The Devolution of SGM: Repudiation of Hyper-Authoritarian Leadership?

You do not lead by hitting people over the head. That's assault, not leadership. Dwight D. Eisenhower


I was planning on doing a series on how the church views psychological counseling after receiving two very interesting emails, back to back, on the subject from two unconnected people. However, once again, events at SGM intrude and demand coverage as the events seem to be unfolding at a rapid pace. So, I will do the series on counseling after we cover this evolving story.


I believe that the SGM turmoil is a lesson for the evangelical church. For years, complaints have been rife on the blogosphere of people who have been deeply wounded by churches within this sphere. Well, not necessarily wounded by the church members but by the church "leadership." Recently, a couple of SGM pastors have admitted that a few of these stories are, in essence, true. These stories include accounts of child molestation and a less than supportive response on the part of church leadership.

Unfortunately there appears to be a culture in which pastors are considered to be the sole arbiters of "correct" Christian behavior. If the myriad of reports are to be believed, there seems to be years of missteps in which many people have been deeply wounded by an all powerful clergy which have become quite adept at sidestepping their failures while placing the onus of "sin"on the membership.

However, I hasten to add that these problems are not endemic to the SGM culture and, in fact, are part of all churches which stress an authoritarian leadership structure. At the beginning of this debacle, none other than the SBC's Albert Mohler weighed in, leading to questions as to why the head of the leading SBC seminary would feel the need to comment. I believe the reason for this runs far deeper than Mahaney's monetary contributions to the seminary and his friendship with Mohler. I believe it is based in the growing movement amongst those we, at TWW, would deem Calvinistas. These adherents would appear to assert a tightly controlled leadership which centralizes power in the hands of pastors who have been specifically anointed, as in the patriarchs of old.

To prove my point, here is a quote from Peter Smith's article in the Courier Journal. LINK

"Mohler added: "Any time you’re going to take on the role of leadership, you’re going to have critics."

Mohler also supported Sovereign Grace’s highly centralized leadership structure in its churches, with "very strong pastoral direction" and internal discipline.

"It’s something clearly called for in the New Testament," he said.

Mohler said he knew this practice has had online critics for years.

"Basically there are people who are very uncomfortable with the strong kind of spiritual direction that comes through the Sovereign Grace Ministries," Mohler said. "It’s very hard to criticize it on biblical terms, as you’ll see on most of those Web sites. It basically comes down to the criticism, ‘I don’t like that.’"


I think that the following letters, which first posted on SGM Refuge under the leadership of "Johnny on the spot" Jim, are absolutely fascinating. I would be interested in how our readership evaluates the various statements, especially from CJ's sons in law. In fact, I would rather not comment because I am quite curious to see what our readers think. 

Consider this like an MBA case study of this entity. Think about the power structure, the money, and the product. Especially concentrate how "consumers" might view this product. 

It is my prayer that this debacle be viewed as a God given opportunity to reconsider how leadership is being practiced in some of today's churches. I also ask our readers to pray for all the people in SGM who are confused and hurting at this time. May God give them His peace that passes all understanding.




Dear Members of Covenant Life,

We (the pastors of Covenant Life) are writing you with heavy hearts. What follows are two separate letters—one from Brian Chesemore and one from Mike Bradshaw—announcing their decision to resign as pastors and withdraw their membership in our church.
We deeply love and respect both of these men, and this has been a difficult challenge. They are both Christ-exalting ministers of the gospel—hard-working and faithful—and we consider this a loss for our staff and for our church. More than that they are dear friends.

Both Mike and Brian informed us of their decision in letters a few weeks ago. Because of vacation schedules, we weren’t able to meet until last week. We hoped that we might convince them to change their minds. We spent two full days discussing extensively our differing points of view, talking together, asking questions, listening carefully to one another, and reviewing our disagreements (Proverbs 19:20). By God’s grace our discussions were marked by mutual love and affection that was peaceable, gentle and open to reason (James 3:17). We sought to soberly consider their concerns and learn from them. We also shared where we’ve recognized that we could have better led in the past month and voiced a desire to continue to examine ourselves.

As we discussed our points of disagreement, we shared with Mike and Brian that we didn’t believe that these issues warranted separation. We want a diversity of perspectives on our team. We asked them to reconsider the decision to resign. While we sincerely love these men and want to support them personally, we also expressed our disagreement with their decision to leave. We did not want them to leave at this time or in this way. We urged them—many times through tears—to stay and press through this difficult season in light of our shared gospel priorities and unity (Colossians 3:13).

Mike and Brian repeatedly communicated their appreciation for our counsel and concerns. We believe they truly listened to our perspective, but sadly we were not able to persuade them to stay.

Mike and Brian requested that they be able to write open letters to the congregation, and we wanted you to have the chance to hear their perspective. At the same time it is important for you to know that your pastors disagree with a number of issues raised in their letters. We have a different perspective on their assessment of the past few years and our relationship and view of Sovereign Grace. And we differ over how they characterize our leadership of the church since Brent’s documents were released. Most importantly, we don’t think that these issues rise to a level that necessitates a separation. That being said we know they are men of godly conviction and are acting in accordance with their consciences. We also recognize that in light of the unique family dynamics created by this situation, they’re seeking to do what they think is best for their families.

We want you to know that we’re glad to discuss any of these issues more fully with you. Please bring us your questions. Whether you agree or disagree with Brian and Mike, we welcome your thoughts and concerns. Ultimately, we believe the gospel is bigger than any of these issues and that we can walk in unity as we wrestle through them together (Ephesians 4:1-6).

As you know, through this trying time we’ve made some course corrections in our leadership. Though we’re imperfect and weak, we believe we are leading according to God’s Word and doing our best to be faithful pastors to you. We also recognize that we could be wrong in different areas and not realize it. Our commitment to you is that if in the future God shows us we’re wrong through his Word, your correction, or through the counsel of others, we will seek to humble ourselves, admit that to you, and make appropriate changes to how we are leading. Please pray that we would be both courageous as we lead but also humble and quick to admit our faults.

A word for parents. If your children have sat under Mike Bradshaw’s skillful leadership, the news that the beloved “Mr. B” will no longer be a pastor will no doubt be very difficult information for them to hear. Mike has made an incredible investment in their lives through his teaching on Sundays and at Summer Celebration. We’d encourage you to be thoughtful and prayerful in how you share this news with them. Set aside time for an unhurried conversation. Give them time to ask questions. Give them time to grieve. With our own children we’ve sought to share that sometimes Christians who love Jesus have different opinions. (Sharing the story of Paul and Barnabas in Acts 15 might be a good introduction to the subject.) Tell them that what is most important is that we love Mr. B, and that Mr. B loves them, and we all love and want to serve Jesus.

