Matthew 7:15 - “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
Matthew 24:11 - “…and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.”
Monday, December 31, 2007
- how does a church like Shiloh or Trinity Baptist end up hiring a pastor who abuses people? How do their deeds go undetected? What empowers a man to think he can do these things and get away with it? Does elevating their pastor to "rock star", untouchable status have anything to do with it? Has FBC Jax been guilty of the same, but we were just blessed to have godly men at the helm who didn't abuse the power and trust given to them? Its very apparent we have a pastor who desires to have much accountability within in his pastor's office by having his wife working with him - that is one thing that our church was very happy about. But when I see how we heap praise and money and power on one man that we hardly know just because of his position of "pastor", it makes me greatly concerned that our church could also be susceptible to pastoral abuse.
- Isn't it interesting that now several times we have been told during announcements that we will be voting on the church trustees that have been nominated by Mac Brunson? Mac has told us this at least once and maybe twice, and Ed Dickinson mentioned it yesterday, that on January 6th we'll be voting for these men, and that there is biographical information on these men available for everyone to pick up at the usher stations! Well, imagine that!!! Actually ANNOUNCING, and DISTRIBUTING NECESSARY INFORMATION about what we will be voting on! While I'm glad they are distributing information, this shows how deceitful Mac Brunson was about the bylaw changes that were voted on November 28th. Just as easily as Mac is making trustee nominee biographical information available to the congregation, he could have made the bylaw changes available also, BUT CHOSE NOT TO DO SO (and you have to admit that providing biographical info on these men is much less important than providing information to members on the bylaw changes that affect their membership and governance of the church). Sorry Jim Smyrl, I haven't witnessed to anyone this week, but I'm still going to "complain" that our pastor and president of the trustees deceived their congregation by not making bylaw changes very available to the membership before asking for a vote. Asking the faithful Wednesday night attenders to vote on bylaw changes without at least, AT LEAST summarizing the changes was a shameful act.
- anyone notice that Jim Smyrl's preaching style/demeanor has changed since working under Mac Brunson? Most of us have heard Smyrl before he worked under Brunson, and now we've heard him quite a few times since he was hired and working under Brunson. I myself notice a distinct change but wondered if anyone else has.
- I'm sure that the trustee vote on January 6th will be an "all or nothing", "up or down" vote on all the men that our pastor has nominated. If this is so, it is a sham vote. If they're going to ask us to vote, give us a ballot and allow us to vote yes or no on each of these men. I haven't seen the list of men, but here is some criteria that I would apply to the vote if I were to vote:
a. Before I will vote "yes" on ANY of these men that Mac Brunson is nominating, I want Mac Brunson to stand in the pulpit and explain the bylaw changes that were ramrodded through, and I want him to explain why he felt the need to ask for a vote without making the bylaw changes readily available to the membership, why he felt the need to never at least explain the changes, and then apologize for this stupid act. Until he does THAT, I won't vote in favor of any of his proposals brought before the church - trustees, new school, none of it.
b. Any men that were involved in any way with the decision to bring Mac Brunson to Jacksonville by being on the search committee, I would vote "NO" on. We don't need men in positions of trustee who have their reputations in the church and community tied to Mac's success. We need men who can objectively hold Mac accountable to do right by his congregation.
c. Any men that have served with Mac as a trustee during his first two years or in a position of leadership like chair or vice chair of deacons would get a "NO" vote. These men, in my opinion, failed to hold Mac accountable during the first two years and I could not vote for any of them. Where were these men when the $300,000 gift was given? Didn't they see the problem that this would present when the congregation became aware of it? We need men who will be willing to say "NO" to Mac Brunson, willing to ask tough questions of Mac Brunson. Where were the current trustees when someone needed to tell Mac Brunson "No, we will NOT ask our church to vote on significant bylaw changes without first making the changes readily available and summarizing the changes before the vote. If you do, I will resign." Where were the trustees when it was found out that Mac was going to use our church facilities to host "A Night to Stand With Israel" and he wasn't explaining it to his congregation?
