C.J. Mahaney Steps Down As President of Sovereign Grace Ministries

The Sovereign Grace Ministries board announced today that on April 12, C.J. Mahaney will transition out of his role as president of the organization.  Here is how the SGM Plant & Build blog explains the change:

As previously announced, C.J. will transition from his role as President on April 12 at the time of the polity ratification vote. Though no longer serving in this leadership capacity, we are grateful that C.J.’s influence and partnership do not end here. We share his joy in seeing him back regularly preaching and pastoring in Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, and we look forward to benefitting from C.J.’s continued investment in the mission of SGM through his service there and in the larger body of Christ.



  1. Patrick Henderson says:

    Steps down… yeah right.

  2. Oswald says:

    Concerning the announcement of CJ’s resignation…I want to say, ‘So what now’, ‘Yeah, and…’, ‘Haven’t we heard this before?’ It’s so hollow. And he probably just keeps on smiling.

  3. whattodo says:

    Coming soon. Expect to see another follow-up announcement closer to April 12th that CJ will become some sort of FILL IN THE BLANK emeritus where he will be a SGM speaker on the national circuit and of course “senior pastor.” The board will thank CJ for his years of service then gush how he has graciously accepted the position of FILL IN THE BLANK emeritus.

  4. Kris says:

    I find this whole thing sort of crazy. It’s not like the board is indicating in any way that CJ’s resignation has anything to do with the present upheaval. And unlike so many other SGM pastors who were deemed “not actually gifted for ministry” and then stripped of all their SGM-related duties, CJ will press on in his same role at the Louisville church. There’s also nothing to get in the way of his teaching at SBTS or otherwise continuing to have influence.

    This is little more than a formality, a title change.

  5. Oswald says:

    I just noticed at the SGM site that there is no real announcement of CJ’s resignation, just presenting it as if it was previously announced, as if it’s old news, nothing new. I can’t believe this.

  6. Oswald says:

    whattodo @3 — There is already a whole ‘thanks to CJ’ at the SGM web site, complete with ALL he’s done for SGM and how he started it and then SG Music, etc, etc. No mention of help from anyone else nor much, if any, praise for God.

  7. Bridget says:

    Oswald –

    “You can’t believe this?” I know you “hoped” for something different (like repentance) but by now you must know that CJ has done nothing to repent from. Surely you knew that he would leave like this — disappointing as it is to see no Godly sorrow or understanding of the chaos he has helped to cause. It will be interesting to watch the lawsuits unfold.

    Guy –

    The link you posted for reading didn’t actually go to the case. Do you know the case number or what info to enter to get to the file. Thanks.

  8. Sick With Worry says:

    I am like the rest of you (I think). I want some kind of acknowledgement that a legitimate board of directors is taking action. There should be some communication that these departures are based on failures of the past, and that they are removing leaders that have not confessed sin or reconciled with people that were mistreated.

    The problem is – that is just not their plan, and it never was. I have mentioned this before: They are waiting this out and when it hits bottom, whenever that is, they will simply start afresh with a combination of the faithful “core” members of each church, along with the unsuspecting new members. It may take a while to hit bottom, and the lawsuit may drag this out, but they will wait. I think what drives them nuts is not the financial strain or the churches leaving…. but rather they just want to know where the bottom is so they can lay out the master plan.

    The sad thing is, some of what I am hearing sounds good and looks good on paper. Of course, if it was not SGM with all their baggage, I would think of it as normal church planting activity.

    They will plant churches to keep the count in the 60-70 range while other churches leave. Look for some churches to be planted pretty close to existing churches. I think the focus is on the church count, perhaps not the size of the churches or reaching new people with the gospel.

    BTW – I think we have seen most of the churches leave that planned on leaving. I would be surprised if more left….. unless some kind of bombshell was dropped. As much as I would like to see SGM disbanded and the churches either “grow up” or close…. I really do not want to see another bombshell dropped for the sake of the cause of Christ. I am tempted to “root against” SGM, but I do want to watch my attitude.

    Each church will have a plan in place that dangles the coveted “Community Group Leader” title in front of new families…. and this will probably be done by selecting men that have expressed zero dissent to all things SGM. The new Care Group leaders are needed because existing ones will go to new churches.

    They will make a push into urban areas – which may or may not be done with the right motives….. but they will not thanks the folks on the blogs for pointing that out.

