Sovereign Grace Ministries to lose flagship church?

The founding church of the Sovereign Grace ministries movement, Covenant Life Church, headed by Joshua Harris, has evidently asked it’s congregation to sever ties with the movement.

Some of you may have been following the Sovereign Grace story over the past couple of years.  It’s an interested case study.

I’ll admit, I have read some of the stuff… from both sides, and it really turns my stomach.

Both sides have dug in and Covenant Life’s departure may be just the most recent casualty.

I have no insider information, don’t know anyone inside the movement, and they are out of the circle I normally run with… so I’m looking at this from a total outsider’s viewpoint.

My problem… at least in this situation… is that leaders on both sides have dug in their heels… insisting that they are right and the other party is wrong.

That’s good.  There probably is a right and a wrong party here.

But what has been  unfortunate is the pages and pages of documentation that has been released from both sides… hundreds, probably thousands of documents… timelines… email leaks… etc. trying to prove points.

It’s really been maddening… unlike anything I’ve really ever seen in the church world.

And I have no problem thinking there are great followers of Jesus on both sides of the issue.

But at some point, it does no one any good to continue the bickering.

Maybe that’s where Covenant Life is.  Maybe they’re tired of the fight.  Maybe their digging in their heels more by just leaving.  I don’t know… but it does make me sad, regardless.

Case in point.  Full documentation.  Too much information?  Too public?  You decide.

Are these public church fights EVER good for the church?

What do you think?



  • PastorShane November 29, 2012 Reply

    I grew up in a church that was racked by very public splits.
    We went through a new pastor every couple of years.
    When I was 16, I watched a 40 minute argument in a Sunday evening service over whether to have a Christmas tree in the sanctuary or not — resulting in another split.
    Bottom line, our testimony as a lighthouse of Gods Truth to the community was tarnished beyond repair.
    My observation is, in the long run, only Satan wins when the body of Christ is divided.
    And oddly enough, none of our church divisions were over doctrinal issues or moral failures…..
    They were over control issues
    James 4:1-3

  • YourHomeHandyman November 30, 2012 Reply

    Is it possible that you think covering up all the sins in SGM is preferable just so the church world can go back to sleep in their already sick state of denial? Since you are not familiar with SGM, why would you want to voice any sort of opinion based on willing ignorance? Thousands of pages of documentation indicates more than just interpersonal trivialities better dealt with by applying Matt. 18. is already much maligned for exposing all that needs to be exposed, including the sins of leadership, the posturing, the power grabbing, the egotism, the despotism, the alleged abuse of congregants and their children (yes, physical, mental, spiritual), etc. To be sure, the weight of evidence is against SGM, NOT Brent Detwiler. You forgot to mention the pending lawsuit against SGM for 20 years of alleged sex abuse of minors. NO, a good public exposure will cleanse SGM and provide a wake up call to all Christians. “Semper Reformanda” should be the the rallying cry, in case you and others have forgotten.

    • Todd Rhoades November 30, 2012 Reply

      No need to get testy, handyman. 🙂

      I have no dog in that fight other than this is the section body of Christ that has obviously come down with some type of a disease.

      I’m just never sure when to stop fighting. Because the time you take fighting is taking your eye off what you really should be doing (most of the time).

      And I’m fine for walking away, knowing that it is Christ’s church (not mine); and ultimately he will make things right… particularly the things that I could never make right under my own power.

      Regardless, it’s always a tough decision. And one everyone needs to make for himself.


      • PastorShane November 30, 2012 Reply

        I assume handyman was directing his rant in my direction….
        since no one else commented, the “willfully ignorant” must be me….
        like you, I have no dog in their fight and the details of their sin interest me none….
        so in spite of his anger ~ I do agree with his point on disclosure of sin:
        “He who conceals his sins does not prosper,
        but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy”
        Proverbs 28:13
        but a word of warnig is found in Galatians 6:1
        “Brothers, if someone is caught in sin,
        you who are spiritual should restore him gently.
        But watch yourself,
        or you also may be tempted”

        Todd, keep up the good work,
        every week I look forward to your posts.

  • Peter D. November 30, 2012 Reply

    This information is not really news to me personally. I do know people involved and formerly involved with SGM. Some of the leadership does promote an atmosphere of harsh control of members. I look for other churches of SGM to follow suit. The judgmenatlism and legalism that so many have fought hard against in churches has reared its ugly face yet again. This isn’t the first time this has happened in a fellowship or denomination.

  • YourHome Handyman November 30, 2012 Reply

    Sin is not a disease, and especially not confined to a “section” of the body of Christ. How about prayer for SGM and all the abused. Read the lawsuit if you care. So far there are three plaintiffs in this class action suit, with more waiting in the wings. Pray that they will have enough righteous “anger” to persevere during this litigation. The victims and their families need all the support they can get.

  • YourHomeHandyman November 30, 2012 Reply

    Pastor Shane,
    Its time for you to get up some “righteous anger”, although my thoughts were not done in anger, but rather disgust. Why are some pastors so adept at accusing brethren with all sorts of sins whenever someone is honest. Honest and forthright thoughts are not rants or rage. They are just truth that you are not ready to hear. My point about denial being rampant was not addressed for an obvious reason. Denial is also a sin not a disease, that some pastors are willing to participate in and feel no need to repent of.

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  • eph61820 December 6, 2012 Reply

    I think this is a good quote that cross applies here:

    “It was well after the story had died down, so I had to study the screen to see what my friend was talking about. I assumed he was referring to Ted’s hypocrisy. “Hey man, not all of us do things like that,” I responded. He laughed and said, “Michael, you just proved my point. See, that guy said sorry a long time ago. Even his wife and kids stayed and forgave him, but all you Christians still seem to hate him. You guys can’t forgive him and let him back into your good graces. Every time you talk to me about God, you explain that he will take me as I am. You say he forgives all my failures and will restore my hope, and as long as I stay outside the church, you say God wants to forgive me. But that guy failed while he was one of you, and most of you are still vicious to him.” Then he uttered words that left me reeling: “You Christians eat your own. Always have. Always will.”

    to read the whole article addressing this heart issue; see:

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  • minnesotad December 13, 2012 Reply

    Get over yourselves. Who would ever want to get involved in this mess? What a bunch of maniacs.Sure you can exhaustively evaluate who is right but it’s like dissecting a frog – the whole thing dies in the process.

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