discussions following the previous post here, there were several interesting exchanges about Mr. Kauflin’s talk and about what SGM churches have taught, particularly with respect to parenting.  Commenter “QE2″ had this to say, about her recollections on SGM’s parenting teachings:

Fairfax in the late 80′s/90′s had Benny and Sheree Phillips always teaching on parenting and holding parenting seminars.  The major part of their “method” was to spank.  Only it was called loving correction.

The goal was to spank your child through to repentance.  Somehow, you were to discern when they were repentant and then the spanks stopped.  If the child did not accept the rod, they got more rod.

They had all sorts of advice-don’t spank near open windows, interior bathrooms were good.  If shopping, go back to the van to spank.  You really spanked for anything short of perfection, which was everything.

Patsy Jacobs even had Keith carve out a bunch of rods and gave them out to all of the moms in a weekly short term moms group, with some scripture about discipline written on the handle in nice sharpie calligraphy.  This was because so many moms were breaking wooden spoons and admired Patsy’s, which was really thick.

They said to start at a early age to flick your baby on the thigh when they squirmed in the changing table to teach them to lie still.  I still remember all of the ladies, rods hanging out of their back pockets, with 1 year olds in their reclining strollers being walked back and forth in the lobby during the messages.  If the baby lifted their heads, the moms would say “head down”and deliver a swat so the child would learn to nap in the stroller on Sundays.  I always felt so guilty because I was not a good devoted mother like they were, because I didn’t do that.

Commenter “Unassimilated” had this to say:

In later years they added that you should teach your child to accept and receive spankings willingly, as an expression of Gods correction. Maybe this was always the case. So basically as a parent your child was to willingly present their hind quarters for spanking on demand, and with a happy heart.  This junk came from the pulpit, yet given the laws, they were always savvy enough to not record those sessions for later listening. We were supposed to say something like, “I’m doing this because God loves you, and I love you.  Corrections are a form of both our love for you, and our love & obedience for God.”  You made sure it hurt, and were to do your best to not seem angry when you did it.

The word ‘correction’ could bring a hush over any roomful of CLC kids.  But the pastors had no idea?

There was one parenting teaching, shortly after the new building opened up, where a Pastor mentioned that one needs to be careful ‘not to leave marks as the laws of Maryland, as we have learned, dont always agree with scripture.”   There were some in the audience that greeted this comment with chuckles, apparently I had missed the inside joke/situation that this comment was based on.

Bob is a liar, there is no other word for it, and they are all cowards.  His recent teaching on this seems like an attempt to create a narrative that could be used in court as a defense tactic.  “But your honor, we have gone on record as saying…..”  We have never taught that…” SGM is very adept in erasing/rewriting their history as it serves them.  I hope any Judge that comes across SGM sees right through it, and sees them for who they really are.  I hope their attorney is paying attention too.  I have no doubt that many sermons to come will be crafted to create a shiny example of what is acceptable and lawful in today’s world.

I thought this comment from “Stunned” was a logical response to the kind of dissembling we continue to get from SGM leaders whenever someone tries to hold them accountable for what they have taught:

Let me get this straight- these guys never taught brutal parenting, yet somehow tens of thousands of people, across the country, ALL just happened to simultaneously misunderstand SGM. For thirty years straight?

Yeah, that is likely…..

Anyone else seeing a trend among the current leaders at the top of the pyramid? “It’s not my fault. It must be yours!”

249 comments to Here And There

  • If you would like to see the latest published teaching by the original PDI/SGM teacher Larry Tomczak you can do so from his website at:

    I am sure it has been tempered yet will address the scripture’s perspective.

  • QE2 said (last post):

    Steve 240, I really love your blog. It is a thoughtful analysis of the problems with I Kissed Dating Goodbye. I must say, though, that I do find the book’s premise to be perfect for high schoolers, imo. But applying it to single adults who were well past college age did result in much wierdness.

    Thanks for the compliment. I would tend to agree with you that this premise can work for high schoolers/teenagers. That is one of my opinions about the book and also found it having bad consequences when it was imposed on those older than high school/teenager age. With most things it is important to have a balance and not assume that “one size” fits all ages.

    I would say that even when someone is in high school they need to learn relate to the opposite sex vs. avoiding relating as I have seen typically happens with groups that promote “kissing dating goodbye.” If teenagers don’t start to learn some relational skills then it will be harder when they get in their 20’s. One blog entry I saw on man talked about how “kissing dating goodbye” caused him as someone in his 20’s to having limited relational skills in his 20’s.

    I wonder if the sad “defects” of “kissing dating goodbye” is why in at least in some SGM churches you see a lot of older singles (both men and women) that aren’t married.

  • Diane

    “Let me get this straight- these guys never taught brutal parenting, yet somehow tens of thousands of people, across the country, ALL just happened to simultaneously misunderstand SGM. For thirty years straight?

    Yeah, that is likely…..”

    Bob Kauflin apparently “perceived” it and “emphasized” it. His talk reflects it when he mentioned how his children gave him cards that said thanks for your correction of me.

  • KAZ

    “It’s not my fault. It must be yours!”

    I really had to laugh when I read that comment becuase that statement sums up every moment of “counceling” I have ever received (except one instance) while in SGM. And from listening to other ex-sgmers it seems the same for them.

  • Sick with worry

    I heard a story from a former CFCer, now in a different SGM church, of how she disciplined her kids when her husband was out of town. She proudly told us how she would call another man from the church, and he would come over to the house and spank them for her. She basically admitted that she could not get them under control. Now, I have never heard any teaching in SGM land that would endorse that….. But I guess the question is this: when does a leader step in to correct that kind of goofiness, or take responsibility for how his teaching is being mid-applied?

    Let’s all agree that teaching does indeed get mis-applied at times, but the teacher is still responsible for the result of the teaching.

    BTW…. When I heard that story…… That was the first time I started to think that “if you tell that story to too many people, they will think you are part of a cult”. I am good friends with this family, and I have offered advice. They agree with me in theory, but always go back to their SGM thinking on a number of topics.

  • Persona

    When the CLC building was finished pastors and their wives were the only parents allowed to spank their children on church grounds (the pastor’s office) because of the threat of law suits and/or complaints.

    With CLC allowing enrollment from nonmembers, it is hard to believe the principal continues to dole out corporal punishment.

    If I were CJ, I would have asked Julie K. to teach on child rearing, not her husband. She held a much closer pulse on the condition of her children’s hearts and, she appears to be more grace-filled than her husband.

    If SGM had allowed women to use their gifts to the fullest, it may have grown-up to become a healthier organization. Imo, two of the most serious flaws of has been to give husbands almost all the credit and responsibility for the family and to neglect to use the female half of the church, in any significant way.

  • Persona

    Meant to say, “With CLS allowing enrollment…

  • musicman

    Let’s not forget that the many SGM churches promoted and held Ezzo classes, in which crying babies were supposed to be left unattended to teach them that their sinful nature would not control their parents.

    Marty Machowski and Alan Redrup used to tag team the Ezzo classes at CFC in the 90’s. Marty was the pastor that told a parenting class that he could recommend a Dr./pediatrician that would not examine a child’s backside so that parents were not reported for administering Biblical discipline.

    There is no way that SGM can claim their teachings were just “misapplied”. Even if that were true (which it isn’t)-what would that say about their effectiveness as teachers? The fact that thousands of their followers “misheard” their teachings and veered into abusive behavior.

    Good luck explaining that defense in court.

  • QE2

    Oh, Persona #6, don’t get me started…

    Yes, the church is the biggest loser when HALF of their members are relegated to the sidelines.

    We go back to the garden and find it is not good for man to be alone, so God makes a counterpart-a woman to complement him (not to help him, a bad translation). So why do these men think that they can run the church alone? If they have read Genesis, they should KNOW they can’t so the job alone.

    I was recently part of an interesting discussion on slavery, and one man had the view that the worst thing about slavery (in a corporate sense) was that you had all of these slaves who were people with unique gifts and talents that could have been used to better their communities and the nation, but it was believed that all they were good for was fieldwork/domestic help. Sounds a bit like SGM…

  • Former CLC'er

    Persona & QE2 – I agree with both of you that SGM did not use the female gifts and talents and that resulted in an extreme imbalance. They were not being biblical in using the many parts of the body.

  • Sidney

    Sadly, there are 2 pretty common responses to the lawsuit by people who don’t have an issue with CLC/SGM:

    “Why didn’t people use their brain and not listen to teaching that was bad?”


    “I was never affected by their bad teaching.”

  • Lee

    I could be really really wrong as I am not an expert on the law. But the impression I get from other cases I have read before is that the court is not going to get into religious teachings of a church and whether they are correct or not. They can’t. (Unless those teaching directly violate the law such as polygamy)

  • QE2

    Lee-the lawsuit is not about the teachings. It is basically about SGM trying to prevent victims of sexual abuse from reporting crimes to the civil authorities.

  • musicman


    Pretty sure it’s illegal to beat children into submission. Pretty sure it’s illegal to not report spousal abuse (as in hitting and beating a wife) to the police and then “encourage” that spouse to go back and “submit harder” to their physical abuser.

    Pretty sure it’s illegal to not report a rape of a child to the police and then put the victim back in contact with their abuser. Pretty sure it’s illegal to not report sexual molestation by a step-father.

    Many of these actual abuses were a result of SGM’s teaching on pastoral authority, parental authority, and male authority in marriage.

  • Persona

    Jenn 15

    I think it’s inappropriate for Tommy to defend them like this but, I like the ending – pray for ‘truth to prevail’. May that be so and may SGM pastors begin to refer members to get counsel from others, those who are actually trained to give it.

  • Ivy

    I’m one of the members of CovLife. I came to it as a teenager, so at the risk of sounding really naive, the revelations were a bit shocking. I would think that physical discipline would be rarely used, and to the point.

    In regards to the voting process, Josh told us that it would be an online voting, and that peeps without computers can fill out a paper ballot. I think that even if most people voted no, the church would separate anyway.

  • Whirlwind

    Thought the text of the first amendment might be helpful:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

  • Persona

    Whirlwind..I guess the ladies in this case are petitioning for ‘a redress of grievances’. And, since this is a civil lawsuit, I believe they can petition about anything they want, with less evidence.

  • Whirlwind

    Unless I’ve misunderstood, SGM is saying that if a pastor provides counsel to have a daughter lock her bedroom door each night and instructs a wife to provide more sexual fulfillment to her husband to keep his desires for his daughter in check, that’s just the free exercise of religious belief and pastors should not expect legal trouble as a result. Anyone, please correct me if I recall those facts incorrectly – AND THERE ARE PLENTY MORE BESIDES THOSE TWO HEINOUS EXAMPLES!

  • Paul

    Interesting to note that the new version of the press release drops the claim from the original version that some of the allegations are “untrue”.

    My guess from the press release is that the way will play this in court is to say that although many of the allegations are substantially true, the 1st Amendment means that what did might be wrong but isn’t illegal.

  • Jenn Grover

    Whirlwind – I think although those things are crazy, it would be tough to win in court based on those things. The strength of the case will all lie on the amount of control exerted over the victims’ families and how well that comes across in court.

  • Persona

    Jenn 21

    In a civil case, I believe the girls need only convince others they were injured by the pastors’ actions or inaction. A monetary award is usually sought, as in the OJ Simpson case, when his former wife’s family won the wrongful death civil suit.

  • Jenn Grover

    Persona, you might be right but I think proving control and influence would go a long way in terms of winning the case. It will also depend on what evidence is allowable, I would imagine.

  • Moniker

    I think their appeal to the First Amendment is pretty funny. Grasping at straws, aren’t we?

  • Lawstudent


    The worst part about slavery is that the slaves weren’t being used correctly? That’s interesting.

  • Free to Seek Truth

    The updated statement by SGM regarding the lawsuit is a smokescreen. A smokescreen to keep many interested participants within SGM somewhat confused about the essence and nature of the lawsuit. Further, their statement is misleading…the First Ammendment is not at the core of the allegations.

    In my opinion, SGM is trying to provide reasonable doubt for their followers, just enough to keep people deceived.

    This is a civil case where the burden of proof is that the allegations most likely happened and hence determine damage reparations for the victims.

  • Whirlwind

    @Jenn #22 – I wouldn’t expect to win on those points – I really don’t know what is needed to win this suit. I just think it is absolutely absurd to hide the idiocy they offered as biblical counsel (and still seem to claim was, in fact, biblical counsel) behind the first amendment.

    It’s also quite a spin to make it sound like SGM pastors tried to offer biblical counsel and now lawyers completely unrelated to the events are jumping in with a lawsuit. Notice this statement:

    “We are saddened that lawyers are now, in essence, seeking to violate those rights by asking judges and juries…”

    They’re playing this out as though it’s on par with someone being denied the right to assemble for prayer around the school flag pole…as though this suit wasn’t being brought by ACTUAL VICTIMS and not a band of atheist lawyers.

    Whose rights are being violated here? Whose free speech is being abridged? Whose right to freely exercise their religious beliefs is being denied? Hey, SGM, address the actual lawsuit here instead of spinning something out of thin air.

    If you’re going to defend yourself against what was stated, try making a claim that the counsel provided by SGM pastors was not inherently harmful to anyone involved. This just makes you look ridiculous to anyone who’s actually read the blogs. Of course, this is probably intended more for those who will not bother to look further than the SGM statements.

  • Lee

    QE2 and Musicman,

    Regarding my statement at #12–I said that before I saw the update from SGM today. I am trying to look at this impartially–as a court would. I think SGM is right when they say “in essence, seeking to violate those rights by asking judges and juries, years after such pastoral assistance was sought, to dictate what sort of biblical counsel they think should have been provided.”

    That is what I was trying to say…you would think from many of the comments here that people think the court is going to determine if teachings of the church were wrong or not. I really don’t think they are going to do that. The court will not involve itself with interpretation of religious beliefs.

  • Whirlwind

    Sorry, this is even worse if I quote the entire sentence:

    “We are saddened that lawyers are now, in essence, seeking to violate those rights by asking judges and juries, years after such pastoral assistance was sought, to dictate what sort of biblical counsel they think should have been provided.”

    If anyone is still unsure about where SGM leadership is in the CYA game, please read this – “what sort of biblical counsel they think should have been provided.” They are saying, “No one has the right to judge the content of SGM pastoral counseling that stems from SGM religious belief. This was nothing more than the free exercise of religion.”

    Now I understand their legal team is probably hard pressed to come up with a defense, but this leaves me incredulous.

  • Kraftig

    As I’ve [mostly] lurked here for a year or so, I continue to be astounded by how SGM seems to think that by using veiled double-speak they can somehow justify what basically boil down to ignorance, incompetence, arrogance and apathy.

    “we could have done better” = we really had no clue what we were doing but continue(d) to make the same bonehead mistakes.
    “we’re working on [that]” = we’re not working on [that], and will continue doing anything whim dictates.
    “we’ve always believed in [that]” = we used to look down our noses at people who believe in [that], but now that we plug their book, get with the new (old) program. Wait. What?
    “thanks for sharing that, we’ll discuss it” = not a chance, and don’t dare ask another question like that.
    “we’ve been working on this for a couple of years” = we’re basically winging it here.
    “trust us” = or leave

    I could go on, but the Updated Response makes it look like their defense will be based on this same approach. I’m not sure how soft-voiced, breathy, half-smile, eyebrows-cynically-raised, “gee, golly” “could have done better” will go over in a real people court. One of the first things they teach in law school is that not knowing the law provides no relief from the consequences of not abiding by it.

  • Whirlwind

    @Lee #28 – I agree the courts won’t necessarily make judgments on particular religious beliefs, but won’t they be making some assessment as to whether the counsel that was provided was harmful to the plaintiffs? Especially, if the plaintiffs include the young children who were abused at the time along with their siblings?

    What has been the result when Christian Scientists have withheld medical care from children? Are they held liable for suffering that results? Let’s say the pastors involved are completely convinced their counsel was wise and biblical. Are they at all responsible for the effects of their counsel on those who were unable to remove themselves from it?

  • Square Peg

    STEVE240 ~ #2 QUOTE: “I wonder if the sad “defects” of “kissing dating goodbye” is why in at least in some SGM churches you see a lot of older singles (both men and women) that aren’t married.”

    What is wrong with a church, any church, having a lot of older single people? Many churches–if they have a balanced population of demographics–are GOING to have older single people. It is just a fact of life. It is normal. Not everybody gets married. Nor should everybody. And yes, you will see this in SGM churches as well as other churches. I don’t think we need to blame a book for this singleness, or treat singleness as though it is a defect. I am single, and I am not defective, and I am not a casualty of some stupid book. I never took that book too seriously anyway. Neither did my other older SGM single friends.

  • Breathe in Fresh Air

    I think we now know why CJ took on the role of an elder. See polity page 28,E,2. CJ will remain as Executive Director, DH as Director of Church care, etc. However, in order to do so, these men must be elders. That also explains why DH has remained on the CFC website as a pastor while being a full time SGM employee. These guys are pretty slick….

  • Square Peg

    Persona ~ QUOTE: “With CLC allowing enrollment from nonmembers, it is hard to believe the principal continues to dole out corporal punishment.”

    Wow! I teach in a Christian school. It is run by a Presbyterian church. It is open to people who are not members of that church. We absolutely do not have corporal punishment in our school. That is for the parents to deal with in their homes if they are going to do that.

  • Square Peg

    Whirlwind #30 ~ QUOTE within quote: “If anyone is still unsure about where SGM leadership is in the CYA game, please read this — “what sort of biblical counsel they think should have been provided.” They are saying, “No one has the right to judge the content of SGM pastoral counseling that stems from SGM religious belief. This was nothing more than the free exercise of religion.””

    Yeah. And so was the case with the FLDS Church and Warren Jeffs the “free exercise of religion.”

    Sorry. When the free exercise of religion (which I am FOR, by the way) crosses the boundaries of rape, murder, incest, molestation, and the like…THAT IS NOT THE FREE EXERCISE OF RELIGION.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Don Baker- sorry to take so long to reply. I was busy and then sick. I enjoyed your very long and thoughtful post on the last thread.

    I would say two things. The first is that every single thing I saw personally in PDI during the renewal appeared to be genuine. People got saved, convicted of terrible sins, marriages got restored, deep wounds were healed.

    Secondly, I knew several people who went up to Toronto, sometimes more than once, and every single story they told us about the mob scene ministry appeared to be false and/or unbiblical. Anybody who wanted could just go in there and start being a self appointed minister during the prayer and manifestation times. I cannot speak for people like you and others who apparently had a very genuine experience. There was mixture. The bad part of the mixture could be reeeeaaaally bad. I don’t doubt that true wheat was mixed with tares, but there were tares. With that sort of freedom of body ministry and endless immature folks who want to be used of God, well, you get a mess. There was plenty of mess which is why Wimber kicked them out. I did not read your links (no time) but I am sure there was much good fruit too. Like I said, all I saw in PDI was good.

    When CJ decided to “take charge”, he had no doubt heard many of the horror stories. Sadly, he also seemed to dismiss the good fruit happening in PDI. He could have been a national voice for being genuinely Calvinist and Charismatic (which they claimed to be) but instead kicked the holy spirit out. In retrospect I don’t think he had either the sensitivity to the HS to discern between holy and unclean spirits, or the doctrinal wisdom to walk the path Jonathan Edwards had to walk. It may have been a good decision for the sheep in the long run……add power manifestations to control freak pastors and the results could have been horrific. Few things are worse than a sociopath with a power and gift anointing (saw that up close a long time ago elsewhere).

    The verse comes to mind that where the stall is empty it is clean from manure, but there is much increase with the strength of an ox. Outpourings that strengthen always seem to bring some manure along with them. It is never clean. CJ picked a clean stall with no ox. His choice. In my PDI church at least, it seemed to get more rigid after that, and with the advent of the pastors college the final nail was in the freedom coffin and it was shepherding infallibility all the way.

    Glad you are doing well. I hope we all of us will faithfully pray for another great awakening revival in our nation- one that is biblical like the book of Acts, without all the added craziness that can creep in.

  • QE2

    Lawstudent- I am not communicating that correctly.

    They were not saying it was the worst thing overall, just the worst thing if you look at it from a standpoint of how slavery affected society. It was not meant that that was worse than how slavery affected the individual slaves and how awful it was to be a slave. And it was just one person’s opinion, but an opinion I had never heard before and it reminded me of how SGM treats women.

