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Apr212018

Sovereign Grace Pastors Crack Down on Godly Dissent of Members Asking for an Investigation & Expressing Concern Over Response to Rachael Denhollander

I have received reports of pastors in Sovereign Grace Churches (SGC) cracking down on members who have asked for an independent investigation and expressed concerns for how SGC responded to Rachael Denhollander.  I have chosen one such account that poignantly represents what is happening.  

Jeff and Sarah Owens and their family were members of Sovereign Grace Church in Bloomington, MN until recently.  Rick Gamache, Jon Hansel, and Shawn Powers are the pastors/elders.  The website says of them, “Sovereign Grace Church is led by a team of servant leaders who model, teach, and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.”  Gamache is also a major leader in SGC.  He is the Regional Leader over the Midwest/Northwest Region.    

In February, Jeff and Sarah approached their pastors over concerns for how the Leadership Team of SGC responded to Rachael Denhollander.  They also conveyed their perspective that an independent investigation needed to be done.  The response of Rick Gamache and his staff is characteristic of the leadership abuse that exists in the denomination.  Other members in other Sovereign Grace churches are experiencing the same kind of treatment by their pastors because they too have asked for an investigation and expressed concerns for SGC’s response to Denhollander.  Several days ago, I wrote Gamache with questions and asked for his perspective.  He has not responded. 

Before proceeding to Jeff and Sarah’s account, let me provide some background.  Denhollander spoke out against C.J. Mahaney and SGC for their ungodly handling of abuse victims in an interview with Christianity Today published on January 31.  Mark Prater, the Executive Director of SGC, responded on February 2.  Denhollander responded to Prater on February 5 and called for an “independent, transparent investigation by a trusted organization with expertise.”  The Leadership Team of SGC responded to her again on February 13.  Both times, SGC condemned Denhollander as a false witness.  I responded to SGC on February 13 with overwhelming evidence substantiating her claims in C.J. Mahaney, Covenant Life Church & the Conspiracy to Cover-up the Sexual Abuse of Children

After these events, the Owens approached their pastors.  Two months have gone by since then.  Last Saturday, Jeff wrote, “After much prayer, my wife and I have decided we need to tell our story.”  They posted it on their respective Twitter accounts on April 14 and 15.     

Their story follows in Sarah’s voice.  Her words are in bold italics.  I’ve added links and comments.   

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2 months ago we approached our SGC pastors about the SGC response to @R_Denhollander’s statements about SGC.  We asked them to encourage the family of churches to consider the independent investigation that Rachael called for.  We did not do this flippantly.

Comment: It is apparent the Owens love their pastors, church and SGC.  They were seeking to be a godly influence for good. 

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We spent a great deal of time in prayer and searching before approaching them.  We also made clear we had no concerns about our local church and affirmed how they as leaders handled children’s ministry and ensured safety of children at church functions. 

Comment: The Owens invested a lot time in prayer, study and self-examination.  They approached the pastors prayerfully, thoughtfully and respectfully.  

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Their response was to claim there were factual errors in our concern. (We stated no facts, other than that we were concerned.)  They wanted to meet in person to discuss, which we agreed to. 

Comment: Initially, the Owens expressed their concern for SGC’s response to Denhollander in writing.  The pastors responded by pointing out supposed “factual errors.”  This was the same thing the SGC Leadership Team did with Denhollander.  Rather then seek to hear her concerns, they discredited her concerns and called them “untrue and unjust” “false allegations.”  Denhollander responded to the abhorrent accusation a second time and at length on March 1 in a tour de force.  

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However before that meeting took place they told us we had been “sharing our opinion” and causing mistrust of the pastors by doing so.  Because of this they shut down the women’s group I was leading.  This was without coming to me to see if there was any validity to those concerns. 

Comment: This illustrates the hypocrisy, self-centeredness and heavy handedness of Rick Gamache and his staff.  They are not servant leaders modeling the gospel.  

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We had shared our opinion (the need for an independent investigation) with no one outside of our family.  The claim that I had been “sharing my opinion” was false. 

Comment: The Owens were extremely careful.  They didn’t even share their opinion about the need for an investigation with members of the church though that is not wrong to do.  Yet, despite their loyalty, they were falsely accused of “causing mistrust.”  Jeff led a “huddle” group in the church.  Sarah led a women’s group.  They are servant leaders modeling the gospel.  

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After attempting to discuss the issue further and only being told that we needed to not share our opinion, that we had factual errors, and that they needed to know that we could “submit and commit” to their leadership, we requested to meet with a 3rd party for peacemaking. 

