"...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

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Angry Pastors, Angry Churches - Part 2

Below is a sampling of the responses from the lay leaders who received an email from a member of FBC Jax asking members to pray for the church membership. (click here and scroll down to the read the letter in blue letters).

The standard response was:

"Please remove me from your mailing list as I do not wish to receive emails that are "harmful" and "divisive" to the body of Christ. Thank you,"

but the uglier ones, starting with a deacon from the church:

"I am not sure who you are, but I have reason to believe you are using a 'fake' name. If you are truly a 'sister in Christ', why are you trying to ruin our church? Are you a member of our church?. If so, why not use you real name? Are you ashamed? Satan is surely using you to attempt to destroy our church. What a COWARD you are! Why don't you go to the church officials --Dr. Brunson, the head of the deacons, or other staff and be sure of your facts. If you do not like the policies of our church, why don't you move your membership to another church you can support and lift up. Or better yet, start a church of your own if you are looking for a church that is perfect in your own eyes!
[Name Deleted]
Deacon, Frst Baptist Church of Jacksonville.

P.S. You, 'Ms. Gail Saunders', and those like you, are the servants of Satan, and are so messed up by pretending you are trying to act 'concerned members of our church'. Get a life and try to do something positive. LEAVE THE CHURCH, OR GET ON BOARD WITH THE PROGRAM. How about leading someone to Christ? YOU ARE DOING NOTHING POSITIVE TO HELP OUR LEADERS TO 'WIN JACKSONVILLE FOR CHRIST'"

and

"Ms. Saunders, Please send me the name or names of the person or persons who gave you my email address. This information could only have come from someone hacking the Church's database or accessing a file that they had no business copying. After your response with the name or names, I will not be interested in receiving anymore emails from you or your conspirators."

and

"Gail, Your timing is impeccable, minutes before the start of the pastor's conference. The blog does nothing to further God's kingdom, which should be our first priority, and is without a doubt our pastor's desire. I will let scripture speak for itself. Titus 1:9-16 speaks volumes."

and

"Mrs. Saunders, Please remove me from your mailing list. My email was given to First Baptist for the furtherance of the ministries of the church, not to be used by others who seek to divide the church family. Thank You!"

and

"DO NOT SEND ME THIS NOR ANY OTHER MAIL: I AM NOT INTERESTED IN PROPAGANDA: THANK YOU"

and

"If you don't like our wonderful church leave take me off your e-mail list you have no right to invade any ones privacy get thee behind me satan." [This is a long-time deacon]

and from a relative of one of our regular visitors to the blog:

"Ms. Saunders, You talk of openness and transparency, yet you refer the recipients of this email to a blog that is written by someone who writes in complete anonymity and does nothing but try to create the divisiveness you say you are against.

It's really simple. You attend church in obedience to God and to worship him, not Pastor Brunson or anyone else. You are only responsible for your obedience, no one else. If the direction of the church is getting in the way of you being fed spiritually, then you have an obligation to your spiritual growth to go where you can be fed. If God is big enough to keep you out of hell, the he's big enough to keep the leadership of First Baptist in line.

So please contact me if I can be of assistance in the children's department where I work on Sunday mornings, but Do Not send me anymore email regarding this topic. If you are so unhappy with the administration of the church that is prompts you to endorse the watchdog, please find another church where you wont feel the need to participate in this kind of activity. In complete transparency, "

and

"I don't know how I got on this email list, but take me off. I want no part of this trash talking about our church, Pastor or the leaders. It was very ironic that you sent this just before the start of the Pastors conference, and further that the Pastor called out those who grumble. If you don't like it at FBC...LEAVE!!! Thanks,"

and

"Please remove my name from your list too. Dr. Brunson is a true man of God and his desire is follow God's lead. I am thankful to worship under his direction. May God bless you."

and

"Ms. Saunders. I will never understand people like you Gail. Please take me off your email list. I’ll pray that God will show you your true motives for this. "

and

"I'm not sure where you got my email from, but I would GREATLY appreciate you removing me from your list. I love my church and my pastor and I have to trust that the man GOD put in position to lead our church is trusting God to lead the decisions he makes for the church. "

and

"Gail, please remove my email address from any futher correspondence. I will raise neither my hand nor voice to strike the Lord's anointed."

