"...When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matt 9:36

"Do not rob the poor, because he is poor... for the Lord will take up their case and plunder those who plunder them." Proverbs 22:22-23

Thursday, January 31, 2008

WANTED: Courageous Seminary Students - Part 2 - Questions for Mac

Welcome to FBC Jax 2008 Pastor's Conference!!!

To our visitors: This blog arose from the blogosphere last September after members became increasingly disappointed in Mac Brunson's leadership at FBC Jax. The blog closed down about 4 weeks ago, but the Watchdog is back for a series of articles directed toward the attendees of the FBC Jax Pastor's Conference. We want to make sure that the SBC knows about the events that have transpired in the first two years of Mac's reign at FBC Jax.

Keeping up with the theme of questions to be asked by our visiting seminary students at the FBC Jacksonville Pastor's Conference, here are some for Mac Brunson....a few borrowed from the Anon poster in the previous thread.

When can you ask Mac these questions? If you're a seminary student, you can expect Mac to invite you to his "office suite" to show you the 20 foot high ceilings, massive book cases, personal library collection, etc. When you're there, you'll have a chance for some Q&A with Mac. Here's some possible questions:

1. Dr. Brunson, how much do you pay the speakers at this event? I only ask because the cost of this conference has skyrocketed from only $100 (inclusive of meals!) during Dr. Vines last time he hosted it in 2006, to $175 (exclusive of meals)...are we having to pay thousands and thousands of dollars to entice men to come in and speak to us lowly pastors who aren't worth their time unless they get thousands in their pocket? I wouldn't even dare ask this question, but when we see the cost going sky high we wonder - some of your church members tell us that the money does NOT go to underwrite the costs incurred by the FBC Jax church, so we just were wondering.

2. Dr. Brunson, I do love your office suite...but tell me...we understand you have your wife on staff, and son as well. Can you tell us what steps we should take as pastors to avoid the appearance of "nepotism"? Should we do as you and give our family members positions at the church without telling our congregations what their official job descriptions are? Should we be concerned that if we create positions for our children that this could create unrest and dissatisfaction among our long-term staff members? By the way, just what IS Trey's official job title at the church? We don't seem him on the church website, yet members tell me that you mention Trey regularly from the pulpit as though he has a very prominent staff position at the church.

3. About the office suite: why the rapid conversion of the Children's Building conference room to a pastor's office Suite? We're told it was converted before you ever arrived. Wouldn't it be more prudent for you to get your feet on the ground here and assess the current situation facilities-wise before spending tens of thousands of dollars on converting this space to your own personal use?

4. Some questions we have been mulling around in our heads and discussing with our fellow seminary students since we were here last year: when we were here for last year's conference, you made it a point to talk about how "change" is inevitible in our churches as we try to reach people, and that we will always be criticized for change...you even said that it wasn't the drunk or prostitutes that caused you grief but church members who complain about change...but now that we're here can you tell us: WHAT REALLY INNOVATIVE, GROUND-BREAKING, RISKY, ON THE EDGE CHANGES HAVE YOU IMPLEMENTED HERE AT FBC JAX SINCE ARRIVING TWO YEARS AGO? The only thing we see that has changed since you arrived is this lavish office suite you are so proud of, the long time staffers are gone, and you hired Jim Whitmire. Oh, you did change the start time of the services by a few minutes we noticed, and of course the pastors conference fees have doubled. But we see no contemporary service as most mega churches have to reach out to a younger generation...just what changes HAVE you implemented or tried to implement?

5. Another question from last year's conference: why on earth did you get up and high-five and hug Dr. Vines when he uttered the words during his sermon: "You don't pay me enough to be your preacher, brother"....were you saying that some of your flock just aren't worth the trouble, and that you're underpaid to have to put up with the recalcitrants? Now that we know how well you ARE paid (enough to live in a 6 bed, 4.5 bath million dollar house), and now that we know you WERE given a quarter of a million dollar piece of property when you were hired....well, it makes your antics on that night seem even more disgusting (OK, you might want to reword this one if you ask Mac).

6. We hear that you changed the bylaws of your church in a clandestine fashion, keeping the proposed changes under wraps in the library, only allowing members who would check them out and sign their names look at them, and you didn't allow any copies to get out. Maybe understandable, but what we are confused about is why your members are claiming you have not bothered to even one single time mention the bylaw changes to them - very odd since they were not at all minor changes - there's even an ugly rumor that you added a "discipline committee" in those bylaw changes and then preached in a threatening way about church discipline right afterwards. We're told you were even in the service when the bylaw changes were voted on, yet you never stood up to explain what your church was voting on. Is this true? We can hardly believe it. Is this the pattern of how we should operate in our church when we become pastor?

