Peacemaker or Kingmaker?

When you hear the word “PEACEMAKER” what attributes come to mind? UNBIASED is the one we think of first and foremost, and that will be our focus in discussing Peacemaker Ministries. From what we have been able to ascertain, this organization will be helping KingsWay Community Church (SGM) with the debacle we highlighted at this link. 


Over at SGM Refuge, there has been a HUGE outcry against the travesty that took place at KingsWay. Here’s what Waters had to say regarding Peacemaker’s involvement: 



“Peacemakers — We are all watching to see how unbiased you will be in this process. (Lotsa $ given to you by SGM). It will be interesting to see how you rightly divide the Word of God in regards to pastors who lie to and then threaten their church members with ‘church discipline’ and/or slander…….. (perhaps you have prepared for the KingsWay case by reading up on GE’s manipulative actions in the Chesapeake Story—history is repeating itself).”


Yes, many eyes will be watching Peacemaker Ministries (PM) in this situation. It will be fascinating to see how the church conflict gets resolved. In case you’d like to read PM’s explanation of “Resolving Conflict through Christian Conciliation”, here’s the link.



I (Deb) was not familiar with Peacemaker Ministries until January 2009 when PM president and attorney Ken Sande contacted Kris, who hosts SGM Survivors, along with her husband Guy. I found it highly unusual that a “peacemaker” would contact a blogger about a conflict that didn’t even involve her. As one would expect a blogger to do, she posted her remarks publicly in an “Open Letter to Ken Sande” 


What follows is an excerpt from that letter:


“I have to say, I was quite amazed to have been contacted by the founder and president of an organization that I have heard currently has more than enough cases brought to its attention, something you yourself even alluded to in your email when you expressed your concern about overburdening your small staff with “disorganized” and “disconnected emails” from the readers of this blog. Certainly you’re not in the position of needing to “drum up business.” So it seems more than a little unusual for someone of your stature within your organization to feel the need to get involved in this situation, especially given the skepticism you expressed in your email about the credibility of blogs.


Also, I am confused because even as you acknowledge that you would not be qualified to participate in this sort of intervention, due to your close ties with Sovereign Grace Ministries, you nonetheless are asking me to communicate privately via telephone with you and reveal further information to you so that you can somehow take this information and…do WHAT with it? I appreciate that you wish to help, but since by your own admission you need to recuse yourself from any role as a mediator between SGM and its former parishioners, why would you still be seeking additional information about those parishioners from me?

I am further confused about how the phone conversation you’re requesting leaves less room for misunderstandings than does written communication, where every word exchanged is recorded. That really makes no sense. With a phone conversation, there is always room for memories to fail, or for words to be transposed or even changed in future re-tellings, so that meanings can be altered and confusion results. In these respects, the written word is a much more reliable and trustworthy form of communication than the (non-recorded) spoken word.

Most importantly, I am not interested in ANY process that cannot be entered into on a completely open and public basis, with communications made available for all to see. I believe this level of accountability to the interested public is absolutely crucial in any serious attempt to address SGM’s aberrant practices. Your request for all our communications to be private is perhaps the most troubling aspect of this whole thing. I am very bothered by what seems to be an effort on your part (or on behalf of SGM?) to reduce what has been a broad and public discussion of SGM’s organization-wide problems into specific private “grievances” between specific individuals that then must be handled privately, behind closed doors…. 

Anything that any “peacemaker” or Sovereign Grace leader needs to know is already there on the blog. For well over a year, we have discussed SGM’s issues plainly. I do not believe that I can provide any further clarification in a private conversation that cannot already be found on the blog.


SGM (and Peacemaker Ministries) are free to do with this information what they will. There is no need to “make peace” with me on any level that would require my personal involvement.”



Here’s a brief background about this situation. Noel, a former member of an SGM church, shared her family’s horrific experience via the SGM Survivors blog. To make a long story short, Noel and her husband Grizzly (not their real names), were attending church meetings with other couples in leadership. We presume these meetings were taking place during the evening because a FIFTEEN year old son of one of the couples was caring for the children whose families were involved. The bottom line is that this teenage boy sexually molested a THREE YEAR OLD GIRL who was placed in his care, along with other children, on more than one occasion. Furthermore, CHARGES WERE NEVER FILED. What is even more shocking is that the rapist was allowed to care for children in church AFTER the crime became known to church leadership. The pastor and other leaders met with the family of the victim and wanted them to forgive the molester and sweep the problem under the rug as though it never happened.


You can read Noel’s story here


We continue to be baffled by Mr. Sande’s communication with Kris regarding Noel and her family. What was he REALLY trying to accomplish on behalf of Sovereign Grace Ministries? Cindy Kunsman at Under Much Grace had this to say about Ken Sande’s involvement:


“Several comments that followed pointed out that CJ Mahaney who oversees the SGM organization has a professional relationship with Mr. Sande, and their ministries have participated with one another in the past. Another comment claims that Mr. Sande’s recommendation also appears on one of CJ Mahaney’s books. I would think that considering the professional loyalties that Mr. Sande would have recused himself from the situation.”