Comment: This same kind of domineering is happening in other Sovereign Grace Churches.  It is not confined to Gamache’s church in Minnesota.  Members are being told they may not share their “opinion” that a thorough, independent, and professional investigation of SGC should be done given all the probative evidence of an extensive conspiracy to commit and cover up the sexual abuse of children over the last three decades.  

Here is an excerpt from the interview Denhollander did with Martha MacCallum of FOX NEWS on her prime-time newscast on March 16.    

“Within Sovereign Grace Ministries you see a consistent pattern over decades of mishandling sexual assault allegations.  You have pastors on record, including in police reports, who acknowledge that the practice was to handle things internally.  You have multiple pedophiles, who were convicted, where the pastors are alleged by these families, independent of each other, to have interfered with the police investigations.  You have allegations in almost half of the Sovereign Grace Churches across the country of this pattern and that is without any investigative reporting having even been done.”    

The authoritarian pastors told Jeff and Sarah they “needed to not share their opinion” about an investigation.  This was a non-negotiable imposition of “submit and commit.”  I wonder if Rick Gamache, Jon Hansel and Shawn Powers would force Mark Galli out of their church for telling the evangelical world that an investigation is needed.  Read Mark Galli, Editor in Chief of Christianity Today, Calls for a Fresh & Thorough Independent Investigation of Sovereign Grace Ministries.  The Owens are in good and godly company. 

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After attempting to discuss the issue further and only being told that we needed to not share our opinion, that we had factual errors, and that they needed to know that we could “submit and commit” to their leadership, we requested to meet with a 3rd party for peacemaking. 

The Owens felt they were being sinned against but wanted to pursue peacemaking in private with the help of a trusted church member serving as a neutral third party.  

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We asked a trusted member of the congregation to be a 3rd party, and he agreed.  But the pastors refused to meet with a 3rd party present.  We expressed our confusion and hurt over their response and continued to request to meet with a 3rd party but were repeatedly rejected. 

The Owens asked Jon Bloom, the Chairman and Co-founder of Desiring God ministries with John Piper, to be present.  He is highly regarded by Gamache and the pastors.  He was not refused because he is a partisan in favor of Jeff and Sarah.  He was refused because the pastors wanted no outside accountability.  Not even by someone as trusted as Bloom.  This is typical and has been going on for years in SGC.  Local pastors/elders don’t involve respected members as mediators when serious conflicts like these arise.  In this way, the pastors maintain strict control and can determine outcomes.  Inevitably, “rebellious” sheep bringing legitimate concerns are libeled and put out of the fold.  I’d recommend people read this 2011 article in entirety.  It is about Mickey Connolly.  He oversees Rick Gamache.  Here is an excerpt.      

Trust and Obey for There’s No Other Way to Possibly Stay at CrossWay!
Monday, November 14, 2011 at 3:23PM 

The final section of Mickey’s message summates the evening.  He commands people to cut off outside sources of information, remain ignorant and trust only their pastors who clearly deserve such mindless submission.  If any member is unwilling to exclusively trust and obey Mickey and the pastors, they must leave the church.  Once again, we see a clear abuse of authority and a superiority of attitude that is suffocating.  It is blatantly obvious that the pastors don’t trust the dumb sheep; but, they hope the sheep are dumb enough to trust the seemingly infallible pastors.  The pastors show no respect or need for the congregation.  The pastors will evaluate themselves and they will think for everyone else!  Just do what they tell you!  End of discussion (if there ever was one).  

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We ended up leaving the church.  We were told by the pastors that we were unable to fulfill the commands of Hebrews 13:17: “Obey your leaders and submit to them.” 

CommentThis verse has repeatedly been misused by C.J. Mahaney and SGC leaders and pastors to lord it over Christ’s sheep.  I believe in leadership and followership but not the abusive and corrupt kind often found in SGC.  No church member should be confronted with Hebrews 13:17 because he or she is asking for an investigation and raising concerns for Sovereign Grace’s response to Denhollander.  The Owens ended up leaving the church.  So have thousands and thousands of other godly members in SGC over the last 7 years and it is only going to increase as more evidence (if you can imagine) comes out against its leaders.     

Mickey Connolly is on the SGC Leadership Team as Director of Church Development.  He is over all the Regional Leaders including Rick Gamache. He is also C.J. Mahaney’s closest confidant.  They even do a podcast together.  There is no one more corrupt (except for those pastors accused of child sexual abuse and  abetting it) or powerful in SGC. 

