"...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, May 8, 2008

Pastor's Office Suite - $100,000 "Investment" in God's Kingdom

A few Sunday nights ago Mac Brunson complimented FBC Jax on how well FBC Jax has made the transition from "legend pastor to a red-neck preacher" in the "Vines to Brunson" transition. Something tells me Deerwood doesn't have too many red-necks in their million dollar homes driving jaguars and BMWs. Don't think "Deerwood and BMWs and Jaquars" are part of Jeff Foxworthy's "you might be a redneck if..." routine. And by the way, I'm still looking for the pick-up truck that Ergun Caner told us Mac drives.

This particular sermon had many Mac-isms we'll look at later, but in the beginning of this sermon, Brunson went on to say how the rest of the convention is watching the FBC Jax transition over the last 2 years, and pastors and churches all over the country are marveled at how well it was done. Brunson said he and Vines should write a book about how to do it, its gone so well. Of course he pointed out how FBC Dallas flubbed their transition from Criswell until Mac came to the rescue.

But did we really do the transition well? By what standard would we say that it has gone well? Oh, we haven't seen a fall-off of attendance, and our budget receipts are steady, sure. Other than the fact that Mac is still here, other than the fact that the transition has been a smashing success personally for "Team Brunson", I don't see how it has gone "well" for the church as a whole. As pointed out on this blog certainly the antics of our lay leaders and Mac Brunson are NOT a model for other churches to follow - there's plenty more to be learned of what NOT to do in a mega church transition than what TO do. This is one of the purposes I hope this blog serves, is that other mega churches look at how we brought Mac in here, how abuses occured unchecked, and that other churches put protections in place to prevent what has happened at our church from happening to them.

More evidence of this terrible transition is when one looks at the conversion of the ground floor Children's Building conference to a personal office suite and library for "Team Brunson". Here's the record from the City of Jacksonville building permit database on this renovation:

Project: Renovations Pastor's office buildout
Business Name: First Baptist Church
Business Type: Religious
Project Address: 600 N. Main St., No. 100, between West Ashley and West Beaver streets
Zip Code: 32202
Entry Date: 3/21/2006
Square Footage: 3,633
Value: $96,750

We spent nearly $100,000 to convert 3633 square feet of the most prime space on our campus to a personal suite for the Brunsons. I mean the average church member doesn't have a HOUSE that large, inclusive of the garage and back porch! How smart was that? Look at the date...the permit was entered 3/21/06, which means that the design for this change had to begin around the time we voted to bring "Team Brunson" to Jax. Was this a requirement for him to come? Whose idea was this?

Why do we ask this? Easy: how in the world could anyone in our staff or lay leadership justify this expenditure and transfer of prime space use in our church? One would think that some clear-thinking member of the finance committee, or one of the staff members of our church involved with facilities management, or certainly one of the trustees, would have had the nerve to stand and say: "Wait a minute! Before we transfer all 3600 square feet of the most prime space on our campus at a cost of $100,000 of God's money, and more than that the opportunity cost of not having that space available in the future for ministry, SHOULDN'T WE AT LEAST WAIT UNTIL THE MAN HAS A CHANCE TO GET BOOTS ON THE GROUND, ASSESS OUR FACILITIES NEEDS AND STRENGTHS, AND COMPARE THOSE WITH ANTICIPATED MINISTRY NEEDS OF THE FUTURE?"

Anyone involved in the transition of leadership in a large organization knows that when undergoing major leadership transition, large expenditures that are not essential to the mission of the organization should be "frozen"...don't spend any unnecessary money, don't commit any valuable resources until the new leadership is in place, can assess the situation and determine the direction of the organization. But noooooo......we had to go and spend $100k to make sure the Brunsons had an office suite FROM DAY 1. In the most prime spot on our campus. That's arrogant. That's an abuse and outright misuse of God's money.

Under what possible scenario, other than a lapse of judgement on the part of lay leadership, or as a demand on the part of the Brunsons for their coming to Jax, would we see a project such as this begin before Mac Brunson arrives to assess our facilities needs as a church?