Yes, I can speak to Ken Sande’s endorsement of C.J. Mahaney’s book. Several months ago I was browsing the shelves in a used book store and spotted a copy of Peacemaking for Families written by Sande. I had never read any of his books, so I invested a few dollars and bought it. I found the ENDNOTES to be extremely revealing: Here’s what I read on page 222:


“For excellent guidance on how to establish a small group with meaningful accountability commitments, see C. J. Mahaney’s book Why Small Groups?, published by PDI, 7501 Muncaster Mill Rd., Gaithersburg, MD 20877; ph: (301) 926-2200.”


Peacemaking for Families was published in 2002, so we’re making the assumption the friendship between Ken Sande and C.J Mahaney spans at least eight years.


In the previous post, we tried to “connect the dots” between Sovereign Grace Ministries (established in 2002 after being called PDI), CCEF, and Peacemaker Ministries. Here’s what Sande wrote in the ENDNOTES (p. 221) of Peacemaking for Families:


“I owe Paul Tripp, David Powlison, and Ed Welch of the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation ( a great debt for the many insights they have given to me on this topic through their books and seminars.”


Remember C.J. Mahaney’s comment about David Powlison which we shared in the last post? “No one has taught me more about applying the gospel to my heart in the midst of daily life than my friend David Powlison.” On the surface it certainly appears that there is a triangular friendship between SGM, CCEF, and Peacemaker Ministries.


And the cozy relationship between SGM and Peacemaker Ministries continues to grow. As you may know, Josh Harris is one of the keynote speakers at the Peacemaker Conference in Washington, D.C., which began TODAY. Commenters at SGM Refuge have questioned why Gene Emerson confessed his sin to the KingsWay congregation NOW after nine long years of silence. Could it be that the timing is linked to the topic of this year’s Peacemaker Conference – FORGIVENESS? The website ( has the following verse prominently displayed across the top:“Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13b


Before forgiveness comes repentance, and we have to ask…has that actually taken place at KingsWay since Gene Emerson is still in the saddle as though nothing sinful occurred?


Speaking of Josh Harris, I (Deb) read a post on his blog entitled “What Manner of Men Will They Be?” shortly after it was published. 


I was fascinated to read the 11 comments under this post. It was around this time that the Gospel Coalition featured a video with Mark Driscoll and Josh Harris interviewing Francis Chan.


The commenter on Josh’s blog complained that her mother’s comments were not being posted, and the daughter was calling into question Josh’s relationship with a certain unnamed pastor on her mother’s behalf (which I assumed to be Mark Driscoll based on how she described him). Josh responded to her twice (I think). Then in a final remark, he bluntly stated he would no longer be commenting on the matter. The very next morning I checked this post to see if additional comments had been added, and THEY HAD ALL VANISHED!!! Just click on the above link, and you will see that unlike the other posts, there isn’t any mention of comments – the space is blank, unlike the other posts which either indicate “No Comments” or the number of comments.


Based on Josh’s blogging tactics, I have to surmise that he deals with conflict by simply IGNORING it. After all, it seems to be the SGM way… NO ONE is to challenge the pastors, for they are “standing in the very stead of God”.


Don’t think that this travesty only occurs on Josh’s blog. If my memory serves me correctly, a similar scenario played out on the Peacemaker Ministries blog just prior to the 2009 Conference. Because Dave Harvey was a keynote speaker, someone complained on the PM blog that they believed it was unwise to have him speak because he hails from Sovereign Grace Ministries, which has repeatedly been accused of pastoral abuse. I remember reading the negative comment, and after a few days it simply VANISHED! It seems obvious to me that dissenting opinions are not allowed by either Josh or Peacemaker Ministries based on what I have witnessed by their activity in the blogosphere.


In our effort to “connect the dots”, we haven’t even begun to discuss whether we believe Peacemaker Ministries is BIASED. In the upcoming post, we will address whether we believe they are acting like “peacemakers” or “kingmakers”.


Peacemaker or Kingmaker? — 14 Comments

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    Dee and Deb,

    Keep up the great work! I am learning a lot and am being challenged to think about many issues.

    I have a copy of Ken Sande’s The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict, copyright 1997, eight printing (2000). One of the endorsements on the back cover is by C.J. Mahaney and says, “Occasionally a book comes along that is both unique and invaluable. You are holding such a book in your hands. The Peacemaker is an indispensable counseling tool for pastors….There is no need for another book on this topic to be written, now that this volume exists.” So we know Mahaney and Sande have known each other since at least 2000.

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    The bottomline is that peacemakers is NOT neutral. They never have been. Their success depends on their relationship with church leaders.

