"...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

Friday, September 19, 2008

Mac's Indictment of FBC Jax - Part 2

In the last post I gave the quote and audio clip of how Mac Brunson "built a case" against his own church, like an ace prosecuting attorney, in the area of how we are no longer creative in Sunday School. Mac says we're no longer "cutting edge" (whatever that means, as he didn't say), we've lost our "entrepreneuralish in Sunday School" (again, he didn't define this). He says we "nearly had a nervous breakdown" when he asked the Sunday School teachers to do "one thing" (the "one thing" I'm told was a very significant change in certain areas of our church as to how the Sunday School is actually conducted - that we've moved away from the "teacher" model to "small groups").

So Mac pokes a finger once again in the eye of his congregation, telling them in vague terms of how they are not performing, complains that some aren't falling in lockstep with his changes, and doesn't even bother to tell us what he expects to make us "cutting edge" or "entrepreneurial". So is the life of FBC Jax under the regime of Mac Brunson. Negative, negative, negative.

In this post I want to give the next indictment Mac made against our church, that we are no longer evangelistic. Mac said:

"You were known for your evangelism...how 500 people would go out on Tuesday nights from this church. You divided up into zip codes, nobody ever thought of that [news flash: most churches have done that for visitation, large and small ever since zip codes were defined!]...and we said 'man, what an unbelievable thing, we don't run 50 in church and they've got 500 going out' and you were 'cutting edge', you were knockin' on doors, you were seeing people. Is that not the committment you made when you came to Jesus Christ? [yelling now]. Ye shall be my witnesses! Or they just gonna talk about what you used to do? Are they gonna talk about FBC Jax in ther past tense for the next 30 years?


Its interesting that he points to how we used to go out "knocking on doors". Interesting. Is Mac knocking on doors today? If we're not, and he is, go ahead and challenge us to meet you somewhere to go on visitation. Is he showing up on Tuesday night to lead people out on visitation? Why not lead by example Mac? And anyways, Mac flat out told his congregation that "knocking on doors" is not a valid way to reach people anymore as one of the reasons that starting an FBC Academy was an absolute MUST ministry to reach our city. He said the following last December as we were considering starting a school:

"How do we reach people in the year 2007? Now I've had tons of you come to me and say 'Pastor, in the 70's we used to go knock on doors, we'd go knock on doors'. Now you can't ever find anybody at home. Listen, let me tell you something. I'm never at home, you're never at home. I've tried to come see some of you, and I know you're not at home. Nobody else is ever at home. One of the most effective ways we have of reaching the next generation and reaching their parents is through a school."


Quite an amazing statement. We're all living in our cars, sleeping in the streets apparently - nobody is ever at home! Knocking on doors doesn't work anymore because no one is home. There are many good reasons to start a school. But because "no one is home anymore" is not one of them. And the school will absolutely NOT be a primary means for reaching the people of Jacksonville.

But Mac doesn't tell us what we need to do. He doesn't point out to his listeners who in our highly paid executive staff is the one that is trying to coordinate Tuesday night visitation, or what we all should do since no one is "knocking on doors". No call to specific action. Just tearing down to tell us "we ain't what we used to be".

More to come...

11 comments:

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Readers - yesterday or today many of you will receive the letter from Mac Brunson holding his hand out asking for $1 million dollars in what he calls "emergencies" needed. Don't be fooled. While the things on his list ARE sorely needed, most are not "emergencies". The majority of these are NEGLECT....the money you faithful people have been giving has been used on things like starting a school, overspending on money to missions, paying for large salaries of Mac and his family, paying for renovations for a 3000 sf pastoral office suite...all the while the men in our church like John Blount Jr, Dave Bristowe, Adrian Soud, Judge Soud, Tom Stimler, David Kaye, and others have watched as our facilities have fallen into disrepair. To the point now that we have water damage in the preschool building. Let's hope that we don't develop a mold problem in that building from the water intrusion.

Mac admitted last year (which I believe was still in the current fiscal year) that we were overspent on missions and were behind budget by 1/2 a million dollars - he even poked fun at our finance committee for being concerned about this - and now he holds his hand out asking for 1 million for "emergencies" which aren't emergencies but maintenance that should have been done in the past 3 years since Mac got here. But no, we were busy falling all over Mac to give him a new office suite, a $300k land gift, a year's free rent at a condo on the beach, and finding new positions for wife and son on staff. How pathetic!

