Matthew 24:11: (NIV) “…and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.”
2 Timothy 2:23 - 25 (NIV) - 23Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. 24 A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. 25 Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
The Watchdog wishes all of you a very happy, healthy, and prosperous 2009.
"Paige Patterson: Mac Never Got a Honeymoon" - 10/8/07
"Good or Best" - 10/23/07
"FBC Jax Beware: The Major Fleecing is About to Begin" - 11/25/07
"What Changes Were Made to the Bylaws?" - 12/10/07
"Mac Strikes Back" - 2/3/08
"Does Mac Follow the Holy Spirit of the A-Group" - 3/23/08
"Its Enough to Make One Feel Sorry for Mac" - 4/6/08
"Mac Brunson: Jacksonville is a Hotbed of Legalism" - 4/12/08
"Two Rivers Baptist Church - Lessons for FBC Jax" - 5/15/08
"Pastor's Guidebook - Do as I Say and Not as I Do" - 5/31/08
"Let's All Go to the Holy Land" - 6/4/08
"Mac: Don't Accept Gifts..." - 6/7/08
The Lie About Sheri Klouda - 7/15/08
The Response of Sheri Klouda - 7/17/08
Christians in the Hands of an Angry God - 8/6/08
"Welcome to Maurilio (Takes a Swipe at the Watchdog)" - 8/9/08
"Fleecing the Sheep: Mac Needs a Million Dollars" - 9/21/08
Deacon Worriers - 11/3/08
"Questions for FBC Academy" - 11/25/08
"What Would Jesus Blog" - 12/7/08
"Church Discipline - Part 2" - 12/24/08
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Two of the letters are from the Discipline Committee to the member of FBC Jax and his wife - a member in good standing who he and his wife have served in the church for many years. One of them is the reply letter from the church member. He is accused of being the owner or controller of this particular blog. When you read the list of 16 sins ("A" through "P") it sounds as though they are accusing the owner of this blog of single handedly destroying the ministry of and fellowship at FBC Jax.
Letter #1: The Indictment of the Watchdog
This 11/25/08 letter accuses the man of owning and controlling the blog, and lists 16 specific sins which are "derogatory, devisive, destructive, and demeaning"...reads almost as a Jerry Vines alliterative 4-point sermon outline. According to the accused, the letter was hand delivered on the eve of Thanksgiving, by two long-term staffers who first called and hung up on him to ensure he was home, rang the doorbell, refused an invitation to come in, and pulled out a sealed envelope and gave it to the accused man and left.
According to the man who received this letter, this was the FIRST and ONLY correspondence or notice or communication in any way of this matter. Very interesting if this is true, since the letter claims that the committee is acting in accordance with Matthew 18:15-20; which it most certainly is not if the FIRST action was to drop off a letter and trespass warnings. Greek scholars are pouring through the text to find the discipline process in scripture where step one is a crank call, step two is to drop off a letter at the man's house, and step three is to ban the members from the church property until the accused comes to meet with a committee. So far no luck in finding that process in scripture.
This letter makes the accusations, and then informs the accused that he and his wife are forbidden from coming on the property ever again until they meet with the "Discipline Committee", and that failure to meet with the Discipline Committee within 10 days will result in expulsion from the church. Another reason why the December 2007 bylaw changes have significance: did the bylaws grant the authority to this new Discipline Committee to vote members out without the approval of the congregation?
The letter has been signed by the six members of the Discipline Committee: the Chairman of the Deacons, the Vice Chairman of the Deacons, and four other members of the committee - one of them which also is the President of the Trustees of the church. So who in the world would he speak to at the church to protest such treatment? The pastor? He appointed the committee members. Certainly not the Chair or vice chair of the deacons - they are committee members. President of the Trustees? Nope, on the committee. And without a copy of the bylaws (as of Friday last week no bylaws have been provided as requested) it is impossible to know if they prescribe some sort appeal process as was outlined in the Bellevue Baptist Church bylaws that also provided for an ad-hoc discipline committee. According to some posters here, the old bylaws DID contain a type of appeal process where an accused could call for a hearing in front of the church, but that the new bylaws have removed that - this story on the bylaws is developing. Names and signatures of the FBC Jax discipline committee have been removed as requested.
Here are the trespass warnings issued which I believe were attached to the 11/25 letter: one for the man and one for his wife. These forms were shown to a law enforcement expert, who confirmed these forms prove the persons have been warned to stay away from the premises, and thus the two members could be arrested for trespassing if an official at the church wanted to report them as trespassing. The forms had the man and his wife's name, address, date of birth, weight, height, race, sex, etc. The reason stated on the forms for the warning issuance was: "willful misconduct of a church member" for the man, and "association with member engaging in willful misconduct of a church member" for the woman. So based on this its clear to me that the woman is not being accused of owning the blog, just that she is accused of "associating" with her husband who is accused of owning the blog.
This 12/1/08 letter is the man's response to the accusations and trespass warnings. He states his intention to meet with the committee, but requests a copy of the bylaws, states his intention to tape record the meeting and to have counsel present, and also asks that the trespass warnings be lifted so that he and his wife may attend church services on 12/3/08 to watch their daughter sing in the choir. He also is asking for the basis of the accusations.
2nd Letter from Church
This 12/3/08 letter is the committee's response to the accused's 12/1/08 letter. This letter ignores the request to provide the bylaws, and states that the committee will never allow the man to have representation in any meetings with the committee because of the "ecclesiastical" nature of the meeting. The committee acknowledges that the man and his wife have a desire to see their daughter perform in the 12/3/08 service but insists that the man and his wife must first submit to their demand to meet with the committee prior to the service else the trespass warning is "in full force and effect". They state:
So this committee apparently has been granted such power by the church's bylaws (or by the pastor or pastor's wife's decree) that they can dictate the terms to members by which they are allowed to attend worship services. Its worth noting that attendance at the 12/3/08 meeting would not have lifted the trespass warnings, but would only permit attendance for that one service: "...the committee...is willing to allow you on the premises, for tonight, if you have an initial meeting...this evening."
The man says he did send a response to the 2nd reply from the church, and says he has decided to not make that one public, at least not at this time.
What is next? His wife has been removed from her Sunday School email prayer distribution list. For the time being the man and his wife have trespass warnings against them that are "in full force and effect" and he says they will comply and will worship elsewhere and don't plan on coming back. He tells me his wife is taking it all pretty hard but is coping well. The worst part he says is the total silence toward his wife - only one staff member called her - he is one of the young, very humble ministers at the church who did not know why she was not able to fulfill her ministry anymore at the church. Apparently not all of the staff had been informed of the trespass warnings.
So it appears to be a stand-off since the committee requires a meeting under their conditions only, and doesn't seem to want to meet what seem to be reasonable requests of the man and his wife prior to a meeting. If there are any "appeal" processes or procedures in the bylaws for members who are being mistreated by the committee, they are unknown to the accused as the church still has not complied with his request for a copy of the bylaws or even an explanation of the basis of the accusations. The man says its likely that the committee is following through on their threat to revoke their membership unless they meet with the committee.
So there you have it: Church Discipline - FBC Jax style. Not according to the Bible. Matthew 18 church discipline? Not even close. Its church discipline according to Team Brunson.
These events should concern every single member of FBC Jacksonville. Lest you think Mac is a disconnected party to all of these shenanigans, consider this: Mac preached Wednesday night 12/3, the very day that Mac's committee tried to force the man and his wife to meet with them without representation as a condition of seeing their child perform in church, Mac stated that scripture teaches that one function of a pastor's "dealing harshly" with sinning church members is to "put the fear of God in YOU [the congregation]". I don't find this in scripture that a pastor is to "deal harshly" with sinners, or that church discipline is designed to put "the fear of God" into people. But that is Mac's view and intent in all of this: to put the FEAR OF GOD IN YOU, THE GOOD PEOPLE OF FBC JACKSONVILLE. Just a coincidence that he makes this statement on that particular day that the man and his wife were refused entrance into the church? I don't think so.
So FBC Jax I ask you: Is Mac successful in putting the fear of God in YOU? Or is it time perhaps for the congregation to put the "fear of God" into Mac and the discipline committee and demand that they stop their abusive ways?
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
When Mac first came to FBC Jax, his mantra for the first few months was "We don't come to church to worship a pastor or to hear from a preacher, but to worship and hear from God." Fine and true, although one might assume he said that to tell us that was what we WERE doing before he came along. And now that he was there he was going to put a stop to the evil of preacher-worship and celebrity preachers at FBC Jax.
Only problem was we really did NOT worship our pastors, and they did NOT behave as celebrities. We really DID come to church to hear from God - fortunately our pastors were preaching the Word of God every single Sunday.
Three years into Mac's tenure, we can look back and see the obvious contrasts - that while our previous pastors were NOT celebrities, Mac really does behave as though he is a celebrity, in many ways.
I suppose Vines and Lindsay were "celebrities" if by that you mean "beloved pastors". The people loved these men. Not because they were perfect, not because they had the title of "Pastor, FBC Jacksonville". And not because they expected or demanded special status. They were beloved because they proved themselves over many years to be loving toward the people, faithful to God in their call to preach Jesus and the Bible, and faithful to do right by the church called FBC Jacksonville. They were hard on sin, soft on people...and people loved them and God blessed their ministries.
Whatever love and admiration the people of FBC Jax gave them, they earned - they didn't have to demand it. They didn't come riding into town with a $300,000 land gift in their hip pocket, jobs for the family and a brand new $100,000 "pastor study" in the choicest of church space...and neither Vines nor Lindsay came into town to staying at Amelia Island for a year in an ocean-front condo while they built their million dollar mansion as Mac has.
So really, who was/is the "celebrity" preacher?
Mac has come here and used his position to give special status to his family, as though they are the "first family". We now have a 24 or 25 year old Director whose primary qualification is that his last name is Brunson. His wife also has a special position in the church. Some of you might say that Homer, Sr. gave Homer, Jr. a job - that this was nepotism. No, Jr. went away to seminary, earned his doctorate, and "earned his stripes" so-to-speak as a pastor before coming to Jacksonville. Hear me: Homer, Jr. didn't seek out this position, he didn't negotiate a deal for he and his wife and son...in fact his dad had to convince Jr. to give FBC Jacksonville a try.
Homer or Vines never held a "special offering" to raise money not in the budget to put themselves on national television.