    One could argue that the worst thing societally was how the slave owners dehumanized themselves by viewing people as property and freely beating and abusing fellow humans. But I truly am not wanting to debate “the worst thing about slavery” here. I am off to clip coupons and clean the toilet while I memorize scripture and listen to old SGM messages about the high calling of submission.

  • Marie

    Square Peg #35 – Thank you for bringing up that case against Warren Jeffs. I have to admit I was not familiar with all of that. Interesting link below, in terms of how quickly the jury made its decisions. This case, and the Penn State case give me the impression that SGM will have a tough time escaping justice over this lawsuit, especially since the three plaintiffs are just the tip of a potentially large iceberg. And there is always the chance that someone, somewhere, will perjure himself over all the CYA gymnastics.

  • Marie

    Square Peg #33 – You go, girl!!!! Yes, being older and single is not something to be decried as super bad. You have every right to hold your head high, in that your salvation in Christ has not been negatively affected by your singleness, and you sound like a decent, hard-working human being in all of your posts. Any church should be happy to have your participation and membership.

    And as far as the older singles being the result of not dating, for some people, dating, and getting married young, are not the wisest of choices. I am very, very glad that I put dating/marriage off as long as I did. I learned later in life what the source of all my pain was – memories came up later – and as much as I appreciate my wonderful husband now, I am sure I would have turned my nose down on him had I met him years earlier.

    The whole book thing really strikes a nerve for me on many levels. I was part of different communities where it was well-executed (I had forgotten that in high school, the little Christian fellowship had plenty of people in it who were not dating). This was done without a book, and no one was making money off an idea that does has some merit for certain people, at certain times in their lives, but in a healthy non-fear-based community. Since most of the teaching of SGM was built on fear, I could create a flowchart with fear at the root of all of their teachings, it would be impossible to implement any kind of dating/courtship advice – the results that I hear about all sound so fear based. I was in different communities where people were not afraid to talk with the opposite sex, and yet we did not date, either. I have not read much about Harris’s book, primarily because the Fear Factor sounds extremely high, and that is just too exhausting for me right now.

  • Marie

    …and the beef I have with the book is not meant as a swipe against Steve240 #2 and his blog – I just looked it over, and it looks quite balanced with the different views posted. I think it is an important resource for people who are currently in communities where the idea is being practiced, in order to raise good, healthy discussion, and especially if people are still following that book. I just am sad that the book appears to have made a good deal of money, and possibly caused a good number of problems for well-meaning parents and children alike, when I have had an entirely different experience. Carry on, Steve, I think you are doing good work with your blog.

  • QE2

    Square Peg-I doubt Steve was saying there was something wrong with being single. It’s just that in the SGM cult girls were raised to believe that their highest calling was wifedom and motherhood, and they did not go to college but sat around the house learning the domestic arts while waiting for a man to come a’courtin’. These single ladies were quite sad to find themselves still single in their 30’s when they thought doing it the Joshua Harris way would result in marriage.

    As a matter of fact, Carolyn McCulley opened her book, Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye?, with a story about she and some teen and single girls who bought into IKDG hook, line, and sinker starting a small accountability group. They were going to be Godly and wouldn’t date but would wait for a Godly man to start courting them, only to find 10 years later that they were still tragically single.

    SGM is really anti-single, in my opinion. They never come out and say that, but girls should aspire to be wives and mothers, boys should learn to work hard so they can support a family some day, and Biblical manhood/womanhood is defined in terms of your role as a husband or wife.

  • Pampy

    When I was in Gathering of Believers in the 80s, all the moms had the spatulas or wooden spoons hanging out of their back pockets. Even back then, I thought it was nauseating and shameful the way they “disciplined” their children. I remember one tiny wee one getting “the rod” for not eating all of his peas at dinner. Those insane people hit their kids for every reason imaginable….control has always been at the root of everything they did/do. I think if they could’ve gotten away with it, husbands would’ve “disciplined” their wives with the rod. Sick, sick, sick…..

    I haven’t read each and every comment to this post yet, so someone else may have already alluded to this, but Larry Tomczak wrote a book during his tenture with GOB/People of Destiny/Covenant Life called “God, The Rod, and your Child’s Bod”. Need I say more?

    Yes, Bob is, in a word, lying……

  • justawife

    @Persona#6: I know someone who’s child is currently in CLS and I have heard no mention of the Principal enforcing Corporal punishment. I’m not sure when this practice stopped however.

  • Marie

    Great points, QE2….I agree that a 10 year accountability group for waiting/courting is extreme. They would have been better off attempting it for a short time, and also being open-minded about non-SGM men.

    Very sad that another book got written, and of course will make/has made some money, probably containing dubious advice.

    How I wish it would be possible to gather up all of these blog postings into a book to raise money for awareness of child sexual/physical abuse, and also for the current victims involved in this lawsuit. Not sure if it is practical or not, in terms of creating a book that would actually sell, but I am impressed with the amount of info that is getting logged, and I am finding a great deal of healing from learning, over and over again, that I am not the only one who has been hurt by the PDI/SGM insanity.

  • Square Peg

    QUOTE by QE2 ~ “SGM is really anti-single, in my opinion. They never come out and say that, but girls should aspire to be wives and mothers, boys should learn to work hard so they can support a family some day, and Biblical manhood/womanhood is defined in terms of your role as a husband or wife.”

    I agree with you. Hence, my moniker. I don’t fit into their little round holes of roles. Singleness is “treated” as a condition to be fixed, and if not fixed…endured.

    Once must suffereth long…don’tcha know! Oh, we are poor dears, are we not? (No.)

    I think the syndrome of being in your late 30’s (and beyond) and still single stems more from the umbrella teachings and expectations of roles of men and women moreso than Josh Harris’s book. Although, I’m sure that book fits snugly into the paradigm. Waiting for a man to walk through the church doors and sweep you off your feet…it just isn’t meant to be for everybody. And, girls should not be taught to assume that’s what is going to happen. But, they are…both implicitly and explicitly. Singleness should be taught as a real and viable normal life choice and call of God…not be treated as though it is a “waiting season” only, a problem to be fixed, or a thorn to be endured, a cross to bear.

    I have 4th graders in my class who say things like, “When I get married…” (This is not a SGM related Christian school.) I always correct them and say, “If you get married… It may or may not be what God has for you. God has some to be single. So, never simply assume that you will marry. Never speak presumptuously.”

    For those who really will eventually marry, or who strongly desire it, at least…stop “waiting” for Mr. Right to come through the church doors. Mingle. Mingle at work. Mingle at other church functions at other churches. Mingle on Eharmony or Match…allow yourself to be introduced to somebody, etc. But, by all means, don’t just wait for the man to show up on the church doorstep. For those who do that, there will always be a percentage who get left out of the marriage picture…but maybe it is because they are SUPPOSED TO BE SINGLE ANYWAY!—which takes me back to where I started.

  • Square Peg

    10 year accountability group? To be held accountable to what? Not dating?

  • Lawstudent


    Fair enough. I didn’t think you actually believed that, of course. It was just an interesting statement, and it could come across as tacit approval. Thanks for the clarification.

  • To clarify what I meant about having a number of older singles in SGM Churches, I should have tempered that by saying a larger number than one would normally expect and where a signficant number of both the single men and women want to get married but there is really no movement. It just appears that the affect of what SGM has taught singles how they are to relate to those of the opposite over the years has done a lot of damage including preventing some who wanted to get married from getting married.

    Josh wasn’t the first person in SGM to teach about “kissing dating goodbye.” It was actually Larry Tomczak who came out with a book in 1978 called straightforward and in the book he encouraged singles to to things in groups vs. date one on one. Sadly, rather than a suggestion it became more of a legalistic guideline. Mahaney also continued teaching along the same lines. Josh Harris was the one that “championed” the idea and
    wrote a book that promoted the whole concept. Also, as more children in SGM beacme the dating age SGM moved more toward the courtship model of getting the father’s permission to court etc.

    Marie thanks for the compliment. My blog is a group of thoughts to hopefully make people think for themselves about it rather than blindly accepting the “kissing dating goodbye” philosphy as the only option and as a “one size fits all” system. One of the articles I republish on my blog is one person’s account about the “kissing dating goodbye fad” where so many blindly accepted it vs. critiquing and adjusting how and if the applied it to their own life. Blindly accepting it as the “godly” alternative is something people shouldn’t do. It was sad that so many “ran with the herd” as the old cliche goes.

    I see posted blog entries etc. on the internet from time to time where people are decrying the sad affect the fad Harris’s “alternative” had on them.

    Hopefully this clarifies what I meant.

  • Marie

    New book title: I Kissed Insanity Goodbye: an account of thousands that have left an abusive denomination, proceeds will help support victims of childhood sexual abuse

  • Persona

    Justawife 44 I am quite sure they no longer have the principal spanking students for legal reasons, if no other. But, the former ones did.

  • Michael

    I think it’s sad that the fellow running the Spiritual Tyranny website said pretty much verbatim a lot of what has been updated in the statement on the lawsuit.

    So tired of this crap.

  • Oswald

    New updated response from SGM concerning the lawsuit at their website.

  • Concerned for the kids

    Not to jump all over people, but as a parent I’m stunned that so many people treated their kids so brutally simply because someone unrelated to them told them to.

    Primary responsibility goes to the idiots spouting this stuff in books and from the pulpit, but at what point do the parents who are inflicting this on their children take at least some of the responsibility? Or were they out of their own control at this point?

    The sgm “leaders” are nut jobs. Not even debatable anymore, but it feels more sinister as I read the horrifying parental treatment over the past few days. Or is this parental daze a sign that several sgm pockets actually crossed over from “cult like” to actual cult?

    Getting people to hurt their kids just by telling them to is pretty potent mind control. I think the cult or cult like issue deserves renewed serious consideration in light of the recent examples.

  • SomewhereinTime

    Be rejoicing friends! Their idiocy in trying to hide their advise to NOT turn in ACTS of FELONY to the police and then try to hide behind the First Amendment isn’t going to fly in a court of law. If that is their defense then they had better start pumping up the church tithes to SGM.

    Their blindness is going to be their downfall.

    SGM Members (of which I was for 25 years) … Stop tithing. You are responsible for every nickle you spend before the Lord. Don’t let your tithe be used to cover the sins of the dillweed leaders of SGM!

  • Mary

    I find the updated SGM statement offensive “This care was sought confidentially, as is a right under the First Amendment”. It sickens me that leadership will not accept an inch of what they have doled out over the years. Considering that CLC will go to your new church and share with them stuff you told them during pastoral counseling – without inviting you to that conversation – and that does not violate the first ammendment – but this lawsuit does? And, how is it that we had to repent of what anyone said, no matter how far-reaching: pride, fear of man, etc…but these men can show such a degree of a lack of humility to not even care one inch if people say they were hurt by their actions. The double standard of CLC and SGM leadership is unbelievable. And, some of the women bringing this lawsuit were children at the time. They were not coming to pastors for counsel. They were expecting adults in their lives, in particular pastors, to protect them. They didn’t seek out advice – they were the victims of pastoral advice. Where is the servant leadership Christ taught in all this? How are your leaders being like Christ? How have they washed the feet of the people they have harmed. What have they done to love like Christ taught? I am just not seeing the character of Christ from these men in dealing with hurting people. I just don’t. sigh.

  • Persona

    I have been googling ‘civil cases involving pastoral malpractice’ at various times today and, it appears there are similar cases that ended in financial penalties imposed upon pastors. So, the girls’ lawyer must believe this is a good time to press forward with such a case. I’m hoping this experience will teach these and other pastors to be more careful what say and do with the most vulnerable members.

    I envy the girls that they will have a judge and jury present when they present the facts. Even though the circumstances were much different, our family didn’t have anyone to protect us. We had to represent ourselves to a block of pastors intent on protecting their own interests. It was very hurtful and ended badly but, I know the pastors who are guilty will one day be held accountable as they stand before Jesus.

  • SomewhereinTime

    I used to think it was me ….

    CJ Mahaney just tweeted these two gold nuggets today …

    1) CJMahaney “Without convictions you might be able to manage, but you cannot really lead.” #Conviction2Lead

    2) C.J. Mahaney ‏@CJMahaney
    “When a leader walks into a room, a passion for truth had better enter with him.”

    Isn’t it obvious to ANYONE in SGM that this guy is a psychopath??? How can he even think about these things when his own unrepentant sins still haunt him every day of his life???

    SG Pastors? How can you actually follow this man???

  • “Concerned for the kids” said,

    Not to jump all over people, but as a parent I’m stunned that so many people treated their kids so brutally simply because someone unrelated to them told them to.

    Primary responsibility goes to the idiots spouting this stuff in books and from the pulpit, but at what point do the parents who are inflicting this on their children take at least some of the responsibility? Or were they out of their own control at this point?

    The sgm “leaders” are nut jobs. Not even debatable anymore, but it feels more sinister as I read the horrifying parental treatment over the past few days. Or is this parental daze a sign that several sgm pockets actually crossed over from “cult like” to actual cult?

    Getting people to hurt their kids just by telling them to is pretty potent mind control. I think the cult or cult like issue deserves renewed serious consideration in light of the recent examples.

    Over the past (nearly) 5 years, I’ve thought a lot about how the SGM pastors managed to get so many members to buy into these teachings. I wasn’t part of SGM back in the late 90s, when the harshest parenting practices were at their zenith, but I think I can deconstruct at least some of how leaders got people to run with the unthinkable, even against their instincts and their better judgment.

    First of all, the kind of take-no-prisoners, parents-are-in-control parenting taught in SGM probably felt like a breath of fresh air to those who had grown weary of child-centered permissiveness. Dig up some verses from Proverbs and slap the almighty “Biblical” label on a teaching, and give parents the sense that if they just do everything right, just do everything “biblically,” they can determine their children’s destinies and keep them from rebelling (as so many of the parents themselves had rebelled), and that would no doubt be VERY alluring.

    Mix that with everything that SGM pastors taught about the importance of members’ submission to the pastors’ authority (shepherding), and then add in SGM’s pyramid-style leadership structure, and all the ingredients are there for otherwise logical, intelligent people to set aside their good judgment and follow what their leaders tell them.

    And model for them.

    For many years, a hallmark of SGM’s culture was that their leaders – beginning with CJ himself – were not going to fall prey to the same weaknesses that had disqualified the likes of Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart. Their pastors would be qualified to lead in every respect, starting with having their families “in order.” SGM pastors were under tremendous pressure to conform and have their kids be showpieces of submission. If their kids were to stray, it could easily mean they themselves would lose their jobs (or at least be pressured to step down for awhile).

    So SGM pastors followed the parenting teachings and then modeled them for their members.

    Then there’s the fact that typically, if one joins a high-demand group like SGM, one is not going to be half-hearted about it. Typically, one will want to experience success as the group defines success. The act of joining SGM in itself put members in a place where adjusting their lives to the norms of the group would be a natural thing to do.

    Then there was the fact that for literally decades, SGM subtly turned non-biblically mandated lifestyle choices (“secondary issues”) into what they might call “evidences of grace” – or proof of one’s salvation.

    Also, SGM has long taught that every ounce of our natural human inclinations are shot through with sin and ought always to be suspect. If we have an instinct, we should probably do the opposite, since our instincts are most likely to be sinful rather than spiritual.

    This typically was not taught in so many words, explicitly. But it was always implied. There were so many levels of conditioning, so many moments of subtle pressure. It all combined, I think, to be – yes – numbing in the way cults numb people.

  • Oswald

    CJ — If only you had felt the conviction to repent, you might have been able to avoid a conviction of another kind.

  • justawife

    @Persona#51: I’m glad to hear the practice has stopped.

    Regarding the majority of this conversation, it appears that the overdiscipline(?) in the history of SGM is caused by the prevailing acceptance on a method that has no proven results or any expert recommendation. I kind of echo CFTK#54, finding it hard to believe that people accepted this kind of stuff from people with absolutely NO background in child development education or psychology (of course, psychology was tossed off as a bunch of malarkey anyways by CJ and Co.).

    Now you won’t hear anyone speak of it anymore, with the exception of the old-timers that shutter at the thought. The thought of spanking a wiggly infant terrifies me and I’m guessing many of the old-timers regret ever following this erroneous teaching (especially given that their maternal instinct screamed against it). I guess the harsh discipline endorsed by pastoral leadership didn’t produce good fruit in many children.This is probably why SGM appears to have abandoned those teaching completely almost to the point of ignoring them and pretending they never were endorsed to begin with (“infant switching? what infant switching?”).

  • Recovering Pharisee

    Amen, Square Peg! As a fellow square peg who knows I am not defective or incomplete because I am not married, I have experienced the feeling of there simply not being a place for us within SG to be free to be ourselves,how God made us to be. There is simply no place in SG for single people. This “problem” is one that needs to be fixed.

    It was always perplexing to me how prior to coming to SG, I was simply a person made in God’s image, my spiritual journey was between me and God only. Then at some culturally defined age, I gained the title “single”. Why is it that children are looked as individual entities yet female adults in SG are treated as though their individuality is no longer valid?

  • Sidney

    There are a few copies of “God The Rod and Your Child’s Bod” on Amazon very cheap. Someone outta get a copy.

  • Debra Baker

    Don’t forget in this conversation that these people created a paradigm in which there was no dissent. If you articulated another perspective, they were eliminated from the church community thereby creating a false construct of consensus among believers thereby making the parent that felt a strong gut reaction to their draconian methods feel as though they were the only ones to not feel right about the practice. And we can’t trust our feelings, after all, we are but wicked sinbags particularly if we are a naturally gullable female.

    Imagine if your kiddos were turning out pretty darn good in spite of your responsive parenting methodology, out you go to look for another church home….don’t let the door hit you in the backside on the way out and, by the way, you aren’t welcome at your friends’ homes for unofficial meetings, either.

    Sort of immunized my older kids against going to church when they became adults (mind you, highly functioning adults.)

  • lmalone

    “CJMahaney “Without convictions you might be able to manage, but you cannot really lead.” #Conviction2Lead ”

    He is promoting Mohler’s new book.

  • BrokenHearted

    I know that for a lot of the parents I knew (including my own) they didn’t really need to look further than sunday mornings – when you looked at the pastors’ kids they were all polite, respectful, quiet, joyful, they took care of their siblings, they greeted adults… I remember a video playing during a homeschool conference (at a booth, not on a main screen) of the P’s child training videos and there was my peer acting out a “training scenario” in the video. In the video his mother says “J, you will need to be disciplined now” and he says with a HUGE smile “OKAY MOMMY!” I laughed and teased him “As if that’s your face when you’re gonna get spanked.” and he looked at me totally serious and siad “Everytime. It’s the right response”…

    I mean, if you’re a young parent and you look at these kids who seem perfect in every way and you’re told the way to get children who behave well and are happy and don’t rebel and love Jesus – who will ultimately be saved – you’ll do whatever it takes to get that.

    I honestly think even beyond the “I want my kids to look good” parents thought if they didn’t spank for every infraction that their kids were gonna grow up to deny Christianity. The fate of their child’s soul was in their hands.. plus the peer pressure from other parents. My parents were told when my 2 year old sister was crying during nursery to remove her and spank her and bring her back, and if she cried again remove her spank her bring her back… my dad did it twice and then just didn’t take her back again. There was a very group think mentality.

  • Stunned

    Brokenhearted hits the nail on the head!

    “I mean, if you’re a young parent and you look at these kids who seem perfect in every way and you’re told the way to get children who behave well and are happy and don’t rebel and love Jesus — who will ultimately be saved — you’ll do whatever it takes to get that.”

    And then she said:

    “I honestly think even beyond the “I want my kids to look good” parents thought if they didn’t spank for every infraction that their kids were gonna grow up to deny Christianity. The fate of their child’s soul was in their hands”

    It sounds unloving, but so many of us parented out of desperation for what we thought was best for our children! I would have easily done ANYTHING for what was best for my kids. ANYTHING. I would have given my life for my kids, without a blink of the eye. Do I regret MANY of the things I did out of a very real concern for my kids? You betcha! To this day I still weep when I think of all the many, many spankings I gave my kids. I still ask my daughter to forgive me from time to time. (Fortunately, my kids didn’t get half the discipline that some of the other poor little ones got. But still, oh so many regrets!)