Fast forward 1 1/2 years, and there is Mac holding a vote to start a school that will be housed in the Children's Building. Where would the ideal spot be for the headmaster and administrative staff? Why of course the ground floor of the Children's Building....nope, sorry, Team Brunson already has already occupied that space. And what in tarnations costs $100,000 in converting that space? Sure, some partition walls, maybe new carpeting...but $100k, my gosh, I'm afraid to find out. Think I'm crazy? A legalist? A slanderer or troublemaker? Let's take a look at a quote from Jim Smyrl in his article "Politics and the Pew" available at his website for his 501(c) 3 ministry organization "Loyal Heart Ministries, Inc." (http://www.loyalheartministries.com/)" In this article Jim parallels wasteful spending on "pastor salaries and staff sabbaticals" to what he considers wasteful spending on children and youth and music ministries.

"...let us look to our own spending of Kingdom funds. The next time you pay to be spiritually nourished by entertaining music ministers, write a check for Jesus cruises, sign over property for the aesthetic pleasures of our children, or fund a mountain top excursion for your teens, make sure you are holding yourself to a higher standard than those who manage our national [government] resources. They will give an account of what they wasted by our standards at the poll. We will give an account of what we wasted by Jesus' standards at the judgment."

Couldn't have said it better myself Jim.

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mac thinks if he says something, than we are all gullible enough to believe it. I agree, this "transition" was terrible, like a bull in a china shop, Mac and the A-Group made error after error.

My only suggestion would be when he writes that book with Vines, that they be sure to include Jerry Sutton, Steve Gaines, Bob Reccord and Frank Harber for their valuable input and wisdom too.

Anonymous said...

I thought Mac already wrote the book on the FBC Jax transition. Isn't that the subject of the book "How Churches Die" by Mac and Ergun Caner?

Anonymous said...

I have observed preachers for years (attending church) not just on tv. I have a difficult time believing or trusting ANY of them. They say one thing and do another. I marvel at how they can excuse themselves from judgement while blasting the rest of us. Amazing, and they ALL do it. I wouldn't follow any preacher today that I have seen five minutes.

James 1:8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Let's bring this a little closer to home...tomorrow is Mother's Day, and we're again taking a special offering to renovate the Preschool building.

Its interesting how the church loves to ask publicly for people to dig deep on "special projects" that tug at our hearts, or that will benefit us directly we think (this is I think what Smyrl's article was saying). Even this past Wednesday, the pastor wanted people to dig in their pockets and get some "change" out so they could buy nails to help in the rebuilding of Pastor Jones' church. Who could possibly be against buying nails to help build a church? So we ask people to dig deep. And of course we take a special collection to buy Russian bibles last year. THAT money is not in the budget, so pull out the "love offering" envelopes.

And tomorrow: who could be against a special offering to renovate the pre-school building - why especially on Mother's Day. We've needed to do those renovations to spruce things up for several years. Very important, but out of the millions we have in our budget we absolutely must not do that UNTIL we get people to give to that specific project.

But need $100k for the pastor's new office suite? Why didn't we take a special collection two years ago to help pay for this? The answer is obvious. Where are our priorities when we DO FIND the money for custom made book cases and new carpeting and fancy furniture in the new Children's building to the tune of $100k for the new pastor's suite, yet we DON'T have the money for nails for a church, or Bibles for Russians, or even to fix faded carpeting and outdated furniture where young parents are bringing their little ones?

Or to ask it another way: what "ministry" was done with the $100k for the pastor's suite? So Mac could give tours to seminary students at Pastor's Conference of his new digs and fancy library?

Who at our church will stand up and be a man and hold people accountable for such wasteful spending and other abuses?

Anonymous said...

The thing is this situation will continue on as long as people give credence by attending. Even though some members have varied reasons for attending other than the preaching. But as long as they attend and continue to give money then not much will change. And, they know it. It is now almost all about ego and money. In the old days when things were different, most (not all) preachers actually were called of God and had a FEAR OF THE LORD. It was a Godly calling and they answered to God. Most of these men did mighty work for the Lord. It was not just a job opportunity. For most, it would never occur to these Godly preachers to spend a $100,000+ on offices for himself. They would consider the money came from tithes and offerings (some sacrificially) of church members, to be used to FURTHER THE GOSPEL. But you may as well start out "Demanding Money", just so everyone gets accustomed to it.Maybe, you just can't be as effective today without fancy offices, fancy cars, fancy homes in gated communities, trips, etc,etc.etc.

Anonymous said...

Bravo watchdog. Keep preaching.

Anonymous said...

