"...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, September 21, 2008

Fleecing the Sheep: Mac Needs a Million Dollars

Like most of you have I'm sure, I have received Mac's annual "Chest of Joash" letter telling the church about our special budget commitment Sunday that we've held at our church for over 50 years.


But in his letter this year, he has included a list of "emergency" spending items for which he is asking our church to give a special, one-day offering of $1,000,000 dollars to. Yes, he uses the word "emergency" to describe this list.

1. RLA Chiller - went out in June - $200,000

2. Preschool Building Roof Replacement - $250,000 - been on the repair list for 5 years, hardly an "emergency" as we've know about this for a LONG time.

3. Preschool Building Waterproofing - $100,000 - on the repair list for 3 years

4. Preschool Wall Paper replacement of $60,000 - caused by failure to act on number 3. above.

5. Preschool Carpet Replacement - $125,000 (when the building will be fully renovated in 1 to 2 years!)

6. RLA roof repairs and ceiling repair - $50,000 - on the list for 5 years

7. Admin Building carpet replacement - $80,000 - on the list for 4 years

8. Children's Building Renovation for the new school admin offices - $125,000.

I wonder what Mayor Peyton and Councilman Davis, both who expressed disgust over "sorry churches" who don't use their money to help the poor and needy here in our own community, will think when they hear of this letter asking for $1 million in a special offering. Not $1 million in hurricane relief. Not $1 million for a new ministry to the poor in our city, or even for a new capital fund for ministry (THAT will be coming in the spring, so hold on to your wallets). Not even a million to catch up on giving that is behind budget. No, our church is holding out its hand at the end of its fiscal year to pay for REGULAR ON-GOING MAINTENANCE OF OUR FACILITIES because we didn't budget this maintenance into our $15 million budget the past few years that according to Mac that according to Mac the faithful people at FBC Jacksonville have met!

So while we're spending money and rushing as fast as we can to start a satellite church in southern Duval, and while we're spending money to start a downtown school for the very rich, we have not spent money to water-proof and re-roof the building where our preschoolers and babies are. Interesting isn't it that we found the $100,000 and 3000 sf of prime ministry space needed to construct a lavish pastor's suite and library, but now no money was found the last 3 years to keep water from seeping through the roof and walls of our preschool building! Interesting that while we somehow found the money in the budget to hire wife and son in new positions, and we from somewhere found the $180,000 to put Mac back on nationwide TV there is no money for our chiller to be replaced in the RLA. And while Mac was taking a $300,000 gift from one of our wealthiest members and immediately began construction of his million dollar home in Deerwood, the Admin building was in need of new carpet and the RLA needed roof and ceiling repairs. Misplaced priorities.

Misplaced spending priorities on the part of Mac and our lay leaders does not constitute an "emergency" on our part.

I know Mac's sermon/infomercial yesterday was designed to tell us just how wonderful his leadership has been but he can't mask the utter failure to not have taken care of the essentials of our maintenance using the $15 million we gave this year to the budget, while holding special offerings for extra ministries and holding unannounced budget meetings to take $500,000 to start a school for the very rich.

Earlier this year Mac shamelessly, showing us to be the millionaire elitist he is, told us all how happy he and Jesus are that we didn't get a raise:

"The number one false financial thought: 'We need to make more money'. THINK ABOUT IT! If you make more money spending the way you spend now you would be deeper in debt. Thank Jesus he hadn't allowed you to get a raise. He has saved you from getting further in the whole. The issue is not more salary, the issue is discipline. Have you heard that word in America lately? The government would do well to look it up in the dictionary."


So easy for a millionaire preacher living in a million dollar home to say something like that to his congregation, many of whom are being squeezed by a tight economy and rising prices.

Well Mac, we'll tell you there at the church like you told us: the issue is not that you need more of our money, the issue is "discipline". Cut expenses somewhere Mac. You said yesterday our spending is under budget and we're in the black...great, cut a little more and we'll have the money you need. Don't be like the government who wants to raise taxes when there's a short-fall - try fixing it on the spending end, and make sure you put enough money for maintenance in our budget for next year.

