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Re: Sovereign Grace Ministries
Posted by: Maranatha Trail ()
Date: August 24, 2012 04:08PM


The Pastoral Teams of the following Sovereign Grace churches have reviewed, and are in general agreement with, the concerns expressed in the March 7, 2012 response letter from the Sovereign Grace Church Fairfax Pastoral Team to the Sovereign Grace Ministries Interim Board:

Christ Church – San Francisco, CA
Toby Kurth, Tim Chao, Jeff Locke, Jon-Paul Momsen

Christ Our Redeemer Church – Vancouver, WA
Daniel Morse

Covenant Life Church – Gaithersburg, MD
Joshua Harris, Robin Boisvert, Dave Brewer, Don DeVries, Braden Greer, Isaac Hydoski, Grant Layman, Jamie Leach, Joe Lee, Matt Maka, Adam Malcolm, Kenneth Maresco, Corby Megorden, Mark Mitchell, Kevin Rogers, Eric Sheffer, Jon Smith, Ben Wikner

Crossway Community Church – Vancouver, BC
Pat Sczebel, Fred Eaton, Marty Jones, David Smith

Grace Christian Fellowship – Spokane, WA
William Farley, David Farley, John Kershinar, Dave Nelson, Jim Spurgetis, Mark Williams

Grace Covenant Church – Jacksonville, FL
Joe Calabello, Craig Eddy Sr., Ed Edwards

Gulf Coast Community Church – St. Petersburg, FL
Jerry Cisar, Steven Brunson, Daryn Kinney

Sovereign Grace Church – Cleveland, OH
Darren Lander, Roman Bibyk, Bob Digney, Eric Grover, Jonathan Putnam, Brian Reebel, Keith Schifano

Sovereign Grace Church – Greenville, SC
Matt Rawlings

Sovereign Grace Church – Indiana, PA
Mark Altrogge, Stephen Altrogge, Joe Ryer

Sovereign Grace Church – Oswego, IL
Josh Fenska, Jamie Maxim, Tab Trainor

Wellspring Church – Pleasanton, CA
Sam Shin, Justin Chang, Chris Feng, Dan Kim, Thomas Ki

Churches Added - March 8, 2011

Grace Church - Bristol, England
Nathan Smith, Peter Bowley

Grace Community Church – Bradenton, FL
Luan Nguyen

Redeemer Church at Lake Nona – Orlando, FL
Benny Phillips


March 7, 2012

Dear members of the SGM Interim Board,

“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:5-6 ESV)

We write to you on behalf of the Pastoral Team of Sovereign Grace Church (SGC) Fairfax in response to “An Update from the Board,” that we received on February 27, 2012. These have been very troubling times for our family of churches, and we thank God for you, as you have labored many hours serving as Interim Board members. We continue to pray that the Lord himself will preserve your souls in peace and that as fellow brothers in Christ, we all will remain focused on glorifying God our Savior.

When we received your update, the SGC Fairfax Pastoral Team discussed the changes in the leadership structure, the functions of the permanent Board, and the nomination and affirmation processes. We also reviewed the list of nominees for Board membership. In the light of our discussions, we are declining to participate in the process of affirming these nominees because we believe the process is premature and unwise.

Our Concerns

The process is unnecessarily rushed.

You ask that the online feedback form with affirmations and concerns be submitted by March 7, just 10 days after we received the update. You do not explain your rationale for the urgent timeline. We suggest that it would be better to wait until after Ambassadors of Reconciliation releases its report of findings. We understand that this report will include key weaknesses and strengths in SGM’s cultural norms, polity, and structure, all of which could inform the way we move forward in seating a Board.

Ongoing lack of or contradictory communications

We see an established pattern of a lack of communications, including the absence of regional meetings, over the last several years. The most recent example is that we received your February 27th update without any meaningful conversation about the process involved or the contents of the update. Within the update itself, there is very little explanation about how and why the new Board nominees were selected.

In addition, we have received contradictory communications that make it difficult to know what to believe about the actions being taken by the Interim Board. For example, you had explained in “Sovereign Grace Board’s Response to the [Panel] Reports that your “mandate as an interim Board was to evaluate Brent’s allegations,” leaving a “thorough examination of SGM’s leadership structure … to the next Board.” With your latest update, however, it is clear that you have made determinations about polity outside of your self-described scope.

Lack of diversity among the nominees

There is no doubt that the nominees are upright and godly men. However, the lack of diversity of opinions is of great concern. Such diversity would come by including broader perspectives on polity from all of our churches, as well as representation from the international churches, and would greatly enhance the pursuit of much-needed reforms in our family of churches.

Ongoing polity problems

SGM’s new Board, like the previous and Interim Board, will have great authority without strengthened accountability. In effect, the Board remains self-appointed and self-perpetuating because we have no commitment that you will act on the concerns that SGM pastors express.

In addition, there is a lack of sufficient clarity about SGM as an entity. There needs to be a theological document that lays out the Biblical explanation of SGM that is published, peer-reviewed by those outside our movement, and discussed as a whole by all SGM pastors.

Proposed Way Forward

The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty. (Proverbs 21:5 ESV)

Our dear brothers, we appeal to you to slow down. Please stop and listen to the churches you are connected to and emerge from; create forums for pastors to speak together and with you; and call a council of pastors from each church together to discuss our future and make decisions together.

We make these appeals as one of the founding churches in our family of churches and as fellow followers of Jesus Christ, our Savior, who can redeem all circumstances and make right all relationships. Also attached is a list of churches and their Pastoral Teams who agree with our concerns and proposed way forward.

Please receive this letter as an expression of the desire we all share for the reform of our family of churches. For over three decades, we all have been walking together for the sake and advancement of the gospel. We hope to continue doing so fruitfully for decades to come.

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you,

Lou Gallo, David Hinders, Vince Hinders, Luke Middleton, Mark Mullery, and Seita Sakaguchi

Sovereign Grace Church Fairfax

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Re: Sovereign Grace Ministries
Posted by: Maranatha Trail ()
Date: August 25, 2012 01:36AM


I’m sure you’re familiar with R.J. Rushdoony and Gary North. After reading an essay in one of North’s newsletters, Rushdoony wrote to the elders of North’s church accusing him of heresy. The elders responded by asking him who they were supposed to contact to correct him if they evaluated his accusation and didn’t agree with it.

Of course, it was a rhetorical question. Rushdoony, North, and the elders knew Rushdoony answered to no one. He did not have a pastor, he did belong to a church, he did not partake of communion with anyone, he did not even attend services anywhere. If I recall, he didn’t have a governing board for his foundation either.

