Friday, October 15, 2010

Myths concerning Sovereign Grace Ministries

Within the past couple of years, many stories have spread like wild fire thanks to the internet. Millions upon millions of articles can be accessed within a couple clicks of a mouse. Sadly, due to this fact, great lies and gossip can circulate rather quickly. The same is true with Sovereign Grace Ministries. Due to the vast popularity of just a few blogs, the organization led by C.J. Mahaney has been depicted to look like an organization that is not what it was meant to be. Here, we will, with the help of God, analyze some of the arguments brought up by those slandering SGM.

Does Sovereign Grace Ministries support Ezzo parenting?
Some time ago, there was a claim that a family was "involuntarily" released from membership from Covenant Fellowship Church in Glenn Mills, Pennsylvania(A suburb of Philadelphia)for not agreeing with the church's parenting philosophy. As far as I know, every Sovereign Grace Ministries pastor that I have interacted with does not agree with Ezzo parenting AT ALL! The church that I am at does not teach this method of parenting at all. We embrace more of the parenting of those critical of Ezzo such as Paul and Tedd Tripp. I believe there is another side to this story that we do not know about. But what I do know is that this claim is inconsistant with what I have been hearing from Sovereign Grace pastors; they do it believe nor teach Ezzo parenting.

Is Sovereign Grace Ministries hyper-episcopalian?
I have have seen this claim come up alot. Now, many people have the misconcept that Sovereign Grace Ministries is a group run from the top down with C.J. Mahaney as the "pope" and the apostolic leaders as "bishops." According the the booklet "understanding Sovereign Grace Ministries", the local churches are governed by the local pastors/elders.(You can access it here The sovereign grace churches take a presbyterian form of church government where each local church is governed by a body of elders. C.J. or the apostolic leaders do not have the final words concerning a decision on matters that pertain to that particular church. That is up to the elders of the church. Membership in a SG church is completely voluntary and any church can withdraw if it wanted to.

Does SGM strictly enforce homeschooling and courtship?
I heard this one at least once. No, they do not enforce homeschooling or courtship enspoused by Joshua Harris. I believe that it is up to the families, not the church, concerning those matter. In fact, Covenant Life Church has a regular school called the Covenant Life School. All three of C.J.'s daughters graduate from that school. At the church that I am at, I know people who are sending their children to public schools and aren't getting into trouble with the leadership.

In closing, the misconceptions of Sovereign Grace Ministries are great that they needed to be addressed. The time has come when the truth needs to be exposed against those who are covering it and hiding it. May God be glorified in the mist of all this!


  1. Are these the blogs you are talking about that expose things about C.J. Mahaney and the group he leads, Sovereign Grace Ministries:

    SGM may now not promote Ezzo parenting but they did a while back and according the person involved excommunicated a woman and her family for her daring to disagree with SGM Leadership.

    Realize that pastor = elder in SGM. It isn't like in Baptist Churches where there is a board of lay elders that provides a check/balance. None of the "elders" are lay people and the regular members really have no say.

    One may even claim that SGM Churches are just a "family" of churches but with their uniformity and admiration of Mahaney it seems a lot more than that.

    When most of the members both homeschool and apply courtship even if it isn't strictly enforced there is bound to be a lot of pressure for all members to do that.

    Have you heard about the recent events at Richmond VA SGMKingsway? The Sr. Pastor has admitted to withholding the truth (lying) about something for 10 years and hasn't stepped down. What kind of integrity does that show? Wouldn't one think that his lying for a period of 10 years disqualifies him as an elder?

  2. Hey Steve thanks for commenting! Concerning Ezzo parenting, the leadership of my church(Metro Life Church) has said that the pastors tried the method themselves and found it too legalistic and.... Just really strange. So, they never recommended it to anybody. Benny Phillips(Who I would say is one of the leading marriage and parenting pastors within the movement), as far as I know, has never supported Ezzo parenting. Even Benny and Sheree's book, "Raising Kid who Hunger for God", which I believe is written in the early to mid-90s(When Ezzo parenting started to become popular), never gave indication of Ezzo parenting at all. There are even people who have in these churches for 20+ years who have no idea what Ezzo parenting really is.