I may not agrere with everything written here, but I am also concerned with actions at our Church. I have never felt so disassociated from my Church as I do now. The special offering is a real sore spot for me. I have had kids grow up in this department and feel like enough hasn't been done. It's mentioned once and never heard from again until a year later. I also feel the Office renovations could have been put to better use. The music does anything but prepare me for worship. I don't need a history lesson on every song ie. who wrote it, when it was written, what the person was thinking etc... I just want to sing and Praise.

Anonymous said...

anon 4:26 I hope that wasn't a slam on J.W. He's one of the best things we've got right now. I didn't think anyone could follow R.B. and he's done an excellent job. While I enjoy the history on hymns and choruses, I could do w/o so much in the sermons-a little is helpful but it seems to me it is OVERDONE. (I hunger for more scripture exposition and less history)

Anonymous said...

$100,000.00 "Investment", I don't think so....There was not room for the entire team coming from Dallas. If it were just the pastor he could have taken an office on the existing administration floor. We did have offices for Dr. Vines and Dr. Lindsay (nice, large ones). So I would think that Dr. Vines or Dr. Lindsay's former office could have sufficed. If another staff member were occupying one of the two former large pastor offices they could have been moved much more economically. But.... remember it's not just a pastor coming ....it is a "Team". The two new staff members who would now look over and report back on administrative operations would have to go to the administration floor, namely Trey Brunson and George Kemp (George is the husband of Dr. Brunson's personal secretary coming from Dallas.....husband of course needed a job here, so of course he is on the team). It is too complicated to be in the everyday workings of a mega church and see staff and other office workers on a daily basis when you are a mega church pastor I guess, someone might want to pop in or ask a question on the fly. Pastor accessibility is only for the few invited in the inner circle. Also Dr. Brunson needed space for wife on payroll and his personal secretary (it would not have worked to train an FBC or Jax. secretary in the Team ways, that would have never worked and besides that now things are different. I have heard that the Brunson's bring their two dogs to work everyday , does' anyone know if that is true? Bringing the dogs to work everyday would not have worked on the admin floor because if he brought them to work then it seems to me, it would only be fair to let everyone else on the floor bring their pets too. And besides that, taking the dogs down the stairs or the elevator to the Jax sidewalks just would not have worked, not much green space on Ashley Street, if you know what I mean. Also, with the main Team members in virtual isolation from the administration building coming and going and restricting access is easy. I think they got what they wanted (and negotiated for) FBC's $100,000.00 and the space and privacy they required. I think WD is right on.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Can we get some clarification here?

When the Brunson's transitioned here, what was the current state of what were previously Dr. Lindsay's and Dr. Vines' offices? If both offices were still in place, what became of them when the Brunsons arrived? And where did George Kemp and Trey Brunson take up their office space?

I'll even dare to step on a few toes here: "Can someone please describe the role that Trey Brunson has in our church? I don't mean title, I mean who is he, what authority does he have, how is he viewed by other staff members in terms of his role, responsibility and authority? Who does he report to?" Whoa, Watchdog, you didn't ask that did you? You BETTER BELIEVE I DID!! (trying to sound like Mac there).

A few other questions:

1. Was the conference room a requirement of the Brunsons to come here? Or was it perceived by our committee that we had to offer that to them as an enticement?

2. Who in our church approved those expenditures? Who is the chair of the finance committee that would have approved such a wasteful expenditure?

3. What funds were used for this? Did we use funds designated for our building campaigns, or from the general budget, or was it perhaps donated by someone?

Come on deacons and trustees and other Mac supporters. Where are you to defend this? I recall from the previous FBC blog early 2007 there was someone who called themselves "Son of Thunder" who had all the answers. Can you come here now and defend this expenditure?

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Anon 4:26 - I agree with you on JW. However, a little less of the goo-goo'ing over how incredible Mac Brunson is would be in order. JW's comment after Mac's "sermon" at Mrs. Lindsay's funeral that that was "one of the best sermons I've ever heard" was out of order; and I hope that wasn't the best sermon Jim's ever heard.

I'm going to say this and I know I will be criticized for it...and keep in mind I do love Jim Whitmire...but as he nears the end of his ministry to be hitching his reputation to Mac Brunson is really sad to see. His comments about how wonderful Mac is, and the comment last year about how Mac is on par with Adrian Rogers - and as we see how Mac is abusing his power and position at FBC Jax - it just is sad to know that might somehow reflect on JW's legacy. I hope it doesn't. JW can serve God and God's people at this church WITHOUT the public expressions of the greatness of Mac Brunson.