Your situation with Brent Detwiler reminds me of that Rushdoony episode. But unlike the elders of North’s church, who stopped Rushdoony in his tracks, you have allowed Brent to have an enormous amount of access to you and an enormous amount of influence over you.

You, C.J., Josh, Dave, the SGM board, Covenant Life Church. Without too much exaggeration, you have allowed Brent to virtually put you on hold for over a year.

You allowed C.J. to take a leave of absence. You assigned 3 panels to investigate C.J. At great expense, you hired a committee to report on SGM. Special meeting with the CLC congregation, special message at the pastor’s conference. C.J. and his sons-in-law leaving CLC. Moving denomination headquarters literally half way across the country to escape confrontation and controversy. (Even if the timing is a coincidence, it sure looks suspicious.)

Who is Brent Detwiler that you should grant him so much power? Do you or C.J. have a relationship with him? By Brent’s account, neither of you have had a relationship with him for 5 years. So on what basis to you accommodate his accusations, demands, and requests?

When C.J. offered to meet with him, he insisted C.J. first answer all his accusations against him, point by point. When you offered to meet with him, he insisted you first allow him to accuse you before your church. Why didn’t you address the white elephant in the room by simply explaining, “If you’re going to make accusations against me in front of my church, I’m going to have make accusations against you in front of your church.” ?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but he doesn’t belong to a church and isn’t under the covering of a plurality of mature, experienced spiritual leaders. This flood of documents and letters, this flurry of activity, he doesn’t clear that with anyone. Unlike the Survivor, Refuse, and Nation blogs, the comments section on his blog is closed.

For someone who tries so strongly, and so loudly, to get so many people to answer to him, he conspicuously answers to no one. He is a renegade and a lone ranger, and there is no such occupation in the Kingdom. Where in the NT do you find any apostles or elders tolerating and even facilitating so much damage by any such person?

He carries on endlessly about how sincere and righteous he allegedly is; he repeated pleads with everyone to accept his claim that he is only trying to do what God expects of him. He doesn’t have a job. (He’s so busy chasing C.J., I wonder where he would have room in his schedule for a job. He compiles so many documents, contacts so many people so often, and blogs so much, frankly, I don’t see how he has time to eat or sleep, much less work.) He talks of an $11,000.000 lawsuit. He invokes the Declaration of Independence…?! I’m seriously beginning to wonder if he’s clinically insane.

Now he has gone beyond allegation, discussion, and recommendation. He has crossed the line into invasion of privacy, harassment, and outright stalking. When Alicia told him - told, not asked - “Do not write to me again” and “Take me off your email list,” he informed her he would continue contacting her with his announcements and pronouncements. This guy is flirting with a cease and desist order !

Learn the lesson of the Rushdoony episode. This situation has gone on way to long. The apostles in the NT would have shut him down before he had a chance to break into a run. But it’s not too late to deal with him.

Submit to C.J. that he issue a formal, public statement: “Brent Detwiler has separated himself from the Body, yet he seeks to exercise authority over the Body. We neither recognize nor cooperate with people who call themselves believers but refuse to join themselves to and fellowship with other believers.”

But you’re going to have egg on your face. Because you’re going to have to admit to everyone that you should have turned Brent away on day one. The implication, of course, is that you are partially responsible for the turmoil he has caused.

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Re: Sovereign Grace Ministries
Posted by: Maranatha Trail ()
Date: August 25, 2012 09:11AM

Keeping Their Eyes on the Cross
Washington Times
December 23, 2002

Two dozen young believers zealous for the Gospel celebrated their first Christmas as a new church 25 years ago. Tomorrow night, on Christmas Eve, many of them along with their children will welcome dozens of potential converts to what is now a thriving, 2,600-member church in Gaithersburg.

There, first-time visitors to Covenant Life Church are likely to witness some of what senior pastor C.J. Mahaney, a self-described former pothead who co-founded the church in 1977, calls abundant examples of God's grace on repentant sinners like himself.

"We want to be known," Mr. Mahaney preached Dec. 8, kicking off a series on the Bible's book of Galatians, "as a church transformed by the Gospel."

In fact, Covenant Life Church has proved so successful in harvesting souls for Jesus Christ that it spawned a mini-denomination, Sovereign Grace Ministries. It counts 52 affiliated churches in 17 states plus Great Britain, Bolivia, Mexico and Canada, and supports start-up churches in Ethiopia and Uganda.

"What I see is outward evidence of God's favor. That's at the heart of the success of this church," says Wayne Grudem, a theology professor at Phoenix Seminary in Arizona whose "Systematic Theology" underpins much of the church's teaching. "I know of churches around the United States who are looking to Sovereign Grace Ministries as an example of the way churches ought to work."

C. J. Mahaney leads a "reformed charismatic" movement, with the emphasis on "reformed," which some view as radical by modern evangelical Christian standards.

He travels below the radar of the mainstream media, despite occasional sermons on topical subjects such as the September 11 attacks and the sniper shootings.

And his 30-year journey is a Christian twist on a Horatio Alger story. Only for self-reliance, substitute reliance on God's promises.

Within two years of his "rebirth" at age 18 in the summer of 1972, Mr. Mahaney was co-leader of the largest prayer group in the District during the "Jesus movement" and on his way to becoming a powerfully affecting young preacher.

Today, Covenant Life Church, or CLC as members call it, has a $5 million operating budget, a capacious new $22-million building expansion, a 50-member staff and a 280-student private school. With no formal college or seminary education, Mr. Mahaney, 49, has written or edited five books and oversees a training center for pastors that has graduated 73 men in six years.

The Gospel message

Several factors are afoot besides a prime location in affluent, central Montgomery County: CLC's carefully honed message focuses on key biblical themes. The church emphasizes training young people in Christian precepts. A tightly knit, 18-man pastoral team oversees varied ministries.

And CLC scales down its very bigness through a network of 80 "care groups," in which 95 percent of members meet weekly in their homes. They pray, study the Bible and hold each other accountable in developing a personal relationship with God.

The calendar on the church Web site ( is salted with other activities, including classes on everything from evangelizing and leadership to strengthening marriages and parenting to managing household finances.

But always, Mr. Mahaney, his pastoral team and group leaders emphasize the Gospel as proclaimed in the New Testament: that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died on a cross for man's sins and in doing so satisfied God's righteous wrath toward sinners.

Nothing believers do can add to or subtract from this objective truth and "saving event," Mr. Mahaney preaches, although its subjective effect is to transform their worldly lives in the promise of eternal life.
This also is the message of Mr. Mahaney's new book, "The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing" (Multnomah Publishers). The slender volume distills his concern that too many professing Christians are confused about what the Gospel means.

