"...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

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Satellites and "Life Links" - It IS All About Mac After All

Just some brief notes (and questions and observations) about the FBC Jacksonville's plan to expand their church through the use of what they call "Life Links" and satellite churches. I received several emails from congregants who attended an informational meeting Sunday 8/24 about these plans. The meeting was poorly attended, only 50 or so people showed up. Below are some answers you might have about this ministry.

- Why Satellites? 'Cause Mac is AWESOME! Jim Smyrl gave several reasons for going the satellite route versus a mission church; main reason? According to Smyrl, few if any preachers in Jacksonville or the country, are preaching spiritual truth in wonderful sermons like Mac Brunson. There you have it...we actually need to get more visibility for Mac in ALL of Jacksonville. He's just so darned talented in his preaching!! Our model for church growth? Build the brand of Mac Brunson. Can Jim point us to an example of where a stagnant downtown church, one that is legalistic and traditionalist, has achieved growth through a satellite ministry? Aren't most satellite concepts born out of necessity, a growing, vibrant, alive church busting at the seams needing more space?

- Where will the Satellite Be? Where the rich, er I mean the "unchurched" are, of course. The first satellite, the "South Campus" will open up Easter Sunday 2009. I'm not sure, but from the information I have it might be at Nease HS or some other location on 210 near Nocatee.

- Can You Be a "Life Link"? Only if you give up the beer and illicit sex! In advance of launching the satellite the church is enlisting volunteers to be "Life Links" - holding bible studies or in-home church, including child care, in their homes on Sunday evenings to disciple new believers. But you do have to sign a pledge card which I'm told were passed out at the informational meeting! On the pledge card you have to agree to the following:
  • you cannot allow any of the current church members to attend your home church (you wouldn't want us anyways, we're so traditionalist and legalistic). Church staff will be driving by and doing spot checks to make sure none of the downtown legalists infiltrate your home church;
  • you must agree to abstain from consumption of ANY and ALL alcoholic beverages and any illicit sexual activity (at least until you stop being a Life Link leader). Maybe that's a wise policy, but can we get any more legalistic than that? So a person at our church who might enjoy a glass of wine isn't qualified to hold a Bible Study at his house? Get REAL! Not only is that legalistic, its so hypocritical! Mac in 2 1/2 years has never, ever from the pulpit encouraged his congregation to abstain from alcohol. But he needs to put that legalistic yoke on the Life Linkers? Is that the same requirement for Sunday School teachers? Has the "No Limits" class adhered to this policy?
  • You agree to do everything you can to ensure the safety of children. Strange that this would be on the commitment card - isn't that common sense? Is this to limit church liability if someone gets hurt on the property? "We told them to ensure the safety of the children!!" Good question for a LifeLinker to ask Smyrl: does the church's liability insurance cover me while I am hosting a FBC Jax sponsored event in my home?
  • LifeLinkers must agree to do everything they can to launch another LifeLink home within so many months. They also agree to submit required data on their meetings Monday morning, attend all LifeLink organizational meetings, attend church downtown Sunday mornings...you know, a list...a legalistic list that is preached against Sunday after Sunday.
  • Have to agree to not send any anonymous emails to the pastor, or read any of the Watchdog blog entries, must bring your Bible to church, and you must "stop sitting there and do what the pastor says". (OK, I made this one up...but I hear the above parts of the commitment are true).

- Who Will Preach The Services? Who Else? Our Rock Star Preacher! when the South Campus opens there will be 2 services, a 9:00 am service where Mac will preach live, and that sermon will be recorded and shown in a 10:30 service. Yep, we're exporting Mac Brunson to southern Jacksonville! This is going to be tough for Mac, since he only averages about 1 sermon a week lately. We need to pray for him that he can do it! But research does show that sheep beatings are much less effective and motivating when delivered by tape or satellite feed. Might need to invest in some Bose speakers to get the full affect of Mac's anger.

- What About Life Links in Other Parts of the City? Smyrl said that they are interested in Life Links all over Jacksonville, not just the southern part. Perhaps the longer range plan is to start campuses in other parts of the city...which makes sense, because if these other preachers aren't preaching the Word like Mac does, then by golly we need to get satellites all over Jacksonville and quick! News flash: like many of you, I've heard pastors all over this city, from the independent fundamental baptists to the "seeker friendlies"...and Mac doesn't have anything on most other preachers in this town...except that he is angrier, yells louder, assumes the worst of his congregation, doesn't make Jesus the center of most sermons, doesn't check his historical facts, and even tells an occasional slanderous fib about former church members. Seems to me that Mac is what we could call a "hybrid preacher" - he has combined the worst of "fundamental" and "seeker friendly" preaching styles....in short: angry, negative preaching, and not much Jesus. Not sure who the target audience in southern Jacksonville is for that brand of preaching.

On Sunday morning Mac told of a wealthy man that he had breakfast with earlier in the week - he was a professing Christian, but not a Southern Baptist...and this man stroked a check for a large sum of money ($20,000 I believe) to help pay for a FBC Jax satellite in Jacksonville. Mac used this little story as proof of there being a great demand for our church in southern Jacksonville. This made me wonder: would Mac would have accepted the $20k if the man had tried to give it to Mac personally out of "love and affection"? Hmmm....Mac, be sure to give this man's name and number to our Director of Special Projects - a good source of cash when he needs to raise another $100k for the pastor's conference like last year.

Well, that's what I know about the Life Links and Satellite plans for southern Jacksonville. Sorry, if you need more info you need to contact Jim Smyrl. Churches in that area, you have about 8 months to prepare for the "FBC Jax Southern Campus" invasion...yes, we're concentrating on just new converts now, but you can bet there will plenty of sheep stealing going on as we start the new campus in 2009. But not to worry, once people get a dose of Mac Brunson cruising in his "luxury car" from his "executive home" to preach Sunday mornings, and his anger and animus and arrogance from the pulpit, they'll be longing to return to their humble shepherd pastor down the road. Besides, the FBC Jac members are a "hotbed of legalism", so who would want to link with that kind of church anyways?

Life Link converts: Just be careful of the Kool Aid that will be supplied by the church and served at the Life Link locations; I hear its quite addictive. ;)

3 comments:

RM said...

You guys are in a world of hurt out there and its going to get worse. Mac is as far from being a "seeker friendly" preacher as anyone I know so they will either have to close down the satellites after a while or actually hire a pastor to actually start a real live church in that neighborhood.

Jack Graham is famous for doing this in Texas and its only to pipe his sermons to another location. Of course, they always take up an offering and bring it back to the mother church...

ThyPeace said...

To all the watchdog readers:

Please check out the current discussions at Pastor Wade Burleson blog.

http://kerussocharis.blogspot.com/

Concerned said...

what I don't understand is why we are in such a hurry to do all this expansion and yet we have buildings downtown that go unfiled, unused, and unkept? Satelites, schools, rennovations, huge mission trips and yet when or where are we ever evangelizing the city of Jax?