Five Years – A Look Back

I know the actual date of Thanksgiving changes every year, but I tend to associate Thanksgiving with this site’s anniversary.  I have memories of starting “SGuncensored” rather late at night, as pretty much an afterthought after many hours spent cleaning and cooking as Guy and I prepared to host a Thanksgiving dinner party the next day.  I know many of you have heard this story before, but for anyone who still thinks there was some great grand plan going on with us, here is how this site came to be:

A little less than six years ago, we started attending a Sovereign Grace Ministries church.  We hunted that church down (yes, it actually felt like that, like it was the opposite of seeker-friendly, like it was quite hard to find) because of the positive way SGM and CJ Mahaney had been talked about on various blogs and other websites that we liked to read.  Almost immediately, things felt a little weird to us, a little “off,” but because of what we’d read from the likes of Tim Challies (with his live-blogging from SGM conferences) and what we knew about CJ (that he shared the stage with John MacArthur), we kept thinking that we must be the ones with the problem.  So we stuck it out.  Besides, everyone was so nice to us.  We were so quickly enfolded into the church community that we felt obligated to stick around.  We didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

Meanwhile, though, we kept having these nagging feelings.  Almost every Sunday, I’d come home from church and spend hours searching online for something — anything — that would more accurately reflect what we were seeing at our SGM church, which felt so different from what the Reformed bloggers wrote.  I could find almost nothing at all, except for some comments on a 2-year-old blog post that had been only tangentially related to SGM originally.  I can’t remember everything that was in those comments, but the conversation had veered onto the topic of how much SGM had changed over the years.  One person who apparently had had a long history with the organization revealed (and yes, for us it was a startling revelation) that SGM had actually had two founders rather than just one.   I know that for those who were around PDI in the old days, that’s common knowledge.  And it is common knowledge now.  But back in 2007, even the Wikipedia article for Sovereign Grace Ministries cited CJ Mahaney as the lone founder.

In the comments of that same random blog post (which, remember, had only started out as tangentially mentioning SGM), there was also discussion of how SGM had not always been “Reformed,” and how the shift from overt Charismaticism to Puritan-quoting had been essentially foisted on members without any sort of explanation.

I remember being shocked by what I read on that site.  I even copied and pasted some of the comments about SGM’s history (overtly Charismatic!  speaking in tongues!  TWO founders rather than just one!  with one founder who had mysteriously faded away under questionable circumstances, never to be mentioned again!) into an email and sent them to Guy.

Eventually, we decided that our SGM church wasn’t a good fit for our family.  This wasn’t because of abuse — or, really, any bad experience.  It wasn’t because we’d sussed out some hard-and-fast list of theological differences or problems with polity.  (I didn’t even know about SGM’s pyramid-style polity until probably 6 months into doing this site.)  We left because we felt like the cultural sameness wasn’t something that was going to work for us…and that there was something — we weren’t quite sure what, but something — that was weird and wrong about how an entire church could just feel so…controlled.

I do remember vaguely connecting our own observations about the sense of control and the cultural sameness with what I’d read in those blog comments.  It struck me that it would be easy for leaders to be able to impose anything they wanted on people who were so unquestioningly submitted to them.  And that started to seem sort of creepy.  But – again, this was all in just a gut-feeling sort of way.  We never had a bad experience at our SGM church and struggled mightily with deciding whether to stick around and throw ourselves fully into membership (because the people were so very nice to us) or start the wearisome “church-shopping” process all over again with the hope of finding a place where our family would fit in better.

After months of waffling with our vague ill-at-ease feelings, we finally decided to leave.

After we left, I went back and looked at that random old blog post and discovered people were still posting comments there.  I posted our own story, where (funnily enough) I defended SGM and argued with another commenter that it was NOT a cult.  A couple of days after posting my comments, I checked the random blog and noticed that the whole post — comments and all — had been taken down.

It gave me a really weird feeling, like there had to be something going on, where either A) one commenter or another had been fear-filled over what he/she had shared and had asked the blogger to take it down; or B) SGM itself was exerting pressure on people to take down anything negative.  I began to wonder if maybe there was a slightly sinister reason why SGM’s online presence was so very positive.

I was sitting here late one night telling Guy how odd that was, and he made an offhand suggestion — “Why don’t you start your own blog?”  I sort of looked at him and went, “Hmm, I guess I could.”  Oddly enough, I’d copied and pasted what I’d posted on that other blog into a Word document, so I still had that.  More importantly, I still had the informative comments about SGM’s history because I’d emailed them to Guy some months before.  Guy set up a blog in about 20 minutes, and I put up a couple of posts.  I wanted the information about SGM’s history to be available to others who might be sharing our mixed feelings.

I figured that that would be the end of it.  Imagine my shock when, late on Thanksgiving night, after I’d cleaned up the kitchen and put the china away, I checked the blog and discovered that we’d gotten a bunch of hits.  A few people had commented, too.  How bizarre!

And that’s how it happened.  I had no idea what I was doing, really.  All we had were some gut feelings, a nagging sense that things were not as they seemed.

It was no big deal.

Any of you would have done the same thing.

God has an awesome sense of humor.

Now, when you get the chance, I’d love for you to share YOUR story.  You can talk about your own journey through SGM, or how you found this site, or both.  Or whatever.

641 comments to Five Years – A Look Back

  • Phoenix

    Also posted on the previous string, but so applicable that I had to repost:) And the link is for all of us — Ode to Joy.

    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.

  • KAZ

    I found this site a few tears back after a SGM pastor had told me how completely evil it was ……. The first thing that happenned was I no longer felt alone and realized that my lack of understanding SGMese or be accepted by SGM people was not becuase of insanity but rather my better understanding of reality.
    Thanks to all here who have helped myself and others :o)

  • Happymom


    Posting this again too, and thanks for the link, just showed it to my family. Beautiful!!

    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!

  • Guy

    Happy Thanksgiving friends! We are truly thankful for you.

  • Happy anniversary Kris and Guy.

    I have been reading this blog from the start.

    For me if nothing else it was good read and find I wasn’t the only one with the thoughts I had. Sadly SGM had been able to keep people from knowing others had similar thoughts through their distorted teaching on what was gossip and slander.

    Thanks for all your work on keeping this blog going.

    Happy Thanksgiving

  • Kris and Guy… if not for your blog, I think I would still feel shell shocked and I’m-the-only-one-in-the-world-who-thinks-something-is-wrong-in-SGM-Land. God used this blog to save my sanity and my faith. A mere thank you falls so very short of what is in my heart for you and for all of the other commenters here who shared their stories and helped me realize that I was (am) not alone, that SGM really is whacked! :-)

    Happy Anniversary and Happy Thanksgiving! Many, many people and things to be thankful for this year!

  • Mary

    Happy Thanksgiving Kris and Guy and the many survivors. May God continue to bring health and healing to those who have shared their stories here.

  • Dan

    Happy anniversary!! Thanks so much for your commitment to us all!

    I think (maybe wrong!) that I am one of the few U.K visitors and SGM Survivor! My experience with SGM was a short 2 years – but was greatly traumatised back 2006-2007(ish) by the heavy-handed, authoritarian leadership in UK SGM who threw me out of the church for sharing some of my deeply hidden “skeletons in the closet”. I spent the next 5 years or so vehemently hating SGM and studying and reading to attempt to help expose how cult-like SGM can be.

    It is a testament of God’s ability to sovereignly work miracles, that a few years back I was able to meet with the SGM UK leaders (due mainly to Steve’s (Steve240) help, advise and pursuing of SGM on my behalf. I was able to sit with the SGM leaders and rejoice in their genuine admitting of mistakes and errors – but ultimately to renew friendships (not membership!) and have a few further genuinely happy visits to the SGM England church with my family.

    Nothing has changed regarding my general suspicion of C J Mahaney and his closely-knit army of fans, followers and “regional leaders” – most particularly grieved at Mahaney’s treatment of Covenant Life Church and his progressive downgrade of the Holy Spirit’s part in church life.

    So I am truly grateful for this site. Prior to discovering it, I was in deep depression and contemplating of suicide as I truly believed that the SGM leaders had “cast me out to Satan” and feared I could never step foot in a church again. (PS: that fear still remains, I have remained on the peripheries of church life rarely letting anyone especially leaders get close to me). I can now relax thanks to SGM Survivors support and encouragement knowing that a relationship with God is entirely different to a relationship with His human and mistake-prone church.

    I could not have believed I could make peace with SGM here in the UK – a miracle indeed!

    Thank you again and love to all fellow Survivors!!

  • Defended

    Happy Anniversary, Guy, Kris and all our Survivor Friends, and Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

    Kris I think of you as a friend – an honest wise, straight-shooting friend whom God has used, and yes, I think He does have a sense of humor in using you as well as magnificent wisdom in giving you this ministry exactly because you have had no abuse or cause for anger or trauma, so you are uniquely equipped. But thank you for the compliment that any of us would have done the same. Makes me wonder and hope that I am, indeed doing all that God would have me do for the edification of my brethren.

    Our story is posted, overall but the way we discovered this site is that we had no less than 3 people in a single week mention it to us, as a bit of an underground place, that sgm-ers didn’t like, which was a bit of a tip that we might like it or find some understanding there.

    One more thing, if I can use this forum to add a request… Carole, you are also so understanding and compassionate, have you ever posted your story about finding this site and where you were when you first saw Sgmsurvivors? We are gratefull to God for you and Jim also, but I got wondering about you personally finding this site and the validation you have said you received.

  • Rick Malament

    As others have stated, Happy Thanksgiving to you both. This avenue of discussion has been so important to many of us having given us a voice and the opportunity to connect with other like-minded souls. But I am so looking forward to the day when you post your last post and tell everyone that the blog is no longer needed and will be shut down.
    On that day, all rights will be righted and we’ll all be able to move on. Only God knows when that day will be, but because of this blog I believe we’re one day closer.

  • Wina

    Wow! I got out my old journals from a long time ago and reread about my journey of being part of (but always on the outskirts of) the SGM church up to our leaving. I was never at peace….always felt pressure in one way or another…about “having” to go to conferences (but we didn’t always), or my parenting (or obvious lack of good parenting–I never, ever measured up), etc etc. It was interesting to reread this stuff–5 yrs later. Although our story is more like Guy and Kris’–never was there anything overtly wrong with our SGM, just something wasn’t right, couldn’t put my finger on it, just never felt at peace. Our pastor was a good guy, we weren’t mistreated, in fact, one thing I wrote in my journal was that our pastor told us a few times how he trusted our relationship with the Lord! But still…..

    Anyway, I love the rabbit trail the Lord led me on to get me here. I was on a homeschooling group and someone mentioned a baby that had been born with a heart defect and would people please pray. So I did, and then I kept reading this person’s blog and she happened to mention Larry T. And I thought “Oh yeah, Larry T–he was the one who wrote “Clap Your Hands”–I read that after I got saved many moons ago, I wonder where he is today.” So I googled Larry T’s name and saw that he was linked with CJ. I had never known that. So I followed that and came to a blog or something in which Don Baker wrote his summation of how SGM/PDI had morphed into what it was at that time. I actually copied out what Don had written into my journal as I couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t nuts after all!! All my thoughts, ponderings, wonderings, etc. he voiced in a few paragraphs, and OH!!! what relief I felt. I was literally laughing and crying at the same time. The relief was HUGE. Thank you Don Baker!!!! Then it was about a month later that this blog came into view and I’ve been here ever since. I don’t usually post, but I read as I am able.
    It has been 5 yrs since we left our SGM church, we took a few months off after we left just to detox, and when we decided on our new church we took a couple of years to sit in the back pew and wash our brains with the truth. So many times dh and I would look at each other and say “That is 180 degrees different than what (SGM Church) would say.” I am a different person than I who I was when we left. The further away we got from the SGM church the more we were able to see things. LOL, there was more to “see” than I originally thought! Anyway, let me just say that Freedom is a wonderful thing!

    Kris and Guy, Thank you, thank you, thank you. Don’t you love how He leads us in such unassuming ways? The way you both have handled this blog, the people who post here, and Kris– the way you are able to express thoughts and ideas have brought a boatload of healing. Thank you.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    I too am grateful to the Lord for how He has used this site. Kris, I consider you to be one of the most insightful Christian bloggers on the web.

    My big struggle related to SGM for years was the big dogs, not really SGM exactly. We saw Mahaney clearly for what he was eventually, and “left well” with genuine appreciation for the local pastors and their kind farewell to us.

    However, being doctrinally Reformed, Charismatic, Baptist, and complementarian, with a deep love for Piper’s preaching and books as well as Grudem and Puritans and Edwards, etc, needless to say it was very hard. The one and only denomination where we felt like we should fit perfectly, and we finally realized that it was another top down shepherding control freak organization like we had been in during the 70s, with much better doctrine this time around, and as my husband said at last, “we have to get out of here”.

    It is not that hard to deal with wolves and tares- you face up to CJ being a false apostle, get over it, go on. The bible tells us they will be in the church. The Lord led us to a good church right away and we went on with our life. But watching the Gospel Coalition start kissing up to CJ was almost more than I could bear. And Piper, my favorite preacher, seemingly hand in glove with a false apostle. I could not process it either emotionally or mentally.

    This blog has been God’s tool to rip down my putting men on pedestals. I have had to deal with things that I didn’t even think were still there. My walk with God is so much richer now.

    I did start praying over 10 years ago for God to rip down SGM. If you told anybody you were Reformed and Charismatic they immediately said “Oh, SGM, Mahaney’s group”. It was like SGM had captured the entire market on that combination except for the occasional guy like Sam Storms or Grudem. Thousands of young men wanting to be Calvinist and also keep the very real activity of the Holy Spirit gifts today, and the one big mentor was CJ/SGM at all the conferences. Oh I can’t tell you how we struggled in prayer, hub and I both.

    This blog was a godsend, I don’t even remember where I saw it linked. Suddenly we did not feel all alone. It was getting harder and harder to even pray about it; almost like a spiritual force trying to squash us.

    The det docs- wow. Them breaking was just wow. Then that stupid three panel guys report left me cynical…..but AoR was going to solve the problem!! Trained by Sande no less, this was it, the mediators crying as they listened to the stories of abuse. I was shocked when the AoR report came out, shocked. Another pedestal knocked over. Took a long time to get over it. Wondered if Bob Dixon’s vision of the tidal wave was from the Lord. SGM seemed impenetrable.

    Finally, this lawsuit and the move to KY and CLC leaving. Finally. The truth is out there and I think SGM is finished, I really do. You cyber friends have been part of the long journey and the many conversations have been so edifying. I am very grateful to Kris and Guy for all their site work. God bless you. Sorry to be so long winded, too much pecan pie!

  • Stunned

    What everyone else said.

  • Thank you to everyone for your kind words.

    For those of you who haven’t mentioned it yet, or haven’t commented – I would still love to hear how you found us.

  • BrokenHearted

    I was googling SGM one day, for fun. And, it was right after google started filling in ideas for you and when I typed in “is SGM” it said “a cult” and I laughed and was like, “Wow, it’s official now someone is wondering…” and than I started reading and couldn’t stop. It’s been a roller coaster for me, but I can say I am legitimately glad “the blogs” exist and I am grateful for how God has used them in MY life and in general. I really don’t think what is happening in SGM today would be happening, or at least not to the extent it is, without the blogs. :)

  • Nickname

    I had been part of a PDI/SGM church for many years, but had moved on as a church musician, though family members stayed there. I had excused the hurtful situation that had affected me as being not the norm, as “they really didn’t mean it”, as “they wouldn’t have done that to someone on purpose”, and I dared not tell anyone what had happened because I was ashamed for those who had done such, and didn’t want their actions to reflect on the Lord. (Besides, I’d been told by the AUTHORITIES not to tell anyone.)

    Although I had excused them, and had forgiven them, I couldn’t figure out why every time anyone mentioned the latest SGM conference or cd release, my skin crawled — yet I was still recommending them to people. I had never cared for CJ; had found Celebrations to be huge eye-openers about many of their methods and some of the teaching; but ignored the stomach-churning that occurred whenever I thought about them. Because, after all, John Piper liked them and he was a Baptist (which didn’t necessarily impress me) and reformed (which put him in my plus column to some degree.)

    It was actually a friend from my SGM church that had asked me to join Facebook – and I really didn’t know what it was. But I signed up, and within the first week, clicked on a LIKE button for SGM music or some such thing — and then a bunch of other SGM-related things popped up on my screen. I clicked on a couple of buttons, and within a few minutes, I found myself on Jim and Carole’s SGMrefuge site. I started reading, and had two immediate gut reactions: one — I was horrified, and two — I felt like jumping up and down, clapping my hands and yelling, “I’M NOT CRAZY AFTER ALL, AND I’M NOT ALONE!”

    Before the night was over, I had also found Survivors, and began reading here. Up to that point, I had not admitted to myself how deeply I had been affected by the intensity of the SGM experience. Since leaving, God had placed me in a flawed, yet ‘normal’ church, and had begun to wash me with the water of the Word, and when the time was right, directed me here. He began to heal me from damage I had hidden and tried to ignore. So much of what I read here resonated with my own thoughts, but until finding the blogs, I had no framework in which to process that thinking.

    Three years later, I feel completely free, and am no longer scarred by teeth marks from the trap. And the family members that had stayed within SGM for a while have now moved out and moved forward into the freedom of God-given desires for a deeper walk. I was so fearful that they would become ensnared, but I should have trusted their integrity and the background of Bible knowledge that was written on their hearts before we ever heard of PDI or SGM.

    Meanwhile, what I have learned from all this — the SGM experience, my own history and observations, posts from Kris, Jim, PK and others, plus comments from the Survivors — has helped me recognize cult-like behavior in several organizations, and helped at least a dozen friends deal with nightmares in SGM-clone situations.

    Thank you, Lord, for your loving kindness in gently guiding me through the maze; and for leading Kris and Guy into providing this ‘first-aid station on the road to Glory’! Thank you, Kris, Guy, Jim, Carole, and every one of the participants here for being salt and light, for speaking truth in love, and for your tender love of the wounded. For all of you, ‘who faith, before the world confessed — Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest. Alleluia!

  • Uriah

    Guy and Kris,
    I don’t remember how I found my way to this blog site. I think one of my friends urged me to check it out and thought I would be encouraged. When I finished reading the stories at Survivors and Refuge, I had the feeling weary soldiers must have when they think the battle is lost and then suddenly discover there is a whole army of reinforcements standing at their side. Thank you for not going away, for persevering, and most of all, for loving the bride of Christ. It is, and will be, very much worth your efforts.

  • Much afraid no more

    This is a true story: One sunday I wanted to listen to a sgm song on the way to church called “God moves in mysterious ways” I couldnt remember what cd it was on, I had just a little time and didnt want to search my piles of cd’s, so I googled sgm’s website to get to their music link to see what the cd cover looked like, somehow (thank you Jesus) when I went to go to their site, this site came up instead! After church I began reading, and read straight thru for 6 weeks, all my dots got connected and within that year, I was able to take courage and leave after being in for 17years. Thank you Jesus, Your ways are indeed mysterious. Thanks Kris and Guy and Carole and Jim for being lights in the dark.

  • oldtimer

    I was researching sgm about 2 1/2-3 yrs ago and ran across your site.
    I had been out of pdi/sgm for 10 yrs but it was great to realize that I wasn’t the only one. I wish you had been around back then when I thought it was me!

    Thank you!

  • EX IC

    Don’t have a testimony b/c i was never in CLC but was familiar with the church’s roots from back in the late 70’s. As a young believer (1980) at Halpine, would hear the warnings of the “shepherding movement” from the pulpit. The passed down stories of TAG, the mentoring of CJ, the rustling of sheep, the formation of GOB, the excommunication of CPS, and the big lawsuit and name change. Saw fellowships divided and friendships dissolve and was fine with being a 2nd class christian. At least I was free in Christ. To make a long story short, after so many years at IC and being caught up in the hot mess of CPS there, I googled “shepherding movement” among other words, to learn about the whole movemnet’s beginnings. And THAT is how I found SGM survivors. I read your stories and posts quietly, sadder but wiser now. Pray for mercy upon the church. And grace to us who’ve been through the wringer. Peace to all!

  • PhillyInDC

    I found this site because I was a “non”member of CLC. I had been going for a while and something just didn’t seem right about CJ. I felt like he had sinister motives, but I trusted him and the pastors, yet I never became a member. Then one morning as I was doing my morning routine, I had a hunch and googled “CJ Mahaney” and I came across this site. The day? The morning after Brent’s documents were released. I feel like a higher power summoned me to do that search that day and find this site. You probably saved me from making a very large mistake, as I was just starting to think about becoming a member. I stopped attending CLC shortly thereafter, and have since returned to my Catholic routes (sorry lol) and have been attending a Catholic Church not too far from CLC. I find it interesting that I recognize some people in the pews from CLC. Thank you Kris and Guy!!!! I am Thankful for this site!

    On a side note: check out this morning’s Friday Funnies on girltalk. Very hypocritical that they post a picture saying that they “find it funny that all these moms post things on pinterest and I managed to keep the kids alive” while they are pimping their own black friday sale. Will these ladies ever learn?

  • JoyfulandFree

    A friend of mine who had left sgm referred me to this site. I was so torn at first because I knew her situation leaving was terrible, but I blamed that mostly on her soon to be ex.

    I was in for 16 years. I always felt like I didn’t meet the sgm wife mold. I constantly felt like I wasn’t good enough but dug in deeper to look inward at my own sin. I became very dry spiritually. I had caregroup to help me try to figure out what my sin was that kept me in the dry place.

    One of my kids was told he was guilty of unbelief. He told me he wanted to kill himself. The weight of legalism was too much. I knew we needed to get out. The AOR report as unsatisfying as it was to those outside, was even more difficult for me inside to watch the lack of response. I knew that I was guilty of many of the points brought up. Especially over focus on the doctrine of indwelling sin. We started trying out another church and I heard words of love spoken to me again by God. Not condemnation. For my son and myself we could not go back. Thank God my husband agreed.

    God opened my blind eyes and I was able to see how many of my friends who had left had experienced the same things and I couldn’t see it. I was able to reconcile with some and seek their forgiveness. God brought me and my family out and we are doing so much better. I started reading others stories here and was broken to realize I was part of something that had hurt so many people including my own dear children. We are having to change everything about the way we parent and the way we see and relate to God. He has been gentle in His discipline of us and so loving.

    I am thankful for this site and the refuge site as reading your stories is helping to understand my story. To put into words some of the reasons why I always struggled in sgm. Our family still needs to work through the effects of spiritual abuse, to process it all. But reading here has helped me to hear from those of you who have recovered or at least are farther along in recovering. God is faithful, He will restore what the locusts have eaten.

  • I’m so grateful for all the people who were bold enough to share about their experiences. Those stories have helped so many others, especially those who had been thinking they were alone, or crazy, or both.

    The stories also helped me to understand my own vague misgivings and piece things together. I know this probably will sound odd, but rejecting something for no overwhelmingly specific reason can be a little bit stressful. It can make you second-guess yourself and wonder if you did the right thing. Once other people shared about their own SGM experiences, I understood a lot more about what had made Guy and me so uncomfortable at our SGM church.

    One thing about our SGM church that seemed both especially wonderful as well as more than a bit strange was the singleminded unity, the feeling that everyone was “on the same page” about everything. When you first encounter it, it’s amazing – like, “Hey, this is how church is supposed to be!” But when you start thinking it through, you start to wonder how it’s even possible…and then you start to wonder what happens to people who ask too many questions or somehow don’t fit the mold.

    I’ve shared about this before, but one thing that really nagged at us was what we observed in the life of a young man in our care group. While it’s true that most new SGM members are longtime Christians who have come from other non-SGM churches, this particular young man actually joined our SGM church as a new believer. I think he came to know Christ through one of his relatives – who then brought him to our SGM church.

    Anyway, his conversion was really a joy to behold…at least at first. He was so eager, so hungry. Everything was so fresh and clean. His enthusiasm was contagious.

    But then, within just a month or so, it became clear that he was picking up on some “secondary” ideas, ideas that were coming solely from SGM’s culture. Only, despite the fact that he made a lot of statements that made it clear that he was confusing these secondary issues with real biblical mandates, nobody was setting him straight. For instance, he said several things during a care group meeting that clearly indicated he believed courtship was what “true Christians” did, and that any other approach to finding romantic love was spiritually inferior, even sinful. He also alluded in the same way to homeschooling his future children.

    And everyone in our care group, including our leader and his wife, just sat there and nodded and listened to this young man spout this stuff. Nobody gently redirected him to see the choices (homeschooling, courtship) as mere cultural options, and NOT gospel issues. Nobody said anything about his freedom in Christ.

    Guy and I talked a lot about that new believer, and how what was happening with him made it obvious to us that the people at our SGM church must themselves believe that courtship and homeschooling were part and parcel of the gospel. We wondered what would happen to anyone who tried to say something, who tried to question the norm. It didn’t feel like there was ANY room to do so.

  • Whirlwind

    How I found the site…

    I learned of SGM maybe 10 years ago. Amazingly, I agreed with every doctrinal position they took – calvinist, charismatic, complementarian, elder led. However, I wan’t ready to leave my current church for the SGM church. I do try to take my membership seriously and believe I should live through the minor annoyances and problems any church may have. However, about six to seven years after learning of SGM, circumstances led me to look at other church options. I was excited about trying an SGM church. Fortunately, I can say I hadn’t seen any problems within our church that raised immediate concerns, but when CJ stepped down, I did a few Google searches.

    Wow! I don’t remember if I found Survivors or Brent’s documents first, but most of the day was spent reading. Since that day, CJ’s books have come off my shelves and I have struggled to take several of the RBD’s seriously any more. I’m still in an SGM church and figuring out where I’ll end up. I don’t expect my church will even consider leaving SGM. The controversy just isn’t in most people’s minds, but I have grave concerns over our pastor’s seeming inability to see that CJ’s problems aren’t just “ordinary sins”. As I’ve alluded to in previous comments, I think it has something to do with his coming to SGM within the last 5 years and our church not have strong ties to anyone from the A-team of the 1990s. He hasn’t experienced the theological jumps and since he agrees with them, it’s not a major issue for him.

    I’m grateful for the Survivors and Refuge sites. I think it’s worth anyone’s time to read some stories from earlier years (and, sadly, even recent years). I’m constantly challenged when I come here, because I’m forced to think carefully about what’s being said within my church about what’s happening within SGM. I’ve been driven back to Scripture alone to search for answers and I’ve been able to challenge others who may rely more on books they’ve read or sermons they’ve heard than going back to their Bibles.

    To those who are still in an SGM church, keep fighting the good fight. Challenge leadership when they need to be challenged. An to those who have left, thank you for “sticking around” and sharing your stories to encourage those of us who are still in the thick of things.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Guy set up a blog in about 20 minutes, and I put up a couple of posts. I wanted the information about SGM’s history to be available to others who might be sharing our mixed feelings.

    I figured that that would be the end of it. Imagine my shock when, late on Thanksgiving night, after I’d cleaned up the kitchen and put the china away, I checked the blog and discovered that we’d gotten a bunch of hits. A few people had commented, too. How bizarre!

    I was one of those “hits” that fateful Thanksgiving night. Like Kris, I would spend hours searching online for something that would more accurately reflect what I was seeing in SGM. Until that night, all I had ever found was “glowingly” positive. To this day I can still remember how shocked I was to finally find something negative about SGM. I would check the blog every day to see what Kris had posted and what others were saying. I was addicted. I found myself constantly nodding “yes…Yes!…YES!!” to everything that was being said. After two months of reading only, I finally found the courage to comment. I found Kris and the other commenters to be kindred spirits…thus the reason for the name “A Kindred Spirit.” The rest is history.

    Unfortunately I’m not just an “SGM survivor.” I have seen the same cultural oddities, authoritarian/controlling parenting, sin-focus, and shunning techniques in other “Christian groups” for over 30 years now. We observed it among the folks we homeschooled with. We observed it among the folks we “Christian-schooled” with. We’ve observed it in churches other than SGM – solid, doctrinally sound churches within the Presbyterian and Baptist denominations. It’s everywhere, and my family and I have suffered greatly as a result of it.

    My children have been tainted in varying degrees by their exposure to the mess, and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t feel remorseful. My husband and I thought we were bringing them up “biblically.” I have cried many tears on their behalf and I am sure I will cry many more until God restores all that the locusts have eaten within my sweet family.

    I will forever be indebted to Kris, Guy, and the commenters for the role they’ve played in helping me “understand and overcome,” and most of all, for helping me regain the freedom and joy I once had as a Christian before I was exposed to all the extra-biblical and legalistic crap (it’s straight from the pit of hell).

    This blog is so much more than SGM.

    (P.S. Kris, thank you for your friendship behind the scenes.)

  • Ruby

    My husband and I and our children had been going to an SGM church for more than ten yrs. My husband and I decided to visit another (non-SGM) church to hear an eight wk. sermon series the pastor was giving. We had every intention of going back to our SGM church after the series ended, but didn’t. After being in this new church for that short time we knew that it was more like church should be; besides we had been sensing some things over the yrs. about SGM that didn’t seem right….the controlling. It was after my husband and I left our SGM church that I stumbled upon the Survivors blog. I can’t even remember who I heard it from, but someone said to do a google search on “Sovereign Grace Ministries” and “cult” and so I did and I found this wonderful blog. The one thing I read on the blog that really stood out to me was the controlling that goes on in SGM churches.

    After my husband and I had left our SGM church, and after reading the blog, I began to pray that the Lord would bring our kids out of the church who were still there and who were now married to their spouses they had met in the church. They were all seemingly very rooted in the church and very involved there. They eventually came out of the church with a bunch of other church members, and they joined another non-SGM church. As it turned out, our kids had been having some bad experiences at the SGM church and had been becoming more and more disenchanted with its leaders and the church they had once loved so much.

    We had been going to the SGM church when our kids were younger and my husband and I felt that we had lost our kids to the church. We were a new family there years ago, and the SGM church had such an effect on our kids, which we thought was a good thing. We were told that family life and everything should revolve around the church. The church came to control our kids so much that we didn’t see them very much and couldn’t plan to do family things together because they were so involved with the church. We were willing to resign ourselves to things being that way because, after all, didn’t we want our kids to be servants? Didn’t we want them to have good and godly friends? Didn’t we want them to have a passion for care group, accountability and this and that and the other thing? The church was very clever in creating areas to serve in, and so our kids were always on the go and our family life suffered. The church stole the last precious years that we had with our kids at home. And whenever they were at home they were usually planning or preparing for something that had to do with the never ending church activities. I even felt that we, as parents, were snubbed by our own kids at our SGM church…..was it because we resisted being as involved (controlled) as they were in the church?

    Now that our family is out of SGM I think our kids now see it all for what it was. But now I have a different kind of a prayer for one of my kids in particular. I hear that he isn’t going to church very much anymore, and I’ve been seeing indications that he is drifting away from his Christian faith. I pray I’m wrong but I have such a HEAVINESS within me for him. He was once so very committed to studying his Bible, worshiping, and being faithful to the things of God. I believe that because of the disillusionment with SGM he has allowed himself to be spiritually derailed. PRAYER REQUEST! Will those of you on this blog PLEASE PRAY for my son? Pray that the bad experience he had at the SGM church would not cause him to take his eyes off Jesus Christ! Pray that his love for the Savior will not grow cold and that he wouldn’t be indifferent toward the things of God! I would appreciate your prayers very much. Thank you!

  • Mary

    I found you one day by typing in something like the words, SGM cult – LOL – and there you were :o) I wish you would have been online when I first left SGM. It really does help to hear other people’s stories and your comments Kris are very enlightening.

  • If nothing, this blog and Refuge don’t allow SGM Leaders to get away with doing questionable actions as they have in the past. Before the blogs, SGM Leaders could do all kinds of questionable actions with few people knowing what they did. Knowledge of these actions were typically only known by a few people. Now a lot are reported on the blogs. Some examples include:

    – Noel’s story about a 3 year old girl being molested and how poorly the SGM Fairfax pastors handled it including seeming to more care about protecting the molester vs caring for the littler girl and her family.
    – Ex CLCers and Ex ClCers mom’s story. We now know how sadly Gary Ricucci and John Loftness handled a step father molesting his step daughter and how these two pastors cut off support of this poor mother and her large number of kids.
    – Other poorly handled cases of children being molested.
    – Esther’s story in VA Beach/Chesapeake. People now know the sad actions of pastors insisting that a married woman stay with her abusive husband under threat of church discipline.
    – Cases of Steve Shank “shanking” various SGM pastors.
    – One pastor and his wife “treating” a normal weight woman for anorexia even thought the pastor’s wife had no medical training.
    – Gene Emerson lying by withholding information for a long period of time and suffering no consequences or disqualification.
    – C.J. Mahaney’s blackmail of Larry Tomczak and C.J. Mahaney retracting his initial confession and claiming his sins were “ordinary.”
    – Knowledge of Brent Detwiler’s documents and how they showed Mahaney not practicing a lot of what he taught.
    – C.J. Mahaney fleeing CLC after his sin was revealed when in the Mahaney had forced other leaders to stay in their home church and submit to the other leaders there.
    – C.J. Mahaney hiding his son’s sin.
    – C.J. Mahaney’s sin being whitewashed.
    – Dave Harvey changing the rules for disqualifying leaders when he had problems with his own children.
    – Pointing out of all the nepotism that occurs within SGM.
    – SGM Leaders tendency to “ask” people to leave that question or disagree with how things are in the group.

    At least now people know when leaders abuse their power. SGM Member can then decide for themselves.

  • S. Lewis

    To C. J. Mahaney Covenant Life Church October 1996 Circumstances have compelled me to write this letter to you. Since our last encounter I have been plagued by fee
    lings of disgust at the way I let you treat me. Your constant pounding on my shoulders, poking your finger in my chest and puffing up due to your perceived reverence as a “Pastor over 12 churches…..” and being a too busy man demand some response from an less than adequate individual with a less than adequate mind who lives in a world of suffering and not one so pleasant as yours. The Word says: ‘23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift before the altar and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come an offer they gift.’ Yet you choose to defy this at every juncture I try to deal with it. You tell me you don’t have time that you are a busy man. And you also tell me that I am arrogant and I say that I am not but upset and angry that I cannot communicate with you due to YOUR arrogance and sense of self grandeur that you are so popular and important. The only reason I was coming there was because there were people who I thought were my friends, going there and the seemly, abundance of fellowship. But now I realize it was all a cleverly designed, deceptive ruse. You run a circus. The Apostles went to the Synagogues and were taught by the Pharisees, whom Christ called the sons of the devil. So people can be taught even out of the mouth of an ass, like Balaam was. All the while I was trying to speak to you, you made it clear you were uninterested and puffed up and postured in front of me relying on your greatness as a pastor. You told me that you hoped I wasn’t being arrogant, in a threatening tone to me, as if to say if you perceived I was, you would have me removed by your lackeys. Yet you never stopped calling me disrespectful, surrogate names once it became clear I was not a major monetary contributor to your campaign of your quest for greatness. Are you trying to be another Billy Graham? You show one face on stage to tickle the ears of the listeners for money and one on one you show another. One of disdain for individuals who do not fit within your template of people you choose to associate with. You show respect of persons. The Bible says: If a brother or sister be naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 1John 3:17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? SO in essence, you have no love. You are basically a song and dance man. For years I have come to you; Matthew 25:24 Then shall they also answer him, saying Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a strange, or naked, or sick, or in prison and did not minister unto thee? And you have treated me like some base disgusting lout and not a man. I have implored your regard and audience and you have spurned me and treated me heinously. The last time was all I could endure. The name calling, went from “Sir,” to once you felt familiarity and recognition of me, to “Buddy, Pal, Fellah, Guy…” etc. No regard at all. You are a flim flam man and you run a side show for money. You revel in the fact that you are revered, lauded, looked up to and can wag your tongue around in your head to the delight of the hearers. 2Timothy 4:3, For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lust shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; I find no love, no charity coming from you. 1Corinthians 13:1, though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge” and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. You justify your position with your perceived gift of tongues to give you cause to believe you have the Holy Spirit and your ministers seem to gravitate to people who manifest this outward sign and wonder, and ignore those who don’t in your Alpha class. Clearly you have an agenda and it is not Biblical. For the Bible says: Matthew 24:24, For there shall arise false Christ’s, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders’ insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Mark 13:22 , For false Christ’s and false prophets shall rise and shall shew sighs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. The Word says: Hebrews 13:2, Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Yet you treat me with a severe heinous display of disregard. Yet the Word says: 1John 4:20 If a man says, I love God and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not hi brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? I have suffered your abuse and verbal degradation for years to be at a place where my friends were and to fellowship with them, even in their ignorance and I find I cannot tolerate your selfish abuse any more. You treat me with contempt and mock me every time I see you. Act as if I am insignificant and disregard me as a human being. Heathens who know not God treat me better than you do. You are a blight and a weed in the garden of tranquility. You seek the praises of men, clearly you have them. God is not the author of your life and actions, You have your own recipe for how to approach Him and it is through your works that YOU deem appropriate for the time YOU set aside to be allotted as you see fit. Anything that comes in between you and any other time, you address with scorn, disdain, arrogance, pomp, pride, egoism and you gnash upon it with your teeth as you did me in my humility when I came to you. Bragging about how many churches you over see and how I need to go to those under you to have them decide if the matter was worthy of your attention. I once knew of a man who approached you during the Montgomery County Fair with Gods business and you sharply rebuked him saying in my paraphrase, “I am with my family right now and I don’t have time for this.” As you did that first time I met you. You told me you were busy and didn’t have time and told me why don’t I go some place else. You, as a charade of a pastor. And you mock the very idea of basic human decency. To me you are a goat and your stage where you perform a circus. No doubt God can save those who come to Him through the mouth of an ass. So much more the man who is as pompous and arrogant as you are to me. I was accused of writing an angry letter the last time I wrote to you. That was the farthest thing from the truth. But this time I would agree. More like righteous indignation. I know I am no one. I know I am not the great C. J. Mahaney, pastor, author, father and friend to proselytes of hell everywhere? Matthew 23:15, Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. Will ye hunt the souls of my people, and will ye save the souls alive that come unto you? 19 And will ye pollute me among my people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, to slay the souls that should not die, and to save the souls alive that should not live, by your lying to my people that hear your lies? This is what teaching for money means in case your brain isn’t working right now. Ezekiel 13:22 Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life: You are a circus clown of a pathetic man and a perpetual torn in my heart. You, and all the men like you who seek greatness in the eyes of men with money to build everlasting memorials in your name and establish YOUR congregations so you can say, “See? Look what I have done. All this I did for God,” When you do nothing but lay stumbling blocks in front of the feet of men like me. Who doubt and waver, not able to stand due to ignoramuses like you who say one thing and do another and only do good in the eyes of all men to be seen of them but in private are abominable and Titus 1:16 They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate. While you pounded on me, you smiled and stood me against the wall to give the appearance that we were having a nice friendly chat. All the while you scathed me and insulted me. Putting your hand on me against my will and poking me in my chest with your finger while you slapped me on my shoulders. For all points and purposes, you assaulted me. And you put your hands on me against my will, then blew me off to your reverence, said this conversation was over and you turned your back to me to talk to someone else that was new, with a snide smile on your face at the prospect of new money, tithes, coming in to your place to line your pockets and build more Synagogues of money laundering. I am swollen with hate. Hate you have cultivated in me. Hate you have planted. I struggle with is daily and I hate being under this burden. I struggle with trying not to hate you. I am not by any means retaliatory. And this is by no means a letter of threat. You should be so vain as to feel you are suffering for Christ’s’ sake you pompous hypocrite. This is not hate mail. This is my way of finalizing a 26 year ordeal to come in to a place that I had no business being in in the first place. And as far as my friends are concerned, no one is as important as I am going to sacrifice what I know to be grounded and true to have them as a friend. I can do without anyone who agrees with a two face farcical side show, snake oil salesman like you. You have your reward. You are the Reverend, Pastor, Author, Father C. J. Mahaney the great founder of 12 churches and noted Biblical scholar amongst our peers of men of notoriety. World traveler and Oscar Award performance nominee for his weekend antics on stage at his various show houses. But I know the real you. Puppeteer, liar, abuser, money launderer for a pretense making long prayers, abuser of the poor and homeless who come to him bedraggled and needy and sent away because he doesn’t have the time and we have no money. He is about God’s work when the simple fact of the Bible is not straining at gnats and swallowing camels. Not looking for things hard to see in the spiritual realm. But doing with what God gave you. Your surroundings, your community. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit your trust to true riches? 12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own? 2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile rainment 3 and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place’ and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool. 3 Are ye not then partial in ourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? 8 If ye fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well: 9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin and are convinced of the law as transgressors. Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Matthew 15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. Luke 14:12 Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbors. lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. Matthew 23:28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Colossians 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 3John 1:5 Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; Luke 9:48 And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: And whosoever shall receiveth me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great. Luke 12:26 If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? Matthew 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you , Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matthew 25:45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. So let me ask you this. What book are you reading again? And what book do you teach from every weekend? You strain at gnats and swallow camels. Your gut must be huge for you cannot see the man in the mirror at all. I know I am a fool, but what are you? Sincerely Stephan A. Lewis • As of this date, C.J. Mahaney has a 700 thousand dollar home from all the work he has done, ‘for god’. Living lavishly off all his tithes, offerings and books and efforts. {Malachi 3:8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.} { Micah 3:11 The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the LORD, and say, Is not the LORD among us? none evil can come upon us.}

  • Mary

    S. Lewis – I am not surprised at all to read about the arrogant encounter you had with CJ. I saw another pastor at CLC equally angry with someone. The arrogant dismissing high and mighty attitudes from CLC pastors when the bible says…..”not so among you”. Amazing how they think it is ok to be puffed up given the clear teaching of Christ regarding leadership. My how these leaders think they are entitled. So sad. I am sorry for your experience. For sure, it was not as it should be.

  • Debra Baker

    As with others, I did a word search to find this site

  • Persona

    I heard about this site from a couple of friends who left CLC.

    After reading a few testimonies, I was stunned to see how similar the stories were to ours. It was both horrific and comforting, at the same time.

    For more than half our lives, we suffered a boatload of deceit and manipulation and, witnessed even more, from men and women who were supposed to be caring for our souls.

    We will carry the scars for the rest of our lives and, as long as the same pastors are there, I cannot believe CLC will ever be a healthy place.

    But for us, God used this blog and others, to help us see our way out of that insanity. And, He has ‘restored all that the locusts had eaten..’ We are now members of a very healthy church.

    Many thanks to you all, and especially Kris and Guy for your wisdom and sacrifice. You may never know how many people you have helped but, I want you to know how much we appreciate you.

  • Peony

    Longtime reader, post pretty much never, but since you asked…I joined the Fairfax church in 1985. Brent D had just finished ‘rebuilding’ when I started. Through years of serving in various ways, my husband & I interacted with many of the big names. My husband was drawn to being an insider because of the way information was controlled (being an insider was the only way to find out what was going on), but I always felt the need to remain on the outside. I had started to feel a sense of oppression to the point where attending church functions would leave me in a black mood for days. I assumed it was something wrong with me. I was relieved when we went on a church plant, if only because we were getting out of Fairfax. That sense of oppression followed me to the new SGM church, but I continued serving with my husband. In 2010 we were casually wondering whatever happened to Brent. A quick Google search brought up the SGM Survivor and refuge blogs and information about Brent being forced out. We found this interesting, but not terribly important to us at that time due to a health crisis. In 2011 when I received an email from our church that CJ was taking a leave of absence, I could tell they were covering something up. Google brought me to Survivors again. This time I read the stories, and recognized several of them. I knew the victims were speaking the truth because I had known them and had seen some facets of the events as they happened. When Brent released his documents, I read through them. I felt betrayed seeing the hypocritical behavior of leaders we had looked up to. When I got to the part about the blackmail, I was horrified. We discussed the situation as a family and realized we were actually afraid to mention to our pastors that we had read about it. That feeling of fear was a huge red flag to us! So I casually mentioned the documents to a pastor and was told to ignore them since it was just a disgruntled ex-employee. I replied that actually I used to know Brent and there was more to it than that. I asked the pastor if he had actually read the documents. He said no, he didn’t have to read them himself because SGM had sent them an email telling them it was just gossip and slander. The response from our local church just went downhill from there. I continued praying, hoping for a better response, a humility and openness to what God was doing, but when the final reports came out and the leadership declared they were in total agreement with SGM, God clearly spoke to me that it was time to leave. As far as I know, no one else in my church was the slightest bit concerned about the situation. I’m grateful for this blog because it helps me know I am not alone.

  • lily

    We were in between churches. Somehow we received a letter in the mail with the “orbit” logo of SGM on it. Inside was a message of God’s powerful, tender love. I don’t really remember reading the gospel (as I understand it) there, but thought, wow, these folks understand that God’s love is so important to the Christian perspective. I googled SGM, and saw some detracting comments by bloggers down the list on the menu screen. I wasn’t sure what to think, and thought the logo was strange, but that they must have been appealing to the younger crowd by not having the Cross displayed, though I had seen references to “cult” in a couple of the blogs.

    When we visited a SGM church in our area, the people were kind, the lyrics to songs were Biblical and we heard the gospel presented, but didn’t realize at the time that their definitions of some essential doctrines were not what we as long time Christians, had believed. However, that sense of inclusion and the seemingly solid teachings at the time, lulled us, so to speak, even though I had that nagging feeling about a year later, that some important things might be “off” in doctrine and practice, and had stopped reading the Bible regularly. Then six months later, came a doctrinal bombshell that broke my heart and drove me to start thinking critically again, start cross-referencing Scripture again, reading for context and numbers of verses which supported or refuted teachings. I wanted to leave but my husband was loving being there, so, I turned to the Lord, like I should have done, and I also re-visited these blogs. About a year and a half later, my husband and I both left on good terms, and have since found a solid but more balanced congregation.

    The blogs truly helped me during that waiting period. I realized that they had been warning, not “gossiping and slandering”, and that what I had personally seen and experienced was not isolated. Partly due to the Lord working through Survivors, Refuge and Spiritual Tyranny, I’ve gotten back to where I was when the Lord first revealed Himself to me, the day I received Him as the Lord and my Savior. That sense of peace, joy, freedom and agape love are continuing to flourish in the simplicity of Christ and faith in His grace. I think God had us go through the time to grow and teach us. I do believe that SGM is Christian, but I would not recommend it as a denomination. I see some good values and some orthodox beliefs being taught, but I do not think of it as a healthy place, emotionally or spiritually, for several reasons. Thank you in Him, Guy and Kris!

  • Wow

    I had just joined the CJ Mahaney fan club on Facebook. Someone posted a link to this site, and i came here and read the stories. I couldn’t believe it when I discovered I wasn’t alone. I had failed to meet the standards. My entire family had failed. I thought it was just us. :-)

  • Recovering Pharisee

    It’s bizarre how similar each story is. I’ve heard it said that the devil likes to convince us when in places of despair that “I am the only person experiencing this.”

    Like most who have tried to leave a SG church on good terms and were basically not allowed to leave, I too went through a long period of questioning the things I was seeing and experiencing, feeling in my gut something was way off, but second guessing myself and constantly feeling guilt for even considering leaving. This blog was helpful in seeing that my experience was not atypical.

    Then there was the whole mess of actually leaving, being threatened and told my reasons for leaving were not biblical, then being shunned by nearly everyone when I did leave.

    My story is much less overtly dramatic than many shared here, and yet still it has been traumatic and deeply emotional. Some wounds will take years to heal, I’m sure. Learning to trust another church again will be awhile. Joining another church again will probably never happen.

    In hindsight, and as time goes on, more and more of what was amiss is painfully obvious. But until you make the leap and jump ship, it is SO much more difficult to see clearly. All of the subtle and not so subtle rules have all kinds of lingo to sound “biblical” and “gospel centered” to the point that, as someone else has mentioned, you start equating the extra teaching with the gospel and it all becomes one big muddled “gospel” mess.

    I, like the new believer Kris mentioned, was among those who got saved at a SG church. It only took a few months to become indoctrinated and start learning all of the other “gospel” things that I needed to conform my life to. It’s embarrassing to remember some of the judgmental things I blurted to my Christian friends outside the SG bubble as a new believer as though they were nonnegotiables. One I still remember clearly was reading Carolyn Mahaney’s book Feminine Appeal and concluding that it is a sin to stay up late or sleep past 5 am. Shoot, if that’s true, I have no hope and never had! I actually told a friend that she needed to examine her heart if she was up until a certain hour, that she was probably being selfish and not trusting God.

    I’m thankful for this forum helping me detox and gain footing again. It’s beautiful to read stories of those who were close to suicide, others who have felt done with Jesus, whose faith has gradually been renewed as they’ve learned they actually aren’t alone.

  • Sick With Worry

    My story is almost identical to the one put forward by Kris and Guy. It is funny that they mention John MacArthur because I actually bumped into CJ at MacArthur’s church. I was out there on business years ago, had some spare time, and there was CJ at a conference. Like Kris said, this gave me a certain comfort level. I was also frustrated with my own church’s lack of accountability and expository preaching, and SGM seemed to get these issues right.

