10 July, 2011

CJ Mahaney and SGM: The Systematic Approach to Sin Sniffing

(Note: I had to edit out some of the information due to counsel that warned me these guys don't play around and are starting to throw out charges of "slander". Even though what I wrote is cooberated elsewhere, I don't need the hassle. So, I simply edited out a specific sin/crime that is part of this whole saga of PDI/SGM)

http://www.scribd.com/sgmwikileaks (pack a lunch before reading)

Check out the links above for everything you need to know about SGM and C.J. Mahaney.

Now, before reading this post, take the red pill. If you are reluctant, all I can advise is to definitely take the red pill before reading the sgmwikileaks documents. You will thank me...someday.

Blue pills are still being administered all over Christendom as they have been for years to prop up evil systems. You will hear the ominous threats of "gossip" from religous leaders and their sycophants if you dare read the documents above. But don't feel guilty. Read them. Truth is important. Truth is not gossip.

Of course, some of us have long known there were serious systemic problems with CJ Mahaney and SGM. All one has to do is google (always do this before joining any movement or even your local church) and one finds, sgmsurvivors, sgmrefuge, my sojournwithsgm, etc, a veritable litany of what is wrong with SGM and a trail miles long littered with it's victims.

Just a few hours of reading the docs and you can pretty much tell it is a cult or cultish at the very least. But wait, how can it be a cult or cultish if Mohler, Dever, Duncan, Piper, etc, all vouch for SGM's leading "Apostle" C.J. Mahaney? The answer is that you have been taking blue pills for way too long so you missed the reality that Christendom has become a huge business full of power, fame,greed and lots of "merchandising" of the Gospel with conferences and "you blurb my book and I will blurb yours" going on. With power and celebrity being the main focus. None of this can go on for so long without followers giving their money and adoring the celebrities...even obeying them.

A few things struck me in the documents:

A long time leader in SGM (Brent) kept meticulous notes and documentation for over 13 years. He claims to be the unofficial historian of SGM.

This document guy is one of "them". Many of us are thankful he kept the documentation for so long but to be honest, he is one of them. He did not keep them to "out" SGM so much as to keep a list of sins to be confronted and timelines of how they were not confessed...or not confessed properly. He is like a relentless, annoying Nathan who is just as guilty as David but cannot see it.

He thought this was normal. SGM thinks this is normal. The entire leadership of SGM thinks this is normal. People who attend SGM churches think this is normal. This.... "sin sniffing".

Now, you may be thinking...wow! Sins such as embezzelment or adultery....no, my friend, it is much worse. The sins documented are things like pride, lack of being accountable, not having the proper reaction to a rebuke, etc....... ad nauseum.

Now, I had heard the term "sin sniffing" from former SGMers but I never really understood the depth of the terminology UNTIL I read the docs. It is unbelievable. These "men" have way too much time on their hands, way too much money and way too big of egos. They need to be rebuked. Just kidding. It is way too far far gone for that. That would be simply playing their game. Run away from them.

I am not so sure what is worse, the "sin sniffing" or the method of confrontation for the sin of having a "look of pride".

Every single confrontation is preceeded by a lot of cheesy "Christianese" such as, " I love you, you are a brother in Christ" and ends with praises to God. The Dale Carnegie approach to sin sniffing? Do they not see how fake it all sounds while they rip each other to shreds or ignore the glaring REAL sin that is never to be named? No, it is all vague and broad.

This is the system that CJ built. Our Lord is mentioned A LOT but no where in sight.

My first thoughts upon reading this were, 'This is what highly paid ministers in the top rungs of a large "family of churches" do with their time'? I am not joking when I say they sounded like Junior High girls trying to analyze each other and nit picking every action, every word. I had flashbacks!

And this went on for years....because it is the FOUNDATION of SGM. It was built on this sort of sin sniffing and it is universal in their "family of churches" . It was as if the Resurrection never happened for them. They did not get the indwelling Holy Spirit because they are stuck on a "pre Cross" religion.... living under a sort of "Christian" Oral Law they created and fine tuned just for their movement.

Now, as I am reading the docs, I am fully aware of how victims of sexual molestation were treated at SGM by their "pastor college" trained pastors...or are they apostles (little" a" because Mahaney is the big "A")? I was already aware of the trail of wounded from PDI (People of Destiny) to SGM before I read the docs.

Rabbit trail alert: Does anyone else find the name "People of Destiny" like a neon sign warning "cult ahead"? Good move changing the name, CJ. It gave you some breathing time before the cult methods were outed. I cannot picture Al Mohler partnering with an "Apostle" from the "People of Destiny", can you?

So, reading the docs,one stumbles upon "CJ the blackmailer".