d. Is he nominating any new men to positions of trustee leadership that are long-time faithful members who have stellar reputations and could be trusted, but not part of the current "power structure" at church? Men who the congregation knows have the judgement and discernment needed to be a trustee, but who don't have the clout because they don't hang with the current big shots? If you've read the list, are there any men that YOU would nominate that are not on the list? Feel free to post your ideas here on who should NOT be on the list and who SHOULD be...I'm particularly interested in hearing some nominations of men who serve faithfully but aren't "big shots" who are probably overlooked by the pastor. If this was a ballot vote, I would write in a few names of men who I know have impeccable reputations, but get overlooked because they don't hang with the current lay power structure of the church. If we've learned anything about our church in the last 2 years, its that we need some fresh new lay leadership - not "new" in the sense of "uknown" - but "new" in trusted men that we know and love but have never served in those positions.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
"The Downfall of a Pastor" - Dallas Morning News
After you read this article in its entirety, you'll see how Paige Patterson, the President of the Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary, and a regular preacher at FBC Jacksonville's Pastor's Conference, played a very significant role in Gilyard's years in Texas. One must wonder after reading this why Patterson did not do more to stop this man from pastoring churches when it was abundantly clear he was a serial womanizer and couldn't control his zipper. One also has to wonder: how many women will come forth from Shiloh? Hopefully they will be encouraged to come forth by the leaders of Shiloh and will not be questioned or intimidated like the women were who made allegations about Gilyard in Texas.
After reading this, my respect for Paige Patterson continues to diminish. Earlier this year he asked his student body to pray for poor 'ole Mac Brunson who never got a "honeymoon" from his congregation (which is just not true as I chronicled here.)
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
But in all this ugliness, there is already one bright spot. His name is Pastor George Harvey, Jr.
First however, a recap:
I have already on this blog shown the news articles from July 1991 stating that, according to Paige Patterson, currently the President of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Darrell Gilyard admitted to having sexual relations with women who came to him for pastoral counseling at Victory Baptist Church in Richardson, Texas. Click here to read the news articles from 1991 explaining how Gilyard not only was a confessed-adulterer in Texas, but that he repeatedly lied about his upbringing and how he "lived under a bridge" during his teen years.
At the time of the allegations in Texas, Paige Patterson was the president of Criswell College in Dallas, and Patterson was advising Gilyard after the allegations of sexual improprieties at several of Gilyard's churches became public.
Said Patterson at the time: "Darrell needs counseling to try to gain restoration with God and his family. I think it is inappropriate for a person who has had this type of thing happen to him to be in the pastorate." (poor choice of words..."had this type of thing happen to him"...as though poor Darrell was the victim of some women in the church).
The question has to be asked: How in the world did Darrell Gilyard gain a position as pastor at Shiloh Baptist Church after these allegations - after he had, according to Patterson, ADMITTED to having sexual relations with women he was counseling? Perhaps when Patterson comes to Jacksonville in February for the FBC Jacksonville Pastor's Conference the press will talk to Patterson to see what steps he took to warn the Shiloh congregation about Gilyard's adulterous past - and if in Patterson's opinion Gilyard ever got the "counseling" needed. EthicsDaily.com has written an article that chronicles Gilyard's early days and how Vines and Patterson assisted the young Gilyard.
Now for the one bright spot in this so-far sordid tale.
According to local pastor George Harvey, Jr. of the Mt. Missionary Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1993 Pastor Harvey DID try to tell Darrell Gilyard he was unfit for the position of pastor. Harvey reports that his attempts to confront Gilyard and warn the church were met with a grievance filed by the several deacons against Harvey.
Here is Pastor Harvey's post on this blog dated 12/25:
"In April, 1993, I prayerfully confronted Gilyard at Shiloh and told him that he was Biblically disqualified from pastoring due to his divorce in Texas and because of all of the improprieties with women out there -- in that short meeting, he literally ran through the auditorium to get away from the rebukes. I followed with a letter outlining the reasons for disqualification. Within a week, two of his Deacons met with me -- Deacon Herman Sykes told me that I was nuts and Deacon Copeland said, "We don't care what he's done, as long as he wins souls". Both Deacons subsequently filed a complaint against me with the State Attorney's office because of my tenacious rebuke of Gilyard's evils. "
Wow - how refreshing it is to actually hear of a pastor who is not afraid to call out a pastor who has done something wrong and may present a danger to God's people! What an absolute contrast Pastor Harvey is to Tom Messer, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church - Messer admitted recently that he knew Bob Gray lied to his congregation in the early 1990's about the molestation charges - HOW MANY VICTIMS COULD HAVE BEEN SAVED FROM THE MONSTER BOB GRAY IF TOM MESSER WOULD HAVE HAD THE BACKBONE THAT PASTOR HARVEY HAD AND CALLED BOB GRAY OUT? We have seen so many stories of late where church leaders are covering for each other's failings while putting their congregations at risk: one need look no further than Tom Messer and Bob Gray, and Steve Gaines and Paul Williams (here and here) at Bellevue Baptist for examples of this.