Homer or Vines never used their position as our pastor to advertise for "Holy Land" trips on our website. Vines did travel and preach on "Christian cruises" once per year, but he never advertised them to us on the website or in the church bulletin! Even when Vines retired he was very careful to not use the pulpit to promote his "Jerry Vines Ministry" launch - with 20+ years at the church he could have and no one would have said a peep, but he knew how unbecoming it was for a pastor to use his position as pastor of a mega church to sell and promote and advertise themselves or their ministries. Vines had wisdom. Vines had class.
Once the transition to "celebrity" is made, the next logical step is to view events as promotions and revenue opportunities. And then to advertise to SELL the promotions packages - what arrogance - sure, we're going to charge you money to put you on our I-mags and to mention you on the "stage" - we can sell you a little bit of "celebrity" status if you have have the money to pay for it! Homer or Vines never sold advertising and promotions to our Pastor's conference - such a thought would be very foreign, to charge ministries $750 for a table and $12,500 for a "platinum promotions package" including "emcee recognition" and video displays and "banners in prominent positions" and "premium booth space". I would submit that doing such things would not even be a consideration for a "Jesus driven" ministry, but in a celebrity driven ministry, why not sell a little bit of "celebrity"?
For Brunson, envelopes with requests for money were passed through all the Sunday School classes for several weeks to collect money for a "money tree" for his newly married son before we even got to know Mac OR his son.
The birthday cards sent to members have Mac's entire family even though his children are grown and have families of their own. I'm glad he has a wonderful family, but one must think they are a celebrity in order to put their out-of-town daughter and son-in-law and grandchild on birthday cards going to members of FBC Jax. I mean really...does son-in-law Barry really need to be wishing FBC Jax members "Happy Birthday"? Get real.
We held special baby dedication services for Baby Broc. We held a special ordination service for Mac's son-in-law. Celebrity status - you get special baby dedications and ordinations. Never would other staff members, and certainly never would the plebe - ever get a special baby dedication or ordination service for their relative. But if your pastor is a "celebrity", it makes perfect sense to do that! But wait, maybe we can market this, and for a handsome donation one can get a special Sunday morning baby dedication.
Now again we are treated to the Brunson's including their extended family on their Christmas greetings, featuring a picture of "the Child", Baby Broc. I'm happy for Mac that he has a grandson. I'm also happy that he's proud to be a grandfather...but are members of FBC Jax to be overjoyed at the sight of his grandson who lives in Kentucky? Is there something special about HIS grandchild that he should be featured on our church website? The greeting makes it seem as though its Mac and Deb's 4th child, for crying out loud. Mac is our pastor. He has a wife. Wouldn't it be enough for Mac and his wife to give us Christmas greetings?
What empty nesters their 50's and 60's that has grown children and grandkids sends Christmas cards out that includes their grown kids, their kids' spouses, and the grandkids names on it? I have never in my life ever seen such a thing. And what is with the "Doc" and "Honey"? Let's see, Sleepy, Dopey, Doc....and "Honey"? Isn't it "Mac and Deb"?
But the Brunson's do it. Perhaps they view themselves as "celebrities". Just a guess, but I will bet this was not Mac's idea, if you know what I mean. But since women are more "sensitive to the Holy Spirit" as Mac says.
The Lindsays and Vines knew that while they were beloved, they didn't abuse that love by showcasing all of their family members in our church or promoting their families! They kept their families private.
I love babies in general, but like most members at FBC Jax I'm not all that interested in "Baby Broc" in particular. If they are presuming that we care to see Baby Broc and are filled with joy at his sight, they must assume they are celebrities, and that anyone associated with them is of interest to us. Like the baby of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie - we don't care anything about that baby but that its parents are celebrities! Oooh...let me see the little baby!
By the way, I found it a bit uncomfortable Sunday when Mac declared to us that his daughter was expecting another child, and he said "...its another boy, thank GOD, we got another man coming...the 'man-child' is coming".....as though there is something inherently wrong with a girl baby?
Monday, December 22, 2008
"Earth to Jim": Please do a "find and replace" on your computer, and replace all occurrences of the word "TDM" with the word: JESUS. Then re-read all of your TDM gobbldy-gook and it might start to make sense. It might do you, and FBC Jax, some good.
That Smyrl thinks he is defining the ultimate ministry model in TDM is so arrogant that it defies logic. FBC Jacksonville has never needed a "movement" to define its ministry. For 50 years we didn't need three letters like TDM to define what we were all about. We used 5 letters: J-E-S-U-S. We were a "Jesus Driven" ministry. We preached Jesus. We taught Jesus. We explained who Jesus was out of the Bible. We didn't need "theology" courses taught by seminaries on campus - we used humble Bible teachers who loved and lived for Jesus. The only "theology" we needed was the Word taught by preachers who preached....JESUS straight out of the Bible every single service.
And being a "JESUS" driven ministry, we used all sorts of techniques to draw people to him and to encourage people to live for Jesus. We didn't need an angry preacher yelling at us to bring our Bibles...we did it because we loved Jesus. A preacher stomping around and "amening" himself where he was just standing - nope, we gave heartily "Amens" when the truth about JESUS was spoken from the pulpit. Preachers didn't need to threaten us to tithe...we did it because we were taught to love JESUS. Jesus WAS our theology. We didn't start a school - not because we were stupid and needed the marketing genius of Mac and Maurilio to do what we were too stupid to do, but because we thought it not the best use of our resources to achieve the goal of REACHING PEOPLE FOR JESUS.
