Questions that the FBC Jacksonville should be asking of their pastor and the board of trustees and all the deacons who supposedly unanimously approved the $500k transfer of funds from FBC Jax to the First Baptist Church Academy of Jacksonville, Inc., for the start of the school:
1. Because we have been behind budget over the last quarter and the giving appears to again be more than 10% below budget for the first month of the year, what parts of our ministry are we cutting that will allow us to give 500 thousand dollars to start the school? According to the pro-forma upto $737,000 dollars will be needed before the school opens; that is more than a 5% hit on our church budget. At the Sunday evening service on 11/25 Mac asked us all to pray that God would "unleash the financial resources of the church" we would need in the coming year for these new ministries, and you said to us: "...and you are the resource." Does our giving indicate that God answered this prayer? Were the financial resources "unleashed", or by "unleasing the resources" you meant you were going to just take them anyways even if we were behind budget like we are now? What were we praying for if you were going to hold an unannounced vote anyways to just take the funds for the school?
2. Mac admitted on 11/25 that the church had overspent $500,000 on missions in 2007 (click here to listen to a 10/7 audio clip from a sermon at Mud Creek in North Carolina where he bragged about giving so much to missions that we were $500,000 behind budget, and accused our finance committee of being "terrified" and having "little faith" - what does our finance committee say now that over $500k is going to a school start up?) that caused us to be behind budget...perhaps that was the money God wanted to go to the school? Can we really trust leadership that "overspent" half a million on missions, and now is dipping their hand into the church resources again to fund half a million for a school? I know for a church our size many think that 1/2 million dollars isn't much, but get real FBC Jax members: most churches don't have an annual budget the size of what was just taken out of our church funds, in order to start a school. Mac, Sunday you screamed at as about what Homer would say if he came back and saw that only 50 men had signed up to "pray with you" (he would probably have said that perhaps God wanted you to have only 50 men)...I wonder what Homer would say TO YOU when he saw you cutting ministries in the church but taking 1/2 million to start your school.
3. On the pro-forma passed out Wednesday night, what is the $230,000 on the start up costs for "administrative space"? Are those renovations at the children's building? Where is this "administrative space" and why is a quarter million needed for that? [Too bad we jumped the gun and built a luxurious library/office/pad for the Brunsons in our conference room - that would have been the logical place to put the school's administrative offices].
4. Why does the pro forma show $280,000 in salary for staff 1-year prior to the start up? Certainly we need to hire a headmaster, and admin staff and educational staff in advance of school start-up, but that number seems awfully high for staff expenditures 1 year prior to start up. Perhaps a head-master up front, but what other hirings need to be made well in advance of the start up for work that couldn't be done by current staff?
5. Dividing the total tuition revenue by the projected students it appears average tuition per student for the first three years of operation is $7663, $8122, $8563. On what basis does FBA come up with these tuition numbers? If Mac is so interested in "educating our children" and "reaching the next generation and their parents" through a school, why are these tuition numbers so high as compared to other Christian schools that FBC Jax members currently send their kids to? Many church members assumed that since we already have non-utilized space and no major capital start-up costs are needed for school facilities that tuition would be quite a bit lower.
6. Did Mac and the committee research how many faithful FBC Jax members currently have their kids in private Christian school, and what the tuition numbers are that they currently pay to perhaps set tuition to allow these families to consider the school for their kids? How many members of FBC Jax, from whom they've just taken $500,000 from monies they've given to the ministries of the church will be able to afford such high tuition? Just who are we trying to reach in our city with tuition numbers that high? Set tuition that high if we're looking to attract upper middle class and very wealthy families to the school, but please don't insult our intelligence by telling us that such a school with upper-end tuition is necessary to reach "our city".
7. While there are many strong arguments for starting a Christian school, why Mac is your main argument for the school that it is NECESSARY in order to reach the next generation? You've said that on numerous occasions as documented here on this blog. Can you explain why a school is an absolutely necessary ministry for our church to be successful in reaching our community? Is it really true that "you're never at home, we're never at home, and nobody is ever at home anymore"?
8. Please explain: Why was $500,000 just taken from funds given by members to the ministry of the church for a new entity (FBC Jax Academy, Inc.), but now you are asking for a special offering to pay for what SHOULD be a ministry of the church, that is the broadcast of services on TV? Wouldn't it make much more sense for us to raise the school start-up funds by special offerings from members and even non-members who might be interested in the start of a First Baptist Academy?
I and others are thoroughly disgusted with how Mac Brunson has handled the start-up process. He has not been straight with us on why a school is necessary (telling us that people aren't home anymore and that it's a necessary component of our church if we're going to fulfill our mission), he has decided to start the school with 1/2 million dollars from our church that was given to the ministries of the church (not for the start up of a school in 2009) at a time when other ministries are being cut, and then he calls for a vote on the 1/2 million dollars without even announcing it on the church website or from the pulpit or in the bulletin. Now we find that the pro-forma for the school assumes tuitions that are out of reach except for the very few richest in our church and city.
Church, wake up. Mac has just taken 1/2 million dollars from monies you've given to your church for the ministries of the church, to pay for start-up costs of a school that he claims is necessary to reach the lost. He asked you to pray in small groups, led by deacons, on November 27th that God would "unleash the financial resources necessary", and I submit that God has not, through his people, unleashed the financial resources for this school, but Mac instead has decided to just take them. What in the world was he having us pray for if he was just going to hold an unannounced business meeting to fund the school start up from church resources? If the school is such a good idea, then I submit that it would be worthy of a special offering so that those who truly are excited about the idea could give to it, and we could all rejoice in how God "unleashed the resources". Do you still feel comfortable giving money to a church where the pastor and the board of trustees will take it for a non-church ministry so easily with no prior announcement before the vote? All of this is not surprising to those of us who were outraged at how Mac and the board of trustees ram-rodded the bylaw changes through last year.
Now that they've taken your money that you gave for the ministries of the church for the start up of the school, be sure to dig deep and give generously next week in the special offering on Resurrection Day to pay to resurrect Mac's nationwide TV ministry!! According to Mac that is another ministry we must pay into in order to reach the lost!