    I know a little more, but I do not want to out anyone

    Nothing I hear from PA, MD, or NJ or NY for that matter, would indicate that there is any hint of slowing down. To the contrary, they are picking up speed… but in subtle ways

    That is it folks…. as Diamond Dave once said, “a faithful narrative of a sad tale”

    At this point, as mad as I can get about this, I just hope that the Lord will work in the situation and give me a sense of peace. Along with all of us.

  9. Bridget says:

    Thanks Guy.

  10. Jenn Grover says:

    The really question is, why make an announcment about something that was already announced? What was the impetus behind the announcement? It is another murky announcment that seems carefully parsed as usual.

    Someone from within SGM told me probably 5 years ago that they had serious concerns that SGM would survive beyond CJ’s reign because SGM members no longer knew how to commune with God. The clock is ticking.

  11. Persona says:

    I wonder if the faux announcement is meant to be a smokescreen to either deter any more people from adding their cases to the civil suit and try and show the judge and jury that CJ is no longer a ‘danger’ to the membership. It could be a ploy for leniency. If SGM can argue that they have very little money and that the principals involved have been taken out, they might diminish their penalties.

  12. just saying... says:

    I think the announcement was the link to CJ’s resignation which must have been posted about 30 seconds before SGM’s response so that nobody would see it.

    Won’t be going out with the CJ show this time.

    I think there are many more churches yet to leave. They’ve been waiting for the SGM membership requirement. Then, as the deadline approaches to sign up, they will bail.

  13. Nat W. Clerk says:

    I’m not sure if I’m reading the Case Information correctly, but it looks like the first hearing was scheduled for today:

    Event Date: 03/08/2013 Event Time: 09:00 AM Judge: BURRELL, SHARON V
    Location: 50 Maryland Avenue 9th Floor Courtroom: 2

    I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the announcement of Mahaney stepping down as president also happened today.

  14. Keepinstep says:

    Reading Mahaney’s blog post, I am strongly reminded of the scene in Pride and Prejudice in which Mr. Wickham, together with his new wife Lydia, takes leave of the Bennet family:

    Mr. Wickham’s adieus were much more affectionate than his wife’s. He smiled, looked handsome, and said many pretty things.

    “He is as fine a fellow,” said Mr. Bennet, as soon as they were out of the house, “as ever I saw. He simpers, and smirks, and makes love to us all. I am prodigiously proud of him.”

  15. just saying... says:

    Maybe they waited to see what came out at the hearing to decide if he should step down.

  16. Oswald says:

    just saying @16 — This could be true since we know the interim board said the original LOA was not needed. It was done prematurely. In hindsight they saw that the LOA could have been avoided by some of the maneuvering, 3-man panel, etc., having been done sooner, before a LOA was tried.

  17. Bill Chaney says:

    Hey guys, keep it down in here. Tim Challies is trying to keep his head up his @$$.

  18. Foot says:

    Guy #8, NWC #14, so SGM’s strategy to use 1st amendment as the escape hatch bombed (at least thus far)? Then pop goes the weasel (CJ)?

    SGM’s spin is a bottomless pit of raw depravity. No doubt SGM will come with all kinds of change-ups in the name of damage control and their income drug of choice, money. Time for SGM crank up the PR and dust off those faithfulness sermons. And “hit” the remaining SGM members for all the money they can suck out of them, like vampires. Load the tubes and plot a solution…SGM goin fishin. After all, the big dogs are watchin, looking for an example, takin notes.

    SGM members and churches would be wise to get out of dodge ASAP (like NOW)! The furnace is going to get hotter. Time to get the hecka out of there! Come on feet don’t fail me now… Meantime, CJ and co have a tentative date with the judge. I am sure SGM, whats left of it, will try to play: Let’s Make A Deal. Of course, every door but our LORD Jesus Christ(John 10). Yes, SGM is confirming once again they are on the WIDE path.

  19. The Quizzler says:

    What I said back in September 2011………………



  20. Kris says:

    You know, I was thinking about something.

    There really is very little that directly connects CJ to the messy human details of SGM’s dysfunction.

