Good motto, actually. It says that to some degree, the spiritual health, the spiritual demeanor of the pastor will be reflected in the spiritual health and demeanor of the church and its members.
We saw this for years. A Pastor that loves Jesus, loves people, loves the Word, is thankful and loving and dedicated to the task - produces over time a church membership that also loves Jesus, loves peole, loves the Word and is incredibly dedicated to the task of the church.
Healthy Pastors, Healthy Churches.
Unfortunately, in our case, its "Angry Pastors, Angry Churches". This past Sunday night Mac was again in his sheep beating mode, going after what he calls "Kingdom Killjoys" who dare to raise issues of concern, who magnify insignificant concerns into reasons to complain.
Mac is very angry in the pulpit. People see it. Perhaps this blog has really taken its toll, and it shows most every sermon. Mac relentlesssly continues in his "the best defense is a good offense" posture...he will never, ever address any concerns his sheep have....but in most every sermon he preaches about slander and being attacked. This past Sunday night he compared the Pharisees who were out to kill Jesus and who denied Jesus' miracles, to those in the church who "magnify" the miniscule problems they see at church to have something to complain about. He calls them "Kingdom Killjoys".
Imagine that....people who express displeasure at something at church that the pastor doesn't care for, are branded by the pastor as legalists, Jesus-hating Pharisees. Wow. Now, do complainers exist in the church? Of course. But are they to be compared to the lost, legalistic, hell-bound Pharisees who sought to murder Jesus and denied Jesus' diety? In Mac's view, yes. Anybody in church that would dare question him, or his actions, is unworthy...they are lost...speak a word of complaint, you're a legalist. Ask a question or voice displeasure with Sunday School, you're a Pharisee. In Mac's world, at least.
Mac is a bully. He likes to intimidate and stomp around (see the video). Which is quite interesting, because despite his Pastor's Guidebook warning pastors to never use their pulpit as a "bully pulpit", he bullies most every week. Here is what Mac writes on page 186 of his book:
"It is unethical to use the pulpit to attack those who disagree with the way you are leading the church, even if you do not use their names. The president of the United States is said to have a 'bully pulpit'. The pastor should remember the imlications of servant leadership and refuse to become a bully in the pulpit." - Mac Brunson
In his "Kingdom Killjoy" sermon from Sunday night, Mac said that complainers in the church seek to rob the joy of other church members, and what is Mac's advice on how to handle "Kingdom Killjoys" in the church? Did he say "love them", or maybe "listen to them"? Did he say pray for them? Did he say to offer a kind word in return to them? No, none of that. Mac's only advice on how to treat "Kingdom Killjoys": three words: SHUT 'EM DOWN. Yes, Mac said just "SHUT 'EM DOWN", followed by a pregnant pause for effect. No explanation of how to SHUT 'EM DOWN...just presumably, anything that you have to do. Just be sure to SHUT 'EM DOWN. What does SHUT 'EM DOWN mean? Or was that his message to the discipline committee: shut down the watchdog, as he is a Kingdom Killjoy? I'll let you watch the clip below and decide for yourself.
Its sad really- people under his preaching are learning an angry side to Christianity. If people don't fall in line, if they are not pleased with Sunday School, if they have concerns about money being spent and they VOICE THOSE concerns...Mac's answer, and the answer he recommends to his "churchmen and church ladies"...is to SHUT EM DOWN. This also is the discipline process exacted on the couple accused of being the Watchdog: deliver a trespass warning and SHUT EM OUT. Don't go talk to them. SHUT EM OUT.