“In his role as Director of Church Development, Mickey promotes and coordinates care for our churches and pastors by equipping, communicating, and working with our Regional Leaders, ensuring that there is a consistent standard of care experienced across our regions. He also helps develop and equip local elderships.”  

Connolly is the one directing Gamache and his staff.  He is well-aware of the situation with the Owens and behind the heavy-handed treatment of them.  I know Connolly extremely well.  Six years ago, I wrote about him in Ten Common Cult-Like Characteristics Evident in Mickey Connolly’s Leadership.  Nothing has changed.  It has only gotten worse.  Here are the cult-like traits I carefully documented in Connolly’s leadership which are reflected in Gamache’s leadership.              

Trait 1:  Require Absolute Trust
Cult leaders teach their followers that they are the only ones who can be trusted.  Everyone else is suspect.  Therefore, all reliable information and truth comes from them and no one else.  People are called to complete dependence up the leader.  He thinks and decides for his followers. 

Trait 2:  Demand Unconditional Obedience
Followers are expected to obey the commands and instructions of the cult leader.  Unconditional obedience flows out of absolute trust.  You do what you are told without questioning those in authority.  The actions of the cult leader are not open to criticism.  

Trait 3:  Claim Divine Status
All cult leaders suffer from a messianic complex.  Some claim to be god or a messiah of god.  They are egomaniacs.  They claim a degree of holiness unattainable by others.  Their faults are concealed and an image of perfection is put forth to followers.  Their real character is covered up and their sinful nature denied.  They don’t admit to wrong doing even when exposed.   

Trait 4:  Surround with Weak Leaders
Cult leaders have no accountability.  They surrounded themselves with devoted followers who see no fault in them or fear the dire consequences of pointing them out.  Critics are not found among the inner circle of loyalists.  The cult leader selects “lieutenants” whom he rewards for protecting and promoting him.  His leadership goes unchallenged by weak and compromised subordinates.     

Trait 5:  Warn Against Outsiders
People outside the cult are viewed as enemies especially when they seek to rescue those inside the cult.  Cult leaders instruct their followers to cut off contact with outsiders and have nothing to do with them.  They view such persons as agents of the devil who are seeking to mislead the devoted cult member away from the true fold. 

Trait 6:  Use Mind Control
The cultist does everything possible to control the information that reaches members of the cult.  In so doing, he controls their minds.  Cult members are forbidden from reading material not sanctioned by the cult leader.  The actions and teaching of the cult leader are not open to criticism.  Cult members are called to believe what they are taught without thinking for themselves.  They are forbidden from using outside sources for information.

Trait 7:  Employ Lying and Deceit 
Lying and deceit are used or sanctioned when necessary in order to protect the cult or the cult leader.  The Unification Church of Sun Myung Moon calls this “holy deception.”  Cult leaders use dishonest scholarship or make up historical claims in order to advance their false doctrines and promote their celebrity.  Building a “cult of personality” is central to their mission and notoriety.  When you think of cults you always think of their leaders. 

Trait 8:  Threaten Punishments
Dissent is not tolerated.  Those that threatened the unity of the cult are quickly silenced, threatened, shunned or publicly disciplined.  They are made an example.  Cult leaders become angry when they are defied.  If people leave the cult, they are vilified by the cult leader and his lieutenants.  Cult leaders fear defections knowing they can lead to exposure.       

Trait 9:  Promise Eternal Life
Cult leaders supply false hope and promises of a better future.  Following them leads to abundant life and the promised land.  Their way is the way of salvation.  It is not based upon authoritative truth (like the Bible provides) but on humanistic optimism.  No matter how bad or hard life is in the cult, the hope of the future blessing keeps members from departing.  Their well-being and comfort depend upon staying.  Outside is darkness and despair and the loss of salvation.  Followers live in denial.  

Trait 10 - Produce Cult Followers
People in cults are brainwashed by the cult leader.  Followers are characterized by subservience, dependence, passivity, indifference, fear, and silence.  They lose the ability to think critically.  They are only concerned for their happiness which they believe comes from the cult.  That’s why they will fight for the cult and the cult leader.  People have to be deprogramed and taught to think for themselves when they leave a cult.  Human dependency and mindless obedience has to be replaced with inquiry, industry, initiative, and ingenuity.  Life in a cult always ends in tragedy when the cult leader is exposed or “prophecies” aren’t fulfilled.  The end result – skepticism and extreme disillusionment.  