No-frills emphasis

There is only one Sunday meeting at CLC and it begins at 10 a.m. with an hour of prayer and hand-raising songs of praise traditional hymns as well as in-house originals that echo Bible verses, typically ride a rock beat and are led by a shifting band of musicians and singers. The second hour is dominated by a sermon that teaches from and applies Scripture.

Angie Missal, an elementary-school teacher from Germantown, visited CLC at the invitation of one of her students and was converted.

"I was amazed by this student," Miss Missal recalls. "She had written on her binder: 'God first, others second and me last.' She was unlike any of the others."

From the earth tones of the 2,800-seat sanctuary to the studied informality of the pastors' apparel nary a tie is seen on any of the men gathered on the platform nothing is allowed to distract from the Gospel message.

This no-frills emphasis on the saving grace of God, repentance and transformation into humble "servant leaders" pastors sometimes do parking-lot duty attracts those looking for spiritual fruit instead of feel-good or feel-bad fluff.

Lon Wilson, 52, an usher at CLC, says the teaching changed his life.

"I was single, long-haired and a mess," says Mr. Wilson, confessing that he first showed up in 1978 to check out the single women. But "while I was driving home on the George Washington Parkway," he adds, "I repented."

In the beginning

The son of a Takoma Park sheet metal worker and the third of five children in a Roman Catholic home, Charles Joseph Mahaney rejected God at age 12 in favor of sports and, later, the drug culture. His sojourn at Springbrook High School in Silver Spring was not promising.

"My SAT score was so low I didn't even qualify for the University of Maryland, the state where I was born, raised and lived all my life," Mr. Mahaney recalled in a sermon last spring. "I took my SATs while on LSD."
He was born again, he says, the same night that a newly converted friend shared his faith rather than sharing a hash pipe.

He says God used a newspaper ad to lead him to a prayer meeting of young converts called Take and Give, or TAG. By 1974, at age 20, he was alternating teaching assignments with Larry Tomczak, 24, an intern with the AFL-CIO.

Other than the Bible, the only Christian book the long-haired Mr. Mahaney had read was Hal Lindsey's apocalyptic bestseller "Late Great Planet Earth."

"It was not a pattern I'd recommend and there were deficiencies in my teaching," Mr. Mahaney admits, "but I retained an awareness of the grace of God."

He met and soon married Carolyn Layman, a secretary at a Christian conference ministry in Sarasota, Fla. The Mahaneys have three daughters and a son, all raised in CLC.

Attendance at TAG skyrocketed to more than 2,000 every Tuesday night. Meetings at Christ Church of Washington on Massachusetts Avenue NW were a boisterous worship laboratory for charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit primarily prophecy and speaking in tongues paired with Bible-centered teaching.

But TAG leaders learned in a survey that most attendees, some of whom traveled great distances, were not settling into local churches. "Many were being saved," Mr. Mahaney says, "but nothing was being built."

TAG leaders began meeting as Gathering of Believers in April 1977, two dozen believers crowding into the Tomczaks' D.C. apartment, and in late 1979 made the unpopular decision to end TAG.

The young church met in a succession of Montgomery County schools and community centers, eventually renaming itself Covenant Life. The giving of a growing membership allowed construction of a mall-like building that opened in 1993 on Muncaster Mill Road. An even bigger addition opened in time for the 25th anniversary, further drawing passersby.

Spiritual heroes

By the late '80s, Mr. Mahaney emerged as senior pastor. He found inspiration in how to lead a church in Charles H. Spurgeon, the noted 19th-century Baptist evangelist whose church in London grew to more than 5,300 members.

"I discovered in him a unique and rare combination of giftings," Mr. Mahaney says, "a passion and burden for the local church He was an evangelist, he had a sense of humor, he was doctrinally proficient and he was humble."

Mr. Mahaney and other CLC leaders also studied Reformed theology, known as Calvinism through its origins with 16th-century French reformer John Calvin.

In 1996, Mr. Tomczak stepped down from leadership and left the People of Destiny International family of churches (now Sovereign Grace Ministries) shortly after planting a church in Atlanta. A teen-age son's rebellion had called into question his scriptural fitness as a father and elder. Mr. Tomczak, 53, who now pastors a 420-member church in Acworth, Ga., later cited differences over doctrine.

CLC's unusual mix of doctrinal emphasis is appropriate for a post-charismatic period, notes Don Carson, a New Testament professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill.

"Compared to 26 years ago, [CLC] is more conservative and more traditional, but it is amazingly free," Mr. Carson says. "I think C.J. has moderated a lot since then. He has had some genuine experiences, but he has learned enough theology and Bible that he has learned to redefine his experiences in terms that are more biblical."

The bookstore at CLC dubbed "The World's Greatest Bookstore" is stocked with tapes and CDs of music and teaching plus a wealth of texts that could make up a seminary reading list.

Among them: Calvin's "Institutes of Christian Religion," Mr. Grudem's "Bible Doctrine" and "Saved by Grace" by Anthony Hoekma, former professor at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Mich. Also abounding are the works of Spurgeon, Anglican theologian J.I. Packer and Reformed Theological Seminary President R.C. Sproul.

The relatively few books by women bear titles like "Fearlessly Feminine," "The Hidden Art of Homemaking" and "Biblical Womanhood in the Home." Mrs. Mahaney is finishing what likely will be a controversial book on "biblical femininity."

Politically incorrect

Women support the church's scriptural position that only men serve as elders and care group leaders, spokeswoman Carolyn McCulley says.

"We benefit so much from men not being passive about their responsibilities in the family, in the home and elsewhere," she says.

Female members do, however, lead their own seminars and small- group sessions.

"Men have historically abdicated their responsibility in the home and the church," Mr. Mahaney says. "We are seeking to challenge men to serve."

CLC never has pretended to go along with the shifting culture.

Executive pastor Joshua Harris, 27, is the author of "I Kissed Dating Good-bye," a 1997 best-seller that moved more than 800,000 copies with the premise that young men and women should practice sexual purity before marriage, refraining even from kissing.

"I see sexuality as a huge issue for Christians in this age," Mr. Harris says, "and it's a dialogue in the church that needs to be addressed."

Mr. Harris and his wife of four years, Shannon, have two children. He was a speaker in home-schooling circles and living in Gresham, Ore., when he heard Mr. Mahaney at a CLC conference in the summer of 1996. "My parents encouraged me to sit at the feet of men I wanted to be like," he recalls.

He moved across the country and into the Mahaneys' basement in Gaithersburg, then enrolled in the nine-month pastors college modeled on Spurgeon's London school.

