But My Church Is Different!

I get a lot of email that would fall into one of two categories.  People will frequently write to ask if I am aware of any abuse situations at a particular Sovereign Grace Ministries location.  Or, they will write to assure me that while some SGM churches may be dysfunctional, their particular church is different.

As a rule, I don’t make pronouncements about whether or not a specific SGM congregation is connected to any abuse.  I think that on a lot of levels, it would be irresponsible of me to do that.  I do, though, tend to believe, after everything I’ve learned from interacting with the Sovereign Grace situation for the past five years, that the underlying twisted doctrines and the foundational cultural norms within SGM have far-reaching effects.

Yesterday, a commenter wanted to know if he should be concerned about his sibling’s involvement with a specific SGM church.  A couple of people responded to this commenter by saying that they were not aware of any abusive situations at that SGM location.  Commenter “Hope in Him” then said,

Please, people responding to “Concerned Sibling”, be aware that just because you don’t know of any incidents, does not mean it has not happened. Is it typical of SGM culture to keep members blissfully unaware?

To which I responded,

From what I’ve observed, the answer to that question is “Absolutely!”  I might be generalizing a little, but after everything I’ve learned, almost all of SGM’s dysfunction has flowed out of a desire to keep things looking as close to perfect as possible.  Anything that could be construed as reflecting negatively on the organization (or the individual congregation, or the pastors) is shared on a strictly need-to-know basis…and the rule of thumb seems to be that pretty much nobody needs to know anything negative…even if it might impact their own safety.

So rest assured that if a church is still controlled by the pastors, with no formal mutual accountability and/or no formal congregational input, the pastors are still likely following the ways of the culture in which they were raised to leadership.  One of the cornerstones of SGM culture is information control, particularly control of negative information.

Just because you haven’t heard of it does NOT mean that it hasn’t happened.  If any of your pastors were trained within SGM and had to subscribe to SGM’s rules for being recognized as possessing leadership qualities, it’s highly unlikely they’ve avoided the kinds of problems brought about by the SGM culture…and it’s highly unlikely they’ve been able to truly ditch the culture, especially if they are reluctant to speak out and repent of specific things that were wrong with the culture.

What do you think?  Do you believe that there are SGM churches out there that can retain their affiliation with the organization and yet be completely unaffected by SGM’s long history of legalism and concern for the organization’s image?

For the congregations that have departed from Sovereign Grace Ministries, what does it take to become healthy?  How much of SGM’s practices and unique culture must be rejected?  How much overt, specific repentance needs to take place?


  1. A Kindred Spirit says:

    I absolutely, positively **DO NOT** believe a SGM church can retain their affiliation with the organization and yet be completely unaffected by SGM’s long history of legalism and concern for the organization’s image.

    Realistically, it’s just not possible.

  2. Diego says:

    It’s NUTS to believe that your SG church can be untouched by the SGM cancer. The way the franchise is set up to duplicate itself reproduces dysfunction, defective local cults. The lording over God’s people is rediculous. The secrecy is scary! They don’t look to God for direction or repentance. Unrepentant churches will reap what they sew. People of God don’t subject your families to this cult. Look at who is not at your church anymore and ask why!! They have realized something that you refuse to believe. Pray and have God place you where you will bear fruit.

  3. Rose says:

    For me it breaks down to two things, first that Sovereign Grace has a culture of “Doctrine over Person” which contributes to an attitude that since thier doctrine is right, things will be good. This is based on a lack of humility. Doctrine is disputable. There are many doctrines that many people are able to agree upon, but ultimately, each person is led by thier own experiences to the doctrine they feel works for them. Because even SGM leaders can make statements like “If you feel led to a different church because of disagreement with our system, follow God’s leading for you,” they must on some level see that they don’t have everything right. This should lead to a practice of valuing the people they shephard more than the proclaimations of great minds.

    Second, they need to allow for doctrinal variance in the church. When I had my new member interview, I was told that if I disagreed with something, I should probably leave. The example used was if I disagreed with people speaking in tongues in worship…Wait, what? What if I like a lot of the things in the church, but don’t personally believe that the gift of tongues are for today…but my neighbor next to me praying as best they know how in the Spirit doesn’t bother me much at all? If you encourage all who don’t agree a hundred percent to leave, you lose any ability to discuss your beliefs in an intellegent atmosphere. If having some of your congregation believe slightly differently is that threatening to your peace, you have a major problem.

