Sovereign Grace Ministries Boasts About Its Pastors College


"Oh yes, I'm the great pretender, pretending that I'm doing well…" 

The Platters

 Photo by Deb

Despite the firestorm that is engulfing Sovereign Grace Ministries, it appears the Board is pretending everything is just fine. In case you haven’t been reading SGM’s most recent blog posts (the last three to be specific), the Pastors College is back in session. SGM leadership appears to be dodging its serious problems by shining the spotlight on its future leadership and the brilliant theologians who are being hired to teach.

Since the SGM board wants everyone to focus on its Pastors College (PC), let’s take a closer look. Perhaps you will recall that last year the PC had only three students. That might explain why this year’s class is much larger with twenty-three students. SGM pretends everything is hunky-dory by making these kinds of pronouncements. (link)

“Today marks the beginning of a new Pastors College academic year. We’ll introduce the students in a moment, but first, here is the class by the numbers of 23 students:

• Ages range from 24 to 56 years old
• Twenty-two are married, with marriages ranging from 3 to 31 years
• Ten states are represented, as well as five countries besides the U.S.: the Philippines, Germany, Bolivia, England, and the Dominican Republic
• 15 of the students have prior pastoral experience and 1 is a senior pastor
• 8 students are in our church-planting track

As you can imagine, the ten-month Pastors College curriculum is an intense experience for these men and for their families, on top of settling into temporary homes and for some a new culture altogether.”

I was surprised that Tony Reinke listed the students’ names and other pertinent information in his post.

If you are not familiar with the SGM Pastors College, here is the description provided on the SGM website. (link)

“The Pastors College is a ten-month pastoral training program for men in Sovereign Grace churches. It combines academic instruction with an emphasis on pastoral care and spiritual growth. The Pastors College also provides ongoing training for current pastors in Sovereign Grace Ministries….

How it works

The Pastors College is based at Covenant Life Church and is led by Jeff Purswell, a member of our leadership team. Students (usually 15-25 per year) take a series of non-accredited, week-long classes on the Old and New Testaments, hermeneutics, systematic and biblical theology, pastoral ministry, homiletics, church history, counseling, and much more. They also take the equivalent of two semesters of biblical Greek….

Students live in Gaithersburg, Maryland, during the ten-month program so they can observe and participate in the life of Covenant Life Church. Frequent small groups, along with pastoral care from Covenant Life pastors, provide an environment that facilitates growth in humility and Christlike character.”

What greatly puzzles/troubles me is that a number of students who have attended the Pastors College in years past have already earned Masters of Divinity degrees from accredited seminaries. I guess they have to go through a ten-month indoctrination into the SGM way of doing things, which features Wayne Grudem’s abbreviated version of Systematic Theology. Grudem’s book used at the PC – Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith – was edited by none other than Jeff Purswell, who heads the Pastors College. The back cover states that Purswell is “dean of academic and student affairs at the Pastors College of PDI Ministries and is on the pastoral staff of Covenant Life Church, both in Gaithersburg, Maryland.” According to SGM’s website, Jeff is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in New Testament Studies from The Catholic University of America. Why not Southern Seminary?
Sorry, I just don’t understand what anyone who has earned a legitimate M.Div. could learn from the SGM Pastors College.

It’s important to point out that the PC is exclusively for members of Sovereign Grace churches who have been recommended by their pastors, “usually after a period of training and observation in their home church”, according to SGM’s website. The website further states:  “After their graduation, students are sent to local churches (usually within Sovereign Grace Ministries) for internships or pastoral positions. Many go on to plant churches within a few years of their graduation.”

The SGM website also includes the following information related to the Pastors College:

"Although the Pastors College is usually limited to Sovereign Grace church members, all pastors are welcome to take advantage of these additional training opportunities and resources.

These include:
• our annual Pastors Conference
• the semiannual Together for the Gospel conference
• study books for your church
• free audio messages on pastoral leadership"

I sincerely hope the Together for the Gospel conference is bi-annual and not semi-annual… 

Who teaches at the Pastors College?

According to the SGM website, instructors include “Mark Dever, Wayne Grudem, Ligon Duncan, David Powlison, Jeff Purswell, Bob Kauflin, C.J. Mahaney, and others from churches within and without the Sovereign Grace family.”

Incredibly, SGM leaders appear to be deflecting attention away from themselves and their defective organization by focusing on the PC instructors in their blog posts. The first instructor highlighted was Dr. Andreas Köstenberger, Senior Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology and Director of Ph.D. Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. (link)

Here is how Dr. Köstenberger is introduced on SGM's blog:

"This week classes began for the 2011–2012 class of the Pastors College class. And each year the PC curriculum includes classes by experienced seminary professors who are invited to teach on targeted subjects…. With the start of the new year we thought you may be interested to hear a few interviews we’ve done with visiting lecturers in previous years. 
Today we’re posting a conversation we recorded with Dr. Andreas Köstenberger, Senior Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology and Director of Ph.D. Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In 2009 he traveled to the Pastors College to teach a course on the Gospel of John.”

To be sure, Dr. Andreas Köstenberger is a highly educated and well-respected theologian at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.  (link)

Dr. Köstenberger has a ministry called Biblical Foundations. (link)

To demonstrate what a small world it is, you may be interested to know that Dr. Köstenberger's oldest child and my younger daughter were classmates almost a decade ago.  I remember meeting his wife for the first time at the class Christmas party (this was a Christian school) held at the local ice skating rink.  We had a nice conversation that day.  Less than a year later my family joined a newly established Southern Baptist church, and the Köstenbergers also joined.  Not only that, my husband and I attended the same Sunday School class as Andreas and his wife.  It was a rather small class with less than 30 attendees each week.  I remember Dr. Köstenberger chiming in the discussion from the back of the room on occasion.  Sadly, we are no longer members of this congregation because there was a tremendous internal conflict that divided the church.  

