Imagine a certified nutritionist doing an infomercial for cotton candy machines. Got that fixed in your mind. Here’s the pitch. “Hey everyone, did you know cotton candy is actually great for your health. Plenty of fiber. Full of nutrients. Even prevents heart disease especially with a bottle of red wine. Experience immediate energy and no mess from this sweet cotton ball of youth. It will even grow hair. So call now and order your very own machine for just $19.95 including shipping and handling. What a deal! Have you credit card ready! Health, vigor and strength are a phone call away. Order now.”
So too the letter sent to the SGM pastors from the SGM interim Board. My comments are in blue ink.
February 27, 2011
Thank you for bearing with us in patience as we have finalized details for the upcoming Board transition. We appreciate your encouragement, input, and prayers that have played such a significant role for us over the last several months.
These details were “finalized” without the involvement of the SGM pastors. That means these decisions were unilaterally implemented by the SGM Board. There was no partnership. No collaboration. No humility. That should surprise no one. C.J. is back as President. This approach is an expression of his leadership. He didn’t want to involve the SGM pastors in any meaningful way in how a permanent Board was selected. He is trying to fast track this transition and effectively impose it upon the movement.
He is also acting independently of Ambassadors of Reconciliation. Their report is worthless to the SGM Board. No need to wait on their recommendations because they don’t intend to use them in making “significant changes” in how a new board is appointed, composed, or functions. While C.J. is the President, you don’t need input from AoR or the SGM pastors. His superior wisdom, knowledge, discernment, and leadership renders all others useless in comparison.
This letter is to explain to you the significant changes in leadership structure that are represented in the new Board we hope to install in March, and to solicit your involvement in the process. For a quick reference, we’ve also included at the end of this document a table comparing the old and proposed configurations.
There are no significant changes in the leadership structure. That cotton candy sure tastes good. No substance that’s why it melts in your mouth. Listen, the interim Board is just moving the SGM furniture around in the Conference Room. This is an empty invitation. Like being invited to a party but showing up only to discover the day, time and location had been changed but no one told you. This is window dressing. Cotton candy. Clouds without rain. There is no substance to the claim that this letter is intended “to solicit your involvement in the process.” I’ll make that clear later.
This represents the next step in our polity and leadership refinements that have been in process for the past couple of years.
The “significant changes in leadership structure” are here referred to as “polity and leadership refinements.” Now that is a true statement! These are minor refinements and it’s taken a couple of years to come up with them.
Before we get to the specifics of this step, we want to clarify a few preliminary points. As we’ve stated at the conference and in our various polity meetings, we continue to affirm and celebrate our existence together as a family of churches. Although this letter speaks in terms of “the Board,” that is simply a functional term for the governing body of Sovereign Grace Ministries and not an abandonment of biblical principle. Based upon the precedent of the New Testament, SGM is an expression of extra-local ministry that is connected to local churches, emerging out of local churches, endorsed by local churches, and working with local churches, with the goal of planting churches and serving those churches as they grow toward maturity. As such (and as will be noted further below), participants in the new Board will comprise both men serving extra-locally as well as elders of churches partnering with SGM.
Now we are getting to the heart of the matter. Something needs to be clarified before saying any more. The SGM Board is reasserting its commitment to apostolic ministry and its authority over the churches. Of course, they don’t use the word “apostle” but that is just spin. Their meaning is clear. Like they say, “Board” is the functional term but “apostle” is the biblical term. As I’ve pointed out in the past, SGM is reduced to the status of a parachurch ministry with no biblical justification unless they believe in “the precedent of the New Testament.” That is, “extra-local ministry.” Believe me, they are not talking about traveling evangelists or itinerate prophets. They mean apostles but are afraid to be honest. They want to have their cake and eat it too. But such a subtle distinction, if exposed, will not go over well in Reformed circles. C.J. is the chief apostle again. So if you don’t believe in apostles, it is time to get out of your SGM church.
Sovereign Grace Ministries is a “family of churches” and the Board is “the governing body of Sovereign Grace Ministries.” The math is clear. The “biblical principle” of apostolic ministry is not being abandoned. It is being enforced and it must be “endorsed by local churches.” Take notice, Presbyterianism is out. Episcopalianism is in. Maybe SGM will join the conservative movement in the Anglican Church. Archbishop Mahaney has a nice sound to it. Expect him to plant a church in Canterbury, England. Lol. And oh by the way, notice how churches are partnering with Sovereign Grace, not Sovereign Grace with churches.
Thus, we will maintain our historical commitment to the pervasive biblical pattern of gifted men leading the church in its mission—planting churches, nurturing churches, and uniting churches in a common mission (e.g., Acts 13:1-3; 15:39-40; 18:27-28; 1 Cor. 16:10-12; Phil. 2:19-30; Col. 1:7-8, 4:12; Titus 1:5; et al). The inclusion of church elders on the board will also honor the biblical precedent of local elders partnering with extra-local workers in leadership and mission (e.g., Acts 13:1-3; 15:6).
Eph 4:8,11 This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men”…. It was he who gave some to be apostles. I appreciate the honesty (yes, honesty – it’s been a long time) conveyed in this paragraph. “Gifted men,” that is apostolic men, will lead the churches of SGM in planting, nurturing, and uniting. Note the Scriptures referenced in support of apostolic ministry as practiced in the NT. Planting includes setting priorities, identifying leaders, choosing sites and allocating resources. Nurturing includes building, equipping and directing churches. Uniting means setting the terms and conditions for “unity” in theology, practice and mission.