Mike and Brian (along with their dear wives and children) are brothers and sisters in Christ. Let’s remember that this isn’t changing. The gospel of Jesus Christ has brought us into relationship together, not our agreement on secondary issues. In light of Christ’s love we want to exhort you to continue to love Mike and Brian and their families. Don’t remove your love and affection toward them in any way. In situations like this where there is real disagreement or a change in relationship, we must still be guided by gospel priorities in light of Christ’s reconciling, atoning work on our behalf. We believe Colossians 3:12-15 is an appropriate place to direct our attention in this time:

 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts,
 kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if
 one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has
 forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which
 binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule
 in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

This is not the first time Christians have agreed to disagree. And it won’t be the last. We thank God we agree on what matters most—the gospel of Jesus Christ. We love and respect these men and can commend their ministries to others. We pray that God will bless them in ministry and shower his grace on their lives. And we will always count them our friends and dear brothers. That will never change for us.

We will be holding a Members Meeting this Saturday, August 13, from 6-8 p.m. in the Auditorium. We would hold this sooner, but the WorshipGod conference this week (and a wedding on Sunday) make Saturday the only day that works. We hope you can join us.
Let’s continue to trust the Lord together. He is with us. “In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise your name forever” (Psalm 44:8).
For the Glory of Jesus,
Adam Malcolm
Ben Wikner
Braden Greer
Corby Megorden
Dave Brewer
Don Devries
Erik Sheffer
Grant Layman
Greg Somerville
Isaac Hydoski
Jamie Leach
Joe Lee
Jon Smith
Joshua Harris
Kenneth Maresco
Kevin Rogers
Mark Mitchell
Matt Maka
Robin Boisvert


A Letter From Mike Bradshaw

Dear Covenant Life Church Family,
It is with profound sadness that I write to inform you that I have resigned from my role as one of your pastors. Among the greatest joys and highest honors of my life has been to serve you and your children these past eight years (Philippians 1:3-5). I deeply love you and the pastoral team. So it is with a heavy heart, but a sincere desire to serve and care for each one of you and my family, and most of all to honor God, that I make this decision. Please know that this is not an emotional response or impulsive reaction but a careful conclusion I’ve come to through much prayer, deliberation and counsel.

My reason is simple: I can no longer, in good conscience, support the leadership of the pastoral team on key issues, in particular how they have led our church in addressing the accusations brought against C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries.
I first received Brent Detwiler’s documents the afternoon of June 17th 2011, along with the entire pastoral team. Subsequently, we spent many hours discussing the accusations and seeking wisdom from above in order to best serve our church and the people involved (James 3:17). We were all saddened by these accusations. Josh Harris graciously took time to hear from each pastor, giving us the opportunity to voice questions and our varying perspectives during this most critical time. On multiple occasions I was able to express my perspective. I believed my voice, along with others, would be represented and honored at the member’s meetings. However, on the evening of July 10th it became clear that the questions I raised and perspective I brought had little impact on the direction Josh was taking in addressing these matters. When my subsequent appeals were ineffective in altering the course of the following members’ meetings, it became only more evident that I could not support the leadership of the pastoral team on these critical issues and therefore, must resign.

My primary reasons for resigning are as follows:

  • * The failure to biblically process accusations brought against an elder at our July 10th Member’s Meeting, and subsequent meetings, as laid out in Scripture (1 Timothy 5:19-21, Proverbs 18:17, Deuteronomy 19:15-20, Proverbs 18:13, Proverbs 11:13).
  • * The encouragement to read Brent’s documents and the blogs void of guidance and evaluation from the Scriptures; Josh’s specific encouragement for heads of households to read Brent’s documents to examine their desire to be a part of Covenant Life Church and Sovereign Grace Ministries – a statement that brought creditability to these slanderous documents (1 Peter 2:1, Leviticus 19:16, Proverbs 11:13, Proverbs 17:9, Proverbs 10:18, Exodus 20:16, Psalm 50:19-21, Ephesians 4:29-32).
  • * I’m grateful that three weeks after making these statements Josh expressed his regret for not leading us to God’s Word in addressing these matters. However, much damage had already been done.
  • * The failure to publicly and specifically confront gossip and slander among our congregation in a timely manner (2 Timothy 2:14-17, 1 Peter 5:2-3, Ephesians 4:30-31, Proverbs 6:16-19, Acts 20:29-31, Ephesians 4:1-6, 2 Timothy 2:24-26, James 3:1-13).
  • * The misrepresentation of C.J. Mahaney’s character and growth in sanctification at the Members’ Meetings (2 Timothy 4:14-16, Matthew 12:36, James 3:1-13, Psalm 130:3-4, Philippians 3:12-17).
  • * The concern that Josh’s statements regarding Sovereign Grace Ministries were imbalanced, unnecessarily critical, and illegitimately applied to all of Sovereign Grace. Additionally, there has been the absence of appropriate appreciation for the vast fruitfulness of this ministry and our thirty-year partnership in gospel-advancing work both here and abroad (Philippians 1:3-5, Philippians 4:15).

I do not question the motives of your pastors. I believe they truly want God’s best for Covenant Life Church and Sovereign Grace Ministries. They are men I respect and deeply love and am personally indebted to. They are my closest friends! However, I believe they have made serious errors at this most critical time that have led to significant consequences for our church. I am also concerned by the trajectory that these decisions, and the perspectives behind them, point to for our church. It is these factors that compel me to such decisive action.
I too want God’s best for Covenant Life Church and Sovereign Grace Ministries. I believe I can make no greater statement of my love for you than by making this painful decision.

As I have for the last eighteen years, you have my enduring commitment to pray for you and your pastors.

“And this is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11

With love and affection,
Michael Bradshaw (Mr. B)


A Letter from Brian Chesemore

Dear Pastors and Members of Covenant Life Church,

I love Covenant Life Church deeply and it broke my heart to recently arrive at the settled place where I believe it is necessary to write this letter of resignation. My hope is that what follows adequately explains the reasons for my transition from the pastoral team I have loved, served, and respected over these last eight years. Coming as this does in the midst of this challenging season, I realize that my decision may well seem sudden and surprising to some, and for that I am very sorry. This is not a decision I have come to quickly and lightly. I have sought to persevere through my concerns, “bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:2-3). With this gospel-exhortation before me, I have made my decision prayerfully and soberly over the last year.

My reasons for resigning are twofold.