Carolyn Mahaney would likely feel threatened by Dr. Köstenberger's wife because she is highly educated.  She, like her husband, holds a doctorate.  In fact, she sometimes lectures at Evangelical Theological Society gatherings.  One topic she discusses is Jesus and the feminists.  According to the Biblical Foundations website, the Köstenbergers recently co-taught a graduate level class at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

Although I no longer associate with the Köstenbergers, I am bothered by how Sovereign Grace Ministries appears to be "using" theologians like Andreas to justify their ministry to a watching world via their blog.  From my perspective, it seems they need to do name-dropping in order to gain credibility.  C.J. Mahaney used the same tactic on his View from the Cheap Seats blog by spotlighting various well-known Neo-Calvinists such as John Piper, Mark Dever, David Powlison, etc.  Just check the archives to see what I mean. 

In the last few years Dr. Köstenberger has likely spent less than two weeks teaching a course on the Gospel of John at the Pastors College.  I wonder whether he approves of SGM publicizing his short-term role at the PC.  From my vantage point, the theologians who teach at the Pastors College appear to be complicit.  The world is finally becoming aware of the serious problems in Sovereign Grace Ministries.  Will there be any repercussions for the theologians inside and outside of SGM who train future leaders in this "family of churches"?

The following video was suggested by our good friend, Sopy! 



Lydia's Corner:     2 Kings 17:1-18:12      Acts 20:1-38      Psalm 148:1-14      Proverbs 18:6-7



Sovereign Grace Ministries Boasts About Its Pastors College — 60 Comments

  1. I am NOT a supporter of SGM or the Pastor’s College. I think they’re fundamentalists and, at the very least, cultic. That said, can someone (Dee or Deb, or anyone else) explain this statement?

    “What greatly puzzles/troubles me is that a number of students who have attended the Pastors College in years past have already earned Masters of Divinity degrees from accredited seminaries.”

    Personally, requiring denomination-specific training above and beyond seminary training doesn’t sound weird at all. I realize that as someone who’s spent nearly my entire life in separationist, fundamentalist churches, my sense of what’s “normal” in churches is WAY off in a lot of areas, so maybe this is one of those areas. (I’m working on it, but I’m not there yet!) I’m just not really seeing why this is such an usual requirement.

  2. Deb, you have the exact sense of it. There is distractionary stuff going on. DPV.

  3. I’m not a fan of the pastors college concept. It’s a the Cliff Notes version of seminary. I don’t doubt that they have an intense, high-energy program that covers a huge amount of material in a short time. Suppose that somehow, they are able to “cover” the entire curriculum of a 3-year seminary in the 10-months of PC. Even if it were possible to do that, even if the average graduate could ace every multiple-choice test in Christendom, ten months is simply not enough time for anyone to thoughtfully consider and synthesize a body of knowledge into a mindset & lifestyle that makes for an effective, compassionate, well-educated pastor/theologian.

    Over the years, I have heard some darn fine sermons from SGM preachers, many of whom are PC graduates. (The older guys pre-date the PC, but they were in on the kool-aid recipe from the beginning.) IMO, these guys can preach excellent sermons. But they are woefully unprepared for dealing with the complexities of a congregation.

    Why would a person with an M.Div go to the PC? I suspect that the answer is fairly simple. If you want to be a SGM pastor, it’s a ticket you have to punch. SGM is nothing if not controlling — they’re not about to let some loose-cannon SBTS graduate fire away from one of their pulpits until he’s gotten completely wasted on the kool-aid. I’m surprised they haven’t insisted that Piper, Dever, Mohler, et al, attend the PC, just to get tweaked.

    Amanda — most of us would agree with you that it doesn’t sound odd to expect “denomination-specific training above & beyond seminary training.” But the PC is, for most of the students, in lieu of seminary training, not above and beyond it.

    It will be interesting to see if these 23 pastor-candidates end up with jobs at the end of the 10 months. I don’t know if all SGM churches are seeing declining attendance, but several “local churches” are hemorrhaging members and cannot afford to pay more salaries.

    Their very attendance at this year’s PC might be termed a leap of faith — will SGM even exist after all the dust settles? If they’d gone to a real seminary instead, at the end of 10 months, they’d be a third of the way to a recognized, accredited degree.

  4. Amanda,

    What other denominations have something equivalent to SGM’s Pastors College? I stand by my statement, but I appreciate your comment.

  5. Dee–

    I thought Sopy was a spammer. I didn’t know it was a real person? Everything this person writes is in some sort of poem that I find hard to understand so I’d just skip it. Okay, I think I need to pay more attention! lol

    I think Amanda’s question though, could use a more descriptive answer because she might not see what the implications are and why this is really not a good thing. It is true, from the outset, it doesn’t appear that that is such a huge problem but you and I knowing SGM probably understand that more clearly. And just because other churches and demoninations dont do it, what makes it so wrong that SGM does? I think the implications are what she may need to consider? I like what Nickname said here “Amanda — most of us would agree with you that it doesn’t sound odd to expect “denomination-specific training above & beyond seminary training.” But the PC is, for most of the students, in lieu of seminary training, not above and beyond it.”