The next generation

Last year, at 26, Mr. Harris was named executive pastor, succeeding John Loftness and bypassing older pastors, including co-founders Robin Boisvert and Gary Ricucci.

"Joshua's ability to lead was evident to everyone," Mr. Ricucci says.

Mr. Harris explains that the other men "chose to make me a success," adding: "They say a politician is thinking toward the next election and a statesman is thinking of the next generation. C.J. is a statesman in that sense."

The story of dramatic conversion keeps repeating itself.

Harry Berning reluctantly showed up with his father one Sunday in May 2001. Echoing the youthful C.J. three decades earlier, Harry used drugs and had dropped out of high school. Then he heard Mr. Mahaney speak on the Gospel.

"He was preaching on keeping the main thing the main thing and it made sense to me," says Harry, now 18 and attending Covenant Life School. "I could see how my life was going nowhere. I gave myself to the Lord that morning and asked Him to take my addictions away.

"And that morning, I was delivered from them all."

Read more: Keeping their eyes on the cross - Washington Times

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Re: Sovereign Grace Ministries
Posted by: Maranatha Trail ()
Date: August 25, 2012 09:28AM

C.J. Mahaney Takes a Leave of Absence Over ‘Serious’ Charges
July 12, 2011

C.J. Mahaney, president of Sovereign Grace Ministries, announced on Wednesday that he is taking a leave of absence from his leadership position.

In a blog post on SGM's website, Mahaney says pastors and leaders within Sovereign Grace have made charges against him and other leaders over the last few years, and he is taking a leave of absence “in order to give time to considering these charges, examine my heart and receive the appropriate help from others.”

Mahaney says the charges, which have been difficult to read, “are not related to any immorality or financial impropriety, but this doesn’t minimize their serious nature, which include various expressions of pride, unentreatability, deceit, sinful judgment and hypocrisy.”

Although his departure from the Gaithersburg,Md.-based ministry may have come as a surprise to many, “a process has been unfolding over a number of months in which the board has sought to evaluate charges against C.J., assist him in examining his heart and pursuing reconciliation, and bring accountability and guidance to him in this process,” SGM Acting President Dave Harvey wrote in a blog post.

Harvey also said the board is examining charges against the ministry and is “in the process of securing help from an outside organization that can conduct a thorough and objective review of the charges being brought against C.J. and SGM.”

The length of Mahaney's leave of absence depends on findings from the independent panel, and the board will determine what Mahaney's duties will consist of upon his return.

Mahaney has acknowledged some of his mistakes and is looking to biblical counselor Dr. David Powlison and Pastor Mark Dever. “I have enlisted them to serve me personally during this time and to ensure this process of examining my heart and life is as thorough as possible,” Mahaney wrote.

He also took responsibility for SGM's problems and said he has begun to repent of sins he's committed while in leadership.

“For the past five years or so I have become increasingly aware of certain deficiencies in my leadership that have contributed to deficiencies in Sovereign Grace Ministries’ structure and governance, the lack of a clear and consistent process of conflict resolution and pastoral evaluation, and the number of former Sovereign Grace pastors who are offended with me/SGM,” he explains.

“My friends, though my soul can be easily overwhelmed as I contemplate my sin and its effects on others, I am also resolved to examine my heart, address the past, and play my role in preparing SGM for a future of planting and serving churches,” Mahaney wrote.

The leaders at SGM continue to support Mahaney and his actions.

“The charges against C.J. are serious, but his response has been one of self-examination and, when possible, specific confession to those sinned against,” Harvey wrote. “We ... believe the leave of absence is appropriate in the present circumstances to afford C.J. the time to reflect upon his heart and to allow an independent panel space to conduct its review.”

Mahaney has become a well-known pastor in his time at SGM, and has published several books. He was senior pastor at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg for 27 years.

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Re: Sovereign Grace Ministries
Posted by: Maranatha Trail ()
Date: August 25, 2012 09:38AM

C.J. Mahaney Reinstated at Sovereign Grace
January 26, 2012
Mickey McClean

The board of directors of Sovereign Grace Ministries announced Wednesday that it had unanimously decided to reinstate C.J. Mahaney as president of the Maryland-based church-planting ministry, effective immediately.

Mahaney, the ministry’s co-founder, began a voluntary leave of absence June 30 after facing accusations from former Sovereign Grace leader Brent Detwiler, whose charges against Mahaney included pride, deceit, and hypocrisy.

The board, which created three panels to review the allegations, said in its statement, “After examining the reports of these three review panels, we find nothing in them that would disqualify C.J. from his role as president, nor do they in any way call into question his fitness for gospel ministry.”

In its announcement, the board stated that these reports confirmed that Mahaney is a man and minister of integrity. “As with all ministers of the gospel, C.J. is not infallible, and this fact is not lost on him,” the board reported. “And so we also affirm that throughout this process of evaluation, C.J. has made genuine confession to the appropriate parties and has demonstrated a desire to grow in areas of weakness.”

In a letter in response to the board’s action, which was posted on his blog Wednesday, Mahaney thanked the board members and their families, the people on the review panels, and the pastors and members of Sovereign Grace churches.

“I know it has been a difficult and confusing time for many of you,” wrote Mahaney. “And I am sorry for the challenge it has presented to our pastors—the men I respect the most—and the members of our churches—precious ones for whom Christ died and for whom we have the great privilege to serve. I deeply regret where my mistakes, leadership deficiencies, and sins contributed to the relational conflicts detailed in these reports. And I am truly grateful for your support throughout this trying time.”

Mahaney added he would only step back into the role of president temporarily: “I think it would be wise for SGM to have a new president who has gifts better suited to serve Sovereign Grace in this next season. I love SGM and I want the best for SGM. Lord willing, I look forward to serving SGM more effectively in a different role.”

In seeking what he believes to be his “primary calling from God,” Mahaney said he would like to return to pastoral ministry and the pulpit. For 27 years, Mahaney served as pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Md., the church that initiated Sovereign Grace Ministries. In 2004, he stepped down from the pastorate in order to work full time with Sovereign Grace.

“I think preaching and pastoral ministry are where grace is most evident in my life and where my leadership is most effectively expressed,” Mahaney wrote. “Others seem to agree. And I think I have neglected this call to preach for a number of years as I have endeavored to serve as president.”

Mahaney indicated that he would like to plant a new church while continuing to work with Sovereign Grace in whatever role the board might recommend for him.