    Kris said, “Also, SGM has long taught that every ounce of our natural human inclinations are shot through with sin and ought always to be suspect. If we have an instinct, we should probably do the opposite, since our instincts are most likely to be sinful rather than spiritual.”

    YES! That is EXACTLY what we were taught. For us, if there was a natural impulse, we were to not only distrust it, but do everything in our power to crush it. it was the unloving, horrible parents who softly listened to that part of them that “indulged” their children and led their children right down the path to hell. Of course, the pastors got to define which natural impulse this behavior was applied to. So we quickly learned to identify only the “bad ones” as natural, while other things were just accepted as normal.

    If your mother’s heart is breaking, watching your child suffer, you are to recognize that that “natural tendency” to stop spanking is WRONG and if you loved your child, you would suppress that feeling. If, on the other hand, your husband is out of town for a day or two on business and he gets a bit horny, THAT natural feeling is not to be suppressed. Instead, some pastor’s wives were given instruction not only TO have phone sex with their husbands but they were taught explicitly HOW to have phone sex with their husbands. So let’s make sure we get this straight: motherly heart to care of their child- bad. Man’s sexual desire, not only good, but considered a NEED that his wife should meet instead of him to learn to have a bit of self control, even if he is gone for a day or two. Again, a mother wanting to respond to her child’s pain- bad. A man in a hotel room wanting to have his sexual needs met- all good here!

    If only these guys had lived their lives in the light of day, so many of us would have more easily seen the truth and gotten out sooner. But all so many of us saw were the happy, smiling children and we thought that we weren’t as concerned with what a psychologist said. We wanted the real deal for our children, more than anything in this world. We wanted our children to be as happy and healthy as the pastor’s kids seemed to be. THAT is why we stupidly followed their example and their explicit teaching. BECAUSE we loved our children so. Oh, how I WISH I had never gone to those churchs and how I WISH I had never treated my children the way I had. But I fell for the smiling, happy faces and I was desperate to give my children the ABSOLUTE BEST for them, I loved them so.

  • jedi

    Stunned, I just read your post. I feel every emotion possible right along with you on this one. This is so right on. This is heart wrenching truth of what my experience was like as well. I try to explain this to my older sons but as I am talking, I sound like an idiot for ever believing this crap. But I did. But I don’t anymore. I don’t know how my life would have turned if I had not gone to clc back in 1989. I tried to ease my pain by thinking there was some good I learned there, so I should just take the good and walk away. The trouble with that is that any “good” I tried to recall, was tainted with their idiology, so as I unraveled it, it was not good at the core. So it really wasn’t good at all. They taught masterful manipulation to get their way. Confusion is not from God, so the more confused I became, it meant the farther away from God I was going. So they would quickly turn me Back to their way of thinking. I can see this same type of manipulation continuing in clc because the thread of SGMs bloodline is still in there. Serve the Gospel and don’t talk….. same crap. Thank you stunned. I am right there with you on this heart felt regret.

  • Sick With Worry

    Somewhere said, “SG Pastors? How can you actually follow this man???”

    Well – I think it is because for the majority of them, he is what they know, and he was in charge when they were put into “leadership”. I have heard them say it several times…. “CJ’s sins are not about immorality or financial impropriety”. I do not think it is necessarily a “sin” issue or “intelligence” issue on the part of the pastors. They have been so conditioned over time. SGM is all they know. Kris has said it before, that is why CJ picks all these young guys, pays for the PC, and gives them a nice salary. That is the only way that I can explain it. Jesse Jarvis was an exception.

    Also – a guy from CFC was telling me yesterday, that “the vast majority of the people that come to my church are not thinking about things like polity”. I think he is right, most people are cool with singing some songs in a beautiful building, making some “friends”, and feeling like they belong to something.

    I think that SGM has resigned themselves to losing a few churches, losing some people, and then getting back to “normal”.

  • Square Peg

    Debra #64 ~ Yes, yes, yes…and when you have congregants who are desiring to do things in a “biblical” way, so to speak…declaring that certain models, methods, or ideas are “biblical” carries a lot of weight. And, if it looks different than what the “world” is doing…well then, it is definitely powerful since we are to come out from the world and be ye separate. So, when leaders are touting something as biblical (when it is really a distortion of that which is biblical), and pointing to the flaws in the culture as being worldly (ie: promotion of self-esteem, psychology, me-centeredness, etc.), then it becomes very easy to believe that what you are being taught is actually biblical. This, too, is a contributing factor as to why people would use Ezzo methods, IKDG, etc. This is why we MUST read our own Bibles for ourselves. And, we must read Christian and secular books of opposing viewpoints in light of God’s Word. We must think critically, and we must ask the Lord for discernment. The Bible, itself, speaks of wolves in sheep’s clothing. So, it is out there, more than we realize. Every time you listen to a sermon, read a Christian book, listen to a podcast, read a blog, an article, always read with a critical and discerning eye. Never automatically trust the source. Always see what other sources and viewpoints say, and always see what Scripture says. People are very good at using Scripture to support their arguments, even when their arguments are dubious. Always be the fly in the ointment at a small group meeting by the questions you raise. Always play devil’s advocate…to make yourself think…and to make others think.

  • “Brokenhearted” and “Stunned” –

    Thanks for the glimpses from your own personal experiences with the parenting teachings. For those who are having a difficult time grasping why so many people went along with what SGM taught, it’s helpful to see things from the inside.

    When we were part of our own SGM church, I remember feeling like I’d stepped into another world because of how obedient and docile all the other children were – especially compared to ours! I mean, our kids weren’t exactly naughty or misbehaved, but it didn’t take more than a Sunday or two of socializing after church to get me to feel like they were so much more rambunctious and less responsive to my commands than they should have been. All the other young children seemed to do EXACTLY what they were told, immediately. They weren’t ever goofy or out of control. They also didn’t cry the way one of our kids did.

    Honestly, that was one of the things that made me come home and do my obsessive googling, trying to find someone else out there who had shared my same feelings about SGM – someone else who had felt that SGM was different than other “normal” churches. It was sort of odd, actually. On the one hand, I was envious of the seemingly effortless control that other parents seemed to have over their children. But at the same time, the control seemed “off” to me in ways I could not articulate. Like, when we’d pull into the parking lot, I’d find myself actually stressing out over what my kids might do or say that Sunday in front of the other adults. And like I said, it wasn’t even like our kids were wild or bad…it was just this nagging sense that our family somehow did not measure up to some unspoken but very real standard.

    For instance, one of our children absolutely hated our SGM church from the first day we began attending. This kiddo would cry beforehand and beg to go back to our old church. Then the child would sit and sulk through the singing. More often than not, when it was time to take the kids to the children’s ministry, our one kid would cling to me and not want to go to the class. It wasn’t like this caused any disruption for anyone else. It was an ongoing battle for our family, but it was a quiet one. Yet I still felt judged, like people were noticing and thinking something was wrong with me as a parent.

    So I very quickly began to stress every time we’d arrive at church, praying that things would go well and my kid wouldn’t embarrass me that day.

    It wasn’t like anyone ever said anything. But I could nonetheless sense that other people were noticing how my kid did not enthusiastically sing and participate the way the other children all did. I could sense disapproval for the way my early elementary child would not look other adults in the eye and shake hands immediately.

    I’d find myself feeling torn. Outside of church, I tended to put myself in my child’s shoes and empathize with how difficult the transition from our old church must have been (with the different style of music and all the strangers). Outside of church, I’d feel at a gut level that it wasn’t my place to force (through punishment) my kid to go through the outward motions of enjoying church.

    Once inside the doors, though, I would have much preferred for my child to be a well-behaved and enthusiastic participant. The peer pressure was subtle but very real. If we’d stuck around longer and if I’d attended a parenting class where one of the pastors had put forth the teachings about spanking and control, I could imagine myself feeling compelled to try and crack down on my kids so that they would be more like all the other seemingly happy, oh-so-compliant kids. I would have believed I was doing this in their best interests.

  • Square Peg

    RP #62 ~ I used to be “single” (an adjective to describe status, which hardly, if ever, needed to be referenced)

    When I came to SGM, it turned into a noun. I became “a” single—-noun. I found that to be offensive. I don’t describe myself that way. I am a person. I am not a single. The word “single” is an adjective to describe my status. It is not a noun to define me. By making it a noun, it shoves me into an alternate category, for which they have no idea what to do with me.

    When it remains an adjective, then, being single is a non-issue. It is a mere fact of my life…like having blue eyes.

  • Stunned

    Square Peg,


  • I updated the post to reflect SGM’s statement from yesterday. For those who don’t feel like scrolling up, here’s the statement:

    Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) leadership has obtained a copy of the civil lawsuit filed Oct. 17 against SGM and several pastors from its associational churches. This complaint makes broad allegations that SGM pastors were negligent, resulting in errors and omissions in pastoral counseling and spiritual care, which was voluntarily sought and provided years ago to some families of child abuse victims.

    The suit does not allege child abuse by any current or former pastor of SGM or any church associated with SGM. The suit does not allege child abuse by any employee or staff of SGM or any church associated with SGM. The suit does not allege any child abuse occurred on any SGM property or any church associated with SGM.

    SGM leaders provided biblical and spiritual direction to those who requested this guidance. This care was sought confidentially, as is a right under the First Amendment. We are saddened that lawyers are now, in essence, seeking to violate those rights by asking judges and juries, years after such pastoral assistance was sought, to dictate what sort of biblical counsel they think should have been provided. SGM believes that allowing courts to second guess pastoral guidance would represent a blow to the First Amendment, that would hinder, not help, families seeking spiritual direction among other resources in dealing with the trauma related to any sin including child sexual abuse.

    SGM is not in a position to comment on the specific allegations at this time, but upon review it appears the complaint contains a number of misleading allegations, as well as considerable mischaracterizations of intent. Legal counsel is preparing responsive pleadings.

    Child sexual abuse is reprehensible in any circumstance, and a violation of fundamental human dignity. We grieve deeply for any child who has been a victim of abuse. SGM encourages pastors from its associated churches to minister the love, grace, and healing of God to any who have suffered this horrific act.

    SGM is committed to integrity and faithfulness in pastoral care, as are the pastors of local congregations. We take seriously the biblical commands to pursue the protection and well-being of all people – especially children, who are precious gifts given by the Lord and the most vulnerable among us. These biblical commands include fully respecting civil authority to help restrain evil and promote righteousness as Romans 13 instructs us. SGM also encourages the establishment of robust child protection policies and procedures based on best practices.

    SGM churches are separately organized and constituted in their respective communities. They voluntarily partner together for certain aspects of their broader common mission: to plant churches, develop resources, train pastors and serve international ministries in order to proclaim the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We ask that you please join us in praying that God guides and leads all of us in these challenging circumstances, ministering his grace, comfort and peace to all who are affected by this situation, and that His truth would prevail.

    We can get a glimpse into what SGM’s legal strategy is going to be when we look at this paragraph from the statement:

    SGM leaders provided biblical and spiritual direction to those who requested this guidance. This care was sought confidentially, as is a right under the First Amendment. We are saddened that lawyers are now, in essence, seeking to violate those rights by asking judges and juries, years after such pastoral assistance was sought, to dictate what sort of biblical counsel they think should have been provided. SGM believes that allowing courts to second guess pastoral guidance would represent a blow to the First Amendment, that would hinder, not help, families seeking spiritual direction among other resources in dealing with the trauma related to any sin including child sexual abuse.

    What I find interesting – oh-so-interesting – about this line of thinking is that for years, SGM’s response has been that their approach to Christianity does not deviate from that of any other normal, Bible-believing, gospel-proclaiming church. But if the advice dispensed during pastoral counseling sessions is now protected by the First Amendment, then SGM is basically acknowledging that the way their pastors counseled and taught people was part and parcel of SGM’s take on the Christian faith. SGM pastoral counseling is a key piece of SGM’s kind of Christian religion.

    Notice, SGM is not so much disputing the truth of what the plaintiffs said happened to them during these counseling sessions – no. They are instead trying to say that this advice was an essential part of how SGMers are to live out their Christian faith.

    Isn’t that interesting?

    All those years of disavowals, of trying to claim that SGM is no different from other types of Reformed/Evangelical Christianity, and now we get this: a tacit acknowledgement that if you were part of SGM in the 1990s up through the early-to-mid 2000s, seeking and submitting to SGM’s kind of pastoral counseling was part of your religion.

    Who knew?

  • His Sheep

    I came across this link on a friend’s FB and thought this is exactly what we have been discussing here. This link is about the dangers of letting babies crying it out. Very enlightening and back up by studies. Of course it is by Psychology Today and we all know how CJ feels about psychology. As Square Peg #70 said, “Always see what other sources and viewpoints say, and always see what Scripture says”. We need to use discernment at all times.

    The link is:

    Brokehearted and Stunned. I feel for you too. I was part of CLC way back in the 80’s and 90’s as a single woman. I have regrets too even though I did not have my own children at that time. I was living in a single women’s household. There were four of us ladies including the single mother and her child. The pressure was so huge on this poor single mother to discipline (spank) her child. One of the single woman in our house was the leader and would admonish the single mother on spanking her child. Even worse we all were given permission to spank the child as well when she was in our care. Poor child. Imagine living with four adults who had the permission to spank you constantly. I remember feeling it was so wrong because she would be disciplined for every slightest attitude or not obeying quickly enough. I remember saying shouldn’t we give her grace sometime? I was told that I had to spank her hard to make it meaningful. Once I tested myself with the wooden spoon to see exactly how much it hurt. I didn’t even spank myself hard and I could feel the sting! Poor child. I have carried this guilt for so many years and reading this blog made me realize how wrong it was. I plan to try to find her and apologize to her. Of course last I heard, she left the church and I don’t think she wants anything to do with organized religion now.

    Lastly I have remorse for how I disciplined my own four children. It is amazing how indoctrined you become even after you leave SGM church. I go to a different church now but when my children were little, I was still carrying this mindset on child discipline and spanked my children. I know if I had never went to CLC, I would have never spanked my children as much as I did. I was spanked maybe once or twice my entire life by my parents. So it was not part of my background to spank children. I sometime wished I never went to CLC too. I am so thankful for this blog to bring enlightenment to all of us.

  • Stunned

    Kris, I hope you don’t mind but I posted this over at the refuge and I want to post it here, too. It’s a long one but I wrote it to any or all of the people who have been harmed by SGM.

    I wish to heavens that SGM had written it to you, instead of me. But I think you deserve to hear these words. It may not help most people, but if it helps one of you, it is worth writing:


    Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) leadership has obtained a copy of the civil lawsuit filed Oct. 17 against SGM and several pastors in its denomination. This complaint makes broad allegations that specific SGM pastors were negligent, resulting in errors and omissions in pastoral counseling and spiritual care. This negligent care, the lawsuit contends, comes from the teachings of the headquarters of SGM.

    All of which is true. We are so, so, so very sorry for the pain we caused.

    We grieve at what we have done, whether it was done out of foolishness on our side or fear or a million other sins in us, we are sorry. We are just beginning to see all the pain we have caused to the young and to the old, to the weak and to the vulnerable.

    We never saw what we were doing and what we did see, we closed our ears and eyes and hearts to, so that we could continue on with our beloved teachings. These teachings, we loved more than we loved you.

    We are sorry.

    We now, just now, are beginning to recognize the harm done to you. It will take us years, maybe decades, maybe the rest of our lives to see all the damage we did. It will take us, probably, the rest of our lives to begin to make it right, if ever we can. But right now, we are so, so terribly sorry.

    We are sorry for the sorrow we caused you. We are sorry for the pain, heartache and grief we caused you. We are sorry for not understanding love as Jesus loved and we are sorry that we didn’t love you in the way you deserved. We are sorry for TELLING you that you didn’t deserve love in the way you really did deserve it. We are sorry for making you feel small and unimportant when you needed us and your church family the most. We are sorry for making others feel bigger than you, for giving them the power and permission to look down on you. We are sorry for teaching, in many ways that if your family was broken, that was proof that YOU were doing something wrong. We are sorry for the people that heard that if your child dies or a tragedy befalls you, it’s because you weren’t submitting enough to our ways, which we taught as God’s ways. We’re sorry for equating our paradigm and your ability to fit into it, with God’s blessing or cursing on your life.

    We are sorry for misleading you about who God is. He isn’t the cruel, unjust being that we made him out to be. We are sorry for misrepresenting Him. We are just getting to know who He really is ourselves. Some of us don’t even know Him yet, but by His grace and mercy, we may some day get to know Him as you do.

    We are sorry for acting as if your desire for safety was bad. We are sorry to the precious, precious little toddlers who were abused. We are so, so sorry for when you were abused, instead of seeking to protect you and giving you a safe place to grow, we actually forced you to be in the same room with your abuser. We didn’t know what we were doing. We had no training, only the blustery arrogance that comes with our own youth. We were ignorant and blind. We couldn’t see beyond the end of our own noses, In fact, all we could see was ourselves.

    We foolishly equated having someone steal your innocence and abuse you with someone cutting us off in traffic. We blindly and foolishly believed that your healthy and natural desire for protection somehow equated with our desire for vengeance in a traffic jam. We couldn’t see the difference. We only saw ourselves and our own wicked sin when we looked at you. You were a precious, innocent child but when we looked at you we saw our own wicked sin hiding in the shadows of our own heart.

    Instead of dealing with our own problems and recognizing that you had an entirely different issue to deal with, we overlaid our issues onto you. We decided that YOU had the same wicked hearts which we had. We realize now, that you didn’t.

    Keep in mind that these are the same wicked hearts that allowed us to move up the SGM corporate/church ladder and step on friends and betray fellow homegroup attendees on the way up. It was the same hearts that allowed us to turn a blind eye when the leaders were gossiping about the people we sat next to for worship, for communion, for weekly meetings where they shared intimacies in what most thought were safe settings. We are truly more wicked than you could ever imagine. You, however, were not. You were children. You were babies. You were small children who didn’t want to be molested.

    You never did anything to deserve your molestation. You never wished for it or sought it out. You only ever wanted love and safety, as all children do.

    You are creatures, made in God’s image. Yet our focus was not on that. We are sorry that we didn’t point you to Jesus, but instead, we pointed you to the muck inside of the human heart, inside of our own hearts. We are sorry that we didn’t point you to glory and goodness but to darkness and shame.

    We foolishly followed a man. A mere, broken man who never dealt with the abuse from his own childhood. Who never recognized how his father’s alcoholism and abuse impacted him. We have compassion for him but not as much as we have for you, our victims.

    WE have been the ones who didn’t love you as you deserved. WE have been the ones who hardened our hearts against your tears and against your cries for help. WE are the ones who condemned you and obfuscated in order to cover ourselves. In order to protect our church’s reputation above your safety and health and souls and hearts.

    That which we feared has come upon us: a lawsuit and public scrutiny. We deserve this. We deserve every bit of it and more.

    We can’t undo what we have already done to you and to your families and to the families of all who we gave ungodly, wicked advice to. But we can do everything in our power to spend the rest of our lives undoing the damage we have already done. First, we are going to repent publicly, not only in this statement now, but from every single stage we ever spoke from. We are going to travel to every church we ever stood in, SGM related or not, and repent of what we have done and preached. Larry and CJ and the others are going to go contact every attendee of every parenting seminar or teaching we have ever given at every conference we have been to, and confess that not only were we wrong, but we’re not really clear on what was/is good and right now.

    We are just beginning this journey and we won’t understand truth or right for a very long time. We have much to learn.

    We are, also, going to go through our records (thank heavens, Brent and others keep such detailed records) and contact every single person who was ever a member of TAG/GOB/PDI/SMG and repent to them.

    For every person we slandered and for every person we misrepresented in any way, shape or form, we are going to publicly not only recant of what we said, but of what we silently ALLOWED others to believe about you.

    The more we learn about what we have done, we are going to publicly DETAIL the harm we caused. We are going to ask people to throw out every book we have ever written. Clearly, we don’t know God for who He is, but at least we finally recognize that we have misrepresented Him, human nature and all the other issues we have pontificated upon.

