"...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, July 3, 2009

The Great Commission Resurgence and the Mega Churches

At the SBC annual convention in Louisville, there was much talk about the Great Commission Resurgence declaration. The GCR is a document crafted by Danny Akin, and signed by over 4000 SBC ministers, expressing a desire for the SBC to return to evangelism and missions. The most controversial aspect of the GCR is Article 9 calling for an overhaul of the "bloated bureaucracy" in the SBC.

I'm all for the GCR, and the Article 9. Definitely a must.

But I'm skeptical of the sincerity of many of the men who are supporting it. The seminary guys like Akin and Reid and Mohler, I think they are very sincere. They see what's wrong with the current SBC structure; they see young ministers leaving the SBC as they see money wasted at the national and state level with little accountability back to the churches.

But it is almost comical to see mega church pastors pontificating about the GCR, and how we need to refocus, and streamline the SBC to see how we can reach the masses.

Do most of these mega church pastors REALLY care about sending the gospel to the ends of the earth? Is that their primary focus as ministers?

Or are they more concerned about themselves, their wallets, their personal brand, and their own mini-kingdom back at their church? Oh sure, they fly up to Louisville to lecture everyone how we need to refocus on Jesus' Great Commission, and they tell us how much they care of the lost people in Africa and China. They are all for a restructuring of the SBC so that funds are better used, but are they willing to allow for an overhaul of their personal kingdom at THEIR church so funds can be better used?

No way. You see, many of these mega church pastors, who are also our leaders or good buddies with the leaders in the SBC, are more focused on other things. Things that have little or nothing to do with the "Great Commission".

Things like:

- signing their next book deal and writing their next book, and getting their pastor buddies to help them market it;

- some have turned their church foyers into a market place, using Christian events as an opportunity to create "promotions packages" to charge ministries large fees to showcase their ministries to attendees;

- they use church funds to hire marketing firms to help their church branding and personal branding, and to help coach them in their sermon series selections;

- they purchase globs of local TV advertising time to make up for the failure of their people's personal evangelism, and the TV advertising ends up stealing sheep from other smaller churches who can't afford TV time;

- they take church funds to put their sermons on heretical networks like TBN and INSP, further promoting their national appeal;

- some of them even use their positions to grant well-paying positions to their family members and family members of their buddies;

- using church resources to promote cruises and trips with their wealthy church members who jump at the chance to get close to and travel with the celebrity preacher;

- preaching at their buddy's church and getting a handsome honoraria, and then returning the favor to their buddy;

- they accept huge, mammoth salaries well in excess of the average church member, and they keep the details of their compensation package from the very people who give the money;

- they live in executive homes, driving expensive cars, while beating their sheep up to give more and more money, some even mocking their church members that they didn't get a raise and they need to live more frugal lives;

- many of them accept gifts from their preacher-worshipping congregants; some of them very large gifts that an ordinary preacher or minister would never get, all because they are "God's man";

- they use church resources to construct lavish office suites and personal libraries at the church, larger even than some member's entire homes;

- they take "missions trips", but only when fully paid for by the church - while they urge church members to go on missions trips that they must pay out of their own pockets, using their vacation time at work;

And to fund it all, many still preach a legalistic tithing message, to guilt people into giving 10% of their income through "storehouse tithing" doctrine. Some won't even teach the storehouse tithing, but will just tell their church that they are obligated to "tithe". And we can't ignore that these mega church pastors live high on the hog while they expect the truly called vocational missionaries to go to foreign fields for literally a pauper's wage. How many mega church pastors would be "called" to their church if they were paid what they pay vocational SBC missionaries?

Great Commission Resurrgence? Sure. Article 9 calling for restructure of the SBC? Go for it.

But let the Article 9 restructuring start at the mega church.

How could that happen? Easier than you think. Why is there a push for this GCR in the SBC? Because smart men looked at the numbers. Membership down. Missions giving, down. Baptisms, down. If the mega church sheep would wise up and invest their Kingdom dollars elsewhere where the return on the investment is real ministry and missions, that will get the attention of the mega churches REAL FAST.

And then maybe we'll see a GCR at the mega churches.

But don't hold your breath.

114 comments:

Anonymous said...

They don't care about sending out the gospel as much as they care for enriching their personal bank account.

Lydia said...

"The most controversial aspect of the GCR is Article 9 calling for an overhaul of the "bloated bureaucracy" in the SBC.

I'm all for the GCR, and the Article 9. Definitely a must."

Tom, The last time we voted for an overhaul we ended up with Bob Reccord at NAMB.

Do not trust these guys to deal with a bloated bureaucracy. They always make sure their guys are taken care of first. Even after Reccord was PROVEN to be a shyster, many of them signed a letter of support for him.


Read Mary Kinney's book, Spending God's Money to see how the last overhaul of bureaucracy turned out.

If they were serious, Hemphill and Welch would not have newly created, redundant departments and a big 6 figure salary to go with it. And these guys would not be writing books on our dime. And we would not be paying for a pastry chef at Pecan Manor.

Anonymous said...

"How could that happen? Easier than you think. Why is there a push for this GCR in the SBC? Because smart men looked at the numbers. Membership down. Missions giving, down. Baptisms, down. If the mega church sheep would wise up and invest their Kingdom dollars elsewhere where the return on the investment is real ministry and missions, that will get the attention of the mega churches REAL FAST.
"

I was at the convention and you could smell the fear. They can see the future. Even though a thousand more attended (how much of that was because it was in Louisville?) the numbers do not lie. We are on a downward trajectory and have been for years.

They know there will not be 6 figure jobs for their kids n the entities if they don't do something!

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Lydia - Oh, I am very skeptical. I'm all for them trying to do some streamlining - meaning shutting down a few seminaries, combining NAMB and IMB, etc.

But, unless the task force returns with a call for total financial transparency at every level in the SBC, individual salaries and expense accounts and detailed budgets included, all of the work will amount to very little, just making different kings and kingdoms, I'm afraid.

Anonymous said...

Same song, 400th verse.

Don't you ever get tired of harping on the same tired old things.

Move on to something new.

Anonymous said...

Same song, 400th verse.

Don't you ever get tired of harping on the same tired old things.

Move on to something new.

July 3, 2009 12:39 PM

If you feel that way, how strange you come here at all. Much less comment? Why are you not 'moving on'?

Your logic is naught.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Great Commission, NASB:

"All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make diciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Soon to be released, Megachurch Modern Living Translation:

"All authority has been given to my mega church pastors and their yes men. Go therefore into all the major markets and create consumers, those that will buy your books, tapes, and pay to cruise down the Danube (see "Bible maps"). Baptize the gullible sheep so that they will support your luxurious lifestyle and will bless it in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Teach the sheep to obey all that you command them from the scriptures, and lo they will be with you, and support you and your ministry, even unto the end of your glorious reign, when you shall move on to the next gig and further expand your kingdom. Amen."

Purifier said...

We must think alike. We posted this weblink earlier this morning on our site.

Here is the document in full with a video from Mr Hunt.

http://www.greatcommissionresurgence.com/

Thy Peace said...

Off Topic:

Stop Baptist Predators [Christa Brown] > "Christa Brown's saga resonates more... now that I'm a mother".
In the Austin American-Statesman, longtime religion writer Eileen Flynn published an article about my book, This Little Light: Beyond a Baptist Preacher Predator and His Gang. Check it out. Flynn packs an emotional punch. It’s the punch that comes with the primal immediacy and transformational power of motherhood.

Thy Peace said...

New BBC Open Forum said...
Pastor shows dog who's boss.

11:13 PM, JULY 03, 2009
-----------------------------------
Junkster said...
NASS,
That's hilarious! Excellent effects.

Gaines' description of his response to the dog sounds a lot like Mac Brunson's response to the FBC Jax Watchdog. But the Watchdog growled back.

12:01 AM, JULY 04, 2009.
-----------------------------------

Anonymous said...

Characteristics of the naricissistic abuser.

CHARACTERISTICS of the NARCISSIST and others with Personality Disorders

I began this and as others sent me more, I added them to make this a collaborative list. Thank you all. These apply to males and females.

1. Self-centered. His needs are paramount.

2. No remorse for mistakes or misdeeds.

3. Unreliable, undependable.

4. Does not care about the consequences of his actions.

5. Projects faults on to others. High
blaming behavior; never his fault.

6. Little if any conscience.

. 7. Insensitive to needs and feelings of others.

8. Has a good front (persona) to impress and exploit others.

9. Low stress tolerance. Easy to anger and rage.

10. People are to be manipulated for his needs.

11. Rationalizes easily. Twists conversation to his gain at other’s expense. If trapped, keeps
talking, changes the subject or gets angry.

12. Pathological lying.

13. Tremendous need to control situations, conversations, others.

14. No real values. Mostly situational.

15. Often perceived as caring and understanding and uses this to manipulate.

16. Angry, mercurial, moods.

17. Uses sex to control

18. Does not share ideas, feelings, emotions.

19. Conversation controller. Must have the first and last word.

20. Is very slow to forgive others. Hangs onto resentment.

21. Secret life. Hides money, friends, activities.

22. Likes annoying others. Likes to create chaos and disrupt for no reason.

23. Moody - switches from nice guy to anger without much provocation.

24. Repeatedly fails to honor financial obligations.

25. Seldom expresses appreciation.

26. Grandiose. Convinced he knows more than others and is correct in all he does.

27. Lacks ability to see how he comes across to others. Defensive when confronted with his behavior. Never his fault.

28. Can get emotional, tearful. This is about show or frustration rather than sorrow.

29. He breaks woman's spirits to keep them dependent.

30. Needs threats, intimidations to keep others close to him.

31. Sabotages partner. Wants her to be happy only through him and to have few or no outside interests and acquaintances.

32. Highly contradictory.

33. Convincing. Must convince people to side with him.

34. Hides his real self. Always “on”

35. Kind only if he's getting from you what he wants.

36. He has to be right. He has to win. He has to look good.

37. He announces, not discusses. He tells, not asks.

38. Does not discuss openly, has a hidden agenda.

39. Controls money of others but spends freely on himself.

40. Unilateral condition of, "I'm OK and justified so I don't need to hear your position or ideas"

41. Always feels misunderstood.

42. You feel miserable with this person. He drains you.

43. Does not listen because he does not care.

44. His feelings are discussed, not the partners.

45. Is not interested in problem-solving..

46. Very good at reading people, so he can manipulate them. Sometimes called gaslighting.

Richard said...

Southside Church Vandalized

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Members of St. Ephrem's Syriac Catholic Church say the message was clear and it seems to be one of hate.

Someone spray painted 666 on the front of their church. There were tons of question marks and comments as if the graffiti artists were questioning Christianity.

"Yes, we were shocked,” said parishioner Wajeeh Demetree. “We never thought someone would come in and do these kinds of things in a peaceful church."

The church is a Syriac Catholic church, which means, most of it's members are middle-eastern.

Demetree said what's sad is that many of the Christians who go to his church left the middle-east to get away from this kind of hate.

"Your first reaction would be is this about us,” Demetree said. “Are we being singled out?"

Demetree believes it is more about Christianity than it is about their community. He said he just hopes it never happens again.


Middle eastern Catholics … cults, remember? Jim Smyrl must be really proud of the thugs who did this. Mac’s response, if he’s taken the time to read it, probably would be, “HAH!”

Anonymous said...

I think that you are right about the transparency issue. I don't know about your ideas on streamlining, though it needs to be done. Sadly, the Hegelian dialectic worldview of the 20th century with regard money has permeated way too much of ministries and the churches. Fundamentalism needs a whole reevaluation.

No One Special said...

Hmmmmm, St. Joseph was vandalized a couple of weeks ago and now this. If another catholic church is hit, then will know.

goob44 said...

Just curious, I realize that many of your comments are pointed toward Pastor Brunson, but you also are apinting with a broad brush in a couple of comments.
Your quotes below:
"But I'm skeptical of the sincerity of many of the men who are supporting it. The seminary guys like Akin and Reid and Mohler, I think they are very sincere."
"But it is almost comical to see mega church pastors pontificating about the GCR, and how we need to refocus, and streamline the SBC to see how we can reach the masses."

Which mega pastors are you speaking of?
My pastor is one of those that signed, and is on the committee.
I happen to think that he is very sincere and has been very transparent on his views of these issues.
Maybe you can clarify about the others you are lumping in with pastor Brunson.

I appreciate your steadfastness in your pursuit of what is right, just don't let that pursuit arbitrarily tarnish others.

Thy Peace said...

The big question in all these church vandalism incidents is ... Is Det. Hinson investigating these incidents seriously? Is he still reading WD's blog? How about Tiffany Croft's blog? How about New BBC Open Forum blog ?

I am assuming they do not comment on ongoing investigations. But clearly Church vandalism is more important than a blogger voicing his opinions. I seriously hope they find these people who did this and they probably will share their names to the churches involved, as it is the policy of the JSO to do so, even if no criminal activity is found. What I mean is by their fishing expeditions. They might find the actual culprits, but they will definitely be fishing for lot of others who are tangential to this investigation. To be consistent with what they did to WD's outing, they would have to reveal all the people's identities they discover to these churches that are vandalized. But I doubt that would happen.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Goob44 - I'm speaking of any mega church pastors who are engaged in spending money, lots of it, on things that have little to nothing to do with the gospel. Those men who spend money in some of the examples I've given, I would question their sincerity in being concerned about the GC. Just as they would, and many of them do, question the committment of their church members who don't tithe, who don't come to all the services, who dare to "complain", and many other measuring sticks they use against their church members. The pastors like to hold the church members feet the fire for leading lives that do not support the GC, and so now should church members of the mega churches do the same, if their pastor is leading their churches into wasting precious resources on marketing, and trips down the Danube, nepotism, secret salaries and benefits, etc.

Its time for the church members of these mega churches to stop the gravy train that these mega church pastors have been riding that makes themselves very wealthy at the expense of God's people.

And you mentioned Mac Brunson - yes, some of the things I've mentioned are things FBC Jax and Brunson are engaged in. But apparently FBC Jax and Brunson must be models for others in the SBC to follow, given his election to a high honor like preaching the convention sermon next year. I take his election as an endorsement of these money wasting practices that have less to do with the furtherance of the kingdom, but more to do with the furtherance of a preacher's "kingdom" and his personal brand.

Thy Peace said...

In today's sermon, Pastor Wade Burleson gives explicit reasons for his stepping away from SBC politics. If you watch the video, it's titled "His Commands Are My Delight", Part 22 of series, July 05, 2009 (1 Jn. 4:20-5:5). The sermon notes are not still up as of this writing. But they should be posted here, as sermon # 22.

Today's sermon on the video is from 27:30 to 54:08. Pastor Wade's remarks on his stepping back from SBC politics is from 48:54 to 51:00.

I would encourage you to listen to the whole sermon. Also relevant to this discussion is sermon #18, "Testing of the Spirits (1 Jn. 4:1-6), May 17, 2009.

Anonymous said...

Watchdog:

I agree with your statement about the members of mega churches not allowing their churches to spend some of the money on some of the things they spend money on.

I would be interested in your thoughts on Baptist Church polity and the relationship that it has to some things that churches do.

I have always admired some aspects of the democracy of the local Baptist church. But I have seen that the same polity is also at the root of many abuses in the church.

I don't know what other churches you have been a part of in your life (and don't need to know), but would be interested in hearing about those places that you have been a part of. From what I have read on this site, it seems that the "one man, one vote" polity at FBC Jax actually works toward more pastoral authority. There seems to be no brake on what the pastor wants so long as he can muster 50% plus one. And most of the congregants probably like the pastor to begin with, or they would not be there.

Have you ever been a member of a church where business has not been done on strict "one man, one vote" basis? Did that allow for more or less pastoral control.

As I look around the city that I live in (probably the size of Jax), I do not see pastors in large churches in our city of the Episcopal, Presbyterian, Methodist etc. labels having situations where the pastor spends money like they do a congregations that have a one man, one vote polity.

Do you think that pastors who are good speakers and likeable people can more easily persuade business to get done their way when all they have to do is persuade 50% plus one of the voters to go their way in large congregational meeting?

I would be interested in your thoughts.

I agree that lay involvement is a key to reform, but I have not seen that work or turn out well when the test is a town-hall style meeting and every member has one vote. That turns simple votes into a referendum on the pastor, and that makes it harder for the congregation to bite a bullet that is against what the pastor wants.

I look forward to your thoughts on this.

Louis

Anonymous said...

As I read through the comments today I must remind you of some basic facts about mega-churches.

1. They all function primarily through committees (which are selected and voted upon by the church). These committees have been granted the authority to do what they do financially.

2. Very seldom do they have "business meetings." Part of that comes from the ridiculous fighting that goes on in some smaller churches. Remember though that #1 holds true and the committees have been vested with these financial responsibilities.

3. Most mega-church pastors have huge egos, huge salaries, and huge spending habits. Its just a simple fact so either get used to it or don't go to their church. This is also true of Methodists, Presbyterians, and Pentecostals for sure. I've heard many a horror tale from my Pentecostal friends and if you think Baptist pastors are authoritative, you should see theirs.

4. You can call for the pastor to give up part of his salary or take a pay cut but it isn't going to see the light of day. I can guarantee you that the last thing that will be cut is the pastor's salary. Also remember that church members are notorious for wanting to cut the pastor's salary so this isn't anything new.

5. You can whine all you want about their book deals and trips but you won't change a thing. At least they are getting paid or getting something free so it doesn't come out of the church budget.

6. Always remember that the mega-churches are structured in the by-laws and constitution to maintain control through committees or elders. Read them carefully and you will find that they are nearly impossible to change unless you are in a position of power within the church.

These are just some little observations for your reading enjoyment.

Anonymous said...

5:25 Blogger: FBCJ members CAN'T study their BY-LAWS. We were never given them. Nor were they discussed before they were brought up for a vote. Sort of like the stimulus package no one in congress had a chance to read. Pass it before anyone knows what's in it. TRUSTING or STUPID.
The only copy of the by-laws available was in the library, where no one could copy or take out of the library to study. Plus one had to SIGN in order to read it. Thus, keeping up with who had read it and therefore likely to discuss or QUESTION it. Freedom reigns!!

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Louis - FBC Jax has always been a pastor-led church. Congregations mostly rubber stamp the large decisions after the pastors have decided what is to be done.

Changes were made to the bylaws in Dec 2007 that concentrated even more power with the pastor, which I thought would be impossible. I wrote about this back in December and January on this blog. The bylaw revisions were passed in November 2007, and I wrote three or four articles describing what they were, and offering my analysis on how terrible they were, and what an abuse of power the represented.

I've been involved in several capacities with a smaller SBC church that was congregation led, where there were no secret salaries, and the church voted on important issues. Yes, there were some ugly business meetings that I'd just as soon forget, but looking back on it, this is a small price to pay for accountability on how money is spent.

Anon 5:25 - I'm not sure most megas are led by "committees". There is no finance or personnel committee at FBC Jax, for instance. Decisions are made by the pastor and his selected trustees. And I'm not calling on pastors to give up anything...I would call on the average lay person to find other places to invest their money for God's kingdom where actual ministry is performed, and where there is financial accountability. If enough Christians do THAT...the required changes at the megas will follow eventually. And the smaller, congregation-led churches, the financial accountability is already there as they are led by lay committees selected by the congregation.

Anonymous said...

I recall Amorim's church in Nashville displayed their church by-laws on their website. That would be the logical and best idea of all...open and very transparent for everyone to see.

Anonymous said...

Pure and simple, if the Brunsons' salaries and compensation benefits were made public, and all of their gifts (not just the land gift) were made known, and the budget was detailed...there would be an outcry so great, and giving would drop so drastically, that FBC Jax would cease to exist as we know it. So as long as the millions keep coming in with no one calling for transparency, the WD is the ONLY voice demanding one or the other: stop giving or open the books.

That, my friends, is why he must be outted, slandered, trespassed, scorned, and "shut down."

Think about it. But we gullible, humble, sheep without a shepherd, cool-aid drinkers want the WD to just go away. We don't want to think about what is going on. It makes us uncomfortable. Pass the grape flavor. :)

Anonymous said...

Blogger 8:09..... Regarding the comfortable kool-aid drinkers.....Such was the French Revolution. Such are all socities that are apathetic. Don't bother with reality and the truth, the unknown, and undisturbed is so pleasant. Nero fiddled while Rome burned. The kool-aid drinkers love things the way they are. So don't bother them with reality. They are interested in things staying the way they are. I am ok, your ok. Ho Hum. Everything's just wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Watchdog:

Thanks for the info. I have never seen FBC Jax's constitution, bylaws etc.

From what I can gather by your response, it seems that you are saying that the pastor and some of his hand selected trustees make decisions that are "rubber stamped" by the congregation. I guess that "rubber stamping" means a vote, but it's hard to be against the recommendation.

Someone mentioned Amorim's church. The church that he used to work for had a real interesting experience.

It is called Bellevue Community Church. The church called a guy to be the pastor. The pastor did a great job building the church, preaching etc. It grew from 200 or so to several thousand.

The pastor led the congregation to go from a one man one vote democracy to an elder led polity, where the congregation approved the elders. The pastor, however, basically got to choose the elders, which was not healthy.

Well, a few years later, problems with the leadership style of the pastor emerged. He ran off staff, proposed spending initiatives etc. that were not wise. The elders finally voted to dismiss the pastor.

The pastor threatened to take it to the congregation, believing that he could easily muster 50% plus one to keep his job etc., but because the pastor had led the church to adopt elder rule, the elders were able to dismiss the pastor, and the pastor was kept by the police from coming to church and trying to commandeer a large business meeting.

Amorim had left the church a couple of years before this happened.

I know that at our church no significant piece of business is brought before the church without a 100% recommendation from the elders. So, any one of our elders could kill any initiative, curb salaries etc. by simply not agreeing. That gives at least some knowledgeable layman a could way to stop things.

It does reduce the chance of the plenary congregational meetings to take things up sua sponte.

To dismiss an elder (or the pastor) takes only a 2/3 vote of the elders.

As I have said before, there is no perfect system. From the greatest hierarchical to the most congregational, they all have a weakness.

But I agree completely with you - that strong laymen asking questions and holding pastoral staff accountable are the keys.

Take care.

Louis

Anonymous said...

"From what I have read on this site, it seems that the "one man, one vote" polity at FBC Jax actually works toward more pastoral authority."

Louis,

This has more to do with size than polity. The majority of members in a mega do not really know their pastor intimately as a brother in Christ except what they see from stage or what they are told which is usually a carefully crafted image worthy of some of the best PR in the world. That image is managed.

When it comes to polity, all things are not equal when it involves a mega church.

I read that Mac just got some good PR from the convention. An affirmation of his behavior at FBC Jax.

Again, my prayers are that folks will come out of these entertainment temples of enterprise and seek the true Body of Christ.

Matt

Anonymous said...

That's right, don't hold your breath.
WD, you said it exactly the way it is, and I'm sick of it. Membership is down..... It should be GONE!

Anonymous said...

Have you noticed that most social organizations have to cut expenses just like church. Guess they have a lot in common.

Anonymous said...

Matt,
Thank you for all of your comments. I always seem to find something that speaks to me from what you write. I totally agree with your description of churches being "entertainment temples of enterprise" and this is at the very heart of what is wrong with so many of today's churches. I, for one, certainly hope more wake up and begin to worship, read and study for themselves to truly start a personal relationship with Christ. We have to stop wanting to be spoon-fed everything. It's time to grow up and begin a mature walk. We have a responsiblity from 2 Timothy 2:15 (King James Version) "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."

Anonymous said...

Let's see. If God "gives" me $100K per year to live on. I should be grateful, thank God, and budget and live on that amount. But if God "gives" the church $15 million per year to minister with, the staff does not have to live on that, but can go in debt and beat up the sheep as to why they are not giving $18 million. Hey pastors...why not trust God for what has been given and then operate with that budget. If God gives increase next year, then use it wisely. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hey churches, General Motors, City of Jacksonville, school board, et al. When the economy was booming, you learned to live and spend extravagantly. Now that the economy has corrected itself, you don't need to correct your spending. Only I have to correct mine. AND THEN, I have to bail out GM, pay higher taxes federally, locally and on my property so you guys can minister to me and provide services for me. And I also need to praise Jesus I didn't get that raise and "give a million dollars in two weeks." Wow. How much fleece does one sheep have? And why use more on advertising and less on ministry instead of more on ministry and less on advertising? Baaaa! Baaa!

And if one sheep says "fine, but at least let me have a peek at what you are spending the money on," then that sheep has to be scorned, slandered and run off, even if it means using the JSO and SAO to do so.

And we wonder why churches die? And we think, and are told, that WE are the ones "robbing God" in Malachi 3:10.

Anonymous said...

Prosperity gospel, fairy tails, demands for money, do as I say not as I do. Entertainment instead of spiritual services. Just give the money and don't ask questions. Watch me live a lavish lifestyle, while you must budget wisely, and give, give give. If you don't YOU are robbing God. But take it up with me later, I am on a vaction getting ready for the grueling "cruise", before my next trip to Europe, where I will shop all day. I need to rest so I won't be answering "difficult" questions today, or any day.

Fewer people getting saved, membership declining, must "push" harder for the money.

Remember how God blessed the really called preachers in the past. They made very little money, lived modest lives. TRUSTED JESUS for their needs and for the needs of the church. They said if God willed it, God would provide for it. Only mentioned "stewardship" once a year, then left it to the LORD. Oh, for the good old days. My opinion!

Poor in Jax said...

The Church of today spends Its time selling the package which is the Church and no time selling the product which is the word of God. We are not selling cereal here!

Anonymous said...

Something that has recently become a reality in America. Big Government, Big Brother, Big Business, and NOW Big Churches. Big is not necessarily better as observe the Bigger they are (GM, Chrysler, Chase, Wachovia, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch,etc,etc...they fail. They get top heavy and drain all the resources and ask for more donations to keep them alive so they can continue to push their brand even when it loses money and they cannot compete even with the smaller brand!!!

Thy Peace said...

For a good blog on economic matters pertaining to recent economic mess, head over to The Baseline Scenario blog by Simon Johnson and James Kwak.

One of their recent posts:
How To Buy Friends And Alienate People.

Anonymous said...

2:24 PM - Boy you got that right. Course that won't ever happen to Mac and Jax. Nope. Not with Amirolio running things down there. He's a real genius. oh, and the current kool-aid drinkers will continue to pour in the money. They'll get burned, of course, but at least it won't kill 'em. Suckers!

Anonymous said...

I was just sitting here speculating today about how much more authoritative this blog would be if Tom or any of you were actually on key committees at FBC, Jax and could tell us the truth about what's happening.

It would be nice to hear from someone who actually knows facts and not a bunch of speculation.

Anonymous said...

Right, we're not selling cereal. We we're selling the gospel. And that costs money, ppl.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:48. Would you enlighten us on the Key committees?

Anonymous said...

"July 6, 2009 2:48 PM wrote:

"It would be nice to hear from someone who actually knows facts and not a bunch of speculation."
_______________________________

No speculation here regarding the budget that was handed out. It had an increase in advertising while cutting ministry budgets.

No speculation about the commercial played for Collins Builders (I was there) and the land gift to Mac and Debbie. (available online to view.)

No speculation that the by-laws were changed with no discussion and without being freely accessible.

No speculation as to the pastor calling Tom a sociopath, it was on the front page.

No speculation as to the trespass warnings against Mrs. Rich, they are also public record.

No speculation that Detective Hinson works for Mac Brunson and was the Detective who obtained the subpoenas through State Attorney Stephen Siegel.

No speculation that a deacon resolution read by A.C. Soud said the church will "aggressively confront" criticism.

No speculation that Ginger Soud and her husband, A.C., emceed a fundraiser held in our auditorium, for an Israeli hospital that performs abortions.

No speculation that Adrian Soud was featured prominently with a bio and full color picture on the pastor's conference brochure a couple of years ago and no laymen had ever had that done before or since.

No speculation that over 3000 square feet of conference room in the children's building was taken and remodeled into luxury office suites for Mac and Debbie and their dogs at a cost of over $100,000 while our buildings sat in need of a chiller and repairs.

No speculation the pastor chose to live an hour away on Amelia Island during his first year "pastoring" his new flock.

No speculation that son Trey was placed on staff with no specific job duties while filling no open position.

So, what "speculation" are you referring to?

Anonymous said...

The only "speculation" I see is that "da book" says I am "obligated to tithe."

Please, I beg of Jim Smyrl, or Mac Brunson, or even Truth Purveyor or TomRichPaparazzi to tell us where this is in the Bible, Old Testament or New testament.

As long as these guys continue to flat out lie about this important matter, I refuse to believe them or trust them on anything else they say. Fess up guys. It's not in there and you know it but you can't admit to the lie now can you?

Anonymous said...

John MacArthur, Jr., Commentary on Book of Romans 9-16 (p.233)
"…Christians are not under obligation to give a specified amount to the work of their heavenly Father. In none of their forms do the tithe or other
Old Testament levies apply to Christians."

John MacArthur – Thoughts On Tithing (excerpt from sermon
preached at Grace Community Church in Panorama City, CA)…
"Tithing, basically, is never, ever advocated in the New Testament; it isnever taught in the New Testament – never!"

"It's in 'da book!" - Mac Brunson

"When you became a member of this church you became obligated to tithe. You say 'I didn't know that', Well you know it now." - Mac Brunson

Anonymous said...

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association…"
"…We feel that such decisions
should be based on personal conviction… It (tithing) is not mentioned in the New Testament except where it is describing Old Testament practices or in the Gospels where Jesus is addressing people who were under the Old Testament law. Note Jesus’ comments to the Pharisees in Luke
11:42… A New Testament teaching on giving which may be helpful to you
is found in 1 Corinthians 16:2: “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income.” This passage brings out four points: we should give individually, regularly,
methodically, and proportionately. The matter of your giving is between you and God, and He always takes into account our circumstances. He knows when they are beyond our power to direct and control. The important thing is that we see giving as a privilege and not as a burden. It should not be out of a sense of duty, but rather out of love for the Lord and
a desire to see His kingdom advanced."

"You are obligated to tithe." - Mac Brunson

Anonymous said...

Re-posted from previous blog article comments to help these busy guys find it and respond to it:

TRP and TP - Okay, I'll bite. Since you are both so obviously plants to try and defend the indefensible and are both such masters of spin, and you both sure do sound like someone who makes their living off the giving of the gullible sheep (I could be wrong, but at least you sound that way to me) I just have a few issues I would like to see you respond to, which will pretty much tell me your responses to the other 100s of issues of abuse from "Doctor" Brunson.

1.) Explain Maurilio. Period. Your views on him and his role will tell us volumes about your belief system.

2.) Tell me where tithing one's wages to a local church is taught anywhere (OT or NT) in the Bible.

3.) Tell me what ministry is being done with the $15 million per year. (Not about what minuscule percentage is given to OTHER ministries so THEY can minister, but what FBC Jax is actually doing with the money they don't give to other real ministries.)

4. Tell me why our advertising budget went up while our ministry budget went down?

5. How did you feel about the "HAH!" from your humble pastor?

6. What are your views on nepotism?

7. Why does the Pastor's guidebook say not accept expensive gifts? What is wrong with that? And why did Mac accept a $307K piece of land just 3 weeks after arriving?

8. What was the point of the "Sermon on the Mound" event? To promote Mac or to promote Jesus? Be honest. How much did that cost?

9. Who is sitting in Dr. Vine's office now?

10. Why didn't the church leaders attempt Matthew 18 once they found out Tom's identity? Why the trespass warnings to Yvette, enforced while her daughter sang?

11. Explain why Mac was right and correct and Christ-like when he called Tom a sociopath on the front page of the newspaper.

12. Why do you read this blog and why do you feel the need to try and defend a charlatan?

13. How 'bout that Deacon Resolution! Nice.

Those are just a quick baker's dozen off the top of my head. I will await your replies.

Anonymous said...

Office space for the dogs are u kidding me ?!?!!!? I can't even go on about how spoiled rotten that is! Does it come with an air-conditioned dog house, too? That is sick! Yea even the dogs are suffering for Jesus.

Anonymous said...

If you are required to tithe then you are the LAW, its that simple. Just keep me under GRACE as it is most difficult for me to attempt keeping the Law, and tithing is just one of several hundred, thank you.

Heretic said...

1 Timothy 6:10
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.

Exodus 20:15
You shall not steal.

Pastors know that demanding tithes from the congregation is stealing but their greed gets the best of them.

Thy Peace said...

More than a year ago, I clearly remember Mac preaching that Fbc Jax group that counts the receipts were concerned that they were falling behind ... and Mac was laughing in the sermon, reminding them to have faith. Then I watched him launch into sermons in the next couple of months on tithing and the requirements of it.

It was a sad spectacle. Especially in sermons.

Fbc Jax is a very giving church. It would have been better for Mac to just preach giving, rather than beating up the pew sitters of not tithing.

I sometimes feel it might be better for Pastors to NOT go to seminaries, but to a business school for non-profits. They might do much better. Very rarely non-profits beat up the very people they are trying to solicit money from. Some do put guilt-trips, but they are counter-productive.

Steve Gaines does the same thing at Bellevue.

Even Dale Carnegie would have done much better than these pastors.

But given we are in New Covenant, does not Grace have any role in Giving? Why must more burdens be placed as a Requirement?

Lot of people would love to Give, but The Spirit in them would be quenched when forced under legalism or a requirement.

Anonymous said...

As usual when someone asks for some real and basic facts all we get is yet another recitation of the things that Tom Rich doesn't like about Mac.

Is it too much to ask if anyone of you actually knows Mac's real salary and benefits? Somehow I doubt that you do so again let me say, your vain speculations are nothing but garbage in the wind.

Can't you even find one person on a key committee that will give you black and white numbers????

Anonymous said...

These pastors will beat the sheep down for money but they wouldn't DARE take a reduction in their own salary. Instead, it's everyone give till it hurts and then some more, just don't touch MY pile. Typical.....

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Truth Purveyor - I'm going to address your post without posting yours, since it has things in it that are not just not true. I wonder if the real purpose in you posting what you did is to not try to help matters or bring "truth" as your screen name suggests, but to wrongly drag other churches into the FBCJ mess that don't compare to it by a country mile. Sorry Charlie, I won't let you do that on this blog, you'll have to start your own.

Also, in your attempt to lie about other churches, you've mischaracterized what THIS blog was started for.

This blog does NOT call for bylaws to be posted online. It has called for bylaws to be made available to church members, and certainly made available to church members who are accused of terrible sins and are asked to submit to a church discipline process, and who then ask for a copy of the bylaws so they can understand the discipline process.

This blog has never, ever, called for minutes of business meetings to be posted online. It has been critical of holding unannounced business meetings where $500,000 was voted on to start a school. It also has been critical of FBCJ holding a business meeting for purpose of seeking retribution on a member who left the church, and to lie about the circumstances by which he left.

I've never called for salaries of individual staff members to be posted. I have called for openness and transparency on how money is spent - and that if anyone who is a member wants to know what the pastor is paid, they should be able to know what it is. No secrets.

And your comments about tithing: I really don't care what Homer Lindsay preached back in his day - I'm surprised you bring that up. Shouldn't we be concerned with what the bible says?

And I've never said that churches shouldn't charge members for activites at the church. Come on TP, you can do better than this. I HAVE been critical of using church resources for advertising non-church activities for an exclusive few at the church like Holy Land trips and trips down the Danube. That is wrong, and I don't care what church does it. I'll call it wrong. Pastors using church resources to peddle tour trips that they are hosting overseas is wrong, in my opinion.

Not only do the churches you've mentioned not compare, but the preachers don't either. Not even close. True, no church is perfect. But if part of the justification that you and others at FBCJ have used for what is going on is that other churches are doing the same thing, you're sadly mistaken. More than you know, you're mistaken.

I think you really should change your screen name from Truth Purveyor, because your post does not even come close to purveying truth, buddy.

Anonymous said...

WD once again delivers a knockout punch with class, style and truth. No kidding about TP's misnomer. How about Falsehood Purveyor? Or Mac's Henchman?

Anonymous said...

dude, this is getting really boring up in here.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 6:17 AM: Does anyone know Mac's salary!!!

That is the point Anon. Only the yes men KNOW the real figures and they arn't talking. This is why WD started this blog., to get answers. None have been forthcoming. There is speculation, but that is it. Nothing official from the leadership. Just like the by-laws were unseen by the membership, before voting on them. This is their idea of running a church. Leaks have occured, but there is no confirmation as to validity. So members are left to assume. Odd that America knows the official salary of the President, Congress and other govt., officials, even the salaries of major business execs., (exhorbitant as they are), but this church does not know the salary of the preacher or his family members on staff. And the church pays the salaries!!!!! What a joke! That is just plain rude and arrogant.

Bible Believer said...

There is no longer a finance committee. The trustees make the decisions and it looks like they will do just what Mac wants.

I'd love to know how much we pay Maurilio. I can't believe we pay this guy to advise the pastor when in his own words he says

"I'm not sure about wanting to be entertained, but I, for one, think that boring people with the Good News of the Gospel is a sin."

(next to last paragraph before the comments)
http://www.maurilioamorim.com/2008/12/are-you-ready-to-quit-church.html

What does sthe Bible say about the gospel?

It is the POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION!!

If Mac's trusty advisor thinks giving the gospel bores people you can see why the sermons are like they are. Seems like Mac is believing Maurilio more than he ought to!


I for one will go with the Romans 1:16

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

In defense of Maurilio's statement: he was not saying that the gospel IS boring, but that there is no honor in presenting the gospel purposely in a boring, fashion. Maurilio and many people believe the gospel can be shared in any number of ways that are more "culturally relevant" - such as the contemporary services, more "hip" pastors and such. You can disagree with that, but I don't think Maurilio is saying the gospel in and of itself is boring.

I agree, anyone who is donating money to their church should, if they desire, be able to find out how the money is spent, and that includes how much money is paid to church marketing consultants.

Anonymous said...

Let me chime in here and say that there is no valid reason that any member of a church should not be able to see how any dollar in that church is spent. I am for varying methods of polity, depending on the convictions of the church. But on disclosure there is no valid reason for not disclosing every penny to the members.

I do not believe that the public has a right to know, but the members sure do.

I would not belong to a church that did not have a full disclosure policy.

Louis

Bro./Pastor Rod H. said...

Dr.Dog the fact that Mac is paying Maurilio for anything is beyond comprehension. This brings into question Mac's abilities of Biblical discernment!!!

Anonymous said...

With money as "scarce" as it is I can find better places, even better ministries to put it than in some "mystery fund", where no one is accountable for where it is spent. A general "idea" is not good enough these days.

It was transparent for years and years when the pastors made modest salaries. The church knew where every dime went. Now that the salaries are 3 figures no one knows anything.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Bro. Rod - Maurilio does or has provided "church marketing" services to FBC Jax, but he also has done a good job with their website.

However, I am somewhat skeptical of this, because Mac is a very, very close personal friend of Maurilio, and I believe Maurilio and his company were sole-sourced for the services he provides and it was not a competitive bid process.

Full transparency into what is paid to the A-Group is absolutely essential to ensure funds are not wasted on a personal friend of the pastor. Mac's personal relationship with Maurilio makes it all the more important. Not saying that funds are being wasted, but that is the type of business relationship that has the potential for Kingdom dollars to be wasted big time. And it can all be corrected by transparency.

As a point of interest - Maurilio provides web site design services for David Platt's church in Alabama - he is the one who's sermons at the 2009 SBC Pastor's Conf and Convention are all the rave.

Louis - I believe that there shold not even be a problem with those outside the church knowing how money is spent. Churches are going to have to get into the 21st century, especially the big mega churches that operate like a corporation. There is financial transparency at all levels of our society - government and corporation and non-profits - and if they are going to succeed they have to face the facts: givers will demand transparency, and church members and church critics alike will look at their numbers. They should not be spending any money that they would be ashamed to have published on the Internet.

Truth Purveyor said...

Tom, thanks for your response. The things that I listed are from the posts from others on your site. My statements were addressed to those folks and not you per se.

As far as dragging other churches into the fray was not my intent. What I was trying to communicate was a lot of the folks posting for "transparency" and openness are asking for things that just do not exist in 99.99% of the churches out there including other denominations. Things such as online postings, extremely detailed financial reports, etc.

As far as tithing, giving, storehouse tithing, or any other term you want to use. I personally believe that it is a controversial issue that will never be resolved just like abortion. It is a highly charged and very personal, individually driven issue and is a matter of one's personal feelings and their own interpretation of scripture, whether you or I agree or not.

I personally give over and above 10%, not only to any church that I ever attended, but also to other forms of ministry. The reason that I give 10% is I personally believe that if 10% was required under the law, then the least that I personally should do is the "tithe". And by the way I do that willingly and cheerfully.

Tom said: "I think you really should change your screen name from Truth Purveyor, because your post does not even come close to purveying truth, buddy." Give me a break Tom. You are grasping at straws trying to discredit my opinions. As I have posted before, there are many, many things you and FBC have done that I personally take issue with.

The reality is that I personally have issues with both FBC and you. Now it is in the courts and I think that is where it will be settled, whether I like it or not.

Just like a lot of things that you blog about are as you say "In your opinion". We all have opinions and only in Eternity will we know if our opinions were correct, but in Eternity it will not matter. What we will all learn is how far short we came in doing what the Lord had planned for each of our lives. Perhaps the tears Scripture says he will dry are the realization of just how we all fell short of His plan for our lives and all of the missed opportunities He placed in front of us and we did NOTHING.

I will conclude by one point that was in my previous post that you chose not to show. I AM NOT MAC BRUNSON'S BOY, I AM NOT YOUR BOY, AND I AM NOT TRYING TO JUSTIFY YOUR CHOICES, THOSE OF TEAM BRUNSON, THE STAFF, DEACONS, AND TRUSTEES OF FBC, ETC. I am my own man who has daily and diligently sought the leading of the Holy Spirit in my life and I am not guided by anything or anyone other than He who died for my sins and His Holy Spirit.

Just like you said that no church is perfect, neither am I and neither are you.



Sincerely,


T

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

TP - I appreciate your response and clarifications.

However, your post which I did not put here, was a clear attempt by a FBC Jax member and likely someone in a position of leadership there (you), to harm me and my family once again. You know it. You wouldn't have posted those false things that you did unless you wanted to bring another church into this FBCJ mess and in the process hurt my family - enough said.

Agreed, storehouse tithing is an issue on which there is not universal agreement amongst evangelicals. My discussion of it here in this article about the GCR is to express the opinion that many mega church pastors use this as a stick to beat people up with, to GUILT them into giving while the mega church pastors live a luxurious lifestyle and won't even disclose their take. As far as Brunson goes, I've documented here many times that he has NEVER taught storehouse tithing out of scripture to his church, and HAS said that those who don't agree with him on this topic are doing the work of Satan. So its one thing to hold a particular biblical view on storehouse tithing, its another to spiritually abuse people with the doctine while not even bothering to explain it out of scripture. That speaks more of a marketing ploy to maximize revenue, than it does of someone who holds a deep rooted biblical view on giving.

Your view on tithing I think is great, good for you. I applaud you. I don't think you would take your view and use it to guilt your fellow Sunday School members into giving what you give. And let me tell you, Vines and Lindsay, who did teach the storehouse tithe, they did so in love, and actually taught it from the scripture, and the bottom line in all the giving and serving at FBCJ was out of love for Jesus and not to satisfy some OT requirement.

Why are you so concerned that people would think you are Mac's boy? YOU'RE ANONYMOUS, so who cares? I will say your post that I chose not to show for my own reasons speaks more to me of your character and who you are defending and who you would be willing to hurt, than anything else you've posted so far. Just my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Dog:

I agree. There is not one dime that is spent that the church should not be ready for the public to know about.

The truth is that in any big congregation much of their financial and polity information (consitutuion and bylaws) finds its way into the public domain informally. I have no problem with that.

However, the church is not a public entity and never has been. The ability of the church to maintain its records (financial, polity, membership, disciplinary issues) is a sacred thing.

So, while I would never tell a church to act as though its business is secret and I would tell them to assume it will get out in the public domain informally, the church should not start with the belief and adopt a posture that it is a public organization that answers to the public such that it supplies its information to the public.

So, if the church, synogogue, mosque etc. down the street from me fires it's pastor, rabbi, imam, I don't believe that is any of my business or that I have any right to know why. I also do not believe that I have a right to know how much money those organizations have, where (what banks) they keep their money, whom they pay and how much.

I would never support a law that would require that they disclose that publicly. And I would never want those organizations to feel that they had to disclose that.

Those are significant freedoms that should be remembered and maintained.

But, if I were a member of those organizations, I would want to know everything, and I would want people to assume that whatever is done would get into the public domain, so it should pass a "smell test" of reaonableness, at least with respect to finances. Doctrinal discussions etc. may never pass the public's "smell test", but that's another matter.

I am not sure that we are really in disagreement here. I am just particularly sensitive to the legal/historical angle of things.

Louis

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Louis - I think we are in agreement mostly here.

But I would take it one step further.

A church that is a 501(c)3 religious organization and enjoys the tax benefits, should be REQUIRED to disclose some level of financial information to the donors. This would INCLUDE all compensation paid to the pastor, gifts received by the pastor above a certain threshold, compensation to immediate family members of the leader of the church, and maybe some other reporting requirements. An "annual report" so to speak, of how the money was spent, and how much went to the top "executives" and their families.

If the churches themselves will not do the right thing in matters of financial transparency with the very people who donate the money, then this is one instance, one of the VERY FEW instances that I would like for the government to impede a little bit on the church's rights. But if the churches don't want to police themselves and do the right thing, fine...then take away their tax-exempt status as a 501(c)3 religious organization.

Anonymous said...

FBC Jax didn't just start leaving the pastor's salary up to the proper committees and/or trustees. I doubt seriously if any one of you knew what Lindsey or Vines made (and that would include all their perks).

Seriously, if you can't stand not knowing what Mac makes, then find a church where you can know the pastor's salary.

It is real revealing in that there is noone coming forth with any actual figures on this site. Tells me that those who are actually members of FBC Jax aren't in any positions of leadership.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

And one more thought...the purpose of my article here on the GCR: the lay people, the church members, they can force their churches to do the right thing in matters of financial transparency by expressing their desires for transparency, and if the church doesn't listen to them, then do what financial investors do when they don't have the required visibility and transparency into their investments - take your kingdom dollars elsewhere and invest them in Christian ministries that are not afraid to be transparent! How simple is that?

But that is part of the "storehouse tithe" abuse of many mega church pastors - not only are you REQUIRED to tithe, you MUST bring it to THEIR church to obey God in the matter of tithing. How convenient. Not only do they say God commands the tithe, but God commands you bring the whole tithe to their "church" - their church is the "storehouse" mentioned in the Old Testament. What a racket that is. God said to give it to my church, and please don't ask us how we will spend it. God will deal with us if we misspend it. Can you say "Madoff"?

Bro./Pastor Rod H. said...

"I personally give over and above 10%, not only to any church that I ever attended, but also to other forms of ministry. The reason that I give 10% is I personally believe that if 10% was required under the law, then the least that I personally should do is the "tithe". And by the way I do that willingly and cheerfully."

T

July 7, 2009 1:09 PM



TP there were three tithes that the O.T.Hebrews were requied to pay not just the store house tithe! Therefore if we want to do it the O.T.way then each N.T.believer would be required to give at the least 23% of their income not just a tenth!!!. Secondly there is not one N.T.command to tithe; "NOT ONE"!!! Why you might ask? Is it possible that the third Person of the Triune God forgot to command the Church as he commanded the O.T.saint concern tithing??? Or is possible that the Holy Spirit of God Knew exactly what He was doing by omitting any required tithing commands in the N.T.because they were under grace?. You are correct if it's your desire to tithe: Thats your choice. But preachers trying to force it on others by a manipulation of Scripture is flat out wrong!!!

Anonymous said...

Anon July 7 - 6:17 - "Is it too much to ask if anyone of you actually knows Mac's real salary and benefits?"

Why do you want to know. We don't care about his salary and benefits. We assume they are reasonable for his position. That is not the purpose of this blog. All of the rest of the issues discussed here are the focus. NOT his salary and benefits.

Anonymous said...

WD:

You are right on the money. People should not be in situations, in my opinion, where they cannot find out basic information. I don't know why any good business people would go to a church like that.

I understand your suggestions about the tax exemption argument, but respectfully do not agree with the remedy. I am not for monkeying around the 501(c)(3) of the I.R.C., even if its for a well intentioned purpose.

As a consitutional provision, the First Amendment, in my opinion, would not allow for the taxation of churches, even if there were no exemption in the Internal Revenue Code.

Giving the state the power to tax the church is exactly the type of thing that the founders wanted to avoid. They had good reasons for that.

The proper remedy here, again, is for people not to get involved with churches that do not have full disclosure to their members.

It is amazing to me that people will go to a church that won't even tell them where their money is going.

Take care.

Louis

Anonymous said...

TP - you may have it right, but you know these preachers discussed here had it wrong. They have even said if you give 8% you are robbing God of 2% and they would rather steal their neighbor's wallet than rob God. Shameless.

And why have people stand up in church and give tithing testimonies as if they are selling Amway? "See, look how God blessed these folks that gave money to us...you can be blessed financially too." Shameless.

And how many people are sinning due to their self-righteous pride by telling others "I give my tithe" or "I give more than my tithe." So what? Why are you telliing us? Because you can't help but think you are a better Christian or more spiritual than others who give less. This has been taught to you and is deeply ingrained such that you don't even see it. Shameless.

Having said that, I do agree that it is great that a Christian would look back over the year and see that he/she has given regularly to the ministry of the Lord and that the total in fact accounts for more than 10% of their income. I hope to get there someday. But what I don't know is if that is the best you can do and how much you sacrifice to give that much. Maybe I only give 3% of my income over a year, but maybe that 3% is the absolute best I can do and is a great sacrifice for me. I don't know enough to make a judgement about this. But the widow's mite meant more to the Lord Jesus than the Pharisee's 10%. Amen!

Anonymous said...

Louis - in my opinion, the IRC is being abused by these mega churches. I agree with you that the tax exempt status is to be protected, but perhaps only up to $1 million per year? That way, any church that gross revenue exceeds that amount would have to disclose some key information.