We didn't need to give our preacher a quarter million dollar land gift to come and preach...they did it because they loved us and loved JESUS. We built parking garages and buildings - not to draw people and raise revenue - not a "build it and they'll come" marketing strategy - we built because people were coming to hear about JESUS. They didn't come to hear history lessons and theatrics and seeing the preacher yell, squint, stomp, cringe, bellyache, and cry...they came to hear about JESUS. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. It was...I said WAS a Jesus-driven ministry.
Its wonderful to have a JESUS-driven ministry...you can try new ministry techniques and explain them lovingly to a congregation in the context of: "let's try this and see if it helps us reach people for Jesus and helps people love and obey Jesus more". If something works, let's keep doing it. If it doesn't work, let's try something else. We don't need to declare our new ideas as THE way...that is arrogant. We would humbly try something and if it worked we kept doing it until it didn't achieve the results of reaching people for JESUS. We didn't narrowly define our ministry in terms of "we must do small groups". Could we do "small groups"? Sure, we could try that and our preachers would lovingly explain it to us. If the preachers perceived the people didn't like it and it didn't draw them closer to Jesus, they'd move on to something else because we weren't about "small groups", we were about JESUS. Could we help compel students to invite their friends with fun rewards? Sure! If it helps reach people for JESUS, let's do it! Reward trips for teenagers to help give them motivation to study their Bibles each week and to witness? Sure, if it helps compel them to live for JESUS, let's try it! If it doesn't work, we'll do something else. Start a local TV ministry? Sure! Start a men's division? Let's see if it helps us reach people for Jesus! Bus ministry? Let's go for it, if it helps us reach people for Jesus and helps people learn to love Him. Couples classes? Let's try it!
"Earth to Mac": We were "cutting edge" when we were "JESUS driven" and we tried all sorts of ministries focused on Jesus. We didn't force people...we didn't yell at people...we did what we could to help people come to JESUS and live for JESUS.
We were a JESUS driven ministry and there is a remnant at FBC Jax that knows deep in their heart that we WERE Jesus driven, and we are now no longer Jesus driven, but we are now promotions, revenue, and celebrity preacher driven. More on that later.
Jim and his clever little TDM and his explanations of all the things we did that were wrong...he'll move on and maybe he'll write a book. Mac and Honey at some point will move on and take the Promotions and Celebrity and Marketing and Maurilio and the Family and will move on to the next church or SBC agency....and we'll get back to being a JESUS-DRIVEN MINISTRY.
In the meantime: keep loving people, and keep loving Jesus. It would be what Homer Lindsay would want us to do in these difficult days.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Voting Yourself Out of Fellowship
Catholic Cults - Part 1
Catholic Cults - Part 2
Catholic Cults - Part 3
Monday, December 15, 2008
If Jesus were our pastor, would he have accepted a $300,000 land gift just weeks after he showed up? Would he have played a commercial for a business of the person who gave him that land gift in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount?
I know that this topic has been discussed here on this blog many times, but it bears another examination in light of the Times Union article. If there was ONE, indisputable, verifiable, PROMINENT claim made on this blog about Mac Brunson that bears examination by a Times Union reporter, it is this - if you are one of the many new readers of this blog since the Times Union story ran, please read this next paragraph very slowly:
Mac and Debbie Brunson, just three weeks after arriving in Jacksonville as pastors of the FBC Jacksonville, accepted a land gift in Deerwood Country Club valued currently at $307,000. This gift was given to the Brunsons for "love and affection" as stated on the deed, and the giver of the gift is a member of and donor to the church.
The deed for this gift is publicly available on the City of Jacksonville property appraisor's website here. Despite this being perhaps the most prominent issue of this blog, and despite this being one irrefutable fact on this blog, the writer of the Times Union story did NOT ask Brunson about this allegation. Instead he characterized the blog as being about salary and the church's desire to start a school. Why ignore this issue?
Now, before you reject the rest of this article as irrelevant because you are thinking: "So what? The man accepted a gift, what is wrong with that?" or before you say "That's his own business, who are YOU, some anonymous blogger to be judging what the man does in his private life?", I implore you to read the rest of this article. Don't let the fact that this is written by an anonymous author cause you to reject the truth that is written here. I am a member of FBC Jacksonville, a person you've likely seen around the church or maybe know me personally. If my facts are wrong, or disagree with my arguments, reject this article and don't give it a second thought.
The desires to dismiss this issue out of hand as irrelevant are normal. When we first hear news that might shed a negative light on a man we respect, we don't want to think he did something unethical. But you and I as members of FBC Jacksonville must think more deeply. You owe it to your Lord and to your CHURCH to think more deeply than just "what's wrong with a man accepting a gift?" This has the potential to reflect very poorly on our church. It needs to have the light of truth shone on it, and if there is nothing wrong with this gift because of things behind the scenes, let it be said so.
I would first like to make this case...everyone at our church needs to understand:
For other non-profit 501(c)3 organizations such as the Red Cross or Compassion International: if a man is hired to lead the organization, then accepts a very large gift from ONE OF THE DONORS OF THE ORGANIZATION WITHIN DAYS OF ACCEPTING HIS POSITION...this would be universally seen as UNETHICAL.
