I've maintained on this blog that to fully understand what Mac thinks about his church, about his people, it is helpful to listen via Internet podcast to what he preaches away from Jacksonville - and now also to listen to what other preachers say that Mac has told him. Plenty of examples are on this blog.
I offer two more examples as this blog nears its end. Yes, it is nearing the end. Time to move on. If there are things to be disclosed via a blog about FBC Jax to try to hold Team Brunson accountable, it will have to be someone else's blog. With one caveat of course: this blog will still be used to pursue the truth and to report the truth about how the church leadership obtained a court order to pry into the private Internet records of one of its members (as the discipline committee alleges was done), and what the nature and source of the lies were that were told about the accused in order to get six men to sign a letter and issue trespass warnings - and why these lies were told to the deacons on 2/23 about video taping the pastor's wife and stealing their mail. The Watchdog is absolutely committed to finding the truth about these matters, how the church decided to pursue legal matters in their zeal to expose the blogger (even though leadership ramrodded bylaws through taking away the church membership rights to bring legal action against the church)....and when he does, the facts will be told about this on the blog so the members of the church might hold those accountable who did them. The sooner these facts are disclosed, the sooner closure to this terrible chapter in the FBC Jax history book can be closed.
Comments to J.D. Greear 2/8/09
Below is a brief audio clip from a 2/22 sermon preached by J.D. Greear of the Summitt Church in Raleigh-Durham. Click here to listen to the entire sermon at their website. The remarks I have in the clip below can be heard in the entire sermon at the church website starting at around the 6 minute mark.
J.D. Greear tells his congregation of comments Mac told him privately just before he preached at the Pastor's Conference 2/8. It is a real head-scratcher. I recommend listening to the audio clip below to understand its fuller context in why J.D. Greear tells this, (he is using it to encourage his congregation in their decision to not build a huge building as their church grows, but to expand geographically, at least that's what I gather), but here is the relevant portion of his comments:
"I don't want the legacy of our church to be a big, out of date building we leave as a monument to what God did in a previous generation. I want it to be a movement of people that multiplies all over the world. I got some affirmation on this recently I totally was not expecting. A couple of weeks ago I got a chance to go to and speak at a very legendary church, I spoke there on Sunday evening....a huge church, a great church, church has been wonderful for many years in what its done. But the auditorium that I went into to speak sat 9800 people...as I was walking up on stage, the pastor [Mac Brunson] says this to me: 'Son...don't ever, EVER build a building like this'...I said 'why?'... he said 'Because no matter what you do after you build a building like this one, it becomes about this building, maintaining and filling up this building, and less about the people you need to reach.' "
Maybe J.D. Greear mischaracterized Mac's comments. But I'm going to assume he has characterized them accurately in his sermon.
- this pastor didn't even want to mention the name of our church. Why? Has our church become persona non grata..was he ashamed to say he was at our church, or was it he in some measure wanted to spare us embarrassment by not mentioning our name since he was repeating something unkind our pastor said about us? Although he is generous in his remarks after the quote above that he is not trying to judge other churches or pastors, from his preceding quote about "a monument"...its pretty clear that Greear views our building as a monument to the past, of what our church used to be - and Mac helped confirm that.
- notice he says in the PAST tense: "has been great"..."in what its done"...not is great, or what it is doing...and of course the context of his preceding remark about a big, out of date building being a monument to what God did in a previous generation. This pastor apparently believes we are a formerly great church. Why? Did Mac lead him to believe that? Mac indicted us last summer that we are no longer "cutting edge", so I guess now we know its true - preachers around the SBC know it too. Any wonder why attendance is so low at the Pastor's Conference? And whose fault is that? A blogger? Or the pastor running us down to Paige Patterson, pastors in North Carolina? If we were a formerly great church, I thought that is why we brought Mac, Team Brunson, and Maurilio here. I thought that is why we got rid of the "old guard" of ministers - Howard, Pigg, and Barton. Its been 3 years now. Did we move forward, or have we moved backward?
Is what Mac said about us true? He couldn't have been speaking of any other church, for what other church has he pastored with a "building like this"? If it is true, that we have become less about reaching people and more about maintaining and filling up a building? Should he be whispering to other pastors words that reflect poorly on our church? Did he mean that we should NOT have built that building? Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought we built that building because people were being saved at our church, it was a place where the gospel was preached three times a week, and we needed room for them to worship. We didn't borrow money, God moved in people's hearts to give money to pay cash (He did, didn't He?) for that building. Is that building no longer capable of being used? Why then spend millions to upgrade it as Mac has proposed? Or should we sell it and start new down at the south campus?
Does Mac mean we as a church are more interested in "maintaining the building" than we are reaching people? And how is wanting to "fill up the building" something that is contrary to "reaching people? I thought the building WAS built to reach people with the gospel. Or is he sore about the maintenance costs - which would explain the arrogant manner in which he demanded we fork over $ 1 million in two weeks for needed repairs else we would go in debt. Maybe the burden he bears is the poor condition of our buildings when he arrived. As he has told us over and over about Lindsay, Sr's burden of unknown debt when he came, maybe Mac views himself as a victim of delapidated buildings he didn't know about when he came that are now hindering his ministry.