    We are going to take our book money and our speaking money and trust God for the rest, and we are going to travel this country and if necessary, this world, to go to the home of every person who ever was involved with us. We are going to ask if they would have the great mercy on us to allow us to hear, in great detail, what we have done to them. We are going to “leave our gift at the altar” and seek out every person who has offense against us. We are going to sit and listen. And though we are still prideful and embarrassed about what we have done, we are NOT going to try to correct you if you don’t express yourself in the way we used to deem appropriate. If one of you wants to slap us, either figuratively or literally, we are going to understand and turn the other cheek and let you do it on the other side if you need. If you need to rage at us or scream at us or cry or accuse or be as messy as possible, we understand. And we are very sorry that in the past, we tried to control your response to us or to life. That wasn’t our job. That was God’s. Our job was to love you. We just never understood love so we were not good at it.

    We, also, have little understanding of human nature. We have done all we could to suppress much of our own natures. We have been scared of the very way God made us. so we sought to dominate our own beings. We thought if we could suppress our own emotions or thoughts, then we could be safe. (Ironic that we spent so much of our energy trying to make us safe, while neglecting the safety of little ones.) We didn’t realize that God is big enough to handle our emotions and drives all on His own. All we had to do was submit them to Him and trust Him to finish the work He had started in us.

    We were young and foolish and because we rejected the elders in our lives, we never really grew past that young and foolish and arrogant stage. Up until very recently, we thought we had the corner on truth and how to live life.

    This is only a small side note, but it does impact those of you who brought the suit against us. We were arrogant in regard to other churches and organizations. You, our victims, could have received much needed help from the wisdom and love of other pastors, other church members, professionals and the law. Instead of facilitating this care and love, we were untrusting of anyone but ourselves (oh, our arrogance was grand!) and we tried to coerce you into staying away from the very people that could not only have helped but could have prevented further abuse. We are terribly sorry for this. We should have been the ones to drive you to the places you needed to go, instead of trying to shame you and keep you away from there.

    Which reminds us of one of the more horrible things we did. This thing is beyond wicked and even now, difficult for us to speak or write of. And as we write this, we are not dismissing the pain done to others but at the moment, exSGMer’s family comes to our mind. We think of how the church had enough money to do so many extravagant things, yet somehow we didn’t allocate those funds to care for your family, to feed and clothe and put a roof over your head while your mother and siblings and you BRAVELY fought the battle for truth and to bring your sister’s abuser to justice. Oh no. We were wicked. We were cowardly. We clung so hard to our desire to “appear” a certain way (so that we could influence others with our foolishness), that we wanted you and the messiness of your lives gone. Sure, we sent some of the women of the church over to your house to clean it a few times. But we had no idea what it took to fight against evil, the way your family was fighting. We had no idea what it took to keep your head above water when it was your own husband who was trying to drown you. Instead, we looked down on your mother for not having a “Cleaver” household. We looked down on you for not being Stepford enough. We looked down on you for being poor, where if you had only embraced the abuser and rejected his victim, you would have gone back to living a somewhat comfortable life. What was the life and soul of your sister compared to having warmth and electricity?

    So we appealed to you to do just that.

    We were wicked. And until the moment (now) when we publicly repent and publicly declare that we kept good, well meaning people who would have gladly cared for you from knowing your real situation, we have continued to be wicked. We are sorry. We know you do not seek for us to tear our clothes, to put ashes on our heads and to sit on sackclothes, publicly declaring our unworthiness, but this we shall do. Or rather, we shall seek out the modern equivalent of it.

    What we should have done was protect your sister. Embrace her (if she could ever, again, trust a man to come near her.) Care for her. Get her to a doctor’s immediately. Call the police. Protect you and every other child in that home. Protect your mother. We were men. We could have done it! We could have removed him from the home and supported your mother in her fight to gain provision for each of you. And until she could have obtained it, we could have used our over flowing accounts to provide for you. To clothe and feed you. To get you the therapy each of you needed. To let people know what was really going on. (The full story, not the half hearted one we told which ended up vilifying your mother.) We could have let the generous and caring people at the church flock to your side. When your mother was ill, we could have let the loving families take you in, either one by one or two by two or even all of you, should the Lord have provided someone with enough ability to do so. (Funny, in a tragic sense, how we insisted that an intact, healthy family couldn’t handle caring for a few of you, all the while we condemned your mother, after everything she had been through, as a failure for not being able to care for all of you at once.)

    We are sorry for splitting your family up. We are sorry for putting you in the state system, the very state system we decried and said was untrustworthy. The very state system we told your family NOT to trust. Yet when it came time to “get our hands dirty” and to really care for you, we didn’t. We dumped you at the door of foster care, effectively splitting up your entire family for years. We took a part of your childhood away, one which you could never get back. We caused you and your siblings and your mother more heartache than we are capable of imagining.

    We should have gone to court WITH you, instead of against you, as we did, much to our shame. We are so very sorry for what we have done. We feel sick thinking about it.

    We will spend our resources, for the rest of our lives doing God’s work, which is caring for you in any way we can. This goes for all of our victims. We will not only ask for something FROM you (forgiveness and your wisdom and insight of what we have done to you) but we will actually seek to give you something. Namely, pay for the mental health care that many of you need due to the wicked advice we gave you in the past and due to the our dismissive and condemning tones. (Right up to the ones in our wicked and misleading public announcement of 11/14/2012.) We are so sorry. We are just now beginning to understand all that we did to harm you and will endeavor to spend the rest of our lives understanding it.

    If you choose not to forgive us, that is more than understandable. And it is none of our business whether you do or not. Rather, it is not ours to judge or even concern ourselves with your heart toward us, rather it is all about what we have done to you. If, when we contact you, you want to educate us on all the ways that our behavior has impacted you, we would be grateful and recognize it is a kindness you would be showing us. We know this would niehter indicate forgiveness nor unforgiveness on your part. We just know we need to give you the chance to tell us your truth and everything you may need to say to us.

    Finally, please forgive us for our past announcements/public statements, which continually pointed out that the things which we had done were long in the past, as if your pain should be relegated to a closet or forgotten by now. That which we have done still has an awful impact on each of your lives. Our choice of words was deliberate and sought to dismiss or minimize your pain and the harm which we did to you. For that, we are sorry. That was cowardly of us.

    With much sorrow we end this knowing we have caused so much pain.

  • just saying...

    I don’t think you’re hearing what they are saying.

    This places them in an awkward situation. The only way they can defend their actions or explain them would be to violate the privacy of those filing suit.

    I’ve heard it is why they chose to move away rather than make any defense to the people of CLC. They aren’t going to tell the rest of the story.

    They are willing to risk their own reputations to keep the privacy of their members.

    I certainly wouldn’t want a lawsuit to cause the pastor to tell the whole world everything I told him in private. It is very threatening to our rights as Christians.

  • just saying...

    Wow. Apparently Stunned was posting at the same time as I.

    What she said.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    One minor word of fairness to some- some- not all- pastors in SGM/PDI regarding parenting…..

    When the Tripp book “Shepherding a child’s heart” came out, it was pushed significantly in my church by a couple of( nice, kind, human) pastors.

    The entire point of the book is that virtually all parents are into behavior modification to get external obedience, and not so concerned about what is happening inside the child. Tripp’s method is slower, messier, demands a lot of listening and time and talking, and requires a long deep look into our own parental heart. It is excellent.

    Anyway, this was post Ezzo, and like I said, I’m not sure which pastors went this direction and which didn’t. I guess the beaters stayed with their beatings. But, to be fair, the Tripp book was officially pushed to some extent in PDI back in the later 90s, and one can hope it did some good.

    It certainly helped me; I was a behavior modification Mom who had to apologize to my kids, chill out on immediate spankings, and do some long hard listening. And guess what- they all love and respect us as adults, and everybody at every job they ever had tells us what great parents we were. I thank Tripp for his imput, and I thank a couple of PDI pastors for introducing that book. (hum, now that I think about it, one got degifted and one left SGM. Imagine that).

  • Moniker

    5years(#79) – Shepherding a Child’s Heart was promoted at the SGM franchise of which I used to be a member, too. But the former “spare not the rod” was not in any way abandoned. The two approaches more or less morphed into a new method where you just did a whole lot more talking and “drawing out their hearts” before you beat the crap out of them.

  • It's just the beginning

    Shepherding a Child’s Heart has been promoted as the best parenting book at CLC since at least the mid-2000’s.

  • Pffft

    This “errant parenting” discussion began in the prior thread. And I still have the same question.
    What I can’t tell is whether the commenters believe there is such a thing as proper spanking.
    I think there is proper spanking and that I pretty much employ it.
    I do not paint spanking with an SGM brush.

  • Muckraker

    Stunned 76: Beautiful. Sensitive. Appropriate. Thank you for articulating what SHOULD HAVE BEEN said. I pray that SOMEONE would listen and be convicted.

  • Bridget

    Just saying —

    This places them in an awkward situation. The only way they can defend their actions or explain them would be to violate the privacy of those filing suit.

    I’ve heard it is why they chose to move away rather than make any defense to the people of CLC. They aren’t going to tell the rest of the story.

    They are willing to risk their own reputations to keep the privacy of their members.

    It seems to me that the people bringing the suit are ok with their privacy being broken. They would know that a court case would require that everything be exposed. You made it sound like leaders fled CLC to protect the victims’ (member?) privacy. This makes the leaders look like nights in shining armor. I’m confused about your statements.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Pffft…I for one believe in appropriate spankings.

    What we found is that three or four whacks with the wooden spoon on the rear at age 2-3 instilled a proper respect for doing what Mommy and Daddy said and by age 4 or so they obeyed and almost never needed spankings. I remember specific instances like one kid running out into the street, another unhooking their seat belt in the car, another one smacking a sibling. Some behaviours are dangerous, or abusive to others.

    As they got older we did more “reality discipline” like removing privileges, or making them pay for borken lamps after a pillow fight. Learn the consequences of foolish actions sort of thing. One of ours was naturally stubborn and got a whipping or two even in middle school for joining up with the class clowns in mischief. In retrospect I don’t know if we did the right thing or not, and it was at that time we started to take a long look at the Tripp approach.

    Anyway, sure there are times to speank. 40 times a day? No. A shy kid that is fearful of strangers? No. Squirming a little at a diaper change? Uh, don’t think so.

    It all has to be part of constant nurturing. Feed the hungry and give water to the thirsty. You didn’t hear a lot about people- especially children- having hungry and thirsty souls in PDI, they just had idolatrous hearts. And the rod beats out the idolatry, and every hunger and longing is an idol, so beat some more.

  • Debra Baker said:

    Don’t forget in this conversation that these people created a paradigm in which there was no dissent. If you articulated another perspective, they were eliminated from the church community thereby creating a false construct of consensus among believers thereby making the parent that felt a strong gut reaction to their draconian methods feel as though they were the only ones to not feel right about the practice. And we can’t trust our feelings, after all, we are but wicked sinbags particularly if we are a naturally gullable female.

    Along these same lines, how SGM defined “gossip” and “slander” made a lot of people afraid to voice their questioning to methods taught including this draconian parenting technique. When you are in and no one else is expressing their objection or questioning of something like the Ezzo parenting techniques then you start to think you are the only one with questions etc. Had you been able to express your questioning of it I am sure others would have also expressed their questioning of this draconian technique.

    There have been various experiments done that show how people go along with others when they think they are the only one with an issue. Defining any questioning of what leadership teaches to be “gossip” or “slander” works this same way IMO.

  • Lawstudent


    I think the point about privacy of members is referencing a public defense, not a legal defense. They cannot be the same thing, since a legal defense would necessitate violating privacy. SG is in a tough place, because they are essentially in a position where they cannot publicly defend themselves except in generalities like freedom of religion. Kris’s point is (respectfully) a little bit silly, since to specifically defend their practices would be ethically wrong except in the generalities they employed. Freedom of religion is essentially the only public defense they can give. (There are some exceptions, of course.)

  • QE2

    Pfft #82-I would venture to say that many here would believe spanking to be a last resort, for those times that the child is basically saying Up Yours to the parent and is in major rebellion. Which, if you are loving your child, listening to them, talking to them, laughing with them, might only happen less than a handful of times.

    Not eating peas, squirming on a changing table, failing to greet strangers cheerfully, getting distracted on their way to do whatever you told them, or basically acting like normal children does count as major rebellion.

    Just my opinion.

  • Stunned


    I would venture to say that they are in a very easy place. All they need to do is repent. Few things as easy as that, eh?

    Granted, the consequences will be hard. But which consequence would you pick? Having to repent and face the consequences of what you have done on this earth? Or not repenting and having to face God in the next life?

  • To add to what I just said, when everyone around you seems to be saying that the Emperor has clothes on then you start to think you are the one with problem. Why can’t you see the clothes?

    Hence a lot of people followed the draconian system and the supposed results it was suppose to produce.

    One would think that if these leaders were truly in touch with God, as in prayer etc., God would have revealed to them the errors with pushing this method early on. That apparently didn’t happen so it seems to show they were following their own thoughts rather than submitting their plans and leadership actions God IMO.

  • Pffft

    5years, QE2,
    Thanks for taking a moment to share your perspective.
    I appreciate it.

  • Pfft asked,

    What I can’t tell is whether the commenters believe there is such a thing as proper spanking.

    I think there is proper spanking and that I pretty much employ it.

    My semi-educated guess is that there wouldn’t be an easy consensus among us. My own views would echo those of “5years” above. Other people here have rejected all types of corporal/physical punishment. Some have read the Tripps’ Shepherding A Child’s Heart and become fixated on the two or three pages in the book where they tell parents to make sure the spanking is uncomfortable for the child (and if the child’s behind is too padded with a pull-up, to remove the padding before the spanking). I remember one commenter in particular bloviating (to use a Bill O’Reilly vocab word) about how perfectly compliant their own children had been, how wonderfully they had turned out now that they were finishing high school/beginning college (as if one can even declare for certain that a kid’s character will always be what the parent thinks it is at that point!), and how absolutely wretched and unnecessary it is to advocate that spankings ought to be uncomfortable. A silly leap in logic was made, blaming the sex abuse cases at SGM on the Tripps’ “bare-bottomed spanking” (even though, taken in context, the supposed nakedness wasn’t at all the focus of those couple of pages of the book…and even though some of the situations occurred before Shepherding was published).

    Anyway, I think commenters’ parenting philosophies here are all over the map. But many (if not most) of us would probably not condemn spanking outright.

    What we are rejecting is SGM’s focus on instantaneous and joyous obedience in every little detail, to the point where children were being spanked for stupid stuff like a 2-year-old’s (perfectly natural, normal) refusal to greet an adult and look him or her in the eye.

  • Wallace

    With all their rambling, so-called deep theological dissertations from the pulpit plus volumes of polity documents, SGM leadership fails to recognize that God’s judgement has come upon them.

    Many will be “ship-wrecked” as a result. Some will renounce the idols of reputation and spiritual ambition and be united once again to their “first love”. But some will dig their heels in and remain obstinate in their arrogance and cowardly actions.

    SGMs response to the lawsuit reveals how they process any challange made to their self-appointed authority. Men drunk with power, distorting the truth to protect themselves, who call all who bring an accusation against them liars will know the meaning of justice.

    “Misleading allegations” and “mischaracterizations of intent” are SGM euphemisms for “lying”. They don’t have the courage to use the word “liar”.

    And yes SGM, child sex-abuse is reprehensible, yet during our 12 years at the church in Fairfax no one knew there were sex offenders in the congregation except for the privileged few in leadership.

    To the current members at Fairfax, if your leaders are still hiding behind the clergy privilege statute, your children are not protected.

    SGM leadership is accountable to no one but themselves. They are now faced with the one thing they fear the most…a secular judge and jury.

  • Persona

    Stunned 76 Excellent!

    It might be helpful if we provide specific ‘scripts’ for each pastor embroiled in this debacle.

    Here is a brief script for John Loftness:

    “Your Honor and, members of the jury, I am guilty of all charges and more. Over the years, I regularly and wrongfully veered outside my pastoral role, by giving legal and financial counsel that encouraged members to stiff-arm and hinder civil authorities in order to promote and defend both my interests and theirs, above the interests of vulnerable children, adults and the county, in which I lived.

    I was wrong to aspire to the practice law in the guise of pastoral duty. And, I did not serve God, or my fellow church members and others, by doing so. For this, I am deeply and profoundly grieved.

    In order to protect others from my poor judgment, I have resigned from my post as a senior pastor. And, if there is any way I can make amends to those I have harmed during the last 30 years, I eagerly dedicate the remainder of my life, to do so.”

  • Happymom

    We did not ask these “pastors” for “counsel” regarding the sex abuse, we wanted them to deal with the pedophiles that roamed their church.

    Three assistant coaches from Penn State are now facing criminal charges regarding the cover-up of ONE pedophile. SGM has had multiple pedophiles, spanning 25 years. Do they honestly think that because some of these cases are twenty years old that will matter a hill of beans to a jury?

  • Lawstudent


    Granted, my interest is mostly in the legality of the issue, not so much in the (admittedly, and ultimately, much more important) issue of repentance, where and if its necessary.

  • Lawstudent


    Interesting, who is suing the three assistant coaches? I know one of the assistant coaches (McCreary, the whistleblower) is suing Penn State, but I didn’t know he was being sued.

  • Pffft

    I’m thinking this way…
    The privacy talk could have more to do with preventing the certification of a class action than with a defense.
    The privacy considerations reasonably can help an argument that a class action is not preferable to individual actions.

  • Pffft

    Buuuuuuut, I see no reason to present class certification arguments in a PR statement.
    So, maybe it is more about drawing public sympathy to keep the tithes coming.

  • Sick with worry

    Brent has a new post. A good one.

  • Pffft #98. “The privacy considerations reasonably can help an argument that a class action is not preferable to individual actions.”

    That is a very intriguing point to consider. But, as one who spins out “what if” scenarios … What if a significant number of additional plaintiffs sign on to a civil lawsuit – even if individual actions become the mode of the day? What would that mean for SGM as an overarching non-profit and for the defendants, assuming that certain defendants must then be responsible for discovery, depositions, testimonies, and potential liability in multiple cases?

    At first glance, individual actions may seem convenient for SGM defendants. But I am here reminded of a line from the medieval drama, *The Lion in Winter*, where a probable marriage of convenience is announced, and Eleanor of Acquitaine quips something like, “Why, the needlework alone would take years!”

    Might not individual actions prove more arduous than a single civil suit?

  • Happymom


    Sorry for the error, it was “officials” that have been charged, not assistant coaches.

    This was from an article on ESPN.

    “Former Penn State president Graham Spanier became the third school official to be charged with crimes in the alleged cover-up in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case.”

  • Pffft


    I have limited experience, but I never seen a defendant argue in favor of a class.

    I think the reasons are these: The individual actions give a defense opportunities to hone their defense; then, a few plaintiffs down the road, the next plaintiff is facing a very prepared defendant (that matters). The economy of scale favors, with multiple actions, the re-appearing party; the class action is the one that has an opportunity – economies of scale-wise – to favor the plaintiffs. I imagine that it would be difficult to get a lawyer to handle a lone plaintiff in a situation like this.

    If they are playing the odds, I’d bet they fight class certification.

  • Pffft

    if the observation you are raising is that the defendants here have less money than the average defendant in a class action, I think that’s probably so.
    I don’t have a strong guess as to how that will factor into their position on the class. But I agree that it could.

  • @ Happymom #102, In case people are interested in the particulars, here is the link to a PDF of the ”Presentment” (indictment statement) on the three officials cited in the Penn State systems cover-up scandal, and “obstruction of justice.” It’s been a few weeks since this was posted, but if I remember right, the criminal charges are the same set for all three: then President Graham Spanier, VP for Business and Finance Gary Schultz, and Athletic Director Tim Curley.

    One wonders about the kinds of frequency of references to Penn State that will appear in relation to the SGM lawsuit … so Penn State documents are a contemporary resource for thought, even though they involve criminal cases.

    @ Pffft #103, what you’re saying makes sense in terms of the lawsuit(s) in the court of law, and SGM wanting individual suits instead of class action. I’ll be thinking about implications of the different scenarios in terms of the court of public opinion for SGM and its system if there is one class action lawsuit versus a series of individual cases. But either way, I have to believe that some justice will prevail eventually, because revelations of what’s been blinded by the darkness is sure to make some blink in the light.

  • Jenn Grover

    Wallace, I believe you are quite correct about God’s judgement. I believe that honoring God should take precedence over winning the lawsuit. I agreew ith Ken Sande’s advice ( for how churches can respond in abuse cases.

    But Wallace is correct. There will be those who respond to God and those who do not.