7. Is it really true that door-to-door evangelism is dead as you preached to your congregation to convince them that a school is needed at your church? Do churches really need to start a school in order to reach their communities?

8. Dr. Brunson, we read that you purchased a piece of land, valued at over a quarter of a million dollars, from one of the donors of your church for only $100 only two weeks after you arrived here at FBC Jacksonville in 2006. I didn't believe it at first, but this being the Internet age I saw the deed and property record on the City of Jacksonville website. Can you tell us, as seminary students and future pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention, is it ever wrong for a pastor to accept large gifts from one his congregants? If so, can you tell us perhaps what kind of gift, or what size of gift is OK, and what kind or size of gift is not OK? I'm not saying you did anything wrong in accepting YOUR gift of over a quarter of a million dollars, but what criteria should I apply when my wealthy church members might try to give me very large gifts?

9. Lastly, we know our time is short with you...about your house...is it a good testimony for a pastor to live in such a lavish dwelling like yours? A 1/2 acre, 5500 square foot, 6 bed, 4.5 bath house on a golf course in a gated community...I'm happy for you that God has blessed you with such a nice place, but should we be worried if we ever get a mega church gig that our community will be put-off by the use of "God's money"? Could a house ever be too big for a pastor? Especially when we become empty-nesters, to go and build such an oppulent home...well, we would be worried that this sends the wrong signal to our church and our community...especially if we have to ask them to "dig deep" for so many things the church is trying to do.

10. Sorry one more quickie: WHAT WERE YOU THINKING WHEN YOU HELD THE NIGHT TO SUPPORT ISRAEL IN YOUR CHURCH - were you ashamed of your church fellowship for not supporting that event after they found out that the funds raised were going to an Israeli hospital that performs abortions? When we are pastors, do you recommend us using our church facilities for non-Christian fund raisers? Is it true that you hardly explained this to your congregation, and only mentioned the event from the pulpit just days before the event, but never addressed the questions about the funds going to the Israel hospital where abortions are performed?

Thanks Dr. Brunson, for allowing us to ask you these questions...we know you don't answer anonymous emails, so we thought we'd ask them in person.

16 comments:

Tennessee Pastor said...

I just got in town for the pastors conference. Someone in the lobby told me about your site.

I came here with an open mind, but for heaven's sake, you are really embarrassing yourself. Everyone in the lobby was laughing at you because NO ONE, I mean NO ONE could care less about your endless drivel.

Mac Brunson is a good man. Jerry Vines is a good man. Paige Patterson is a good man. You really think the silly little online insults you fire off on your little blog matters? Reality check, little person, IT DOESN'T!! That's why you aren't getting any comments. Because NO ONE CARES about your stupid blog.

Seriously, who do you think you are impressing? The family cat, maybe? No one, again, I mean NO ONE cares about a spineless coward like you who hides behind anonymity and hurls insults. You are just a bitter person who no one pays attention to in real life.

You really need some emotional help.

Tennessee Pastor

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Hi Tennessee Pastor - thanks for checking in, and welcome to Jacksonville.

You sound like a very loving pastor. Instead of defending your friends against any of the charges, you attack. You baptist preachers are getting a pretty good reputation for attacking and name-calling anyone who points out very poor decisions made on the part of the establishment.

I'm glad you and your preacher friends are getting a good laugh over the blog....but sadly, people in the SBC are actually laughing at YOU, and pastors like you who defend the indefensible.

Care to defend Mac accepting a $300,000 land gift from one of our church donors? Or do you do the same thing at your church...or maybe you wish you could someday be like Mac, perhaps, so you don't dare criticize?

The laugh is on you sir. And YOU and pastors like you who continue to come down here and pay money to enrich these millionaire preachers to preach to you, and instead of asking tough questions of Mac and Paige and Jerry whose actions make you all look bad...well, YOU sir are the spineless coward.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

TP - you said:

"...You really think the silly little online insults you fire off on your little blog matters? Reality check, little person, IT DOESN'T!! That's why you aren't getting any comments. Because NO ONE CARES about your stupid blog."

A blog's level of interest isn't measured by comments, but site visits and page views that are tracked by site trackers. I know you and your pastor buddies would like to believe that no one views this website, but everyday hundreds of people from all over the country do view this site...the SBC is now becoming aware of the situation at FBC Jax...and they're all reading your empty defense of Mac's actions at FBC Jax by saying "Mac is a good man". Wow, that is a very stern defense of Mac's actions!

Since you attacked me as being a spineless coward for my anonymity, feel free to post YOUR name and your church name with your comments, so everyone knows who you are, and what kind of "pastor" would attack someone they don't know, calling them spineless, a coward, bitter, and someone in need of emotional help. You won't post your name and church name because YOU are the coward.