But even before we get to the blackmail we see that CJ is quite good at what he does. Whenever he is confronted, he is very nice about it while he cleverly twists it around to make the other person confronting him the "real sinner". Very clever. Machiavelli would be proud. Too bad email was invented. If it had not been, this would be a simple matter of he said/he said and CJ would win by default as an "Apostle", big A.

Back to blackmail. Well, CJ was not demanding money so I am not sure blackmail is the right word. Perhaps "pastoral confidence hostage" is better. And this happened with his former partner and "brother in Christ", Larry Tomczak, in the PDI days. Well, actually he is using Larry's teenage son (at the time) as the hostage, to blackmail Larry.

CJ used a private pastoral confession as leverage to keep his former partner (Larry Tomzak) quiet about PDI/SGM going Calvinist. It is not easy to take Charismatics to Calvinism when you have promoted "prophecy mic's" and are speaking in tongues. Even being a "big A" Apostle does not quite fit with "going Calvinist". (They prefer the more acceptable term, "Reformed")

Here is the back story if you are too lazy or busy to slog through the 600 pages of documentation.

Larry's teenage son had some (edited out) sin in his life. And it was serious. It is not quite clear if it was ___ (edited out) or not but that seems to be the case since there was a victim. If it was, CJ should have called the authorities and at least acknowledged the victim. But we know SGM does not "do" victims who have suffered any molestation from their own. In fact, victims of sexual molestation are in sin for not giving instant forgiveness... as we know from Noel's story of her 3 year old being molested by another SGM'er. (google sgmsurvivors-noel's story and it is not the only sexual victim story from SGM and how it was handled)

Anywho, so CJ hears Larry's teenage son's confession and promises pastoral confidentiality. I am not clear on the details of what happened with the victim but CJ seems to have wrapped it all up nicely for Larry and his son and made the problem "go away".

Then CJ wants to make changes in the movement that Larry does not agree with.
So, CJ simply alludes (CJ never comes right out and says what he really means)
he will make the (edited out) sin stuff about Larry's son known if he does not go along or keep his mouth shut about them. Let us just say that Larry, his wife and some others in leadership think it was blackmail.

Larry and CJ split, PDI becomes the more acceptable name of SGM and PRESTO! a new brand of Reformers appear as Calvinists waving their hands in song and praying in tongues. Frozen Chosen? I think not. And like magic, we have a charistmatic wing of Calvinism in the New Reformed Movement that is sweeping our land.

CJ climbs his way up the Reformed elite ladder...acceptance by the big cheeses....Piper, Mohler, Dever, T4G, etc....becomes a player with book deals (one on Humility, no less!) and lots of speaking gigs. He is accepted into the Reformed elite, making big money and is quite popular. (They even had the grace to ignore his constant "giggling")

All the while, he has Brent (the author of the docs and unoffical SGM historian) dogging him...sin sniffing him. Email after email..... for years and years. Meeting after meeting with the "A" team. (If you can believe it...they have an A team. Let me guess...Apostle team?)

After all, this is the "shepherding" system CJ created. It had everything but the state magistrates Calvin had at his disposal. But who needs magistrates when you have apostles, care team leaders and brainwashed sycophants running all over SGM churches sin sniffing people? The Soviets could not have devised a better system of control. One blog commenter said the docs reminded him of reading the tactics of the Chinese under Mao, during the cultural revolution, where forced confession and re-education were everyday happenings.

But there was one tiny problem. CJ was not supposed to be a recipient of his own system.

This sin sniffing was only for everyone else. He is a big A Apostle, remember? Doesn't Brent realize this? No. Brent did not get that memo. In fact, Brent did not think the "unwritten" rules applied to him. He did not take into consideration that CJ is the brand. He IS SGM. He has the ear of Mohler, Dever, Piper, etc.

Big mistake, because they tried to fire Brent (forced resignation just like they do in the corporate world.) And remember, Brent is one of them. He has left a trail of wounded in his long career with PDI/SGM.

There is more but I will cut to the chase because the timeline becomes very interesting. And this is just in the last few weeks. SGM has been busy...I am sure their PR people and lawyers have earned their keep these few weeks. (Ken Sande, we see you in the shadows, buddy)

SGM announces,in house,that....SURPRISE!...after all these years....Larry is coming in for a man hug with CJ. Reconcilation and forgiveness all around after all these years. Larry will be coming to attend an SGM conference for pastors. Seems Larry did not just go quietly into that good night all those years before....there was a split. You mean the humble big A apostle had some baggage from way back? Not to worry, man hug announced and scheduled.

But we did not know the docs had been circulating around SGM tight circles for several months, now did we? Brings new light to the annoucement of the sudden Larry man hug after all these years.