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We sent an email to our small group, close friends, and youth workers letting them know we were leaving and why.  Several hours after we sent the message the pastors called an all-church members meeting. 

Comment: This was a last resort.  They repeatedly asked for godly mediation by a neutral third party but were denied due process.  Yet, the issues with the pastors were serious.  I faced the same dilemma in July 2011.  After 25 years of service, I had no choice but to send out The Documents to the SGC pastors.  In like fashion, the Owens sent out a letter.  Predictably, the pastors called a church-wide meeting to do damage control by maligning them.   

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The purpose of the meeting was to discuss how we ‘had made false accusations against the pastoral team that cast seeds of doubt and suspicion on the elder team that could be used to destroy the unity of the church.’ 

Comment: What will destroy this church are the ungodly actions of its pastors.  Just like the ungodly actions of leaders in SGC have devastated it.  SGC leaders and pastors always blame others for their downfall.  They accept no responsibility and demonstrate no humility.  God has been exposing and opposing SGC for the last seven years.  In these situations, SGC leaders and pastors accuse people of slander; when in fact, they are the ones slandering.  That is what they have done with the victims of abuse, Rachael Denhollander, me and many others. 

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At that meeting they told direct and indirect lies about us and another family that had also addressed concerns about how SGC had responded to Rachael Denhollander.  I am still dumbfounded this even took place.  How can men who claim to love Jesus as shepherds respond this way? 

Comment: That is a good question.  Answer – they love their power and position more than they love Jesus Christ.  Self-preservation, born out of selfish ambition and the love of reputation, comes before the glory of God and the genuine interests of Jesus Christ.  It is common for Sovereign Grace pastors to lie about godly people when they raise good and necessary concerns and call them to account.  Sarah says she is “still dumbfounded” they “told direct and indirect lies.”  That is the hardest thing for honest people to believe but it is the reality!  Other families in the church are undergoing the same kind of treatment as the Owens.  They are not the only ones. 

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I do not share this lightly.  I truly love these men and their families.  But can you see the problem here?  The truth was twisted or completely set aside in favor of a lie in order to protect “unity”.  Our desire to meet with a 3rd party present became, “The Owens refuse to meet.” 

Comment: “Can you see the problem?” Yep.  SGC leaders and pastors have no problem employing lies!  It has been documented hundreds of times.  The corruption is systemic.  Gamache, Hansel, and Powers are not protecting godly unity, they are protecting their franchise from which they make a living.  They framed the Owens by saying they “refuse to meet” but that was not true.  They repeatedly asked to meet but with Jon Bloom in attendance.  When the pastors refused their request, the meeting did not happen.  SGC has used this evil tactic many times against many people including me.  They intentionally misrepresent “the facts.” 

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“Sharing our opinion” was treated as a sinful and rebellious act against the church, worthy of removal from a leadership position.  If it had been true, sharing an opinion about a public issue is certainly not sinful.  But on top of that, it wasn’t even true. 

Comment: This is happening in other Sovereign Grace churches.  Disagreeing with the pastors and telling people you think an investigation is warranted is being “treated as a sinful and rebellious act.” 

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We are telling our story because we have learned it is one that is far too common in SG churches across the country.  I had no idea before it happened to me.  This kind of leadership must be called to account.  This is not Jesus.  This is not the Holy Spirit.  This is not unity. 

CommentThey are absolutely correct!  People need to speak out.  In the same way SGC has covered up the physical and sexual abuse of children, they have covered up the spiritual abuse of members.  I don’t know Kyle J. Howard, but he is an evangelical black brother that works on “ethnic reconciliation” and develops “content & curriculum for the church on racial trauma & ethnic/cultural awareness in counseling.”  He has 8,000 followers on his Twitter account.  He is an outsider to SGC but aware of the problems.  Here is what he wrote four weeks ago. 

Kyle J. Howard  ๐Ÿ™…๐Ÿพ‍โ™‚๏ธ‏ @KyleJamesHoward
So far, I have had saints from a total of 5 diff SGC churches, completely diff states, no apparent knowledge of one another, reach out to me for counsel.  Every case is exactly the same.  They encouraged leadership to consider independent investigation, forced out of membership.
10:25 AM - 21 Mar 2018 

Kyle J. Howard  ๐Ÿ™…๐Ÿพ‍โ™‚๏ธ‏ @KyleJamesHoward Mar 21
I wanna be clear here.  I have absolutely no desire to become a watchdog blogger (not a dismissal of them) and I have no desire whatsoever to get into a battle between “sides”.   But honestly, this is a very disturbing pattern.  What is going on SGC? 