BigBird said...

Watchdog I, found this site on Christmas eve. I was amazed several of the issues you outlined I, had already asked our pastor via e-mail. I identified myself and I, received answers in a prompt manner.
Like you I, have many questions.
Why did we increase the Wednesday night supper prices by 40%. This was to be a place to fellowship just before the service and share a good meal. The new prices are such that you could eat most anywhere in Jacksonville that serves family style meals. I have seen the signs to only pick up one set of dinnerware because we have to be careful with the LORDS money.
This is tough when you consider that my entire years worth of tithing would not even cover one month of our pastors house payment.
I learned a few weeks ago that unless we are willing to go into debt we are not good Christians. We have been taught to pay as you go. This was and still is good advice. I wonder why Steve Gaines was dropped from the pastor's conference? We kept Jonathan Falwell eventhough these guys have sold out to Rick Warren and his purpose driven lie.
Keep on my brother. You are truly a voice in the wilderness.

Anonymous said...

Tennesee Pastor, that is sad that you and other pastors are laughing about the blog, and making light of the issues about our church with other pastors. Their is really nothing funny about it, and its a serious issue. You can make the issue the website you don't like if you want to, but that is not the issue, the issue is Mac Brunson. I can only assume you are either one of the arrogant mega pastors who look down on church members and scoff at valid issues raised by lowly stupid church members, or your just a young pup who doesn't know any better. It is so sad because our church is suffering. So many faithful members are hanging on and trusting God that something will be done. I don't agree with all of the stuff on this site or the way the wathdog is saying things but what is written here is true and does chronicle what is going on in our church. Mac Brunson has come here to our church and city and taken wealth to himeself and used his position to promote his family and have his way at our church. Whether he wants to admit it or not, the members of our church know that he created an atmosphere at our church that drove away long term staffers. He came here and was given a gift worth hundreds of thousands of dollars by a certain member making many of us wonder if he came because he was called, or if the money did the calling and not God. He has built himself a mansion (at least to most of us it is a mansion) in a gated community that has many in our city laughing at how we have a Benny Hinn style preacher who likes to live large. He came here under the disguise of a good old boy in a pick up truck who just golly gee whiz likes to preach. But he is something different than advertised. He shows no love to his congregation like our previous pastors. He preaches down to us like we are very stupid and illiterate. He yells and berates us most Sundays. We are beaten down sheep who long for a loving shepard to lead us. Some have left because they can't take the regular sheep beatings on Sundays. I could go on and on and on, but I'll stop there. I hope you and your pastors will stop and actually look at what has happened here before you pass judgement on the faithful members of this church who are suffering under Mac. We've been told to leave if we don't like it, but we won't. We love God and our church that we have labored so long in and we won't just let Mac Brunson and his family chase us away. We're waiting, we're praying and wer'e serving.

Anonymous said...

"Reality check, little person, IT DOESN'T!!"

In response to the above quote, maybe this is the real problem within our churches...these pastors have become so mega, so arrogant and so rich off of the 'little people' that they really believe the sheep (or anyone who questions) are just the 'little people' who should be seen and not heard. After all, whatever these 'little people' have to say is not worth hearing.

I don't think the Lord looks at any of his sheep as the 'little person'. We are all valuable members within the Body of Christ and God is "no respector of persons". As a theological student, search the scripture, last time I checked it was still in the Bible.

Robert L. Peeples said...

If we could only be like BigBird. He emailed the pastor with the questions he had, identified himself in his emails and received prompt responses. This is a great example of the whole anonymity issue I have been hitting on since 4 weeks ago. By the way, it's good to be blogging again W.

I find it interesting that Tennessee Pastor received word about your blog W. You really must be making a name for yourself. But it does not suprise me that Mr. TP along with the many other pastors attending this conference seem nonchalant in regards to this blog and what is expresses.

FBJW-You told me you were only going to blog again if something else happened that was outrageous in your opinion. Everything you are blogging about currently since you started back up is just the same old issues. What gives?

oc said...

Tennessee pastor,

AAAAhhh. Come on. You aren't really a pastor, are you? You are some little teenage kid that got ahold of mom's laptop. Come on, admit it. Don't worry, she probably won't spank you.

oc said...

PS. But she needs to.

Jussayin'.
oc.

Voice_of_Reason said...

Great service last night. Homer Lindsay, Jr and Jerry Falwell were honored, Jim Whitmire reflected Jesus, the music was awesome, the harp player's testimony was beautiful and Jonathan Falwell brought a helpful message.