  6. Well, if I had dug a little deeper before writing this post, I would have discovered a recent interview with Nathan Sasser, Assistant Director of Academic Affairs of the SGM Pastors College, on the Reformed Forum blog.

    The first 10 minutes or so of the interview focus exclusively on the PC, so take a listen. Valuable insights can be gleaned from this interview…

    The Pastors College and the Philosophy of Hume

  7. The PC is a great way to do a few things…all at once:

    1) What else is one of these young guys gonna do if he discovers he doesn’t like how SGM is run years down the road? He’ll be making good money, have a house, a family…and no real accredidation. Who else will recognize a Pastor’s College Certificate of Completion? That would be no one. It’s a way of getting insurance on these guys’ commitment to SGM.

    2) It’s quick…get these guys in, out and installed somewhere. When you’re trying to grow an organization quickly you can’t have your leaders messing around getting a post graduate education consisting of between 90 and 120 credit hours and taking between 3 and 4 years.

    3) You can avoid the difficulty of having a variety of theological perspectives that you might get at a place like Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. In other words, you can brainwash.

    PS – I was speaking with an SGM Pastor once who was fairly newly minted from the PC. I have a theological background and he was asking me about the various views on the Lord’s Supper. Turns out he was never taught any of the various views in the PC and yet he was presiding over the administration of the Lord’s Supper. Made me want to scream.

  8. NLR

    Sopy has a unique way of communicating. You must read said person with an eye to the underlying meaning. You should see the material we have been sent. This person knows what they are talking about. In fact, I like old Sopy. He/she marches to a different drummer, not unlike your glamorous blog queens. Be sure to click on included links. They are spot on.

  9. Matt, et al

    There is another clever part of the indoctrination of the Pastor’s College. A couple of years ago, I read that the new class was greeted by members of CLC who washed their cars for them and had meals ready and waiting for them. These guys were fawned over. So, can you imagine what the will expect when they get to their churches?

    No wonder there are complaints that pastors ask people to babysit and then do not offer to pay them. This stuff is not done out of a grateful heart for there service and kindness. It is done out of an acknowledgement that these guys are specially set apart and need to be served.

  10. Amanda

    You only have to look at the turmoil, along with the rapidly changing theology to meet CJ’s current deal to help you to see that PC is not a seminary. It is a tool of indoctrination. Remember, CJ conceived this, put it together. He has only a high school education. Deep thinking is not required.

  11. 10 months at any college does not even get your feet wet. Learning Greek and Hebrew, hermeneutics, exegesis, church history, Biblical cultures, etc takes many years.

    A Biblical elder was mature in years as well as in learning. He had many life experiences and wisdom gained from a long life. Some 20 something yr old kid going through 10 months of PC is NOT an elder by any stretch of the imagination.

  12. Dee–

    do you think Ceej could have gotten into seminary? (rhetoric) I dont. (Just answered my own rhetoric. Please feel free to do the same! I’d love to hear the answers!)

  13. Maybe Ceej should start training the pastors at Calvary Chapel… He could make more money. And since their polity is pretty much the same, I’m sure it woudl all work out!

  14. For some reason, my tongue is stuck in my cheek this morning… All this thick greek style yogurt from Trader Joe’s… Blame it on the yogurt, NLR. (smh)

  15. It feels to me like they almost buy these guys off. Lavish congregational attention, unilateral authority over the sheep, good pay, and the only price you pay is making sure you stay in the good graces of those with the power to de-gift you. Lots of downside risk for rocking the boat and being openly intellectually honest about organizational problems. In other words, lots of motivation “where it counts” to maintain the status quo.

    SGM has a grip on these guys right where they live. CJ understands what really motivates people and has built a system that pulls all the right levers and pushes all the right buttons to get and keep these guys in line.

  16. This stuff makes me think CJ is more of a sociopath – he figures out how a system works (i.e. Reformed Theological Pardigm of Scripture) and then lives within the system to use it to get what he wants from people.

  17. Matt–

    I’ve seen the same thing happen at CHBC—Mahaney’s new church (tongue still stuck in cheek). Par example: (1) Young Af-Am brother comes to a weekender and then comes to do the internship (yes, CHBC has an internship–not outside of the norm). Opening night introductions, dude says he wants to learn all that he can to take what he learns back to the urban community. Spouts some stuff about their being a need for solid theological teaching in the black community (most of us can agree to that), and that’s what he desires. Okay, you get a clap for me. As an Af-Am, I would love to see more of the churches in our communities be dedicated to more sound theological teaching, not forsaking our cultural uniqueness, but yet, making sound teaching a priority.

    After living in a rent-free situation, decent house on the Hill on church property, love-bombed, enamored by Dever, and seeing how great the examples of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and well, how cushy life is at CHBC for interns and pastors–dude kinda changed his mind. Upon leaving, his speech changed. He know he says he wanted to specifically go back to the urban community and pastor a church and teach Reformed theology but now he’s “Open” to other opportunities…and is off to Louisville.

    (2) Many other interns come into the program… experience life at CHBC and well… they just don’t leave. Many of them say, upon finishing the internship, “we dont know what our next stop is, but we’ve decided to ‘stick around’ for awhile.” Sometimes they end up on staff. It’s so very predictable. Then the rest of us have to suffer painfully throuigh their awkward, boring, gut-wrenching, sin-sniffing evening sermons, forced and self-inflicted in the style of Mark Dever–which just makes you end up wishing that Mark was preaching anyways. Trust me, ONLY Mark can be Mark.

