URGENT UPDATE: I caution anyone considering going on this Holy Land trip to do your due diligence on the travel agent involved, "Purpose Travel" owned by Bruce Peterson, located in Irving, Texas. The company is apparently not incorporated in the state of Texas, and there is no information on the agency with the Better Business Bureau. Neither are they members of the American Society of Travel Agents. The address given on the registration form is a private residence and not a commercial establishment. I have first hand knowledge of travelers using an "on the side-travel agent", a person who does travel arrangements on the side and who have been burned badly. I urge you to contact the agent and get references and check them out before sending any money whatsoever. As far as I can tell this person is not connected to the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville; maybe a personal friend of Mac. But buyer beware!!
-----------------------Before I post my next article on the Pastor's Guidebook, wanted to put a quick note on the most recent abuse by the Brunson's of our church to further their own agenda.
On the FBC Jax website scroll, you'll see the advertisement at right touting the next "Holy Land" trip with the "Brunson Family".
I know the Brunson supporters are all for this, and don't see anything wrong with it. But its just another example of the Brunson's using our church to self-promote. Less than 1% of the FBC Jax family could even consider going on such a trip that costs $4000 per person. If the Brunsons want to host Holy Land trips, let him do it on his own website not on our church's website.
I think it also a very bad witness for our church to put this on our website - it shows perhaps misplaced priorities - we should be about ministry, about the gospel, about reaching our city for Christ, not serving as a travel agent getting people to sign up for $4000 Holy Land trips, no matter who the host is. Our church website should be all about touting the MINISTRIES OF OUR CHURCH, not trips set up by the pastor, not the pastor's latest book. This Holy Land trip is a private trip that only a very few select people from our church will go on, and it is NOT a ministry of our church. I'm not saying such trips are wrong, or that people that can afford them shouldn't go on them; I likely will go on a Holy Land trip some day. But putting it on our website, and you'll probably now see it in our Sunday bulletins as well, is too much. Most ministers who host these trips don't do it on their church websites, but instead will do it on their 501(c)3 websites where it should be.
Also, I call on the pastor to clarify a few things with his congregation regarding this trip, since he has had the A-Group put it on our scroll:
1. Who is paying for Mac Brunson's travel expenses? Is it the church, is it Mac himself, or is it the travel agent he has selected giving Mac free travel based on the number of people who sign up for the trip?
2. What does "the Brunson Family" mean in regards to who is going on the trip? We assume his wife will go, but does "the Brunson Family" mean his grown children, spouses and grandchildren? If so, is the church paying for their transportation or is Mac paying it?
3. What relevance is it that its "the Brunson Family" going? I sure see how going with Charles Ryrie might be important, assuming he is teaching or leading the trip, but what is the significance of the other Brunson family members going?
4. This is a two-week trip. If "Brunson Family" means Debbie Brunson and Trey Brunson, are they using their vacation time to go on this trip, or is this viewed as part of their job responsibilities and thus they won't have to use their paid leave for this?
5. Is there a committee that decides what is and what is not appropriate for placement on our website? Or does Mac get to decide alone?
We'll wait pastor for your answers. Or perhaps someone can schedule a meeting with Mac and report the answers here for us. Or send him an email, and then let me know the response and we'll post it here.