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Re: Sovereign Grace Ministries
Posted by: Maranatha Trail ()
Date: August 25, 2012 09:44AM

Update on C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries
Gospel Coalition
January 25, 2012

In July 2011, Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) installed an interim Board of Directors. Our primary task was to determine C.J. Mahaney’s fitness to serve SGM as President in light of accusations made against him by a former SGM leader, Brent Detwiler. To accomplish this, we sought to apply the teaching of 1 Timothy 5:19-21 regarding the examination of an elder. As described in our October 28 blog post, we created three panels to review Brent’s allegations and report their findings to us, after which we would determine if C.J. was to continue in his role as President.

After examining the reports of these three review panels, we find nothing in them that would disqualify C.J. from his role as President, nor do they in any way call into question his fitness for gospel ministry. Therefore the Board has decided unanimously to return C.J. to the office of President, effective immediately.

After briefly describing the background and the review process, they conclude:

This has been a trying season for our family of churches and for C.J. and his family in particular. The recommendations made by the panels delineate some of the weaknesses we see in our ministry, and we expect to learn even more when the separate AOR-led Group Reconciliation process is completed this spring. Our hope and prayer is that all of us evaluate these matters humbly, apply the forgiveness that comes through the gospel appropriately, and relate to one another about these matters graciously as we work together to reform what needs reforming, reaffirm the goodness of God in our midst, and continue to plant and build local churches with our chief aim the glory of God through the gospel.

Three fundamental charges had been brought against C.J. by Brent Detwiler, and each of the three review panels sought to answer one of the following questions:

Was Larry Tomczak’s departure from Sovereign Grace Ministries handled properly?
Did C.J. wrongly influence the process of Brent Detwiler’s dismissal from his church in Mooresville, NC?
Was C.J.’s participation in fellowship in 2003-2004, including the giving and receiving of correction, in keeping with the teaching of Scripture?

On the three charges, the independent panels reached the following conclusions:

No, Tomczak’s departure from Sovereign Grace Ministries was not handled properly. [This is the most complicated and painful report. Attempts to summarize it would likely be inaccurate, but they summarize their findings---focusing on the SGM side of responsibility---under the following headings: (1) SGM board members share culpability; (2) the coercive threat was sinful; (3) public critique hurt Tomczak's reputation; (4) fear affected some board decisions; (5) deficient processes contributed to the conflict; (6) Larry Tomczak contributed to the conflict surrounding his departure; (7) the SGM Board failed to aggressively pursue reconciliation. At the same time, they show that there has been repentance and confession of sin by those involved, reconciliation has been pursued, and some of the perceptions about this story are inaccurate.]
There is no evidence that C.J. directly or indirectly wrongly influenced the events leading up to and including the resignation of Detwiler as senior pastor of GCC.
C.J.’s participation in fellowship from 2003-2004, including giving and receiving correction, was in keeping with the teaching of Scripture.

You can read the entire reports in PDF form here. In short, these issues seem to have been bound up with sin (by more than one person), miscommunication, and unclear polity and policies. The review reports offer a number of recommendations for C.J. and Sovereign Grace Ministries going forward.

What’s next for C.J.? In a response to the review panels, he expresses his gratitude and talks about his future plans:

Over the last six months I’ve spent many hours reflecting upon Sovereign Grace, our history together, and our purpose and mission. I’ve also taken time to think and pray about my calling and how I might best serve Sovereign Grace in this new season before us. I have sought counsel from friends and leaders within SGM and in the broader evangelical church. There is much work for SGM to do in the years ahead, and I want to do all I can to make this work fruitful. The opportunities for church planting in this country and throughout the world are numerous. The requests we receive for help exceed our resources. And one can’t help but be excited about the immediate future given the present Pastors College class and the church planting ventures we have planned for the next few years.

In light of all of this, here is how I think I can best serve you in the days ahead: as I step back into the role as president, I will do so only temporarily. I think it would be wise for SGM to have a new president who has gifts better suited to serve Sovereign Grace in this next season. I love SGM and I want the best for SGM. Lord willing, I look forward to serving SGM more effectively in a different role. So my return will be temporary and with a few important intentions. Let me briefly explain what they are.

First, I want to give immediate attention to helping the interim board transfer governance to their successors. In 2010 we began considering how to expand the SGM board and better define their role in evaluating and overseeing the president. Now that the interim board has served its purpose, it is time for us to complete the transition to a more permanent expanded board. I look forward to seeing this process through and benefitting from the leadership that an expanded board will provide for Sovereign Grace. Despite the many evidences of grace in our midst, I’m aware of a number of present weaknesses in SGM and some past failings; as our president, I take full responsibility for these and I am grateful that with a new board in place we can together continue to address these issues.

Second, once the new board is formed I want to assist them however I can in identifying and installing my successor as president, although that decision will be for the board to make. There are a few other matters I want to address in my remaining time as president, all of which is subject to the priorities that the board establishes for me. But I hope these primary goals can be accomplished within the next few months.

After supporting the board through these important transitions, I hope to return to what I believe is my primary calling from God—pastoral ministry and the pulpit. This plays a significant role in why my return as president is temporary. Let me explain. I think preaching and pastoral ministry are where grace is most evident in my life and where my leadership is most effectively expressed. Others seem to agree. And I think I have neglected this call to preach for a number of years as I have endeavored to serve as president. Over the past five years many faithful friends have brought this concern to my attention and impressed upon me the importance of preaching as a primary means of my serving and leading. However moved I was by their concerns and encouragement, the many responsibilities of the presidential role would quickly preoccupy me again and the effect of their counsel would subside. Over the past six months I have seen more clearly than ever the wisdom of their counsel. So I think the most effective way I can serve Sovereign Grace is by planting a church and leading a local congregation through faithful expository preaching and teaching, as well as serving Sovereign Grace in other tasks and roles the board might recommend for me. I also hope to continue to serve the broader church where strategic opportunity and invitation present themselves, as I have with my good friends in Together for the Gospel. I simply can’t wait to get started. And I can proceed into this future confidently when our new board and president are in place. So that is what I am returning to do and why my return as president will be temporary. I would be most grateful for your support in prayer in this season of transition.

This has been a trying season for a ministry and friends I love and respect. I am grateful to God for this labor of love in methodically working through countless documents and interviews, over hundreds of hours, seeking truth in love. May God use this refining process to provide course adjustments, reconciliation, and further fruitful gospel ministry.