Pastor Harvey continues:
"The Lord Jesus gave me victory at the SA (state attorney) mediation. The mediator asked the Deacons whether they had reviewed the documentation I had relative to Gilyard's Texas improprieties; they said "no". The mediator then gave both deacons copies and insisted that they take it home for review. Before concluding the meeting, the mediator only asked that I stop preaching about Gilyard's evils on WCGL radio -- the director of that station had censured me earlier for the Gilyard rebukes the same month. "
Pastor Harvey - you DID your responsibility as a pastor to protect the people of God, even at great personal risk and in the face of willful ignorance on the part of those deacons. You can have a clear conscience that you did your best to prevent further harm being done by Gilyard.
Unfortunately there are probably some that can't have that same clear conscience; men who KNEW of Gilyard's past but failed to warn unsuspecting women at Shiloh Baptist. We hope these men too will be held accountable if any of these most recent allegations turn out to be true about Gilyard.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Updated News Links on Gilyard
The Florida Times Union has written an article (click here to read) covering the latest mess Darrell Gilyard has gotten into at Shiloh Baptist. We hope its not true, but this may very well unfold as another example of church leaders worried more about protecting the reputation of their church and their pastor than they are the welfare of young ladies.
From the Florida Times Union article:
"According to the police report, a mother said she found obscene text messages when she checked her daughter's phone on Oct. 23. The mother, who is not identified in the report, said she later spoke with another woman who said her daughter also had received sexually graphic messages from the same phone number. "
So apparently there's more than one girl that he may have sent sexually explicit text messages.
"She said she spoke with four church deacons about the phone calls and showed them a journal of alleged sexual encounters with Gilyard. She said the deacons told her not to involve the police until they could discuss the allegations with Gilyard, according to her statements in the police report.....When asked why she waited a month to lodge her complaint with police, she said she'd been told the church was going to handle the matter. "
Sadly, it looks like the allegations have gone beyond phone calls, and involve "sexual encounters", although its not clear if its with the same girls he sent the messages to, or just what "sexual encounters" mean.
And of course the crack team of deacons who were told about the allegations as early as October 23rd told her NOT to go to the police. Does that surprise anyone? Let's hope the authorities will find the names of those deacons who gave her that advice, to not report this...if the man is sending sexually explicit messages to a minor that very well is a crime and the deacons should have told her to immediately report it to the police, and the deacons should have immediately taken steps to investigate and taken steps to protect the young women of the church immediately while the investigation took place.
So the questions that need to be answered now by the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church:
1. Why did the deacons tell the woman to not report to the police what appeared to have been a crime, if someone sent sexually explicit messages to these girls from Darrell Gilyard's phone? Who were these deacons? Did they in any way threaten retaliation against the woman if she did go to the police?
2. What steps, if any, did the church leaders take between October 23rd and November 29th to protect young ladies in their congregation after they were made aware of the text messages and "sexual encounters"? Let's hope no "sexual encounters" or any abuse happened in this period when the church decided to take matters into their own hands.
3. The obvious and most painful question: Why would the church hire a man as their pastor after he had admitted to having sexual affairs with women in his previous church, especially considering that these women were (according to Paige Patterson who counseled Gilyard in Texas) women that Gilyard was counseling? Was he up front with those who hired him at Shiloh, or did he deny the allegations when he was hired? What steps were taken to make sure the same problems didn't happen at Shiloh - for instance was he prohibited from counseling women or young ladies alone? Did the men of the church take steps to hold him accountable and prevent a repeat performance of sexual encounters with young women in the church seeking counseling?
My guess is that the church's investigation will reveal someone stole Darrell Gilyard's phone and sent the sexually explicit messages to harm his reputation, and that he is 100% innocent. His church will rally around him, and all will be well, and Darrell will have been the victim of a terrible prank and be given even more power at his church. And the mother who went to the police against the deacon's advice will be brought before a church discipline committee for being divisive.