    I did not experience any “abuse”, and we have indeed benefitted from our SGM church. I want to be clear about that point…. if you are reading here and think there is something wrong with you because you are growing in your SGM church…. I understand. I was not a new Christian and I grew in my SGM church. But, the ambiguous polity and blind loyalty of the long-timers struck me as rather odd. When I heard a story four years ago about a woman at church inviting another man into her home to spank her children while her husband was out of town, that is when I got curious and discovered Survivors.

    The child abuse stories and resulting lawsuit shared here are horrific and the SGM “leadership team”, or whatever they are called, should be fired. I hope justice is served and if retirement funds are emptied, then so be it. But, for the most part, I think a lot of the SGM pastors have been trained in the SGM vacuum and can either be better equipped or replaced. I may be the oddball on the forum because my gut tells me that the churches can be salvaged. Nonetheless, real change is hindered because they just recycle the same people over and over.

    I am in a unique position here in the northeast (PA) in the sense that my business connections have given me close relationships to leaders and members in churches like CLC, CFC, Reading, Souderton, Corning and Cherry Hill. I can attest to the fact that there are some good pastors in these churches, but the Lord will not fully use them until they step up and lead on their own. Some of it is fear about their paycheck, and some is sincere loyalty. I have heard a lot of stories from Pastors and families about “how much Dave Harvey invested in me” or “how many hours Aaron spent with me”. I actually believe these men when they tell me this….. but I think their loyalty has become passivity, and they do not recognize it as such.

    While I know they are not the same, I tend to blur the lines between business management church polity…. not so much process-wise, but how people deserve to be treated and how you develop new leaders. I find it hard to have significant career responsibility during the week, and then watch SGM screw up on so many fronts. This is what finally drove me nuts!!! I cannot turn my brain off on Sunday or Care Group night and respect men that get away with missteps that would get me fired. I know there is some pride in my own heart, but where I come from the pastors and the congregation help each other. Keep in mind that I agree 100% with elder rule, but there is something jacked up about the way that SGM does it. We all make mistakes, but when it comes time to “speak truth into their lives”, or offer a different point of view, the pastors I know keep running back to Aaron, Prater, CB, Diamond Dave, etc… They totally miss the good men they have right in their own congregations.

    I have learned to look at it this way. I came to my SGM church with strengths from my work experience and being raised in a Christian home. I also brought weaknesses – pride, temper, and other “Respectable Sins”. Over time, my SGM church really helped me with these issues and my family benefitted. In short, my SGM church has strengths that helped me with my weaknesses. But, when it came time for me to use my strengths to help my church’s (SGM’s) weaknesses, there was no opportunity to do so. It was all one way, and I felt like my gifts were being squandered. So, for me, I just came to the conclusion that I needed to move on to where I can grow, and help others grow. I want to be use the gifts that the Lord gave me.

  • Sick With Worry

    BTW – I said a lot in my last post and there are probably a couple pastors or care group leaders that can figure out who I am…. so be it. I would go on here with my own name but I still enjoy a lot of these friendships and it is not my goal to hurt anyone or share confidential info. I am certainly not fearful of getting into the front passenger seat of a car either. “Leave the gun, grab the ESV”, so to speak.

    But – I will say this. I think about this A LOT!! Tim Shorey is a gem of a man, as far as I know. He is a great role model and I think of him often when confronted with temptation or in a quarrel. Not sure how much he is getting roped into the SGM system now. But, he was never a real SGMer as far as I can tell. I only hope that Tim’s recent “promotion” is a sign of reform in SGM, and not a sign that he took a couple favors in return for his loyalty. In my opinion, he is one of the SGM pastors that could pastor anywhere, any time.

    To Tim Shorey – please read this!! Or someone please send this to him:
    I do not know what is going on…… but if you are doing this because you think SGM needs you, then God bless you and I wish you success. THEY DO NEED YOU! I want to celebrate this change with you and pray for you. If, however, you are doing this because you think you need SGM in the slightest, then please realize that the Lord can use you anywhere, and you should be in a local church, caring for local people. There are people somewhere that you can love for the rest of your years. People that will love you back, people that will love you as you grow old and love that will bear fruit for eternity. That is how pastors and congregants live together in community…. not this SGM mess. Please, do not abandon local church ministry in exchange for some kind of safety net.

  • “Sick With Worry” said,

    Keep in mind that I agree 100% with elder rule, but there is something jacked up about the way that SGM does it.

    It’s jacked up because the term “elder” within the SGM system has historically not meant what it means in the rest of the Christian world. In a “normal” church, “elder” typically means a mature, longtime believer whose leadership qualities have been recognized in some fashion by the other members as a group. In the rest of the Christian world, it is unusual for an elder to not have been selected by the congregation, usually through a congregational nomination and voting process.

    In an SGM church, however, “elder” has typically meant paid staff pastor, unless the church is small and cannot support a plurality of paid staff pastors. In those situations, there will be elders who are from the congregation and not employed by the church, but they will be – wait for it – selected by the pastor himself, or in their positions because the pastor approves of them. In other words, the congregation has no control over the selection process. The pastor does.

    While it is true that abuses of power can happen even in churches with a congregational form of government (for which I’m not necessarily even advocating, by the way), the way SGM approaches elders seems almost guaranteed to result in a serious lack of accountability to the majority of the church congregation. When a church is controlled solely by paid staff pastors, especially considering the bossman role that the senior pastor typically plays, it doesn’t really matter if these guys are called “elders” or board members or whatever – they’re going to be basically compelled to agree with whatever their boss wants. By definition, he is their authority. They will need, ultimately, to submit to their authority. So how much true accountability can there be?

    We can see how this structure plays out when we look at what has happened to CJ Mahaney himself. For a long time, whenever I’d wonder aloud about whether or not CJ actually has to answer to anyone, I would always be assured by one reader or another that CJ has a circle of accountability partners who all hold him accountable. And on a formal level, he answers to the rest of the SGM board.

    But of course, how that worked out in reality was that CJ did what he wanted, and if anyone (like Brent Detwiler) tried to question him, they were either blown off – with vague flowery “my dear brother” lingo – or ignored, or (if the person persisted, like Brent did) eventually sidelined. Gotten rid of. They all knew they had achieved their positions because they had demonstrated deference to CJ. Many had even trained themselves to become CJ clones. He was the man on top. So there can really be no accountability.

    And the people, the ordinary members whose donations bankroll the whole enterprise? They have no say whatsoever. None. There is no way for them to have a voice unless their pastors grant them one. (That, by the way, is one of the things that still nags me about the fact that CLC members are going to be allowed to vote on the question of whether or not to remain in the SGM organization. The CLC members never got a say in whether or not they could vote. They only got this voice because their pastors decided to give it to them. Their pastors still retain ultimate control over the process.)

    So…that’s a long and rambling way to say that SGM’s approach to “elders” feels different because it is different. The elders are selected by those above them rather than by the ordinary members. So the elders only answer to those above them. Accountability only flows upward.

    That’s what’s wrong.

    (Not to mention how deceptive it is for SGM churches to describe themselves as being “governed by a plurality of elders,” when what they really mean is that their paid staff pastors make all the decisions.)

  • This is probably obvious to a lot of you, but I feel the need to add to my #39 that it is extremely difficult to provide real accountability for your boss. If you know someone can fire you, how hard would it be to hold his feet to the fire and put your own job in jeopardy? How much easier would it be to just “go along to get along”? Especially when deference to authority is called “humility” within SGM and celebrated as the highest Christian virtue?

    It’s got to be especially difficult for the guys (“elders”) who don’t really have any other quick career options…which of course is true for most SGM pastors.

    SGM’s accountability structure is crazy and practically guaranteed to produce no true accountability for the men at the top.

  • Persona

    Kris 40

    You are dead right. A close friend of mine got into the most trouble of his long tenure with CLC, when he asked a pastor if it was challenging for him to disagree with any pastor who had direct authority over his employment (yearly reviews and pay). That guy (who now lives in L’ville) became red-in-the- face-angry at the insinuation that he, or any pastors at CLC could somehow be less than totally objective…that they were, daresay…human?

    I firmly believe, the most significant error in SGM, is their doctrine of pastoral authority. It has to be the most lethal tool they possess. By it, they can do most anything they wish, and, in fact, they have, for more than thirty years.

    And, guess what? It is the one tool, CLC pastors insisted on retaining in their little tool box on Muncaster Mill Road.

  • Stunned

    During the first year of sgmsurvivors (or survivors, I suppose), my friend, also an exSGMer, sent me a link to this site and suggested I read here. The last thing I wanted to do was even think of Sovgracemin / SGM. It was too painful to even consider.

    A few weeks later she brought it up to me, again. Once again, it was too painful to even consider. I wanted NOTHING to do with reading anything written by Sovgracemin or anyone who was ever associated with it.

    Shortly after that I went on a trip to New Mexico by myself. I had never gone off into the desert by myself and found the idea odd, but for some reason, I decided that that was what I was going to do with my vacation time that August. I was staying in a single room in a hostel. I found myself with some down time and decided that they only way to keep my dear friend from asking me to visit that sgm site again, was to just go read a tiny bit of it and be done with it for good. (Never again would I have to hear about SovGraceMin /SGM!)

    I lay on the wonky bed in that warm little room in the desert and found the website. I began to read. And I began to cry. And weep. And weep and weep and weep. I was not alone. I was not crazy. It wasn’t just me whom these horrible things happened to. It wasn’t just some odd incident. Other people saw the things I saw. Other people experienced the same things I experienced.

    I sat and read and cried and cried and read for hours and hours. Then days. It was such a time of healing.

    It seemed to me that God had sent me to the desert so I could be alone and read and rest and heal. Or start to heal.

    I was sure I’d never actually write anything on that sgmsurvivors site. But at least I could read and discover it wasn’t only me. (I think my “not writing” lasted a few days at the most.)

    I know this page is not all about a thanks to Kris and Guy but I can’t help but add that. I know it has cost you in time, money and worse of all, months and years of ugly attacks and accusations from those who don’t understand, from those who are frightened of the truth. Thank you for soldering along, despite the attacks. Thank you for loving so many of the people who have written to you behind the scenes, protecting their privacy and identities so that truth can be written, freely, without fear of reprisal.

    I am glad for you and all those who have had the courage to share parts of their stories.


  • lily

    I realized that the vague synopsis of my personal observations, experience and eventual deliverance from SGM which I posted above, did not include any emotions other than the words, lulled and broken heart. What Peony posted just prior to me, regarding fear, and the feeling of oppression, were also very attendant for about 2 years after I first realized some things weren’t right, weren’t as they were being portrayed to be in our church, though after reading the blogs for months during the waiting period and after we left, I believe the SGM we were in, was probably “moderate”, compared to others. The fear of being found out and condemned for my disagreements with doctrine and practice, even persisted for a few months after we left, another reason the blogs have been vital. If any current SGMers reading here are experiencing that sense of fear or oppression, please know that they are also huge red flags from the Holy Spirit.

  • Persona

    Lily 43

    We can be encouraged that God keeps all our tears in a bottle…and he will ultimately hold Sovgracemin accountable.

  • Just Watching

    I found this site through a google search. I was looking for some additional info about SGM and was stunned to find this site and Refuge. I began to read. Could what I was reading actually be true? I asked a friend of mine if she knew about this site and she did. I kept reading periodically and when certain things came to light, I would come to the blogs for information. Heaven knows you don’t get information (or transparency) at church. And win the DetDocs came out, this site, Refuge, and later Nation, were the places to get for information.

    Kris, what I appreciate most is that you keep a level head and are careful in the words you choose. While you do not shy away from controversy, you do not throw gas on a burning fire. Thanks for that. And thank you for the freedom you give to those who are hurting, questioning, are angry, and have no where else to go. Thanks for pointing us back to Jesus.

  • Christopher

    I believe I found this site when searching for information on emerging cults. I never was involved in an SGM church, but back in the late 1990’s was involved in another church that exhibited cult-like behavior similar to SGM. That experience led me to study about other “fringe” Christian groups. I have considered my study of other groups to be part of my healing process; this has also helped me assist others who are seeking to exit spiritually abusive groups by identifying current trends and techniques used by leaders in these groups.

    Thank you, Kris & Guy, for having this site. Not only for those who have exited or are thinking about exiting SGM, but also for those who are considering joining, and those like me who study spiritual abuse both professionally and as laypeople. An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure if it means preventing the abuses that have been discussed on this site.

  • Bill Chaney

    I heard of this site in a SGM pastor’s meeting. It was labeled as a bunch of bitter whiners. I was intrigued and continued to read. The bitterness and anger was evident, but underneath the emotion was another reality which I had seen in my experience as a SGM pastor. The mind-control and authoritarian heavy-handedness was real. I passed it off as a biblical way-of-doing-things, but after a while things became hard to reconcile in my mind. Within a year I was de-gifted and that was that.

    There are levels of “secret handshakes” as you move up the chain in SGM. If you can distort your conscience, for whatever reason, and embrace the various”handshakes” then you can move up the chain. If your conscience gets in your way, you will either have to keep your mouth shut or you’re out. It was hard for me to keep quiet.

  • Persona

    Bill Chaney 47

    Exactly! Our conscience got in the way too and, it was ‘their way or, the highway’ for us.

    Amazing, how predictable their mode of operation is, isn’t it?

    I am so glad you are on the outside, now.

  • Unassimilated

    I was tracking comments and post that were critical of SGM. Just about every one of them would disappear within a week or two. Why? Because Thought I was loosing my mind. I started seeing things with SGM leadership behind the scenes that did not seem right. Because on the few occasions I asked about certain ‘handshakes’ if you will, there was always a bizarre non sequitur response. (I like the term you used Bill) The original site was something I had copied and bookmarked thinking it would disappear like the others. Yet it remained… Then it started to grow, and my life, and what I was experiencing came into better focus with each read.

    There was something amazingly liberating when I discovered that…”I’m not the only one!!”

    Persona, CLC Pastors are keeping the authority tool in their box of tricks?? Did I read that right?

  • Ozymandias

    I’ve been reading Survivors for the last five years because I couldn’t — and still can’t — be loyal to anything about which I never hear anything negative.

    I’d assert that this site is a big reason my church — FFX — is healthier today.

  • Blues0080

    I found out about this site a couple of years ago through a couple of former members of my care group that I had reconnected with on Facebook. Although I hard left sgm in 1997, I started seeing attitudes and things in my life that I had let become a part of my life through the 16 years I had been at clc and at abundant life (now sov grace Pasadena). The more I read, the more my heart became sick about attitudes I had assimilated from sgm. Reading here has resulted in a lot of self examination and contacting former members of my cg at clc and skiing forgiveness. I’m grateful that God has used this site and refuge to expose attitudes in my own heart.

  • Persona

    Unassimilated 49

    Yes, the ‘elder led’ part of the slogan of their polity reserves the same level of control CLC pastors have always enjoyed. The fact that they allow members to ‘affirm’ their initiatives and decisions, not withstanding. Control clearly continues to loom large in their MO.

    Evidence of this is that they prefer members to pose questions solely to pastors, whether on blogs or scheduled chats over coffee. I wonder how many other churches have senior pastors with the time and inclination, to answer members’ questions on the church blog? Josh apparently does.

    Our new pastor doesn’t and the reason he would not even think of doing so is because he doesn’t need to. No one looks to him for all the answers. In fact, if one of the pastors detects a member is looking for that to happen they push the question back so the member will rely more on the Holy Spirit, than the pastor. That is what a healthy church looks like.

    Why would members need to ask so many questions anyway if everything was made plain in the first place? Why do they need this kind of feedback from pastors and, why can’t they ask anyone else in the church for the answer?

    When we wanted to know anything about our new church, we got easy answers from any member we asked. Not one person referred us to a pastor. It took me awhile to even figure out the name of the pastor because no one ever mentioned it. That is how I knew I wasn’t in SGM anymore and that is also what a healthy church looks like.

    No secrets, no special classes of humans, no walls or, special blogs needed. Everything is visible for all to see, even to non-members.

  • OutOfStepford

    My story is very similar to Kris and Guy’s story. Things seemed fishy to my husband and me for awhile, but we just assumed WE were crazy, since everybody else seemed so happy. We found this site 4 1/2 years ago through a link placed in the comments section of post written on another blog (by an SGM member), which was arguing that SGM is not a cult. I clicked on that link and stayed up all night reading every post here-completely shocked at the stories I was reading! Yet, reading each story and each comment here has given me such relief. I’m not crazy. God brought us out of our former SGM church, but many of our family members and friends are still there. I don’t know how to talk to them about this…it’s the elephant in the room that sadly keeps growing and growing. There’s not much to say about it other than it really stinks and I ask God daily to open blind eyes and deaf ears. Also, I thank Him as often as I can for this site and others like it. Each of you reading and posting here have played a major part in pointing us to God’s Word (and a little common sense), which has set us free!

  • Unassimilated


    Well that’s no good for SGM members looking for change. So the polity hair CLC is splitting with SGM is congregational affirmation?

    The sad thing is, for those still plugged into the kool aid, this all must feel like sweeping change. Its really just
    new affirmation rules, and the departure of CJ though. That is if I am following what is going on.

    An honest, transparent church? I am at the point where I think being mauled by a yeti, or a wookie, is a more likely future for me.
    Still much more work needs to be done before I could walk into a church. I am glad to know that you have located one,
    and I hope and pray that you will thrive there.

  • lily

    Unassimilated, I do know how you feel. After 40 years of being a believer, and most of that time spent in churches, I was so ready to throw in the towel after SGM. I would have been happy to stay in prayer and reading the Bible and para ministry. Actually, SGM was just the “cherry on top of the icing on top of the cake”, or the straw that broke the camel’s back. But that must have been what I needed, because I started putting Jesus back on the throne in my heart instead of church, people, leaders, doctrine. We are the Church, and He is the Head! He used the whole progression of mal-events to get me to a place where I recognized the validity and importance of being in a church community, without caring what they think of me, without feeling like I have to be on their same page, while keeping an open mind to the truth He wants to reveal in the new congregation we’re in, and how He would use me there. God knows, and He is faithful. Keep lookin’ up, Unassimilated, and God bless!

  • lily

    Unassimilated, also meant to tell you, I could have bust my gut laughing, to realize that CLC would think that breaking with SGM, including “congregational affirmation”?, would be considered “sweeping change”! Lord, have mercy.

  • WiseAsSerpentsMeekAsDoves

    Was on FB. Saw a posting on Brent Detwiler’s profile that alluded to the Fairfax Family meeting (the infamous one last year). Listened to Mark Mullery talk about Noel’s story and I googled it. Arrived here. Years of having done homeschooling, Bill Gothard, etc. and listening to tapes by Larry and CJ (passing them around to other friends) and becoming suicidal from guilt because of following the parenting mandates, the therapeutic-nonsense teachings, along with legalism and hypocrisy. Thought I was quite insane, not to mention being the worst sinner I knew and believed I did not deserve the air that I breathed. Then this site. I have mostly perused here and have spent the last year and a half working through issues that I could never put my finger on. I understand more each day, and have appreciated hearing so many different people on here with similar experiences who are also becoming free. I used to be so mad; now I feel grieved- for myself, my family, and for the multitudes. I will never understand why I “bought in” to what was being taught. I cannot undo what was done, but I sure as heck can go forward now and “sin no more”.

    Thank you, Kris and Guy. I don’t think I could have come this far in the renewing of my mind had this site not been here. Yes, sometimes folks have sinful communications (quotes from SGM pastors and AoR about this site.) But if you take away how some things are being said and look at WHAT is being said, the facts still remain. That is what AoR should have done-looked at the substance, not the delivery.

  • Happymom

    Wow, Ozymandias,

    #50??? Really? Healthier today? Explain the Family Meeting and that fact that your “Healthy” church is in the lead for child sex abuse cases, all of them unresolved, unreconciled? Your insensitive and thoughtless comment points to the fruit of Mullery’s great “shepherding.”

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Unassimilated, I totally understand how you feel! I can say, while I am still guarded and watching, it is refreshing for me to a Sunday meeting with people who have not even heard of Sovereign Grace Ministries, or CJ or Larry! Bibles are supplied at every seat, and the preacher not only provides an outline of his sermon in the bulletin, and uses Scripture throughout the entire sermon, but the Bible verses are also projected on an overhead screen! I listen closely, and he never directs or commands, but rather shows you Scriptures, and encourages you to spend time allowing God to show you how to apply that to your life. He even spoke once about ‘slander’, describing it in such a way that it actually made sense-not the ‘cover up command’ used so frequently by SGM leaders. the I haven’t ‘joined a small group’ yet-I am taking this very slowly. I realize, I distrust my own judgement concerning a church almost as much as I distrust a church. This site has brought me to a lot of soul searching as well. Realizing misconceptions that I had just accepted, and working through so much emotional junk…Kris and Guy, thank you, for your faithfulness! And, thank you, to all the posters here, who have been bold enough to take the time to write and discuss. Sometimes, it is not easy to revisit and put into words things that were not pleasant, or seem confusing, but in doing so, a good purpose is being fulfilled.

  • WASMAD said,

    I used to be so mad; now I feel grieved- for myself, my family, and for the multitudes. I will never understand why I “bought in” to what was being taught.

    You know, I think you (and anyone else who feels this way) should cut yourself a little more slack. While yes, we can look back and shake our heads at our gullibility and stupidity for not seeing things for what they were, I also think that it’s easy to be lured into the SGM mindset. I think SGM leaders are very good at marketing themselves and their teachings, to the point where it’s easy to succumb and buy into what they sell.

    Years and years ago, CJ and his followers created a culture that used their own apparently successful lives as a product. It was no secret that CJ wanted SGMers to have the “best” marriages and the “best” families. So SGM pastors placed a great deal of emphasis on how to do this. CJ and his henchmen wrote (and sold) books. They held classes. And they used the totalist methods and social structure to institute their ideas quickly, across the board.

    One piece of their marketing strategy involved responding to – or seeming to respond to – a crisis. People are always a lot more pliable and willing to be led during a crisis. So as CJ was building his empire in the 1980s, a lot of the marriage and family principles and strategies that came out back then were in response to the crisis – real or imagined or a mixture of the two – of the disintegrating family.

    And that crisis, that message, resonated with a lot of the people who were attracted to SGM churches in the first place. I know it bugs some people when I make sweeping generalizations, but it nonetheless seems to me that a significant majority of early SGMers came to their SGM churches because they were dissatisfied with what the status quo had to offer. They were disillusioned with church as usual, or whatever their families of origin had given them. Many (most?) early SGMers also came out of dysfunctional families, where they were desperate to avoid the mistakes their own parents had made. They were desperate to do things “right.”

    Enter CJ and his henchmen, with their wives (who’d all been trained to gaze adoringly at them) and their instantly obedient children. Naturally they had a ready-made platform from which to dictate ideas and procedures for how to have the “best” families and marriages. They all looked like they were doing it exactly right.

    When you factor in all the layers of social pressure within an SGM church like CLC, it’s easy to see how so many people set aside their instincts and bought into what their leaders were telling them. SGM has a longstanding tradition of public affirmations for those who submit. SGM also has a longstanding tradition of using negative reinforcement (ignoring, shunning) or outright punishment (church discipline) to penalize those who don’t get with the program.

    Moreover, there were many elements of what they taught that weren’t necessarily wrong. That’s a huge piece of this, too. It’s not necessarily wrong, for example, to think that kids should obey their parents. It’s not wrong, either, to believe that at least some of our natural inclinations might be tainted with sin.

    SGM ran with that and taught that all of our natural inclinations are likely wrong. People were trained to second-guess themselves in everything.

    Given all this – the shining examples of leaders, their overt teachings (that if you just do what they do, you too can have what they have), the systematic pressure to conform, the fact that a lot of what they taught had good mixed in with the dysfunctional, and the indoctrination to distrust all one’s own natural inclinations – it makes total sense that otherwise smart, thinking people would fall in line with what their SGM leaders were telling them to do…even if what they were being taught ended up being extreme and harmful.

  • Sgmnot

    I found Sgmsurvivors because a friend still in CLC mentioned the blogs inadvertently to me a few years back. I read here once, but really didn’t want anything to do with SGM, just wanted to keep that part of my life in the past! However, when we found out about CJ stepping down in July, 2011 like so many current and former SGM members, I immediately went online to find out about the BD docs and then started reading here and at Refuge. In that process, wow, my eyes were opened by so many commenters and Kris’ posts!! I finally had words for what I had felt after leaving CLC. It is so difficult and painful to detox from a spiritually abusive system; to sort through what had happened to me for over 20 years. THAT was the first few weeks of reading and commenting here…then I read the other stories of sex abuse cover-up and my world was rocked AGAIN, and well, the rest is still unfolding…One thing I know for sure is that this venue (what I consider a huge, online Care Group!) has brought so much revelation to me and is NOT a bunch of “angry and bitter people gossiping and slandering” online as it was inferred to me, when I first accidentally heard about “the evil blogs”! Thank you Kris and all my online brothers and sisters!

  • As I was writing my #60, I was somehow reminded of an old post from 2008, where I wrote some commentary on an interview with Mickey Connolly. My commentary gets a little sarcastic in places (consider yourselves forewarned!) but it’s still interesting to note the way an SGM leader promotes SGM’s approaches to youth ministry and family. You can see how the interview questions were set up to manufacture a crisis of sorts and then feature SGM’s methods as the “biblical” response to that crisis. I think it’s worth a read if you don’t remember it. Here’s the link:

  • Bridget

    I first read at Survivors 4-5 years ago. Someone mentioned that anti-SGM blogs existed and I was curious to read what they had to say. I read on Survivors one evening, but couldn’t get very far. It seemed ther was much anger and biterness and I was not in a place in my own life where I could wade through it all. I pretty much dismissed the blogs. Fast forward 4 years . . . we were told that Brent’s docs were coming out. We weren’t told to read them or not read them. I was curious to know what he had to say as I had been wondering for some time what had happened to Brent. From my view, he had simply fallen off the face of the earth. When I started reading his docs, I also started reading the blogs and making many connections with my own experiences and happenings in the world of SGM. Watching the public interactions of SGM over the past 18 months has been very enlightening, though extremely sad. Likewise, it has been difficult to see the effects that SGM doctrines and teachings have had on so many Saints. I must also say that the past 18 months has opened my eyes to much in Christendom — healthy and not so healthy. Thanks Kris and Guy for your efforts in bringing light to shine in the darkness!

  • Earlier, “WASMAD” said this about the blogs:

    Yes, sometimes folks have sinful communications (quotes from SGM pastors and AoR about this site.) But if you take away how some things are being said and look at WHAT is being said, the facts still remain. That is what AoR should have done-looked at the substance, not the delivery.

    I’ve always found the “sinful communications” charge to be sort of bizarre. I mean, yes, I understand there are biblical commands about how we say what we say, or whether to say something or not. But I’ve never understood why anyone would discount the truth of what someone says simply because they don’t like the way the person said it.

    This would especially be true for an organization like Ambassadors of Reconciliation. As professional reconcilers, you’d think it would be a no-brainer for them to understand that when people have been hurt, sometimes they are angry – and sometimes they communicate that anger in less-than-gracious, less-than-Christlike ways. But (and again, you’d think a group like AoR would know this) there is still often truth in less-than-gracious words. There is often truth in words said in anger. Sometimes, there can even be more truth in words spoken in anger, as the angry person’s normal filter is less active and you’re able to hear what they really and truly think about a matter.

    So when SGM leaders – and later, the professional AoR reconcilers – were so quick to discount and even belittle what they learned from people who didn’t say things just the way they wanted them to be said, that made no sense to me. Truth is truth. I can imagine the Pharisees in the New Testament didn’t like being told they were a brood of vipers. I imagine they thought Jesus was being less than gracious in His speech. But their dislike of Jesus’ style did not take away one bit of the truth, which is that they were a brood of vipers.

    So yeah, we should strive to be gracious in saying what we say. But sometimes I think SGM’s (and even AoR’s) harping on this graciousness thing as some sort of test of credibility is just another way of trying to keep people from being exposed to the truth. Truth is truth, no matter how it is conveyed.

  • Wow

    Today at church we studied about Matthew 6, the section about not worrying. When Jesus said to look at the birds of the air, and went on to ask, “Are you not worth more than these?” it was actually a revelation to me. WOW, I’m worth more than the birds. And birds eat worms. Therefore, I’m not a worm!

  • Here’s an announcement:

    Bob Dixon will in Gaithersburg, Md. on Saturday Dec. 8th in order to meet with people individually in order to determine if they would like to participate in a local Support Group. Anyone interested please go to and click on the November Newsletter link for more information.

  • Argus

    Unassimilated #54 said

    Well that’s no good for SGM members looking for change. So the polity hair CLC is splitting with SGM is congregational affirmation

    I appreciate the idea that CLC is wrestling its way through what seem to them like huge major changes.

    And I do agree that even ‘allowing’ the congregation to ‘affirm’ what they’re told is a scary big departure from the past.

    (BTW, notice how that term ‘congregation’ still impersonalizes, categorizes by lesser role, and distances, as compared to members, believers, brothers and sisters, etc.?)

    Anyway, it seems to me that the far bigger sticking point for CLC is not the pastors authority over the congregation, but SGM’s claim to authority over the pastors.

    In SGM world, believers aren’t members of SGM. No, churches are members of SGM. And pastors leading churches are synonymous with the churches since they are functionally autocratic downward to ‘their’ congregations.

    But SGM is the corporation and pastors are the clients.

    Individual believers? I guess they are just the commodity that SGM proposes to help deliver and manage.

  • Former CLC'er

    A friend who used to attend CLC told me about this site about 3 or 4 years ago. However, I left CLC in 2000 and at that time, after hanging out with ex-members and having conversations that would turn bitter or unproductive, I just had to move on. So I was in generally the same place a few years ago, thinking I had healed and moved on, and not wanting to become bitter again. For some reason, I started reading again in 2011 around May or June, perhaps because my most recent church had disbanded due to a narcissistic pastor, and I was kicking myself for being sucked into something like that again. When I saw the things that were posted here, including Kerrin and Megan’s story, I told myself that something was about to hit the fan. And sure enough, it shortly did. Since that time, I have read daily and have appreciated everyone’s comments and Kris and Guy’s work. I have also had productive conversations with former CLC members and hopefully progressed in my healing.

  • Bridget

    “(BTW, notice how that term ‘congregation’ still impersonalizes, categorizes by lesser role, and distances, as compared to members, believers, brothers and sisters, etc.?)” – Argus

    I had not thought about how the term “congregation” puts individuals into one “clump.” It does seem to take away from the individualness of the believers. I wonder if pastors view the saints as “the congregation” (big lump) or as individuals who bring unique contributions to the body.

  • Kris

    It sure seems like a lot of SGM leaders like to use the “sinful communcation” and that people are “bitter” on the blogs as a way to try and discredit what people are saying rather than examine the facts. It sure is similar to how SGM has a very broad defintion of what is “gossip” or “slander.” It is almost as they are looking for any trace of someone being bitter as a way to discredit what a person is saying.

    It is normal for some people show some signs of being “bitter” etc. when they have experienced what a number of people have experienced with SGM. Playing the “sinful communication” card seems like just another “card” along with calling something “gossip” or “slander” as a way to discredit any criticism.

  • I would agree that using the term “congregation” impersonalizes those voting. One question I would ask is does SGM normally call their regular (non leadership) people the “congregation” or “members.” I have always heard the word “members” used vs. “congregation.”

    It is almost as if CLC started using with this word just for this vote. Why couldn’t have they called it a members vote? Is the word “congregation” meaning that SGM Leaders are specifically excluded from voting even though they are also members of CLC?

  • exCLCer

    I first found this blog while doing my annual check online to make sure I had the correct email and mailing addresses for the pastors, to whom I had been sending letters every single November, for twenty years. Sadly, as I read the different stories, I was not shocked to find out what I had always suspected …..that there were others who had experienced very similar abuses as the hands of these same individuals and system. Over the years I had never shied away from my attempts to expose this corrupted abusive system, and I am glad that this venue has become a catalyst and a place for information and support for so many….essentially accomplishing on a far reaching scale what I, as one single individual, could have probably never done alone (but not for lack of trying, smile). In spite of the very wide range of beliefs, motivations, experiences and viewpoints of all the posters and readers to this blog, TRUTH is constant and I feel that TRUTH is the tie that binds everyone here to each other. So, here’s to the truth!
    “The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is.” – W. Churchill

  • Sick With Worry

    OK – I need to nitpick a little bit. I believe that a lot of SGM leadership (whatever they call themselves) needs to be fired. That would make me happy and it would signal repentance and real change.

    BUT…. I get the impression that a lot of positive changes that an SGM church makes, including leaving SGM, is interpreted here negatively. I understand why we do this…. it is mostly because SGM has mastered doublespeak. So, SGM deserves the criticism.

    I am not judging anyone’s motives or attitudes – I like reading and it is the only place I get real SGM news. I am just wondering if it is possible to be more positive about some of the things that are happening. In spite of our right to be angry…. is there a place for us to cheer these men on? I am asking myself the same question. Part of me is ticked because when I brought these issues up…. I was looked at like I had two heads. But just because they did not “get it” when I brought it up, does not mean I should stay mad when they finally “get it”.

  • Ozymandias said:
    November 24th, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    I’ve been reading Survivors for the last five years because I couldn’t — and still can’t — be loyal to anything about which I never hear anything negative.
    I’d assert that this site is a big reason my church — FFX — is healthier today.

    I find this interesting you can say SGM Fairfax is “healthier.” Isn’t the member’s awareness of the known child molestation cases and how poorly SGM and Sovereign Grace Fairfax Leaders handled them why the membership dropped significantly in numbers? I have read on here how people were shocked at how small of a crowd there is now at Fairfax apparently due in large part to this mishandling. Does losing a large number of members and its apparent cause of poor leadership mean it is “healthier?”

    I guess you could say that the Ashburn VA SGM is also “healthier” as well as Kingsway in Richmond since they also had significant numbers leave also due to poor leadership issues?

  • lily

    Sick With Worry, I think you bring up a good point. We shouldn’t be cynical to the point of discounting the possibility of real change, especially when steps are being taken, however small they may seem to those of us who have escaped the ways of thinking and the manipulation of behavior. The root problems may still remain, though, and if so, simply letting a congregation say that they agree or disagree with the course of action the leader/s have decided to take them on, regardless, will probably result in past problems manifesting themselves again in the future. I think Argus is right to see the pyramid style business mentality that is so evident in many churches, not just SGM. We are not commodities, we are each priests in the household of God, and only Jesus Christ is the Head, the Son Who is faithful over the house He builds. He is the High Priest of the New Covenant, explained and then established by His own body and blood and resurrection. This is a very important part of what the Church is and therefore, how we should be seeing ourselves as individual members of this house of God (the body of Jesus), including how we should see elders in it. I do hope that if they don’t “get it”, they will, as I think most of us also do. I’m sure praying for them.

  • lily

    A good example of how this can look is expressed by Paul, when he says that if there are conflicts within a church, the least respected member there should be called upon to mediate or judge in the situation. Another verse in a different epistle, says that those who are taught, are supposed to share with their teachers. This individuality, this faith in the competency of the Holy Spirit to guide and use the saints He indwells, and especially, the understanding of Christ’s victory in us and His promise to finish what He started in us as believers, will be obvious in a healthy church, and obviously absent in a sick one, imo.

  • Stunned

    Some people are going to be encouraged and happy. Others cynical and doubtful. Everyone else- in between.

    Personally, I am on the, “for a person to have become a pastor in SGM, they had tohave betrayed people” lot. Which means that I am not expecting ANY tyre change until they have fully repented. Someone can say it is cynical. I just see it as biblical. (The whole “leave your gift at the altar”thing.)

    That being said, I would be DELIGHTED if I were totally wrong. DELIGHTED!

    And I have NEVER been the one to despise the day of small beginnings. I just don’t see new things begin until one had changed. Don’t think it makes me cynical, just realistic.

    Here’s hoping I am wrong!

  • “Sick With Worry” said,

    I am just wondering if it is possible to be more positive about some of the things that are happening. In spite of our right to be angry…. is there a place for us to cheer these men on?

    It’s quite possible you didn’t mean this, but I always get a little uncomfortable when I hear what sounds like an assumption that the questioning or distrust of SGM leaders is coming from a place of anger with them…or even that it is automatically a negative thing, automatically the opposite of cheering them on.

    Asking questions and pointing out possible inconsistencies should be viewed as invaluable feedback. These men have proven themselves again and again to be basically clueless, “tone-deaf,” if you will, about how things are done in normal, healthy churches. There’s no anger whatsoever fueling my observation that CLC’s pastors have relinquished no control at all when they choose to permit the congregation to affirm what they’ve already basically decided to do. That’s just a fact. And while yes, it’s true that giving the congregation even a teensy little moment of even just feeling like they’re having a say in a big decision is a definite change from the past, it’s not really that big of a change. The stark reality is that the pastors are in control just like they’ve always been. It’s nice of them to ask the people to say “aye” and affirm them. But the people still can’t initiate anything on their own, without the control of the pastors.

    And it’s not “anger” and it’s not even necessarily negative to point that out. I’m glad CLC’s pastors are taking a stand against the foolish shenanigans surrounding CJ and his obvious issues and the obvious running away to Louisville. I’m glad they’ve decided to separate themselves from that. But – they still ultimately decided. And it took until things got really super embarrassing and obviously wrong for them to figure it out and decide, too. In all the years that they were CJ’s “accountability circle” and supposedly CJ’s local home church, they apparently did nothing to rein in CJ’s behavior or to address the imbalances and lack of accountability there. And they’re still not openly doing or saying much to correct the wrongs that produced that situation.

    I guess until they are a whole lot more publicly transparent about everything, the move to allow the congregation to publicly agree or disagree with them is just sort of a “meh” thing to me. In fact, it does more to demonstrate how far CLC still has to go than it really fixes anything.

    (Think about it – what, exactly, is so cheer-worthy about a church’s pastors getting together and deciding to permit their congregation to affirm or not affirm their decisions? If this is such a radical departure from the past, then what sort of dictatorship was happening in the past, anyway?)

  • Sick With Worry

    Kris – I think you and I share many points of view, and even our “draw” to SGM was remarkably similar. I did not mean to get in your crosshairs! Seriously, I think I agree with everything you say above. Feedback and robust dialogue is what makes organizations work. I read in a book by a man named Larry Bossidy that “dialogue is the building block of culture and the basic unit of work”, and that quote never left me. Serious dialogue is lacking in SGM-land, and you are correct: questioning and cheerleading are not mutually exclusive. In fact, real, heartfelt cheerleading is impossible without open communication. I think we agree.

    I guess I was throwing that out there as much of a heart check for myself, as it was for the rest of us. I am seriously trying to believe the best, but still keep my head on straight.

  • WiseAsSerpentsMeekAsDoves

    @Kris 78:
    Bingo! The sort of dictatorship when CJ was at the helm! Reading about all of the things that have been done in the last year and a half indicate that the leaders at CLC have done some VERY BOLD things to begin turning that dictatorship upside down! (I think the pro-SGMers probably have to move on before any “real” work can be done, and I guess the affirmation thing will be the line drawn in the sand.)

    Perhaps the reason they do not say more than they do might just represent the fact that they are taking a high road there, and not willing to “out” CJ any more than he already has been “outed” by Brent and others. The Scripture “be sure, your sin will find you out” I think should have CJ quivering more than being worried about whether the CLC pastors will expose more than they already have. Better to fear God than man, Who has the ability to throw your soul into Sheol. So, I guess we will all watch and wait. Patiently. With much prayer for the ones who choose to remain everywhere throughout SGMland, as well as the ones who choose to leave. (I am sure the next announcement will be a “new” SGM church plant in the Gburg area, for the loyalists who need a place to go.)

    Staying tuned. I am hopeful because I am healing. There is still God so there is still hope! May the scales fall off more and more eyes. He gives sight to the blind. I was blind but now I see. (Dimly, but getting clearer every day.) I am in good company here in cyberspace, home to the “survivors”.

  • “Sick With Worry” –

    You were not “in my crosshairs.” Not at all! But I am on high alert when I hear words like “anger.” I feel a duty to continue to point out that it’s not wrong to question what leaders are saying and doing. I’d say more often than not, such questioning has nothing to do with anger.

    Also, here’s a question, and not just for “Sick With Worry,” but for anyone who might want to weigh in: at what point are we no longer required to “believe the best” of leaders? At what point does forcing ourselves to “believe the best” collide with wisdom and with acknowledging truth?

    Is there a point at which other Christian virtues take precedence over “believing the best” of someone? I mean, I am specifically thinking of the many incidents in Paul’s epistles where he clearly condemned this person or that, where it was obvious he was done with them and no longer was “believing the best” of them…where it was obvious that the stark negative truth was the best.

    Another part of this question is, when the continual exhortations to “believe the best” of one’s leaders are used as a means of keeping people in the dark and preventing people from seeing the truth, at what point do we toss “believing the best” in favor of seeing things for how they really are?

    At what point do we use the logical minds God has given us and connect the dots? And when does that stop being wrong, when does that stop being something to guard against?

  • The change of events at CLC is somewhat encouraging but sadly overall the change and confession with SGM has been very minimal compared to what has been revealed.

    When Brent’s documents were made public a lot of us thought there would be some real confession and repentance. Initially we heard Josh Harris indicate that SGM was being publicly “spanked” and God was getting the group’s attention. Sadly, other SGM Leaders were quick to discount this being “discipline of the Lord” and call Brent’s documents “slander” when they were full of the truth.

    It is kind of like the old saying, SGM Leadership won’t admit their sin and hypocrisy even if it “bit” them. With Brent’s documents, Mahaney’s hypocrisy is clearly shown and detailed but SGM Leadership refused to consider him disqualified as a leader. Either the leadership is blind or just too hardened to admit past sin and hypocrisy.

    It is just discouraging. What is it going to take for their to be true confession by SGM?

  • Sick With Worry

    Kris, I agree that questioning does not mean anger. Just like when I used to correct or question my kids, it did not always mean I was angry or that they were in trouble. In a lot of ways, SGM leadership is like little kids….. a couple questions and then they think you are unfairly on their case. My kids used to do that all the time. I would come home, ask a question…. and then one of them would say, “am I in trouble?”, or, “are you mad?”

    I want to believe the best, always. But sometimes the BEST is not very GOOD. I think Kris is also making this point. A wise judge will believe the best, but justice must still prevail. I think when SGM uses the phrase “believe the best”, what they really mean, “is believe GOOD about your leaders unless we de-gift them”.

    Also Kris, you mention the apostle Paul – I was always struck by the fact that in the last chapter of the last writing we have from him, in II Timothy, he is calling people out. He is doing honest assessment. You have Luke, Mark, Alexander, Demas…. all being assessed. The Lord must also believe that shooting straight is important, as this is the example that Paul is leaving for us.

  • Ozymandias

    Happymom #58 and Steve240 #74 —

    I chose the word “healthier” vs. full-on “healthy” intentionally. “Healthier” is comparative, and compared to FFX’s past, I think “healthier” is a pretty fair assessment on the current situation. Moreover, going to a point that Kris made above, I’ve often told my wife and friends that I think our church is in the process of normalizing — that is, it’s starting to do things that most evangelical churches already do. In some cases more than others, there has been explanation from the pulpit as to how this constitutes radical and/or not-so-radical change from what had been done and taught in the past.

    A few personal observations of normalization over the last year +:

    — more families/friends talking openly/freely about making educational choices which differ from the old SGM homeschooling “norm”

    — laity-led and organized women’s ministry kicking off

    — laity-led and organized men’s ministry in the works

    — recently assisted another local, non-SGM church (Truro) by hosting/working their Thanksgiving outreach to internationals

    — financial gifts to non-SGM churches, as well as non-SGM parachurch ministries at George Mason University

    — adjustments to youth ministry, including the participation/leadership of non-parent, 20-somethings

    — an explosion — again, compared to the past — in laity-initiated ministries (e.g. financial health; VBS; adoption/foster care)

    The point I was trying to make earlier is this: I’d assert that this normalization is, in part (and quite possibly a large part), the fruit of this blog.

  • Persona

    Kris 64

    I suspect the AoR report was doctored by SGM before it was released. CJ had the report in his possession for two weeks’ before it was published and we all know he had ample incentive to take the attention off himself, by blaming others.

    I have a hard time believing that the AoR would go out of their way to include random statements about blogs or members with less than perfect reactions to abuse.

    The AoR were paid to examine the testimonies and charges. They weren’t paid to read blogs, condemn members or x-members. Why would they have any opinions about them, much less feel the need to include any editorial comments about them?

    However, CJ probably had LOTS to say about both. He has marked dissenters as whiners, rebellious and disloyal. And, he is the one who considers bloggers bitter and libelous.

    So, I think CJ most likely initiated the editing of the report before it was released.

  • Argus

    It seems unlikely to me that Mahaney and compant edited the AOR report after the fact and then distribute it with AOR’s name on it.

    I think it is far more likely that they edited AOR’s minds.

    I think Mahaney did that thing Mahaney is so good at — convincing others of his awesomeness, working his audience so that they see him as he wants them to.

    I think loyal SGMers oozed and effused their Stepfordesque niceness and gratitude and turned the heads of AOR by projecting a ‘winsome’ image.

    But the victims, the disenfranchised, the wounded, hobbled in bleeding and behaved ‘incorrectly’

    I could be wrong. Maybe SGM would only accept the report if AOR agreed to spread blame around onto the blogs. But it could just be the Peacemaker thing of getting both sides to address the logs in their own eyes.

    I just wish they had acknowledged that not all proverbial logs are equal. And sometimes the reason people have logs in their eyes is because someone else poked them in the eye with it.

  • Argus

    Ozy, maybe Fairfax really is doing new things from a new heart all of their own accord. If so, that’s a baby step in the right direction.

    If so, maybe they could do a really important new thing and make things right with the ones they so cruelly mistreated.

    But I have to tell you that I have been seeing and hearing most of those same things at the solidly-SGM church we used to attend.

    It’s the latest thing.

    All the cool churches are doing it now to prove they aren’t like what the blogs accuse SGM of being.

    And we are not supposed to compare notes to realize that. We are supposed to believe that independent of the blogs and independent of one another, they all came up with the same ways of changing recently.

    SGM pastors have long been selected at least in part (besides projecting the right image) by their ‘commendable character’ which in SGMese means humility which in secret-code SGMese means the willingness to be lemmings. Lemming in lockstep.

    So if Fairfax is really breaking free in spirit and not just in affiliation, I will rejoice, truly, but I am not convinced yet.

  • A Kindred Spirit


    The link you posted in #62 of the interview with Mickey Connolly really illustrates how so many good Christian folk get “sucked in.”

    Nothing tugs at our heartstrings more than the desire to do what’s “best” for our family. And Mickey sure knew how to sell folks that doing things the “SGM way” was INDEED “God’s best” for families. Do things the way we do them at CrossWay and your family will turn out perfect. (And as a CrossWay family, you knew you had better keep your kids in line and your marriage looking perfect. The perfect family was the “product” they were selling.)

    The damage that results from such an environment affects more than just those within SGM; it affects outsiders, as well – the Christian families outside of SGM who were shunned or made to feel like second class Christians. SGM’ers favorite phrase was, “Do you think that’s wise?”

  • lily

    God’s way is God’s best, not “the SGM way”. We always have that choice before us, whom to trust.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    They sold folks on the “SGM way” by claiming it WAS “God’s way.”. Their way was the “most biblical,” the “wiser.”

  • A Kindred Spirit said,

    They sold folks on the “SGM way” by claiming it WAS “God’s way.” Their way was the “most biblical,” the “wiser.”


    Most SGM leaders will deny that they did this, though. They point to all the qualifiers they used when teaching about specific lifestyle choices. But the reality is, the pastor’s bias would still come through loud and clear. And because of how pastors set themselves up as examples to follow and copy, and because of how SGM’s society was set up, any member who wanted to be viewed by his or her pastors as “godly” knew quite well what the expected (“most biblical”) lifestyle choices were…and then felt a level of pressure to do them.

    Although it’s from a few years ago, now, I still think Greg S’s teaching on “Educational Choices” is a classic example of this kind of manipulation. I know Greg S has many fans here, and I don’t doubt that he only meant well when he gave the presentation in which he compared public schools, Christian schools, secular private schools, and homeschooling, but by the end of his spiel, it was nonetheless obvious which choices were the favored ones. He probably did his level best to seem open-minded, but it was clear that homeschooling was (in his mind) the preferred choice, with Christian school coming in a close second. Public school was described in such a way as to make it seem like it would be virtually impossible to choose that for your kids and still have them turn out to be godly, with enough time to be involved in their local church.

    If you’re interested, you can access the transcripts for that teaching via the following links –

    Part I:

    Part II:

    Part III:

  • Whirlwind

    Regarding CLC and affirmation from the congregation…

    I’ve never been a member in a Presbyterian church, but how would CLC’s new approach to local church government differ from, say, a PCA church?

    I know in most Baptist churches any member can initiate pretty much anything during a business meeting by simply introducing a motion and having another member second the motion. Is this true in most Presbyterian churches as well?

