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Four More Churches Leave Sovereign Grace Ministries in Last Ten Days

Sovereign Grace Church of Daytona Beach left Sovereign Grace Ministries on October 12 citing a loss of trust and a leadership culture characterized by excessive authority and insufficient accountability.  Four more churches have severed their ties in the last 10 days.  

I don’t gloat over these departures.  That is not why I bring them to your attention.  I bring them to your attention because the SGM Leadership Team and Board of Directors will never tell you about departures, let alone provide the reasons pastors are giving for severing their ties.  These men have not left over polity differences – we won’t know until Sunday what form of polity SGM has a adopted.  These men have primarily left over ethical concerns.  Here is the latest tally. 


1.  Keith Breault, Redeemer Church of Charlottesville, Charlottesville, VA 


2.  Luan Nguyen, Grace Community Church, Sarasota, FL 


3.  Jesse Jarvis, Sovereign Grace Church of Daytona Beach, Daytona Beach, FL

4.  Jerry Cisar, Gulf Coast Community Church, St. Petersburg, FL

5.  Eric Simmons, Redeemer Church of Arlington, Arlington, VA

6.  Toby Kurth, Christ Church at Park Presidio, San Francisco, CA

7.  Sam Shin, Wellspring Church, Pleasanton, CA

C.J., Dave Harvey, John Loftness, Phil Sasser and the Board want everyone to believe all is well in the world of Sovereign Grace Ministries.  From the beginning, the Interim Board called my 600 pages of carefully documented evidence a “tall tale,” “gossip” and “slander.”  They ordered people not to read any of my documents.  C.J. took great offense when Joshua Harris permitted people to examine their contents.  Two thousand pages later, SGM continues to tell people not to read my documents or blog posts.  

Men like Mickey Connolly, a current SGM Board of Director, demanded that members of CrossWay Community Church leave the church if they refused to obey him by reading anything I wrote.  See Ten Common Cult-Like Characteristics Evident in Mickey Connolly’s Leadership.  SGM will do almost anything to keep people from knowing the truth - lie, deceive, threatened, cover-up and withhold vital information.  But the Lord in his sovereignty has seen fit to override their cunning and get out the truth. 

I have no proof but I surmise SGM has hired a public relations firm to help rescue their deteriorating image.  If so, I don’t think their strategy is working.  For instance, two days ago they highlighted C.J. on The Sovereign Grace Pastors Conference Slideshow just after he was cited as a defendant in a class action lawsuit for covering up the sexual molestation of children.  He appeared in 15 slides.  Far more than anyone else.  Bob Kauflin came in second at 5.  Dave Harvey came in third at 4. 

Just tonight SGM had Christian Wegert honor C.J. on the website for his messages at Eckstein Conference in Germany on “how cravings underlie conflict” and “the responsibility we have to help each another grow in godliness.”  C.J. has not lived these messages.  He is a complete hypocrite for preaching on these topics.  No matter, the Board of Directors continues to build the entire ministry upon and around C.J. 

What happens if a jury finds C.J. guilty of doing “absolutely nothing” in protecting children from sexual predation?  Charge 18 in the recent class action lawsuit says, “The Church [referring to Sovereign Grace Ministries] learned in 1997 through non-ministerial means that the son of a high-ranking Church [SGM] leader was engaged in the sexual predation of children under the Church’s care.  Yet the Church [SGM] did absolutely nothing to protect the children.”  C.J. was the President of SGM and Chairman of the Board in 1997.  He never told me about any “sexual predation of children.”  If he is found guilty, Sovereign Grace could be sued for millions of dollars and he must be removed from ministry.

The SGM website has also been repetitiously featuring individuals like Christian Wegert.  This began in earnest with the August 1 post, “Tim Kerr: If prayer is such a good thing, why does it seem so hard?”  Since then approximately 40 men have been paraded by name before readers giving the impression that there is vast support for the ministry.  Anyone who is astute immediately takes note of all the prominent leaders who are no longer featured because C.J. has cut them off for differing with him.    