We shall see.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
I have no idea whether the current allegations of him sending sexually explicit text messages are true or not, but its just absolutely amazing to me that people in Jacksonville are shocked! But given the adultery allegations against him with women in his former Texas church that were well-reported in the 1990's, the new allegations don't surprise this writer one bit!!!
Long-time church members at FBC Jacksonville remember this very gifted preacher preaching here in Jacksonville in the 1980's. He claimed to have been born and raised on the streets in poverty, a homeless young person - FBC Jax members will remember his story of "living under a bridge" as a young person. But this turned out to be a lie, as Barbara Davis of Palatka, Florida testified that she raised Darrell from age 5 to 19 and that his story of living homeless under a bridge were made up. Then in 1991 the adultery allegations arose and he resigned as pastor of the Victory Baptist Church in Richardson, Texas.
Here is a newspaper article from the "Austin American Statesman" dated July 13, 1991:
RICHARDSON - A minister who resigned after admitting several adulterous relationships should stay out of the pulpit until he proves he's ready to practice what he preaches, a Southern Baptist leader said Friday.
Darrell Gilyard's once-rising star within Southern Baptist circles came crashing down this week, leaving yet another evangelist whose message was tainted by adultery.
Gilyard, a frequent guest on Jerry Falwell's weekly evangelical television program, has been described by several prominent ministers as one of the nation's most gifted religious orators.
But the 29-year-old preacher's future darkened when he announced his resignation during a midweek meeting at the Victory Baptist Church, one of the few integrated congregations within the mostly white Southern Baptist Convention.
"I offer you my resignation immediately without option," said Gilyard. "The only reason I stand before you now is because my love for this book supersedes my will."
Gilyard did not return messages left at his home Friday by The Associated Press.
Although Gilyard did not mention his reasons for leaving his church, a longtime supporter and friend, Dr. Paige Patterson, said Friday that Gilyard admitted having several adulterous affairs with women he was counseling.
Falwell said in statement released Friday that he has not spoken with Gilyard since his resignation.
"I am always deeply saddened to hear such allegations against any servant of God whether true or false," Falwell said. "The whole cause of Christ is always injured.
"Rev. Gilyard is the most gifted young preacher I know today and God has greatly used his message throughout this country."
Southern Baptist Convention officials said Gilyard was pressured to resign because of mounting complaints that he had behaved inappropriately toward women in both his own church and at least three other congregations.
Patterson, president of Criswell College and Gilyard's former teacher, said the complaints prompted an investigation.
"He has resigned from Victory Baptist Church, but I have been told by some that he may be having second thoughts about that," Patterson said. "Apparently some members of the church may want him to stay on."
But Patterson said it would be best for Gilyard, who is black, and the church if Gilyard does not return.
"Darrell needs counseling to try to gain restoration with God and his family," Patterson said. "I think it is inappropriate for a person who has had this type of thing happen to him to be in the pastorate.
When allegations of sexual misconduct cropped up against Gilyard four years ago, Patterson said he counseled the young minister, who is married. Patterson said he advised Gilyard to avoid meeting alone with women and to avoid lengthy personal counseling sessions that might breed gossip.
Here is an article from the San Francisco Chronicle dated July 29, 1991 about the fabrication of his "living on the streets":
A preacher who gained national prominence when the Rev. Jerry Falwell broadcast his "miracle story" of rising from homelessness in his teens actually had a comfortable upbringing, a newspaper said yesterday.
Darrell Gilyard has claimed he slept under a bridge from age 13 on. But the Dallas Morning News quoted a Florida woman who reared him as contradicting that story.
Gilyard, 29, denounced the newspaper article in a sermon yesterday.
Gilyard became one of the nation's most sought-after black Baptist evangelists after frequent appearances on Falwell's nationally televised "Old-Time Gospel Hour" but has fallen from favor recently.
Under pressure from Baptist leaders, he resigned from his Victory Baptist Church here on July 10. There were allegations that he had affairs with female members of the congregation.
He christened Grace Community Church less than two weeks later. Last week, he asked members of his new church to forgive him for the alleged affairs.
Falwell's show in January spotlighted Gilyard's more distant past -- including his claims of teenage homelessness -- in a segment called "The Darrell Gilyard Miracle Story."
But Barbara Davis, 65, of Palatka, Fla., who said she reared Gilyard from age 5 to 19, said he fabricated stories about his childhood.
"It was embarrassing," Davis told the newspaper. "People were calling me from all over and knew how I'd raised him."