You know it in your gut as you read this. Most of you reading this work for companies that have told you under what conditions you may or may not accept gifts from customers or vendors for obvious reasons - and $300,000 land gifts are definitely off limits! If you can't grasp that concept, then don't bother reading the rest of this article, as it won't make any sense.
What bearing does what the Red Cross or Compassion International's views on gifts have on us, a Christian church? Well, Mac himself has written in his "Guidebook for Pastors" that pastors should hold themselves to HIGHER ethical standards than the world - not only THAT, but he also believes pastors should behave more ethically than other CHRISTIANS!! Here's what he says in his book, "The New Guidebook for Pastors", page 180:
So if you can accept the fact that no other 501(c)3 organizations would see this as ethical, and that Mac should at least be as ethical as secular organizations, then read on. If you believe that perhaps Mac behaved in a less than fully ethical manner in accepting this gift - if you believe at least that this gift GIVES THE APPEARANCE of impropriety, then read on.
Let's be generous. Let's assume that if all the facts were known about this gift, that we would conclude there was nothing unethical. Its all on the "up and up". Fine, I'm open to that possibility. But on the surface this act looks to have greed and privilege written all over it. Thus, the pastor immediately needs to answer the following questions about this gift to clear any of this up. If he made a mistake somewhere, he can admit it and ask forgiveness. He needs to provide answers to his congregation that he himself has declared he is fully accountable to. I would propose the following subjects to be addressed with the church:
a. He needs to explain the circumstances behind the gift: when did he and/or his wife become aware of this gift? Was it before or after they had accepted the call to pastor FBC Jax?
b. He needs to explain why he thought it was ethical to accept the gift. If he is earning a salary from our church, and our church is presumably paying his relocation expenses, how then can he take a $300,000 gift for "love and affection" from one of our wealthy donors? Did he consider other options, like encouraging the man to liquidate it and give it to the church as a seed gift for a school or satellite church?
c. He needs to explain what the rules are for accepting gifts that apply to the staff of our church. Does his accepting this gift mean that other staff members can accept large gifts? Is it open season for wealthy members to donate large gifts to staff members that they personally like? If its not acceptable say for John Blount to accept a six-figure gift from one of our donors, then why would it be OK for Mac Brunson to accept one? Or is there one set of rules for the "senior pastor", and another for everyone else? Can just the "executive pastors" accept large gifts from donors?
d. Mac needs to explain how his accepting of this gift is not inconsistent with his advice given in his book "The New Guidebook for Pastor's" that is read by future pastors in seminaries. How can he caution pastors against accepting gifts in this book, but yet he accepts a $307,000 gift just says after accepting the call to pastor FBC Jacksonville?
e. If Mac and/or his wife were made aware of this gift at some point prior to them accepting the call to be pastors at our church, was the relocation package adjusted accordingly? If Mac and/or his wife were made aware of this gift by certain members of the search committee during the negotiations, were ALL pastor search committee members and members of the personnel and finance committess made aware also so that a fair relocation package could be negotiated to take into consideration this extremely large gift given by one of our members?
f. Mac needs to also explain why he decided to air a testimony (click here to listen) in the middle of his sermon earlier this year, for the sons of the man who gave him this gift. The testimony was a professionally produced commercial highlighting the residential construction business, owned by two sons of the gift giver, that has decided to close their sales offices on Sundays. Was this quid pro-quo for his land gift? If not, did we charge the business for this free publicity, especially since it aired on our broadcast on TV-12? If we are charging $12,500 to ministries to highlight their themselves during the pastor's conference with a 60 second video, wouldn't we certainly then charge a for-profit business for that same privilege that will end up airing on local TV-12 since it was in the middle of the sermon? Why or why not?
These questions deserve to be addressed by the pastor. As I said, Mac himself has stated he views us as his "bosses" and that he is fulling accountable to each of us. Really? Put your money where your mouth is, so to speak, Mac. Explain the gift.
You might say, "this is almost 3 years in passing, let's just let it go." I say we CANNOT. Firstly, what does this gift say to other wealthy church members? What if a wealthy church member in the future decides to buy influence or favors with the pastor? Secondly, we've already crossed the line where we sell advertising at our Pastor's Conference! How far are we away from selling references to businesses in the sermons? Thirdly, shouldn't our church say to all staff members to not accept any gifts above a certain amount from church members so as to not burden them with having to determine the motives of the gift giver? Its what the "world" does, shouldn't we at least have ethics that are at that level? How can our ethical standard be lower than the world's?
Mac himself points to pastors' ethical failures in his book on page 180 and says: "You are either honest or you are not. Many pastors have ruined their ministries by compromosing personal ethics....One cannot help but wonder if such pators are even saved, let alone called to preach." So it was Mac who accepted the land gift and has given the appearance of impropriety. He comes close to the line he said pastors should never get close to. Thus we ask: was what you did unethical? If so, are you saved? Are you called to be a preacher?
Mac has felt pressure in the past to address this issue. If you click below you will hear his defiant, arrogant explanation of his housing situation. This is the only time he has gotten vaguely close to explaining the land gift, and he did it to boldy proclaim "I'm paying for THAT house". True, he's paying for the million dollar house, but he did NOT pay for the $300,000 land on which the house sits. So that is deceptive at best. Another potential unethical act - deceiving us about paying for his house/land - deserving of an explanation.
