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Recent Developments

A week ago today, Sovereign Grace Ministries announced its new Board of Directors.  Despite the fact that several SGM churches had expressed concern over the selection process of the new board – particularly the tight time constraints placed upon pastors to provide feedback – Dave Harvey nonetheless said, in his announcement about the new board,

Each of these men was nominated by the interim Board, approved for service by their local pastoral teams, and then affirmed through a feedback process open to all ordained pastors of Sovereign Grace churches. 

A day or two later, the pastors of Covenant Life Church announced to members that the church was suspending its contributions to the Sovereign Grace Ministries organization:

Dear Covenant Life members,

Our prayer for you today is one offered many times by the Apostle Paul in his letters: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

We are writing briefly to let you know that the elders have decided, with the input of our Financial Advisory Committee (FAC), to suspend Covenant Life Church’s financial giving to Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM).

The background is that the FAC and its subcommittee have requested more time to ask further questions and to weigh the upcoming Ambassadors of Reconciliation (AOR) report before giving the elders a final recommendation about our church’s financial giving to SGM. The committees have recommended that Covenant Life suspend its giving at this time, while their evaluation continues. We believe this recommendation is wise, and we will continue to work with the FAC to determine the best long-term course of action.

We’ve communicated this decision in person to the leadership of Sovereign Grace who were very gracious in their response. We communicated that we are still committed to funding our shared mission in North Africa and have asked them to make us aware of other projects that we could specifically fund.

We will update you when we receive the FAC’s final recommendation. Moreover, when we present the 2013 Fiscal Year budget to the congregation this summer, we will include a plan for allocating any funds that are uncommitted as a result of the suspension.

Please continue to pray for the pastors and others involved in this decision. We take the stewardship of the resources of our church very seriously and need God’s help. And as always, we invite your perspective and wisdom and encourage you to speak with your pastor about any questions you may have.

In Christ,

Your pastors

Although it seems obvious that CLC’s contributions to the SGM organization would comprise a significant portion of SGM’s budget, the suspension of funds will apparently not have an immediate effect on SGM’s operations, according to this statement from a member of CLC’s Financial Advisory Committee:

I think it is important for our church family to be aware of a critical finding of the subcommittee, namely that CLC’s decision to suspend its monthly contributions should not result in any SGM employee losing their job due to financial considerations in the near term. As a subcommittee, we spent a significant amount of time reviewing the financial position of SGM, including its balance sheet reserves, cash flows, budgeted expense projections and income expectations. According to SGM’s audited financial statements for its fiscal year ended August 31, 2011, the organization had net assets of $5.9 million and only $300,000 in current liabilities. We reviewed more recent financial information and concluded that SGM has sufficient financial resources to continue to pay its current employees. No one should be under the impression that our pastors have cost anyone their job. That simply isn’t the case.

On Friday, Sovereign Grace Ministries shared on the “Plant & Build” blog some additional information about the upcoming activities of the new Board of Directors.  Among other things, there’s this:

First, we decided to create a polity committee to consist of two members of the Board, two members of the Leadership Team (including C.J. Mahaney, who will chair the committee), and at least three Sovereign Grace pastors not on the Board. This committee will pick up the work that has already been done on polity and develop it to give better definition to the ministry, to how SGM as a ministry relates to pastors and their churches, and to policies and procedures for making decisions and selecting leaders.

Then there was this update about how the report from the Ambassadors of Reconciliation will be handled:

Second, we expect to receive the Ambassadors of Reconciliation report in the coming two weeks. We plan to begin discussing the report on a retreat in Louisville April 9 & 10 and then to make plans for responding.

As reader “Ozymandias” points out, in response to this announcement,

And, as T4G begins on 10 April, can we assume that there will be no public release and/or public discussion (including public discussion among non-SGM conservative evangelicals) of the report prior to the start of T4G? And, by “make plans for responding,” one means “public release,” correct? Because, if it doesn’t mean public release on SGM’s website, then #7 on this timeline is now incorrect.

I thought this, from reader “B.R. Clifton,” was a succinct summation of the reality of what can be expected, with respect to the AoR report:

It must be remembered, as I understand it, the report was bought and paid for by SGM. As such it is their sole property to do with as they see fit. Another though is the SGM board now in place is not the same board that purchased or made arrangements for the AOR investigation and report. They may or may not feel any obligation to honor promises or implied promises made by the previous board. The have a number of options they can pursue at their own choosing:

1. Ignore the report altogether.
2. Release their own version of what the report says.
3. Release only their reply or response to the report.
4. Release only certain parts of the report as they see fit.
5. Release the report in its entirety along with their response.

Whichever they choose to do, they will be within their legal right as sole owner of the report. Each of the choices has its own consequences which no doubt they are now or will be weighing before taking any action on the report. All of this may or may not be in consideration of any moral obligation to be forthcoming and release the report unabridged.

Counting on the report triggering any wide sweeping changes could turn out to be just another busted balloon.

Thoughts?

172 comments to Recent Developments

  1. SamMcGee
    March 26th, 2012 at 11:03 am

    The timing gives the impression that suspension of funds by CLC was In response to the Board announcement. My understaning is that the timing is a coincidnce. In fact, I heard last Fall that the decision had Ben made to suspend contributions (which raises the question of whether the FAC subcommittee more for show-but that is a different issue)

    With regards to the Polity Committee, it sounds like CJ is part of the leadership team, which is quite brazen but I guess not surprising. Note, there is already a 50+ page paper written by Daniel Baker of Apex that lays ou the justification for Apostles and presents a polity. It will probably be the starting point for the committee.

  2. Kris
    March 26th, 2012 at 11:22 am

    SamMcGee said,

    The timing gives the impression that suspension of funds by CLC was In response to the Board announcement. My understaning is that the timing is a coincidnce.

    I’ve heard this same thing from a number of people. CLC’s decision was probably in the works for quite awhile.

    And yet, given leaders’ penchant for being “intentional,” is anything within SGM ever completely coincidental? :wink:

  3. Lost in (cyber) Space
    March 26th, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Sadly, I am thinking the push to get a new board in place before the AOR reports are released is so that the new board will not be obliged to keep Dave H.’s promise to release them in full. I hope I am wrong, but it was so obvious that the rush to approve the new board (ignoring the cry of 16+ churches to slow down) was a political move and most likely a preemptive strike.

    Also, another thing that is so maddening is the appointment of CJ to chair the polity committee… WHAT!?!? Did he not just plead with the SGM pastors at the Pastor’s Conference to make room in their hearts for him even though he made mistakes in leading the organization because it was not his gifting??? Hello!!!!! CJ— listen to your own words! You admitted that you are not gifted to lead SGM and that you should (in your own mind at least) preach and pastor a church. Forget Brent’s documents… your own words condemn you!

    I am just so weary of all this! I am glad it appears my church is on the road to “dismemberment”. :bang :bang

  4. B.R. Clifton
    March 26th, 2012 at 11:51 am

    Anyone who still believes that this drama, now plying out at SGM, is not carefully orchestrated, isn’t paying attention.
    :worm

  5. SMP
    March 26th, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    In view of all the hundreds of people that were interviewed and sacrifced just to meet with AoR, could AoR give any portion of the report to anyone other then SGM? I understand SGM hired them but WE are part of that report. Do we not get to see their conclusion of our lives?

  6. Kris
    March 26th, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    SMP,

    That’s an interesting question.

    I was just going back and looking at one of AoR’s earlier memos (from October 13, 2011) to SGM members, and I was reminded again of my initial gut reactions to this whole AoR process, and my suspicions of how it might play out.

    Since then, of course, we have heard encouraging reports about AoR folks who appeared to listen to SGM’s victims with great empathy. I think a lot of people have been hoping against hope that AoR would indeed compile a report that accurately assesses SGM’s issues and makes the appropriate recommendations.

    But I think such hopes need to be tempered with the reality of who has the upper hand in this situation. Unfortunately, what I wrote way back in October is still true, no matter how well things may have seemed to go between AoR and those who shared stories with them:

    I totally get the feeling that the AoR guys aren’t neutral. Not even close.

    As Lydia and others have pointed out, SGM hired them and SGM is footing the bill, which is going to be considerable, at $150/hour. (Also, I think someone mentioned that AoR is based out of Montana. I’m thinking travel costs from Montana to Gaithersburg, and hotel costs and food reimbursements and whatnot are going to add a significant amount to the bill, too.)

    But in addition to the obvious consideration of who hired them and who is going to pay them, AoR’s lack of neutrality peeks through in the tone of the reports they’ve released so far.

    This is purely my opinion – a feeling I’ve gotten – but when I read AoR’s first report, the heavy use of Bible verses made the whole thing read like it was coming from an over-eager student who was trying real hard to prove to a superior teacher that he really really really does have “sound doctrine” and knows the Scriptures! Whoever wrote that thing for AoR did not come across at all like an authority figure or a person in charge of a neutral investigation. Rather, he (the writer) sounded more like he was trying super-hard to please his superiors…who would, of course, be SGM’s leaders.

    So I think it’s pretty obvious, on a lot of levels, that AoR isn’t some neutral party. They have a vested interest in keeping SGM happy. I don’t think there’s any entity forcing SGM or requiring SGM to continue to pay for AoR’s services if they don’t like how things are going. It’s not like the AoR people are some sort of court-ordered arbitrators. SGM hired them willingly…and can (of course) fire them at will, too.

    In terms of fame and importance in the broader Christian world, the AoR guys are much lower on the totem pole than CJ and SGM.

    Neutrality is next to impossible here.

  7. MagruderHighDays
    March 26th, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Back to back Sermons: CJ is on a roll. This one is all about “trials and suffering”

    Pretty Sickening

    http://www.solidrockchurch.net/blog/

  8. ExClcer'sMom
    March 26th, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    I went to see The Hunger Games this past weekend, with a couple of my daughters. The movie was so intriguing to me, I ended up reading the whole series over the weekend! I kept asking myself, as this is a futuristic setting and totally science fiction, “why does this keep ringing a familiar bell in my head”? Finally, it dawned on me! SGM is so like “The Capitol” in the story-a total ‘authority’ who makes ‘the districts’ (the churches in SGM world) feel under their control for ‘their own good’, and puts out all of this propaganda of what ‘they(SGM)do’ for the lower districts(the church plantings)..yet, all of their own sustenance comes from the districts(church plantings) themselves, thus ‘The Capitol’ (SGM) actually depends on the districts (the churches), but no one sees it that way, no one realizes their own independence to stand up for what they want-they simply accept what the Capitol puts out, even when it means sacrificing their children year after year..

  9. Greg
    March 26th, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    B.R.C #4

    You’ve nailed it. Appointing a board of loyal, second-tier leaders ensures that
    1) the board is no longer obligated to publish the AoR report in it’s original form, and
    2) the Board now has “plausible deniability”. No one the board (with the possbile exception of JL) can be held directly accountable for the findings of the report.

    C.J., the one person who is primarily responsible for the decisions and overll culture of SGM has turned tail at the crucial moment, which shows a fundamental lack of integrity.

    So, in light of recent events, who is responsible for establishing the doctine and practice of SGM, and where are they?

    C.J. – abandoned any official role and the accountability it would bring. Currently in the process of reinventing himself while retaining primary influence over the organzation. Cannot be held accountble
    Larry – forced out early enough to not be responsible for most, if any, of the detailed cases in the report despite being the co-founder. He has issued some appoligies and requests for reconciliation. Since C.J. abdicated, Larry’s call for discipline for C.J. is irrelevant, and Larry is probably is out of the picture from now on. Cannot be held accountable
    Brent – Claims victim status for being forced out, while still pathetically pro-SGM. Cannot be held accountable
    Dave – Stepped down, aside, or back (choose one). His status in SMG is unclear, and he has no official role. Cannot be held accountable
    Regional Leaders, Past Board Members, and Local Pastors – may be called out in individual cases of abuse, but cannot be held accountable for the overall direction of ministry, and will most likely not face any discilinary action. On the basis of obeying a leadership structure which no longer exists, they cannot be held accountable.
    Is any one else left?

  10. 5yearsinPDI
    March 26th, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    This has come up before, either here or at Refuge or on Brent’s blog, but AoR was hired for group reconciliation, which means mediating between two parties (SGM pastors or board members, and people who claim to have been wronged by them.) While AoR may discuss things in their report such as a lack of facilitating mediation in SGM polity, or doctrines and practices that lead to problems, they were not hired to assess SGMs doctrine and polity and practice directly. They were only hired to try to be the mediator between estranged parties. Any broader commentary on SGM will be the result of mediating disputes and broken relationships.

    Already, according to posts recently, they have gone to more than one SGM pastor to try and mediate and the pastor(s) refused to meet- more than one church situation. They cannot mediate with pastors who refuse to get together.

    I hope that Ted Kober is free to release even a guarded statement that AoR has been unable to mediate many situations due to unwillingness of certain pastors to meet. But with all the signed forms and agreements, they may not be able to say a word.

    I for one will think well of Ted Kober and AoR no matter what the outcome. There are too many people who have testified of AoR’s intelligent probing questions, and their compassion and understanding and integrity in how they respond to victims, for me to think ill of them. If the report stays secret, all the blame in my opinion will lie with SGM.

  11. SMP
    March 26th, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    QE2 # 280 from previous post said:

    I realize I have come to despise the adjectives “Godly” and “Biblical”. Because in SGM it usually means “do it the way we tell you is Godly or Biblical”. Yes, my pastor’s wife is Godly, but if I have to reflect Jesus by acting exactly like her, then shoot me now. I have no interest in mimicing her expression of Godliness-it’s so NOT me. I want to reflect Christ the way he made me to reflect Him, in the freedom he purchased for me.

    So my advice is to not worry about being “Godly” or “biblical”, or fulfilling your role. Focus on loving Jesus. Out of that will flow loving your husband and children in the unique way the God meant for you to love them. I can’t tell you what that will look like, because it should look completely different for you than it does for me, Mrs. Pastor, or any of the beautiful women of God here on this blog!

    I have read over this several times and just wanted to express my heartfelt love over the encouragement that you have brought me. I pray that you will feel God’s blessing QE2, on yourself, as you so graciously have offered it to others! BTW, I am a foodie, so I really get the spice analogy. Thanks again for advice that feels good in my soul to meditate on.

  12. Kris
    March 26th, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    5years said,

    I for one will think well of Ted Kober and AoR no matter what the outcome. There are too many people who have testified of AoR’s intelligent probing questions, and their compassion and understanding and integrity in how they respond to victims, for me to think ill of them. If the report stays secret, all the blame in my opinion will lie with SGM.

    We don’t yet know, of course, what SGM is going to do with the AoR report once it’s issued to them. But hypothetically speaking, I wonder at what point should “bystanders” – particularly knowledgeable bystanders – be held responsible/accountable for speaking out about what they’ve learned?

    I know there are all sorts of confidentiality and proprietary issues about any knowledge that AoR would have gained about SGM through this process. But don’t the individuals conducting these interviews have some sort of larger responsibility to the rest of the body of Christ, if they have verified SGM’s abuses and then those abuses don’t get addressed?

  13. Greg
    March 26th, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    Kris,

    Due to the requirements of any reconciliation process, none of the cases of abuse submitted to AoR can be “verified” unless the leaders charged cooperate and agree to at least the basic circumstances of the case. Thus, no matter how many charges there are they are only charges untill SGM leaders acknowledge their responsibility.

  14. Sopwith
    March 26th, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Like I said @Refuge,

    Plausible deniability is, at root, credible (plausible) ability to deny a fact or allegation, or to deny previous knowledge of a fact. The term most often refers to the denial of blame in (formal or informal) chains of command, where upper rungs quarantine the blame to the lower rungs, and the lower rungs are often inaccessible, meaning confirming responsibility for the action is nearly impossible. 

    Possibly, in the case that illegal or otherwise disreputable, unethical, or unpopular activities become public, high-ranking SGM board members may deny any awareness of such act or any connection to the agents used to carry out such acts? Doesn’t this typically implies forethought, such as intentionally setting up the conditions to ‘plausibly avoid responsibility’ for SGM’s (past) actions or knowledge?

    Also, in SGM, deniability probably refers to the ability of a “certain powerful player” or actor to avoid “blowback” by secretly arranging for an action to be taken on their behalf by a third party—ostensibly unconnected with the major player?

    In SGM, plausible deniability also appears to enable the new board members to stay “clean” –denouncing the unethical while denying complicity (accomplice liability) or accessorial responsibility?

    More generally, “plausible deniability” can also apply to any act that leaves little or no evidence of wrongdoing or abuse. 

    If the newly elected SGM board members lack incontrovertible proof (evidence) of past allegations put forth they can “plausibly deny” those allegation(s) even though it/they may be true.