Lastly, let me remind you that earlier this fiscal year we had another budget "crisis": we were "behind budget" by $500,000 because we had overspent on missions. This was never fully explained to us, but Mac bragged about how we overspent on missions and poked fun of our finance committee as having "no faith" - again, behind our backs while preaching in North Carolina. Go here to read it and hear Mac in his own words. Maybe our finance committee tried to stand up to Mac because they knew that while Mac was overspending on missions that we had serious needs in our facilities - and Mac's response was to spend it and accuse them of having no faith.

I can hear the clippers getting warmed up for this Sunday! Its going to be one close shave as Mac tries to fleece us all! All together now: "Baaa...baaaa"

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Didn't we collect a special offering for the preschool building Mothers day 2006 to give the building new carpeting and wallpaper? How much was given and what was done with that money?

Thy Peace said...

If I remember correctly, about 3 months ago Dr. Brunson, mentioned that fbcjax was in the black by 1/2 million dollars. I remember this (wed eve. or sun eve.), and he said that was a cause for giving praise to God.

I wonder what happened to all the surplus.

I hope they do not do, what they did last year. I am not clear on the details here, but from my recollection, they had to cut children's program funding and trips for high school kids.

My gut feeling is, fbcjax will pull through. I do not know how. Maybe the wealthy members will contribute more as they are led by the Lord.

I absolutely agree with Watchdog, that giving should be out of love for the Lord and not coerced or by peer pressure. It should be out of the overflow of ones heart and it should be done with joy and gladness. I am very sure, many families will contribute based on what they can afford and NOT by what Dr. Brunson deems as the tithing amount or percentage.

Anonymous said...

To receive a blessing, go to the North Central Baptist Church, Gainesville, Florida podcast and listen to Calvin Carr's preaching. It is absolutely wonderful to hear him preach, you can hear so much of Homer Lindsay and Jerry Vines' in him. He preaches boldly, with deep conviction, but out of a genuine love for the church and the saints. He explains things very calmly so that people can understand them.

You might find the sermons entitled "NCBC 101", NCBC 201, NCBC 301, and NCBC 401 to be particularly interesting. These sermons are his view of the role of the church, the people, the pastor. A sermon series preached as to new members of the church. In particular, listen to his 401 sermon, where he discusses pastoral leadership, the role of the budget, the responsibility of church members to vote. What a breath of fresh air after being beaten down by Mac Brunson week after week after week.

Thy Peace said...

To Anonymous 4:58pm

Can you please clarify the dates for NCBC 401. On their church website, they have the podcasts organized by their dates and not by NCBC 101, 201, 301 or 401.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I was using itunes. ituens shows the description as "NCBC 401" but it was the 8/31 dated. As I referred, how wonderful to be reminded of what a loving, mature, controlled, bible teacher sounds like.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Anon - it is great to hear Calvin.

The sermon anon is referring to is the 8/31 pm service.

You can go to:

http://www.gatorchurch.com/

which is Calvin's churchs' new website.

Click on "Feedburner" under Podcasts, and you can listen to his sermons, or you can do it through Itunes.

The 8/31 service was great. Calvin talked about church polity. In this service he made available the church bylaws and constitution (he didn't tell them they have to sign out copies at the library!) and he explained very clearly "congregational rule", he explained "pastoral authority" and how it takes time for a congregation to defer to pastor authority, and even used an example from 1991 when we voted for the new auditorium. Calvin explained that one of the reasons its important for each member to be walking with God is because everyone has a vote in decisions at the church.

Unfortunately, our pastor has taken away congregational rule by changing our bylaws clandestinely in December. Brunson has expected us to give him the same pastoral authority that Lindsay had earned over 20+ years of service. As Calvin pointed out we approved an $18 million dollar building expense in one business meeting without discussion because our church had such great trust in our pastor after years and years of the pastor demonstrating his trustworthiness. One of Mac's most important directional changes in our church was the decision to start a school - it wasn't voted on - he didn't even wait to raise the funds as a signal that the people were behind it. He just held an unannounced business meeting to TAKE the money from the church to do what he wanted to do. Not even Homer Lindsay did that with 20+ years of trust - he explained it all, and he used the people's giving to determine when they were behind something and when it was time to step out. Not Brunson. Its his way and his direction...and you either give the money for it, or you're out of God's (Mac's) will.

Its clear, so clear, that the years Calvin spent here under Vines and Lindsay are paying off for the cause of Christ in Gainesville.

craigm said...

