“God may reveal Himself and give guidance to His servants any way He pleases. It is not for us to set limits on Him. But it remains a question as to whether or not we are entitled to expect ‘hotline’ disclosures on a regular basis. The correct answer is no. All the Biblical narratives of God’s direct communications with men are exceptional on their face, and the Biblical model of personal guidance is quite different.”
-J.I. Packer, Hot Tub Religion (Wheaton: Tyndale, 1987), 117
It’s time for another update on the denomination that changes names more frequently than a Subway Sandwich employee changes plastic gloves, or a Mobster in the Witness Protection Program changes addresses.
Yes, that’s right, the “family of churches” formerly known as “GOB – Gathering of Believers;” then “PDI – People of Destiny, International;” then “SGM – Sovereign Grace Ministries;” and currently named “SGC – Sovereign Grace Churches.”
I humbly served about five years in the “humble” denomination, led by “humble” leaders, the most “humble” of them being so “humble” that he wrote the book on Humility. Although I would be hesitant to say I was “well served” while there, I do see a possible purpose in my time spent “doing life together” in the “family of churches.” After all, God works in mysterious ways! To be honest, I wouldn’t have taken up blogging back in 2013 had I not attended Center Church, formerly known as Sovereign Grace Church of Gilbert.
(Seriously, what’s up with all these name changes? Are they running from something?)
Sovereign Grace Churches recently held their yearly (with the exception of last year) 3-day Pastor’s Conference (not to be confused with their 10-month Pastor’s “College”) November 9-11 in Orlando, FL.
In years gone by, Sovereign Grace Churches has always brought in a Celebrity speaker to headline the event. In 2019 I believe it was H.B. Charles. This year they apparently were unable to attract anyone from outside the denomination, but not to worry, they have an overabundance of home grown talent to fill out the speaker roster. The talented line-up included Jeff Purswell, CJ Mahaney, Jon Payne, and Jered Mellinger, as well as Matt Turner, a relatively unknown upstart who pastors a church somewhere in the middle of Alabama.
Knowing that during this holiday season our audience’s time is at a premium, I have saved you the task of listening to every esteemed speaker’s hour-long speech at the conference, choosing to cherry-pick a few of the more outrageous clips. My apologies to those who failed to make my cut. My only advice is to try harder next year.
I begin with a clip from Matt Turner. My guess is that the SGC brain-trust wanted to get Matt on the speakers list because his story may help encourage some of the old-timers that are losing hope that their toxic little family will survive. Matt is new blood!
Matt is probably a real nice guy, but I have to say that I am highly skeptical that the still, small voice Matt heard say “Sovereign Grace” in his ear was the Lord’s, unless the Lord was attempting to tell Matt a denomination to avoid! Nevertheless, I have no doubt that Matt will fit right into the “Sovereign Grace family”. Anyone who gushes over the SGC BCO (Book of Church Order) as Matt does has a bright future in the “family.”
Next let’s turn our attention to Jon Payne. Jon is a luminary in the SGC family of churches. He has the two unwritten, though well-known items that it takes to quickly climb the SGC ladder. The first is nepotism. Jon’s father is a long-time friend of CJ. The second is a mastery of flattery. Nobody, with the possible exception of Rick Gamache, kisses Mahaney’ derriere better than Jon Payne. Payne has a tight grip on the top spot now because Gamache, in spite of naming his youngest son after C.J., has fallen out of favor for some undisclosed sin that came to a head at the end of 2020. Gamache took a ten week “sabbatical” and was removed from his position of Regional Leader, but came back to the pulpit on January 10, 2021. More on that in another post.
So put on your hip-waders and listen to one minute of Payne in his prime. SGC members may want to have a box of tissues close at hand!
Next we have Mr. Humility himself, CJ Mahaney. What Mahaney says in the clip below is simply outrageous. Barring a Damascus Road encounter I see no possibility for Mahaney ever admitting he has had any role in the cover-up of sexual abuse in the denomination he once led. Instead, his version of history is that he endured “slander-storms” (an obvious reference to Brent Detwiler who has publicly and thoroughly documented case after case of abuse, lies, and coverup in the SGC denomination) and attacks from Satan!
The evidence is overwhelming against Mahaney and SGC, whether it be Detwiler’s blog, Rachael Denhollander’s masterly documented case on Facebook, the Washingtonian article, Albert Mohler’s severing of all ties with SGC and CJ Mahaney, or many other documents. CJ Mahaney, your wounds are self-inflicted. Your circle of friends is rightly shrinking to the point of being nearly non-existent and your denomination is viewed as toxic.
Next is another Mahaney clip in which he attempts to perhaps lighten the mood by inserting some self-effacing humor. I don’t find it funny, just sad. And CJ, the evangelical world is still waiting for you to “turn again.”
Mahaney makes the statement in the next clip that if Satan can prevail against a pastor, many others will be adversely affected. I believe the irony of this statement is lost on him.
Finally, here is another clip from Mahaney. I can’t believe Mahaney was brazen enough to publicly state that he and John Loftness often had late night phone conversations during some trying times. My speculation is they were both worried at that time that they may be arrested. In my opinion, John Loftness sexually abused at least one grade-school girl while he was the Principal of the private school. Examine The Second Amended Complaint, paragraphs 87-93 if you would like to read the graphic details.
Nero fiddled why Rome burned. Mahaney and his pals flap their gums while the SGC ship is taking on water and listing heavily to port.