Here are some of the key statements found in the Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, and Membership Agreement for SGM Churches. All of these documents need to be rewritten with input from the SGM pastors.
In this section, I cite selections from the Sovereign Grace Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, and Membership Agreement for Sovereign Grace Churches. I quote the documents in black ink and supply my commentary in blue ink.
Articles of Incorporation
ARTICLE 3: Purposes. …This Corporation shall encourage, serve, and equip local churches to freely preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to establish and train believers in the grace of God through providing apostolic oversight, pastoral training and equipping, intensive pastoral college training, worship music, and religious literature, and generally utilizing all means and media to extend God’s kingdom. To carry out these stated purposes, the Corporation may do any and all lawful acts which may be necessary or useful for the furtherance of said purposes.
On February 27, the SGM Board reasserted its “historical commitment” to “extra local ministry” (i.e., apostolic ministry) and affirmed its role in “leading” all SGM churches in the mission of SGM. Article 3 gives the Board of Directors unlimited power. They may do “any and all lawful acts which may be necessary or useful for the furtherance of said purposes.” For example, SGM has the right and authority to “build local churches …equip local churches…establish and train believers…through providing apostolic oversight.” C.J. is tightening the reins.
ARTICLE 6: Directors. The number of persons who serve on the Board of Directors and the manner in which the directors shall be elected or appointed shall be set forth in the Bylaws, except that one of the directors shill be appointed by the Board of Governing Pastors of Covenant Life Church, Inc. in order to further develop and perpetuate the close working relationship between Covenant Life Church, Inc. and the Corporation, as well as to ensure mutual faithful adherence to our shared religious bonds and convictions.
I’ve already written a blog post on Article 6. See “Has the SGM Board Broken the Law and Defrauded the Pastors of Covenant Life Church? Yes, by All Accounts!”
Section 1.2 Nonprofit Purposes. The Corporation is organized as a convention or association of churches and as an integrated auxiliary of Covenant Life Church, Inc., which is a local church and nonstock corporation in the State of Maryland operated exclusively for religious, charitable, and educational purposes. The Corporation is a tax-exempt nonstock corporation under Maryland law and shall be operated exclusively as a nonprofit, religious, charitable and educational organization dedicated to the purposes stated in the Articles of Incorporation.
Sovereign Grace Ministries is “an integrated auxiliary of Covenant Life Church, Inc.” Not the other way around. This legal quagmire has to be resolved. It won’t be easy.
Section 4.1 Roles as Directors and Members, Number, and Term. The Board of Directors of the Corporation shall consist of not fewer than four (4) persons and not more than eleven (11) persons, as may be determined from time to time by resolution of the Board of Directors, one of which shall be appointed by the Board of Governing Pastors of Covenant Life Church, Inc., as provided by the Articles of Incorporation. Although the Corporation has no members, its Directors shall be entitled to exercise the rights and powers that members of a nonstock corporation would otherwise enjoy under any Maryland law or rule relating to members of a nonstock corporation.
Board Members are appointed by Board Members. Except for Covenant Life Church, SGM pastors have absolutely no authority in appointing Directors. There are no “members” besides the Board which is the only entity “entitled to exercise the rights and powers.”
Section 4.2 Qualification and Appointment. The initial Board of Directors shall make subsequent appointments to the Board of Directors of the Corporation by a majority vote at any regular meeting, or at a special meeting convened for that purpose.
Section 4.3 Vacancy. If the office of any member of the Board of Directors becomes vacant as a result of any cause, the remaining Directors on the Board, though less than a quorum, may select a successor or successors, who shall be appointed by the Board of Directors of the Corporation.
Sections 4:2 and 4:3 reinforce Section 4:1. Only the Board of Directors has the authority to appoint and select Directors.
Section 4.4 Powers. The spiritual and temporal affairs of the Corporation shall be managed by its Board of Directors, which may exercise all such powers of the Corporation and do all such lawful acts and things permitted by statute, the Articles of Incorporation, or these Bylaws.
This section deals with “Powers.” The SGM Board is all powerful. It manages (leads, governs, directs) “the spiritual and temporal affairs of the Corporation.” Remember, “The Corporation is organized as a convention or association of churches.”
Section 4.6 Removal and Resignation. With the approval of the Board of Directors of the Corporation, any Director may be removed from the Board when, in the sole judgment and discretion of the Board of Directors, it is determined by a majority vote of the Board at a meeting duly called for that purpose and at which a quorum is present that such Director should no longer serve on the Board.
All the pastors in SGM combined cannot remove a corrupt Board of Director. Directors are out of reach and unaccountable to the association of churches they governed. They are self-appointed and self-determined. Only in their “sole judgment and discretion” can anyone be removed from the Board of Directors. I got an idea. I’ll scratch your back, if you scratch my back!
Section 4.8 Compensation of Directors. Directors shall be entitled to such reasonable compensation for their services as Directors as shall be fixed from time to time by resolution of the Board of Directors, and shall also be entitled to reimbursement for any reasonable expenses incurred in attending such meetings. Any Director receiving compensation under these provisions shall not be barred from serving the Corporation in any other capacity and receiving reasonable compensation for such other services.
The Board of Directors has the authority to set their own salaries. There is no legal requirement to make their salaries, other compensation or benefits known to “the Corporation.”