    I once heard a statement about fanatacism that really sums it up for me. It basically said that if you have an exclusive group atmosphere with no room for discussion, those with intellegence and ability to think critically will differ sometimes. Those people will be encouraged to leave. Slowly by slowly, the people who can think for themselves will leave until only the unthinking followers remain. As you have no one left to criticise, the establishment can and will become more radical. They will become more radical because they have to prove themselves more and they have to continue to raise the bar.

  4. griefofwisdom says:

    “Do you believe that there are SGM churches out there that can retain their affiliation with the organization and yet be completely unaffected by SGM’s long history of legalism and concern for the organization’s image?”

    No, I do not. The reason SGM churches are planted or adopted in the first place is to replicate what SGM has/had going. And it is a heavy-handed culture that is being replicated. So while churches will vary one from another depending on the personalities of their pastor(s), they are all seeking in one way or another to be just like SGM. If independence in thought and process is encouraged in anyway in a SGM affiliate, it is in minor areas. If SGM considers an area major, key theological components and practices, independence will be squashed.

  5. A Kindred Spirit says:

    SGM is a TACO (totalist aberrant Christian organization). You can’t be affiliated with a TACO and not be affected by it.

    Read the following article, especially #6 and #7.


    Sorry, folks…it’s just not possible.

  6. Lost in (cyber) Space says:

    I have to chime in re: Frederick. I am a former member who recently left due to this whole SGM debacle. I have had many very open and honest conversations with the pastors. I do not think they are hiding anything. I was able to see the letters written. They are not ‘kool-aid” drinkers at all. I think they are trying to figure all of this out and give opportunity for SGM to repent. Taking too long for me, but I definitely do not think they are being secretive about the SGM stuff.

  7. Darkwingbird says:

    NO! They are all “fruit of a poisoned tree” and leaven works its way through the whole loaf. If a particular Church splits away from SGM, then there is HOPE for change, but NO assurance. After all, they have been trained up by the masters of deception and tend to run to the natural pathway for which their tires have been designed. Trust nobody! Except God. Question everything! Especially Church leadership.

  8. Waiting says:

    There are some recent posts on Wartburg Watch which prove what Kris has posted about the silencing of information. Different types of posts to SGM/SGM-friendly, which addressed various items, getting deleted very soon, and I doubt the posts included foul language. As you point out Kris, unless the root issues are dealt with, nothing is really going to change. In fact, they may get smarter at hiding problems because of the last few years.

    So, Concerned Sibling, I’d stay concerned!!! At first,the SGM we were in was all sweetness and light on the surface, but by the time we left, I had realized that the methods and terminology used to suppress and manipulate other believers, was also involved in some ugliness behind the scenes. The congregation only received a very vague address of problems from one perspective, the leaders’. Those involved in the situations under the leaders had gag orders, and the leaders were picked specifically because they swore to solidarity and obedience.

  9. Steve240 says:

    Besides Ligon Duncan taking down his post defending C.J.


    Larry Tomczak took his statement down about his departure from PDI(now SGM). Not sure when it was removed but wouldn’t doubt if it was related to the lawsuit and being a co-defendant with C.J. Mahaney.

    A copy of the statement is here:


  10. A Kindred Spirit says:

    A newly adopted church might have a chance, but not a “plant.” No way.

    And my thinking would be that any church that considered adoption into SGM would be like-minded in many respects.

  11. Brent Detwiler posted on FB on Monday that three more churches had left SGM:

    Allen Snapp – Grace Community Church, Corning, NY
    Gareth Lloyd – Sovereign Grace Church, Merthyr Tydfil, Wales
    John Feska – Sovereign Grace Church, Aurora, IL

    I haven’t been reading all of the comments here on Survivors since I can’t keep up with the volume of them, but has this already been noted on the blog?