and

"Ms. Saunders,

To say this as politely as possible - get a life and while you are at it, please remove me from your distrubition list."

and

"Ms. Saunders,

Please remove me from your mailing list. Your email must certainly displease our Lord."

and

"I'm not sure where you got my email from, but I would GREATLY appreciate you removing me from your list. I love my church and my pastor and I have to trust that the man GOD put in position to lead our church is trusting God to lead the decisions he makes for the church. "

So those are the results of an angry preacher, preaching an angry brand of Christianity, where the pastor attacks people from the pulpit. Remember, these are from the people who are the closest to Mac Brunson, leaders in the church, many of whom were invited to his Next Generation meeting in November. Mac behaves like a bully in the pulpit against those he claims are slandering and attacking him. He doesn't preach love and grace to people, but anger, and SHUT EM DOWN. So its not unusual that his members too will act like a bully to those who they think aren't "falling in line" with the pastor. Mac Sunday night might as well have been Dr. Phil - he gave no scriptural counsel whatsoever on how to deal with people like Gail Saunders who are complaining about something in the church. His counsel was just "Shut Em Down", followed by no explanation of what that means, and a pregnant pause for effect.

FBC Jacksonville - "Just SHUT EM DOWN."

17 comments:

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Sorry, left out one comment about the Gail Sander's letter from one of our favorite Brunson defenders here at the Watchdog:

"A few days ago, an anonymous person created a false name and email account and sent out an email to the people of the church who were at the next generation meeting with the pastor a couple of months ago. In this email, the person claims to be sincere and asks for the people on the email list to pray about the church. The person, who was falsely named Gail Saunders, P.S.'d the email and said that the concerns were being discussed on the FBC Jax Watchdog website. So what you have is another anonymous and spineless individual who sends out an email to people at the church asking them to join him/her in praying for the church and solving the problems with the church that are being discussed on a website by another anonymous and spineless individual. This person basically endorses the Watchdog and tries to rally fellow congregants together but it did not work. Many replied to the email asking to be removed from the list and some, including my father, responded with a few words of encouragement, haha, to the person who sent the email. Among the respondees was the church, specifically the Exec. Pastor of Adm., John Blunt. He said that the person who sent out the mass email used a false name. He said Gail Saunders is not even a name on the membership roles. He also said that the church has been trying to reconcile with the author of the Watchdog website through Biblical reconciliation. But Blunt went on to say that the author has refused to cooperate and engage in the reconciliation process."

So apparently, Blount did send an email out to the recipients of the Gail Sanders email, and in it he has said that the member accused of owning this blog has refused to engage and participate in the reconcilatory process.

Well, if Blount said that, it is a lie. If anyone has the letter Blount sent out, we will post it here. You see, as I will post later today, the man accused by the church of being the Watchdog has attempted to participate in the discipline process every step of the way.

Anonymous said...

So another example of bashing and disrespecting female members, ladies, at FBC Jax. Had it been a Mr. Saunders, instead of Gail Saunders, do you think the responses would have been so harsh? I guess women still are second class citizens down there because after all "its in the book" right, ladies? You are not to speak, teach, or have authority over any man,right? But doesn't Debbie Brunson attend staff meetings and slander former IMB trustee members? Oh well, I guess if your last name is Brunson, a lady can, and DOES, have authority over the men. Talk about spineless cowards. Sheesh.

It looks like all Ms. Saunders was asking was that people pray for our church. Look out if she actually had a complaint about the pastor, school, by-laws, color of the carpet, or anything else!

Shut em down first, ask questsions later, right men!

Anonymous said...

Dr. Dog - I have the letter John Blount sent out. I have emailed it to you privately if you wish to post it. You won't like it! :)

Thy Peace said...

Based on reading the responses to Gail Saunders, I have couple of questions.

If the Fbc Jax Church leadership does not wish to know, hear, read about Fbc Jax Watchdog, then how will they, in their conscience, decide to vote Watchdog or the accused couple out of fellowship?

How about the members?

In truth, all the leaders and members need to read WD's posts and reflect on it for at least two months, before they vote to dis-fellowship the accused couple.