Anonymous said...

No doubt taking dogs to work won't work on the 2nd floor of the admin building. Had to have the first floor of our new children's building. Are other staff members allowed to bring their dogs to work? One word comes to mind: ELITISM. That's a presidential campaign word thrown around a lot, and it sure applies here. Mac Brunson is no redneck, he is an "elitist", or he at least is letting his wife flaunt her elitism at our church.

Anonymous said...

Watchdog: in your 1:10 post you asked who would stand up and hold people accountable?

Let me help you there.

The problem is, the very same people who made the arrangements for the Brunsons to come, are the same ones firmly entrenched in the power structure of the church. They are the trustees.

And do you know that the bylaw changes that were passed last year, the ones you made a huge stink about and rightly so - those bylaw changes will make it very difficult for anyone to remove the pastor or the men that the pastor has confirmed as trustees.

And did you hear the pastor bash people last Sunday that wanted to be put in positions of authority? There are some people who are wanting to get on to committees and make changes, but it just won't happen unless you're one of "them". Some men have been identified as troublemakers, and they have a snowball's chance in Hades of getting onto any committee in this church.

As someone said earlier, there is only one way, and one way only, for the members of this church to send a crystal clear message to the pastor and to those of his close inner circle that things are not going so well. That is to STOP GIVING to FBC Jax. It is not a sin to stop giving to a ministry that you believe is not spending God's money wisely.

If the monthly receipts of our church decreased 30% in one month, the trustees will have to act. We CAN make a difference, but it will have to be with our pocketbooks.

I urge all members of FBC Jax that are fed up with the Brunsons to begin giving your tithe to other Christian causes for the time being. That, and only that, will get their attention.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:46 --

Make no mistake about George Kemp's realtionship with Mac -- they are very close. He wasn't merely tagging along with his secretary/wife. When in Dallas, George came on staff at FBCD as Mac's personal research assistant. After only a few months, during a massive staff restructuring, George was promoted from research assistant to Missions Minister and member of the "executive staff" (other executive members included Mac, exec pastor, music minister, education minister, media minister). He jumped from the "bottom" to the "top" in one fell swoop. As I recall, he was the first FBCD member to join FBCJ staff after Mac arrived in Jacksonville.

Anonymous said...

Please tell me we didn't spend $100,000 to make it convenient just to walk two dogs?

Anonymous said...

In a sermon last week Mac said if you have support of the emperor of Rome you were ok. If not, you were in real trouble. Kinda like church, huh!!

Have you noticed the HISTORY lesson sermons are punctuated by a lot of "let me tell you something", and histronics.

I have a problem with the statement of "if you arn't already in leadership, you arn't going to be". What does that do for the calling on someone else's life that God desires to be in leadership? I guess they could leave their long time church to serve in another church because it is clear they are not welcome to serve in leadership. What brought this leadership question up to begin with???

gmommy said...

Just curious about your Mothers Day sermon today??
Was it to honor moms???
or was it to emphasize the submissive roles of women???
...they were created after the man, deceived by the serpent,if they aren't showing "PDA" to their husbands...that's why they get inappropriate remarks from men ...(I guess by construction workers as the women walk by...who knows?)

Like I said...just curious.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Mac gave a very unique Mother's Day message, on communication. Very good message I thought. No, he did not talk at all about the submissive role of women, but instead of the important role of communication.

gmommy said...

Thanks Watchdog.
Glad to hear that!!

Before our mega was taken over Mothers Day sermons had a very different tone than they have the last 2 or 3 years.

With the authority, tithing, and other topics being stressed in both churches...I was curious about today.

Anonymous said...

Is your personna Watchdog or is it Diotrephes?

Anonymous said...

With regard to todays sermon- after he told about the individual approaching him for money on his way in to church today at 5:30 a.m. and that he replied I've just spent my last dollar on coffee-I had a hard time processing that he didn't introduce himself and share the Lord Jesus with him. I know it's startling when approached by a stranger like that so I don't want to be too hard on him,but I just couldn't figure. Also, he spoke about communication and how the way you say something can really turn others off......hellooooo

Anonymous said...