    (3) On influence and culture…. An elder or someone once said to me, you know, the culture here is different. And our church is set as a model for healthy churches, etc… Everything at CHBC is ran like a well-oiled machine. Very efficient. Very precise. when you have small-town pastors and young men coming to a weekender and they see all these amazing things, they get overwhelmed. They go back to their little small-town churches overwhelmed and thinking this is what they want, yet they probably won’t get that. Not where they are, anyways. So you have to come and think about what’s most important because there are many pluses to having a congregation this size, in this city, with incomes that DC bring–and people in small towns aren’t going to do things this way. When he said that, I was like hmmm… I see why none of them want to leave, or they come back and then go elsewhere.

    You have all these families cooking for you, inviting you over. Bromances with the guys. Living cheaply or for free in the Bull Moose (the all-male holy house where the most desirable and eligible bachelors live). Teaching and menotring by some of the top guys in the RBD world. Then you see how well they live. People get on staff, write books, live nice decent lives.

    How can you ask a guy who is seeing all that to go back to his urban or small-town community, struggle financially, work a real job alongside pastoring, and commit. People say they love preaching and their heart’s desire is to share the Gospel with a sinful and dying world–yet, they aren’t willing if it will require sacrifice that pastor’s and missionaries of old were accustomed to.

    This whole book-writing, conference-having, big-dogging Neo-Calvanist culture is cushy preaching and lavish lifestyle that many pastors in the day would have never even fathomed. How great it is that you could preach adn teach, and share the Gospel to communities already saturated with churches (except you dont think their teaching is sound) rather than having to work hard for your piece of pie (literally) in some mission field in Cambodia, or small town church in the middle of nowhere.

  18. It is for freedom that Christ has set me free from the bondage and slavery of SGM. God’s word tells me not to submit myself again to another form of such bondage. (see Galatians 5:1) No more “families of churches” for me. I am enjoying my freedom way too much to do that nonsense again.

  19. NLR

    You are a genius! Well, at least you agree with me which, in my thinking, makes you a genius. I have contended that Calvary Chapel is very similar to SGM. Now cue Jerry…

  20. To add fuel to the fire– Calvary Chapel’s view on Church Gov.

    * * *

    Who We Are
    Church Government
    Calvary Chapel also differs from most mainline churches in its style of church government. Most denominational churches maintain a congregational form of church government, a Presbyterian form, or an Episcopal form of running their churches. These three terms should not be confused with the denominations that bear the same names because other churches of different names share the same styles of government.

    The congregational form of church government is an American invention and appeals to our American sense of democracy. Basically, the congregation as a whole makes all decisions in these churches by voting on matters of importance and appointing committees from its ranks to run the daily operation of the church. Most Congregational, Baptist, Pentecostal, Brethren, and non-denominational churches are organized in this fashion. The congregation votes on hiring a pastor, votes on how to spend the money, and on anything else of importance. Although democratic people like the idea, congregational forms of church government often wind up at best causing the pastor to be directed by the sheep he is supposed to lead, and at worst reducing the pastor to a hireling.

    The Episcopal form of church government, used by Episcopalian, Anglican, Catholic, Orthodox, and Methodist churches (to name a few) is controlled by a church hierarchy, which may have differing names. Basically, there is a bishop, or someone of similar stature if called by a different name, who oversees the churches, appoints pastors to pulpits, sets policy, and guides the vision of the local congregations. Unfortunately, this style of government, which grew out of European monarchies, leaves little freedom for the local pastor or congregation to follow the leading of the Spirit.

    The Presbyterian form of church government, which is typical in Presbyterian and Reformed churches, puts the decisions of church policy in the hands of a select group of elders (the “presbytery”) who are appointed in various different ways, depending on the church. These elders are over the pastor, who in turn is over the congregation. The problem here too is that this system puts the God-appointed leader, the pastor, under some of those he is supposed to lead.

    Calvary Chapels are organized differently. Church government at Calvary Chapel is very simple; not a complex bureaucracy, committees and sub-committees are essentially non-existent. Basically, at Calvary Chapel we believe that the pastor is responsible for the church, responsible to hear from God, and responsible to feed and love His people faithfully. Elders are appointed in the larger churches to help the pastor care for the spiritual needs of the congregation, as are deacons to help the pastor care for the material needs of the church.

    In addition, our churches have church boards as required by most states. These boards vary in size depending on the size of the church, and which usually are made up of mature Christian businessmen who can advise the pastor with respect to the business operations and decisions of the church such as property management and investments. At Calvary Chapel, church organization is de-emphasized, and only the organization that is needed to run the church is instituted. The pastor guides the church as he is lead by the Holy Spirit, and we trust God to put pastors where He wants them to be.

  21. Transferring my previous post about CC:


    Bahahahaha~!!! I am laughing my butt off.

    Jerry needs to get over it. CC is a SGM in the making! You know, a friend had recommended one over in Maryland recently, wanted me to check it out. So I went on their website. It was all this ish about yhow they only believe that the pastor is the decision maker, the leader of the church. They believe this because they want to protect pastors for being overran by congregations, etc… But they don’t believe that congregationalism is a biblical church model, blah blah blah… I was like whatevs… This is a BLANTANT way of saying we dont give a ish, the pastor rules. If you dontl ike it, go elsewhere. They were not hiding their blatant disregard for the fact that congregations should be the ones deciding the doings of the church.