Section 5.7 Dissent to action of Board. A Board member who is present at a meeting of the Board of Directors at which action on any corporate matter is taken is presumed to have assented to the action unless he announces his dissent at the meeting, his dissent is entered in the minutes of the meeting, files his written dissent to the action with the secretary of the meeting before the meeting is adjourned, or forwards his written dissent within 24 hours after the meeting is adjourned, by certified mail, return receipt requested, bearing a postmark from the United States Postal Service, the secretary of the meeting or the secretary of the Corporation. The right to dissent does not apply, however, if the Board member voted in favor of the action, or failed to make his dissent known at the meeting.
I didn’t remember this clause in the Bylaws. We never followed it but this section makes formal dissent extremely difficult. Like climbing Mountain Everest. If a dissenting Board Member took these measures with C.J. as President, he’d be voted off the Board quickly. I never followed these stipulations because I never studied them. Had I followed this section my demise would have come even more quickly.
Section 6.1 Number and Positions. The officers of the Corporation shall be elected by the Board of Directors and shall be the Chairman of the Board, and the President, Executive Director (who functions as Chief Operating Officer), Secretary, and Treasurer (who functions as Finance Director) of the Corporation…. Except as otherwise provided, the officers may, but need not be, Directors of the Corporation. The Board may appoint such other officers and agents as it shall deem necessary, who shall hold their offices for such terms and shall exercise such powers and perform such duties as shall be determined from time to time by the Board.
The Chairman, President, and Executive Director are appointed and determined by the Board. “The Corporation” or “family of churches” has no say. Neither do their representatives, the pastors. Note, the Executive Director has the authority of a Chief Operating Officer in corporate America. He can kick your rear end.
Section 6.3 The Chairman. The Chairman shall be a member of the Board of Directors. As the spiritual leader of the Corporation, the Chairman shall have principal responsibility to establish the Corporation’s vision, mission, and priorities. He shall preside at meetings of the Board of Directors. He shall make reports to the Board of Directors, and shall have such other rights, duties, and powers as are authorized by the Board of Directors from time to time.
As Chairman, C.J. is the spiritual leader of all SGM churches and pastors. I think he was just elevated to Pope from Archbishop Maybe he is moving to Rome not Canterbury. J Then again, I think the Protestant Vatican is located in Louisville, KY.
Section 6.4 The President. The President shall serve as the Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation. He shall have the general powers and duties of management usually vested in the office of the chief executive and president of a Corporation, and shall have such other rights, duties, and powers as are authorized by the Board of Directors.
The apostolic team leader is not a first among equals according to the Bylaws. I am learning too. He runs the operation like a powerful CEO. He has the authority to operate with great independence. The Chairman/President is a combination of Pope Benedict XVI and CEO Donald Trump.
Section 7.1 Ordination and Licensing. In fulfillment of its role as an association of churches throughout the United States and all nations, the Corporation may engage in the ordination and/or licensing of ministers to serve the Corporation and the local churches affiliated with the Corporation.
Ordained and licensed ministers are expected or required to “serve the Corporation.”
Section 7.2 Qualifications. To qualify for ordination or licensing, an individual must:
7.2.1 practice personal holiness, maintain a life above reproach, have a good reputation both inside and outside the Church, be able to teach others, and otherwise meet the requirements for overseers found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9, and 1 Peter 5:1-4, among other Scriptures, as understood and interpreted by the Corporation;
Unless you are C.J., Dave, Mickey, et al., then you get a pass “as understood and interpreted by the Corporation.” This requirement won’t be followed unless the SGM pastors and churches are given the authority to remove men who don’t meet the qualifications set forth in these passages. The SGM Board has acted is in violation of Section 7.2.1. and repeatedly shown themselves to be partial in their judgments and act with favoritism toward those that benefit them.
7.2.2 satisfy any other criteria that the Board of Directors deems necessary for individuals to receive ordination and/or licensing as a minister.
Extra bibical requirements can be added in order to be ordained or licensed. Like genuflecting and kissing rings.
Section 7.3 Removal or Disqualification of Individuals As Pastors. The Board of Directors shall establish a policy regarding the grounds for removing or disqualifying an individual from ordination and/or licensing.
This is grounds for a class action lawsuit. No kidding because no policy has ever been established or followed. Men have been removed or disqualified at the whim of C.J. All SGM pastors take note. If you are a “partnering church,” the SGM Board has the authority to remove you from ministry. You are NOT “independent and self-governing.”
Section 7.4 Responsibilities of Ordained and Licensed Ministers. Individuals ordained or licensed by the Corporation shall serve in various positions and perform various duties in fulfillment of their calling to the Corporation as an association of churches or to one or more local churches affiliated with the Corporation. Such duties may include, but not be limited to, providing executive, administrative, financial, and/or technological oversight to the Corporation or one or more of its affiliated local churches, and serving as a pastor and/or a worship leader for one or more of its affiliated local churches. All individuals ordained or licensed by the Corporation shall carry out the ministry of the Corporation as an ecclesiastical entity, and may perform the duties of a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, including teaching, counseling, administering baptism and the Lord’s supper, officiating at weddings and funerals, advising the board on matters of church discipline, disbursing church monies appropriated through the approved church budget, and equipping others for ministry.