Are those two goals mutually exclusive? The more you "try to maintain and fill up a building" and "reaching people"? He says as you do more of the one, you do less of the other.
I would hope Mac would explain these words. Not to me. But to his congregation, because J.D. Greear's sermon is available online for the world to hear. Maybe J.D. Greear mischaracterized his comments. But Mac should explain what he means. Or maybe we can issue trespass warnings to Mac and demand he meet the discipline committee to explain.
Criswell College Sermon 2/26/09
Below is an assortment of clips from Mac's sermon he preached at Criswell College on February 26, 2009, the morning after A.C. Soud read his edict, and made the church stand and ratify it.
If you listen to the complete sermon, you come away really feeling sorry for Mac. He speaks to these seminary students of pastoring not in any terms of joy...but of drudgery, having to preach to stubborn, obstanate people who won't listen, having to take the arrows, being "shot at", of being "gripped with fear". He leads his audience to believe he is speaking out of experience as he at one point declares "I can give a witness."
No question lay people don't understand how difficult it is to pastor - but most pastors I've met find a deep joy in ministering to God's people - most of whom, I think are gracious and loving people. They do have tough nuts they have to deal with - struggles lay people might not even be able to fathom. But come on...Mac as a mega church pastor doesn't have many of the pressures other pastors do as he has an extensive staff of "Executive Pastors", then regular pastors and staffers, a high-priced consultant - to do the duties that many pastors must do themselves. Furthermore, he has gotten his way at our church unopposed for the most part - the bylaws, the school, generous compensation for himself, wife, and son, satellite church, his church marketing consultant paid by the church, a lavish office suite...and of course the quarter million dollar land gift. Where is this opposition? Where are all the arrows and shots? Can it possibly be that one blogger who has dared to repeat and analyze what he says and does have robbed him totally of his joy as a pastor?
Oh, and he declares the doesn't take a salary to preach, but to attend meetings (and not in jest). He says: "I would do it [preaching] for free. I don't take a salary to preach. I take a salary to go to meetings. They don't pay me to preach. Nobody has to pay me to preach." That's just so intellectually dishonest - we pray him to study, prepare, and deliver sermons. Also to administer the church, to hire and fire people (he has that sole authority), to basically lead the church. AND TO PREACH primarily. And besides, does he take a stipend when he goes to preach at a conference or at another church? Is he not being "paid to preach" in those cases? This is a major problem with Mac - he says things that one must be a complete dunderhead to believe - and you wonder - does HE actually believe them, or does he not but thinks his listeners are stupid enough to believe him?
Perhaps most interesting are Mac's Criswell College comments about those who "blog about me". To the best of my knowledge, Mac has never acknowledged directly to his congregation that there are "bloggers" who blog about him, and has never directly said anything about the bloggers. But in this sermon, away from his congregation, the night immediately following the business meeting indicting the accused blogger and warning others of the same fate, he decides to tell everyone how much he loves those who blog about him:
"You can't be hard-hearted and pastor people. I even care about the people who write about me on blogs. I pray for them. I pray for their families. They matter to me. And I don't pray impracatory prayers (?) against 'em [crowd laughs]. I really don't. I..I...I'm just sharing with you from my heart, I am telling you God gave me this message, to share it, and I'm just sharing that with you. I PRAY for them. Is that not what Jesus said? Pray for those who despitefully use (?) you, for those who hate you?"
Interesting Mac says "I even care"....must he say that? Even the lowly, unlovable bloggers. Maybe he "even cares" about child molesters. If he does truly care about his accused bloggers "and their families" at Jax, he had a strange way of showing it with court orders and trespass papers. I don't know what impracatory prayers are, I assume they are prayers of judgment or condemnation - goodness, if Mac has to say TWICE that he doesn't pray these prayers against bloggers, must be he feels himself guilty! Why would we think he WOULD that he has to say he DOESN'T? But why hasn't Mac ever said these words to his own congregation about bloggers? Just the week prior he said those in the church who blow up "small" things in the church so they can complain, and thereby rob your joy, you should SHUT EM DOWN. He didn't say pray for 'em. But he wants the students, many of whom he knows read the blogs...to think he is a gentle pastor who even loves those bloggers. What a guy, he loves and prays for the bloggers. Imagine, Mac EVEN cares about the lowly bloggers! He doesn't mention lies told about the bloggers to deacons about video taping his wife and stealing his mail, he doesn't tell them about court orders to find the identity out so trespass papers can be served. But he does "care" and "pray".
Just sharing with you here the words of Mac himself, and giving my opinion on them...hoping someone will go to Mac, someone he loves and respects, will help him gain or regain his love for his church, love the congregation, be truthful to his congregation, love his job as pastor, and to stop saying things about his church that cast us in a negative light...even if what he says is true about us, he doesn't need to tell others.
Just be a loving, gentle shepherd, Mac. Love the sheep. Preach the Word. Be totally truthful. Don't beat the sheep. Don't speak ill of them to others.
And Mac, if you can speak of the bloggers and how much you care for them to the students at Criswell, why not tell your congregation the same also.
Or better yet, tell the bloggers themselves.