Only an Independent Investigation Can Remove the Cloud of Suspicion Over Sovereign Grace Churches

Be respectful toward all people, because all bear the image of the Lord God who made us.

But do not be a “respecter of persons” – showing partiality for, or prejudice against – based on their race, gender, social class, wealth, family connections, or other status.

~ brad/futuristguy

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I originally posted this as a Twitter thread on March 10, 2018, about Sovereign Grace Churches (SGC) and its former version, Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM). What follows is a compilation of 15 tweets and related links in that thread, slightly edited for better readability.

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Here are some thoughts I’ve had on justifications for an independent/outside investigation in the case of Sovereign Grace, et al.

CONCLUSIONS: It IS needed, since partiality toward key players and against key victims has been spotlighted over the lengthy course of alleged failures of SGM/SGC leaders.

Their leaders’ and members’ critiques focus on abstractions of theology and polity, and negations of questioners, more than responding to the witnesses of concrete evidence and testimonies by those claiming to have been harmed.

So, if SGM/SGC wishes this perma-cloud of suspicion to be lifted, an independent investigation by a trusted external agency may be the only action that could do it. Otherwise, they should expect the Kingdom Klieg lights and national news spotlights to continue.

SOME DETAILS: The way I see it, there are at least four domains in which entities external to SGC/SGM, et al, legitimately hold authority over them. Continue reading


An Open Letter to “Together for the Gospel”: Don’t Tether Your Future to C.J. Mahaney’s Past

In the mid-1970s, my sister Romae [pronounced row-MAY] embarked on a journey into activism for those who survive abuse and violence. It began when a friend of hers needed help to escape a situation of physical and emotional battering. Seeing the terrible impact of domestic violence on her friend catalyzed an unknown strength inside my sister. It propelled her in the direction of advocacy for survivors and activism in society. Romae felt compelled by her faith in Jesus Christ to do something that would make a difference for the future. From that point forward, her ministry and service expanded to others who were frequently left to otherwise suffer alone — and who often found themselves abandoned by churches.

Frustratingly, for almost 40 years she found that theologically conservative, evangelical churches were the least responsive to opportunities she offered to train staff and congregations on child sexual abuse prevention, domestic violence, and sexual assault. Still, Romae persevered in this calling to support survivors and prevent more victims. Sadly, she passed away five years ago. But Romae left a legacy of help and hope, along with a fragrant awareness that her strength to carry on as an advocate and activist always came from Jesus Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit, and people’s prayers.

This day — April 12, 2016 — we come to a spotlight moment for “Together for the Gospel,” a theologically conservative, evangelical movement that claims to be dedicated to promoting the good news of Jesus Christ. C.J. Mahaney has been given a prominent public role as a T4G speaker and spokesman. There are protests because of Mr. Mahaney’s dominant leadership over the system of Sovereign Grace Ministries/Churches, which has remained mired in criminal convictions of child sexual abusers, and additional allegations of systemic protection for abusers, failure to report known/suspected abuse, and traumatizing victims and/or neglecting them.

Despite years of documentation about the spiritually corrosive SGM/SGC system, and appeals to various organizations to stop shielding Mr. Mahaney from the consequences of his leadership, still he speaks for and at T4G. This causes great agony to SGM abuse survivors, their families, and those who stand with them. Continue reading

Conducting Restitution When Our Leadership Causes Damage


In May 17, 2014, I wrote a guest post for Zach Hoag’s blog, The Nuance. It expanded on a series of tweets that I had posted for the #IStandWithSGMVictims (Sovereign Grace Ministries) hashtag campaign to challenge their leaders about allegations on multiple kinds of abuse. The entire post shares what I believe “restitution” means for the leaders who caused damage to take personal responsibility, how to develop a safer congregational setting, and how to deal with leaders who refuse their responsibility.

I previously only posted a section of this article on my blog, plus other snippets of articles and tweets related to the Sovereign Grace Ministries hashtag campaign. You’ll find that at Thoughts on Abuse, Position, Power – and Restitution. I am now posting the entire guest article on restitution here, because I will refer to it in my Capstone series that synthesizes and summarizes my research findings about toxicity in the Mars Hill Church system. Its leaders seriously need to take responsibility and make restitution, so this article’s suggestions for similar needs by leaders at Sovereign Grace Ministries is even more relevant now. Continue reading

Responsibility for Spiritual Abuse – Part 3F – Step 5, Layer 2. Abusive Leaders Need to Deal with Interpersonal Issues

Part 3 – Concepts, Questions, and Continuums for Building a Comprehensive “Remediation Plan”

Part 3F. Step 5, Layer 2.

Abusive Leaders Need to Deal with Interpersonal Issues


Layer 1 – How to determine the levels of personal growth and recovery needed by leaders who harm others, regardless of how gifted they are or how much they help others.

Layer 2 – How to identify what levels of peace-making are needed in personal relationships where a leader has caused damage.


Layer 3 – How to ensure individuals qualified for roles to lead the organization stay, when those disqualified should be removed, and when/if they should ever be restored to a former position.

Layer 4 – How to discern whether an organization that is toxic can be repaired, or should not even survive. Continue reading

Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church Research Guide – Part 2D – Pulling It All Together

Part 2D – Pulling It All Together


As a reminder, the source facts from which I developed these graphics come almost exclusively from official regulatory websites, required public information documents posted online, and other information freely posted publicly on organizational websites. I have used my own analysis to piece together the interrelationships among the various entities, and if there is a significant level of speculation involved, I generally try to note that.

Meanwhile, I consider all of these compilations, charts, and illustrative images to be works in progress, based on the 12 entities I know of to date. If you know of other related corporations, LLCs, or trusts, please let me know their names and/or Unified Business Identification/UBI or ID numbers. After I verify the information, I will note the addition(s) and/or correction(s), and adjust the compilation and charts to match. (And please let me know if you want attribution for adding that source or not.)

With the graphics, if you see errors in fact or relationships among organizations, please let me know, plus share verifiable sources for the correct information, so I can update my understanding and the related images.

Also, I am open to suggestions on making the graphics more “clean and clear,” so they are as accessible as possible, given the complexity of the information I’m sometimes attempting to portray.

Finally, I have created a comprehensive Table of Contents for the Research Guide series, Parts 1 and 2, for easier reference and location of your topics of interest. Because it is lengthy, I am putting it in a separate post, Part 2E. Continue reading

Thoughts on Redemption in the Wake of Abuse: Agents of Damage versus Agents of Healing

“Good or Evil?” © Scott Maxwell / Fotolia #6928112.

“Good or Evil?” © Scott Maxwell / Fotolia #6928112.

[This post is part of the #IStandWithSGMVictims campaign on Twitter, and the #IStandWithSGMVictims campaign on Facebook.]

I suspect that acquiring a deep understanding of how relational dynamics works in the real world is something that takes us all a lifetime – as does our applications of those healing skills to bring Kingdom transformation on earth as it is in heaven. My journey with Jesus on that pathway to peace has unfolded in unexpected ways. But the longer I go with Him, the more spiritual sense it all makes. Here are some snapshots from my journey in learning about victimization and recovery and how it involves Agents of Damage and paradoxical parallel Agents of Healing. Continue reading