    I recently told an SGM pastor that I could not in good conscience be a member of any SGM church, even if the local congregation had changed. I do know there are good things happening at the one I left (and where one of my adult daughters is still a thriving member), and I am encouraged by their progress and by my conversation with the pastor. (I should say I was being pretty blunt with him, and I fully believe he handled it forthrightly and graciously in the best sense of the words.) I just hope they *keep* progressing toward formal independence and beyond. :-)

  12. Jenn Grover says:

    Most people just don’t see what the affects are and don’t see them as negative when you point out the effects to them. For example, I recently mentioned to an SGM friend that there was no biblical premise for
    2 of their favorite control tactics. The first is this idea of not taking up another persons offense. In other words, if an SGM pastor so s against your spouse, that offense is between the two of them. The first time I heard this notion peddled it was via Mark & Jill Prater. I asked them to back it up with Scripture and they never did. This is the opposite of what Scripture actually teaches. The premise is that of you were offended (because you could never be a victim) the fault was yours. The second was the idea that you have to believe the best and we know that Proverbs teaches that if you believe the best of the wrong people you are a fool.

    Those two little notions have gone quite a bit to keep people quiet over the years. Couple that with the gossip and slander fear mongering and you need do little else to protect the image and leave most people unaware of the problems.

  13. Nat W. Clerk says:

    @ Steve240 (Post #9): Tomczak’s responses have been taken down for some time now. Before the start of this year if I remember correctly.

    @ Virginia Knowles (Post #11): This was briefly discussed on a previous thread. Everything I’ve heard has confirmed that those churches have left or are leaving. However, last I checked, they were still listed on the SGM website.

  14. Hope in Him says:

    Sexual abuse has occured by a adolescent child of a SGM Frederick member. They have since left. Also, a one year old was injured while in CM and will have a scar on her face for her entire life. (Please see my previous post.) The incident was not widely known and personnel handled it quietly. YES it is happening there and even on this blog people are replying that all seems ok there. To the best of my knowledge a few children were assulted by the adolescent perpetrator at SGM Frederick Church.

  15. Square Peg says:

    QUOTE: “Question everything! Especially Church leadership.”

    This is definitely true. Question with boldness.

  16. James says:

    RE: Lost #6

    I’m curious about your real-world identity. I hadn’t noticed that anyone left, and there’s certainly been no discussions about members that have left. Can you send me an email? jiminfrederick@gmx.com

  17. Lost in (cyber) Space says:

    Hope in Him,

    My post in #6 was only in reference to a comment left on the previous post about the secrecy surrounding the letter sent to SGM by Frederick pastors. I do not know anything about abuse.

  18. Jenn Grover says:

    From Biz Tchividjian

    “One study indicates that child molesters who sexually victimize females outside of the home averaged approximately 20 different victims. That same study found that child molesters who sexually victimize males outside of the home averaged approximately 150 different victims”


    Does your SGM church reveal those who were abusers? If not, the above quote should scare you.

    If your church does not disclose past abuses you have been affected by SGM.

  19. Uriah says:

    I’ve addressed this in a previous post but think the response below is particular relevant to Kris’s questions. Here it is again, with some minimal edits:

    I am emotionally conflicted. My heart breaks for yet, more victims, while at the same time I feel so frustrated with those who continue to attend SGM churches and believe they have no culpability in the matters before them. If you are currently attending a SGM church then you are not neutral. You have made a decision that directly affects whether or not SGM will continue to adhere to and exercise the abusive polity structure that got them in this mess in the first place.

    By your very attendance you are vicariously affirming and supporting the fundamental reason why this insidious abuse gained a foothold in the lives of so many. The reason being, ….. a very unbiblical and ungodly use of spiritual authority by leaders in SGM. This remains the fundamental reason as to why men who lead in SGM feel no compulsion to be beholden to you, your brother/sister, the police, child protective services, or the entire body of Christ in your locale. Because they believe the authority of Christ rests upon them to lord over the flock of God as they see fit, without accountability…. and so they do.

    It is very critical to connect the dots that ultimately led to the atrocities which have been noted ad nauseum. These abuses happened because SGM pastors/leaders believe they have ultimate authority over individuals in particular and entire churches in general. Make no mistake, they continue to believe it today and have no intention of changing (see SGM’s current polity statement).