    Just wondering where CLC now falls on the spectrum of church government options. Are they still out toward the extremes of pastoral control or have they actually moved into line with some other denominations? I’m presuming the congregation’s affirmation is necessary to move forward – so it does carry real authority – rather than just a “measuring stick” the pastors can heed or ignore.

  • Whirlwind

    This past Sunday my SGM church showed one of the “partnership” videos that are used to market SGM’s “mission” fund. One of the pastors in the video mentioned their church’s support of Voice of the Martyrs. I’m somewhat familiar with Voice of the Martyrs and I’m not aware of a direct connection to SGM. Is this a ministry that’s supported by other SGM churches or was this one church unique in supporting a non-SGM parachurch ministry?

  • Whirlwind said,

    Just wondering where CLC now falls on the spectrum of church government options. Are they still out toward the extremes of pastoral control or have they actually moved into line with some other denominations? I’m presuming the congregation’s affirmation is necessary to move forward — so it does carry real authority — rather than just a “measuring stick” the pastors can heed or ignore.

    This is a good question.

    Maybe I’m missing something, but it is my (admittedly vague) understanding that in a church with presbyterian-style polity, the pastors themselves – or any of the governing people – have been in some way selected or approved by the congregation. CLC’s present situation would not be similar because the members had no input at all into the appointment of any of the men who are making decisions.

    Again, it’s great that CLC’s pastors have made the decision to allow members to voice an opinion. But in the grand scheme of things – in the real “where the rubber hits the road” test – what does that mean? Who is really in charge?

    It’s one thing for a congregation to in some way select a group of men to represent them and make decisions for them – and then affirm those decisions. It’s something else for a group of pastors who were appointed to their positions by their bosses above them on the food chain, with no input from the congregation, to make decisions and present those decisions to the congregation for affirmation. I’m not sure what it is, exactly – but it’s not my understanding of prebyterian-style governance.

  • Happymom


    Your response in #84 reminds me of a few things. 1. The many meetings we had with the Fairfax pastors where none of our questions got answered. Couldn’t help but notice how you totally circumvented mine and Steve240’s questions regarding the child sex abuse. 2. It also reminded me of the infamous “Family Meeting” where V.Hinders assured the parents how kids have always been safe. The closest they got to admitting problems in the handling of the many sex abuse cases was from your Sr. Pastor who, after opening the meeting with a JOKE, said “in the swirl of things to think about, we forgot about the victim.” But we all know, (because I’ve repeated this OFTEN) that in that “swirl” they remembered to call their attorney. Nice. Similar to your response, they never really got to the deeper, systemic problems that continue to plaque this ministry. In light of all the pain and suffering they’ve inflicted on children and their families do you really expect anyone to get excited that they are finally letting women run “women’s meetings??”
    To those of us who know just how “safe” kids have really been, your response sounded just like V.Hinders did at the Family meeting. Pathetic.

  • Happymom


    One more question. Would your pastors consider this “fruit” the result of the blogs?

  • Watercolor

    My family and I left a church that we had been a part of for 26 years, with the last seven years as a member of SGM. The reason for our leaving was a move of the Spirint with the admonition that SGM was going to destroy everything that the Lord had build at our church by their authoritarian abuse and controlling mechanisms.

    The multilevel leadership hierarchy for SGM is comprised almost entirely of internally “raised up” sub-leaders hand picked by the senior leadership based on their loyalty to the ultimate leader and their acceptance of the adopted authoritarian doctrines and methodologies rather than on the basis of their leadership skills, spiritual acumen, and anointing and appointing by God. The sub-leaders are almost invariably laymen rather than those with Fivefold ministry giftings and anointing from God. They are humanly appointed rather than God-appointed, and so rather than being the representatives, surrogates, and spokesmen of God, they are basically the cronies, underbosses, or deputies of the senior leadership.

    Loyalty to the leadership is a constant theme at all levels of the culture of SGM. Members are required to sign covenant agreements pledging allegiance and financial support to the leadership and SGM, and another level of covenant is required of sub-leaders as they progress throguh the various aspects of the process for being “raised up” as a leader within SGM.

    This cunning senior leadership exploit the selfish-ambition of members who desire ascendancy and authority by dangling in front of them the carrot of prospective leadership appointment and advancement, and the local membership become their unwitting victims.

  • Diane

    Happymom 95-

    I am so sorry for your pain. To open a meeting like that with a joke is insensitive.
    This portion of scripture encourages me.

    Ezekiel 34: Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? 3 You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock.

    4 Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them.

    5 They were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field and were scattered. 6 My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill; My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth, and there was no one to search or seek for them.”’”

    7 Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 8 “As I live,” declares the Lord God, “surely because My flock has become a prey, My flock has even become food for all the beasts of the field for lack of a shepherd, and My shepherds did not search for My flock, but rather the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock;

    9 therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 10 ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will demand My sheep from them and make them cease from feeding sheep. So the shepherds will not feed themselves anymore, but I will deliver My flock from their mouth, so that they will not be food for them.”’”

  • Wallace

    Ozymandias #84,

    Regarding your “personal observations of normalization”, here are a few thoughts to consider – The Fairfax church is very skilled at implementing new and improved changes during a crisis. Happymom and I witnessed many similar “adjustments” made during our 12 years as members. The one thing they’re not short on is lack of programs… Although these changes could be viewed as commendable, our observations and experiences have been that issues carrying the most weight are circumvented or redirected. All the noble changes they come up with cannot make up for this.

    The real problems in this church surface during exposure of difficulties that have potential to threaten sgm status-quo. In other words, the leadership’s priority in Fairfax has always been to protect themselves at any cost. Examples of this can be found in Noel’s Story and Wallace’s Story. It’s either A or B; Wallace/Happymom and Noel are liars, or Fairfax has a lot of explaining to do. Both parties were slandered during this meeting.

    Another example of “skirting” the real issue can be found in Fairfax’s follow-up family meeting to Wallace’s Story. In this meeting, Vince Hinders explained in detail new changes put in place to protect children from sexual predators in the “church building”. Only problem with this is that up to that point in time, there had never been an issue with sex abuse inside the building or on building grounds.

    The real issue that had been covered-up was predator’s roaming free in the church without anyone knowing about it except a few in leadership. People at “risk” were not informed of an under-age abuser’s identity because leadership chose to hide behind Virginia’s Clergy Privilege Statute. Try to imagine the ramifications of this where unsuspecting people would interact on a social level that included sleepovers.

    Your leader’s in Fairfax are not as noble as they would lead people to believe. They compromised the safety of children for the sake of keeping people in the pews.

    If they don’t have this right, nothing they do will be right.

    I encourage you to ask Mark Mullery 2 questions:
    1.Why don’t you inform people at risk when there is a known to leadership, under-age sex offender in the church?
    2.How many under-age offenders have been in the church during the last 10 years?

  • Student of Religion

    I’m not sure if you all know this already, but information regarding SGM has been added to The Rick Ross Institute and website (

    I have never been a member of SGM. But, I am in the DC area. I have been aware of this church for a few years. I’m very sorry you have endured pain from SGM. I hope you all are on the path to healing. I am praying for you all.

  • Whirlwind

    @Kris #94 – “Maybe I’m missing something, but it is my (admittedly vague) understanding that in a church with presbyterian-style polity, the pastors themselves — or any of the governing people — have been in some way selected or approved by the congregation.”

    Your point is well-taken. That would be my understanding of how presbyterian pastors are put into office as well. There is an outside group that tests and approves a pastor’s doctrine and gifting, but the congregation votes on them before they become the church’s pastor – “governing with the consent of the governed” is how I think I’ve heard it expressed, but I’m just not familiar with all the ins and outs of presbyterian polity.

    I have been part of a Methodist church when I was younger and went through a pastoral change there. I’m not sure they had any vote on the new pastor, but that was at a time in my life I may have completely missed it. I always had the impression pastors were assigned from outside, but didn’t know if there was any process of working through pastoral assignments with the congregation. Wisdom would lead me to believe there must have been some interaction with at least a committee formed from the congregation.

    It would be quite something for the CLC pastors to resign from their positions and only serve if the church voted them back in. That would be quite a display to show the pastors’ commitment to congregational input.

  • Diane

    How did this outsider to all things SGM find this site? In late June 2011, I happened to watch a video of a conference that had recently taken place. I cannot remember which conference it was…one of the big ones. It was a q/a session with Mahaney and perhaps 5 others, iirc.

    I did not know who Mahaney was. I noticed a man who was acting rather oddly, imo. He kept interrupting the others. He was making jokes when the others were speaking. He laughed very loudly when the others were not. He kept himself bent over in his chair while the others were sitting up straight. He kept nodding his head and making what I thought were exaggerated movements corresponding to his agreement or disagreement with what was being said. I thought to myself–my goodness…what is wrong with this person? You may think that is superficial of me to notice that. But his actions alone gave me an uneasy feeling.

    I asked a pastor friend of ours who he was. He told me his name, but that was all he told me. I did not think much more about it other than how strangely this person acted in public. It reminded me of someone who needed to draw attention to himself…to be the center of it all. It seemed, to me, bizarre behavior for a pastor or leader or whatever he claims he is.

    A couple of weeks later I was browsing Christian News Headlines and saw that Mahaney has stepped down from SGM amidst controversy. I remembered that name and read the article. I thought what a coincidence–I had just seen that man in that video!

    I googled SGM and found this site and sgmrefuge. I remember reading non-stop for weeks-Brent’s documents as well. The stories of abuse were/are compelling and heartbreaking.

    The more I read about Mahaney- who he was, his history, the roots and history of SGM (shepherding) and about how many professing Christian leaders respected and promoted him, the more I was intrigued. Why? Why are they enamored with him? That part affected me because the pastor of the church we had been attending at the time promoted Mahaney and SGM. To find out he had written a book about humility was funny to me. I have not read it. I am sure there are some good insights in the book. Considering how he acted in the video I watched (and continues to act on stage) leads me to my conclusion that those who can–do…those who can’t–teach (or write).

    I kept on reading and have received quite an education. I am so sorry for all the hurt this organization has caused you all. I am grateful to Kris and to all who told their stories. It has given me a reality check. A reality check about pastors, churches power, greed and pride. Part of the educational reality check is this- rather than believing the best, I’ll look a thing straight in the eye no matter how ugly it may be and see it for what it is instead of what someone else wants me to see.

  • Wow


    Your post deserves it’s own thread. You made profound observations.

    You’re incredibly perceptive! Most of us, sadly and at some point, cheered for the naked emperor.

  • QE2

    We had been members of Fairfax for a long time, and had moved away but were still attending an SGM church.

    One day a family member called and began asking questions-what was the name of the family that lived on the road behind so and so? Do you remember the family that lived nearby? What was the teen boy’s name? Do you remember the uncle? And so on. After answering all the questions, this person said I needed to read something and directed me here, where I read Noel’s story.

    We read all about these people we knew and felt like vomiting. That sick feeling lasted quite a while and actually magnified as we read about others we knew like Happymom, Noel’s sister/niece, Defended, etc.

    When we moved, the smaller, less known SGM church was much less toxic, and we had begun seeing how cultlike FCC was.
    Now not only were we horrified about what these fellow church members had gone through, but we also were hit with feelings of betrayal-how could we not have been told about these things? How could we have been denied the opportunity to care for or at least pray for these friends? Did the teen boy have access to our toddlers? And so on.

    This blog helped us process what we had gone through at FCC and helped us navigate what we were going through at the current church. I so appreciate all of the insights and comments! It was like walking through the jungle with a bunch of people carrying machetes, and each time someone took a swipe at the underbrush, more light came through and we could all see the way out more clearly.

    It was a real bummer to realize we had wasted both time-almost 2 decades-and oodles of money on pseudo-christianity and a false religious system, but the truth is we did. Those experiences have brought us to where we are today. For several years I felt like I was shrivelling and dying on the SGM vine, but the truth is, I was grafted onto the wrong vine. Now I am free and alive in Christ Jesus. It is a hard won freedom, but that makes it all the more valuable.

    I am thankful for all of you, our Survivors family. For we truly are a family. We encourage one another, pray for one another, bounce ideas/concepts off one another, bicker with one another, confront one another, apologize to one another, and through it all we love one another as we seek to love and follow Jesus.

  • Sick with worry

    Diane is dead on. CJ acts really odd. The pastor at the Reading, PA church does a good job imitating him! It is a trip watching tbe other pastors act like CJ. I was in one if the “secret discieship groups” at an SGM church, and one of the othe men asked the pastor about CJ’s odd behavior. The pastor explained to us that this had been brought to CJ’s attention in the past, and that others saw it as a distraction. My time in SGM was during a time of growth, and 2/3 of the people I went to church with probably do not even care who CJ is, nor have they heard him speak. The old timers, however, really put him on a pedestal.

  • seeking the city to come

    Kris #94–
    I am now a member of a PCA church and we are in the midst of a pastoral search. There is a committee comprised of an equal number of men and women (!) from the congregation, who are on the committee by congregational vote. Along with 2 ruling elders, this committee will do the hard work of identifying potential pastoral candidates. Upon approval by the Session, that is, the entire board of elders, a candidate will be presented to the congregation for their approval. I love that there is no coercion, authoritarianism, or pulling rank of any kind by our leaders. So much more like Jesus than anything I experienced in my 8 years in SGM.

  • Diane: I love your observations. I have heard and read more of CJ than seen him in action. A week or so ago, I listened to an audio of CJ, Mark Dever, Randy Stinson, and Russell Moore on the topic of feminism ( Start at the 33-second mark to hear the introductions.

    If you only listen to the introduction – the first two minutes – you can see exactly what Diane is talking about. He makes some sort of “woo-woo” remark after being the last one to be introduced. The others laugh, but I wonder if it is a nervous laugh. Instead of just saying a quick “hi, glad to be here”, his little woo-woo remark seems to be a way that he takes the platform. He then begins giving accolades to others, but really, it’s only drawing attention to himself. There is more of this kind of behavior throughout the audio. I could go on and on about the topic of discussion, but will show amazing restraint here by stopping now :)

  • Jemz


    I found out about this site after running some Google searches and I was shocked to see that the church that were were attending was considered a “cult”. But, at the same time, it did help me to understand some of the oddities that we experienced. We started attending the Gaithersburg church about 6 years ago. Initially, the people were so friendly and kind. I loved the way it seemed that the children were so lovingly cared-for. My daughter enjoyed Discovery Land. But, my husband missed the fire-filled fellowship that we experienced at our church home. During a period of time when my husband was working in another state, I started attending CLC with my daughter on a regular basis. We were starting to have serious problems in our marriage. I started attending Starting Point and eventually became a member. My husband moved back after finding a job near our home and while he never became a member he did participatedin Care Group meetings. My husband ended up leaving our home and, while many of Care Group members were very loving, our Care Group leader was very cold and arrogant towards my husband. Instead of trying to reach out to him, he rejected him. I became confused. I couldnt undererstand how he could just turn his back on my husband during the time that he really needed the truth spoken to him. With me, our Care Group leader became very controlling. Our Care group meetings that initially started as being really refreshing turned into meetings where people were asked to list the sins that they struggled with the most. Or, in the alternative, to share how long each member spent praying and in quiet time. Of course, our care group leader had no problem stating that he spent more time that anyone else in the group praying. We also had another family in our care group where the husband had been struggling with work. It did not seem that there was real compassion towards him and his family – they ended up leaving the care group to attend another care group. As the only woman in our Care Group that worked a full-time job, I was often pittied by some of the other women. My daughter also attends public school, which also made us “different”. There would be comments that because our family was not set up in the manner in which the father works and the mother stays home and teaches the kids or sends them to the school church that we “just don’t understand God’s design for families”. During this time, I found the web site and it confirmed that I was not alone in my experiences at CLC. I must admit though that our pastor was very helpful to me and my daugter during this time. Our care group leader once offered to look at my finances and assist in putting me on a budget….I was shocked at this request for assistance! I must admit that I am not always oe to hold my tongue and was very honest with our care group leader about what I perceived as his controlling nature. I asked to be assigned to a new care group where there may be some single mothers, but I was never transferred. When the Single Parents ministry elicited some input from attendees about some ways that it can be more of a blessing and effective, I honestly provided some input and thanked the pastor that was leading the ministy for his support. Since the time that I offered suggestions, I have not received any of the notices for meetings. Not sure if there is a correlation or not. But, based on whay I have read on this site, it seems that people that may be perceived as “trouble makers” are ignored, etc.

    While I cant blame our family’s problems on what was going on at CLC, I must admit that, in addition to my family, I have seen other families in our small care group just “fall apart” in various ways. Now that I have been on this site, I have been much more careful about personal information that I share with my pastor and other people in the care group that I may run across. Once a very open and transparent person, I now see the vulnerabilities in that and am concerned about why the church feels the need to keep such copious notes on the members. Over the past couple of months, my daughter and I have been attending some other churches, including our original home church. I pray that the Lord will lead us to a new church home or that the CLC break from SGM will result in CLC being a healther church.

    Thanks for being a place where people can share without reproach, judgment or condemntation.

  • Diane

    Thanks Julie Anne–will have a listen.

    My point about the humility part being this: you know, imo, the basic root of humility is one of disappearance. You deem yourself unimportant. You would disappear in a crowd…or on a stage…so to speak. Others are the more important ones. True humility would never dream of drawing attention to oneself with off-color jokes and clownish actions like Mahaney does. Even with his lauding praise of others and believing that THAT action is being humble, it is not. It is overboard (the way he exhibits it) and draws attention to himself.

    So, without that basic root humility 101 understanding of disappearance, I guess one can write all the books one wants about it even if one does not display it in that very elementary way.

  • Persona

    Watercolor, your assessment rocks, especially this:

    “This cunning senior leadership exploit the selfish-ambition of members who desire ascendancy and authority by dangling in front of them the carrot of prospective leadership appointment and advancement, and the local membership become their unwitting victims.”

    I think you were wise to leave the church and find another with more discernment. I feel badly for adopted SGM churches since they once had a taste for freedom and it was taken away in one stroke.

  • Leslie

    Long time lurker. I think I posted once, but can’t remember the name I used.We had a very short stint in the Chesapeake church. I believe it was at the same time that “Esther’s” situation was happening as some of the things people have said happened while we were there. We didn’t make it past the new members class. We could not sign the statement of faith because of the very detailed wording. We’ve worshipped with folks that were Calvinists before and have agreed to disagree on the non-essentials. This apparently was not allowed in SG. One of the pastors brought us a cd to listen to of a sermon CJ gave on the doctrine of election. My dear husband listened to the entire thing. I couldn’t make it past the first 5 minutes, not because of the subject matter(I’d heard all that before), but because CJ spoke like a raving lunatic. I was a little confused becasue, although we didn’t agree doctrinally, we found the people to be very intelligent and kind. Why on earth would they be following this dude?? So I started looking around on the internet. I’ve lurked here ever since. That was a little over 4 years ago. I stick around because I still bump into SG folks and have had some dealing with them in other settings. It still puzzles me. CJ seems mentally ill to me. I’ve tried to watch videos of him from time to time and end up stopping after a couple of minutes.

  • Leslie said,

    CJ seems mentally ill to me. I’ve tried to watch videos of him from time to time and end up stopping after a couple of minutes.

    I feel the same way. I know “diagnosis via internet” is not reliable, but in my opinion, CJ exhibits some seriously odd, abnormal behaviors.

    I truly do not know what appeal he holds for the other Reformed Big Dogs. The only thing I can think of is that they are charmed by his over-the-top flattery and like his donations.

  • Glad i am out

    I have said it here before… Honestly, read the transcript of CJ’s speech at the 2011 pastor’s conference and tell me you do not think this man needs at least a little bit of help from a mental health specialist.

  • Jemz

    @Kris #91: As I mentioned earlier, our daughter attends public school. And while there have been some comments in recent months during sermons about the church being less dogmatic in areas concerning preferred education choices, women working in the work force and the use of lay-leaders in the church, about a month back, there was an “event” listed for a prayer meeting solely for parents of children that attend public school…I did not attend…..

  • Watercolor

    #110 Persona

    My family and I have moved on with our Lords leading and direction. We were loyal and sincere church members who faithfully and cheerfully attended, supported, and participated in the local church, but with their alignment with SGM, I had a nagging, persistent inward thought that something just wasn’t right, inparticular after hearing numerous in top “leadership” speak from the pulpit and after several conferences performed by “leadership and their wives”.

    My experience has been that SGM leadership is dominating, controlling, and manipulating their members, exploiting them for their own personal gain and private kingdom building. Members are being subjected unknowingly to exploitative enslavement by un-scrupulous and self-aggrandizing leaders for their personal advancement and the expansion of their personal kingdoms.

    The oppressive maltreatment and mistreatment that I was subject to is the spiritual equivalent of the “hard task masters” of the Israelites during their centuries long captivity under the Egyptian Pharaohs.

    Anything that brings people into bondage, especially bondage to men, is patently NOT OF GOD!

  • A Kindred Spirit

    I’m right there with the rest of you on CJ’s “weirdness.” And there are others like him…not quite as over-the-top weird, but pretty darn weird.

    In fact, I have come to realize that when it comes to “weirdness,” Christian groups have WAY MORE wackos than the average number found in mainstream. And most of them are in some type of leadership position. It’s crazy!

    I have this theory. I think it’s because most Christians are loving individuals who always want to “believe the best” about people. It’s the perfect set-up for narcissists,  sociopaths, and all the other whacked jobs.

  • delta dagger


    I say in 10 years CJ will be lost in old dusty history books and SGM will be a small power house for God—- I think also after CJ gives up control of SGM men like DH and Steve Shank– Rick Gamache—will control SGM 100% turn the sinking ship around and save SGM

  • Persona

    Watercolor 115

    You have refined spiritual reflexes.

    If you watch a video of CJ’s sister Betsy teach, you will notice a strong resemblance in style.

    Strange that Betsy’s twin and their other siblings do not display similar idiosyncrasies. They are gentle and not prone to impose their views upon others.

    I conclude that there must be both genetic and environmental components for their behavior.

    The fact that CJ and Betsy are the only Mahaney siblings that fled to L’ville is also indicting.

    Wouldn’t it have been grand if the AoR had recommended psychological analysis for CJ? Who knows? Maybe they did. SGM never did reveal the AoR recommendations for them.

  • Sick With Worry

    uhhh, Delta Dagger, I would not be surprised at all, based on their past performance, that if CJ gave up control of SGM that the sinking ship would be turned around by the very smart men like you mention.

    But, once the ship was turned, it would still be sinking, correct?

    I can see Steve Shank now, trying to figure out what is wrong…. telling people not to read the blogs. Then, all of us on the blog say, “what about the hole? The ship is still sinking!!”

    Then, six months later, genius Shank will proclaim “we discovered this hole”!

    Now, Diamond Dave, of course, he may be smart enough to spot the hole early on. Dave was always the smart one.

  • Persona

    Delta, two things that might be off about your equation is that CJ will only hand SGM over to someone much younger than himself and, I suspect he will only hand over the reigns to a guy in his immediate family. CJ made the mistake of going out on a limb with Joshua and I doubt he will do that again.

    So, Brian Chesemore would be my guess and, if SGM survives for another 15 years, Chad might succeed him.

  • Roadwork

    I’m really not sure how I arrived here.

    I remember some years ago discovering Noel’s Story somehow. (We were part of Fairfax during that time period.) I read in horror, but as I read the story, I kept thinking, “That’s sooo Fairfax.” Like many, I spent time under some of their counsel at one point or another. I could almost audibly hear their voices in the responses. But it was Fairfax and we were long gone and into our third SGM franchise by that point and I didn’t pursue it any further.

    Then about two years ago, my wife came home from visiting a former Fairfax member and asked, “Do you know about the blogs?” “Yeah, I have them bookmarked. Here they are.”

    And it was at the exact time that another SGM church was blowing up over long standing lies and cover up. But this time it was different. The pastor of that church was a Regional whatevertheycallit and he was over our local franchise. Said pastor had his hands all over another church debacle in his region and that had to do with a wife being counseled to stay with her abusive husband. “Oh my.” Then we asked ourselves this question: “If we stay in SGM, are we possibly subjecting our family to the same stories of abuse that we read here?”

    The answer was an absolute no brainer. For the safety of our family we had to get out. It took us a few months to find an opening where it wouldn’t cause a ruckus and we left.

    So how did we find ourselves here and on Refuge originally? I don’t know. But I’m glad we’re here. And very grateful to Kris, Guy, Jim and Carole and to the many posters here, some of which we know.

    And Ozymandias, I wish I could share your enthusiasm about Fairfax being “healthier” now than before. We spent ten years there and it’s going to take a lot more than some adjustments towards “normalization”. I’m just not there with you on this one.

    Some of these pastors in SGM have spent 30 years in their chosen profession. If they were at all skilled in their profession, they would have had all this sorted many, many years ago. Why would anyone be willing to be their beta test subjects now? I would rather find an established, well respected ministry and get on with my life.

    And QE2, as it turns out, our smaller SGM franchise was actually more toxic than the last one. Swilling the Kool-Aid. (I thought that didn’t taste like regular communion grape juice.) You also said,

    It was a real bummer to realize we had wasted both time-almost 2 decades-and oodles of money on pseudo-christianity and a false religious system, but the truth is we did.

    Two decades for us as well. I just can’t believe we bought into their load of hooey for so long.

    Although we’re about two and a half years out, we still haven’t joined a church. We’ve settled into one but haven’t joined. And the chances of one church enjoying our full tithe ever again is ever so slim. Oh, they “ruined us” for a new testament church experience all right. It’s just a different kind of “ruined” than what they preached.

  • Stunned

    delta dagger,

    The part where you say that Dave Harvey and Steve Shank will save SGM- are you saying that as a joke or for real?

    Are you aware (genuinely asked, I am not being facetious), that Steve Shank’s behavior has caused people to use his name as a verb? For example, when a pastor has been brutally fired from his position in SGM, he has been “shanked” in some people’s parlance. You do know that, right?

    Are you, also, aware of all the “dismemberings” that Dave Harvey has presided over in his own church? Dismemberings of regular folk who love God but somehow, (heavens to Betsy!) disagree with a secondary or tertiary issue in the church. Or worse yet, have had the gall to ask questions.

    delta dagger, how much information do you actually have regarding these folks and the harm they have done?

  • Square Peg

    Diane #102,

    It is so funny that you mention your observations about CJ. Most of my encounters with CJ have been at “Celebration” conferences by SGM/PDI or on CDs with recorded teachings. I had not really seen or heard him in other contexts until one day…he was being interviewed on Al Mohler’s radio broadcast. This was a few years ago…maybe 2006 or so? Somewhere in there. Not exactly sure. Anyway, I was still at my SGM church at that time. I also listened to Al Mohler’s program from time to time. Well, I tuned in to listen to CJ being interviewed. I don’t remember what the topic was about. I do remember, however, that CJ seemed very LOUD compared to Mohler. He seemed to “interrupt” Mohler with his giggles and laughing. It was over-the-top behavior for the context of the situation. There were “sports” references being made. (I couldn’t care a flying flip about sports, but anyway…hence, I don’t fit in SGM at all…but I digress.) I remember cringing a little and feeling a little embarrassed by and for CJ. However, after that…I didn’t think much more about it until I read your post just now. He is definitely far from “humble” just by his actions and behavior. I read his book. I was unmoved. I’ve read BETTER when it comes to the topic of humility. I was unmoved by “The Cross-Centered Life” too. I didn’t even finish it.

  • mandavilla

    We left our local pdi church ten years ago and joined a group that was new and interesting and allowed us to use our gifts and talents while still being imperfect Christians.Little did we know that church had some of the control issues that we ran away from .In the end The pastor was outright dishonest and his home life a wreak(allowing his teenage son to live in his basement with his girlfriend and later grandchild).About this time I received a miracle from God in the form of a back surgery that went wrong-a miracle in the fact finally had time to research the sherparding movement and the controlling techniques they use to keep people captive to man,s want .This time around I am taking my time in finding a church and tithing to one-for the first time in my life I am finally doing what I want and what I believe God desires for me.I now have a prayer life after 20 years as I found I just could not pray dialey when I was under that much bondage-also I study the bible pretty regular as I do not want anyone else fooling me again.I still do not trust leaders and feel pretty sure I never will(or at least I will keep one eye open)I am not sure where I stand on tithing as I know for a fact your value to a church depends on your willingness to give whether it is your money time or talents-and if you suddenly become broken in body your money better cover what you can not do for the church(We had one church after the first month of visiting set up a mailbox for “communication” one week later we got tithe envelopes-so now it’s me and the holy spirit -I want to thank the people who run this blog and the many others like happymom and her daughter(and the people who told their stories and are taking action )and many others for teaching me how to spot the wolves in sheep clothing.Thank God for for SGM Survivors.

  • Square Peg

    How did I end up here? Well, because I know “Esther.” I know her story. She is a woman of great faith and practicality all rolled into one. She has a lot of wisdom. She has been an inspiration to me in the midst of all that she went through.

  • Square Peg

    While I was still at my SGM church, I refrained from reading. I was actually disturbed at “stumbling” upon the blogs and reading little snippets of them. I knew they were out there because of my familiarity with Esther’s situation, but I didn’t know what they were called. We were cautioned to avoid reading them because of so-called exaggerations of truth, sour grapes, and the like. I stumbled on them by accident while looking up something else related to SGM. I was uncomfortable with what I read at first. I talked to my CG leader and a pastor at the time regarding my concerns. They offered re-assurance that the blogs were this or that, and that it was best to not read the distortions, etc. My CG leader said that he even attempted to participate in the blogs in order to refute some things, but to no avail. At the time, I agreed that it was best to not read. As time went by, I became curious. How could so many people have issues? If there are that many, there must be something going on. I remembered Esther’s story. I heard about CJ stepping down. I knew it was time to read to see what all the fuss was about. I knew something was going on.

  • ccinnova

    I’m a longtime lurker, but this is my first post.

    I discovered this site several years ago through a link from another site, “I Kissed Dating Goodbye: Wisdom or Foolishness?” I saw the link to that site in a discussion at the now-closed Crosswalk forums.

    I know a couple who used to attend a SGM church; I won’t mention which one to protect their privacy. While dating courting, they were accused of being in “sin.” They weren’t engaging in any behavior Scripture condemns as sinful; they simply weren’t following the letter of their church’s legalistic rules and regulations. The couple left the SGM church, got married, and they and their children are now involved in a Bible-believing church which doesn’t subscribe to SGM’s bizarre belief system.

    I’ve followed this site and a couple of similar sites over the last several years. While I’ve never been involved in SGM, I’ve been subjected to spiritual control and mild cases of spiritual abuse in the past. Unfortunately, that was in the pre-Internet days, leaving me no place to turn. I left church altogether for several years before returning about 12 or 13 years ago. I’m grateful for this and other sites which keep a watchful eye on groups like SGM.

  • acme

    I’ve been on the blogs since 2008 — sometimes more actively than others — and I no longer remember exactly how I got here. Here’s a posting of mine from 2011 about my concerns with CLC and SGM. I used to be able to link to my original posting of my story in the old SGM Uncensored archives, but I can’t see it anymore.

    Anne CLC 1986-2007

  • delta dagger


    When you look at the leadership of SGM Steve Shank DH and Rick Gamache these men I see hope for SGM. When CJ steps down here in a year or two I want to see this blog come up with a list of leaders inside or outside of SGM who will make all the people happy.

  • Sick with worry

    Hey Delta, you can never make all the people happy….. But your idea of turning around a sinking boat sounds exactly what SGM usually does.

    Maybe SGM should be run by Tim Cook and Howard Schultz. Those men know how to execute, and SGM pastors seem to look up to them.

  • delta dagger

    Also SGM should set up a system for the pastors of SGM TO vote in new leadership every three to four years this would give the people in the home churches hope for a better SGM.

  • musicman


    Dave Harvey is as duplicitous as CJ. He is not humble and he is a moral coward. Dave has spent most of his adult life aspiring to be just like CJ Mahaney.

    Dave Harvey needs to resign and take care of his own affairs before mandating how others should live. He has never planted a church, yet he leads the church planting ministry. He used to admit that he was lousy as a marriage counsler, yet he writes a book on marriage. His advice on parenting has backfired and he has had to eat crow concerning pastors he de-commisioned for the same problems he now faces within his own family.

    The man is highly educated and book smart…maybe even street smart…but he is a hypocrite.

    He is not the droid you are looking for.

  • Nickname

    DELTA DAGGER, DELTA DAGGER, DELTA DAGGER — why do you think it’s a good idea for SGM to even continue as an organization? Every one of the pastors have either been part of the problem or abused by the problem, and they need to be de-programmed, healed, and set free. Some of them should never be pastors again. Some of these guys have had the title of pastor, but in reality, they’ve not pastored anybody, they’ve simply preached down to them from their lofty authoritarian perches.

    There are plenty of Christians who are living joyful, abundant, normal, messy, lives — free of cult-like behavior. Personally, I’d rather see everyone who has been in an SGM church set free of those three initials so they can re-torqued by the Holy Spirit as CHRISTIANS, with their denominational tie as a simple footnote.

    So, Delta Dagger, Delta Dagger, Delta Dagger — hear me on this. As people continue to vote with their feet and their pocketbooks, SGM might not be a viable ship to turn. It may have to be scuttled. If so, so be it. If GOD wants to salvage it, He will surely do so. If He wants it scuttled, no amount of ship-turning will make a bit of difference.

    Christianity is a whole lot more important than SGM-viability. SGM is not, as we once thought, the purest form of Christianity on earth. It was built around the rotten core of blackmail, selfishness, and self-aggrandizement. The outer structure may be able to hold it up for a while, but in the end, the outer structure will find that there is nothing left to be nailed to, and it will be unable to hold together. The thinking that we place our hope in SGM’s survival is short-sighted and sad. It is on CHRIST, the SOLID ROCK we stand. All other ground, including any denomination, any group, any charismatic leader, aside from Christ, is sinking sand.

  • Persona

    Delta, it is unreasonable to ask the very men who ruined an organization, to fix the problems they created. No corporation would ever think of doing that.

    I believe it would be best for SGM to fold-up shop, with all the men you mentioned, retiring from ministry.

  • Stunned

    Musicman said, “The man is highly educated and book smart.”

    Highly educated? I never thought of Dave that way. Maybe you know something I don’t. What is his education, besides the MDiv he holds?

  • lily

    Nickname, 133, great post. Believers really “standing in God’s stead”, would not call their brothers and sisters in Christ, “worms” in God’s eyes, er, their eyes, in an attempt to burden them with the “indwelling sin” which the finished work of Calvary conquered for those who walk in faith of His grace. Do Christians sin? Yes, but we confess our sin to the LORD when His Holy Spirit convicts us, we ask for help from Him, we receive help from Him, we walk from faith to faith. We are being transformed into His image. There are many leaders who do this in the name of Christ. They make money off of and increase power and perceived glory,(in their minds),from the very people they condemn and manipulate. They malign the truth of God’s gospel and His good name.

  • Happymom



  • Marie

    Musicman #132, I agree with your every point, I love the “He is not the droid you are looking for” reference, except for one thing. Relative to the rest of the executive team, Dave Harvey is pretty educated. Like someone else (Persona, maybe?) had shared previously, CJ would not take the time to get an actual MDiv. He will likely get an honorary one.

    But as far as DH’s education, relative to an actual PhD, an MDiv does not stack up well, in terms of the coursework, and original research required. I thought DH had gotten a criminal justice degree, perhaps even a Masters Degree in that, before PDI/SGM……but relative to a bunch of people with MD’s, PhD’s, and so on, I doubt that DH’s educational achievements would stack up much…..Only within the SGM bubble would I call him highly educated…

  • Christopher

    Jemz #108 – I’m very sorry for what you’ve had to endure – both in your family life and church life. I was once part of a church not unlike SGM that, although the leadership stated they were open to “dialogue”, initiating dialogue or questioning anything was seen as an affront to their authority. Those who never questioned were elevated to positions of leadership, and those that questioned or didn’t “fit the mold” were pegged as troublemakers. I was one of the “troublemakers”. When things started going south in my marriage (due to my wife’s psychological health), I attempted to approach the pastors for help, but this was to no avail. The one pastor placed the blame for any problems squarely on me before I could even tell him about the troubles in our home.

    While I will not completely blame the church for the demise of my marriage (there were clearly other issues at hand), they certainly were a contributing factor. I only wish I had the courage to walk out months earlier after being screamed at by the elders in what should have amounted to a civil exchange of a difference in biblical exegesis. Looking back, we were bullied, but because this church held to some unique doctrines which we held to at the time, going anyplace else would have been considered anathema. Eventually, we did renounce our membership (and were “marked” for it), but by then the damage was done.

    Like you, I have had to learn to be much more reserved in my dealings with churches and church members. I want to be an open book, but after that experience (and a few others since then), I simply can’t risk getting beat up again, especially as a single parent.

  • Somewhereintime

    “Delta Daggar” … The OLD F-102 jet from the 1950s … Hmmmm … My guess is that you are an older veteran (thank you for your service) … You’re not from CLC, but you have sat under one of the clowns that you mention. You were/are one of the sheeple that think that a change at the top will make everything bright and shiny.

    That’s ok with me … I was a sheeple at one time myself. The only thing that separates you and I is that I educated myself in what these men have done and I read and reread my bible to understand how a Christian leader should act. Once you combine those two, the scales will fall off (IF you are saved… Not saying you are not, just making the point that the Holy Spirit WILL speak to you if you are saved)

    “Holy Spirit”? some SGMers might ask? Yes, He is the one that CJ and his clowns left about 15-20 years ago. It’s all been man-made doctrine and man following wrapped up in a religious container ever since, hence the downfall of the family of churches. … More yet to come …

    Careful Survivors, Daggar may be one of your old care group leaders.

  • FSGP

    Steve Shank running SGM???!!!???? ROFL!!!!

    OK, let’s play a word association game and I’ll start …

    Steve Shank – ship – Titanic – sunk …

    Glad I headed to the lifeboats a lonnnng time ago,
    Former SG Pastor

  • Marie

    …And PS to all of those people with Masters degrees, I don’t mean any disrespect. I have one myself…..I am in a world where a PhD outranks my Masters degree by far, and I am sure there are many worlds out there like mine. Just really disappointed that CJ garners so much respect in certain circles, but he is so outranked on an educational level. If/when he gets an honorary degree, combined with his humility spiel, he will likely careen into a new level of crazy.

    When I saw DH get placed on staff, and start up a singles ministry, and then get quickly elevated to Head Pastor at Covenant Fellowship, I was baffled by all the fawning by the people around him. The Singles ministry that he started was ok, nothing innovative or special. It was likely a good amount of work to do, but no spark showing incredible leadership abilities. I was not impressed with him on an intellectual level then, and I am not impressed with his brains/education now. He always treated people as formulas, as far as I could see, which makes him a good robot (droid), but not a compassionate leader.

  • Debra Baker


    At the risk of sounding like Howard Walowitz on The Big Bang Theory, I just got my MS in Biology this past August and my thesis just arrived as a bound publication two weeks ago. It is a 115 page document that includes original research that will result in two publications in peer-reviewed journals and two more papers are still in the works. It is entitled, “Exploring Neuropharmacology and Regenerative Biology using the Planarian Model.” Alas, I am not satisfied and I am in the process of applying into 5 Ph.D. programs and am eating the lining of my stomach worrying that none of them will offer me into their program.

    As far as Harvey goes, I’m pretty sure he earned his B(A or S) in Criminal Justice from IUP. I remember him taking classes from Westminister for his M(not sure about the other letters.) That was when he started using big fancy words during his increasingly lengthy sermons. I do know that different Masters programs require different levels of, how should I phrase this, um, rigor and I will leave the evaluation to someone else.

    Musicman, what can I say, He is not the droid we’re looking for. That made my day.

  • Persona

    We would do better to evaluate a man’s character than his intellect and education. Jesus recruited his representatives by the quality of a man’s heart.

    CJ is disqualified to lead a Christian organization and serve as a pastor, because he was found wanting in character, not because he was not formally educated. DH and the other former ‘apostles’ are disqualified to lead a Christian organization, because of undeniable character flaws, as well.

    In nearly every case, their wives would do a better job leading than them. Still, I say the whole bunch would do well to find employment in the private sector. This country desperately needs more plumbers, electricians and carpenters, not more wolves in sheeps clothing.

  • Marie

    Well said, Persona!! I completely agree…Character is the most important characteristic to look at for these so-called leaders….More education for them would only give them more things to hide behind. Deception appears to be rampant for this bunch.

  • Marie

    …And actually, I remember when DH was first brought on staff to do things at CovFel, the leadership viewed him as some kind of an educated intellectual, because of his criminal justice degree, or Masters Degree, or something…..After reading Persona’s comment, I see that I am pretty flummoxed about the characteristics for leadership for DH, it is a pretty emotional issue for me, and it will take a while for me to cut through the emotions and express myself well about it.

    I agree that education level is not a Biblical criteria, or wise criteria, for ministry. I think that DH has portrayed himself as the Educated One within SGM, or maybe some people labeled him that way, and it stuck, and he never refuted it, or maybe no one ever bothered to reflect on what that means in the context of ministry. Thank you, Persona, for getting me to try to cut through my emotional fog on this one.

  • delta dagger


    Let me ask you who in SGM is in charge of the west coast of the United States for SGM Mr Steve Shank.

  • Don’t forget that it was at least Steve Shank and Dave Harvey along with others that conspired in Mahaney’s blackmail and also conspired to hide C.J. Mahaney’s sin rather that have it confessed to the body of Christ. These are also the same leaders that allowed Mahaney’s sin to be “white washed.”

    As others have said, not the leaders you would want to take over.

  • In case people didn’t see it another article posted in Louisville about SGM:

    I am sure Mahaney and others in Louisville don’t appreciate the press they have been receiving.

  • Jenn Grover

    I can’t remember how I came to this site for sure, but I know it all began when I found the old SGM uncensored website around 7 years ago (?) and there were links from one blog to another. If I remember correctly, I found that site by Googling “SGM and “Survivor” because I literally wondered how people managed to move on after having my own negative SGM experience. I am thankful, however, the pastor involved in my situation, after more than a year, came to me and repented. As I reflect, I realized that all in my situation did exactly as we were taught and thus the situation imploded. My story is not as bad as many of your stories, but I have one and my story, along with the corruption revealed by Brent’s documents, and the ongoing behavior of theme men since July 2011 have dramatically affected my view of SGM.

    I have been a part of 3 SGM churches and a church plant (with Music Man and Blues0080.) My brother has written music published by SGM and has completed the Pastors College and 2 internships. Between my own negative experience, watching my brother get used (my words, not his), and the negative experience of friends in various SGM churches, I saw that there were major problems in SGM. I left my SGM church last spring when it became evident that those leading the church did not want to lead the church through the SGM crisis; they were content to let it pass. They did not see that the issues were systemic and did not see how those issues affected our local church.

    Not only did I drink the Kool Aid, but I served it. I as a poster child at propagating SGM values and talking points. I am still in the processing of having my eyes opened to the wrong thinking I adopted in my over 20 years or so associated with SGM and praying that God will help me separate the wheat form the chaff. Among my biggest realizations have been that neither knowing more about reformed doctrine nor being good at self-identifying my sin are actual fruit, suspicion is a God-given reaction to sinful actions, and pressure to “assuming the best” of people who have proven themselves unworthy of that caliber of trust is an attempt control and manipulate people.

    So many of us with so much invested can’t all be wrong, can we?

  • Persona

    Steve 240

    “Covenant Life spokesman Don Nalle said it has been evaluating its relationship with Sovereign Grace in a confidential, internal process.”

    a.k.a. ‘behind closed doors…their customary M.O.

  • Stunned

    Could this poorly educated gal offer one correction to Marie and Persona in the discussion of education and character?

    Character is not the most important trait. There is one of much greater importance that sometimes we overlook. Love. The greatest thing.

    If they speak with the tongues of angels, or are the most disciplined souls on earth, nearing perfection in all their behavior, but have not love, they are nothing. And surely, woefully inadequate to lead anyone.

  • Stunned

    delta, please stop being a condescending jacka#$ with your thrice spoken greetings. If you’re over 12 years old you know you are being rude and trying to manipulate people. Gee, maybe you do fit in in SGMland.

  • Stunned

    Kris, feel free to wipe out that comment of mine above. Now that I have walked in those shoes, I feel as if I have just bathed in mud.

  • ATC

    Hello all, especially Kris :)

    This site was such a soul builder for me. My wife and I experienced pure sociopathy in a NON-SGM church leader back in the summer of 2008. Before then, I don’t think I’d even heard of the phrase ‘heavy shepherding’ or ‘spiritual abuse’.

    We were completely tail-spinned by this experience, and it was the one forceful thought for almost every minute of every day for quite a while. People who have gone through it will know what I mean.

    So I started googling my new-found phrases of ‘heavy-shepherding’, ‘pastoral abuse’, ‘abusive churches’ and had my eyes opened (and my heart sunk) to see how prevalent this was in the forms of ‘Church’ we often take for granted today.

    Those Google phrases led me to Survivors and SGMRefuge and many other non-SGM related sites that were helpful.

    The actual behaviour of an abusive leader / pastor and the resulting psychic / spiritual trauma of that abuse on the victim is so similar, no matter the nation / tribe / tongue / denomination, etc, in which it occurs. The testimonies on the two sites resonated with our own experiences.

    When I first came across the sites, I though ‘Oh no! Not SGM?? I LOVE their music.’ I had ‘Worship God Live’ and older tapes from PDI and I knew they were both charismatic and Reformed, which ticked my own theological boxes.

    It’s ironic that our own abuse occurred in a NON-SGM church and yet, because of these blogs, I’ve had my own little impersonal run-in with SGM UK leaders. Comment 14 from me on this linked thread following, which details how I was Twitter stalked into an attempted magisterium should show anyone with a few brain cells and a pinch of grace just how high and lofty the SGM leadership in the Bristol church thinks the role of ‘Church Leader’ really is. :

    At times, (the summer of 2011 springs to mind), the news on the blogs was more dramatic, twist-turning, and jaw-dropping than any movie in my DVD collection. Both blogs serve as a testimony to What Can Go Wrong With Any Church Movement and they’ve undoubtedly been used over and over again by God to lead many Christians to true freedom in Christ.

    God bless y’all!

    ATC, UK.

  • Persona

    Stunned 153 Unfortunately, what SGM leaders think is loving behavior, is sometimes considered abuse by members.

  • Jeff Trues.

    In several heart rending situations I have seen God restore the years the locusts have devoured; He has done this – I believe He is still very much at work to continue to restore the broken hearted and those pained by grief, sin and sorrow. I also have heaven to look forward to – where every tear will be wiped away, where there is no more sorrow, no more pain. Until that day, however, I have much to do in loving others more than myself. I have not loved as I have been loved.

    My name has been written in the Lamb’s Book of life since Easter Sunday 1973. I married my wife in 1976; we joined CLC in April 1977. We were introduced to “Survivors’ and “Refuge” back in 2007. I hated so much of what I read there. I was a lock-step, rank and file loyal member of CLC. I have said for many years that I would probably die here at CLC.

    Since the beginning of starting what we called a “New Testament” church I had a strong sense that we were living in momentous times. I began to save and collect all I could get my hands on, in order to mark the place in history where we sought a new direction or change or to mark where teachings or influences shaped us. For many years I kept a daily journal, much of this is in a spread sheet now. Oh, one more thing…I became the CLC archivist.

    Over the years, when our family traveled, we would visit many “SGM Team Related Churches”. We were treated like royalty. Sometimes we stayed with SGM church members who had opened their homes to us but had never met us before. We have seen so much over the years (all from within a bubble).

    Boy was I in for a surprise when the documents were released. So much light was shed I nearly went blind, I staggered, I despaired, and I wept. I also began to read and to talk – we started a Members Only Forum at CLC. The fight began for what I had given the best years of my life to build that was truly worthy, honorable and noble. With the help of many many people both here on this Survivors site, Refuge, SGMNation and elsewhere, we pushed and pulled for more disclosure. I said then, as I say now “Full Disclosure or Full Exposure”. God will have His way with us. I know that one day all will be revealed; and were it not for the cleansing blood of Jesus, I would shudder.

    When we started to get some serious “push back” about the CLC Forum, I knew we really had a “tiger by the tail”. I felt I was surrounded by strategic thinking folks who gained and offered perspective; perspective I did not have. I began to question more and more; I failed to understand a lot of what was going down; I speculated, and I guessed. I took, what turned out to be huge risks and have lost dear and precious relationships as a result. This is only temporary though, because God will restore, even if I have to wait until we all sit down at The Marriage Supper of The Lamb.

  • Guy

    Great comment Jeff. Thanks for posting it.


  • delta dagger

    Sorry I will tone down my input.

  • Watercolor

    Do we really need another “denomination” oh I’m sorry a “family of churches” with perverted practices of religious predomination over fellow believers.