This is a biggie. Ordination isn’t being “set aside” for Jesus, it is being set aside for the Corporation. Every minister has a responsibility to view their positions and carry out duties “in fulfillment of their calling to the Corporation.” Every pastor ordained in SGM must “carry out the ministry of the Corporation as an ecclesiastical entity.” SGM is legally a denomination. They have authority over their pastors.
One prerogative (the only one) that comes with ordination/licensing is “advising the [SGM] board on matters of church discipline.” Does that mean C.J. asked for input before Mickey and Jared excommunicated me? This is another violation of law. The same when Gene Emerson instructed Ray M. and Eric K. to “fire” me with no warning or any due process.
Section 10.5 Designated Contributions. The Corporation may accept any designated contribution, grant, bequest or devise consistent with its general tax-exempt purposes, as set forth in the Articles of Incorporation. As so limited, donor-designated contributions will be accepted for special funds, purposes or uses, and such designations generally will be honored. However, the Corporation shall reserve all right, title and interest in and to and control of such contributions, as well as full discretion as to the ultimate expenditure or distribution thereof in connection with any special fund, purpose or use. Further, the Corporation shall retain sufficient control over all donated funds (including designated contributions) to assure that such funds will be used to carry out the Corporation’s tax-exempt purposes.
This means churches and people can “designate” where their money goes but they have no assurance it will go to the particular purpose or project so designated.
Section 12: Amendments. The Articles of Incorporation and these Bylaws may be amended, altered, or repealed by a majority vote of the members of the Board of Directors in attendance at any regular meeting of the Board or at any special meeting of the Board if notice of the proposed alteration or repeal is contained in the notice of such meeting or notice is properly waived as outlined in Section 5 of these Bylaws. Notice of any meeting of the Board of Directors in which the proposed amendment, alteration or repeal of these Bylaws is contained shall be in writing and shall be mailed to each director not less than 7 days prior to the meeting.
The “corporate” pastors and “franchised” churches have no authority to “amended, altered, or repeal” the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws.
Membership Agreement for Sovereign Grace Churches
Introduction – A Family of Churches. …Like most church associations, Sovereign Grace has a defined form of church government based on our best attempts at understanding and applying biblical theology. While our passion is not for our polity but for “Christ and him crucified,” our church polity provides us the form and structure for expressing that passion. Thus the following three principles form the foundation for local-church polity within Sovereign Grace:
- Plurality Among Elders (Local Church)
- The Senior Pastor (Local Church)
- Partnership with Apostolic Ministry (Sovereign Grace)
This “partnership” is with apostolic ministry. In recent years, the SGM Board stopped referring to apostolic ministry. No longer because it threatened its very existence as an organization. This “defined form of church government” puts the SGM Board and Officers back in charge.
Membership Agreement. [Footnote] Please note that Sovereign Grace has no [legal] members that exercise the rights and powers of members of a corporation under the laws of the State of Maryland. However, Sovereign Grace as a family of churches has member churches determined by the ecclesiastical qualifications described in this Agreement and governed by the Holy Bible, but such membership conveys no standing, responsibility or authority for governance of Sovereign Grace as a corporation.
This statement means member churches are not legal members and therefore have “no standing, responsibility or authority for governance of Sovereign Grace as a corporation.” Remember Sovereign Grace is defined as “a family of churches.” The pastors and people have no say in how it operates. There is absolutely no outside accountability. There are no checks and balances.
Membership Agreement. Member-church pastors/leaders must demonstrate a humble willingness to open their lives and local church to the gracious evaluation of a Sovereign Grace representative. In the event of any situation involving one or more local-church leaders suspected of heresy or significant sin/impropriety in sexual, financial, or other significant matters that threaten the unity of the entire church, the church leadership commits to involve the leadership of Sovereign Grace as soon as possible.
All pastors must “humbly” open up their lives and their churches to “the gracious evaluation of a Sovereign Grace representative.” I’m holding my tongue! Of course, the Sovereign Grace apostle is not required to open up his life in like fashion. It is a one way street. Call it Harvey Boulevard.
Membership Agreement: To jointly carry out the mission of Sovereign Grace, member churches commit to a goal of giving 10 percent of their tithes and offerings to the Mission Fund of Sovereign Grace, and to prayerfully consider participating in all special offerings initiated among all Sovereign Grace Churches.
Two thirds of all contributions to SGM come from member churches. That’s the cash cow. Kill SGM as a “family of churches” and you kill the golden goose. That is a major reason the interim Board decided not to become a parachurch organization. Most of the revenue would have dried up because the churches are its financial lifeline. You cannot be a SGM church without committing to give 10% and other offerings that are called upon by the Board of Directors. It’s part of the membership agreement. Fork it up.
Joint Commitments: Member churches and Sovereign Grace as independent and autonomously governed entities jointly agree to be responsible for all respective claims, loss, damage, liability, or expenses occasioned or claimed by reason of acts or neglects of their own employees or visitors or of independent contractors. Accordingly each entity whose alleged action or inaction gives rise to third-party claims against the others will indemnify and hold harmless the others for any such claims or expense.
This is legal posturing intended to avoid lawsuits; but this maneuvering would never stand up in a court of law. The Articles, Bylaws and Membership Agreement make it clear that SGM churches are governed by the Board of Directors. The churches are in no way “independent and autonomously governed entities.” This is contradicted by all the aforementioned statements. This phrase was inserted with the intent of providing legal distance. For instance, if someone sued a local pastor for malpractice, they could not come after SGM’s deep pockets because the church is independent and autonomous. Such reasoning, however, would never hold up in a civil trial. A judge and jury would see through such spin.