    Let me add: That is akin to saying that we dont believe in democracy because we fear the overrunning of the president by the will of the people. So in order to protect HIM, you stupid Sheeple, we have decided on a totalitarian authoritarian government… just so that we can protect the President. Because if you are not getting that HE is the most important person to us, then this should let you know where we stand. It should be apparent also that we believe he is the most vulnerable to injury, but it’s not apparent because we really dont believe that. We REALLY believe that his plan to take over the world is most vulnerable to injury, and because we have some stake in that, our Glorious Fuhrer, shall lead with an iron fist. God save him (whispers: and only him). (Ahem…) I mean, the pastor of Calvary Chapel

  22. My good friend and I had a friendly debate about this. She is/was a member at the CC that recently the pastor got rid of a majority of his staff…

    (wait for it…)

    (wait for it…)

    AGAIN! Yep, you heard it right: AGAIN! What tha??? So you keep overturning staff like a rotating door and you think Scripture supports that. And his reasons? Because the “elders” and other “teachers” had agreed on some point that he did not and because they did not “have his back” he felt their lack of loyalty. So he fired them all over a loyalty-to-him issue. Because dude didn’t get the memo that Christ was the head of the church and all loyalty was due to him, he fired them over loyalty. Yep, a frat is what this is.

    So I began to say, after a slight argument about the man’s character which she gave me in detail, that he was probably a sociopath, and if not, an extreme narcissist. Then she said well, we believe differently. It’s not like CHBC (in response to me saying that I believe that Dever has it right about congregationalism). CHBC believer in membership, she says, and I just dont see evidence of it in Scripture. I’m like okay, fair argumment. I dont believe that membership is evident in Scripture either–not the way it’s being practiced at CHBC. BUT you can still have congregationalism without a formal membership process. If we are recognizing believers for their giftedness in ministry and service, and others for their commitment to the congregation–aren’t they naturally “members” and can’t decisions be made regarding the health of that group of people and their interactions and decisions amongst those who are committed to it?

    Anyways… (I rest my case).

  23. …and I bet they still preach tithing, although you can’t find evidence of that in the NT. Haha! These are the people we give our money to. The only thing this dude would get out of me is $1.20 to catch the metro home… FOR GOOD!

  24. Oh yes… I forget to mention the NEPOTISM that is so prevalent in SGM and its Pastors College. As I previously commented, Nathan Sasser serves as Assistant Director of Academic Affairs of the SGM Pastors College. His dad is Senior Pastor at the local SG church in our area (Apex). Dee and I went to hear C.J. Mahaney at this church back in January 2009. Apparently, Phil Sasser often teaches at the PC.

    Then we have brothers who attend the PC, like the Campbells from KingsWay. Back in 2009 Aaron Campbell wrote:

    “This year was a special celebration for our family in particular as my younger brother Adam took his place among the graduating class. After interning several years at CrossWay Church in Charlotte, they sent him to the PC last fall. He and his family will be moving to Fredericksburg to serve alongside the Delages, for which I couldn’t be more thrilled.”

    At the beginning of his blog post, Aaron explains that he graduated from the Pastors College ten years earlier.

    Anyone care to share other examples of nepotism? This is just not normal in other denominiations, and I doubt it would be tolerated.

  25. NLR

    Interesting stuff on CC. All these church empire builders. Turns my stomach.

    I wonder if we as American Church attendees have helped to get some this to where it is today. I sometimes think we depend too much on the programming of churches to do ministry for us.

    I give to my local church but my wife and I go look for other ministries to support and be a part of. I think we too often “depend” on church to do it all for us.

    I am NOT justifying the sort of totalitarianism going on at places like CC. A pastor gets to fire the whole staff over a lack of loyalty to him. Um, narcissistic much?!

  26. The hierarchy at SGM is all about control. They even have a membership contract that needs to be signed. Show me that in the bible.

  27. “What other denominations have something equivalent to SGM’s Pastors College? I stand by my statement, but I appreciate your comment.”

    For one, my childhood non-denom denomination (not SGM-affiliated at all). It was a group where a pastor might (or might not) have a Bachelor’s degree from the “approved” Bible college (my own alma mater where students received a subpar education), but nothing more. Definitely not seminary. Their pastors/church planter/missionary school was actually much shorter than SGM’s. That’s why I asked the question. That is normal for me. I’m firmly convinced that my childhood non-demon is a cult, and SGM (which I have done quite a bit of reading about) is, at the very least, cultic. I’m not debating that SGM has serious issues. My question is WHY is something like the Pastor’s College (and the equivalent in my childhood churches) NOT normal? Because to me it is, and I’ve never once set foot in an SGM church.

  28. SGM should stand for Severely Grave Misery. Why do some Christians allow themselves to be tortured and tormented like this?

  29. I agree with Amanda that SGM is a cult. I had much first hand experience with that group. My family was greatly hurt by their ungodly tactics.

  30. Anonymous,

    I am so sorry that your family was hurt by SGM. It’s amazing to me that if you reveal what happened, you are “gossiping” according to their twisted application of Scripture.

  31. Suzie q

    The site is not broken. But is being moderated due to some issues over the last week or so. Comments are being allowed through as the blog owners have time to review them. No one here is paid so basically this blog is run on “free” time with lives having to be lived. Be patient. Comments that follow the rules will show up.

    Just a note for everyone. People who post behind proxy servers using multiple names are a big reason we have had to moderate. Some of these people have engaged in name calling and other behaviors then when their comments are held they change their name and/or proxy server and start commenting again.

  32. Twenty-three incoming students and twenty-two are married? Hmmm. As they say on Sesame Street, “One of these things is not like the others!” Whoever he is, I sure hope he’s kissed dating goodbye.