Please do not go by, spoon fed, regurgitated opinions of WD from the leaders who claim they have not read WD's posts and they do not need to read WD's posts, but yet claim to judge his writings as divisive and harmful to the Church.

The sad thing is, in good conscience, if one is expected to vote a couple out of fellowship, then they need to do the dirty work of reading and reflecting on Watchdog's work.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Anon 9:43: I didn't receive anything from you on the letter.

You can send it to:

fbcjaxwatchdog@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

The response of the first deacon - shouldn't he be disciplined for such an ugly remark? Is that what he is called as a deacon to do, email members back and say those ugly things? Even if he's emailing a gossiping sinner in the church, is that how it is handled?

You are so right on Watchdog. They have merely taken their cues from Brunson and Smyrl, and they are doing what they think the pastor would want them to do, and that is to yell, scream, get mad and intimidate them. The very things Mac Brunson does from the pulpit.

I wish you would give the names of the deacons who sent these ugly emails so that they could be rung up by the discipline committee.

Thy Peace said...

Dr. Tom Ascol: WSJ on church discipline

Alexandra Alter wrote an article on church discipline that was published in the January 18, 2008 edition of the Wall Street Journal. It is ominously entitled, "Banned From Church." While I applaud the WSJ's effort to examine the "growing movement among some conservative Protestant pastors to bring back church discipline" it is regretable that the article wasn't written by someone with more understanding of the subject at hand.

For example, Alter describes church discipline as "an ancient practice in which suspected sinners are privately confronted and then publicly castigated and excommunicated if they refuse to repent." Doesn't that sound just like what Jesus prescribes in Matthew 18:15-18? Ms. Alter says that this passage teaches that "unrepentant sinners must be shunned."

Given this gross misunderstanding of the subject it comes as no surprise that the examples that are cited in the story tend to so extreme that most pastors I know who teach and lead their churches to practice discipline would not want to be identified with them. For example, Alter writes about a pastor who dialed 911 on two different occasions to have a 71 year old excommunicated woman arrested for sitting in a church service (the audio of the first 911 call is even embedded in the online text). As reported, this was not a biblically defensible action.

When a person is removed from the membership of a church in keeping with our Lord's teaching in Matthew 18, he or she is not to be "shunned." Neither should they be forbidden to sit under the public preaching of the gospel. They need the gospel and, while we cannot treat them as members any longer, we should welcome them the same way we would a "Gentile or tax collector" (in other words, an unbeliever). We recently had a member who was excommunicated several years ago show up for a worship service. I was glad he was there and told him so. I prayed for him during the worship, that God would capture his heart with the gospel. This is far from the caricature that is portrayed in the WSJ.

The article sites Southern Baptist pastors Jeff Noblitt of First Baptist Church of Muscle Shoals, Alabama and Al Jackson of Lakeview Baptist Church in Auburn, Alabama as men who lead their churches to practice discipline. They are not quoted at length and, I suspect, were far too sane in the comments to be judged worthy of extensive coverage.

There is a difference in church discipline and "pastor discipline." I have known of a few cases where overly zealous pastors tried to remove problem members in the name of church discipline. But, because their congregations had not been adequately taught and were not fully on board with the process, it really wasn't "church" discipline at all.

One of the first things a faithful pastor must do when he finds that a church has neglected the practice of corrective church discipline is teach. He must carefully explain passages like the one cited above and 1 Corinthians 5. Then he must teach some more. And then some more. He must lead the membership to see and embrace what the Bible says about the integrity of a church's identity and testimony as the body of Christ. Only after a congregatoin has been adequately taught can they be expected to properly carry out the practice of church discipline.

Where this goal is intentionally pursued with patience and love, the practice often can be reinstituted in a healthy, God-honoring way. This is one of the greatest needs in American evangelical churches in our day. While caricatures must be avoided and abusive practices must be rejected, the engagement of loving oversight and accountability breeds vitality and unity in a church.

Anyone who reads only the WSJ article and does not investigate what the Bible actually says about this issue will never know this. But those who care enough to find out what God actually says in His Word, and not merely what others think He has said, will discover that this kind of relational devotion to one another is one of the great blessings of the church.