    SGM has just recently solidified and codified their “new and improved” polity statement, one that continues to grant them absolute and final authority over you and your church. This is the height of arrogance! Practically, this means, as it did in every one of these cases of abuse, that they wield ultimate authority in the affairs of individual lives and churches. People of SGM…. NOTHING HAS CHANGED!

    Therefore, if you (members of SGM) continue to give your money and attend your SGM church, you are vicariously supporting the continued existence of SGM. You may have chosen to ignore all the drama which occurred over the past 5-7 years while your other brothers and sisters were sounding an alarm, but this does not absolve you from your responsibility before God to demand that this nonsense cease. Your indecision, apathy, and lack of indignation regarding what has happened to your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ continues to be incomprehensible. Whether you like it or not, if you remain a member of SGM, you have chosen to be active participants in the propagation of the abuse of authority that results in the horror stories that continue to be noted here.

    Your leaders may have recently TOLD you they are signing the new polity document. Unless you raise your voice and communicate a loud resounding “NO”, this ungodly and heretical abuse of authority will continue unabated. …. and it will continue on your watch, because you said nothing and did nothing to challenge it.

    I say the following without malice but with much dismay and grief in my heart. Either you (current member of SGM) are very deceived or paralyzed by cowardice. However, there is another choice….. to be brave and courageous, to stand up and allow your heart to be filled with the indignation and grief of God,….. to love your leaders and fellow brothers and sisters by speaking up and saying ENOUGH! This is wrong and I will have no part of supporting it any longer!

  20. Moniker says:

    CLC posted a statement about the Nate Morales news story. http://www.covlife.org/blog/response_to_news_reports

    I’ll just copy it below in full so you can read it….

    On Monday news reports were widely circulated about a Nevada man, Nathaniel Morales, who has been charged in Maryland with molesting boys during the 1980s. The reports contain allegations that this abuse occurred when Mr. Morales was a teacher, erroneously implying that he was a teacher at Covenant Life School. The reports fail to state that Mr. Morales, though a church member at the time, was never a pastor in Covenant Life Church nor a teacher in Covenant Life School. Rather, Mr. Morales was a teacher employed by an independent private school in Montgomery County not affiliated with Covenant Life Church or School.

    Contrary to the impression left by the news reports, Covenant Life Church had no knowledge of such abuse until many years after the abuse when an adult who had been victimized as a child came forward.

    The criminal matter described in these news reports is distinct from the civil lawsuit filed last October against Sovereign Grace Ministries, that was amended in January of this year to add Covenant Life Church as a defendant. The church will respond appropriately to the allegations in that pending lawsuit through the legal system.

    Our church places a high priority on protecting children, and has had robust child protection practices and policies in place for many years. Our hearts and prayers continue to be with anyone affected by the trauma of sexual abuse. We pray that they will receive the healing, comfort and peace of Christ. And we continue to invite your prayers for all those involved in these matters.

  21. Square Peg says:

    QUOTE: The first is this idea of not taking up another persons offense. In other words, if an SGM pastor so s against your spouse, that offense is between the two of them.

    Jenn, Could you explain this again, an example perhaps? Trying to follow?


  22. Michael says:

    @ A Kindred Spirit #5, I understand that the subject matter here is serious, but to read out loud “SGM is a taco” gave me quite a hearty chuckle. Thank you for that side benefit.

    The indignation expressed here I feel myself and have expressed to some people I know who are still in SG churches, namely my parents. My mother and father have never been the type of people to blindly swallow down anything that they’ve been taught at what was once “our” church. I actually attribute my own tendency to question and to think critically about these matters to their example, and it is one thing I will always be grateful to them for.

    However, it is disheartening to hear my mother, one of the boldest persons I know, pretty much tell me the subject title of this blog post: “…this church isn’t like the other churches.” It is disheartening to hear my father, who has vocally criticized the leadership of the church for supporting SGM’s moves in the last year and more, who is purposely remaining in the church to make a positive difference, repeat many of the same “doctrines” that Jenn Grover (#12) has cited as control tactics when he takes objection to my understanding of the problems his church is facing.