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Re: Sovereign Grace Ministries
Posted by: Maranatha Trail ()
Date: August 25, 2012 11:38AM






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Re: Sovereign Grace Ministries
Posted by: Maranatha Trail ()
Date: August 26, 2012 12:02PM

July 4, 2011

I would like to take a few moments to share with you a testimony of God’s grace in my life, in my family, and in a very dear relationship. About 38 years ago CJ Mahaney and I were brought together in a complementary friendship and teaching ministry in the nation's capital. We started with a handful of people in the home of Mrs. Lydia Little, who called us together and was the initial catalyst for our ministry. We began to study the Word of God, then we began to teach the Word of God in a more public fashion. Our group grew within a four-year period to almost 2,000. It was primarily young people meeting every Tuesday for a ministry meeting called "T.A.G.," or Take and Give. We taught the Scriptures, worshipped the Lord, and saw multitudes of people converted. Even to this day, wherever we travel in this nation and abroad, both CJ and I hear testimonies of people who thank us for our teaching. We've been amazed at how God used that ministry, which was both a personal journey toward God and a revival that touched many lives.

As our ministry grew, we complemented each other—we were very different. In 1977 we realized it was God's will to conclude the teaching and evangelistic gatherings and begin to plant a New Testament church. We tried to do it in a way that was non-divisive and began in my home. Over the course of a year or two, a church was started that is now Covenant Life Church. Thirty-some years later it is a prosperous local church in the Gaithersburg MD area, with about 3,000+ members.

As the church grew, we also caught a vision for church-planting and multiplication according to the pattern in the Book of Acts. Over the course of two decades we were privileged to be involved in planting or "adopting" about 25 churches. This fellowship of churches eventually became known as “Sovereign Grace Ministries.” We were also involved with a nationally published magazine, People of Destiny, which 20-25,000 people received.

But somewhere in the 1990's God put a test before us. I’m sorry to say that we didn't come through with flying colors. We wanted the ministry's core values and beliefs to be more specifically identified. That brought about some friction, because I found myself going on a different doctrinal path than some of the other leaders who were dear friends. As time went by I felt I was experiencing abuses of spiritual authority and methodologies that were harmful and inconsistent with Scripture. Other leaders in SGM shared similar experiences with me. Because of this, as well as some pruning the Lord was doing in my personal life in terms of character, and some family issues with one of our children, CJ and I reached a place where there was not just tension, but an impasse. Eventually there was a sense in my own heart to end my time with the ministry. I felt there were issues of doctrine and direction in the ministry with which I could no longer align. As I attempted to exit, it caused tension and things did not go well for us.

For the past 13 years, CJ and I have been in a state of estrangement. I made several attempts to address these differences and to deal with offenses and perceived injustices. Both of us sought to apply principles of biblical peacemaking, but we made little progress. We struggled unsuccessfully to overcome separation, alienation, and division. We certainly did not give a positive witness for the Lord. The ripples of our separation went through the Body of Christ in many ways, affecting extended family members, churches, and individual church members.

In September 2010, I sent a letter to CJ requesting that we come together again to try to reconcile with each other. CJ gladly agreed and flew to Nashville where we met and talked for over four hours. Early in the meeting, we considered two specific questions:

First, what is God calling us to do that would bring Him the maximum glory, bring healing to the maximum number of people, and stop the ongoing divisive activity of Satan in the maximum number of individuals and churches?

Second, are we willing to do whatever He reveals no matter what the cost?

We both gave a thumbs up and a hearty Amen and said, “Let's dig in.” We put into practice the wisdom of Proverbs 14:9, “Fools mock at making amends for sin, but goodwill is found among the upright.” By God’s grace, we worked hard at repairing our relationship. CJ confessed and repented of sins that had caused separation between us. Where I had also sinned and failed, I did likewise. I was deeply moved by CJ’s humility and transparency, and would give him an “A+” on his role in the conversation.

Realizing that my wife Doris had also been affected by our estrangement, CJ offered to meet with her as well. A few weeks later, he returned and she joined us for another four hour conversation. As a result of prayer and fasting and the grace of God, we saw the Holy Spirit doing a work in our midst that I would have to say was miraculous. I believe that all of us pleased the Lord by not being defensive, by listening to one another, by attempting to understand the past and lay it out on the table, with nothing ignored or neglected.

But God was not done with us yet. Doris's father is 89 and her mother is 87, and CJ knew that they too had been impacted by our struggles. To our great joy and appreciation, he humbled himself and called them on Christmas Eve. In their words, “in a pile of tears” he sought forgiveness and expressed repentance. It was an incredible experience as God brought healing in a situation that my wife had said two months before was irreparable. Ripples went out to our entire extended family. One family member who was involved in the situation subsequently flew to meet with us in Nashville. We were able to discuss things and he repented and asked our forgiveness. We also acknowledged some failures at this time.

CJ also had a private meeting with one of our children and was a model of humility in listening and dealing with issues he wanted to discuss. A breakthrough came when he humbly asked forgiveness for an offense that had deeply hurt my child, Doris, and me. This evidence of God’s reconciling grace was crucial to our eventual reconciliation.

During this six month period, several SGM leadership couples called us or visited us in Nashville, at great financial cost, to likewise repent and seek forgiveness for sins against us and our family. Some called our children to do likewise. Many tears and lots of pain came to the surface, but this brought great glory to God and was essential to the healing process for our family. It also gave us the opportunity to confess and ask forgiveness for our contributions to our estrangement. The efforts by SGM leadership couples to seek reconciliation ushered in the healing for things that had affected all of us for thirteen years and had negatively impacted many of our children.

At this point we are all standing in amazement that after 13 years the Holy Spirit moved into our lives as we humbled ourselves for what we would call a transformational experience. Where sin had once separated us, the grace of Christ now brought us all together in a spirit of love and forgiveness. We were all impacted—not only us, but also our children and extended family members. We believe this is going to reverberate throughout Covenant Life Church, the ministry of Sovereign Grace Ministries, and also individuals who have been aware of this ministry here and abroad. Doris's dad and mom said, “We're ready now to be with the Lord, for we have seen the intervention of God.”

I praise God that CJ and I are now able to communicate the wonderful news of our reconciliation to those who would be encouraged by it. We have agreed that we don't need to go into specifics, but we can tell anybody and everybody that we came together, every major issue was put on the table, we endeavored to humbly repent, ask forgiveness, and honor God by forgiving. We want to move forward now and see healing, not only in our lives and families but in the churches and ministries that in any way, shape or form were impacted by what took place.

Praise be to God, who has graciously overcome and delivered us from our sin and given us the grace to experience the forgiveness and reconciliation that Christ won for us at the Cross!

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Re: Sovereign Grace Ministries
Posted by: Maranatha Trail ()
Date: August 26, 2012 10:25PM


Awhile back, some of us got to talking about what would possibly cause pastors in Sovereign Grace Ministries churches to have responded the way they did in situations like “Noel’s Story,” “Wallace’s Story,” and “Taylor’s Story.” While Dave Harvey would like to think of these situations as a few rare and isolated incidents, the fact that the pastoral responses to victims of child sex abuse were nearly identical would seem to indicate that there is something going on in these men’s belief system and training that has caused them to be more concerned about the rights and well-being of perpetrators rather than victims.