    I would venture that to anticipate a re-incorporation of the SGM, non-religious-non-profit, in another state, in the near future, is not too much of a stretch, if it serves their ‘purposes’, thus fortifying their ‘liability’ position.

    Sopy ;~)

    Note: It is important to recognize & understand the victories that have been hard won so far, and build upon them. Rendering thanks to God goes a long way in building the resources for future anticipated victories, such as the enactment of a local SGM church policy of notifying the civil authorities immediately when child predatory practices are observed within SGM churches, continued local church SGM central funding withholding where deemed a necessity, SGM central relocation, necessary reform, etc.
    ___
    http://sgmrefuge.com/2012/03/17/an-update-from-the-sgm-board/#comment-53882

  15. 2+2=4 again
    March 26th, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Lost in cyber Space-3, what did you mean by your church being on the road to dismemberment? Is your church struggling to the point where it may dissolve, or is your church one of those represented by a dissenting pastor? If so, are you thinking that he will be “de-gifted” because of speaking his mind, or that he’ll want to break ties with SGM? I see no change in our church since January, other than it has become even more oppressive, almost overnight.

  16. SMP
    March 26th, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    I am wondering if AoR would send out a “limited” report specifically to those that came forward? If it’s all about reconciliation and that is what they were hired for, then shouldn’t a “report” of some kind be made available to those that PARTICIPATED? Even if SGM was the employer of AoR they were asking to be “brought together” and for imput on that process. How can the people that are directly invoved not get a report of their own?
    It can’t all be about them (SGM) messing up all over the place. It has to be about the people as well, doesn’t it?? Perhaps I do not understand this whole concept of the “report.” I thought it was to help SGM connect, heal and serve people. :scratch

  17. Mary
    March 26th, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    I get CLC continuing with the mission funding and I think that is honorable. This statement concerned me however; “have asked them to make us aware of other projects that we could specifically fund… that sounded like appeasing them.

    I don’t understand why these churches don’t pull out from SGM all together. CLC is certainly big enough to do mission work and fund good projects on their own. I do not see a biblical basis for SGMs existance. I would have more respect for church leaders in general if they didn’t play leadership games. Paul would have very strong words for CJ. There would be no holding back and he wouldn’t care what any other big dog thought. I am weary of churches putting men on pedestals and then being pansy about telling them they are off track. First, don’t put them up there, they are just mere men. Second, don’t be afraid to say what needs said and take them off that pedestal. These churches out to pull out of SGM period. If there was a biblical basis for it’s existance it would be worth fighting for. But, why give money and honor to something that doesn’t need to exist. Support your local church, local pastors, and use that money sloted for SGM to serve and show love to the communities the local churches are in. Ugh.

  18. Mary
    March 26th, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    God is very clear that money matters. It matters what we do with our money. I know some don’t believe in the tithe. But, I tithe. I do it with joy. Because I go to a church where the leadership honors God with their lives. They set the bar in servanthood. I could call my pastor right now and say I really need him and in 20 minutes he would be at my door. My leadership gives a huge percentage of our money and time to missions. We work hard in our community. My money is very well spent. I am a being a good steward. Why do these churches continue to give money to an organization that they know is biblically off track? How can they think they are being good stewards of God’s money? How can they be so all fired up about people living holy lives and they just keep writing those checks to the kingdom of CJ. I would not give my tithe to an organization that does not honor my pastor, makes his life difficult, controls my local church with an authority that is not biblical, does not have a biblical basis even for its existance, allows it’s men to stay in leadership that does not fit bibilical requirements, covers up sexual abuse, uses people’s personal confession as a means of control, and just plain ole does whatever it wants. If I was a member of a local church under SGM’s rule – I would tell my pastor that I don’t want my money being spent that way.

  19. Persona
    March 26th, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    Mary 17

    I agree that it would be good for CLC to entirely withdraw from SGM. All their lame fence-sitting makes me wonder if there is a secret reason why they don’t do it.

    I also wonder about the unspoken reason they gave such hefty separation packages to the x-pastors who quit? Perhaps CJ has the remaining CLC pastors over some sort of barrel? Maybe CLC pastors fear that SGM will not ‘graciously’ release them from membership and then, confiscate their assets? I wonder whether there is a clause in their agreement that we are unaware of?

    At any rate, none of them are being completely transparent with the people and they leave their actions open for interpretation and speculation. Of course, they all could repent of that easily enough.

  20. Lost in (cyber) Space
    March 26th, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    2+2,

    I meant that my church is a one that has expressed its concerns and disagreement with the rush to set a board in place before the AOR report is released as well as other concerns. I believe that our church will continue to express concerns, withold financial support and eventually cede/not sign the membership agreement or be marked as divisive and therefore dismembered. Unless true repentance and significant changes occur in SGM, I do not see our church staying.

  21. Mary
    March 26th, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    Hi Persona, I would like to see all the churches pull out of SGM. I wonder how many join thinking it will get them in with the big dogs only to realize later they have become controlled puppets. The whole thing just breaks my heart. And, if they stay for legal reasons how sad is that. Reminds me of bad alliances made in the OT. Stuck with alliances that don’t really honor God.

  22. Mary
    March 26th, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    ah…in this situation being dismembered sounds lovely :o)

  23. Mary
    March 26th, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    Lost in Space – I respect your church for their stand.

  24. Lost in (cyber) Space
    March 26th, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    Mary,

    Thanks! So do I!

  25. 5yearsinPDI
    March 26th, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    Kris- short answer is “I don’t know”.

    I know with CCEF, the confidentiality rules are so strict that they are not even allowed to say if a person is counseling there. True incident- somebody I know wanted to contact a counselor about a counselee who was threatening suicide or murder or some such thing. CCEF would not even verify that the person was a counselee because of the privacy policy. (you could send a direct letter if you knew a name, but they don’t divulge who talks to whom). If the counselee talks in the office about anything life threatening or there is a crime such as sex abuse, they are required by law to contact the authorities and (I think) tell the parents if a minor, but that is it. Not sure of all the rules, but there are a lot of strict rules.

    I would guess- strictly a guess- that AoR will write to every interviewee if things go badly and say that they were unable to facilitate a reconciliation. They might not even be able to say “because your former pastor won’t talk to us”.

    Here’s the thing. You say “But don’t the individuals conducting these interviews have some sort of larger responsibility to the rest of the body of Christ, if they have verified SGM’s abuses and then those abuses don’t get addressed?”

    Well, I figure AoR runs on the same grease that oils Peacemakers and CCEF. And I KNOW for a fact that CCEF is fully aware of SGM problems, at the very least with legalism, and has been for years and dealt with many victims. But have they spoken out for the sake of the body of Christ? No. Did you read over at Refuge a while back about how Ken Sande told CCEF that CJ would not listen when Ken told CJ the problems were systemic? Has Sande made a public statement? No.

    I am hoping that they all have bent over backwards to allow the AoR process to run its course in hopes that SGM will repent and change. If the worst happens- no report online, no repentance and confession, no reconciliation with any pastors still in SGM- well then, I do hope Sande, Kober, and Tim Lane ( director of CCEF) will issue a joint statement for the sake of the body of Christ. I don’t know how they could sleep at night otherwise. It would be worth losing your job over if you ask me. Paul the apostle had to speak up at times, even to Peter in front of everybody. So I agree with you….but will it happen? I guess we can only wait and see.

  26. KMD
    March 26th, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    The following passage from Thomas Merton’s “The Seeds of Contemplation” was quoted today on New Life Live:

    “The most dangerous man in the world is the contemplative who is guided by nobody. He trusts his own visions. He obeys the attractions of an interior voice, but will not listen to other men. He identifies the will of God with anything that makes him feel, within his own heart, a big, warm, sweet interior glow. The sweeter and the warmer the feeling, the more he is convinced of his own infallibility. And if the sheer force of his own self-confidence communicates itself to other people and gives them the impression that he really is a saint, such a man can wreck a whole city or a religious order or even a nation. The world is covered with scars that have been left in its flesh by visionaries like these.”

    How sad, yet how familiar.

  27. Oswald
    March 26th, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    Kris and 5years — I think the privacy laws keep a lot of things that we might think are common Christian (or human) practices from being a reality. The story from CCEF above is a perfect example. Organizations could be put out of business, even in life-or-death situations. Our governing laws often seem counter-productive.
    We can surely only rely on God’s sovereignty to intervene. We must pray! God wants us to ask Him and try Him.

  28. Oswald
    March 26th, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    KMD #26 — :goodpost

  29. Stunned
    March 26th, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    SMP,

    I really loved your post #11. Thank you for sharing your heart with us all.

  30. Res Ipsa
    March 26th, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    SMP (or anyone else who might know), did those who agreed to or asked for a meeting with AOR sign a release of any sort? It might have been something signed days or weeks before the meeting or, more likely, something you signed when you got to the meeting.

  31. intheNICKoftime
    March 26th, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    5Years in #10 -

    This has come up before…but AoR was hired for group reconciliation…they were not hired to assess SGMs doctrine and polity and practice directly.

    Thanks, 5Years, for pointing this out, again. It was DAVE HARVEY who said AoR was assessing their polity and looking for the things they do well and the things they can improve. He spun that announcement so that people would think someone is looking at the whole SGM issue. He thought it would calm the building storm. Kind of “dont worry, they will check us out and you will see that everything is ok…mostly”. That AoR is looking at SGM is a bold faced lie.

    They are, as 5Years stated, doing reconciliation work between hundreds of people and a faceless SGM. Near impossible even if SGM was willing, which they are not. The process is paid for by SGM and by law AoR will give them the report. The people that bared their soul were “testifying” and are not owed any report or response from AoR.

    I too have heard lots of great things about AoR but in the end when you have one side that does not want to reconcile there is no reconciliation. Pretty simple math. Sad but true.

    And in #25 – You are again prescient. It is a money issue, free and clear. Money first, then legal (which points back to money or the potential loss of money), then reputation, then customer(SGM) and then, if none of the previous issues object, then the people. So dont expect to hear anything from AoR. If they dont facilitate anything and dont hand out a report, just us blog folk will be hurt/disappointed/ignored. If AoR were to renig on a contract or do something like that, they would likely have to close up show as their reputation would be shot.

    My guess is they thought they could help. Sande probably told them what a mess they were facing. They still thought they could help. Worst case is that no one is any worse off than they were before and a number of people have already been helped by being able to tell someone their story for the first time.

    Don’t hold your breath, friends.

  32. intheNICKoftime
    March 26th, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    Sopwith in #14 –

    Despots NEVER give up. Tyrants never give in. Dictators never step down. Controlers never lose control. Liars never stop lying. Opressors never lighten up. Slavers never grant freedom.

    Deniability Schimiablity! SGM does what it wants because it can. No one can stop them.

    They don’t need no stinkin’ deniability. They are the great and all powerful Oz. And I am taking bets…no one will have to leave SGM…SGM is going to throw people out. CJ said it in his speech. And now SGM has the vehicle to do it with in their new Membership agreement. None of the 20 churches who signed on to the “Fairfax Letter” would sign away their sovereignty to SGM so they will be OUT! SGM will not have thrown them out, so it wont be news and the Big Dogs wont have to ask questions or be worried about being on stage with CJ.

    The churches who stay will be happy with the arrangement, and that wont be news either. What will be news is we will hear how well SGM is doing in its new headquarters and how wonderful the new CJ Mahaney Taj Mahal is doing, blah blah blah.

    I’ll say it again. Tigers don’t switch to eating grass, SGM won’t worry about plausible deniability. They dont have to…they are in charge!

  33. elsie
    March 26th, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    This might be a silly question, but if SGM paid AoR for whatever they paid them for, and if SGM makes all of its money by the “contributions” of member churches, and if member churches make all of their money by the tithes and offerings of the partipating members and attendees of each local congregation, then doesn’t that mean that the money paid to AoR was paid by all the members and attendees of the local congregations? And, in that case, are not all of those members and attendees the rightful recipients of that report?

  34. Bridget
    March 26th, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    Res Ipsa -

    From what I remember the issue of signing a release came up and people were outraged. I believe the requirement was waived. Most of the wounded were aware of SGMs ways and would not do anything that gave SGM the upper hand to further silence people.

  35. Persona
    March 26th, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    Has anyone heard CJ mention anything recently about planting his new church? I wondered if he had changed his mind as he took his place again at the tippy-top of the SGM pyramid structure. SGM transplants from MD and PA will need a church once they get to KY. Though some employees will be left behind, a few are busy sprucing up their homes for resale. And, there are enough of them to form a small colony.

  36. Kris
    March 26th, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    My memory is a little hazy, but when I was reading the AoR memo cited in an old post (from October 2011), I was reminded of how AoR initially had a couple of requirements for the reconciliation process that they eventually waived, after the requirements provoked some negative responses. One was that those who wanted to be part of the process first had to sit through a teaching about “biblical” reconciliation. The second (if memory serves) had to do with confidentiality.

    Ted Kober’s October 2011 memo said this, about confidentiality:

    Speculation on our motives, inaccurate information, and misinterpretation of our standard procedures have been shared broadly regarding what AoR is requiring regarding confidentiality. For example, an inaccurate claim has been made that if people talked to someone from AoR they cannot talk to anyone else about these issues again. This false impression appears to have increased anxiety for some regarding this process.

    What was interesting, though, is that AoR’s standard policy for confidentiality could be viewed by clicking on a link provided on their website, which led to a page where this policy was spelled out. Here is an excerpt from that confidentiality policy:

    16. Confidentiality

    A. Because of its biblical nature, Christian conciliation encourages parties to openly and candidly admit their offenses in a particular dispute. Thus, conciliation requires an environment where parties may speak freely, without fear that their words may be used against them in a subsequent legal proceeding. Moreover, because conciliation is expressly designed to keep parties out of court, conciliators serving on behalf of the Administrator would not do so if they believed that any party might later try to force them to testify in any legal proceeding regarding a conciliation case. Therefore, all communications that take place during the conciliation process shall be treated as settlement negotiations and shall be strictly confidential and inadmissible for any purpose in a court of law, except as provided in this Rule.

    B. This Rule extends to all oral and written communications made by the parties or by the Administrator, and includes all records, reports, letters, notes, and other documents received or produced by the Administrator as part of the conciliation process, except for those documents that existed prior to the conciliation process and were otherwise open to discovery apart from the conciliation process. The parties may not compel the Administrator to divulge any documents or to testify in regard to the conciliation process in any judicial or adversarial proceeding, whether by personal testimony, deposition, written interrogatory, or sworn affidavit.

    C. Mediated settlement agreements reached by the parties and arbitration decisions shall be confidential, except as provided in Rule 17, unless the parties agree otherwise in writing, or unless an agreement or decision must be filed with a civil court for purposes of enforcement. If an arbitration decision is contested or appealed pursuant to statute, the Administrator, upon written request from a party, shall furnish to such party, at the party’s expense, copies of the conciliation agreement and the arbitration decision.

    D. The Administrator may divulge appropriate and necessary information under the following circumstances, and the parties agree to waive confidentiality and hold the Administrator harmless for doing so: (1) when, as part of its normal office operations, the Administrator consults with its staff members or outside experts regarding particular issues or problems related to a case; (2) when compelled by statute or by a court of law; (3) when an arbitration agreement or decision has been contested or appealed; (4) when an action has been brought against the Administrator as a result of its participation in a conciliation case; (5) when the Administrator deems it appropriate to discuss a case with the church leaders of parties who profess to be Christians; and (6) when the Administrator deems it necessary to contact appropriate civil authorities to prevent another person from being harmed.

    E. In spite of these confidentiality protections, some of the information discussed during conciliation may not be confidential as a matter of law or may be discoverable outside the conciliation process and used in other legal proceedings, and the Administrator shall have no liability therefore.

    Eventually, like I said, the requirement for training was waived, as were at least certain elements of the confidentiality requirement. I do not know if confidentiality was addressed in any other capacity. Perhaps someone who actually participated in the AoR/SGM process would know?

  37. intheNICKoftime
    March 26th, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    Persona in #19 -

    Sometimes I see this like the war between the states.

    SGM is the union and CLC is the confederacy.

    Lee knew he could not beat the North. He just wanted to do enough damage and string things out long enough to make the North give up out of frustration and leave the south alone.

    I think the guys at CLC know that they cant do much to SGM. The way the founding docs and by-laws are written they cant force anything on SGM. All they can do it harass them and string things along and hope that SGM would capitulate eventually out of exasperation. But that just doesn’t seem to be happening.

    There is also nothing to be gained by forcing SGM into doing anything. If they force SGM to do things it doesnt want to do, CLC will be just like SGM. They will have stooped to being meddling and controlling just like CJ and Harvey.

