Question to SGM Board: Who is CJ Mahaney’s Replacement as President?

In the midst of all the discussion about polity, extra local authority, apostles, etc… it’s easy to lose track of simple statements of commitment and intent by those in charge of SGM.   One such example is the important commitment made by CJ Mahaney himself that his presidency over SGM was to be temporary.   Perhaps you’ve forgotten, so let me refresh your memory:

In a response statement, after the three adjudication committees had reached their findings,  CJ Mahaney said the following:

…here’s how I think I can best serve you in days ahead: as I step back into the role of President, I will only do so temporarily.  I think it would be wise for SGM to have a new President who has gifts better suited to serve Sovereign Grace in this next season… I look forward to serving SGM more effectively in a different role.  So my return will be temporary with a few important intentions... [he goes on to describe those intentions as transitioning from interim board to permanent board and helping find a successor].

and from the Pastor’s Conference where CJ Mahaney addressed SGM pastors, an honest self-assessment of his ability to lead an increasingly expansive organization –

“Now reflections on Sovereign Grace, reflections on my leadership of Sovereign Grace.  Prior to this leave of absence I had become convinced, with the help of others, that I am not gifted to manage a movement.  I lack the necessary organizational skills, I am not good at establishing policy and procedures and processes that set an appropriate expectation for how we serve together.”

This promise to return temporarily shouldn’t be idly tossed aside – it was stated to justify and explain his return to pastors and members who, frankly speaking, were losing confidence in his leadership.   It said in effect: “don’t worry, this is temporary – we’re actually going to appoint someone other than the old guard who can lead us through this mess”.

Now just a few questions –

Is CJ Mahaney going to honor his commitment to hold this position temporarily?   In my mind, this means 3-4 months but not much more beyond that point.    The first statement above was made at the end of November so it’s now been 7 months and counting….  This is important because his actions related to his words will either lend to his credibility as a leader or detract from it.

What specific efforts have actually been made to seek a new President?   Have the qualifications for this role been defined or articulated?   Have any candidates been approached?   Have the names of these candidates been made public for evaluation?   Frankly and sadly, we have no evidence that any effort has been expended toward that end.    If that is incorrect, then I welcome any information that might help clarify what appears to be inactivity in the search for a new President.   Sadly, it leaves many SGM members with the impression that CJ’s promise to return temporarily was done to placate us in hopes that we’ll forget.

Finally, if you can’t trust a leader to fulfill his commitments, can you trust him to lead?

Now we await hopefully to see if CJ Mahaney and SGM Board are men of their word.   We want to believe that they are – but their actions will tell us if they are so.


33 thoughts on “Question to SGM Board: Who is CJ Mahaney’s Replacement as President?

  1. Have you tried asking this question to any of the current men on the current Leadership Board? It’s a reasonable question, and their willingness to engage with you on this question is vital to their credibility.

    • Al Moore – they don’t have to answer me per se… but they should answer this since these statements were made in public and taken at face value by SGM members. I’m not sure why they don’t but I certainly hope they will

      • Hi sgmNation – I think you are wrong about this; they DO have to answer to you . . . or any other SGM members who poses the question to them. As I said earlier, I believe it’s a very reasonable, logical question. I would ask for myself — I know Ron B. personally — but I left in January of this year, so I don’t believe any of the men on the Board owe ME any explanation; but I think they DO owe an honest answer to any current SGM member who asks.

        I think maybe one of the problems is that you have an expectation of transparent communication coming from the Board. This is not very likely, as they have little history in being clear and frank with the rank-and-file. I don’t say this to diss them, but to point out the obvious: they have been terrible at communicating for many years! (BTW, this is not slander of gossip; three years ago I sat in Ron B’s office and shared this observation with him).

        Again, I would try and contact one member of the Board and pose your question directly to him. If they can’t answer this simple question then they shouldn’t have agreed to become a Board member.