    Brent’s documents provide us a window into how CJ behaves when confronted…how he maneuvered Larry T out…how there was simply no way for anyone to correct CJ unless he himself wanted to be corrected. But CJ appeared to have quietly delegated all the “smoking gun” teachings and the actual down-in-the-trenches business of dealing with people to his seconds and thirds in command.

    We can get the sense that CJ would have let his displeasure be known if his men had run things in ways he didn’t like. Everyone who was anyone within SGM knew that if you ticked off CJ, it would be a long hard road, and you quite likely would not retain your same status in the organization over the long haul. But even then, is there any documentation of CJ’s ever having given any directives about how to counsel people? Is there anything written down or recorded anywhere that specifically shows that the SGM pastors who engaged in spiritually abusive counseling and behavior were following CJ’s own express directives?

    What sort of documentation exists to prove that CJ was even aware of a lot of what went on?

    I’m not saying CJ wasn’t aware, or that all the mishandled situations don’t have some connection, ultimately, to what CJ wanted. Obviously, given the way CJ was able to sway the entire organization to read whatever he was reading at any given moment, or to think what he was thinking, or to admire whomever he was admiring, he was in control of things. When he taught on the evils of the therapeutic movement, for example, and railed against medication and secular psychology, just about all the leaders in the organization quickly jumped on the No Therapy train. So CJ clearly bears considerable responsibility.

    But what I am wondering about is how much proof there is that CJ can be blamed in a court of law for how things ended up. It seems to me he was very very clever in how he set things up. Through his teachings and the way the culture was set up to fawn over him and slave to get his approval, whatever happened within SGM was precisely what CJ wanted to happen. But I’m guessing it’s not like there are memos and letters and written directives that prove any of this. It was all done through social manipulation. Look at how even Brent was pressured to get up at CJ’s “retirement” celebration back in 2002 and give a speech that made it appear all was well and he admired CJ – when at that very time, Brent was locked in an ongoing conflict with CJ that was already generating many of the emails and situations contained in his documents.

    Is there some legal standard that recognizes this sort of psychological coercion?

  21. SGMOvercomer says:

    SGM Detox is back again today at 11am Eastern time. Don’t miss it! http://www.blogtalkradio.com/vincecoakley

  22. Foot says:

    CJ’s rise to power is not a one man job. Let us not forget the “others” (the little people, false apostles, PDI/SGM board members, false shepherds and leaders) who have worked hard to make CJ the false apostle he was and is today.

    Um, STEVE SHANK for example.

    I did not know what a real live false apostle looked like till I saw STEVE SHANK.

    Only God, the IRS and FBI can recount all your deeds.

    SHANK you for the memories. SHANK you for taking false teachings and blinding the eyes of God’s people. SHANK you for making the church a money factory for PDI/SGM. SHANK you for all the money you have taken from GOD’s people lo all these years for services rendered.

    Again, only GOD, the IRS and FBI can recount all your deeds.

    You are so quite now! SHANK you for distorting who our LORD Jesus Christ IS. Perhaps you will recount (in writing) your deeds yourself in a memoir. And, list (itemize) your yearly annual income, including bonuses, perks, etc., for your PDI/SGM hard work, to which you are accountable…lo these many, many years…SHANKS again.

  23. Really? says:

    I found an article related to hostile work environment on how an employer can be held liable in such cases, one part of the article that popped out at me was as follows,

    Example 1: An ice cream sales company hires a man convicted of sexually assaulting a minor to drive its ice cream truck and sell ice cream to children. The business is likely liable because it was negligent in hiring a man known to have assaulted minors, and then giving him access to those minors as customers.

    If SGM is a corporation and CJ is CEO, he’s liable! here is a link to the article, http://smallbusiness.findlaw.com/liability-and-insurance/an-employer-s-liability-for-employee-s-acts.html

  24. just saying... says:

    It is a twisted thing. Hateful teaching because I love you. His popularity as a teacher largely centered around hateful trashing of other teachers. He said he was “protecting” us. People say they felt “loved” by that. The harsher the teaching, the more he “loved” us by keeping us from heresy. The harsh teaching was so harsh, none of us wanted to be recipients of his wrath. Like a bully on the playground, everyone took a step over to his side and stood with him and threw stones at the one he bullied, so much so that all he had to do was speak and everyone did the bullying for him. Anything to keep the group from turning on us.

    The sad thing is, we all learned to hate because we thought hate was love.