First, I have observed over the last two years an undeniably diminishing enthusiasm amongst members of our pastoral team for the partnership we share with Sovereign Grace Ministries.
Since 1991, I have had the privilege of attending and serving in three SGM churches. I am passionate about our family of churches and the doctrine, relationships, values, and mission that we share. Although we are in a difficult season as a relatively young movement, I believe God is continuing to guide and grow us in our gospel-mission. We may be hearing a tremendous amount of criticism right now, but because of grace there is a far greater display of gospel-fruitfulness in the churches of our movement.

I returned to Covenant Life in 2003 after a church plant in part because of this church’s strategic partnership with Sovereign Grace Ministries. But for the last two years I have had growing questions and concerns regarding our relationship with Sovereign Grace Ministries which I’ve expressed to Josh, the board of elders, and various members of our pastoral team.
Many discussions have led me to believe that the majority of our pastoral team seems to think there is little to learn from Sovereign Grace. Under our board’s leadership, we have spent far more time criticizing in matters of polity and mission than building up and partnering with SGM even though SGM has been in the laborious process of leading us in polity refinements for almost two years (Eph. 4:29; Neh. 4:1-20). And our trajectory has been a steady move away from Sovereign Grace, which deeply disappoints me. I’m not suggesting that Covenant Life won’t remain a SGM church. I pray and have a strong hope that it will. But I believe our church has minimized and neglected the privilege of our long-standing partnership with our friends in Sovereign Grace.

I would disagree with this direction and believe our partnership has been historically beneficial and should still be vital. We have the uncommon gift of a “partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Phil. 1:5). We don’t exist in this partnership solely to reform it. It is meant to be mutually beneficial, and I believe we impoverish ourselves when we neglect or minimize the wisdom, experience, and relationships that reside in Sovereign Grace. To go further, I believe Covenant Life’s recent history reveals that we need more help from Sovereign Grace, not less.

I shared my concerns and perspective with the board numerous times and I believe they have faithfully listened. But these conversations did not produce the results I prayed for. Not wanting to react quickly, I chose to persevere in both prayer and appeals for greater appreciation and partnership with the Leadership Team and churches of SGM. However, my efforts failed to bring encouraging changes in this direction.

For twenty years I have had a passion to serve Sovereign Grace, our weaknesses not withstanding, but I don’t believe I can sufficiently fulfill that desire here at Covenant Life. My decision to resign is rooted in this reality.

I had hoped and planned for a transition much farther down the road, and in a manner that would cause the least amount of pain to people I love and would prefer to spend the rest of my life pastoring. However, the pastoral meetings and recent members’ meetings related to Brent Detwiler’s accusations have expedited this decision for me.

Which brings me to the second reason for my resignation: the failure of the pastoral team to lead in a biblical manner by providing a Scriptural framework through which to view Brent’s documents and the events that followed.

On July 10, 2011, Josh led our church into a season of publicly interpreting Brent’s documents and what he believed to be God’s perspective in these times. No doubt, the writing and release of these documents required a massive call for discerning and courageous leadership. While I believe Josh has only the best of motives, and wanted only to walk in truth and transparency, I think he failed to provide the essential biblical categories for interpreting these accusations and in so doing neglected his primary pastoral duty as a shepherd (2 Ti. 3:14-4:4). The alternatives to clear scriptural guidance have serious consequences. I believe the pastors neglected to biblically define Brent’s documents as accusations against an elder and as slanderous (1 Ti. 5:19-21). Instead, Josh expressed sympathy for the documents and encouraged heads of households to read Brent’s accusations to see if they would want to be a part of Covenant Life Church and Sovereign Grace Ministries.

I could not in good conscience exhort heads of households to read Brent’s documents and I am grateful that Josh later expressed regret for this recommendation. While the documents contain some truth about the sins which C.J. Mahaney has confessed, they also contain large amounts of sinful judgment, claiming even to understand C.J.’s motives (Matt. 7:1-5). They are unreasonable and entirely one-sided (James 3:17; Prv. 18:13, 17). And they should not have been considered without adequate due process in which C.J.’s side was heard. I appealed to this end, and the men heard my appeal, but did not agree.

Our team’s failure to demonstrate adequate impartiality and to bring clear and specific biblical guidelines gave credibility to Brent’s accusations and this has resulted in speculation, gossip, and even slander of C.J.’s character. For over thirty years C.J. has labored to serve faithfully as a pastor. He’s not perfect because he’s not Jesus. But he is a man who has walked with integrity and remains qualified as a minister of the gospel unless clearly shown otherwise through a biblically just process.

Because this didn’t happen, the pastors of our church failed to lead at a critical time. I believe this has had a detrimental effect on our local church, and that our example has had a detrimental effect on churches beyond Covenant Life. I love these men dearly, but for the sake of the gospel, I cannot continue to serve where I have a growing concern about our direction and our adherence to God’s Word when leaders receive accusation. I don’t want to feign unity. From my perspective these are matters that are closely tied to the work of the gospel. And though I love Covenant Life, I believe I’ve arrived at a Paul and Barnabas moment (Acts 15:36-41). I pray that our separation produces the fruit that these two men experienced in their latter years of ministry.

I understand that this letter presents my perspective and may not represent the view of other men on the pastoral team. But with sadness I must submit my resignation.

The pastors and members of Covenant Life will be the daily object of my prayers and gratefulness. I love my fellow pastors and I am indebted to them in more ways than I can name. And the privilege of caring for the dear members of Covenant Life has simply been, and will remain, one of the greatest privileges of my life.

Brian Chesemore


Lydia's Corner: 1 Kings 12:20-13:34 Acts 9:26-43 Psalm 132:1-18 Proverbs 17:6


The Devolution of SGM: Repudiation of Hyper-Authoritarian Leadership? — 72 Comments

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  3. I’m new to CLC, but the more messages I read from the pastors, the more I understand the complaints from congregants.

    First of all, there’s the “pastor-speak.” They almost all sound the same, like machines. Bloodless. And I love the gospel, but I don’t have to read the word every other sentence.

    I don’t know these two guys, but, from what they write, I say good riddance. Concern for Mahaney and SGM, but not for the congregants. Do they really think that telling the church how to read the documents would have been helpful? That’s exactly the kind of authoritarianism people seem to be sick of. Clueless. Maybe they should join the Catholic Church.

    I’m grateful for this blog and the comments.

  4. Jeff

    Thanks for your comment. I am sitting here perplexed, trying to figure out why grown people would not get annoyed that thy are being told how to tell their children that their youth minister left the church. To me it would be simple but then again my children went through school and had new teachers each year. Do they think these kids are so dependent on the pastor that they will be distraught? Maybe I don’t understand this nonsense as well as I think.