Then shortly after THAT surprise announcment, CJ announces he is stepping down for a while to contemplate his sin and be accountable to Mark Dever (of T4G fame but not of SGM). Now, we find out that CJ knew the docs had been circulated to a "wider audience" by Brent right before CJ made his "stepping down for a while to contemplate my sin" announcement. Timing is everything, isn't it? Did you know you could time "humility"? You can. CJ proves it.

But, be rest assured, he is not stepping down "for a while" for any sexual or moral sins. Of course, to name the horrible sin that caused him to step down 'for a while'
would be wrong...yikes...more sin..because we know only they have the authority to define for us, what is sin.

No, we must leave people wondering because then we can nail them for the "sin of wondering" what the horrible sin was that caused this great man of God, Big A Apostle, to have to leave his dynasty for awhile and be accountable to another Reformed big cheese. We must trust our leaders. We must "trust positive intentions".

Quick, grab a blue pill before you wake up to reality!

Now, around the blogosphere in the zany world that is Christendom, he is being lauded as the most "humble-humble" pastor in all America" and anyone who reads the docs is only a gossip. Before, he was only "humble". Now, all of this proves he is: Double knot humble.

You cannot make this stuff up.

To paraphrase one blogger in a comment: I expect to see Mahaney to now miraculously discover GRACE. He will claim he has left out the GRACE in SGM. He will write a book about it and be more popular than ever. The celebrities will rally around him, (because they blurbed his books and had him speaking on their stages before he was double knot humble) bring him in to speak (for a fee, of course) on their conference stages. They will be "covered" in doing so by not only Larry, who came in for a man hug, but by Mark Dever's good housekeeping seal of approval for sin contrition. He will be a huge humble hero at T4G in Louisville. He might just steal the show. Giggles all around.

These guys are good at reinventing themselves and redefining sin.

See, sin pays well in American Christianity if you are a celebrity Christian. So, sin more because GRACE abounds. But NEVER be foolish enough to confess or acknowledge the REAL sin. Be vague about it. No specifics allowed. Have a "broad sin heading" You can even claim "acceptable" sins like "pride" and "arrogance".

The Holy Spirit always convicts us of "vague sin". Right?

Then, if anyone inquires, since you are a leader and your income derives from their support, you can use your title and position to say, "that is gossip" and you are in sin for wondering what my sin really is, specifically. Nevermind that I instituted the sin sniffing system for you to live by. I am exempt. I am a big A.

So, there you have it. Thousands of people have supported this system and found it credible...even after reading the New Testament and the part about the Resurrection.

But, I just had to to save the best for last. Because this is America and we have our own brand of Christianity. You see, Larry's son, (edited out) the teen raised in the legalistic sin sniffing shepherding system, is now running for poltical office!

Is that perfect or what?

Better get your script for blue pills filled soon.


Anonymous said...

CJ Mahaney has "mentored" other superstar mega-clerics in the finer points of humility and gentleness toward their flocks. Take the red pill and go here:


and here:


Junkster said...

From page 11 of the first sgmwikileaks document (Part 1 - Response Regarding Friendship and Doctrine):

...when opposing ideas or critiques are offered, CJ may rest on his internal conclusion and overlook the need to lead an individual, or in some cases the A[postolic] Team in discussion towards mutual understanding of the issues...

After that, the term "A Team" is used. So yes, "A Team" is an abbreviation for Apostolic Team.

"Sin sniffing" is right. I also was struck by how normal Brent thinks it was to delve into one another's sins. His biggest beef with CJ seemed to be that CJ didn't confess his sins to the rest of the leadership team as much as they all did with each other, and as much as they expect their church members to do in small groups.

But it's clear that CJ set and encouraged the expectation that everyone (except himself) place a huge focus on confessing sins to church leaders. And it's also clear that CJ got miffed that Brent expected CJ to be just as "accountable" as everybody else.

And after all this, it appears that Brent still thinks that CJ hung the moon and he's just hurt that CJ dismissed his concerns. It doesn't appear that Brent has questioned the system itself.

It's an interesting look inside the inner workings and mindset of a cultish group.

Lin said...

Anon, Thanks for the links...the irony is not lost on me.

On the continuum for authoritarian Christian leaders....Driscoll is on the 'mean-he-man-in-your-face side' while CJ is on the slow drip giggly side.

See, CJ institutes the psychological "wear you down" sin sniffing tactic while Driscoll just goes "Old Testament" on you.

Lin said...

Junk.... Welcome buddy!

""Sin sniffing" is right. I also was struck by how normal Brent thinks it was to delve into one another's sins."

This "normal" seems to go back pretty far. Did you notice that Larry was willing to set up a PRIVATE meeting between his son and CJ a few years after CJ blew his pastoral confidentiality promise?

Why did it need to be private? Why not have Dad there? I was astounded that Larry would even contemplate such a thing concerning his son. He would actually trust this guy? But then, this whole culture was cultic even back then and that was a normal request in their bizarro world.