One thing you have right - no one is looking at FBC Jacksonville - or Bellevue for that matter - for any kind of leadership in the SBC. Both of those churches are no longer the powerful, influential churches that the conservative ressurgence crowd used to look to under Vines/Lindsay and Rogers. Now, under Brunson and Gaines, they are laughing stocks - examples as you say of how NOT to transition a mega church. Brunson and Gaines are terrible examples of mega church transition pastors, coming to their churches more as arrogant CEO's and less as humble servants of God. Thank goodness Johnny Hunt, one of the last "legendary" SBC mega pastors that actually knows what it is to build a mega church over several decades of hard work and committment is willing to step up now and assume some leadership that has been vacated by Jax and Bellevue. Unlike Brunson/Gaines Hunt did not jump into someone else's ministry and immediately demand CEO-money, jobs for kids and wife, new luxurious office suites, huge houses, etc. He has some cred left, and our convention, at least the CR bunch, sorely needs that right now. I for one believe the terrible state of Jax and Bellevue is one of the reasons he is stepping forward, with Vines at his church, to take the helm of the SBC.

Watchdog, you ought to look at how FBC Daytona Beach handled their pastoral transition when they realized the pastor they hired was not as advertised - and their new pastor served as co-pastor along side Welch - and they still bounced him out on his ear when he showed his true colors. They didn't wait years for the man to drag their church down, they took rapid action.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Anon 9:49 - that's a good one. I actually had to look that one up.

I'll add that to my list of names, as that is one I haven't been called:

1. Satan
2. Beelzebub
3. Future heart attack sufferer
4. liar
5. slanderer
6. WatchViper
7. WatchPuppy
8. Judas
9. snake
10. the serpent

and now Diotrephes. I like it better than the others.

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Great! It's actually from "The Bible", you know, God's inspired Word. The Bible gives examples of Gaius (the good guy) and Diotrephes (the bad guy). It also lists all the things he was doing and what should be done with him. If your so blind that you cannot see the mirroring of your own behavior, then you are further gone than you may realize.

Anonymous said...

WD - a careful study of Diotrephes will reveal that Mac may be more of the Diotrephes character than you. Diotrephes was a pastor or elder of the church (like Brunson), who said false things about people in the church ("hotbed of legalism", "no honeymoon period in Jax", "worshipping the past", "worshipping previous pastors"), to further his own personal agenda (putting family on staff, spending money on lavish pastor suites and accepting large gifts from rich church members and then crying foul when called on it), and was willing to separate some from the fellowship ("church discipline", and saying things like people "have lists" and are "legalists" and we should either "go to where previous ministers are or grow up").

So whoever the wise guy is calling Watchdog Diotrophes, the reason that name isn't thrown around about Watchdog is because it is more befitting of a pastor engaged in bullying, saying falsehoods about the brethren, and seeking to separate people from the fellowship.

End of lesson. And this comes from Presbyterian Sunday School material.

Anonymous said...

Having been through one of the more disastrous "passing of the mega-church pastoral mantle" (Criswell to Gregory at FBCD) I can say with some degree of certainty that FBCJ must remember one thing. YOU CALLED YOUR PASTOR WITH AN OVERWHELMING, IF NOT NEAR UNANIMOUS, CALLING, DIDN'T YOU? At some point you considered him God's choice for your church. Now that things are not going the way you had hoped do you doubt God's hand in leading Dr. Brunson to you, because apparently at one point you did not. I leave you with an old saying my grandfather used often. "What's down in the well comes up in the bucket." I think you are seeing things for how they are and how they will be with the man you chose. God is sovereign and His will shall be accomplished in your midst, but it may get messy. I'm praying for you Watchdog and everyone involved.

Anonymous said...

Hey Watch pup. Do a search on "Two Rivers Baptist" to see what is going on in that church. They had some grumblers like you and your clan, people out to do the pastor in, and finally the church did the right thing and voted them out.

I hope I'm in church the day they vote you and your band of merry bloggers out of our church.

Anonymous said...

anon May 12 6:08 p.m. - I also recommend everyone that reads this blog also read about what happened at Two Rivers. The abuses by the pastor, and the sham second vote to remove long time faithful members who had questions, should scare any of the fence sitters at FBC Jax. We are about to head down that same path... At least when we do, there will be more openness of church financials, which is all most of us bloggers here have asked for anyway. If Team Brunson can stand the scrutiny, I suggest they also try to remove some members with a public vote/meeting.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

I think the situation at Two Rivers is worthy of serious-minded people at FBC Jax taking a look at. There are plenty of differences, but there are enough similarities that it might give some members of our church concern. Particularly some of the actions of the pastor at Two-Rivers that caused people to be upset in the first place.

