"...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

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Pastors Unhurt By Economy Slowdown...

Jeff Brumley, religion writer for the Florida Times Union, had an interesting article last Thursday about how the slowdown in the economy has hurt the giving of parishioners of churches around town. Click here for his article.

I found his article headline and sub-headlines interesting:

Offering plates take hit in lean economy

TITHES: Parishioners cut back on their giving to buy gas and food.

MINISTRIES CUT BACK: Less money coming in, but more are in need.

Although Brumley didn't differentiate in his article between large and small churches, a quick review of how the pastors of the areas larger churches are living, including Mac Brunson, would suggest that the weak economy might be affecting their church's giving and their ministries, but not certainly not the pastors' lifestyle.

Looking at the home values of some of the areas most popular churches and ministries reveals that a number of pastors are "living large" in homes well above the average parishioner.

Here are the "Top 5" home values of local pastors...for all but Gilyard and Brunson I have left the names off...I'll let Brumley or someone else publish those:

1. $1,600,00 - Pastor of Mandarin area church

2. $1,100,000 - Pastor of local church and TV minister

3. $1,030,000 - Mac Brunson, Pastor of FBC Jacksonville

4. $992,000 - Pastor of historic Baptist church

5. $724,000 - Darrel Gilyard, former Shiloh Pastor

All but FBC Jax are predominantly African American churches.

All but Mac Brunson have lengthy tenures at their church of 10 years or more. Mac began construction of his home just weeks after he arrived in Jacksonville in 2006, on the $300,000 1/2 acre lot given to Mac just weeks after he took the helm of FBC Jax.

The only Southern Baptist Convention church in the list is Mac Brunson at $1.03 million.

Two of these top 5 churches have pastors or former pastors serving on Mayor Peyton's crime prevention steering committee, both have woeful attendance records at the committee meetings of less than 30%.

The other pastors of rather large local churches, some of them multi-campus, some even that are on TV in the local market, are in the $500k and below range.

Do you suppose if the economy gets much worse it will be harder for parishioners to stroke their weekly check, knowing that while they are getting the squeeze, their pastors are living large?

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

The only thing that should lessen our giving is our income being lessened. To do otherwise, even to cope with the rising cost of living is sinful.

I know it happens but right is right and wrong is wrong.

If the income level of the church members has decreased then the tithe amount would show. If not,the what the church has agreed to compensate their staff and what the staff has agreed to be compensated should not be affected.

Yet, that our pastor would dare live in such a house with has such a value, is wrong... or so some think.

Anonymous said...

MEGA-MEGA-MEGA-

What position are we Christians really in? According to the Bible we are in the church age of Laodicea (Rev 3:14-22). What does God say we are:

1. wretched
2. miserable
3. poor
4, blind

God says He will spew them out of His mouth. He is not happy with the end time church. He has nothing good to say about them. He's on the outside looking in. Also, the picture of Jesus by a well known artist reveals there is no door knob on the outside of the door it must be opened from the inside. Jesus standing at the door of His own church knocking to get in Rev 3:20. What a sad commentary of the church today.

If someone interviewed a preacher as to their occupation, I wonder if it would occur to the preacher to say " I am a preacher of the church of Laodicea that God has much against". Preachers are not exempt by virtue of standing. We are told in Rev 3:19 that if we are loved of God we will be chastened and to REPENT. I seldom hear any preacher preach on REPENTANCE. As leaders and as pastors of churches today I find that vs 17 applies too often: "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:". These are the words of Jesus addressed to all of the Laodicean Christians, pastors included.

I know each preacher would say " I'm called to preach by God." Maybe, maybe not (their opinion or choice). But I think high living and ego ridden preachers are a sign of the Laodicean church age that God hates.The pedestal that many pastors are placed on, or have placed themselves on is very precarious.

So much is done by so many in the flesh that compromise with the world has become the Laodicean hallmark.

We need to all humble ourselves before a Holy God. There is no room for Mega anyone.

RM said...

Is there any chance you could publish the worth of all the deacons' homes and all staff members' homes? That would sure help us in our quest of "total transparency in all financial matters of the church."

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

RM - why would you want to see the value of the deacon's homes? Are they paid by people who are giving "God's money" to the church? I don't think so, therefore a deacon's home value would be totally irrelevant.

Sure, we could publish staff members' home values, but I'll just take a guess: no staff member of our church would be in the top 5. Might be wrong, but just a guess.

Anonymous said...

RM - home appraisal values for tax purposes are public records. You can simply go to the various appraisal districts' websites and look them up by name or street address. If you are interested in all these values as you purport to be, who don't you go and look them up? It's just a few clicks away...

Anonymous said...

You left Jeramiah Wright off the list. Oh, he's in Chicago so I see why. But even construction of his million dollar mansion didn't start until after decades of faithful service to his church. unlike Mac who came to Jax and literally within days began his million dollar mansion. Congrats First Jax, now that truly is innovative ministry - getting the HUGE HOUSE for the pastor BEFORE he pastors, rather than AFTER he pastors. Used to be First Jax was known for innovative ways in reaching people for Christ, now you're know for innovative ways in getting the land and mansion for the a new pastor. Good work! You're a model for other churches to follow!

Anonymous said...

I recently was reading some bio-info on Ghandi. At an early age he was interested in Christianity. He was impressed with the life of Jesus. Wouldn't it have been something if he had gotten saved. The whole country of India may have been influenced. But sadly, Ghandi was told by a Christian (?) to go worship with his own kind!!!
Ghandi once told someone he was impressed with Jesus but not with Christians.

I can identify with Ghandi as I had a similar experience. The details I don't wish to go into.
The experience was most painful and at this time I am not led to attend any church. But unlike Ghandi, I have been saved for many years through the Grace of God and the Shed Blood of Jesus on the Cross.

Reading this info on Ghandi brings to mind our responsibilty as Christians. One wrong word can severely discourage another or even worse destroy someone's opportunity to be saved. We must be accountable before God and man in spiritual matters because our influence is vast. It is even more important for preachers to be accountable as their sphere of influence can be either good or bad.

RM said...

Just thought it would be interesting to see the prices of deacons' homes since everyone is so concerned about who pays what for what.

Basically, there is nothing you can do about what Mac owns, spends, or is given so why get so worked up over it??

I'd be more concerned about growing your church by winning people to the Lord and get your eyes off the pastor.

RM said...

Just remember guys, your personnel and/or budget committee agreed to the salary they would pay Mac when he came. You probably should be taking up your dissatisfaction with them.

Also, I sure cannot see comparing Mac to Jeremiah Wright. Wright is a disgrace to pastors because of his ungodly statements and sermons. The excesses of his church and monies is a further disgrace.

But then in your eyes, Mac is just a Jeremiah Wright in training...

Anonymous said...

Just out of curiosity, has anyone here sold their house because of the economy?

Since (presumably) the pastor's salary works just like everyone else's, it doesn't go up and down according to how much money was put in the offering plate last week.

WD, are you calling for the membership to hold back on their offerings??? If not, then what's the point of this post? Just more murmuring in the tent?

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

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.

Why do you ask questions that presume something I did not say? This post doesn't encourage anyone to do anything about their giving. Can't you read what I've written more carefully?

Why do you ask silly questions like wondering if anyone has sold their home because of the economy? If they had, so what? This post is not about people selling their homes, its pointing out that Mac Brunson is living as lavishly as any top preacher in our city. Pointing out a fact. Its the kind of fact you should expect at this site, this site is called "FBC JAX WATCHDOG". If you don't like this, why come and read it? There will be more facts like this in the future at this site, so stop coming here.

OK, answer those, maybe then I'll answer yours.

Anonymous said...

RM --

Just thought it would be interesting to see the prices of deacons' homes since everyone is so concerned about who pays what for what.

Then by all means look it up! Get a deacon roster and spend a few hours on the internet! You could even post your findings...

Basically, there is nothing you can do about what Mac owns, spends, or is given so why get so worked up over it??

Interesting approach. "You can't do anything about it so give up." Well, the same could be said about Washington -- so should I not speak out politically? Or the same could be said about crime -- so should I not speak out against it? Come on, you can do better than that...

I'd be more concerned about growing your church by winning people to the Lord and get your eyes off the pastor.

Hmmm... but apparently you aren't more concerned about growing the church than you are about posting here. Oh, wait -- you mean you can do both at the same time? Of course you can. Because these things are not mutually exclusive. In fact, one could make the argument that the antics of Mac Brunson are actually hampering efforts to grow the church, and so by seeking to address them and resolve the concerns, the long-term growth of the church will increase. But the bottom line is that a holier-than-thou attitude does nothing toward resolving the issues addressed here. It is merely another response, not to the merits, but aimed at attacking those who post here.

Anonymous said...

anon May 8 at 10:34 am - you said "to do otherwise...would be sinful." That, sir, is a clear cut example of legalism. Maybe the pastor was right. Maybe FBC Jax is a "hotbed of legalism." Saying that giving less is sinful is as legalistic as it gets!

Anonymous said...

Voice of Reason says - WD has not been calling for people to stop giving. I have done so in numerous posts. The ONLY way to get Mac's attention to begin being more open and transparent is by demanding accountability in the area of finances. Since he has tightened that information since he arrived, a significant cut in giving may force him (or others) to open the books to those they are soliciting donations from. There will always be some gullible enough to give anyway (See Jimmy Swaggart ministries).