  • Mr Stretch

    Wow!! Ruin peoples lives and say it’s your first amendment right. I seriously can believe I just that.

    Do the folks still in churches truly understand what their saying?

  • Mr Stretch

    I meant to say “just read that.”

  • Lawstudent


    Ok, yeah, I was a bit confused why they would be suing assistant coaches :). Thanks for clarifying.

  • Lawstudent


    You’re right, of course, insofar as it relates to the classification of the lawsuit. I find it highly unlikely, however, that their press release statement was related to what their legal defense will be. As you said in your second comment, it is much more likely to be designed towards supporters (tithe-givers or otherwise) than to those deciphering clues regarding their defense, like us :). That was my original point; I don’t think that this statement was a reflection of their perspective regarding the actions of the pastors, because they are not in a position to publicly and specifically defend their actions, given privacy concerns. Even if they haven’t breached a duty to the plaintiffs yet, saying anything beyond what they did certainly would have.

  • Square Peg

    QE2 #88: QUOTE: “Not eating peas, squirming on a changing table, failing to greet strangers cheerfully, getting distracted on their way to do whatever you told them, or basically acting like normal children…”

    I am with QE2 on this one. I think there is a time to spank, but not in these types of situations. If a child has gone too far in testing you and has exhausted other means of discipline/lost privileges, etc…then it may be time for a spanking because defiance is now obvious. But, I don’t believe in “external behavior modification” through spanking simply because a child didn’t look the adult in the eye to say hello. At that point, children are only behaving because they are afraid of you and the consequences, and not because they realize they did something wrong. They are learning to obey on the outside, but not from their hearts. They are “fear” motivated. It’s like when I yell at my cat to get off the table. She gets off, but not because she realizes that being on the table is wrong. She gets off the table to avoid the unpleasantness of my harsh tone of voice. To avoid my yapping mouth. This Ezzo stuff reminds me of that. Getting kids to obey through pain avoidance. That’s what we do with animals in some situations. In fact, some people think it is cruel to even treat animals this way. How much worse to treat children this way.

    I was in PDI in the late 80’s. I left in 1989. I didn’t perceive anything awry during my time there (3 years). Then, I was in a different church throughout all of the 90’s. Another abusive system…in different ways than SGM. I fled that situation. Came back to PDI/SGM in 1999 to get away from that other abusive system. Go figure. Little did I realize…By that time, most of the Ezzo stuff had come and gone. So, I wasn’t exposed to it, really. By that time, I heard of the Shepherding a Child’s Heart book, which I think is a better book by far.

  • lily

    I’ve been wanting to say that I believe it is a God given, healthy instinct for a child to want to avoid a stranger! And ironic that these children, who had to show respect, were further manipulated to the point of abuse in the form of molestation.

  • Mr Stretch

    I’m finally vindicated to know that my whole time in, all the Sunday morning meetings, care groups, teachings, all the times I was told I had a bigger log in my eye, all the “caring” I received, etc. etc. etc. were a total waste of time.

    It’s great to know you finally realize that your teachings are worthless.

    Way to go. Can you possibly go any lower to protect yourselves?

    Mr Stretch

  • is it just me

    Well, Sheree has just posted some insight on the discipline of their children when they were young on her new blog.
    She states “When one of them did something wrong or hurtful, their sibling was instructed to ask them go tell Dad or Mom (or whoever was in charge) what they did, rather than running to tattle. If the sibling refused, they could then come and inform us that something happened that their brother or sister refused to come and tell us.”
    Also, “More times than I can count, we had to correct the child who said something mean or acted unkindly twice….once for whatever they did to their sibling and once for not coming to tell us when reminded.”

    I guess they didn’t really learn from their previous mistakes. When you give these very specific descriptions of discipline with the intent of helping other parents raise children, you assume that they have no common sense. And maybe the parents surrender that common sense willingly in order to hear the pastor’s wisdom. But every child is different, every circumstance is different, and these examples give no room for that fact. It’s stated that that’s what the pastors are doing and if you want to follow their example, which you clearly do since you are under their leadership, then you will discipline as they do. Seems crazy to me. Is it just me?

    Side note: Don’t know if it really matters but we may have an insider here. Lawstudent may very well be one of the famous “J” children; (from her blog: Jake, a first-year law student at the University of Florida and number six of my seven J’s…)

  • andy

    Does anyone besides me find it really ironic that children were being spanked for not cheerfully greeting strangers, in a church were children were molested by strangers.

    Note: to the SGM crew you guys are the ones being spanked now. I hope the final judgment is in the 30-40 million range. I hope to sell church buildings seized, homes seized and numerous personal bankruptcies filed among the defendants.

    Now just remember SGM staff you have to receive this correction joyfully and cooperate with it or you get more wacks.

  • Nickname

    Prior to ever having heard of PDI or any of its leaders, I taught my children to look adults in the eye and say hello with a handshake. But I don’t think I did it before they were developmentally ready for it. And, they saw their parents and grandparents do the same thing way before they were ever expected to do it themselves. Nothing wrong with asking a child to practice a mannerly greeting; but sometimes it takes a lot of practice to make something perfect. Expecting immediate perfection in greeting an adult (or any other activity) is as ridiculous as expecting a beginning violin student to suddenly be able to fiddle “Orange Blossom Special” with no mistakes.

    My own father, who wouldn’t have known PDI from a hole in the ground, tried to instill immediate obedience into us as we grew up, but as stern a disciplinarian he was, he was also a man of grace and mercy. I love him for all of that. Immediate obedience is expected in the military; on the jobsite; and in school, so teaching it at home isn’t necessarily a bad idea — but again, it’s something that takes practice. When practice includes getting whacked for getting something wrong, who in their right mind would want to continue practicing?

    Oh, hope this isn’t seen as a hijack — but did anyone see this FB post from SGM?

    Sovereign Grace Music
    The announcement you’ve been waiting for:

    Piano scores for From Age to Age and The Gathering: Live from WorshipGod11 are now posted on our website!

    BUT we need your help! We need some volunteers to download the piano scores for these two albums, play through all the songs, and tell us if there are any mistakes in the scores. Normally, Bob Kauflin will go through all our charts (as a quality check) before they’re posted on our website, but because of the current season we are in he isn’t able to. SO, back to the original question, would any of you be willing to look through them and send Brittany ( any edits that need to be made?

    We are grateful for your help!

    From Age to Age:
    The Gathering:
    See More
    Like · · Share · 126 · 22 minutes ago ·

    This absolutely cracked me up. Bob K, who pulls down the big bucks, no longer has time to proof the music due to “the current season” they’re in, so they’re asking for VOLUNTEERS to do this job for him. Oh, yeah, all you piano players, hop to and check those scores — you’ll get a pat on the head!!

    It used to be standard practice in the music publishing industry, and I suppose it still is, that if a consumer finds an error in a score and writes a note to the publisher to that effect, the publisher will send a letter of thanks and a check to the consumer. That said, SGM makes their printed leadsheets available for free downloads, although I believe that they charge for actual piano scores (could be wrong, but don’t want to go to their site and get nauseated just to find out for sure) — regardless, they’re selling CD’s by the boatload to their captive audience, and somebody is making money. Do these people have even a smidgen of good taste?

    Sigh. Go hire yourself a grad student in music theory to proof the scores. And make sure, if there are any mistakes, I suggest you take a spanking spoon and beat every bit of musicality out of whoever wrote down a wrong note. Sheesh.

  • Square Peg

    QUOTE: “Now just remember SGM staff you have to receive this correction joyfully and cooperate with it or you get more wacks.”

    Oh my goodness! This made me laugh so hard I almost spit my morning tea all over my computer!

    Is that wrong!

  • QE2

    #114 Yes, that was exactly how they did it, and we saw it modeled on stage many times. It would be interesting to locate some of the old video series they taped. The sessions were taped during the Sunday morning service, with the oldest 3 or 4 J’s role modeling the procedure.

    Note the lingo-correct meant spanked.

    I don’t recall any other method being taught-the solution was always to spank. I never heard of them working with the non-sinning child to discern when to overlook an offense, for example. They were just supposed to tell each other to go get spanked.

  • Debra Baker

    Nickname, et al.,

    Obedience in general and immediate obedience in particular is expected of low ranking people in every strata of society.

    The more you become educated, the more accepted it is that you will question things. This is actually reflected by the way professionals discipline their children compared to middle-working class people compared to unskilled labor.

    Also, I have been warning against the greeting or you will get a beating paradigm for years. Don’t trust your instincts is a very dangeous thing, indeed.

    And, mind you, I actually have nice kids and they weren’t forced to rat on themselves.

  • Oswald

    Until I read andy #115, I hadn’t made the connection of SGM being spanked and the rules for spanking of children.(duh) It also reminds me of a verse — ‘with the measure you use, it shall be measured to you’. (my own paraphrase and probably out of context)

  • Diego

    From my days at CF I remember the Patton kid (now a pastor) and his friends running around and running into people without even an apology to those they ran into. Later when he was engaged, his fiancee very pleasant, but him standing behind her like she was wasting his time talking to us peasants.

  • Bridget

    Andy —

    FYI – I believe most of the children were molested by someone they actually knew. This indeed sounds absurd, but it is the reality if child molestation. Most abusers know their victims. The sad thing with some of the child training teaching is that parents expected their children to obey whoever was put in charge of them without question. I don’t know that much instruction about not letting ANYONE touch private parts of your body was conveyed. It would be a difficult dichotomy for young children to grasp the difference between obeying everyone yet knowing when someone was doing something to you that they shouldn’t be doing.

  • Pffft

    I suggest keeping the term “obedience” in its honored place.
    “Obedience” is English for, in our example, the highest act available in this life.

  • Former CLC'er

    Who are the J’s?

  • Phoenix

    The J’s are the seven children with first names beginning with J (now mostly grown) of Benny and Sheree Phillips; who were the parenting gurus of PDI until Benny’s downfall was blamed on the rebellion of one of their older children.

  • Bridget

    I was exposed to the Ezzo training before I was in an SGM church. I struggled with much if what was being taught, but thought older, wiser parents certainly knew more than I. We tried to apply it in our home, but weren’t great at it. I thank God for that. The biggest check for me was these questions running through my head, “How does God treat me?” Does he expect first time obedience? Does he discipline every infraction? Am I always clear about what God does expect of me — and deserve a spank because I didn’t do something when he asked? Does God want me to respond to him because I am fearful of harm to my person?” God didn’t draw me to himself using these methods. It was his kindness that led me to repentance. This is not to advocate that we are like God to our children. But we are to love our neighbor (including our children) as ourselves. I just didn’t see God treating me the way that I was being told to train my children. My children aren’t animals and God wasn’t training me like that.

  • Debra Baker

    The basis for some confusion with respect to the J’s is the Phillipses are not the only people with J name kids. A more infamous example is the Duggars with their double-digit (I think 20 and counting) with contrived J-names like Jinger (which I hear as a hard J although it is actually pronounced with a soft J sound like Ginger but I hear John Jacob Jinger-heimer.

    Back in my quiverfullish days, we ended up with the J’name thing ourselves although I have no explanation logical or otherwise. Oh, yes, we have the phillipseses beat by one as well (and all their middle names start with L, too so there.)

    Bridget, the irony of this discussion is that it is not recommended to train animals using any physical force. No respected animal trainer would hit an animal.

    The difference should be obvious but we don’t train children like they’re animals. I personally do not train children and can tell you the Bible verses that use the term, “Train up” are extremely poor translations from the actual Hebrew word, Chanuk, which means Dedicate (as in the Feast of Dedicating the candles that burned in the temple when it took seven days to make the oil for the candles and what they had lasted much longer than expected which was a miracle and is celebrated today as CHANUKkah! Substitute the word, “Dedicate” into those verses and you start seeing Jesus in the mental image instead of the smug legalistic face of Ezzo and his SGM cronies.

  • Fruit Flavored

    Nickname #116 –

    I too saw the announcement from SGM looking for VOLUNTEERS to edit the piano scores. VOLUNTEERING in music ministry while SGM benefits with the bucks has been standard practice for quite some time. SGM and it’s former mothership, CLC, are full of incredibly talented musicians. There is a teeming pool of folks who are capable and eager to serve in this capacity. However, it is just another way SGM, and specifically Bob K, use people for their own recognition and financial gain. The musicians who volunteer simply feel honored to be asked to serve.

  • Glad i am out

    Fruit Flavored, 128

    In all fairness, when i was asked to play on one of the SGM CDs they did pay me, although i never asked or expected them to. Check just showed up in the mail. I think this is probably standard practice. I also know personally a few who wrote songs for SGM releases and they do receive royalties.

  • Fruit Flavored

    Glad i am out –

    Thank you. I’m glad you were paid; however, I know of others who did not receive compensation for their participation in CD projects. I also knew that the writers received royalties.

    I don’t think most folks who participated expected to receive payment. It was an honor to be asked. However, that does not negate that in most circumstances where CDs are produced for sale to the public, musicians have contracts and are paid. Perhaps in church it is simply expected that musicians will volunteer their services. I can understand this for rotating worship bands; however, if a musician is used week after week or for commercial services, then it is my belief he should be compensated. I believe this was just one more area where SGM relied on the good will of its members, expecting much more than other denominations.

  • Unassimilated

    Glad – Not everyone received checks. There are laws that require them to pay songwriters, ethics issues for musicians and singers. It would be interesting to see what that looked like if there were no legal requirements. SGM has a standard 50% publishing contract where SGM and the songwriter split ownership for eternity. For the songwriter, his or her creation sees the light of day through performance and hopefully some airplay/broadcast.

    Lets be honest here, it is not like Nashville is clamoring for SGM worship titles. That is why they have built their own hose when it comes to recording and publishing in the first place.

    So for each new song, another notch on the belt of their music business. What is not apparent is that Bob K takes the position that music is a special gift, a leadership gift. If the church is not asking you or encouraging you in the field of music, then God is not calling you to music. The whole thing is still a very controlled farming of inner talent for their own profit IMO.

    They have benefited in major ways from volunteer work, make no mistake about that. Lets not forget that those that do get paid, along with the equipment and facilities, all are financed from member donations. About two million dollars in operating cost to date. Tommy Hill used to call the Music leg of SGM a money pit, while CJ would maintain that it brought validity and prestige to the brand. Bobs take was that the ministry was a natural outpouring of the unique expression of God that is SGM.

    I know that many have been led, fed, and ministered to by SGM music, I am not poo pooing the songs, although I do not care for them personnaly. To each his own.

    If you are really interested in how this all works, a good start is found here –

  • Glad i am out

    Fruit Flavored, it just occurred to me that i may have been compensated for driving to the studio from out of state. By the way, i did consider it a great honor, and would record again if asked.

  • Mr Stretch

    For all those still attending a church, you all realize that can exercise your first amendment right and not listen to the message this coming Sunday.

  • Persona

    Mr. Stretch 132 We can exercise our first amendment rights and write posts on blogs, too.

  • lily

    Bridget, 126, yeah! Children need so much to learn about a loving, nurturing Creator, whose mercy exults over His judgement. Otherwise, they are not being exposed to the full gospel. Do they need structure and discipline? Of course, but they will have trouble understanding the patience and sacrifice God made if everything revolves around pleasing God by observing the system of law, fear of man and idolatry and constant condemnation.

    I came to faith as a college student, and stumbled into a legalistic, but Bible believing church after having been raised in a non Christian family. That slippery slope of spiritual security the denomination always had us on, was the very reason I left it. After a few years, I realized that this was not the God Who gently pursued and found my heart and soul. How SGM teaches eternal security is beyond me, because it’s certainly not the applied belief. I’m still thankful for the Bible being taught at the legalistic denomination, but they’ve changed drastically in 35 years. One who was once a part of it then, might not recognize it now, because just about anything goes. Reminds me of the progressive revelation of SGM and LDS.

  • Andy

    That reminds me isn’t Benny & Sheree Phillips throw a ways from Fairfax ? I wonder why he didn’t get named in the lawsuit. Maybe it’s not too late to add him. God knows he laid the ground work for a lot of what occurred. I remember hearing them on the radio lecturing the christian community on how to raise kids. They always struck me as being a couple of bozo know it all types. Benny once instructed the entire church to skip some young lady’s wedding as she was not on good terms with her parents. Latter a couple from the Fairfax church wrote a booklet about the matter. For years it was for sale in the book store at Truro church. I read it and was totally shocked at what a cult leader BOZO Benny had become. When I heard that his daughter eloped with a unbeliever so he was “stepping down” I laughed hysterically. I guess their wonderful child control techniques didn’t work so well. Maybe she was just getting back at the folks for all that psycho-nutcase style discipline.

    You know with ex-members writing books, setting up blogs and exposure sites you would think that would wake these people up (be enough of a spanking). Nope, they have insisted on continuing their form of churchianity so now they have serious litigation to deal with. Even if the plaintiffs don’t win at trial (and I think they will) the damage to SGM has been achieved and I for one find myself giving thanks for that. Hopefully by thanksgiving 2013 SGM will have a multi-million dollar judgment. I look forward to seeing the whole rotten to the core “denomination” implode.

  • Persona

    Anyone else listen to the Loftness talk from the 2012 SGPC?

    He unpacks some of their ‘new’ thoughts on evaluating pastor’s for their qualifications for the job. Not a huge shift in direction, but, a few changes. He also appears to be trying to seem less arrogant and ever so slightly, more teachable. The room was remarkably quiet throughout the talk; so much so, I wondered if anyone was there to hear it in person.

    Interestingly, I don’t think he mentions CJ once and a few times he acts like he’s the man in charge, now. Maybe he is. Although he does appear to be heavily channeling CJ. I lost track of the amount of times he used the term, “categories’. That is a direct connection to the man behind the curtain, as we all know.

    Some of you might find it interesting to hear his negative assessment of FB, blogs and social networking, in general.
    Unfortunately, much of what he said wasn’t encouraging.

    I do find it interesting and troubling, that although SG churches are said to be ‘independent entities’, Loftness and still consider it his role to help assess pastors of the churches.

  • lily

    Persona, I just read by a Greg, post 40, on Refuge’s most recent thread, that SGM is able to tell pastors what to do, but are not held liable for such legally, as they are considered a separate entity. He compared the setup to that of the Catholic Church, which makes sense to me, now.

    What or who is FB?

  • Critical Mass

    On the topic of SGM’s music publishing, the comment from Tommy Hill that the Music area has been a money pit, makes me chuckle. The truth is only found in the actual financial details that will never see the light of day. Who knows what Tommy has loaded into that category? Accountants can slice and dice the numbers in a lot of different ways. The fact is music publishing can be a very lucrative business. That’s why the government has had to step in and determine how the royalty structure works. No doubt he’s factored in facility overhead, compensation packages, production costs and marketing. But when you consider the long tail revenue that comes in from their song catalogue it really adds up. Take for example that some of their songs have been on CCLI’s (a monopoly, btw) top 200 list for 20 years. That means that some of their songs have produced royalties in the mid six digits – each. And when some of those songs go mainstream, as some have, they end up in denominational songbooks that live on for a very long time. Then there’s the royalties from ASCAP and BMI – radio play, SGM songs sung at conferences. Add to this the promotional value that the songs have brought SGM. It was their music that caused SGM (PDI at the time) to even be noticed by the wider Body of Christ in the beginning. The books came later. Many knew about PDI’s music long before they even knew C.J. Mahaney existed. The PDI/SGM branding valuation due to their music was and continues to be substantial – worth a million, at least. Did Tommy place a value on that and add that into his equation? I doubt it. Also, it was their music that made it possible for them to draw the huge crowds to their worship conferences. Those conferences have been a cash cow for SGM. Anyone can do the math and come to this conclusion (no rental cost for CLC’s facilities, btw). As for the production expenses, with the advancement of technology, overhead costs have dropped dramatically over the years. Music production equipment and software costs have been falling and with the transition from physical CDs (along with its related costs of fulfillment) to digital downloads the overhead SGM once had has been shrinking fast over the years. I suspect that digital sales percentage of their online store sales is increasing. So when exactly did Tommy make that ridiculous statement and where are the numbers to back it up? Makes me laugh. We can add this to their disingenuous tour.

