"...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

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Marketing of a Man....

After watching the Democrats' convention last week, I couldn't help but think about the danger of electing a man like Barack Obama, whose reputation in the minds of most Americans is based more on slick marketing messages than a true record of leadership and accomplishment. The purpose of their convention was to mask, through clever marketing and visual images, the fact that this man, Barack Obama, is THE most liberal Senator, and has zero executive and foreign policy experience. As William Safire has said, "When you hire a plumber, the one thing you want to know is if these are the first set of pipes he has worked on." Electing Barack Obama would be a tremendous risk, and he would likely make Jimmy Carter's four years look like a dream.

But that is the power of marketing, branding, and visual images. It can get a man hired in a very powerful position for which he is totally unqualified (see also "Adrian Soud").

Have you ever considered how Mac Brunson was pitched to us as a congregation? If you ponder that, you will realize we were sold an image of Mac Brunson and Team Brunson to gather our support and generate enthusiasm about him, and to prepare us for the fleecing that was about to begin. It was marketing. It was delivering a "brand" to us, something that Maurilio Amorim of the A-Group knows all about. We knew next to nothing about him - he was an unknown - had preached a forgettable sermon once at the pastor's conference in 2001 or 2002. And then we were told he was God's man for our church.

We received the marketing and branding messages about Mac Brunson in several ways: first we were shown a video introducing "Team Brunson" - their history, their marriage, their family. He was an everyday Joe, a guy from a small North Carolina textile town. He was a red neck. Then we were fed a steady stream of Mac stories by high-priced SBC preachers (most of them friends of Paige Patterson) about the wonders of Mac Brunson. We were told by Ergun Caner that he drives pick up trucks and eats Krispy Kreme. We were told by our previous pastor and others in the SBC that he was a fine bible expositor.

After we trusted our search committee and voted for Mac and put he and Honey on the payroll, the signs that they were something other than as advertised began to show immediately, and I mean RIGHT AWAY. After the vote in 2006 calling them as pastor, they promptly took a nearly two month-long paid vacation (who gets hired for a job and says "great, I'll see ya'll in two months") while their 3000 sf office suite was constructed, and we were treated to two months of high-priced preachers coming here to pave the way for Mac, all of them carefully orchestrating the message of what a great man Mac was while busting our pastoral budget line item to pay huge honoraria at the same time paying Mac's salary and benefits. Can you say "fleeced"?

David Allen, one of Paige's boys, was selected as one of the primary messengers paving the way for Mac. We paid David Allen to preach several times while Mac took his 2 month "sabattical" before arriving in Jax, and David set our expectations high. There were even some cute videos recorded to get us to laugh and giggle as we waited for the great Macsby to arrive. We were told by David Allen that "the cloud would soon move again" under Mac, but we found that the only "cloud" moving was actually the steam rising from his hot head as he angrily yelled at us for being "legalistic" and "stuck in the past". Oh yes, we did vote for 8 people to find the right man for the job, but by all appearances they focused like a laser on one man who was already selected by Jerry Vines and Paige Patterson, and it was not easy to convince Mac to come. We thought our search committee was being lead by the Holy Spirit, but they were led by men to entice one man. Entice him they did, and come he did, and we've paid dearly for it, and will continue to do so for a long time.

What were some of the other marketing images fed to us by the SBC preacher boys and the A-Group to get us to buy the Brunson brand? We were told of Mac's humble beginnings, from a small town in North Carolina. We were told Mac was a conservative preacher, an expository preacher, who loved to just preach. But we found out he is anything BUT expository - he hunts and pecks and regularly misuses scriptures to fit his points rather than preaching the text and letting the Holy Spirit speak. He preaches topically most Sundays. We were told he is a historian who pours over his sermons for hours and hours - but he regularly misrepresents historical facts in his sermons and even has slandered a former church member from the pulpit. As I said we were told he drove a pick-up truck and ate Krispy Kremes; a regular "red neck" from the South. We had no idea that when he came to Jacksonville this "red neck" would live an hour away on the Atlantic Ocean beach on exclusive Amelia Island for a year in a multi-million dollar condo, all the while building his million dollar mansion in a gated community. That wasn't part of the marketing message, that they loved the high life, the VERY good things.