    All they can really do, they have done. They $topped the flow of money, they admitted what SGM pushed for years was wrong, they taught (and are still teaching) 180 degrees from what SGM taught, they led other churches to do the same. They have taken the high road. Anything else would look vindictive, angry and petty. There is nothing to be gained by trashing SGM/CJ/Harvey. (Yes, we all would like to see CJ and Harvey tarred and feathered but again, that would make us look bad.)

    The best outcome would be for AoR to trash SGM and more churches decide to leave. Then SGM funds would dwindle and things would go down even quicker until eventually the name of SGM would be associated with Vineyard and Shepherding and Tammy Faye.

  38. Res Ipsa
    March 26th, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    Bridget & Kris, thanks. I had forgotten about that whole mess over training and confidentiality.

    From what I can tell, AoR considers their role to be exactly like a mediator in a civil lawsuit. For example, their process and guidelines mirror NC’s exactly – everything said is confidential and can’t be used in court, and you can’t force the mediator to testify later except in extreme circumstances. There’s actually a ton of wisdom in doing it that way.

    Like Kris, though, I’m curious to hear from someone who met with AoR. Was there any discussion about the confidential nature of your meeting or your access to the report?

  39. Oswald
    March 26th, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    intheNick #37 — I agree with you. The high road must be taken by all who know the truth. Getting even is not a thing to even hope for.
    I was reading just today about King Ahab trying to fool the enemy in war by dressing in plain clothes and not in his kingly robes, but alas, a ‘random arrow’ found it’s target between the scales of the armor and the breast plate and killed Ahab anyway. God sent that ‘random arrow’ then and he is still able to have his way today. Trickery and spin can’t win against Him. “Vengeance is mine” says the Lord. What a mighty God we serve.

  40. Kris
    March 27th, 2012 at 8:32 am

    Yesterday as I was going through the old posts where the AoR process was discussed, I realized something, which 5years (in #10) and Nick (in #31) also mentioned. And that is that the Ambassadors of Reconciliation were hired by SGM to do reconciliation between SGM and those who believed themselves to have been victimized by SGM.

    The process was not promised to be any more than that.

    I believe it has been portrayed to be a lot more than that. A lot of people encouraged SGM’s victims to step forward and share their stories with AoR – even if those victims had moved far beyond any desire for “reconciliation” (which is, of course, the re-establishment of some form of positive relationship between two parties).

    The idea seemed to be that in conducting these interviews, AoR would be engaging in some sort of fact-finding mission on behalf of SGM. At the end of the fact-finding mission, they would issue a report which would summarize their findings and provide SGM with recommendations on what the organization needs to fix and change. Maybe the report would even include a section on what SGM has done wrong in the past.

    I’m thinking that this is the sort of report people are waiting for when they talk about its “release” and when they wonder whether or not the report will have any sort of impact on how SGM is perceived by the rest of the Christian world.

    Yet the bottom line is that from the beginning, the only thing AoR was there to do was function as a liason for anyone who wanted to “reconcile” with SGM.

    I would assume that any confidentiality guidelines that usually apply to AoR’s reconciliation efforts would apply to anything that had been shared in any of these interviews…which, I would assume, will of course affect what will and will not be discussed in any report that AoR might issue…and which would have direct bearing on what SGM will say they believe they can do with any such report.

    All along, the AoR report has been held out as some sort of assessment of SGM. But in the very hiring of an organization like the “Ambassadors of Reconciliation” (rather than some hypothetical entity like “Ambassadors of Church Evaluation“) SGM has limited the scope of anything that might be produced.

  41. 5yearsinPDI
    March 27th, 2012 at 9:23 am

    A lot of people encouraged SGM’s victims to step forward and share their stories with AoR – even if those victims had moved far beyond any desire for “reconciliation” (which is, of course, the re-establishment of some form of positive relationship between two parties).

    Kris….just to clarify on the technical jargon in the Reformed peacekeeping/counseling world ( I heard this from one of them)…..

    A reconciliation is not the same as restoration or reestablishment of relationship in their terminology. You can have a reconciliation with an ex spouse or church or pastor or friend or boss, but not go back to the relationship at all. You may have remarried or resettled in a new church, new job, etc. It is more like clearing up offenses and getting apologies all around and that sort of thing. Having something against somebody and feeling wronged, and it is finally made right when the other party admits what they did. There might need to be restitution. It could lead to positive relationship again, but not necessarily.

    So, AoR would have considered it their task to achieve this even with people who have moved on and have no desire to go back to SGM. That is why I think we are hearing of SGM pastors who refuse to meet or talk. Why should they bother? Why make it right when it does not add people and tithes to the church? There is no guarantee of restoration of relationship with another warm tithing body to control, so why reconcile?

  42. Fried Fish
    March 27th, 2012 at 9:28 am

    @Kris #40 -

    I guess one thing that really concerns me with respect to AoR’s presumably being hired to provide reconciliation services, is the reported refusal of SGM pastors to engage in such reconciliation efforts when reached out to?

  43. Kris
    March 27th, 2012 at 9:41 am

    I don’t have a handle on the reports we’ve heard about pastors who have refused attempts to meet and talk.

    For that matter, I don’t have a handle on much of anything having to do with what is really going to become of this process.

    A key to understanding anything related to SGM is the definition of terms. Although I could be wrong, I’m getting the feeling that there are at least a few definitions (assumed definitions) of the AoR process floating around out there.

    AoR probably has its definition of the process.

    The people who have responded to the AoR opportunity and shared their stories have their assumptions about what the process is supposed to entail.

    We observers have our ideas (assumptions) about the definition of a “report” and what that report would contain.

    And SGM has its definition of what AoR was hired to accomplish.

    I’m guessing none of those assumed definitions would be identical.

  44. Stunned
    March 27th, 2012 at 10:26 am

    How about any good news coming from people who have met with AoR? Can anyone, please, share where their meeting with AoR led to reconcilliation with their SGM pastor?

    That could be really nice to hear.

  45. Stunned
    March 27th, 2012 at 10:36 am

    Just thinking about the people who KNOW what is going on in SGM but are not speaking out to warn others… a quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln-

    “To sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards out of men”.

  46. sgmnot
    March 27th, 2012 at 11:09 am

    Stunned #45 Love that quote! :D

  47. intheNickoftime
    March 27th, 2012 at 11:26 am

    In looking back at what Dave Harvey said on the blog…

    9/19/11 – Harvey referred to the AoR stuff as, “the group reconciliation process that Ambassadors of Reconciliation (AOR) is leading us through.”

    10/7/11 – Harvey quoted the AoR stuff as, “AOR is going to provide us with an assessment of where there are unhelpful patterns, unresolved conflicts, and other issues to address in our family of churches. (We’ll share their written report on this blog.)”

    10/13/11 – Harvey reshapes the AoR stuff as, “AOR will make their assessment of and recommendations for SGM (which we will publish online)”

    It went from a reconciliation process to a complete program and company evaluation in the space of three announcements in less than thirty days. But in two of those three announcements he assured us they would be online, whatever “they” are going to be.

    My guess is they will talk about the lack of appropriate dialog, lack of appropriate feedback, lack of grace, general poor attitude toward those who disagree, and general stuff like that. There will be no smack on the hand for “degifting” pastors, there will be no admonishment for pushing youngsters at senior pastors and skipping over mature leaders, there will be no condemnation for not drafting holistic documentation to run a large organization.

    IF the report gets published, some people will be happy that it addresses that some people were not treated well, thereby confirming the feelings of those who were abused. But those looking for a public spanking of SGM and it’s leaders will likely be disappointed.

    And with the iron grip of the Board on what happens in and to SGM as a whole, don’t expect much of anything to happen. The new board with CJ at the front running interference will do a few mea culpas, and point out the few good things certain to be mentioned in a balanced report. They will promise to give it all manner of deference, consideration and attention and then quietly let is slip into everyone’s memory. It wont matter much amid all the excitement and fanfare of the move to Ky anyway.

  48. Remnant
    March 27th, 2012 at 11:49 am

    All that money sitting in the SGM vaults – - – people give money to SGM so that SGM can use it wisely, use it for “ministry” or “missions.”

    Yet MILLIONS are sitting there – while people are hungry, ill and homeless…

  49. Persona
    March 27th, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    It seems like the AoR report will be handled much like the ‘reorg’ of SGM and the reinstatement of CJ, as titular head. It will be edited and twisted to fit their needs if we are to hear of it at all. It is for this reason that we did not participate in the charade.

    Kris is right to examine SGM definitions and re-definitions. Semantics is the quicksand foundation that the organization is built on. And, CJ continues to build on shifting sand.

    As I listened to his recycled message given at Solid Rock this week, I gasped audibly, as he garnered the congregation’s pity for the suffering he claims to experience at this time.

    How can he blame anyone but himself for his suffering? He should have preached a sermon about repentance. Instead, he proclaimed that suffering is God’s way of helping him grow in godliness. Are we really to believe CJ is now more godly for his lack of repentance?

  50. Let My People Go
    March 27th, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Oswald #39 – Amen! Thanks for reminding me today about the mighty God we serve. We can’t forget about all the times in the New Testament where we read the words “But God….” when He rescued, provided for, delivered and defended His people when all the circumstances were stacked against them.

    I searched google and found this site with many of those “But God” verses and it really encouraged me to keep believing God to take care of ALL of the needs of His children.

    Here’s the link if anyone is interested:
    http://www.mwtb.org/site/moments-for-you/back-issues/third-quarter-2000/but-god-verses.html

  51. Let My People Go
    March 27th, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Oops. Sorry. That should have been “We can’t forget about all the times in the Old AND New Testament…”

  52. BrokenHearted
    March 27th, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    When I did my phone interview with AOR I was told at least 4 times “NOTHING YOU SAY WILL BE PASSED ON! NO ONE WILL KNOW YOU TALKED TO US!” and everytime I told him “If there is ANYTHNG I say that could help SGM to see ways they have been wrong and can do better PLEASE pass it on!” He also said that they have never had such a large number of people be so adamantly against their requirements – and for good reasons too! He sounded like based on all of the SGM stories he had heard SGM was gonna get an earful. :) I mean AOR can’t actually DO anything, but the impression I got was AOR was not going to be “kid gloving” it when it came to sharing insights with the SGM leadership.

  53. Lee
    March 27th, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Just a thought…could some of the investments/assets that SGM owns be retirement monies?

  54. Defended
    March 27th, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    I have a question that I’ve wondered about for a long time.
    This is part of a quote from CLC regarding SGM:


    According to SGM’s audited financial statements for its fiscal year ended August 31, 2011, the organization had net assets of $5.9 million and only $300,000 in current liabilities. We reviewed more recent financial information and concluded that SGM has sufficient financial resources to continue to pay its current employees. No one should be under the impression that our pastors have cost anyone their job. That simply isn’t the case.

    So here’s my question: How is it that a “Non Profit” is allowed to have all these $Millions in assets, and still be considered a non-profit? I’ve actually wondered this about other organizations as well. It’s good to be free of, or have a low debt ratio. But being this far in the black, with assets and not considered a for-profit organization? Does anyone know what the law is or is anyone able to simply explain this, somehow?
    :barf:

  55. BrokenHearted
    March 27th, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Defended – I could be wrong, but I would assume Non-profits like Concerned Women For America or Billy Graham’s ministry or TBN or… probably have a load of money…

  56. Fruit Filled
    March 27th, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Kris and all -

    Please forgive me for changing the subject. I was reminded of something on my facebook news feed and hoped some of your readers and frequent posters might provide clarity. If you would rather post this later, please feel free to do so.

    SGM’s new music project “From Age to Age” is soon to be released. Pre-order sales on bandcamp.com are only $5. My first question, since SGM’s assets recently have been posted: How much income does SGM derive from music releases? Do they have a monetary goal for releases or are they simply viewed as a resource ministry with a break-even goal?

    When I saw the release today, something jumped out at me. I’ve noticed it for a number of years, but had tried not to assign motive. However, when I see the credits for the project, there in the first paragraph are the Producer, Assistant Producer and Executive Producer, (BK is the Executive Producer, the others are long-time beloved SGM members). Then the list continues with who recorded, mixed and engineered the project (again, beloved SGM members). What the release promo seems to be missing is who are the lead vocalists and musicians for the project. The musicians both vocal and instrumental are listed in the jacket copy, but are rarely mentioned in printed or electronic promotional material. Most releases outside SGM announce the singer/songwriter for the project. Even compilation disks are marketed by announcing who the recording artists are. SGM seems to make certain folks know who produced the project and the musicians seem to be negated.

    Does anyone know if the vocalists are paid for singing on a project? The disks would not sell without their talent. Are the musicians paid? My concern is that if they are not paid, SGM is using them (for free) to fill their coffers from sales and royalties. The songwriters may not make much on royalties, but these folks profit by the widest distribution of their music and its success is directly linked to the vocal and musical talents of others. Are the musicians simply being used?

  57. Persona
    March 27th, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Fruit Filled 56

    You are right to closely examine the credits. I did the same. From what I know, the contributing song-writers and artists are unpaid; at least not the ones I know. Bob usually takes other peoples’ work; tweaks it and put his name on it. Sometimes he shares credit with others but, he rarely composes words himself. He hand-picks all those involved. Sometimes musicians volunteer countless hours of work, only to be cut from an album, in the end. The Cooks just recently returned to MD, after founding their own company, with forays in FL and MN. Bob delegates work to them and others. Don’t know who is taking over the school of music at CLC. Perhaps Ken Boer? The Kauflins appear to be attending Solid Rock, before they relocate to KY.

  58. Unassimilated
    March 27th, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    When SGM ‘talent’ is used, it is typically for free, or for a small amount, $75-125. Yet that $ is only for lead vocals. Backing vocals, choirs, etc, free
    use of members.

    When Sal Oliveri is the producer, he gets $20k or so, but uses a portion of those funds to pay the Nashville musicians who typically record the master tracks. Depends on the project.

    Some have been done completely in house, or are a mix of hired help, and SGM vocal talent.

    The songwriters get paid for each copy of the song sold.

    The music ministry is more about influence and image, rather than $$. According to Tommy Hill,
    that function has yet to turn a noticible financial return on the investment.

    CJ and Bob have both noted that it is an indespecible way to reach an audience with the SGM perspective and teaching. All SGM songs
    go through a review prices to ensure theological
    accuracy prior to recording.

    As far as credits go, they have bios on the SGM site for most of the vocalist. The digital age of distribution does not provide much for any individual in regards to credits, particularly when
    a release is a collective of various personel.

    These things come and go. The Beach Boys did not play their own instruments in the studio, can you name the guys who did? Same cats who did the Monkeeys, Nancy Sinatra, & Sonny &Cher’s records. Do a google search on the “wrecking crew.”

  59. Defended
    March 27th, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    BrokenHearted- – agreed, on CWA, Billy Graham…or others… but my larger question is HOW does this work, with the status of non-profit? Can a “ministry” buy assets and thereby reduce their cash balance and thus be a non-profit?

  60. SMP
    March 27th, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Fruit -filled #56. I know for a fact that singers are NEVER paid except transporatation to Nashville to record sometimes. There is a huge emphasis on serving…

    Res Ipsa #30-sorry for the delay in answering. Been out a bit. Looks like everyone answered your question though. I do think there are many others that either met or contacted AoR but may not want to post even that much. I know for me, I do not want to lose anymore family members so my “story” had to be carefully handled and still is. Some day, it won’t matter to me but for now my answers and especially my silence is due to trying to protect what little I have left. That said, I am sure there are others that can share better then I. I would not sign anything.

    We all must be patient and wait to see what happens and pray…pray…pray.
    Hope you are doing well.

  61. Roadwork
    March 27th, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    It’s not that a not-for-profit organization can’t earn a “profit”. In the not-for-profit world it’s called “operating reserves”. And quite frankly, reserves can be a good thing. Take a large not-for-profit such as a trade organization that derives most of its annual income from a trade show or a religious organization that puts on a conference. And for whatever reason (like a 9-11, for example), the event is cancelled. These reserves can be used to help the organization survive losing their biggest income event for the year. Or maybe they lose a large donor. It’s to protect against unforseen financial hits. Think of it as being self-insured.

  62. Sopwith
    March 27th, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Da lit’l prayer dat could…”

    #32, intheNICKoftime,   (Your name in numbers, is the zip code 23424 for ‘Rescue’, Virginia…Hummm…)

    HowDee! 

    A ‘rescue’ is certainly required, at this point, huh? Last time I checked, Our Lord Jesus is good at dat?!?

    If you recall your history, Herod did a deal with Octavian, the same deal of service he made with Mark Anthony, thrusting his crown to Octavian’s feet, upon Anthony’s eventful demise.  It was to no avail.  The worms got him anyway during a partial eclipse on March 13, 4 BCE. Da Ceege can run, but he can not hide. The party ain’t over until da fat lady sings, huh?  