    On a related topic, most organizations have conflict of interest policies. This has been pointed out before where C.J. and the others pull a salary (and a part of their job description includes speaking and writing), and receive honorariums from speaking (even from speaking at other SGM churches and conferences) and books. SGM probably has gotten around to putting together a policy but has that been made public even to the SGM pastors? The guys who set it no doubt don’t want to not look ungenerous to the celebrities in power. So taking Bob Kauflin as an example, how much of his compensation and travel does Tommy factor into his equation? All of it? And is Bob the one who determines which of his songs are published? Does he receive honorariums from the worship conferences that he plans? Does he receive 100% of the royalties from the songs he writes and are published? No doubt he claims those songs are written on his personal time…right – please define personal time. Unless you can produce actual time logs don’t waste my time trying to convince me otherwise. Does he promote his music to other music publishers while working for SGM? I could go on.

    I’m really starting to struggle with the self-serving monetization culture SGM’s leaders have enjoyed for so many years. The reason why is survives is because there is no real transparency and thus no real accountability. And what makes this all worse is that the pastors in SGM haven’t demanded it. Who’s shepherding the shepherds? Shame on you.

  • MAK

    the “independent entity” thought is just a legal cya. From a few conversations I’ve had with churches who are staying with SGM (these decisions have been made without church member input in the two instances I know of) I think they like the oversight in the “family of churches”. I perceive in these cases that the churches ready to sign up don’t have very many issues with SGM as it is today. While they probably welcome the changes proposed, these churches would be signing up even if apostolic authority were on the agenda.

  • Oswald

    lily #138 — I think FB refers to facebook.

  • Persona

    MAK 139

    The degree credits at SBTS provides some incentive for SG pastors to remain in the fold. That is, if they want to become Baptists and, I never heard any say they did.

    But, the holding of seminary degrees, should produce a huge paradigm shift in Not even CJ, John or Gary have Divinity degrees and most leaders spoke disparagingly of them over the years. There are a lot of men who seemingly would not make the cut to enter seminary, academically. Wonder what they will do about that?

    Lily 138

    By FB, I mean Facebook

  • Oswald

    MAK #139 — In another announcement from SGM, I see they are soliciting money for the hurricane Sandy relief. But according to their financial report, they still have some of the funds collected for Haiti earthquake relief (~2 yrs ago). I guess they are too picky as to who gets a share. I think I’ll choose to give to an organization that actually uses the money for relief, instead of using it as an interest bearer.

  • Bridget

    Debra Baker @ 127 —

    I am in agreement with what you said about training. Thank’s for that tid bit about “train up.” I had not heard those possible definitions before. All I know is that most of what I saw in the Ezzo teachings when my children were younger gave me a huge check in my being and caused me to really think and pray about what was proposed.

  • Persona

    Oswald 144

    If they don’t seem to care much for the ordinary sheep in this country, how are we to believe they care much for the sheep in third-world countries?

    CJ may love the adoration they give him and it may be thrilling to be revered in other nations. But, I don’t see that CJ really cares to get to know anyone but the tippy-top leaders of each organization.

  • Kerrin

    Bob Kauflin, my former father-in-law, is a pathological lier. No one should listen to anything he says or heed his advice.

    When I sought to change patenting tactics (i.e., reject SGM teaching about spanking, etc.), both him and his wife made it quite clear that I was “wrong.”

    Kids, if you ever read this, I’m so sorry and I love you dearly. I wish I could have done things differently. I’m sorry.

  • Persona

    Kerrin 147, I am sad that you married into one of the pastors’ families and that things worked out so badly for you all. I actually attended your wedding, along with hundreds of others, of course. It was such a hope-filled beginning. But it must have driven you insane trying to relate to the glitterati on a regular basis. I can only imagine.

    I used to tell our children, the one thing I never wanted to happen was for any of them to marry into one of the pastors’ families. It was one of my few requests. I think it would be as close to a nightmare as can be, with little hope of achieving a normal Christian life.

    The sad thing is it need not be so. But, their stubborness makes deep reform nearly impossible. I hope you are able to move forward and find a healthy church home wherever you are these days. Thanks for your contribution to this blog.

  • Lee

    Critical Mass,

    If SGM keeps putting out albums like “Risen” they are going to fall in the hole. That was without a doubt one of the worse albums I have ever heard in my life. In the past I have liked some of PDI/SGM’s music, so I downloaded Risen this past spring. I saw positive reviews of it. I wonder if those people were somehow paid to say something nice, because the album is very difficult to listen to. It’s on my iPod and I skip it everytime. It’s not so much the words or the talent–it’s the horrific melodies. They hurt my brain.

  • Unassimilated

    Critical Mass –

    It was a few years ago, and I recall the comment had more to do with what was left for the ministry after the the songwriters, producers, engineers got paid. Then there are the oversight fees, consulting fees, and advertising/promotion. They dumped a lot of those royalties into marketing, promotion, and advertising. It was one of Carolyn M’s primary responsibilities for a season. CJ knew what doors could be opened with their music, and the spent heavily to get their product in bookstores, and onto the airwaves.

    Yes the production cost have dropped in regard to distribution, yet at the time they were still reeling from the 500k worth of checks for the studio they built in the back of the SGM offices. (Torn down twice before they got it right BTW) I am sure by now they have seen some dividends. For goodness sake Steve has spent over 100k just in microphones and high end gear. (Which is not much in the real world of music production). In the end, the facility was used primarily for tracking, that is recording parts, usually vocals. The rest was done as you know in Nashville. Reducing cost is one of the reasons Steve departed for a ‘season’.

    You are on the mark about congregational song books, some SGM music has become cannon in that respect. I was once told that Mr. Baird from the Pasadena SGM church had one song back in the 1970’s or so that went the stellar route. He said that it transformed his life for many many years to follow. Transformed in ways not unlike hitting a lottery.

    My main point is that this was all done on a congregational nickle, a congregation with no voice or vote in anything. That is until now as we have been told that all their advice, council, and authority was just miss understood opinion protected under the first amendment. Odd because it it the Fifth amendment one should invoke when seeking protection from criminal actions.

  • Unassimilated

    Lee – For those that are immersed and sold over to all that is SGM, droppings like “Risen” are solid gold my friend.

  • SMP

    #136 Andy,
    You are right on concerning the serious nature of Benny Philip’s teaching. He has done much in the area of hiding child abuse in Orlando, FL ( Not all abuse happened in the 80’s and 90’s!) We can only pray that this information will be brought to the courts attention and his name will be added. His words and influence have caused such destruction in my family and our friends lives. These men really do think they understand the Bible better then most and continually add their opinion to what they think it means like the spanking issue. I do not think the courts care about opinion in these matters. Please consider joining me in prayer that God in his infinite wisdom will prompt others to come forward, names would be added and truth would begin its own healing process.

  • Persona

    The L’ville church leans heavily on neighbors like Soujourn and professional studios in Nashville for recording purposes. The worship band rehearses in the Kauflin’s foyer. That team is a tiny remnant and it seems like members where multiple hats, in that church.

    I hardly think many singers or songwriters will be making the trek to L’ville to help them out. So, they are probably limping along even as they make it appear that they are thriving. All that is to say, I don’t imagine they are making much money, right now.

    Even if SGM songs are played often and a high percentage of users pay royalties (which they typically don’t), I think they are only charged about a buck, per use. A whopping .05 of that, if anything, is about all the songwriter ever sees. My understanding from musicians is about the only way they make money in the biz if they go on tour. But, the last time Bob or Julie got close to a tour was during their days with Glad.

    So, since it can’t really be much of a money-maker, I’m guessing the reason CJ keeps Bob on-board is to spread the fame of

    And, the reason I think Tommy Hill would suddenly mention the lack of funds in SGM is to begin to paint a picture that SGM doesn’t have much cash to give to some who might want to file a civil suit against them. I’m also guessing they have already begun to squirrel away their money in various ways to keep it out of the hands of various ladies who might ask for some of it. I predict that they will continue to drop other hints about how much their ministry is hurting financially.

  • JustMe

    Good concerns being raised regarding discipline and life practices. Its good when excessive and authoritarian rule is removed, or changed.

    But, what is the right response to spanking? Those who commented on spanking, are you saying spanking is not biblical and wrong? Or, merely that SGM presented an over zealous form of its use?

    Also, those who commented on the age of singles in a SGM church, isn’t speculation on the amount of singles in SGM vs. the general population, whether in the community or within other churches, somewhat absurd? There are been tons of news media reports about our entire country putting off marriage, and kids, until they are older so degrees can be completed and careers started. Also, there are many organizations that teach and practice waiting for the “right one” and from a biblical perspective. Not saying they are all right, but what is your biblical perspective? For me, I don’t want the “SGM”, or “American”, or “Feminist”, or the “Chauvinist” perspectives; but the biblical one; I think you do too.

    I believe the bible does help us with these things. I’ve not read much here, but there seems like so much polarization on valid issues and concerns. How can we have a biblical response when addressing the same without the polarization? Again, as before, God is good! He’s not changed! He loves us! :)

    BTW: Square Peg, Roadwork, and JoyfulandFree, Regarding your responses, 332, 336, and 342, to my comment, 325, in the lawsuit post, thank you for your dialogue and additional discussion.


  • Wow

    Mike Bickle is speaking now on the signs of a cult. Everyone should listen to tonight’s service when it goes into weekend service archives. (Saturday night)

  • Wow

    p.s…he just addressed “needing permission to leave for another church.”

  • Wow

    Holy cow, you have to hear number four. People’s need to flatter and impress the leader to get closer to him rather than Jesus.

    “Ridiculous on steroids,” Bickle says.

  • Wow

    Can’t help but tweeting.

    “Can’t challenge or criticize the leaders.”

  • BrokenHearted

    JustMe – I think it is Biblical and have no doubts I will at some point spank my own children *when I have them*, but I don’t think it is the only way to discipline and I think there is definitely a line, and I think a lot of kids who grew up in FCC were spanked excessively and for wrong reasons.

  • Bridget

    Just Me –

    There are many ways to love and discipline your children. It is something for you and your husband to bring before the Lord. The Holy Spirit will lead you as you commit your plans to the Lord.

  • Critical Mass

    #149 Lee
    The music of PDI was one of the most God blessed things that came out of the movement. What started out as something organic became institutionalized, IMO. I understand that Bob Kauflin has become essentially the sole gatekeeper. It wouldn’t surprise me if the anointing God has placed upon their songwriting will gradually fade. Personally, I don’t wish for that to happen.

    #150 Unassimilated

    Sorry, but I disagree. I believe they’ve made plenty on their music and perhaps Tommy Hill’s motive is that they look like they are supporting a “ministry” and not benefiting from a business. As for the studio, if it had to be rebuilt several times then that could have been due to contractor error and if so then the contractor would have had to absorb that expense. The sales of CDs can easily cover the costs of making the album. But even if the prorated costs of the SGM staff and marketing had to be subsidized initially the royalties, which I believe are substantial, can make up for that. Regardless, even if the raw bottom line shows a little loss consider all the branding and marketing for SGM over the decades. Have you looked at their CD sleeves? Take a look. Pure marketing of Sovereign Grace Ministries, aka, PDI.

    If the songwriters ask for the publisher share of the royalties back then SGM would have to abandon their music publishing. I don’t think they have the cashflow these days to subsidize it. But maybe I’m whistling in the wind. Kerrin may have some insight since he was on the inside track with Bob Kauflin.

  • lmalone

    “So, since it can’t really be much of a money-maker, I’m guessing the reason CJ keeps Bob on-board is to spread the fame of”

    I think Bob is a big draw when it comes to the sgm quasi partnership with SBTS. Keep your eyes open for that one. The way SBTS has restructured it’s music programs over the years into “Worship” makes it a perfect fit for what Kauflin does. Does Kauflin have a masters?

  • Jenn Grover

    Only the extremely prodigious songwriters make any real money and I believe Tommy when he called it a money pit. i believe, with music, the writes to publish songbooks is grouped with recording and publishing of music. Songwriters sign a contract with SGM before a song is published and I believe it has an expiration date. The same is true when an outside source publishes the music (John Tesh has done a number of SGM songs) but that further dilutes the 9.1 cent/minute payout.

    In the early 2000’s SGM music changed dramatically. Instead of worship music it became reformed theology music and it seemed that there was a litmus test concerning the cross. If a song did not explicitly mention cross – it didn’t make it. My brother had a handful of songs published. We always laughed when we heard stories about people using “In My Heart” at weddings (sorry if that was you.) One of the lines is, “In my heart, there is a treason, One that poisons all my love.” We found it interesting that the song, “God Delights in You”, which my brother wrote the lyrics for and George Romanacce wrote the music, seemed to fail on in congregational worship. From my perspective it had a lot to do with the fact that so many in SGM did not buy into the lyrics:

    “Come and sing, come and dance
    The Father’s singing over you
    Come rejoice and be glad
    For God delights in you, in you ”

    Tommy is a good guy and I would be surprised if he actually wrote the press releases. I assume it was probably a group effort, guided by the attorney and driven by CJ. I really wish Tommy had not been caught up in this mess. He is a genuine and gentle guy and the deceitfulness of this leadership does not match up with the Tommy that I know.

  • Critical Mass

    Jenn, ask your brother if he has an expiration date on his contracts with If it’s like any other publishing contract SGM has the ownership of the song until public domain kicks in – a very long time from now.

    Re: Tommy, I’m not suggesting that he’s a bad guy but he seems pretty bright to me. If he’s caught up in this mess then he’s in “it” by choice (unless he’s under some kind of mind control and he can’t break free from the spell). Seriously, if Tommy is the type of person you describe then why would he let these guys risk ruining his credibility, unless of course, he’s in agreement with the course the Leadership Team, he is now a part of, is on. He’s now culpable.

  • Persona

    Jenn 164

    I agree with you that Tommy is a good apple. His wife is too. But, they have cast their lot with SGM and SGCL and, must live with those choices. I hope their family emerges unscathed.

    Each SGM announcement is initiated by CJ. Almost nothing that comes out of SGM comes down from anyone else. CJ isn’t a good writer so, even if he wanted to write his own missives, he couldn’t. But, he prefers to control from the shadows anyway. It works for him to whisper his desires into the ears of his loyal soldiers.

    I detected a lot of CJ in the recent talk on pastoral evaluations, by Loftness. So, if he is the ‘new voice’ of, I expect him to be the CJ clone at the mic with Tommy Hill, CJ’s main scribe.

    I have heard from several sources that SGM has never fully covered the cost of their conference and I don’t think they ever fully cover their music production cost, by sales.

    CLC bought back some of SGM’s recording studio equipment during their final move a couple weeks ago. They didn’t convey everything to L-ville and it will take a while to replicate that kind of studio in KY.

    I do wonder how much seed money SGM granted to the SGCL colony and whether they gave comparable amounts to their other church plants?

  • Argus

    Jenn, most of us could say (and have said) that ‘so-and-so’ (name your favorite)is a good genuine guy, gentle, humble, loves the Lord, really not like the other guys at the top, and it is too bad he got caught up in it and can’t see it.

    And yet, there they are, all up in it.

    How can this be?

    Imo, SGM is led by a shameless narcissist who is staunchly supported by a few enablers who gain what they crave from their positions near him. And that is all held up by a whole bunch of ‘good decent guys’ who have been indoctrinated to make nice, believe the best, trust God to lead through the ones ‘above them’ and suppress their own instincts, discernment, and suspicions to the contrary.

  • A couple of interesting blog posts by SGM. This post talks about the need for churches in “cities without hip coffee shops:”

    As has been discussed, this goes against the typical SGM “marketing” plan of only going to middle middle or upper middle class neighborhoods such as the Louisville KY “plant.” Is SGM trying to give the allusion that they are willing to target areas where the incomes are lower? I doubt it.

    On this post SGM is indicating a completiong program with SBTS where SGM pastors who went through the SGM Pastors’ college can get credit for some of their pastor’s college studies at SBTS:

    A postivie way of looking at this is maybe some SGM pastors won’t be so locked in if they can get a seminary degree and use it to be a pastor somewhere else besides an SGM Church. Maybe some pastors who have been forced out by the pope or one of his cardinals can uses their PC studies to help them get a degree.

  • Bill Chaney

    I agree Tommy is a good guy. I have spent time with him, been in his home, spent the night there, etc. Tommy is also a people pleaser who is easily controlled. That’s not a good match for someone who loves to control. I feel sorry for him and his wife, but as Argus said, it’s their choice.

  • Andy

    SMP: YOU can count me in. I was praying for this suit before it was even filed, after reading about a few of the victims on this site. I will continue to pray for their healing as well as those unknown to me, that I know exist . I’m also praying for the total and complete distruction of SGM, Fairfax Covant CULT (as I have always called it) and the mess up in Gaithersburg with the naive little boy (author) as a pastor. These two churches I hope to see dissolved by the litigation, literally liquidated and sold off. I would rather see strip clubs or video poker casinos operating from these locations than SGM style churches. There would be less harm done the community. Just departing from the GREAT BALD ONE’s collection of affiliated churches is not enough to protect the community. They need to be totally eliminated.

    Someone commented about the possibility of SGM conspirators hiding funds. Asset protection is only legal if done before a lawsuit is filed. Otherwise its fraud on the court, and if in bankruptcy court even more serious.Prison terms can result from amatuers playing asset protection specialists and no legitamate professional that knows the shell game is going to play with SGM while this case is pending. They could end up on the wrong side of a RICO suit if they conspire with SGM to hide funds. People forget there are substantial legal remedies under the civil side of the RACATEERING & Corrupt Organization Act. Once a judgment is rendered the plaintiffs attorney will have access to the defendants financials, bank statements and tax returns going back probably 10 years. Literally SGM music label could be an asset seized and sold. Their buildings, personal homes and investments could all be attached ( with the exception of pre-existing retirement plans). Regardless of what these evil people do, say or claim if they loose this case their lives will be impacted horrendously. CJ and company won’t have the retirement they were planning on. That is what I call JUSTICE !

    Just me 155: I for one in no way mean to infer that spanking a child in unscriptural. I have neices and nephews that get spanked and some that don’t , ever. Frankly that makes me a beliver in the practice . That being said I find the normal parental discipline that most christian families employ to be one thing, what SGM taught was well beyond that. For example spanking well into the teen years, I find that incredibly bizzare.

  • JustMe

    watch where you step, watch what you recommend:

    article from 1991, we used to live in KC. For more current information, see

  • Debra Baker

    From what I can discern, the Bible does not mandate spanking nor does it prohibit the practice.

    That makes it an issue of discernment on the part of the parents.

    I believe that every child comes into this world pre-wired with his or her unique temperament (nature) this is likely genetic and then the environment acts on the temperament and therein lies our opportunity to help guide a child. I believe there is no set way to do this well or right because the combination of personalities is different in each family and that changes as the family grows and the dynamics of the personalities held within evolve.

    I have spanked my children but I am not particularly proud of that nor do I recommend it. I have found good alternatives when my children need to be disciplined. My youngest has never been spanked and several posters here have met her and every single person who has met my youngest knows that she has a sweet dynamic spirit.

    Sorry this got lengthy.

  • claude

    Tonight SGM Fairfax held a family meeting. Does anyone know what discussed?

  • Glad i am out

    I stopped spanking when i heard an excellent teaching on the rod (the “shabat”) and i had honestly been struggling what was taught about the rod at CFC especially when i learned that moms often disciplined 30 or 40 or more times a day.. Turns out it was not a stick for corporal punishment but a means of blessing. I heard the teaching from Rob Ruffus in Hong Kong. I have not searched his teaching lately, but a quick search of the subject on google brought up the following link:

    Regardless of how you receive this information, and certainly much or most of it is worth further study, i must say that in SGM we were never told any of this – it was taught that “spare the rod, spoil the child” always implied that sparing the rod meant NOT spanking. I say HOW DARE THEY for not sharing all of the information to us poor sheep. I do not trust any pastor any more to tell us what scripture really means. We need to examine for ourselves. Especially where raising our precious children are concerned. Marty at CFC is no more qualified to tell me how to raise my children that i am to tell a farmer how to slaughter his pig.

  • claude

    Someone posted this on SGM Refuge tonight:

    Fairfax church is voting on January 13 to decide whether to end their affiliation with sgm

    I am sure someone else will confirm if this is true or not.

  • Wow

    Just me,

    Regardless of the situation in 1991, I’d love to hear your take on this message from last night. It’s dead on target.