Part of the branding was the "Team Brunson" concept. We were told he and his wife were a "team", that they counseled together and for that we were glad. This led us to believe his wife would have a lay ministry like other minister's wives at our church who serve without salary but serve along side their husband and teach and lead and model ministry. We had no idea that "Team Brunson" meant "Two Salaries" and a huge new office suite on the ground floor of our new Children's Building - the most prime spot of space for ministry - an office suite which by the way is about twice the size of the average church member's HOUSE...for Mac and Honey to have a private office suite for them and their dogs.

We were sold a bill of goods. We had no clue that Mac's first move would be to hand over our website design to the Nashville based A-Group run by Maurilio Amorim - to take our website backwards and that in the next 2 1/2 years we would never archive one single sermon on the website; and to this day our flash demos of ministry are over 3 years old, still featuring ministers long gone. While our website is stale and floundering, Mac invested thousands with Maurilio in revamping the Pastor's Conference website.

We were told about how close of a family the Brunsons were, how they did everything together, and for that we were glad. But we didn't know this meant he would immediately would put wife and son on PAID STAFF in newly created positions...that his son would become the Director of Special Projects at age 22 right out of college and would be handed the responsibility of coordinating and raising funds for the Pastor's Conference and then be praised at the 2007 conference for "raising $100,000" to help pay for it. Who knew that Mac's wife would be put on paid staff, earning a reported $100,000 per year working a very light schedule with no specific church ministry responsibilities, and who takes time off to sit on the IMB board and to travel with Mac.

We didn't know that we would be asked to contribute money for Mac's son's wedding reception, whom we didn't even know..and that Mac would immediately push his Holy Land trips to the very wealthy in our congregation...we had no idea that our preacher would damage our church's reputation by accepting a $300,000 land gift upon his arrival showing that he cared more about building his personal wealth out of the box than hitting the ground running as the new preacher in town. We had no clue, this man would turn our Wednesday night services into a "Church History" night when he arrived - causing Wednesday night attendance to plummet and from which it has since never recovered.

We had no clue that this redneck from North Carolina would be building a million dollar home and he and wife would be driving Jaguars and BMW's instead of the pick up truck that Ergun Caner told us about. Neither could we have possibly seen that his preaching schedule the first year would be sporadic at best, vacating the pulpit without notice, even being so arrogant as to announce that his new book was keeping him from preparing his sermons necessitating a guest speaker...then we read the book and find out he doesn't live by the precepts on money and greed and gifts he puts forth for other pastors.

We were told he would be more of a loving "pastor", a man of the people unlike the other pastors. Who would have thought that this new loving pastor would repeatedly beat us up and charge us as being "legalistic", and "worshipping the past" and "worshipping previous pastors"? Who thought that this loving pastor would tell the pastors in his old stomping grounds of North Carolina that we are a "hotbed of legalism"? And who can forget about the way our bylaws were clandestinely changed to give him more power, calling for a vote with no explanation of the changes given to the congregation? And we know he wants a school, so he holds an unannounced vote to take $500,000 from the church offerings to start the school. We've spent hundreds of thousands to put Mac on INSP network so that Mac can put on his bio that he is "heard around the world on radio and TV"...and of course he allowed some "influential deacons" use our church facilities to host a "Time to Stand With Israel" to raise funds for an Israeli hospital where abortions are performed...yes, under Mac's wonderful leadership our church facilities, built by saints of God over decades with sweat and sacrifice: have been used to raise funds for an Israeli hospital that performs abortions. I must have missed that part of the David Allen's sermons describing what we had in store with Mac Brunson.

Have I made my point?

Now we are stuck with Mac. With the bylaw changes there will be no getting rid of him until he gets tired of dealing with us recalcitrant sheep and he moves on to something else. He won't humble himself to address any of these items with his church, and thus he has damaged his ability to lead.

I hope our country doesn't make the mistake of hiring Barack Obama. If he is elected, we're stuck with him for 4 years...but at least in his case there are checks and balances to not let him have total control of our government and the damage he wreaks can be muted.

Not so with Mac - no checks and balances, he is "God's man" and has the keys to the church. And he leads us into a satellite ministry while our church is at less than 50% capacity. We are spending $500,000 of the church's money on the school start-up, and the architects are nearly done with the renovation designs and cost estimates that we'll have to vote on.

So get ready folks...it is going to take one heck of a marketing campaign to sell all of this to the church - good thing Mac has the ace church marketer Maurilio Amorim on his team to help make the sale to the gullible sheep of FBC Jax; even Maurilio is going to find this a tremendous challenge.

19 comments:

Thy Peace said...

Wow!

If the subject matter was not serious, it could be construed as humorous.

I don't know what I got myself into.

When I first found out about fbcjax, I thought here is a church where there is great music and preaching. Now I am finding out the whole southern baptists are in a mess.

First the fbcjax drama. Then the Dr. Klouda case. Then the IMB action against Wade Burleson, AFTER he confronted them with plotting to oust a woman from their leadership position. Then I find out about Darrell Gilyard and his serial sexual abuses. In all these I here the name of Paige Patterson.

In light of all this, why would I want to be a baptist? (technically, I am not an official christian. I have been never baptized in a southern baptist church OR actually any church.)

All I know is I love the LORD Jesus Christ. But there is SO much chicanery going on in the southern baptists.

I am going to take this one step at a time. I will continue to read my bible, pray daily. I still enjoy listening to music and preaching at fbcjax.

I sincerely pray to our lord, that these people who are powers to be, HUMBLE themselves and NOT place their organizations/groups ahead of Jesus.

They will ALL stumble and falter, if they are self seeking.

I pray to our god, that he convicts each of us in our hearts to TURN to him alone for strength in these troubled times.

I pray to god, that Christians exhibit their good fruit. To show compassion to their fellow men and women. To let God be the pump and us be the pipe (analogy from BreakfastWithFred.com).

gmommy said...

thy peace,
Darrell Gilyard is just one of many Baptist clergy sexual predators who PP's good ol boys have turned a blind eye to.

The music is not worth the lack of scripture integrity and servanthood demonstarted by Jesus himself.

There is nothing in the Bible that says Christians are to sacrifice their brains .

The "redneck" thing is funny.

Those rednecks from PP down are lauging all the way to the bank.

Thy Peace said...

Dr. Brunson is a powerful preacher. I have been listening to him for the past 14 months. I spend atleast one hour every evening listening to his podcasts. On my ipod, I have ALL his podcasts since July 2007.

I have learned SO MUCH from him and I continue to learn from him.

My take of Dr. Brunson is different from that of Watchdog. I can sense and feel his humility and genuineness in his preachings. He is an earnest preacher and he clearly wants you to learn what he has discovered in the bible scriptures.

I have always tried to place his zeal during preaching within the context of the preaching. Clearly, I can not explain ALL his personal observations, but I genuinely feel I can relate to him, with the examples he uses to illustrate his points. He takes time to illustrate even seemingly simple points that have fundamental consequences in our biblical thinking.

As per the music ministry, the choir and orchestra is exceptional. Lot of times, I can feel the presence of Jesus on the faces of the choir and the members of the church as they sing. This aspect is very unique to fbcjax. No amount of words can describe my feelings as I see the faces of Christians as they truly give glory to our Lord Jesus Christ.

retired said...

Dear Watchdog,

Just wanted to wish you a Happy Birthday and to thank you for the work you do in keeping us informed.

We are some of the senior members and have been members since 1975.

We begin to notice things did not seem to be what they should be shortly after he came.

It’s hard to deal with this since all these years our focus has been on winning Jacksonville to Christ. The pastor’s heart and priority was JESUS, FBC and Jacksonville. Their spouses was helpmates highly respected and loved, not, Sister Pastors’

We are praying that the Lord will open the eyes of the people.

We also thank the Lord for your efforts in returning our church to its roots.
.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Retired - I too hope more people will open their eyes. I am most disappointed in the lay leaders of our church as most if not all of them - I'm speaking of the trustees - served under Vines and Lindsay and they have stood by. I hope that when Brunson leaves there will be a way to replace these lay leaders with some people who will be willing to be more open with the congregation and willing to hold the pastor to some level of accountability.

RM said...

Just a little update from Texas on your broadcast last night.

It began with a big thing saying "In Light Ministries" with no mention of your church. No music at all.

Mac then gave a long boring message from Judges but at least there was no condemnation of his flock.

Overall, it sure wasn't as seeker friendly message so you may be safe--as long as you can put up with those history lessons from Judges on Sunday mornings.

I did not that the church was packed though.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Thank you RM.

I am livid, as I hope every person at our church is after reading that Mac is doing this.

Our church is paying out of its budget for this broadcast. He took a special offering on Easter Sunday to raise the $100k plus for this. Don't know if that offering did raise the money or not...but my hunch is from his comments to the congregation that it is paid for out of our church budget.

For him then to put his ministries name on the broadcast is nothing less than dishonest and a stealing of church money to further his own cause and to build his brand.

I am calling on all FBC Jax members to call the office, email the pastor, contact the trustees to say "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH".

If he wants to put his ministry name on this broadcast, LET HIS MINISTRY RAISE THE MONEY THROUGH CONTRIBUTIONS. If our church is going to pay for the broadcast, our church name should be on it.

Can you people please wake up?

When will you realize this guy is going to take from us everything that he possibly can unless someone holds him accountable?

Thy Peace said...

Watchdog, can you do an article in the future (if you have not done this already), comparing the preaching styles of Dr. Brunson Vs. Dr. Vines Vs. Dr. Lindsay Jr.

It would have been nice, if fbcjax had archived it's rich heritage (both video and audio) on the internet so that future (and current) generations can appreciate and compare the preaching and music over time. I am sure fbcjax has physical archives of both audio and video content of it's past.

I am sure this article will take much of your time. I am much obliged. If you can not do this, may be one of your readers can.

(I did hear Dr. Vines during Pastor's Conference this Feb.)

Thanks.

Thy Peace said...

I seem to be doing too many posts here.

I made a post on Aug. 12th. On Aug. 17th, Dr. Brunson read back a portion of my comments, during a lull in the church.

Wow!

Dr. Brunson, if you are reading comments posted here in this blog, I am very sorry to see all the anguish that is causing you and Mrs. Brunson. You must have a strong and faithful heart. I could not do what you are doing. If someone said bad things about me, I would not have the courage to read the posts.

God bless you sir and your family.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

thy peace: care to explain? What were your comments that Mac Brunson read?

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

...and Mac Brunson does not read the blog, he has stated that he does not in an interview he gave in February that is available on the SBC Today blog. Other members of his "Team" do read it on a daily basis, and they probably tell him selected parts of what is here.

it is written said...

Dr Watchdog Brunson probably does read this blog.My reasoning:If he miss represented and lied about others issues,believe me he could also lie about not reading this blog.

RM said...

I was just thinking about church's broadcasts today and my thoughts turned to this:

FBC, Atlanta's program is called "In Touch" and BBC's program used to be called "Love Worth Finding" which were ministries belonging to Charles Stanley and Adrian Rogers. Since they did it I guess its alright for Mac to do the same isn't it???

By the way, I know or did know al three men personally so this is not an attack on their character or ministries.

Just wondering...

Paul W. Foltz DD said...

Why don't you all pull out of the apostate convention, and form a sovereign grace fellowship of Baptist Churches/
Paul W. Foltz DD

RM said...

I reread my post and had some more thoughts...

I tend to think that if a church pays for a broadcast then it needs to have that church's name (and noone else's). If a pastor's own ministry gets the credit for the broadcast then I sure hope they are paying for it. Methinks that isn't happening in some areas...

By the way, I love hearing Charles Stanley and Adrian Rogers preach. I'm still working on enjoying Mac's sermons...

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

RM - my point exactly.

These men, Stanley and the late Adrian Rogers, have broadcast ministries that are distinct and separate from their churches' ministries.

These two men have a very real demand for their sermons to the point that the broadcasts of their sermons are supported by contributors to their ministries.

No BBC funds are going to pay for LWF broadcasts. Do you think that money from FBC Atlanta is funding Stanley's broadcasts for his ministry? Of course not! That is why their church name does not appear anywhere in the broadcast!

But Mac doesn't have that demand for his sermons. But he thinks he can create if he can just get his sermons out there. So he is using our church funds to pay for his national broadcast. That is why on the INSP website it says "Inlight Ministries at FBC Jacksonville". He can't completely cut out FBC Jax from the name because we're funding it. But he wants to get his "brand" out there. Its a disgrace really.

He has come to our church and is using our 15 million dollar budget to give himself a huge salary, jobs for the family, using our money to fulfill his dream of starting a school so people will give him credit for starting it (instead of raising funds for the school start up he has instead just TAKEN 1/2 million from our church funds), and he wants to be on national TV so he is using OUR church funds to put himself and his ministry on TV.