Thy Peace said...

Banned from Church: Abuse of Church Discipline

Church discipline, however, is all too frequently viewed in an altogether contrary way. Many pastors, who prove not to be truly pastoral at all, exploit church discipline as a legitimate threat to hold over a congregation as a way to manipulate and to control the people without any disagreement with him, however small and legitimate disagreement may be.

Consequently, many evangelical churches are far more cultic than evangelicals are willing to admit. The origination of cults is not principally from errant doctrine but from errant behavior by charismatic leaders whose personal insecurities lead them, when their authority seems challenged even slightly (and usually legitimately), to resort to desperate measures to maintain their grip upon their followers' affections, if not blind allegiance and devotion.

Many local churches have become cultic under charismatic, cultic pastors, whose principle interest is to feed themselves. I have witnessed this and know of several evangelical churches that have endured astonishing grief under pastors who are of the kind that Ezekiel portrays. And most of the churches that I have in mind have been "Reformed Baptist" churches. When pastors, whether privately or publicly, invite sheep to depart the fold, are they true shepherds?

Rarely have I seen church discipline carried out properly. Unfortunately, most have followed the same pattern detectable in the battle of wills that Pastor Burrick incited by his personal actions against Mrs. Caskey. Pastors, who are too fragile and too delicate and too insecure to receive any form of disagreement from among the flock, are ubiquitously present. I have witnessed this phenomenon numerous times.

Only rarely have I witnessed an act of church discipline that led to excommunication that actually followed the biblically authorized form and pattern and was not incited by a pastor's animus springing from personal insecurity toward a member who asked "the wrong question." Those legitimate cases entailed actual, demonstrable, documentable cases of recalcitrant refusal to repent for obvious sinful behavior.

Far more frequently, however, the church discipline cases that I have witnessed entailed dismissal of godly Christians whose disagreements with the pastor incited his personal insecurities, triggering his hostility and revengeful and retaliatory campaign to purge the church of anyone who dared disagree with him. When all is said and done, in such cases, to anyone who has eyes to see and ears to hear, it becomes plainly evident that the one who should have received church censure and discipline is the one who led the charge to expel the alleged troublemaker who was no troublemaker at all.


Arrogance
The best leaders inspire by example. When that's not an option, brute intimidation works pretty well, too.

Anonymous said...

I was hoping these idiots -- Blount etc. -- would get a grip & stop this process since the "accused" have already moved their membership to another church.

But it doesn't look like Deputy Dawg plans to let it go. So, if that's the case then I hope he presents his "findings" to the deacons & they start asking legitimate questions. I hope he begins to stutter & becomes beside himself and has to admit that he has nothing legitimate to offer. I hope some deacons will back him down and he has to fianlly admit out loud, that he is a liar because the couple has said they would be willing to go in and talk about it -- they said so in the letter that was sent in response to his letter. But Blount is the one who will not talk to the couple without them giving up their right to have an extra person with them -- a witness! He doesn't want them to bring a witness! He's that lacking in common sense!

New BBC Open Forum said...

I wish you would give the names of the deacons who sent these ugly emails so that they could be rung up by the discipline committee.

Anon 11:03,

Sorry, but you won't live long enough to see that happen even if their names are published. Ms. Saunders is the eeeeevil one here.

I don't want to deflect from the issues at FBC Jax, but I've seen these sorts of responses from deacons before. This was how some of them responded two years ago to a concerned member who dared to ask questions. Don't be fooled by deacon Calcote's response either. Judging by his comments in other places, he was of the same mind as the others. His response in this case was just nicer.

Here is another fine example, this from a staff minister (Weatherwax) to another concerned member.

I've watched with saddening interest over the past 2+ years your situation at FBC Jax. It's been my opinion all along that y'all were about a year behind Bellevue in an abusive pastor's takeover of the church. The process was all but complete about a year ago here, and it's all but complete at FBC Jax now.