As I was browsing today to read what some of the SGM pastors told their pew sitters, I recognized the "talking points".

It is amusing what people will believe. How can it be a 'one sided history' when Brent was publishing CJ emails quoting himself?

And they were still subtly using a variation of the "enemy" out there tactic to rally the troops. In this case, the enemy was doing them a favor.

These guys are priceless. They will only go away when the money drys up.

Steve said...

This is a nice humorful synopsis on what happened. With these revelations being as sad as they are one needs humor.

As one who has participated in the blogs about SGM since they started I was shocked at just how bad the problems were at SGM. I knew they had problems but not this bad. I didn't know they had that many skeletons in the closet.

Lin said...

Steve, I want to see Brent get a job with the CIA. They need him to plan ops.

You know, I had no idea how bad it was, either. I had heard the term sin sniffing for a long time but had no idea of the minutia of this sniffing. The docs really vindicated those who were trying to expain what it was like there. Who can explain that?

But I have no time for the "Oh, this is a good sign of real change" people. And let's pray for them.

Would people seriously consider these people as leaders knowing what they know and how they spent their time? Flying to meet someone to say "sorry" so I can see your face? Give me a break. Too much easy money for these guys flowing around. You can say sorry on scype.

I mean, let's get real. They were "Christians" when they were PDI and they were "Christians" when they were SGM. Right? Right?

This is the fruit of salvation that our Savior gave His life for? This is "New Creation in Christ"? This was THEIR WAY OF LIFE as professing believers, for crying out loud.

Why the focus on them? They "teach" from the same bible we read. Yet, they do not know the Good News!

I say, let us pray for the victims. For the truth of what a New Life in Christ really means for all those in this bondage.

I am not going to pray for a celebrity Christian to stay in the bondage of that system. The system needs to be dismantled, they need to go away and find out what being Born Again really meansurab And to add insult...they need to get real jobs, with real bosses. Real performance reivews with measurable outcomes. I would choose a female bossy boss for CJ. For Brent, I would choose someone with serious ADD.

Sorry but my empathy resides with the victims. For them, I would climb mountains, cross rivers and eat bugs if it meant they have real healing from this sick mess.

Thanks for letting me vent. :o)

Steve said...


Good point about victims.

At least with Harris there seemed to be sincerity. On the other hand if you listen to the video of Mark Mullery explaining Mahaney taking a "sabatical" he sure sounds smug. Mullery is the Sr. Pastor of SGM Fairfax.

Mullery claimed the SGM Fairfax Leaders were open to talking etc. I wonder how Mullery could say this with a straight face after at least two poorly handled child molestation cases that happened in their church. This is where the SGM Leaders stood up more for the molester vs. the victim.

This goes to show that the needed changes have only begun. Maybe dismantling SGM shows to be the only option as you suggest.

Lin said...

I do wonder if it will be the obligatory 6-12 months that CJ insisted upon in the docs for others. Because "4 months is not long enough" as per CJ. But the problem is, if it is a whole year, people might find they can get along quite well without them. And does this exile mean NO stages at all? Anywhere? CJ might have to go into detox.

And I doubt they will have to resort to driving taxi's to make ends meet during this time of contemplation of sin.

Steve said...


Harris in his message shared a story about a little girl's garden that had problems growing flowers. He went to say that a gardener did some digging and found a large stone that was preventing the little girl's garden from being fruitful etc. After the stone was removed the garden worked much better.

I wonder if Harris was figuratively referring to Mahaney and that Mahaney might be what has been causing a lot of the problems at SGM.

Like you said, maybe things will show to be a whole lot better without Mahaney.

It is a shame he didn't listen to his own teaching on the life of Solomon he gave back in the early 90's. Had he and listened to a Nathan things might have been different. It looks like Mahaney is going the way of Solomon that Mahaney said he didn't want to do.

What a shame but of Mahaney's own making.

Lin said...

"I wonder if Harris was figuratively referring to Mahaney and that Mahaney might be what has been causing a lot of the problems at SGM."

You know, Steve, Harris scares me, too. We got to see his family live out their "Christian" lives before us. A sort of cool rendition of the Duggers.

I get weary of Christian celebs who write books in their 20's and people follow as the in cool thing only to see them "revise" their thinking in their 40's.

So why did Harris go along wth this for so long? Because he comes from a similar legalstic background only dressed in cooler clothes with trendy graphics. He had his way paved by his dad at a very early age. He grew up in a world that made a living by extra biblical teachings like homeschooling and courtship.

If he was referring to Mahaney with the stone metaphor he is ignoring the guilt of a lot of people involved in maintaining and perpetuating that system. Including his own. Removing Mahaney won't solve the deep problem. Brick by Brick, it must come down.