Let's see what these new allegations are all about. Either way, its probably time that people in Jacksonville who are following this man know the truth about his past.
Pastor Darrell L. Gilyard, pastor of the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida has been accused of sending sexually explicit text messages to the teenage daughter of one of his church members. The incident is still under investigation.
Story is here.
Darrell L. Gilyard has released a statement that says he is going to take an indefinite, paid, administrative leave from the church while the issue is being investigated. Here is his statement.
His statement, which is actually a letter to the Board of Trustees, is TELLING the board that he will take a PAID leave of absence.
I would like the church leaders to release a statement saying..."AHEM...we'll decide pastor whether you are on paid or unpaid leave....and we've decided its to be UNPAID until we determine what has happened."
But of course the mortgage payment on Darrell Gilyard's home must be huge...since he lives in Queen's Harbour, a very exclusive gated community, and his house is worth almost 1 million dollars.
Long-time members at First Baptist Church will remember Darrel Gilyard as he preached several times in the 1980's at FBC Jax, before he moved to Texas to pastor. He allegedly had illicit relationships with women in his church there in Texas before he came to Jacksonville. Jerry Vines has also preached in his church in the past year.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
All of this was done with not a single word of explanation by the pastor. Not one single word of explanation. Not during the weeks leading up to the vote. Not at the business meeting before the vote. Not in the three weeks since the vote. He never felt the need to tell the congregation what they were voting on. He's never explained why now he feels the need to at this time to create the discipline committee. Not one word about how the committee will operate. Not one word about how the members are selected. And apparently not one single member of the church board of trustees who recommend the changes along with the pastor saw anything wrong with bringing this for a vote before the church with not a word of explanation. Certainly Dave Bristowe, the chairman of the deacons and president of the board of trustees had no problem asking for a vote when he had to know hardly anyone he was standing in front of, asking for a vote, had a clue what they were voting on. Unbelievable. Maybe worse than all of this: apparently very few in the church, except for a scant handful of recalcitrant bloggers, even care that this has happened.
One would think that a caring, humble pastor would explain to their congregation how such a committee would be used by God to lovingly, compassionately restore a wayward member according Matthew 18. A loving pastor would first explain the process of Matthew 18 which starts with a brother first going to the brother, followed by two or three, then as a very last resort bringing the brother before the church. Nothing of the sort from this pastor. In fact, the only mention of Matthew 18 church discipline we've received from Mac Brunson since the November 28th vote was a very careless description of church discipline as being the act of bringing a brother before the church! He doesn't mention that this is a third step in the process.
So here's the sequence of events:
1. 11/28/07: Church bylaws changed adding church discipline committee during business meeting.
2. 12/2/07: (very next sermon after the vote). Mac angrily accuses those who are against change in the church as being "comfortable in their sin and in their compromise".
3. 12/12/07: In a sermon where Mac is preaching against the sin of a "judgemental and critical spirit", Mac gives a very stern, unloving warning, and scripturally careless explanation that church discipline includes bringing a member before the church - CLICK HERE. I use the word "warning" as he had a pregnant pause followed by three quick finger taps on his pulpit with a look of "what do you think about THAT" (those that have sat under Mac Brunson know what I'm talking about). I say "scripturally careless" because he quotes Matthew 18:17 without quoting or explaining Matthew 18:15-16. So the man creates a church discipline committee, and two weeks later instead of EXPLAINING FROM SCRIPTURE what the process is, he instead warns his congregation that "church discipline" means that someone might be brought before the church with their sin - all of this in a sermon addressing those with a critical and judgemental spirit. Wow. Indeed, are we not getting tired of the Mac Brunson Show?
Questions for you out of town pastors who read this blog and are considering coming to the pastor's conference: would you ever dream up such a scheme and pull this stunt at your church? Would you ever ask for a vote on creating a "church discipline committee" in your bylaws without first clearly and lovingly explaining this to the people you are sheparding? Apparently Mac Brunson, who is hosting the 2008 FBC Jax Pastor's Conference with the theme of "Team Building" sees no problem with it. Perhaps in one of his "Premium Sessions" at the conference he'll address this topic: "how to get your bylaws changed to create a church discipline committee and give yourself more power in the church with hardly anyone in the church knowing you've done it!" Definitely it is a new chapter that he can put in his Pastor's Guidebook.
