"...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, July 1, 2008

Times Union: What Investigative Work!!

Well, Jacksonville's local newspaper cracked one of the most perplexing problems facing churches today, especially at FBC Jacksonville! Times Union report Jeff Brumley has done an incredible investigative piece and uncovered the following about FBC Jacksonville and other SBC churches:

Actual attendance is often much different than membership.

Yep, that's right, this is the sub-headline in Brumley's June 30th piece about how...get this...our actual attendance is much lower than our membership numbers! Now how is that for news about FBC Jax! While the pastor at Jacksonville's largest church - which just so happens to be run by some of the most influential people in Jacksonville including politicians, a judge, and a candidate for judge - has accepted a $300,000 gift from one of its members violating an ethical standard that would exist in any profit or non-profit corporation setting and has put wife and son on staff and whose numbers are plummeting - Brumley has a story about our membership numbers. Gee, that is some late breaking news for sure!

It would be nice if our local media would do their job and actually go and ask Mac Brunson about the ethical standard he used in accepting the land gift. Its a little harder for Team Brunson to refuse answering media questions than questions asked of anonymous emailers or coward bloggers. Was the land gift truly a gift according to IRS standards? Maybe ask Mac about the wisdom of putting wife and son on staff with no stated ministerial responsibilities. How about the glaring differences between his own actions and ethics in his book used in SBC seminaries to train pastors? Maybe a story about nepotism in our local mega churches? What about the bylaw changes made at FBC Jax that hardly anyone in the congregation understood, but were asked to vote on last December? Did FBC Jax have its method of church governance changed? Why was a discipline committee begun? And many more questions that require answers - nope, need to first look into that gap between membership and attendance numbers.

This Brumley story is more proof that there is a valid use for blogs. When the large media outlets ignore an obvious story for whatever motives they might have, blogs do provide a way for light to be shown on newsworthy facts. Bloggers were responsible for exposing the Dan Rather lies about President Bush's military service when national news outlets ignored the story. So while Brumley writes about membership numbers and the "blazing oratory" of Mac Brunson and his penchant for Krispy Kremes and driving pick-ups, this blog will continue to expose the abuses of Mac Brunson at FBC Jax.

And one minor detail Jeff: not sure where the "up to 3000" attendance figure came from for Wednesday nights at FBC Jax, but I think you have an extra zero stuck in there. Wednesday night attendance has fallen greatly as has Sunday night - mostly because people don't know who is preaching, if there will be preaching, and if it will be a bible study or a history lesson.

64 comments:

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Interesting that INSP has suddenly dropped First Baptist Church Jacksonville from its TV ministry line up. As I stated last week, INSP added FBC Jax in its list of ministries with a weekly televised program Sunday nights at 7:00 pm.

Go to www.insp.com to see what I mean.

Curious that we now are NOT on the list. And even more curious that there is no word of explanation from the pastor to his congregation that he asked to donate money to the TV ministry on Easter Sunday.

Anonymous said...

The Texas carpetbaggers are just here to clean us out until they can move on to greener pastures after Jerry (private tongues) Rankin quits over at the IMB. That's my guess.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Excerpt from Brumley's article in 2006 before Mac came to Jax. Such high expectations.

At the pastor's conference in Jacksonville, Vines said there was "none better" at expository preaching than Brunson.

That modesty and his Southern boy-meets-seminary theologian manner make him one of the most sought-after preachers in the 16.2 million-member denomination and will help him succeed at First Baptist Jacksonville, Caner said.

"Mac carries in his own groceries, drives his own pickup truck and picks his teeth with a business card," Caner said. "That's Mac, and that's why we love him."

New Testament Greek rolls off his tongue in sermons as easily as analogies between his wife's grits and God's grace. Both are delivered in a deep, Southern drawl.

"I'm a country boy," he told worshipers at the pastors' conference in Jacksonville Feb. 6. "I grew up in South Carolina eating grits, and I'm not ashamed of it."

Anonymous said...

Maybe Mr. Brumley can get J.D. Collins to tell us why he gave the new pastor (and not to the church) a $307K land gift only 3 weeks after he arrived in town. And then he can ask the pastor why he played a professional commercial promoting Collins Builders in the middle of a Sunday moring service. Also, he could ask why the president of the trustees and of the FBC Jacksonville, Inc, retired judge A.C. Soud, Jr. was the emcee for the Night to Stand With Israel that raised money for an Israeli hospital that performs state funded abortions. And why our church auditorium was used and why our choir was there.

Looks like influential members are influencing the new pastor too? Does anyone care? Maybe Jeff Brumley could do some "investigation" and find out how many long time members have left since Mac arrived, how much giving is down and how unhappy a large percentage of the church is. But that would take some journalistic skills and research to do. Maybe the T-U pays him only to do the occasional puff piece so its not his job to do any real reporting. We shouldn't blame him? Is he even a real journalist?

Did he even bother to confirm what mac and debbie actually drove (Lexus and Jaguar) before writing that crap about a pick-up truck?

I agree. That's why blogs are necessary. But couldn't a journalist follow-up on some of the public records this blog has made mention of and write a very interesting, front page worthy, investigation to the recent goings on at FBC Jacksonville now that Lindsay and Vines are not there to keep things in line.

Anonymous said...

Amen and Amen PASTOR MAC BRUNSON: Your Sunday message about Abe and his walk with the Lord was OUTSTANDING. That was the kind of message that will enable FBCJ to GROW.

I know, a descenter is not to say things like that. We are supposed to be anti FBCJ and all the sweet people there. That could not be further from the FACT. We love the saints and are speeking for many of them through this WATCHDOG BLOG.

However, we know from the Hybel/Warren books and messages that, that kind of preaching will not last. We know the pastor is still locked into the SEEKER SENSITIVE-FELT NEEDS type of preaching for the long run. I may be wrong! We all know the Lord is the only one who can change Mac's heart and redirect him back on track. We are praying for you pastor.

Further good news. Brother Witmire, The music has been great! I guess we will always have blended music in the future. That is a given. We do see a return to more TRADITIONAL music. The folks have said they like your style of worship. I have not been to the highschool lately, do they still have ROCK MUSIC? And dancing in Grammer School? Are they still doing that?

The negatives are still there: FACILITATORS IN THE SMALL GROUPS. You know the people in the small groups who will take scripture and mix it with the UNCHURCH beliefs and compromise the WORD OF GOD. Don't want to make the UNCHURCHED upset you know.

I have not heard the pastor speak about VISITATION LATELY. Guess that is a NO also.

As for the numbers of people at church , we are way down and descending. We are filling up the holes on Sunday with children.

If you reveal the actual number of members at FBCJAX, it will show the failure of the PURPOSE DRIVEN church that we are.

Pastor, your message was great, keep it up! We have always known that you could do it.

One more point, now that your preaching is back on track, you can now be open about your financial windfall, and the bylaws.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

On the issue of Minister Compensation, today Rob Ayers, a blogger at "SBC Impact" posted an article entitled What is Fair Compensation?. Worth the read, especially the comment section.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Anon - I agree, great sermon Sunday.

For sure the Brunson defenders, I think mostly the younger crowd, find it necessary to paint the anonymous bloggers as evil, wanting to destroy all good at FBC Jax, when its just not so. Somebody sarcastically asked if I could find 10 things positive to say about Mac Brunson a few weeks ago, and I did post 10 good things about Mac Brunson with no problem, and could have listed more.

The bloggers here love FBC Jax, they love the people of FBC Jax. But we hate what we see being done to our great church and we hate the abuses that we see. We feel COMPELLED to blog about them - not to make ourselves feel better, but to hopefully alert others at our church at what is going on, and to also alert others around the SBC as to what is happening at this flagship church.

You won't hear Mac Brunson say much about visitation, he already said that nobody is home anymore - no more visitation, but we have a school starting in 2009 and that is what Mac said we need to do now that "knocking on doors" doesn't work any more, according to Mac.

Ghost said...

What a joke of an article. I cannot understand why the Times Union, and especially Folio Weekly will not do some investigative work into the corruption at FBC Jax. Folio Weekly is missing a great opportunity to lead on a big story by ignoring this. Folio-about a month of so ago your cover story was about the Florida Times Union being a sinking ship and you constantly criticize them for not investigating the corruption in city hall and other parts of our city. Here is a golden opportunity for you to take the lead on a huge story and expose the abuses of Donald McCall Brunson and his fleecing of First Baptist Jacksonville. A cover story on the pastor of First Baptist Church would get the whole city talking and would almost require that Brunson respond to these charges. Please Folio weekly help us shine the light on this.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

I agree Ghost - particularly when you consider WHO is in lay leadership at FBC Jax now and who was in lay leadership when Brunson came on board and the keys were handed to him. With the upcoming local elections, this is a very relevant story.