    It doesn’t seem to me, when it comes right down to it, that reason and strenuous pleading are enough to help those still remaining in SGM churches to leave. It takes illumination from the Spirit, His power–those who remain are blind, hypnotized. We can’t just say, “Be free!” and that does the trick. God has to set them free, as He did the rest of us.

    I won’t recount my entire history in the SGM church that I left, but I will say that God used those experiences and teachings there, both the good and the evil, to make me into the man I am today. I don’t know who I would be if I hadn’t gone through that. It doesn’t mean that I praise God for the suffering I went through–I’m still mad about that. But I would be suffering much more if I was still there.

    What all SGM churches have in common is a twisted view of human reasoning and church leadership. This twisted view does not always mean that each individual church is as bad as it could possibly be, but it is an abusive door that opens up the church to further varied abuses. As long as SGM members accept that they are merely sinful sheep, inclined at all times to depravity and to be unintelligent, they will never stand up for themselves. If they will not stand up for themselves, they will not stand up for others.

    And while SGM pastors are told constantly how special they are, really they are just slightly more privileged sinful sheep looking to the dictates of SGM HQ. I am hopeful for the pastors who have separated in title and association from SGM, but spiritually it takes a WHILE to recover from that way of living.

  23. Terry says:

    Some good stuff being said here and I don’t know where to start but will try. One of the things I struggled with in my local SGM church in El Paso, was that the pastors were not only “wonderful” people but my dear friends (still are even though I’m getting a bit of the “shun” treatment since I’ve been active on this blog). There are a lot of wonderful people in the Mormon church. I have a couple of agnostic friends who are wonderful people. However, I’ve learned through all this that being “wonderful” and being a “friend” does not make them right. These two pastors who are “wonderful” and my “friends” have been deceitfully removed, after many years of service, from their positions as pastors (fired by SGM BDs)and now sit as “regular” church members in the congregation…oh, but the last pastor “FIRED” did receive his “honorary eldership” instead of the symbolic gold watch. They were told the church could no longer afford to pay them but somehow find the funds necessary to pay the new “very young” PC graduate “rock star” preacher who replaced the two seasoned middle-aged “wonderful” CoG pastors. Before the senior pastor’s demise, he would always answer my SGM questions of concern by saying…”Because we (CoG) are in El Paso and geographically removed from the SGM mainstream of churches…”We are not like many of the other SGM churches”…and even though they are no longer pastors having been manipulated and deceitfully removed from their positions, they still support “We are not like the other SGM churches”. Unless God intervenes and removes the scales off their eyes, I have no doubt that if they were to independently open their own church, that church would very quickly become contaminated with the same SGM culture that has them sitting in the congregation unemployed.

    Diego – RE: Repentance – Another former pastor from this same church was sent to plant a SGM church in Las Cruces, NM. He faithfully did so. But when the SGM BDs (Steve Shank, Paul Palmer, and others) decided this pastor was not raising his kids correctly according to SGM standards, he was put through “SGM Hell” for a year until he couldn’t take it anymore and he left his post. Many of you on this blog know him. When I suggested to the newly appointed CoG pastor and to the senior pastor (before his demise) that since you guys aren’t “like the other” SGM churches, then maybe a good place to start for CoG is to go to the former Las Cruces SGM pastor and admit the abuse, ask for forgiveness and repent…even though these current pastors were not a part of that pastor’s demise, but because they wear the SGM brand I thought it a good place to begin. The “former” senior pastor and the new PC grad pastor both thought that might be a good idea. A month later, the new PC grad pastor approached me and said…”I’ve been thinking about what you said and I believe I’ll attempt to contact the former Las Cruces pastor and speak with him.” That was over a year ago and the former Las Cruces pastor has yet to be contacted. Repentance is not something you think about…it’s something you do. Obviously, for whatever reason, this does not apply to SGM.

    I say all this to say this. God is MORE than capable to wipe out this SGM culture/mindset from their hearts and minds; however, until this takes place, I’m afraid that any attempt to break away from SGM (which they discussed with a band of other SGM churches but to no avail) will only be “cross-contaminated” by anything they touch. Also, if there is no repentance…no adherence to correction…and according to Proverbs 10:17…they will only continue to lead others astray.

  24. Steve240 says:

    Nickname said:

    We knew better than to go to the pastors with questions, because the response would be “you have a rebellious heart issue, because you do not trust your pastors.”