    Just to let you know, I have alot of disagreements with SGM. For example, I have disagreements on some biblical interpretations, eshatology views, and even on the topic of spiritual gifts. But still, I enjoy and greatly benefited from the teachings of my pastors. Are Sovereign Grace churches perfect? Not at all. There are times when I have been greatly offended by people in my church. If you actually talk to a SG pastor, they will tell you they are not perfect. These people are more teachable and humble than you think. If you think that members have no say in their churches, that is simply not true. Pastors meet with church members all the times with concerns about the church. If what you said is the case, alot more people would be leaving their SG churches. I would leave if they were doing what you described. From what I see, they aren't.

    With sovereign Grace Ministries being a family of churches, we are together for common purposes and goals. The local elders are in charge of their churches. We all have great admiration for C.J., but we don't treat him like he is the Pope. We all acknowledge that C.J. or any SG leader or pastor does not recieves revelation from God like the pope does. Our source of doctrine and practice is Scripture.

    Most people would perfer to homeschool and apply courtship. Parents are taking up their God given responsibilities to educate their children. They want to raise their kids to glorify God and not be seduced by this world. When children grow older, most are taught the consquences of recreational dating. The children are taught by their parents, not the pastors, to save their hearts, minds and bodies for marriage. Parents are taking up an interest on behalf of their children. The reason why members of SG churches believe in these things is not because they are pressured to do so, but have an interest in raising their children to be God fearing people. It is something most churches in America today do not do. I am forever endebted to my parents, who are apart of an SG church, to invest their time and energy to homeschool me and teach the gospel.

    Concerning the events in Richmond, I do not know what is going on in that church. But I will say this, if a pastor has admitted to lying and repented of this sin, I do not see any reason to step down as pastor. It is not like some people caught him in the act of lying. From what you are saying, he admitted to it. Since I do not know the story, I will not comment any farther. I need to hear their side of the story as well to come to a conclusion.

  3. My husband and I are the people to whom you make reference and I can assure you it happened. I will be glad to respond to your questions.

  4. Hey Debra, will you be willing to post your story on here? What I am going to do is I am going to publish both sides of the story. I will let the reader interpret the facts. Let the facts speak for themselves. I will not debate you. I will just publish arguments from both perspectives.

  5. Michael,

    Thanks for not debaating me, I have a bad chest cold and just put in a 13 hour day at school. It might take a few days to pen my story. I will send it to you privately so you can determine how and when it appears on your blog.

  6. I contacted the church in Richmond concerning the story of Gene Emerson. I have been requested by one of their staff memebers to not put anything on thier blog. The purpose of what is going on there is to restore the pastor, not information. I have deleted the previous that disscussed that issue. What we need to be doing is to pray for that church. We shouldn't be writing blog posts condemning pastors, we should be lifting the pastor and the leadership of that church in prayer. Any further comments talking about Kingsway or Gene Emerson will be deleted.

  7. Michael

    What is your email address? I would like to send you an email. I don't see it listed here on your blog.

  8. Carolyn Mahaney's blog, , has had quite a bit about scheduling / routines for babies, without mentioning Babywise directly. (I know she doesn't write all the posts, but it seems that there is prevailing acceptance for Ezzo teachings.)

    All of the mothers with whom I've interacted at my cousin's SGM church are Babywise moms.