    The entire leadership of SGM has an unrealistic and improper inflated and exaggerated view of themselves. Instead of Jesus truly being Lord over all this leadership contend and compete, sometimes covertly and sometimes overtly, against one another with varying degrees for territorial supremacy and “headship” over their private “kingdoms” and domains. SGM humanly appointed bureacats have seated themselves in the chair of moses within their man made hierarchy while making pious-sounding statements about Jesus being the head of the church. The SGM humanly invented hierarchial government is unscriptual which in essence is a “chain-of-command”, composed of ascending echelons of sub-leaders appointed by and linking up to the chief leader.

    Absoluet submission is an integral and essential element of SGM theories and practices which is an extremely destructive mechanism with the sole goal of which is unauthorized and ungodly predomination and control.

    This concept of authority is a conglomeration of error, excess, distortion of Truth, and outright deception, and that any similarity of that concept of authority to the concept contained in Scripture is virtually non-existent.

    None other than the One with the nail-prints in His hands and feet is worthy to be the Head of the church which are His individual believers.

  • Persona

    This is a time that the Lord is ‘taking away’ but, boy am I glad that He is in charge, rather than Sovgracemin.

    I am encouraged that we are moving into a time where God is ‘giving back’. But there is grace for every season.

    Sometimes we hinder God by our earth-bound dreams of storybook endings whilst His stories are not only more interesting but, in the end, much more redemptive. One big difference is that in His endings, he gets all the glory.

    I would never have imagined that CJ of all people, would initiate a church split. I also never would have imagined so many other pastors would follow him. And, I still find it hard to believe CJ talked to folks privately about planting a ‘replacement church’ in the G’burg area. All these things are shocking to someone so long a part of that society.

    Likewise, I would never have thought that CLC, Fairfax and other churches would desire to divorce SGM or, that so many abusive situations lay hidden beneath the surface of SGM churches.

    Until the publishing of Brent’s docs, CJ was quite successful in keeping his true colors hidden. He should be ashamed of himself, not repackaging and promoting himself anew.

    I also never once imagined we would be able to openly discuss SGM activities and abuses with the whole world online.

    That last item is possibly the most stunning thing of all.

  • Jeff Trues

    With all the years you have invested in CLC/SGM I am sure that the revelations, especially what was shown in Brent’s documents, was tramatic for you. I am sure it was even more that even after Mahaney’s sin was clear how he trivialized his own sin and other SGM Leaders allowed this.

    It has to be sad when a leader you looked up to and were under the impression had integrity and practiced what they preached to demonstrated otherwise.

    I am sure in addition to church splits and denomination splits, Mahaney’s actions along with other top SGM Leaders’ actions have caused rifts ina number of friendships.

  • Muckraker

    Persona @161 You took the words right out of my mouth/keyboard! This in particular, I still can’t fathom this!!!

    I would never have imagined that CJ of all people, would initiate a church split. I also never would have imagined so many other pastors would follow him. And, I still find it hard to believe CJ talked to folks privately about planting a ‘replacement church’ in the G’burg area. All these things are shocking to someone so long a part of that society.

  • Jenn Grover

    Persona @161 You took the words right out of my mouth/keyboard! This in particular, I still can’t fathom this!!!
    I would never have imagined that CJ of all people, would initiate a church split. I also never would have imagined so many other pastors would follow him. And, I still find it hard to believe CJ talked to folks privately about planting a ‘replacement church’ in the G’burg area. All these things are shocking to someone so long a part of that society.

    In summer 2011, I kept thinking, “Surely, CJ won’t do this to Covenant Life….” Look how wrong we all were. He went way beyond what I thought he would do to CLC.

    Jeff – second time today the passage from Joel has crossed my path today.

  • musicman


    I only meant to convey that Dave has finished degrees of higher education and is well read. I’ve spent time with Dave and some of his family. They always commented how Dave could practically speed read and still retain information.

    I felt this way when speaking to Dave. I could refer to a pretty obscure theologian and he would have a good (and sometimes better) grasp of the author and his views.

    Dave is smart and has some intellectual chops in my opinion. I also think he’s wasted his chops on trying to justify his devotion to CJ.

    I was just trying to be fair in my description of Dave in respect to Delta Dagger’s astounding suggestion that Dave could be the man to right this ship.

  • Unassimilated

    Jeff, you are one of the many people that have been on my heart, in my mind, but most importantly in my prayers.

    We all became part of something wonderful, and as you separate the truth from the deception, rejoice that God in his
    faithfulness, in his passion for each and every one of us, he was amazingly faithful to us as individuals, and faithful
    to our local expression of the body of Christ (as we called it). I know as I learn to refocus my eyes and affections, there
    is nothing more worthy of a greater view, a deeper appreciation, or closer relationship than Jesus Christ.

    For me the greatest thing about CLC was the many people like you and your family. You could change the pastors,
    and the buildings as we often did, but without the faithful, there was no “Happiest place on Earth.”

    I will continue to pray that in all things, you and your family are always drawn closer to the truth and love
    that is our savior, Jesus Christ.

  • delta dagger

    I think the next leader of SGM.
    1. Have to look like Rock Hudson
    2. Have five PHD degrees
    3. Be a war hero
    4. Have a wife like Donna Reed
    5. Spend 24 a day running SGM
    6. Plus be paid $8.00 an hour
    7. Live in a cardboard box.
    8. Drive a 1968 Ford F-100 Pickup truck.
    I think this is a short list of what will make all the people on this blog happy.

  • Remnant

    Not to be snarky but…

    The next leader of SGM
    1. Has to look at the heart of his fellow parishoners
    2. Have five fingers on each hand that reach out to serve, actually serve with his own hands, the hungry, downtrodden, naked, and those in prison
    3. Be a great spiritual warrior who desires to pray and who knows how to pray through a situation
    4. Have a wife unlike Donna Reed, but a wife who knows her own calling from the Lord and a willing heart to fulfill whatever role the Lord sets before her, whether it be as homemaker or career woman
    5. Spend 24 hours a day as a precious servant of God, serving alongside his lay brethren, willing to go at a moment’s notice, wherever the Lord needs him
    6. Plus be paid a reasonable rate instead of double, triple, quadruple dipping, counting his service as a privilege instead of a right, counting himself blessed if his congregation is large enough to provide his needs even if he needs to maintain a “tent making” job to supplement what his congregation provides, and be willing to do God’s work even if it means living on a sacrificial salary as do his parishioners who give sacrificially
    7. Live in a cardboard box in a third world country for a time in order to appreciate the mini-mansion he may come to enjoy later in life
    8. Drive a reasonable car as does the average parishioner
    I think this is a short list of what the Lord might require of a servant worthy to be called a leader of the Church.

  • JustMe

    A book I’ve read on pastoral leadership and like a lot is ‘The Jesus Style,’by Gayle Erwin. Actually read it 3 times; I’d like more to stick. :) It’s a good read even if you’re not in pastoral ministry.

  • Jenn Grover

    Delta Dagger, patience is wearing thin with obnoxious responses like the ones you have posted.

    Is it too much to ask that leaders, like CJ, Dave, and Steve don’t conspire in blackmail? Is it too much that leaders who told us for years that they were holding each other accountable, be held accountable for not doing so? Is it too much to ask that SGM leaders be good managers of their homes, instead using “the gospel” as an excuse for abdicating their parenting? Is it too much to ask for one of these guys to apologize to us for deceiving us as to why Larry left?

    In other words, there are some serious issues tied to all of these guys. CJ has expressed a limited degree of repentance and nothing from Dave or Steve for their roles in the whole mess.

  • Delta Dagger,

    Did you ever stop to consider that for an assortment of people who post here, your questions (about what SGM could do to make them “happy”) are totally irrelevant?

    Your desire to talk about the qualifications for SGM’s next leader is especially beside the point. Yes, we all know that SGM would love to change the subject and try to keep everyone focused on the future, but any talk of the future is ridiculous without dealing honestly and openly with the past. At this point, there’s little hope of SGM’s remaining viable for the long term. Because of their continual hedging, parsing, and obfuscation, it really makes no difference who sits on SGM’s throne 6 months or 2 years from now.

  • Remnant

    knowing Jesus,
    loving Jesus,
    sharing Jesus,
    exhibiting faith in Jesus,
    understanding the blood of Jesus,
    talking about Jesus,
    reading about Jesus,
    serving Jesus,
    learning about Jesus,
    trusting Jesus,
    having the ethics of Jesus,
    being honest like Jesus,
    making Jesus first,
    making Jesus last,
    as in Jesus the Alpha and Omega,
    repenting in Jesus’ name,
    praying in Jesus’ name,
    worshiping Jesus,
    bowing down before Jesus,
    honoring Jesus,
    glorifying Jesus,
    living in unity in Jesus,
    telling the Truth in Jesus,
    telling the Truth of Jesus,
    rightly dividing the Word of Jesus,
    making it all about Jesus,
    because being a Christian is all about Jesus.

    That would be a really great start, imho, regarding the qualifications of a leader of an SGM church.

  • Guy

    Dagger, you’re getting pretty close to being labeled a troll. Now we wouldn’t want that, would we?

  • Remnant

    And, I agree with Kris. I don’t think SGM can morph themselves into this model of being about Jesus. I just don’t think they can put aside their doctrines and ways and beliefs and methods and twists and manipulations and leader worship and hierarchy and false dilemmas and twisted thinking regarding sin and practice and evilness regarding protecting the sexual perverts rather than the victims and blackmail and serving white middle class Americans to the exclusion of everyone else on this planet and keeping secret reports on members and not allowing Bible studies and thinking they are so exclusively right and treating members as if they are peons who exist to serve leadership rather than leadership existing to serve the members and the hurting world…

  • Debra Baker

    I would prefer that someone other than the dude that dismembered me be considered the ideal replacement for the dude that, among other things, engaged in illegal activities such as blackmail.

    Dismemberment is rather painful, put a dagger through my heart if you can bear the pun.

  • Pffft


    I say it may be too much to ask.

    God requires, He weighs, and He pays.

    There is nothing for a man to hold over another.

  • Jenn Grover

    Pffft….Do you want to throw out the standards god has for leaders? To be above reproach? To be good managers of their homes? It is not that these men are beyond the forgiveness of God or us, it is that they are disqualified.

  • delta dagger

    OK I give up you all win my ideas are dumb.

  • Pffft


    The standards concerning deacons, elders, and overseers, the instructions for dealing with sin, and the instructions for looking after one’s own vessel are all set forth.

    If one has peaceably attempted to show a brother his sin, but he won’t listen (you know the steps), that one is to treat him as a tax gatherer and a Gentile. If one runs with those who won’t apply the same process, he may (I say) become like them. But the brother who would not listen is not that one’s business anymore, and the one who continues to make that brother his business does not appear to me to be about the business of the Lord who has instructed him.

  • Jenn Grover

    The Bible says leaders have to be above reproach. CJ, Dave, and Steve have brought reproach upon SGM. They are disqualified. PFFT, why are you here?

  • Pffft

    If the ruler of the house is disqualified, one and all can shake the dust off their feet.
    How does their disqualification continue to be a matter?

  • delta dagger

    Hey Kris,
    After the court case and lets say CJ loses the court case he whips out his checkbook writes out a check for $$$$$$$$$$ then what is this blog going to do. After CJ writes out the check this blog must move on. The women in this case will be set for life.We must look to the new leadership of SGM never to make the same mistakes

  • Jenn Grover

    Pfft, you can negotiate God’s standards with him.

    “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.” (1 Timothy 3:1-7 ESV)

    Why does qualification continue to be an issue? Because SGM has disregarded it.

  • lily

    Remnant, even if they do another switcheroo on doctrinal positions, as in going from PDI to SGM in a short period of time, chances are that those who started it will want to stay in control with the “move”.

    It looks to me like SGM is trying to milk off of the Southern Baptist Convention? I heard it is the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S., and how convenient that Mohler has been so supportive after the huge donation CJ made to SBTS, over which he presides. I’ve been curious to see how SGM may morph, depending on which ties he can keep with his celebrity colleagues.

    How pathetic it is that we in the Western churches are so infatuated with stardom, even to the point of flocking to this or that Christian leader or author because of some book they wrote, some mega church they pastor, some political ties they have.

  • lily

    Pfft and Delta Dagger, I hope blogs like this will continue even if SGM has to shut down! Christians should be able to voice their opinions, share their observations or experiences, and especially, find comfort and encouragement if needed, from other brothers and sisters in a venue such as this, because sometimes, family, friends, dare I say, pastors, are not there for them. Sometimes, issues can more easily be worked through this way. Person to Jesus is always the best, but He uses other believers, also.

  • Pffft


    I don’t think I’m negotiating God’s standards.

    In my estimation of the reports, those men have been unrepentant and should be treated by the rest as tax-gatherers and Gentiles (and the rest should carry on). I don’t believe those men are even eligible for a consideration that applies God’s standards for an officeholder. Such consideration would be a waste of resources.

    The qualification or disqualification of those men for office is moot, as is SGM’s regard for qualifications (as those men are – for all intents and purposes – the rulers of SGM).

    In short, that is my assessment.

  • Pffft


    did I write something contrary to your hope that “blogs like this will continue…”?

  • delta dagger

    Hi Lily,
    Your right this blog must live on. But the major problem of SGM and CJ will be over after the court case in the fall of 2013.

  • JustMe

    reading some of the discussion this evening, I was reminded of two things. The book I mentioned earlier and this song from Don Francisco, ‘The Steeple’. I don’t know if any are familiar with his folk ballads, but he’s pretty good and from the Jesus Music days.

  • Jenn Grover

    Pffft – thanks for the clarification. It sounded like you were defending their qualification. Glad we cleared it up.

  • Pffft

    In fairness, I have presumed both that certain reports concerning sin are not false and that the men in question have demonstrated contempt for the process concerning their acts/omissions giving rise to the reports.

    I am too far removed from the situation to know first hand the truth of either presumption.

    A proverb about a dog’s ear is coming to mind.

    I should bow out.

  • lily

    Pfft, sorry! I think I was assuming that by the wordage.

  • lily

    Delta Dagger, point taken, but I wasn’t stating that I think this blog must go on. I’m sure it has been a labor of love by Kris and Guy, but other folks may be led in the future to start something similar. Actually, there already are plenty, but it’s a matter of being aware of them.

  • Square Peg

    Isn’t the term ‘excommunicate’ the customary term for putting someone out of the church? Why do I keep seeing the term ‘dismemberment’? I mean…Jeffrey Dahmer…dismembered people. That’s what THAT word means. Is this ‘dismemberment’ some kind of term specifically used in SGM? That, and the term ‘degift’? You can’t degift someone. If someone has gifts, those gifts are from God, and a person can’t take those gifts away from another person. So, it doesn’t make sense to me. Why THAT term? Is that a SGM term also? I’ve asked this before, but it wasn’t answered. I really don’t get it.

  • Square Peg

    The only dictionary ‘degift’ is in…is the Seinfeld dictionary. Just sayin’

  • Stunned

    musicman, I appreciate you explaining that to me. I had thought that there was some degree I knew nothing about. (Not that I would know. I was just trying to understand what you said.)


  • old timer

    The first time I heard cj was in 1985 and I was not impressed when he threw his notes all over the stage while getting laughs from the crowd at the small auditorium in Indiana Pa. He should have been in movies. But that was back in the days when we younger people wanted to follow someone who said they were following God. We wanted to do it better than our parents did….just look at the mess they left the churches in! No pioneers there–just the same old same old. Now, we were the real people of destiny, a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a people for God’s own posession. There was no one like us: )Or what WE were going to do for God.

    Ha Ha.

    We didn’t get very far did we?

    The school of hard spiritual knocks had a way of intruding in our faces throughout the years. Thank you Lord for your mercies in revealing the Truth to us and our arrogance, pride and ignorance of You and Your Wsys.

    It took a few years but the Truth is seen by those who want to see and hear and the blogs contributed greatly to the darkness being dispelled. However, many people realized it for themselves and left on their own as they were led by the Holy Spirit before the blogs were created.

    Jeff T. I think your comment, “The fight began for what I had given the best years of my life to build that was truly worthy, honorable and noble.” very telling. The school of hard spiritual knocks intruded-fortunately for you. Later rather than sooner….but better late than never. You have more to purge because you have more toxicity since you were in it for so long and bought the lies for too many years. And until Brent released his documents you discounted the stories of so many people on these blogs?? after reading since 2007? You really were a company man.

    Have you learned to listen to the Holy Spirit? I hope so. Your eyes have to be dimmed as you come out into the full force of the Son but you can recover if you will.

  • Sick With Worry

    Couple things real quick: I hope every person on here does not necessarily feel like their time in SGM was “wasted”, or that they were “duped” by CJ. It is your business to feel how you feel, but not everything that has ever come from CJ’s mouth or pen is worthless. God is always pleased to bless the needle of truth in a haystack of error.

    CJ needs to be fired…. but if in some mysterious way, God was pleased to point you to Christ via CJ or SGM, then it is what it is. I benefitted from my SGM church…. but of course the A-Team or whatever they are called should be fired. I am just throwing this out there to encourage us all that God is always working in us.

    BTW – thinking about visiting Cherry Hill church this week. Long story that I will not share. But…. I do hear good things from people I respect there. They have not turned their brains off…… but they have not asked Warren a single question either. They told me our boy Prater is preaching and it looks like one of the elder texts. If I am there, I will take good notes for us!! I do not know anything about Prater – I think I have heard good and not-so-good about him. I will try to introduce myself to him if I am there.

  • Square Peg said,

    Isn’t the term ‘excommunicate’ the customary term for putting someone out of the church? Why do I keep seeing the term ‘dismemberment’? I mean…Jeffrey Dahmer…dismembered people. That’s what THAT word means. Is this ‘dismemberment’ some kind of term specifically used in SGM? That, and the term ‘degift’? You can’t degift someone. If someone has gifts, those gifts are from God, and a person can’t take those gifts away from another person. So, it doesn’t make sense to me. Why THAT term? Is that a SGM term also? I’ve asked this before, but it wasn’t answered. I really don’t get it.

    These are terms that first came into use here. Since SGM has no official term for what they do when they show people the door, and since “excommunication” didn’t seem to do justice to what many experienced, “dismember” felt like a better verb to use.

    And yeah, “degift” – I confess to being a Seinfeld fan, so there are definitely echoes of sarcasm in our use of that term, too. It came about because of SGM’s own euphemism for firing pastors. When an SGM pastor would be told to step down (by someone from Corporate Headquarters, even though of course we are now to believe that every SGM church is locally owned and operated, with zero oversight from Gaithersburg Louisville), the visiting apostle would typically stand up in front of the congregation and explain that said pastor had been deemed “not actually gifted” to be a pastor…even though of course everyone remembered when SGM leadership had rhapsodized about how gifted the pastor had been when he was placed into his position. So we began to say that when a pastor was fired, he had been “de-gifted.”

    “Dismemberment” and “de-gifting” are not SGM-sanctioned terms. I’m not sure what SGM calls what they do to members who are no longer members. And they refer to firings with the phrase, “Pastor Such-and-Such is ‘no longer gifted’ to be a pastor.”

  • Delta Dagger said,

    Your right this blog must live on. But the major problem of SGM and CJ will be over after the court case in the fall of 2013.

    Hmm. I was under the impression that the court case was merely one symptom of SGM’s decades of issues.

    I’m not sure why Delta seems to have an obsession with shutting this site down. The way I look at it, the activity and the conversations here will slow down when they slow down. When that happens, it happens. Big deal. I’ve never done anything to try to drum up readership or traffic. People find us (and participate) when they have reason to…and of course that’s because of SGM’s dysfunction, not because people are talking about SGM’s dysfunction. When there’s no reason to talk about SGM’s issues, people will stop talking about them.

    For the record, we don’t have any plans to remove anything, even if SGM somehow miraculously ditches all its dysfunction and owns up to all its past abuses and becomes transparent and honest about what it’s been and what it is now. There needs to be a record of how SGM’s leaders finally were forced to address their organization’s problems. So yeah, there may not be new posts or new comments here at some point in the future, but the old stuff will stay up. I figure readers are smart enough to look at the dates on posts and discern that a particular matter was being discussed in 2010 or 2007 or whatever.

    I know SGM fanboys long to cleanse the internet of anything that reflects badly upon SGM. But that’s not how it works.

  • JoyfulandFree

    Delta #182 and #188,
    The blog is unlikely to go away when court case is finished because sovgracemin has hurt may more people than those involved in the court case. While their stories are easily most horrific and demonstrate sgm at its worst, many of the other issues with sgm remain. All the shepherding movement, authoritarian leadership, sin sniffing, overfocus on the doctrine of indwelling sin, denominational pride is still alive and well. There has been no repentance, they do things “right” and anyone who says otherwise is not “worthy” of them anymore. I for one am so grateful for this blog as I recover after decades in sovegracemin. And I have many friends who are also left hurting and confused over the way sgm negatively impacted their families. I have been able to better understand what drew me to sgm in the first place and why I was unable to see the slow way it sucked the life out of me. The blog showed me I wasn’t crazy and not alone in my experience.

  • Debra Baker

    With respect to the etymology of the word “Dismemberment” in relationship to being released of membership in an SGM church, I believe I am the original source for the word used to define an act of disassociating a member from his or her church home.

    There is, of course, a little story which I am more than happy to tell. After I was kicked out of my church, I had been telling the story to others and used the word “excommunicate” and the leadership of our local church, CFC, objected to my use of the term excommunicate saying that excommunication is a technical theological term that I had had my membership discontinued instead so I obliged them by discontinuing to use the word excommunicate and coining the term dis-member using the very terms they insisted I use but with satisfyingly gruesome sounding results.

  • Muckraker

    Debra Baker @202 :)

  • Rose

    I found this site in August 2010 on the day that I went to church to be greeted at the door of the community center by a pair of bouncers whom I vaguely recognized from the four months I had attended Sunday worship services at a church which was that day being adopted as an SGM congregation. My family was told we were not welcome there, as I had voiced on my facebook page two weeks previous some rather minor criticism of the manner in which the pastor (I did not give his name) had quoted Spurgeon and managed to reduce Jesus to his cross in a sermon. Shocked, I returned home with my husband and two of our sons and googled “Is SGM a cult?” How could it not be when even the most minor criticism of the leadership could be shut down so emphatically and swiftly, with such a heavy hand? The people here helped me know that God has preserved a remnant among his children who have not bowed the knee to self-willed, defensive, and combative elders who devour the “sheep” they have have been sent to serve. Here there are people whose spiritual eyes are open and whose hearts are not hardened, who can see the Holy Spirit at work in the church.

  • New Jersey Girl

    Sick with Worry-

    The Cherry Hill Congregation exhibits many of the main symptoms of SGM koolaid drinking. The exclusiveness, superior-inferior ranking, derogatory treatment of women(by some, not all), leader worship, control, the homeschool/courtship legalism (note- it can be genuine; it is not always legalistic to homeschool, but I am talking about the SGM attitude), etc. I know stories not just from the rank and file but from a nearby pastor.

    They sing catchy songs and then there is the WholeFoods market nearby with a great bakery to make the trip worthwhile. But if it was me, I’d go somewhere else in the morning.

  • Toni

    Rose that is horrid treatment and creepy cultish. Can you share which SGM – that was?

  • Bridget

    Debra Baker —

    SGM leaders need a dictionary . . . membership discontinued?

    Main Entry: 2ex·com·mu·ni·cate
    Pronunciation: \-ni-kət\
    Function: adjective
    Date: 1521
    : excluded from the rights of church membership : excommunicated

    I believe you were excluded from the rights of church membership and excommunicated, no matter what the powers to be at CFC, with their twisted communication methods, decided to call it.

    They had no right to discontinue your membership unless they actually DID excommunicate you. You can’t have one without the other “theologically” speaking. In other words, DH probably had NO theological right to technically excommunicate you in the first place, so he had to come up with another term for what he did . . . now no one could call him out for being “theologically” (and morally) wrong for what he did since he called it something else (eye-roll). The bottom line is, all you did was disagree with parenting teachings that were extra-biblical to begin with. You did nothing that gave him (and it should actually be the “church”) the right to excommunicate you in the first place.

  • Whirlwind

    @DB #202 – “the leadership of our local church, CFC, objected to my use of the term excommunicate saying that excommunication is a technical theological term that I had had my membership discontinued instead”

    That is about the stupidest thing I can imagine a pastor saying (though I’m not doubting it at all). I would love to hear them explain the technical difference between being excommunicated and having one’s membership discontinued. How about this for an explanation – Scripture would require that excommunication be taken before the church, but the elders can decide to discontinue one’s membership without making the circumstances public (which would reflect poorly on them).

    Or how about we translate their terminology into clearer language:

    “Please stop saying we excommunicated you. Excommunication is a biblical concept and what we did has no biblical foundation, not even a weak one. Thank you!”

    So much for those discussions about DH being the intelligent one in the bunch.

  • SGMarlton2

    Sick with worry #198,

    You said …

    “BTW — thinking about visiting Cherry Hill church this week. Long story that I will not share. But…. I do hear good things from people I respect there. They have not turned their brains off…… but they have not asked Warren a single question either.”

    The vast majority there don’t know, don’t want to know, don’t care, or think that the issues with SGM do not affect them. Lots of Sheeple here. Brains are definitely “off”. To your point, they haven’t asked any questions. … Your friends are ” Sheeple”.

    What good things are happening??? The pastors continue to follow Prater and CJ. How is that “good”?

  • Persona

    Rose 204, did the pastor happen to have the initials JL?

  • KAZ

    Delta Dagger #167

    I personally would LOVE to own a late 60’s F100 pickup !!!! That would be a sweet ride if I could find one LOL

  • just a girl

    I come here out of (somewhat morbid) curiosity. I’m very much part of SGM…an inner circle gal, but I want to take what seems fair and valid criticism and check my own life and church accordingly. Admittedly, SGM is messy right now, but I truly believe God is doing a new and powerful work. I’m glad to be part of what I think will be pivotal in the history of the ministry. Go ahead and pity me as a kool aid drinker. I feel the benefits have out-weighed the costs of being in an SGM church. Maybe I’m wrong, and I’m open to being wrong. One thing I notice about this website is the allure of a community that is bonded over like causes. Everyone is so quick to embrace commenters and provide immediate and empathetic feedback. I find that fascinating and compelling…even though I don’t feel part of it. It’s really quite a social network phenomena!

  • Persona

    Just a girl 213

    Welcome! I would love to take the word ‘just’ our of your nom because it sounds like your comments are somehow less valued because you are a young female. But, your perspective is as valuable as any other, here.

    I probably would have had the same reaction as you about this being a ‘social network phenomena’ but really, I think it more as a support group for the marginalized and abused, from the 100+ churches of SGM.

    It doesn’t sound like you have been trampled by your experience in SGM. But, being trampled by SGM is often part of the back-story of those on this board.

    Our family was once part of an ‘inner circle’ in our church. Members of our family were even honored at times.

    But then came the day we disagreed with the rather unsavory behavior of members on the pastoral staff…and things spiraled down so fast it would make your head spin. We suddenly found ourselves cast-out and isolated with our reputation dragged through the proverbial mud.

    You may never experience such a dramatic shift in attitude. I hope you won’t. Or, it could happen to you tomorrow, if your pastors find out you have been reading and posting on the blogs. If you want to find out if that will happen, just post with your real name.

    No matter how much they say they have changed, playing with SGM is playing with fire in my estimation and, you have now been given a friendly warning, which is more than we got.

  • I came here towards the beginning around 5 yrs ago and participated under a different name. I found it by searching “spiritual abuse”. At first it intrigued me because my family visited a SGM church in Chesapeake a few times when it was just changing names from PDI. I have several friends who are currently attending SGM churches.

    I’ve said it before here, but reading this blog helped validate what I was going through in my church which has a lot of similar teachings on courtship, complementarianism/patriarchy, homeschool emphasis, purity, etc. I’ve been a long-time homeschooler and very familiar with Josh Harris’ dad, Gregg Harris. In fact, our family attended Gregg’s church, Household of Faith, church plant for 6 months before deciding it was not a good fit. I eventually started a blog to tell the story of my church abuse. People came out of the woodworks to share their stories from a decade earlier. I had no idea abuse was going on that long. My former pastor sued me for defamation and I won the case last summer. I continue to blog about abuse in churches (in fact I shared “Chryssie’s” courtship story today – she’s from a SGM church)

    An interesting thing happened – because of my lawsuit and the national media attention it got, I reconnected with a friend from the East coast. She sent me a private note through my blog. I had no idea she had been attending a SGM church. In her note, she detailed a couple horrific abuse stories. I was already familiar with the stories because of reading here. Such a small world.

    SGM is part of a bigger system that I’m seeing among CJ’s friends of celebrity pastors banning together and forgetting they are supposed to be tending and caring for sheep, not trampling on them. I hope that our combined blogs will get people fired up about abuse and very bad polity.

    I know what this site has done for me, gave me the courage to speak out publicly. I know how the validation is important in helping people think they aren’t going crazy. Now people are saying the same thing on my blog as they search “spiritual abuse”. Thanks, Kris and Guy! It’s a lot of time involved, I know, but I think there are eternal rewards when people can get back on their feet again spiritually and move on.

  • Whirlwind

    @just a girl #213: Thanks for reading and commenting!

    “I’m glad to be part of what I think will be pivotal in the history of the ministry.”

    Any chance you can elaborate on that a bit? From your perspective, what do you see happening that’s pivotal in SGM right now? With a pivot, it seems you can go up or down depending on how you pivot. Do you have any concerns that SGM might be pivoting incorrectly?

    “I feel the benefits have out-weighed the costs of being in an SGM church.”

    Do you sense any personal costs to being in an SGM church? What would they be?

    As a fellow SGM church member, I’d certainly appreciate hearing things from your perspective. I’m concerned SGM is pivoting in the wrong direction and I’m struggling to see the benefits of remaining. I could elaborate on some possible costs if you’re interested.

  • #201 – you are right. This blog will be especially helpful long after the lawsuit. Right now, you can be sure there are many victims who are watching closely what is going on. They are not in a position to get involved in the lawsuit for one reason or another – perhaps they are weighing the emotional toll of opening up those wounds again. But in time, these folks will begin to come out or feel free to come out and share and it will be so food for them to do so.

    I know in my personal story many people who refuse to even comment on my blog because they are still living in fear of my former pastor. This kind of abuse affects people for years.

  • The only way IMO that SGM could claim the excommunicated someone would be if there was unrepentant sin and to use the Mathew 28 approach of finally bringing the person before the church. Thus when an SGM Leader like Dave Harvey doesn’t want a member around for whatever reason they use a different name for it (some have call dis-membering). Typically the more someone questions and doesn’t blindly agree with the pastors or especially SGM’s pope (C.J. Mahaney) the more likely they are to get dis-membered or “asked” to leave.

    Ironically, people have been “asked” to leave due to questioning policies or teaching that SGM later decided to move away from due to seeing problems with them. Debra’s example is one. SGM might change or see problems with their teaching but at least sometimes don’t want a regular member pointing out these problems.

  • I found this site in August 2010 on the day that I went to church to be greeted at the door of the community center by a pair of bouncers whom I vaguely recognized from the four months I had attended Sunday worship services at a church which was that day being adopted as an SGM congregation. My family was told we were not welcome there, as I had voiced on my facebook page two weeks previous some rather minor criticism of the manner in which the pastor (I did not give his name) had quoted Spurgeon and managed to reduce Jesus to his cross in a sermon.

    That would make an interesting blog discussion by itself. A person attending an SGM Church dares to question what a leader says on Facebook and is “asked” to not attend any more.

  • Wow


    Thank you for your well-stated response to delta dagger, who seems to need a new hobby.

  • Debra Baker

    Steve’s comments made me realize why the general consensus over in the home of the cool aid pitcher is that all of his dissenting voices are silenced. What is a less pc substitute for mute? Dumb! When other voices are silenced and all that is left is Harvey’s version of reality. When the average church goer is waiting for Dave Harvey to supply them with the script for their lives ad tedium, they check their brain at the door and all of a sudden, Dave Harvey looks like a flipping genius by contrast.

    And I’m not saying that Harvey is unintelligent but I have never found him to be particularly witty, analytical, or novel. Having a photographic memory is becoming less and less a measure of intelligence because of our technology but being able to think outside the proverbial box, to see things through others’ eyes, and to civilly discourse about hot button issues, people with those qualities are intelligent.

  • Marie

    Stunned #152, Musicman #165 – Thank you for your comments. They have helped me to process my feelings about DH a great deal. Stunned you hit the nail on the head! Yes! Compassion and love! And that is exactly what DH was lacking when I encountered him in the late 80’s. And I never meant to imply that intelligence and education are super tightly linked.

    Many apologies if I came of as insulting in my attempt to dissect DH’s education. I know many people with PhD’s who I think are quite unintelligent. I think there is useful intelligence, like what DB #221 was sharing – thinking outside the box, and being able to hear someone out on a tough issue – that kind of smarts is quite useful for pastoral care. I am finding it difficult to not let my own career frustrations clog how I express myself. Two of the people closest to me do not have Bachelor’s Degrees, and I am very careful in what I say around them regarding education, so that I don’t come off as condescending.

  • Marie

    Thank you for the clarifications, MusicMan, about DH being able to quicky read material, and understand tricky theologians. I never stayed around long enough to see that side of him. His singles ministry was fairly safe, from what I remember, there was a speaker, pizza, some songs, and that was it, once a month. It is so long ago, I might have missed something. I had been a part of dynamic high school and college ministries that involved public service, getting different people “groups” to mingle, and a good deal of innovative thinking to help raise leaders up. Just did not see that in Mr. Harvey. Sorry to all that receive a great deal from him. I thought he was on a wierd pedestal.

    And in a real out of the box thinking pattern, I have long wondered if seminary training programs promote asperger-like thinking, maybe Half-A$berger thinking?

    Theory of Mind is a relatively new concept help understand Autism and Asperger’s:

    Dave might be one of many casualties of the kind of training that one gets in some versions of seminary training – I have encountered a great deal of this kind of blindness – one gets pumped up in one’s knowing what is better for everyone else – so then a pastor unwittingly gets duped into thinking that dialing down what someone else is saying is a good thing. I saw a whole lot of that with the CovFel leadership.

  • Somewhereintime

    The mark of any spiritual leader must FIRST always be their ability to hear and obey the Holy Spirit. All other training/degrees are irrelevant. This is why SG is in shambles. The leader DO NOT hear or follow the Holy Spirit.

  • Square Peg

    To Kris, Debra, etc.

    Thanks for explaining that. It makes much more sense now…the dismembering and degifting. Both of those terms had me scratching my head for awhile now. Now, I get it!

  • Free to Seek Truth

    Brent has a new post up.

    Entitled “Joshua Harris Asks Covenant Life Church to Leave Sovereign Grace Ministries Over Ungodly Leadership Culture”

  • Interesting information in Brent’s latest post.

  • Square Peg

    Marie #223

    You just triggered a bad memory for me. But that is good! Speaking of boring singles’ ministry…

    There was this time we got a new pastor over us single people. He wanted to try this “coffeehouse” vibe with the singles’ ministry for our once-a-month get-together. I was kind of discouraged because I thought it would be nice if we mixed things up a little more. One month do a coffeehouse, another month do a community outreach (soup kitchen, crisis pregnancy volunteering, whatever), another month do some street evangelism. Another month, maybe a fun thing like skating, skiing, ballroom dance classes, etc. Have a variety, in other words. And certainly, include being more community focused. There had been some community focus off and on over the years under other singles’ pastors, but it had grown inconsistent to non-existent, pretty much. This was partly due to pastor change-overs for the single folks.

    I also noticed that it was the same single people who came to the coffeehouse thing month after month. It was the same old, same old. Everybody circled together into their little cliques. I thought it would be nice to have some ice-breakers, mix and match people with some silly trivia things and games.

    Anyway, being full of ideas and suggestions…and just wanting to be heard, I made an appointment to speak with the new singles’ pastor.

    He acted as though he was willing to hear what I had to say. But, he was really just going through the motions of listening to what I had to say. He was listening, but not hearing.

    While he allowed me to say all the things on my mind, he in no way, shape, or form had any intentions of doing anything other than what he already made up his mind to do…coffeehouse, coffeehouse, coffeehouse. And that is it. He did say we could invite people, unbelievers, etc. Then, those people will know we are Christians by our love for one another. That was what he was going after. But, were there ever any visitors or unbelievers that came? Not really. Unless they started coming later when I was no longer interested in coming.

    He also said he didn’t like the icebreaker ideas. He felt it was too contrived to “force” people into other groups to socialize. It is better to just let people hang out (in cliques) and do what they typically do.

    The bottom line, he showed zero willingness to possibly try anything other than what he had already made his mind up to do. Well, that’s fine. So, why did he waste my time then, quite frankly?

    At least offer to pray or think about it.

    It was one of the weirdest conversations I’ve ever had. It was like talking to a machine. So, was he like this because he was being forced to do it this way from above? I don’t know.

    Eventually, I quit going to the singles’ ministry. Too boring. And they kept changing who would be in charge of it. That’s just unstable to do that so often. (I almost quit going to caregroups too. Everytime you’d finally settle into one, it would break up or split, etc. How are you suppose to get close to people if your caregroup members keep changing every several months or so?)

    At least I tried to offer some ideas. They were shot down. From talking to other single folks (especially older ones)…their stories corroborated with mine. They tried to offer help, suggestions, etc. in other ways too…regarding the singles’ ministry. But, they walked away frustrated as well…feeling like they can’t or won’t be heard or used for their ideas, gifts, talents, etc.

    A final note…I don’t know if there is any validity to this or not…take it with a grain of salt perhaps…but I’m going to throw this out there to see if it’s just me???

    The people whose ideas were rejected, etc. were older single females. Later, young and fresh single faces (both male and female and ‘hip’) were suddenly in “visible” ministry among the single people doing the very things suggested by other people (older single people.) Maybe a coincidence. Just an observation. It may mean nothing.

  • Wow

    Debra #221

    “And I’m not saying that Harvey is unintelligent but I have never found him to be particularly witty, analytical, or novel. Having a photographic memory is becoming less and less a measure of intelligence because of our technology but being able to think outside the proverbial box, to see things through others’ eyes, and to civilly discourse about hot button issues, people with those qualities are intelligent.”

    WORD!!!!! (where, oh where, have my emoticons gone?)

  • musicman


    Fair enough…I agree that having quick recall does not equal creative genius or intelligence. I just didn’t want folks to think I was just beating up on “poor old” Dave.

  • Wow

    I read Brent’s post. I was glad to read what Josh had to say, simultaneously feeling a little sheepish about reading it. I believe it should be public, but he hadn’t released it to the public. Getting past that, I had to skip over Brent’s commentary. I don’t know why Brent continues to act as though this is about him. It is much bigger than Brent. Brent helped create this system, and while I feel for how he has been betrayed, it is doubtful his documents would ever have seen the light of day had CJ not turned on him. However, people would have been no less victimized within the culture.

    Brent didn’t release his documents for public view, some anonymous (for the unthinking mind) person did. I can’t help but wonder if CJ had repented to Brent at any point, how much we would know about the behind-the-scenes childish and arrogant communications between our so-called leadership.

    I’m pretty sure Brent will read this, so Brent, correct me where I’m wrong.

  • delta dagger

    Hey WOW,
    Just heads up I like SGM and about 99.9% of the leadership. This blog helps keep the .1% of evil doers in line. I am sure that SGM checks this blog daily to see if any of SGM churches are out of line.

  • Wow


    I’m not quite sure I understand your post, let alone agree with it. I have friends who remain in SG, in congregation and in leadership. I wouldn’t call the ones I know evil-doers. As a matter of fact, I’m convinced CJ himself believes that he is a victim and completely righteous in this situation. If you have read this blog and believe that SG is 99.9 percent correct in its religious system, you need to read again or set aside the experiences of a heck of a lot of people.

    I don’t know whether SGM checks this blog or not as a matter of course. I doubt CJ can stomach it. They probably have minions for that. I can’t help but wonder who you think might be the .1%. That’s a mighty small percentage and a very big word. What do you use as a standard of measure?

    Most of us also liked SGM at one point, even the Ceej. Probably 99.9% of us.

    Remind me, what was the purpose of your post? My dementia is kicking in.

  • wow


    It might be helpful for you to read Josh Harris’s words on Brent’s blog. Brent is no longer SGM.

  • Fair enough…I agree that having quick recall does not equal creative genius or intelligence. I just didn’t want folks to think I was just beating up on “poor old” Dave.

    I am sure the same is true for C.J. Mahaney. Mahaney might read and be able to quote from a number of books but doesn’t appear to have the best analytic skills. Maybe if he picked up and was fascinated by a Armenian book before he read the book that “sold” him on Calvinism and Reformed the group would have moved or stayed more towards Calvinism?

  • Sick with Worry

    What a day! I do think CLC is making progress.Josh is doing what he can under the circumstances, and he is doing a good job. i appreciated what he said about feeling called to focus on CLC and not so much the other things.

    I wish Tim Shorey had kept focus on his local church rather than this SGM train wreck. I hope Tim reads Brent’s post and Josh’s words. (go ahead Tim, I will not tell Mickey)

    SGM is now exposed and all the large churches have members that will keep Brent updated. I do not agree with Brent’s posting of this info, but I do think we deserve to know, which is Brent’s point.

    Diamond Dave is smart, and a capable leader. Perhaps he is not capable of leading a large organization, but certainly a church. He got into bed with CJ and defended SGM’s actions for too long. I respect some of his strengths, but this mess has destroyed his credibility. Character matters, as other posters have mentioned. I think Dave has his days where he wishes things were different. I do not trust him, but part of me wants things to be different for him.

    Delta Dagger is just yanking our chains. I am sure Kris and Guy block all kinds of garbage that gets posted.

  • Jenn Grover

    Seems like both CLC and SGM need to come clean on this:

    “In January, C.J., Dave Harvey, and Jeff Purswell “began to actively pursue planting a new church in our area.” To be more precise, they planned to start a church 10 minutes away in Germantown, MD. This “actively pursue” means they were actively recruiting people who had left CLC but also members who were still at CLC. This involved C.J. secretly approaching people. Joshua should have spelled all of this out for the members of CLC.

    C.J.’s recruitment pitch was an invitation to be part of a new church that “used to be like CLC” even if CLC stayed with SGM. That is utterly unethical. C.J. deceitfully recruited behind the backs of the CLC pastors by using manipulative slander. I knew and wrote about these plans last Spring because Mickey Connolly was telling pastors about their covert plans not only in relation to CLC but to other churches as well. “

  • Mary

    I see some of you have been discussing single’s ministry. Many years ago when I went to CLC you were encouraged to live in households with roomates from CLC. Do you know if that is still the case? That seems really odd to me now. Other churches I have gone to – don’t do that.

  • Mary

    Jenn #237 – that is so shameful. It is God’s house – not a personality contest. So sad. That grieves my heart.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Jenn, that is incredible hypocrisy given what CJ insisted others do for 30+ years. It is outrightly divisive and unethical.

    If this is brought to the attention of the big dogs and they brush it under the rug, I think any blessing on their ministries will evaporate. This sort of treatment of Josh and CLC is psychopathic and CJ needs to be removed for good.

  • Persona

    Mary 238

    There are of course, a few singles’ households at CLC but, they do not follow the same system as those in the 80’s with all the rules. Back then the households that were established even named them names, like “House of Jubilee”. Some were filled with grace and others were more legalistic in nature.

    Not long before he fled the area, CJ made an interesting statement about singles’ ministries being ‘unbiblical’. His opinion was that every eligible adult should be married and make singles’ ministries obsolete. In fact, in about 20004, every single guy at NEXT was asked to stand-up and vow to get married as soon as possible. Not sure how that panned-out.

  • Jenn Grover

    Persona – don’t even get me started on that line of thinking about singles. CJ got that straight from Mohler. “There is no biblical category for enduring singleness.” That was the BS phrase Mohler used. I guess we should just throw out the entire passage on singleness that Paulw rote for the convenience of Mohler and Mahaney. My brother confronted CJ (I was with him) about letting Mohler speak on the subject after the 1st Lousiville NA conference. CJ admitted that he thought Mohler went overboard and that he and Josh had tried to get Mohler to tone it down the night before but overall he thought for the good of the group (at the expense of older singles) Mohler’s message should be heard. CJ tried to deflect my brother to Mohler, but my brother told CJ Mohler wasn’t responsible for SGM, CJ was. Mahaney would hear none of it.

    Andy Farmer led a community group for the “older singles” after the session and he spent the whole time doing damage control and from what I understood, the damage control continued at the local churches for quite a while after that.

    I remember a PDI where singles were exhorted to glorify God as they uniquely could as singles. After CJ became pals with Mohler that message was out the window, marriage and family became idols, and singles became second class citizens in SGM.

  • Mary

    Persona – WOW! That is terrible because many of those guys would then look to marry just because that would make them look good to leadership. Shocking really. And, yep some of the households back then were pretty legalistic and even assigned a home leader. Thankfully I was in a household more focused on loving God and having fun which is good since the big legalism wave hit the church not long after and almost drowned me :o)

  • Uriah

    CLC, Fairfax, and those who continue to remain in a SGM church:
    I believe the fundamental issue that informs most, if not all, the fallout SGM is currently experiencing is rooted in the fact they will not concede the simple truth that the body of Christ, the church, is where the effectual authority of Christ resides in the earth today. Ultimately, Christ’s effectual authority does not reside in a man or a group of men, as SGM would have you think. It resides in the collective body of Believers that make up a local church. This is why, for example, Matthew 18 makes its final appeal regarding the disposition of judgment to the church…… not elders.

    Yet, SGM cannot bring themselves to relinquish authority and control over the people of God. SGM has once again reflected this truth in its latest version of polity where “regional elders” have authority over a local congregation or to say it another way, SGM believes that regional elders have authority over that of Christ, as His authority is represented and manifested in the body of Christ. This is the most important and distinguishable error in SGM doctrine, and the reason why they are courting heresy and are considered by an increasing number in orthodox Christianity to be a cult. SGM has institutionalized, in their polity, the subversion of the authority of Christ as it is represented in the Church. All other errors pale compared to this one. The travesty of lusting for power and control over the people of God has not been acknowledged or repented of.

    The pastors at CLC are beginning to realize the import and dire consequence of such an ideology and are in great earnest in their efforts to persuade the flock at CLC to leave SGM. While I do not believe they (pastors at CLC) see the extent and seriousness of SGM’s error, they at least know something is terribly wrong. These are not disputable matters, though the cordiality and politeness of the CLC pastor’s rhetoric would have one believe otherwise. Ironically, the CLC pastors are beginning to experience what so many of the “commoners” experienced for far too long……. shunning, intolerance, dismissiveness, marginalizing, ostracism, etc.

    I want to strongly encourage the body of Christ at CLC to take their responsibility seriously, to seek the Lord, the Head of the church, and hear what He might say to the church at CLC regarding the matter at hand. Together, you comprise the body of Christ. As you seek to hear from the head of the church, Jesus, He will be faithful to make His will known. This is a solemn duty and privilege, and one God has given to no other man or group of men. God, in His wisdom, has made His will known through the church. He has placed great confidence in His representative on earth and graced it with all it needs….. gifts, callings, aptitudes, abilities, and the power of the Holy Spirit to do His bidding on the earth.

    I want to implore you, in the name of Jesus, to rise to this occasion and stand against the atrocity, arrogance, and error that SGM has propagated for so long to the detriment of so many. God’s rebuke has been, and continues to be, upon SGM because it refuses to bend its knee. I am afraid, because of SGM’s prolonged stubbornness, it has now become a rebuke beyond remedy. Brother and sister, I plead with you to leave SGM immediately. It is an unhealthy spiritual environment and one the Lord will not bless because of the choices SGM has made.

    To continue to tolerate SGM’s insistence on wielding a greater authority than the authority represented in the body of Christ is blasphemous and will incur profound consequences, as we are currently witnessing. People of SGM, I am reminded of the courage and noble exhortation of the Apostle Paul in Galatians 2:4-5, “4 Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— 5 to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.

    Brothers and sisters, it is important, for the sake of yourselves, family, and friends not to yield, but rather to stand firm, for sake of the gospel and for the glory of His great name. Many continue to pray on your behalf that God bestows on you the wisdom and courage of Christ.

  • Michael

    @ Persona #241–That message is responsible for more heartache in my life than any other that I’ve heard at an SGM conference. It led many of my friends to pursue marriage more than fellowship with their brothers and sisters at the church, and it placed a burden on me to get married to such a degree that I almost married a woman who was completely wrong for me. I’m not fond of Mohler.

  • Persona

    Michael 245

    Wow, I am so sorry to hear how much grief that exhortation gave you and others. It is so hard being single in a SGM church! You must have felt constantly yanked around.

    I was married before we became members. After watching all the crazy antics and phobias in the singles’ ministry, I was always being grateful for that.

    Does anyone else remember but when Margaret Tomczak used to teach the women before TAG? She used to obsess over marriage. Those days the majority of members weren’t married. Strangely enough the single guys were expected to provide corsages for the young ladies in their home groups, as a way to bless them. Guys were also taught to treat the girls like their sisters. Times have changed!