  5. Well…

    1. “I should be in control, but now I’m not, so…”

    2. “I’m taking my toys and going to another sandbox.”

    3. “Josh Harris is mean.”

    4. “But don’t tell anybody – I kicked sand in his face!”

    (Not that I hold out any hope for CLC to become different… I think these churches are so steeped in authoritarianism that they wouldn’t know how to function w/o it.)

  6. dee

    Yes, I forgot about the telling-your-children-the-awful-news part. (Maybe because I’m not a parent.) I think “paternalism” is as good a word as “authoritarianism” to describe their outlook.

    Being relatively new, I somehow didn’t connect your reference to sons-in-law to these two guys. Of course, that makes it even more inevitable that they would react this way.

  7. I like the image on this post. “WE LOVE HURTING PEOPLE” which has a double meaning of course. Probably meant “we love people who are suffering” but then there is the other meaning, which I think may actually apply to some churches and pastors.

  8. Could be the church of SM? Don’t think I ever heard of that as a denomination, theology or ecclesiology, but some SGMers must have an S or M problem to stay there!!! SGM-G(God?)=SM?

  9. I like how they both put the Scripture behind each statement they made in order to impress on us the validity of what they think, what they have done, adn what they said…

    I guess they don’t feel we have our own opinions and wouldn’t necessarily agree on their interpretation and example of how they have lived out those scriptures.

    I also find it quite irritating that they want to say that Josh encouraged the congregation to do something “bad” and that he also didn’t chastise the congregation for their “gossip” and “slander”. These two dudes are loosers. They really need to follow the exit signs. Nobody is going to miss them. Seriously.

  10. NLR

    Unfortunately, I have learned that the Bible can be used out of context to justify anything. I always smile when someone gives me what they think is a one line zinger to “prove” that their perspective on secondary issues is obviously right. wE get people who come on this blog and tell us to “justify” why we have this blog using only Scripture. Let’s see-the only thing that comes close to blog is log and that should be removed before making such comments.

  11. Lin

    Thanks for those links. They are excellent. And in this case, the pastors have no clothes and they are trying to cover themselves up.

  12. Anonymous

    The buzz words are flying fast and furious in these letters. Unfortunately, they have all have the root word of baloney.

  13. Someone please entertain us and pick out all the buzzwords… This shall be fun!

  14. Dee:

    Totally off topic. Is it possible that one could sprain or strain the muscles in the neck? I forgot the diff between the two. If so, which would be better, 800mg ibuprophen or Aleve? IMHO, Ibuprophen is better, but generally when prostaglandins are the cause. Is that the same chemical causing the contraction of the muscle in the neck? My friend has whiplash. I”m thinking she might need something stronger like Percoset (of course, the DR will have to prescribe, but I am consdiering taking her to an outpatient center for something stronger and maybe a collar. I can’t believe the first doc didn’t do that, and neither did she get an x-ray.) I’m trying to make her comfortable until she sees the doc again on Friday but the pain is worse. We have been alternating with hot and cold compresses, Icy Hot. If you totally can’t give your opinion for legal reasons, then please ignore this post! Ha! And I wont consider it advice from a nurse.

    Back to regular programming…

  15. @Jeff, excellent summary of the issues. I was part of that system for so long that I can scan this type of communication and find that it, somehow, still makes sense to me. Yours and numo’s reactions are those of regular folks who never took this silliness for granted.

    What’s really strange, even to me, are all these scripture references. That’s more scriptures than I remember hearing in 50 CLC sermons, in the last few years I was there.

    Why the sudden need to backstop every thought with verses, unless they realize it’s so heretical for a pastor to part ways with the SGM mothership that they need to pretend God is telling them to do it through his Word.

    But this looks even more strange, because as CJ acolytes they should know that the ultimate quotes and citations come from Spurgeon – not the Bible.

    Okay, that last comment was a little snarky.

  16. We do hate authority. It’s part of our genetic package. “I wish to be God.”

    I remember Roberta Hestenes talking about her time at Fuller Seminary as a faculty member than her time at Eastern Baptist as the president.

    She said, that as a faculty member she liked to play, “Lets blame the President.”
    Then she became the President and discovered she didn’t like the game all that well.

    So, we play, “Let’s blame the leadership.” God help us if we become part of the leadership.

  17. Seneca,

    I’ve read many of your comments in the past weeks and I think we can agree that you might not have an aversion to abusive leadership. Is that it?

    Why do you feel the need to make statements such as the one you just made AS IF there couldn’t possibly be any real or serious problems in leadership EVER? Are you really that stonehearted and blind that you would put leadership on the altar that you have? Is that not clear to you that’s what you are doing?

    Honestly, Seneca, most of us don’t give a darn who’s in leadership especially if what they are doing is very clearly wrong. In your world, it seems that leadership can only be praised, but should not expect nor experience any dissent, or god forbid, rejection and distaste for it’s actions.

    If we took away all the titles here, and just looked at every individual as a child of God–would that make a difference? Could we then see that the supposed children of God who are teaching other children of God and who are supposed to help them move forwadr in their walk with God are doing some very shady and ungodly things? Maybe you don’t agree that’s what they’re doing. If not, then why do you continue to come here and post comments like the one you just did and simply leave? What is it that you wish to accomplish?

    Have you not noticed that the people here have spent months, years and some others the better part of a decade researching and expericing patterns of abuse and bad leadership in the church? Your comment teaches nobody anything other than the fact that you confuse what’s at stake here, and you confuse what leadership truly is. It’s not true that everyone hates authority. These pastors have no authority that’s any different than the authority Christ gave ALL believers and that was to go into all teh world, in His name, and spread the Gospel.

    They do not have ANY authority over their congregation that not one of the congregants have. So this invisible non-existent authority you think we all hate isn’t authority at all. And us hating this mockery of a leadership has nothing to do and neither is it synonymous with any authority that God has. Leadership and authority are two different things. One is everpervasive and always existent, while the other is conditional. These “leaders” have a conditional and limited leadership in the church. But they do not have some God-given authority to rule over other people. Because they believe that, and apparently you do too, then it’s that lie and that abuse and misunderstanding and misapplication of Scripture that we hate and nothing more. Leadership can also exist without authority or rule, whereas authority always implies leadership.

    I really dont care what Roberta thinks or said. She isn’t God and her view of authority and leadership is not inspired by the Holy Spirit. Yet, I shall view what Scripture says on those matters and tell you that you and Roberta are VERY wrong.