During that discussion, I posted a comment that contained a round-up of some thoughts and observations that I thought laid out a pretty good explanation for why SGM pastors would work so hard to minimize the victim’s response to abuse, keep the situation contained within the church (not involve law enforcement, and in some situations even seem to actively work against supporting the victim in the legal system), and as quickly as possible “restore” the perpetrator.

Here’s the comment. I apologize in advance for its length.


While I am the first to say that any coverup of sex abuse is horrific and evil, particularly when done by a church, I think it would be interesting to explore the mindset behind any such coverup.

What is it about their Sovereign Grace Ministries training that would make SGM pastors respond to abusers in such a way? Why would Sovereign Grace Ministries pastors appear to extend more grace to perpetrators than to victims? Why would Sovereign Grace Ministries pastors believe that they should be the primary source of counsel and support for perpetrators? Why would SGM pastors exhibit a reluctance to get outside help or call upon law enforcement to deal with such perpetrators?

It’s my opinion that SGM’s twisted teachings about sin and the role of the pastor – as well as SGM’s blurring of the lines between “the gospel” and “the SGM church organization” – are what have led to situations where these sorts of crimes seem to be minimized, and perpetrators quickly restored to good standing within congregations.

First of all, Sovereign Grace Ministries holds to the (in my opinion essentially correct and biblical) belief that all problems faced by humanity can be traced back to sin. I say I think it’s an “essentially correct and biblical belief” because if we dig through all the layers of human suffering and misery and downright evil, we are left with almost no other choice but to conclude that humanity is messy because humanity is fallen and sinful.

However, where I would part ways with SGM’s assumption is where SGM’s essentially correct belief about sin morphs into what Sovereign Grace Ministries believes is the remedy for sin.

In SGM’s teachings – and if I wanted to take more time to develop this, I could go back and dig up plenty of quotes from books like Why Small Groups and sermons like CJ’s Happiest Place On Earth, as well as plenty of other resources that are available for the whole world to read and hear – the problem of sin is seen as being addressed by not just the work of Jesus on the cross and His continued presence with us through the Holy Spirit. Sovereign Grace Ministries would say that Jesus’ work on the cross is now being “finished” or “completed” by how Christians relate to a “local” church and how Christians are affected by the work of the pastors in their lives.

In the book Why Small Groups? (available as a free download here) a case is laid out like this:

1. Yes, salvation is through Christ alone, through his atoning sacrifice.

2. Salvation, however, is separate from sanctification.

4. Although, sanctification WILL result anytime someone is “truly saved.”

5. Sanctification cannot happen apart from “biblical fellowship.” I actually am going to go and dig up a quote to back this one up. From Chapter 1 of Why Small Groups? comes this:

“Although one’s personal responsibility for sanctification remains paramount, sanctification cannot be accomplished in isolation from the local church. Scripture clearly teaches that sanctification is intended to take place in the local church—and small groups contribute invaluably to this process.”

You can read the whole chapter to get an even better feel for how thoroughly CJ and his cohorts view participation in “biblical fellowship” a completely essential element of a person’s sanctification.

6. A key componant of “biblical fellowship” is interacting with people in a way where they freely confront you about your sin and where you humbly submit to others’ assessment of your sin. I would strongly urge people to read Why Small Groups? if they have not already done so, and examine how narrowly and explicitly ”biblical fellowship” is defined, and how it almost cannot take place anywhere but in a small group set up and run the way SGM runs small groups.

(By the way – this principle is FOUNDATIONAL if anyone wants to understand the driving force behind Brent Detwiler’s seeming obsession with confronting CJ in his sins. In the SGM mindset, a lack of willingness to submit to others’ assessment of your sin and to acknowledge your sins when confronted with them is almost a sign that you are out of fellowship with God. If we can grasp this, we can understand why in Brent’s mind, CJ’s unwillingness to be confronted was so utterly grievous and dismaying. And why Brent continued his pursuit so doggedly…even as he talked about “grace,” which most Christians understand as letting someone off the hook. In Sovereign Grace Ministries thinking, true “grace” must involve sticking with the confrontation no matter what, because unwillingness to acknowledge one’s sins when confronted would be a sign that the person is not being sanctified…which is a sign that the person could maybe not even be saved!)

7. Also, Sovereign Grace Ministries believes that another essential part of “biblical fellowship” is a person’s continued oversight from his pastor, who also bears the responsibility to continue to confront the person on his sin. SGMers are taught that pastors, by virtue of their higher calling and “gifting,” possess special abilities to perceive a person’s sins more accurately than the person himself. You can read a transcript of C.J. Mahaney’s Happiest Place On Earth sermon here. C.J. has traveled around the country, delivering that sermon to many Sovereign Grace Ministries churches over the years. While (once again) Dave Harvey would now apparently like people to think that Sovereign Grace Ministries does not teach that pastors have special authority over people, that is simply not true.

8. Essential to the Sovereign Grace Ministries understanding of the gospel is a demonstration that one remains keenly aware of one’s “worst sinner one knows” status. I realize that this comment is already excruciatingly long, but I really want to lay this all out in one place, so I’m going to quote from another post:

“Deeply embedded in the Sovereign Grace Ministries mindset are some assumptions:

1. All sins are just as vile in the eyes of God.

2. One of the clearest signs of “rebellion” is when a person sees himself as an injured party, because no injury that can be perpetrated against the person could ever surpass the horror that the person’s own sin is in the eyes of God.

3. The clearest sign of a “repentant” person is eager confession of wrongdoing.

Taking those three Sovereign Grace Ministries assumptions, let’s examine Noel’s pastors’ response to her family’s situation. In light of these assumptions, I think we can more clearly understand a bit of what went through those pastors’ minds as they offered more sympathy and support to the perp rather than the victims. Even though the pastoral responses are basically incomprehensible to a normal person, they sort of start to make sense when you think of it in this way:

Because of SGM’s belief that each of us must always be “the worst sinner that we ourselves know,” we basically give up our rights to ANY victimhood, no matter how heinous the crime committed against us.

In other words, even though what happened to Noel’s family was absolutely horrific, SGM’s foundational teachings would say that Noel’s only legitimate “biblical” response would be to examine her own sinfulness and see herself as “the worst sinner” she knows. Her pastors would see it as their duty to direct Noel’s attention first of all to her own indwelling sin, her own wretchedness in God’s eyes. I believe they sincerely think that this is “bringing the Gospel into” everything they do. For them, “the Gospel” is firstly and foremostly about our own sin.