Anonymous said...

"Worth the read, especially the comment section."

You really are proud of yourself aren't you? You are trying to get yourself attention. The other bloggers did not name church or pastor or even numbers just insights of their opinion. You say this blog is made up of people who love their pastor but you are TRYING to tarnish and stir things with anyone who will listen. I don't get it??

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Anon - sorry you didn't like my comment. Didn't know I had to check with you about what I post on other blogs.

Anonymous said...

Never give up:

That is what Rick Warren tells the TRANSITION pastors. He said you are going to have opposition. Deal with them swiftly. You may have to dismiss the staff if they do not "buy IN" to the transition.

I guess our old staff did not "BUY IN". They are gone!

www.pastors.com/RWMT/article.asp?ArtID=4702

If you have forgotten the transition process here is a site.

Brunson did not go slowly and has caused all kinds of problems in the church. He played loud music and some DEACONS LEFT. He started a ROCK BAND IN highschool and christian parents pulled their kids out and more left. He brought in SMALL GROUPS and replaced long time teachers with PURPOSE DRIVEN teachers and FACILITATORS and long time TEACHERS left.

That is ok! Rick Warren calls that "Blessed subtraction"

I guess that is fine with the pastor. Now he has control. He has those people who will go along to get along.

Now we can build our church with the unchurched to fill those holes in the Sunday Morning Service and make the church look full for the TV viewers.

In my opinion you would have to be dreaming to believe that we have more than 12,000 members left in the church at First Baptist Church Jacksonville, Fla. So much for the PURPOSE DRIVEN CHURCH GROWTH movement. 28,000 to 12,000.

What a shame!!!

Come on Pastor man up and turn this church around!

Anonymous said...

Hey all, first timer to the blog...judging by what im going to say, ill probably get told im wrong....fine by me.

Watchdog, I think you are wrong on some points...First of all, the Pastors wife & son DO have ministerial titles....Dr. Brunson has stated several times that his wife is his secretary and does counseling with him. To me, that seems like a safe guard. He's got someone who knows him best helping him with his weekly schedule and can never be accused of being alone with another woman. Why do you have a problem with that? Thats honestly extremely smart on his part. Secondly, his son does have a ministerial title as well: Director of Special Events. If I remember correctly, Trey Brunson organized and ran the Pastors Conference this past year, and did a great job. We had a great line up of speakers and even Jim C. came to speak. Also, ive heard that he organizes many of the mission trips and a great number of the mission projects here in Jacksonville.

This is also the first ive heard of any land deal that could, in some mysterious way, be unethical or an abuse. What I do know is that it doesn't really matter if the land was given to him or not simply because he said a few Sundays ago that he makes the payments for his house and of course he pays the taxes for the land. All I see with that situation, is that God blessed him when he came here. If you take a few seconds to think about what it must have been like for the Pastor to leave such a great church like FBCD, and move his family to a new place....im sure that was no easy decision, in fact he's expressed how difficult the decision was to make in several sermons. The Pastor stepped out in faith & I believe God blessed him for that. In all fairness, you can't say im wrong because you can't say what God will or won't do.

As for numbers in attendance...when did church become about numbers? I know that it seems our Wednesday night crowd is low, but you have to remember, the Pastor started college course classes for those who are seeking a degree but can't for whatever reason on Wednesday nights. Thats an unbelievable tool that the church has tapped into for equipping knowledgeable & educated adults.

As for the Seeker Friendly comments...clearly Mac Brunson isn't Seeker Friendly because this blog is filled with things he's said that has offended people on here. The Pastor doesn't fit the mold some of you have in your minds, but thats ok because weekly people are walking the aisle and thats whats important.

The Pastor has several degrees, has led many great churches, was President of the SBC Pastors Convention, is referred by millions in the SBC and was hand picked by Vines to succeed him when he retired...honestly, say what you want, but God has certainly used Mac Brunson in the past and is vividly using him now at FBCJax.

Lets not forget the main focus of what the church is to be about...its not numbers, or a tv broadcast...its about winning souls for Christ. Remember what the Pastor said a few weeks ago about how those getting baptized last year was around 300, and so far this year we've reached over half that. That is what the church is to be about! That news was so much more important and exciting than any news about a tv broadcast.

Watchdog, blog all you want brother! I urge you tho to look to what really matters and that is winning souls for Christ...I don't think any one on here who calls themselves a Christian can argue that point. As long as Mac is preaching sound doctrine and people are coming to the saving knowledge of Christ, a tv broadcast, lack of a title or a piece of land don't bother me at all.

Watchdog, I have no problem with this blog...every mega church pastor has a blogger in their church, but, if you really are trying to say the things you think are right, couldn't you go about it in the right way? Look at some of the posts on here that you have allowed to be shown...some on the Anon's say things that you should know better than to allow others to see. Let those who have a legit argument to post, but the others who simply call names and tear down, keep em from being shown such as Anon 7:18 am, who calls the Brunson's the "Texas Carpetbaggers"...that Anon showed no real argument but instead showed real immaturity. Watchdog, speak your mind, but do it with dignity, and hold everyone else to that same standard.

47

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Hi Anon - welcome to the blog. Thank you for having a kind spirit. I hate to tell you that you're wrong, but I will but I'll do it nicely.

You make my point about them not having defined ministry responsibilities. First Mac's wife: Mac's wife is NOT his secretary as you say, that is because George Kemp's WIFE is Mac's secretary. And you say that his wife does "counseling" with Mac - very wise, I agree. So his wife is a counselor at the church. Great, let's give her a title and let everyone know what that is. Who does she report to? Mac? That's nepotism. Who does her annual performance review and recommends her raises? Is that Mac? If so, nepotism. "Helping Mac with Counseling of Women"...is that a full time job? How often do women come for Mac for counseling? I might suggest that her role at the church is much larger than "counseling", but that's for another post. Point is, no job title, she works for her husband, and you a defender of Mac are confused about what she does. My point exactly.

As for Mac's son, you say his job title is "Director of Special Events". Well, the only way you would know that is that there have been several times when he has come to the platform and the media guys flash his name and title. Problem is its NOT "Director Special Events", its "Director of Special PROJECTS". And I believe you might see it on Mac's 501(c)3 website. We do know that his son makes just under $50,000, as an early 20's graduate from a Christian college with a Bachelor's degree and little experience. How do I know that is his salary? Because as I blogged during the Pastor's conference Mac brought him up to the platform to brag that his son "raised $100,000" to help defray the costs of the conference (not that God's people gave it, but Mac's son actually RAISED it - wow) and then Mac stepped in it even deeper when he said "that is almost twice his salary", as though his position and salary were justified because of his tremendous "fund raising" abilities.

But nowhere on the FBC Jax website do you see son and wife listed on the staff, although by salary they are earning a heft amount. The pastors at "sbc impact" discussing "ministerial compensation" might be interested to know that a 22 year old out of college with a bachelor's degree earns nearly $50,000 at a mega church - most pastors of small churches don't make that much. And "Director of Special Projects"? I didn't know that our church ministry had "special projects" that couldn't be handled by the other 20 something full time staffers. And why would son have to "organize many of the mission trips", since we have a full time missions "executive pastor"? My point: there is confusion even on your part as to what he does.

I'm troubled that you find it "mysterious" how it could be unethical that the head of a 501(c)3 organization accepts a $300k gift from one of the donors to the organization that he leads. That is a conflict of interest and would not be tolerated in any sense in a secular, non-profit organization. Is the church and the pastor above this same standard? No, it has nothing to do with secular or church, it has to do with wise stewardship of funds, and the appearance of impropriety. When the head of the organization is paid HANDSOMELY in salary and benefits, it is not in the organizations best interest that he accept large gifts from donors, but should instead he should use his power and influence to direct those donors to make the gifts to the organization itself and not to its head for his own personal enrichment. That ain't "mysterious" guy...that's the cold hard truth. What Mac did would have gotten him fired at any position - unless the land gift was not viewed as a gift but as a bennie to compensate Mac for his troubles in coming to Jax...and in that case we have bigger tax issues.