    You are right, God please help us that if we should ever become leaders in any capacity, that we will not assume authority that we do not have and abuse others with it.

  18. NLR…

    Im sure I missed a lot. Heres the ones I picked out from a quick scan of the letters:

    ministers of the gospel
    hard-working and faithful
    mutual love and affection
    peaceable, gentle and open to reason
    continue to examine ourselves
    shared gospel priorities and unity
    men of godly conviction
    walk in unity
    imperfect and weak
    humble ourselves
    continue to love

    deeply love
    pastoral team
    confront gossip
    growth in sanctification
    vast fruitfulness
    serious errors
    With love and affection
    strategic partnership
    God’s perspective
    courageous leadership
    truth and transparency
    pastoral duty
    clear scriptural guidance
    biblically define
    sinful judgment
    biblical guidelines
    speculation, gossip, and even slander
    biblically just process
    caring for

  19. Vanessa–

    Hey, that was actually awesome. Two things I noticed: (1) That was almost the entire letter. Hmmm.. maybe it would have been easier for you to copy and paste the entire letter. It was all buzz-words! Ha! How awful is that. An entire letter almost written of buzzwords. (2) In all seriousness, even though I was joking around, it was very eye-opening. A lot of those words don’t even make sense. Some of them impossible, they just don’t exist. Some doublespeak. Others, simply loaded. Others, oxymorons in some ways. Nothing is really straightforward or even clear.


    One of my doctors once said that some people do better on Ibuprofen and others swear by Aleve. Everyone’s chemistry is different. However, if the pain is worsening, this is not a simple strain and MD involvement is necessary.

  21. Vanessa
    I love the list. What in the world is “shared gospel priorities?” I am beginning to wonder about how the word “gospel” is getting misused. We have gospel marriages, gospel parenting, and, now, I kid you not, gospel smoking cessation. I thought the gospel meant good news that sinners are now redeemed through Jesus. Guess it now means a lot more. Oh well, back to reading the gospel comments.

  22. Don

    You said “But this looks even more strange, because as CJ acolytes they should know that the ultimate quotes and citations come from Spurgeon – not the Bible.” Thanks for the laugh. Maybe the Puritans would have something to say as well?

  23. “A lot of those words don’t even make sense. Some of them impossible, they just don’t exist. Some doublespeak. Others, simply loaded. Others, oxymorons in some ways. Nothing is really straightforward or even clear.”

    Agreed. Its almost as if they were written by the same person. Its eerily similar to the movie Stepford Wives (the original).

    My least favorite buzzword has always been the use of the word “biblical”, or “biblically”… using the word as a carefully constructed mechanism, so that one would never dare disagree.

  24. Seneca

    You said “We do hate authority. It’s part of our genetic package. “I wish to be God.”” Do you mean to imply that the SGM pastors are like gods? And the rest of us poor schlocks are the great unwashed “we?” They would really like you in lots of Calvinista churches!


    Thanks, Dee. I was thinking the same thing. I was kinda concerned that her doctor examined her, and simply said that she should take some Aleve and it will get better, but it isn’t. She’s taking 400mg twice a day. I’d have to at least take 800mg of Ibuprophen to stop the pain, so I dunno. But I’m thinking a doc switch is in the cards! She also has to wait until Friday before they will see her. Makes no sense to me.

  26. Pingback: » The Devolution of SGM: Repudiation of Hyper-Authoritarian Leadership?

  27. Dee,

    gospel priorities, gospel-mission, gospel-fruitfulness

    Seems within reformed realms the word gospel has been delegated to adjective status. Within SGM, it seems to subconsciously prevent any question of the origin\authority of the current SGM theme\idea of the week.

  28. There’s not a church leadership team in existence that doesn’t have critics thinking they are acting, not as men of God, but only in their own interest.

    As Harry Truman said, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” Having detractors, deserved or not, goes with leadership.

    I’ll restate it: It’s in our DNA to reject any authority other than ourselves.

    Every Church pastor/elder has someone in their church who thinks the pastor is doing the devil’s business.

    Quite possibly, the CRITIC is the bigger problem. From a distance, one never knows for sure – sadly.

    I observe SGM and the commentors from a distance.

    The anger and bitterness from some commentors is palpable.

  29. So, we play, “Let’s blame the leadership.” God help us if we become part of the leadership.

    Actually, when people who are in a spiritually abusive system, that operates by way of thought reform dynamics in order to maintain a tight control of individuals and function of the group, they generally do lay blame on the leadership first.

    The problem is not necessarily the leadership. In the Lucifer Effect, and based on his Stanford Prison Experiment (and other such studies within social psychology, he pointed out that bad systems tend to make it very easy for people to behave badly and make it very difficult for people to remain ethical an honorable.

    He likens individuals to apples, and the system they find themselves in is like a barrel. Then there are powers that maintain the barrels. In Abu Ghraib, they threw all sorts of people into that prison, and none of them had any training about how to interrogate prisoners, and they were in a locked down facility, 24 hours a day without respite. The system was poorly designed and it facilitated bad behavior.

    That in no way argues that wrong was not done, but it does help people understand human nature and the power of a system to affect behavior. The challenge is to build systems that guard against the abuse of power and to train people to be what Zimbardo calls “everyday heroes” — people who are willing to buck the system to do what’s right.

    I don’t think that SGM has so much of a leader problem, and to a great extent, CJ was drafted into a bad system in the seventies as a very young man. In some respects he is only playing out the worst example of what the system can turn a person into and how power the power of the system can foster corruption. He is actually more trapped by the ideology and his own pride and is a slave of that system than is the average rank and file member. His whole life depends on the system being ideal.

    The problem is the dynamics by which the group functions wherein the end justifies the means — and the group that initially means to help the individual be a more effective Christian is used, exploited, and thrown under the bus to meet the demands of the group. It’s the system, and every individual in the system (be they leaders or followers) are accountable for lending themselves to the group in order to perpetuate it. Get rid of the system and the aberrant dynamics and aberrant doctrines. And they are really just the works of the flesh, operating at the level of a group.

  30. Dee–

    What in the world is gospel smoking cessation?! I have never heard of that. Man, that’s a new one!

    * * *


    I hate biblically/biblical in the way that I LOATHE the statement “best care for”.

    True story: NLR gets in an argument with friend still at NLR’s ex-church. Apparently, an older woman and a younger woman heard that one of the young women, let’s call her Harlot, was doing something that they didn’t approve of that was ungodly. Considering the church and their “rules”, Harlot could have simply had a guy stop over her house and it was….dusk outside. Too close near dark. Harlot is probably still a virgin, as most of the women at least pretend to be, and simply did nothing wrong to warrant this behavior. And even IF Harlot was sleeping with Prince Charming, their behavior was not really as biblical as they thought it was. But considering that we dno’t know what Harlot did, let’s forget that example and move on with our story.