Mac needs to address these issues with the church - fully, openly, honestly, and humbly. Not half of the story. No arrogance. Drop the bulldog approach, Mac. If he can't address this with the congregation to whom he said he is accountable, then perhaps a trespass warning could be issued to Mac....and his wife...until such time he agrees to explain why he has done what he has done.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
So part of the $12,500 "Platinum Package" promotions includes getting the "emcee" (I didn't know we had an "emcee" - master of ceremonies I assume - at a pastor's conference. I thought we had a pastor, a music minister, etc.) to say a few words from the "stage" (I didn't know we had a "stage" - I thought it was a pulpit on a platform).
And if you have $12,500 we'll give you a "premium booth location"...that idiot, that plebe that only has $750, we'll stick him by door number 6 on the east end of the RLA. But you, the guy with the deep pockets - we'll put you right outside the doors of the main sanctuary. Wow.
So in this 2nd installment of "What Would Jesus _______", we'll ask the question: What Would Jesus CHARGE? That is, if Jesus were the Senior Pastor of FBC Jacksonville, what would he charge ministries, if anything, to come into our church to have access to the people of our church and our visiting pastors?
Remember the context: the Times Union posed the question "What Would Jesus Blog?" implying that if Jesus were here today he most certainly would NOT be blogging anonymously, and he wouldn't dare to hold the mighty mega pastors accountable. How DARE Jesus say ANYTHING calling into question the integrity of Mac Brunson! So Mac and the Times Union ask "What Would Jesus Blog", so we shall use the same measuring stick against Mac and his ministries, to see how they measure up to the standards of Jesus.
When I see that we are marketing and selling "emcee recognition and thank you from the stage" that tells me we are at FBC Jacksonville willing to sell the very words uttered in the sanctuary. That scares me.
Were Jesus' words for sale? Could kudos from Jesus be bought for a price? Would he put ads in the middle of his sermons and his illustrations? In short: WHAT WOULD JESUS CHARGE?
Imagine Jesus saying any of the following:
Just a hunch, but I don't think Jesus would have said those things.
Jesus wouldn't blog? OK. But would Jesus use his resources to hire a marketing firm in Nashville and would he use his resources to hire a promotions firm in Atlanta to develop a promotions plan to charge ministries for having advertising access to his followers? If not, why is Mac, "God's man", doing these things?
Doesn't it all just stink? That our church is engaged in this sort of "marketing bonanza"? Doesn't it make you uncomfortable? Shouldn't perhaps the church stay away from this kind of activity? If we're hosting an event IN OUR CHURCH....how can we justify charging huge sums of money for advertising space? It does not cost us anywhere near $750 to allow a ministry to put a table up in our foyer area to showcase their ministry, nor does it cost $12,500 to provide the services listed above - even if we think those are things we should do. "Pay for Play", as they say.
Does this not concern anyone? Is this not just a dangerous line to cross? You give me a certain sum of money, and I'll say certain words from the platform that you will like and will benefit you. Show us the money, and you tell us what to say on the platform. Is that what our church is about now? Are we that BRAZEN that we will do this and openly sell it? We promote certain ministries based on their ability to pay for it? We're auctioning words and kudos to the highest bidder? Who has $12,500? Well if you fork it over we'll promote your product or ministry out the wazoo for you...we'll treat our members and our pastor guests as though they are a "target market" to be advertised to. Want to sell your "Bible on CD" series? Pay us and Jim Caviezel can come here and promote it and our sheep will think its a "testimony" and not a "commercial". Ouch. I feel duped. I thought it was a testimony. It was a commercial.
Come on people. Were you a bit alarmed at how Trey patted the Soles 4 Souls guy so hard on the back this Sunday that his fillings nearly came out? And did that ministry pay for that recongition given by Trey from the platform? I wonder: did THAT ministry pay us for putting a ":60 video promotion from the stage?" Why not? If we're charging ministries for promotion time at the PC, why not charge this ministry? Or do we only charge certain ministries for the privilege of promoting themselves? If that is so, what is the criteria? Who decides who pays and who doesn't pay for promotion time? Does Mac and Trey decide which ministries have to pay to be promoted, and which ones get the promotions for free?
This is what our church was always accused of doing in decades past. Don't you remember rumors in Jacksonville that the more money you give the closer you can sit to the front and other phony charges having to do with money and privilege in the church? We have become what we were falsely accused of in the past! Now apparently if we give enough money to the church we get our business or ministry recognized, you can purchase words of promotion, and you can even purchase "premium booth space". If we give enough money or land to the pastor, he'll promote our relatives' business during one of his sermons.
I warned FBC Jax last year that hosting a non-evangelistic fund raiser for Jewish hospital at our church because certain deacons wanted it, no matter how noble the cause may or may not be...was just not a line we should cross and it opens us up to all sorts of shenanigans.
We are now seeing those in our face - selling marketing and promotions in our own sanctuary.
And no one seems to care.
It must be of God, if "God's man" is behind it, right?
While I am sickened to watch this governor in Illinois be exposed for his "pay to play" schemes, I can't help but be reminded of our own "pay to play" scheme - if you want recognition at our church for your ministry, you're gonna have to pay to play, baby. What is so odd about this governor is not just his schemes, but the BRAZENESS of him willing to do it and talk about it. We are no less brazen when we develop promotions plan to "sell" to ministries the privilege of having marketing and advertising access to the people of FBC Jax and our visiting pastors.