You seem to imply that if Mac is doing well in one area, like preaching (which I argue he is negligent even in that area in terms of content and frequency), or that if the church is "saving souls", then nothing else matters. Overlook land gifts, nepotism, abusive preaching, secretive bylaw changes because baptisms are up. That's poor management philosophy in general and wouldn't even stand up to sound logic. People were being saved while Bob Gray was fondling young children in his office. Let me tell you, people were being blessed by Gilyard's preaching that he did right after he sent sexually explicit text messages to teenage girls. And Walmart would not be concerned about unethical behavior on the part of the CEO because they have a profitable year?

Mac is "fleecing" our congregation. Am I happy that our baptisms are up? OF COURSE! Praise God. Am I happy that people are blessed by Mac's preaching and that some are coming to Christ? YES! But we must deal with the abuses, baptisms or no baptisms.

Notice I'm not saying this to slam you or criticize you personally Anon, I'm dealing strictly with your arguments, and I welcome your comments in return on my comments. Thanks.

Leeann S. said...

Wow! My name is Leeann. I am long time member of First Baptist Church. I must mention that it is surpising to me that someone with such bold views is not bold enough to reveal their name. Also, I am curious to know why someone who is so displeased with their church would choose to stay. I can imagine that this blog is thought to be in some twisted way of "fighting the good fight" or that this is a way to speak up for the throngs of members who think the same way you do but are too scared to voice thier opinion. I think it is a shame that one has the audacity to complain about their place of worship but lacks the courage to pick up and leave.

Let me be loud and clear-Mac Brunson is a man of God. He is a pastor. He is someone whom the Lord has placed in this church for this time. Most importantly though, he is just a MAN. It is impossible for Dr Brunson to make every person happy in the church. He does not have to answer to me or you or anyone else-he answers to God. God is the one who placed him there and God is the one that will remove him if need be. Dr Brunson is doing what he believes is right for our church according to what the Lord is leading him to do. For you to question Mac's motives or his integrity in his practices is simply disgraceful. There is a reason why there is a church on every street corner in Jacksonville. It is the principle of "there is something for everyone." Please understand that no church wants to see one of their members leave. But why would a church want their member to stay if it is apparently obvious that there is no way that person can be please?
There are so many points that have been covered in past blogs that I cannot possibly cover them all so I will skim the high points. Attendence-Hmmm...I am there on a regular basis and I have noticed that on Sunday mornings, even the balcony is full. I have been at FBC for alomst 15 years now and I know that this was not the case when when Dr V was in the pulpit. We are reaching new members and new Christians. It takes awhile for people to settle into attending church on regular basis. As for members that have left because they are unsatisfied with what FBC is doing-good for them. The church would be better to have 50 people in it that love and support the work of the church than to be filled with 9,000 who are grumbling and murmuring on blogs to "improve the church." Finances- Dr Brunson has the right to employ who he wants and place them in whatever position he chooses. These moves are approved by the board and not by him alone. To assume that he is employing his son and his wife soley for material gain on his part is ridiculous. Also, if you think this to be true-I question your integrity for wanting to be a member of a church with such a leader. OHHH! You are sticking around so that you can get the word out to others and really improve the church! How silly of me to think that this blog could possibly be a place where those with too much time on their hands and a chip on their shoulder come to blast a church who encourages it's members, does good for the community and works everyday to seek and save the lost in Jacksonville.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Hi Leann - welcome to the blog. I won't bother addressing the anonymity issue as we've addressed it over and over and over again. But I notice you didn't put your full name in your post. Why?

Sunday attendance in my estimation is about where it was when Vines left. On the other hand attendance on Wed nights and Sunday nights is down drastically.

You said:

"God is the one who placed him there and God is the one that will remove him if need be."

Sorry, you're wrong. God doesn't remove pastors actually. God doesn't hire them, God doesn't offer them salaries, he doesn't sign their paychecks. God uses human beings to do that.

But glad to have you as another blog reader. Please spread the word to other members.

Anonymous said...

So much for the sovereignty of God I guess?

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

No. God is sovereign.

But my point is he uses men to accomplish his will.

Is God sovereign to be able to deal with a blogger? Why do you claim the sovereignty of God to say that the pastor only is responsible to God, and therefore no one should tell him what to do. But you ignore the sovereignty of God when it comes to an anonymous blogger. We must stop this anonymous blogger! We must expose his identity, and hopefully silence him!

Ludie said...

Incredibly hard to believe you would want to have your church "drug through the mud" in the media. If half the things in your blog are half true, I would hope they could be addressed in house, without being smeared all over print and screen. What kind of witness would that be. Sad that your envy and disdain for your pastor leaves you to desire this for your church. Truly sad.

Anonymous said...

So do you think God is using you, Watchdog, through this blog?

You say God uses men, and I agree with you there. But do you think that God is using you personally through this blog? If not, why are you doing it?

Anonymous said...

Watchdog, Who are you?

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Anon, who are YOU?

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Is God using me?

Absolutely, without a doubt.

Anonymous said...

Keep on Barking! We need this BLOG!

Hey, did you hear the children's summer programs have been cancelled. No more choir or awanas.
Sunday School classes are DOWN!

Children's Music program was done in May, we usually do that in July.

Children have to sit with parents on Sunday night and Wednesday nights.

Wow! What a shame............

I guess this will help fill up the empty seats all over the Church.

We go on Sunday morning and the balcony is not full nor the downstairs.

We never use hymnals any more, I guess they will be gone, that will be more money for the budget!

Have you noticed the green ferns beside Dr. Brunson week after week. Boy!, I can remember we had beautiful REAL flowers every week. I guess that will be more money for the budget!

The choir has not been on a trip since Dr. Brunson has came. I guess that will be more money for the budget!

I go to the beauty shop and everyone is talking about FBC. Its the HOT topic of the day!

People drive from all over to come to FBC, now we are going to St. John's county to reach the unchurched.

Seems we have alot of members that are not coming, we could certainly try to reach those people and see why or what happend that thy are not attending anymore. They were there at one time!

My husband and I went and told two of the deacons that we were not happy, and they said were glad you came to talk to us. Alot of members are leaving without a word. They said they would have someone from the Church contact us?

Well> GUESS WHAT?? They never called. They really don't care!

Remember the song we would sing....MEET ME AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS AT FBC.......................

FBC stand up, get on your FEET for JESUS! Were standing on HOLY GROUND! WE NEED OUR CHURCH BACK!

Anonymous said...

Why do so many of you anonymous bloggers concern yourself with who the WD is? It doesn't make any difference at all who it is as the points he raises are totally ignored and you wish to focus the light on him. Why don't you address the issues he raises or is that just too hard for you? Obviously you don't have the answers otherwise you would furnish some. Stand back and investigate the concerns and then come back and tell us something!!!

You are wasting your time insulting WD. He is above your criticism. He appears to know more than you do.

Most of you have no idea of how PD can injure a church. Try studying some of the articles about it either in book form or on the internet. After you see the destruction, you will want no part of it. Hopefully!! This church is in transition to Purpose Driven.

There are always two sides to a story, so don't have a closed mind. Most of you "defenders" wear blinders that do not enable you to see what's in front of you.

I personally am really tired of people telling long time members who have helped build this church for years, they should leave the church and go elsewhere. NO!! You leave and take the Purpose Driven Movement with you!!! Many of us have been here all of our lives, raised our famalies here, been married here, lost loved ones and had their funerals here. We have been present when the Lord was in charge of this church. So DON'T TELL US TO LEAVE. You wouldn't have a church if many of us had not given financially, worked, visited(back then, not now) sang in the choir,helped in every area there was a need. Taken food to members of our S.S. classes when it was needed. I think you need to take another look at who you are telling to leave!! Besides if too many leave remember the money goes with them, and we know how important money is down there now. Maybe you should be thankful that anyone is left. By, the way the balcony is empty on Sunday.

RM said...

Its kind of scary to see how many people delight in the questionable things that are going on in your church. Instead of whining, they should get in there are work to make things better.

Personally, I think this whole thing about the Purpose Driven church is a smokescreen. Most of the things I am reading are simply people who are against change and want things to stay "like they used to be."

If you stay "like you used to be" then you will only have people over 50 in your church and eventually they will all die.

Anonymous said...

anon - I don't want to avoid change. I just would like to be handed a copy of the by-law changes and a brief discussion on them before I am asked to vote on them.

And oh yeah, if a donor gives $307,000 to the brand new preacher and not to the church itself, I would at least like some acknowledgement of that gift from the pastor (he let us know he received a watch the other day)and some reasonable attempt to explain why the pastor personally was given the gift and not the church ministry. Otherwise, there is an appearance of unethical quid pro quo behavior, or greed, or influence buying. Especially when the ONE and ONLY commercial ever run during a sunday a.m. service for a local business (Collins Builders) just so happened to be the sons of J.D. Collins who gave the gift.