    Anyways, Tattler shared Harlot’s issue with Harlot and Tattler’s small group in order to seek ways to “best care” for Harlot. Harlot’s small group of Virginal Handmaidens decided that they should include an older woman at the church and confront Harlot, we shall call her Madame La Guilliontine. Mind you, Harlot never gave anyone permission to share her “issue” with anyone, not even her small group.

    So to her surprise, MLG and Tattler come a bangin’ on Harlot’s door who refused to let them in. Regardless, they literally force themselves in and start yelling at her and talking about The Situation. MLG even goes so far as to slightly threaten to discipline Harlot and tell her that she is not playing with her. Harlot tells them it’s none of their business and makes them leave her house. End of story.

    Here’s where biblical comes into play…

    NLR is talking about said situation with Friend. Friend says well I believe they were right in what they did. It’s biblical. We are called to call out each other’s sin. I said no, Friend, you are wrong. A person has a right to dignity adn privacy, even if they are living in sin or doing something wrong. She goes well, I dont think so. They could be doing something that will cause them harm or hurt themselves. I said well, if Harlot was not going to put a bullet in her head or go jump into the Potomac and kill herself, and if what she was doing wasn’t blatant public sin that was also repetitive, then they had no right to barge themselves in her house and confront her in the way that they did. Neitehr was it the business of any of them, including her small group.

    Friend says well I think you’re wrong. We don’t have a right to privacy, not as believers. I said well, I’m not sure wehre you read that in Scripture. I said God gives us all free will and choices that we can make on our own. God also allows us the consequences, whether good or bad of our choices. God also allows us to disagree wtih him and make bad decisions. God also allows us our dignity and our privacy. Both are inalienable god-given rights. Just because I am a sinner and because I sin, doesn’t mean that my sin is the business of the church.

    Friend says, well, I disagree. What do you thin they were doing ni Acts? NLR! They were living their lives openly and transparent. I said, Sweet Friend, you have to read that into Scripture. We know that Paul made statements about public sin, usually dealing wtih drunkeness or infidelity. But if Harlot was seeing a guy, had a man in her house, stole money from work, lied on her taxes, or felt the pastor’s booty behind closed doors, it’s still not the business of the church.

    Just because Paul gave those admonishments doesn’t mean that they always told the entire congregation the sins of everyone. ANd in teh instances where you saw that Paul dealt with such situations oepnly in the church, it was usually issues of infidelity or public drunkeness. You know nothing about that culture, and yet, you and everybody else want to infer that they were all going around in each other’s business. THey were not and we cannot discern that from reading those passages of Scripture. It is not your right to obtain private and personal information about someone, and then go share it without their permission. What you are doing is deceptive, wrong and abusive.

    In the end, Friend saw somewhat what I was saying, but I”m not convinced she did entirely. But her constant insistence that it was all “biblical” really threw me for a loop.

    The funny thing is, there’s so much that people clearly don’t know about the culture and interaction in the NT church that they want to read a bunch of crap into that it wasn’t. I’m sure that people could have been transparent, adn that sin could have been dealt with, without violating a person’s dignity, self-respect and right to privacy. I told her that if that was Christianity, then I dont want no parts of that ish.

  31. Seneca, you have the wrong model of what a leader in a church is supposed to be. As I posted elsewhere on this blog site today:

    Jesus said that those who would lead must first (and foremost) be servants of all. The very role of shepherd in agriculture is to tend the lowliest and foulest (except for pigs) of livestock, and to care for them at the risk of one’s life.

    Similarly a pastor (shepherd) is to be a servant of all.

    All of the passages in the Bible on submission are specific that submission is to be mutual. Even the verse on wives being submissive immediately follows a verse on mutual submission, and is followed by a command that a husband should love his wife to the point of being willing to climb on a cross and die for her. If you love someone that much, you don’t insist that they submit unilaterally.

    So a pastor is to be a model of submission.

    The concept of the priesthood of each and every believer makes all of us on the same level. All Christian men can be called “a man of God” and all Christian women “a woman of God”. There is no hierarchy in the Bible among believers because we are all part of one body.

    The problem with pastor as boss of the church is that it is anti-Biblical and therefore unChristian, and thus sin. And the consequence of sin is death, even death of a church or a pastorate.

  32. Seneca

    You said “Every Church pastor/elder has someone in their church who thinks the pastor is doing the devil’s business” Any possibility that one or two of those might be right?

  33. Seneca–

    Since when did you become a seer? Apparently, you can see in the hearts of men and see anger and bitterness? Maybe you should consider if that’s biblical or not–you know, reading minds and hearts? Truman now! You’ve quoted any and everyone here except for God Himself. I find that interesting.

    You obseve SGM and it’s commenters at a distance. Why did you need to tell us that? We can see that clearly from your lack of knowledge, discernment and healthy views of the situation. Please tell us something we DONT know. And just because I dont agree with you, adn that I see huge error in YOUR thinking, doesn’t mean I’m angry or bitter. Just because you don’t like the words I choose or what I have to say, doesn’t classify me as that either. The anger and bitter card around here is always an object of jokes and humor. If you want people to take you seriously, you’d do better than just being an observer from afar, doing more homework, diving a little deeper into something you APPARENTLY want to be apart of and have some “authority” to make statements about it. Yet, you want US to do that but YOU refuse to do anything like becoming more involved and really thinking about the issues here that would make us take you seriously and consider your input….from a distance. You want a lot for nothing, Seneca. And honestly, nobody has to give you any respect or consideration that you haven’t even bothered to earn.

    Unlike you, I believe there ARE pastorates and leaders in this world whose ministries we don’t hear much about if any at all, who are the very type of pastors who would receive those crowns when they see God face to face. Your statement that there isn’t one who exists implies that you have some type of omniscience that’s shared with God. That’s a bit cocky, don’t cha think?

    Look. We’ll play with you but go study first. Read some more. And stop throwing out the anger and bitter card just because you have nothing more constructive, well-founded and relevant to say.

    You make statements that have no backing or confirmation AT ALL, yet, we make statements and make rightful judgement on men’s very actions and words. Anybody ever tell you that your word and your actions are all you have in this world–so you better mean what you say and mean what you do.

    Please also learn how to argue based on a focused set of issues. Your application of our dissent to all pastors and leadership everywhere is broad and outside the scope of the conversations here–which have to do with very specific actions and topics, like covering up the rapes and abuse of 3-year-olds.