Let it be said:
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
- would Jesus charge $750 to "exhibitors" so they could have a table in our church during the pastor's conference to inform the pastors of their ministry? (what a deal - $750 to use a table at the church - but you do get two awesome badges, use of two luxury folding chairs, and those awesome power strips and a cloth drape! We'll even run the vacuum for you - we might add that we'll give you two parking spaces and free, unlimited drinking fountain water)
Monday, December 8, 2008
From the article yesterday:
So tell us Mac: what is your TOTAL annual compensation? You must want us to know else you wouldn't have brought it up with the newspaper, so please, give us the whole story. We're waiting. As someone said recently: "Trust God, and Tell the People".
Sunday, December 7, 2008
I'm sure many of you reading this article right now have read Jeff Brumley's article. The article says that this blog is critical of Brunson's salary and the decision to start a school, as though these are the only issues at our church. Oh if that were true! But unfortunately for our church, those are not the main issues. Not only has the church just last week decided to issue trespass warnings against a man and his wife that are accused of owning this blog, but there is a whole slew of concerns at our church that do NOT have anything to do with starting a school or the pastor's salary.
Jeff Brumley has always been very fair to FBC Jacksonville and has written excellent pieces on Jerry Vines, Homer Lindsay, Jr., and FBC Jax in general. But I think Jeff was just too soft in this article, mischaracterizing the concerns of the bloggers about FBC Jacksonville and Mac Brunson. And too bad he couldn't do some last minute updates to discuss in his article why Mac's discipline committee issued trespass warnings against the man and his wife accused of owning this blog. Also too late to make Jeff's article: Jeff's Catholic readers might be interested in knowing that Mac Brunson's right-hand man at FBC Jax has a series of blog articles on the church website stating that Catholic priests are "cult leaders", and the Catholic Church is a "cult". This church blog from Mac's right hand man also declares that those who voted for Obama need to repent of their "sin".
But in the event that Brumley's article does generate traffic to this particular blog (although Jeff doesn't include its name or web address in his article), I want to make sure that any new readers understand fully why this blog exists. Jeff is wrong, it is not about Mac's salary and the church's decision to start a school. Why did this blog start, and why is it still up and running with a vast readership? Why are the people running this blog and posting on this blog mostly anonymous? And just what are the issues at FBC Jax that this blog has dealt with for over a year?
Firstly, why the blog? This blog was not set up to "throw stones" at the FBC Jax or Mac Brunson. It was established after Mac Brunson for about a year was found to have engaged in several very questionable activities in his first year and a half as pastor of FBC Jax. All of these were ignored by Jeff Brumley in the article. The purpose of the blog was to attempt to hold the leadership accountable for questionable actions since Mac Brunson arrived, and to inform church members of the same in light of the absence of information coming from the church leadership. The blog contains video and audio clips of things Mac himself has said. If you browse the past articles of this blog you might be shocked at what you hear coming out of the FBC Jax pulpit these days.
Now, what were the questionable activities over which this blog was started? Since Jeff didn't include these in his article, and apparently didn't ask Mac Brunson about them, here they are for Brumley's readers:
1. Just a few weeks after his arrival in Jacksonville, Mac Brunson accepted a land gift worth $300,000 in Deerwood Country Club. This is a matter of public record and can be found on the city property appraisor's website. The gift was given for "love and affection" by developer J.D. Collins, a member of FBC Jacksonville. This raises serious ethical questions. Was the gift a pre-arranged gift as condition of him coming to Jacksonville, or just a spontaneous gift from the giver? Was the relocation package offered by the church revised when it became known that a member had directly given a large gift to the pastor for his home? What are the ethics of a pastor of a large church who presumably is paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by the church in salary and benefits and housing allowance, then accepting a land gift FROM ONE OF THE CHURCH DONORS? This would be considered unethical in almost any other corporation or non-profit organization, yet its tolerated in our church. What was Mac's response to his church about this? Nothing, other than this past summer to say in a sermon: "I'm paying for that house...and the last time I checked, the United States Government said I could live anywhere I wanted."
2. About a year and a half after Mac was given the gift by J.D. Collins, Mac Brunson aired a professionally done "video testimony" highlighting the home building business of the sons of J.D. Collins - RIGHT SMACK DAB IN THE MIDDLE OF HIS SERMON. I call that "quid pro quo". Never has a video testimony highlighting a member's business been aired in the middle of a preacher's sermon. What a coincidence that the first one was for the sons of a man who gifted Mac Brunson $300,000.
3. One of the most egregious acts that this blog was critical of was the manner by which the church bylaws were significantly changed in 2007. The pastor and his trustees were completely silent with regard to the bylaw changes and they called for a vote knowing hardly anyone in the congregation knew of the changes. No words of explanation AT ALL were given prior to the vote in November 2007. One of the changes was to form a discipline committee. Not one single, solitary word of explanation from the pastor.
4. The blog has called into question the issue of "nepotism" at our church. Since they arrived in Jacksonville, Mac's son is employed at the church, and Mac has said that his wife also is working with him at the church. The son's title has varied and we're unsure what the latest title is. But both positions were newly created positions (they are not listed on the church website) and both of these new positions were filled by the pastor's family. That is called "nepotism". The dangers of nepotism to an organization are well documented.