    If you’re in the Frederick church, ask for some answers. Ask for the synopsis AND a copy of the letter, and ask that it be distributed. And if you are answered with the “you don’t trust”, you can agree and say, “Of course I do not trust. You are fallible human beings just like everyone else, and you need to be honest and forthright with everyone involved, because you have the office of a pastor. In Christ alone I place my trust.” Just my two cents.

    I find this baffling that pastors would typically respond this way. After all, they use to train members to defend them by saying their pastors were “imperfect.” If someone really feels they are “imperfect” (as these leaders claim) then they wouldn’t use this tactic of don’t you trust me. This is especially true with all the teaching on “indwelling sin.”

  25. Terry says:

    @ Michael #22- Ditto this:

    “What all SGM churches have in common is a twisted view of human reasoning and church leadership. This twisted view does not always mean that each individual church is as bad as it could possibly be, but it is an abusive door that opens up the church to further varied abuses. As long as SGM members accept that they are merely sinful sheep, inclined at all times to depravity and to be unintelligent, they will never stand up for themselves. If they will not stand up for themselves, they will not stand up for others.”

  26. Tempest says:

    In response to the “but my church is different” thinking, maybe Kris can dig out her awesome resturant analogy she posted a while back.

  27. JeffB says:

    Moniker #20 posted CLC’s statement about about the Morales case. One quote: “Our church places a high priority on protecting children, and has had robust child protection practices and policies in place for many years.”

    This doesn’t quite jibe with what Mr. Boisvert said in the AP report. If what he said is accurate, they are still clueless.

  28. Let Us Reason says:

    Large or small churches that leave SGM would (apart from a genuine move of the Holy Spirit) have to ‘reinvent’ themselves. ALL SGM churches declare their reliance on the Word of God in ALL THINGS, so how does a church that has existed under the SGM umbrella for so many years, and therefore under those who claim to teach from the Word of God, and is a local body standing on the Word of God, do things differently now? Most of the pastors are the same men that embraced SGM prior to the revelations of 2011 and old habits die hard!

  29. Let Us Reason says:

    A name change is not enough!

  30. yentl says:

    I asked my Frederick friends your questions.

    1. One year old child fell in children’s ministry and cut her head. A pediatric emergency room nurse immediately provided first aid and told parents she needed to go to the ER. They took her.

    She said children’s ministry has a 3 to 1 adult/child ratio.

    2. A child sexually abused another child outside of a church setting. Although it was not required that police be contacted due to age of the children, the pastors strongly encouraged the victim’s family to do so…which they did. All contacts of the child were notified. Security were assigned to watch the child at all times in the building. Child eventually left.

    The pastors are adamant that police be notified in cases of child abuse or sexual assault.

    3. The pastors wrote a 12 page document describing all of their interaction with SGM in the last year and a half. They read the document at a family meeting, gave members the audio and gave written copies to everyone. They hold monthly meetings to get input from members and update them on SGM issues. They have a polity committee made of men and women laypeople evaluating polity and making recommendations.

    I can’t remember her other answers or what the other questions were.

  31. Fruit Flavored says:

    I’m a bit puzzled about CLC’s response to the Nate Morales case.

    In the response the CLC spokesperson states, “Contrary to the impression left by the news reports, Covenant Life Church had no knowledge of such abuse until many years after the abuse when an adult who had been victimized as a child came forward.”

    I’m thinking that Mr. Morales was no longer in the church when the victim came forward to CLC leadership. If so, did Robin Boisvert and Grant Layman then track down Mr. Morales to discuss the allegations? “Police interviewed a co-pastor at the church who recalled having confronted Morales about the allegations. That pastor, Ernest Boisvert, told police that “normally the church would appeal to the person to stop his criminal behavior and then, should it not stop, they would alert people that the person is not acting in a Christian manner. The person would need to show contrition,” according to a police report filed in the case.
    Boisvert said that going to the police was in the “realm of possibilities,” but that he took his cues from the families, the police report says.
    Another pastor, Grant Layman, said he had communicated with Morales several years ago and that Morales had admitted to “alcohol abuse and homosexuality.” He said that Morales told him that he remembered having committed abuses and having confessed his past to an older pastor, but that Morales now said he was very ill and could not recall the specifics of anything that occurred.”