  • Glad I am Out

    I am sure the document you provided a link for would also apply to this verse:

    Proverbs 22:15
    New American Standard Bible (NASB)
    15 Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child;
    The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.

    Sadly, misapplication like this can happen when leadership typically read books written by men rather than seeking to deeply study the Word of God for what its true meaning is. A lot can be lost in the translation from Hebrew and Greek and not understanding the typical agrarian examples used in the bible.

  • Muckraker

    It is never too late…”Former [NoVa] teacher arrested on charges of sex abuse from 1960s”
    This guy was still teaching when the investigation started 1 year ago. Still around kids. Still probably abusing. It is never too late to take a stand and stop a pedophile.

    Read more:

  • BrokenHearted

    Jenn – that is one of my VERY favorite songs – I want to play it every morning when I wake up just to remind my whole house of the truth.

    I couldn’t sing it when I first heard it (at the “He Loves Me” Elyse Fitzpatrick seminar) because I thought it was “fluff”. I thought someone had snuck it in. I was shocked. Then as I dwelled on TRUTH that weekend I realized it’s SO true and what we need WAY more of in our lives!! :D

    Oh my goodness I am tearing up just thinking about how God used that song to open my eyes to the truth about His love for me. :D

    PLEASE thank your brother!!!!!

  • Jenn Grover

    Argus & Critical Mass – I don’t understand how smart people (and Tommy is very smart.) Many smart people have been deceived and caught up in this garbage and continue to be deceived. I really don’t have an answer as to why that is but I know it is true. I can think of others I put in the same category as Tommy – good folks, completely deceived by SGM. I have made personal appeals with some of them, to see the blank stare that they have no idea what I am talking about. I hope I can continue to have compassion for the people caught up in it because I was caught up in it for years.

    Yes, Tommy is on the Leadership Team, but as we learned with the interim board, not every member was aware of every decision. I would imagine the leadership team functions similarly. I have found that some of the brightest people can also be some of the most trusting people.

    Brokenhearted – thanks for what you shared about the song – I will pass it along to my brother. Yeah, SGM programmed us to look down on the truth about God’s love and delight for us but if we don’t have that at the core, everything else is meaningless.

  • JustMe

    WOW, I started the link earlier in the day, but didn’t get very far – bad migraine weekend. We visited his church when it was in the hockey arena. The parking lot conjoined another denominations lot and there was much tension. We were asked to move our car by the other unit, made me angry how it was done with the guy racing up in his big truck with my little kids near by. The deacons in the other church could have cared less, as I approached them. Well, when returning to the hockey rink, I asked for the leadership there to let them know about the situation. I was steamed. The guy was very nice, concerned about our experience, took a note to work with the brothers at the other church, and cared for my soul by discussing potential forgiveness. We worshiped well that day.

    Point of the link and the Google recommendation, Bickle has historically been into some weird an off things. Before running to another successful looking celebrity pastor, we need to verify their mission, their supporters, their affiliates, and what they’ve been teaching and how they interact with the congregation. So many things, but wise to do so.

    Off ot the sleep my Lord has promised. :)

    I mentioned on the other site that recommended a church, that they probably had a blog against them too. I googled it and yup, they have one. There is another one for the Driscoll group. So, we now have no where to go unless we become straight laced baptists or Lutherans. I mention those only because I don’t believe liturgy and hymns is what most folks that have been writing in these circles are looking for; however, there are some rich hymns…


  • lily

    JustMe, have you considered looking for a non-denominational community church? We’re in one now, with very solid, yet, very balanced teaching. We’re long time believers, (read, old folks) and have been exposed to several different doctrines, preaching styles, music genres, etc. For me, the points to look for are; is this orthodox Christianity, is agape love evident, do I see outreach to the community and a focus on missions? I like the old hymns, too, but as long as the lyrics are Biblical and they’re not chanting the chorus too long, I’m ok with most music styles.

    You are SO RIGHT to research pastors, teaching, connections, how they interact, etc. Even before we were in SGM, we submitted to the “pastoral interviews”, which, although I can understand and appreciate are sometimes necessary for pastors to do with potential members, now I have to think in terms of, how would the pastors and doctrines stand up to Scripture and do I really see God at work here?

    God bless, I know He’ll lead you to a good spot. We’ve been around the block, church-wise, and although I know God had us go through what we did to grow and use us at various stages of growth in Him, it is good to keep that Berean perspective.

  • lily

    Also, most should have said, Is the gospel presented regularly, as in, very often, with faith in grace given its properly needed emphasis, as the way to walk in the Holy Spirit, in the New Covenant?

  • I’d add to Lily’s advice by saying that it’s important to pay attention to how words are used. A church can say all the right words about the gospel – as I believe SGM does – but then if you stick around long enough, it will become evident that key terms don’t necessarily really mean what they ought to mean.

    Take the word “grace,” for instance. If you were to go to an SGM church, especially back a few years ago when everyone was less conscious of this, you’d hear the word “grace” a lot. “Means of grace” is a favorite SGM phrase, too.

    But grace – the idea that God looks at us and because of our faith in Jesus no longer holds our sins against us but instead actually counts Jesus’ own goodness and sinlessness as now belonging to us – isn’t actually what is meant a lot of times when you hear the phrase “means of grace.” Think about it. By its very definition, “grace” is totally not about what we ourselves do. So the idea that going to your care group, for instance, can be a “means of grace” doesn’t even make sense. How can the act of doing something bring about more of our right standing with God which is NOT supposed to be about what we do?

    It’s subtle, and it’s something that you wouldn’t necessarily pick up on until you’ve hung around for awhile, but this kind of thing, where the right words are said but actually carry with them additional meanings, is huge.

    So yeah, when looking for a new church, make sure they teach about grace. But also make sure that when they are saying these words, they are meaning what they ought to be meaning.

  • Critical Mass

    Persona # 143

    C.J. will never invest the time to earn a M.Div. He’ll simply wait for Dr. Mohler to give him an honorary one. And I predict Bob Kauflin will receive an honorary degree as well.

    Oswald #144

    Yeah, I noticed that when I was looking at the 2010 and 2011 audit statements for the music publishing topic. They should take the word “Relief” out of Haiti Disaster Relief. Not sure yet what was spent in 2012 but it’s safe to say they didn’t have a plan for those poor people. Years later and all that money still sitting in a bank account. I don’t think the people of Haiti care if the interest from that huge amount is being churned back into the fund. The reason why the Burma (Myanmar) efforts and now Sandy relief is somewhat effective is that they have boots on the ground in those areas. No SGM churches in Haiti and obviously no established relationship with anyone down there. They had no business creating the fund to begin with. What a travesty.

  • Critical Mass

    Okay, I can’t resist…one more comment on the Haiti Disaster Relief debacle. C.J. seems to take great pride in exercising good leadership. You see that string all through his stuff. Well, C.J., how would you grade your leadership on the Haiti program? I give it an F.

  • Persona

    Critical Mass 186 SGM put out a short video of their alleged efforts in Haiti this year. They claim to have given some of the donations to a church in the Dominican Republic to help found a church in Haiti. SGM does not really believe in missions per se; they plant churches or colonize areas.

    It was kind of comical as the men on the Dominican Repubic team led the SGM representative into the jungle toward a grove of trees. They stopped shy of a very small shack where a woman with some authority lives. This woman is apparently the one who gathers neighbors under the trees for ‘services’.

    I wondered what kind of money they needed if they had no building, no electric bill and no staff. Also, I found it ironic that CJ is forced to depend on a lone woman to help found the church.

    God has a wonderful sense of humor.

  • lily

    Kris 184, Yes, thank you for adding that!!! It took a year and a half for the light to turn on regarding their semantics, and that wouldn’t have happened, had something very troubling to me, not been said in hatred and disdain from the pulpit. It took me a few months after that, even then, to start realizing that I was actually getting false teaching on several fronts. Like you said, it was subtle!

  • SomewhereinTime

    My wife and I were discussing this weekend how much more JOYFUL we are since we’ve stopped tithing to Sovereign Grace and are SELF-DIRECTING our tithe to ministries where the money goes directly to those in need of real help and most importantly, the gospel!

    I will NEVER EVER give 100% of my tithe to any church that I belong to for the rest of my life. This way I KNOW where it’s going and it’s directed to those causes that are near and dear to our hearts (missionaries, inner-city, etc.).

  • Bridget

    Kris @ 184 –

    I believe when SGM uses the term “means of grace,” they are referring to something (home group participation) being a means of grace in your “sanctification.” I agree when you say, “By its very definition, “grace” is totally not about what we ourselves do.” That is why grace is usually thought of, and applied to, our justification. It is a gift (by way of Jesus Christ) that we accept or not. Our justification is sure in Christ Jesus, we are ever thankful, and should not forget this truth!

    Sanctification, on the other hand, is something we actually do participate in. It is not outside of us. It does not happen as more grace (in the justification sense) is applied to our lives. We now have the Holy Spirit as our Helper to assist us in living a life that is pleasing to God. I believe God often uses other people in our lives in this process, so I’m in no way saying it’s me and the HS going it alone. Unfortunately, I have seen much teaching and writing that is combining justification and sanctification. It tends to muddie the waters. I believe it has contributed to the misuse (in meaning) and overuse of the word “Gospel” as well. “Gospel” is another word that probably has a different meaning in SGM than what most people would think.

  • lily

    Critical Mass and Persona, from what I’ve heard others say about the Haiti situation, they didn’t receive all of the money, because they weren’t interested in a church plant, but for the funds to be used to help supply the immediate relief they needed. From what we in the pews were told, the money was going for relief, not church planting.

  • Bridget

    Persona @ 187 –

    Your comment was interesting about the woman who was gathering people for a service. I know that Driscoll withdrew support from a missionary couple on one of the islands after he visited. He found out that the wife often preached. He apparently did not want to support the couple because the woman had an active role in leading the church. It makes me wonder if CJ had a similar response to women being involved in leadership in Haiti.

  • Brainwashedgirl

    It is insane to think that all these “rod” wielding parents were just “misunderstanding” what was being taught from the pulpit or small groups. My parents were merciless in their use on the rod and their threats of it. My biological father even threatened me (after he had left my family for other women) a lot. I was 19 and he said that I wasn’t too big for him to throw over his knee and pull down my pants and spank me. I told him if he did I would call the cops on him for domestic violence and sexual assault. That put an end to that pretty quickly because he knew I would win. When I was 17 they put an outside lock on my door and locked my in my room for a month after I failed to put away a basket of my clothes before going to youth group (mind you it was neatly folded on top of my bed, just not in the drawers). KWCC encouraged total control over your kids, and to never trust them. I came home more than once to find my room completely torn apart to see if I was hiding a diary or anything from them (I wasn’t). They would check the mileage on my car to make sure I wasn’t going any place outside of what was permissible (I wasn’t). They made me call every time I entered and exited a building (this was annoying when I became the sole errand runner after my mom couldn’t drive anymore because of seizures from a brain tumor). Because of all this I’m extremely paranoid and I feel like I’m always doing something wrong, even if I’m not doing anything at all. *If* I ever have children I want to give them the benefit of the doubt, to trust them, something my parents never did with me even though I honestly didn’t ever do anything to deserve the complete lacking of trust on their part. I don’t want my kids to fear me like I feared my biological father. I don’t want my kids to have to take out a restraining order on me.
    I don’t know why SGM feels like children are just completely and utterly evil that needs to be beaten into submission and repentance. Sure we’re all sinners, and born into a fallen state, but where’s the “grace” in that kind of child rearing? Surely if my biological father beat a dog in front of somebody like he did me and my siblings he would’ve been reported. But no, instead he was praised. That’s just wrong.

  • Unassimilated

    Critical Mass – The point Tommy was making is that most of the money went to the studio, new equipment, advertising, and people like Bob.
    There was little left for the ministry itself. Yes there was a lot coming in, but is was immediately spent and sent out. So for Mr. Hill, it
    did little for the financial bottom line of SGM. The re-builds were not a contractor issue, it was that they changed the sanctuary
    and added basketball courts that now sit under moveable bleachers in the sanctuary. (Original blueprints did not have these, and the studio is under these)
    This lowered the required ceiling height when it came to finish off the studio as the noise from CLS kids came into the studio and control room.

    The process was always a corporate one as the lyrics has to meet with pastoral approval, and the songs placed into congregational keys, and
    further adjusted by Bob and Steve for general flow and playability. It was never as simple as ‘God gave me this great song, lets record it.”
    It has always been by committee. I never disputed that it blessed many people though, or that it did not make lots of money. I personally still
    get regular checks from CCLI, so if I were to scale that up, to an SGM sized catalog, its a nice chunk of change.

  • Critical Mass

    Lily #190

    Exactly the point! Disaster relief has always meant emergency relief to supply people the basics to ease their suffering – Food, water, medical and shelter. I took a look at what Persona was referring to after doing a search on the site. Have they changed direction? Church planting? The money that was raised, over $400K was for disaster relief. Here it is years later and as of 2011’s financials, $300K in the bank. And what percentage of the $100K went to exploratory trips? Was C.J.’s trip paid for out of this fund? Making a photo/video op out of this is a bit deplorable, imo. I will assume that the initial offering and appeal was well intended but they then probably realized they didn’t know what they were getting into. A huge rookie mistake. Okay, then tell us that you need to change course, or come up with a plan B. I think their plan be should have been to give the money to Samaritan’s Purse, but then they’d look like a clearing house, essentially not really needed in the first place. Who knows how they think since their updates have been few and late. At least they seem to be working with the Dominican Republic church albiet years too late.

  • Concerned for the kids

    RE: Haiti

    Isn’t illegal to ask for money for a cause and not use it for that cause?

    Anyone know?

    Can I collect money for Sandy relief and then pocket it? Or bank it for interest income?

    Would be nice to see them up on charges for this because stealing from the mid-upper class is one thing, but stealing from earthquake victims???!?!?!

  • lily

    Brainwashedgirl, thank you for sharing what you did! I also commend you for having the courage to stand up to your father in that particular instance. I’ll pray for full emotional and mental healing for you, and your siblings. You are believed, understood and respected here. God bless!

  • Watercolor

    “SGM leaders provided biblical and spiritual direction to those who requested this guidance. This care was sought confidentially as is a right under the First Amendment”.

    There are limits of confidentiality where there is betrayel of trust, a pattern of denial, inaction, cover-up, collusion, “forgiveness of sins”, and blame the victim. Where is the ethical obligation to protect the innocent and those within the membership who are most vulnerable to harm? It is surely the abused child who is most powerless to protect her/himself and who is in need of support from the wider community.

    What was presented by these victims was not confessional but a cry for help. What is important is clarity of purpose, to protect the one who is victimized by the actions of another and to hold the offender accountable.

    Ministers, by law are required to report any reasonable suspicions of child abuse to authorities. The law mandates that there is a limit to confidentiality, even between a church leader and a member. That limit is reached, or overreached, when the leader has a reasonable suspicion that a child is being harmed, either neglected, or abused physically, sexually, or psychologically.

    Who monitors the leaders, to whom are they accountable? Pastorial privilege continually has been abused, and that abuse finds its most vulnerable victims in children. The sad fact is that not only have pastors and leaders been proven incapable of policing themselves, but when crimes have come to their attention, they react self-protectively, stifle information, instead of taking action in the best interest of the children. (Sound familiar?).

  • Square Peg

    Brainwashed Girl, I appreciate your candidness here. I am sad to hear that you were “locked” in your room. Locking someone in their room over a laundry basket not being emptied? Heck, then I should be locked in my room for the rest of my life. My clothes almost never make it into the drawers. Anyway, whatever happened to making the punishment fit the crime?

  • Muckraker

    Critical Mass 195 & Concerned4kids 196: I saw this blog post on the Haiti Disaster Relief fund from April, 2012:

    Do you dispute these figures? I am glad that they apparently donated most of the funds to ministries working in Haiti (it took long enough!) However, I am uncomfortable that they withheld $25K for what appears to be typical operational expenditures.

    This money will be used to cover other projects, facilitate Sovereign Grace’s monitoring of the relief efforts, and allow for contingencies.

    Any comments on this from any business-minded folks?

  • Muckraker

    **”typical operational expenditures” meaning shouldn’t that ALREADY be covered by the normal day-to-day budget of their non-profit? Don’t they already get paid for their time? How can they in one sentence say

    Every dollar donated to the Haiti Disaster Relief Fund is being set aside to help churches and ministries in Haiti who were affected by the earthquake, and every dollar is being accounted for to make sure this happens.

    and in another say they are withholding $25K for “contingencies” WHAT CONTINGENCIES???

  • Jenn Grover

    Muckracker – maybe there are perfectly legitimate explanations for the $25,000, if there are, they should have no problems providing explanations.

  • Persona

    All I can say is whenever SGM announces they are ‘activating their crisis relief fund” hold onto your wallets.

    We did not contribute to the Haitian fund although we did contribute to Katrina. I hope the money went somewhere other than the bank.

    This time, I could see right away that they were merely activating a big vacuum cleaner to gather money to replenish their empty coffers.

    In truth, CJ has a history of giving large gifts to RBd’s, not the poor.

  • Oswald

    Muckraker #200 — I noticed that the title at the link you posted uses the words ‘final update’. Do you think this mean that they have nothing more to say about the matter? That’s how I take it. This sure makes me shy away from any future giving.

  • Oswald

    Giving to a special fund appeals to our pride; ‘maybe someone will notice how big a gift I’m giving’, etc. I’m sure they know this, and go for it.

  • Persona

    Os 205 They also play the ‘pity card’ knowing American suffering from a communal sense of guilt for our wealth. The problem is not every penny goes to help the targeted people group and yet they give the impression it will.

  • Critical Mass

    Muckraker #200

    Thanks for bringing that blog post to my attention. I took a look at all their posts on Haiti. First, my apology to SGM for saying $400K was raised. Maybe I was thinking of the number raised for Burma years ago. Anyway, almost $305K was raised. After reading the posts I was reminded that this Haiti example is a good case study in how SGM communicates. It’s funny how one interprets a post when you have a lot of trust in an organization. Now that I’m more skeptical and read what they send more carefully I walk away with a different view and in this case have questions.

    What’s important is the timeline, which they really don’t provide clearly. We have a situation where almost 300,000 are killed, 300,000 are injured and a million left homeless in early January 2010. I can’t remember exactly when SGM makes an appeal for funds but it was probably soon after. If you’re like me, when a natural disaster of this magnitude hits and I want to help, I’m thinking immediate help = asap. SGM seems to have a different definition for “immediate.” They never said they had a short-term plan and a long-term plan when they took the offering, which makes me think that they really didn’t know what they got themselves into, and struggled on how to distribute the funds.

    The very first update was in October 2010 where they report that they gave $90K to relief efforts. Well, when exactly was the $90K distributed? As late as September? Who knows if it was really distributed immediately to relieve the suffering started nine months earlier. Over the next few days there are two more posts on Haiti. Post 2 is the “short-term” plan and post 3 is the “long-term” plan. So at the end of 2010, one year later $215K is sitting in a bank and we’re then informed there’s a long-term plan. I can understand the scramble to put together three posts in the span of a week that shows a “plan.” Okay, let’s see how this plan is executed after showing us all the pretty graphs.

    Fast-forward to the post you refer to in April 2012 – 18 months later and what do we learn? They say that as of December 2011, they had $205K left in the fund. If I understand this correctly, this means that they spent only $10,000 in all of 2011. Their apparent explanation is that they have a long-term plan. Please, someone correct me if I’m wrong. I want to be wrong. Maybe it’s me, but I wonder if they’re like deer in the headlights without a plan, so what is their solution? They hand $180K off to the church in the Dominican Republic and talk about investing in the future. And they say in this April 2012 post that this is the final update. They should have titled the post, “We punted the ball to the guys in the Dominican Republic when we realized we didn’t know what to do.”

    Now, why am I harping on this? Yes, I’m not happy with how they managed this program. I’ll be generous and give them a D. Not great leadership. But I’m not upset about the money. I’m glad the church in the Dominican Republic has the balance. Finally, something will be done. What irks me is that SGM leadership just can’t seem to admit to its mistakes unless they are in a situation where they are up to their necks in verifiable proof. Where’s all this humility they preach about? I believe that to them admitting to mistakes equates to poor leadership. This is the only explanation I can come up with on why they bob and weave their way through all the mess they’ve created. Can’t they admit that the reason why a bomb went off is because they built the bomb in the first place? It’s not just because Brent Detwiler and others lit the fuse. And so they carefully craft their explanations to avoid any appearance of wrongdoing or any mistakes made. They think they’re being led by a brilliant, masterful strategist through all this. There’s only one problem. The flock is smarter than they give them credit for and when the leadership of SGM believes they are the smartest guys in the room they really don’t see the reality of their behavior and that we can see it.