What about you? Does that have anything to do with who the Watchdog is, or anything to do with being purpose driven or not, or anything to do with not wanting to change. Please, someone help me understand why these other topics come up when these kinds of concerns are raised?

Anonymous said...

rm: You have no idea of what you are talking about. This great church has been a lighthouse for
Jax for over 170 years. Get real.

You have quoted Rick Warren verbatim. Those are his words to some preachers in a meeting a few years back. You should read The Dark Side of the Purpose Driven Church by James Sundquist, for a true picture of PD. Check out info from Noah Hutchings at www.s.w.r.c.com., if you can ignore that you are the one putting up the "smoke screen".

Anonymous said...

Hey all again,

Watchdog, I appreciate the manner in which you handled my post, you showed more maturity than most of the Anons who post here. However, I have to say that you are wrong and I will do my best to explain my reasoning logically.

First off, the Pastors wife is his secretary. He has stated that numerous times from the pulpit as she has stated several times when doing events for the church. Like you, I have done my homework and found that she was his secretary at Green Street Baptist Church, along with 2 other secretaries. In Dallas, she was also his secretary along with Mrs. Kemp and, at that time, her husband Mr Kemp before he was put in charge of missions. For years now, Mrs. Kemp and Mrs. Brunson have teamed up to assist the Pastor in the form of secretaries. Now, as for the counseling, neither one of us knows how many woman the Pastor and his wife meet with, but I'm sure at a church our size, they counsel with more people than we think. Is that proof of nepotism? Not at all. However, speaking logically, your argument is as follows: "If the Pastor hired family members and is personally overseeing their pay, evaluations etc. Than that is nepotism." Your argument is an "If Then" argument, which is a logical fallacy, and must be rendered irrelevant on the basis that you can not prove that the Pastor personally oversees these affairs. You can, and by all means, may ASSUME, but logically, as you say you wish to handle these arguments, you can not state the Pastor is guilty of nepotism. Furthermore, the Pastor himself does not have the ability to personally alter salaries. He must go through the finance committee to do so, and must have specific reasons for salary increase/decrease by law for tax purposes.

Secondly, his sons title is Director of Special Events, as is shown on the FBCJax website under the Pastors profile where it mentions all members of the Brunson family. Lets not argue over a one word difference of "Events" and "Projects". They are one in the same, and no one word receives any higher pay than the other. The church does in fact have special events/projects. Like I mentioned before, the Pastors Conference, as well as the restoration project of the burned down church, area Bible studies and local outreach ministries carried out by certain Sunday School classes. I even recall George Kemp commenting on how the Pastors son helped organize over seas missions trips. As for his pay, neither one of knows his salary. I was there to hear the remark made by the Pastor at the Conference about the money raised and it being more than his sons salary. However, I didnt take that as anything more than a father proud of his son for putting together an amazing conference. Also, I didnt take his remark to be that his son personally raised the money and it was all him and not God. If the Pastor preaches anything, its that God will bless, but we can't just sit around and expect those blessings to fall into our laps. What the Pastors son did with the conference was most definitely blessed by God. Did Trey Brunson raise the money? Absolutely. Did God ALLOW him to raise the money? Absolutely. He raised the money, but only through the blessing and direction of God.

Now on to this land deal. Once again, neither one of us knows every detail behind the land gift. I can say in full confidence that the Pastor still pays the taxes on the land. Was it all 100% a gift? I dont know, but I wouldn't assume so. The Pastor seems to be very business savvy and im sure he recognized the ramifications of accepting a gift of that size. The fact is, we dont know the details behind that situation. I understand that you see it as an abuse, to where I see it as something I dont need to concern myself with. If the Pastor has abused the church in any way, the judgment of God will carry a heavier weight than a blog. Am I saying dont blog? No. Like I said in my last post, every mega church pastor has someone blogging about them. The fact is, we dont know, and if God wanted us to know, He would have told us in some way.

Once again, Thank you for responding to my post & I look forward to your next response Brother

47

Anonymous said...

I am a member of FBC Dallas. I would like to ask Anon who he thinks Dr. Brunson and his wife actually counsel. My experience was that a normal tithing person couldn't get past his secretary ( who was not Mrs. Brunson). I do not know of one person who ever got a email answered or a call returned from his office. He would meet with people to counsel? Other than meeting with donors to explain how he was going to be at our church until he died, I cannot ever recall. I am curious how he now has the time to do that.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Anon - great, Mac has two secretaries. Thanks for clarifying. I would like to know the salary of both of those "secretaries". Think as a concerned member I could find the salary that our tithes are paying his wife as a "secretary"? I have heard that her salary is not a "secretary's" salary but much more.

About the logical fallacy claim: what I'm saying is that it is a bad business practice for executive management to have family members as direct reports. Not a good idea for a whole host of reasons I won't go into. Most companies have policies prohibiting such arrangements.

About the remark at Pastor's Conference. I was there, and I heard it. He very clearly said that Trey raised $100,000 to defray the costs of the conference, and he very clearly said: "...and that is more than twice Trey's salary." David Jeremiah was on the platform when Mac said that, and he even joked about it when he got up to preach just moments later, saying in effect if there is some correlation between money Trey raised and his salary, then by all means let's give him a raise. But Mac saying that is so incredibly careless - I understand a father's love, but this shows that he is incapable of separating of what is best for our church and his desire to do good by his family. Very clearly, Trey Brunson, if he "raised" the money (whatever that means, maybe he made some phone calls asking for donations?) it was likely because his last name is "Brunson" and not because he's an ace fund raiser. And to claim that a person in our church "raised funds" is absurd! We don't "raise funds" at our church, we rely on God's people out of their love for the Lord and love for people to give generously. For Mac to credit his son for "raising the funds" is just a smack in the face to the people who out of their love for the Lord who gave that money.

I'm not saying that Trey is not doing good things. But my point is this: I am suspicious. Why do we need a "Director of Special Events" if that is his title, when we have a whole complement of full time staff members who cover all areas of ministry in our church? That seems to me to be a fluff position...one that if times got tough and we needed to cut something, cut that job and let the other full time ministers pick up any slack left over. Looks to be a position created for a family member, rather than a perceived need in our church that needed to be filled by the most qualified person. Sorry, Mac has not earned anything close to a "pass" on this one.

Anonymous said...

Hey "47" - thanks for sharing your views in a coherent manner. Since you are willing to do so can you respond to my questions such as:

Is it too much to ask to be handed a copy of the by-law changes and a brief discussion on them before I am asked to vote on them? Why was this not done?

And if a donor gives $307,000 personally to the head of a 501(c)(3) ministry instead of the to the 501(c)(3) ministry itself, doesn't that threaten the status of the organization as tax exempt and isn't this exactly what Senator Grassley's committee is concerned about? Now had this been give to Vines or Lindsay after decades of service it might not have raised an eyebrow, but when given to the brand new preacher and not to the church itself, I would at least like some acknowledgement of that gift from the pastor (he let us know he received a watch the other day)and some reasonable attempt to explain to the congregation why the pastor personally was given the gift and not the church ministry. Otherwise, there is an appearance of unethical quid pro quo behavior, or greed, or influence buying. Especially when the ONE and ONLY commercial ever run during a sunday a.m. service for a local business (Collins Builders) just so happened to be the sons of J.D. Collins who gave the gift.

What are your thoughts on these two concerns?

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Back to Brumley: I find it humorous when giving attendance numbers at FBC Jax, he gives a number for Sunday morning, anumber Sunday evening, and a number for Wednesday evening services.

Why give us "averages" for the Sunday am and pm, but then a "maximum" for Wednesday? Why not give me averages for all three? Or maximums for all 3? Answer: to cast Mac Brunson in the best light possible. The fact is Wednesday night numbers are PATHETIC - so pathetic we can say what we "average" on Wednesday, have to speak in terms of "up to" numbers. We used to have a strong Wednesday night showing, because people knew if Dr. Vines was or was not going to be there (he usually was, if not, it was announced Sunday morning who it WOULD be), and we had full confidence we would get fed from the word if Vines was in the pulpit. While Mac has done better of late on Wednesdays preaching from the bible, we weren't sure if it was going to be a history lesson or a bible lesson. Or if it was going to be Mac in the pulpit, or some member of the staff, or someone else. It is absolutely incredibly difficult for people these days to make it downtown on Wed nights, so many people have quite coming because of the uncertainty of whether they were going to be fed from the Word or not.