  25. Really? says:

    Another case about hostile work environment, part of article:

    Lessons To Be Learned

    The court’s decision demonstrates
    that potential liability for hostile work
    environment and sexual harassment
    claims does not stop at the employee
    directly responsible for the misconduct,
    nor an immediate supervisor, nor the
    entity itself. The chain of liability can
    extend to high-level executives, directors,
    officers, and parent companies.
    Such persons and entities need not even
    actively participate in the alleged misconduct
    – if they turn a blind eye or fail
    to take adequate steps to remedy the situation,
    they may be found individually
    liable for aiding and abetting the hostile
    work environment.
    Moreover, the involvement of highlevel
    executives and officers as defendants
    in hostile work environment litigation
    costs time, money and also
    causes great anxiety for these key
    employees. In many cases, it also may
    be necessary to retain separate counsel
    to the extent their interests may conflict
    with those of the employer.
    In light of the recent decision in Stengart,
    all employers should consider taking
    the following precautions:
    Link , http://www.lowenstein.com/…/Stengart%20Strikes%20Again%20MCC%20...

  26. Waters says:

    Yes, Quizzler #20— we are indeed witnessing CJ’s ‘exit strategy’ as you wrote in 2011…

    However, he leaves intact a controlling, manipulative, leadership pyramid- and even more sadly, congregants who are saturated with their SGM Stepford culture. Leaven is a robber of truth and life — SGMers have been continuously spiritually robbed, resulting in their own spiritual blindness and 0 discernment.

    Ceej leaving as president of SGM???? y a w n……. the repulsive culture continues and Gods people STILL need to be set free

  27. Keepinstep says:

    Speaking of Shank – why is no one ever speaking of Shank, given all the trauma he’s inflicted? Where is he in the Board shakeup, in the polity disaster? If any top SGM brass has a Teflon coating it appears to be Steve Shank.

  28. Really? says:

    I guess you could call SGM a “hostile worshipping and fellowship environment?”

  29. Wow says:

    Let’s not forget they spent $400,000 trying to keep CJ in power and thought the issue would be put to rest with that. And now Ceej acts like stepping down was his idea since last September?!

  30. Uriah says:

    just saying #24
    That is about the most succinct assessment I’ve ever read regarding what happened to everyone in SGM….. “The sad thing is, we all learned to hate because we thought hate was love.”
    This was the great deception that continues to this day. Those who saw through it, with the help of the Holy Spirit, are free. Those who don’t remain in bondage to SGM’s destructive culture. CJ leaving will not change anything. The monster has already been created and continues to prowl amongst the people unabated.

  31. the Quizzler says:

    Waters #27……………..

    Cut off the head and the serpent will die.

    Keep in mind that the hirelings are weak and deceived men. Once they face the judgement of the court and the resultant financial devastation they, and SGM, will be utterly broken.


  32. Kris says:

    Keepinstep said,

    Speaking of Shank — why is no one ever speaking of Shank, given all the trauma he’s inflicted? Where is he in the Board shakeup, in the polity disaster? If any top SGM brass has a Teflon coating it appears to be Steve Shank.

    Funny thing, just this morning, Guy and I were remarking on this very same thing. Throughout the last couple of years, it’s like Shank has fallen off everyone’s radar, when he was actually one of the organization’s main hitmen.

  33. Whirlwind says:

    Lawyers: CJ, it would be helpful if you stepped down and made it “clear” you really are humble and never needed to control everything.

    Loyalists: Wow! Who could have imagined he could step down with such humility. We sure will miss him.

    Cynics: He will still be pastoring EVERY PC pastor that comes through Louisville for 9 months.

    Brent: When will the SGM board come clean and stop lying to us. They know churches have grave concerns about CJ’s leadership, yet refuse to speak of it.

    SGM Board: Do you think this is enough to keep those churches that are on the fence? We do have about a month to convince them.

  34. ccinnova says:

    C.J. Mahaney’s departure is long overdue and way too late.

  35. Jenn Grover says:

    PSA: Reminder- CJ’s departure is not indicative of repentance it change. If it were, the board would have offered a post outlining such change or repentance instead of a flowery post thanking CJ. If they in fact forced him out, true change would appear in the firm of transparency.

