Think twice before you volunteer again this year.
Before Brunson arrived, the Pastor's Conference was held at our church and coordinated by our staff and volunteers while keeping the costs low and allowing pastors from all over the world to attend.
But its a new day with Team Brunson in charge.
The conference is no longer an event hosted by our church and run by our staff and volunteers as a ministry to pastors. Mac has converted it into a marketing, fund-raising bonanza. It is an event with high registration fees, as high as other events held at public venues, and it is an event now at which advertising and marketing is sold to raise additional revenues.
How are we selling advertising and marketing space? Our church has hired a promotions firm from Atlanta, Georga, called the Conexus Group. For the 2008 PC held this year, and for the one to be held February 2009, the Conexus Group has published a "Promotions Plan" for each event and they have sold advertising packages. What do the promotions plans look like? What does it cost to buy advertising at our Pastor's Conferences? Look for yourself:
I know that one of Trey Brunson's main duties at our church is to "oversee" the Pastor's Conference, but in reality he "oversees" the promotions firm that we've hired to coordinate and sell the Pastor's Conference.
So Mac has perverted our Pastor's Conference into a whole new realm. He wants to charge large attendance fees. He wants to sell advertising space on our I-mags in the auditorium and TV ads in the dining room and print ads on the conference literature. He wants to charge Christian ministries $750 for a lousy display table and two chairs (oh, and a power strip - its all in the above promotions plans). And of course he has hired his son on paid staff to "coordinate" the event. That's fine, Mac. Make this a huge money-making venture, and use our church facilities to do it....but don't do all of this money making at our church and then ask us to donate our time for free! No one in your family has done one thing at this church unless they are paid to do it. Now you hire outside marketing and promotions firms (paid by our tithes and offerings I might add) and you want us to take vacation time and work your event. You'll even ask some of us to bake cookies....BUY THE COOKIES WITH THE ADVERTISING MONEY. Trey, you might want to contact Conexus and see if the can coordinate some event staffers to work the event for you.
A few other things to think about as you consider volunteering:
1. Last year we thought how wonderful it was that Jim Caviezel came to give a testimony during the Sunday morning service. As you recall he was interviewed by Mac Brunson on stage about a new "Word of Promise" audio bible product that featured well known actors like Caviezel. Well, after we look at the promotions plan, we see that this was not a carefully chosen testimony by our staff to bless the people at the conference...no, it was a PURCHASED ADVERTISEMENT to peddle the Word of Promise, sold for the "platinum package" price of $15,000! Did you ever think we would see the day when our pastor would interview someone who paid to be on our platform to promote their product? Can you say "Robert Schuller"?
2. Last year during the conference you might recall when Mac brought Trey to the platform to pray before Dr. David Jeremiah preached - Mac bragged on his son and in a raw display of brazen nepotism Mac and credited Trey with "raising over $100,000" to offset the costs of the conference, and that this amount was "more than twice his salary" as though his salary had any relevance. For the longest time after that I always wondered, how did Trey "raise" $100,000? Well, now that we know the event was "promoted" by the Conexus Group, that $100,000 must be the amount in promotional fees collected...not through Trey's efforts however, but through the efforts of a paid promotions firm. But it helps to say Trey did it, in front of thousands of potential employers.
3. And don't think Mac appreciates your volunteer effort, or that your efforts are crucial to the success of the event. No, the only thing that is essential in Mac's mind is the genius and hard work of his son. When he was interviewed by the website SBC Today during the conference, in another demonstration of nepotism, Mac said "My son ran this whole conference"and the "...whole conference was on his shoulders." You can listen to this quote and other excerpts from this SBC Today interview that you will find very interesting (like his comments about women being more sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and Gilyard as the "pastor down the street"), in the flash below.
So those of you pastors that are coming...just want you to know that not only are you paying a hefty registration fee to come here, but your mere presence here represents a valuable marketing unit that is being SOLD by the Conexus Group to raise additional monies through advertising. We hope you enjoy being marketed when you're here!
Now I do realize that other Christian events are promoted in a similar fashion...and that even the registration fees are not out of line with other multi-day Christian conferences. But this is held not at a public venue, but its held AT OUR CHURCH. There are obvious costs involved - utilities, security, housekeeping, A/V staff, etc. But there is no rent charged for the facility, and volunteers from the church staff it. So we take in over a million in revenue from the registrations, and another $100k+ from the promotions. We have to pay the speakers, yes, but one has to wonder where the rest of the money is going. The costs and revenues for this event are not reflected on our church financials, so we just don't know. While I trusted Vines under this scenario, I certainly don't trust Team Brunson and their band of out-of-town marketers and promoters.
So let Mac and his son and the A-Group and the Conexus Group use our facilties for their event. Nothing we can do about that.
But save your vacation time this year and send them a message that you don't like how they have perverted our Pastor's Conference.
And please, let them buy their own cookies and snacks for the event.