Anonymous said...

Hey RM

You are not the person I thought you were. Why, you are another PURPOSE DRIVEN GUY AREN'T YOU. You fooled us there for a minute but we see you now.

You have been flying under the RADAR haven't you. I thought more highly of you PREACHER.

No, the PURPOSE DRIVEN problem is not a smoke screen. It is alive and well here at FBCJ. Why, we even have courses by the following PD preachers. Andy Stanley, Ed Young Jr., Rick Warren, Bill Hybels and others. No there is no smoke screen here we know quite well what is happening here.

You are down there in Texas. Maybe you could not see that from there. Maybe you could not see that our numbers are dwendling. You know that happens when you bring a contemporary church program into the finest, TRADITIONAL, 28,000 member church in the country. Maybe you could not see us being ripped apart. Maybe you could not see our young peoples choirs dwendling to about 2/3rds of what they once were.. Maybe you could not see that we now have about half the members we once had. I know, you are in Texas.

As for us being stewards for the Lord, getting in there and working, many who have left were the pillars who helped grow the church for the Lord.

I am not apposed to someone like Andy Stanley and Ed Young starting there own PD churches. What I am apposed to is someone bringing that apostacy into our church.

Most of the people in our church had no idea what PD was before Brunson came. Nor did I. But now through this blog and others the members are becoming aware of what has happened to them.

Let me ask you this, if you were bringing the PURPOSE DRIVEN CHURCH GROwTH PROGRAM INTO ANOTHER CHURCH WOULD YOU TELL THE MEMBERS OR WOULD YOU KEEP IT A SECRETE?

You do not need to answere that PREACHER. I know you well enough already to know that you would tell the members. Well MAC BRUNSON SAID WE ARE NOT GOING PURPOSE DRIVEN. WELL, WE ARE PURPOSE DRIVEN.

Enough Said!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey all,

Again, thank you Watchdog for your response, I am coming to a clearer understanding of your thoughts and posts. A thanks to the Anon who also asked for my response to their questions. I will definitely address Watchdog's response, as well as your questions.

To start off with, I am a member of the church, like most who post on here. I have read the posts on here, the questions raised and the arguments given, and have come to a conclusion: Getting the answers to the questions would not stop the questioning and skepticism. As soon as one question is answered, another is raised. Watchdog, if the Pastor were to come out and explain all the details and answer your every question, i imagine you would post a blog entitled "The Answers Should Have Been Given Sooner". This is in no way to mock you or put you down, its simply an observation I have made from previous posts.

Watchdog, you wanted a title given to the Pastors wife and son...when you were made aware of those titles, you shrugged off those answers and raised more questions such as salary and intent/necessity of the position. I acknowledge you may have asked these questions before, but why is it you so carelessly passed over answers to other questions you asked?
"Anon - great, Mac has two secretaries. Thanks for clarifying."
For the issue of titles to have been such a big deal, you come across as sarcastically passing the answers to the side, to, in the same breath, ask about their salaries. Then, after getting Trey Brunson's title you went to assuming it is a fluff position. This is why I think that you receiving the answer to your questions from the Pastor would only broaden the door for you to raise more questions.

Is it bad management for the CEO of a corporation to place family members in positions directly under themselves? Sure, ill agree with you on that point. However, the church is not a business, nor is it a corporation. The goal of the church is to minister to those in need. If the Pastor feels his wife and his son are able to aid him in achieving that goal better than someone else, then I think it is perfectly right for him to allow them to work for the church. I think that is your confusion, they work for the church, not for the Pastor. The church over sees their salaries, not the Pastor. If Dr. Brunson were personally handling their pay, then I would be on here with you blogging about it.

As to the desire to know their salaries, I believe that desire shows, not a distrust in your Pastor, but rather a distrust in your fellow church members. The finance committee was established before the Pastor arrived, and those committee members were selected by the members, as well as the deacons who also over see the financial state of the church. That committee, not the Pastor, decides each staff members salary, even the Pastors. To question the pay of a staff member, isn't a questioning of the Pastors personal agenda, but rather, a skepticism in your fellow members, whom you say you speak for on this blog.

As to why the positions of the Pastors wife and son are necessary. Neither one of us work at the church, so we are not aware of the every day stresses, distractions and ordeals take place. Could the other staff members handle Trey Brunson's job? I dont know, but neither do you. What we do know, is that Trey Brunson has a job, and the job he has, he has, thus far, done very well at it. Why do I say he's done well at it? The things we know he has been apart of, have been organized and carried out in a great way. You can look at my last post to see the things I listed that I know of that Trey Brunson has had a hand in. The Pastors Conference went off without a glitch, the No Limits Class is, by my understanding, growing weekly and is one of the most active classes in the church. The area Bible studies are booming all over Jacksonville along with weekly local mission projects. Would you call all of these successes fluff?

Finally, Anon, to respond to your questions. I dont think your request concerning the by-laws is a ridiculous thing to ask. However, we dont know the circumstances behind every detail to the situation. When I voted for Dr. Brunson to come to FBCJax, I did so because I believed, and still do, that he was/is Gods man. With that being said, I have to trust that God will, like His word says, work all things for the good. We dont know why the by-laws were not made public before voted upon, but we also don't know that the Pastor isn't planning on discussing them with us at a later time. We dont know that the Pastor didn't have a specific reason for handling things the way he did. All I know, is that God promises to take care of His own, and I have to have faith that Mac Brunson is Gods man for FBCJax, just like we all did when we voted for him our Pastor. This is also my response behind the land deal. We dont know all the details, but we also don't know that the Pastor wont discuss this with the church at a later time, or that he had a good reason not to discuss it with us when he came.

We all trusted God when we voted for him to be our Pastor, now some question the one they believed was Gods man. Am I saying to blindly trust a man? No, but, Watchdog knows that this blog is built upon his own suspicions and assumptions that lack hard evidence. I can not prove what I say, Watchdog can not prove what he/she says, and in the end, if one's own assumptions distract them from Gods call on their life...then they have dug themselves in a hole and not the person they are suspicious of.

47

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Anon - I have to hand it to you, you are trying and doing a good job.

Let me give a few responses:

1. Not answering important questions because in answering those questions more questions might be asked, is not logical and its insulting to intelligent church members...unless you believe the original questions to be a waste of time to begin with, which Mac obviously does. So what if more questions might be asked after some are answered? Those are what we might call "follow up" questions and should be answered too. And people posting here HAVE gone to the pastor and other staff members and NOT had their questions answered.

2. I concede your point on the wife and son on staff: I don't like it and no answers will sway me really. They were given positions almost immediately upon arrival, and they were given newly created positions. I understand it was part of the deal that they would get paying staff jobs - and I thus am skeptical that these two positions are real needed positions at our church and not just created positions to allow Mac to provide financially for his family (part of the fleecing of our congregation) - that is nepotism by definition - the needs of the leader and his family come before the needs of the organization. Mac should never counsel women alone, as no pastor should. But that doesn't mean that the solution is: "put wife on staff"; can she do this as a lay person? Why not? Must she be paid for those counseling sessions? And Trey does good ministry - that is super. But so do many other people at our church who are LAY LEADERS and spend tens of hours per week doing many of the same things you are saying he does. This goes to Mac's poor judgement in putting them on staff immediately upon arrival and not foreseeing the problems some might have, and attempting to avoid those problems by explaining to the congregation up front why the new positions are needed, and why wife and son were the best for those positions. Instead, he did it because he could.

3. You are wrong, the church is a corporation. Its a 501(c)3 non profit religious organization, and good business practices should be employed in all areas. Mac is a big proponent of using modern marketing techniques in his transition to purpose driven (hence his use of the A Group marketing consulting firm), so I believe he should also recongize the importance of a church with 100 employees and revenue of $15 million per year using sound business practices. Hiring son and wife on staff in newly created positions immediately upon arrival smells of nepotism. We should have a nepotism policy at our church. I predict we will, after the Brunsons leave.

4. Why is wanting to see salaries an expression of distrust of my fellow church members? Its called "accountability". When those in power know their decisions may be viewed by the givers of the money, that will be a powerful force for them to make fiscally responsible decisions with regard to salary, especially pastor and family salary and benefits.

5. You mention the finance committee. With the bylaws being changed I'm not even sure that a finance committee even exists anymore; perhaps the finance committee was disbanded and they are now trustees appointed by the pastor. Need to have the pastor explain the church bylaw changes to his congregation. But that might raise other questions according to your logic, which we don't want, so I don't think we'll hear anything about the bylaws anytime soon.