      • Al – I’m weighing what you’re saying and agree that the answer is owed to any member who might ask. And so, your exhortation to me to pose this directly to one of the Board members is a good one. Here’s what I think I’m going to do in response to your advice – I will let this blog post sit for 2-3 weeks and serve as an open letter/question to them. Hopefully, it will catch their attention. And if SGM leadership doesn’t address it, I will do as you suggest. Thank you.

  2. When I saw this blog headed it intrigued me enough to check it out. I thought perhaps someone was finally trying to get a constructive conversation going. Your conclusions, however, seem similar to the other ridiculous blogs out there ( though I grant you’re much nicer!) where the idea is to assume the worst of everyone’s intentions for shock value. It’s sad you’re doing this, especially since you’re making the claim to represent “Sovereign Grace Nation”. If you don’t have any trust in the board, CJ and other leaders I think it’s time you moved on and found a more productive use of your time.

    • Ryan – simple question. Why? Why should I move on? Why is it wrong to ask misguided leaders to change. Would you also say that the some 20 churches who disagree w SGM board move on as well? In that case, who are you to demand that from them or actually from me either? Is SGM the property of CJ or the board? I am asking simple questions and calling for accountability for statements that were made. if you find that offensive, you are shockingly disconnected from the real world and church history – asking questions and seeking those in authority to account for their statements happen all the time. I’m making no personal attacks and I’m trying my best to conduct civil christian conversation.

      Look, disagree with me if you wish – but the fact that you don’t see the irony of passing judgment on me while claiming that I’m doing that to the SGM board should make you pause. Why do you think the worst of my intentions or know so well how I should “productively” spend my time?

      BTW, by publishing your comment (which I didn’t have to), I happen to extend you a courtesy that apparently you do not extend to me and others who disagree w SGM and are seeking reform. Brother, it’s your response that’s sad and disappointing. Perhaps we can engage without personal attacks some time in the future.

  3. I disagree with Ryan’s statement – laying out what is transpiring and the implications of such (what X implies, or leaves one to question or conclude, or the impression many may have) is not necessarily drawing a conclusion in judgment.

    I do agree with the questioning of who/when/how will replace the helm position – that which had taken center stage and was at first treated with much urgency and import – has been set aside (as far as the movement at large observes). There were statements, panels, reports, etc – but nothing laid out in terms of definitive plan or timeline, etc. I just was dropped. (or the wizards of Oz are working up their latest concoction behind the curtains).

    And what if they have been working on this? Why then would it not be announced? Is that because it is deemed “wise” to keep such things secret and in the counsel of a select few (as is the history with church plants, ministry changes, etc)? Why the secrecy? What damage could it possibly do to share such with the movement, really?

    • roschachwatching – thanks for jumping into the conversation here… I could use some perspective relative to Ryan’s statement. If anyone’s read this blog, they should know that I have worked hard not to delve into personal attacks on CJ, SGM board, etc… – when I have erred and gotten feedback, I’ve adjusted the blog posts. However, I have been forthright about calling for reform, critiquing bad practices and disingenuous communication. All that to say, I think one of the reasons SGM is in the mess they are in is because they have shut down constructive criticism and debate – they have convinced many of the rank and file that this is bad. Ryan’s attitude and response is exhibit A. The result is that SGM leadership is treated as above questioning and functionally infallible – that’s not healthy.

      Regarding CJ’s replacement, it was a comment that CJ himself made publicly TWICE and I think it’s not unreasonable for us to expect him to live up to his own words and if he doesn’t, call him to account as a leader.

      • SGMNation – I think your comments to Ryan are right on target.
        I suppose I’m changing the subject a bit, but after staying very engaged in all the discussions for almost a year, it’s been hard to find the time and energy to stay engaged in all the issues, meet with pastors, etc. I’m sure you must be feeling this to a certain degree yourself. I’m in a very busy season of life. Thanks for continuing to keep the issues in front of us. It’s easy to just wish it would all go away, but there are very important issues at stake.
        Thank you, Lord, for your Holy Spirit to lead and guide us.