    You’re right, from a distance, no one knows for sure. But since you’re the only one around here commenting and criticizing from a distance, then that only commenter who doesn’t know for sure is you. The rest of us have personal history and stories with focused topics and people that we are discussing. THerefore, we’re not on the outside of the fence peering in like you are, not being able to tell one thing from another. I’m afraid where you’re standing, you might just be standing there alone. The rest of us aren’t afraid to come up close and really look at what we’re seeing and aren’t afraid to have an opinion or judgement about it.

  34. Arce

    These types of pastors do not believe they should be submissive to anyone but God and that they get to tell us what God says about all of this. Nice gig if you can get it.

  35. Jesus said something about little ones and a millstone. I believe the same applies to baby Christians being led astray by a corrupt pastor and the fate of that pastor.

  36. Arce,

    I agree with your commentary. Funny thing, when I think of CJ Mahaney and his ilk, the word “servant leader” is not a concept that comes to mind. Leaders who need to be served is a more apt description.

  37. In my 3 or so following the blogs HIGHLY CRITICAL of SGM, I really haven’t seen anything in their leadership that’s been all that different from other church leaderships or denominations.

    I do know, first hand, when you are an elder you’ll hear about things you don’t even tell your wife.

    There have been those times when I’ve said “way to much” showing my own ignorance and immaturity.

    Count me among the humbled by my stupidity. I continue to have compassion for other who may be as stupid as me.

  38. NLR,

    We have been attending an SGM church for almost a year now out of a desire to be part of a true NT church. We are currently bowing out gracefully. We did not attain membership status, so leaving will be a lot easier for us than most. In the short time we have been there I have been amazed at the red flags, bells, and whistles the Holy Spirit has thrown into our spirits. One situation in particular is similar to the events that transpired in your story above. So, as unbelievable as it may sound to an unindoctrinated outsider, these “loving confrontations” happen every day in SGM churches. Now dont get me wrong, there are situations that warrant a Matt. 18 response, but 90 percent of what we witnessed did not.

    We made our decision to leave before any of the current scandal had broken, and I am so thankful to my Father for His quiet and loving whispers to our hearts that this was just not what He has for us. Too much MAN, not enough of HIM.


  39. Before this thunderstorm killed our wireless, I was going to say that I loved the names NLR chose for her story, they are reminiscent of a Nathaniel Hawthorne novel. I wonder if anyone will ever write a book on their experience in SGM. You know what they say… truth is always stranger than fiction.

  40. @ Vanessa: you know, Hawthorne wrote some pretty scary stories about people who abused their power in churches. I think his short story “Young Goodman Brown” is a pretty good representation of *many* of the things experienced by people who are rank and file in abusive authoritarian systems of all kinds… Though I suppose the problem with stories like that one is that it’s so easy to say “I’d never be one of those people.”


    @ NLR: I love your character name choices, too! Madame La Guillotine reminds me of Madame Defarge in Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. And the kinds of stories you’ve just told – all too familiar, I’m afraid.

  41. Arce,
    Lots of good comments here – I wish there was an applause button for your comment at 5:42pm.
    It seems in the swirl of things to think about, some of the leadership in SGM has lost sight of that. Excellent comment.

  42. btw, my Hawthorne rec comes from a desire to *not* get people focused on “indwelling sin,” etc. (which is a major part of the story). I guess it’s like the comments made earlier about one of the top members of the “staff” at Auschwitz – that his kids didn’t see their father doing truly evil things, but later had to come to grips, somehow, with the Jekyll/Hyde nature of his personality.

  43. Seneca–

    Wow!! Comparing the show Amen to SGM is akin to comparing 3:10 to Yuma to Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. Just because Amen is a sho about a church and SGM is supposedly a church doesn’t mean they are alike, just like two westerns that have nothing in common.

    You think a comedy about a lower middle-class struggling African-American congregation that showed family values and Christianity and some struggles and dramas that happen in normal churches like what to do with the building fund or he choir members are fighting and you liken that with a disfunctional, controlling, abusive, deceptive high-demand cultish upper middle class predominately white wannabe church that has systemically hidden child sex abuse fir at least 15+ years!!!!

    I’m baffled. You continue without fail to surprise me with your views.

  44. Vanessa–

    First, I laughed out loud at your wondering if anyone will write a book after reading my comment. Fir a sec I thought you and Dee were secretly plotting on me. She’s been gently encouraging me to write about my experienc. She probably doesn’t know how I am always encouraged by her! ;). I’ve been really thinking about it.

    I’m glad that you had someone to walk out with you and who saw what you saw. It was very difficult for me to make that move when most everyone was telling me it was tge wrong thing to do, that I had to leave well or e reconciled to those people–who could only be consumed to worry about any ensuing bitterness but not the real issues that would cause me to be bitter in the first place. These people focus on all the wrong crap. It’s unbelievable.

    I’m glad you all liked my characters.

  45. AMEN: Ultimately a show about human fallibility in the context of the church. Power struggles, gender wars, moral failing, manipulations, small lies, bigger lies, wisdom and foolishness, biblical interpretation and mis-interpretations. Life and death but life prevails.

    Mirrors what you see in the church today minus the brilliance of Sherm Hemsley.

  46. NLR and David,

    I’ve moved in every circle SGM claims, and though some words terms are very familiar from either a Reformed or a Pentecostal and/or Charismatic perspective (I’ve spent time in all), SGM has more nebulous and confusing terms with enlightened and double meanings than any other aberrant Christian group I’ve encountered. You hear leaders first and then other members start to use a term in a way that seems to make no sense, really, but then you begin to understand its implications based on habituation as well as how others model their responses to it. You usually don’t realize that it’s happening, once you’ve learned how to adapt, almost spontaneously. The first time you hear a unique word, it seems a bit stressful, but you learn quickly that this is how the group uses language.

    The trouble is that you don’t realize that this is used to get concepts into your head without your conscious realization, sometimes by confusion and sometimes by capitalizing on emotional responses or past experience. Politicians do it a lot, too (e.g., non-optional taxes are called “contributions,” implying an option to decline via choice when there is no choice). When it suits a leader, too, ambiguous terms can be changed, or it allows the user to plausibly deny that double meaning. (“I never said ______ was a sin! I said it was not beneficial for those who truly honor the Blood of Jesus and have a true desire to seek Him.”) All of these things not only initially bypass your judgment, they shut down your ability to think about (and reject) what is actually being communicated. They use so much language, you just give in and stop thinking about what each oddly used word means, just to go with the flow.

