"...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, January 23, 2009

"Blasphemous Self-Promotion"

"That is BLASPHEMOUS SELF-PROMOTION", Jim Smyrl boldly declared Wednesday night describing a TV commercial produced by FBC Dallas and available at their website. Jim didn't tell his listeners it was FBC Dallas' advertisement - probably because he only quoted part of the advertisement to make his point, when the rest of the commercial that he left out would have proved him wrong. A full playing of the TV commercial, along with its visual images, makes it very clear it is no where near "blasphemous" in any sense. It is a commercial that explains quite well what is the mission of First Baptist Church Dallas.

So FBC Dallas: your former pastor's right-hand man is accusing your church of blasphemous self-promotion. Imagine that: FBC Jacksonville accusing FBC Dallas of blasphemous self-promotion? Are you kidding? Isn't that like the pot calling the kettle black?

Well, we can at least say Jim is learning well from his mentor Mac Brunson. To make a point in his sermon, he uses a half-truth - half of a commercial - and thereby declares a church as being guilty of "blasphemous self promotion". Pretty strong accusation there, Jim, against FBC Dallas. They are not promoting man, but are communicating their church mission and their vision of the church's role in the life of their city and its people. Not promoting even the preacher, but promoting their church's faith in Christ.

Watch the clip below...you will see and hear the commercial Jim partially quoted, and you will then hear Jim's selected quotations from it. Jim doesn't tell his audience that its only a select few quotes...he describes it as though he is quoting it in its entirety. That's pretty deceptive there, Jim.

Now, let's compare that commercial that Jim says is "blasphemous self promotion", with the most recent TV spot getting airtime here in Jacksonville for FBC Jacksonville.

It is Mac and Deb sitting on a bench. Mac says something like: "This is my wife Deb, she's been my partner in ministry for over 30 years." Then Deb goes on to describe how they have persevered through many of life's trials, family struggles, life-threatening illnesses, caring for aging parents....and that their doors are open (not the church's doors, but Mac and Deb's office doors) and they want to "walk with you" in the Christian life. Now I will go out on a limb, and declare that this is SELF PROMOTION. Not a word about the church. Or about Jesus. Its about Mac and Deb. They are so AWESOME, you must come and meet them by walking through their open door. Mac and Deb are just like you. They want to walk with you. So the draw to FBC Jax is not Christ, it is Mac and Deb.

So Jim, please don't point fingers at other churches from our pulpit. Look at OUR OWN church.

I mustn't either pass up the chance to make this very humorous point: Mac brought the A-Group to Dallas, and FBC Dallas kept the A-Group on board even after Mac left. I wonder if Maurilio and his company dreamed up the FBC Dallas branding commercial that is now criticized by Jim. Wouldn't that be ironic: our preacher declaring a commercial as "blasphemous", when it is was a product of the very same church marketing firm that we ourselves pay for marketing of our own church!

I would close with this: In his sermon Jim does make a valid point in all of this: that the modern church is shamelessly using marketing strategies appealing to people's perceived needs, or other marketing gimmicks and images - rather than lifting high the name of Christ to draw men. So Jim is right on that point...the shame is that our own pastor and lay leaders need to listen to Jim's message - and stop the outflow of hundreds of thousands of dollars of God's money to pay church marketing and promotions firms in Nashville and Atlanta.

6 comments:

Hal Brunson said...

In my opinion, there's apparently a personal vendetta against FBC Dallas in the speaker's selection of this video and the accompanying castigating remarks; if the speaker were a member of FBC Dallas, do you think he would be a candidate for a "tresspass warning"?

I actually thought the video was a tasteful, even profound witness for that great church, and they are to be commended for holding their ground in downtown Dallas and reaching out to the inner city.

I have pastored in Dallas (Parker) for twenty-two years, had the privilege of hearing Dr. Criswell preach and sitting at dinner with him, and it has been sad to see the floundering of FBC Dallas since Dr. Criswell's resignation; the best expositor they had was his first successor, Joel Gregory (sad story), and since Joel they have never had anyone who could hold a candle to Dr. Criswell or Dr. Truett; the current pastor, Dr. Jeffress, represents a refreshing change; though he possesses neither the scholarly depth nor pulpit gifts of Drs. Criswell or Truett, he has a humble personal demeanor in the pulpit and always seems well prepared in his sermons.

I think it is a sad commentary that FBC, Dallas, once the "flagship" church of the SBC has not been able to replicate the ministries of Drs. Truett or Criswell; this seems at best a commentary on the typical lack of wisdom and discernment that characterize even the "best" churches when they lose a faithful pastor, and at worst a broader indictment against the SBC that, for several reasons, men like Truett and Criswell no longer cast their shadows there.

Hal Brunson
http://spurgeonscigar.blogspot.com
http://www.firstbaptistparker.org

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

I agree - the video is "tasteful". Certainly not "blasphemous self-promotion".

The question that the lay leaders of FBC Jax should ask themselves: Why on earth is Jim Smyrl taking shots at FBC Dallas and accusing them of blasphemy? People of FBC Jax need to be very concerned about the influence that Mac Brunson is having on the young Jim Smyrl when we see such a lack of discernment: not only in incorrectly assessing a commercial and deciding it to be blasphemous...but then to decide to tell it to the congregation. Something is wrong there. Jim Smyrl needs a mentor that would tell him not to do those kinds of things - but when he sees his own pastor lying in the pulpit, treating his people with disrespect in the pulpit, I suppose Jim thinks that is the way to behave in the pulpit. Sad.

