Great news – after much prayer I have decided to make a major move back to the United States to open up a Blockbuster video store in a strip mall!
That probably got your attention, but I am joking; we all know video rental stores have gone the way of 8-Track cassette tapes and public phone booths. It wouldn’t require any prayer to know that opening one would be a foolhardy decision. Crazier than opening a Blockbuster video store would be to accept a job with Sovereign Grace Ministries; anyone paying attention knows that the Sovereign Grace corporation is in dire financial straits due to their involvement in a major sexual abuse scandal and resulting conspiracy to cover it up. Approximately 40 churches have left the denomination, including Covenant Life Church – the former flagship church of the denomination and the church C.J. Mahaney once pastored and called “the dearest place on earth.”
This is where Brian DeWire enters my narrative. By reading through Brian’s tweets it is obvious he is a huge fan of John Piper. He graduated from Piper’s Bethlehem Seminary in early 2014 and had been working for Piper’s Desiring God ministry while at the Seminary.
As DeWire’s graduation approached he started his search for full-time employment.
This from Sarah DeWire’s blog:
“March 4th, Bryan e-mails his resume out to a few friends, family members, and mentors to see what God might do through our network of connections. On March 12th, Bryan has his first phone call interview with a man named Mark Prater, the Executive Director of Sovereign Grace Ministries.”
“On April 19th, after 3 phone interviews, one face to face interview, and a lot of prayer, Mark Prater offers Bryan the job of serving Sovereign Grace Ministries as the Communications Manager just over 6 weeks from when Bryan’s initial e-mail with his resume was sent. Our answer is an enthusiastic “Yes!” and we start to plan our move from MN to PA to occur in approximately 4 weeks. (Yikes!!)”
Unknown to me is just how much Brian DeWire knew about the sexual abuse scandal which had totally enveloped Sovereign Grace Ministries. Judging by the fact that DeWire’s friends and mentors were likely all from the John Piper/ neo-Calvinst camp I would guess that if he received any advice it was not to worry, there was nothing to the scandal. After all Piper was, and still is a supporter of C.J. Mahaney.
Of course shortly after DeWire had unofficially started his duties with Sovereign Grace Ministries, and just four days prior to his official starting date, the Nathan Morales guilty verdict was returned. Morales was convicted of five counts of sex crimes against boys at the church Mahaney was senior pastor of. During the trial Grant Layman, brother in-law of C.J. Mahaney and an assistant pastor at Covenant Life Church, testified that church leadership knew of the abuse but did not alert law enforcement.
So DeWire was jumping into a firestorm. A new job is a tough transition under the best of conditions, it must have been really tough for DeWire, an SGM outsider who, as the Communication Manager, had the unenviable task of attempting to put lipstick on a pig. I doubt the most experienced PR man in the business could put a positive spin on the Sovereign Grace Ministries scandal, much less a new seminary graduate with zero experience. It was fairly obvious to many that DeWire was doomed for failure, yet he cheerfully, and perhaps naively, pressed on.
DeWire appeared quite upbeat about his job as revealed in these tweets:
Yet Sarah DeWire revealed in her blog that in February of 2015 (10 months into the SGM job) behind the scenes all was not well:
“Bryan had a performance review which confirmed our concern that he was just not the right fit for this job. While being both honest and gracious about some areas of concern, his superiors said that they would like to give him some time to work on these areas and they would re-evaluate in about 3-6 months.”
In the same month Brian DeWire was told by Prater and friends that he sucked at his job he lets us know that Sovereign Grace is paying him to help Bob Kauflin add to his net worth by publishing another book! You may recall Kauflin is one of the big dogs in Sovereign Grace Ministries. Fiercely loyal to C.J. Mahaney, he is one of the five pastors of the Louisville church plant which ministers to a congregation of approximately 100 people. Kauflin has somehow managed to remain untainted by the sexual abuse scandal and his conference speaking engagements seem to be rising while C.J. Mahaney has seen his engagements dwindle.
Brian DeWire also let us know that back in February he was working on producing a new web page for Sovereign Grace Ministries. The web page would not be ready to publish for another 6 months! I guess when you are helping the big dogs publish their books it leaves precious little time to devote to tasks that are actually part of your job description!
(Side note: I am curious to know if Sovereign Grace Ministries had the business savvy to get their $200 discount from Church Plant Media? It really is all about the money folks.)
After being informed by DeWire’s superiors that they were unhappy with his job performance it appears DeWire started catching on to the Sovereign Grace way of ensuring career longevity – unabashed praise of the leadership. It is unclear whether DeWire caught on to this through osmosis or through informal chatter around the office water cooler. The chatter would be something like this:
DeWire: It’s not looking good for me, I just had my performance review and barring significant change in the next 3-6 months I am going to be terminated.
Friend of DeWire: First of all nobody is terminated in Sovereign Grace Ministries, the term is “de-gifted.” You will be de-gifted from your present position and asked to take a pay cut while you clean bathrooms and search for what you are truly gifted in. This could take 6 months or 6 years, all depending on how long it takes you to master the art of blatantly insincere flattery.