They should do rehab in private!

J.L. said...

This blog is shameful. If CJ does not represent Christ then how much less do you. You obviously are unwilling to forgive and seek a positive outcome for CJ and SGM. From reading your words, you want to see this man and ministry come to ruin. You'll say you don't, but just look at the angry, spiteful, unforgiving, immature language you use. The asinine comparisons to the Soviet Union and the lame Matrix references are unbelievably childish.

I don't go to SGM church, by the way, and in fact have long criticized SGM's polity, but your love-less approach brings no glory to Christ's name. You and CJ---I respect both of you about the same.

I am not saying blogs are bad or "exposes" are bad. But there are biblical guidelines for calling out others in the church on their sin, and angrily trying to drag others through the mud are not part of that.

Have fun with that.

Lin said...

Hi JL,

Tnanks for stopping by. I recommend some chamomile tea and a lavender scented epson salt soak.

"But there are biblical guidelines for calling out others in the church on their sin, and angrily trying to drag others through the mud are not part of that."

Are you recommending the popular Jay Adams approach where he adds a step to Matthew 18 that is not in the scripture? Or, the 1 Corin 5 approach that includes a list at the bottom of that chapter?

Or, are you suggesting the biblical approach like Paul, to suggest that SGM leadership "emasculate" themselves because they pervert the Gospel much like the Judaizers did?

It is not as if I have made a career out of the ministry selling a perverted Gospel while controlling people with legalistic sin sniffing while taking their money to live the good life. I am just a blog that welcomes your view and "angry" rebuke.

I really do recommend that soak.

Reformation said...

Thanks, keep us posted. "Sin sniffers" as a term is exactly what emerges from the documents, as well as self-righteousness.

I don't have a dog in this fight, but am interested in this Baptacostal and Baptyerian affair that is emerging, especially the "celebrity culture" as a phenomenon.

Again, thanks.

Lin said...


You nailed it: Celebrity culture.

I am sure there some relieved mama's out there that their young sons are following Al Mohler or CJ instead of P.Diddy. (Is he still cool?)

I prefer it be Jesus, instead. I don't have to make excuses for Him.

Steve said...

I shared this a few places but thought it might be of value here also.

I previously commented on how sad it was for Mahaney to assume he would be at the Pastors' conference coming up later this year and stand there with Larry Tomczak etc. That shouldn't be something for him to decide after all he has done.

My thought was why is Mahaney even smugly so sure that there will be a pastors' conference later this and for that matter that Sovereign Grace won't implode before the scheduled date of the pastors' conference? Does Mahaney not realize what affect his sin and the sin of the other SGM Leaders that didn't do anything about his sin might have on SGM?

Harris did good a job on Sunday night of shoring up at least his church from implosion but that isn't a guarantee that it still won't happen. It is still quite possible that CLC and/or SGM may implode or have a big split. This is especially probable when you hear how smugly SGM Fairfax and SGM Richmond (Kingsway) Leaders took this revelation about Mahaney.

It is appalling to read where Mahaney to be making all these assumptions. It is like he is saying I confessed my sin of deception that went on for 14 years, said there are problems we need to address, reconciled with Tomczak so things will just continue. Mahaney may find things might not work this way.

It might serve Mahaney well (play on SGM terms) to do some reading on David and the consequences that happened as a result of David's sin with Bathsheba. The effect of David's sin both on himself and Israel was quite severe. Nathan prophesied that what David did in private others were going to do to his concubine in broad daylight and it happened. David found himself having to flee etc. As I recall it also caused a civil war in Israel.

Does Mahaney not even think that some similar type of judgement might happen to him and SGM as a result of his sin? It sounds like he doesn't even think there is a possibility. How sad.

It is encouraging to hear Josh call for fasting and prayer. It is a shame you don't hear about this from pastors of other SGM Churches, especially Kingsway and Fairfax. Plead to God for mercy. Kingsway has already seen some judgment with loss of members. The reports about Fairfax Leaders is pretty sad.

Maybe Mahaney ought to read Psalm 51 and take that approach not to mention a "sackcloth and ashes" attitude.

One thing I will add is that I don't think C.J. Mahaney fully understands what affect his sin and the sin of the leaders that helped hide his sin may have on SGM. Mahaney is assuming he will be at the upcoming SGM pastors conference and stand on stage with Mahaney.

Maybe there won't be an SGM by that time to have a pastors conference. Harris did a good job of shoring up issues at CLC this past Sunday but CLC/SGM could stil implode especially in view of the way other SGM Church Leaders are taking it as I noted above.

Why does Mahaney assume that things will be going back to any kind of normal this soon or at all? Did David sin with Bathsheba and suffer no consequences? It might be wise for Mahaney to realize this just might happen.

Lin said...