Joint Commitments: When a member church chooses to no longer affiliate with Sovereign Grace, the apostolic team of Sovereign Grace will relinquish its role in a God-honoring manner, and grant that church the freedom to withdraw unless the leadership of the member church is suspected of heresy, immorality, financial impropriety or substantial and unrepentant breaches of the leadership qualifications appearing in 1 Timothy 3: 1-7 and Titus 1: 6-9.
The apostolic team can take over any church, if in the opinion of the SGM Board, there are “substantial and unrepentant breaches of the leadership qualifications.” If you get on C.J.’s or Dave’s or their agent’s bad side, you will find yourself in breach of “leadership qualifications.” You’ll have no freedom to leave, try as hard as you may. That’s basically what happened with me and Grace Community Church in 2009. Sovereign Grace took charge, did a “gracious evaluation,” shut down the church, and turned over 100k in money and assets to Mickey Connolly. The GCC Care Group leaders did the bidding of Dave Harvey, Gene Emerson, Bob Kauflin, Wayne Brooks and Phil Sasser. It has happened to other men and their churches.
Joint Commitments: Member churches and Sovereign Grace commit to resolve any disputes that may arise in a God-honoring manner in accordance with biblical principles.
Unless you are C.J. Mahaney with Covenant Life Church. In that case, you are free to run, refuse mediation by Ted Kober, put all the blame on Joshua Harris and the hostile church members, move out of the area and take Sovereign Grace with you.
In my own case, I’ve been forbidden from even stating my disputes to objective evaluators with the hope of resolution and justice. Another violation of law.
This section is a continuation of the February 27th letter from the SGM Board to all the SGM pastors. My comments are in blue ink
1. Function of the Board
As noted above, the Board is the governing body of SGM. As such, it is not intended to be involved in the day-to-day affairs of the ministry, which are the purview of the Leadership Team (the president and other senior staff selected by the Board). Rather, it provides oversight and accountability for the organization. For example, the Board:
C.J. could not be clearer. The Board governs SGM which is an association of member churches, not just a headquarters with offices for staff. The Board selects the Leadership Team (e.g. the CEO, COO, extra local apostles, etc.) and provides oversight and accountability to them and also the SGM churches. All officers and senior staff, including the President, are selected by the Board. Pastors and churches have no say in who is appointed “the spiritual leader” of all SGM.
Determines the vision and values for the ministry
Everything comes from the Board. Nothing comes from the “partnership” with pastors and churches.
Sets priorities and conducts annual performance reviews for the president, and holds the authority to hire/fire him
The movement cannot remove their spiritual leader, the President and CEO, under any circumstances.
Provides financial and legal oversight for the ministry, ensuring an appropriate level of transparency, approving annual budgets, and setting policy
There will be no outside financial or legal accountability. All in house. The Board has charge of all monies and assets. They alone will ensure “an appropriate level of transparency” regarding compensation and benefits. Keep an eye on that promise. I’m sure the Board will make public how much C.J. makes in book royalties, honoraria, car allowances, property maintenance allowances, bonuses, and the like. You know his 250-300k compensation package.
Defines the Statement of Faith—changes to which will also require a vote of ordained SGM pastors when our polity is revised
My beloved Statement of Faith. Do you think they will let me vote on changes since I wrote it? I should have had it copyrighted and then leased rights to SGM for use. I say that tongue in cheek. I don’t expect SGM will ever make restitution for the destruction of my livelihood through illegal and deceptive means.
Back to the point. This is a feeble attempt at involving the pastors. There is no need to change the Statement of Faith. It has stood the test of time.
Although these are not new responsibilities for the Board, our hope is that they receive more concentrated attention now that the Board (as a governing body) will be distinct from the Leadership Team.
That’s correct. Nothing new, just more concentrated attention on the right of the Board to govern the churches.
Because of the unique season we are in, this new Board also has a number of special responsibilities awaiting it:
Finalizing SGM’s polity—something that will likely include a subcommittee of pastors from SGM churches who are not Board members (this will include the development of a book of church order, a defined grievance policy, etc.)
Of course, the Board will determine who is on this powerful subcommittee. I don’t think there will be any diversity. They are not going to pick anyone to work on “a book of church order” who doesn’t agree with C.J.’s polity or praxis. Or if they do, this committee will present a secret report to the Board that is not binding. Don’t expect the SGM pastors to know what is going on or be given the opportunity to vote on its parts. No, vote on the Statement of Faith and be happy; but not on “The Common Book of Prayer” or a defined grievance policy. By the way, will that grievance policy be retroactive and allow me to bring charges against C.J., Dave, Gene and Bob? I know, dumb question.
Evaluating recommendations from AOR’s Group Reconciliation report
Evaluating not implementing.
Evaluating recommendations from the panels that evaluated Brent Detwiler’s allegations
Ditto. You won’t hear much, if anything, on whether the recommendations are followed.
Installing a replacement for C.J. Mahaney as president
The new Board gets to install the new President. I know we live in America but does “install” mean “coronate” or “enthrone.” I am little confused. Oh that’s right, no one gets to vote in SGM. I guess the interim Cardinals get to pick the new Cardinals who install the new Pope. All this done in a secret conclave under Southern Seminary with secret ballots that will be burned. Sovereign Grace followers, keeping waiting in suspense unto white smoke billows from the Sistine Chapel (i.e., Mohler’s office).