    So, if they did track him down and he made the statements regarding remembering having committed abuses, why did RB and GL not report the crime to the police? RB states regarding reporting that they take cues from the families. It this is standard procedure it is absurdly flawed.

    I’m going to repost a question I posted earlier. So if CLC pastors discussed this crime with their attorneys and chose not to report it, is there any provision in the law that states attorneys must report the crime? Just wondering…

  32. Steve240 says:

    This doesn’t quite jibe with what Mr. Boisvert said in the AP report. If what he said is accurate, they are still clueless.

    That AP Report was quoting a police report. Thus is doubtful that it could have been misinterpreted.

  33. Hope in Him says:

    Yentl, it sounds like your friends down played the situation with the toddler. I know for a fact that she received no first aid! The person who told you that she received first aid from an ER nurse at the church did not tell you the truth. Why don’t you check your facts with the child’s parents?

  34. Lost in (cyber) Space says:


    I concur with all that you said in point 3. That is my experience and understanding.

  35. Yentl says:

    I’m sorry if I was misinformed. I don’t know any of the people involved.

  36. Hope in Him says:

    Yentl: you wrote that a child sexually abused another child. Is your friend attempting to minimize? The perpetrator was a juvenile, yes, but are you sure that only one child was affected? The children were in no way peers in size or age. Lots of people who could have been affected who either had left the church or were visiting the care group where children were left to play with the juvenile offender in basements of homes were NOT notified. There is simply no way the pastors could track down everyone. For the most part, though we were all submissive secret keepers and did not talk.

  37. Lost in (cyber) Space says:

    Hope in Him,

    Could you explain this statement: “For the most part, though we were all submissive secret keepers and did not talk.”

    I am confused. Were you involved in the situation or close enough to be aware? Are you a member of SGCF?

  38. exCLCer says:

    “An indictment returned in December charged Morales, 55, with 10 counts of either sex abuse or sex offense. The indictment says the sex acts involved four boys and occurred between 1985 and 1990, when police say Morales was helping the church with youth ministries, conducted Bible studies, teaching at a Christian school and hosting sleepovers.”

    What Covenant Life so conveniently (intentionally) glosses over in their statement is that Morales was not “some man from Nevada” or “just a member”, but a very esteemed member of COVENANT LIFE, who vigorously participated in the COVENANT LIFE worship group, led COVENANT LIFE bible studies, and was so involved with the COVENANT LIFE youth group that he would host “sleepovers” in his home where the kids from the COVENANT LIFE youth group would be invited to sleep at his house where, according to police, some of these criminal assaults were perpetrated on COVENANT LIFE members children. I attended the high school he taught at(MCCA) which was at the time referred to as covenant life’s “sister school” because Covenant life did not have a high school yet. The affiliation may not have been official, but it was most definitely affiliated.
    I’m starting to see that “deflect, deny, and lie = vigorously defend” in their dictionary. Just so infuriating!

  39. delta dagger says:

    My Friends,
    Yes most of the SGM churches in Minnesota,Illnois and Kansas are the same but after the this huge amount of bad press and one ungodly huge lawsuit things will start to change for the better.

  40. Diego says:

    yentyl #30
    “child eventually left”… that is the SGM answer to everything. People with concerns LEAVE. They don’t care about the relationships you have, service given, love for your church. If the elders feel that you are a problem, they don’t want you in their church. Yes they feel that its their church. They don’t want your vote, feedback, concerns expressed. They want you to be a joy to them. If you have questions. If you cause them “problems” they want you to leave. You are just a number. They feel that your seat will just be taken by someone else eventually once this blows over. I don’t think God is going to let this blow over. Child leaves, they don’t have to give counsel or answer for the child. NOT THEIR PROBLEM ANYMORE…

  41. A Kindred Spirit says:

    So does Covenant Life not think that there are others out there like exCLCer who know the truth?!

  42. LetMyPeopleGo says:

    In regards to Kris’s original question from her post….

    I can only speak for the SG that I attended….I believe that every single person that is a committed, loyal member of my old church needs to leave and get help to experience the true grace of God. I don’t believe that you can experience it there in all the legalism.