      • Ruth – thank you as well for your encouragement. You are right – this entire episode is coming up in its 1 year mark and it is difficult to sustain energy for this. Sadly, I think that sometime in the next 3-6 months maybe sooner, the churches that disagree w SGM will be forced into an untenable situation and consequently a decision point… I hope I’m wrong on this. I think the 20+ “dissenting” churches are actually in a better place than the remaining 70+ who are led by men that don’t get it…. they don’t get that Scripture explicitly calls the local elders/pastors to care, feed and protect the flock, not acquiesce to SGM corporate leadership who technically have no authority over local churches. May God help these men.

  4. I would think that any reasonable person could see that when trusting CJ becomes the criteria for fellowship, the ship is far off course. This is the type of thinking that has to end before SGM can reform in any meaningful way. FWIW, I’m still praying and pulling for you all.

    • Jim – thanks, brother. I have to admit that I’m not sure reform will be successful with the current SGM power brokers in place. However, for many of us that have invested much, it’s hard to imagine separation without giving our best efforts to call for reform.

  5. First of all I deeply appreciate this blog. My wife and I recently left Soveregin Grace after I did a lot of research, talking to close friends I considered mature in the faith including those that were still in the church and outsdie the church. I was part my church for nearly 30 years and it was one of the most difficult decisions I had to make but the polity, what was happening between CJ and Covenant Fellowship and what I considered a very quick decision to move SGM to Louisville after only 2 days when the AOR report was released was too much for me. I was able to meet wth a pastor twice and when leaving was commended for my gracious and humble approach which I give all the glory to God. With that all said this blog was extremely helpful as I felt it was very well balanced and not in an attack mode or slanderous. Thank you for this blog as it was a means of grace to me and my wife. I have commended it to others that are questioning SGM as one that is extremely helpful. On a side note my wife and I are joing a PCA church and have fallen in love with it. We see God’s grace and Holy Spirit. We love our former church and still maintain a lot of friendships there and do believe God is still using it mightly. Just my thoughts. Again thanks for this blog! Philipians 1 verse 3

    • charlie – thanks for taking time to write kind words of encouragement – it truly was encouraging to me. I can tell that leaving wasn’t easy for you and you undertook that decision with careful godly consideration. I’m especially rejoicing at hearing how you’re prospering spiritually in your new PCA church. Grace to you and your family.

  6. Thanks SGM nation for your kind words as well. During the process of deciding to leave I was given much grace through dear friends in the Lord, listening to Josh Harris message that was given in March 2012 on church government and the role of the congregation which had a major impact on me and this blog. (as well as other blogs but this one impacted me the most) I believe because of all of this I was able to make an informed decision. I did attempt to walk in an humble and gracious manner and in time in my heart it became clear I and my wife were being called to leave. With that said Sovereign Grace has made an eternal impact on me concernng the importance of the gospel and the cross of Christ and I still have dear friends from our old church. The new church we are attending is becoming precious to me and I stand amazed at God’s goodness and love for me whiich is totally undeserved. Romans 5 verses 6-8. Keep up the good work my friend and brother in Christ looking to please the One who is worthy. I sincerely believe He is using you to care for those still in SGM and you are in my eyes doing a great job and bringing Him much glory on how you are walking wisely and humbly with a very difficult task. Hebrews 6 verse 10

  7. I posted this on FB, forgive the re-post:

    Absent from this announcement is the information that 1) The decision was made before the board voted on this. It has become widely known that Mickey told the Florida pastors before NEXT that CJ was going to remain as president. You can see from the SGM post that the board vote came after that. 2) The decision was not unanimous by the board. How long do we think those guys will last? Will these guys have the backbone to publicly state their disagreement or will they be quelled by the same selfish-ambition that has hamstrung the courage of countless other men?

    This announcement has been planned for over 2 weeks – what brilliant timing to try to dump it at the same time the Obamacare ruling comes out. Maybe I am giving them too much credit.

    • ***shakes head sadly***

      I ask again – with all the other changes they are making, why doesn’t the Board just vote to rename SGM “CJ Mahaney Ministries” and have it done with?

      I’m not a member of an SGM church anymore and this decision is one more reason why I can’t currently commend the integrity of this denomination (even while I continue to love and pray for those who are part of it).