As we have communicated before, the interim Board’s role was not to finalize polity but to evaluate the charges against C.J. With the seating of a new board, these other important priorities can move forward.
If the role of the interim Board was “to evaluate the charges against C.J.” and “not to finalize polity” then why is polity being changed and imposed upon the pastors in this letter.
By the way, the purpose statement for the interim Board should read, “to make absolutely certain the charges against C.J. go unevaluated using all manner of deceitful means to accomplish this corrupt end in order to avoid a lawsuit.”
2. Nomination process
SGM’s by-laws provide that the Board of Directors shall make subsequent appointments to the Board. Both in the appointment process for and the composition of the new Board, we are changing how this has been done historically. Given the interim status of this Board and pending finalization of our polity, however, we had to be careful not to set precedents that unduly obligated the future Board, which can further modify this process in light of the ongoing polity refinements in the future. One significant change we believed was important to make immediately was to provide a process for ordained SGM pastors to have input about nominees before they are confirmed. We will explain that affirmation process later in this letter.
This is a bunch of hoopla – March madness. In reality the Board is changing nothing! “Input about nominees” does not include the selection of nominees, the vetting of nominees, or voting on nominees once agreed upon. This supposed affirmation process is a joke. More smoke and mirrors. Just cotton candy. The Board still nominates and appoints anyone they want. It doesn’t matter if they are not “affirmed” by the pastors. Do you need a majority of pastors, say 150 objectors, to remove a nominee
The first step in seating the new Board was for the interim Board to nominate a list of men for membership. All of these men individually must meet certain criteria we established. Each man:
Let the SGM pastors nominate men to sit on the new Board! The current Board is corrupt. All ten nominated C.J. and Dave. They also nominated Mickey Connolly. C.J. and Dave declined. Mickey accepted. The nominees may meet the criterion below but those are the not criterion of Scripture. Furthermore, endorsement by a puppet pastoral team is not endorsement by the Holy Spirit. Here’s the question, does he meet the qualification of 1 Tim 3, Tit 1 and 1 Pet 5.
1. Is an ordained elder in an SGM church with at least five years of pastoral experience, or a member of the SGM leadership team.
That leaves Jared Mellinger out until October, 2013.
2. Has been endorsed to us by his local team for his leadership, wisdom, and character, especially his ability to work well in plurality
C.J. came up with a unique approach. When his pastoral team refused to endorse him, he left and found one that would with John Loftness in Riverdale, MD.
3. Possesses a proven grasp of biblical, systematic, and practical theology as well as biblical ethics, and a proven ability to reason biblically and to apply scripture to varied circumstances
None of the current Board members “possesses a proven grasp of…biblical ethics.” If they did, the three panel approach would never have occurred. Those hearings and reports were an attack on biblical justice which is a critical component of biblical ethics.
4. Has a distinctive gift of leadership, especially the capacity to think strategically and solve problems
Leadership or lordership?
5. Has a proven commitment to and passion for SGM’s mission to plant and care for local churches
Care or control?
6. Is in agreement with SGM’s statement of faith and membership agreement with local churches
And the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws.
Other significant changes to the Board include group criteria we set: an expanded roster of at least nine men, at least half of whom are SGM church elders rather than primarily SGM staff (to avoid the dynamics of an insider Board).
This is not a significant change. We had bigger Boards comprised of elders in the majority in the past. This doesn’t prevent “the dynamics of an insider Board.” You could have a hundred men, all of whom are elders, and it doesn’t necessarily change anything. Why? Because the Board picks all the nominees and “confirms” (i.e. determines) all Board Members.
Take for example the nine nominees. They are all insiders. Handpicked by the current Board and C.J. They all agree with the thinking and direction of the interim Board. Where are the sixty two men who signed the “Stop and Listen” letter to the SGM Board. NONE of them were nominated to serve on the Board. Must be a coincidence! I love cotton candy except it sticks to you like lies.
This change provides a broader perspective, a deeper pool of wisdom, a greater connection with and accountability to churches, and clears the primary obstacle SGM has to joining the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. (There are other measures meant to help SGM benefit from accountability to local churches that we expect will be reflected in the new Partnership Agreement. These include providing recourse for elders in the form of a grievance policy, the requirement that changes in the Statement of Faith be voted on by ordained elders, and the requirement that SGM executive staff serve on the staff of a local church.)
The nominees put forth by the interim Board do not provide a broader perspective. They will maintain the status quo, and in the case of a few men, move SGM in a worse direction. Expanding the Board does not increase “accountability to churches.” If the SGM Board is putting together a “new Partnership Agreement” that should include the nomination, vetting and selection of Board Members by SGM pastors. Of course it won’t unless forced upon the Board by the potential departure of many dissenting churches. Money speaks. If 1.5 million dollars is about to go out the SGM door, the Board might be “bribed” to make changes.
The men below have been nominated for Board membership and have been affirmed by their local teams for the role.
There are some incredible men missing from this list. Instead we have Craig, John, Mickey who are already Board Members. Phil has served as C.J.’s personal “lawyer” in disputes with the CLC pastors. Ken is the father of Jared Mellinger who is Dave Harvey’s pastor. Ron helped write a most despicable panel report. That leaves Al, Ian and Paul. Al was a friend so I’ll let him off the hook and show old fashion SGM favoritism. I don’t know what Ian and Paul believe but I suspect they are staunch supporters of C.J., Dave and the current Board. This is diversity, C.J. style. It like a new President handing out Cabinet and Ambassador postitions to loyal donors or polictical allies.