DeWire: Flattery? I am not certain a Christian should engage in that.
Friend of DeWire: It’s either that or clean SGM toilets for the rest of your life. Besides, you couch the flattery in terms that make it sound almost saintly, and of course humble.
DeWire: I see; you have served me very well my humble friend! Now please excuse me while I head to the computer to write about evidences of grace in our leaders lives on my social media accounts.
Friend of DeWire: Well, I am the worst sinner I know my friend, but I am humbled to know that my advice has managed to serve you well, if even in some small manner.
DeWire: Indeed my friend, catch you at Care Group tonight!
I believe DeWire caught on to the Sovereign Grace way a little too late to save his job. Finances are undoubtedly still in poor shape at the Sovereign Grace corporation and leadership saw DeWire as an easy mark to cut expenses. Here again is what his wife Sarah had to say:
“In June, when Bryan was officially notified that the Sovereign Grace leadership team had made the decision to eliminate his position, it did bring about some mixed emotions. Sadness for the loss of dreams that we had of making a life here in PA and supporting a ministry we both (still) love. Relief that we had a clear answer from the Lord as to whether Bryan was the best person for this job or not. A little bit of anxiety as this now meant that all of our hypothetical planning had to become real and we didn’t yet have clear direction.”
Although DeWire did not immediately make his fate public, looking back at his tweets it all makes sense.
I wonder if Sovereign Grace made DeWire sign some form of non-disclosure clause to get a severance package? It would be interesting to get some inside scoop on what I consider to be the utterly corrupt leadership of Sovereign Grace.
Irregardless of non-disclosure agreements, DeWire’s future employment chances hinge on him remaining silent about the inner workings of SGM. DeWire will be seeking employment with another “Gospel-centered company,” all members of the unofficial “Neo-Calvinist” wing of protestant evangelicalism and they are all tightly connected through networks like “The Gospel Coalition” and “Together For the Gospel.” Speak ill of any member of the club and you will find yourself black-balled.
Giving DeWire the benefit of the doubt, he may still be naive enough to think these men in positions of power have the best interests of the people and the spread of the Gospel at heart!
Finally, a few weeks ago, we hear a truthful confession from DeWire. I do pray for the young man and his family. I am sure that God will use this as a major learning experience in his life.
I cannot help but feel sorry for DeWire and his family. I am sure he had little knowledge of the inner workings of Sovereign Grace Ministries/Sovereign Grace Churches. I could have predicted his tenure would be short; he had three strikes against him prior to his first day on the job.
First, DeWire was an “outsider,” meaning he had never attended a Sovereign Grace Ministries/Sovereign Grace Churches local congregation, never learned the jargon, never had been to any of their conferences to network with the power-brokers in leadership positions, had never attended the nine month indoctrination to the Sovereign Grace Ministries methods of doing church commonly called the “Pastor’s College,” or as the insiders refer to it “PC.” PC is a good name for it. Generally you have to be Politically Correct prior to being approved to attend, but after graduating from PC one is Politically Correct to the extreme. The phrases “serve you with the gospel,” “served us well,” “I am doing better than I deserve,” “evidence of grace in your life” and “I am the worst sinner I know” just roll off your tongue.
Second, DeWire was not related to anyone in a position of authority in Sovereign Grace Ministries. Nepotism is alive and well in the corporation and it trumps all. There are some real lackeys drawing paychecks from Sovereign Grace Ministries but their positions are secure. De-giftings don’t seem to occur to the young men who have fathers in the good graces of those in power.
Third, DeWire has personal integrity so he could never quite bring himself to wholeheartedly take part in the blatant, insincere flattery that all those who hope to climb the corporate ladder of Sovereign Grace Ministries must routinely engage in. Integrity of character in Sovereign Grace leadership is a sign of weakness and guarantees you will never be a member of the inner sanctum. One needs simply to spend 10 minutes reading any document on Brent Detwiler’s blog to realize what a pack of cut-throat, obfuscating liars have been running the SGM corporation.
Mahaney set the tone for how to utilize flattery to one’s advantage – be forewarned, don’t listen to this unless you have a strong stomach:
“This past year, it has been a deep joy getting to know and work with the pastors, leaders, and staff of Sovereign Grace Churches. Much has happened during my brief time here, and I thank God for the relationships He has given me.
But the leadership team has had to make the difficult decision of eliminating my position effective July 31, partly because of financial constraints and partly because I simply have not been a good fit for the position. The Communications Manager needs to be more strategic, creative, and decisive than I have been. While it has been humbling to more clearly see my own sinfulness and weakness, I agree with their decision and I pray that God would give them someone better fitted for the role.
So now, our plan is to pursue contract work with Desiring God and Tim Challies, and to expand my own freelance copyediting work. God has been amazingly faithful to provide these opportunities as He continues to care for our needs.”
Mark A. Noll, in his book “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind,” had this to say:
“The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind… Notwithstanding all their other virtues, however, American evangelicals are not exemplary for their thinking, and they have not been so for several generations.”
Mr. DeWire – here is something for you to “think” about as you seek future employment: