"...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

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Satellite Brand Extension: "God's Will" or "The Long Bomb"?

For the next few articles I will share my thoughts on the new satellite strategy unveiled last Wednesday by Smyrl and Brunson. Before you reject my analysis because its unspiritual and ignores what "our awesome God can do" and before you say "But God can do things way beyond what you can imagine" - keep in mind that this strategy I'm analyzing was birthed by Mac and his crack church MARKETING firm the A-Group when Mac was in Dallas, using, well, basic marketing principles they are known for. So I'm going to examine this strategy from the same business marketing principles from which it was birthed, at the risk of sounding unspiritual.

First of all, I'm not saying that the strategy won't work, and I in fact hope it DOES work - and I acknowledge it MAY work. But before one throws all their support behind the satellite ministry as a means of reaching people for Christ (meaning growing the church), let's do a sober review of the past two years:

1. Mac's first two years have yielded very little "growth". The "cloud" hasn't moved as we had hoped and as Mac's "John the Baptist" David Allen predicted it would when Mac arrived. No one can know for certain why, but we can't ignore the fact we hoped Mac was the man who would lead us to a brighter future - and no doubt, NO DOUBT, the search committee and trustees thought this too, else they would not have pursued Mac so vigorously, giving him all that he was given to come here from FBC Dallas. Given the tenacity of the search committee in trying to get Mac to come, the gifts and perks and family jobs it took to get him here, now the lack of growth, and his abuses since coming here, all should cause serious Christians to wonder if Mac is God's man to lead us in ANY direction.

2. And Mac should not blame us. We did everything we could to help Mac lead us into the future. From the gifts to help ease the transition, to agreeing to put his family on staff, the free use of a condo, etc. we tried to assist. We rolled Mac out to the community at the Sermon on the Mound on Father's Day 2006 (which Mac called a huge success in his pastor's guide book). Why even Times Union religion reporter Jeff Brumley trumpeted to the community Mac as the pick-up-drivin', Krispy Kreme - eatin', business card tooth pickin', good ole boy redneck preacher coming to Jax that would be a perfect blend of Homer and Jerry Vines (which I guess we now know it means if you add the value of Vines' and Lindsay's homes you almost get to the value of Mac's home).

3. We had hopes...we thought once we got the new preacher in that he would come in and work hard and lead us in a new direction. But that didn't happen. Mac was preoccupied his first year getting the land gift inked, staying at the beach an hour away from the city he was called to minister to, starting construction of his new million dollar home, finishing his book manuscript, traveling around the country preaching...in fact we never heard from Mac about his "vision" for the church until he had been here almost a year. No hurry in setting a course for the future - although he was in a HUGE hurry to get the house started, the pastor's suite constructed, getting wife and son on staff - no need waiting for God to move in those areas, after all those were priorities his first year, not getting us moving again in reaching Jacksonville.

And don't you know Mac is frustrated. Mac has seen no growth at our church his first two years - we've lost huge market share for our brand as the city has grown but our church has been stagnant. He no doubt blames us, the "dry dead bones", the "hotbed of legalism", the "worshipping the past" and "worshipping previous pastors" and "comfortable in our sin and in our compromise"...and he JUST can't get all of us to bring our BIIIBLES....for some reason Paige Patterson thinks Mac never got a honeymoon (hmmm, how would he believe that lie that unless Mac told him?). He's spent the last year in so many ways blaming the recalcitrants to cover for his lack of leadership now that things are not going well in Jax. Maybe he's worried that FBC Jax will be the case study for those reading his book "how churches die" (which by the way is mostly focused on church members and how they cause a church to die - not on preachers - does that surprise you?)

So one has to ask: Is this satellite strategy his "long bomb" in an attempt to save his ministry at our church? Maybe it is. If it fails, no sweat he'll be off to another church or ministry (probably a seminary to teach or to be a president) and we'll be stuck holding the bag and the bills. If it succeeds, he will write a book - because as I'll point out in the next article, his strategy is indeed very novel - never been attempted before (as I'll explain, so hold your horses), and if it is successful it will indeed be a move of God's hand!

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am new to the blog, but was wondering how you determined that the church isn't growing. Are you talking numerically or spiritually or both? Is there any evidence for this "lack of growth?"

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Anon - I am speaking in terms of numbers - attendance at worship services - Sunday nights are way, way down. Sunday morning I would say is "steady", but not growing. Sunday School - not growing. Dollars - holding steady.

Spiritual growth - not sure. Harder to measure.

Historical knowledge growth: OFF THE CHARTS!

BigBird said...

Watchdog,
This may very well be an attempt to further the Pastors brand.
He does not have a good track record of staying anywhere too long.
I am waiting for the cloud to move again.
Maybe he could work with PP to help him dig out from under the Klouda case.
Our pastor is like an astute chess player. He is already five moves ahead and only he knows what they are. We will not be told and we will not be able to vote on it either.

Anonymous said...

You mentioned Sermon On The Mound. Did you know that came right out of Rick Warren's "game plan" We could not believe our eyes when Mac used this platform . This just verified what we already knew; that he was taking us Purpose Driven. www.purposedriven.com/en-us/aboutus/whatispd/pd_process.htm I guess using SMALL GROUPS to start the satellite is not Purpose Driven either.

Ludie said...

this blog is unbelievable. so many expert anonymous posters who know pretty much everything about everything. keep up the good work. I'm sure Satan is thrilled!

Anonymous said...

ludie, I'm sure you looked up the site did you not? The baseball diamond was only one of the many obvious indications of a fact. If it looks like a duck... If Mac is not using Agroup PD, then what is it? You tell me! We would love to believe otherwise. As a matter of fact the whole church would like to know. We can't tell and Mac will not tell us.

Anonymous said...

The first year was far from normal. We had heard that change was coming but we had no clue of the magnatude of changes. Every service was different and every phase of the service became a target for change. Anything that could be considered traditional was a target. And Mac was a good shot. Change continues. One thing for certain. we will be the last to know what change is next. The numbers in the service were carefully watched. But this is normal for most churches. 65% of baptist churches are small churches who live from paycheck to paycheck. Week to week. So the numbers are very important. We have watched the numbers for years. In a transition from traditional to PD the numbers seem to remain close to the same. Most new members come from other churches. Some drop off in the transition of pastors is normal also. Our numbers in some of our services is noticeably down. Tithes remain close. Loyal church members will continue to give because they want the new pastor and their church to succeed. Being loving, God led, church members they will be faithful in their giving. One thing that has changed is that few of the deacons come down for the invitation. Due inpart by the replacement of women who deal with girls and ladys. Nevertheless, the people responding to the invitation is way down. Our church is SEEKER FRIENDLY PD, doing all we can to bring in the UNCHURCHED. You would think that we would have great soul winning messages to lead them to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But we don't. A school is difficult to manage but will bring in new members and the rewards are tremendous. Train up a child in the way he will go and when he is old he will not depart from it. Satellites have worked for a few but you could help a few young preachers start new churches at a fraction of the cost with far greater returns. We have a church on every corner here in Jax. What if we had just one young preacher led by the Holy Spirit, and his church grew to twenty six thousand members. Then we would have two twenty six thousand churches here in Jax. . Satellite churches are a poor investment of the Lord's tithes.

Anonymous said...

Watchdog:

New Website: www.myfriendshipconnection.com

Another enterprising venture. Notice door to door evangelism doesn't work. Yes it does, they just want to try something else. Look at who are the leaders.

Jon L. Estes said...

1. Mac's first two years have yielded very little "growth".

The results of growth are in God's hands, not the preachers or the members. Our responsibility as Christians is to share the gospel and let God bring the reward.

Are you sharing the gospel with lost people?

Would you remain silent while other church members chose to publicly degraded your wife and family?

I know better now than ever why you remain anonymous.

2. And Mac should not blame us.

This is a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black.

3. We had hopes...we thought once we got the new preacher in that he would come in and work hard and lead us in a new direction.

You have stated many new things Mac is bringing to the church but I have yet to see you support these new things, just criticize and whine.

If you personally, the search committee or anyone believed that bringing anyone on would bring growth you are neglecting scripture. It still says, unless the Lord build the house, it is built in vain.
______________

In the previous post you scold Brett with...

you've used this blog as a platform now to let everyone know how you feel about the issues raised here. Now you should let it go Brett. You've had your say overall on where you stand with regards to Mac Brunson, FBC Jax, and the subject matter of this blog.

This is funny. Really funny coming from you.

Always,

jle

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Hi Jon - glad to hear from one of our avid readers. Hope you're doing well up in NC.

Jon L. Estes said...

Hi Dog...

Things are going well. People are being saved and discipled. God is bringing growth spiritually and numerically. We even have a few who don't like me. Go figure...

Anonymous said...

FBC Jax

2007 AM Worship = 7000
2007 Resident Members = 28623
2007 Total Baptism = 322
2007 Avg. SS = 5014
2007 Total Reciets = $18.4 million

Anonymous said...

Eagle Hey Jon, glad to hear that things are going great in NC. The Lord is blessing many in many churches. What we have here in Jax is a failure on the part of the pastor to communicate. We both know
Matthew 28:19 Go ye... and yes it is our responsibility to be soul winners. The pastor, among other things, is to edify, exhort, and comfort. Our pastor is not doing all he can do here. He is not training the people how to be soul winners, nor does he have many evangelistic messages. Our people are not being exhorted to be more for Jesus. Therefore few are being saved. Our growth is way down. Yes God adds to the church those who would be saved but he uses peole to do his work. You wonder why Watchdog does not support THESE NEW THINGS? He will speak for himself but I do not support many of these NEW THINGS because they are flawed. They are flawed because the originators are flawed. These NEW THINGS are not Mac's NEW THINGS. They are all Rick Warren/Bill Hybels NEW THINGS. Smarter men than I have called this Purpose Driven church grown movement in the worse of terms. Some say words like, apostate, heretic. Not my words! I just see the failed effect of their emplementation. We care for this church and members. But we will not sit back and remain silent about what we see as a growing problem. We know that churches rise and fall with leadership. In God's will. So I, for one, will bring to light such dangerous NEW THINGS. The pastor must do his part. Pray for us. Thank you for the testimony from NC

Anonymous said...

Anon12:09 In your dreams! The AM worship is not nearly this. Look at the empty seats and count again. The baptisms look about right, far from the historical average of over 600. As for the 18.4 who would know this but an insider. Are you an insider? If not, do not give us your guesses.

Jon L. Estes said...

Anon 12:46,

a failure on the part of the pastor to communicate.

I've been accused of the same along the way. Of course, I got myself in trouble a few years back for wanting to make the financial statements more transparent --- show salaries...

Every church will have those good folk who do not like the way things are going or being handled. Gosh, I was asked to leave less than 10 years ago because we were baptizing too many. The FL baptist paper ran a article on it during the time. LifeWays church growth magazine had me write an article on it, I called it "Growing Pains".

No matter the size, everybody ain't going to be happy.

If the church, yours or mine, allows the things to go the way the things go and the majority support it there's not a lot anyone can do. I know you probably support congregational rule. I know, you say the church is not getting the opportunity to speak. I would disagree, if the majority did not like what was happening, they would speak. After all they are baptists and your group was trained well in this by your previous leaders.

Robert L. Peeples said...

Watchdog, glad to be back. You know I am an avid reader of yours and it seems as though that arthritis in your hands hasn't been bothering you to much lately.

This past weekend was Memorial day weekend and I spent the last four days in Gatlinburg, TN in the beautiful Smokey Mountains. It has been a while since I have commented on this blog but I have been keeping up with the beauty shop gossip for sure.

While I was thinking about our troops this past weekend, something occured to me. And I think we all need to be reminded of this. Whether or not we are pro-Brunson or anti-Brunson, we all have the privalege of blogging about our church because of the country we live in. Our troops are the ones who sacrificially serve our country for the freedom we enjoy each day and I am blessed for that freedom. May we all remember this as we blog and not forget what our troops and vets have done for us to enjoy this great freedom we share. Now, on to my main points.

Jon Estes makes a good point. If the majority of our church did not like what is happening, then they would speak out. Their votes would be No's rather than Yes'. However, the majority of our church does approve of what the pastor is doing and the direction he is taking us. Some say we approve because we are gullible and young. We may be young and inexperienced in life but at least we have the balls to put a name with our opinion. You can't say that about some of the adults on this blog. Okay, back to the point. God has a lot in store for our church and I believe Pastor Brunson is following God's will for our church as best he can. Fact is, that irritates a lot of people in the church. But they can get over it.

Brett Blankenship, right on dude. Keep on keeping on. Jon Estes, stay strong in the ministry. Remember that when you are doing the Lord's work, you will always have enemies, even in your church. Also, could you shed some light on Pastor Rod Hendrix? I'm a little worried for him.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Hi Robert - glad to have you back.

Remember though, not always do congregations stand up to abuses. Sometimes apathy rules. Sometimes strong, charasmatic leaders take advantage of well-meaning people eager to obey and follow their leader. I caution you against relying on the idea that "if there was something very wrong certainly there would be more people concerned." Not always.

Brady said...

Robert,

I do indeed admire anyone who has the balls to sign their name. Tells me a lot about those who won't.

Robert L. Peeples said...

FBCJW,

Certainly true. But apathy only rules when people let it. I think it's safe to say that the people of First Baptist would certainly take arms should any situation require such attention. Nothing however, has come to that in our church. You try to make it seem as though it has through this blog. But a pastor's house, for example, is nothing to sweat over.

Anonymous said...

FBC mutt,

Good evening . . . I know it kills your readers but the attendance is at least 8,000 + for the AM service (my opinion). I sit upstairs on the first row . . . down stairs is always full and the upstairs fills up nicely, praise God!

Why do you think that those that are happy in the churches movement that we are apathetic? I just enjoy the changes in the church.

If you knew me I am anything but apathetic. That is such a democratic approach . . . the poor "blind sheep" need a mutt to rescue them from thier ignorant views. Poor souls that don't even know what is best for them. Sounds like such a democratic mentality.

There is no apathy we just like what it is changing to. A new breed is being drawn into the fold and I for one am excited about it!

Now if we can get a bit more praise and worship going mixed in with a splash of Amazing Grace and The Old Rugged Cross I'd be right at home!

You speak as if Brunson is up against the ropes. He is far from it . . . my opinion is that there is a very small faction of our church up against the ropes, I wonder who that could be :)

By Grace,
Brett Blankenship

Anonymous said...

Watchdog:

Can we please clean up this language?

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Sorry anon. Blogging is not for the faint of heart. Sometimes letting their off-color posts through makes my points for me.

Brett - I have no idea what the Sunday service numbers are and neither do you. But I know with my own two eyes they are not up from where they were when Brunson came. And I know for certain Sunday night is way down, and Wednesday is down. I also know THEY know the numbers, but they would never share those numbers with the plebe.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Robert - you're wrong, son. I know its easy to say "Oh, if things ever got bad enough, certainly we would rise up and stop it." But that is not true in so many cases, especially in religious institutions.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Brett - you say you are enjoying "the changes in the church". Can you tell us what "changes" have made your worship more meaningful at the church?

Anonymous said...

WD - I am tired of reading the blogging of Robert and Jon. They need to start their own blog. They have hijacked yours. If you allow them to continue posting, they will have accomplished what they wanted to do...make your blog boring and irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

FBC mutt,

First off you are wrong. From the time Vines left attendance and decisions were on the decline and little by little I do see seats upstairs filling up more and a steady flow of decisions. There is an obvious shift(in my opinion)!

I could go into detail about the changes but just to name a few . . . . the children's department leaders that Brunson has brought in from Dallas are much improved! The middle school department has a fresh new mind in there . . . I love his mentality.

For me the huge difference is the teaching style. I enjoyed Vines, missed Lindsay Jr. but love Brunson's approach. He does speak from the hip . . . which helps him with those like me that understand his style and hurts him if there are those looking for problems (ie drones). He teaches to glorify God to the best of his ability. Whether any of us get it is not his concern and I love that!

Sure he uses history (which I love) but to say he uses minimal biblical references is just down right not accurate.


By Grace,
Brett Blankenship

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Anon 10:47 - tough. Jon Estes hasn't posted here in months, and he posted twice today. I don't mind Robert or Brett so long as they are staying on topic and not posting to ridicule the bloggers or wish to make the blog about the bloggers.

Robert L. Peeples said...

Watchdog,

You don't like it when you're wrong do you?

Let me ask you something K-9.
If you are correct about everything on this blog, why hasn't anything changed for over a year since you started this blog?
According to you and your reasoning, the pastor and the leadership of the church have not lead in the way God intended. If this is this case, then why hasn't God done anything about it?
You say that God uses men to do things. Then why hasn't this blog accomplished any of its goals?
You say so many people read this blog like newspaper editors and others alike. Why haven't they followed up on the issues you have raised here? Fact is, our church is headed in the way God intends, I believe. People don't like it. You blog anonymously(which is a joke because there is a woman like Tiffany Croft for example, who blogs with an identity) in efforts to disrupt what the good Lord is doing with our church. And that's a dangerous task to take on. Believe me, if something serious were to occur in the church, a blog would not be necessary for immediate change to be brought about.

Ludie said...

How much church growth would you see if, instead of bashing, second guessing, and blogging about each and every decision your pastor makes, you did something like, oh I don't know, invited someone to church, witnessed to someone- you know silly little things like that!

Jon L. Estes said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

WD - I am tired of reading the blogging of Robert and Jon. They need to start their own blog. They have hijacked yours. If you allow them to continue posting, they will have accomplished what they wanted to do...make your blog boring and irrelevant.

May 28, 2008 10:47 PM


There it is folks, the real motive of the heart. Anon tells us he wants a place where all people think, breath, walk, and agree with him. If they don't they need to go elsewhere.

Take this same mentality and place it in FBCJAX. Brunson does not speak like I want him to, breath like I want him to, live where I think he should live, agree on the level of transparency as I believe in, therefore he is an unwelcome presence at FBCJAX. He needs to start his own church and not hijack theirs.

I could not have said it better myself.

Anon, it is sad you can't deal with differences of opinion or real fact.

kingofbleh said...

Brett Blankenship said -

"Good evening . . . I know it kills your readers but the attendance is at least 8,000 + for the AM service (my opinion). I sit upstairs on the first row . . . down stairs is always full and the upstairs fills up nicely, praise God! "

Brett, with respect, if you filled the auditorium to the rafters TWICE every Sunday morning you would still have at least 8,000 on the roll that are not coming to church. That to me represents a problem: either a lack of God-centered evangelism or a lack of church discipline (or a little of both). I'm not picking on FBC, because this is a problem in far too many churches today. I attend a church with over 4,200 on the rolls yet we run 1,100 in SS and about 1,700 in Sunday AM worship. The SBC at large claims 16.4 million members, yet on average only 6.8 million attend their church's primary worship service every week.

The SBC is awash with marketing strategies, statistical studies, consulting firms, ministry "how-to" books, ad nauseum. Yet none of it is working. Every year the ACP shows the widening gap between the number of members and number of regular attenders. Now I am not naive enough to say that regular church membership is the ONLY indicator of spiritual health of a congregation. But when people neglect to follow a direct command of scripture (corporate worship) you have to wonder what other signs of spiritual life could there possibly be in their lives?

I pray that my comments are not taken as unloving, brother, because that's not what I intend. In fact, I have a great love for Jacksonville and for FBC. I grew up there. It's my home town and in many ways FBC is still my "home church", having attended it for 20 years. There is nothing in this world that would bring me greater joy than to see a mighty move of the Holy Spirit turn those numbers on their head.

But while we continue to haggle over marketing strategies that are divorced from the Biblically-mandated methods of evangelism, scores of people are on a fast tract to hell thinking they are safe because they walked an aisle, prayed a prayer and joined the church -- then a year or so later disappear off the face of the earth!

I heavily debated even READING this web site, much less POSTING on it. I have some serious Matthew 18 issues with people who dissent in this manner. If those who have a problem with what is going on at FBC have never attempted with the greatest diligence to follow the discpline process outlined by our Savior, then I would lovingly call you to repentance. On the other hand, if you have followed Matthew 18 discpline and continue to try to do so and the Matthew 18 process is being rejected by your leaders, then I would call your leaders to repentance and suggest to you that this may be God's way of telling you he want's you to seek to worship and serve elsewhere.

In Christ's Love,
Lucas Defalco
Romans 11:33-36

Anonymous said...

Lucas,

Well put sir. You are right about the amount of members vs. those that attend regularly. To me it is just a sign of the times as is this blog.

Which is my whole point to my posts. I focus inward and make sure I am not one of those that fall off. Secondly I focus on my family then friends. . . . I find by the time I do that there is not much time to deal with the "church".

Just think for a moment if everyone in our church used this mentality . . . self reflection first would keep most pretty busy, it does me :)



Mr Estes,

I find it very interesting that few see the ironic nature of those kind of comments. Thanks for pointing it out. All it does for me is make me look harder at myself and make sure that I am not allowing the same to sneak up in my life.

By Grace,
Brett Blankenship

kingofbleh said...

Brett -

Thanks for you humble spirit, brother! I agree, self-reflection and examination on a daily basis are critical (as are all spiritual disciplines). The scriptures tell us to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" and to "make your calling an election sure." (note: these are NOT proof texts for works righteousness).

And certainly if everyone pursued these disciplines in their own lives on a regular basis, then you would not have the problem of unregenerate church membership. But we know that we live in corrupted flesh with a deceitful heart that will tell people they have been saved when there is little to no evidence of a change in their view of the own sinfulness. When this happens, we much have institutional controls in place which have been ordained by Christ himself to ensure that we are not declaring people to be church members who have never changed from their natural pattern of rebellion against God.

Anonymous said...

Voice of Reason said:

Brett and kingofbleh - you make some good valid points. Despite all the rhetoric on this blog, I believe if we fellowshipped together we would agree on 99% of the topics. However, it seems we will always differ on whether our congregation specifically, and the SBC membership in general, is in position to be abused and fleeced by rock star pastors and influential lay leaders who empower them while they handle budgets in the tens of millions with no accountability or transparency to those that give the money.

Perhaps we should have demanded it of the Criswells, Rogers, Lindsays, Vines, Falwells and others, but didn't. We loved them and trusted them so much, and it appears they were trustworthy and did not abuse our trust. Now, the Jerry Suttons, Bob Reccords, Frank Harbers, Steve Gaines and Mac Brunson, to name a few, have inherited these ministries and have done things that made us wake up and ask for some accounting and transparency. These men circled the wagons and took offense instead of understanding the concerns, all while enriching their own wealth and family.

I agree, Matthew 18 would be the best approach. But in mega churches, that kick out members who ask for accountability (see Two Rivers Baptist), a blog was the only way to be heard.

Perhaps the blog has run its course now. I don't know. But if it has, new measures must be taken to persuade these leaders to be more responsive to those that give the millions. Just my thoughts.

Gerry G.