    You stated, "As far as I know, every Sovereign Grace Ministries pastor that I have interacted with does not agree with Ezzo parenting AT ALL!" It would be great if the pastors and leaders of SGM churches would state that publicly, as many others have:

    Grace and hope,

  9. Steve- my email address is, you can send me your story to this address)

    tulipgirl- the church that I am at doesn't support ezzo parenting. With the influence of Benny Phillips, we have a completely different parenting method. Just because your cousin's church supports it doesn't mean the rest of SGM supports it as well. If what you said is correct, then we do not have unity concerning parenting method. All the pastors that I know(Most in the Southeastern region) are not ezzo advocates. Parenting is not the main emphasis in SGM, the Gospel is. The point is parenting methods are not enforced. Different methods work with different children. families take charge on how to raise their children. My pastors acknowledge this fact. They don't push their own methods on us. This can teach it and recommend it, but it will not be enforced. If ezzo works great with one family, then they should use it. If a rigid schedule does not work for their infant, then don't use it.

  10. Quote: "Just because your cousin's church supports it doesn't mean the rest of SGM supports it as well."

    And similarly, just because your church doesn't support it (thankfully!) doesn't mean that the rest of SGM has dismissed it or spoken against it.

    Your original posting indicated that anyone who was concerned about Ezzo parenting promoted in SGM churches was propogating a "myth."

    Quote: "Myths concerning Sovereign Grace Ministries... Within the past couple of years, many stories have spread like wild fire thanks to the internet... Does Sovereign Grace Ministries support Ezzo parenting?...As far as I know, every Sovereign Grace Ministries pastor that I have interacted with does not agree with Ezzo parenting AT ALL!"

    Do you see how it is implied that anyone who thinks there are SGM churches or leadership supporting Ezzo parenting is completely off base? And yet, on Carolyn Mahaney's own blog (not her writing, but endorsed by her) Ezzo parenting is promoted AND at least one very large church it is taken as. . . Gospel, almost?

    It IS a concern. Thank goodness that there is variance in other SGM churches, but to imply that it completely rejected by SGM churches is ignoring a very real problem.

    (And. . . I would agree with you. . . Ezzo parenting really does NOT reflect the Gospel -- that is the problem with it, even more than the medical misinformation regarding infant scheduling.)

  11. Do you think the leadership of your church or some that you mentioned in the southeast would be willing to add their concerns to this list of other leaders?


    Here are some points....

    Mahaney has stated that "A schedule is optional." There are many parents in SGM churches that do not follow a schedule. My sister, who is married to a SGM pastor, does not follow one. She has mentioned that Shannon Harris does not follow what the Mahaney girls do.

    Mahaney has said the follow on the link above, "The gospel—and not a schedule—should always be what we’re most passionate about. And this is not a suggestion." What the Mahaney women are writing are just suggestions, not mandates. They are writing about what has worked with their children. It doesn't always mean it will work with other children.

    No parenting method is perfect. SGM pastors acknowledge this. There is no perfect way to raise up children. They are sinners like the rest of us.

  13. Is Sovereign Grace Ministries hyper-episcopalian?
    "The sovereign grace churches take a presbyterian form of church government where each local church is governed by a body of elders."

    This is false. A presbyterian polity contains members that hold elders accountable and can vote them in or out of office. SGM polity is rooted in the Shepherding Movement. Members have no say in the elders and have no means to hold them accountable. In fact the articles of incorporation for Covenant Life Church, which is incorporated as a non-religious non-profit organization, state the following: "For the purposes of any law or rule relating to members of a nonstick corporation, the Board of Governing Pastors of the Corporation shall also constitute the members of the Corporation, and when meeting as the Board of Governing Pastors, may exercise the rights and powers of members. The Corporation as a local church also has church members determined by ecclesiastical qualifications, who have the rights and obligations of members of the local congregation known as Covenant Life Church, but church membership as such conveys no standing, responsibility or authority for governance of the Corporation..." (emphasis added)

    This church is incorporated as a non-religious organization because according to the State of Maryland a religious organization must have the following:
    -Have a time and manner for the election of new Trustees
    -Have qualifications of those able to be elected as a Trustee

    Covenant Life Church does not have these things. Ergo it is not a religious organization and is a far cry from a presbyterian form of church government