6. Regarding your last two paragraphs: I too voted for Mac Brunson. I shed a tear when we voted for him, I was so happy. I can't tell you how eagerly I awaited his arrival. I knew change was coming. And I was ready to get to work with a new pastor on board. But Mac's first year did nothing but erode my confidence in him as "God's Man". From his abusive preaching style, to his hiring of wife and son on staff, to his agreeing to receive a $300k gift from one of our donors and not disclosing that to the church membership, to advertising Holy Land trips, to his Wed night "church history lessons" in place of bible studies the summer of 2006, his not preaching on Sunday nights to work on book manuscripts, putting son in law in our pulpit Sunday night unannounced and him not being ready for such as weighty task, to the Paige Patterson comment about Mac not getting a honeymoon...the "nobody is home anymore" argument as reasons why we MUST start a school....and on and on and on and on...all of these things led me to the conclusion: Mac is fleecing us, he is using our congregation and our finances to build his own brand and enrich himself and his family members. I know those are strong accusations, but that is the conclusion I've come to after 2+ years of the Brunson regime.

Anonymous said...

47" The pastor has been here almost 900 days. This is twice as long as Noah was on the boat. Just how much time do you won't him to take?

Anonymous said...

No 47:::

Are you a fiction novelist? Or do we now have an official defender on staff? Do you get paid?

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Be kind to 47 please. He's making an honest attempt to reason with the bloggers and for that I commend him.

Bird Dog said...

Well said!
I never liked him the first time I heard him preach. people said "you have not given him a chance." So I gave him a chance and for about a year I really thought I was wrong about my first inclination. Soon after this he started his "Propaganda Sermons" such as the "Sheltering Trees" and commits that hes not going to ask permission to do God's will. We are suppose to blindly follow. Bringing in a "School Speaker" in the stead of a sermon. This is ridiculous! My stand on Bruunson has left me shunned from people I thought were true friends. I have since started visiting other churches and I think I have found one.

They are very open and came to our house to answer any questions we had. And get this, they offered a copy of the by-laws to us and we were just visitors! Heck! I could not get a copy as a life time member at FBCJ! Some thing is up! no matter who denies it.

WD I respect you greatly but I don't agree on your opinion on Tithing. This does not mean we can try to change our church back to a time B.B.(Before Brunson) I really don't wish for him to leave. All I want is him to change. I doubt that will happen.

As to the people who are worried about the WD's identity. He is at a place in the church high up or knows of someone who is. I have my own personal opinion on who he could be. This matters not. I am a fan of the "Splinter Cell" series of games and look at the WD as a "Undercover Agent" For the WD to reveal himself would be the same as a undercover cop telling a gang of drug runners that hes a cop and to keep telling him more incriminating information. That will not happen so the WD must remain in hiding.

As for the people who think that being anonymous is cowardly hiding. It is simply a way to keep my families name out of the mud lest they be shunned such have I when they do not share the same opinions as I do.

This being said I hope there is a time when I can return to FBCJ and feel the presence of the Lord. As long as Brunson is doing his thing that is not a possibility.

Oh! this is a thought that just came to me. When we vote as a church, with 10,000+ "I"s who would say "Nay"? The church I am at now passes around a voting pamphlet. Now thats how it should be done!
Peer pressure is even in the church!

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Bird Dog - can you further explain what you mean by "propaganda sermons", "sheltering trees" and "school speaker"? It might be helpful if you elaborate on what exactly you're referring to.

Bird Dog said...

Well it would be much more simple if i had access to the past podcasts. oh and I find it funny thats its not the FBC podcast its the Dr. Brunson podcast.Anyway a "propaganda sermon" is any sermon(if you could call it that) he preaches that contains little or no gospel but is to persuade people to buy into his ideals, such as the school. If I had access to the old podcast I could show you what I mean.

I hope thins helps.

Anonymous said...

I will apologize "another day", Watchdog. Maybe when when I get an apology for the treatment my family and I received!!! Right!!! more fiction!!!

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Anon - didn't suggest an apology...just a bit more civility. Thanks.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Anon - didn't suggest an apology...just a bit more civility. Thanks.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Bird dog - I DID like Mac Brunson the first time I heard him. I knew he wouldn't be the next Jerry Vines or Adrian Rogers, but he seemed to have that perfect blend of Homer's directness, but a bit of Vines intellect. And we were told he was a conservative, and we were told he was an expository preacher, and a "redneck" - a man like us.

But I soon saw that we were sold something other than advertised.

We were told that he has "blazing oratory", that he is one of the "finest Bible expositors in the country". He might be "blazing" if you consider "blazing" to mean "really loud with a deep booming voice and a blazing red face when he gets mad at us". His standard "sermon" is NOT a bible exposition. He hunts and pecks his scripture to make the points that HE wants to make to his congregation. This is one of the most glaring, stark differences between he and our previous pastors. It is in fact what our previous pastors warned us about. He thinks he's using lots of scripture and that this makes him a bible expositor. But leaving one of Mac's hunt and peck sermons gives his listeners that same unfed feeling that you would have if you went to Steak and Ale and just took one bite of the T-bone, had a spoonful of baked potato, but never really sunk your teeth into the full meal. Those of you that sat under Lindsay and Vines know the difference between bible exposition and the convicting, life changing power that the Word, preached verse by verse in context has, versus "sermonetttes" that are messages from the preacher peppered with some bible versus (often taken out of context) to make the pastor's point of the day.

In fact, expository preaching is one of the reasons people came so far to attend church downtown! The expository preaching, unashamedely preaching the Word and GET THIS:

Vines and Lindsay were TOUGH ON SIN, SOFT ON PEOPLE.

Under Brunson: Its VAGUE ON SIN AND VERY HARD ON PEOPLE.

Why do I say "vague on sin"? Because Brunson's continual references to "legalistic lists" is very confusing to young people who are struggling to understand the difference between "wise convictions" and "legalism".

Why do I say "hard on people"? One of Mac's "styles" if you want to call it that: is to speak to his congregation condescendingly. I won't go into it, but one recent example was his sermon on finances. For my preacher to say "Praise Jesus you didn't get the raise you wanted because you would have used that to get further in debt"...all the while HE is a millionaire who has plenty of "margin" on the backs of God's people who do their best to give generously...I mean that is at best careless, elitist NONSENSE; at worst its spiritual abuse of his sheep to say that. And that is just one example among many.

The hunt and peck preachers are a dime a dozen these days, and you and I drive past 10 such churches on our way downtown now only to get what we could get right down the street.

The marketing campaign was SLICK. After we voted for the Brunsons, they took 2 months to come here (PAID), while we paid very high profile, and EXPENSIVE preachers to come in and tell us how great Mac was going to be, what a great expositor he was, but we got something else.

An interesting question to consider: was this how Mac was in Dallas, or did he change between Dallas and Jax? Should we have seen this? Was he a "hunt and peck to make my points" kind of preacher in Dallas? If so, why didn't our search committee see it? If he changed between there and here, WHY?

Anonymous said...

To "47" - "If there is nothing to hide, than hide nothing." The assumption is that if our church knew what the committees had promised to Mac Brunson to get him to come; and if they knew what he, his wife and son made in the way of salary and benefits, there would be an outrage, mass exodus of members and drastic cuts in giving. So in a way, aren't those in leadership misleading the congregation? And if so, aren't they "robbing" the members by taking their money under false pretenses? If not, tell them the truth and this becomes a dead issue.

If the congregation is aware of the salary numbers and land gift, and has no problem with it, then those issues are no longer fodder for the blogs in my opinion. Until those very important matters are addressed, you will continue to see division and strife and ultimately decreased giving, reduced growth, and higher debt to finance the satellites and school.

And your speculation that the pastor may be planning to address the by-law changes and land gift are not supported in any way. If he wants to address these some day, let him say so. Until then, his actions lead me to speculate just the opposite of you.

RM said...

Well, its Thursday morning and I'm still laughing over being accused of being a Purpose Driven pastor. That's sure a new one on me (and my congregation.) I have always been true and faithful to the Word of God but open and receptive to new methods of sharing the gospel. If that makes me Purpose Driven, then so be it.

By the way, I don't know of any church the size of yours that publishes the salaries. It just ain't done...

As a pastor, I learned a long time ago not to be too quick in criticizing other pastors or churches that utilize methods that seem "modern" or "strange" to us. Obviously those who are in authority in your church are supportive of the changes that Mac is bringing. I would say that means your future there probably isn't going to be too happy.