Finally, at the risk of being accused of "living in the past"....or "worshipping previous pastors"...here is an example of how Dr. Adrian Rogers created a church discipline committee. Nothing under the table. No asking for a vote from his church with no explanation of what, why, how. No warnings that people will be brought before the church in his sermons. It was a clearly worded resolution that came before the church for a vote, so that the people - get this - KNEW WHAT THEY WERE VOTING ON.
Bellevue Baptist Resolution Creating "Church Discipline Council" - dated 6/11/97
Where is the leadership of our pastor on this important issue? When will he apologize for the manner in which he ramrodded these bylaw changes through? When will he take the time to lovingly explain the need for the church discipline committee, how it will operate, and how members are selected? When will he properly explain the Matthew 18 church discipline process in a loving way and not in a threatening way as though he is ready to bring some people before the church?
I'm not holding my breath for any of this to happen.
Just expecting more of the same.
Monday, December 17, 2007
From time to time I'll listen to a few of his sermons, and they are outstanding. You can hear so much of Dr. Vines and Dr. Lindsay in his sermon style, and from time to time he drops in interesting stories from his many years at FBC Jax.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Clip #2: Ginger Soud introduces Rep. Adam Hasner - he gives an update on several Florida-Israel government and business initiatives.
From several camera angles you'll see how woefully small the attendance was. It looks like attendance was in the hundreds. Definitely not an event supported by the FBC Jax congregation in any significant manner.
For newcomers to this blog who don't know what these clips are about:
On November 8, 2007, First Baptist Church Jacksonville hosted an event called "A Time to Stand with Israel". This was billed as a night to honor and show support for the nation of Israel. This writer and other FBC Jax members were quite disappointed that this event was hosted at the church (see previous posts here, here, here and here). While the event in and of itself may be very worthwhile, this blog brought to light several problems with hosting it at FBC Jax. Firstly, it had no evangelistic component, secondly the funds raised were to go to a hospital in Israel at which abortions are performed (to be fair all Israeli hospitals conduct abortions as some abortions are funded by the Israeli government), and thirdly the pastor provided no leadership in explaining to the congregation why this was a worthwhile event for us to sponsor. (other than explaining Jesus was a Jew and we received our Bible from the Jews).
Something never explained to the congregation was that this service was broadcast on http://www.daystar.com/ and apparently DVD's of the entire event be purchased at the daystar website.
If more clips of the event become available on YouTube, I'll post them here at the blog.
Monday, December 10, 2007
During the meeting, absolutely no explanation was given to the members present as to what the bylaw changes were - either specifically or generally...absolutely NO explanation during the meeting before the vote. The bylaw changes were however, put into the church library a few weeks prior, and a notice in the Sunday bulletin ran for several weeks stating that the bylaws would be changed and that copies for review of the changes would be placed in the church library. Posters here reported that the library bylaw copies were numbered to keep track of them, they had to be checked out for viewing by signing one's name on a check out sheet, and the librarian explained that the copies were not to leave the library. Members that I talked to did not bother to go to the library, as they assumed that changes would at the very least be summarized in the business meeting before voting - and some members feared retaliation from the church if they had to put their names on the check out sheet.
If anyone has a copy of the new bylaws, or excerpts from the bylaws describing the discipline committee, I would gladly post them here on the blog. You can email me using the email link in my profile.
Apparently the bylaw changes were not at all minor or administrative in nature. You'll notice in the meeting recording hyperlinked above that Mr. Bristowe made absolutely no mention of the bylaw changes, but yet did describe fully the very "administrative" articles of incorporation changes...giving the attenders the impression that the bylaw changes TOO were administrative in nature.
The decision to not widely disseminate the bylaw changes and not openly discussing or explaining them prior to the vote has been criticized on several baptist discussion forums on the Internet...I have read of no one that would defend the decision to make it harder rather than easier for a member to become aware of the bylaw changes prior to the vote.
One of the changes to the bylaws, as reported by one of the posters here, was the formation of a "discipline committee". Others included granting more power to the pastor in selecting members to committees. You can read more about the bylaw changes here at the previous post on this topic.
Regarding the formation of a discipline committee, one poster on the http://www.baptistlife.com/ forums said this about the FBC Jax bylaw changes and the discipline committee (my emphases):
"....The problem is that a church that doesn't/hasn't consistently exercized discipline for church damaging sins across the board, regardless of a member's position (whether lay or clergy), suddenly develops a private discipline practice for specific sins (all, perhaps coincidentally or perhaps not) relating to those actions that have allegedly occured against pastoral leadership. That such a process seems to have been developed privately such that it is kept from widespread distribution by the leadership should set off every baptist alarm signal.