I think I'll post a main article here on Two-Rivers very soon.

Anonymous said...

anon May 12 - 2:46 - to answer your question, yes, I do now doubt God's calling on Mac Brunson. I stood and voted for the man, trusting and believing the search committee had followed the Lord's leading. I later found out that did not happen. This preacher was hand picked by Patterson and Vines, was enticed to come here after saying no for over a year, and ultimately, he and/or his wife negotiated a salary and relocation package that put his wife and son on staff, land gift, etc, etc.

Must I blindly stay loyal to a vote I gave out of naivete and faith when that trust has now been betrayed? If he has nothing to be ashamed of, he will come clean on the land gift and relocation negotiations and put this all behind him. Until then, he will deal with us. Whether we are voted out or not does not concern me. Many of us have already left anyway. And once efforts to remove ANY members is begun, legal action against the church, trustees, search committee and finance committee will be commenced. Not sure anyone wants to see that.

Anonymous said...

WD:
You have questions for me? Really?

Here's some questions for you:

If these articles bother you, why do you come here to read them?

If this is "murmouring under the tent" and you think that's bad, why do you hit this site multiple times per day? You believing this site to be "murmouring", yet you come here to read it, you show very little self control. Stay away. Don't read this.


wDog,

Hmmmm....
You seem to presume quite a bit. I don't hit your site more than twice a week. And that's only because I'm quite fascinated by your habit of posting under 'anonymous' to give yourself the appearance of numbers. I'm a social worker, and it's part of my job to diagnose delusional patients. Perhaps you should stop by my office some time.

If you're able to obtain my IP address, please share it with the world so that I'll be convinced and be able to get a refund from my service provider who assures me that they will not reveal that information to anyone.

Forgive me if I'm wrong, but you seem to want to give the appearance of being in control. Provide me with a simple IP address (i.e. 123.123.123.123) and I might take you more seriously.

Otherwise you're still a joke in my book, and a jealous one at that. Spend less time blogging and more time at work, and maybe you can afford a nice house too.

Now, about that IP address?

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

You are paranoid.

I don't have your ISP.

If I did I certainly wouldn't post it.

As far as a nice house - I'm trying to land a job as a mega pastor, then I can get a REALLY nice house.

Lighten up hoss.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

One caveat Anon: if you are hitting websites like mine, likely your ISP is being recorded using tracking software. But there are so many hits on this website that its hard to differentiate who is hitting it when, so I certainly can't match any posts here with any ISPs that are recorded by my site tracker. So you can relax.

Anonymous said...

Well, the question that must be asked then, is why did you claim to know that I hit your site multiple times daily? And that I lack self control? And that I was not in Florida?

I don't doubt that you paid for the ip address counter, but it WILL NOT WORK on any user who requests that their IP address be kept anonymous. Your claim that you knew what mine was and where I am was sheer incompetence.

And although it's unlikely that anyone other than my ISP knows where I visit, as a Christian I know that I will be held accountable for every one of my activities by an authority much greater than you.

Now about that house. Suppose that you were given a $1,000,000 estate just to shut you up. Would it work?

Anonymous said...

Dear Watchdog:

Looking forward to your post concerning Two Rivers as I am not familiar with everything that transpired there and am interested in learning more. Blessings. . .

Anonymous said...

Enjoy "Big Mac!" He's not going anywhere anytime soon until the Big Kahoonas in the SBC want him, or have to place him, elsewhere!!

Anonymous said...

WD...the attorney representing the members at odds with the Two Rivers pastor, financial records, etc is Mark Freemen.

Anonymous said...

This was printed on the "Monday Morning Insight.com...

Bloggers Take Aim at Another Prominent SBC Church

The integrity of another prominent Southern Baptist pastor has been called into question by members of his megachurch -- this one in the shadow of the Southern Baptist Convention's headquarters. Local and national news agencies have reported a raging controversy over Jerry Sutton’s leadership of Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville, Tenn. Like many recent tiffs in large Southern Baptist churches, the conflict features allegations of improper financial decisions, accusations of an unaccountable and autocratic pastor, and a website where aggrieved members publicize the controversy.
Sutton is pastor to many of the SBC’s most powerful leaders and employees. The denomination’s headquarters office, publishing arm, news outlet and related agencies are located in Nashville.