"Why does Mahaney assume that things will be going back to any kind of normal this soon or at all?"

Because he knew he had the backing of Mohler and the Reformed wing.

Steve said...

Mohler does have that. It is sad the reports out about Mohler's position on this:


I am not totally sure all or most SGM Members or pastors are going to accept this. I hope that this is the case.

One thing Mahaney can't escape is God's judgement and that is up to God to decide. It is a good thing we don't get what deserve but look at what happened with David. At least David repented right away.

Anonymous said...

GREAT article..made me giggle, and honestly, when it comes to SGM drama, I rarely laugh anymore.

CJ is still VERY CATHOLIC. which explains the confessing sin to your elders and leaders, and the sin-sniffing. This is Catholicism 101. He picks and chooses what he likes from various denominations and movements..that is really what SGM is. Besides it being a cult that is. Unfortunately, until people learn to think for themselves, and grow some balls and stop thinking about what others think of them, they will continue to flock to such religious gatherings and be brainwashed, hurt, deceived, and manipulated spiritually. as long as there is demand, there is a market. and the demand will be there because the church itself created the need with the teachings of original sin. pretty smart. even if it is a lie.

Anonymous said...

Thank God (if he exists) for the internet. Once again (like in so many parts of the world) it has helped to expose elaborate webs of falsehood (many of which I already knew about) and facilitated the triumph of truth.

Turning from SGM to a more general focus:

From a social-science standpoint, it is simply fascinating to observe how politics in Christian America is so similar to politics anywhere else. The acrobatics in psychology is also fascinating -- this might include reassuring/confessing/appealing to the flock, trying to subtly convince an "on the fence" believer to lay aside logic to embrace dogma, worship/ministry sessions, etc. One of the many things I have learned is that you need to be a good actor to work in a prominent pastoral position. Does this mean that every pastor is putting on a fake show? No. Many, if not most, are sincere. The best actors (in any sphere) are those who are able to convince their own brains of something first. Emotions don't seem genuine when someone is "acting." They become genuine after the actor first accomplishes a transformation of his own (mental) reality. Great acting includes mastery of your own psychological processes.

I am a former (long time and well-connected) member of Covenant Life Church. I'm probably still a member in the records since deleting your membership isn't quite so simple as deleting an old myspace account! Getting off the email listservs is particularly interesting. Lyrics from Hotel California come to mind: "You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave!"...and for people who do leave, after spending years investing their lives and building their relational networks in a church, it's quite a feeling to have to leave all this behind. Hundreds of your closest connections and friends are suddenly gone forever.

Perhaps the world really is a giant, inter-galactic reality TV show :) (south park reference)

Anonymous said...

an interesting note on CJ. I remember back when he was retiring as senior pastor of covenant life church. There was a segment in his emotional speech where he talked about wanting to dedicate his later years to just serving in children's ministry being a part of the most fundamental, grassroots/servant level. Whether or not he meant that he would be doing that right after retiring from his position as senior pastor was not explicitly clear. However, I do remember being quite surprised when I soon learned that he had become "President" of sovereign grace ministries (a position that I don't think existed before) instead. I think he also went to serve on the board of another organization as well. All I could remember thinking when reflecting on his speech was, "Wow, that was misleading." Perhaps I was the only one who misinterpreted it, I don't know.

Lin said...

Anon 1- The Catholic bent is interesting. The legalism.

Anon 2. Oh, He exists (God) but I do agree about acting and pastors. Or perhaps, Professional Orator is a better word? However, it does involves stages, audiences and performance.

Anon 3-Working with children in retirement? interesting. When did he leave CLC as pastor? And what was 'sgm' doing during that time...was there anyone mindng the sgm bueaucracy during that time?

Questions4Christians said...

I knew C.J, Larry and Che going on 30 or so years ago from TAG, Gathering and Covenant.

I remember the same old C.J...every now and then...weeping and gnashing of teeth while he confessed (on stage of course), his sins and begged for forgiveness.

Some things never, ever change, so sad.


Lin said...

"Some things never, ever change, so sad."

I am hearing this from other old timers from the TAG days. The only things that changed were the size of the offices and the type of stages he graces. And the income, of course. :o)

Steve said...

"Some things never, ever change, so sad."

As someone who is quite critical of Mahaney and the SGM board's announcement I am not sure I agree with the above statements. I also go back to the TAG days.

I think Mahaney did change. Like anyone he certainly wasn't perfect and the TAG Ministry was a teaching only ministry (Tuesday nights) and not a church. Mahaney and Larry chose to close TAG and start their own church.

Over the years he got worse. Sadly over time it doesn't look like he listened to or followed a lot of his own teaching, especially his earlier teaching.

One thing that happens when you put a person in power like this, especially with no checks and balances, and where most criticism is spread is that things go to a person's head. Read the book titled "The Lucifer Effect."