  • lily

    Uriah, I agree about the lust for power, etc., and that the Holy Spirit actually does the empowering of individual believers in the Church. I also believe though, that many churches have lost sight of the fact that ONLY Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church. He is the Groom, we are the Bride. Although believers will be co-heirs and rule with Christ, I think we need to keep that perspective, so that we can better allow ourselves to be led by God, not by ourselves or others. I think the man-centeredness has resulted in most of the problems we see in lots of churches, not just SGM, for more than 1500 years. I’m not saying you’re implying that, but just think we need to be careful.

  • Rose

    My experience with SGM was in E. Lansing, MI.

  • “Sick With Worry” said,

    Delta Dagger is just yanking our chains. I am sure Kris and Guy block all kinds of garbage that gets posted.

    Nope – we rarely block anything.

  • Fruit Flavored

    I just read Brent’s post regarding Josh’s message to the CLC membership. I too felt a bit guilty in reading what is intended for members only per Josh’s request. However, I’m a bit befuddled as I do not understand how change is happening if what is being communicated is only part of the story. Telling the congregation only part of the story has been standard practice for a very long time and that practice is seems to remain in place.

    Josh said regarding the law suit:

    1. First, we regard abuse of any person as sin, and such sin is especially reprehensible where it involves children.
    2. Second, we are strongly committed to the protection of children with the active enforcement of best practice child protection policies.
    3. Third, our church has not been sued and there are no allegations in the Complaint that any past or present pastor of CLC has committed child abuse. Neither is there an allegation in the Complaint that any other employee or agent of Covenant Life committed any child abuse.
    4. Fourth, there is no allegation in the Complaint that any act of child abuse occurred on Covenant Life property or under its supervision and control.
    5. Fifth, our church has had for many years a robust child protection policy.
    6. Sixth, if a member of the church is a convicted sexual offender, under the church’s child protection policy, significant safeguards are put in place to protect children attending church activities.

    Even though he said in #3 that “there are no allegations in the Complaint that any past or present pastor of CLC has committed child abuse,” he did not say that Grant Layman is a defendant in the suit. He did not say that GL has been accused of being personally involved in the events that led to the lawsuit.

    In #5 & #6 Josh stated that the church has had a very “robust” child protection policy and that safeguards are put in place to protect children from convicted sex offenders. What he did not say is that the “robust” policy still requires children’s ministry workers to report suspected abuse to the pastor instead of calling the police directly. He does not say that for a number of years a convicted child sex offender worked directly in the youth music ministry at CLC. Perhaps there were safeguards in place in this particular circumstance, but again, he did not elaborate on this issue.

    Jenn Grover in #237 wrote about CJ’s active pursuit of CLC members to start a new congregation in Germantown. I’m guessing the only people who know about this are the staunch CJ fans/minions at CLC who were asked to join the new mothership, and those who have read now about it here. Josh should have fully informed the congregation of CJ’s actions regarding this issue even if some of those who were approached were in attendance.

    I realize that there are issues of privacy for those involved and there are probably issues of showing a modicum of respect toward CJ and the SGM board. However, when will Josh and the other pastors respect the congregation enough to trust them with full disclosure. Partial truth is simply not TRUTH!

  • Jenn Grover

    Partial truth is simply not TRUTH!

    Amen!! This has been and remains to be a fundamental problem in SGM. Mark Prater and I had a fairly detailed discussion on this topic and on SGM’s view that there are certain things that, “do not serve” everyday members to hear. During this crisis it became evident that they used this same mentality when it came to sharing information with pastors, as well. I have said for about 18 months now, that none of these men would get away with this level of “honesty with their spouses nor find it acceptable from their kids.

    CLC has made a lot of progress, but they don’t seem to have “arrived” when it comes to transparency and a little complacency in this area is dangerous. however, to me it is equally as important to see how the CLC pastors respond to their members after this lack of transparency has been exposed.

  • Wallace

    Uriah #244,
    Your comment sums up the problem with SGM. It cannot be “fixed” by a polity change and/or becoming an independent church. And I agree, the only hope for people to grow in their relationship with Christ is to leave SGM.

    As a former member of the church in Fairfax (12 years) I was amazed many times at the paradox of their relentless hammering to read the bible yet they would not receive a prophetic word from the Lord if it didn’t line up with their agenda. Jesus was not on the throne in this church.

    The leadership’s typical attitude towards the congregation was that they heard from God and told everyone else what He was saying. This created a spiritually paralyzing affect obviously and was one of the reasons why we left.

    My heart goes out to the people still there

  • Sick with Worry

    Jenn, what is Prater’s current position in SGM now? I assume that he is one of their more loyal yes-men. Is he technically Jared’s boss? How does that work? Is Prater a decent guy outside of his SGM position, or is he a jerk like some others.

  • This is sad to hear that C.J. Mahaney and others in SGM were conspiring to set up a new SGM church in the Gaithersburg area. Sadly the threat of doing this could be an effective way for Mahaney and others to bully local SGM churches to submit to doing things the way top SGM Leaders wanted. I am sure this could be quite the intimidating tactic to try and use against CLC and other SGM related churches.

    Just the threat or hearing that this was done somewhere else could have an intimidating effect on pastors of other SGM Churches.

  • Jenn Grover

    Jenn, what is Prater’s current position in SGM now? I assume that he is one of their more loyal yes-men. Is he technically Jared’s boss? How does that work? Is Prater a decent guy outside of his SGM position, or is he a jerk like some others.

    He is a regional leader – he reports to Dave Harvey and helps oversee the churches in his region. (Isn’t funny, as I typed this, I realized they used the word “oversee” for years, yet claimed no authority over local churches?)He is not Jared”s boss – Jared doesn’t really have a boss formally, but functionally, I am sure Dave and CJ, and even to some degree Mark are all his bosses.

    Most people find Mark to be among the most charming people they have ever met. He appears to be humble, gentle, and sincere. I knew Mark well when he was here. I am disappointed to see him chase after these guys yet it isn’t all surprising.

    Just the threat or hearing that this was done somewhere else could have an intimidating effect on pastors of other SGM Churches.

    You are absolutely correct. Brent went at great lengths to describe the level of intimidation that these men feel. I think the fault lies with both SGM for not recognizing this (I am going to be charitable and not presume it is intentional, perhaps it is – they and God alone know) and for pastors who fall prey to this instead of fearing God.

  • Untraceable

    Welcome “Just a Girl” in 213. I was where you were a couple of years ago. Loved the people in my church. Saw the problems but willing to stay and try to work to put things right. Things can be great on the inside, but only as long as you toe the line. But if you have the gall to disagree with leadership, your head will spin when you see how fast they will try to smack you down. There is no priesthood of all the saints mentality there.

    I challenge you to publicly declare your position – open to seeing problems and willing to speak up. See what happens next. If you are in a CJ loyal church, you are in for an eye opener. If you are in a church that is considering leaving, maybe there is hope for you to escape unscathed.

    I used to post under a different moniker. I paid a heavy price for being open about my position. But I’m thankful now, because it was what finally freed us to hit the exit for good. Think about it. I challenge all you insiders lurking here. See what happens. It may be painful, but the truth will set you free.

  • Somewhereintime


    Prater is a smiling version of Dave Harvey. He toes the line. He is a company man. Always was, always will be (unless he repents).

    All of these “leaders” are SPINELESS!

    Those who had a spine where flung off the bow of the USS SGM. At least they can look back and say that they were true to their Lord. These guys can’t. They will have a heavy penalty to pay.

  • Persona

    Jenn said in #251:

    “CLC has made a lot of progress, but they don’t seem to have “arrived” when it comes to transparency and a little complacency in this area is dangerous. however, to me it is equally as important to see how the CLC pastors respond to their members after this lack of transparency has been exposed.”

    Jenn, we may never know because they continue to choose to ‘respond to their members’ behind closed doors.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the pastors at CLC were forced to include the congregation in the way they are doing right now (the affirmation-vote) because they need to comply with some sort of rules of incorporation by the State of Maryland.

    Those rules dictated that SGM needed a governing board to qualify for status as a tax-free entity. Who know what CLC or SGM are doing now to maintain that status. Nobody ever mentions it.

    So, even if they good pastors of CLC, have the desire to include the congregation in this teensy-tiny way, out of the generosity of their hearts, they should

    1) make plain the details of their incorporation, since Josh removed himself from the SGM board and SGM is out of the picture.

    2) come clean on how much they paid SGM for the digs they vacated abruptly and if they charge them for leaving without the appropriate notice.

    3) share with the congregation all their reasons for their desire to send Matt Maka, ten miles away to plant a church in Mt. Airy. Are the farmers asking for another church up there?

    I am just scratching the surface on all the things the pastors should make known to their curious congregation, those who are fighting desperately to trust them again, with their hard-earned paychecks.

    It would be a good step forward if they would begin to shine a light on the inner workings of their pastors’ meetings…if videos aren’t available, transcripts would be nice.

    The members should not have to rely on blogs for information or the occasional leak of documents, to discover how their church functions.

  • Marie

    Steve #254, Jenn #255, and Persona (from previous page), here is a semi-serious question: I wonder how much money it would cost to rent a billboard right across the street from any proposed rental location for a new church plant from CJ near CLC? Maybe the billboard could have a spiritual abuse hotline number on it, or even be an electronic ticker tape one with weekly updates of the upcoming trial, transcripts of interviews with Susan Burke…..Or if that is not feasible, full page ads in the local newspapers about the need to be informed about spiritual abuse?

    I am pretty tweaked about all of this….I would be interested in an opportunity to exercise our free speech options to discourage this kind of thing…..Surely there is some kind of media project that could be undertaken, through the power of many individuals, to put even more media pressure on CJ to just STOP.

  • Marie

    …And a big THANK-YOU to Kris and Guy for starting this blog, and to Carole and Jim for the Refuge blog.

    I was trying to make sense of a dark time in my life, one of many actually, but a very dark time, in the late 80’s when I attended Covenant Fellowship for about a year. I was just googling SGM to get more info on what they were up to, and this site popped up. I was floored by what I read. I had no idea about the extensive damage that was done. My heart went out to all who were affected by a massive tangle of ego’s. I finally left the movement entirely just before Larry T, around 1995. I had been keeping up with the Fairfax church around that time, but ultimately gave up – long story.

    And shout out to Rose – so sorry for what you have been through – I have distant relatives in East Lansing. I see people in Michigan as rather tough – my grandmother spoke of snow blowing in her face from keeping the window open at night – so I hope that they muster up the courage to kick out the SGM folks from that church. But you should not have had to experience getting bounced. That is just sick.

    I had protested to my home group leader about the name of CovFel – they kept calling it a Philadelphia church. I had just spent time in Fairfax, and Pasadena, at PDI/SGM churches that actually met in those cities. Broomall, PA is miles away from Philadelphia. They did not like me saying that, and they eventually stopped referring to themslves as a Philadelphia church. But I am sure my speaking up contributed to my gradual falling out of favor with the people in the home church – other stories on that for later – but at least I was not asked to leave. I just left on my own, and was glad to do so. I finally attended a church that actually met in Philadelphia, and was welcomed with love and kindness.

  • Diego

    Seeing CJs MO with church planting near Gaithersburg, it will be interesting to see if SGM will plant churches to spread the gospel, or compete for market share with former SG churches. Note to churches considering becoming SG church: Include contract clause for Restrictive Covenant for no other SG church to be established within 50 miles of your location. Get it in writing!!

    Also, previous discussion on DH, there was a day prior to his academic achievements that he heard from the Holy Spirit. Was not uncommon when he would change direction during worship to minister to a specific group. He had a definate prophetic gifting. Not sure when the two parted ways. Maybe after Dave’s sermon and encouragement on dancing in worship (early 90s)…

  • Another example that troubled us is that in January of this year, the SGM Leadership Team began to actively pursue planting a new church in our area. They communicated that this new church would be for people who had left Covenant Life and who wanted a church like “Covenant Life used to be.”

    The feeling was that even if Covenant Life stayed in SGM, we would not be as strongly ­supportive of SGM as this group of people would desire.

    We objected to this church plant because we were still a Sovereign Grace church in close proximity to the proposed plant’s location. Eventually, after we expressed considerable concern along with other pastors in SG, the board asked the leadership team to table this idea. But the situation is indicative of this tendency to withdraw from those who disagree.

    The above is from Brent’s blog and is what Josh Harris told the members of CLC in their members only meeting.

    Again it is something to read about these actions. That presumably Mahaney (being the real top leader) would push for something like this after all the teaching he did about submission to and support of your local church. Again the committment Mahaney taught on doesn’t apply to himself but only to others.

    Nice SGM Leadership agreed to “table” this idea. Thus at least for now it isn’t in the works.

    I was glad to hear Josh Harris pointing out how SGM Leadership has a tendancy to “withdraw” from those who they disagree with.

  • Seeing CJs MO with church planting near Gaithersburg, it will be interesting to see if SGM will plant churches to spread the gospel, or compete for market share with former SG churches.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if they use this as a bullying tactic against churches that might be thinking about leaving or who aren’t toeing the SGM line. Then again, the way SGM has written their new polity documents it would be easy for SGM Leadership to remove leaders of churches that aren’t toeing the line.

  • Terri Ruth

    somewhereintime #257

    Totally agree..prater and harvey are total snakes in the grass…too bad so many hundreds of people continue to be fooled. But then again, I sometimes think they are choosing this foolishness or why do so many people continue to support this ministry?

  • Dan

    On the C J/Josh Harris note, I am packing up to move and found the famous tome on “Humility” – was just flicking through the pages and read his “special thanks” to;

    “To Joshua Harris … you are and always will be my favourite senior pastor”.

    Sad. Wonder if that still holds?

  • Sick with worry

    Affected to the point of tears while reading Brent’s latest post, I had to pull off the road

    Give us this day, our daily Brent….

  • Christopher

    @Diego #261 – It wouldn’t surprise me in the least. It seems there’s always a core group of disaffected members during times like this who will pine for the old leadership, contact the old leadership, and start another competing church plant. I’ve seen it happen when other churches switch denominations/groups before – I don’t see any reason for SGM to be different. It’s perhaps more human nature than anything – we like what is most comfortable to us, and some people don’t react well to change.

  • 28 years gone...

    It doesn’t surprise me to hear wanted to start a company store in Gaithersburg. They did that already! Ask Marc Lawson in Atlanta. 27 years ago he saw the abuse and dared to leave PDI after being sent out from Metro Life Church in Orlando. He left and then the home office sent Larry M and Larry T to start a church nearby. Marc was made to be the bad guy, was vilified all because he wanted to stay Charismatic and didn’t want to tow the heavy-handed way the Apostolic Team (You know, back when they WERE Charismatic) treated him. There is, as they say, nothing new under the sun.

  • Diego

    267: I agree. Focus of SGM is not on the Gospel of Jesus, but on the pockets of CJ and his disciples. If I was Josh, I would not reassure his members that they will have access to SGM resources, but encourage them to partake of the richness of Spirit Filled worship and Resources that point to the Freedom in Christ Jesus. Why give them the dehydrated food offered by SGM. Deep water and rich feast available in God’s Kingdom! They don’t need the songs and books and especially conferences offered by SGM.

  • Christopher

    In addition to people not reacting well to change, some people like prefer to live in denial. Something else that is human nature.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Does anybody really think CLC expects these private meetings to not end up on Brent’s blog? I mean, haven’t we seen a steady stream of letters and meetings leaked for the past year? Josh and crew must know that every word they say will end up online. Can they for one second really think it will stay private?

    No. Impossible. They know it is all going to be on the blogs. I commend them for starting to open up and expose some of what must be exposed, to end this Gospel Coalition and national farce of CJ representing what “Reformed and Charismatic” Christianity is all about. I pray God gives Josh wisdom, and whoever the leaker to Brent is, you are doing the right thing. It is no sin to protect the vulnerable from wolves.

  • Stunned

    ditto what 5 years said.

  • Persona

    5years..Stunned…Amen, and amen.

    And, if they want all sides to be expressed, they are welcome to come on this blog and hash it out, like Curt Allen did. We treated him pretty well, I think.

    Hmm, I wonder how he’s doing sharing offices with Mr. Loftiness these days?

  • katie

    It’s almost comical how the SGM leaders call the CLC pastors “divisive and disloyal” for calling CJ out on his sin, and then turn around and announce they are going to plant a church down the street to “steal” members from CLC! Disgusting!

  • Stunned

    28 Years,

    I’ve never heard of Marc Lawson. Do you know if he is still in touch with SGM?

    I just went to read his blog just for the heck of it and wow… it really spoke to me. In case anyone else is interested, here is the post that made me say, “Wow.”

  • Unassimilated


    You can start here – http://www.thelightswitch dot net

    He stopped all blogging, closed his twitter account, etc. Did he make the move though? Thought he stayed with CLC
    and is keeping low for a while?

  • Unassimilated

    Sry, changed his twitter, click join the conversation.

  • Stunned

    According to Solid Rock Church’s website, he is an assistant pastor there. He is the young adult pastor.

  • Square Peg

    Persona 241 ~ QUOTE: “Not long before he fled the area, CJ made an interesting statement about singles’ ministries being ‘unbiblical’. His opinion was that every eligible adult should be married and make singles’ ministries obsolete.”

    I need to know…is this “recorded” anywhere at all? I need to hear this for myself.

    …the part about every eligible adult should be married. (I couldn’t possibly care any more or any less about the existence, or not, of singles’ ministries.)

  • Square Peg

    Jenn 242 ~ Oh man, do I remember that NA conference in Louisville. That was the one and only NA conference I went to. Kudos to your brother for his efforts.

    Initially, I found myself agreeing with Mohler, because you are there wanting to be “taught” the Word of God. But, it didn’t take long after we got back home for me to mull that one over in my head and realize how crazy some of that stuff was.

    I remember Mohler basically saying that young men get themselves involved in an extended adolescence by delaying marriage (failure to launch, playing video games, etc.), and that you don’t need to have all of your ducks in a row before marriage. We live in a society where we want to have everything “just so” before getting married. Afterall, going to college first, and getting some financial footing first, etc.—before marriage—is a new, modern day phenomenon, and it is not necessarily “biblical.”

    Well, it isn’t NOT biblical either.

    Of course, it was a “one size does NOT fit all” message being passed off as a “one size DOES fit all message.”

    It was absurd.

  • Square Peg

    Persona 241 ~ QUOTE: “There are of course, a few singles’ households at CLC but, they do not follow the same system as those in the 80′s with all the rules.”

    I am not even going to ask what happened in the 80s. OY!

  • 5years said,

    Does anybody really think CLC expects these private meetings to not end up on Brent’s blog? I mean, haven’t we seen a steady stream of letters and meetings leaked for the past year? Josh and crew must know that every word they say will end up online. Can they for one second really think it will stay private?

    No. Impossible. They know it is all going to be on the blogs. I commend them for starting to open up and expose some of what must be exposed, to end this Gospel Coalition and national farce of CJ representing what “Reformed and Charismatic” Christianity is all about. I pray God gives Josh wisdom, and whoever the leaker to Brent is, you are doing the right thing. It is no sin to protect the vulnerable from wolves.

    The only reason the family meeting info hasn’t appeared here is because I’ve been trying to be nice and honor Josh’s request. Guy and I talked it over and felt like we didn’t want to be the ones to publish stuff that the CLC pastors had specifically asked not to be published.

    But I can’t imagine why any realistic, thinking person would honestly believe that they could hold a meeting like this with a bunch of people and actually keep the details confidential.

    Moreover, in a situation of this magnitude, it seems to me that CLC has a duty to the larger body of Christ. Thousands of people in many, many other churches (and not just SGM churches) have been looking to CJ as some sort of elder statesman. They read his books. They pay money to attend conferences where he is one of the featured speakers. While aspects of what caused CLC’s pastors to want to separate from SGM are not everybody’s business, the parts that involve CJ and his integrity absolutely are. If CJ is that big of a hypocrite – where he’s built a reputation on teaching about humility and the importance of loyalty to one’s “local” church yet actually was never submitted to any of the pastors at his own local church and ultimately made plans to start another congregation nearby when he didn’t like the way things went down – and if CLC’s pastors know that he is, then they owe it to the rest of the Christian world to reveal this information.

    The rest of the Christian world has a right to know about many of these details of CJ’s (and SGM’s, and the Pastors College’s) departure from Gaithersburg, as well as the details of CLC’s departure from SGM, because the truth would likely change how CJ is perceived. The truth is at variance with the things CJ teaches.

    And if CLC’s pastors are feeling compelled to protect CJ in any way and hide some of this truth from the rest of the body of Christ, that is not right.

  • Mr Stretch

    I see SGM keeps doing what they do best, lying and conniving for the glory of God.

  • Oswald

    Stunned #275 — This is an interesting article at the link you posted. It so fits in with other things I have heard in the last year or so. I’ve been praying for more revelation concerning ‘the church’ and churches in general, and my own church, CovFel. Reading of Rev 2 & 3 leaves much to ponder also. Also add to these the sermon by Carter Conlon titled ‘Run For Your Lives’ (can be Googled) Thanks for the link.

  • (formerly)oneofthem

    Yes it is possible to have an entire church keep important meetings secret. Just ask my old Sgm church. I wish this transcript was available when we decided to leave. Then we would have said we were leaving for all same reasons CLC is. For all of the SGM members who may think that CLC’s issues have nothing to do with your church, think again. Just because you are personally having a great time, growing,fellowshipping, doing good etc.,that doesn’t mean that the leaven of the elders will not reach your church. In fact, some of your churches are knee deep in the sin and spin.

  • Remnant

    Steve #240 quoted the meeting notes:

    the board asked the leadership team to table this idea. But the situation is indicative of this tendency to withdraw from those who disagree.

    The Board.
    The Leadership Team.

    Someone unpack for me the difference.

    {All I can see is an excuse for lots of dudes making lots of big bucks. In Jesus’ Name, of course.]

  • Pffft


    Whether this is how things go with SGM, I do not know, but…

    A board, I think, has an unpublished objective.
    According to the objective, the board determines and publishes to officers (leadership team), policies.
    The board delegates to the officers the policies’ implementation.
    I think, normally, officers and board participate in a feedback loop.
    The relevance of the feedback depends on those unpublished objectives.
    Officers, thus, may never know what, if any, relevance their feedback has to the board.
    The tone of the feedback, however, is probably always relevant to the board’s comfortableness with the officer.

  • Regarding board vs. leadership team.

    If memory serves me correctly from reading SGM announcements these two groups are now separate. SGM has a board of directors as typically required for a corporation and a leadership team. In the past they were pretty much one and the same.

    I can’t tell you without doing some research who is on which board.

  • Kris said:

    But I can’t imagine why any realistic, thinking person would honestly believe that they could hold a meeting like this with a bunch of people and actually keep the details confidential.

    When you are dealing with the number of people you had at the members meeting it would be impossible for it not to get out when you have such a “hot” issue and various places where these details can be posted.

    As I remember listening to one of Josh’s talks right after Brent’s documents became public, Josh indicated that SGM Leadership (he was still a part of it) knew that when Brent sent the documents to all of the pastors within SGM someone would leak them. Thus I am sure Josh knew there was no way that this wouldn’t get out.

    Of course Josh could always ask and Kris did “oblige” Josh’s request.

  • Critical Mass

    Diego and Christopher – the differentiator between Marc L. and CLC though is that Marc wanted to leave SGM, if I’m not mistaken. In the case with CLC they are still a part of SGM. Deplorable on many levels.

    Dan – I have little doubt that the kind reference to Josh will be removed on the reprint of CJ’s book on humility.

    And this leads to this prediction. Watch for the purging of references to CLC, the World’s Greatest Bookstore (in CLC), Mark Mullery and others from their other resources like all those audio tapes. It happened when Larry T. left. Sad and immature.

  • Persona

    I once asked friends in two different Presbyterian churches, in two different states, a question about transparency in their churches. I was impressed by what I heard.

    Healthy communication practices, enabled both of them to keep up with staffing changes in their league of churches. In other words, they needn’t wait ten years to find out one of the pastors was fired or that a church left the fold. It would be big news, not merely removal from some obscure list, like with Redeemer Arlington, last month. (btw, Eric is one of the main speakers in the Conference on work, being held at CLC this month, along with Mark Dever, and others).

    My friends were also provided transcripts of the monthly elders’ meetings in their church. They were aware of the details of expenditures of the church, on a minute level, including the salaries and benefits of the staff, purchases and plans, well in advance of their vote.

    Basically, many of the things that are still kept from members of CLC, were readily available to the average member of those churches. And that is probably the standard MO of most Christian organizations, outside SGM-CLC.

    CLC members, I dare you to find another church in the area quite so secretive as CLC..their lack of transparency might even be considered a cult of secrecy, by some.

    While keeping secrets is great when the purpose is to surprise a friend on their birthday, keeping secrets about what an organization is doing with your money and resources, is never a good idea.

  • MAK

    Regarding SGM planting “a good old days” version of CLC in Montgomery County, I heard an account recently that last year CJ approached a CLC member and asked if he’d be interested in being a part of the church plant (thinking the member was an SGM loyalist)…the member was not. LOL.

  • delta dagger

    Please before I die could this blog name maybe three men you would get behind as the new leadership for SGM? Also here is something I was wondering who would take over SGM if CJ would die? There is no real chain of command for SGM . What I worry about is a huge lawsuit between CJ family and SGM over all the assets of church. I have been in SGM for over 10 years here in Minnesota and this fact of SGM leadership has not been answer.

  • Marie

    DD, I am not sure that you will find much support here for SGM continuing. Maybe there is another group of people you could approach about future SGM leadership. With their new unwieldy polity rules, and many other problematic issues that people have pointed out, I cannot picture anyone being able to lead this organization in the future. As for what would happen if CJ dies, I guess he has already consulted his lawyers about that possibility, and set something up. Who knows. But I don’t think you will get your question answered here. Even if I thought I knew of someone who could lead such a large organization, I would not wish that responsibility on anyone.

  • delta dagger

    Hi Marie you are right and I think the next leader of SGM is going to have to clean up there polity rules. Also OPEN Elections of all SGM leadership. And clean up all past hurt and pain. CJ will have to pay $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ but this is the only SGM will stay a growing church system.

  • Marie

    Ummmm, DD, did this get cut off? “but this is the only ” Please fill in the blank: this is the only ____ – the only what?

  • Unassimilated

    Three Men for SGM, hmmm. God, Jesus, & the Holy Spirit.

  • Marie

    Unassimilated – you got my support!! I second the nomination….Why didn’t I think of that? Good one!!

  • Marie

    Actually, having no formal “leader”, and having the churches trust each other, and support each other….hmmmm sounds like something from the Book of Acts, that could really work….Provided the regular leaders are out…..

  • delta dagger

    CJ will have to pay $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ but this is the only SGM will stay a growing church system. Sorry Marie

  • Sick With Worry

    Delta – you came across a little strong in your first few posts. I think you are finding that the dialogue here for the most part is constructive and under the circumstances…. people are being objective. I have been thru church situations that are minor compared to SGM’s mess, and people were much more venomous in person than what I have seen on the blog. So – thanks for sticking around and joining the conversation.

    I respect your 10 years in your church – that is a long time to be faithful to a church and the Lord will honor your commitment… SGM’s issues notwithstanding.

    I am NOT hoping for SGM’s demise, but I cannot think for the life of me what insider(s) could step up and restore my confidence. This is like trying to unscramble an egg. I have a hard time trying to figure out what would make me hopeful. I have defended SGM and believed the best, but it just keeps getting worse!

    One of the things I think they should have done on a grand scale when the tension started with Brent was realize that the “power” was too centralized, and expanded the board. Then, once the board was expanded, roll out a process for installing lay-elders. This would have spread around the decision making and gradually given the congregations (individual members) a greater voice. This may have not stopped Brent from doing what he did, but it would have shown genuine, proactive, leadership. Perhaps the leadership thought that sharing decisions meant sharing other perks. I am not sure why these men believe they need to hold so much power.

    What about repentance? I am shocked at how this has dragged on and they continue to “circle the wagons”. I believe that Josh Harris, albeit imperfectly, attempted to reverse course in 2010-2011. Look at where it got him! It is clear to me that SGM leadership does not know how to accept input, recognize errors, and change course. To be honest, I think CJ has mental problems and his cronies fear that if he is exposed as inept, that their gravy train will be cut off.

    So, while I attempt to believe the best, it is just impossible to give these men anything but an “F” for how they have performed in their leadership duties. There is no “good candidate” in SGM to be CJ’s successor, and I am not sure how the movement can continue with the same men.

    I just do not have an answer for SGM at this point. I want them to come through. I have been a believer, and a supporter…. not so much in CJ, but in my own church and pastors, and what I thought the SGM mission was.

    I am a Calvinist, complimentarian, reformed Baptist. I believe in elder rule. I have a high view of the local church. I like John Piper, John MacArthur, and John Owen. You would think that I would be the biggest SGM lackey you could ever meet. I fit their mold…. but I do not have an answer for SGM.

    You see Delta…. they really blew it. The took a good thing, and screwed it up beyond repair. They need to repent and resign. They have hurt people like you. People that have given ten years or more to their local churches because they believed what they were told.

  • Persona

    DD, It’s okay for SGM to go the way of other organizations that failed the test of time. There is a little graveyard out there of organizations from the 70’s that did not pan-out. Sometimes those groups were founded on errant principles that just plain caught-up with them.

    Simply put, church systems that don’t function well should retire and other healthier groups can pick up the mantle, so to speak.

    SGM need not drag on forever, and their current leaders can do something else with their time, preferably not church-related. God doesn’t need their kind of help to spread his Good News.

    That would be the cleanest, best-case scenario, in my opinion.

  • Jenn Grover

    Delta Dagger – 18 months ago I could think of a number of men who I would have hoped would have been worthy but they all either sat silent and allowed corruption to persist or joined in support of corrupt leadership.

    Who do you see who has tackled the ethical issues of SGM head on?

  • delta dagger

    Well Jenn the only good leader I know is Rick Gamache he is over the midwest dist of SGM he is fair, kind, and has a heart for God. SGM had a church in Stillwater Minnesota and the leadership of the church was not the best so Rich Gamache got rid of the leadership of the church. And the church voted to close

  • Somewhereintime

    Like I said before … all the good leaders left or were already tossed out of SGM churches. Those remaining are the “Sheeple Pastors”. No hearts. Not a shred of courage. Big boys in diapers.

    A great quote on leadership from “Gettysburg” that apply to SGM Leaders “They wouldn’t know how to get pee out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel!”

  • BBinMP

    Looking through all of these posts, which I have been reviewing for days, gives me the shivers. Why did I allow myself to be treated like this? All those wasted years of living in spiritual fear. Problem is, I don’t really know how to be “normal.” I’ve been so immersed in this garbage for so long I don’t feel comfortable in a non-legalistic church. Anyone have any suggestions how to overcome this mentality? I’d sure like to feel safe and comfortable in a church where the members aren’t in my face correcting me whenever they feel compelled. Crazy.

  • Persona

    BBinMP 306

    It might take awhile to detox and you might need some help from a counselor or trusted friend. You need to some preconceived ideas about church and allow God to show you his priorities.

    Give yourself time and cling to the Lord, instead of men, as you search for his will. He will be faithful to show you where he wants you. It’s okay to visit LOTS of local churches as you search for a new home. Actually, that isn’t as awkward as I thought it would be. I enjoyed seeing what God was doing in the greater body of Christ and see how others worship God.

    In the end, we settled in a church that I wasn’t automatically drawn to. But, the more we visited and the more I got to know the leaders and the people, the more I respected them and I began to see how we could fit in and use our gifts to serve.

  • 5yearsin PDI

    BB….start with this guy, Bob Dixon:

    I don’t know him, never met him, but he is dealing with SGM victims and everything I’ve heard is good. He will understand, can at least talk by phone, and point you to reading materials that apply to you. Obviously it would be good to have local people to talk to, but at least you could try this for a start. Will pray for you.

  • JustMe

    I found the link to the book I recommended, ‘The Jesus Style.’
    I think it’s a worthy read, especially in light of the heavy handed leadership that has been expressed through SGM pastors.

    You can download it for free, but you can also purchase the bound copy.

  • Jenn Grover

    DD – what exactly did Rick Gamache do to confront the corruption of the SGM leadership?

  • Argus

    I really wish someone could give me the biblical basis for SGM’s universal mandate to “believe the best.” Is that some misapplication of I Corinthians 13:7?

    Can anyone make a rational case for how or why that mantra came to have carry such weight in churches?

  • Persona

    Argus, it is just another way to tell people not to judge others or judge them only as you would want to be judged.

    They hit you with that every time you bring a charge against anyone. Mostly it is their attempt to shut you down, thereby allowing them to regain control.

    CJ never tolerates sharing control of the ship and he trains his men to do the same.

  • Sick With Worry

    it is not so much asking someone to “believe the best” that presents the issue. It is the typical SGM “distortion field” that makes “believe the best” mean something that it does not. What SGM means is, “believe the GOOD about YOUR LEADERS no matter what comes out about them”

    Believe the best, to me, would mean being patient, treating others the way I would want to be treated, speaking the truth in love, gently correcting, etc… I have done that with SGM.

    Was Paul believing the best when he wrote II Tim 4 ? Absolutely.

  • BBinMP

    I have been out of SGM for about ten years.I left thre feeling offended, upset, anxious, invalidated, and just downright scared. And trapped! I left which what felt like a sneak exit. Ugh, this whole thing is SO WEIRD. The last straw was when I brought a boyfriend in – an oursider – who initially liked the church and joined the members class and attended faithfully till the end. During that time he started to note the bizarre nature and began to feel “sized up.” The biggest problem the church had with him was that he wasn’t as “spriritually mature” as I was and would not be able to lead our house the way it was necessary. This hung over my head like a dark cloud. Since this church meant to much so me I was really, really torn. At the end of the day, my boyfriend very wisely said he thought the place was out of bounds and didn’t want to go back. It was the most awful thing. I had to chose between this man I dearly loved and my loyalty to what I thought God wanted me to do. It is still all a blur. The pain was intense and unending for YEARS, and I mean YEARS. I stopped going to church myself for awhile, would visit here and there, but was so traumatized I just couldn’t get into a regular fellowship. It was mostly due to concern that members would start getting up in my grill when the notion struck them and hold me to forced accountability, which was frankly none of their business. And no way was I bringing a boyfriend in there!!! So for ten years I was a ship out to sea with no lighthouse in sight. Now that I have started to read these blogs and see I am not the only one – by far – who has gone through this horrendous scene, I feel more liberty. Thank GOD for this blog. It’s going to take me awhile to assimilate it all, but I can actually at least IMAGINE freedom in my future. Praise God x 100!

  • JoyfulandFree

    I seriously was trying to remember where “believe the best” came from. It is one of those many sgmisms that I honestly cannot give an account for after all these years. When dh and I were having an exit interview of sorts with the local sgm pastor he wanted to know why he was unaware of our story/issues before. We commented that we understood caregroup leaders to be in authority over us and that their role was to free up the pastors when it came to dealing with our issues and that if needed the cg leader could go to the pastor. The pastor kept asking if we had learned that from him and I couldn’t say that to be true but it’s funny how many people would be able to note the same basic structure or unwritten rule throughout all the sgm churches. I remember around 2001 they also freed up pastors wives to not have to attend all the baby showers. That is when I remember the leadership distancing themselves from us sheep. Funny how the pastor could keep going back to how we didn’t learn that in our local church, like that absolved them. It is in the very culture of , plant families from other sgm churches that already have the unwritten rules ingrained and just lead it spread.

  • JoyfulandFree

    Oh and the culture of is why it would be difficult to find leaders to take over to right the ship. Along with repentance by leaders and even full congregations, there is so much to undo in the group think. They would need to unteach the culture.

  • Persona

    Joyful 316 I agree with you. When it you are taught to always ask yourself “What would CJ do?” it is a very hard road to think for yourself, when you get out.

  • Bob Dixon

    5 Years….
    Thanks for referring BB (#314) to Symboulos Ministries. I look forward to their email/call. God bless

  • MAK

    Bob, did I see from another post or somewhere that you’ll be in the Gaithersburg area soon? If so, how does one get in touch with you? THANKS!!

  • Marie

    Hi Bob, that is very kind of you to offer your services to folks in the Gaithersburg, MD area.

    Here are some thought questions:

    1. Have you heard of Free Conference Call? It is used world wide for many recovery meetings, mainly for 12 step ones, but it is a free service to allow people to connect via telephone.

    2. Could you please consider expanding your support group model for phone support, for folks outside the MD area?

    3. Connecting with #2, does your model include the possibility of training lay leaders, so that the support could be multiplied without the burden of the whole ministry falling directly on you?

    I believe that just getting the Face to Face meetings set up will be a good bit of work – the intitial meetings and so on. I respect and appreciate that.

    But it would be wonderful to expand it so that people on the West Coast, or midwest, or anyone else who might feel cut off, could participate in the joy and pains of recovery from spiritual abuse.

  • MAK

    Check out the SGM website’s post on “SGM Music Past, Present, and Future”. If you watch the video, there seems to be very little about the past. To do that, you’d have to include CLC. Now there are some CLC members in the video but very few and there are only a very few glimpses of the CLC building in the video and you’d have to look hard to recognize that the current video snippet is at CLC. They really went to great lengths to keep CLC to a minimum. Of course the one short, snippet of children includes a picture of my daughter. The kids sang one song at the Worship God conference in 2011.

  • Marie

    …and PS to all who would not want to participate in a phone mtg I did not mean to imply that posting on websites/lurking is not recovery. I see a very powerful community here. Just wanted to offer up an idea that has greatly helped me – phone support, actually with people from around the world. It always amazes me how universal abuse can be. I have not attended a phone meeting for spiritual abuse, but I would look forward to an opportunity to do so.

    And BBinMP #306, I hope you are able to take advantage of Bob Dixon’s generous offer to set up some face to face support meetings. That sounds awesome. Support groups have helped me a great deal in the last couple of years, and I was a real skeptic at first – how can I get to know folks over the phone, and truly trust them? Turned out that phone was just enough contact to feel a connection with others, but not feel overwhelmed with very delicate subject matter. Abuse can be a tricky subject to tackle in a group, I feel that very strongly from personal experience.

  • delta dagger

    Hi Jenn,

    Rick Gamache was on some of leadership boards when SGM was trying to clean up its act. So I would say he is 99.9% sin free on all of SGM past history. Also Rick runs the midwest dist of SGM and does a super job.

  • Oswald

    dd #323 — …mmmm, just wondering; when was it that SGM was trying to clean up its act? I think I missed that.
    BTW, a couple questions, has Rick come out and stated in words that he is opposed to things as they are now with SGM? And, if so, is he still associated with the organization?

  • Oswald

    dd #323 — ‘Rick runs the midwest dist’, as in control?, keeping them informed of all things SGM, per SGM?; describing the beauty of the “Emporers new clothes’?

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Regarding the use of the term “believeing the best”, it means that it is fine for the SGM lead apostle to announce in public that Mother Teresa has more in common with Hitler than than with Jesus, so don’t expect your sinful heart as a lowly member to be considered well motivated when you ask the infallible leadership a question. I mean, by inference, helping lepers in a slum is like gassing Jews, so the local pastor believing the best of you won’t get you too far if you dare to dissent.

    Now that you have this wonderful example from the great CJ you can understand. Hope that helps.

  • Argus

    MAK, I went to the SGM website to check out the video you referenced. The first post I saw had a logo for the Transfer conference with very prominent wording stating that the conference was “hosted by the churches of Sovereign Grace Ministries.” That strikes me as odd. The words churches and Sovereign Grace Ministries are even in a different color to make sure we don’t miss the point.

    It seems to me they are working hard to convince everyone for the record that SGM isn’t actually a governing body in charge of anything — no, the churches themselves somehow all got together and came up with a bright idea to hold a conference, and then they asked their kindly partner SGM to handle the logistical details for them.

    Or maybe in this case “host” simply means to foot the bill while any profits go into SGM corporate coffers.

    Then the description sounds like it was written point for point to refute a checklist of blog criticisms.

    Join us Memorial Day Weekend 2013 in Orlando, Florida for Transfer, a four day gathering hosted by the churches of Sovereign Grace Ministries that exists to celebrate and proclaim those biblical truths and values that are most important to pass on from one generation to the next. We want the coming generations to see how glorious a relationship with Jesus is. We want them to hope in God — not in our methodologies, our practices, our structures, or even our example, but in God himself.

    Then at the SGM blog post you mentioned, I noticed similar labored phrasing right away:

    For the past 28 years, Sovereign Grace churches have partnered together to produce the songs of Sovereign Grace Music.

    I suppose that is technically true by some stretch. Yet it seems deliberately worded to retroactively impose the idea that SGM was not in charge of things but has always just been a friendly parachurch partner to the churches who were really calling the shots.

    Is anyone else reading these quirks of wording that way?

  • Persona


    “I suppose that is technically true by some stretch. Yet it seems deliberately worded to retroactively impose the idea that SGM was not in charge of things but has always just been a friendly parachurch partner to the churches who were really calling the shots.

    Is anyone else reading these quirks of wording that way?”

    Yes, it is all getting quirkier and quirkier in SGMLand. One of the things that came to mind if the judge tries to ascetain if SGM is a parachurch organization is to listen to all the times CJ panned the whole idea of para-church. CJ has preached ofter over the years that people should reserve their money to support their local church, NOT any parachurch, if he has changed his mind on that, he should say so.

  • delta dagger

    Well Oswald, Rick Gamache does not act or sound like 99.9% of the SGM Leaders. He does meet with DH and CJ maybe two times a year. Being based here in Minneapolis Minnesota Rick is well over 1000 miles from DH and CJ. Being this far north he is easy to forget. Also he only has five churches to look over

  • Persona

    DD 328

    Unfortunately, the path to stardom in SGM is fraught with compromise and sorrow. If Rick has managed to avoid one or the other he may be the only one among all the men who have followed hard after CJ.

    Being an SGM Pastor or a regional leader isn’t something I would wish on my worst enemies. Nor would I recommend marrying into one of their families.

  • MAK

    Argus/Personal, and it is a little more than quirkier…it is very calculated and deliberate. This is typical (old school) SGM spin. They want to give the appearance that they are changing or that it’s always been that way.

    DD…so if Rick Gamache joined the KKK, I guess that would be ok too. I’m sure he would not sound like 99.9% of the other klan members. The point is by joining he’s still a member of a corrupt organization. I believe that the majority of SGM leaders/pastors are “good guys” and even Godly men, but yet deception is not a respecter of persons. By supporting SGM you support all they do. Your really can’t separate yourself from an organization that you are a leader in.

    I’m sure Rick Gamache supports CJ and the SGM leadership 100% or he wouldn’t be in the position of leadership that he has.

  • CoraSusie

    MAK and Argue, you raise excellent points on SGM’s wording and how they are seeking to rewrite the past. In the decades prior, I don’t ever remember them using this terminology, “hosted by the churches of SGM” when putting on conferences.

    I was curious, did anyone pick up on the picture used on SGM’s blog post announcing registration for Transfer had opened? It appears to be an old picture from Celebration days with Terry Virgo preaching. Why? Transfer is not modeled after Celebration conferences but NA and Next. Just further confirming how Josh is being whitewashed out of any SGM history, just as Larry was.

    It burns me to see CJ market Next 2012 as the last conference ever. Then a few months later, resurrect it with a new name, as if it is something new and grand. And rather then using a picture from even last year, pulling out a decades old photograph because that was the last time SGM actually had a conference they had created on their own.

  • Persona

    Cora 332 When I watched the Transfer advertisement I think I did see a photo of Joshua in the mix. That surprised me and it also surprised me to see some of the earliest photos ever taken of the G.O.B. in the late 70’s. Did anyone see a pix of Larry? SGM certainly has a checkered past.

  • delta dagger

    You know I was thinking what would happen if SGM new leader was from Dallas Theological Seminary a hard right wing school or from Central Theological Seminary here in Minneapolis Minnesota which is way to the right wing.Or some one from United Theological Seminary which is left wing of any church. I would love to see what would happen to SGM under ether leadership style.

  • Luna Moth


    This is what I think:

    The people in SGM churches don’t need some new spiffy leader, whether from right or left. They need to turn to Jesus and listen to Him. Perhaps they need to come out of the cozy walls of those churches onto the mountainsides to hear Him. They need to find their security in Him alone, not in a particular church.

  • Persona

    Delta 334 Maybe you can send comments like these to the SGM suggestion box? But first read the fine print on their most recent document. I don’t think they even have a category for CEO in their forward plan so, you will need to recommend that first.

  • keepinstep

    RE Persona’s #328:

    “so, if [CJ] has changed his mind on that, he should say so.”


  • delta dagger

    Luna Moth,
    Sorry but SGM HQ needs new leadership to carry on. I think fall of 2013 after the court case is over CJ out of office and please pick someone from outside SGM. And have a leader to clean up the mess that CJ and his staff have made over 10-20 years.

  • Bob Dixon

    MAK, Marie, and others
    You can get in touch with me at Let’s communicate through email so we don’t take up SGMSurvivors space. Look forward to hearing from you.

  • Jenn Grover

    Delta, you don’t see to understand that CJ does not need a title to exert influence. he still called the shots and got his way while on a leave of absence and he has only picked “yes” men to surround him on the board so there will be no real changes.

    There will be no change without repentance and there has been no corporate repentance or repentance from leaders. As a matter of fact, the SGM leadership has kept dissenters completely out of leadership as Josh pointed out.

    As for new churches being planted, I wouldn’t hold my breath on their success. SGM is in for trouble because their priorities are out of whack and pay little attention to the character of men chosen to be new SGM pastors these days, ask the folks in Ashburn.

  • MAK

    Corasusie you are correct about the Transfer picture. This is really odd. Yes, that is a really old picture of Celebration. Even odder…if you work right to left of the guys backs in the picture my guess is (from trying to identify folks from 20+ years ago from their backs…) Brent Detwiler is the one that has his arm around CJ’s chair, then CJ, then Larry Tomczak then I believe Steve Shank. I don’t know who the guy is in what appears to be the second row in the white shirt behind Larry. Maybe it will come to me later. This is well before Josh Harris’ time.

    My real concern is WHAT they think they are transfering to the next generation. Doesn’t this seem a little prideful? The conference is so WE can transfer what we treasure to the next generation. Like they have some special link to something great. I wouldn’t want anything transfered from these guys to my son and daughters.

  • MAK

    Jenn, would love to chat about Ashburn sometime

  • MAK

    Also, DD, if you read the polity document the new structure is without a president. But to Jenn’s point it becomes more covert. CJ will wield his way through his puppets/regional elders. Rick Gamache being one of them.

  • Kris and all SGM Survivors,

    I found this blog three years ago when I was right in the middle of writing my book, Confessions of a Bible Thumper. I was writing a chapter on my church experience, including my five years at ALCC (at the time a PDI church under Che Ahn). I was flabbergasted to find this blog and SGM Refuge and read all the stories that, in so many ways, paralleled mine. What I went through personally was minor (kind of like the creepy-something-isn’t-right-it’s-controlling-and-why-do-I-feel-like-a-clone feeling you describe Kris), but I had many friends who got royally burned by PDI’s controlling leadership and left the church (and even one who walked away from her faith entirely she was so disillusioned), as well as one who later wrote a book about the church’s response to the sexual abuse of her child. (Those lawsuits may be the tip of the iceberg). I once was good friends with Mark Mullery (we were both home group leaders) who scoffed at my concerns about control, John Loftness became a co-pastor of our church briefly (looking back, he must have been sent by the Mother Ship to reel us California free-wheeling types in), and C.J., Larry, and other PDI/SGM board members came out to “cover” us on a regular basis.

    In short, when I found this blog, I was so proud of all you survivors for speaking out against the abuse going on and glad the Internet made it all so easy and transparent. I had never heard the full story of Larry, so I was fascinated to hear about that. Although things were bad when I was in PDI, they had gotten much worse over the years as I saw in your stories. However, looking back, I could clearly see the unhealthy and destructive patterns in PDI were there all along and it was only a matter of time before a critical mass of abused people would begin to rise out of the ashes and speak their mind openly. This blog really is a godsend for so many, as a conduit through which people are free to have a voice and receive encouragement.

    I truly admire and love each one of you. I feel like we are connected, even though I haven’t been in a PDI/SGM church since 1989 and haven’t talked to old PDI friends since the early to mid 90s. Because of your experiences and sharing with each other, you are some of the most spiritually discerning people I know. You see through legalistic and condescending balderdash and abusive patterns with an eagle eye.

    Having said that, there’s another part of me that is sad. I see people disillusioned by SGM and C.J.’s behavior (not to mention the revival of Calvinist theology), and who then see how others in this corner of the body of Christ defend them rather than correct them, like Piper, AoR, etc. and who see the same old patterns of the old shepherding control-freak movements of the 70s. Those same patterns are in other conservative corners, like my current hometown of Seattle, where Mark Driscoll is becoming a CJ-look-alike with the backing of leaders like R.J. Sproul. I’m sad because I don’t see where all the survivors are going and wonder if you stay in the same old conservative evangelical universe, you will only be burned again. Maybe people like Piper and AoR don’t call out SGM in earnest because SGM is too much like them themselves!