I came across your blog the other day and one similar to it out of Bellevue and was really disheartened by what I read. Watchdog, it is obvious you are not trying to bring healing to your church but rather sowing discord among the brethren. And for an astute bible scholar such as yourself, I don't have to tell you that that is an action God HATES (Prov. 6:18-20). In my life, I've always tried to be on the side of God, not against him. If you were truly concerned for FBC and the furtherance of the kingdom of God and its work, you would heed the example of how to handle strife as found in Matthew 18. I would venture to say that you haven't spoken with your Pastor regarding these problems you seem to have in a one on one setting. Until you do that (and even after), you have no business posting these blogs. You call yourself a christian but from just what I've seen have no actions to back up your title. That sounds a lot like Titus 1:16, to me. May you ask forgiveness from God, then make things right with your pastor. What I suspect is you may not truly be born again. Your actions hereafter will determine that. I am praying for you, Watchdog. May God have His will and way in your life.

Anonymous said...

For an example of how to be a Godly pastor and how to treat a church, observe Calvin Carr. Rev. Carr during his tenure at FBC was certainly the "real deal". He was under the tutalige of Dr. Lindsay and that coupled with actually having been "called" to preach has served him and his ministry well. Oh, to be blessed to have him here again, knowing that we could TRUST him. But of course he was tied to the past Lindsay era and had to go. But I believe it worked out best for Calvin. While we are stuck.

Why didn't the pulpit committee ask Calvin to take the reins? Guess they were blinded and wanted a "Big Shot" from Dallas rather than a little shot from Jacksonville. Such a shame. Also, Calvin had knowledge of what works at FBC and we could have saved thousands and thousands on extra personnel not needed to keep on with the LEGACY!!!!! But, like the story goes...all good things must come to and end.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

I agree. I'm sure they never gave Calvin a look. Didn't have the PhD, which he is now pursuing. And Calvin is not one to hobnob with the rich, and the layleaders I think got in Mac what they wanted...a guy who he and his wife love the really nice things like homes in Deerwood and fancy cars, so that they can go hobnob with the pastor over at the country club. Calvin would have been a man of the people. He would have instituted necessary change to reach a younger generation, but still know what it is that has made our church successful in reaching people. He would not have embarrassed our church like Mac has, would not have been so arrogant as to change our bylaws without at least explaining them to us (listen to his 8/31 sermon at his new church - Calvin actually handed out copies of the bylaws to his congregation!),certainly Calvin has the integrity to know not to accept six-figure gifts from the members of his church that pays his salary and benefits. Like Vines, Calvin has great faith in the people he leads. Calvin believes in the doctrine of the "priesthood of the believer", and understands the proper perspective of pastoral authority. And certainly Calvin wouldn't have spent money on a pastor's suite, a school start up, and satellites before he at least did minimal upkeep on the facilities God has already given us.

But I'm happy for Calvin, you can tell he is very happy doing what he is doing...and he learned well from Vines and Lindsay that being a bold, strong Bible pastor doesn't mean you need to be arrogant, demeaning, and puffed up. Go Calvin!

And he's doing it without having to get advice from Maurilio up in Nashville!

Anonymous said...

This tells you that "hobnob" set that runs the church, including the preacher are not the spiritual giants they think they are. The big thing is the "hobnobs" and the preacher want the church members to pay for their club and preachers lifestyle respectively.

Hopefully, the sheep will see it and take their church away from the rich "Rock Star" mentality. This should be done by demanding accountability, stopping the handing out of money until the church belongs to the people again.

As for change needed to reach the younger generation, this is also a misnomer. Its still the same gospel "Jesus saves". I was saved with John 3:16 as a teenager in church. This church currently is an example of arrogance and mismanagement.

Thy Peace said...

To craigm:

Brother, your words for some reason convict me in my heart. I looked up the spiritual passages, you quoted and they speak to me very plainly.

I seems to be torn or vacillating between two positions. On one to follow the Word of God as it convicts me in my heart and the other, when I hear about the injustice(s) attributed or committed by Southern Baptists Leadership.

Let me explain.

The main one is about Dr. Sheri Klouda. Here is a lady who was educated in one of the most conservative seminaries and who was given tenure, but forced out by Dr. Patterson, because she was female. I strongly feel the leadership of Southern Baptists here are being led by personal do and don'ts, rather than being led by the Lord. I do not have any answers here, but only puzzlement and questions.

