Revisiting Pastor Training On Counseling

October 22, 2012 in Sovereign Grace Ministries

In a radio interview in which she discussed the lawsuit filed against Sovereign Grace Ministries, plaintiffs’ attorney Susan Burke said the following:

Basically, what the church did was elevate its kind of own reputational concerns, its own financial concerns.  So they [SGM pastors] didn’t want anyone to think that – they didn’t want anyone to know about it, because it reflects badly on the church.  And so what they tried to do is they tried to portray secular authorities – you know, police, the prosecutors and the like – as, you know, folks who could not be trusted.  And that, you know, that the parents of families would be, would be SAFER putting their trust in the  church members and the church hierarchy.

For a long while, we’ve been discussing and analyzing the mindset behind some of the Sovereign Grace Ministries pastors’ seemingly mind-boggling responses in situations where they learned of child abuse.  It’s my belief that this deep-seated distrust of non-SGM counseling and non-SGM authorities has long been part of the fabric of SGM culture.

As recently as November 2009, SGM pastors sat through sessions at their pastors’ conference in which pastoral counseling was portrayed as something superior to non-SGM professional Christian counseling.  Those who want to understand the theological and intellectual underpinnings of the pastoral behaviors and responses described in the lawsuit ought to read the transcripts from the November 2009 Pastors’ Conference entitled, “The Pastor and the Counseling Process.”  Yes, the transcripts are lengthy.  And yes, my own commentary is included.  (If you don’t want to pay attention to my commentary, ignore whatever is in blue font.)  But I believe these transcripts provide a great window into the SGM mentality.

I also believe that even if SGM leadership tries to portray this mentality as something from a long time ago – an old relic of its ancient, unenlightened past – these 2009 teachings would prove that that is not the case.  Moreover, as far as I know, there are no sound files out to indicate that there has been any UNteaching of the distrust of the mental health profession and outside authorities.  Even the seeming open-mindedness discussed in the 2009 teaching was actually more about training pastors to give off the appearance of open-mindedness, rather than any true openness to different points of view.

Anyway, here are links to the three parts of the transcript.  I know I have harped on this a lot lately, and I know we have discussed this before.  But if you have not yet read the transcripts, or if it’s been awhile since you took a look at what pastors were taught as recently as just three years ago, it might be enlightening to look at them.

2009 Pastors’ Conference Teaching On Counseling – Part 1

2009 Pastors’ Conference Teaching On Counseling – Part 2 (with Kris’ commentary)

2009 Pastors’ Conference Teaching On Counseling – Part 3 (with Kris’ commentary)


Also, I would encourage anyone with knowledge of the situations mentioned in the lawsuit, or other similar situations relating to Sovereign Grace Ministries churches, to get in touch with Ms. Burke.  She can be reached at or (202) 386-9622.

© 2012, Kris. All rights reserved.