    The other benefit of this is that it reinforces group identity. You can tell if you’re talking to a real group member, because you’ll spontaneously recognize the language that they use. Subconsciously, you’re more willing to accept their ideas because they’re packaged in the familiar phraseology that is completely unique and is only understood within the group. Like a secret handshake in a secret society — same spontaneous effect without the formal intent.

    This also reinforces the sense of belonging that people get from the group as well as the sense that the group is truly special and unique. Those in the group spontaneously understand that they are more special to God and other Christians, in a lesser way like their leader is. This enhances the sense of elitism that leaders also communicate. The unspoken message is “No one is as good as us.”

    It’s a terribly clever tool of manipulation, and I’m so glad that former members can begin to see right through it after they leave. It’s a vital part of recovery.

  47. Seneca,

    I would say that every church has some parallel experience that shows like AMEN illustrate, and shows like that just exaggerate experiences for the humor factor. Mel Brooks said that all comedy is really a means of coping with pain, disappointment, and failure — all things that are common to human experience. I agree that every church has its problems and foibles, though they are not part of the ideal. Most people are quite forgiving that way — making shows like AMEN appealing.

    I don’t think people here are criticizing the irony of human experience, and for those who seem intolerant to you perhaps, I would ask why they became less forgiving of SGM. It’s likely because SGM abused their good natures and the “benefit of the doubt,” already depleting all of the person’s patience. They’re likely rigid for good reason, and you’re coming in near the end of that history.

    If dramatized, I agree that you’d see things like the story lines on AMEN, but you would also see others that are more like Orwell’s Animal Farm.

    First, no animals sleep on beds, but after it’s discovered by the leaders that beds are pretty nice, suddenly the “real” rule had to be adapted to preserve and insulate the leaders in their hypocrisy. “No animal shall sleep on a bed ‘with sheets.'”

    But my favorite rule from the book is “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”

  48. Cindy K–

    Your explanation of the loaded language was breathtaking. I wish that I could have explained it that way when I have confronted others on the issue. I told one of the elders at my old church about this problem. He brushed it off and said oh, well, whenever you get a group of people together, especially those who practice discipleship (yes, he admitted that we were a discipleship church–although I dont think he had any idea what he had said), you will get insider language being used. Funny thing is, you’d think in ALL of his studies and working on his PhD, that he’d have studied cultish behaviors and high-demand control groups. Apparently, none of these wannabe theologians find it necessary to study that.

    All of what you described, I have experienced. And I responded in the very ways you have described such as jsut ignoring the fact that something didn’t make sense and payihng attention to behaviors and responses to understand because verbal language could not explain to me what was really being said.

    Even the elitist mentality of knowing who is apart of the group and who isn’t based on their ability to speak the lingo. THIS was huge in our church. As I’ve said before and I’ll keep saying it, CJ will be happy there. I think he’s going to feel right at home.

    HOnestly, I haven’t read Orwell’s Animal Farm but the description kinda reminds me of the Animals and the animals in Maguire’s “Wicked”.

  49. NLR,

    People will argue against the fact that this kind of language is manipulative. They will say that it is just because the group is either specialized or lively and busy doing lots of things, so the language develops.

    All specialized groups have their own unique language, but it is always well-defined and clear. The language itself is used because it has a sure meaning and is meant to be descriptive. The language helps clarify meaning and enhances communication. I first heard STAT while watching MASH as a kid, and I came to fully appreciate the benefits of the immediacy when I became a nurse, not having to interpret Latin or say “immediately with grave consequences if delayed.” It is a shortcut, but everyone is very clear on what it means.

    In manipulation, nothing is very clear, there are not objective definitions, and it serves to make communication more lofty or mysterious. You have to almost actively work or put in your time with the group to learn what the heck people mean. And then, you’ll find that the meanings change when it suits the leadership, like adding in “with sheets” in the original Orwell example. “We always meant ‘with sheets’ from the beginning, and you just failed to see the obvious.” Yeah, right.

  50. New post up at Survivors posting a letter from Josh about CJ and Carolyn leaving CLC and going to CHBC.

  51. Arce,

    I was taught as a nurse that “STAT” derived from the Latin of “statim” meaning “immediately” with a connotation of “firmly.”

    The grave consequences part is what I learned was often the use of the word when a patient was critical, the understanding of the word that I only fully appreciated when I saw the word applied in real life and in context. If something is STAT and is not done, it results in serious consequences that are often grave.

    I apologize if I failed to explain that.

  52. Concerning loaded / specialized language:

    I’ve seen how leaders seem to flee to these terms as a means of staying in control of conversations, maintaining the upper hand. And all the while I’ve had the distinct impression that they really didn’t know what the words meant either, but they had observed how those words spoken by other leaders kept the conversation just where they wanted it.

    I just roll my eyes.

  53. RE dee on Wed, Aug 10 2011 at 03:50 pm:
    I totally agree Dee. The Bible can be used to “prove” just about anything you want it to say. It’s all about spin, I do the same thing myself. All the time.

    NLR, I just loved the spoof about the antics of the spiritual Bible biddies and Harlot! Harlot sounds like my kinda’ gal. I once quipped (at another blog) that if Allah would grant me just two nasty old harlots in lieu of 72 virgins, I’d convert to Islam. Needless to say, not too many these days can take a joke, not even one as hyperbolically absurd as that one. As a consequence, my comments will never appear at that blog again, Muff is permanently banned.

    RE Elastigirl on Thu, Aug 11 2011 at 02:57 pm:
    What do you do when the great and powerful OZ tells you to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain? (it’s a favorite tactic of Biblical bullies)

  54. Muff —

    I’m finished with all great and powerful ozes. I’ve been lucky enough to find a church that met my stringent requirements, high maintenance person that I’ve become:

    -women treated as equals, in theory and in practice
    -music that is utterly sincere, & would fall in the rhythm & blues / soul category
    -leaders who are sincere
    -people who are sincere
    -it is truly time well-spent

    Added bonus, it is very multicultural. It’s a 30 minute drive, but there was no place in our town that I would consider attending. Actually, having this kind of space between home and church is a very good thing. Ensures that we have 100% ownership of our home and family life.

  55. I had other requirements for a church I was willing to attend, such as non-authoritarian, non-controlling, non-manipulative… but i figured that went without saying.

  56. Pingback: » The Devolution of SGM: Repudiation of Hyper-Authoritarian Leadership? Church Leadership

  57. Hardly. I’m so sick of all these lofty concepts and untruths and halftruths packaged as “TRUTH” or else! Makes everything so complicated, and creates so many new problems.