Mac's sermon (infomercial) Sunday was a hurried attempt to try to paint Mac and Smyrl as innovative leaders in our church - as though they have ushered in a new day with "theology driven ministry" - as though we were previously "comic book driven ministry" or something else...but don't be fooled church. There's another side to Mac's story. That is the side that Mac has hijacked power at our church to himself to do what HE wants, irrespective of what his congregation, which is a royal priesthood of believers at FBC Jax, believes should be done.
Its been almost 3 years since the end of the Lindsay/Vines era at our church, and as time passes and we are exposed to the Brunson regime week after week through his abusive preaching its very easy to be become numb, to forget what the leadership and decision making principles were that made our church great. Don't listen to Mac when he proclaims to know what Homer Lindsay Sr. or Homer Lindsay Jr. would do - as I said he never met either man, and he is very ignorant on the history of our church as evidenced by him thinking we were "cutting edge" in years gone by.
Here are three leadership and decision making principles that made our church great that Mac has absolutely turned upside down:
1. The "Priesthood of the Believer" was recognized by the Congregational Rule form of leadership in our church and our bylaws.
- Our pastors and lay leaders have long understood that our church was governed by "congregational rule", under the biblical principal of the "priesthood of the believer" in 1 Pe 2:9.
- When a decision was to be made that required special funding or capital funds, a vote was taken before the money was spent. The vote was announced, and it was genuinely taken in a regular, or previously announced business meeting. If the congregation did not approve it, it wasn't done.
- He and our yes-men lay leaders clandestinely changed our church bylaws on November 28, 2007 in a business meeting where absolutely NO explanation was given by the pastor as to what the changes were, or why they were made. These changes shifted power from the congregation to the pastor and the lay leaders of the church, thus we are in effect no longer a congregation led church
- The bylaw changes removed the right of the church to hold a special business meeting (thus the congregation could not call for a vote on the pastor's position);
- The bylaw changes specifically state that members agree to have all disputes with the church settled by arbitration - the end result of which is to remove a path for members to legally demand detailed financial records of the church
- The pastor has assumed sole responsibility to appointing trustees of the church, and the finance committee was disbanded and made part of the trustees, appointed by the pastor.
- Mac has repeatedly demonstrated a low view of the members of his church by constantly accusing them of not reading their bibles, not supporting the pastor, and his low esteem of his congregation was evidenced by his failure to distribute the bylaws prior to the vote. He has spoken ill of our congregation away from our church on multiple occasions, further evidence of his low view of the sheep he was called to pastor.
- FBC was a congregational ruled church, and our pastors recognized that. Calvin Carr will vouch for that as he has preached about church polity in his new church in Gainesville. However, our church had chosen to willingly give our pastors much moral authority in making decisions. Our pastors had demonstrated their love and commitment to the church and this city after years of sacrifice; they were rewarded with loyal members following their leadership in almost all decisions;
- This moral authority was not something demanded by the pastor as a function of his position - it was granted to him by our congregation. He didn't use his power to lord over us and beat us, or to be a dictator and demand we do what he does without a vote or before the money is given. We willingly followed their loving leadership based on years and years of them demonstrating to us that they walked with Jesus, and that they loved the church and had the best interests of the church and the community.
- Mac came in from day 1 behaving as though he should have the same moral authority granted to him as a function of his position as the new "Pastor" at our church. This was evidenced by taking a salary as large as previous pastors, practicing blatant nepotism by putting wife and son on staff in newly created positions , and having our church spend $100,000 and using 3000 sf of prime Children's Building space for a lavish office suite. Its good to be da king.
- Even accepting the $300,000 land gift and a year's rent free stay at an ocean front condo as he did three weeks after arriving in Jacksonville send a signal that he believes himself worthy of such an honor as receiving a 6-figure gift based solely on his position, not his sacrifice. He should have politely refused that gift and urged the man to use it for the Lord's work, not to enrich the pastor.
- Instead of Mac coming in here and getting busy to preach and roll up his sleeves and work hard and love us, he took 2 months with pay to arrive, sporadically preached his first year, vacating the pulpit on Sunday mornings and night without letting his congregation know, sometimes by his own admission he could work on his book manuscript (the book where he counsels pastors not to accept large gifts or live in "executive" homes) began using our church to advertise for his Holy Land trips, etc. Mac embarrassed our church by not keeping his commitment to serve faithfully on the Mayor's crime prevention steering committee. In short, Mac came in as the "rock star", not as the new humble preacher coming to build good will with the people.
- When the pastors determined what major direction they believed the church should go in, they brought it to the church and clearly communicated it - why it was necessary, how it was rooted in scripture, and they asked us to pray.
- If it required capital funds (as many decisions did during our high growth years), the financial needs were communicated, and the people were asked to pray and give as the Lord moved. When the funds were raised and we were ready to launch, a vote was taken of the congregation to spend the money.
- Our church historically has used the people's willingness to give as a sign that the Lord was moving in the church. The pastors did not go into debt for several reasons, one of which was they knew that if the Lord was in something, at least as God had moved in our church for decades, then God would move the hearts of his people to give the money needed! It wasn't just a desire to stay out of debt; but the pastors trusted the people to give as evidence that God was moving.
- Because of his low esteem for the people of God, that we don't read our bibles, we don't even bring our bibles, and we're a bunch of legalists with "no real relationship with Jesus Christ": because of this, the congregation must be told what to do.
- After Mac tells us what he wants to do, then he builds a case to convince us that its a good idea. For those who might disagree or don't respond as he asks, he will mischaracterize or minimize their concerns from the pulpit. Case in point his anger at the church for not being behind totally behind the satellite concept. He'll use guilt to try to convince people to go with him.
I have blogged about many instances making the above case. The latest one I will point to is the decision to start a school downtown. Mac wanted a school. He believes that it is necessary. He lied to us and said that knocking on doors doesn't work, and thus, we MUST start a school if we're going to reach Jacksonville with the gospel. That's a lie out of hell. Its not a requirement to reach our city. But Mac wants it. An endeavor like that takes start up costs...to the tune of $500,000. So what did Mac do? Well, I can tell you what Homer or Vines would have done. They would have communicated the vision, and asked for people who were behind this vision to give to a fund. When the money was raised, a vote would be taken to start the school and spend the money. What did Mac do? He held an unannounced business meeting to vote to take $500,000 from our church funds, money given by God's people to the ministry of FBC Jax, to start the school. Shameless.
And as further evidence of how stupid he thinks we are, he holds out his hand for $1 million in maintenance costs when these should have been taken care of when he first came on board, or certainly before spending money on pastor office suites, INSP broadcasts, and start-up of a school for the very rich. And now that we don't have the money we should put it in the budget for next year.But the sheep will give deep...and Mac will receive a hefty Christmas bonus for his wise and able leadership. And Smyrl writes his "Theology Driven Ministry" book.
And the sheep march to the sheerer....