  33. To frustrated commenters

    We are on full moderation because a certain commenter in the past decided to use a proxy server to leave stupid comments. If people would just play fair, be sweet and stop being trolls, this step would be unnecessary. I love this blog, but having to approve all comments now adds work for us. So, give us a break and to a couple of you trolls types, mend your ways.

  34. Takes a seat at the Wartburg Watch corner of the bar, orders a beer for herself and “freedom”(Fri, Sep 09 2011 at 10:14 am) and slides it over to them and says, “Welcome. Good comment. I’m with ya on that.” *clink*

  35. By the way Deb, I don’t think Carolyn Mahaney gets intimidated by other women who teach biblical manhood/womanhood in the same way the Mahaney’s do. They are the only ones allowed to exist in the same atmosphere, and if she were to encounter an accomplished woman who doesn’t believe in the eternal subordination of women, then she has been polluted by the air of feminism.

    I can’t help but wonder how Dr. Köstenberger’s wife can teach about biblical manhood and womanhood with her husband and then about Jesus and the feminists, without at some point supporting the denial of women their full and equal rights – which feminists have fought for and which complementarians deny.

    I’m always amazed to meet women who enjoy non-discrimination in the secular world where they have been free to pursue higher education and career opportunities which feminists fought for, and then turn around and go into the church and submit themselves to a system of belief that discourages women from accomplishing the kinds of things they have accomplished. It’s one of the ultimate ironies.

  36. One further thought: it would be my guess that Dr. Köstenberger’s wife would maintain the same position as Carolyn Mahaney, in that they would both agree that anything they have accomplished as women has been because they submitted themselves to their husbands and either got their permission or were encouraged to do what they do – speak, write book, conduct seminars etc. However, I’m sure their husbands would never say they decided not to go to college or to achiever a higher education because they first submitted their plans to their wives and got their ok. They would most likely agree that men are free to make decisions for themselves whereas women are to submit their decisions to their husbands for approval.

  37. CLC serves as the Host Church for the Pastor’s College students. The Pastor’s College is an SGM deal. It would appear SGM & CLC are a bit on the outs with one another – at least that’s the way it looks after the Mahaney’s sons-in-laws walked out of their jobs in protest at CLC.

    Maybe the Pastor’s College should include in this years coursework classes such as:

    “How to Maintain an Appearance of Unity Among Church Staff While Experiencing Division.”

    “How to Keep Supportive Organizations on the Payroll in Order to Maintain Your Appearance of Being Mutually Supportive of Each Other.”

    “How to Deceive People Into Thinking Nothing is Wrong.”

    “How to Get People to Keep Giving You Money So You Can Go to the Caribbean Instead of Providing Leadership During a Crisis & Still Think You’re a Worthy Leader.”

    “How Money Is A More Important Commodity Than Truth.”

  38. The women who have an audience to whom they can decry feminism through their platforms of book writing, speaking events, blogging as enabled by their influential careers and education seem oblivious to the fact they would have none of these things were it not for the courage of feminists. I don’t know what’s the best word, irony? ignorance?

    Just decided Ignorance is the perfect word.

  39. The women who have an audience to whom they can decry feminism through their platforms of book writing, speaking events, blogging as enabled by their influential careers and education seem oblivious to the fact they would have none of these things were it not for the courage of feminists. I don’t know what’s the best word, irony? ignorance?

    I agree Elastigirl. It is ironic in the sense that women like Carolyn Mahaney promote a separatist lifestyle for women as being true to the bible – in the form of blogs, books and seminars foisted upon the public. In her mind she is fundamentally correct and if others have a different understanding of what the bible teaches, they aren’t merely different, but they are an evil influence infected by “feminist philosophy.” And I agree it is based in ignorance because she assumes she has boiled down the bible to the point where she removes all doubt and ambiguity about the role of a woman. It’s very seductive, and I’m sure she must find it deeply satisfying to be seen as the model of “biblical womanhood.” But it’s not consistent with the full counsel of God, in particular the Great Commission.

    Here is a perfect example of Carolyn Mahaney’s influence and how taught her daughter to minimize and confine her ambitions based on her gender alone. This is what she teaches over and over and over to all women in SGM. I will call this “Carolyn Mahaney’s Perversion of the Great Commission.” And make no mistake, like with her own offspring, she likes all the young girls in SGM to be instructed from an early age to end up thinking just like she trained her daughters to think.

    Here I paraphrased her daughter’s Nicole’s words to make Carolyn’s influence clear, and the Mahaney’s habit of running roughshod over scripture in order to accomplish their own personal agendas. Excerpts taken from the following article:

    I had a longing to do great things for God. I imagined myself as a missionary in another country, maybe even a nurse. I had visions of speaking to crowds of women, leading many to the gospel…I didn’t yet understand…However, Mom did not allow me to remain ignorant for long. Through Scripture, hours of conversations, and helpful books, she presented to me the noble calling of a homemaker and its powerful effect in the world…Mom…taught me of the power of a homemaker’s influence in the world…Through my mother’s training…I finally realized…that God’s plan for me…was very different than what I thought…God’s plan for me was greater than what my imagination could conjure up… what John Angell James calls a “woman’s mission.” Scripture unapologetically sets forth the high priority of the home for each and every woman…this is our clear mission from God…you don’t have to wait until a future day or time to get started on your mission. You can begin today…My mom, Carolyn Mahaney, will tell you how…by answering God’s call…True greatness…to be homemakers.