Think about it: how in the world can Jim Smyrl go to the First Baptist Church Dallas website, a church pastored by Robert Jeffress - a church by any standards that is a conservative SBC church - and view the same video that I posted here that describes their church as a church reaching people, pointing people to Christ, etc. and call the video BLASPHEMOUS SELF PROMOTION? Especially in light of the Team Brunson promotion that goes on in our church, in light of the fact that our church uses the very same consultant that they do for our marketing. It defies logic.

Obviously, Jim Smyrl's judgment has been clouded. Its very clear from his blog posts on TDM that its an "us versus them" mentality that has now crept into Jim's thinking. No wonder the Theology Driven Ministry and "small groups" have been ramrodded into our church by Mac and Jim - it is THE way to do ministry - all others fall short. If a person is not into their small groups and ministry model, they are criticized from the pulpit. Very divisive are Brunson and Smyrl. Now Smyrl is calling FBC Dallas "blasphemous". More division.

This is cultic behavior. Do as we say and do, else you're a "worrier". Go along with us, else you're "not trusting Jesus". Do ministry our way, in small groups, and LIKE IT, else you're labeled as divisive and accused of "having a nervous breakdown" as Mac told us last year after some objected to being forced into small groups. FBC Dallas is now producing commercials that are "blasphemous" according to Jim.

Obviously, to anyone but Jim Smyrl, the commercial is not blasphemy, and Robert Jeffress is not a blasphemer (I assume Robert Jeffress reviewed and approved that branding commercial - if it is blasphemous, then he has no discernment and is a blasphemer himself). He is a fine bible expositor, a conservative, bible-believing preacher. Let's see, do I trust the judgment of Robert Jeffress or Jim Smyrl? Jim Smyrl is the one who should take a look at himself. He believes that his new ministry model of Theology Driven Ministry is the only way. He has said so in his blog, finding fault in every single ministry model imaginable, but TDM. TDM is the way we MUST go. Cultic behavior, Jim.

As an example of how Jim and Mac views TDM as a MUST...that he views our church in the context only of TDM, read the description of the "History of FBC Jax" seminar that be will be held at the Pastor's Conference:

"Learn about our beginnings and how God has led us and how He has laid the foundation for a Theology Driven Ministry and our future."


Really? Our history is about how God laid the foundations for Theology Driven Ministry? If that is not a lopsided view of our church, I don't know what is. Thank goodness for Homer Lindsay and Jerry Vines...they were just holding the fort down, laying the foundation until Jim Smyrl came riding into town to save our church with his incredible, awesome, ultimate ministry model of "Theology Driven Ministry".

God help us.

Anonymous said...

I know Robert Jeffress. He would never criticize FBCJAX publicly about anything.

But then, he doesn't berate the congregation publicly for not following his leadership, or for anything else.
(Happily, we love him; it's wonderful to just be fed from the pulpit without all the extraneous defensiveness.)

Watchdog, Robert's sermons are as fine as Swindoll's. Don't confuse presentation with the depth of study that went into it's preparation.

....

I also know Jim Smyrl from years ago. It's sad to see the this kind of "preaching." He knows better.
We'll all give an account to the Lord. Until then, he should tend to his own flock.

....

Watchdog, you are right about the cultic tendencies. The differences between this behavior and Jim Jones is only in degree, not in kind.

Anonymous said...

Watchdog I don't know if you were at the service tonight, but I wanted to share something that I almost burst out laughing over.

Mac was preaching on the family tonight, I think, and at one point in the sermon he said he saw a parent picking up their kid in their car before the service, after the kids' activities - not staying for the church service. Mac said he felt like going over to that parent and telling them "You need to be in church with your children!" Of course I couldn't help but wonder if that wasn't the parent that received the trespass warning, maybe they couldn't come in for fear of arrest. And I couldn't help but think about the lady who posted here that got a trespass paper that was having to drop her daughter off and wait in the car cause the guys wouldn't let her come in to see her daughter perform without meeting with Macs committee. Mac is such a hypocrite that its really hard to tolerate him anymore. More and more people are leaving and I don't think it has much to do with you and your internet site. Mac is not wearing well on people. He's tough to listen to. He is hard to follow. He is like listening to a poorly organized, ranting college professor and thus my kids are learning very little from his sermons. But I am digressing here. Just wanted you to know, that if you are the one served the papers Watchdog, I thought of you when Mac expressed his frustration over someone like you that can't come in the church with their kids because of trespass papers issued by the pastors committee.

Anonymous said...

Mac should have praised God that at least the children attended church related activities and the parent thought enough of their children to take them.

Anonymous said...

I think Mac will be seeing this more and more often now that more people realize he is a jerk. The children's ministries are still awesome, so parents will still bring their kids. No way the parents go in to listen to this jerk promote himself, tell them to give a million dollars in two weeks, and tell them they agreed to a set of by-laws, and they agreed to tithe, when they joined the church.