The more I've thought of Mac Brunson's comments concerning how FBC Jax and FBC Dallas biggest problem is that they are worshipping previous pastors, the more bizzarre his comments seem to be. I'm sickened that he mischaracterizes his congregations in this way (listen to the recording at Mac's website and you'll see there was scant and delayed applause. His congregation was stunned to hear their pastor say this about them). But Mac makes it a habit of giving his congregations tongue lashings and scoldings - the Dallas members warned us of this - so this kind of thing is not unexpected. But here's the worst part of his comments: not only are we not worshipping previous pastors, he has completely missed the problem that most mega churches DO have today: that is the problem of churches worshipping the current pastors!! We're worshipping previous pastors Mac? Come on...that might be living in the past but its not pastor worship.
Look around the SBC today...what you see in recent days are scandals involving mega church pastors who have been lavished with huge CEO salaries and perks, jobs for family members, scandalous land deals, followed up by intimidation of members who attempt to call out these abuses...we see also pastors who are being found to be molestors who operated in secrecy abusing children....even pastors who cover up for other ministers who are abusing children so they can keep a hold on their power....and the Catholic church - we all know that story. What is the root cause of these scandals? How do these abuses occur? When God's people put their total trust in human beings....what we can call pastor worship.
Has FBC Jax been guilty of pastor worship in years gone by? Perhaps we have to some degree in the sense that our congregation has vested so much power in the previous pastors enabling them to do as they pleased in areas of ministry, hiring/firing, expenditures; complete control in most areas of church business. We have adored our previous pastors, no question, maybe even to the point of pastor worship. Our previous pastors, thank God did not abuse their power, and time has proven that their leadership was very Godly. But still to vest so much power in one man is akin to "pastor worship".
So our concern should not be that we are currently worshipping previous pastors, but our concern should be directed at our present worship of Mac himself. How ironic: while Mac is thinking we are worshipping Dr. Vines and Dr. Lindsay and Rev Howard, perhaps the truth is instead we are worshipping Mac Brunson. Have we given Team Brunson too much power before we've even gotten to know he and his wife? Do they have the freedom now to do as they please with little oversight by mature godly men and women on committees? Are we discerning enough to call him on unwise personnel decisions or fostering a climate in which our previous ministers want to leave? Are the lay people on personnel and finance committees more interested in being good stewards of God's money and church than they are rubbing elbows with a millionaire pastor and his wife? Is not arranging for a pastor to receive $250,000 piece of land upon his arrival in town a sort of pastor worship? Is it pastor and pastor family worship to allow him to hire his family members with little accountability to the congregation? Is it a form of pastor worship to throw huge salaries at the pastor and his wife to entice them to come to our church? Is it a form of pastor worship to give the pastor free rent at a multi-million dollar ocean-front condominimum for a year while waiting for construction of their multi-million dollar home in a gated community? Are these perks just the tip of the iceberg and would we be even more flabbergasted if we knew the total package and perks our pastor search committee threw at them?
As the Trinity Baptist Church Jacksonville scandal (pastored by Tom Messer) unfolded over the past few years, one question has and still to this day haunts me: How could a church that stands on the Word of God, that is so conservative, that is so missions-minded, that was so much like FBC Jax....let a pastor abuse them and take them down such a dark road? How did the men of that church not see the obvious signs that there were problems? How did the women of the church not detect that he was abusing his power? What were they thinking when the signs became more obvious that something was wrong with the leadership of their pastor? Its easy: they worshipped Bob Gray and it blinded them to obvious signs that something was wrong. To make matters even worse they still have the pastor in the pulpit WHO HAD AT LEAST SOME KNOWLEDGE of what this monster was doing, yet he was too gutless to call him out and prevent even more abuse - in fact sent him to Germany where he very well might have abused more children. We've got to realize that in this day pastor worship is not looking to the past and longing for the days of a beloved pastor (although that can be a problem)...but pastor worship is much more sinister than that: it is giving blind trust to a pastor to do as he pleases in the congregation with few checks and balances.
So Mac there is no worship or total trust in previous pastors among your congregation. The concern that some of us have are that perhaps there are too many in FBC Jax willing to worship Mac Brunson.