    In my journey, I had to come out of evangelicalism (particularly the conservative end of it) altogether in order to find peace and sanity, and a true grace-filled expression of faith in Christ. I discovered there is a whole new part of the body of Christ out there that I never gave credence to, namely, progressive Christians and believers in the Orthodox Christian Church. As I trace in my book, I went through a profound spiritual evolution and made some surprising discoveries about how to view the Bible, church, end-time theology, the gay debate, salvation, and the doctrine of hell.

    I assume most SGM Survivors would not agree with my conclusions (I describe them in the book), but I do want to encourage people in this: there are serious followers of Christ out there who have sound ‘biblical’ and historical reasons for having different views on these issues. And, perhaps because of less narrow and authoritative views of the Bible and church, they don’t have the endemic spiritual control and abuse problems that SGM, Mars Hill, and other conservative churches have. There’s always going to be problems among believers because we’re all human, but I have seen a preponderance of abuse in conservative churches, and SGM is but one example.

    Bottom line, there are refreshing places in the body of Christ among progressive believers and I want you to know this progressive Christian admires what you are doing in exposing the problem of spiritual abuse. Keep up the good work. I hope we can find some common ground to meet apart from exposing SGM-warped theology and practice. That common ground is the grace of God and Jesus’ message of agape love.

  • Luna Moth

    But Delta–

    What I am saying is that SGM HQ cannot carry on. They cannot. carry. on. And the people need to turn to Jesus instead of looking for new leaders.

    I guess we just disagree about this.

  • CoraSusie

    Maybe this is part of their strategy, as they attempt to demonstrate to unsuspecting folks how Transfer is hosted by SGM churches as a whole:

    The pastors of @SovereignGrace will post 5 days a week on @SGMTransfer’s blog. This past week: posts on God’s Glory

  • Mr Stretch


    I remember when I was clueless. Life couldn’t get any better.

  • Delta Dagger said,

    Sorry but SGM HQ needs new leadership to carry on. I think fall of 2013 after the court case is over CJ out of office and please pick someone from outside SGM. And have a leader to clean up the mess that CJ and his staff have made over 10-20 years.

    I think it’s a mistake to believe that a shifting around of names at the top of the SGM leadership pyramid – or even, for that matter, departing from SGM altogether – is going to automatically change or solve anything.

    SGM churches’ issues are something of a group effort, a mutual endeavor. Yes, CJ did a lot to create a church (and organizational) culture that was all about control and submission to authority, all about the illusory pursuit of being “the best,” all about a façade of perfection. But a leader can only do so much. A leader can only go so far without followers. Actually, without followers, a leader goes nowhere.

    Until CJ’s followers – most notably, every pastor who ever found himself kowtowing and sucking up to anyone above himself – really sort through their own role in the dysfunction and acknowledge their own personal part in things, I don’t thing much will be different. Until CJ’s followers – which would include any pastor who was ever put into power by anyone who owes his authority to CJ – truly pick apart what they have been taught about authority and what they’ve been trained to believe about their own role under CJ’s leadership, and truly repent of their errant “lording it over” ordinary members, SGM’s culture at its core is going to remain essentially the same.

    CJ isn’t the sole source of SGM’s issues. Actually, much of what he’s been allowed to do and become over the past decade is merely a symptom of the dysfunctional mindset within the organization. The problems go back to what leaders believe about authority – their own, and that of the person above them on the food chain. Until the pastors relinquish their cherished ideas about their own authority and submit themselves and make themselves formally accountable to the members of their churches, nothing much will really be different.

    The very fact that anyone could think a change in leadership will solve SGM’s problems is just another symptom of the dysfunctional SGM mindset where leaders are everything.

  • BBinMP

    @Michael Camp #344 – There was a time not long ago that I cringed at the word “progressive” as only a vehicle to get away from Godly principals and embrace liberalism that I have felt has brought on the destruction of our society. I would have never guessed in all my life that I could actually believe that progressivism could actually be a good thing within true, Godly boundaries. I am so grateful for this blog. For the past few weeks I have been enlightened to true, Biblical freedom in Christ and how legalism, which used to be totally normal and acceptable to me (in fact, if I wasn’t involved in a legalist church I felt the church was in error and compromise). I am glad that Jesus Christ is in the business of restoration and hopefully, I can have all those years restored by what the locusts have eaten. What I have come to find out more than anything – and this is incredibly freeing – is that the only thing I REALLY know is that Jesus is Lord and I’m going to Heaven. All the rules and other crap that I’ve believed so long are falling off and as a result helping me to be more kind and loving to others. I was so judgmental and harsh. Why would anyone want to come to Jesus when they are being treated with such harsh disdain? That was me!! I look forward to the ongoing work of the Holy Spiriti in my life, and a genuine, loving, freeing relationship with the lover of our souls, The Lord Jesus Christ.

  • P.S. Michael Camp – I wasted no time downloading your book on Kindle. Cannot wait to start reading it.

  • Mr Stretch

    Kris #348

    Excellent post.

    Change without truth or repentance is no change at all.

  • Kris,

    You hit the nail on the head. That teaching goes way back to my days in the mid to late 80s. It’s a top-down authority structure under the guise of “apostolic” ministry, where those on the top (apostle to pastor or pastor to member) are “anointed” and those under are in submission. It’s completely counter to the egalitarian community Jesus began and, I believe, is based on eroneous interpretations of a few Bible verses.

    Kris, what do you think is the root of the SGM authority belief?

  • ATC

    Another blessing from the blogs to me.

    On the Saturday just gone, I met ‘Stunned’ and her top-bloke-of-a-husband here in the UK!

    Thanks for taking the time and trouble to meet up, Stunned. It really did bless me more than you can know.

    In Christ,

    ATC, UK.

  • In context, Kris, I am referring to this:

    “CJ isn’t the sole source of SGM’s issues. [His] over the past decade is merely a symptom of the dysfunctional mindset within the organization. The problems go back to what leaders believe about authority — their own, and that of the person above them on the food chain.”

    Nothing will change until this dysfunctional mindset, which goes way back to the beginning, changes.

  • BBinMP,

    I know what you mean by the term “progressive.” I don’t really like it because it implies others are not progressive people, but I’m stuck with it because it unfortunately is used so much to describe a segment that fits my evolved theology.

    Thanks for downloading my book and I hope you enjoy it. Being a SGM Survivor, I would love to hear your input on my conclusions, so I encourage you to join in the conversation on my blog or FB or Amazon.

    Yes, agreed, when the religiosity, rules, and what I call “churchianity” get stripped away, we can more easily settle down, recieve God’s love, love Him back, and love others.

  • delta dagger

    Hi Kris,
    Ok you are right but I think that all pastors must be checkout by the new leader of SGM and tone down there control of there churches that lead.

  • One thought I have on the subject of leaders is that maybe it would be valuable to have a limit on how long someone could be either SGM’s Leader or on the SGM Board.

    The term limit of the US presidency has served our country well. I am sure this limit has kept keep in check the possibility of a president becoming a dictator.

    If there were some type of limit on how long one could be a leader within SGM maybe the group would be more God lead vs. lead by a man/pope and subject to this pope’s dictates. Just a thought.

  • Jim

    How a SGM pastor views himself will not change as long as CJ and his team control the pastors college. I’ve never met a recent grad who could tell me what they learned in class, but they ALL have gushed over the PC students’ care group, which is soaked in CJ mojo.

  • Mr Stretch


    Do you think the required signed of the Book of Order by your church and current members is leading to less control?

  • Michael Camp

    You asked what do you think is the source of SGM’s erroneous authority belief. If you had to ask me, I would say it began with a lot of the Bill Gothard teaching such as “umbrella” of authority.

    When you go back and look at what Bill Gothard taught, it is shocking that so many people followed what Gothard taught and didn’t question it. A lot of what he taught isn’t biblical but more his extension, “extrapolation” or whatever you would call it about what the bible teaches.

    I am not sure that he is the person that coined the term “covering” such as leaders are “covering” for regular church members or a husband is a “covering” for his wife.

    You would hear Mahaney in talks about his daughters and that they were no longer under “his authority.” Mahaney seemed to be saying that his daughters were under his authority until they married and not when they were of age or something.

  • Uriah

    Michael Camp,
    I believe the source of SGM’s “erroneous authority belief” is very simple. In fact, I think most people over analyze this aspect of SGM and end up going down lots of rabbit trails that lead to circular arguments and reasoning.
    I have come to believe, through experience and study, it is simply their lust for power and control over God’s people. This is what drives and informs everything they do and believe. Look no further than there “new improved polity”. It is nothing more than Episcopal/Papal/Catholicism shrouded in politically correct language. CJ is still the Pope, the board represent the Cardinals, the pastors represent the priests….. and any or all of the papal positions outside the local church have ultimate authority over that local church.

    Any SGM church that allows this arrangement to continue has abdicated their biblical responsibility to maintain itself as a healthy local body of believers and has once again allowed SGM’s minions to perpetuate the spiritual neutering of God’s people. Ultimately, the members of these churches must say something. Whether or not this nonsense continues is in the hands of the people not the leaders. By remaining passive and not making a decision… they have made one.

  • Uriah

    I was pointing out the history of where this thought came from while you talked about the root or motivation.

    Maybe another way to put this is that leaders don’t fully trust God to lead and control (despite all their teaching on sovereignty etc.) so they are grasping for control. One could say their actions are a result of not trusting God fully so they grasp for control. I know this is saying a lot but is a thought.

  • BBinMP

    Michael Camp – I found you on FB and I will be paying close attention. This whole thing is quite an epiphany to me. A tad uncomfortable at first, but I can’t get enough of it. It’s about time.

  • delta dagger

    Hi Mr Stretch,

    Any membership agreement with any SGM church must be changed once CJ is gone for good. Also SGM must get rid of small groups or care groups and go back to bible study. This idea of meeting 24 times a year to talk to an elder of the church about my problems is a waste of time. SGM must bring back Bible study and cut out small groups.

  • Critical Mass

    Jim is spot on. The Pastors College exists primarily to indoctrinate future pastors to the SGM’s leadersip/authority paradigm and build loyalty into CJ and the SGM leadership team.

  • delta dagger

    Hi Jim,
    I to think that PC must shutdown and anyone who wants to work at SGM must have a four year degree and at least a M/DIV or a PHD in the Bible. My church spent $40,000 to send one pastor to PC this year.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Larry and CJ were steeped in the shepherding errors thanks primarily to the Ft Lauderdale 5 and the big conferences that went on for many years, inc the Philly crowd with John Poole, and guys like Ray Ciervo and Harmon Johnson. Bob Wright was also prominent down his way, and Charles Schmitt.

    While Bill Gothard was also heavily into the concepts, he spoke mostly to kids relating to parents and to marriages. I would guess his influence on church polity was secondary to the more massive and pervasive shepherding movement.

    Uriah may be right…..their catholic backgrounds may have been the main contributing factor. Then we have the psychology of CJ the kid with the alcoholic father and poor performance in life wanting to fill his inner voids once he stopped the illegal drugs.

    Plenty of people out of all those influences never ended up as control freaks though. So you have to say the ultimate source of the problem lies with CJ himself.

  • Jenn Grover

    DD – The core of SGM leadership adamantly oppose Bible study that is not led by a pastor. Also, CJ is not leaving SGM. As long as he is a pastor, connected to the PC, or SGM leadership, there will be an over-emphasis on pastors because that their view is consistent with what Scripture teaches.

    This is a big reason as to why SGM cannot entertain criticism, no matter who genuine it is. SGM pastors are the identities of the churches. Look at the way we discuss the churches here. WE talk about who the pastor is and his distinctive, not the personality of the church. I remember visiting the original Cleveland church in the early 90’s and distinctly remember it being a very charismatic church that excelled at worship and seemed to be on the “artsy” side. I couldn’t tell you who the pastor was. I remember visiting the St. Pete church a few years back (2004?) and remember how friendly that church was and how I received many offers of hospitality while there for 2 weeks for business travel. but, recently when you ask what a church is like in SGM the answer almost always is connected to the pastor. If you bring any criticism about the church itself, pastors tend to take it personally because of the over-emphasis of the role of the pastor. These are just symptoms, however.

    Apart from the obvious problems with control, the real danger with the over-emphasis or the role of pastors is that the sheep begin to have no identity and in many SGM churches members, especially those in their early 20’s and into their 30’s can tell you more about reformed theology than they can the Bible.

    I think you will see Bible studies begin to emerge from the churches that leave, but don’t expect them from SGC Louisville and probably not CFC or other loyal churches, unless they are led by a pastor. But, then again, when was the last time you saw an SGM pastor lead a long-term Bible study?

  • delta dagger

    Hi Jenn,
    You are right on before my church was in SGM my church had men and women Bible study.My church here in Minneapolis has not had a bible study group for over 10 years. We do a person that teaches Greek on Monday but to me this does not count for Bible study.

  • Free to Seek Truth

    Delta Dagger-

    “My church here in Minneapolis has not had a bible study group for over 10 years.”

    Matthew 5:13
    “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

  • Mr Stretch


    You seem to have some good ideas, but you do realize that everything that happens in your church flows down from the top, yes?

    Have you told your pastor the great ideas that you have?

  • Persona

    5 Years 367

    Don’t want to forget the influence of David Yonggi Cho in the 80’s. He inspired the young Mahaney and Tomczak to form small groups and his heavy-handed ‘counseling’ style was admired by them. CLC flew a team of pastors to Korea to visit him in 1983.

    One of the stories they returned with was Cho would instruct a member of his mega church to ‘go for 3 days of prayer and fasting on Prayer Mountain’ when they came to him for counsel.

    Rev. Cho is retired now but he’s under investigation for misusing church funds during his tunure.

  • delta dagger

    Well Mr Stretch,

    My idea’s are ok here on this blog but not to my pastor Rick Gamache I am sure he would not like most of my ideas. Also he has a Masters in the Bible from Bethel. I on the other hand was on the bottom of my high school class and funked out at the U of Minnesota and at Normandale College. I am sure I am the last person he would talk to about the SGM and our church.

  • BrokenHearted

    DD – if you’re for real then I have a serious concern with the last thing you said. Your pastor should 100% not look down on you for a lack of education or lack of ANYTHING! And if you feel like he is unapproachable then you need a new pastor.

  • Stunned

    Amen, Brokenhearted.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    It’s shepherding AND dominionism…

    Over the past forty years there has been a rise in the atrocities committed by Scurrilous Shepherds against their Sheep. Much of this can be traced historically directly or indirectly back to the original Shepherding-Discipleship Movement, which was both Ecumenical and Dominionist. The False Teaching that there are Elite Shepherds who must Rule and Reign over Sheep, and that Sheep must have a Spiritual Covering, has become so pervasive that it is now a ubiquitous leaven. It has infiltrated nearly every corner of the Church world, and is repeated as a mantra amongst believers of all denominations. It has been programmed into curriculum, training manuals and church codes. It is even shockingly showing up in groups that still claim to adhere to the tenets of the First Reformation.

    Note: Sheep reading this post should examine their own lives to see how much Shepherding Leaven has affected their own beliefs.

    The origination of this false teaching can be found in Roman Catholicism, with a direct lineage to the Ft. Lauderdale Five that influenced the rise of so many diverse Shepherding groups in Evangelicaldom. To describe the interconnected networks, historical lineages and multitudinous associations would comprise a book. Many of us experienced this firsthand, living through its abuses. In fact, we know some of its leaders.[16] Suffice it to state, that much of this Shepherding Leaven has gone mainstream and is now status quo and entrenched.

    When first describing the Shepherding Movement 22 years ago, Al Dager explained how its teachings are particularly treacherous to Sheep and the Church:

    “These are sketchy but accurate assessments of how religion based on fear and guilt has encroached upon the modern Church. The Christian’s personal relationship with the Father is a sacred trust to be nurtured and strengthened by the teaching and counsel of the elders in the Church. While the corporate expression of faith is vital to the life of the Church, that life is only as strong as the strength of the individual links in the corporate chain.

    The subordination of the individual to the corporate body at the expense of personal freedom in Christ weakens the Church in its ability to stand against deception and, ultimately, against the overt evil influences of the world. Dominion theology, in all its forms, can only be likened to a cult within the church—a subculture that threatens to tear asunder the delicate fabric of true unity based not on external piety, but upon the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.[17]”

    The connection between Dominionism and Shepherding has a direct bearing on the warnings about Wolves in Sheeps’ Clothing. Sheep who no longer follow Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, will follow after any Nefarious Shepherd who promises them Nice Things. No wonder attention has been re-directed from the Holy Word of God to the Lustful Promises of Cleverly-Disguised Wolves.

  • AnneGG

    I am thankful for this site. My experience with my SGM church is very similiar to Guy and Kris’s experience. My family came to CLC because of all the young families, worship music, preaching. Our kids liked the children’s ministry, etc etc.

    This site helped explain a lot of things about the church culture that just seemed odd to us.

    I would be curious to hear from former CLC families about their children’s experiences and therefore their family experience with C.L. School. I havent’ dug far into this blog to see if there are stories posted about experiences with the school. Thanks everyone.

  • Mr Stretch


    You should not be ashamed of your education. I only have a high school degree yet I have my own business.

    When you pray, listen to the Holy Spirit’s leading, and follow the plan that God has for your life it’s amazing the things that happen.

    I would say that you shouldn’t be ashamed or afraid to speak to your pastor. I am an elder in my church and am open to speaking to anyone who attends. I have spoken with folks who are trying to get off drugs as well as well seaoned belivers. God has a purpose for each and every one. Instead of feeling low before your pastor, he should intern be pointing you toward Christ.

    You see all that SGM is doing is changing the color of their house, but the interior remains the same. All the clutter of speaking has distracted from the real issues of truth, and apology, and reconciliation. Until those things happen all the things they are saying mean nothing.

    I would encourage you to pray and seek what God has for your life.

  • Debra Baker

    It was Corrie ten Boom that quipped when God judges a person, He measures around the heart not the head.

  • Persona

    AnneGG 377

    Not many Survivor posts detail the inner workings of CLS or CLSHS. And not many other SGM churches provide day schools, as far as I know. In fact, Benny Phillips at FFX promised his church would NEVER have a day school, they thought so highly of home education.

    CLC historically emphasized the day school which began shortly after the church was founded. Many of the pastor’s kids attended it in the rented, Frost School in the early years.

    Later, when they finally allowed a home school umbrella assoc., almost all the Pastors’ families had begun to home school. That’s when they faced the awkwardness of needing to promote the school to keep it afloat, yet clearly, home education was the preferred method of schooling their own children.

    G. Sommerville claimed that the parents of the school were given preference in use of the building and fund-raising, etc, because they paid tuition (including his salary!) and the home school parents did not. The church actually took one Sunday a year to advertise and take a collection for CLS/CLSHS. Until they allowed open enrollment in recent years, the school was never self supporting. They paid teachers very low wages, too.

    But, cost was apparently a big factor that pastor’s chose to home school. I noticed a lot more pastors sending their kids to the day school and high school once Josh pushed through his initiative for free tuition for pastors’ kids. Perhaps they were all waiting until the school was solvent, to give pastors kids a free ride? Who knows what lies behind their decision-making? They made a big pretext of taking a poll to ask members about the school but they never really shared the results. They do not share that level of operations, with the congregation but, they still want the congregation to participate in annual fund-raisers and ask church members to volunteer services to the school.

    It would be interesting to hear thoughts from some of the parents who send their kids to the school.

  • AnneGG

    @Persona 380 – re AnneGG 377 – Thank you! I welcome others to comment, who sent or currently send their children to CLC School. Thank you.

  • Regarding the CLC school I seem to recall ExCLCer talking about him being paddled for something pretty trivial (staple out of papers??). As I recall, this was done by JL who was the CLS principal at the time.

    As people may recall, JL also sent one of ExCLCer’s other children to a county foster care program instead of finding a family to care for her in CLC. This happened when ExCLCer’s mom had health problems and after it was found her husband had molested her daughter (husband’s step daughter). Despite repeated requests, JL has refused to give any explanation to the now grown woman why he did this to her.

    Also, wasn’t there one other case share on here where a fairly older teenage girl was paddled by the h.s. principal?

    Someone correct me if I am not remembering this correctly.

  • intheNickoftime

    Jim Said,

    How a SGM pastor views himself will not change as long as CJ and his team control the pastors college.

    It is even worse now. Before, the newbie pastors were “exposed” to bits and bites of CJ here and there. When CJ wanted adulation and when Purswell wanted to show CJ off CJ was trotted out and he would do his Schtick for everyone assembled. Football, pugil sticks, sportstalk, etc. But that was about it.

    NOW…CJ is there with the people much more of the time. And since they will be in the same building with him, his influence will be greater and they will have to endure his schtick more as well. And since all the people teaching and working with the pastor-lettes will be dyed in the wool kool-aid drinkers, the new pastors will be thoroughly saturated with CJ/SGM thought.

    When the PC was at CLC there were lots of non kool-aid types of people the pastors would come in contact with through the day. They would live with nice people, they would eat with nice people and they would work with nice people, who could all think for themselves. THAT is now gone. The only people pastor college attendees would see now are all dyed orange, grape and blueberry from all the kool-aid that is consumed.

  • justawife

    @Persona#380: I know of two people who have attended or have a child attending CLS. From what I hear the school is very good and has served them both well. Of course, this is only recent information (past 10 years). I hear the school makes the best effort to provide one-on-one instruction to the children and work with them on an individual level. I have heard of no “paddling” recently as now when kids get in trouble they are sent to the principal’s office and parents are called. IMHO, the only a direct relative should be paddling/spanking a child.

    @Steve240#382: I haven’t heard of any such incident over the past 10 years. I know that CLC has in the past spoken out against spanking children once they get close to their teens. The whole thought of an adult spanking a teenage child (especially of the opposite sex) is disturbing on so many levels.

  • acme

    My son attended the first half of kindergarden at CLS in late 1990s. At that point, there was spanking for pretty minor offenses — and there was no program and no accommodations for handling learning differences. They’ve added a program for those differences in the decade. I know some of the teachers there still and know that CLS now has open enrollment (no longer just CLC members). I know former students who remember fondly and those who bemoan their time spent there.

    Anne CLC 1986-2007

  • Lee

    Steve 240 you said “As people may recall, JL also sent one of ExCLCer’s other children to a county foster care program instead of finding a family to care for her in CLC. This happened when ExCLCer’s mom had health problems and after it was found her husband had molested her daughter (husband’s step daughter). Despite repeated requests, JL has refused to give any explanation to the now grown woman why he did this to her”

    Okay, I wasn’t there and have no personal knowledge of the situation…but I’ve seen this repeated several times on this blog. I find it very hard to believe. Pastors or family members don’t get to pick at all where children go if social services is involved. Isn’t it very possible social services did NOT want these children with a family in the church but to get them away from the situation?

    Just trying to be fair here.

  • Debra Baker


    Those stories were told by the victims not by a third party.

  • yentl

    CLS had some of the most amazing teachers you will ever encounter in education. Griney. Bronson. Rohr. Jones. They worked countless hours for hardly any financial reward. They were academically amazing. Bob Schickler, the principal, could have written a book called Humility, True Greatness. It’s ironic Schickler stepped down as a pastor in the name of integrity at the same time CJ was threatening Larry Tomczak. Jamie Leach is well loved and wise. CLS students struggled much with being unaccepted in a homeschooling church. Real parents homeschooled. The fail-parents sent their kids to CLS. Many of my friends did not feel accepted by the church and went elsewhere following graduation.

  • justawife

    I know ExCLCers story is old and sure over 10 years. I would be that the older teenage girl being paddled by a male teacher is also old news.

    With CLC opening their school to outsiders I am sure that forced them to change their discipline policies.


    Hopefully ExCLCers mom will come on here and clarify but first of all, I remember it was stated that John Loftness promised the mom to take care of her child when the mom was incapacitated. John Loftness apparently chose to take the child there. It wasn’t as if social services was already involved.

    Had John found another place for and hadn’t chosen to take her there Social Services likely wouldn’t have been involved.

    John Loftness could easily have found a place for the child. The child was basically under John’s custody till the mom got better.

  • BBinMP

    Does anyone in here attend or previously SGM Fairfax? My experience with them was uncomfortable and bizarre to say the least, but I do remember that Mark Mullery and Vince Hinders to be especially kind to me. I know they had their faults in that church for sure, and I sure didn’t know of the sex abuse (EEEGADS), but wondered if there has been any change to the fellowship there since all this horrible stuff has come out of the woodwork? When I first got there Benny Phillips was stepping down and all of his books (including that horrid parenting book that was unbelievably harsh and inappropriate) were pulled from the book store. Mark was trying to change the mindset of the members to understand that no matter where their kids were schooled or whether the parents were isolating their kids to keep them from the stain of sin in the world that indeed, their sin nature was going to pop up anyway. Guaranteed. I was particularly grateful for this at the time because I was living as a single mom with a family of very nice, charitable people, but quite legalistic, puritanical and particularly harsh with their parenting – which they tried to impose on me. I moved out as fast as I could. But I really did see Mark trying to steer people away from that mentality. I don’t know how successful he was. There was still massive group think, judgment, “in your face” confrontation regarding the “sin” of others by the congregation in general, and that over all feeling of being in parochial school. I just wanted to say something nice about Mark and Vince because they did seem to have quite a bit of compassion for my particular situation, which was very difficult. Especially trying to parent a rambunctious five year old. I cried in Vince’s office several times and he did show compassion and open mindedness. Please don’t misunderstand me, I am not defending SGM. I fled that place with the fear of God’s wrath at my back, but am very curious as to whether there have been any positive changes to this particular fellowship since the spiritual abuse of this movement has been so utterly exposed. Thanks for any feedback.

  • JoyfulandFree

    BB #390,
    I did not attend Fairfax but wanted to comment on something I find amusing. You mentioned Mark trying to change the mindset on schooling. I would be willing to bet this was at the same time my pastor did his “We are not a homeschooling church” sermon. Funny thing is I was talking to some friends from a California church and another friend from an east coast church and they all had the same sermon. Here I thought we might be “changing” and come to find out it was just another planted message.

  • QE2

    Hi BB,

    When I first started reading here, I kept a list of those that were at Fairfax and had over 20 names on the list.

    Yes, the Phillips were very legalistic and advocated instant, cheerful obedience and anything less was followed by “loving correction”. You homeschooled, courted, and were always confronted for sin or were confessing sin. Some of the legalism was odd-the CG leader’s wife chastised me because my toddler girls’ Barbies were undressed when she came over and what if her 3 year old son saw nakedness? Sesame Street was evil because Oscar the Grouch had bad attitudes, etc. One thing we laugh about now was when we had some people over and a different CG leader’s wife harangued me for 30 minutes because the Audio Adrenaline CD was playing “Some Kind of Zombie”. I got lectured about how followers of Jesus were not to be zombies and how could I expose my children to such ideas. The thing was, it was my husband’s CD and I did not really even care for it, but he liked to isten and had put it in. Of course, I could not say that because we weren’t allowed to say anything negative about our husbands…

    One of the first things Mark did upon arrival was preach from Galatians about grace. So on one hand, we were being taught grace but still had a decade of teaching on legalism that many people still operated in. I think by then most of the guys in the Phillips regime were gone-Brent D, Bob K, Larry T, Mike M.and Keith J had moved to other churches, Chris L, Mike P and Frank E were de-gifted. I think only Vince, Dave, and Lou remained. These were the men who “served” Noel and Happymom when their children were molested. But they were also the men who were gracious and compassionate to you and others. I would have to say that I saw an improvement, but it was not until I moved away that I saw how legalistic it still was.

    I have heard second hand that since hiding the truth was no longer an option thanks to Kris and the rest of you, things have changed for the better. Personally, I just can’t see how guys that ruled with such an iron fist can completely let go of their control. Maybe their fingers have uncurled some, which I am sure feels great to those still there, and real change takes time. I’ve read here about their committee to examine polity, their sending of the “Fairfax Letter” to SGM, and other things which indicate positive change. So I hope they really are changing course, and not just sliding down a few notches on the control scale.

  • BBinMP

    Hi JoyfulandFree #391,

    I didn’t mean to refer to Mark Mullery’s attempts to change the mindset on homeschooling, it was more geared toward the fact that many of the parents wouldn’t allow their kids to play with “worldly” kids for fear that they would pick up their “bad” behaviors or attitudes. Mark wisely pointed out that these kids didn’t need to be exposed to “bad” kids (or whatever they wanted to call it), because everyone’s kid had a sin nature and it would rise to the surface, guaranteed. At the time he preached this I was living with a family that had these isolation attitudes and I was thinking in my heart, “I hope these people are paying attention to this!” Sadly, I approached them about this later in the day and it was obvious they rejected the message. Funny thing, it should have been clear to them that Mark was correct since their kids were getting their butts beats multiple times daily – all without the influence of other people’s awful kids. :-P

    And frankly, if they were really concerned they prolly shouldda kicked me out. I dropped the “f” bomb one day in front of the kids out of pure anxiety and frustration. Admittedly, that was inappropriate and I was rebuked (which I deserved), but the whole scenario was utterly unrealistic and bizarre.

  • InTheNickofTime said:

    When the PC was at CLC there were lots of non kool-aid types of people the pastors would come in contact with through the day. They would live with nice people, they would eat with nice people and they would work with nice people, who could all think for themselves. THAT is now gone. The only people pastor college attendees would see now are all dyed orange, grape and blueberry from all the kool-aid that is consumed.

    I see your point here Nick. I would say that most people who stay in SGM for any significant length of time tend to not be critical thinkers who question. For those that came in as questioners and thinkers, their questioning and critical thinking either causes them to leave or “group think” takes over. Subsequently it results in a group of people that have lost the “thinking for yourself” mentality.

    I am not sure how much of this is due to the type of people SGM typically attracts (that are content with a “pope” style of leadership and can accept an “our leaders have spoken” mentality) and how much is due to the culture producing this including the “group think” mentality. Some of us, thankfully, escape this even after having being involved for some time.

    With that said, I do see your point that the group that went to Louisville is the “hard drinking” kool-aid group with almost blind loyalty while those around CLC weren’t nearly as extreme. Students in the pastors’ college won’t be exposed to a diverse group but only to a group that is devoted to “pope” Mahaney.

    I am sure this type of environment will sadly show in the new pastors college graduates.

  • BBinMP

    QE2 #392 – I chuckled when I read your post. Your comments about Sesame Street and Barbie are oh so familiar. If memory serves me, the cartoon on PBS “Arthur” wasn’t allowed either because one of the characters who played the antagonist had a “bad attitude.” Even Veggie Tales was criticized. Remember the Veggie Tale about idol worship? The cute little song that goes, “The bunny, the bunny, I just love the bunny. I don’t love my mom or my dad, just the bunny.” My son and I would sing this along with the other kids and I was asked to stop because it was disrespectful to parents. It was like the point of Arthur (lessons learned from the antagonist) and Veggie Tales (not good to love the bunny only and not God) was overlooked because Lord help us if our kids also are too narrow minded to miss that point and actually start loving the bunny more than mom and dad.

    The whole environment from start to finish was an unbelievable joykill and no one even knew it.

    The really sad thing is that these parents really meant well. They wanted to make sure their kids grew up as God loving, selfless, good citizens. They were just as victim to the brainwashing as everyone else. It was just a really unhealthy environment for all involved and I’m grateful it’s been exposed so people who thought they were crazy now know they aren’t, and those that want to be free can be.

    I am so grateful for this blog site.

  • Debra Baker

    I think the real threat of the aforementioned shows is that the characters are able to learn and grow without the draconian sessions with the rod that Bennie and Sheereeeeeeeeee taught were completely necessary to produce godly spawn.

    If Arthur and DW had their backsides whooped, I’m sure the reaction would have been different.

  • Jason

    How is this building up the church? It wreaks of bitterness.

  • BBinMP

    I do have to ask, has anyone figured out what the heck the Bible really means regarding “the rod?” Really, that one is confusing.

    If I knew I had to raise kids in the environment moving forward I’d choose never to have another child. I’m not kidding.

  • Jason

    Regarding your post 397, asking how does this build up the church.

    First your asserting that this is of bitterness has been tried by others. It seems to be a typical ploy to try and silence information like this.

    Sometimes for the body of Christ to built up, sin and hypocrisy needs to be exposed. Sadly there is a lot of that whithin SGM. In the past there has also been a lot of silencing of people questioning things under the guise of it being “gossip” or “slander.”

    In the past various SGM Leaders and Pastors could do a number of questionable actions with immunity. No one or few would know what was done. With this and other blogs that is no longer the case. There is now the possibility that leader’s questionable actions will be posted on this blog. What has been revealed is a lot. Here are some:

    We now know that C.J. Mahaney blackmailed Larry Tomczak and hid it for 10 years.
    Mahaney didn’t practice a lot of what he taught and imposed on others.
    After a initial confession, Mahaney retracted it and called his sins “ordinary.”
    SGM Leaders “white washed” Mahaney’s sin.
    Poor handling of child molestation cases in SGM Churches.

  • formersgmer


    The word rod is “shebet” in Hebrew. This word is defined as following in Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon #7626: rod, staff, branch, offshoot, club, sceptre, tribe a. rod, staff b. shaft (of spear, dart) c. club (of shepherd’s implement) d. truncheon, sceptre (mark of authority) e. clan, tribe

    Upon reading the “shebet” passages in Proverbs, one will notice that you can always substitute the word “authority” for “rod”. “Rod” is referring to God’s authority and the authority of nations in the above verses. Thus, the word “rod” is referring to a parent’s authority in all five of the Proverbs references, including the following verses:

    Pr 23:13 Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Pr 23:14 Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.

    In the preceding verses, one can see that the child shall not die with this rod. Yet in Exodus, we saw that a man COULD cause someone to die with a literal shebet. If Scripture were talking about a literal rod here, this would be a contradiction because it says he SHALL NOT die. A person cannot kill another with their authority. They can be striking (beating) the other person with their authority by using their authority to discipline (teach, disciple, educate, instruct) and guide them.

    IF this Scripture were referring to a literal beating, taken in context, it would have to be speaking about a grown child. The verses before and after Proverbs 23:13-14 was written by a father who was instructing his adolescent son. However, one still has the problem of the contradiction as far as whether or not a “shebet” can cause someone to die.

    Another observation worth mention is the Hebrew word translated “child” in the “rod” Scriptures of Proverbs.

    This is the source I used but if i were you I would do additional internet searches to confirm the above interpretation

  • Luna Moth

    To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

    2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

    3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

    4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

    5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

    6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

    7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

    8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

    There is a time to uproot what has been planted; a time to scatter stones (rather than keep piling them up); a time to throw things away, a time to tear things that cannot be sewn up again…There is a time and a space for all of this.

  • BBinMP

    Hi Jason,

    A few things:

    #1 – Not only am I bitter, I’m angry, too.

    #2 – After years of spiritual abuse and lies that perverted my ability to think for myself, robbed me of freedom and liberty to form relationships outside of the groupthink that put so many in spiritual bondage, and had me bound up in continue spiritual anxiety and fear, you bet I’m bitter. This is a normal emotion in response to abuse. But you don’t know that yet because you are still brainwashed.

    #3 – Your post is indicative of the lack of compassion that we have become accustomed to due to the judgmental, self-righteous, sin-sniffing attitudes so prevalent at SGM.

    #4 – That grace thing that SGM speaks of so often, yet still attaches a yoke around its members neck? I’m free of that, hence I feel no guilt or shame about being bitter. I know God will purge and cleanse me of this through the healing process that includes interaction of this blog site. And bonus – it will be done without the unwelcome aid of self-righteous, obnoxious, mislead, but well-meaning Christians (most who I barely know personally) confronting me and trying to force repentence and accountability for my “sin.”

    #5 – Please examine your own heart to see if it houses any bitterness about anything whatsoever. In the extremely unlikely event that it currently does not, and you eventually realize the stronghold over your life due to your loyalty to the groupthink, cult environment of SGM, you too may experience bitterness. But here’s the good news – you’ll have this site for comfort and healing. All who particpate who know how you feel will not throw salt on your wounds as you have inadvertently done here.

    Sorry for the lecture. Well, not really. But your comment felt like the exact same sword I felt through my heart while I attended SGM, which by the way, does not build up the church.

    ~ BB

  • BBinMP

    FormerSGMer #400 – Wow. Thank you. If only I had understood this before. It would have saved me so much stress, confusion and criticism by those in favor of and opposed to the rod! I was turned in to CPS for spanking my son with a wooden spoon when he was four years old, and it wasn’t until AFTER that incident that I started attending SGM. Imagine the internal conflict!

  • BBinMP

    I need to clarify – I did not abuse my son, or leave a mark on my kid. I was turned in after I vented to someone I knew about my frustration with my son’s tantrums and told them I had spanked him with a spoon. Next thing I knew I was getting a call from Child Protective Services. I was ordered to parenting classes. Cute.

  • Jenn Grover

    December 4th, 2012 at 12:01 pm
    How is this building up the church? It wreaks of bitterness.

    Jason, how exactly did your little verbal assault build up the church? What have you personally done to build up one of the people who have been victims of SGM or build up the church through lovingly confronting the unrepentant SGM leaders?

  • intheNickoftime

    Wow – A blast from the past.

    BBinMP and QE2…you guys remind me of my younger days!

    My wife grew up with some of the boys across the river in Fairfax. I can attest to much of what you guys have testified about. And it is all true!

    Benny WAS all about control and Mullery WAS/IS much more grace filled as a leader. It is like being pulled over on a dark highway…the cop can be and SOB and hassle you and search you and put you in cuffs and go through your trunk and finally give you a ticket and tell you have a good night…or…he can run your license and come back and tell you to take it slower next time. Both are still members of the same force and both are still into control, but how they exercise that control is very different.

    Mullery is still about control but it is more about being in control, not exercising control. He is comfortable running your number and telling you to slow down. That way you know who is in charge but he wasn’t over bearing or manipulative. He understands that one day he will have to give an accounting of his shepherding.

    Another analogy would be slave owners. Some were benevolent and some were cruel, but in the end, from the slaves point of view, both were SLAVE OWNERS. Sure, it’s better to be with the good guy but you are still a slave…or a sheep.

    It is hard to determine how much of the leadership in CLC, Fairfax and many of the SGM churches is from the pastors and what is from SGM. I have heard several folks across the river talk about when the pastors were themselves and when they were working for SGM. Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. It is hard to determine where the man stops and where SGM takes over. My guess is they can be nice when they are on their own, but when you run afoul of SGM procedures and principles, that’s when they turn into their Mr. Hyde persona. I also think if you listened to their child abuse meeting from last year you would hear them say they were doing things the “SGM-way” and that was not how it should have been done. I think they have learned from their mistakes.

    And certainly when all the old school SGM guys at Fairfax that were continually wearing their Mr. Hyde suits left for greener pastures, the atmosphere in Fairfax was a lot more congenial. Was it perfect? No. Fairfax was still slave owners and slaves. But it was/is much better to be a slave under Mullery than a slave under Benny or CJ or SGM. But let’s look to everyone being share croppers or better!

  • Friendly Observer

    Jason — “reeks” not “wreaks” and those who have responded to you have helped clarify part of the purpose here, I believe, which is to promote self-expression as a “survivor,” regardless of the stage of “survivorship” at which one finds himself/herself. Many of the posts reflect a level of catharsis and “self-therapy,” which is/can be therapeutic in itself.

    Sure, there may be hints or (in keeping with “reeks”) whiffs of bitterness, but you should remember, especially of you are new, that many who post here are in the process of getting healed from very deep and real (vs. imagined) wounds, and hosts Kris and Guy have always encouraged honest expression without fear of reprisal, correction, or chastisement (unless a post is factually erroneous or over-the-top inappropriate).

    As for the discussion of authority, it’s wise to remember the adage about baby and bath water. If or when we experience abuse (as in lording-it-over-the-sheep “authority”), part of the recovery process is to see any leadership as (potentially?) abusive and to want to get rid of it. I read some of that here all the time, and I understand it fully. “No one is EVER going to tell me what to do EVER again, do you understand, DO YOU HEAR ME!??!!??!! It’s just going to be ‘Jesus and me’ forever, and we will live happily ever after!” It’s doubtful any of us is ever going to have that “lonely luxury” (if it is such), unless you buy the island, move there, and put up a big “Keep Out!” sign.

    Fact is, there is God-ordained authority in the world, whether we like it or not. The kid who will not listen to or accept his parents’ “meanness” in forcing him or her to go to school (for example — or it could be their counsel to refrain from illegal activity) will then face the truant officer, and if he/she escapes that authority level, there is the police officer, and then the judge, and finally (let us hope not), the guard who turns the key to lock the cell door. Paul writes in Romans 6, “Servants, choose your masters . . .” (I’m paraphrasing). Joshua, in the OT: “Choose this day whom you will serve . . .” We will all — at some level and in some arena — face a situation where someone has the authority to tell us what to do, where to sit, what project to work on, when to take the exam, or at what window to pay for our business license.

    The difference, as I see it, is in relationship vs. the legalistic framework. Jesus said those who lead are to wield their authority by serving, and leaders (including pastors) whose hearts are geared to serve the sheep (like the Ps. 23 Shepherd, who leads me beside still waters and through paths of righteousness and seeks to restore my soul, etc.) will always have a welcome place in my life, in my home, at my table, with my kids, etc. This is a shallow and vastly incomplete statement, but I offer it to suggest a balanced view where “authority” may be used to serve and help another bear the burdens, sorrows, and challenges of life.

  • Square Peg

    QUOTE: “But, cost was apparently a big factor that pastor’s chose to home school. I noticed a lot more pastors sending their kids to the day school and high school once Josh pushed through his initiative for free tuition for pastors’ kids.”

    Free tuition for pastor’s kids? I don’t think so. That’s just wrong. Nobody should get “free” tuition unless you have a tuition assistance program that involves a third party to decide objectively who qualifies, and the pastors “qualify” for the program according to the third party.

  • Persona

    Square Peg 408

    I’m sure the CLC pastors thought it was a great idea to give their kids free tuition…especially when it is worth thousands, for each child and they all have full quivers. But, in CLCLand that is all it takes to make breath-taking changes. Too bad, they don’t radically change their polity, in like manner.

    The tuition schedule including 5% reduction for members:

    Grade Tuition CLC Member Tuition

    Half Day Kindergarten $3,730 $3,590

    Grades 1 – 5 $7,020 $6,610

    Grades 6 – 8 $7,990 $7,570

    Grades 9 – 12 $8,800 $8,340

    They could add that SGM pastors who quit their jobs, receive a reduced tuition rate, until they flee to greener pastures, such as Kentucky.

    Not sure if CLC members still subsidize the schools but, perhaps the pastors give them free use of the building or charge them little for the space (about half the building).

    Maybe someone can enlighten us about that?

  • Sick With Worry

    To Jason, who asked, “how is this building up the church?”

    I think that is a fair question. I really do. But, when you say “the church”, do you mean SGM? Or the universal body of Christ?

    Even though there are aspects of SGM that I try to defend, one of my criticisms is how the leaders seem to equate SGM as “the church”. That is one of the reason missions is only done as “church planting”, and pastors must go to the “Pastors’ College”. I think in their mind, SGM is “the church”

    Jason – I am pretty connected to SGM-land and still have my membership. While I am sure there is some bitterness here, it is more objective than one would expect. The questions and criticisms are fair questions and there are some pretty insightful comments.

    People are angry and disappointed, and some bitterness will inevitably be in peoples hearts.

    Also Jason, SGM is in a tough position because even if they repented and asked for forgiveness of each person that has been hurt…. they are guilty of appointing countless novices as elders. That is a clear violation of I Timothy 3. The hurt and “bitterness” that you see in the comments is a direct result of inept leaders selecting additional inept leaders and pushing them through a nine-month course list and then calling them pastors. That nine-month program is not what it takes to be an elder….. it sounds more like “on-the-job-training” that McDonalds or Starbucks would sponsor.

    Oh yes…. one other thing. The new excuse I have been hearing is that “we are a young movement”. That is true, but the Bible is clear that you should not be appointing novices to lead. SGM is indeed a young movement, but countless biblical principles have been marginalized when it comes to the qualities to look for in an elder.

    So, Jason, I think some people will embrace your question as a good one, I certainly do. I have asked myself about my own bitterness. Right now, I am not as bitter as I am disappointed. I am open to a heart check.

    Anyway – I hope you keep reading.

  • BBinMP

    To those reading these posts who can’t take the criticism, welcome to the world we just escaped!

  • Stunned

    Building up the church? Oh, most definitely. I can’t tell you how many people who read here believe their relationship with Jesus has increased DRAMATICALLY. I hope you’ll stick around and see if Jesus uses this site to draw you closer to him, too. It’s a good thing!

  • Oswald

    intheNick #406 — Love your analogies. Gives me much to ponder. Thanks.

  • Oswald

    BB #402 — You go, child! Amen and amen.

  • justawife

    @Persona#409: The CLC tuition rates are a BARGAIN for anything in the DMV area, especially Montgomery county. I send a child to private school in MD and that is about half my tuition for Elementary. Still, as much of a “bargain” CLC is, I would think that most families that can afford to send their kids to private school probably have 2 working parents (in this area it’s very difficult to survive off of one income given the high cost of living in the area). I think it’s completely reasonable for the currently employed pastors to receive free or at least reduced rate tuition given that I’m pretty sure most/all are surviving off of one income, given they have 3+ kids ?.

    They do also have a small scholarship program for current members that reduces tuition even more. I don’t know how common it is and I think it is mainly “need-based” on family size, income, mortgage, overall financial picture.

    I do believe the CLS school is faring much better thanks to the open enrollment policy, so I’m unsure how much the church is subsidizing the school. I would imagine it is not as great as when the school was closed to members only.

    Regarding your comment about the SILs that received free tuition, I think a large proportion of the congregation was pretty outraged about that. I would hope that something like that would never happen again. I’m hopeful for change at CLC.

  • JoyfulandFree

    BB #402

    Well said.

    Jason, I was where you are not that long ago. God opened my eyes to how I was guilty of following sgm and their systems instead of letting the Holy Spirit guide me. I wasn’t consciously making that choice but after decades in sgm I was dying on the vine. My kids were too. I still pray for my friends and family to get free of the legalism and abusive use of authority. And I pray the leaders in sgm will repent. I have spent much of the last few months repenting and trying to heal. Because of this site I am reminded to follow after the Lover of my soul, Jesus. I am remembering how I am a child of God and that He loves me. How I am a saint because of what Jesus has done for me. I am getting free and learning that spending too much time focusing on indwelling sin will only accomplish looking at myself instead of keeping my eyes fixed on God.

    I understand why you feel like you do, really. And if you find yourself someday on the outside of sgm, there are a lot of really great people here who will help you walk through it like they are helping me.

  • Yentl

    The church asked the school years ago to become self-sufficient in order to not appear partial to any schooling choice. This lead to a hike in tuition that was unmanageable for many. They’ve taken extraordinary measures including opening the school up to try to keep costs down.

    Allowing pastors kids to attend for free was a necessary PR move to improve prejudices against the school by homeschoolers and open people’s minds to other options. It was a good move.

    Contrary to popular opinions, most pastors are strapped for cash and had no choice but to homeschool.

  • Square Peg

    I teach in a private Christian school. Nobody gets a tuition break just because they work there or just because they are pastors in the sponsoring church. It is strictly based on “need”…so even employees of the church or school (including pastors and teachers) have to apply for tuition assistance in order to see if they qualify based on need.

    This also curtails people “teaching” in the school just so they can put their kids in it for free.

  • Square Peg

    “Contrary to popular opinions, most pastors are strapped for cash and had no choice but to homeschool.”


    There is always public school. It is still a viable choice. It is not that they had no choice but to homeschool.

  • Stunned

    Yentl, pssst… they could have put their kids in public school. That is free. Saying they had no option shows that you and many people would never even consider this option. Do you think this had anything to do with the uneducated scare/control tactics that were taught from the pulpit for decades in PDI/SGM?

  • Persona

    Square Peg 419 I don’t recall any GOB/CLC pastor who have sent their children to public school. Also, CLC is mainly filled with one income families and the pastors are paid comparable wages to other men in the church.

    The Mahaneys and others sent their HS kids to a Christian school an hour away until their son was of age. But, I don’t think it was a coincidence that the HS was founded just in time for him to enroll.

    I agree with Square Peg that it was ‘over the top’ for the pastors’ kids to be given free tuition, especially since they already get a myriad of perks and I doubt they would be tempted to leave their jobs if their kids don’t get free education. At least one of the Pastors has six kids! That translates into a lot of money over time.

  • It's just the beginning

    I attend CLC, and I know of two pastors that send their kids to public schools right now…there could be more?

    I’m guessing that was unheard of 5-15+ years ago. Oh how things have changed [for the better].

  • justawife

    @Yentl#417: Thanks for the info on the school! I can see how giving the pastors a free tuition for CLS would help do away with the inherent preference for homeschooling. While I think things are changing, I still feel some people look on homeschooling as the best choice, although I feel this is changing.

