Daniel Montgomery disappeared from Sojourn and to those on the outside many people had questions as to what happened to the Neo-Calvinist leader. Today’s The Wondering Eagle attempts to fill in the gaps and explain why he left Sojourn. Using internal documents that this blog obtained what happened to Daniel Montgomery is reminiscent of what happened with Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill Seattle, but only on a smaller scale. This blog would like to know why couldn’t Sojourn be transparent about Montgomery’s anger issues, bullying and more?
“In the last year or two, I have been deeply convicted by God that my angry-young-prophet days are over, to be replaced by a helpful, Bible-teaching spiritual father. “
Mark Driscoll on his anger
“The goal of this process is to honor the Lord in all that we say and do in order to have a
healthy Sojourn Community Church with a healthy Daniel Montgomery.”
From the frequently asked questions about Daniel Montgomery.
Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit,
who leads you in the way you should go.
Isaiah 48:17 ESV
Daniel Montgomery formerly of Sojourn
The Wondering Eagle is going to explore how Daniel Montgomery left the Sojourn Network. Recently this blog obtained some internal documents from Sojourn Church Midtown that speak to some of the issues with Daniel Montgomery. This blog is interested in information as it pertains to Sojourn. This blog believes Sojourn is important to research and writes about because of its ties to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. Also it has some roots in Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill in Seattle. Brad House came from Mars Hill. And lastly The Wondering Eagle has been approached about allegations of spiritual abuse from Sojourn. This blog would like to flush out the issue and draw attention to it. In order to understand the gravity of what happened with Daniel Montgomery we need to re-visit what happened in Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll’s anger issues.
Recalling Mark Driscoll’s Anger Issues in Mars Hill Seattle
There was a time when Mark Driscoll was extremely influential and Mars Hill Seattle was a church that had the interest of of many evangelicals in the United States. When I led Campus Crusade at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin I had a close friend who wanted to move from Wisconsin to Seattle just to be a part of Mars Hill. There were a lot of issues that brought down Mark Driscoll and closed Mars Hill, but one of the biggest was Driscoll’s anger issues. Driscoll was a narcissist who was quite abusive to staff behind the scenes. In March of 2012 Joanna Petry wrote at a blog called Joyful Exiles what happened to her and her husband Paul. She wrote about Mark Driscoll’s anger and stated that if Driscoll could have murdered her husband she beloved he would. Here is how she stated it, ” I had nightmares and imaginations of
someone trying to physically harm Paul, me, and the children. If Mark had had ecclesiastical power to burn Paul at the stake I believe he would have.” When that information about Mark Driscoll came out I was in the process of being recruited to a Sovereign Grace church here in the Washington, D.C. area. You can read about how I processed the anger issues of Mark Driscoll and observing someone who worshiped and defied Mark in, “How Celebrity Pastors Become Divisive: Mark Driscoll, Andrew White, Eagle and the Launch of Paul and Jonna Petry’s “Joyful Exiles”
The anger issues with Mark Driscoll continued to pour out. He uploaded an apology on the City at Mars Hill. Dave Kraft set up a blog called Repentant Pastor that documented how differing former individuals dealt with Driscoll’s bullying and rage. On the internet information lives forever you just need to know how to find it. You can access the individual stories here. Plus Valerie Tarico in Salon Magazine also wrote about Driscoll’s anger and abuse issues. In July of 2014 Mars Hill was removed from the Acts 29 network. They had attempted to lean on the Board of Advisers and Accountability in regards to Driscoll’s problems. In August of 2014 when 9 pastors or leaders in Mars Hill put their name to paper about Driscoll’s abuse a majority of them were forced to resign or were terminated. In the fall of 2014 an investigation determined that Driscoll had engaged in a bullying and when there was an effort to be rehabilitated Mark Driscoll when he resigned and fled.