We already gave the million Mac is looking for. He and the laypeople spent it on other things like schools and satellite ministries, and Maurilio Amorim consulting.

So let's send Mac and the lay leaders a message: you find the money elsewhere. Cut a staff person or two or three or four. Slash a budget elsewhere. Cancel the INSP broadcasts for the next year. Put a moratorium on consulting expenditures. We HAVE been giving the money, and you misspent it. As Mac preached to us on finances a few months ago: what we need is NOT more money, we need to spend what we have more wisely. If Mac's advice is good enough for us in our personal lives, then surely its good enough for Mac and the lay leaders who have squandered the $15 million per year the last 3 years while maintenance has suffered.

Anonymous said...

Brunson's complaining about no cutting edge is more of a slam against his staff. Lay workers in Sunday School are doing their jobs, they are teaching and reaching and calling and visiting. If there is some new direction, some new cutting edge strategy, wouldn't the staff be the ones to implement it? I can't take the beatings much longer and subject my kids to the negativity of this preacher much longer. We're on our last leg with First Jax, we've held on and prayed but its getting worse. Now the asking for $900,000 for what should be repairs in our operating budget is just over the top. There are so many churches in our city that really do have loving conservative preachers and we have to try them out.

Thank you for allowing anon messages to be put here again.

Thy Peace said...

After reading Jim Smyrl blog entry titled Birth, Breast, Beast, I understand where the direction of fbcjax leadership is heading to. It's not a pretty picture.

Now bear with me while I explain my thoughts.

Going over Watchdog's posts and reader's comments, I have come to this understanding. It looks like, under Lindsay's and Vines, fbcjax was focused on basics. They have required each person coming to Christ to do the following:
- Read the bible daily (more than once is strongly encouraged)
- Pray to our Father daily (more than once is strongly encouraged
- Love your God with all your heart and soul
- Love your neighbor

I will admit, the above Dr. Brunson has also advocated many times in his sermons.

The differences seem to come in the direction of Works. For the Lindsay's, it was from the outflow of the heart for each believer as they are led by the Holy Spirit. For the current fbcjax leadership, it seems to come from the corporate world. Thus comes the notions of:
- Number of people saved
- Number of people baptized
- Amount of money being raised to do good works
- Amount of believer's time being spent on church activities or furthering the goals of the church leadership
- Manipulation rather than Motivation - in the areas of tithing and church service

For the Lindsay's, it looks like, they collected money for new projects and the projects got started only after the money was fully received. (I do not know what they did for maintenance projects)

Jim Smyrl and Mac Brunson are using the concepts of corporate world in a spiritual setting. This will not work.

Smyrl talks about all the empty churches in Europe, now being used for other purposes. Then he wants to fight for Jesus, bringing many believers to Christ to stop the decline of Christian members in US and the rise of Islam in western world through their prodigious birth rates.

I beg to differ with fbcjax leadership on this.

It's not numbers you need, it's quality of the member(s). You will do much good, if fewer member(s) are fully turned towards God, than many who turn away later.

It's always the fundamentals that count with God and not the works. What counts with God is the sincerity, humility, contriteness, loving heart of a believer. Works count for little and they are always the result of the overflow of ones heart.

I realize Jesus gives the command to make many people of many nations his disciples. We are to evangelize. But even this is secondary. The primary being one's relationship with Jesus and their walk with Jesus. It's always better to be in solitary prayer and reading of the bible in reflection and meditation of God's word, than in doing works. And to make matters worse to measure the effect of works in a worldly way.

I will have to admit that many of these arguments have been presented by Mac Brunson and Jim Smyrl. But there is a subtle twist to their arguments, thus adding the quality of manipulation rather than motivation.

You could and you probably will say, this is the result of the poison in my own heart. Maybe it's. But I recognize it for what it is. What about you?

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Well said Thy Peace.

Lindsay taught to love Jesus and love people. It was simple. Love the Word, love Jesus, love people. Invite people. Preacher tells them about Jesus and what a difference he can make. Preacher tells people what a life of loving Jesus looks like, how to love Jesus, warns them against sin - as a loving father, not a mean dictator.