The second one deals with Darrell Gilyard and his serial abuse of women. It boggles my mind, how the leadership of Southern Baptists and local church officials where Gilyard was preaching (several churches, over the years), turned a blind eye towards his actions. I can not process this.

I have nothing against First Baptist Church Jacksonville, except through Watchdog's posts, I found out about the above. I am not a member of fbcjax. So most of the financial issues are very remote to me.

But I sympathize with Watchdog here, but I do not agree with him on lot of these issues.

I can personally tell you, that the past two months have been difficult for me (since I started commenting on Watchdog's blog). I have mostly stopped watching fbcjax web broadcasts. I sometimes see the face of Dr. Brunson in my mind. This is probably because I had listened to fbcjax web broadcasts and podcasts quite often, most of them atleast 3 to 4 times. It could also be that I am being convicted in my heart for my actions.

I do not wish this to be a confessional. But it is turning out to be that way.

At present, I can not reconcile the actions of Southern Baptists Leadership in my mind. For now, I am simply reading the bible and praying and meditating.

God will lead me out of this.

Thy Peace said...

I would like to thank both the Anon and Watchdog for pointing me to Calvin Carr NCBC 401 sermon.

I am beginning to see the differences between Calvin Carr (Lindsay/Vines) and Dr. Brunson.

First of all, I was somewhat skeptical, but as I listened, I realized what a breath of fresh air Calvin Carr is. He is very simple, direct and consensus building pastor. The themes mentioned in this sermon, contrast quite a bit with what's happening with fbcjax. I am finally beginning to realize the differences of the tenure of Dr. Brunson and before him.

I am actually surprised that Lindsay and Vines were that loving and open with their congregation. I am hoping I am using the right terms here: of congregational authority and the power of it. I also find it hard to believe that it worked in such a large church as fbcjax, but it looks like it did as per Calvin Carr's sermon.

If this is what you all were used to before Dr. Brunson, then I understand the angst going on now.

I will add Calvin Carr's podcast to my itunes :-)

I would also finally like to encourage all of Watchdog detractors to listen to Calvin Carr. Please listen with an open mind and heart.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Thy Peace -

I can tell you that Calvin is a product of the Lindsay and Vines method of leadership at FBC Jax. What you hear in Calvin at his new church is nothing other than what Calvin Carr learned in his almost 20 years at FBC Jax. Calvin was smart to get out from under Brunson...contrast with Smyrl; while Calvin was walking out, here came Smyrl....and now Smyrl is under Brunson's influence and he has changed drastically...and Calvin is using what God taught him under Vines and Lindsay and is lovingly pastoring a church. Calvin got out just in time.

While most would say Lindsay ruled the church as a dictator - as Calvin very clearly pointed out in his sermon we were a congregational ruled church at Jax - he used the example of the 1991 vote for the 18 million dollar new worship building - we took an honest to goodness vote on that issue and it passed. Calvin's point was that Homer EARNED the trust that the congregation placed in him - and Calvin said that situation - a pastor of 20+ years with moral authority granted by the congregation - IS VERY RARE.

But listen to Calvin, and you will see the HUGE difference between a loving pastor, a consensus builder, someone whose goal is to bring people together, a pastor who trusts his people to seek God's will for the church...and Brunson who is a divider, a person who is pitting parts of the congregation against each other, who thinks his congregation is a bunch of mindless dolts who need to fall into line with his agenda. Brunson decides what direction to go, then attacks from the pulpit those who aren't with him lock stock and barrel...and to get the money he'll just take it and go forward - case in point look at the decision to start the school. He needed $500k - so he TOOK IT. Didn't raise it as an indication that God was in it and God had moved in the hearts of the people...he just TOOK the money, from funds given for church ministry with an unannounced vote on Wed night.

It so painfully obvious.

Mac is a divider. His sermon Sunday he was a classic example. More to come.

Thy Peace said...

I honestly feel, the search committee made a mistake in bringing in Dr. Brunson. They could have brought in someone who "fit" the mold of fbcjax, rather than changing it drastically.

Please don't get me wrong. Dr. Brunson is a powerful preacher and very gifted and articulate speaker. He is also a forceful person. I also feel inside deep down in his heart, he is a very humble man. So is Debbie Brunson. I do not agree with Watchdog on financial matters pertaining to Dr. Brunson.