From looking at the deacons' responses (ours and yours), I imagine General Foods' stock must be on the rise.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Apparently the reply to Ms. Sanders, which is from a relative of one of our favorite Brunson defenders:

"Ms. Saunders, You talk of openness and transparency, yet you refer the recipients of this email to a blog that is written by...

was sent to all of the recipients, not just Ms. Sanders. Because the following is a reply to him, reprimanding him for his reply:

"Hello,

Do you think that telling someone to leave the church is a very loving and caring reaction. Forgiveness is what the Lord teaches. Jesus would never say to another person, get out of my House if he did not like what the person was relating. I believe he would pray for that person and accept the person in Jesus' loving, kind and gracious manner. Please don't get me wrong, I am in no way judging you, you are my brother and the person writing/sending the the e-mails is my sister in Jesus. I hope you are not one of the people in the Church that obtains "Trespass warnings" for people in the Church that the Leaders do not agree. I don't think that anybody should be turned away from the church because of what they believe or disagree. We are to pray and love them with all our hearts. You can state the Word of God, but forgiveness and grace is most important. Where has this Church (FBC) gone to, Pastor Homer Lindsey would never be a part of the group of Deccan's or Church leaders attempting to criminalize a person (issuing trespass warnings)
wishing to attend/frequent the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville. Is it going to come one day that a person wanting to join the Church has to go through an interview process and be approved by the Church Leadership of their thoughts and opinions. It is unbelievable, issuing criminal trespass paperwork by the police!!! . I and my family have been members of the church for years and years. I just learned of this sad situation inside the Church Leadership.

We teach our children of forgiveness and grace as Jesus has promised us, Praise Jesus for eternal Life. What example does it set when children learn that FBC issues criminal paperwork to individuals for what they think, believe and say, because it makes "the Pastor's group" feel uncomfortable. Maybe they should re-evaluate their actions.

I am not going to sign this, because I would hate for me and my family to be issued from FBC Leadership "criminal paperwork" by the police. From what I read it seems that people are beginning not to trust one another. Also, I am not going anywhere and will fight for what I beleive, unless I am arrested by the police. I will be praying for you and the Church Leadership. Please send her an e-mail and take back what you said about suggesting she leave our wonderful and blessed church- the First Baptist Church Jacksonville .

Praise the lord and God Bless.

In Christ,

Your Brother "


At least one person out of the 100 or so that got Ms. Sanders letter, has it right.

Thy Peace said...

It appears, fbcjax leadership does not know how to send emails for a large group of people and hide their email lists.

Here's how:

Sending an Email to Multiple Recipients

or

Email etiquette
Check out the #15 tip.

Thy Peace said...

Jim Smyrl: Clarifying the Issues

This confirms it!

This confirms for me, that TDM as being practiced is coming from Danny Akin and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. I still think fbcjax is not practicing TDM correctly. I do not know of any Calvinist influence at fbcjax. I for one, love and admire Dr. Tom Ascol writings. For he explains complex issues very clearly. Similar to Ravi Zacharias.

So in light of the above news, why can't fbcjax leadership follow TDM correctly and aspects of Church Discipline as mentioned by Dr. Tom Ascol?

Thy Peace said...

If you actually follow some of the links in Jim Smyrl's post, and in the earlier link I provided of Dr. Tom Ascol post on "What Shall We Be In SBC?", you will understand about the "tie" issue and "dressing down" issue.

I fully agree with the links, for they are good posts. This is to do with the younger generation coming up in SBC.

Anonymous said...

Are we in Amish country? From all I've read, the Amish "discipline" and then "excommunicate" their members if they don't fall in line with "the'leaders'" wishes. Note I said: "leaders, not God's wishes. Talk about division among God's people, well this principle of excommunicating someone from the church is more divisive than a blog. We really need to be praying through this whole mess!

There are some great Christians at FBC. People who are kind and compassionate. People who really show the love of Christ. I pray this whole mess doesn't discourage the lost from coming to Christ! Let's not let Satan win this battle! Let's all unite as brothers and sisters in Christ! Let's not turn on each other! Remember why we go to church: to worship God and to fellowship with each other in Christian love!

it is written said...

Dr.Dog...I guess it's official..First Baptist Church of Jax has become First BRUNSON Church of Jax!!

Anonymous said...

Tom, give it up! Move on with your life and stop this insane, jealous unfounded witch hunt!