    Hmmm…

    Ize gotz advance tickets, box seats, wanna join me?

    Fella, when Jesus said: “Look what they are doing to my Church”, in ’08′, I don’t think He was intend’in ta sit on His (literal) hands.

    If “they don’t need no stinkin’ deniability”, then heck, it won’t be a problem discharging their legal retainer, peddle to d metal…stretch dat there five mil, huh, down dar in Kan tuck eee?!?

    “No one can stop them…”

    Blood O’ Jesus…Welllllllllll….Stay tuned…

    Sammmmme  Prayer time, Sammmmme Prayer channel…

    (You’de be surprised what a lit’t pray O’ ‘faith’ canz do…)

    …the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails mucho!

    Ascend to the north, to the throne of God’s grace in fervent prayer, sometime, and make an inquiry of Pastor Joshua Harris, …the answer will most certainly surprise you… 

    …dis lit’t lite O’ minez, Ize gonna letz it shine…

    Oh dis lit’t lite O’ mine…

    oh thank heaven…

    (grin)

    hahahahahahahaha

    Sopy ;~)
    ___
    Third Day – “Call My Name”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEXXUdU–Zg&feature=youtube_gdata_player

  63. Kris
    March 27th, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    Someone emailed me the following about their AoR experience, and gave me permission to share it here:

    When I met with AoR via form, I skipped the SGM form and contacted them directly. There was never any mention of exchange of confidentiality agreements. But, I am guessing there is something like that between AoR and SGM.

    I would like to see the board reaffirm their commitment to publish the original, unedited report. Maybe people need to start asking their pastors to ask SGM for that.

  64. Patrick
    March 27th, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    The Kauflins also left CLC for Solid Rock? (I don’t know why that surprised me, but it did.) So it’s not so much that many indications point to CLC leaving SGM in the future, it’s that SGM has already disassociated itself from CLC. When the going gets tough, the entitled run to safer ground.

    :scratch

  65. Kris
    March 27th, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    Roadwork makes a good point – it’s actually wise for a “not-for-profit” entity to have cash reserves.

    One aspect that raises some questions, though, is that I believe there have been at least a couple of situations where financially struggling SGM local churches were told to tough it out and make it on their own or else close – that SGM Corporate wasn’t going to offer them additional financial support. If that’s true, and if SGM believed enough in the original church plants to do them, and if SGM Corporate does indeed have some fairly significant cash reserves (enough to cover a couple of these smaller churches’ budgets for years), you sort of wonder why they went the whole “tough love” route. You know? Why not just take on some of these more challenging locations, where the usual SGM middle-class whitebread model wasn’t working so well, and know that they’d need to be supported for awhile by the denomination, since the denomination has the resources for that?

    I bet a lot of people were surprised to learn that SGM Corporate has that kind of cash lying around, from the way other situations have been portrayed over the years…

  66. glad i am out
    March 27th, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    Fruit-filled, persona, unassimilated:

    I was an instrumentalist on one PDI CD release and i was paid. Not a lot, but more than 125 if i remember… I thought it was nice, because i wasn’t expecting to be and was glad to play for free… I was there for 2 entire days at the studio so it was basically a stipend, but again, thought i was playing for free and Steve Cook surprised me w/ a check. I also was credited on the liner notes and all players, singers, and writers are definitely credited as far as i know…

  67. SMP
    March 27th, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    Glad Im Out & Unassimilited
    I stand corrected. I was told that no one received compensation for singing but perhaps lead singers receive $ which is good news. Bummed that I was told that but I should know better. Guess it is best to never say “never.” Glad to hear you were compensated!

  68. Unassimilated
    March 27th, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    @ SMP – They used to have Sal come up and record the vocals in the SGM studio. Nice to hear that some got to travel to Nashville.

    @ Glad I’m out – Were your two days re-recording tracks for a “live” recording?
    Studio in the Dustin construction building full of foam & CD’s rather than the new digs @ CLC?
    They were always good about crediting, as I said though, the age of digital distribution make it difficult.
    Kris has my e-mail if you like.

  69. Bookhead
    March 27th, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    Persona- #49 -CJ & company seem to have a rather immature view of suffering. It reminds me of when I hear one or more of my children moaning about their problems. (sufferings) They don’t see that their sometimes their problems are a direct consequence of their poor choices/behavior. Even when I attempt to explain the correlation, the child will sometimes look at me confused, unable to comprehend how their behavior/actions brought about their problems.

    There is a HUGE difference between suffering from consequences of your actions- and suffering from persecution or from following a righteous life. I pray that some day CJ & company will understand the difference.

  70. Greg
    March 27th, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    ExCLCerMom #8
    I was just thinking that The Island of Dr. Moreau is also a good analogy of SGM (ironically set in the year 2010).

  71. Bridget
    March 27th, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    Bookhead -

    Don’t you think that CJ believes that he is living a righteous life and that he does everything with good intentions for the sake of the Gospel? He believes that he has made a few mistakes that are common (lessor) sins, as he stated at the PC. Therefore, he feels that he IS suffering a righteous suffering and not suffering for anything that he brought on himself. He has acknowledged very little of the wrongs committed against others and nothing specific to SGM at large. His actions speek VOLUMES about what he believes.

  72. musicman
    March 28th, 2012 at 1:39 am

    Speaking of studio time for a “live” worship recording….does anyone remember the Celebration that they recorded a “live” worship CD?

    I remember being disappointed, because Bob Kauflin had us all do crowd reactions under his direction, so that they could mix it into the live recording…I remember thinking it was kind of phony to make us act like we were worshiping…He spent like over 10 minutes doing this, if I remember correctly.

  73. Defended
    March 28th, 2012 at 2:38 am

    hey Musicman…. it was 1995. “Passion for His Presence”
    sigh. If only that was their passion today. (or then?)

  74. Fruit Filled
    March 28th, 2012 at 6:12 am

    Unassimilated, Persona, SMP, glad i am out,

    Thanks for your responses. I’m glad that at least the lead vocalists are/may receive some payment. I think about one person in particular who has been on the last several projects and how much time this person volunteers to serve. There is obvious sacrifice in serving.

    Thanks for the info that SGM music is not a big money maker. It would add more questions to the discussion about SGM being a non-profit.

    As for crediting the vocalists & musicians, I have known they are credited in the printed material. It’s just that each time I see info about a release, the information is always about SGM and BK. I’m guessing SGM is touting a brand – like McDonalds – the musicians and vocalists are just items on the menu.

  75. PhillyInDC
    March 28th, 2012 at 6:39 am

    About non-profit versus for-profit:

    The main difference is that in a non-profit, there are no individual people who profit or take a loss from the success or failure of a company. Meaning: no shareholders or stock. People can be paid, bonuses can be given, but there are not people who are profiting purely from the success. Obviously, there are a ton of other requirements (mission, having governing boards, publishing by-laws, etc…) but it really comes down to that. Also there is no “ownership” of the company by individuals. So, yes, SGM can have millions in the bank and still be considered a non-profit. As long as at the end of the year people are getting profit sharing checks.

  76. Jayson
    March 28th, 2012 at 6:58 am

    Wow, CJ and gang invade SRC, CLC must be feeling a bit of fresh air now. I wonder how the people at SRC feel about being put in the spotlight now. BW started SRC, SRC joins PDI(SGM), Brent removes BW (right after a 2+year building project) and installs Mickey, CJ with Mickey playing Darth Vader- trashes the reputation of Brent and removes Brent. Brent shines the light of the documents. Mickey gets nominated for Scripture Twisting of the Year Award a.k.a “gag order”. CJ gets out as the kitchen as it is too hot. CJ cools down in DC and then runs to Solid Rock. People at SRC would do well to learn from their not too distant past.

    Had Brent keept BW at SRC, we may have never seen the “documents” and Brent may as well still be in good with SGM.

    As for the AofR report, it would not surprise me if SGM decided not to release it completely. Perhaps the will say it did not contain any new revelations from what was already known.

  77. CLCya
    March 28th, 2012 at 7:04 am

    Remnant #48

    I was thinking the same exact thing! Use that money to actually help people…

  78. Fried Fish
    March 28th, 2012 at 8:27 am

    I currently work for a nonprofit organization (non-religious in nature), and previously worked for a faith-based nonprofit for just over 10 years. For an organization like SGM to have 6 million (or whatever was quoted) in assets is actually pretty trivial, and I can’t see anything to criticize in the fact itself. 6 million in assets most likely includes their portion of the CLC complex, any other buildings or vehicles they might own, any furniture or equipment (including expensive electronics such as in a recording studio) that hasn’t been totally depreciated yet, etc. etc., and yes, cash reserves – which are a necessity in a fluctuating economy, an endeavor where giving is seasonal, or an organization that needs to fund startup costs for new locations.

    I just don’t see a problem with SGM having the 6 mil in assets – if they are totally transparent with their givers about their mission and how they are using the gifts they are given. Then it’s up to the giver to decide if they want to invest in the mission. Like my old college religion prof used to say, you pays your money and you takes your choice.

    I personally wouldn’t choose SGM…

  79. intheNickoftime
    March 28th, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Bridget #71 –

    What ever happened to following his own teaching about “his view of himself is like a funhouse mirror”…or what about that cream cheese in the corner of his mouth?

    He talks the talk but can’t/won’t walk the walk. Too sad. :scratch

  80. Kris
    March 28th, 2012 at 10:23 am

    It is apparent from CJ’s recent message and from a couple of Carolyn’s rather cryptic Girltalk posts that they believe themselves to be hapless innocent victims, suffering for the sake of the gospel.

    Or at least, Carolyn believes herself and CJ to be like that. CJ is portraying himself in that light…but it’s impossible to tell just how much of his own self-preserving spin he now believes, versus how much he knows, deep in his heart of hearts, to be less than honest.

    In other words, it seems to me like CJ is really really good at creating and sustaining delusions about himself, to the point where his supporters – including his wife, kids, and sons-in-law – might actually believe in the victimhood status he has spun for himself. But who knows, really, just how badly CJ has lost touch with reality? Does he know very well that his current problems are the result of decades of his own poor choices, even as he weaves this alternate reality of himself as innocent victim for his supporters? Or has he actually bought into his own deception and now believes this delusion (of himself as victim) to be true?

  81. Kris
    March 28th, 2012 at 10:41 am

    I’ve often thought that CJ has a unique ability to spin a reality for others that is the actual opposite of what their senses are telling them.

    Like, for years, CJ would have been many SGMers’ go-to role model for “Biblical Manhood.” CJ loved to refer to himself as a “pastor athlete,” and he apparently had no qualms about portraying himself as some love stud so inflamed with manly passion that he and Carolyn had a sex life so flamin’ hot that sometimes they would even have to stop off at hotels, because they could not wait the hour’s drive to get to their home.

    CJ was very careful to create an image for himself of über manly-man, what with all the sports talk and the way he portrayed his marriage.

    And yet, if you actually listen to CJ’s speech cadences and observe his mannerisms and his actual physical appearance, he does not fit the traditional he-man cliché at all. I’ve said this before, but hearing CJ work so hard at sounding all masculine is kind of like watching a cat try to bark.

    It’s always been puzzling to me, how someone who is so flamboyant and NOT traditionally “masculine” could have been so successful at convincing his followers that he was the summation of all things manly and having to do with “Biblical Manhood.” Sure, every once in awhile his metrosexual side would peek out, like when he’d talk about how he functioned as Carolyn’s fashion police. But even that was conveyed in a way where he was set up as some sort of de facto expert on precisely what would inflame a hetero man to lust.

    Or – forget the “Biblical Manhood” thing, if that makes you uncomfortable, and just consider for a moment how CJ managed to build an entire career around the notion of his own humility…even though he presided over a church organization that had absolutely no checks and balances for his own power, something a truly humble person would never dare to do. CJ writes a book about humility and goes around weeping over his own sin and pride…and somehow along the way he convinces everyone that he actually IS humble.

    It’s uncanny.

    I think this skill that CJ has, of snookering those around him into buying into whatever he wants them to believe him to be, is what we’re seeing on display right now, when people are feeling sorry for CJ and seeing him as a poor innocent victim. I don’t understand HOW he does it, but I do marvel at the knack that he has for doing it.

  82. Defended
    March 28th, 2012 at 10:57 am

    first of all, thank you to all who have explained about profit vs. non-profit, especially PhillyDC, and Fried Fish. I just wondered about the difference, that’s all.

    Kris – #80, :word I think that a self-delusion would go hand-in-hand with a narcissistic personality disorder. It’s all about you and of course there is NO responsibility for your choices but what is happening TO you, not because of you. I might be tempted to feel sorry for Carolyn and “the girls” because their love and loyalty is understandable but of course she has conveniently forgotten the blackmail, or possibly was never told, right? Carolyn has to have made a choice, tho, with people she formerly trusted saying otherwise about her husband. I mean that board, those leaders always bonded together as one, in my experience. So a feeling of persecution or being picked on, was what I picked up on, in earlier GT posts.

    And, has CJ “bought into his own deception”? Very likely. I think it just goes along with his narcissism.

  83. musicman
    March 28th, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Defended-

    Yes-Passion for His Presence-I couldn’t for the life of me, remember the title.

    Kris-

    You said
    “but hearing CJ work so hard at sounding all masculine is kind of like watching a cat try to bark.”

    That has got to be one of the funniest descriptions I’ve ever read on this site! Maybe some would think it mean, but I think you have nailed how odd it is to hear CJ talk about himself in his “Delusions of Grandeur” mode.

  84. Bridget
    March 28th, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    I have not listened to any of CJ’s recent messages, nor been over to Girltalk in some time. Have CJ and Carolyn actually articulated verbatim that they are suffering “for the sake of the gospel,” or is that just the essence of their messages?

    I used that phrase because I have heard it before and I can see CJ using it to frame his circumstances or “seeming” plight. He is either an actor by birth, or really believes it. Either way, it is not a good thing and there is a disconnect between what he says and what he does.

  85. Kris
    March 28th, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    From March 21 on Girltalk:

    Ever ask this question about a difficult trial? How often do you assume that it will all end badly? Listen to this little sermonette by James Smith to hear how Scripture says every trial and difficulty will end for the Christian. Thanks to my good friend Lucy for sending this my way. I pray it will encourage your soul as it has mine.

    Then there’s this, from March 22:

    A text from my husband the other day: “The providence of God is like Hebrew words–it can be read only backwards.” ~John Flavel

    As I said earlier, these are rather cryptic quotes. But coupled with other posts, a picture begins to emerge. From January 30 came this, entitled When Life Is Hard:

    I love Scripture’s honesty. I love how the biblical authors, inspired by the Holy Spirit, don’t hold back about despair, weakness, doubt, or fear. They don’t step gingerly around topics of pain or temptation or trouble. They are frank about the fact that life is hard.

    So when the biblical writers speak to us of hope and joy and peace, we know these are real too. And in our depths of despair, we can take their hand and follow them out of the pit.

    Take for example, the words of Jeremiah in Lamentations 3 that we are all so familiar with: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (v. 22-23). These words are spoken from the heights, a spectacular panorama. But how do we get there when we feel crippled by the trials of life?

    The same way Jeremiah did.

    Only a few verses earlier he writes from the deepest valley: “…my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, ‘My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord’” (v. 17-18).

    Can you relate? Hope, gone. Peace, gone. Happiness, so far gone, you can’t even remember what it feels like. What do we say to someone who confesses this? Do we recoil at their lack of faith? And yet here is Jeremiah, prophet of God, confessing that in his trouble he feels bereft of all of the blessings of the people of God.

    Then Jeremiah shows us how he gets from the depths to the heights: “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope…” (v. 21).

    His soul, which had taken its last breath of hope, was resuscitated by calling to mind who God is and what He does. He is faithful. He shows mercy, He does love. He does not forget. He sent His only Son who endured the agony of the cross, in our place and for our sins, and rose again, victorious. This I call to mind.

    Notice that Jeremiah’s trial was unchanged. He didn’t get a phone call that the cancer was gone. He didn’t find his enemies on his front porch asking for forgiveness. He didn’t get hired. His child didn’t become a Christian. But he had something better.

    He had hope. Hope that one day, even if it wasn’t until heaven, he would know happiness again.

    That post was followed, on February 1, by this, entitled The Question God Always Answers:

    I love Scripture’s honesty. I love how the biblical authors, inspired by the Holy Spirit, don’t hold back about despair, weakness, doubt, or fear. They don’t step gingerly around topics of pain or temptation or trouble. They are frank about the fact that life is hard.

    So when the biblical writers speak to us of hope and joy and peace, we know these are real too. And in our depths of despair, we can take their hand and follow them out of the pit.