One person you haven’t heard from in a long time is Dave Harvey.  He’s vanished into thin air.  I hope he hasn’t suffered the fate of Jimmy Hoffa.  We’ve heard nothing from Dave or about Dave for over seven months.  That will probably change with this post.  Expect a feature on the SGM website tomorrow.  Anyway, the last time we heard from Dave was on March 19 when he introduced the Interim Board.  See Introducing Our New Board

I wrote Dave three months later about his falling out with C.J. which occurred earlier in the year.  Since that conflict he has not been featured on the website.  He didn’t even participate in the Eckstein 2012 conference last week in Germany.  That is hard to comprehend since Dave has been Sovereign Grace’s point man in Germany for many years.     


From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Thursday, June 28, 2012 9:48 AM
To: Dave Harvey
Subject: Falling Out with C.J.
Importance: High 

Hello Dave, 

I’ve been told about the break down in your relationship with C.J. because he feels you did not defend him adequately and did not denounce me, Larry T, etc. more harshly.  This comes as no surprise.  You need to bring this to the immediate attention of the entire Board to whom you and C.J. are now accountable.  Be honest with them.  Don’t cover up for C.J.  Put an end to the enablement.  You must tell the Board about this mistreatment of you.  Dave, you know full well that nothing has changed with C.J.  Your assessment and my assessment from 2004 are as relevant today. 

“To correct CJ, or to challenge his own self-perception, was to experience a reaction through e-mails, consistent disagreement (without seeking to sufficiently understand), a lack of sufficient follow-up and occasionally, relational withdrawal.  Along with this, CJ was poor in volunteering areas of sin, temptation or weakness in himself.” (Dave Harvey, Nov 11, 2004)

“[C.J.] can become resentful, distrustful or withdraw when he feels misunderstood, judged, or sinned against by others.  Can judge or prematurely come to conclusions about others based on limited or incomplete information.  When correcting or disagreeing can communicate his assessment or perspective too strongly or categorically.  Can lack gentleness and not perceive the unhelpful effect of his words, actions or decisions upon an individual.  Can be difficult to correct and help because he often disagrees with or has a different perspective on illustrations.    Infrequently makes us aware of specific sins or the correction others are bringing to him.” (Brent Detwiler, April, 2004) 

I have little hope you and C.J. will be transparent with the Board.  I imagine this will be glossed over and made to sound like a trifle when it is serious.  Please turn the corner on a new lease in life by doing what is right.




Dave will be speaking at the SGM Pastors Conference next week.  I assume he will be lauded by C.J. and Dave will return the honors.  But that is not the truth.  If Dave ever tells the truth about C.J. it is the end of his ministerial career.  He can forget being on Baords, selling books, speaking at Conferences, and the like.  It's over for Dave if he gets honest.  Dave knows the same C.J. I know.  He just chose to cover up for him.

You never know what is going on in SGM unless you have a prophetic gift, personal relationships, insider contacts, or leaked information.  Take for instance, Ken Sande and David Powlison.  These men fell off the face of the earth too.  This is what C.J. said about these men 15 months ago. 

Why I’m taking a leave of absence
July 6, 2011 by C.J. Mahaney 

Just so you’ll know, I have also contacted David Powlison and Mark Dever and asked them to review the charges and provide me with their counsel and correction.  I have enlisted them to serve me personally during this time and to ensure this process of examining my heart and life is as thorough as possible.  And for the past year I have been the recipient of Ken Sande’s correction, counsel and care.  That, I am grateful to say, will continue…. I am deeply moved as I reflect on how rich I am relationally and I am humbled by the time these men are willing to spend serving me and Sovereign Grace. 

David and Ken provided C.J. counsel and correction.  C.J. never told us what David and Ken had to say.  He never reports on correction he does not like.  He covers it up.  Then he cuts off his relationship with those who confront him and you never hear from them again.  There have been no references to these men or their ministries in over 15 months.  The Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF) and Peacemakers used to be household names.  These two men have no continuing role in C.J.’s life because they had the nerve to correct C.J. on his deceit and pride. 

The same is true of Sovereign Grace churches that silently disappear into the night never to be heard from again.  Charlottesville, Sarasota, Daytona Beach, St. Petersburg, Arlington, San Francisco, and Pleasanton – all gone with no explanation from SGM. 

The only hope for SGM is keeping people in the dark and providing them misinformation.  That has been their plan from the beginning.  Only problem…the God of light is committed to expose deeds of darkness.  More and more keeps coming out and more and more chruches leave with each passing week.  

Ephesians 5:8-11 

[8] For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Live as children of light [9] (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) [10] and find out what pleases the Lord. [11] Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 


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