    It is not that different from Dave Ramsey teaching tithing when you owe a bunch of money to creditors. How Christian is that? What Ramsey is teaching is not only the OC law but God would want you to give money to a building and staff salaries at a church instead of paying those you owe. What a witness! (Not to mention teaching a works sanctification)

    He would not dare teach anything else because much of their income comes from being in churches.

    Does Sande believe the pastor is an authority figure as SGM teaches? Yes! So, why would you trust him for conflict resolution with church leadership?

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    Thank you for your information. We will actually be quoting from the endorsements today. One thing is certain, we think peacemakers needs to do some serious explaining before we believe they are unbiased.

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    You are so up on all of these things. I, too, have had some reservations about Dave Ramsey. His show runs on a local radio station and I have heard some comments that lead me to think that his agenda goes far beyond fiscal solvency. I was planning on doing a little research into his background. Let me know if you have any info on him. He definitely seems to tip in the direction of some of the Calvinistas in terms of his absolute belief that he is interpreting Scriptures the only way they should be interpreted.

    BTW enjoyed your comments over at Wade’s site on the women’s issue.

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    What is Ramsey’s overly-repeated phrase — “Better than I deserve…” Hmmm…

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    I became very leary of FP when working with mega’s. It is a huge money making endeavor like most of the comp seminars.

    His teaching on tithing is erroneous but typical. But, would it really please our Lord for a teacher of the Word to tell people to help pay for carpet in a building rather than pay their debtors? Perhaps unbelieving debtors who know you claim Christ?

    Everyone is trying to make a buck of the “christian” brand. Ken Sande is no different.

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    Looooove your comment- “Perhaps unbelieving debtors who know you claim Christ?” I never thought about that before!

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    I have listened some to Dave Ramsey and do see the connection you are saying. Since most of his seminars are presented at churches it wouldn’t work or at least he wouldn’t be nearly as promoted and featured at so many churches if he didn’t teach that tithing is “biblical.” His teaching on tithing and giving is only one night of an approximately 10 week class so it isn’t like his class repeatedly teaches tithing with a lot of pressure. Also the 10 week class is around $100 that includes the materials so not sure what marg

    On some good notes about Dave Ramsey he does say that if one is in debt one shouldn’t feel that one needs to make offerings above the tithe. He believe offerings were always biblically from surplus (with one exceptions). Groups like SGM seem to want a lot of giving beyond tithes and you wouldn’t hear them teaching what Ramsey teaches from what I have seen.

    Ramsey also quotes the proverb about the fool devouring all he has and thus emphasizes having some savings including retirement savings vs. not much savings and little retirement savings to give more that I hear some SGM Churches also promote.

    Thus I do seen the connection between Ramsey teaching on tithing and his classes being put on in a lot of churches but do see a difference with Ramsey.

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    Thanks for weighing in on Dave Ramsey. I have heard him on the radio, and on the surface he does come across as wanting to help people get out of debt.

    Perhaps we could look more closely at him in the future.

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    I am glad my information helped about Dave Ramsey.

    I certainly can see the point. When Peacemakers gets significant funds from SGM Churches it certainly makes questionable how unbiased they can be. It it like a magazine reporting on various products and supposedly being unbiased when at the same time they are taking significant advertising dollars from the company that owns one of the products they are reviewing. One wonders how unbiased they can be.

    I do wonder just how Peacemakers can be about SGM.

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    It has been interesting to read how much the relationship between SGM and Peacemakers has grown over the years. I can recall a Homegroup Leaders seminar with Peacemakers that was required attendance for PDI churches in the DC area (held of course at the “mother ship” in Gaithersburg) back in 1995 or 1996.

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    The tidy little circle at KingsWay started with a sermon series complete with home grown videos that focused on relationships and disputes. Toward the end of that we had a weekend seminar featuring Ken Sande himself. That was followed by the distribution and signing of the “Relational Commitments” which puts PM into any major disputes. Let’s not forget that during this entire time, Bob D. was pleading with Gene Emerson to allow Steve W. to be able to tell the truth about how he was treated in 2000-2001. Knowing Gene, he probably foresaw the conflict looming ahead of him over Steve and saw PM as a future backup plan, which is what he is using now to deflect and silence criticism over his actions with Steve and in many instances since then.

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    Thanks for the update Refuger. I pray for discerning hearts in the KingsWay congregation.

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    My prayers go out to you and the hurting people in SGM. It is interesting to me that the man who commneted about Peacemakers on our blog mentioned that Peacemakers does not get involved in church polity in their interventions.I believe, most strongly, that the polity of SGM makes it prone to these issues, especially certain issues of spiritual abuse. Peacemakers can try to mop up some of the issues but nothing will really change until the “ruling class” is disassembled.

    SGM reminds me of Animal Farm-all are equal but some are more equal then others. This is NOT Christianity but some form of communism dressed up for popular consumption.