    After I left, I came to the conclusion from reading Steve Arterburn’s book: Faith that Hurts, Faith that Heals…that CJ is a religious addict. And I also believe that my senior pastor was a religious addict, too. And many other members of that church are, too, I believe. Again, this is MY belief.

    In that book, the author says, “When religion becomes an addiction, it is very difficult to identify in the early stages. It looks so good. As the addicts serve themselves, they appear to serve God. They escape into an unreal world where people, ideas, and rules replace a relationship with God. The farther they drift from God, the more desperate the addicts become, until they are willing to lie, cheat, steal, or kill for the harmful faith system or the leader. They become so hooked that they are almost unreachable or unapproachable because their denial is so strong.”

    He goes on to list the roles that religious addicts play: persecutor, coconspirators, enablers, & victims.

    He believes that “no matter what role a member plays, the person becomes addicted to the system, the beliefs, and the behaviors.”

    He then goes on to say, “These people have one primary function: allow the persecutor to function, insulated from reality. With the faithful followers willing to do anything to support the persecutor,the organization becomes dysfunctional and unbalanced, leaning heavily toward the top.”

    There is also the role of the “outcast”….that is the only person who is not a religious addict in that toxic system.

    In my church, I was a victim at times, an enabler at times, and finally an outcast during the months before I left.

    I think that everyone involved in SG needs to get out, consider their part in this unhealthy system, repent of what they need to, and let God heal them by experiencing his boundless grace. If you don’t repent of your part in this toxic system that, in my church, harmed people daily, you can’t get free. I had to do it….I repented of just encouraging people to join a caregroup. Who was I to tell them that they needed to start fellowshiping? I wasn’t the Holy Spirit. I also had to admit when I had been vicitimized and get help to heal from that.

  43. Moniker says:

    Brent has sent a letter to a long list of national Christian leaders regarding CJ Mahaney. I hope to God that they pay attention to it. Read it on his blog: http://www.brentdetwiler.com/brentdetwilercom/2013/2/6/an-appeal-to-national-leaders-regarding-cj-mahaney.html The list of names is at the bottom of the post.

    Please, if you have a Twitter account, tweet this link out and mention the names. Thanks.

  44. Terry says:

    @ Moniker – RE: List of Names…that’s quite the Who’s Who list. Glad you found that. I posted the link you provided on my FB. The “Reckoning” has commenced I believe.

  45. Jenn Grover says:

    Square Peg – sorry if I was too brief – I was posting from my phone. :)

    The phrase that was propagated was not to “take up anther’s offense.” So, if you sin against my brother, I am supposed to not be hurt or offended by it. Or, if you see someone getting the royal SGM treatment, you should not be offended on their behalf. If I become offended, or even question something that happened to another person, your questioning is squelched by implying that you are sinning by taking up another person’s offense. We all know that there are numerous places in Scripture where we are called to act on the behalf of others. What I don’t find in Scripture is any explicit or even implicit not to take up another person’s offense.

    A few years ago I got tired of trying to put a happy face on the way SGM treated my brother, so I told people how I saw it when they asked about him and where he was. It often made people uncomfortable and elicited a surprised response.

    The more I reflect on SGM and their manipulation and branding, the more sick it makes me. I remember he had to have his photo taken for some SGM songwriters thing and the direction was for him to wear something “hip, but casual.” For those of you who know the Grovers, “hip” is not the first thing that comes to mind. What did we do? We went shopping at the right stores to pick out the SGM uniform of the time: khaki cargo pants, and a v-neck sweater with a horizontal stripe. He didn’t look any more hip than he did in his usual blue jeans and polo shirt, but the uniform was right.

  46. Argus says:

    I’m pretty sure that “not taking up an offense” comes from Bill Gothard seminars.

  47. Toni says:

    Terry #45

    The “Reckoning” has commenced…


  48. acme says:

    exCLCer re: #38 – that is exactly my recollection of Nate during this time period, singing on stage, working with kids, and engaged to a friend. I remember that so many of the CLC high school kids were at MCCA, since CLS was just for elementary school.

    Not cool, CLC, not cool.