But he WILL NOT for some reason or other agree to put our services on the Internet streamed 24/7 for everyone around the world to hear our music, our testimonies, and the sermons of all our preachers Sunday, Sunday night, and Wed night. Why? Why is he taking $100k+ for TV broadcasts before archiving sermons 24/7 on the Internet?

Like I've said before...let's see how good Mac is...let's let him go, give him a family a few month's severance, and let Team Brunson start their own church, raise their own funds, instead of following behind guys who really knew how to do it.

Thy Peace said...

For some reason, Watchdog has not yet posted my earlier comments.

I would like to add some more observations.

When I did my first comments on 8/12, I was actually coming to the defense of Dr. Brunson. (Please read the entire comments). I only was compelled to comment because of my desire to defend Dr. Brunson and others against attacks on their being "portly".

Even in the first comments, I was mildly critical of Dr. Brunson, but mostly said positive things about him and fbcjax. I was also trying to find something good in Watchdog.

My Second comments on 8/16, was not critical of Dr. Brunson at all. I was merely commenting on the bad things going on with southern baptists and some good things I found in Watchdog posts and links.

My third comments on 8/21, I was entirely neutral. I am sure with this comment, you figured out who I am. Good job.

My fourth comments on 8/29, was merely pointing to interesting discussions taking place on Pastor Wade Burleson's blog.

My fifth comments on 8/30, on Watchdog's birthday, were mostly supportive of Dr. Brunson. I had minor observations against the politics of southern baptists and their "suppression" of women. I was even supportive of Watchdog.

My Sixth comments on 8/31, was where I began to get distrubed about the goings on with southern baptists in general. But I was still supportive of Dr. Brunson in my seventh comments on the same day.

To me, it seems clear, I have been mostly supportive of Dr. Brunson. Obviously it looks like, Dr. Brunson and his handlers seek 100% support and not even mild dissent.

God bless you sir and your staff. You all need some commonsense.

I only realized yesterday evening, that I was "mugged" by Dr. Brunson with their disrupting my watching of fbcjax services and by their injecting his video taped comments into the video stream.

I have to admit, I am slow witted and very naive. It look me a long time to realize what has happened.

When I first came to Watchdog's blog, I resisted coming to his blog for a very long time. Even then, after my first visit, I spent about 2 months going over his posts and user comments before I made my first comments.

I am coming to the end of my observations here. I would like to officially thank Dr. Brunson for his repeated comments about bloggers causing him angst. This is what motivated (after his 4th comments against bloggers) me to search and understand what was causing him so much anguish. So the only two directions I took from Dr. Brunson, where I am benefiting is going to watchdog's blog and other was his comments on BreakfastWithFred.com (which I value most high and I learn so much from).

Then I landed at Watchdog's blog's door. I initially was upset. But I like to understand someone before I railed against them, so I went about methodically studying Watchdog's posts. At this point, I mostly was not buying Watchdog's reasoning, but I was turned with Dr. Klouda's post and then his links or observations about Pastor Wade Burleson, Christa Brown, Tiffany Croft.

Here with the above links, I made great progress with the state of southern baptists and what the ideological bent is of the people running the show.

To me the most important thing I have learnt in the past 14 months of my watching fbcjax, is coming to the realization of the direction the southern baptists are heading to ... and it sounds very bleak, very coerced and very regimented. Not at all like the people who are being led by the holy spirit to love our LORD Jesus Christ with all of our hearts and soul. This is the crux of the issue I have with southern baptists.

I am not upset with Dr. Brunson and his staff for targeting my video stream. It just calls their judgment to be in poor taste.

I am finally beginning to make sense of Watchdog's posts NOW (since yesterday evening) and they make sense to me. I do not want to repeat his observations, but they begin to sound and make sense to me. I have come to this conclusion very reluctantly and with lot of foot dragging.

I would finally like to thank Watchdog for letting me post my comments and allowing me to be persuaded to some of his observations.

God bless you Watchdog, Dr. Brunson and fbcjax.

Thy Peace said...

Oh! The irony ...

I did contribute about $100- to the Media Evangelism Fund.

In return, I get "mugged" by fbcjax pastor.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Thy Peace - can you explain your comment:

"I only realized yesterday evening, that I was "mugged" by Dr. Brunson with their disrupting my watching of fbcjax services and by their injecting his video taped comments into the video stream."

Do you mean the stream of the Wed night service? Do you mean that there were comments made at the beginning of the service?