Before you hyperventilate, I am not supportive of the PD movement and some of the things Mac has done but its time to move on and quit harping on his land deal and whether his wife and son work for the church. There are a lot of Southern Baptist churches where the pastor has his family members working for the church. Its nothing new.

Anonymous said...

rm: Maybe you are prepared to compromise what you believe acceptable. Many of us are not!! As for nepotism being prevelant in the SBC, I am not suprised. The SBC is not too high on my "ethical" list currently. From what I see it's "buyer beware" when trusting these gentlemen to have anyones interest at heart other than their own. Otherwise, why are so many millionaires?

Anonymous said...

RM

You may not be PD. If you are not I stand corrected.

RM this is for your information and edification. You do not have to reply. This is a simple test to check to see if you have "bought into" the PD movement.

Do you have any of the following in your church?

small groups
facilitators
praise bands
rock music
loud music
blended music
contemporary worship service
contemporary music
seeker friendly preaching
very little preaching about Jesus,
the gospel,sin, or any hard things that the lost may have to deal with

This is a starter list but you should be able to see how deep you are into the PURPOSE DRIVEN movement from this list.

As I said earlier, you do not have to reply.

We at First Baptist Jacksonville too have had many programs over the years. Most designed to make us more effective soul winners. We are not against programs, we are against the apostate PURPOSE DRIVEN PROGRAMS. WHY YOU MAY ASK? BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT SCRIPTURAL.

Anonymous said...

I don't like the pastor's preaching.

That's my personal issue, not his.

I don't like the direction the church is going.

That's my personal feelings and not everything goes my way.

I don't like that the church is so different.

That's my personal opinion and the church does not have to do things my way.

The preacher is purpose driven.

I don't like it but ultimately I must ask can we reach lost people for His name being PD. I believe we can.

The numbers are down.

I have missed some Sunday's, not invited people to join me when I do go and have not shared Jesus with anyone in many months.

It's all the Mac's fault.

Of course it is, it is never mine.

My quiet time this morning took me through the letter to Sardis and I applied it to my life, not the life of the many people in my church. I have been known for my reputation of busyness but Ihad to admit this morning, I was dying and near death.

I went back to the previous churches and got honest with scripture and discovered I had been looking to much at Mac and to little at Jesus. I had lost my first love.

I will no longer be Mac's judge, my life is to far from complete to point my finger his way.

Anonymous said...

anon July 3, 2008 3:08 PM - I am sure Team Brunson will be glad to hear that because you have your own problems you will continue to look the other way while he and his family fleece us and abuse our congregations.

Maybe now he can go ahead and add Barry to the staff and have his grandchild closer to "honey" and you will never say a word or ask even one quesion. Is that how it works? I hope not. Thank Jesus for the Watchdog!

Bird Dog said...

Hey Watchdog!

I have had some free time from work and such things and was looking over your past Blog.
That Jenifer chick is quite belligerent and close minded. No reason to think twice about her thought. I have never seen such anger and denial from someone.

Now I am hoping you play chess, all great thinkers do. You have my email and if you wan to play I'd love to. I know Yahoo! has chess to play and I'm sure there are others. Just give me the details if your interested!

And to Jon Estes, your dead on brother! I could not of said it better myself. many of the people getting bogged down with the names is looking past what they accomplish. if you missed it anyone this is his post.(hope you don't mind Jon)

"Those praying for the bloggers to be exposed better be careful what they pray for. Things will get considerably worse and much more public if this blog moves from a "harmless bunch of anonymous cowards" to real live leaders in our church and community with names and faces. It is in Team Brunson's best interest that these bloggers not be "exposed."

If and when the bloggers decide to take this to the next level, don't worry, you will all know who they are when you see them on the news and read about them in the paper. But for now, they choose restraint and prayer and patience and anonymous blogging."

Now that's funny...

Amen and amen. Maybe we should give them what they want and they will be the ones who damage our church more than this Blog ever could.

Peace & love,
Bird Dog

RM said...

If some of you guys think that praise bands, contemporary music, blended music, and contemporary worship services make you PD then you are sadly mistaken. We Baptists were fighting over those things long before PD came into existence.

Sounds to me like you are fighting the battle of the "old against the new" that we have already fought here in Texas--and the new won! Traditional churches are either dying or a thing of the past around here.

Dr. Charles Stanley once said that he had a group of people in his church that would lock arms and sing, "We Shall Not Be Moved". Now I'm beginning to think you have that same group singing in your church.

Its time to let go of some of the past and welcome new methods. Remember, the message never changes but the methods do. The songs that you probably still love were revolutionary when they were introduced. Jesus didn't sing "Amazing Grace"--it came later.

Anonymous said...

WILLOW CREEK HUGE SHIFT

In Christianity Today June 2008 there is an article on Bill Hybels and the Willow Creek Community Church

Dr. Brunson this is for you.

The Christianity Today article reads as follows.

"After modeling a seeker-sensitive approach to church growth for three decades, Willow Creek Community Church plans to gear its weekend services tword mature believers seeking to grow in the faith."

It continues, "The change comes on the heels of an ongoing four-year research effort first made public last summer in Reveal:Where are you"

"And that would replace its midweek services with classes on theology and bible."

"Greg Pritchard, author of Willow Creek Seeker Services, said the church sporadicly has recognized it was not teaching a robust enough theology and needed TO TURN THE SHIP AROUND."

And it took FOUR YEARS to figure that out.

Folks he is going back to a TRADITIONAL CHURCH. Well, I may be just a little over optimistic. Anyhow, THANK YOU LORD1

Anonymous said...

Hey all again,

I will address only Watchdog in this post and none other seeing as how he/she is the only one on this site who has responded to my arguments in a dignified way.

Watchdog, after doing some research and speaking with several lawyer friends of mine on the subject of the land deal, I feel I may have some answers that I hope in some fashion, will satisfy your curiosity.

You mentioned in your last response to my post that the church is in fact a corporation due to its 501(c)3 status. Here is the issue with that, there are 28 separate areas to which a 501(c)3 applies too such as: Religious, Charitable, Scientific, Literary and Educational. I am sure I dont need to say this, but, FBCJax would fall under the Religious section. For this section there are certain benefits, such as tax exemptions, and certain consequences if the 501(c)3 regulations and guidelines aren't kept, such as an Excise Tax. However, in order for FBCJax to be considered for a 501(c)3 Religious affiliation, it must not do one thing: Sell/trade stocks. Why is this important? For any organization to be considered, by law, a corporation, it must sell/trade stocks, if not publicly, then among its shareholders. By law, FBCJax is no corporation, but simply a Religious/Charitable organization which is acknowledged by its 501(c)3 status.

You ask why the land deal was kept a secret, why the Pastor didn't announce to the church of the deal or who gave him the land, and also why the land wasn't given to the church if it was a member giving the land. All of these are good questions to ask, I am not in any way trying to put down your suspicions, but rather, help put to ease your suspicions.

To my point, had the Pastor publicly stated from the pulpit that a member of the congregation, or according to its 501(c)3 status, that a shareholder in the organization, (all members are considered shareholders), then that would have been considered an Excess Benefit Transaction, and the church would have had to pay an Excise Tax. It is perfectly fine and legal for a member to give something to the Pastor, but a gift of that size, given by a member, if announced publicly, would have cost the church the exact price of the land in addition to having to pay the taxes on the land.

Also, the 501(c)3 status, also protects from any one member on staff from making, what the government would consider, based upon the size and income of the organization, an excessive salary. The Pastor does not have the authority to raise or decrease pay without specific reasons, which must first be voted on by the finance committee, then regulated by the church's 501(c) status.

So, to sum things up, I understand your suspicions, but, according to the 501(c)3 status of the church, the Pastor couldn't have announced the details of the land gift without costing the church money, and making its members pay for his land. Nor could the Pastor have given his family members, or any of the staff, any special pay or benefits according to the 501(c)3 Religious section.

I hope this helps Watchdog and I am anxious to hear your thoughts brother!

47

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

RM - I for one don't agree that more contemporary styles of worship are wrong.

I don't mind FBC Jax members coming here voicing their concerns over the way Mac Brunson has changed our church, but I've said over and over again, from the beginning of this blog:

My beef with Mac Brunson is not primarily over the music, the worship styles, the NASB vs. KJV, color of carpets, etc. It is, well, everything else that I've blogged about.