You know what is funny. Mac preaches about how we used to be cutting edge. It shows you how ignorant even Mac is about what made FBC Jax successful in its mission. Vines and Lindsay used to joke about how people would come to them wanting to know what their secret was. How they did it. The secret was there was no secret. It was a man of God in the pulpit preaching the Bible faithfully, word by word, lovingly, sincerely, with no axes to grind, no alterior motives...people taught to be thankful, taught to serve and give not out of obligation or legalism, but out of love for their savior. And people did this.

And as you say TP...now its about manipulation. Its about guilt. Its about yelling at people, and cutting them down, and trying to coerce them into doing what Mac wants. And poor Jim the pearl Smyrl has bought into Mac's techniques.

Anonymous said...

I've followed your blogsite for quite a few weeks now (as your reader tracker reveals!) and have found it very interesting--for the "feedback from the pew" insights it contains.

I've served in vocational ministry positions with several SBC churches, including one fairly large one. From what you've posted at your site, it appears that conclusions I've reached are true: Christian churches--of any size!--cannot reach the people they desire to reach, nor keep those people, if one or more of three basic things are taking place among them: (1) normal attrition/migration (people moving in and out of cities, or across town); (2) low quality of ministry (not failing to have specific ministries, but having so many that the quality of them cannot be maintained at a high level--guests will notice and probably keep searching elsewhere); and/or, (3) unresolved issues (the core group finally will move on to a more peaceful congregation). First Baptist churches often can deal more easily with #1 above (other congregations must work harder to stay even--much less ahead--of attrition/migration). Congregations whose leaders take a "simple church" approach (doing primarily what gets lost people saved and saved people on mission with God--and nothing much else until/unless those two things are happening in a sustained way) can deal more easily with #2 above (and doing it preserves resources). The negative issues which #3 above points to are sure to arise in all congregations, but effective leadership and teamwork addresses matters honestly and as openly as necessary--decisions are based on principles not personal preferences, the minority may remain vocal but is supportive (if mature and has learned the biblical concepts which address being the minority in a church with congregational polity), and the future is kept in sight and pursued. Or a costly decline occurs.

By now, I suppose, it may be a bit late to address the unresolved issue personally and without the anonymity--but maybe not. The best chance your congregation has for the relationship it wants with its pastor and its future is in the relationships it has now. So, whatever it costs to make the matter right with the folks who are present now ought to be the price folks pay, for Christ's sake. I know that that may seem hard to do by this time; still, it seems more right and more mature. An explanation simply can be given: "For these biblical and good-sense reasons, I haven't appreciated your leadership here . . . When I sought to address these matters personally, I wasn't listened to--only furthering my concerns . . . However, I understand from the Lord Jesus' instruction in Matthew 18 that I'm to continue to address this matter until I can agree with you that I'm wrong or you can agree that you are--or the congregation can decide once-for-all . . . For, Christ's sake, I'm willing for either of these three to take place starting now; how about you? . . ." Talk it through, apologize where necessary, agree to the results learned and to hold each other accountable for them, then go for hamburgers together.

It seems worth a try. Or another try.


David

anon said...

Mac - we "used to do" and "used to be" a lot of things. It could be a coincidence but we also "used to have" Doug Pigg overseeing spending (no A-group), Bob Barton, Calvin Carr, Rodney Brooks, should I go on?

To John Blount, Kevin King, Steve Clifton, Dave Bristowe, A.C. Soud, Tom Stimler, and all of our trustees: YOU MEN KNOW HOW TO RUN AN ORGANIZATION! Who knows that you have come to your positions of leadership in our church FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS! How can you stand silently by while the pastor takes an embarrassingly high salary for himself, then puts his wife on salary, then his 22-year-old son on salary, then accepts a $300K personal gift from J.D. Collins, then leaves the pulpit to work on book manuscripts and travel to paid preaching gigs, and then dismisses most of the staff, and then says giving is up but then asks for special offerings for the children's building and to put himself on a half hour broadcast on INSP network that isn't even in Jacksonville and then take money from the budget for a school and then invoke the memory of Shirley Lindsay for the first time since her death to ask for another million dollars to make repairs on things that YOU ALL KNEW needed attention when he arrived? He gives tours of his office suite while our children are housed in a damp, leaking building. And you men stand and applaud and change the by-laws for him.