We must definitely not ignore all sins and we must not let the sheer amount and diversity of sin keep us from returning discipline to its proper place in the foundation of church integrity. But where discipline has not been a church's regular practice, it must be taught for a significant period of time before it is ever practiced church wide. Else, it will be exposed for what it truly is: not biblical church discipline but just another club by the leadershp to squelch dissent among the membership."
Again, this whole bylaw fiasco is another example of Mac's failed leadership. He has ramrodded bylaw changes through...instead of moving toward a more open and honest sharing of information with his congregation he moves in the opposite direction: he makes signficant changes to the bylaws that form a discipline committee with absolutely no explanation to the congregation, and at the very same time that he from his pulpit attacks those who speak up about some of his changes as being "comfortable in their sin and in their compromise" (listen carefully to this 1 minuter clip of the angry pastor berating his congregation on 12/2/07). To hear the pastor say these things to his congregation, just 4 days after he ramrodded the formation of a discipline committee into the church bylaws with no explanation: unbelievable.
But let's get copies of the bylaw changes distributed and freely available to all members...if someone would send them to me I'll gladly post them right away.
Friday, December 7, 2007
- In response to a question why so many churches are in decline, Johnny said: "...about 60% of the cause (of declining churches) is the pastor....one of the greatest needs (in a pastor's life) is moral purity, financial integrity, and God honors that. I believe the power of God rests upon those that make much of that."
- "A pastor has to make his mind up if he's going to be a CEO or a shepard...we need to love our people, and believe in our people, and trust our people, and lead our people, and I think when that happens, people respond to us and they see that we genuinely care."
To listen to the interview, visit this blog page:
push the play button, and slide the viewer bar about 15% of the way down to get to Johnny.
Monday, December 3, 2007
Update: Here is link to the article at ethicsdaily.com concerning the vote on whether to have a school at FBC Jax.
FBC Jax Members: even though the pastor didn't mention it on Sunday, apparently there WILL be a vote this Wednesday December 5th in the Wednesday evening service on whether First Baptist Jacksonville should proceed with starting a school. A member has forwarded an email they received last Thursday that says:
Ed Gamble, Executive Director of the Southern Baptist Association of Christian Schools, has supplied information about opening a school at First Baptist Church Jacksonville and it has been posted on our website. Please visit www.fbcjax.com to download this information for review. The church will vote on plans to begin moving forward with a school on Wednesday, December 5 in the 6:40 Evening Worship Service.
Spread the word. Anybody planning on voting "No"? Be forewarned: the newly formed "discipline committee" will likely be present to see who votes "No".
Saturday, December 1, 2007
You broke two of the Southern Baptist Convention's irrefutable laws on church leadership, which say:
"The week before you ask your church to vote on whether or not to follow your leadership in starting a costly new ministry (like a K-12 school for example), never send the president of your trustees to conduct a Wednesday night business meeting to fool your congregation into blindly passing significant changes to the church bylaws with no explanation or discussion prior to or in the meeting."
"Don't make it as difficult as you can for members to read proposed bylaw changes by treating them as classified documents and putting serial numbered copies in the library, requiring them to be signed out, and having the librarian clearly explain that they mustn't leave the library. In fact its best to make the proposed changes readily available to members by implementing very creative initiatives like making copies and passing them out, summarizing the changes in the bulletin, if your church has a website posting the information so all members can have access to it, and even have the pastor tell the people what the changes are and why they are being proposed - especially if he is the one who desires the changes."
You were so close to getting your school approved by us, and then you go and do this. Right up there with "4th and Dumb".
Congregations tend to not like it when their leadership tricks them into voting for changes to the bylaws on Wednesday nights. At least the thinking members of the congregation don't like it. Doing this tends to tick people off, and it lowers significantly their support for your proposed new ministry.
It is my hope that this Wednesday night the church does NOT approve your vote on whether to start down the First Brunson Academy route. If we vote "No", it doesn't mean we never want to start a school, it means that now is not the right time. It means you haven't demonstrated yourself worthy of leading us into this venture - at least not yet. A "No" vote means that you've just thrown us for a loop by pulling the wool over our eyes while you changed our bylaws with hardly anyone noticing, you making very obvious and orchestrated attempt to conceal the changes, and to identify those who have bothered to read them and therefore your credibility is now in question, sir.