    Take for example, the words of Jeremiah in Lamentations 3 that we are all so familiar with: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (v. 22-23). These words are spoken from the heights, a spectacular panorama. But how do we get there when we feel crippled by the trials of life?

    The same way Jeremiah did.

    Only a few verses earlier he writes from the deepest valley: “…my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, ‘My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord’” (v. 17-18).

    Can you relate? Hope, gone. Peace, gone. Happiness, so far gone, you can’t even remember what it feels like. What do we say to someone who confesses this? Do we recoil at their lack of faith? And yet here is Jeremiah, prophet of God, confessing that in his trouble he feels bereft of all of the blessings of the people of God.

    Then Jeremiah shows us how he gets from the depths to the heights: “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope…” (v. 21).

    His soul, which had taken its last breath of hope, was resuscitated by calling to mind who God is and what He does. He is faithful. He shows mercy, He does love. He does not forget. He sent His only Son who endured the agony of the cross, in our place and for our sins, and rose again, victorious. This I call to mind.

    Notice that Jeremiah’s trial was unchanged. He didn’t get a phone call that the cancer was gone. He didn’t find his enemies on his front porch asking for forgiveness. He didn’t get hired. His child didn’t become a Christian. But he had something better.

    He had hope. Hope that one day, even if it wasn’t until heaven, he would know happiness again.

    If you go to the Girltalk blog and look at the category “Suffering,” you can find even more posts on the topic.

    And then, as someone else linked to above, CJ’s sermon this past Sunday at Solid Rock Church was on this very same topic.

    To be clear, I don’t know that the literal phrase “suffering for the gospel” has been used by either CJ or Carolyn in any of their recent materials. But they have spent years and years talking about how “the gospel” is central to all they do…that it is the foundation for everything…so it’s easy to infer that they believe this suffering is, at the very least, coming from the hand of God in His providence and NOT the result of their own poor choices and/or behavior.

  86. 5yearsinPDI
    March 28th, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Kris- I think CJ has help. It is more than his own uncanny skills IMO. Seriously. By the time we left it was like this mesmerizing creepy stronghold when he talked and when people talked about him, like he was casting a spell, or people were under a spell.

    I don’t know where flesh and the sin nature ends and demonic entities begin to play a part. Galatians 5 lists sorcery as a work of the flesh, so maybe it is all just a very strong soulish thing. But I think he has outside help, I really do. The lies and denial of what they said and did in the past are so characteristic all over SGM that I wonder if it is just sinful flesh operating. You have to ask if the demonic kingdom is speaking and working through them. The perversions regarding what they said and did with the sex abuse cases are so dark and repulsive. Is all that just the fallen nature? I don’t know.

    I’ve known wicked people that mesmerized that had genius IQs and incredible quick wit and tremendous natural giftings, all used for their own selfish ends. But CJ just isn’t all that talented, really. He just isn’t. I think there is more operating. I could be wrong. But whatever it is is big…so pray. Only God can rip it down.

  87. Defender
    March 28th, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    5 Years,
    You are seeing with “Eyes to see” what we have been told throughout scripture, that we do not fight against flesh and blood, but against Spiritual Forces, and Imaginations (Ideologies).

    C.J. is not THE enemy. BUT he has given himself over to that enemy.
    Yah, he is not that smart, or he would have seen and understood what he has (and is) doing.

  88. Bridget
    March 28th, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Kris @85 -

    Totally agree with you. I only asked because I hadn’t listened to or read any of their teachings and comments lately.

  89. 5yearsinPDI
    March 28th, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    New Brent post up. http://www.brentdetwiler.com/

  90. 2+2=4 again
    March 28th, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    If CJ et al are truly Christians (funny how SGM makes such a big deal about who is one, while at the least, looking disdainfully on those believers outside of Reformed circles) then they can’t be demon possessed, but they can sure believe demonic lies and be influenced in their actions, which is what I see happening. Paul asked the Galatians who had bewitched them. I know I’ve believed and done some evil things over the years, only to have a very gentle, faithful Savior convict and redirect me. But I am truly sorry for those things and they have been addressed, apologized for and repented of, so things like the cover ups of sexual abuse, should raise real questions in people’s minds, even by those still in SGM.

  91. Deuteronomy 32:35
    March 28th, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    Kris #85: Regarding your post here, I want to be careful about what I say, but it galls me to hear these folks talk about suffering. I know CJ had a disease that was physically debillitating for a while (can’t remember what it was), but suffering? Really? Can these folks speak authoritatively on suffering?

    How are you suffering when you have access to $5.9 Million worth of other peoples money? How are you suffering when you live in a very nice upper middle class house in metro DC (or Philly or Florida)? How are you suffering when your future, if for no other reason, appears financially secure because again you have access to $5.9 Million of OTHER PEOPLES MONEY. THAT MONEY IS OUR MONEY. God is not a money launderer. Oh of course they view Him like one. “The money was yours but God led you to give it to us and now it’s OURS…ALL OURS!!!” (Imagine Daffy Duck here having a manic moment).

    Are they suffering because people here are questioning their motives over the things they do? Really? They don’t give a RIP about what people think of them, as evidenced by their penchant for making promises and breaking them without flinching and acting as if YOUR NUTS for asking them to be logical and coherent, or to let their “yes be yes and their no, no”. They could care less about anything anyone is saying about them, and they won’t lose one D**n bit of sleep over stepping over your broken carcass in the middle of the road on their way to fulfilling THEIR MISSION. They are convinced they have the divine mandate and power and they are secure. It’s ABSURD to suggest that you are suffering when you live WITHOUT RESTRAINT or ACCOUNTABILITY on someone else’s DIME. They have been for decades and will continue to do exactly whatever the hell they want…and that’s suffering?

    I hope if nothing else we are all beginning to realise that it is an exercise in futility to expect these men to do anything Biblical, or to do anything based on the law of love. They love the law, because it can be twisted and manipulated to obtain their own ends.

    Someone who is also a former SGM’er recently sent me this text, and I think they hit the nail right on the head; “Every plant which my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them (Pharisees) alone. They are blind leaders of the blind”. Matthew 13:44-46

  92. 5yearsinPDI
    March 28th, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Defender- thanks and amen.

    Deut, it may be that they are like a hothouse plant that has lived for 35 years in perfect climate control. When you want to move plants from a greenhouse to the garden, you have to harden them off with gradual exposure.

    It could be that a chilly breeze is truly painful to them and they feel great suffering. I’d say the real problem is that they lived in a little greenhouse bubble for decades, while everybody under their thumb had to live with the summer heat and the cold winter and the winds and rain and the insects. They escaped it. They forced others out into it just so they could stay in the greenhouse. Welcome to the real world, Carolyn.

  93. Steve240
    March 28th, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    I listened to part of C.J. message on “trials.” It was baffling to hear C.J. Mahaney talk about having the right response to “trials” when apparently C.J. Mahaney hasn’t done this himself. To the “trial” that Mahaney has been going through since Brent’s documents were made public Mahaney hasn’t responded as if this was a rebuke from God or to do some real soul searching. Mahaney called his sins “ordinary.”

    Mahaney is one of those that can teach but can’t do. Mahaney even talked about the passage in James about being a doer of the word and not just a hearer that deludes himself. It is too bad that Mahaney apparently doesn’t realize just how deluded he himself is.

  94. Happymom
    March 28th, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    Deuteronomy 32:35,

    #91. Yes and AMEN!

  95. Sick With Worry
    March 28th, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    Do you guys really think CJ is OK? He sounded a little “off” at the pastors’ conference. I cannot imagine him leading anything, based on the messages I have heard him preach. Thanks to those who listen to his messages and provide the commentary…. I think sitting through one of his messages qualifies as suffering.

  96. Kris
    March 28th, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    I agree with those who find it ludicrous that CJ and Carolyn now apparently think they are suffering.

    To me, that just goes to show how out of touch with reality they’ve been.

  97. Much afraid no more
    March 28th, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    Deut 32,

    Great word friend!! Really great word!!!

    :)

  98. Persona
    March 28th, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    Sick with Worry 95

    It was indeed painful to listen to CJ whine about this season of ‘trial’…goodness!

    Maybe we should help him see how blessed his life is?

    Fact: during this ‘trial’ CJ assembled several circles of defenders who continue to guard and protect him from all harm.

    Fact: he has yet to suffer from any distasteful contact with his former congregation.

    Fact: he has a large, loyal family who applaud him on their blogs and FB and cater to his desires when he is home.

    Fact: he has a stash of donations at his disposal that he can spend any way he wants.

    Fact: there are several RBD’s who have generously shared their resources, even granting CJ’s sons-in-law perk-internships.

    Fact: Capitol Hill Baptist provided him consolation and he now has a ready-made interim pulpit, at Solid Rock Church.

    Fact: he will soon to be feted at the T4G conference with men who lovingly call him a “celebrity preacher”.

    Fact: he enjoyed more than 30 years of virtually criticism-free ministry.

    When you look at the facts, it just doesn’t look like he’s suffering too much to me.

  99. Another joe
    March 29th, 2012 at 5:32 am

    I posted this on the refuge blog a couple of weeks ago.

    @ StvMac

    I understand your point on legal limitation. However the fact is that when outside testimony was brought in to bring in factual evidence then said parties should also be given a copy of the document if they where not ask to sign any contractual agreement before hand.

    I truly believe that AoR will have no reasons not to give a copy of the report to all parties that have given testimony. Furthermore SGM inc would be breaking their word by not giving the report in its entirety to its members past and present.

    I guess you could also say that it would be a violation of the promise of transparency.
    I will say this on the subject that i would not be surprised if we do not see the report until AoR gives SGM inc proper time for a response. But a full report shall be given to all that deserve it.

    Personally I don’t think i would have looked at it anyway. Lutherans always have a way of double speak. Its like trying to read on a treadmill at full speed while drinking coffee.

  100. Kris
    March 29th, 2012 at 10:17 am

    “Another joe” said,

    Personally I don’t think i would have looked at it [the AoR Report] anyway. Lutherans always have a way of double speak. Its like trying to read on a treadmill at full speed while drinking coffee.

    :D

    Seriously, though, ever since I read AoR’s first general response to SGM’s issues, I’ve wondered how they would say what they needed to say.

    Again – I know that many of you hold high opinions of AoR and think they are handling this task well. This is NOT a judgment of how they may have conducted the interviews, or of the empathetic responses people have felt they received from the AoR representatives. It has sounded like the AoR folks have done a good job interacting with SGM’s victims.

    But it will be interesting to see (if we get to see) how they might put together their report. In the October memo, Ted Kober’s style reminded me a little too much of the way the SGM guys themselves wrote to each other, as cited in Brent’s documents. A relentless need to affirm the positive might dilute the power of anything corrective they may say. I hope the AoR people speak plainly and ditch any residual starstruck awe they may have for CJ and the SGM organization.

  101. Somewhereintime
    March 29th, 2012 at 10:19 am

    Kris,

    CJ and Carolyn “suffering” is like saying Jim and Tammy Faye Baker suffered.

    I listened to about 3-4 CJ messages over the past six months. He does sound “off”. Maybe the Lord is going to have him go through a Nebucheadnezzar trial where he basically goes nuts.

    He won’t be able to grow his hair long but he could grow his fingernails long yes? In the end the result was a man who repented to God. Because the Lord loves CJ I know that He will bring CJ down to his knees … somehow … some way.

  102. Persona
    March 29th, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Somewhereintime 101

    When Carolyn met CJ he had shoulder-length so that would be likely be okay now, if it were possible. But, I don’t think she would countenance foot-long nails. We probably won’t find him eating grass either.

    Still, I do wonder if a tad of medication would help dissipate the delusions.

  103. Former CLC'er
    March 29th, 2012 at 11:59 am

    I can’t comment on how C.J. sounds, since I haven’t heard one of his sermons in years. I can say, though, that with my former pastor (not CLC or SGM), when he and I had our blowout, I felt like an alien had taken over his body. He wasn’t the man I thought I knew. Within a few weeks he had shown his true personality to a lot of other people, and within a few months, his church had fallen apart. The narcissistic person can hide their true self for so long, but it eventually comes out.

  104. Steve240
    March 29th, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    CJ and Carolyn “suffering” is like saying Jim and Tammy Faye Baker suffered.

    So true.

    Also, Mahaney’s past two messages at Solid Rock about the Pharisees and “suffering” would be like Jim Bakker speaking right after his fall on sexual purity and being stewards of the money God gives. We know that Jim Bakker failed in the sexual purity area including conspiring to hide it and both Jim and Tammy lived a lavish lifestyle off of contributions while begging people on the air for contributions for their “ministry.” It would also be like Jim Bakker giving a talk on living within means/budget etc. which is another area he failed in.

    So sad the man just doesn’t see his sin and even sadder that other are enabling Mahaney to continue to live in deception. John Loftness and other leaders of Solid Rock include those allowing Mahaney to continue in deception.

  105. Bridget
    March 29th, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    “I hope the AoR people speak plainly and ditch any residual starstruck awe they may have for CJ and the SGM organization.” – Kris

    Yes and amen!

    I hope SGM leaders/staff/board/pastors would do the same! They have an inability to speak plainly and cohesively so that others are clear on their meaning. Along with speaking plainly and not being starstruck with themselves, I would add that they need to be acting in a manner consistent with their communications.

  106. Persona
    March 29th, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    My opinion is, if Loftness ascends one of the thrones at SGM, they all deserve whatever trials and suffering God desires to send.

  107. Argus
    March 29th, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    Whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on –

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2012/03/28/acts-29-driscoll-steps-down-chandler-named-primo-planter/

  108. Argus
    March 29th, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Forgot this part: http://apprising.org/2012/03/28/mark-driscoll-resigns-from-the-gospel-coalition/

  109. musicman
    March 29th, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    The original date for the release was January, and then it was moved to March, and now it’s being said it will be released once the new board can look at it and respond to it in April. If I had to bet, I’m guessing the release of the AOR report will happen over July 4th weekend, or maybe on November 4th-right after the Presidential election results are in…

    This is starting to sound like Watergate or the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Just keep pushing back on the investigation and hope it goes away…

  110. Persona
    March 29th, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    Wow, it’s hard to believe the news about Mark Driscoll. Does anyone else notice a pattern of God cleaning out all the despots in the world?

  111. Local Church Fan
    March 29th, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    Persona – #110

    Care to clarify your comment about “God cleaning out all the despots in the world?”

  112. SGM Overcomer
    March 29th, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    This was very helpful in my detox from SGM. It will help you understand who you are in Christ, why you fell into this snare, and the people who continue to perpetuate this bondage.

    http://calltorevolution.blogspot.com/2012/03/identity-theft.html

  113. Persona
    March 29th, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    LCF 111

    I see a global trend of God freeing people from oppression, beginning last year in Egypt. It seems to me to be a work of God, involving both secular and religious organizations. He is giving grace and courage to people to no longer tolerate abuse of any kind.

    The reports coming out of Mars Hill Church so closely resemble those of SGM. But, these abuses simply would not have been tended to, if not for the blog exposure. This is a much more effective way to whistle-blow, to rally support, and to limit abuse, than ever before in history.

    I wonder if God is preparing a way for a huge revival where people turn away from following men and turn to God as their Redeemer? Or perhaps, in the case of the church, maybe he is purifying his bride for Jesus’ imminent return?

    Whatever, he is doing, he seems to have heard the prayers of the saints for relief. And, I am so grateful!

  114. Oswald
    March 29th, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    Gospel Coalition blog has a post about forgiveness/reconciliation, timely and worth a look.

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/03/29/how-to-move-from-forgiveness-to-reconciliation/

  115. Stunned
    March 30th, 2012 at 7:34 am

    Yay, God!!!!!

  116. CLCya
    March 30th, 2012 at 7:37 am

    #112 – Thanks for the recommendation. Just ordered the book. Can’t wait to read it!

  117. 5yearsinPDI
    March 30th, 2012 at 9:34 am

    Oswald 114

    I can’t begin to tell you how excellently put that little essay is, and how helpful it was to me today. I have lately been going through a couple things with “people” ( can’t seem to escape “people”) and it was perfect for the situation and my own struggles. Thanks!

  118. Argus
    March 30th, 2012 at 9:47 am

    This news about Mark Driscoll is somewhat off-topic for SGM and C.J. Mahaney — but not exactly.

    Driscoll is a power-player in the young neo-Calvinist resurgence — a movement with which Mahaney is dearly enamored and within which Mahaney evidently seeks status as an elder statesmen to ambitious young ‘church planters.’

    Mahaney has been identified as personally responsible for mentoring Driscoll.

    Mahaney and Driscoll belong to several of the same para-church organizations and boards, and the two have frequently shared the stage at conferences of these various “entrepreneurial network[s]” (to use Driscoll’s recent term.