Let this be a warning to you parents considering sending your little ones to FBC Academy: don't think you've got an ear at FBC Jax if you need to complain about something at the school regarding your child. Don't like the meals served and dare to raise it as a concern? You're a "Kingdom Killjoy". Kids bullying your kid and you need to take it up with the administration: you're a Pharisaical Kingdom Killjoy who needs to be SHUT DOWN. The teacher isn't treating the students right and you'd like to bring it up with the principle or the pastor? Have a concern about the level of security? Maybe are concerned about one of the teachers? Don't be surprised if you get fingered as a Kingdom Killjoy by Mac and his lay leaders, and the church will mobilize its resources to shut you down. Heck, the preacher might even use you in a sermon illustration. You'll be labeled a "Kingdom Killjoy", and they'll need to SHUT YOU DOWN.
But this kind of attitude that the pastor has, the angry, bullying, intimidating attitude will eventually rub off on the lay leadership of the church. Mac WANTS it to rub off. He directed his SHUT EM DOWN remarks to the "churchmen and church ladies".
The process of an angry preacher forming an angry church has already begun at FBC Jax, unfortunately.
As reported on this blog a week or so ago, an email was sent out from a member of FBC Jax to leadership in the church. The sender was "Gail Saunders", who claims to be a member of the church. Here is the email Ms. Saunders sent to 100 or so lay leaders at FBC Jacksonville:
My dear fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, as one who was invited to the meeting last year for the unveiling of the Next Generation program, I am writing to each of you to ask you to join me in praying for our leadership in regards to some specific concerns that have been raised by many of our fellow church members. If you believe this message to be harmful or divisive for any reason, please read no further and delete this email. I certainly understand and hope you will see my heart in writing to you.
I truly believe our church can wholeheartedly follow our pastor wherever he feels the Lord is leading us, but this can only be done with openness, humility love and more accountability between the church leaders and our entire congregation. I am particularly troubled over recent bylaw changes revoking certain legal rights of the members while concentrating more power with less accountability in our pastor; a newly formed discipline committee delivering trespass papers to long-time, active members who expressed concerns about transparency in finances; the charging of large fees for promotions at the Pastor's Conference; a $300,000 land gift accepted by the pastor and Mrs. Brunson just weeks after he arrived; and several other actions that, when taken as a whole, lead me to desire to see more transparency from our leaders during these upcoming exciting days in our church.
Thank you for your prayers for our church.
P.S. - For those of you that are interested in reading what your fellow church members are discussing, these concerns and many others are being discussed at this site: www.fbcjaxwatchdog.blogspot.com. I believe that some, not all, of the concerns raised there are valid, and if left unaddressed, may hamper our pastor's leadership ability. Perhaps we as leaders can work with our staff and lay leadership to address and correct these issues and alleviate many of these members' concerns. This will help, I pray, to bring all of our members along with us as we strive to move forward in ministry together.
What was the response of the churchmen and church ladies to Ms. Saunders, the KINGDOM KILLJOY? Well, I have the email responses she received. She sent I think a very kind email, but likely what got everyone's dander up was the reference to this blogsite. People went stark raving mad. They completely ignored her request to pray. She said not one single, solitary response said they would join her in praying for the church. The majority of recipients did not respond at all, but of the 40 or so who DID respond about 1/2 just said to stop sending emails, and 1/2 reprimanded Ms. Saunders for sending the email. And some were very ugly, sent by deacons, Sunday School teachers, and other lay leaders.
Its a sad day at FBC Jax, when a person sends an email asking people to pray for their church leadership, expresses some genuine concerns, and they are immediately judged as trying to be harmful, devisive...and in one case called "Satan" and in another asked to "LEAVE THE CHURCH".
But when the pastor preaches that brand of Christianity, these results are completely expected. When the preacher brands these people as Pharisees and legalists, and tells his church to SHUT EM DOWN, no wonder some church members responded the way they did to this email.
As I said, "Angry Pastors, Angry Churches".
In the next post, I will provide a sampling of the ugly responses (with the names and email addresses deleted, to protect the angry), and the one and only positive post, which turns out was a reply to an ugly post from one of the responders. If the church administration did indeed send out a response, feel free to send it to the Watchdog for posting also.