  40. Re Evie’s quote from a Mahaney daughter:

    What a load of intentionally mistaken exegesis. It ignores the stories of women in the Bible as God’s agents outside the home. It ignores the stories of women bringing men and women to Jesus. It ignores the story of Martha and Mary. It ignores that the first person Jesus commissioned with the Gospel, the good news of the resurrection (i.e., an apostle) was Mary Magdalene. It ignores that Paul called Junia an apostle (one commissioned by the risen Lord to share the Gospel). It ignores the fact that women were the bearers of some of Paul’s letters and would have shared them before the churches to whom they were written and to other believers on the way.

    It is willful ignorance, and a contradiction in fact of her own role.

    When we see malarkey in the Christian world, we need to call it that. Mrs. Mahaney is full of malarkey!

  41. Deb — responding to your post above re: nepotism and Aaron’s comments on the Kingsway blog…

    Before SGM, we were in demoninatons where it wasn’t unusual to find families who had several members serving as pastors within the denomination. One family I know has at least three generations of multiple pastors/missionaries within the denomination — brothers, cousins, uncles, granddads — and to me, that’s something to admire.

    However, the difference is that, within SGM, nepotism extends to the way people get jobs. In the other denomination, preachers are called / hired according to their own merit — just because Daddy pastors a big church doesn’t mean you’re going to get one, too. In fact, it almost seems to be a more difficult situation for the youngsters — often, it’s hard to fill papa’s shoes, and the old-timers on the pulpit committees are likely to shake their heads and say, “Too bad Young Buck doesn’t preach as well as his daddy does…”

    Occupations do seem to run in families — my hometown is filled with doctors with the same unusual last name — fathers, sons, uncles, cousins, etc — apples don’t fall far from the trees — but they don’t get through medical school on their daddies’ grades. One of my best pastor friends has a son who entered the ministry, through a different seminary, but within the same denomination. And then, there were the Wesley brothers. And I’ve heard of famous preachers (can’t remember which ones, in the vein of Spurgeon, Whitefield, Wesley, etc) whose progeny include many in vocational ministry. Nobody seems to accuse these of nepotism. And then, in parachurch organizations, it’s really not unusual to see a post passed from father to son — even the venerated Billy Graham Evangelistic Association continues with Franklin Graham. In the case of parachurch organizations, however, there’s a little more of a parallel with the “family business” idea.

    So, I think there are many cases in which family involvements do not necessarily signal nepotism, in and out of SGM. Your post above quoted a pastor from Kingsway whose brother also attended the PC.

    You would have no way of knowing this, just from reading the blog post, but in this case, there’s really not a thread of nepotism. If I remember correctly, Aaron was not even an SGM member when he applied to the PC. It was several years before his brothers became involved with the church. Their family clout within the organization is nil — evidenced by the fact that Aaron had been on staff for ten years or so when a young PC graduate who had grown up in the KW church was given the reins of the church, making it appear that Aaron was passed over for this position — probably because he wasn’t passing the koolaid.

    During the recent upheaval at the KW church, Aaron resigned from his position, is no longer on staff, and works a regular job. I have heard that he does still attend KW, but I don’t know for sure because we have not been there for more than a few years. Sadly, he is one of the few SGM pastors for which I have the utmost respect. IMO, they mistreated one of the truly good guys, adding another name to the long list of good guys they lost.

    I agree that the way family relationships play into job assignments within SGM definitely smacks of nepotism. But not all families who have several vocational Christians within their ranks receive preferential treatment in SGM.

    Where true nepotism has occurred, it’s a crying shame. You would think that the Former Apostles would’ve bent over backwards to keep such from happening.

    But there is a real dilemma involved, as well. What do you do when someone turns out to be the best candidate for a position — yet he happens to be related to a bigwig? It’s a tough call.

  42. I saw that comment re. “…maybe even a nurse” (from one of the Mahaney girls) some months ago and it made me want to kick things, scream a little bit, and then cry – for her, and for the girls who feel that education and a valid career choice (maybe even a calling?) is as achievable as … a manned space flight reaching the Andromeda Galaxy within my lifetime (and theirs).

    How terribly sad – and what a rude and painful awakening those “girls” will have if they end up needing to earn a living…

  43. Nickname

    True nepotism is shown by the responses of the miniMahaneys. When Pops, the Head Apostle who suddenly no longer calls himself that because he gets laughed at, is not treated as a king, thee minis take their ball and go home. They are there at the behest of and are beholden to Daddy. Period. There is no loyalty or sticking it out for a “season”, they are GONE!

  44. Dee — you’re so right. The response of the sons-in-law is oh, so telling.

    When the Head Apostle first posted his “step aside for a season” letter, I thought there was some real hope for integrity there. But as the situation unfolded, it’s become more and more apparent that the system has been rotten to the core from the beginning and is beyond reform. I wish every person who has been bamboozled by the Apostolic Razzle-Dazzle could get every cent of their offering money back to redirect to a trustworthy ministry.

    You know, after PTL’s demise, I thought people would never again be flim-flammed by a ministry, that nobody would be so stupid as to perpetrate such fraud or be sucked in by it. But it seems PTL was just one of many, and there’s nothing new under the sun.

  45. RE: Evie’s quote from a Mahaney daughter

    I am so glad that the 20 years we were involved with PDI/SGM, I never read one word written by Carolyn or her daughters.

    But, maybe if I had, I’d have gotten out sooner!

  46. Nickname

    Den is writing about that issue today. And yes, I agree, there is a serious integrity issue. However, I believe that CJ has played mental gymnastics for so long that he probably is incapable of seeing himself clearly. He has believed a lie for a long long time. Unfortunately, the system has been based on his premise and so it is corrupt that I have little hope for a true reformation. My opinion: people need to get out and stop feeding money to the monster. Sometimes, withdrawal of buck is the best way to get a point across.