    Regarding the Public School option for pastors and/or congregants: I know some members that send their kids to public school. I think one CLC pastor sends his kids to public school (maybe more?). The decision to send a kid to public school is based more on the quality of the public school. Not everyone who attends CLC lives in a very great area of Montgomery county. Some live in areas where the public schools are not very good. i.e. Montgomery Village, so it makes sense you wouldn’t want to send your kid to public school in that area. I don’t know where all the pastors live but some may live in areas where the public schools aren’t good so I don’t blame them for not sending their kids there.

    Having worked in the public school system, I am somewhat wary of public schools and the standards they adhere to. Montgomery County is one of the better counties but the lower-income areas are going to have poorer schools with more behavioral issues (I’ve worked in schools like these). I can’t fault parents for not wanting to give their kids the best possible education they can afford. Not to say public is always bad, but it is mostly dependent on area.

  • Square Peg

    “Square Peg 419 I don’t recall any GOB/CLC pastor who have sent their children to public school. Also, CLC is mainly filled with one income families and the pastors are paid comparable wages to other men in the church.”

    I understand that they most likely have not sent their children to public school. But it’s not like it wasn’t or isn’t an actual option. It is. So, if they don’t have money…to pay tuition, then sure…homeschool…or send to public school. But, it shouldn’t qualify you for “free tuition” at the Christian school…just because you are a PK.

    If they are on one income, that is their choice. They don’t have to be on one income, unless you are talking about a single parent, or someone with a disability, etc. Also, if they are one income, and they looked at a school that allowed for “tuition assistance”…then, perhaps they’d qualify for that because of the one income. There are lots of Christian schools. I’m sure there were others in the area, not just the one associated with their own church.

    I just disagree with PK’s getting free tuition. That doesn’t sit well with me AT ALL. There are other options.

  • katie

    There are definitely some CLC pastors right now who have recently started sending their kids to public school and I applaud that. CLS is an excellent school for some kids, but other methods of schooling work better for other kids. Plus financially, public school is the best option for some.

    Yentl: I’m sure I know you… All the teachers you named were excellent and your statement about Bob Schickler writing Humility is absolutely true. He will receive great rewards in heaven.

  • katie

    Square Peg:

    Regarding PKs getting free tuition… I’ve never heard of that but it doesn’t surprise me. I remember at one point in school it seemed like we were getting hoards of new pastors kids every year infiltrating our school! We hated it at first.. We thought we were just going to get in trouble all the time with them around to tattle on us. Haha :-) I’ll admit though, most of them ended up being okay.

  • Square Peg

    QUOTE: “There are definitely some CLC pastors right now who have recently started sending their kids to public school and I applaud that. CLS is an excellent school for some kids, but other methods of schooling work better for other kids. Plus financially, public school is the best option for some.”

    I would applaud that too. While public school has its issues, it is still a viable option—especially for specific situations. If you are an involved parent, you’ll be an involved parent if your kid is in public school too.

    As far as people living in a neighborhood with bad schools? (#423) My question would be…then why did these people buy houses in a bad school district? Is it because they weren’t intending to send their kids to those schools in the first place? Could they have possibly bought elsewhere? I don’t know, but I thought that one of the things you consider when buying a house is the quality of the school district/schools…just in case…you need to send your children there. That’s just house buying 101.

  • Square Peg

    I hate to harp on the education thing. However, I just hate when people favor one type of education over another, and I especially hate special treatment for pastors’ kids…and I hate the dissing of public school by some people I’ve known. It is not a one-size-fits all world. One family can have each kid in a different educational environment. For example, my brother has one daughter in public school and one daughter in a hybrid private school/homeschool situation. Each situation is best suited to that child.

    What I hate most of all…when a family has a kid with learning disabilities, and/or special needs…and the family IS homeschooling, but they decide to put their child in public school…in order to get a special education teacher and to have access to resources that their tax dollars are paying for anyway. But then, that family gets “discouraged” by another homeschooling church family. “Don’t do it!”…they say. “Leave them alone!” …I say.

  • Stunned

    Square Peg- 428- Amen!

  • JoyfulandFree

    Square Peg #428,
    We decided to put our kids in public school this year for the first time. We prayed and in some ways agonized over it, at least I did because of the sgm bias that I gave in to out of fear of man. Anyway we had a lot of reasons why we felt the Lord leading us in that direction. In fact, it was so clear that it was the best decision for our kids that God really delivered me from the fear I had over it. I had so much peace because it really was the only choice that made any sense. This was right before we left our sgm. Anyway, one family outright pleaded with us not to send our kids to public school, that if we couldn’t afford the hybrid school to at least homeschool because I would be “handing my children over to the government.” Really helpful…

  • katie said,

    There are definitely some CLC pastors right now who have recently started sending their kids to public school and I applaud that.

    I applaud it too…EXCEPT…

    The vast majority of SGMers know very well that their churches created part of their unique culture around homeschooling. While in “normal” churches, there is typically a mix, with homeschooling often in the minority, nobody can deny that the majority of SGM families chose homeschooling. Particularly, the majority of SGM pastors chose homeschooling. Before the blogs generated discussions about this issue, many SGM pastors taught explicitly that homeschooling was a spiritually superior choice. When you consider that SGM has always put a lot of emphasis on copying what one’s pastors do, and when you add the fact that most SGM pastors chose to homeschool, it’s undeniable that within SGM’s culture, there was a bias toward homeschooling and against other options.

    That bias is glaringly evident even in fairly recent teachings (late 2009) that paid lip service to open-mindedness.

    Yet now, once “the blogs” and Brent’s documents ushered in a kind of glasnost and SGM leaders figured out that having a pro-homeschooling bias was something people were talking about, there’s suddenly this big shift, where pastors are even daring to send their children to public schools?

    I guess what I wonder is, would this change have happened without the negative attention brought about by Brent’s documents and “the blogs”?

    And if it would not have happened – if SGM churches would have blithely continued to be comprised of a majority of homeschooling families, with pastors who all homeschooled (or chose their church’s Christian school when available) – then what has motivated the change?

    More to the point, when are they going to talk about what has motivated the change?

    Even more to the point, when are they going to fully acknowledge their old bias and explicitly teach about what made their old bias wrong?

    Really, the same could be said about any shift or change within SGM’s culture.

    I know that for many of you, the way that your SGM churches have begun taking on more characteristics of normal churches – like supporting parachurch organizations and foreign missions, being allowed to have Bible studies, being more welcoming and less hostile to two-income families, and lifting the condemnation that non-homeschooling families often felt – is enough for you. And I do realize that those changes are significant…

    And yet there’s something really disturbing about a group that can be so distinctly for something, to the point where they were obviously against other options, and then so quickly turn on a dime without acknowledging openly that they did indeed used to hold to certain views that they’ve now changed.

    To me, it feels like all these changes are happening from the outside in, more because of public relations and out of a reaction to criticism than because the leaders have really changed their thinking. I mean, if leaders have indeed changed their thinking, shouldn’t they be teaching openly about the changes, and explaining them? Shouldn’t they be openly talking about what made their thinking change?

    SGM has a long long history of shifting and changing without any outright explanation. Any change, no matter how praiseworthy, needs to be accompanied by an acknowledgement of the wrong that was in the old ways and a clear explanation of what led leaders to shift course. Until that happens, the changes just look like P.R. moves, done to deflect negative attention and reassure people that there’s no validity to any criticisms.

    What’s missing from the equation is true humility on the part of leaders, where they openly admit that they got it wrong for so long.

  • Yentl said:

    Contrary to popular opinions, most pastors are strapped for cash and had no choice but to homeschool.

    I am assuming you were specifically referring to SGM pastors. I am curious where you get this information that most pastors are “strapped.” I thought SGM paid their pastors relatively well, especially at CLC.

    As has been discussed before, if you are looking at their salary and if it looks low that can be deceptive. There are tax deductions and ways of receiving their income tax free that pastors can take advantage of not to mention expense accounts and a budget for book purchases. Thus a pastor paid a lower salary can effectively take home what a regular person does with a higher salary.

    For the pastors to get free tuition at CLS that is another example of them getting a benefit that isn’t taxed (assuming it isn’t). Thus the value the pastors are getting is higher than the tuition amount (around 30% more).

  • It's just the beginning

    Kris, I totally agree that changing only because there are outside pressures is hard to believe as true change. It’s kind of like a child being forced to say “I’m sorry.” Are they really sorry?

    But i think it’s important and only fair to point out that Josh and the CLC pastors had their May 2011 members meeting where the repented for lots of categories of things…the one practice over one principle…and this was all before Brent’s documents went public and viral in July 2011.

    Changing gears completely, one sentence you wrote in the last post has me scratching my head concerning responsibility: “When you consider that SGM has always put a lot of emphasis on copying what one’s pastors do…”. While i totally agree with what you are saying here, i have to ask myself how much of this was self-imposed by members versus pastors saying “See my life and my decisions, members should emulate how I do _______.”

    I know the culture of SGM (and I’ll speak specifically for CLC)–the culture has always been looking up [way too much] to the pastors, “WWCD” (What Would CJ Do), etc. But how did it end up there, and is it all the pastors’ fault? Do the members who chose to ‘drink that kool-aid’ / that culture of over-the-top adulation for the pastors .. do the members have some responsibility? Or do you Kris think that CJ and most SGM pastors were conspiring to have their members worship them, emulate them, be controlled by them?

  • BBinMP

    JoyfulandFree #430 – You know what’s super fun? Having a child who is bonafied diagnosed with neurological problems and ADHD and having the church tell you it’s crap (in a nice rebuking way, of course). Then compounds that you’re not spanking enough to deal with the discipline problem.

  • Diego

    SG leaders historically have done group think, mind-change. Kinda like tossed around by the waves. Views of dating, schooling, holy spirit etc have changed as the sheep road kill accumilates. Never an apology or recognition of wrong, but only “clarification” of what was said/heard from the pulpit. Or clarity of SG position.

    Read through their Book of Church Order yesterday. Very arrogant…we may not be the only correct polity…, on pastor/elder leadership… as we have previously proven…

    I think we need to look back at the elders of Israel refusing to follow Samuel’s boys. The elders of that time recognized the sinfulness of these men and refused to follow. Not that their plan was any better. Guess we need to wait on God’s promises (He promised them a King, but not for the same reasons they wanted a king. He promises us to build His Church, men like CJ, Dave, and many of the pastor/elders don’t want to listen to God, but want a church in their image. You can see that in the nepotism, and favoritism seen in many of the local churches. Many local pastors tuning out the Holy Spirit, afraid to hear the congregation, that their plan may not be what God wants for them. Many of them have had ambition and plans for their church well before they became pastors. They won’t let God’s plans stop them. God will let many proceed, but his blessing will not ultimately be on their work, but will bring these men down. Unfortunately the sheep road-kill count climbs. Pastors forget your ambition. Stand up to SGM. Recognize the sinful leadership whose leaven contaminates your church. Stop the sheep roadkilling.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    “But how did it end up there, and is it all the pastors’ fault? Do the members who chose to ‘drink that kool-aid’ / that culture of over-the-top adulation for the pastors .. do the members have some responsibility? Or do you Kris think that CJ and most SGM pastors were conspiring to have their members worship them, emulate them, be controlled by them?”

    I have mixed thoughts about this. Looking at the bible, it seems to have quite a bit to say along the “woe shepherds” and “brood of vipers” line when it comes to false shepherds and hypocritical leaders. God seems to put quite a bit of responsibility on leaders.

    There are also clear verses about obeying and honoring church leaders, respecting those who teach, etc. Paul said to imitate him the way he imitated Christ. Older women teach younger, and there is an implication of teaching by example for both genders. It is normal and even right to look up to leaders.

    At this point I see it as a two part problem. New believers and young people probably should be pretty respecting and trusting and teachable. They are young and inexperienced and it is normal for them to look up to father figures. I think God will hold the bad shepherds accountable for harming them.

    But once you have been saved for years- let’s say in the case of Timothy he traveled with Paul for 12 or so years before going on his own- I think it is time to grow up and be more discerning and be independent, and the blame lies with you and no other for drinking the koolaid.

    So people in their 20s going to conferences and worshipping the celebrities; Josh shaving his head in his 20s and wanting to be just like CJ….well, I cut them slack and pray for them. Youth is more trusting, less cynical, less discerning; often sweetly zealous but immature.

    People in their 40s who have been there a long while and heard some stories and seen some abuse, and stay in denial and sweep it all under the rug- well, they have chosen deception and I put the choice on them. 100%.

    Just my opinion.

  • intheNickoftime

    All the more reason to question CJ’s bent for putting young pastors in charge of churches.

    But then they DO make loyal subjects…

  • intheNickoftime

    do you think that CJ and most SGM pastors were conspiring to have their members worship them, emulate them, be controlled by them?

    Good question. When?

    I think CJ and most of the men started out wanting to serve Christ. AS time passed CJ became more famous and he allowed that acclaim to tweak his pride. He enjoyed it more and more and then began to craft his personna to garner more adulation. And as CJ morphed into the uber-leader it was a more attractive posting to become a pastor so those young men who were weighing the costs vs benefits of becoming a pastor saw what CJ was/did, it became are more desirable position. You might get to work with or be like CJ. No longer were all men motivated to become pastors to shepherd the sheep.

    Ditto Shank, Kauflin, Mickey, Loftness, etc. (Harvey has always been puffed up, and found a place he fits nicely.)

  • intheNickoftime

    Kris asked…

    what has motivated the change?

    98% of the changes were pushed down from SGM and or CJ. I thought my pastors had done some soul searching of their own on several issues when they announced to the church about program or practice changes. (I went in and confronted them about many of them but that didn’t change their minds.)

    But in reading here on the blogs, I find that almost nothing my pastors did was truly original. It was all push down from on high.

    There are a few churches with special circumstances, special locations, special friendships, that were able to do something different or unique, but across the land almost all churches were doing the same things around the same time.

    And even more evidence is that many of these changes occurred after 2004 when the magazine stopped and the celebrations stopped. With almost no intermingling of the churches, they all still manifested the same thinking, the same programs, the same ministries. CJ must have packed the Pastor’s Conferences or must have had strong regional leaders to push his agenda.

    But little in what we see in most SGM churches is particular and unique to those churches. Kind of like McDonald’s restaurants. They may be in different locations and look somewhat different and the employees may look different but deep down they are all the same. That is what america likes in fast food, I am not so certain they also want that in their worship choices.

  • Nick

    Re post 438 I would agree with what you said. I think these men started out wanting to serve Christ but as they gained attention it got to their egos and they diverged from this. Maybe that is the reason God gave Paul the thorn you read about. Power and fame and adoration can be intoxicating and hard to handle. “The Lucifer Effect” is one good book showing what affect power can have on people.

    C.S. Lewis’s short essay titled “The Inner Ring” explains those pushing to be part of an “inner ring.”

  • Elle

    This may be a question that has already been answered, but what is the history of the CLC school? Even starting a school back in old PDI days seemed totally contrary to PDI’s home-centric beliefs (and still seems odd in today’s SGM). Having other people other than stay-at-home-moms (even Christian teachers) educate children? Eeegads!

    Also, does anyone have a library of the old PDI magazines? I think some of the articles should be printed here, since the magazine is no longer published. It would be an enlightening view of original PDI/SGM history and beliefs, that, in many cases, may have been re-written down the road.

  • delta dagger

    Have any of you taken notice that SGM HQ has no mailing or street number or phone number. Also where is pastor college location— My church spend $40,000 to send one man to PC and PC has no street number –phone number?

  • delta dagger

    I am bad SGM HQ does have a phone number– But they only have a PO number.

  • Pffft

    2002 Fandango Ct
    Louisville, KY 40245

  • Rick Malament

    Funny you should ask! Just tonight I was rummaging around the old utility room and found a STACK old PDI magazines and Sovereign Grace magazines. I’ll scan through them this weekend and see if I can find anything.

  • delta dagger

    Hey PFFFT I just checked the house number is this CJ house? It is huge!

  • Stunned

    Rick, that is hysterical! When I read Elle’s earlier post, I had this feeling that God had allowed someone “out there” to have stored their old magazines and that eventually they’d turn up. Pretty awesome.

    I would actually be interested in them. If you ever decide to throw them out, would you, please, be willing to send them to me, instead?

  • Stunned

    Pfft and Delta Dagger,

    That 4,500 sq ft house that backs up to the Polo Fields Golf Club and is used for the church address is not CJ’s home, but Bob Kauflin’s. DD was right that there isn’t any other given address, other than Bob’s home. At least, not one I have found. Maybe they are working out of his home for now?

    I love that they literally back up to the Polo Fields Golf Club but at one point SGM was trying to spin it that they were reaching out to the needy in Louisville. Is that those in need of a 5 Iron or those in need of some saddle soap? Not that there is anything wrong with being called to love on some rich folk. Just call it as it is, is all.

    I am guessing that the Polo Fields Golf Club is right in line with SGM’s demographic research, which they do before plating a new church.

  • delta dagger

    STUNNED— IF THIS HOME IS BOB KAUFFIN HOUSE WHAT DOES CJ LOOK LIKE. That house is huge! I think a photo of this home should be seen by all SGM!

  • Persona

    Stunned 448

    SGM used the Kauflin home for their offices initially but, they have an office now. Don’t know the address, however. They are probably interested in keeping that and the Mahaney address pretty close to their chest.

  • Stunned

    DD, from what I understand, CJ has normally lived in a relatively unostentatious*
    house. Not relative to the rest of the world or the rest of the nation, but at least to the rest of those in his church, which happened to be in one of the wealthiest counties in the US. But still, he and his wife had a home which was not out of place for his neighborhood. Well cared for and loved and renovated but not ostentatious in the least.

    *Is unostentatious a word?

  • Stunned

    DD and pfft and Elle, you inspired me to go take a look for the SGM office address again. Didn’t find it, but did find this on the BBB website (Better Business Bureau):

    BBB file opened: August 21, 2012

    Business started: 05/31/1988
    Type of Entity

    I don’t know how many people out there know this, but from what those who understand these things have told me, SGM (sovgracemin) is NOT even legally organized as a church but legally, it is organized as a corporation. Unassimilated, help me out on this one? Did I get this right?

  • delta dagger

    Yes I can see this home as office space when they first moved to KY. I would love to know if BK rents or owns this house? Rent must be over $2,000 a month on this home.

  • Stunned

    bought from what I know

  • CoraSusie

    This office address is given as the location for Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville Wed morning prayer…if you google it is in an office complex. Guessing this could be their new location?
    303 N. Hurstbourne Parkway Suite 160, Louisville, Kentuck 40222

  • Somewhereintime

    Some of us may be too old for social media, but answering a CJ Mahaney tweet on Twitter is seen by those who follow him. If you want to challenge CJ on his tweets… Some are … Create a Twitter account and go to.

    Read his tweets and respond. It is CRAZY how blind he is by just knowing And living the issues and reading his tweets. Psychopath crazy!

  • Pffft


    A church that is registered with any of the secretaries of state is, to my understanding, a corporation.
    But, anyway, I don’t think SGM had held itself out, to the church world, as a church.

  • Keepinstep

    RE earlier discussion of SGM pastors being “strapped for cash”: my understanding was that as ministers, they receive a housing allowance and can opt-out of Social Security payments (IRA instead). This would explain lower annual-salary figures.

    But did/does SGM truly keep their pastors cash-poor in comparison with typical members’ income? Can FGSP or another former pastor comment?

  • Jimmy

    FYI – C.J’s home is a very average medium sized condo – not the least bit extravagant, but not a dump either.

  • Jimmy said,

    FYI — C.J’s home is a very average medium sized condo — not the least bit extravagant, but not a dump either.

    I’ve always said we have to hand it to SGM’s leaders for one thing – they’ve been really really good about having homes that are “nice, but not TOO nice.”

    Yet somehow CJ was able to rack up enough money to deed a house over to his daughter as well as donate over $100,000 to Al Mohler’s organization (the SBTS). Those are luxuries most of us only dream about.

  • Jimmy


    “Those are luxuries most of us only dream about.”

    Perhaps he racked it up by living in it for 20 years and paying it off like millions of people his age. And pehaps the $100,000 was from SGM and not C.J. personally. I don’t really know – just saying….

  • Just me

    Many of you/us have talked about/to Kerrin Russel about his divorce from Bob K’s daughter Megan. Well, she is engaged again, according to her Facebook page.

  • Persona

    The Mahaney’s are sensitive to appearances so they would not buy overly expensive cars and houses. They did live in one of only a few nice neighborhoods in G’burg. Didn’t someone mention CJ was making something over $200,000.00 back then? But, perhaps he took a cut in pay down in L’ville.

  • Izze

    @Jimmy- Wouldn’t it be very odd to cite CJ as the donor, if indeed the money was from SGM? Maybe it was SGM money and CJ got the tax write off…or the other way around? I don’t know. Seems like a pretty notable error to me to cite CJ as the donor if it was SGM money. Anyway, the fact that 100k could even be given a couple years in a row (by CJ or SGM) while church members struggled to stay afloat (and yes they knew about these people) just reveals so much about their love of reputation among the SBTS.

  • Izze

    @DeltaDagger- From my point of view in regards to Bob’s home (which makes me sick) is not necessarily how much is the “right” amount to spend but instead how you spend your money when the source of said money came from tithes and offerings from folks encouraged to sacrificially give. There were a handful of people that I knew within the congregation forgoing the very things all the pastors were able to do on a yearly basis (two week+ vacations, perfectly decorated homes, able to have large families, the newest iphone/ipad etc…). None of those things are bad things, but when you depend on the congregation for your “daily bread” then you should think long and hard about how it looks to the congregation around you when you splurge in that way. I’d love to know what SGCL visitors say when they see BK’s mansion. And yes, maybe BK made a good chunk of change on his book, but was that done on SGM time? If so- the royalty would belong to SGM. Same goes to CJ and all the other book pushers. Lots of questions there. Honestly- this is the one area that keeps me from loosing respect for John Piper throughout this debacle. He is very public about where his money goes and have heard on various occasions that all royalties from his many books go directly back into Desiring God or other missions.

  • delta dagger

    Hi Lzze,
    I think maybe someone should see where Steve Shank and DH live. I have been to Rick Gamache house noting to write home about.

  • delta dagger


    This office location you said for SGM must be the home of the world famous Pastor College to.

  • Jenn Grover

    Izze – the $100,000 was donated to SGM with the intention of SGM donating to SBTS per Tommy Hill. Maybe it was CJ, maybe it wasn’t. However, SGM has always been firm about individuals not being able to designate where money goes unless there is an announcement made (Haiti, local church building fund) because God has ordained for elders to make those kinds of decisions. The logic is that you are entrusting the money to God by submitting to the elders’ decisions….and let’s be clear, vocational elders.

  • just saying...

    DD – There are three families that share BK’s home.

    They probably had to buy homes of equivalent value as their Maryland homes or face stiff tax penalties.

    The pastors that I know who had luxurious homes got that way by losing parents and reinvesting their inheritance.

    Many pastors have only had one car they shared with their wives and children.

    One pastor’s family lived with another family in the church while waiting for an inexpensive modular home to be built. Shortly after moving in, a fire displaced them again for months. It’s not all cake.

  • Just saying said:

    DD — There are three families that share BK’s home.
    They probably had to buy homes of equivalent value as their Maryland homes or face stiff tax penalties.

    The tax laws currently exempt $500K in captial gains from a house sale for a couple ($250K if you are single). Thus I doubt that is a reason for buying a large house. On the other hand, If you for whatever reason decide you want to have 3 families living in the same house then that might be a reason to buy a larger house.

    I am sure there is a spectrum of salaries for pastors. I am sure some can only afford one car or having one car is a way they have chosen to be frugal since it might not be needed as much if the wife doesn’t work outside the house.

    As mentioned before, some of the SGM leaders/pastors double or triple “dip.”

    – They get paid a regular salary presumably paying for full “use” of their time. .
    – When they speak at other locations, either an SGM or non SGM event, they get an “honorium” even thout they are still paid their regular salary. Double Dipping
    – Some SGM leaders/pastors write books and get the royalties for them even through they write the books on “company time.” Triple Dipping

    With regard to C.J.’s house, if was making a nice salary and didn’t really want people to know, I wouldn’t buy a real extravagant house. I would buy something along the lines he owns and the same for a car. Then use the money and give to your kids for special expenses and use for special purchases like large family vacations (invite the whole clan). This kind of spending that won’t be nearly as obvious like having a large expensive house or car.

  • delta dagger

    Just Saying,
    Going back to BK house I wonder if those three families are going to the worlds greatest Bible College PC.

  • Persona

    Both CJ and Josh typically take the month of August off and the pastors may get about the same time off, when you add up their vacation time, travel and retreats.

    One thing that bothers me is that the church has never been asked if that is reasonable. One year, they just began giving CJ August off. Members had no say and they continue to have very little knowledge of how the pastors spend their workdays or how much vacation they get or how much they make, etc.

    Minimally, those details should be common knowledge since members pay their salaries.

  • Keepinstep

    Persona noted that “members…have very little knowledge of how the pastors spend their workday….”

    This was a recurring discussion point at my house for years, even as we drank the kool-aid. Beyond their showing up for group meetings, we had no idea how these guys spent their days. It was even more of a mystery when we learned that they actively delegated most true “pastoral” duties to the unpaid CGL minions.

    Though it’s still a mystery how they fill their days, it’s obvious that upper-managers don’t spend their days counseling rank-and-file employees. No corporation goes From Good To Great doing that.

  • BrokenHearted

    Just a note about the K home… every listing I can find says it’s either 4 or 5 bedroom about 5050K… that’s not that bad…maybe I am missing something, but especially if they have other people living with them, it’s not that big of a house. Especially because Louisville is so much cheaper…

    I still read a lot, but don’t comment much.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Slight change of subject. Some of you might enjoy this. This is an essay by a PCA pastor in response to a popular speaker (Tchividjian)on the subject of total depravity.

    Standard Reformed doctrine is that we are all fallen, not totally, but in every part of our being- body and soul. Our will is fallen along with our body and mind and heart, thus the doctrine that God’s grace alone opens our eyes to see truth, grants faith, and we are saved by that grace, not by a free choice of free will.

    But, what you see going on out there, notably in SGM for example, is a mindset that total depravity continues after salvation such that we are still exactly the same sort of sinners as unbelievers- AFTER we are born again.

    In fact, Christians and non-Christians are so radically different (because of the grace of regeneration) that the emphasis should starkly contrast them, not positively compare them. Christians and non-Christians are so different when it comes to their disposition towards God and their potential for positive effort in sanctification that Paul describes believers as “new creations.”


    We don’t want to end up with the positive confession camp and claim that we have no sin, no guilt, no fallen nature or indwelling sin. We do. But neither do we want to end up in the mindset out there in the broader Reformed camp (such as SGM) that seems to deny what happens with the new birth, and denies the hopeful confidence of the power of the Holy Spirit for real change and sanctification, making us just as totally depraved as we were before our salvation.

    I don’t know about all of these teachers, but with at least SGM I think it is part of the control. It makes hopeless people stuck in the rut of sin desperately needy for their leaders to play God and be the only way out.

  • Jenn Grover

    Clarification #468: The information I have did not come directly from Tommy it came via an SGM representative.

  • Izze

    @JennGrover- So if the money came from someone and was to be filtered through SGM to SBTS then why would it be in CJ’s name? Maybe just an error?

    Also- For those thinking that BK’s house is a simple 4-5 bedroom, looking at a picture of the front and back gives you a better idea. This is no simple 4-5 bedroom house. Be sure to look at the Ariel view. gives a better idea of this four car garage house. I’m concerned more for appearances and the source of the wealth. You all are free to disagree.

  • Persona

    I believe donations to SGTS came from both SGM and CJM to distinguish the donations. You can check SBTS online records to verify. I don’t believe any SGM churches were informed about donations to organizations such as this. The only announcements the CLC congregation received was that CJ was getting more and more popular with the Big Dogs. After revelations of his lavish gifts, I don’t wonder why.

  • justawife

    @Persona#472: “Members had no say and they continue to have very little knowledge of how the pastors spend their workdays or how much vacation they get or how much they make, etc.”

    While I am not aware of how much the pastors make (I know this was a subject of very heated discussion last year after the “severance packages”) I have an idea of what some of the CLC pastors do (though I can’t attest to what everyone does during their workdays). I know that some that have a stronger counseling background spend most of their time on weekdays and weekends meeting with people for counseling. Some of the pastors may be more involved in outreach missions. Others in the business side of things, such as overview of funds (etc). I’m pretty sure the pastors are working throughout the week, although it does appear the hours are flexible and the job is a family-friendly one. I think CLC wants their pastors to provide examples of Godly husbands and fathers so they try not to overburden them with work.

  • Oswald

    5years #475 — Thank you so much for the link. I think this is the same view as Kevin DeYoung. I’ve seen him slightly at odds with TT in this area before. They both explain their position, backed with scripture and then sort-of agree to disagree, rather than argue. I agree with the position presented at the link you posted. Thanks again.

  • justawife

    Unless things have changed one thing I do know is that pastors typically get a day off during the week. I don’t have an issue with that since they are “working” Sundays and some evenings. Of course others that have regular full time jobs are asked to give of their time nights and weekends also.

  • Cult Watcher

    I would like to give very belated credit where credit is due. Pardon the delay. I’ve been traveling. Plus the Internet overseas has been a nightmare.

    Jim, Susan Burke, the reporters, the parents, the plaintiffs, the frequent posters, have all made great contributions. Brent releasing the documents. Rick Ross’ message board and archive.

    But the most credit goes to Kris. She has worked tirelessly for 5 years. The news items she posts are timely and relevant. Her insights are exceptional. She has never compromised anyone’s identity. She has declined opportunities to get entangled with key players.

    She has worked behind the scenes. I won’t speculate what she has done behind the scenes and I wouldn’t recommend she reveal anything, because it wouldn’t be a good idea for C.J. to know.

    Put simply, had there been no Kris, there probably would have been no lawsuit. I’m responsible for 2 stories in the media, she’s responsible for 11, 000.

    Now, whether the situation with CLC, the Florida pastors, and the move to Louisville would all have happened without the Survivors blog is a matter of speculation. I tend to think it was more the result of Brent’s documents.

    The main thing most people give this blog credit for is exposing the mentality and behavior of the SGM leadership. But a neglected aspect, and IMO a more useful one, is the testimonies. Whether it be spiritual abuse or sexual abuse, line up all the testimonies and collectively they reveal an undeniable, denomination wide, and disturbing pattern.

  • Square Peg

    justawife #479: “I think CLC wants their pastors to provide examples of Godly husbands and fathers so they try not to overburden them with work.”

    I’m thinking that this appears to be a nice idea in theory, at first glance. However, if they were working other jobs “out in the world”…they WOULD be overburdened with work, depending on the job. That’s just the way of things. Therefore, their “example” of Godly husbands and fathers doesn’t hold water. If their example is being set under the conditions of not being burdened with too much work…then that is not an example of how to be a Godly husband and father to those men who are married with kids…AND HAVE TO BE burdened with a very demanding job, with too much work.

    They wouldn’t exactly be showing how it is done under pressure, would they?

    I don’t know how much work the pastors are burdened with or not burdened with…in actuality.

    I’m just saying that if this statement above is true…then, it is not sensible.

  • Square Peg

    To be clear, I don’t know what SGM pastors do as compared to other churches. I do know that pastors, in many other churches, (if they are really ministering to the people) put in a lot of time and effort doing many, many things for people…giving from their veins, so to speak.

    So, I just want to go on record that I don’t think of pastoring as fluff and light work. I’m just saying (in my previous post) that I think that one particular statement seems off. Why would they give pastors “light work” so that they can be Godly examples?

    If that’s what they do, then that is just not sensible. It’s not how to be a Godly example.

  • Lee

    This article may be the best description yet of what happened to PDI/SGM. It’s not written about them but sure seems to describe the theology I experienced the three years I was there.

    It’s called “More Gospel Centered Than Thou”.

    Here’s a quote: This seems to be a new legalism, an internal one. It is getting the functional Gospel right in my heart. I dare not do anything until I do so.

    “Oh my, I obeyed, but I did so with a trace of self-righteousness. I need to make sure that does not happen again!”

    “Dear me, I sought to please God but there was some self-sufficiency in that obedience, and I must repent and try to get it right next time.”

  • delta dagger

    Good to have you back home Cult Watcher!

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Lee- That is an excellent essay!! Thank you very much!

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Thought I’d share a recent post from Karen Campbell ( in light of the discussions on the Kauflin’s “Pottery-Barnish/Etsyish/Pinterest-pinning-worthy” home, both recent and earlier when the videos of their home his daughter posted went viral.

    On Christmas Day, I found myself experiencing two different worlds as they collided before me on the computer screen and it reminded me of something I have wanted to blog about for quite some time: my frustration with the confusion some homeschooling women have between godliness and Martha Stewart living, between what the Titus 2 woman is supposed to teach younger women about loving their husbands and children and what Southern Living promotes as the good life.

    Let me explain.

    While I dearly love homemaking, especially the decorating and cooking for my family, I recognize that my preferences and tastes have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with my Christian walk. I am convinced that my love of collecting depression era antiques (grandma basement junk, really) does not godliness produce and my joy in setting a table with a lace tablecloth and serving a delicious meal on my mom’s old Pink Vista dishes doesn’t make me a more virtuous woman. In fact, from my own experience, I know that too much attention to these amenities can quickly draw me away from those things that are the most important, to keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus and on ministering to others, especially my family.

    I have also realized that sometimes it is better to not be too attentive to these details because it can cause others to feel uncomfortable or not want to open their homes for hospitality for fear they cannot “do it right.” And it certainly can send a “you aren’t welcome” message to little ones whose hands cannot hold breakable things and who cannot help but spill and make messes!

    So, on my Christmas evening blog reading, it was really interesting to come across Wade Burleson’s links to both the video Christmas tour at Pecan Manor, the home of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Drs. Paige and Dorothy Patterson, and the announcement of the new homemaking degree that has been their brainchild. I would encourage you to follow both links and consider the message that is being given to young women, most of them wives of seminary students, regarding “biblical” womanhood. This is but one example of the over-the-top “Titus Twoness” that is showing up on the blogs of many women, including homeschooling moms.

    Then, as I also caught up on my Facebook reading, I read through the ongoing story of a friend’s adoption of a little girl from Ethiopia, their first meeting actually happening on Christmas Day. What an incredible picture of God’s “adoption” of us, of leaving the lavish treasures of His home in heaven and coming into our world of spiritual poverty to take us as His own. I rejoiced with this family as the pictures of a sweet and beautiful baby appeared on my screen.

    And then it hit me.

    Teaching younger women to love their husbands and children most certainly includes teaching them to love children and to consider Scripture’s commands to care for orphans in distress, just as my friends are doing. But does it actually involve teaching the “Christian decorum” that is being promoted and taught today in the name of Titus Two ministry? What if all of that money spent for such opulence as has been trotted out in the Patterson home had been used to help families adopt orphans and bring them into their own homes? What if the real message delivered through a “homemaking” degree was one of ministering to the poor and needy rather than setting up some extravagant example of “godly Southern Living” to pastor’s wives? What if those same wives were given real theological training so they could serve alongside their husbands as real helpmeets who could learn and teach wisdom that comes from understanding the Word of God, rather than studying fine dining, elaborate Christmas decorations, or even the very basics of homemaking that any woman with a keyboard and Google can learn on her own?

    Recently someone wrote to me and asked “Why are all those women on homeschooling homemaking blogs so interested in tea parties?” I don’t know the answer to that question but I do know that what is being passed off as “Titus Two mentoring” these days is seriously lacking in grace and substance and I am grieved by it. I can only imagine what the Apostle Paul might have thought if he saw Martha Stewart being established as the standard bearer of godly womanhood! I am certain his answer would not have been “it’s a good thing.”

    Video Christmas tour of Pecan Manor…

  • Square Peg said:

    justawife #479: “I think CLC wants their pastors to provide examples of Godly husbands and fathers so they try not to overburden them with work.”
    I’m thinking that this appears to be a nice idea in theory, at first glance. However, if they were working other jobs “out in the world”…they WOULD be overburdened with work, depending on the job. That’s just the way of things. Therefore, their “example” of Godly husbands and fathers doesn’t hold water. If their example is being set under the conditions of not being burdened with too much work…then that is not an example of how to be a Godly husband and father to those men who are married with kids…AND HAVE TO BE burdened with a very demanding job, with too much work.

    Square Peg that is a good point. At least some top leaders have never worked (or has been a long time) a full time job that requires more than 40 hours. A lot of these leaders also have relatively short “commutes” compared to what a lot of people have.

    Thus these leaders/pastors have no idea what it is like to work a “real” job and the demands it places on a person. Also, even if they did at one time work a full time corporate job, things have changed to make the jobs typically more demanding.

  • claude

    I was looking at the Better Business Bureau site the other day and I thought let me see if SGM is listed on the BBB Site and if anyone has ever made a complaint. Sure enough SGM was on the BBB but not accredited. But I thought Interesting phone number and addrees combination.

    This Business is not BBB accredited
    Sovereign Grace Ministries, Inc.
    Phone: (301) 330-7400
    2002 Fandango Court , Louisville, KY40245

    In 2002 Prudental Real Estate list this addres as the following

    Truly one of a kind and Great for Entertaining! Enjoy this open floor plan on one of the nicest, estate lots located in the Polo Fields! This home features a dramatic views and outstanding upgrades.

    Tithes and Offering hard at work to help the poor and needy.

  • delta dagger

    Hi Kris,
    1. In all the years of this blog has CJ called or e-mailed you?
    2. Do think SGM knows where you live?
    3. Have you every thought that SGM could sue you.
    4. Also I would set this blog up as a LLC just in case of a SGM lawsuit.

  • MAK

    The SGM media/propaganda blitz continues on the SGM website. Two new videos added to the blog section. If SGM is so great, why do they have to make long videos telling us how great they are? The pastor’s college one should have had a person handing each student a glass of Koolaid before they started to speak. Some of them make reference to the “history”…”i remember the PDI magazine” “I remember the PDI table” etc. It’s all so finely crafted, very deliberate.

  • Claude

    I guess Bob Kauflin didn’t give till it hurts like CJ Mahaney use to teach.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    As “lawsuit conscious” as SGM has always been through the years, with their very own “inhouse” lawyers, I’m pretty confident that if there had been a way to sue bloggers they would have done so LONG ago.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Also, it’s always been my understanding that the “patriarch” of this blog, Mr. Guy, is quite knowledgeable of blogs and such legal matters. ;)

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Pretty cool how God put Kris and Guy together for such a time as this.

    Kris’s “hotness” and Guy’s “personality” helped. ;)

  • Persona

    This site has been a huge blessing to me and our family. Where else would we great the straight story on what is happening in SGM?

    CJ has always made it extremely difficult to know what is going on in his organization. And now that he has gone into hiding and has Tommy talking for him, it has only become more difficult. This reclusive behavior alone should give members and Kool-Aid drinking PC students pause.

    I watched the PC puff piece last night and I wondered whether they shipped all those guys back to film or if those clips were shot in their old home? I also wondered what their REAL reasons were for wanting to attend the PC. Many if not most prospective students maninly want more face-time with CJ.

    But one thing future students need to know if you think you will get to rub shoulders regularly with ‘the man at the top’, think again. He spends as little time as necessary with the students. The PC and, the larger organization itself, mainly exist to spread his fame and thereby enable his face-time with the Bigger Dogs.

  • Somewhereintime

    Delta… I’ll answer for Kris if she doesn’t mind …

    1. No (hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha … Like he’d acknowledge it)
    2. No (why would they care? Do they have hit squads now?)
    3. No. First Amendment rules!
    4. SGM would like NOTHING better than for these sites to disappear. Why would they “legitimize” Kris, Guy and Jim by recognizing that they’ve gotten under their skin?

    I’m 100% positive that they could care less about the blogs now. They have bigger issues to address 1) sexual lawsuit. 2) huge financial hits with Churches leaving 3) CJ’s CONTINUED sin and unrepentant heart which God has mercifully put his pinky finger on the entire movement and have taken away His blessing.

  • relative

    a kindred spirit #488…

    I loved that blog post. Such a great perspective. I wonder if one could post it as a comment on the girltalk blog…

  • Concerned for the kids

    “I guess Bob Kauflin didn’t give till it hurts like CJ Mahaney use to teach.”

    When you live off the fat of your sheeple and don’t work for a living, I’m sure just about any giving is painful! ;)

  • Stunned

    Kindred Spirit, GREAT article! And so true. It grieves me that we’ve trained our daughters that being a Christian equates with having a pretty house. Yet where are they when it comes to feeding the homeless, visiting those in prison and loving on mothers without partners or caring for the orphans? Many of our young homemakers are too exhausted ’cause they had to send out Christmas cards, decorate for the holidays, etc.

    who homeschooled and had a clean home and decorated for the holidays so isn’t criticizing those things but is pointing out that if you are excluding those in true need, then ya ain’t gettin’ who Jesus is- just leading a shallow, empty but pretty life- and who, also, just realized she isn’t doing much for others herself right now- thank heavens I’m such a pain in the neck or I wouldn’t have realized how shallow my own life is!

  • Concerned for the kids

    I don’t think anyone at sgm wants to have any legal people looking closely at anything at this point. More to lose than gain if more details come out. And kris and others are sitting on all kinds of undisclosed info out of civility.

    A lawsuit would be Mahaneylarious!

  • Guy

    1) Nope, although I have had exchanges with Pastors (some good, some not so good)
    2) Sure they do. (Except I’m usually in my mom’s basement in my pajamas)
    3) Don’t really care.
    4) No need to. Anybody can sue anybody. Winning a lawsuit is different. I don’t believe they want the trouble it would cause anyway.

  • Diane

    “I don’t think anyone at sgm wants to have any legal people looking closely at anything at this point. More to lose than gain if more details come out. And kris and others are sitting on all kinds of undisclosed info out of civility.

    A lawsuit would be Mahaneylarious!”

    Yep. Although it is my opinion that Mahaney thoroughly enjoys talking about himself, any kind of talk that puts him in an unfavorable light is to be avoided at all cost (unless he is doing his fake humility worst sinner in the world mantra). I am trying to get through his last sermon about unity through humility. He mentions how it would not serve the congregation for him to talk about himself and his many shortcomings as examples for them to understand his sermon; instead, he puts it on the people there and tells them if THEY have had any cause to grumble, complain or argue during the week, well, he said he would encourage THEM to look underneath that and what they will find is the presence of selfish ambition. ??? That is crazy. No, I would much rather have had Mahaney tell about his experiences with that–now that would have at least been interesting instead of his projecting onto what small crowd there is there.
    The blindness! How sad.

    So was this, although…don’t know which was sadder. Were they posing?

  • claude

    I use to join B&J K for lunch in Herndon, VA about twice a month back in the 80’s when they lived in Government Subsidized Housing. They sure have some along ways in 28 years. This was right after Bob left Glad, maybe 1984.

  • AKS said:

    As “lawsuit conscious” as SGM has always been through the years, with their very own “inhouse” lawyers, I’m pretty confident that if there had been a way to sue bloggers they would have done so LONG ago.

    IMO SGM Leadership would sue Survivors if they thought it was in the their best interest to do so including helping their franchise church plantings. Not wanting to bring any more attention to Survivors would one reason for not suing. Suing might make even more people aware of the blog and even more would start reading which would open a whole new can of worms.

    Remember perception and bringing in franchise fees church tithes is oh so important to SGM Leaders.

  • Lee

    Hmmm…going through the attic today looking for something and low and behold I found two cassette tapes in a box. They are by Steve Shank at Fairfax Covenant and are dated 9-13-98 and 9-27-98.

    I have a feeling these are tapes from after BP was degifted and Shank was sent in. If I recall there was some confession on PDI’s part about the legalism of child rearing, etc. I’ll give a listen and let you know…let’s hope they don’t break!

  • 5yearsinPDI

    AKS…..great blog post, last page.

    Thinsg have really changed. When I got saved in the charismatic revival in the 70s, and then married, Haggai 1 was almost like a mantra in the circles we traveled in, which included all the big East Coast conferences with Larry and CJ.

    “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house.

    We heard it all the time- be busy with God’s house, not our own. We all lived in handyman specials and Mom was home with the babies and toddlers and everybody was devoted to God’s house (which generally translated into more church meetings, but the point is, your own home was not to be the priority). Old cars, shopping at Goodwill, hand me down sofas, ratty rugs… just didn’t dump money into having a gorgeous house.

    We may have been unbalanced back then, I don’t know. I don’t think building up God’s house always means more church meetings. There is a lot to be said for cars that don’t break down, and clean and pretty living rooms and kitchens. But I have to wonder what happened, that now a woman is supposed to be busy trying to have a perfect house, when it does not take much looking around to see people at church with lives in ruins who need attention, money, help, etc. My teen daughter is busy trying to help people as a volunteer, not going to Downton Abbey tea parties. Ugh.

  • delta dagger

    Could you tell us here on the blog the names of the good pastors and the bad ones? Also when you got e-mail from the bad pastors was there any threats to you or the blog?

  • Concerned for the kids

    Delta Dagger-

    Good ones: mostly the ones that were degifted
    Bad ones: mostly the ones still in sgm or refusing to publicly call a spade a spade with respect to sgm’s history and their part in it (Including Boy Wonder in Gburg).

    It’s very easy to see what’s what by applying that initial cut.

  • Guy


    Nope. It was between us.

  • Persona

    I like Guy’s style.

  • Guy

    Here’s the deal. Sgm / have an open invitation to post here. It’s not a new deal, it’s been on the table since the beginning. They choose not to. They read here, so they know what is being said. If there was anything untrue, it would’ve been called out long ago by their “monitors”.

  • justme

    Just wondering, would a SGM pastor be welcomed and respected here within discourse (even with your invite)? I would hope so, but again, just wondering.


  • Guy


    Absolutely…as long as the attitude coming in was respectful. I will not, however, allow anyone to blow in and claim “gossip and slander” and then run away. Any pastor or personnel that want to come here and have a grown up conversation can have it. However, since we allow anonymous posting, you might be surprised how many are already around….just not quite “out” there.

  • yellowisahappycolor

    Regarding SGM pastors and the hours they keep………..

    For my time at CLC, which ended recently, my CLC pastor would never meet with us when it was convenient for us. Every time we met with him, it meant my spouse had to take off from work. And when the clock said 5pm, the CLC/SGM pastor was always in a mighty big rush to wrap up and hit the road for his 10 minute commute…..

    My CLC/SGM pastor was never in my home, never knew my children’s names, never asked about our jobs.

    It seemed clear that our time wasn’t as important as his……

    In contrast, I had a lovely meal recently at the home of my *new* (non-sgm) pastor. Before we even arrived, he knew the name of everyone in my family, knew our jobs and where we celebrated Thanksgiving…. Now THAT felt good. :)

  • Stunned


    I’d imagine that since this blog does not receive postings by only one person, but by dozens of individuals, then the response to a pastor coming here would be as varied as the posters themselves. Some may be welcome and sweet and others not so. ‘Course, this is what I’d imagine it to be since there is not one sole poster here.

    That’s actually why it kind of makes me giggle when people come on here and try to claim that this blog thinks so and so or this blog wants this or that. This place just can’t be painted with one brush stroke.

  • Persona

    We already had two SGM pastors post here (Curtis Allen and Greg Somerville)and despite Curt’s facetious comments and the fact that Greg retracted his comments afterward, they were both was treated graciously. People here are nice that way. Response from us is not the reason they refrain from posting.

  • Hurting But Hopeful

    I wish all the SGM cr*p still didn’t hurt so much.

    I wish that I was able to put all the hurt, disillusionment, frustration and anger away for good.

    Here lately my husband has been asking me about the wisdom of my continued reading here. It’s not that he’s against the blog(s) in any way, shape or form. He appreciates them and has spent many hours reading here himself.

    I guess he’s been worried about me (lately) because I’ve been so darned angry and upset after reading the blogs.

    Each momentous event in the past 18-24 months – the Detwiler documents leak, Mahaney’s leave of absence, Harris’ acknowledgement of “God spanking SGM”, the AoR investigation and subsequent Debacle, Mahaney’s reinstatement,SGM’s flight to KY, the exodus of the FL churches from SGM, the civil lawsuit against SGM, CLC’s letter of intent to leave SGM, (and so on and so on) has served to build my hopes up (for repentance and revival in SGM) only to have them dashed again.

    I’ve thought, “Surely now. SURELY NOW C.J. Mahaney and company will stop, examine their lives and REPENT. Surely now…”

    My children want me to just let all of this go. They want their Mom back and some sort of normalcy in their lives.

    I try and pray for SGM, C.J. Mahaney and company. Some days I do better than other days.

    Some days I see them as flawed, arrogant, misguided, selfish, ambitious, individuals who are in dire need of an encounter with a God.

    Other days I fear for their souls and think that there is NO WAY that they can be saved and listening to and following after God.

    I’m glad it’s not my job to judge men’s hearts.

    I still picture myself going back to my old SGM church and standing up and ‘educating’ the masses but that’s not going to happen.

    I know God works in different ways and at different times in our lives.

    I know prayer is not wasted time but communion with God.

    Please pray for me, my husband, and our children. I don’t want to be an angry, frustrated, and unforgiving person anymore.

