The recent posts about purpose driven are very interesting. While I don't believe Mac is making a conscious move toward making us purpose driven, there are many aspects of what we are doing that move us in that direction. I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever, that Mac and Jim Smyrl believe they have a unique church ministry model that is different from all the rest, called "Theology Driven Ministry". I won't even delve into what that is (as I'm not certain what it is even though I'm fairly smart and sat in on the sermons last summer), but its a Jim Smyrl creation, and he preached about it last summer.
But here's my point: firstly, Mac can't lead his church anywhere, until he starts being honest with his congregation and getting some things straight about his first two years. I hate to go over my "list" again of his abuses, as I know how much he dislikes "lists" especially those rascally "legalistic lists" as he called them - which I take it to mean lists like: 1. Don't accept large gifts as the head of the 501(c)3 organization from donors of the 501(c)3 organizations (if for no other reason you're own personal credibility - and the fact that a certain Senator from Iowa doesn't like them - and oh yes, because your book to pastors cautions against them); 2. Don't put family members on staff, reporting to you, with no stated ministry responsibilities - this is called "nepotism". 3. Don't show favoritism to influential members by using our facilities for Jewish hospital fundraisers at the request of certain "influential deacons" and producing commercials for display during sermons for relatives of the man who gave you the very large land gift (if for no other reason than you tell other pastors not to do that in your book).
Those readers of this blog that are concerned over the PD movement in our church might be interested to hear Smyrl's take on this: he views Brunson as being attacked by Satan for wanting to move our church forward, and then dares to point back to Homer Lindsay as one who himself was innovative in starting new ministries and therefore to oppose Mac Brunson is an affront on the memory of Homer Lindsay (listen to yourself: Clip 1 and Clip 2). But the point Jim misses is that the opposition Mac faces is NOT primarily from those who don't want change at the church (as evidenced that Mac has gotten everything he has asked for so far with virtually NO opposition from the plebe), its from people who don't like the things Mac has done that we KNOW Homer Lindsay would not ever have done (the gift, the $100k office suite in our new building dedicated to serving families, children, and new believers); THAT kind of change we don't like. I can't say categorically that Homer would not have ever started satellites - I CAN say he wouldn't have built a $100k office suite for himself his wife and his dogs, and that he would not have approved a new preacher in town accepting a quarter of a million dollar gift from one of our donors or putting a video highlighting his sons business in the middle of his gospel sermon), and I think I'm safe to say that Homer would not have approved taking church funds to start a school which is primarily NOT about spreading the gospel (still might be a good idea, and maybe worthy of raising funds specifically for, but not funds given to the church for church ministry).
My second point: Mac is all over the place. He preaches things that are so confusing, sometimes contradictory to things he's said previously. He reprimands the church not over things that we know what he's talking about (like "sin"), but things that are not sin, or he disguises what he's talking about, which can be dangerous. And he has conducted himself in a way that will make it hard for him to lead a satellite ministry. For example:
- he preaches in an angry fashion most of the time. Hearing Mac every week its hard to tell if its always been thus, or if he is slowly moving in this direction. Listen to this beaut as he reprimands, then condescendingly tells us what a "novel" idea it is to bring a Bible to church and read it - this just one week after he had us all hold our Bibles in the air and there were literally thousands of Bibles - except for the mom who came straight from her hospital shift and didn't have hers, and maybe some people who have theirs on a handlheld device, and oh yes, that visitor from north St. John's county who came to see what church was all about and doesn't own one. These antics in the pulpit are NOT consistent with purpose driven. I'm pretty sure Lifeway's researchshows that "unchurched" people in the burbs typically don't want to be yelled at over whether they remembered to bring their bible to church - especially over video conferencing in a satellite church.
- his leadership is just plain confusing. He says even simple things as illustrations that don't make sense (his comment about a baby reflecting the atmosphere in which he is placed - he was 180 deg off on that). He chose to reprimand us for not witnessing door to door, but yet one of his MAIN reasons for starting a school was that door to door evangelism doesn't work because no one is home, thus a school is absolutely necessary. So which is it, go knocking on doors, or don't knock on doors because no one is home. Click on these two hyperlinks to listen: No one is home anymore and Koreans must witness for us.
- he preached against "legalistic lists" two weeks ago saying emphatically that "you and your legalism, and your legalistic lists are NOT spiritual, they are spiritually dead." He never once defined what this list is, or what might be on these lists - but did say "everyone has their own list", and "I'm always amazed that everything on someone's list is something they've already conquered." But again, he carelessly throws this terminology around but doesn't give examples, and worse doesn't bother to differentiate between "legalistic lists", and people that have multiple strong convictions about certain moral issues that could, well, be written down on a list. Am I "legalistic" because I don't drink, and I teach my kids that its best for them not to drink? He claims to want to help families, but that kind of carelessness can hurt when a teenager rarely hears the preacher talk directly about moral issues but then knocks "legalistic lists" without explaining the difference between "legalism" and "convictions". Dangerous and careless I tell you. And Mac has his own lists that he pushes on us, like requiring people to bring their Bibles and yelling at them if they don't, tithing or you won't be blessed by God - so don't tell us about lists Mac.
- last Wednesday he and Jim Smyrl made a strong case that people in the burbs we are trying to reach won't come downtown to church - some have hardly ever BEEN downtown they pointed out. But one of his primary justifications for starting a school with $500,000 THAT WAS DONATED BY PEOPLE FOR THE MINISTRY OF THE CHURCH (the vote for which was held UNANNOUNCED at a Wednesday night business meeting) was that door to door evangelism was dead and to reach our city we MUST have a school to reach people. So the logic is: if people don't want to come downtown for church on Sundays, what makes us think that they WILL come 5 days a week to drop their kids off at our school DOWNTOWN? The answer is obvious: a school is NOT primarily a ministry to reach the lost. We know that. He knows that. And that's not say that we should not start a school. But to justify using CHURCH FUNDS given for CHURCH MINISTRY he needed to paint it as a primary evangelistic tool of the church.
Lastly, on the purpose driven model and satellites - his goal with the satellites is for him to extend the FBC Jax brand, and I will go out on a limb and say its to grow HIS BRAND. Why do I say that? Well, when he unveiled his vision in February 2007 on satellites, he said specifically that the satellites would be places where they could watch the services via live feed, or until we get the live feed, he would drive from satellite to satellite to preach multiple times per day. That's great, but from what I've seen of Mac Brunson, his shtick of history lessons, mixed with some bible and a weekly dose of condescension and reprimands just won't go over well in the burbs..especially from a man who lives in a million dollar home far from their neighborhood, on a piece of property donated by a wealthy member of the church - this serves to feed their suspicion that church and religion is all about numbers and dollars and millionaire preachers. So those of you who are starting the in home churches, be sure to be honest with those you do get to come to your home church that the end goal is to get them to a satellite to watch live video feeds of the downtown preacher. Or perhaps consider your calling more carefully - if you believe the Lord is calling you to start a FBC Jax satellite home church (a huge investment of your time and resources) carefully consider if the Lord is not calling you instead to link with a more local fellowship closer to your home that you can partner with to reach your neighbors.