Like the Owens said, “We are telling our story because we have learned it is one that is far too common in SG churches across the country.  I had no idea before it happened to me.  This kind of leadership must be called to account.” 

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MLK Jr. said, “In your struggle for justice, let your oppressor know that you are not attempting to defeat or humiliate him, or even to pay him back for injustices that he has heaped upon you.  Let him know that you are merely seeking justice for him as well as yourself.” 

Comment: Like others, the Owens desire justice for SGC and for themselves. 

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We do not tell our story in order to slander anyone or to try to cause division.  We are telling the facts about what happened to us because it would be wrong to keep quiet and allow this pattern of leadership to continue. 

Comment: It would be wrong to be quiet.  This “pattern of leadership” needs to be exposed and hopefully stopped because it is evil.  People in SGC have been brainwashed with a false understanding of slander.  It is one of the primary ways members have been silenced by SGC.  I’d recommend people read A Tough Wedge & a Heavy Pike.  It addresses this confusion from Scripture and uses Martin Luther as an example.  People must distinguish between ungodly and godly division.  The OT prophets, John the Baptist, Jesus, the NT apostles, and heroes of the faith throughout church history have caused a lot of the latter.  “Divisions” and “factions” are sometimes necessary to show those approved of God (1 Cor. 11:18-19).  

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It has harmed not only us, but would continue to be harmful for remaining church members and even our former pastors to allow a pattern of oppressive authority to continue.  “It is sad to be a slave of Pharaoh.  It is horrible to be Pharaoh.” - Rabbi Belgrad. 

Comment: I hope the pastors come to repentance, reconcile with the Owens and others in the church, and leave Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc.  Otherwise, their “pattern of oppressive authority” will continue to harm people. 

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Our goal is and was ever only to make peace.  Our original concern for SGC’s over these allegations was born out of a love for the gospel and wanting our witness to not be tainted by the refusal to be examined.  We recognized that striving for peace might mean temporary conflict. 

Comment: For all their claims of gospel centeredness, SGC is characterized by self-centeredness.  That is evident in their refusal to be examined.  Their “welfare” comes before the welfare of the gospel and Christ’s church.  Mark Galli from Christianity Today put it this way.  

“We desperately need a fresh and thorough independent investigation [of SGC] by an organization that specializes in these matters.… We call for this on behalf of potential victims who may have yet to be heard.  And for the sake of SGC and for the integrity of evangelical churches everywhere.  And especially for the sake of the gospel.” 

Godly peace is rooted and grounded in truth, not cover-ups.  Last week, SGC said there will be no investigation. 

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Peacekeeping and Peacemaking are two very different things.  Peacekeeping is suppressing conflict.  Peacemaking is addressing conflict in order to bring reconciliation.  The gospel is the good news of peacemaking.  God has come to reconcile man to God and also mankind to one another. 

Comment: More than suppressing conflict, SGC is committed to suppressing the truth by suppressing people who speak it.  People like Jeff and Sarah.  This practice has its origins in the example and teaching of C.J. Mahaney.    

On July 6, 2011, C.J. Mahaney took “a leave of absence in order to give time to considering these charges, examine my heart, and receive the appropriate help from others.”  The “serious charges” against him included a history of pride, deceit, hypocrisy, unteachableness, and sinful judging.  Four months later, Mahaney told all the SGC pastors and wives the following at their annual conference.  There was no self-examination only a directive to discipline “divisive” members who were calling him and other leaders in SGC to account. 

“I regret that my language conveyed that my sins were unusually serious.  I do not think that I have never thought that. … One thing I would like to say and stress.  We must not let our critics define us or redefine us.  I think the days ahead are going to require more discernment as it relates to the identification of slander and the influence of slander in our churches.  I think the days ahead are going to require courage on the part of pastors and when necessary publicly identify those who are divisive.  I think the days ahead are not only going to require, I think they are going to require courage.  I think in some ways in SG we have more humility than courage.”  (Pastors Conference, Nov 11, 2011) 

Read C.J.’s State of His Heart Message - Reflection on Personal Sins for complete coverage.

The lack of humility in SGC is not the problem.  It is the lack of courage to publicly identify “divisive” people according to Mahaney.  This very message and teaching contributed to 100 pastors and 40 churches leaving SGC over the next three years.  No one is more divisive than C.J. Mahaney.  