Daniel Montgomery and the Issue of Anger, an Attempt to Rehabilitate and Abrupt Leaving
This blog has written about Daniel Montgomery and Sojourn previously. As I was researching the organization one question that remained is why did Daniel Montgomery leave Sojourn? What is the story behind that parting of company? This blog obtained some new information about Sojourn and some of what was going on behind the scenes. My original post has some additional information to fill in the gaps. You can read that post in, “An Overview of the Sojourn Network out of Louisville, Kentucky.” Daniel Montgomery attended Southern Baptist Theological Seminary from 1997 until 2000. Sojourn used to be a part of Acts 29 and they broke away. Daniel Montgomery used to be on the board of Acts 29 at one point if my information is correct. Sojourn began as a Bible study in Nathan Quillo’s residence. Nathan was a former youth group leader and many students followed him. As it grew it met in the basement of Deer Park Baptist . At around 2000 this group was looking for more formal leadership and Daniel Montgomery recently graduated from Southern seminary and he became the person who led the organization. When the break happened from Mars Hill this is probably what led Brad House and some others to come on board during that time. Daniel Montgomery was mentored by Dave Harvey and perhaps this is why Dave Harvey eventually came on board the network.
Daniel Montgomery is a big picture, visionary kind of individual. He is also very charismatic and was a regular speaker at Southern’s chapel services and panels. He also did this with other ministries as well. However Daniel Montgomery had personal challenges and limitations. Behind the scenes he developed a reputation for being a very heavy handed leader. From what this blog has learned he also had anger issues and could be bullying, demanding, rude and ungracious. As these issues grew the elders tried to deal with him behind the scenes. The Leadership Council then supported Daniel Montgomery taking a 9 month leave of absence to deal with these issues in December of 2016. Those on the Leadership Council at Sojourn included Brad House, Luke Barber, Kevin Jamison, Lisle Drury, Jonah Sage, Jameel Williams, Gregg Allison and Rob Plummer. Below is the formal communication about this matter that The Wondering Eagle obtained.
Internally at Sojourn as they tried to mitigate the scandal the organization became about protecting the brand. In Neo-Calvinist theology the brand is everything, and often is more important then people or individuals. The point person at Sojourn who carried out the instructions to community groups about Daniel Montgomery’s leave of absence was Clifton Roth. In the paperwork to Community Group leaders people were instructed as to what to say and how to respond. During this time Sojourn claimed the focus was to be on Jesus. Emphasis was on to pray for the Montgomerys. Sojourn warned people about not to gossip or engage in slander and Proverbs 16:28 was hammered. In the frequently asked questions Sojourn emphasized that Daniel was not leaving because of sexual sin or financial issues. But the organization it appears refused to put in writing the issues with Daniel Montgomery’s anger and other issues. While on leave Sojourn continued to pay Daniel Montgomery a salary and provide benefits. The organization told people that Montgomery will not be at Sojourn Midtown but that he will be at another location. You can read Clifton Roth’s letter to community group leaders at Sojourn below.
But it appears that Daniel Montgomery still could not follow the rules as part of his leave of absence. In May 1, 2017 – five months into his leave Daniel Montgomery resigned from Sojourn and abruptly walked away. He stated in his resignation that “This decision may sound sudden, but it is not impulsive nor is it being done
without much prayer and counsel.” In another letter to community group leaders Clifton Roth said the following:
“This is a sad day for all of us. We have all been deeply impacted by Daniel’s ministry over the years and seeing his time here at Sojourn come to a close is difficult for us. Good-byes are never easy. I realize that many of you are still processing this news and I understand that it is going to take some time to let it “sink in.” And I am sure that some of you have questions or concerns about Daniel stepping down and I want you to know that your pastors are ready and available to help you as you process this news. We (your pastors) want to be as present as possible to you and your group during this time. Over the next week, a pastor will be in contact with each of you, to set up a time for your entire community group to interact personally with some of our pastors (elders) and bring any questions or concerns that you/they may have concerning Daniel’s resignation. We also want to do all that we can to equip and prepare you to lead your group this week and in the weeks ahead as you process this news together and consider the days ahead.”