    As Driscoll’s pathological behavior and abusive leadership becomes exposed, his enablers explain and cover for him with all the proper phrases and praises while his organization is restructured and his duties redefined; however, he remains a player and a pastor large and in charge. Sound familiar?

    From Driscoll’s Acts 29 network has split off a similar network: Sojourn Church Planting Network. Sojourn is headquartered in — guess where? — Louisville, KY, where Mahaney and the SGM headquarters will soon be located. Leaders of Sojourn were brought in to lead sessions at the most recent SGM church-planting conference.

    Driscoll’s replacement as head of Acts 29 is Matt Chandler of Highland Park, TX, so Acts 29 headquarters is moving to the Dallas area. That’s close to Frisco, TX, where SGM Board member (and possibly chairman — who knows, since SGM is not disclosing yet?) Craig Cabaniss lives and pastors. The men are well-acquainted on friendly terms, and Matt Chandler is highly regarded by the good folks of Grace Church Frisco.

    I know I keep beating this drum, but I believe that the direction of SGM is being decided by a few men who value these other ‘strategic alliances’ (and their own places in these alliances) more than they value the congregation members of SGM churches. The members will be the last to know that they don’t matter

    The members of SGM are fodder to feed the ambitions of these alliances. They supply funds, status, and a sheen of legitimacy. They are a means to an end. The end, ostensibly, is the “mission’ — the mission is everything, and woe to anyone who gets in the way of the ‘movement’ or the ‘mission’ or the ‘resurgence’ or the next catch phrase du jour. After all, some friendly-fire casualties are to be expected as acceptable losses in the completion of the mission.

    These guys as so “Gospel missional” that they have made their own execution of the mission a higher focus than the personal message of the love of God for His own dear children. Their driven ambition to carry out the ‘mission’ has eclipsed the truly good news of the extravagant love of our Father poured out in grace through the life and death of our Lord Jesus Christ and imparted to us personally by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

    In their minds, since God’s plan depends upon gifted men entrusted with the mission, and since they are obviously the highly-gifted men God has chosen to train the upcoming gifted men for the work of the mission, then they MUST be doing it right. They are the leaders, marching onward, so everyone else better follow or get out of the way — or risk being trodden underfoot.

  119. Oswald
    March 30th, 2012 at 9:51 am

    From the article linked at #114:
    Seven Signs of Genuine Repentance
    There are seven signs that indicate the offender is genuinely repentant:
    Accepts full responsibility for his or her actions. (Instead of: “Since you think I’ve done something wrong . . . ” or “If have done anything to offend you . . .”)
    Welcomes accountability from others.
    Does not continue in the hurtful behavior or anything associated with it.
    Does not have a defensive attitude about being in the wrong.
    Does not dismiss or downplay the hurtful behavior.
    Does not resent doubts about their sincerity or the need to demonstrate sincerity—especially in cases involving repeated offenses.
    Makes restitution where necessary.

    5years, I found it helpful also.

  120. Argus
    March 30th, 2012 at 9:52 am

    Ack — typos. Sorry.

    Also, meant to say, ” . . . poured out in grace through the life and death AND RESURRECTION of our Lord Jesus Christ. . .”

  121. Irv
    March 30th, 2012 at 9:53 am

    Argus 118 — :word :goodpost

  122. Kris
    March 30th, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Argus said,

    These guys as so “Gospel missional” that they have made their own execution of the mission a higher focus than the personal message of the love of God for His own dear children. Their driven ambition to carry out the ‘mission’ has eclipsed the truly good news of the extravagant love of our Father poured out in grace through the life and death of our Lord Jesus Christ and imparted to us personally by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

    In their minds, since God’s plan depends upon gifted men entrusted with the mission, and since they are obviously the highly-gifted men God has chosen to train the upcoming gifted men for the work of the mission, then they MUST be doing it right.

    Argus, your entire #118 is really good, but the last part really lays out precisely what I think is driving a lot of the behavior we’re seeing from the guys at the top of these organizations.

    Also, there was this -

    The members of SGM are fodder to feed the ambitions of these alliances. They supply funds, status, and a sheen of legitimacy. They are a means to an end.

    Somehow, the phrase “sheen of legitimacy” is triggering something for me, something I’m going to try to put into words…although I’m not sure I’ll be able to…

    One of my ongoing questions – something I’ve wondered about since before starting this site, something that puzzled me even when we were in the midst of attending our own SGM church – is how it is that the actual experience of going to an SGM church could feel so utterly different than what you’d think it’d be like if you were just going by what you could learn about SGM from non-SGM sources.

    I mean, our own SGM sojourn was brought about in large part because of what we “knew” about SGM based upon SGM’s image on the internet. We were coming off of some years spent at a pastor-owned-and-operated hyper-Charismatic church that had veered away from straight-up biblical truth and propagated a strange amalgam of “Prosperity Gospel” mixed with “Your Pastor Is A Real True Prophet Whom You Need In Order To Obtain Your Destiny.” More than a little dazed and confused at the realization of our own gullibility, Guy and I found ourselves eager to re-embrace cold hard “sound doctrine” and get as far away as we could from weirdness. At the same time, though, we still thought you couldn’t have any sort of meaningful church life without formal affirmation of all things Spirit-filled.

    So when we stumbled upon the notion of SGM, and caught the always-glowing little mentions of the organization, its music, and CJ Mahaney, we figured it was probably about the only game in town that cared about “sound doctrine” while taking a continuationist stance. As I think back to all the places where we’d heard of SGM online, I can’t even remember precisely what it was that the different bloggers had said – but there was this sense that SGM was some sort of as-yet-undiscovered New Thing that was slightly exotic yet kept (in the discerning bloggers’ thinking) checking out as doctrinally OK despite the potential for Spirit-filled exuberance.

    SGM sounded strong yet simple, grounded yet “new,” true yet fun.

    I know this is random, but a metaphor that pops into my head is my experience with the weight loss program Jenny Craig.

    A few years back, I wanted to take off some pounds. I’d just had a baby. My sister was getting married. I had no desire to lumber up the aisle in what turned out to be a rather clingy (for how modest it had initially appeared) bridesmaid dress with my old “baby weight” jiggling for all the world to see. But my personal resolve was weak. I was pretty tired and distracted. I’d heard from a few people that Jenny Craig was a relatively simple plan, with all the food choices made for you.

    So I joined. And the plan did work. I successfully lost the weight I wanted to lose. I even became a true fan of a few of the snacks and entrees.

    BUT, I have to say that my weekly appointments at the Jenny Craig “centre” bore very little resemblance to how the program was portrayed in its literature and on its website.

    Sure, there was “one-on-one counseling.” But the “counselors,” who were actually called consultants, were a shifty and ever-changing lot with very little expertise. It turned out that I knew way more about actual nutrition and even ways to be successful with weight loss than any of them did. Two of the women I saw had never even been on a diet in their lives! They were both rail thin but had never had to think about what they ate. One of them actually shared a story with me, thinking that I’d find it inspirational or something, about how she’d actually found herself engaging in emotional eating after a family get-together than hadn’t gone so well. She was wondering aloud to me about how crazy it was to find herself eating potato chips when she wasn’t even hungry, all because the taste was making her forget her unpleasant relatives! Oh the shock! Oh the horror! It was a whole new experience for her.

    So no, the “one-on-one counseling” was not actually helpful. There were no empathetic, I-once-was-huge-but-now-I’m-thin, put-together counselors at my Jenny Craig location. The accountability of getting weighed, and the significant cost of paying for a week’s worth of food at each appointment, were pretty much all I got out of going to the Centre.

    Like I said, it bore little resemblance to the glowing pictures on the website…the happy success stories you’d see there…the overall positive “This is easy, you can do this” brightness of the literature. The actual Centre that I went to was dim and depressing and kind of run-down. The people working there were there strictly for a paycheck. The plan worked for me only because of how I took what they sold me and put it to work on my own time.

    Honestly, my SGM experience reminds me of Jenny Craig, now that I think about it.

    The image SGM had on the outside was very little like what we experienced on the inside. Yes, as I’ve said before, we did not have a bad time at our SGM church. We did like many things about it. But there was also this feeling that everything was pretty dark and ponderous. We didn’t actually see much at all that seemed Charismatic. Although “grace” was in the name, having success as an SGM Christian seemed to be more about learning a new language – SGM lingo – and getting with all the SGM methods. It was all about what you DID, which of course is all about WORK, which of course in the end has little to do with true GRACE.

    Even the music, which was talked about as so superior and wonderful, seemed completely foreign and often very serious and sad. And the sermons? Well, although we’d heard so much about SGM’s “sound doctrine” and knew that the teachings simply had to be “sound,” I can’t remember anything that was profound or deep coming from the pulpit. The pastors were OK, but I have no recollection of anything they taught.

    Almost the whole time we were at our SGM church, I found myself wondering how it was that SGM’s image in the larger Reformed world online felt so very different from how things actually were when you went to a meeting on a Sunday morning.

    And – and this is where I’m actually going to connect these musings to what Argus said about how SGM members serve to “provide a sheen of legitimacy” – I’m thinking now that SGM’s “local” churches and SGM-the-national-organization are really two parallel universes. They share the same name, and the leaders of the national organization are supposed to represent the local branches. But the reality is that the local branches only matter on the national level because they seem to show that SGM’s leader (CJ) is significant, a widespread force to be reckoned with that has come into communities all around the country.

    How SGM is perceived when someone doesn’t actually have ongoing week-to-week experience is very different from how SGM is for the ordinary member who’s been around for a few years.

    What SGM’s upper management are intent upon showing to the rest of the world is like Jenny Craig’s website photos of skinny people strolling on the beach, thinking about all they’ve learned about good nutrition. It’s image. It’s an advertising spiel. It bears little resemblance to reality.

  123. Persona
    March 30th, 2012 at 11:31 am

    John Piper is also stepping aside. The landscape of evangelical leadership is definitely shifting day by day.

    http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/articles/transition-questions-and-answers-from-pastor-john-for-bethlehem

  124. Bridget
    March 30th, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Argus -

    That is a good summary of what can be read throughout the internet over the past week. I only recently became aware of the Sojourn Church Planting group. I know of a Sojourn Church in St. Louis, but they do not appear to be part of the Sojourn Church Planting network; at least not at this time. It seems to me that these men are trying to build a tower to heaven and, as you point out, it doesn’t matter who gets squashed in the process. Local churches and their members have become a means to an end. Cabaniss in Frisco, and on the SGM board, is an enigma now. Actually, SGM is an enigma! Does anyone want to continue to be a part of something that is unable to define itself?

    The Driscoll/Mahaney connection has been sad to watch. They have carried out similar actions within their own organizations and are now producing similar fruit (at the expense of the well being of many men and women). Driscoll even now appears to be taking similar actions as Mahaney. He appears to be pulling back into a “safety net” to regroup with those who are still submissive (in an unhealthy way) to his desires. They are running their organizations as mini empires.

    I continue to pray that men and women will see the evidence before them and look to scripture for the picture of what the body of Christ is to look like.

  125. seeking the city to come
    March 30th, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Persona #123–
    It would be inaccurate, I believe, to say that John Piper is stepping aside. For some time, John Piper and the elders at Bethlehem have indicated that they were making plans for a time of transition from his present role as pastor of preaching and vision, to be completed in June 2014. It is all well-documented at the church’s website and the link you provided (and others) at the DG website. It should be noted that John Piper is at the age many folks retire.

  126. B.R. Clifton
    March 30th, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    For the life of me I cannot figure out what is meant by the term “Gifted Minister” as it is used here. In my experience that would mean someone who is filled with the Spirit, has been called of God to the Ministry (Per Eph. 4:8&11), and has been endowed with one or more gifts of the Spirit as found in 1 Cor. 12. The trouble is I don’t detect that with any of the SGM professionals I have seen and known. Granted there are some pretty sharp cookies in SGM who have some real street smarts and political savvy. That, however does not equate to Holy Spirit gifting in any way. Then there’s that fact that SGM has backed off anything Charismatic (while at the same time claiming to be charismatic) probably to make themselves more marketable in certain demographic circles.

    I just can’t figure out what they actually mean by “Gifted Minister, Pastor, Preacher, or whatever”. It seems to me like a manufactured term used for marketing and propaganda purposes.
    :beat :scratch

  127. Persona
    March 30th, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    Seeking 125

    Piper calls it ‘transitioning’ since he isn’t retiring. But, he is stepping aside to allow a younger man to lead Bethlehem Baptist.

  128. Eagle
    March 31st, 2012 at 2:03 am

    Here’s something I posted over at The Wartburg Watch. I don’t get this apporach by many fundagelicals…

    ——-

    Here’s something that really bothers me…and I just have to say it. When I was at the Reason Rally last Saturday I heard a number of New Atheist leaders and secular humanists who were angry about faith and religion. When it came to Christianity the anger that several of them expressed was the following:

    1. Angry about Christian pastors advising women to submit in abusive marriages.
    2. Angry about sexual abuse happening in Christian churches.
    3. Angry about the involvement of faith into politics.
    4. Angry that some evangelicals are holding school boards hostage due to YEC.
    5. Angry over how Christianity today is treating women and gays.
    6. Angry over the prosperity gospel and the people who are getting hurt over it.

    Now stop and think about that in the context of CJ Mahaeny, Acts 29, John Piper, Mark Drisocll, SBC, Albert Mohler, etc..

    In many cases the New Atheists and secular humanists are correct. People should be angry over domestic violence, sexual and spiritual abuse. My question is this…why arn’t Christians angry? Why arn’t Christians upset that websites likes “Sovereign Grace Survivors” exist? Why aren’t Christians angry that John Piper teaches that a woman should stay in an abusive marriage for a night?

    Really if you think about it….the wrong people are angry. Christians should be angry over all the spiritual abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, false teachings that exist. I still can’t wrap my mind around that point…. That should bother people… Why arn’t Christians upset?

  129. Moniker
    March 31st, 2012 at 6:10 am

    Eagle (#128), I guess it’s because in their mind, doctrine trumps ethics. It’s false paradigm. I’m reading a very interesting book right now called A People’s History of Christianity, by Diana Butler Bass. She addresses this very issue in her introduction and attributes it to what she would call spiritual amnesia. Mainline or more “progressive” churches, in their quest to right past injustices (like, for instance, segregated churches) have largely forgotten devotion (learning to pray, the meaning of worship, how to reflect on life theologically). At the same time, the more conservative churches retained a rich history of devotion but rejected the history of social justice. “They did this apparently because liberal Protestants believed in social justice, and they wanted to make the point that they were not liberal. So they cut themselves off from history as well and, in the process, lost Christianity’s moral memory. One community had lost its devotional memory, the other its ethical memory. Between them, they had severed Christian history in two, cutting the threads of a cohesive story in which piety and ethics once created a whole cloth. This proved bad for both.” I think she’s on to something. At any rate, it’s a fascinating book that I would recommend to anyone interested in learning more about the history of Christian ethics.

  130. Happymom
    March 31st, 2012 at 7:50 am

    Oswald,

    Thanks for posting that list, #119.

    Let’s compare that to what’s come out of Fairfax:
    Sr.Pastor, (M.Mullery) opens up a Family meeting regarding sex abuse with a joke, because sex abuse of small children is just so funny.
    Blame-shifting back onto the victims families.
    Refusing to answer key questions and keeping the pastor in question out of meetings.
    Twisting/distorting facts in front of entire church.
    Manipulating with tears while ignoring emails.

  131. Fried Fish
    March 31st, 2012 at 8:46 am

    @Moniker #129 -

    So in short, for SGM and co., being right excuses doing evil. (Fish interpretation)

    Outside of the level of bloodshed, and the Holy Land moving to Kentucky, how is that different than the Crusades?

    I think I’m gonna read that book.

  132. 5yearsinPDI
    March 31st, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Eagle…

    Way too broad a brush. Abusing wives and children is horrendous.

    Political action against abortion is called protecting babies. It is a good thing. Now some political action, yeah, way too far…..but not all.

    Informing people that homosexuality is wrong and Jesus can help you change (yes He can indeed, like with all the other fallen desires we all have) is a good thing.

    Giving time to the creationist side versus Darwin is a good thing. Do you really believe that more than 20 enzymes all magically came together and into the first cell in a reducing environment within 30 minutes or so, to form the ATP molecule that every living cell uses for energy transfer? Ever hear of irreducible complexity? The secular non Christian microbiologists and PhD statistics mathematicians teaching intelligent design deserve a fair hearing. They will tell you that even in a trillion billion years it ain’t gonna happen.

    Try not to lump everything together.

  133. Kris
    March 31st, 2012 at 10:05 am

    I think Christians are angry about most of those issues, in one way or another. Just not the way that atheists think they ought to be.

    It’s debatable, whether or not Piper’s one weird aside about telling a wife to endure abuse “for a night” before seeking help from the church represents his full and complete ideas about the abuse of women. I personally doubt that it does.

    It’s debatable, whether or not it’s across-the-board true that churches are “mistreating” gays. This isn’t the forum to debate gay rights (so if the conversation goes in that direction, comments are going to get deleted), but I will say that holding to certain beliefs about the rightness or wrongness of certain behaviors is an essential part of most religions. The segment of the Christian population that goes for a straightforward reading of the Bible would say that homosexual behavior is NEVER portrayed positively in the Bible and is, in fact, spoken of condemningly as a sin every time it is mentioned in scripture. Believing this does NOT equate with “mistreating” gay people.

    As to the rest of the items on Eagle’s list, well – if there were going to be anger over the intersection of belief and politics, then everyone would need to be angry at everyone. An atheist’s belief system affects his political views just as much as the Christian’s might. And with respect to “Young Earth Creationism” – I am aware of far more school boards being “held hostage” to the notion that when it comes to the discussion of origins, teachers cannot even introduce the idea of the possibility of a designer. Most Christians, even those who go for a straightforward reading of the Bible, wouldn’t argue that schools must be limited to teaching that the earth was created over a span of 5,000 years. All they’ve wanted from public schools is that the parts of evolution that require one to have the faith that order randomly happened from nothing/chaos would be treated as the theoretical, faith-requiring aspects that they are. No real need for “anger” there.

    From what I can tell, most “normal” churches are indeed angry about sex abuse. The lack of anger is one of the reasons I personally think that SGM is not representative of normal Christianity.

    And finally, as to the “Prosperity Gospel” – well, if anyone wants to fault the Reformed/Calvinist segment of Christianity for not objecting to the “Prosperity Gospel,” they are most definitely barking up the wrong tree! I say this with total confidence because what led me back around to holding once again to a more Reformed theology just happened to be all the reading and research I did on the “Prosperity Gospel” when it had begun to dominate our pre-SGM church. Just about everything I read that analyzed the “Prosperity Gospel” movement and spoke against it was written by Reformed folks. You might be able to fault conservative Reformed thinkers for other things, but you cannot fault them for not speaking out against the “Prosperity Gospel.” Their voices are among the loudest in the debate.

  134. Oswald
    March 31st, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Kris #133 — :word :goodpost

  135. Defended
    March 31st, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Kris – #133 – WELL DONE.

    Eagle, your passion is deep, obviously. One question: “fundagelicals” ?? :huh
    Is that some sort of name-calling? Bias? Your own anger?
    Please explain.

  136. Stunned
    March 31st, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Eagle asked why Christians aren’t angry over abuse.

    Eagle, are you freaking kidding me? Go back and read any of my posts. Read the posts of Debra or any of a few dozen others. We are freaking livid over abuse. Sick. Angry. Disgusted. Enraged.

    What the heck made you claim we are NOT angry about abuse. Seems to me that abuse and a very negative reaction to abuse is the very reason this site exists. (Not angry at you for your statement. Just flabbergasted by it.)

  137. exCLCer
    March 31st, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    I have a longer post in moderation……….

    but for now….

    I would agree with Eagle that “christians” as a whole are NOT angry about abuse. Stunned – you are referring to a minority number of people who have come forward to dissent what is the systematic turning of the churches head as a whole from abuses by just one of many so called christian denominations, whose leaders have instead swooped in to control the people who have proven to be vulnerable to abuses, only to abuse them emotionally adding insult to injury. Because one individual is angered by abuse and they happen to identify as a christian, does not mean christians as a denomination or a whole are also appropriately angered in the same way. If you lets say hypothetically happened to NOT be a christian do you think you would be any less angered by sexual abuse of children or abuse of women and mothers? I would hope not. The patent on a moral high ground that christians claim is what makes injustices so glaringly obvious within their groups. If they were the MOST moral and the MOST compassionate and the MOST righteous as they assert, they would be MORE angry than secularists, MORE diligent than the law, and MORE caring of victims than the general public. They are not. This is the hypocrisy secularist speak of that angers them.

  138. exCLCer
    March 31st, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Defended – heres the definition used in the secularist arena to describe the evangelicals and fundamentalists who would like to see their theocratic views become legislation for everyone.
    fundagelical: Someone who believes in a totalitarian world rule with an American Christo-theocratic party dictating legislation based on limited interpretation of scripture they consider applicable. Applicable scripture is limited to scripture in which they personally are willing to impose on others regardless of whether they, themselves, personally adhere to it in private.

    Derived from a contraction of the words Fundamentalist and Evangelical.
    example: James Dobson, Pat Robertson & Fred Phelps are leaders in the fundagelical movement.

  139. Kris
    March 31st, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    exCLCer said,

    The patent on a moral high ground that christians claim is what makes injustices so glaringly obvious within their groups.

    This is the very sort of condemning and judgmental sweeping generalization that requires its maker’s own belief in his or her “patent on a moral high ground.”

    :D

    As I said before, this is NOT the forum for this sort of debate. This is the place to discuss SGM and its issues, not generalizations condemning Christians or the Christian faith in general. I don’t have the time or the mental energy to give blow-by-blow responses to such assertions, and yet I’m not going to give them space to stand unchallenged. So any further comments of this nature will be deleted (as I said would happen about anything debating homosexuality).

  140. Stunned
    March 31st, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    Exclcer,

    I would have expected that you would find blanket statements and gross generalizations as offensive as I do. I don’t care who the people group is, Muslim, athiest, Christian, people of color or gender, it is not OK in my book.

    If Eagle wants to say, “Why aren’t MORE Christians angry?”, then I am 100% on

  141. Stunned
    March 31st, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    Sorry computer glitch…

    I would be 100% on board if the question were, “Why aren’t MORE Christians angry about abuse?” But as soon as someone says a blanket statement about any group, then I am going to speak up and object. It is just wrong, no matter what group.

    If Eagle wants to amend that, then I can agree. But left as a blanket statement, it isn’t true.

  142. Stunned
    March 31st, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    Opps, Kris, I am afraid I posted before reading your post. Sorry about that and feel free to delete my posts.

  143. Glad i am out
    March 31st, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    Kris, real briefly concerning your 139:

    Unfortunately the post you deleted, and i do not blame you and do understand, and agree, does very directly concern SGM issues. Here is how:

    SGM have never clearly taught (or taught at all) about the true difference between the old covenant and the new one, between the Law and Grace, Between a just and Holy God, who can not allow sin, and therefore everyone in the old testament must live by every letter of the law, and Jesus, who ushered in the age of Grace…

    The scriptures mentioned in that post, that unfortunately have been upheld and lived by and acted on, by the likes or Westboro Baptist and may others, are irrelevant now, and all who live by them do not understand their own bible or the MAIN MESSAGE of the entire bible, and the very reason JESUS CAME TO DIE FOR US (and to rise again).

    Under the new covenant, which frankly the geniuses at SGM themselves do not understand, we are freely forgiven for all, and should never judge anyone for anything ever! But just LOVE!!!

    I know you know this, but it is ironic that the poster who you deleted, does not seem to know this any more than the people at Westboro baptist…. and is guilty of the same judgement she speaks out against…

    But i give her a pass – SGM should be teaching this to people, but they themselves live under the law, and do not understand their own bibles…. This is why i left SGM…

  144. glad i am out
    March 31st, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    I want to add to my 143, that i am NOT a bible scholar, not smarter than anyone else, and this is probably quite obvious to everyone..

    But i get this! I learned this after i left SGM, but realized when i learned it why i was so unhappy and feeling oppressed there… and learned why i truly had to leave.. even though it wasn’t quite obvious to me at the time… The sad thing is that i should never have had to feel this way, and should have known this all along. – why are so many churches not teaching the GOOD NEWS??!!!!

    The “Good News” of the Gospel, was never GOOD NEWS to me during my 20 years in SGM… Why, because it was mixed with all the legalism that comes with sin-dwelling, rules, dress codes, do this do not do that, homeschooling is best, courtship the only wear, etc etc etc…… and we have all discussed the thousands of ways most of us here have experienced this in our respective SGM churches..

    This is not a commercial for the man i finally learned this from but i want to mention him again if it’s ok… I have mentioned him once or twice in the past.. His name is Rob Ruffus.. maybe only one “f” but look him up on line and listen to his messages – they al most exclusively seem to be about law vs. grace… And they will free you in a way you have never been freed before!!!!

    I am not exalting this man, and he would not want me to.. He just gets it! He knows why so many christians feel oppressed and bummed when they are supposed to be living in the fact that our yoke is easy, our burden light, that there is now no condemnation…. SGM NEVER EVER TOLD ME THIS, and frankly, i feel ripped off!

  145. Muckraker
    March 31st, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    I want to add my 2 cents to the “Christians-not-being-angry-about-abuse” conversation, in regards to some SGM members specifically that I know:

    Even after discussing with various SGM members some of the most glaring details from the child sex abuse stories, including the mishandling aspects of SGM pastors, shared on this blog, I have noticed a very real LACK of righteous anger from folks, that I have for many years considered very sincere Christians–and I have been in a quandary about it.

    It appears that many pro-SGM folks just can’t or don’t want to believe, that their leaders could have been so egregious in their pastoral care about something so horrible, involving innocent, little children and their suffering parents–and so these SGM members tend to #1 disbelieve the stories or #2 block it out and NOT allow themselves to be appropriately outraged and #3 they instead ignore any questions or thoughts that they have about their pastors’ handling of abuse and basically just go on with their lives, without demanding any account from these leaders.

    This appears to me to be signs of brainwashing. I know that sounds like a very strong accusation to make, but I can not understand what else could be the answer, for why born-again people with the Spirit of God within them, NOT BE ANGRY, when learning of these pastoral abuses of power toward, of all victims, families suffering through the affects of child sex abuse.

  146. B.R. Clifton
    March 31st, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    Muckraker:
    It’s called being brain washed. Look at what Jim Jones did with a whole troop of people. He even got them to commit mass suicide. David Coresh is another example. History is full of men (and some women) who somehow have an ability to mesmerise and fool large numbers of people who will refuse to listen or look at the truth. One reason is that people are reluctant to admit they are wrong about something like that. They keep living a lie hoping that it’s actually true. The deeper they get the more reluctant they are to come out of it. Deceat is an unbelievably powerful tool.

    That’s the trouble with those who are willing to place their trust in men rather than the Lord.

  147. Kris
    March 31st, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    I think SGMers’ apparent desire to minimize or outright block out their leaders’ inadequate (or even harmful) responses to abuse victims flows out of the fact that until very recently, SGM propagated a totalistic thought system in which leaders could not have real flaws or make real mistakes while functioning in their leadership capacity.

    A major theme in SGM teachings has been submission to authority. Parenting teachings were all about making certain that children submitted to their parents. Marriage teachings focused primarily on roles – husbands who led, wives who submitted. The emphasis on “rooting out” sin through confrontation and group confession, along with the idea that your pastor knows more about your sinful, deceitful heart than you yourself know, only worked if everyone was submitting to other people’s observations about their sins.

    The pastor-member relationship within SGM was built upon the model of pastor as authority and member as submissive/obedient to that authority.

    These teachings and beliefs about authority and submission to authority all hinged upon the idea that authority structures were designed and ordained by God…and thus are always going to be used by God for the ultimate good of the believer (as well, of course, as God’s own glory).

    SGMers who have years of their lives invested in submitting to this thought system have to believe that their pastors are in essence inerrant, incapable of making real mistakes in their pastoral duties. After all, if the SGMer acknowledges that his pastor really screwed up in how he handled an abuse situation, the SGMer would then have to open his mind to the possibility that his pastor could have messed up similarly with situations involving the member himself. All those years when the member obeyed his pastor and submitted to the pastor’s assessments of his sin…along with all the money he freely tithed to his SGM church without reciprocal specific accountability…along with everything else that he might have found questionable but then carefully squelched his questions – all of that becomes immediately suspect, if the member entertains the possibility that his pastor is not endowed with infallibility through his role as a “God-ordained authority.”

  148. Persona
    March 31st, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    Kris 129

    Thanks for making it plain.

  149. exCLCer
    March 31st, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    Yes, yes, I know, and I fully expected by post to be deleted or end up in eternal moderation.
    But please know, my intention was never to condemn the christian faith, but only to point out the contradictions and hypocrisies which lead to the popular belief that more christians are not morally outraged by seemingly obvious injustices.
    I think it is fair to say within the paradigm of SGM (as Kris pointed out in her last post) there is a complacency among the masses within the church that coincides with the leaderships inferred infallibility that is unrealistic and misguided. I don’t think there is any debate about whether large christian denominations and their churches claim to represent christianity. They are the public face of christianity. And correct me if I’m wrong, but I would assert that if being christian is “better than” or “more good” than being ________(insert alternative belief system here), then it would lead to the obvious conclusion that the _______ are inferior to that. There can not be an “us” without a “them”.

    When I said “The patent on a moral high ground that christians claim is what makes injustices so glaringly obvious within their groups”, I am directly referring to the assumed understanding that the rules and morality taught within the belief purport to be based on what is considered righteous, presumably leading to a “goodness” of christians (the “us”) in comparison to the inferior goodness of all others (the “them”). This idea of us vs them is reflected in terms like “the saved”, the “moral majority”, “moral authority”, and “maintaining the moral high ground”, and gives the impression that there is a higher calling if you will for christians to display if not believe in a sense of justice an adherence to valued principles, and conversely to speak out against and be duly angered and offended by instances which do not live up to the morality they claim their belief system represents.
    I am not asserting that any one group, including secularist, have a patent on morality…..only that some groups, particularly religiously affiliated ones base their teachings on a premise that as a group they have a higher moral standard than other groups. The unwillingness for so many members of SGM to be outraged by the lack of representation of their own moral beliefs within their group becomes a stark and obvious contrast, making them more obvious in that situation than a group who does not collectively base their cohesion on a particularly defined moral standard.

  150. Eagle
    March 31st, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    Kris-

    I ma not trying to hijack a thread or create diffiuclties. Some of this I learned from my previous Christian days. Let me go and address your points.

    1. I don’t know if what John Piper says is debateable. I wonder why he even had to teach it at all. Why couldn’t he say..? “Romans 13 dicates that Christians live under governing authorities and when it comes to abuse a woman goes immediatly to civil authorities.” He didn’t say that…he says that a woman should endure abuse for a night.

    What if that abuse kills her? What if that abuse criples her? No one should endure abuse…absolutely no one. Some of the people I know in the reformed tradition who I discuss theology with arn’t bothered that John Piper teaches it. It blows my mind…it really does.

    2. I ma not here to discuss gay rights either. But what I have seen over the years has stunned me. What really popped my bubble was having a small group leader who came out and declared he was gay. Everything I thought I knew about the topic was a falsehood and I saw how complex the issue was. I don’t know what causes it… Do I think it’s healthy? No… Do I think it’s a choice? No… I think the issue is very complex and not as clear cut. I don’t know what the answer is. But I wish many Christians wouldn’t live in fear. What drove my small group leader to emabrace it was working with homeless children in Los Angeles. He was angry that many gay youth are homeless because evangelical families rejected their children. So just to re-iterate I don’t know what the answer is. I really don’t. When I was a Christian I lived in a bubble saw things as “black and white”. When my bubbles popped now I see the world as being gray. Given how many Christian faiths approach the Bible there doesn’t seem to be any room for gray areas, or even an “I don’t know…”

    3. As for the other issues…I think we are much closer, however I don’t think many Christians are angry about abuse. Sexual, Elderly, child, etc… My family was Catholic when the Pedophile scandal started to break, and my parents thought it was the church being persecuted and that the problem wasn’t as bad as the media made it out to be. There are some chruches which are quick and responsive but they seem to be few and far between.

    Lastly I agree with what you said about the reformed and the prosperity gospel. I made a mistake, in that I was attempting to describe mainstream evangelical. I saw that in the evangelical churches that fell under that influence. But then I also spent some time in a Christian minsitry that had reform influence and they took a hard line against that. Also for many reformed the prosperity gospel is a litmus test and one of their favorite issues to preach and hammer. If only they treated abuse, and a host of other issues in that same manner.

    BTW…when I describe fundagelical I am not taking a low aim at someone. I am describing those who mix evangelicalism with fundamenmtalism. I was once one and I still am dealing with it having walked away almost 4 years ago now.

    But I think while people here may be angry about soem of this stuff. Places like this and other blogs are a minority of opinion. Where it really counts is in churches, it being preached, etc.. And sadly some fo these issues are not touched.

    Don’t meen to intrude….

  151. Kris
    March 31st, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    I think I must be in something of a mood today, because I’m finding the current direction of this thread really irritating.