- Al Pino
- Craig Cabaniss
- Ian McConnell
- John Loftness
- Ken Mellinger
- Mickey Connolly
- Paul Buckley
- Phil Sasser
- Ron Boomsma
Short bios of these men are included in the feedback form we created for the affirmation process.
Some of you are surely wondering why C.J. Mahaney, Dave Harvey, and Jeff Purswell aren’t on the list. C.J. and Jeff were both unanimously nominated for the Board but asked to have their names removed from consideration. Both thought they would be able to better serve SGM at present if they were able to specialize in particular areas of their calling. Dave Harvey was also unanimously nominated for Board membership, but after considering the demands of the last eight months, the emergence of some family matters, and the care and counsel of his local eldership, Dave became convinced that Board membership was an unwise commitment right now. This does not mean the Board will not include full-time SGM staff in the future. The Board may nominate new Board members at their discretion and in keeping with the needs of leadership. As with the nominees at hand, new nominations will be submitted to SGM elders for affirmation.
C.J., Dave and Jeff’s absence from the Board has nothing to do with character. C.J. and Dave were unanimously nominated. That’s discouraging. Disillusioning. Frightening. No one on the Board gets it or is willing to say so. Both should have been removed from the Board months ago.
Dave turned down the nomination “right now” due in large measure to “the emergence of some family matters.” The church discipline of one adult child recently emerged but the matters related to his family began a long time ago. They involve all the children, are serious, and been covered up by Dave and the Covenant Fellowship Church pastors. But in covering up their sin, they were really covering up Dave’s sin! This way of operating is one of the reasons Dave's been so willing to act deceitfully in SGM and cover up C.J.’s sins.
Children and youth are responsible to God for their actions (see Eph 6:1-3; Col 3:20) but Scripture puts the greater responsibility on the father. He is expected to keep them “under control with all dignity” (NASU) if he wants to be an overseer in the house of God. The father is also responsible to guide and encourage his wife in her role as mother. If you can’t oversee your family, you can’t oversee the church. If I am the President of SGM and my children are delinquent from a young age, then I must be removed by the Board of Directors. See “Hardball.”
I assume C.J. and Jeff are moving to Louisville, KY. C.J. to plant a church next to The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where Al Mohler is President. Jeff to teach as a Faculty Member at the seminary. It would not surprise me if Bob Kauflin packed up and went with them. Bob would pastor and lead worship in the church and might teach part-time at the seminary. Overnight, the church would be numerical success with Mohler’s support. Seminarians would come in droves. Al would preach there occasionally. C.J.’s wit and insight would wow the crowds.
I suspect the SGM headquarters will also move to Louisville but be much smaller. Mohler will help provide for C.J., the church, the headquarters, and the Pastors College. I think the Pastors College with integrate with the seminary in some fashion. I wouldn’t be surprised if the new President for SGM is an outsider. Someone like Kevin DeYoung, Matt Chandler, or whomever. He would be an elder in C.J.’s church. C.J. won’t be a Board Member or Officer but he’ll be the new President’s personal pastor. Enough said. Or at least, that’s my guess.
We have instituted a three-year term for Board members. The Board may renew the participation of a member when his term expires, but the renewal will be subject to the affirmation process described below. To avoid a situation in which all nine men are up for renewal or replacement at the same time, the initial slate of men will have staggered terms—three men with two-year terms, three men with three-year terms, and three men with four-year terms. Those terms will be assigned to nominees by the Board once the affirmation process is complete.
It will be interesting to see who the Board wants there the longest.
This new Board process represents a significant change from the way any SGM board has been formed in the past. We believe that these changes—a larger board, the inclusion of more SGM church elders, a majority non-SGM staff, explicit Board qualifications, approval of Board nominees by their local team, and particularly the affirmation of Board nominees by SGM church elders—will provide us a strong group of gifted men to provide wise and biblical leadership for our future together.
These are not “significant changes.”
- Larger board – had in the past, ensures nothing.
- More church elders – had in the past, ensures nothing.
- Majority non-SGM staff – had in the past, ensures nothing. I resigned from the SGM Board in 2007. It was comprised of C.J., Dave Harvey, Steve Shank, Pat Ennis, and me. Legally, Dave, Steve and I were non-SGM staff. We were employed by our local churches. Therefore, we had a majority non-SGM staff.
- Explicit Board qualifications – we’ve always had qualifications, they are found in the Articles, Bylaws and Bible. Having them and meeting them are two different things.
- Approval of Board nominees by their local team. Meaningless. All nine nominees are senior pastors. What local pastoral team will look at the SGM qualifications and say, “He’s not qualified to be a Board Member but he is qualified to be a Senior Pastor.” That would get them fired.
- Pass the cotton candy. Darn stuff is getting all over me.
3. Affirmation process
We are submitting these nominees to all ordained elders in SGM churches with the request that they communicate to us their affirmation or concerns for each nominee. Feedback should be based upon the stated qualifications for Board membership.
The biggest and most significant change according to the SGM Board is “particularly the affirmation of Board nominees by SGM church elders.” Okay, let’s think about this one. How much latitude will the pastors be given in order to research each nominee? Can they do background checks? Can they visit churches and ask questions? Can they sit down to talk to wives and children? People who left churches? Former employees? The pastors should be given 2-3 months to research each candidate.