  47. I am convinced SGM’s problems cannot be fixed with simple reforms, and apart from a groundswell of steady, informed opposition, SGM will remain unchanged. People will continue to be adversely affected and impressionable young girls, full of vast potential & enormous complexity, will continue to be funneled into narrow channels of possibilities.

    And what happens to these young women, who marry young, and then struggle with fertility issues or whose lives are threatened by continued child-birthing and must limit the size of their families?

    What if they are unable to naturally create a large enough family to adequately contain their ambitions? What if their husband’s jobs don’t provide them with a outlet to work outside the home in the way Carolyn Mahaney has?

    What if, in a struggling economy, adding or adopting children puts an unwise burden on an already limited family budget? Or on the fragile health of the mother?

    Carolyn Mahaney would never approve of her daughters developing independent lives and exploring, for themselves, their own dreams & desires. In the patriarchal society she built with her husband, the ideal woman isn’t supposed to have wants and needs. She is supposed to lose her life in service to others in the home.

    And let’s pray Carolyn Mahaney learns to listen to criticism rather than imagining she’s suffering persecution as a consequence of her great faith:

  48. Evie
    If she believes that “she’s suffering persecution as a consequence of her great faith”, there is little hope for change within SGM. This sort of thing is a self serving ideology. In their world, all persecution coours because everyone else is evil and they are good (but very, very humble). A truly humble person might actually look inward and see the abusive system that has been created by hyper-authoritarian, patriarchal leaders, and she is included and as much to blame as her husband.

  49. You’re right Bounded Reality. I don’t see Carolyn Mahaney making any changes. But there are enough women in SGM who will hopefully realize there’s a dialogue they can be having with one another and their daughters that is different from the one Carolyn Mahaney had/has with her daughters.

    Her choices, and the only ones she allowed her daughters to make, aren’t the ONLY choices for women. She wants you to believe she is the church’s doyenne of biblical womanhood. Don’t believe it. The Girltalk blog is nothing more than SGM propaganda. It’s not a “conversation” at all.

    Under SGM, women aren’t allowed to realize they have a choice. It’s a very different thing for a woman to choose to stay at home -versus- that being the only option they are allowed to choose. We are to walk by faith and follow Jesus, not a path someone else preaches is the only one for you to take.

    And I agree with you Dee, it is self-serving. SGM is organized on the principles of humanism and cannot help but be self-serving contrary to their claims of “gospel-centeredness.” This is why God’s children come to realize something isn’t right. Sex & race* – because they are easy, visible differences – have always been the primary ways of organizing human beings into groups. The church is to be radically different from the world’s humanistic system – not organized according to it’s corrupt ideals.

    There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Gal. 3:28

    *SGM’s “gospel” is designed for white people and they plant churches in white communities.

  50. If anyone can show any idea of seminary in the Bible then I’ll get behind it. Otherwise your views are opinions and preferences. Has any of you attended the Pastor’s College? It’s surely not perfect, nor are the men running it or attending it, but please don’t criticize things you don’t know about. I’m not perfect either, come on by and hang out with me a while it’ll be like shooting fish in a barrell to criticize me you should have a blast, you can post all my scandalous behavior online too!

    Seminary surely has it’s strengths but is not without it’s problems, now i’m going to take my own advice b/c I’m not sure but how much are character, calling and gifting taken into account for guys before seminary? I think its pretty easy for a man (or woman) to get into seminary just because he wants to and can afford it. And I’m pretty sure there are many in seminaries who are learning and living divorced from an actual church. It’s an ivory tower intellectual experience for 4 years, but the church is made up of regular people (not other seminites – Ha! i think I just made up a word) with whom it is easy to have little or no contact. These things are worth discussing, perhaps changes can be made in both camps. Sadly it doesn’t seem like folks here are interested in a discussion but rather broad brush condemnation.

    All the men who have gone to PC are brain washed. I shaved my head I’m a CJ clone! I don’t mind you insulting me, again fish in a barrell, but I take offense of my many friends who you just slandered as weak minded morons. I’ll introduce you in heaven.

    Are black churches that plant other churches consisting mainly of black people racist too? Be consistent now. And please don’t forget the many leaders and pastors and churches around the world that SGM is trying to help. I’m sorry, their motives are not to help them you have seen their hearts, they desire to brainwash with the gospel, make them lemmings and take their money.

    Gal 3:28? Check the context I think you are misunderstanding the point of the entire section. Can I get a witness? But alas, I am brainwashed go ahead and find a seminary grad they are the only ones capable of knowing for sure. What say ye of Titus 2? The Bible is the basis for much of what you criticize above, it’s not taken from a ‘humanistic system’ it’s right there in the Book. On the contrary I contend that you are being influenced by humanist ideas and are ignoring the clear Word of God, and misrepresenting Carolyn Mahaney’s views.

    I think most people who come out of SGM angry b/c they didn’t like having others (in a nutshell) “exhort one another day by day, so long as it is called To-day; lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” Hey and that’s not even ESV, Satan’s version! Surely this has been done poorly sometimes, but humble folks ask for help and don’t get angry about it. If it was just doctrinal issues there wouldn’t be the vitriol that is rampant on these hater sites. This is people hurt by other people. Sometimes this is pride on the one side, and sometimes it’s pride on the side of the other. In any case hardly something new in the church, every church has this issue to some degree it’s surely not an SGM thing! Come Lord Jesus!