But other high-profile churches have been roiled recently by controversy over pastoral leadership.

Accusations of autocratic decision-making against pastors who followed long-tenured leaders hit two massive churches in suburban Memphis. Disputes within Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., and Germantown Baptist Church in Germantown, Tenn., led to dissident factions starting websites to broadcast their disagreements and ultimately led Germantown pastor Sam Shaw to resign.

At First Baptist Church of Daytona Beach, Fla., where former SBC president Bobby Welch was the longtime pastor, his successor, David Cox, resigned abruptly in January after months of disputes with a faction in the congregation. And First Baptist Church of Raytown, Mo., near Kansas City, underwent a highly publicized dispute and lawsuit after a former church member accused the son of longtime pastor Paul Brooks of sexually assaulting and impregnating her while the son, Mark, was on the church’s staff.

Sutton, a former SBC first vice president, finished third in a highly contentious 2006 SBC presidential election, despite the endorsement of major leaders of the SBC’s conservative establishment.

Unlike other recent church fights involving prominent megachurch pastors, the Two Rivers conflict includes a dispute over a hastily called business meeting in which a majority of those present kicked out the church member who has been leading the charge against Sutton—despite the fact that he was one of the congregation’s three legal trustees.

The Associated Press first reported Aug. 14 that the congregation was in upheaval over allegations publicized by Frank Harris, the trustee, who is a longtime member. Among his contentions were that Sutton inappropriately spent more than $4,000 of church funds on a wedding reception for his daughter, improperly met with representatives of a resort hotel who wanted to buy some of the church’s property, and was autocratic and attempted to keep church members in the dark about his finances.

Two Rivers “appears to have been manipulated from a people-led church to a staff-run church,” the AP quoted Harris as saying. “Anyone who voiced opposition to leadership was alienated and lost any ministries they may have had in the church.”

The congregation’s deacons and personnel committee met July 15 to discuss the charges, including accusations by a former church secretary that Sutton looked at pornography on his office computer and had an affair with a church staff member. The charges again were discussed July 28 in a churchwide question-and-answer sessions.

In a statement posted on the Two Rivers website Aug. 15, church officials attempted to refute the arguments. “After full review and discussion, it was unanimously determined by both the deacons and the human resource ministry team that the senior pastor had not committed any wrongdoing as claimed, and that there was no basis whatsoever to bring charges against, discipline or be concerned about the conduct of the senior pastor,” the statement said.

It said that the money for the reception had been approved by the church’s budget committee because the event was open to all church members. It also noted the church is audited by an external firm once a year and that “no financial improprieties have been found at any time during” Sutton’s 21-year tenure at Two Rivers.

The statement also said Sutton’s dealings with the hotel owners had been proper and that a disputed church-paid trip he took to Italy and Israel was a legitimate mission endeavor and “not a vacation.” It added the sexual allegations had been investigated and dismissed in 2002, when they were first made. Church leaders again dismissed them in the July 15 meeting, it said.

More here: SOURCE: ABPNews.com

Anonymous said...

I too will be interested in Two Rivers. My Aunt and Uncle were members there from the time the church first opened and left about 6 years ago. They are very distraught over the happenings there, even though they no longer attend that church.

Anonymous said...

Watchpuppy - looks like things are slowing down a bit here on your blog. Need to come up with some juicy gossip and slander else you'll be losing all your readers.

I hope this reduced activity means you are getting some work, maybe spending time in the Word, maybe attending to your family's needs and not staring at a blog screen 24/7.

Anonymous said...

Many churches and preachers are touting change. OK!! Lets have change. Face it. Churches are not what they use to be!!!Neither are the preachers!!!!STOP paying for and attending these business type organizations. Get off the guilt trip you've been put on that tell you how much of a heathen you are if you don't go to a building and give them YOUR MONEY. Get over it. You CAN worship apart from an organized environment. If you are a child of God you are saved no matter WHERE you are.

They've got you fooled and under control, telling you how you must be in church giving them your money.