But I agree with Watchdog on the handling and running of the church and how it differed from Lindsay/Vines to Dr. Brunson. I see the difference how they passed the new bylaws, by restricting access to it, and how they passed other motions pertaining to the new school and others as listed by Watchdog.

It's quite possible, they are reacting to Watchdog and other "recalcitrants" as mentioned by Dr. Patterson. But I doubt it.

Why? I personally feel for some reason, Dr. Brunson is very sensitive to criticism. I think he took these actions to protect himself. But as a result, the church has suffered. Lot of you might say the opposite. But this is my observation.

There is still hope. If Dr. Brunson leans to Jesus completely and let Jesus deal with the consequences, then Dr. Brunson lovingly can lead the church.

This is what I pray for.

it is written said...

Dr.Watchdog.After months of listening to Brunson speak on television,reading your blogs,noting some of the decisions he has made since arriving at FBC Jax,paying close attention to your warranted concerns and comparing them to the Biblical example of what a Pastor should act and be like.I have personally come to the conclusion that Brunson is self-deluded greedy,abusive charlatan with visions of grandeur,who's left a trail of religous destruction from FBC Dallas to FBC Jax.Unless this guy repents,gets saved or is run off,it will get worse and worse for you and your congregation.This guy is your classic Biblical wolf in sheep's clothing and it's Brunson who is dividing and damaging your church NOT YOU.

Anonymous said...

It is written: Ditto...You have pure wisdom.

Anonymous said...

Thy Peace: Just my opinion, a Leopard does not change its spot and this cat has a split personality. You can't be a loving and kind pastor and then beat the people up at the same time telling them how bad they are and how bad he has it, but he really loves to be their pastor, except, when he is at a different venue telling them how horrible he has it and how horrible we are.

Thy Peace said...

To It is written:

My heart is very slow. It refuses to want to believe all this of Dr. Brunson.

I think this is true of lot of members of fbcjax. As you see and hear the pastor for so long (in my case only 14 months), lot of times it's hard to believe all the things being mentioned by Watchdog. Or, I am intentionally blinding myself to such conclusions.

At least, in this aspect TDM (Theology Driven Ministry) must vindicate itself. I believe, it seeks to establish Jesus as the Master and Lord and not the current or past pastor or leaders. I can see this logically, but again emotionally for lot of Christians it's very hard to do.

I have an engineering background. I am taught to think logically and crate solutions to problems.

Case in point, was the Apologetics lectures held in August. I only listened to the last two lectures. I can honestly tell you, they were very WEAK in their arguments. I was neither satisfied with their questions and more so with their answers. If Southern Baptists follow such weak logic, they can kiss their careers in science and engineering good-bye.

But even me, refuses to follow logic where I do NOT want to see, what's really happening.

Anonymous said...

Thy peace, the sherri klouda and darrell gilyard thing..(paige patterson) were the two things that to begin with were bothering me too. Now, i have had an experience in the church where Im currently really disillusioned. I'm not leaving though, because a)if i do..i won't be going back. Anywhere. I just don't feel like being hurt anymore and b) i didn't do anything wrong. I say if you haven't done anything wrong why should you have to leave. I may change my mind about it soon though. I don't see where Sheri Klouda did anything wrong. I think the Gilyard story is a tragedy and there is NO way to justify him being put back in the position to hurt people again. But its ALL so typically Baptist, at least from what I know of the Baptist church. I don't know if Mac Brunson is fleecing the sheep right now, I can't relate to people with this much money talking about this much money. Sorry, just can't.

Anonymous said...

To those of you having difficulty seeing the true picture: It is what it is. Face it! Admittedly, it's hard to rationalize. But therein, is the problem. Too much rationalization turns into blind acceptance of anything, and too many excuses made to cover up the real problems. The churches (most SBC churches} today are not what they were. They once had the emphasis on soul winning first, then growing the members in Grace and Bible knowledge. Not anymore, sadly. The churches are run like businesses(marketing groups, brands etc.} The preachers are self serving CEO's watching the "profit margin", making sure that they are "rewarded" well for their "difficult" jobs. I will not waste my time anymore with what has become a sham that is called the Church of Laodicea, which God speaks about in Rev.4:l5,l6: "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot; I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold not hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth".

Granted, there are a few left trying to do God's will, and a few Godly preachers that have truly been called. Not all have given over to the current position of FBC. But these "good" ones are hard to find.