I said last year here that Mac was going to have trouble leading this church anywhere: PD, seeker friendly, or more traditional, or less traditional, ties or no ties, sandals or sneakers, or captial program or no capital program, debt or no debt,...the problem is his leadership is failing because of the things he has done, consistently, to squander the "good will" that the people of Jax gave to him on his arrival.

I will say however that in the last few months I am MORE concerned now about his lack of preaching Jesus, his "hunt and peck" style of preaching, etc than I was when the blog started. And the move toward some elements of the PD: we would have followed a loving, humble, Bible/expository preacher who put the interests of the church and its ministries above his own personal interests...he COULD HAVE led us, but he has squandered his chances I believe. Can he salvage it? Yes, there is still time. Its totally up to him, not this blogger or anyone else. It is square in Mac's lap. I just hope he is getting wise counsel from his inner circle, and not filtered messages.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

47: thanks for that clarification.

That explanation is quite interesting, and I hope there are some readers here that might be able to confirm whether what you say is true or is not true.

I'm not the smartest guy in the world, and I certainly am no expert in taxes and religious organizations, but I wasn't born yesterday! I am almost 100% confident in saying this...and if I'm wrong I'll eat my hat - I'm going out on a limb here:

That is 100% horse dung.

Yes, horse dung.

You're coming here telling me, that whether the church had to pay taxes or not is determined by what the pastor announces from the pulpit regarding the gift? NO WAY JOSE'!!!! You have got to be absolutely kidding me. I've never even heard of such a thing. Tax consequences of gifts have to do with the nature of the gift, the relationship of the giver and receiver, and the amount, and the intent...but my God man, it can't be that whether a man discloses a gift or not from the pulpit to his congregation THAT determines the tax consequences.

I don't believe it, and I think you've been duped. Sounds almost Clintonesque.

Excuse me for being so direct, I'm not trying to slam you personally 47, but I hope, I HOPE, that you don't really believe that.

Again, if I'm wrong, I'll eat my hat. Can one or more people that know tax consequences of gifts and charitable organizations - can you confirm this so I know whether to put salt and pepper on my hat?

But whether it be true or not what 47 says: it still doesn't take away the fact:

Mac had no business accepting a gift from one of our donors of that size, after God's people giving God's money had already well taken care of the Brunson family needs in the transition from Dallas. Especially since he wrote in his book that pastors should be careful not to accept gifts.

Anonymous said...

I think I can help clarify what "47" was trying to say...he wasn't entirely wrong, but not 100% accurate either.

Watchdog, you are right in a few areas, tax consequences do depend on the giver, receiver, nature and amount of the gift. HOWEVER, seeing as how the nature of the deal was in no way intended to hinder the church, or organization, in any financial way, nor was the nature of the gift intended to hinder the structure of how the church, or organization, is run, there can, by law, be no tax consequences due to its nature.

The giver and receiver of a gift also play a role in tax consequences, which this is, I believe, what "47" was trying to explain but fell short in. The gift was given from one "shareholder" of an organization to another "shareholder" of the organization. This, in and of itself, is absolutely harmless. Where it gets sticky is the fact that it was a "shareholder" giving a gift to an employee of the organization. Had Dr. Brunson announced that there was a member of the church, or "shareholder" in the organization, that had given him a substantially sized gift, the responsibilities that go along with that gift, would have then fallen on the whole organization. According to the churches 501(c)3, the announcing of such gift would be viewed as, or considered by law, as an employee associating the organization with the gift, therefore incurring tax consequences for the organization by the terms of the 501(c)3's Excess Benefit Transactions.

Basically, had the deal been announced publicly, the government would have seen an employee who received a gift from a "shareholder" passing his tax responsibilities to the organization, having them pay his taxes.

I hope this helped clarify what "47" was trying to explain. I am an attorney in Jacksonville, but will keep my identity unknown. Everyone on here should be able to respect that due to the number of anonymous posts.

Anonymous said...

WD, what sauce do you want with your hat?

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

47: One thing you had right on an earlier post. Answering questions must be avoided about the land gift, because as you said, an attempt to answer it only ends up raising a bunch more questions.

And boy were you right.

I'm going to have to help make some sense out of what 47 and this attorney are saying.

Look at this:

Basically, had the deal been announced publicly, the government would have seen an employee who received a gift from a "shareholder" passing his tax responsibilities to the organization, having them pay his taxes.

Huh? Do what?

That a mere man in 60 seconds opening his mouth to explain the nature of a gift changes the tax consequences of the gift?

Wouldn't the receiver of the gift airing a professionally produced commercial for the sons of the giver have more tax consequences that merely explaining the gift to the congregation?

Let's assume that the 47 and attorney are right.

If I follow 47's explanation, it goes something like this:

"WE WOULD HAVE announced the gift, but for this crazy darned tax rule that would have had negative financial consequences on the church, and thus this PREVENTED us from telling the congregation. We actually were looking out for the best interests of the church by not telling you all, because if we did tell you rubes, well, we would have had to pay taxes."

OK, if the congregation should have been told, why not tell them? Let the tax consequences fall where they may. If doing the right thing and telling the congregation about the gift changed the tax issues, SO WHAT? Which is more important, making the gift appear a certain way to the IRS, or being open and honest with the congregation about our pastor and a gift enriching him to the tune of a quarter mill from one of our donors? This explanation sounds more like an attempt to FIND some reason to justify NOT telling the congregation.

Or what about another option: pastor humbly refuses the gift, explaining his needs are more than met by the generous people of FBC Jax, and that the giver if moved to give the land to the Lord should give it to the church, and let the church decide what to do with it. If the church wants to give it to the pastor, so be it.

I smell a stinking rat in this explanation from 47 and the anon attorney. I want a 2nd legal opinion.

But thanks 47 for attempting to give us information...but as I said, only more questions now. Might want to quit while you're still ahead on this one.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

I don't concede yet Anon.

As I just posted, this seems to be more of "let's find a legal, tax reason to not tell the congregation."

We shall see.

And don't be too proud that 47 and the anon attorney really solved any major questions concerning the land. This what I'll call "twisted and convulted tax explanation" of why it was wise to be silent about the gift just goes to show all the more reason why it should not have been accepted in the first place.

Maybe Mac will put this in his pastor's guidebook on the next print - how to avoid tax consequences of accepting large gifts - DON'T TELL THE CONGREGATION - darn it, I know you'd like to tell them, but you JUST CAN'T!!

And as I posted, me thinks that producing and airing a TV commercial, er I mean a "testimony"....of the business owned by the sons of the gift giver...I think THIS might have more tax consequences than a man standing in front of a congregation explaining a gift. Anon attoreny, what do you say about that? Maybe it wasn't a gift afterall?

Mr. attorney: is there a time limit on this...I mean must we make sure no one ever mentions that Mac received the land gift, even if everyone already knows it?

More questions...

Anonymous said...

Hey all again,

Watchdog, you disappoint me with your attitude towards the information presented you, and you are right, more questions will be raised. One raised by me is this, what are your real intentions behind this blog? You are given answers to your questions by 2 different people, yet you refuse to acknowledge this information because it doesn't make sense to you.

I understand your reasoning by asking that if the congregation should have been told then why weren't they? Never did I say that the congregation should have been told about the deal. Seeing as how the deal had nothing to do with the church itself, there was no reason for the Pastor to tell the church anything about it. It was a personal gift and the Pastor evidently wished to keep it a personal gift. He also evidently had no desire for the church to pay for his land and its taxes. You have issues enough with the finances of the church, yet you say the Pastor should have announced the deal and caused the church to pay more. Had the Pastor shared the land deal details, I am quite positive that you would have blogged about how he was stealing from the church in order to fund his living expenses, as you already do in certain aspects.

You dont know that youre abuse assumptions are right, but, what we all know is that the church still has its 501(c)3 status indicating that the Pastor is evidently having the church abide by its regulations.

I dont ask for you to say you were wrong or admit a mistake. I have posted correct information that answers your questions, along with another attorney, and you are free to believe it or not. Your lack of acknowledgment on these answers given do not mean they aren't the truth.

Questions have been answered, yet your suspicion and skepticism still remain, which brings me back to my original question: If answers aren't what you seek, and clearly they are not, what is it you truly hope to accomplish by blogging your unproven, and some already dispelled, accusations and assumptions?

47

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:43,

Thank you for seeing that I have my own problems. I agree whole heartedly.

I awoke this morning to my quiet time which led me to see that the beam in my eye needs to be cared for before I point out the specks in others lives.

Pray for me as I am finding it difficult to deal with such a large beam.

Could some of the goldy church members here be of help and cousel?