We love you men. And trust your leadership. Why men? Why won't even ONE of you stand up for what you know is right? I understand your love and loyalty for "God's man", but this man is not Homer or Jerry and can not be trusted. Please men, this has gone on for long enough. Hold him accountable. Make some tough decisions. God will surely go elsewhere and use other congregations if you allow this charlatan to continue.

I noticed these concerns early on and what I feared would happen has. An angry man, inconsistent in his leadership (visit or not to visit; behind budget or over budget; legalist or not (tithing); "preparing a case against his congregation", living in the past (he references Lindsay and Joash once a year) and very unloving to us all.

Men - you are our last chance. Sure we can leave. But don't you care about the sheep enough to just ask for a few bits of accountability from the pastor? Raising a million dollars for our building would have been nothing for this loving and generous congregation to do had Mac only asked for it when he first arrived. But instead, he took and took and took, and now he has an "emergency." He is not trusting God, but is expecting us to pay for it.

Men - scrutinize the budget, tell him NO. Cut the A-group off (no more trips to Vegas for Maurilio), reduce some staff (wife and son to start), give back the $500k loan to the school and use that money for maintenance, cancel the INSP broadcasts and voila!, you have most of the needed repair money right now.

Thanks for praying about this men. And don't worry about the Watchdog. Maybe he will go away if even ONE of you men will stand up and stand in the gap. And Homers Jr and Sr and Mrs Lindsay will all be watching from heaven and will be very proud of you. (Sorry, like Mac, I couldn't resist. It is just too easy.)

We will be praying for you men.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

David - only problem is that for many of us we just don't even trust Mac anymore. He's lied from the pulpit, he lashes out at his congregation on a regular basis and is very unloving...he wants to continually tell us how hard it is for him to be pastor, praises Jesus that we don't get raises because we're all so stupid we'd go into debt....yet he can't manage the $15 million budget at the church and is coming to ask for a million more just two days after indicting us as being a terrible church. And its not just him, its the lay leaders of the church who know better than to be spending money on new projects then coming to the congregation asking for a million bucks for operating expenses. It all stinks.

As for apologizing - Mac doesn't know what that means. He can't apologize to us for lying to our faces and slandering Sheri Klouda from the pulpit. Not only can't he apologize, he can't even give explanations for things like accepting $300k in land gifts, or explaining why he changed our bylaws with no explanation...forget the apologies, we just want honest explanations which Mac won't give. So we're just going to watch and see what happens and how the Lord fixes all of this. And as long as the money rolls in, Mac will be fine. And we'll all be wearing our sheep armor on Sunday mornings to withstand his beatings.

Anonymous said...

I think Mac's indictment is correct. Instead of going out and evangelizing in our community, we are staying home and blogging about what kind of house our pastor lives in.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Readers - with regard to Mac's outrageous request to raise a million dollars for "emergencies" that are really operating and maintenance expenses that should have been taken care of when he arrived or certainly before we spent money on special projects....I hate to have to say I TOLD YOU SO.

I will remind you that back in November I warned you how crazy it is that our pastor claims that "giving is up", but that we are "behind budget". He did it back in November, and even chided our finance committee behind their backs when he was preaching out of town for having "little faith" after they became alarmed that we overspent on missions earlier this fiscal year.

To reminder you of my concerns back then, click here to read how we overspent on missions last year.

So Mac's mis-management of the money and spending on missions and schools and satellites translates to an "emergency" and Mac turns to you all to dig deep just days after he tells you all that you USED TO BE a giving church.

William said...

Watchdog... what you are doing is sadly entertaining. But that it is entertaining only highlights my own depravity. You need to move on.

Many people know already that most mega-church pastors are not solid men of God. Mac Brunson's ineptitude is no surprise to most of us.

Pray tell us, how do you make sense of your childish rantings in light of Christ's teachings?

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Glad this amuses you William. This isn't for anyone's amusement. Its a sad story of a great church being abused by a sorry leader.

I don't believe these are "childish rants" either. If you've ever watched one of Mac's sermons, you'll see some childish rantings all right.

I'll move on when I'm good and ready, thank you.