    If you don’t mean to take a converation in a particular direction – then don’t. Don’t bring it up, whatever it was that you thought might derail the discussion.

    If you’re not actually condemning whole swaths of Christianity, or looking down your agnostic nose at those of us who believe in the Bible, then don’t write words that sound like sweeping condemnations.

    And if you really do think your comments are going to be deleted, then save us all some time and don’t bother writing them.

    There are LOADS of sites out there where people welcome this kind of debate. I can argue with the best of ‘em if I put my mind to it, but I both don’t feel like putting my mind to it and don’t want to publish put-downs of Christianity without some sort of response. So there we are. As I said, this is a place to discuss SGM and its issues, not what is wrong with the rest of Evangelical Christianity.

    Nobody was ever argued out of a willful belief, anyway – and that observation holds true for both the committed Christian and the committed “intellectual” agnostic/atheist.

  152. CLCya
    April 1st, 2012 at 6:44 am

    Glad I’m Out #144 – “I was so unhappy and feeling oppressed there…” My husband, not a believer mind you, would comment on all the down-trodden faces he would see after a Sunday message. He noticed the lack of joy there! I have heard Rob Ruffus mentioned a number of times here. I am going to listen to his messages. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Muckraker #145 – “a very real lack of righteous anger…” I have noticed this about CLC members, too. One in particular told me to stop reading the blogs (this was a couple of years ago) because it was not good for my soul. She was right in that my soul was deeply troubled after reading accounts of abuse. And it should have been!!! The book, “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse,” talks about the “sh! don’t talk” policy (unwritten) of these types of churches. This is a very real issue in the church, which is hard to believe is still occuring given all that is being exposed. I guess there will always be some who choose to keep the blinders on. It’s difficult taking them off because then you would have to admit that what you believed was wrong and you would have to admit to being deceived.

    What I find troubling is that children are being negatively affected by what is going on in SGM. That’s no secret. If you have a child who is depressed, sickly, not being reached out to by other kids in the church (i.e. a victim of a clique), or being approached by other teens with Pharisaical attitudes due to having a girlfriend, etc., or you have been told (just last year by a CURRENT CLC pastor) that it doesn’t matter where your daughter goes to school because she’s not going to college anyway (and I know people in each of these situations) then I urge you to consider something… What is the cost of your family choosing to stay at this church? What is the cost to your child? If you are taking your children to youth groups outside of CLC (and I know families doing this, too), then why do you stay? Obviously there is something negative going on that you have decided to “diversify” (which I believe is a good thing). But it still begs the question. Why stay? According to the book mentioned above, there are questions to ask yourself regarding the flight response. One of those is, if you knew then what you know now, would you still join this church? If the answer is no, then maybe you should leave. Well, I add to that, if your child is being shunned, not welcomed, depressed, etc., then maybe you should leave. In addition, if you, as an adult, are experiencing any of the above then that same question applies to you.

    Some families may choose to stay because they want to show their kids how to walk through church conflicts. How about showing your children how to be discerning about what is going on and choosing to walk away? That would be a good lesson to learn, too. I plead with those still in this church, please consider your children and yourselves when choosing to stay. Your decision could have life-long ramifications. (Please don’t read this as negating the power of God to redeem all situations. I’m not saying that.)

    Lastly, our kids are now doing activities and sports outside of the church, are actually meeting our neighbors and getting to know people outside of the CLC bubble we’ve been in for so long. It’s very refreshing!

  153. Remnant
    April 1st, 2012 at 7:08 am

    :word

    CLCya #152: Wow! What a great set of questions to ask one’s self.

    :clap :clap :clap

  154. CLCya
    April 1st, 2012 at 7:51 am

    To add to my comment (#152), a friend of mine had a revelation that when she stayed during long seasons (about 5 years) where her kids were treated badly she finally saw that she was “sacrificing her children to Baal”. She believes that is exactly what parents do when they stay involved at the expense of their children’s pain. After being at CLC for 18 years, she says the church gave her “nothing but shattered dreams” and like the song says she “ran away from this empty heart” of a church. Her family is prospering relationally together for the first time and leaning on the word of God and the Person and work of Christ rather than the church body and a group of men who claim to be her superiors and “pastors.”

  155. QE2
    April 1st, 2012 at 8:08 am

    CLCya-great question to ask yourself-why do we stay?

    I would say the best thing is to take some time and really figure it out. So often, if we have been in SGM for a long time, we don’t even know why we are there and how to think/process our own thoughts and feelings.

    We are one of those families whose children go to a different youth group. (We are not at CLC or one of the mega-churches). We took a lot of time as a family talking endlessly about what we thought and felt. I would sit there with a pen and paper and when the kids would talk, I would take notes. The same with any conversations with my spouse. The whole family was encourage to just let it all hang out. At first, a lot of anger/venting/unkindness/judgement type of things. I did not point out anyone’s “sin”. trot out the Bible verses that squash honest speech, etc.

    It took several weeks, but over time, what emerged was not “feelings/emotions” but the facts/experiences behind the feelings.

    Then I organized it all into a few pages of bullet point type of notes, with corresponding examples. We went to the pastors and shared our experiences and what we saw. They were gracious and listened well, asked questions to clarify, and asked for suggestions of how they could change. They did not sniff for our sin, but thanked us for coming to them.

    A few months later, one of the pastors asked to meet to follow up. His main concern was how we were doing as a family, and how our children were doing. It was not a ploy to get us back into youth group or anything.
    he was truly caring for us.

    During this time, we looked at the very real possibility that the Lord would have us find a new church. Once we were able to see clearly and acknowledge/process our feelings, we were able to listen to the Lord, and did not sense that we were to leave.

    And the truth is, over a year or so, we are seeing a lot of positive change in a lot of the areas we had concerns about.

    We have watched as the pastors have grown and changed, both in our local church and with regard to SGM. They have reduced giving to SGM, shared publicly what concerned them about the “quickly agree to these new board nominees”, why they didn’t sign the Fairfax letter (received it the day of the deadline), how they adressed their concerns to SGM individually, and the concerns they had after the board (in my words) basically spit in all the concerned pastor’s faces.

    So this is where the Lord us for now.

    I would strongly encourage everyone to take the time to ask themselves “why do we stay”, and take a LOT of time to get in touch with your thoughts and feelings, to seek the Lord, and then know in your heart, in a way that you can clearly understand, why you stay, or possibly realize that staying isn’t what God has for you right now.

  156. Moniker
    April 1st, 2012 at 8:29 am

    QE2, thanks for sharing what your family did. I commend you for discussing it honestly with your kids and I would encourage anyone still in SGM to do the same. And really listen to them – especially your teens. As my spouse and I were considering leaving and talking with our teens, we learned for the first time how much they disliked the youth group because they felt judged and ostracized by the “in” crowd. They were happy to leave the church, as were we.

  157. no category
    April 1st, 2012 at 8:32 am

    News alert: Sovereign Grace Ministries has dissolved. The Pastors College will now become an all male nursing school.

  158. sgmnot
    April 1st, 2012 at 8:51 am

    QE2 #155

    We took a lot of time as a family talking endlessly about what we thought and felt…I would take notes. The same with any conversations with my spouse…At first, a lot of anger/venting/unkindness/judgement type of things. I did not point out anyone’s “sin” [or] trot out the Bible verses that squash honest speech, etc.It took several weeks, but over time, what emerged was not “feelings/emotions” but the facts/experiences behind the feelings.

    This was just brilliant!! :clap What a great way to handle this!!

  159. Kris
    April 1st, 2012 at 9:42 am

    CLCya and QE2 -

    Great questions and great thoughts about how to handle the “Should I stay or should I go?” question. (And yeah, now The Clash is playing in my head. “If I go there will be trouble…if I stay it will be double…”)

    :D

    QE2, I am curious about something, though. This may sound like a super-obvious question, but, why did you take your family’s list of concerns to your pastors?

    I say my question is super-obvious because on the one hand I can understand the possibility that you felt like the pastors needed to know what you had observed so that they could make changes and/or address the issues.

    But on the other hand, this is something I’ve heard again and again from people who are having issues with their SGM churches. It’s almost a universal response, in fact, to go and tell the pastors either what you’re thinking or why you might be considering leaving.

    I’d say that in my observation, this is not something that happens nearly as often in “normal” non-SGM Christianity. I think it actually reveals one of SGM’s oddities, the fact that pastors wield so much power and are viewed to be so in control that when any sort of problem arises, the only way to address it whatsoever is to go to the pastors and hope that they will “listen well” and be receptive.

    (I’m not saying, QE2, that this was necessarily the case in your situation…just that it’s a trend I have observed among SGMers.)

  160. Beautiful Lies
    April 1st, 2012 at 11:54 am

    After one youth meeting where the speaker basically said “God took away my singing gift because I wasn’t focused on Him enough”, my teen was very scared and thought God was going to do something negative to her if she didn’t think about Him all the time. She never went back. I found the teen meetings much more intense than even the Sunday morning meetings. Kids questioning their salvation because of sin in their lives, very intense parents who were very driven for their kids’ spiritual lives. While I agree in theory that it is good to have parents involved in teen ministry and not just drop your kids off at the front door into the hands of a youth pastor and/or volunteers, SGM’s model of youth ministry is not seeker-friendly. If kids brought their unsaved friends they would feel horribly out of place and probably run for the door.

  161. 5yearsinPDI
    April 1st, 2012 at 11:59 am

    The Pastors College will now become an all male nursing school.

    And yes indeed, in keeping with our past practices, there will be a special course for future male pastors, on how to teach the women in your church the proper way to breastfeed their babies. We are SGM and we DO IT RIGHT!

    :barf:

  162. sgmnation
    April 1st, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    QE2 – what an encouraging report on how thoughtful parents handle the needs of their children. It’s also encouraging to learn that your pastors have taken steps to ask hard questions of SGM, reduce giving and care for your family. Thx for sharing. Would you be comfortable sharing what SGM church you attend? If not, that’s ok too

  163. Unassimilated
    April 1st, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Kris, had to point out an Irony with your Clash reference and this-

    http://sovereigngraceministries.org/events/the-clash/default.aspx

    Being that it is a six day conference focused on 17-23 year olds, thought it may fit in to some recent comments as well.

  164. Kris
    April 1st, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Unassimilated -

    That’s hilarious. Absolutely hilarious.

  165. musicman
    April 1st, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    5years-

    You know…I hadn’t thought about it in a long time, but we did have a pastor (male) discussing the different aspects/advantages of breastfeeding in our parenting class at CFC. No joke….

  166. Lee
    April 1st, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    Joshua Harris spoke at Fairfax today according to their website on 1 Peter 1:1-5 which is about elders. Did anyone listen?

  167. Ozymandias
    April 1st, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    Audio should be up shortly re: Josh Harris @ FFX, but here are my notes (emphasis on notes; please compare with released audio; apologies for length):

    Initial Comments
    – wanted to communicate how grateful for this church, its leadership and its friendship
    – it’s been a difficult season, and the friendship and encouragement of the church and its pastors has been appreciated
    – thanking God for gospel partners like you
    – per MM’s request, highlighted recent book by Sam Allberry’s book, Lifted

    Introduction to Sermon
    – talking about authority, polity and governance
    – reflecting on Downton Abbey; how people in different roles, classes and positions interact with one another
    – continue Downton Abbey comments; how some use position to protect; tension caused when there is confusion or abuse of authority
    – same thing true of families — defined lines of authority = peace; misuse, confusion, abuse of authority = chaos, discouragement and ineffectiveness
    – when authority is clearly outlined and Biblically defined, when there is trust and confidence in authority, church is effective
    – you should be concerned about church governance; it’s not a trivial detail
    – when governance goes wrong, it can obscure the gospel, can obscure the truth of God’s character
    – read 1 Peter 5:1-5
    – easy to move quickly into a discussion of elders and the congregation’s relationship with elders
    – What are the two key words in 1 Peter 5:1-5 — “chief shepherd”
    – Ultimate authority is Jesus; Jesus has all the authority in the church
    – This means that human authority is always limited; human authority in the church is always delegated authority, regardless of how influential, charismatic, dynamic, gifted the person or how large the church, human authority is delegated authority
    – Reference [without use of name] to Eddie Long’s recent “coronation” event
    – Only one king (Jesus); no human teacher can/should be elevated to the level of Jesus
    – We do this — we’re tempted to exalt leaders, our culture thrives on celebrity, we often gain identity through our leaders — however, we need to guard against it.
    – God has ordained leaders in the church; pastors submit to Jesus’ authority

    Three Points to Understanding Goodness, Purpose of Authority + Limitation of Human Authority

    A. Authority in the church must follow Jesus’s example of servant leadership
    – reflected on washing disciples feet and the passage regarding mother of James/John asking authority for her sons
    – not domineering — natural impulse is to assert authority in a sinful way and force people to serve us out of selfishness
    – call is to serve others — lead like Jesus leads — emphasis on servanthood and self-sacrifice

    B. Jesus’s authority is exercised in his church through his word
    – need to listen and obey His holy word
    – How do we hear Jesus’s voice? Through his word given through the Apostles (1 John 4:6)
    – the way that the church obeys the authority of Jesus is to obey the word of God — human opinion and tradition is not above the word of God
    – we submit to Jesus by submitting to Jesus’s word

    C. Because only Jesus has all authority, no other person in the church is given unchecked authority
    – quotes from Alexander Strauch’s Biblical Eldership
    – Strauch’s discussion of the fact that Jesus didn’t choose one person to lead the church
    – Jesus appointed a group; people from that group appointed groups of people to lead churches; Paul spoke to the elders (plural) in Ephesus, not the bishop of Ephesus, not the “chief elder” or “chief pastor” of Ephesus
    – In a team of elders, there should be shared leadership of men who are Biblically qualified
    – NT talks about elders who continue in sin being rebuked in the presence of the church — not unchecked authority
    – quoted Grudem: in Grudem’s experience, churches/movements often go off the rails when they don’t pay enough attention to polity
    – Glad that FFX is paying attention to polity
    – At CLC, learning the difference between checks/balances being done in a distrustful way (“We don’t trust you with authority”) vs. understanding what he’s talking about today (i.e. no unchecked authority because Jesus is the one and only chief shepherd)

    Ended with summary of main points

  168. Persona
    April 1st, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    OZ 167 Sounds like the same sermon Joshua delivered to CLC not many weeks ago.

  169. Ozymandias
    April 2nd, 2012 at 4:47 am

    Persona #168 — I would expect that it was the same sermon.

  170. B.R. Clifton
    April 2nd, 2012 at 5:18 am

    I have read a number of posts over time that seem to indicate the idea that these “SGM abuses” would not/might not have happened if the leadership (big dogs) had been better educated. I have to say that I think that idea is greatly flawed. While there is nothing wrong with arming ones self with a good and thorough education it is not a panacea. One need only to look at some other large denominations (most of which dwarf SGM) to see that education does not prevent these abuses. Our catholic brethren have been experiencing the “outing” of a fairly large number of clergy who have track records of abuse similar to what has occurred in SGM. There has also been the revelation of systemic coverup efforts on the part of higher ups to protect the abusers. The faith of the rank and file has been shaken and many have dropped out while others continue to “stick it out”.

    If education were the cure all against clergy abuse then they would be totally clean. Catholic priest are among the most highly educated ministers in Christianity, yet there abuses persist.

    The Southern Baptist Convention has a similar problem. One need only to “Google” SBC Abuse to find a systemic problem within their clergy ranks with the all too familiar cover up policy. In all of this the rank and file (the lowly laity) is largely kept in the dark. Like their catholic counterparts, Baptist professionals are usually well educated with a large percentage holding doctorates.

    I have no doubt that other denominations might be suffering from the same malady.

    While the professional ranks of Christianity may be suffering from the corruption of sexual abusers and pedophiles, the vast majority of them cast a blind eye to what is going on peferring to ignore the problem, perhaps in hopes that it will go away.

    The bottom line is that no minister seems to be immune to such temptations, and education has nothiing to do whith whether one becomes an abuser or not.
    :beat

  171. Steve240
    April 2nd, 2012 at 9:24 am

    It looks like C.J. Mahaney spoke again yesterday at Solid Rock. Looks like he will be a regular speaker there till he moves (3rd week in a row).

    http://www.solidrockchurch.net/blog/index.php/p/A_Surprising_Prayer_Psalm_88

    This time on Psalm 88. I haven’t listened to the message yet but the Passage talks about being in the “pit.” Will be interesting to hear what C.J. says about this passage.

  172. Jason
    April 2nd, 2012 at 11:32 am

    It seems that comments are now closed on the Sovereign Grace blog, and all comments on previous posts have been removed. Has anyone else noticed this? Is this new?