I will say that there has been criticism made about SGM since it started out as Gathering of Believers and from what I have seen the group mostly deflected all criticism vs. listening. You also rarely if ever heard them admitting past failures.

Debra Baker said...

CJ and the A-team big reformed dogs' sin-sniffing is a lot like a real dog's butt-sniffing.

For several reasons.

I don't understand why.

They seem to know what they're doing and usually follow the rules.

I think it's disgusing but they seem to get something out of it.

And last but not least, if they come around me with the intention of sniffing, I will give them a verbal slap with the verbal version of a rolled up newspaper.

Kyle in Eau Claire, WI said...


I just starting reading about this stuff a few hours ago.

Please tell me what is going on. What happened that is wrong? I have read your blog here, about the only thing I say wrong was the "threat to blackmail." although I don't know that myself as I have not read the docs. So please simple and clear tell me what he did and then show me a few bible verse that say what he did is sinful. Sin is not just action but sin is also beleiving the wrong thing.

So please lay it out nice and simpley for me.

D. Kyle in WI

Steve said...


If you want more information, I would suggest you read the blog mentioned above:

http://www.scribd.com/sgmwikileaks (pack a lunch before reading)

Kyle in Eau Claire, WI said...


I have read those, not the wiki one though. Just say what he did? I am not following the issue. Is it basically the fight for power within a church structre? What sin has been commited?

So please simple and clear tell me what he did and then show me a few bible verse that say what he did is sinful. Sin is not just action but sin is also beleiving the wrong thing. I am not asking for pages and pages of the background story. Just the simple facts and names of what sin has been committed.

So please lay it out nice and simpley for me.

D. Kyle

Lin said...

"So please simple and clear tell me what he did and then show me a few bible verse that say what he did is sinful. Sin is not just action but sin is also beleiving the wrong thing. I am not asking for pages and pages of the background story. Just the simple facts and names of what sin has been committed.

So please lay it out nice and simpley for me"

Hi Kyle, I ditto what Steve said but you need to read the wikidocs to get the bigger picture of the culture at SGM. But even then, the blogs outline the stories of the victims of sexual abuse and how they were treated by SGM, the people excommunicated for "pride", etc, etc. The same rules did not apply for CJ.

If you elect not to do your homework, that is your choice. You might even think it is a sin to do it. Who knows.

My outlining it for you in addition to my blog post is not going to convince you of anything. So what would be the point of going there? If you read the blogs and the wiki docs and find no problem, then what is there to talk about?

You might think it is normal.

Kyle in Eau Claire, WI said...

Hello Lin.

Not sure what made you attack me. Like I said I just started reading about this issue. So basically what is the issue? My name is Joe Friday and I just want the facts

He as the shepard of a flock is abusing his flock through power plays? What did he do, not the direct action’s but the name of the sin or action. I do not need the enitre backgroud story. Just lay it out like this or something.

1. Abuse of the flock by..?
2. …….?

I just am not following the enitre issue. I have seen that the issue has been going on for years, so to me it seems like the church is in fighting for power but I have no clue. Maybe they are not counciling biblically ect..like I said I have no clue. This is why I ask someone to lay it out nice and simple for me. A few sentence, not pages. Boil it down to the really issue's.

I really have no need of convincing. It is just hard to follow the issue as there are all sorts of red herrings and ad hom's in a lot of blog posts about this issue as it has a lot of people fired up.

So please lay it out nice and simpley for me. Just a few sentences. If you care not to please say so. Seriously all I want to know is what’s going on? Is it basically CJ is not fit to be and elder let alone deacon by the standards set forth in the bible? He does not posses those attributes?

D. Kyle

Lin said...


I attacked you? Certainly did not mean for it to be taken that way. I am just a bit surprised that even though I gave all the links, you want me to do your homework for you.

If you read the blogs and wikidocs then you might come away with a totally different perspective and think it is all normal.

The way you presented it gives me the impression you are pulling a Mohler. Nothing to see here, move on. And that is your right to do so. But please do not ask me to do your homework for you. I won't do it for my daughter, either. :o)

Who knows, you might come away thinking CJ is an even bigger hero. Even more humble. I have seen stranger things in the celebrity Christian culture.

Kyle in Eau Claire, WI said...


Well thank you for your time. The reason I ask you or anyone is becasue you have had the time and intrest to read all the docs or a lot of them. I have no intrest nor do I have the time. So I thought ask someone who took the time. Thanks anyways. Have a good night.

D. Kyle

Lin said...

"I have no intrest nor do I have the time."

How strange you asked since you have no interest!

The problem, Kyle, is that it is NOT a soundbite. As much as we tend to love soundbite analysis and news these days.

You cannot cliff note sgm. the problem is systemic. Built in. A bad barrell.