  36. Marge Sweigart says:

    Hey, you all, some smart blogger ladies connected the dots and made sense of the timing of the announcement of CJ Mahaney’s resignation.


    “You may recall that Sovereign Grace Ministries asked to have the lawsuit dismissed, claiming their actions were protected by the First Amendment. The results of the March 7 hearing is significant, according to Hännah of Wine and Marble, because it means the judge rejected this argument.”

  37. Persona says:

    Anybody know if there is a difference between juried and non-juried class law suits? Does one have to prove more liability with a jury?

  38. TrustingOnlyInJesus says:

    On Shank:
    He’ a pastor at the Gilbert, AZ church. He is still the “regional Apostle” for the west. With 5 or 6 of the pacific states gone, his scope of deceit has dwindled some. I guess he’s revered by the Arizona and remaing 2 California churches. He is speaking at Pasadena’s marriage retreat next week.
    When questioned in October about CLC and Fairfax he said the problems were mostly communication failures and that SGM was taking steps to rebuild relationships. The problem was really a loss of trust – in my opinion.
    If he doesn’t get pulled into the Lawsuit, he may be the next President of SGM – Shanked Good Ministries.

  39. Nickname says:

    This announcement from SGM is so nebulous. It says CJ “will transition from” — it says nothing about what he will transition TO. It doesn’t say if it’s a resignation, a termination, or simply legal jockeying due to finding out earlier in the day that the judge did not throw the lawsuit out and actually set a date for Feb 2014, expecting a 20-day trial.

    Praying for God to redeem it ALL in a way that transforms everyone involved and the world beyond.

  40. MAK says:

    When I asked a friend and former member of the SGM church in Gilbert what Steve Shank does…her response was “He lives in a nice house and takes a lot of vacations, other than that I have no idea”

  41. Stunned says:

    Squishy language, indeed, Nickname.

  42. 5yearsinPDI says:

    Brent must be really sick or really busy. Maybe parsing a long reply?

  43. wantingjustice says:

    So, has the Judge actually ruled on the motion to dismiss? Have the plaintiffs even filed their opposition motion? It seems like they got a time extension to file that motion?

  44. LetMyPeopleGo says:

    Justsayin’ #25,
    I am blown away by how profound your comment is. I have to go and think about that for a while.

  45. delta dagger says:

    Someone should make a list of men who will take over SGM after CJ steps down in april. My gut says Steve Shank or Rick Gamache.

  46. Sick with worry says:

    Delta, I would be surprised if the next president is an old time insider like Shank. It will most likely be someone that is newer or not a big name in SGM. Perhaps someone like Buckley. Who knows, they may pick someone that actually does a good job. Of course, they will disown the past, rather than confess.

    I believe that they want to sever themselves from the past and a president like Harvey, Connely, or Shank would not fit the strategy.

  47. Contentious Jones says:


    T4C2 2013 – “Together for the Conference” Conference

    Featuring eight of your favorite session speakers!

    1. Mark Dever – “Another Mark of the Church: A Refuge from Gossip ‘n Slander”

    2. Ligon Duncan – “PCA and SGM Books of Church Order Harmonized”

    3. John Piper – “Brothers, We ARE Little Gods!”

    4. “Big Al” Mohler – “Guilty Until Proven Innocent – Blogs and the Unprecedented Attack on America’s Pastors”

    5. John MacArthur – “Some Charismatics are not Chaotic – Evangelical Tolerance for the Glory of God”

    6. “Tiny Tim” Challies – “Busted! The Biblical Case for Lying”

    7. Bob Kauflin – “Worshipping CJ Matters”

    8. CJ Mahaney – “Wood, Hay, and Straw – My Life in Ministry”

  48. Jenn Grover says:

    Contentious Jones, #5 really cracked me up.

  49. Res Ipsa says:

    Persona and wanting, the evidence required for a class action is the same for a jury trial as for a bench (non-jury) trial: typically the plaintiff must show by a preponderance of the evidence that it is more likely than not that their allegations are true.

    I have reviewed the docket and it does not appear that the court has heard the motions to dismiss. The folks here and on other linked web pages who are trying to find a dramatic connection between the last hearing and CJ’s departure are off-base; the hearing simply set the schedule for the case. It’s a perfectly routine and mundane administrative task – nothing exciting or illuminating. You would do well to quit trying to find a smoking guns where none exist.