The interim Board will review and discuss the feedback we receive on each man (recusing the nominees where applicable). If the affirmation process makes it clear that a particular nominee does not meet the stated qualifications, we will find an alternate nominee. If any of you men has questions concerning the feedback we receive on a particular nominee, we will be happy to handle that over the phone.
The interim Board is lord! They alone “review and discuss” the feedback received on their precious nominees. They won’t share any of those concerns with the SGM pastors. They won’t tell anyone how much feedback they receive on any one candidate. All dissent will be handled over the phone. Here’s how the calls will go. “Hello, Rev. SGM pastor. Thanks for your feedback. We’re listening. Isn’t it great partnering together. You’re right, Mr. Nominee isn’t perfect but neither are you. We know him better and you’ve got some of your facts wrong. We want him on the Board so he’s in but thanks again for participating in the affirmation process. You’re participation is vital.”
Here’s another way of looking at it. If ten pastors complain about Mickey Connolly, the Board won’t reveal it. You’ll never know. Information will be contained behind closed doors. If you’re lucky, the Board might tell a critic that the other 290 pastors had nothing bad to say about Mickey. Therefore, he’s in by a vote of 290 to 10. But most likely you won’t even know about the other 9 dissenting votes. Vote tally for Connolly so far as you know: 299 to 1.
Instead of this bogus affirmation process, the SGM pastors should pick a “select committee” comprised of non-Board Members who are given the authority to vett all nominees. Otherwise, if the Board doesn’t like the feedback on one of their nominees, they can just throw away the form and no one will ever know.
If you are an ordained SGM pastor, please use the online feedback form to submit your affirmation or concerns. We request that this be done by the end of the day on Wednesday, March 7. Before doing so, you may wish to review the summary of changes (PDF) represented in the new Board structure.
The Sovereign Grace pastors were given ten days to respond with affirmations or concerns. Wow, that allows for a lot of deep thinking, extensive dialogue, and substantial research.
How many times has this happened? I’ve lost count. The SGM Board crams things down your throat with no opportunity to discuss what they are doing. Like with the Adjudication Hearing. I submitted all kinds of suggestions to SGM and AoR. I never heard from anyone. All of sudden I forced to follow their dictates which were a violation of all their promises. That’s the way it works with C.J., Dave and a puppet Board. Just follow their dictates. End of discussion. So in this case, if you’ve got a problem with a nominee, fill out a form quick! Oops, it was due last Wednesday. I guess that means Mickey’s predestined to be Pope.
We are encouraged about these changes and believe they will strengthen both our governance and our partnership as we pursue our mission together. We appreciate the feedback we have received from many of you, which has helped to inform the shaping of this process. We never tire of thanking you for your partnership in the gospel, which we trust will only strengthen and prosper in the days ahead.
New Alert just off the wires! The Surgeon General of the United States has posted a warning. All nutritionists certified by the Sovereign Grace Board, and their defective cotton candy machines, are considered hazardous to your health.
The SGM Board
I believe in apostles, prophets, evangelist, pastors and teachers (Eph 4:11). This five-fold ministry is the God ordained means for building mature churches and evangelizing the world. I made sure all five were included in the Statement of Faith. The evangelical world believes in pastors and teachings and theoretically in evangelists. I don’t know what SGM believes in. Their theology changes from week to week. It also remains open ended so they can fill in the blanks as they see fit according to the need of the moment.
I can tell you this much, the SGM Board is in desperate need of prophets. Here’s a suggestion. Four of the nine men on the permanent Board should be prophets like Nathan (read 2 Sam 12:1-13). Men who fear God, hear from God, are saturated in Scripture, hate hypocrisy and could care less about job security. Not even King David (or C.J.) could get away with his hypocrisy without being exposed. Where are these men? None exist within SGM to its peril!
If I began a movement, I’d carefully define each of these gift ministries and how they relate to one another in the New Testament. I would not care about church traditions which are a basis for unbelief. I’d do my best to deal with the full counsel of Scripture. Aposltes and prophets are part of God's plan.
I don’t find the Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, or Membership Agreement repugnant in and of themselves. I could work with them but make some changes. I do find the lording, deceit, independence and self-serving motivations of the SGM Board repugnant. You can’t work with them. When Mickey is nominated to the permanent Board you know refinements in polity are not enough. (Read “Mickey Connolly’s Deceitful Use of Scripture and Commentaries”). You need men of humility, integrity, courage and an uncompressing commitment to the glory of God (not their own glory) in order to plant and build great churches and do world evangelism.
When there is corruption, lying, and self-glorification; you end up building a Tower of Babel, not the Church of Christ. Too much of SGM has become a monument to men. And when the temple of God becomes a tower erected in C.J. and Dave’s honor, it gets knocked down by Lord of Hosts and people scatter. Something that began for the glory of God, turned into a shrine for the praise of men. Tear it down. Start over with the humility, honesty, accountability, transparency, new leaders and an authentic New Testament strategy.
If that latter is unachievable, then denominational structures and legal documents are needed to control evil in SGM. That was not the case in the New Testament. But in choosing what is second best, the pastors of SGM should rise up and overhaul the SGM Board of Directors and change the founding documents (all available under "Files" on right side of page). Better a democracy than an autocracy or timocracy of men who cannot be trusted.