The real issue is not about how much Mac has taken from members and from the church budget, but the real issue is that he did so with no openness and accountability. I agree that had he been forthcoming about his financial dealings, this blog would just be whining about something they did not like. But since he refuses to be open about these things, the issue is very important and no one should be giving without an accounting.

It is kind of like the IRS...they don't penalize you for how much you make. You can make billions as far as they are concerned. But if you dare try to hide information from them, and not be transparent about your income, they get concerned. So, it is not the amount that he makes that concerns me, it is his steadfast refusal to be open and transparent in all areas with our donations. (Which he calls "God's Money" even though you all are saying it is "Mac's Money" and we should not be concerned about it.)

RM said...

I do have time to grow the church and blog with you guys. Its great fun coming on here because you get offended so easily.

Its time to chill out guys.

Anonymous said...

Thanks rm, for your contributions here. By the way, why is your profile private?

Anonymous said...

rm

Anonymous said...

To those who use their comments to offer advice, such as..stop blogging, pray, witness, etc...while your intentions are good, you are not discouraging me and probably others from asking questions and seeking to be a good steward of resources as well as be accountable with gifts that are all part of the body of Christ.

The 'church' is not one person allowed to speak and act without question or accountability. In fact, there is very little in the NT about the role of the pastor except to give us qualities to look for; such as: not a lover of money.

Many times you are defending the pastor but not explaining or defending his actions and words. This is a discussion forum; a place to offer thoughts and to be open to reflect and consider other opinions. It's not a 'voting' place where you log on to vote 'yay' or 'nay' for the pastor. We're all 'for' each other in the body and we should be attempting to keep the body focused and pointed in a way that draws others to the true gospel message.

It's OK to question and discuss materialism in the 21st century in the life of a believer. I struggle with it and as I've said before when a pastor lives so luxuriously (regardless of how much he gives away....irrelevant) in the eyes of the believing and unbelieving community, I choose to question it. I'm not judging; I'm sincerely questioning and searching my own heart and life.

Frankly, I don't feel good about a jaguar sitting in my pastor's garage and my opinion is that a lifestyle so above the majority of church members as well as the majority of the world hurts the cause of the gospel a lot more than this blog.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

RM - thanks for posting your bio and info page so we know who you are. We appreciate it! Good to have pastors as regular contributors here.

Anonymous said...

RM, I am a member of FBC and would be considered a supporter of Pastor Brunson. However, I am a servant of Jesus Christ and love the man God sent us. I saw a very Christ-like attitude in your postings despite the predictable attacks. I would love to get in touch with you. Could you please drop me an e-mail?

fbcjaxbrother@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

Seminaries:

Spurgeon did not go to a seminary. God had his hand on him. Thats all he needed to be a GIANT for the Lord. Who made it a requirement to go to a seminary? As far as I can see they contaminate most who are associated with them. From my years of observation, if a man is truly called to preach the fire is there. But the seminary does a lobotomy on the candidate preacher and he comes out a robot, spouting the party line; money, money, more money!!!!

Anonymous said...

Situation Ethics:

Preachers preach against it. But what do most of them do? If I had to pick examples of situation ethics and materialism that is alive in America today, some of these millionaire preachers would fit the profile perfectly.

Some preachers are not called of God in my opinion. I find millionaire preachers unable to relate to average families, many struggling to buy food and hold down average jobs because that is all that is available in todays economy.

Yet, in some cases the millionaire preacher has made sure his/her family won't suffer because he/she has insured some of them a job in their ministry. So, do you see how being a millionaire preacher hurts the "calling"? It really makes one wonder who called. There are so many subjects rich preachers cannot preach against and bring conviction. Materialism, accountability (to God and man. Man being the one who pays him/her). Transparency in the workplace and of course, SITUATION ETHICS.

If a preacher perhaps says no to a pulpit committee the first time he/she is approached does this not bring up another question? If he/she was called of God to begin with why did he/she say no? And did he/she say yes before or after "the pot was sweetened"?

Situation Ethics: it will get you everytime.

RM said...

Well, its good to know that you guys know a lot more about me than I know about you. I have been a reader of this blog for a long time and actually do enjoy most of what I read. I would probably tone it down a bit but then that's me and not you.

I know all of these pastors you are talking about personally so I try to keep my personal opionions to myself. Much of what you are pointing out is true and that's sad.

I'll enjoy staying around if you guys let me.

Anonymous said...

Voice of Reason says:

RM - now that I know you are a pastor, who seems to have an open mind and be willing to interact in the blogosphere, I, for one, will be glad to read and consider your opinions and observations.