In the letter Clifton instructed people as to how to think about Daniel Montgomery’s resignation. He emphasized and still celebrated Montgomery and pointed out that he was never under any kind of church discipline. He emphasized as to how they would still sing “Gospel saturated” songs and continue to worship. Community group leaders were on the front lines and they were to work to prevent gossip and slander. Clifton wanted to point out all that God had used Daniel Montgomery for at Sojourn and the countless lives he brought to Christ. In all the conversations that Sojourn had with community group leaders they still could not talk about the issues of Montgomery’s anger it appears. In the documents they will not state that at all. They refer to this vague description of “leadership issues.” In the communications Sojourn expressed how God was leading Montgomery into a time of healing and personal renewal. That explains how and why he walked away. Sojourn told community group leaders that they were not to answer any questions to the media or other organizations. Anyone who had a question from the outside was to be directed to Brad House or Luke Barker. You can read this correspondence below.
Neo-Calvinism is Toxic, Struggles with Anger Problems and Other Analysis
In reflecting on all of this there is much to say. First let me start out and ask, does anyone see a pattern? A person who is put in charge of an organization who is highly charismatic who then has “issues” and then takes a leave of absence and steps down and then they resign, flee and go elsewhere and then restart only to abuse more people again. That is some leadership style is it not? Daniel Montgomery’s situation reminds me quite a bit of what happened to some degree of both Mark Driscoll and C.J. Mahaney. What also stuns me is that Sojourn was celebrating Montgomery even after he bailed and fled. That for me shows some very toxic leadership ability.
There is another issue that comes to mind and that is how anger, bullying and more plays out in these Neo-Calvinist organizations. Why is that this blog would like to ask? Is that due to to the hyper masculinity of Neo-Calvinism? After all Mark Driscoll wanted a Jesus who in his masculine state could pound the shit out of you. John Piper frequently preaches about masculinity on a regular basis. Does that explain Daniel Montgomery’s bullying and anger issues behind the scenes of Sojourn? At Southern Seminary Sojourn has a “bad boy” perspective due to its embrace of swearing, drinking and cigar smoking. Really when pastors like Gregg Allison hang around this crowd it should really cause one to question their judgement and wisdom.
Another point to make is how Sojourn sounds like Sovereign Grace. People being coached on what to say and how to say it. If you read those documents the issues with Montgomery are intentionally absent. Why would people want to get involved in an organization that lacks transparency and lies to them? How can someone like Daniel Montgomery fully repent in that frame of mind if the organization will not explain to its members what sins he committed? For me this raises deep concerns about the health of the organization. And then to bring on Dave Harvey , who was known for covering up child sex abuse in Sovereign Grace shows a lack of wisdom and leadership.
But as I wind this down you know what this situation with Daniel Montgomery also reminds me of? Daniel Montgomery deals in a smaller way with the same issues that Mark Driscoll dealt with in Seattle. Both of them allegedly had anger issues, and both were spiritually abusive behind the scenes. Both had issues allegedly with bullying and both couldn’t practice what they preached in the end. Driscoll fled and Montgomery also walked away. One of the reasons why people in Louisville and even the Sojourn Church led by Justin Pearson in the Washington, D.C. area should be rejected is that in the end Sojourn is not that far off from where Mars Hill was in its abuse and problems. Brad House was part of an effort to apologize to Paul Petry and Bent Meyer. That was an impressive step forward. Duplicating the mistakes of Mark Driscoll and allowing Montgomery to leave and then be focused on image control tells me that Brad House has not matured or deepened in his faith. In some ways for some of these individuals faith is a business. Its time they become more transparent. Also please note that Daniel Montgomery was never under church discipline in this process. Personally I wonder how many people under Jonah Sage’s leadership would be afforded that same liberty? They come forward and admit something or people notice something and bring it to Jonah Sage’s attention. I mean Jonah Sage has never, NEVER ever used church discipline in an shady or unquestionable way right? (Wink, wink…) The stories with Sojourn exist and this blog is looking for former members who are brave enough to share the issues ongoing at Sojourn.