    I really do want to look at those still deceived (either knowingly or unknowingly) and love them and pray for them in Jesus’ name.

    I want the fire in my soul to be for the lost and hurting – not anger and ire over BK’s brick and mortar mansion.

    4,500 sq. ft. mansions with four car garages aren’t sinful. I (personally) think that Christians should live humbly but that’s my personal conviction.

    My heroes and heroines live and work in orphanages, third-world countries, and hospitals, or in their own inner-city neighborhoods.

    They feed hungry children.

    They take care of widows and orphans.

    They rescue people from human trafficking and sex-slavery.

    They help women who don’t want to abort their unborn child but can’t afford to feed him/her when/if they are born.

    How does that translate to SGM and SCGL and SovGraceMin.???




    Don’t wait.

    Don’t wait until heaven and hear from the LORD,

    41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

    44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

    45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

    46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

    Matthew 25:41-46

  • old timer

    Hurting in #519, You have been in that system too long as your posting reveals. You are way to hard on yourself.

    You are just a human woman with normal feelings, emotions and thoughts which are so important to God. You just give those nasty thoughts, feelings and emotions to HIM and let HIM deal with them.

    Believe me HE is very capable of doing it. HE loves you so much.

    You are a special wonderful woman who loves the Lord. You just need to relax and trust HIM to make you who HE wants you to be.

    You can’t control anyone or anything that deals with sgm or those involved.

    But God can and does.

    The only way to be what HE wants you to be is to get HIM to do it—by giving HIM those feelings.

    You owe that to your husband and children.

    And remember this verse in Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

    Give it to HIM. Trust HIM to do with the people involved what HE wants.

    I learned this a long time ago so I can tell you that it does work. But you are the one who has to learn how to trust God and give all of this to HIM.

    You will be much happier then…and so will your husband and children

  • Muckraker

    Hurting: Thank you for sharing your heart and struggles. I have felt exactly what you are feeling and thinking and struggling with — and so have many others who have read/posted here. What you are feeling is a VERY NORMAL response to injustice, betrayal, deceit etc. by leaders that previously you entrusted your life and spiritual direction with. I think the anger you are experiencing (much of it RIGHTEOUS ANGER!) is one of the first steps in coming out from under spiritual abuse! And it takes time to deal with that. Don’t run from that step/season. Perhaps not reading for awhile may help, but each person processes this kind of grieving uniquely. It is easier and smoother to NOT deal with the pain of realizing you have been misled/betrayed by those you had trusted — but it is always better in the long run to DEAL with emotional pain in life, even though that can be MESSY, rather than avoiding it. It is even more difficult for we who for years had been repressed and told DON’T FEEL anything bad (or you’re in SIN) and you better NOT think anything BAD about your leaders!! Or NOT think/do anything DIFFERENT than what is the status quo of SGM!! You are in the “wake-up stage” of the Matrix movie and that can be traumatic and strange!

    Be encouraged…God is working in your life…and He will help to heal you from all of this and sort through all your feelings. It takes time…Here is a blog with many links on helping to recover from spiritual abuse:
    And I will pray for you and your family. –a sister who is walking through this with you!

  • Mary

    Dear Hurting, I think the more invested you are in the relationship at SGM – the more you feel the loss. You can’t “just get over it”. Some people might appear to be able to do that but they aren’t grieving. It is ok for you to grieve and grief is a process. For me, it took me 15 years to totally move on and no longer hurt. It also took some good counseling and spending time in a healthy church. I have been phycially, sexually, and emotionally abused – but spiritual abuse out of all of them was the hardest to get over. Our relationship with God is the most meaningful, fullfilling, and deepest relationship we will have. When churches abuse they affect the deepest parts of our soul. I would say read when you want to read, stop when you want to stop. I come and go from this sight. Sometimes it helps, sometimes I chose not to – and that is ok. You now get to decide what you want to do and when it is helpful or not. I would say it is ok to rest and realize that healing will be a journey. You don’t have to feel bad about how long it takes. I am at a place now where even if they repented I would not want anything to do with them. I just don’t have time for people like that in my life. And, here is the thing. Only God is awesome. Only He fills us. Church community is an added blessing but is not to be the sum. SGM is very good at making you think it is about God but it is about leadership only. And, they can say they are humble but they lie. Humility is not the opposite of pride – being selfless is the opposite of pride (Phil 2)…when SGM considers themselves nothing, when they value people more than there leadership or power; when they actually serve people by doing more than preaching – like really really serving the lowest member of their churches; when they sacrifice for the hurting; then they can talk about humility. They are so far from humility that is not funny. God loves you. You are the church. No one can take that away. Rest in Him. Take your time. Just keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and the healing will come. He is our healing God. He is a giver and not a taker. He will care for your soul. He loves you. I pray you find comfort from SGM.

  • Cult Watcher

    Oh I forgot something very important. Unlike C.J., who rakes in 6 digits off his celebrity status and the sweat of God’s people, KRIS HAS NEVER MADE A DIME OFF HER WEBSITE.

  • Mary

    Oh and Hurting – it is ok to be angry. Anger is part of the grieving process. At times when you are angry look for ways to talk to God about it. Maybe journal or go for a walk and pray. Talk to Him about your anger. He understands. This is an anger deep in your soul. They violated your relationship with God. That takes awhile to be able to forgive. God is not freaked out over that like SGM would be. David spewed alot of anger in the psalms and alot of emotion. I think getting to a point of forgiveness takes longer when we don’t let ourselves process our anger. I would encourage you to not even stress over it. Just rest in a savior that loves you. Picture this: If you were a dancer and there where two panels of judges, on one side was a panel of SGM. They watch what you are doing and judge you with low scores. God watches and judges you with a 10. He judges you with all the righteousness of Christ Jesus. Sometimes the dance might look graceful and sometimes forceful…but God loves to watch you dance. You are the apple of His eye. He created our emotions and He knows your grief is a process and He totally adores you as you grieve. He just loves you.

  • Moniker

    Hurting But Hopeful – I’m so glad you posted. Believe me, a whole lot of us can relate exactly to how you’re feeling, myself included. I’ve been out of SGM for almost a year and a half now, after having been in for 30 years. A few months ago I came across an article by Kathy Escobar called “Rebuilding After Deconstructing”. I found it so very helpful in understanding what happened to me and how to make peace with my past and move forward. I wished I had read it earlier on in my “detoxing” from SGM phase, but better late than never. From the intro: “Kathy is a pastor, speaker, and counseler based in Denver, Colorado who helps run The Refuge, a community of believers from many different walks of life. She specializes in working with individuals who have been burned pretty badly by the church system and has written an awesome series here about how to rebuild your faith after deconstructing the lies you once believed.” (Please don’t let the fact that Kathy is a “pastor” throw you off, if that doesn’t agree with your personal doctrine. Truth is truth, whoever says it.) Here’s the link, if you have time and feel so inclined:

  • Somewhereintime

    So where does Bob Kauflin get $539,000 from??? This on a pastor’s salary???

    Come on!

    Maybe he gets royalties from rearranging great hymns and then putting his name on them as if he wrote them?!

    These guys are scammers!

  • Stunned


    Great big hugs to you, Sister. You have the soul of Deborah. You see injustices and call our for God to work. You desire to be His hands and feet where He calls you to be.

    Please, sister, be good to yourself. Be gentle on yourself. Whatever it is that ministers to your soul and your body, do for yourself. Please.

    Good will get you through and bring healing to your soul. He loves you very much.

  • Cult Watcher said,

    Unlike C.J., who rakes in 6 digits off his celebrity status and the sweat of God’s people, KRIS HAS NEVER MADE A DIME OFF HER WEBSITE.

    Just for the record, we have brought in some funds through the ads that appear on the site. The amount, however, is negligible and does not even come close to covering hosting fees. (When traffic exploded last year, Guy switched us over to a hosting plan that was able to handle the increased visits…but it was more expensive.) Unlike other monetized sites, we are not paid per page view for the ads.

    Just for the record.

  • Hurting But Hopeful –

    I agree with others who have said that the emotions you’re feeling are a normal and healthy stage of the leaving process. I also think it’s important to work through them rather than try to stuff them and “happy it up.”

    That being said, maybe it is time for you to step away for awhile. I’m curious, are you still part of your SGM church, or are you attending another church now? I know it can be very difficult, but something others have found helpful is to join a women’s Bible study, either a community Bible study or one from a larger church in your area. Even if you need to take some time before jumping into another church commitment, it’s still a good idea to be around other believers. Joining a Bible study is an excellent way of sort of dipping your toe in the shallow end. And unlike SGM churches, “normal” churches – particularly larger ones – absolutely do not care if you only attend a small group. In fact, small group membership is typically not monitored or controlled. (What a concept! :D )

    Just remember that building relationships with non-SGM Christians typically takes time, a lot more time than it took in the SGM world, where instant intimacy is mandated. (It’s not normal to be sitting in a circle discussing one’s deepest, darkest sins with people whom you don’t know very well. Like, I’ve always said that if you don’t know their middle names or the color of the carpet in their homes, you’re probably being too intimate with them if you’re confessing your sins or confronting them about theirs.) In a “normal” small group Bible study, it will probably take several weeks of attendance before you start to feel comfortable, and like anyone is opening up. Again – that is normal, how it should be. But I would encourage you to stay committed to attending no matter how awkward you feel after the first couple of weeks. You’d be surprised how studying the Word actually does bring people together after awhile. You don’t have to have a care group leader sitting there with his agenda and an outline of the last meeting’s teaching.

    Building relationships with other Christians is something positive you can do for your faith, and it will help you (indirectly) as you heal and get over your sadness and frustrations. I would also encourage you to seek out Christian counseling, particularly (if possible) with someone who specializes in working with people who have been part of “high-demand groups,” which is how professionals categorize SGM churches. (A “high-demand group” is one that, while doctrinally kosher in their written materials and their teachings, can function like a cult, with too much intrusive authoritarianism, unspoken social pressures and expectations, and too much power vested in the men in charge at the top.)

    It’s healthy to talk about and work through your emotions. It’s healthy to figure out what it was that attracted you to SGM and lured you in. It’s healthy to figure out what it is that disappointed you and let you down.

    It’s not healthy to do that without also feeding your soul with positive things. Spend time in worship. Reach out and connect with other non-SGM Christians. Focus on God’s promises. Step away from thinking about SGM if you need to.

    We’ll still be here when you reach a better place and feel like joining the discussion again.

  • Persona

    Hurting, I agree with the advice given above. You are with friends here and if it helps you, please continue to post.

    I ran across a small booklet in our library titled, “Letters to a Devastated Christian,” by Gene Edwards. Ironically, that booklet about authoritarian churches was written in 1984, soon after CLC/SGM began and yet it could have served as a warning to us to not invest decades in this authoritarian structure. But mostly Edwards helps those who have been hurt and disillusioned so, I can recommend it to you.

    Our family is a testimony that you can come out of a group like SGM, with faith in God intact. And, he has definitely restored our life.

    Blessings and peace.

  • One other little thought to add to my #530 –

    This actually happens to be a perfect time of year to decide to join a small group, as many churches begin new Bible studies in January.

    After we left our SGM church, we ended up at a larger community church near our home, mostly because we had young children and were committed to raising them with the habit of going to church. Guy especially was pretty burned out and not in the mood to open himself up again. I was very suspicious, on high alert every Sunday, listening for anything that sounded “off.” We’d go into the large auditorium and slink into the back row. We’d leave without talking to anyone (except maybe the children’s ministry workers when we went to pick up the kids).

    After a few months of this, I made a New Year’s resolution that I would at least try. I joined a ladies’ group and dutifully bought the Bible study workbook they were going to use. I filled out my homework and went week after week. Initially it was hugely uncomfortable. The group I happened to join was (as I’d tell Guy) filled with oddballs and had been meeting together for several years. It was not easy to be a newcomer. Plus, I didn’t find myself aspiring to be friends with any of these women.

    I stuck it out only because I’d said I would. And because I’d bought the book.

    The funny thing was that after a few months, it got easier. I found myself actually looking forward to the meetings. I even made a couple of friends. But most importantly, it was something positive, a focus on what was right rather than staying stuck in what hadn’t been right.

  • Keepinstep

    RE Persona #518 – not to be contentious, but after Greg S. posted , he was slammed repeatedly by commenters who faulted him for not going further in his statement, not admitting all kinds of wrongdoing by CLC pastors, etc. I didn’t thinking he was treated very “graciously” at all, and wasn’t surprised that he never posted again. It wasn’t one of this community’s finest moments.

  • justme

    Guy and other responders, regarding my question #514, thank you for your responses and input. Good reminder about using too wide a brush too.


  • Persona

    Keepinstep 533

    I remember the convo with Curt more than the one with Greg. But, I don’t think the reason Greg stopped posting. His heartfelt comments angered John and Gary and created a whole host of reactions from CJ.

    I was there when Greg retracted his Survivor comments in front of a roomful of people at CLC. Josh even excused himself by saying he hadn’t authorized Greg’s final draft. That wasn’t one of the finest moments in that community either.

  • Persona

    Meant to say, “But, I don’t think that is the reason Greg stopped posting here.”

  • Keepinstep

    Do you have details on CJ’s “reactions?”

  • Persona

    Keepinginstep537 Josh has mentioned CJ wasn’t pleased on several occasions. Apparently they made it onto CJ’s long list of complaints.

  • Keepinstep

    I think the largely unfriendly response Greg received here contributed to the intensity of the CLC/SGM backlash against his action, and perhaps even to his rendering the apology. He sent up a trial balloon, and many here took shots at it instead of being thankful and encouraging – no doubt confirming the negative stereotype SGM has about this community.

  • Persona

    Keeping in Step

    CJ does not countenance anyone from the congregation voicing alternate opinions to him in person or in any format. He has made that plain for many years. That that is his policy, born out of his interpretation of scripture. So, I don’t think he would get on here to debate us even if we were the nicest people in the universe.

    Josh, on the other hand, says he welcomes alternate opinions. He is still going to do whatever he wants to do (born out of his interpretation of scripture) but, he does say he will hear you out and, doesn’t seem to fear alternate opinions.

    Josh seems amenable to agreeing to disagree; CJ seems to want to win the argument if he can’t avoid it altogether.

    But, one thing they both seem to agree on is blogs, where people are allowed to speak freely, are a bad idea.

  • Persona


    I doubt CLC or SGM would appreciate this blog if we were the nicest, most thankful and encouraging people in the universe.

    To them, pastors are the only ones who should discuss these matters. CJ doesn’t countenance discussing alternate opinions with rank and file members, in person or any format. And they all prefer to discuss these kinds of things among themselves, behind closed doors.

  • yellowisahappycolor

    Hey there, Hurting……….

    You are in exactly the right place! God will help you sort it all out, and he will use this fine folks here to help!

  • 5yearsinPDI

    I doubt CLC or SGM would appreciate this blog if we were the nicest, most thankful and encouraging people in the universe.

    Anything relating to doctrinal teaching, church policies, church government, and counseling people with struggles, is under the purview of church leaders and church leaders only. We have no business thinking about these things, discussing them, raising questions, or in any way moving outside of our proper position under the feet of the church leaders.

    Now please pardon me while I go clean off my kitchen counter where I belong.

  • Argus

    Grace Church of San Diego/East County had their public grand opening service today.

    Interesting list on their “About Us” > “Partners” page:
    Grace Church – North County

    Grace Church (East County) came into being through the generosity and sacrificial faith of the members and elders of Grace Church in Rancho Bernardo, California.

    We now have the great joy of being two churches in close partnership for gospel ministry. We look forward to pursuing this partnership in a very close and strategic way for many years to come!

    In addition, other churches have partnered with us in the launching of this church in very real and significant ways – including:
    Christ Church (San Francisco, California)
    Christ our Redeemer Church (Woodland, Washington)
    Covenant Life Church (Gaithersburg, Maryland)
    Sovereign Grace Church (Aurora, Illinois)
    Sovereign Grace Church (Fairfax, Virginia)

    To each of our partners we say: “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” (Philippians 1:3-5)

  • MAK

    very interesting…I wonder if there was there any mention of SGM?

  • MAK

    I took a look and couldn’t find any reference to SGM whatsoever.

  • justawife

    @Persona#535: It’s strange to look at those events like Greg getting in trouble for posting on this blog after the lawsuit against SGM. There was quick defense against JL and GR then but now not a word from anyone.

    I secretly wonder whether there was strong pressure on Greg and Josh from CJ, JL, and GR to try to wipe their names clean.

    Knowing both guys in limited context, I have always thought of Greg and Josh as really nice agreeable guys. There probably was strong pressure on them because they might have “offended” or “encouraged slander”.

    I wonder how that would be different now, in context of where CLC is now versus where it was back then.

    I also have to wonder why Curt Allen hasn’t come back.

  • Christopher

    Hurting #519

    You said “I still picture myself going back to my old SGM church and standing up and ‘educating’ the masses but that’s not going to happen.”

    I’m sorry for all the hurt you have experienced. But in truth, you must be wise to see that going back and educating the flock will be a waste of time. I’ve often thought about doing the same by letter for people at our former (abusive non-SGM) church, but I’m quickly reminded that we are not to cast our pearls before swine, and are not to give that which is holy to the dogs (Matthew 7:6).

    You will be in my prayers for healing.

  • notwithouthope

    I was lost in a family integrated homeschool church/reformed, and knew it was wrong and struggling, so i was searching all over the internet to find some hope. I stumbled across your blog, and hope sprung. We were not in an SGM church, but these troubles are in other same time of movement churches in many other denominations….your blog gave me hope and courage. It is shocking how long it takes to get over all this. Thank you for keeping this going, God surely used it to show me I am not alone, and a survivor….

  • Argus

    MAK, as far as I know, the new Grace Church East County in San Diego is still SGM, as is the original up in North County San Diego, but they are not exactly using that as a selling point, are they? Their listed partners seem to be either already gone or on their way out of SGM.

    I know of plenty of churches that are officially members of the Assemblies of God but don’t proclaim it on their names or websites, though. Same with some Baptist churches. So I don’t want to make too much of it, but it looks like they are either burying their affiliation or poised to break rank. Time will tell, I suppose.

  • Stunned


    I am so sorry to hear that you can relate to what has been said here. (Oh, how I wish SGM was the only one!)

    Thank you for sharing. Especially the part about how long it can take to recover. Not that I want people to lose hope, but they need to know so that they don’t think there is something wrong with them. It is merely part of the journey.


  • notwithouthope

    Thank you Stunned

    It is crazy how long, sometimes you think it takes over your life and its all you talk about….then you struggle with guilt when you do speak to some who are still caught in the church….i pray along with all you sgm survivors…i sometimes wonder if they really know what they are doing….blinded almost…..our exchurch, you either are without hope or a pharisees, joyless little robots with lots of kids and stressed out. God helps you when you see the truth in the Gospel, love and grace mixed with doctrine……thank you again

  • Argus

    I am curious what is the motivation for this new CA church from not advertising their association with SGM. Is this being omitted due to the church considering leaving SGM or is this being omitted due to not wanting to be associated with SGM’s bad publicity including the recent lawsuit?

    Does anyone know?

  • magruderhighdays

    FYI: it will be the house with the blue dot on it in the pics

  • Hurting But Hopeful

    Dear Kris and Fellow Sojourners,

    Thank you.

    Thank you for your incredibly kind and thoughtful responses.

    I was in such a FUNK the other night when I posted. I was so ANGRY.

    I realized that I am angry for so many different reasons on so many different levels that it really is going to take a MONTH OF SUNDAYS to start to feel even close to normal.

    And to answer your question, Kris, no. No, we’re no longer at our old SGM church. I think part of my problem is that we haven’t removed our church membership – formally moved it because we haven’t (until very recently) had a place to move it to.

    Not moving our membership has felt like we’re still there to some degree. It’s doubly hard because we still have friends who attend. That in and of itself is like sand/glass in my eyes. But when I feel sort of crazy/over the top angry that people I love and respect are still going/attending SGM churches I have to stop and catch my breath and think about all the years I (we) attended when we felt that something wasn’t right but we swallowed our questions and kept going.

    And I don’t even think that’s it’s a sin or wrong to attend a SGM church. A believer has to go/attend where GOD and the Holy Spirit leads them. We have some friends who believe GOD is calling them to stay put (in SGM). They feel called to stay, pray, and lead by example, etc.

    My husband and I felt this way for the past couple of years but when I started feeling physically sick at church we knew it was time to leave – that the anointing and calling to stay was GONE.

    I would like to say thank you again for the kind, kind words you all gave me when I was so angry the other night that I wanted to knock some heads together (think Samson and the jawbone of an ass). The anger doesn’t last forever but there have been some casualties at my house. :(

    And Kris, until very recently I haven’t felt able to even step into a ‘church’ building. I know God is completely good and completely faithful but I haven’t felt like I could ever trust a church or a pastor again.

    I’ve been listening to some great worship music that has touched my stony and cold heart.

    My dear husband is helping me by watching/listening to a man who although I don’t know personally I trust his ministry and his perspective – Francis Chan. We’re doing the Multiply materials together. It’s the first time in a long time I’ve felt like God is speaking to me, loves me, calls me His daughter, and wants to use me to minister to the hurting and the lost.

    I am grateful for this place and for each one of you.

    Thank you for bearing my burdens with me and for praying for me and my family.

    I appreciate you, Kris and Guy.

    I know you hear this often but thank you for this forum and for your hard work for me – a stranger.

  • old timer

    hurting but hopeful, you are just at the beginning stages of healing so those emotions need to be purged. They will be over time. There are lots of very helpful, kind people on here to help you work through any issues you want them to.

    It took me years and years to get rid of the negative and focus on the positive.

    I was getting physically sick before we left pdi too and knew it was time to go. Kris and Guy(Jim and Carol also) have helped so many people realize that they are not crazy but are hearing the Spirit within. And provided a place where people can acknowledge what they feel, are affirmed and can begin to heal in a safe environment.

  • magruderhighdays –

    Your comment got caught in the spam trap because of all the links. Sorry about that.

    I know a lot of people don’t have a problem with Bob K’s new digs. They figure he probably made enough off of selling his old house in Maryland and needs to reinvest the profits.

    I don’t really have a problem with it either. It’s not necessarily a sin to own a gigantic house on a huge lot.

    Where it gets ridiculous is when some of the women in these families portray their move from Maryland to Kentucky as suffering for the gospel. Yeah, I get that it might be hard to leave the area where you’ve lived for so long, but it still shows a stunning lack of awareness to act like moving from a nice place to an even nicer place is this gigantic sacrifice.

    But on another note, wasn’t the lower cost of housing supposedly the main reason for ditching SGM’s already-established headquarters in Gaithersburg? I’m not sure how buying a mansionette factors into the money-saving…

  • SGMsingle


    Many of us in CLC do not believe that the real reason for SGM moving its headquarters was actually financial. There is much evidence that SGM leaders cannot be trusted to tell the whole truth.

  • Somewhereintime


    You said “It’s not necessarily a sin to own a gigantic house on a huge lot.”

    I agree. However, the issue is that MANY people across SG churches DO NOT realize that their tithes are going to pay for Kauflin’s mansion.

    Listen, the point of the entire conversation is that “men of God” have serious sin issues that have gone unchecked for decades. I, like Jonah, do not care to see mercy extended to them as they have hurt numerous people, have lied, have deceived, have blackmailed and should not be in a position to continue to do so.

    However, I, similarly like Jonah, will pray for God to extend mercy to them and to have them see their sin in its fullness so that they can repent.

    Big house? Not a big deal. Big sin? Big deal!

  • IMO, saying that moving to Louisville was to save money was a nice excuse for making a quick decision to move so C.J. Mahaney could flee from a church that was holding him accountable for his sin.

    Making this move so quickly without getting any type of consensus from local churches for this move shows that SGM isn’t an “association” of churches as they like to claim. Any type of “association” or “family of churches” would typically propose a move like this and then get some kind of approval from most associated churches to make this move.

    This move was done quickly to have it a done deal before any local church would have the time to object. Since C.J. had already decided this was going to be done, go ahead and move and not give people a chance to object or point out reasons why it should be done. It is along the lines of the saying it is easier to get forgiveness then permission.

    On the subject of Bob Kauflin’s house, it sounds like the price he paid for his new house in Louisville is around the same price he would have been paid for his house in MD. In Louisville, that did buy a much larger house. One problem with a large house is the higher utility and maintenance cost.

  • Diego

    SGMsingle-your comment sums up the ministry: “There is much evidence that SGM leaders cannot be trusted to tell the whole truth.” I believe that this does not just describe the old guard, but the young guns as well.

    I wish I kept records as well as Brent.

  • Wow

    Regarding Bob Kauflin, I think we should remember that he was a member of GLAD, which according to Wiki, sold over 1.5 million albums. It’s probable that he has built up equity over the years not just from SGM but also from his involvement in that band and songwriting. Just saying.

  • formersgmer

    I would not make too much about the size of the Kauflins house because (1) when they moved to Charlotte in the early 1990’s they had a fairly decent sized home which probably appreciated in value and gave them a lot of equity which they undoubtedly used to buy their previous home in Maryland. Because the Maryland home was in the Washington D.C. suburbs which have beenn generally better insulated from the collapse of the real estate market that other parts of the country have experienced, the Kauflins likely enjoyed another increase in equity which when the moved to an area which has relatively lower housing costs than the D.C. area, this likely translated into the ability to buy a much larger home, (2) a realtor I know has told me that because of the pastor’s housing allowance this generally translates into allowing a pastor to purchase a larger home than one might expect. (my realtor did not elaborate on details but he is a good man and I trust him in real estate transactions) and (3) Bob Kauflin likely continues to receive royalties from the music he wrote for Glad and this would obviously help him purchase a home.

  • Somewhereintime


    You are missing the point …

    1) I personally make over $200,000 a year and would struggle to buy a $540,000 home! How does Kauflin afford one?

    2) Royalties from Glad? Are you kidding me? If he gets .50 cents a month in royalty checks I’d be surprised. That stuff isn’t even on the airways any more!

    3) Pastor’s housing allowance??? I was in charge of my SG church’s finances for a bit. The pastor received a salary. That’s it. No housing allowance. He paid for his house out of his salary.

    4) To your first point … I’ll give you that a 1/2 million dollars in KY should go further than a 1/2 million dollars in Maryland. However, where in the world can a PASTOR afford a 1/2 million dollar home???? What are they paying this guy????????? Is he receiving royalty fees for SGM music?????? Nobody knows these answers because they ain’t saying.

    WAKE UP SGMERS … your tithe to the Lord is going directly to the clowns in Kentucky.

  • intheNickoftime

    Steve – you would be correct in a normal church setting. But we are talking SGM and that has never, ever, ever meant getting permission or feedback from anyone. CJ has asked for people’s input on a casual basis but he never gets formal input or feedback from anyone. His work is law and always has been. CJ spoke and it happened the way he wanted it to happen.

    Now, that is not to say that CJ was always correct and that the results he expected always came to pass. He obviously has made his share of errors, but no one brings those up or writes them down. Selective memory in SGM.

    That is why SGM decided to move and no one was consulted. No one had any input with CJ/SGM so no one makes comments on the move. It just happened because CJ wanted it to happen.

  • presbyterian

    RE:Formersgmer: I agree about the Kauflins house. In clarification about number 2: Pastors get to write off all expenses related to their house and not be taxed on them. This means that spending money towards a house is a good proposition for a pastor. Many pastors use this almost as a retirement savings.

  • intheNickoftime


    The guy from Grace church on San Diego came out to the DC area and had long talks with the CLC folks and the Fairfax guys across the river. My sources said that the Ca church was seeing slow but steady loss of members due to the typical SGM style lording and control the pastors were exerting on the church.

    To their credit they stepped back and looked at why people were leaving and decided to make changes. They resolved to stop the lording and authoritarian control and look at things from the member’s point of view. They split the church. Many members were coming from far away so they decided to split the church into two locations and gradually change from being one church to being two separate churches with a strong bond with one another. Seems to be working.

    But that pastor had early input into how CLC and Fairfax would start to make their changes and start to leave SGM.

  • inTheNickofTime

    Sad but true about C.J. Mahaney. He acts as the group’s pope or dictator. Wow to anyone who would question the pope.

    With regard to housing, from what I have heard and found online, pastors can have declared and use a portion of their salary for housing and not have to pay federal tax on that income. Thus it can appear lower than it effectively works out to be since they can receive a portion of their salary tax free (approx 25-28% savings on that portion).

    Items that can be taken tax free would include rent or mortgage payments, real estate tax and maintenance of the property. Thus this may encourage a pastor take a mortgage even if they don’t need to since the mortgage payments can be received tax free but no rental credit if you already own your house. It may help explain Kauflin’s larger house and why C.J. Mahaney took a mortgage out on his new house in Louisville despite having a paid for house he sold in Gaithersburg.

  • Let Us Reason

    Re: Magruderhighdays #556
    Seeing the Kauflin Manor on Fandango Court, brought back memories of a Procol Harem song from the deeper recesses of my mind. Somehow the opening lines remind me of the SGM experience!

    We skipped the light fandango
    Turned cartwheels ‘cross the floor
    I was feeling kinda seasick
    But the crowd called out for more
    The room was humming harder
    As the ceiling flew away
    When we called out for another drink [polity]
    And the waiter brought a tray

    And so it was that later
    As the miller [another man ground down by all of this] told his tale
    That her face [The Church], at first just ghostly,
    Turned a whiter shade of pale

  • CoraSusie

    Is it wrong to live in a home like this, by no means. But for many of us it is hard to dismiss the appearance of grandeur and Martha Stewart perfection (because that costs money to have as well). When you live under a system where you gave and sacrificed so much money, including where you live and including even being able to update your home so that you can give large amounts to the mission fund, then yes, when it all comes toppling down 18 months ago with Brent’s documents, there will be those of us who are seriously pissed. We’ve watched them have amazing vacations in places the rest of us could not afford. We’ve watched them have all the newest electronic gadgets before many of us could even purchase them. It’s hearing them preach to give in light of eternity and not know what amount they gave and not see any tangible sacrifice on their part. It’s having them hold up examples of people who gave incredible amounts, giving up so much and to our discredit, buy into it and try to model the examples.
    That’s why I balk at how they live. They allowed and encouraged people to give so sacrificially and thus personally benefited from it.

  • Pure speculation here: I’m thinking the move to Louisville had more to do with connections with Al Mohler and SBTS (in addition to cowering from responsibility at CLC). There’s just something funky going on there with that strong alliance.

  • Persona

    Julie Anne 575

    From the looks of it CJ bought the relationship. Not sure if it will go much further than Mohler’s tenure, however.

  • delta dagger

    Hey Persona,

    Al Mohler must be getting close to retire.It like he has been SBTS 500 years.

  • delta dagger

    I just checked Al Mohler date of birth 1959. I was wrong this means at least 10 more years of Al and CJ WOW what a team!

  • Persona

    I don’t suppose we can anticipate Mohler staying with SBTS until the bitter end.

  • delta dagger

    CJ and AL are like the capt of the Bismark they will fight till there ship SGM and SBTS have been sunk.

  • Izze

    @CoraSusie Word. Communicated what I was thinking much better than myself.

  • wow

    SomewhereinTime #568,

    Re 2)…..I don’t think I mentioned royalties at all. I don’t remember the last time I heard Glad. What I was attempting to communicate was that during those years if he invested earnings into his home, he very well should have a great deal of equity to carry on into consecutive homes.

  • Well, it’s more than just Mohler, from what I’ve read, CJ seems to be trying to influence what is taught at SBTS (family-integrated churches is one example). Infiltrate the seminary and then you have a whole new bunch of pastors influenced with CJ theology. Scary thought.

  • formersgmer

    Somewhere in time:

    The housing allowance is not additional compensation as you may be implying. Rather, the pastor designates part of his salary as housing allowance. For example, if he makes $ 80,000 a year, then at beginning of each new year he would fill out a housing allowance declaration form and a portion of his salary would be treated as a housing allowance which is exempt from federal and state income taxes. The pastor can include many types of household expenses in his housing allowance including his mortgage interest (and he can also deduct the mortgage interest as an itemized deduction so he effect gets a double benefit. Thus, he declares $ 40,000 as a housing allowance, than $ 40,000 in may example would be treated as taxable salary subject to income tax witholding.

    As far as Glad, the music does not have to be on the airwaves for a royalty to be paid. If the songs are performed in a special music arrangement by a church on sunday morning, Bob would get a royalty and this would be in effect until such time as the copyright expires and the songs enter public domain.

  • formersgmer

    I believe the non taxed housing allowance can be used for the whole mortgage payment including principle payment as well as interest, tax and insurance. Thus it seems to almost encourage a pastor to have a mortgage since if his house was paid off they wouldn’t be able to receive as much income tax free.

    I am not sure that all states exempt this income.

    The tax law seems to allow pastors to pay down the balance of their mortgages thus gaining equity using income that isn’t taxed. Thus if you were a pastor I would think that if you had a paid off mortgage it might even make financial sense to take out a new mortgage to be able to get the income tax free especially when you are able to deduct the interest.

    This again shows that pastors’ incomes can appear to be less than what they really are compared to someone who has to pay full taxes on them.

  • Cult Watcher

    Well, Kris doesn’t make a PROFIT off this site. Nor does she financially exploit the people who use it. If you want an example of servant leadership, here it is.

  • delta dagger

    Hey Cult Watcher,

    Are you planing to go to the big court case this spring to see our hero CJ fight those evil young girls. I would love to go to see SGM get there butts kicked. Maybe CJ will cry at the court case. I wonder if CJ will hand out copies of the Why small groups?

  • Unassimilated

    DD –

    The pre-trial hearing is currently scheduled for 9/6/2013. There is a lot that needs to & that can happen until then. If we are to see this go to trial, chances are it would be sometime in 2014. I would be surprised if it went that far though. I would also be very surprised if CJ & company ever have to enter the courtroom. I personally do not care for this sort of thing going to trail, and I feel that is is a tragedy on many levels that things have come to where they are.
    (A tragedy for the victims that is, and a tragedy for the SGM faithful.) If there would be a chance for healing found in a trial, then so be it. Knowing CJ and SGM, there will most likely be lots of subtle posturing and statements from them until they find a way to get all parties to agree to a sealed settlement. They are in the ‘behind closed doors’ business if you didn’t know.

    A little truth, transparency, and humility, that is CJ & pals practicing what they preach, may have made all the difference in the world with the victims and their families.

    I suppose the real question is why would you enjoy seeing SGM getting their butts kicked? How would that draw us closer to God, or help build our faith in Christ? There is a better conversation to have in regard to this. A conversation that helps us to discover where we may remain bitter, angry, and unforgiving. Do not hear what I am not saying though, there are consequences in this world for sin, and a responsibility for repentance with those that have done wrong. I will agree it is satisfying to see truth prevail over lies, however, justice is not something that is for our glory. If the courts are a testament to anything, they are a testament to human frailty and failings. There is only one thing we are to be boastful of, and that is the completed work of Jesus.

    These things are not a process for our amusement.

  • delta dagger


    Your right this is not for our amusement. But it sends a clear note to CJ and SGM to clean up there act. I also think that CJ will be at the courtroom for the hole case.

  • JustMe

    Cult Watcher in 586, you mentioned Kris doesn’t make a profit on this site. Your commit seems confusing. Are you saying their is no inflow of cash for the adds, or, that there is no inflow that exceeds the cost of running the site, defined as, profit. I’m just wondering because the way it’s been explained here sounds a lot like how SGM explains things. If Kris has inflows that defers costs, then lets just state that. If not, that is even more clearly stated.

    I’ll admit I found the adds odd at first, but I also understand there is a lot of time, effort, and some costs that go into these sites, especially if they’re popular. Having those costs deferred is a good thing, so it seems appropriate. Maybe this was explained in another post and I missed it. My main thought is that you, me, or anyone, doesn’t sound like the very things SGM is criticized for. btw: there is no beef here, with anyone. ;)

  • I’m a little snarky due to the behavior of my former pastor and couldn’t resist leaving this comment to CJ’s recent tweet:

  • Stunned

    Just me,

    If you look up above, Kris very clearly spells out the questions you were asking.

  • JustMe

    Hi Stunned, what number is that?

  • JustMe

    never mind, got it. thanks. that’s what I was thinking, I must have read it a few days ago.

  • Remnant

    Julie Ann (or anyone): can tweet comments be deleted?

  • Phoenix

    Remnant and Julie Anne,
    I don’t know if Tweet comments can be deleted; but I left two lawsuit-related responses to two of his “leadership” quotes and he blocked me from following him. (If he actually is the one who manages the account.)

  • I can delete my own tweets, but not others. There is a way you can report tweets. I know this because someone reported Dee of Wartburg Blog and her account was suspended. It was involving a Jared Wilson tweet she responded to. It may have taken most of a day before her account was reactivated.

    CJ has not blocked me . . .. yet.

  • Oswald

    Saw this article/blog about abuse in the church, at The Gospel Coalition site. No mention of specific ministries.

  • Guy

    Had a little technical goofiness going on with the site. All is well now. Sorry for any interruption.

  • Stunned


    No worries, at all! Glad you found it. :)

  • JustMe

    IRT #599, not pinpointing a specific “ministry” keeps the message of the article open to all organizations.

    Some very valid points made throughout, Jared did a good job IMO. I don’t believe TGC would pinpoint a specific org (unless they’ve already done so). Right or wrong, it seems Christian organizations won’t publicly call-out other organizations, I don’t see it that much outside the courts with secular businesses either.

    I remember a book heavily criticized for just that (it was in the late eighties or nineties). The content of the book didn’t seem considered prior to the media becoming experts on Mat 18. The book named names with specific issues. I don’t know that any fruit came from the book, good or bad.

    BTW: a new lawsuit is out, this time with a Purpose Driven Life patterned church. Jared’s article could easily speak to that as well.

  • JustMe

    btw, did anyone have an opportunity to listen to the Don Francisco song I pasted a while back?

  • Persona

    Did anyone else hear about Joshua Harris’s announcement about the Christmas (family portrait) greeting card he sent out to church members?

    Apparently someone asked him if he paid for it himself or used church funds. His answer was that he personally covered the expense of sending it but, he will now reimburse staff for helping him with it.

    It’s good that he is being asked those kinds of questions and also good that he is beginning to make things more plain to the congregation, even after the fact.

  • Stunned

    Wait, are you saying that this was Josh’s personal Christmas card or was it a church Christmas card? This is an important question.

  • Persona

    Stunned605, The Harris’s personal Christmas card.

  • Oswald

    Stunned and Persona — I think the sending of a Christmas card to church members from a pastor is sort-of work related…the members would not be relevant to him apart from his being their pastor. I’d say the postage could even have been used as a business expense, cold as it might seem. Just my thoughts.

  • Persona

    I am guessing the gesture stood out because it was the first time any pastor has done in it at CLC. In the past, CJ used to tell the congregation to refrain from sending Christmas cards to each other and give the $ to charity.

  • MAK

    The whole Christmas card issue is so petty thanks for bringing it up Persona.

  • MAK

    Reminder that the CLC vote will be revealed at this Sunday’s services. So we’ll have CLC’s (congregation’s) decision.

  • Persona

    Mak609 I think it is great that Josh brought it up.

  • Stunned


    I am not sure why using church funds for personal reasons is petty. Throughout church history, for generations, this kind of behavior would have had people very concerned as the money is normally to be used to pay for the poor and needy. Why not so now?

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Stunned, you’ve got mail. :)

  • It's just the beginning

    MAK, any guess as to what you think CLC’s vote will be?

  • Wow


    Can you repost it? I can’t find it.


  • DK

    Most of the CLC members who wanted to stay with SGM already voted with their feet and went to Solid Rock, Louisville, Fourth Presbyterian, etc. I predict the vote will affirm the pastors’ recommendation to leave SGM.

  • Persona

    DK 616

    Surprisingly, there are still a lot of pro-SGM members who attend CLC. Some remain because their kids are in the school or they have family who don’t want to leave or they have jobs in the school or office or nearby, and they rely on membership for their livelihood.

    But, they are forever changed after the last two years. And the pastors no longer have them eating out of their hands.

    Many others left because they disapprove of the way the pastors are governing CLC. There are plenty of healthier churches in the area where pastors are not mini-dictators.

    Still, once the congregation offers their opinion, more may leave. After the blitz of lobbying, the fact that it is a single issue up for affirmation and, a probably a third of the congregation holds no opinion, the pastors will likely get the affirmation they are looking for.

    And, with that, they will be able to credit the congregation for their split from SGM. Josh and the others will be able to separate from SGM, without censure and, everyone is content.

    And CLC remains pretty much the same church it has always been.

  • MAK

    Regarding the CLC vote, I would guess that 60-75% of the members actually vote and then 90% of the votes are YES (to “formally” separate from SGM). That’s my GUESS. I could be way off.

    Regarding the Christmas card scandal, when I received the card I took it that it was coming from the Sr. Pastor of CLC in his capacity as pastor so the thought never crossed my mind of who paid for it. I thought it a nice personal gesture from Josh as pastor. God knows we never got one from CJ. Actually this is the first one I’ve ever received from a pastor. Yes, Persona is right, CJ used to encourage members to not send Christmas cards to anyone and give that money in the special Christmas offering. Josh never did this even though we still take a Christmas offering for charity every year.

    Persona #617. Yes, you are correct there are still pro-sgm members in CLC. It will be interesting to see how they handle the vote (if affirmed). I’ve had the same thoughts as your last statement but I thing there has been a lot of change. There is still a long way to go and it’s not going as fast as some want. But if you compare CLC today with CLC 7-8 years ago, there is a BIG difference.

  • Stunned


    I thought of you this morning when my male relative opened a Christmas card from the CEO of his company. It was a family portrait and sent from the family’s house, not from the billion dollar company. It’s not like my relative and this man are close in any way but it was a kind gesture to the employees at his company. I think it is interesting that it wasn’t employees who did the work, nor the company who paid for the cards, etc. If it were, there would be some reconning (is that the right spelling?) in the company.

    My brother-in-law has been a pastor for 30 years and if he or my sister sent out Christmas cards from them and paid for it with church money or used church employees to do the work, this would not be considered all that nice by the people in the church (nor by my sister or her hubby). They would all consider it not only impersonal, but a poor use of the funds of the church.

    You can think I am petty all you want. But if I were in the church and in need this season (or heck, if I had half a heart and were aware of people in need this season), I would be upset that this new tradition is springing up when Josh could definitely use PR (according to the stories of the vote coming up), instead of taking care of the time of the church employees being spent on those in need.

  • MAK

    OK Stunned, in these situations one really can’t win. Did you send out Christmas cards? Maybe you should have donated the funds to charity instead.

    To add some clarity to this great scandal, here is the quote from Josh’s response

    “Shannon and I paid for the printing, postage and labels and will also be reimbursing the church for the help we got designing the card and affixing all the labels”

    The cards were already paid for, the staff was just used in designing the card and putting on the address labels. oooooohhhhh so terrible…

  • Oswald

    CLC members: I think y’all should frame the card you received from Josh; it’s probably the last you’ll get. After all the discussion we’ve seen here, he might not want to do it again. Gosh!
    BTW, at CovFel we take an offering at the Christmas Eve service that is given to a local church, not an SGM church. Not sure how that church is chosen to receive the offering, but we usually get a nice note of thanks that is read to the congregation. I guess we are good neighbors.

  • Stunned


    Why be so mean? I never once called it a scandal.

  • justme

    wow, here it is:

    I also recommended a decent book, easy read, for pastors and those just interested in ministering to one another, ‘The Jesus Style’ by Gayle Erwin.

  • Stunned

    PS. No, I don’t send out Christmas cards, either. And I don’t criticize people who do. Why can’t you see that there is a difference for a pastor using church money for church things and using church money for private things? Josh himself seems to think it is wrong. Why am I being treated like your enemy when Josh recognized this was inappropriate?

  • Bill Chaney

    I wish I received a card.

  • Persona

    Stunned, I think we should cut the folks at CLC a little slack. They may be a little testy these days as they are about to cut the umbilical cord.

    You can hold any opinion you want about the use of church finances or whether pastors should use them to send personal greetings. I don’t actually have serious issue about that since he did apparently pay for the bulk of it.

    I mentioned it merely to show how Josh was being a good example to other SGM pastors in admitting even small faults. And, somebody in the church had the guts to question him about it. I think both those things are a good thing.

    However, my guess is that should Josh choose to send greetings in the years to come, he will use ecards.

  • Mary

    I don’t think there would be anything wrong in Josh sending out cards to members of CLC and the church paying for all of it. I remember when I went to CLC getting a birthday card signed by all the pastors and it meant alot to me. It was one of the nicest things they did for me :o) I don’t see a problem with using church funds for a pastor to send cards to church members. I think it is a great idea. Good for Josh!

  • Mary

    If in the process of Josh sending cards to church members – he included people in his family or friends outside of church – that would be wrong.

  • wow


    Just listened! Amen!

    Thank you!

  • Guy

    I think we’re seeing a pretty cool “shift”. Changes aren’t going to happen overnight.

  • relative

    Financial transparency, and a desire to share openly with members in response to their questions, is indeed an encouraging sign of progress.

    However, I agree with MAK, that the constant banter over whether or not Josh should reimburse staff for designing the card or stuffing envelopes is extremely PETTY! It is completely a matter of opinion whether or not the church should help with this or not… (and good arguments have been made on both sides.)

    At some point this pettiness will discourage transparency, as these trivial debates become an unnecessary distraction. Don’t we all have bigger fish to fry than trying to figure out if a staff member should be reimbursed for stuffing envelopes? I mean seriously…

  • Somewhereintime

    The “cool shift” is what is normal with other churches.

    Church leaders need to remember that they are 100% reliant on OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY for EVERYTHING that they receive. That’s why I have a problem when a “pastor” buys a $547,000 house. They live off of the backs of their congregation(s) so they should be careful in the receipt and use of that money.

    I’m sure “double honor” doesn’t imply two times the salary of the top wage earners in the church.

  • MAK

    The CLC Vote:

    Total Adult (eligible voting) Members 2,442
    Total Members who voted 60.8%
    Voting Members who AFFIRMED 93.3%
    Voting Members who voted No 6.7%

    Only 100 members voted against leaving.

    The pastors do NOT know how each member voted.

    CJ and Chairman Loftness were notified yesterday.

    CLC will post a PUBLIC statement on the church website tomorrow.

  • Jenn Grover

    CLC voted to leave SGM:

    The CLC Vote:
    Total Adult (eligible voting) Members 2,442
    Total Members who voted 60.8%
    Voting Members who AFFIRMED 93.3%
    Voting Members who voted No 6.7%
    Only 100 members voted against leaving.
    The pastors do NOT know how each member voted.
    CJ and John Loftness were notified yesterday.
    CLC will post a PUBLIC statement on the church website on Monday 12/17

    Congrats, CLC!

  • SGMsingle

    Yes, it’s official. CLC is no longer in SGM. Today Josh Harris announced the results of the congregational vote. More than 90% of the members who voted said yes to leaving SGM, along with all the pastors, so notice has already been given to SGM of the official separation. This is a turning point and the end of an era for many of us. CLC was the original church in SGM, and at over 3000 members it was also the largest.

    There are already significant changes underway at CLC. Addicts and other needy people are being given compassion and help instead of shunning. The pastors no longer squash members who take initiative to start their own ministries and all kinds of smaller unofficial meetings. I know of a family that has opened their home for regular prayer and worship meetings that are unashamedly and radically charismatic. They often last past midnight. I don’t think the pastors would have tolerated that 6 or 7 years ago!

  • Bought TheField

    By the way, I have been using the name SGMsingle since I first started commenting on this site around 5 years ago. Since I am in CLC and now no longer in SGM, I will use this new name.

  • MAK

    SGM single. Yes, I would agree. Josh’s message today on compassion is a very different stance/emphasis than even 1 year ago. There are so many things that need to change at CLC that we need to be thankful for the changes we do see and be patient that significant change will take time.

  • Jenn Grover

    MAK & SGMSingle – good reports and I agree, it will take time, but at least there are signs of change afoot. IF CLC re-established themselves as a charismatic church that would be radical and fill a huge void in American churches.

  • Lover of CLC

    This is a good thing for CLC to leave SGM. I think that most people at CLC have lost trust in the SGM leadership. The total disregard of the leadership toward the Fairfax letter was shameful. All that letter asked was to slow down and wait and C.J. and company refused to do that. Shameful. While I am not joy filled as I had thought I would be, this is a wise decision to separate.

    The other day on fb Chad Mahaney posted a link to an article by Kevin DeYoung about hypocrisy. I was close to commenting to him to make sure his father reads that article.

    I guess I understand C.J. moving to Louisville as it was getting hot in Gaithersburg. What makes me sad is how all these people followed him there and moved on to Solid Rock. I guess they don’t see things as clearly as the nearly 94% of those who voted yes. I hope this sends a message to them.

  • MAK

    Jenn, AMEN sister. I think this will be a much harder path. CLC must now establish what type of church they want to be…charismatic or baptistlike….or something else.

  • Jenn Grover

    It seems the SGM trend is to become essentially reformed with a unique Baptist dimension. People who think their local SGM is headed in a different direction are very deceived.