5. Mac Brunson lived nearly a year rent-free in a million dollar, ocean-front condo offered by one of the church members while he waited for his million dollar home to be built on the $300,000 land donated by a church member. Was Brunson's relocation package altered in light of him receiving this free rent? Did the church pay him for relocation expenses that were not incurred?
6. Mac Brunson took time off from his preaching duties, at his own admission, for the purpose of finishing his book manuscript "A Pastor's Guidebook". In this Guidebook, Mac Brunson cautions pastors against accepting gifts, and cautions them against living in "executive homes" and driving expensive cars....the things Mac himself did when he came here to Jacksonville.
7. Mac said things very critical and hurtful about his congregation when preaching out of town. He did not defend his church against allegations made in his presence about our church by one Paige Patterson, president of the SWBTS. Mac called our church a "hotbed of legalism" while he preached in North Carolina, and said that we "have a list of rules but hardly anyone has a real relationship with Jesus Christ." The blog called on Mac to either explain these remarks or apologize.
8. This blog was very critical of the decision of our church leaders to take over 3000 precious square feet of our newest building, the Children's Building and Welcome Center, and spent $100,000 to renovate it and create a pastor's suite for Mac Brunson and his wife and secretary and dogs. The blog pointed out the carlessness in doing this BEFORE Brunson ever arrived and had a chance to assess our facility needs.
9. Brunson allowed "influential deacons" to utilize our church facilities to host a "Time to Stand for Israel" night November 8, 2007, to raise funds for an Israeli hospital where state-funded abortions are conducted.
10. Brunson has allowed our Pastor's Conference to be converted into a marketing fund raiser, selling advertising space and charging $750 for ministries to have a display table at the conference, and selling "promotional packages" that include advertisements on the church image screens and access to the pulpit.
11. Mac Brunson told a blatant lie about Dr. Sheri Klouda, a former Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary professor who lost her job at the hands of seminary president Paige Patterson for being a woman "teaching men" contrary to scripture. This was a very public and controversial topic in Southern Baptist life the last two years, and Brunson brought our church into it and brought it onto this blog when he used OUR CHURCH PULPIT to spread a lie about a woman whom he pastored in Dallas when her world was turned upside down by Paige Patterson. Brunson said in a sermon that Dr. Klouda admitted in testimony that her lawsuit violated scriptural precepts, when she said nothing of the sort. This was a shameless attempt by Mac to use his power and influence and OUR CHURCH NAME to help cast his friend Paige Patterson in a positive light, and to further kick Sheri Klouda more than she already had been. Worse than all of that, Mac has never publicly apologized to his church for spreading this lie about Dr. Sheri Klouda. This blog served as a place for Sheri Klouda to tell HER side of the story and refute Mac's lie and others told about her by supporters of Paige Patterson.
12. Mac held a special offering on Easter Sunday 2008 to raise money to again put himself on nationwide TV...then five months later asked for another special offering to raise $1 million for "emergency repairs" to our facility that we had know about for some time but failed to budget for. In the most cold manner possible, Mac demanded that we fork over $1 million in two weeks else our decades of debt-free financing would be broken. Mac couldn't even manage to stay for the entire service where the $1 million was to be raised, as he left the service before it concluded early for his European vacation - taken with the head of our finance committee to tour Italy.
There are many other things that have been discussed in this blog, these are just 12 of them. And none of them have to do with Mac's salary or the decision to start a school.
Regarding the anonymity issue: Anonymity has nothing to do with cowardice as proclaimed by many of the Watchdog critics. Anonymity is desired in discussing these topics for reasons of safety from crazy church people, to be blunt. In a church the size of FBC Jacksonville, people who dare to raise questions or call into question the wisdom of the leaders are subject to intense hatred and scorn from a certain portion of the congregation. There are some nuts in any church who simply won't put up with anyone being critical of the pastor or lay leaders and will seek to silence critics by any means possible. They will seek to do harm to the reputation of critics, possibly even physical harm. The events of the past week where the discipline committee of the church, once it was made aware of the identity of an accused blogger, decided as their FIRST action to issue trespass warnings against the blogger and his wife! Are you an accused blogger? You are banned from the property. Kid singing in church Wednesday? Doesn't matter, banned from the property. So if there is any question as to why anonymity is preferred, the events of the past week make it abundantly clear.
This blog has had quite a readership in its year and a half of existence, and this can be attributed not to the credibility of the posters (they are anonymous!), but mostly due to the lack of answers and explanations from the church leadership themselves on these issues! Like it or not, this blog HAS been a site where information and analysis and discussion of church matters has taken place amongst like-minded people. Not the forum that the church prefers because they have no control over its content, but the church has to deal with this form of communication. Time to get get "cutting edge" as Mac Brunson likes to say. Mac could make this blog irrelevant in one Sunday night business meeting by giving answers and explanations for his actions since arriving at Jax.
So let the detractors of the Watchdog make the issue his anonymity. Let the press make the issue being "throwing of stones" to hurt churches and using technology to harm the church by lying about the church. The issue of this blog is MAC BRUNSON and the lay leaders of our church and the abuses that have occured at FBC Jacksonville - the latest being the issuance of trespass warnings to people they suspect of blogging.
Too bad there were no bloggers when Darrell Gilyard and Bob Gray were committing their abuses at their churches.