ExYouthDirector said...


CJ is lording it over his flock in direct violation of jesus' admonitions.

He is heading up an institution that evidently thinks little of harming the little ones (i.e., rampant molestations, cover ups of perps, etc.) about whom Jesus said it would be better to drown yourself than do.

If 1 allegation in 100 on these various SGM websites is true, he very obviously does not treat others the way he would want to be treated, again, in violation of Jesus' clear statements.

Apparently, he habitually lies or supports others in their lies, in violation of the 9th Commandment.

If any of the financial allegations is correct, he also steals, or supports such activities by subordinates, in his and others' misuse of church funds, in violation of the 8th Commandment (and I, as a former church staffer, did not always make wisest use of time while on staff as well, a sin for which I should have to answer).

He led, very obviously, in direct violation of I Peter 5:3 "Not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock".

One could likely write a book on the subject of C.J. Mahaney's abuses and violations of scripture, but my guess, based on your demeanor and hyper sensitivity to any other point of view (i.e., calling very gentle chiding about "doing homework" an "attack"), is that you're a member of SGM or a psuedo Christian cult and wouldn't care what level of proof, evidence, etc. was offered you. Frankly, I don't believe your claim at being disinterested.

Sue said...

I'm a complete outsider. I know nothing of SGM other than what I've read in the last several hours (I stumbled upon Mahaney's leave of absence post and started on the trail). I happen to live down the road from his former church and once considered attending, but knew his opposition to women in ministry so refrained.

Ironically, I heard him speak one time--at my ordination nearly 30 years ago at a church in California. I thought he was fabulous and have not forgotten his sermon. I may even still have the cassette tape. But I know a lot of brilliant men who are in love with being the smartest person in the room, and unless they have something for me, I avoid them.

None of this awful mess surprises me, but as someone who knows no one in the web and is utterly uninvolved in any part of the web, I will say this of Brent and his wikileaks: the over-documentation, the demands to be responded to, the repetition of incidents . . . all of it indicates someone so attached to the sickness and so unwilling to let it go and walk away that it has consumed a life. When we encounter jerks (and worse, gross manipulators and Pharisees) in the church or in life, it's a grace to have the sanity to shake the dust off one's feet and hit the road and move on to better things. That so many are so embroiled in this cult of personality and cannot let go is truly evidence of the bait of Satan.

My barometer for this kind of thing is when I start saying to myself, "Too much drama." It's not supposed to be this hard, so when it starts to generate too much drama, walk away and get a life. I don't see too many involved in all this showing evidence of a life unattached to SGM. Very sad.

Lin said...

When we encounter jerks (and worse, gross manipulators and Pharisees) in the church or in life, it's a grace to have the sanity to shake the dust off one's feet and hit the road and move on to better things. That so many are so embroiled in this cult of personality and cannot let go is truly evidence of the bait of Satan. "

Sue, Welcome!

If only we could plaster your comment all over sgmsurvivors and sgmrefuge where they are all waiting and hopeful their "Christian leaders" will act like...... Christians!
Truely amazing....

They say "God is at work".


He has been gracious enough to send you a huge neon sign warning to get out and far away from these people.

The cult of personality is such a sin trap for people. It keeps them from maturing in Christ. It stunts their spiritual growth. Satan does love it so. Why does one need the Holy Spirit when they have so many humans fulfilling that place for them?

Thankfully, I am old enough to remember, as a kid, the days when the pastor was just another priest in the Holy Priesthood. And not a celebrity author and speaker.

Bless you Sue. You have given us a glimpse of sane Christianity where wisdom is given us by the Holy Spirit to discern such things.

Anonymous said...

Lyn "Now, you may be thinking...wow! Sins such as embezzelment or adultery....no, my friend, it is much worse. The sins documented are things like pride, lack of being accountable, not having the proper reaction to a rebuke, etc....... ad nauseum."

Thank you, Lyn, for the insight. Really

Lin said...

Hey Seneca,

I sure hope some celebrity is paying you to make the rounds of all the watchblogs and leave "Eddy Haskellesque" comments. :o)

Let's see...fbcjaxwatchdog, sgmrefuge, sgmsurvivors, the wartburg watch.....which ones am I missing?

See you around....


Anonymous said...

I've been much interested in the whole SGMcontraversy.

Anonymous said...

I've booked mark this blog. Seemed the thing to do.

Steve said...

Larry Tomczak recently gave another statement about what C.J. Mahaney and other SGM Leaders did to him and the recent SGM Board's determination that Mahaney isn't disqualified. You can find a copy of it here:


Steve said...

Larry Tomczak recently gave another statement about what C.J. Mahaney and other SGM Leaders did to him and the recent SGM Board's determination that Mahaney isn't disqualified. You can find a copy of it here: