Last Saturday (1/10/09) SBC pastor Wade Burleson wrote an article at his blog about leadership and used Ted Haggard's moral failures as a back drop. What I took away from Wade's article is this: lay leaders do much harm to their churches and ministries, and even do great harm to the pastors themselves, when they give pastors virtually full control of a church, within a system designed for minimum accountability, and very little transparency and openness with the members.
I would say the potential for harm is even greater when we hire a new pastor that has no track record with the lay leaders and the congregation. It makes virtually no sense at all to concentrate power over a mega church and its staff and ministries in one man that is a virtual UNKNOWN to the congregation. I believe this is perhaps our biggest mistake as a church during our pastoral transition after Vines.
Too bad our trustees - most of whom are learned business men and lawyers and leaders - didn't have the foresight to see potential problems of our pastor-led system with a new pastor. We failed to make some important bylaw changes to reduce the power of the new pastor...which would make sense given that he was an UNKNOWN. As we shall see starting tomorrow as we look at the bylaw changes at FBC Jax from December 2007, not only did we give the same power and control of our church to Mac Brunson that our very seasoned and trusted pastors had, but we actually gave him MORE POWER, LESS ACCOUNTABILITY in the bylaw changes of December 2007...while not even making sure the most faithful and trusted members understood the changes and how they impacted their church and their church membership. Shameful. Shameful.
Now I'm sure Burleson didn't have Team Brunson and our lay leadership in mind when he wrote his article, but boy it sure fits our situation and the leadership of Mac Brunson. By the way, Burleson, contrary to slanderous remarks made to our church staff by a certain FBC Jax staff member at our church who has served with Burleson at the IMB...he IS a solid, bible inerrancy conservative SBC pastor...who happened to fall out of favor with the SBC big wigs for using his blog to hold the IMB accountable for decisions he believed were harmful to the SBC. Its a story too long to tell here, but his blog is probably the most read blog in the SBC and a definite must read.
Here are some excerpts from his article cut and pasted here. Please see if any of these statements could or might apply to Team Brunson:
From WADE BURLESON's January 10 blog article:
"We Christians should take an honest look at what it is we think qualifies a person to lead."
"We have pastors who bully those who question them,... and other actions that lead me to believe we have a God-complex among some of our leaders."
Nothing more "bullying" than issuing trespass warnings to suspected bloggers and their wives. Ask the members - there is a aire of fear at the church, that those who question the leadership will be singled out or asked to leave. This entire blog is about the "bullying" and intimidation of Mac Brunson from the pulpit.
"This false sense of moral invincibility has led to a climate where transparency, honesty, and personal integrity are no longer a part of our corporate faith."
Amen. We have to realize that our leaders need accountability. For instance, Mac loves his family so much, he is such a wonderful husband and father (I mean that sincerely), that if not checked he may use his position as pastor to give ALL of them jobs at our church. That is a "weakness" that he has that needs to be checked through some system of accountability like most other churches have through a personnel committee and perhaps a nepotism policy.
"Had people known of his [Haggard's] struggles, they could have held him accountable. Had people had the sense that their leader was fallible, they might have never given him such unbridled freedom and authority."
I think admiting one's mistakes to the congregation would be a starting point. When a lie is told, apologize. When you blasted us to a group in North Carolina, explain your words or apologize. Its OK Mac to let us know you've done something wrong or hurtful.
"The problem with organized Christianity is not the gospel. The problem with organized Christianity is that too many Christians have forgotten that leaders are fallible."
"Yet, in my mind,the true gospel is only strengthened when Christian leaders lose their public sense of absolute authority and spiritual perfection. Anybody who presumes to talk on behalf of God should remember that the treasure we possess (the gospel) is carried in fragile, clay jars."
"The lust for power and absolute authority, the lust for fleshly gratification and paralyzing materialism, and the lust for personal recognition and praise are all inner demons that every SBC pastor and leader faces. The only way to prevent leaders from acting out on such temptations is to realize that these sins are common to fallen man, to never bestow absolute authority or unbridled freedom on any man, and to resist the idea that any Christian leader is beyond being questioned."
This is so true today more than ever. We see this right in front of our eyes at FBC Jax.
"The SBC church, institution or agency that believes the "leader" is beyond simple accountability will find that leader has the capability to ruin the organization. When and if that happens, the fault will reside not only with the leader, but those laymen who were unable to see that a lack of transparency is the first indication that something is wrong."
Exactly. An unchekced leader has the capacity to ruin an organization, and if it happens, the blame falls not just on him, but the laymen, the churchmen, who didn't stop it.
AMEN and AMEN!
The Watchdog has been saying virtually the same thing for months on this blog. As I said Wade may not have had Team Brunson in mind when he wrote that article, but if the shoe fits...
Do any of you lay leaders at FBC Jax get it? Do you realize what you have done by changing those by-laws and giving full authority and power to Team Brunson (which means Mac, Deb, Trey, and Maurilio) with no real accountability or transparency? Do you think you've done them or our church any favors in this?
I pray that some of you staff and lay leaders will read this blog and wake up.