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Choosing to not address or investigate serious allegations of sexual abuse in order to protect the reputations of leaders is peacekeeping.  Worse, ignoring allegations like these says to those who have been abused & oppressed “your pain doesn’t matter as much as keeping the peace.” 

Comment: When SGC “addressed” the serious allegations of sexual abuse raised by Denhollander, they did so with lies.  She exposed them in an 8,000-word rebuttal.  Furthermore, the fundamental reason SGC has chosen to not allow an investigation is because they are guilty.  A professional investigation would bring out the “bones of the dead” and expose their “whitewashed tombs.”   SGC is about appearing righteous, when they are unrighteous.      

Matthew 23:27-28 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. [28] In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. 

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As we said in our original message to our pastors, we do not claim to know if there is any truth to the allegations against SGC.  We pray that there isn’t.  But we do know that the gospel calls for us to stand up for the oppressed, the marginalized, and the abused. 

Comment: I have written approximately 50 posts over the past six years about the conspiracy to commit and cover-up the sexual abuse of children in SGC.  The accounts of abuse made public are true and there are many more accounts that remain private.  Moreover, I continue to gather evidence and organize evidence.  So does Rachael Denhollander.  This is not going away.  

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We need to take claims of abuse seriously because God takes justice seriously.  We as the church, when accused of serious sin should not circle the wagons, deflect, and ignore, but instead say “Is it I, Lord?” 

Comment: SGC has mocked and ridiculed all 11 plaintiffs in the lawsuit saying they made up their stories of abuse and/or made up their accounts of a conspiracy because they were in the lawsuit for the money.  That should anger everyone.  Please read the Second Amended Complaint (lawsuit) if you have not already done so.  It will tear your heart out.  

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If accused when we are innocent, God will vindicate us.  If we are not, let us turn in true repentance that the world may see that Christ’s church, while not sinless, walks in the righteousness bought for us with the blood of Jesus. 

Comment: God doesn’t always vindicate us when we are innocent, but he always strengthens us and draws us near to him.  SGC has brought great reproach to the gospel and the church of Jesus of Christ.  I hope it repents and then dissolves.  That is not said with bitterness.  I’d love to see elderships repent and churches leave so they can serve the Lord free of the oppressive and bureaucratic hierarchy that is SGG.  In its place, they can join a godly network or association of churches or just relate to other churches relationally, but unofficially.  There are no denominations in the NT, nor parachurch empires.    

In 2013, SGC produced a Book of Church Order.  It was supposed to be the answer to all their problems.  It is 142 pages long today.  Yet, the BCO has done nothing to curb, correct, or confront the ever-increasing corruption at work in SGC since its adoption.  For example that found in Hush Fund Set Up by Top SGM Leaders to Meet the Demands of a SGM Pastor Whose Son Was Sexually Abused

If the denomination followed what they prescribe with impartiality, C.J. Mahaney, the Executive Committee (i.e. Board), and the Leadership Team would have been removed and replaced.  I’ve said this for years.  You can’t remain in SGC as a pastor unless you compromise your integrity and set aside the teaching of Scripture.  I agree with C.J., there is a need for courage.  The kind of courage that compels you to speak out, knowing you will be thrown out. 

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This righteousness is given by costly grace, not by whitewashing our images.  May we honor Christ’s sacrifice by openly confronting and turning from the sins that he died to save us from.  “The Lords works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.” - Psalm 103:6 

Comment: SGC is all about image management but it has not worked.  It has backfired because the Lord reigns.  I rejoice that more members are “openly confronting” leaders hoping they will repent for the sake of the gospel.  Thank you, Jeff and Sarah.  It is a costly endeavor.  Yet, in all of life, and under all circumstances, Jesus is enough.  He lived for my righteousness, died for my sins, and rose again for my justification.  I end with these words from Jeff Owens. 

jeff_owens‏ @jeff_owens Apr 18
Recently we’ve been deeply wounded.  We’ve seen our friends mistreated.  We’ve seen manipulation and misuse of authority from men we should have been able to trust and expect to respond in love and empathy.  But while I have deep sorrow, I do not lose hope. 

jeff_owens‏ @jeff_owens Apr 18
God still redeems, still forgives, still makes beauty out of brokenness.  I hope for redemption for myself & for them.  I don’t know if there will be reconciliation this side of heaven.  I don’t know who in my life may fall away and not return. 

jeff_owens‏ @jeff_owens Apr 18
But I hope in Jesus.  He does not fail.  He does not fall.  His steadfast love never ceases.  His mercies never draw to an end.  And he is enough.

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