But instinctively, we know that something is jacked up in this view. God’s own Word would tell us that He does see some sins as having broader and more lasting consequences than other sins. Yes, all sin is an abomination in God’s eyes…theoretically. But we all know the REALITY, that if I go out and kill someone, there are far more ramifications all the way around than if I lie by calling in sick to work one day when I’m not actually sick and just want to go shopping with my friends. Both the murder and the lie are sins in God’s eyes and both are wretched, but if you lie to me, I’m probably going to be less upset than if you kill someone near and dear to me.

In SGMville, though, this normal human reaction – one that the even the Bible would seem to support, if you examine how God outlined so many very specific laws and guidelines governing behavior for Old Testament Israel – is circumvented. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been the victim of a liar or a murderer. In your SGM pastor’s mind, you’ve got NO RIGHT to see yourself as a victim, of any sort. In order to “bring the Gospel in,” they’re duty-bound to remind you of your own sinfulness, like it’s some sort of tonic for the normal grief that you might feel because of the ramifications of the sin that was perpetrated against you…like somehow, if I as the victim can just focus on my own badness, I’ll forget that someone molested my child.

So OK. In SGMville, all sins are created equal.

Now, enter the perp. Perp expresses sorrow and remorse for his sin. He truly IS the “worst sinner that he knows,” so such a mindset comes easily and naturally to him. In the eyes of his SGM pastors, he automatically then becomes the “more righteous” person, since his response is the only “truly biblical” response that they can find acceptable.

It gets worse if the victim stands up for himself/herself in any fashion. SGM pastors immediately see this as unforgiveness, which of course is a sin, which then makes the victim even WORSE than the remorseful (and therefore righteous) perp.

Again, I did not think of this myself. Someone else initially posted these general thoughts. But I thought these were some brilliant observations that did far more to shed light on Noel’s pastors’ really twisted and bizarre behavior than just about anything else.

To me, this helps to make sense of why, in SGMville, the victims are minimized while the perps are protected. It’s because in SGMville, the only thing that is really righteous is seeing oneself as “the worst sinner one knows.” If one has had a crime – particularly a heinous crime like child abuse – perpetrated against one, there is NO HONEST WAY that one can authentically and enthusiastically embrace “worst sinner” status in one’s thinking. One instinctively knows that someone else’s sin (in this case, one’s perp’s sin) is greater than one’s own sin. So one naturally raises objections to embracing “worst sinner” status.

SGM pastors sense this and seem to hone in on it, interpreting standing up for oneself as a sign of pride and sin and unforgiveness.

Meanwhile, the perp is over in his corner crying his genuine tears of sorrow. Because he truly IS the “worst sinner he knows” at that moment, he is more righteous, and hence more worthy of protection.”

9. We have to factor in SGM’s longstanding distrust of and total disdain for the mental health profession. SGM has long taught that “secular psychology” has absolutely nothing to offer the believer in terms of solving problems. (You can see what was taught to Sovereign Grace Ministries pastors fairly recently – in 2009 – about the “counseling process” by viewing a transcript of that talk.


Anyway, to connect the dots of all this to the situations where SGM pastors were aware of sex abuse and seem to do nothing to address the problem legally…

If all problems are sin issues, and if the only solution to all sin issues (sanctification) must involve continued “biblical fellowship,” which – most importantly – includes continued confrontation from a pastor about one’s sins…

And if “secular psychology” presents no way for this to continue, but a pastor’s counsel does…

And if a perpetrator has acknowledged his sin to his pastor…

And if it is un-Christian (“sinful”) to ever feel like one has the right to be a total victim, with no corresponding need to focus on one’s own sin…

Then it makes total sense for the Sovereign Grace Ministries pastor to:

1. Appear to side with the perpetrator.

2. Believe that his pastoral counsel is all that is needed.

3. Believe that he is actually better serving the victim through his position, because he is making it more difficult for the victim to pursue what would be sin – i.e. being a victim and “demonstrating unforgiveness” by pursuing justice through the legal system.

4. Consequently believe that through all of this, he is “protecting the gospel” or some such, because the Sovereign Grace Ministries gospel is all about confronting and rooting out sin, never having the right to be a victim, and demonstrating one’s salvation status by the sanctification process of confessing one’s sins – which a perpetrator has already done, therefore making the perpetrator “more sanctified” than someone who is trying to get justice as a victim.

SGM Survivors

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Re: Sovereign Grace Ministries
Posted by: Maranatha Trail ()
Date: August 26, 2012 10:30PM


Tne thing I’ve noticed is for all of SGM’s chatter about “spreading the gospel” through the ministry of their “local churches,” the people in SGM churches are very rarely new believers.

There’s actually very little evangelism taking place in the SGM “local churches”…unless we consider “evangelism” to be equal to people getting evangelized into the SGM way of doing church.

Most people who join SGM churches arrive there after years as believers in other churches. Yet you still get the sense that SGM represents something of a “second conversion experience” for them. When Guy and I were attending our SGM church, that is one of the things we noticed, and one of the things that ultimately made us have questions and feel uncomfortable. We sat through a small-group meeting where the leader had asked everyone to give their testimonies, and every single story focused more on how people had come to SGM rather than on how they had come to Christ. It was very disconcerting when we thought about it. Oh sure, they mentioned how they got saved, way back when. But the clear impression we were left with was that they “finally got it” when they discovered SGM.

That’s why it’s so telling that some SGM churches have used money designated for “missions” to support their church facilities and pay for building expenses. They’re literally admitting, in some cases, that the only “missions” work they do involves the “local church.”

But if you were to examine how many people actually come to know Jesus and get saved through SGM, I think the number would be shockingly low. In most members’ minds, SGM represents the “graduate school” of their faith…something of a “second conversion.” SGM churches pilfer almost all their members from other “local churches.”

A couple of years ago, there was going to be an SGM church plant to Colorado Springs, Colorado. I would challenge anyone to find a more church-saturated community anywhere in the nation. Colorado Springs is home to a BUNCH of ministry organizations, and there are HUNDREDS of orthodox Bible-believing churches. While there’s nothing wrong with a denomination wanting to get in on the action in such a heavily Christian community, there IS something ludicrous about the way the people involved in this church plant were talking about it on the “sending” church’s blog. They were talking about “sacrificing for the gospel” as they sold their homes and switched jobs to move to another state.

Uh, “the gospel” (as in the good news of Jesus) is alive and well and already being spread in Colorado Springs. (I mean…it’s sort of like if the Mormons were going to plant a church in Salt Lake City!)

That made me conclude that whatever “gospel” SGM is spreading is more about the SGM way of doing church than about Jesus.

SGM Survivors

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