A "No" vote means we want you to do the following:
1. Immediately hold a Wednesday night meeting to revoke the bylaw changes voted on Wednesday night. No, its too late now for you to give us one of your 60-second "van-down-by-the-river", after-the-fact explanation of the bylaw changes. That won't be good enough. You have shown us that your explanations after-the-fact are shallow and empty of substance. We asked you why you were holding the "Time to Stand for Israel" since it was not about evangelism but about raising money for a Jewish hospital and you bravely told us "Jesus was a Jew, and we got our bibles from the Jews". Uh, we already knew that, and that wasn't what we were asking, and we were wanting you to explain how deciding to hold this fund raiser was congruent with this statement and others similar to it that you've made several times. So we would like you to apologize to the members, especially those present for the Wednesday night November 28th, 2007 business meeting, for changing the bylaws in the rush and hidden manner you did, and bring a motion to revoke the changes. Then, feel free to explain to us what the changes are, give us copies of the bylaws and the proposed changes. You are then perfectly free to explain the need for a "disciplinary committee". You are free to explain how it will operate. You are free to explain all of the significant proposed changes and rally support for them! Then we can vote on your by law changes again once we are informed! If you missed the meeting and the vote, click here to listen yourself (listen closely and you'll hear the 10 "recalcitrants" who did read the bylaw changes and voted no).
2. Explain completely where we are on our budget shortfalls; or better yet, have the chairman of our finance committee explain it. You have given two seemingly contradictory explanations: one at Mud Creek Baptist on 10/8 saying "we" (meaning YOU) overspent on missions (click here for the Mud Creek explanation) and another to us on Sunday 11/25 saying we have not overspent, but that we haven't been giving what we committed (click here for the 11/25 explanation). We are confused. We want straight answers. If we think you can't give us straight answers on this simple question, how can we trust you to give us straight answers in the future on other projects like FBA?
3. Give us serious, adult facts upon which we can base a wise vote on the FBA. And by "facts" we don't mean lame explanations like "nobody is home anymore to be reached and thus we have to start a school to reach people" (what research did you base that on, anyways?) like you did this past Sunday night (click here for this beauty), or that by having an FBA you'll be able to be have FBA grads run up to you at airports and restaurants to congratulate you for starting a school. Surely you've done some market research to see what capacity there is in the existing Christian schools in Jacksonville, what their target students are by denomination and income, tuition costs, and perhaps some research to find the level of interest within our church and the community for a Baptist, Christian school downtown. If you haven't perhaps the Director of Special Projects, or the A-Group can do this. Surely you've talked to other schools in town to get an idea of projected demand growth for Christian schools - what have you found?
4. Bring in a serious expert on Christian schools who can talk to us about pros and cons, benefits and costs, of starting a school. Don't bring in some man whose recent notoriety is for telling parents they are disobedient for sending their kids to public schools. You said Sunday 11/25 that you were having Ed Gamble in on 11/28 to "talk to us about having a school in Jacksonville." That was not what Mr. Gamble did (as the Watchdog correctly predicted beforehand here on this blog). He didn't talk to us about having a school in Jacksonville, but instead talked about the importance of Christian education in general (about which most of us understand already!). Very little of what he said has any direct relevance to OUR situation of deciding as a corporate body to start a Christian school or not. Some of us might completely agree with Mr. Gamble's assessment that parents should not put their kids in public schools but instead private Christian schools, but at the same time NOT believe its the right thing for our church at this time to start a school. Mr. Gamble addressed the question: "How Important is Christian Education", while we are trying to answer: "Is now the right time for us to start a Christian school." Big difference between the two. So give us some facts. Sell us on the idea. Maybe even let the chair person of the school committee (is that Dave Bristowe also?) you've formed speak to us about pros and cons...about the costs in terms of dollars out of budget, possible impacts on other ministry areas, etc.
There you go Mac. You might still get the gullible sheep of FBC Jax to give you the green light for the FBA next Wednesday. But there will be a sizable group that will vote No, and a growing number who have a distrust of your leadership unless you undo the stunt you pulled on Wednesday November 28, 2007, at First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida. One of the best churches in America as you said last weekend, but certainly not the most stupid.