  • Argus

    Critical Mass #207 — Add in to the timeline the information that no movement happened with the Haiti fund for a long time UNTIL someone here tracked down SGM financials (typically vague though the report was)and blew the whistle on the Haiti funds sitting unspent and earning interest in SGM coffers. Shortly after that, SGM reported that they had been looking and had finally found an organization that would do more good than harm with the funds.

    In other words, the public exposure here made them act. This has happened many times that something will be made known on the blogs first, and then SGM deals with it and acts like that was their plan all along, like they were always on top of things, no problems.

    Yeah, so Haiti was a roaring disaster, people were dead and dying, SGM members gave money for relief of desperate life-or-death needs, but the bulk of the money sat for over a year while SGM supposedly looked for someone worthy to partner with. And, when SGM help for Haiti did finally arrive, it did so as a church-planting effort from the Dominican Republic?

    Even their humanitarian aid is more about them than about those in need. Do they just have an abhorrent fear and disdain for the poor and needy?

    The world did a better job in response to Haiti than the SGM church did. What a disgrace and a laughingstock these ‘Christian leaders’ are.

  • Critical Mass – I think you make some great points! It raises questions if SGM is competent to administer such relief funds both from a directed giving and timeliness standpoint. Even giving to church in Dominican Republic isn’t satisfactory to me as a donor – there is no detail on how it reached Haitians in need – how did it benefit the intended needy. Also it took way to long to get there.

  • Persona

    I heard the ambassador from Haiti on the radio shortly after the disaster, as the country dealt with widespread medical emergencies and the threat of plague. They had no electricity and much clean-up and rebuilding ahead of them.

    The ambassador said relief help from outside rarely hit the nail on the head as far as what exactly was needed there. People typically came in with the help they thought was needed but, it wasn’t usually accurate. What she said was needed was a way to help the the Haitians help themselves and of course, you need to ask them first.

    The SGM team (Greg Somerville, Claude Allen, etc.) arrived and presented CJ’s proposal for planting a Haitian church. The people made it clear that they didn’t want that; they already had plenty of churches. Oh.

    SGM essentially whispered, “Well, I guess we can’t help you”. So, SGM was left with a lot of donations…with no way to do what THEY wanted to do. I guess it took them a few months and some goading from the blogs, to find recipients in the Dominican Republic, who wanted some money to extend their mission over the border. (This action, likely had the desired effect of gaining CJ, Dave and Jeff regular invites to speak at the Dominican Republic, “Por Su Casa” conferences every year since then).

    But, as far as I know there has been no recent update on whether the people there were able to build a facility or hire staff, or even whether or not the Haitians welcomed them there.
    I think historically, the two countries have not gotten along well.

    We had a friend who was a missionary in Haiti in the 80’s, but she had to hide the fact, as she provided home ec training to locals. The government at the time, did not welcome Christian organizations. And, I’m not at all sure they welcome them now. The SGM video guarded the identity of the Haitian pastor in their video and that might be the reason.

    So, my question is, did CJ ‘activate the crisis relied fund’ before or after he discovered that Christian organizations were not very welcome in Haiti?

  • Muckraker

    Oswald #204 my impression too…”This is our FINAL update, now shut up!!” :(

    CM #207 Thanks for trekking through all of that. It belies the fund title of “Disaster Relief” if it is dispersed years later!

    Sgmnation #209 My thoughts exactly. Giving a large portion to a church in a neighboring country doesn’t fly as disaster relief!! Is it going to be used for expanding the SGM franchise instead? This should definitely NOT be the “final” word from SGM. And like Critical Mass, now when I read/hear SGM’s words/blog posts etc., I hear what appears to me to be so much duplicitous “talking out of both sides of the mouth”. So grievous!

  • Muckraker

    Thanks Persona for the background. We were posting at the same time apparently.

    I guess I don’t understand WHY in such a horrible disaster can’t Christians give money straight up for food, shelter, medical supplies? Did the good Samaritan in the NT stop helping the bloodied man on the side of the road and say: “Wait here, until I build an appropriate ministry with all the trappings of the clearly expressed Gospel, and then and only then, after you listen to me, I’ll take you to get your wounds washed?” I know SGM has always rejected the “Social Gospel” and I understand that as Christians we have the responsibility to proclaim clearly the Good News, but come on, give something to the destitute w/o strings attached in a major crisis!

  • Critical Mass

    Argus #208

    I agree with you. It’s only after some pressure to be accountable do they seem to respond.

    Persona #210

    SGM had success with the Burma Disaster Relief fund because there was a highly effective ministry in Burma who had a plan. I suspect the Sandy Relief funds will go to good use because they have SGM churches in NJ who will figure it out on how best to give there (at least we can hope). Haiti, I believe, is the number one money pit in the world. No country has received more humanitarian support than Haiti and yet it remains one of the most impoverished nations in the world. All the more reason why I believe SGM should have paused and thought this through before asking for our money since they did not have any relationship with anyone in Haiti. Dah.

    From their final update earlier this year they write, “While we wish we could have distributed the funds earlier, we were advised to proceed slowly and carefully because of the significant turmoil there after the earthquake.” I’ll bet you a million dollars that this advice was given, not before the offering was taken, but after they realized they were way over their heads in how they would actually distribute the funds there without $$ ending up in the money pit. Convenient excuse.

    Personally, the believe-the-best part of me believes SGM had good intentions, especially when so many of us wanted to help by donating. I still believe this, but the SGM-is-not-all-that-trustworthy part of me believes that they also saw a video mission presentation gold mine opportunity. The Burma video was a feel good video and videos like this really help open up the wallets during the mission presentation Sundays.

    Again, my beef is that they should have been honest in making an error in judgment and gotten back to us with Plan B, something like, “Folks, we now realize that we are not in the best position to administrate these funds. Here’s a list of five Christian ministries who are experienced and have a great track record in working in Haiti. We’re giving the money to them with our blessings.” No, instead, we get details in such a way as to blur how ineffective they’ve been and instead of admitting it they try to come across like they’re doing a good job. I find this not only disingenuous but offensive. SGM -please practice what you’ve been preaching to us for decades. Please try to walk in integrity and start communicating openly and honestly.

    I can only imagine what would happen to their marriages if they tried to communicate to their spouses this way. If I’d tried this on my spouse I’d get a loving slap upside the head.

    SGMnation – I’m a big fan. Keep up the good work on your insightful opinion/position posts.

  • Persona

    I expect we will hear about some generous giving project to the poor, in a future sovgracemin blogs, a la Ricky Alcantar’s timely post on doing inner city ventures.

    I try real hard to believe-the-best but, sovgracemin gives me little reason to do so as they continue to mask and obfuscate their true intentions.

  • Critical Mass

    Persona, LOL. Yeah, they’ve gotten pretty proactive. Good SEO move to be putting out, what, two posts a day? I guess, gone are the days where a super minority control, or should I say, write the content. I do miss the excellent communications staff they used to have. Mike B. needs to use spell and grammar check. The number of typos make me wince.

  • Stunned

    you mean these guys worry about SEO and not the gospel? I don’t believe it.

    that said,

    and last but not least

  • Oswald

    To give to an organization that really helps and it’s a Christian organization, as well; the Mennonite Disaster Service. Google it to read more. It’s based out of Lancaster, Pa.

  • Muckraker

    Stunned #216
    you mean these guys worry about SEO and not the gospel? I don’t believe it.
    that said,
    and last but not least

    Such a meaningful quote, I just needed to repost it! ;)

  • lily

    So, I’m a little confused. Did SGM give 10,000 or $90,000 to Haiti? I have to wonder if this was kept in the bank so long, not only for possible cash flow needs, since things were already going awry by then, but also for the interest rate the $s accrued.

  • lily

    Critical Mass 213, I agree, the right thing to do would have been to get the money for Haiti funneled to ministries which had success helping there and a transparent accounting system, even if the dispersal was reported to the congregations after the fact. Now, it all just looks suspicious.

  • Sick with worry

    It is not like they are making much interest on cash in the bank. I have a bit of cash in my 401k….. Just a portion that I keep ready to move into stocks. I have like $48K and the interest is less than .25%. I was actually looking at this the other day, I have a bond fund that pays a nice return, and of course stocks that pay out nicely… but the value goes up and down. Unless SGM put the money into stocks or bonds, they are not making any “cashflow” Maybe they bought Apple or Starbucks stock!!

  • lily

    Sick with worry, yes, you’re right about the interest rate return on those kinds of accounts. But it sure is strange that it just sat there that long with skewed reporting of it, at best.

  • Critical Mass

    Lily, if I’m reading their reports correctly they distributed $90,000 in 2010, $10,000 in 2011 and gave the church in the Dominican Republic $180,000 in 2012 to administrate for them. That leaves the $25,000 they say is left.

  • JustMe

    @BrokenHearted – ref 160
    Discipline goes way beyond spanking, agreed. That seemed to be the pointy end of the spear, ahem, topic. :)

  • JustMe

    Lily (182)
    We have gravitated to non-denominational churches our entire walk. There was once where we were part of an EPC church plant. It was a nice church, but didn’t make it. The SGM churches were non-denominational, ahem, but with the new polity proposal, it appears they are definitely headed towards setting up an actual, official, denomination.

    If you mean an independent non-denominational church, we’ve been in those too. As a note, we’ve really enjoyed that path in our lives, but it has been filled with challenges of one kind or another. That makes us more sober with the SGM stuff, I think. We’ve been learning through the years, maybe through the shifting boat in the storms, to not put too much focus on the pastor, but on the Lord. What I mean practically, for instance, is to ask our Father questions, first. I remember the children of Israel were once rebuked because they didn’t “inquire” of their God. I found that interesting, they went to each other and pursued other things, or nothing prior to acting, and didn’t inquire of the Lord. In that passage, they were disciplined for that lack. (footnote: I’m not suggesting that’s a singular answer to the issues raised by the creators of this blog, but merely a pursuit we should all esteem to do).

    Thank you for your recommendation!

  • JustMe

    regarding funds for disaster relief, we’ve found that giving to proven organizations, e.g. Food for the Hungry, is the best way. some of those organizations already have an established presence on the ground, especially in places like Haiti; they know where to put the money and how to make it be most effective for both aide and sharing Jesus. They’ll be there tomorrow as well.

  • Marie

    Wow #176, thank you for the recommendation to listen to that Mark Bickle talk. I have not had a chance to listen to it in its entirety, but I loved the initial point about lack of critical thinking. He was saying something to the effect of critical thinking not being allowed in a cult-like church. In the light of the Haiti funding debacle, I am wondering if the SGM leadership is even capable of critical thinking.

    I have no idea if Mark has gone through a rigorous program of “redemption” if he had gone off the deep end in the past. His points were very well made.

    On the subject of people in the past going through positive character changes, how about Gordan MacDonald? He was a successful author of Ordering Your Private World , had an affair with his secretary, withdrew to do some character building with his organization, and years later (I am pretty sure he reconciled with his wife, or worked through any issues brought up by adultery) wrote this other book: Who Stole my Church .

    The reviews at Amazon are interesting, and a friend of mine said it was very helpful when her church was going through many changes:

    The title of the book is an interesting one for this discussion. I think sometime soon, many people will be asking that very question about SGM churches, or even have asked it already. But it only seems possible to ask the question outside the church, because when I was in an SGM church, critical thinking was always discouraged. And Mark B. did make a point to differentiate between a critical spirit and critical thinking. I look forward to hearing the rest of the talk soon.

    While this book was about churches going through “modernization” pains, which I don’t think applies to SGM churches, it is an interesting case of a person who had an utter failure in ministry (The affair was a shock to many people who read his first book) get a second chance. Will any of the SGM leaders get a second chance, after their “stuff” gets repeatedly exposed? Maybe they can visit MacDonald, and find out what he did to get his inner compass back.

  • Marie

    JustMe #225 Great reminders to inquire before the Lord. I don’t think I ever heard an SGM sermon on that topic, but I am familiar with those verses, and how much trouble the Israelites got into when they did not stop what they were doing to ask God about it first. Critical thinking has always popped up in my head after I have inquired of God. The Holy Spirit always brings up objections I had not thought of, and I have always been grateful when I have stopped what I was doing to pray and ask God, rather than motor on, to likely disaster. Thank you for the reminder! :-)

  • lily

    JustMe, yes, thanks! No matter how good a pastor or congregation seems, family members and other Christian friends, for that matter, we are all “seeing through a glass, dimly”. The Lord must be first, last and always, the One we turn to with questions and needs. Sure, He uses people, but the best of people will fail us, and we’ll fail them. It is especially important that you mentioned that in our current culture. We need Him.

  • Nickname

    It’s ironic that a former SGM member was a top executive with World Vision in Haiti at the time of the earthquake. His wife and daughters were injured, but survived the total collapse of their 5 story apartment building. The dad was at World Vision HQ, which was not badly damaged, and the son was working at an orphanage/hospital at the time of the quake. For two days, the father & son thought the rest of the family had perished, and were preparing to go dig for their remains when they found each other. Their story of anguish at believing they were bereaved, and the joy of being reunited is a pure example of God’s grace and mercy.

    But since it’s the SGM/PDI MO to erase former members from all memory, I guess it didn’t occur to them to funnel money through a fine & trustworthy organization where someone who had given them plenty of $ and had labored within a ‘local church’ for several years was in a position to know where and how to use such funds in the best possible ways.

    What this lack of action says to me is that, among the head honchos of SGM, there is no love, no zeal, and no heart for any other country but their own. Oh, to have a heart for China, or for Haiti, or for whatever place on the planet God points you toward. The lack of missionary zeal (among other things) kept SGM from becoming a multi-dimensional, fully-developed ministry.

    How very strange, and even more, how horribly sad. We trusted money people who had no education or experience in disaster relief, just because they told us they were the end-all and be-all of Christianity. Another crock.

  • Marie

    JustMe #171 – finally had a chance to do some searches to get some current info on Mike B.

    According to this wikipedia article, Mike B. took some public criticism from John Wimber about exaggerating some prophecies, which I think is what the 1991 article was referring to. Then Mark Bickle came out and said that he needed to hear that criticism, and has since taken it into account in his ministry.

    Below are some current endorsements of his IHOP church. I think it is a decent list.

    Can anyone name any other prominent people who have had a bit of a fall, and then gotten up again, and done some good work? I think there are many out there. This Haiti story is very discouraging, and I think could make some people look bad, but maybe the accounting is done in such a way that it cannot be directly traced to one or two people.

    When I mentioned “stuff” getting exposed in a previous post, I just meant these callous charity accounting practices, mistreatment of physical/sexual abuse victims, and scores of other issues that people have brought up on these blogs. How I wish the lot of the SGM top leadership could be dropped into a third world country, and told to learn to fend for themselves, without any marketing, fanfare, fundage, support team, etc. They would be in a better position to help church planters already doing incredible service to their community with few resources.

  • JustMe

    Hi Marie (231),
    Good homework, it’s good to note. I have friends who have gone to IHOP, and sent their kids (in the last five years), to their programs. I just think we should be careful, no matter to whom or where we go; one spot-on message does not a ministry make (note the folks that support SGM/CJ for instance).

    I think sometimes our tendency, or mine, can be to identify the bad and excess very near to us, but not consider those in other areas (e.g. ministries, pastors, etc) that are distant, or even wax over them altogether. In my initial post expressing concern, I experienced a very Godly example, this was in the early days.

  • JustMe

    Here is an example from 2009, concerning. Maybe MB has since changed things, but again, SGM’s primary allegations were in the 80s and 90s, however with many criticisms to current. Not minimizing SGM’s actions, but when providing a critical analysis of any organization, a plethora of material needs to be considered no matter who they are. I hope that this discussion is helpful.


  • claude

    I’m wondering what CJ and Gang will be thankful for tomorrow?

  • Persona

    Just breaking in here to wish Kris and Guy a happy fifth anniversary!

    I trust the last five years haven’t aged you overly much and that you are enjoying the fruit of your service to the Lord. You certainly have been a gift to me and countless others.

    It must also be a gratifying, as we watch CLC send out electronic ballots today to all their members as they vote on their secession from the union of SovGraceMin.

    SGM could have avoided disintegration if they had chosen to follow wisdom rather than folly. But, at least some of the churches in their movement are finally seeing the light.

    Thank you both for all your sacrifices standing for the truth and being there for all of us with comfort and guidance. You are two of the things I am grateful for this Thanksgiving Day.

  • I’m wondering what CJ and Gang will be thankful for tomorrow?

    With all the money CJ has accumulated over the years I am sure he is “thankful.” Then again he might think the money was his “right.”

  • MAK

    They’ll be thankful for CLC and the other churches leaving

  • It's just the beginning

    Thank you Kris and Guy for starting these blogs. God has certainly used them to bring to light problems that would have continued to be hidden, ignored and unrecognized.

  • Critical Mass

    I believe you’re right, MAK. Once you’re considered disloyal by C.J. he wants you gone and this is why I’m grateful for CLC and Fairfax hanging in as long as they have. By hanging around they forced out the true nature of SGM’s leadership. Though things may never be the same with only a few men controlling everything, their DNA has changed little.

  • lily

    I do hope the secessions will have been because of DNA changes, and not merely for survival reasons. God can change DNA, I have no doubt!

  • Wow


    He’ll be thankful that he isn’t like us sinners.

  • lily

    Of course, there is also King David’s cry, “change my heart, Oh God”.

  • Debra Baker

    When DNA is changed, it is mutated.

    Most of the time, mutations are not good but every once in awhile, a mutation will fuel changes in populations of living things over time. Sometimes they provide phenotypic diversity.

    A good example of a positive mutation in humans is the mutation to the CCR5 transmembrane protein. The mutation is a change that orders the formation of the amino acid change to stop before it is finished being formed. The good thing about this particular mutation is the HIV virus needs this membrane protein to gain access to the T-cell causing the person that is homozygous recessive for that allele to be resistant to HIV.

    If you can muster an analogy from that bit of rambling, I will have done a good deed.

  • lily

    Debra, so hopefully, what might look like a digression in the body of Christ at this time to some, (those who are blindly following leaders who appear to be self serving in the name of Christ), will actually prove beneficial for the body as a whole, provided the mutation is accepted. In other words, let God be God, and let’s watch what can happen.

  • Critical Mass

    It goes without saying but I should have mentioned that if it weren’t for Kris and others being a catalyst for drawing out and exposing the systemic problems within SGM I can only wonder where things would be, if anywhere.

  • SMP

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I am so blessed by all of you and thank God for YOU, yes even you, the one reading this. You have all encouraged me and helped so mzny of us love the Word of God more. Thank you all!

  • Debra Baker


    I was mostly tongue in cheek about things being in our DNA.
    But mutations create variation which allows for selection that responds to the environment in populations in the next generation.

    All of life works this way. It allows for adaptation.

    I, too, want to thank God for everyone that posts here. While we hold our own perspective on the issues at hand, we are all members of the Body. Hopefully, no one here immediately thought of the anal spincter when they read that and thought of me (insert evil laughter here.) Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope every is surrounded by people that love them and that are beloved in return.

  • Phoenix

    Many months after I left Fairfax, I reunited with a long time friend who had also been part of it. During our far-ranging conversation, her daughter told us about the Survivors website. I told Noel, another survivor. Through Survivors, she told her story, which (among others) has touched so many hearts and convicted so many consciences. Through Survivors, Noel connected with others who had been abused and they affirmed, blessed, and strengthened one another. Out of their interactions came the resolve to do something to help other victims and out of that resolve came the lawsuit; which will yet be part of God’s work of shaking down strongholds. And not just in SGM, but throughout His church. And today I am thankful. For my friends, for SGMSurvivors, and for how God does and will INDEED work everything for good. Thank you all, as well.

  • Happymom


    You took the words right out of my mouth! Thank you for the role you played in helping survivors connect. No doubt Noel’s courage opened the door for so many others to share their stories.

    THANK YOU to Kris & Guy and all our survivor friends. Happy Thanksgiving!