The early churches were in HOMES. What's wrong with homes now? If you feel you must be in a group setting, so that you "don't forsake the assembling of yourselves together" (Heb 10:25), then get a group of believers together you can worship with. Just don't get a cult started. Study the Bible, pray together and support each other just like you do in Sunday School classes. Witness to the lost as you go about daily life, just like you do now. We will eventually go back to this type of setting for worship. Churches arn't reaching people today they just want you to think they are, so you will attend and give. Jesus lives in you not in a building, or an organization with a CEO (millionaire off your money) at the HELM.

Anonymous said...

Attn: May l4,12:12 A.M.
Leave Watchdog alone. I for one count on him to "keep the faith". If things weren't so messed up at FBC, then W/D wouldn't be here. We never had the need for a blog until NOW! Thanks W/D for all you do!

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Two Rivers...our church leadership has followed this situation carefully and, I hope and assume, they have tried to learn from it. What do their actions show they have learned? To be more open and transparent with finances to avoid such a situation here? OR...have they amended by-laws and put everything in place to make financials even more secretive and make obtaining any such information even more difficult to obtain by those that give the money, and they learned to allow only trusted yes men in leadership.

Over and over again, Team B has stood at the crossroads and had a choice to make about being more open and transparent to the donors. Yet every time, chose to be more secretive and less open.

I can't say I expect anything else. I mean, if someone will give you millions upon millions to spend as you please, why would you ever voluntarily give an account to them or anyone else? They won't. Unless the people stop giving. Then, and only then, will they suddenly be "led by God" to do all kinds of innovative things to compete for your generous donations and gifts.

Anonymous said...

It is good to see that Mac finally used his position to obtain something for someone else.

Congratulations on getting Mr. Gay to give to Dan Jones church. That is something he has done right with his influence and leadership. Maybe he is learning.

I will keep praying for him. Who knows, he might even have J.D. Collins donate $307K to the church, or to the FBC Academy, instead of giving it to Mac personally.

I also liked the video. Showing people serving others and encouraging others to join them. So much better use of a video than running a commercial for Collins Builders.

Maybe there is HOPE after all!

Anonymous said...

anon May 14 - 12:12 a.m. - still, you are missing the point of this blog. It is not to have a large readership. Why do some commenters always think it is about being popular. Maybe they are revealing some insecurity about themselves?

Anyway, until the leadership agrees to respond to anonymous emails OR until they become more transparent in financial matters, this blog will remain. We can't force them to be open and transparent with the $14 million dollar budget. And they can't force us to stop talking about their refusal to do so. So we blog. Or should I just say the WD blogs. (He writes all the posts anonymously too according to some readers here.)

It is true the blog seems to have no impact since the pastor continues to collect millions from the congregation and continues to refuse to be open with finances. So keep on supporting him, he really needs it. NOT.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

The list of men who have felt compelled to publicly defend Brunson grew by one tonight:

1. Jerry Vines at 2007 Pastor Conference "..I throw anonymous emails in the trash" (after spitting on them), and "..you don't pay me enough to be your pastor, brother".

2. Paige Patterson Feb 2007: "Mac never got a honeymoon"

3. Dennis Swanberg March 2007. "Mac's tiiiired. You know wha he's tiiired? He's busy plantin' 'shade trees'. He's a 'shade tree' planter" (only they were being planted on his 1/2 acre $300k lot

4. Jim Smyrl tonight: "I've watched my pastor fall under the scrutiny of men. I've watched my pastor be attacked by Satan." (yep, men who take large gifts from donors of their 501(c)3 will most certainly fall under the scrutinty of men)

Who's next? Did I miss anyone?

Anonymous said...

I remember years ago churches were pastured by great men of faith who gave a lot to preach the Word of God. They lived modestly and honestly and not one would have ever accepted the gaudy lifestyle of some of today’s ministers. My pastor had an office with used furniture and barely enough room to set 3 people. That was OK with him because preaching the Word and winning people to Christ was more important than materialism. Church budgets were open and the pastor accountable for his spending and actions. It used to be being a pastor was a calling and not a career choice. Our prayers are desperately needed in this situation if First Baptist is to continue to be the beacon it is for Jacksonville.

Anonymous said...

Watchdog - Your list of "SBC Big Mac Defenders" will continue to grow because I am fairly certain that he has shot up the signal flares to Nashville to "circle the wagons" on his behalf. I think you will most certainly compile an exhaustive and impressive list of SBC "who's who" that will verbally render their support for Mac while chastising anyone who has anything less than a positive opinion about him. Keep your list updated and at the end of the year it should be an impressive collection indeed!