It was only when they asked Dr. Brunson to pray did the Spirit quickly leave the building. Mac even mentioned the "bad blog" in his prayer to almighty God. You could see it in the faces of the pastors as they returned to their seats.

We need to pray that Mac will decrease, and Christ will increase, during this Pastor's conference.

BigBird said...

This is not a bad blog.This is a tool to attempt to restore some sort of transparency to our financial and church administration practices.
I am still dumbfounded as to how we let Calvin Carr slip away. He has a true heart for our people and should have received a more prominent role.
Instead, we wound up with the highly educated Dr.Smyrl. The Rev.Smyrl from times past was great. The new Smyrl seems callous and hard.

concernedSBCer said...

FBC Jax: I've been following this blog for quite a while. I am ashamed to say I'm in Tennessee. The arrogance and contempt that Tennessee Pastor wrote with was certainly not edifying to my Lord, and not to his sheep either.

Serious issues are being addressed and questioned and need to be approprately answered. Big Bird: you raise excellent points. Some things you are being told are NOT scriptural. At all. The Bible, the Word, the Truth is to be our plumbline. Not what a man says.

A man that does not live/teach/walk the Word should not be leading the sheep.

Anonymous said...

My goodness,
Tn "pastor" sounds alot like the one that hijacked the church I served in for 25 years!
Is that degrading mean arrogance what PP (and those who defend him) teaching in the seminaries??? It would seem so.

For those who want to continue to play church and think these dictators are "anointed"....you have plenty to choose from in the SBC. Take your pick.

I can see a rebellious teen spitting venom like Mr so called Tn pastor did...but there was a time when a pastor had some character and decency.
Great example for the younger men...YOU are the "little man"!

New BBC Open Forum said...

On behalf of the great state of Tennessee, I apologize for letting that pastor out of the state!

TP? Just out of curiosity, where do you pastor in Tennessee? Because I want to make sure I never darken the door of any church you pastor. You're scary!

Glad y'all are having such a wonderful time in Jax. Learning new ways to beat your sheep, no doubt.

oc said...

On behalf of the great state of Mississippi. Glad you aren't claiming you are from here.

But know what? Don't blame it on Tennessee. That guy resides elsewhere. He lives in The State of Confusion.


jussayin'.
oc.

Paul Z said...

I have no idea what to say here. I came here prepared to possibly answer a couple of the "questions" posed but am dumbfounded by Tennessee Pastor and another post here.

I guess I'll answer the questions posed first. I have no inside information, but it is highly possible the reason the PC went up, Wednesday night meals have gone up, and things such as this because very simply the church under Dr. Brunson is no longer going to absorb the losses these items may have been producing. When tithing is relatively high, and the budget is surpassed year after year, you can keep prices like this relatively low. But as you all know just in daily life, everything has gone up immensely in the last several years. We are ALL feeling it, and First Baptist as great as many think it is, is not immune to those cost increases. Plus, I would assume they are like many other churches who are not reaching their budget goals anymore. Again, I have no proof of that, but many were well short last year and are already off on the wrong foot this year. You may still be eating the Wednesday night meal "at cost" but those cost have gone up and may have never been adjusted until now.

About the question of what has Mac done that is new and innovative. Well, he tried two things and from looking at your weekly bulletin, it appears one failed because I no longer see it advertised (the small group idea), and the other, Watchdog has been criticial of several times. The night he preached at Municipal Stadium or whatever the name of that minor league ball park here is. Was it a bad idea? Maybe. Did it fail? According to Watchdog, yes. But he at least TRIED something different. You should at least give him credit for doing so.

The others, I am not going to respond. They aren't for the most part big deals to me, weren't when I went there, and aren't now.

Tennessee Pastor, take this from someone who started reading this blog and though Watchdog was a joke, this was stupid, and he needed a life. If you wade through the things which you may think are trivial, he does make some valid points. I have actually come around some to thinking there needs to be some changes down there in the way things are going. I don't question everything Brunson does, but some things do make you pause and wonder "why did he do this?" And the fact that you heard about it AT First Baptist shows people are reading it and if you read the comments, some think there's merit to it.

About Calvin Carr, you didn't let him slip through your fingers. He left to be pastor of another church. If he felt led to do so, there is nothing wrong with that. You can't blame Mac Brunson for that or even IMO question it. I know that most of the old staff is gone, but to my knowledge all of them have other positions now and are happy where they are. Although I don't know where Doug Pigg went now. He apparently is no longer at FBC Orlando.

Last thing, Brunson prayed and mentioned this blog on Friday night? Did a chorus of laughter break out? Had I been there I would have had to do whatever I could to hold back laughing! This goes to those who think this blog is meaningless, if it was, he wouldn't have prayed about it or mentioned it at all.