      As for CJ, what would show his “fundamental integrity” that the board so glowingly commends more than if he were to simply thank them for the honor of being asked to stay on as President and decline in view of his promise to the churches and the gracious ways the Lord has been teaching and correcting him during this season. Such a response would not preclude the board from asking him to consider returning as President of SGM or even as a board member at some later date – say in 5 years – but it would demonstrate a humble trust that God will direct the ministry using whoever He will, and that no one man is indispensable (an ethic that every SGM ministry team leader and CGL has always been encouraged to cultivate)…

      • So what you end up with now is a “family of churches” built around one individual. Hmmm . . . this is not likely to end well folks. Scary.

        If your readers’ local churches aren’t contemplating an SGM exit strategy yet, maybe those readers should start thinking about their own personal / family exit plan. (Sigh)

        @sgmNation – you tried, and you can be content in knowing that you did what you could to sound an alarm. But the SGM ship is taking on water, and it’s time for folks to make their way to a lifeboat.

      • EM – that would be a humble response from a leader – sadly it isn’t what’s happening here. Humility – it’s just a title of a book, after all

  8. Jenn:
    How did you find out the decision was not unanimous? I am just curious how and if you knew how many were opposed to this? Because the way the SG post is written, it comes across as if the full board supports this.

    Secondly, I think this was timed to fall right between two major member meetings, Fairfax’s last week and the biggest one being tonight’s meeting at CLC. It does not give either time to respond in full and causes great agitation. Though I did find out CLC pastors were informed of this announcement on Tuedsay. It will be interesting to see if in the past two days they have found a way to address this tonight.

    I’ve been following your blog from the beginning but posting here for the first time. I can say as a decades long SG member, I am very grateful for your blog. You are able to graciously articulate so many of our concerns. Your a voice for many of us, thank you.

    • Corasusie – thank you kind words of encouragement – it’s very meaningful. Well, this announcement was disappointing but let’s keep praying for the churches – both pastors and congregations – we need loving wisdom

      • I’m actually wondering when the name change is coming. What better way to distance yourself from your biggest critics (or as they call them, the suspicious “quarters of our family of churches”) and leave behind the tarnished brand than abandoning your current name.

  9. SGM will keep going strong. They have a lot of loyal followers, some churches will break away. The loyals will now look to Louisville as their Mecca. The Lord will judge CJ and the board. May he have mercy on them.

    • MAK – you’re right – there are lots of loyally blind followers….but SGM “as we knew it” is dead. What I don’t get is how these loyal followers can keep going. Look, I understand that we can forgive CJ, etc… but does it not matter that the folks in charge have some level of integrity? I wouldn’t even work for people like this, much less commit myself to following such leaders.

  10. Which, I must add, will be fine for the 18 or so “suspicious” churches who “abandon SGM/CJ” (which is how it will be spun I suspect) who can continue on with the name. Although I’d rather them start over with a new name and leave the tarnished and corrupt SGM brand where it belongs

    • JM – Nothing would surprise me at this point – SGM power brokers advocating a name change is right up their alley… it’s all about spinning and marketing for them. If I were one of the leaders of the 18 “dissenting” churches, I wouldn’t want the SGM name – can’t think of a more tainted name and it’ll just stir up bad feelings. New day, new start

      • my friend, it is sounding like you are leaving sgm (like us, can’t remember if i posted that or not, but we are leaving as soon as obligations have been met), tho i cannot tell for sure. where/who will be the ones to sound the split that we all anticipate happening? is anyone talking from the ‘dissenting’ churches? Lord knows, we will hear nothing of substance about this from our ‘pulpit’. i hear that CJ himself will be visiting us in a few weeks. don’t have an emoticon for that….

      • my friend, it sounds like you, too, are leaving sgm (tho i would agree that they have left us), as are we as soon as obligations have been met. is anyone officially speaking from the ‘dissenting’ churches? unofficially? Lord knows, we will hear nothing of substance from our ‘pulpit’, i here CJ himself is visiting some time this month. don’t have an emoticon for that…..

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