Like terrorists that hide in mosques in Iraq, there are some who would use the religious status of a building or organization to their own benefits. Some charlatan mega church pastors, with budgets of $15 million, $35 million and even higher, pay no taxes and have no accountability. And they are getting filthy stinking rich. At least let the IRS oversee their nepotism and land gifts and use of dollars to promote their private brands.

Or, a quicker and much easier way to get accountability, is to leave the IRS out of this by having the donors/members demand accountability and transparency before they give one dime. That would get the same result immediately.

Anonymous said...

Still no response to Voice of Reason's July 6, 2009 4:11 PM post with 13 issues for TP, or TRPaparazzi to address?

Your silence speaks volumes. Which is why this blog must be "shut down." Others may also realize there are no legitimate answers except the ones already tried here like "touch not God's anointed" and "he's God's man" and "other churches do the same thing" and "your just jealous" or "you are a sociopath" etc.

The emperor has no clothes. NONE. Zilch. Ignorance is bliss. The opiate of the masses.
Only a few days until Sunday. You have that check book ready? Or do you charge your credit card online?

Arce said...

What section 501(c)(3) gives to the church or other charity is NOT an exemption from any tax. What it gives is that the donors to the entity can deduct their contributions as charitable contributions and therefore pay lower taxes.

Removing the provision would affect the church in that donors may give less or give to an entity that would provide the deduction they can then use when they file their individual income tax return.

Anonymous said...

Anon:

We are in agreement. The best and quickest remedy is to cut off the flow of money by people not giving to places where they cannot find out what their money is being used for.

It will comfort you to know, however, that the IRS is very active in the church field in the areas of fraud, unrelated income (e.g. a church owns a shopping mall - they have to pay taxes on that. I have no problem with that) etc. And pastors and church workers have to pay personal income tax. If the church has a parsonage or the pastor takes a housing allowance exemption, the IRS is all over that.

I am for all of that. The IRS should investigate situations where people are claiming church status to avoid taxes, or the church workers are hiding salaries and other perks and not reporting them, or the church has unrelated business income.

It's just the concept of the state taxing the religious entity itself. That's what I believe to be a bad idea.

Oh, and in case any of you guys are wondering, I am for disclosure on the denominational level, too.

There will be nit-picking. People who make less will always complain that someone is making too much. But, again, the remedy to that is for leadership to give a cogent answer as to what somebody is paid and why. This will require, in my opinion, an increased level of sophistication and understanding among some. But getting through that learning curve is much better than the non-disclosure route, which seems fairly prevalent.

Louis

Anonymous said...

Love the pride that Lie Purveyor shows in displaying to the world his tithe record. nice work. Do you also pray loudly on the street corner so that all can see.

Truth Purveyor said...

Tom, you are incorrect. I achieve nothing by impugning your character, nor do you and anyone else by impugning mine.

As far as Brunson's preaching on tithing, I personally have never taken it the way you believe he has said it. Also, for clarification, I give 10% because I feel the same way that Lindsay and Vines did that "If under law 10% was required in the old testament, that under grace we should do no less." That is exactly what has been taught for almost seventy years at FBC.

Also, I personally do not care if you or anyone else gave a dime to FBC or any other church. Frankly, I think that giving is up to the individual and what they consider the Lord would have them to do. I heard Corrie ten Boom speak before she died and her words rang very true:

"God would rather have one righteous dollar than many unrighteous dollars."

She was basically saying that giving is from the heart, just like the scripture says in 2 Corinthians 9:7 "Every man according as he purposed in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver.

Tom, have you forgotten that every time the Lindsay's or vines preached on storehouse tithing that they always quoted Malachi 3:10-"Bring ye all of the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you out the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." I can here it like it was yesterday.

The reality Brother Rod and everyone else is that at FBC and every other church around the world that someone has to give in order for the all of the things that cost money to be paid. If no one gives, then nothing gets paid.

Tom, the sad reality at FBCJ, your church and most others is that the majority of folks that attend services pay a very small portion to the requirements. That is just the way that it is whether we agree or not.

Finally, your accusation: "I will say your post that I chose not to show for my own reasons speaks more to me of your character and who you are defending and who you would be willing to hurt, than anything else you've posted so far. Just my opinion." is way off the mark and has no basis in fact. It is not, has not, and never will be to cause you harm or frivolously support the foibles of FBCJ leadership. Please keep that in mind when I post.


Sincerely,


T

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:48pm. If you were a member in 1968 when Dr Lindsay Jr came or in 1982 when Dr Vines joined you would know exactly what their salaries were to the penny as it was known by all. Obviously you were not a member then. Are you a member now?

Truth Purveyor said...

Anon July 7, 2009 3:53 PM:

If you take my answers as bragging, then you maam are in error.

Anon July 7, 2009 3:30 PM: your demeaning me does nothing but demonstrate why there will never be any resolution between all parties here. Your childish attacks show your lack of maturity. As far as VOR's 13 points, I do not see where she has made any post here.


Sincerely,



T

Anonymous said...

Posted today, but under the previous blog article:

"I am a former FBC insider -- and I am apparently one of many who have decided to move membership b/c FBC is sending out cards asking why folks have decided to leave -- just so "we can better serve the members" or something to that effect."

Can anyone confirm that such cards "went out" to folks?

Such cards are part of Maurilio's emphasis on "felt needs" marketing. Tell us what your felt needs are and we can better target you in our marketing.

I can tell you why I left. A bully, charlatan, CEO historian/speaker took over, leaving us without a pastor, in my opinion. A man and his wife who are both clearly more into using the pulpit of FBC Jax to promote their own family, brand and wealth. That, and Maurilio, sum it up for me.

Anonymous said...

The final straw for me was when Yvette was told she could not sit in the auditorium to watch her daughter sing.

Anonymous said...

Hey Dog - a great blog post for the next few weeks would be your own version of why people blogging here have left. The comments section would be very interesting.

Was it the promoting of the son's wedding reception before we even met him?

Was it the promotion of the Holy Land trips?

Was it the remodeling of the children's conference suite before he even arrived?

Was it him saying he had to finish his book deadline so he would be out of the pulpit?

Was it his living an hour away on the beach at Amelia Island his first year?

Was it the accepting of a $307K land gift three weeks after he arrived in town?

Was it the commercial played for Collins Builders?

Was it the constant history lessons and preaching from the OT almost exclusively?

Was it the anger and stomping?

Was it the "HAH!" debacle?

Was it calling Tom a sociopath in a front page newspaper article?

Was it using Detective Hinson, his personal bodyguard, to obtain subpoena's to out Tom?

Was it his refusal to meet with Tom at any time, under any circumstances, that was the final straw?

Was it the the 5500 sq foot home on the golf course in Deerwood for the empty nesters?

Was it Maurilio. Creepy, disgusting, greaseball Maurilio that did it for you?

Was it the famous "you didn't know you were obligated to tithe when you joined this church? Well you know it now?"

Or was it the "you like being out of debt don't you. Well then, give a million dollars. In two weeks."

Was it him high fiving Jerry Vines at the pastor's conference when Vines said he needed a lot of money to pastor you folks?

Was it him calling us a "hotbed of legalism?"

Was it Paige Patterson telling SWBTS students at chapel that we did not give Mac a honeymoon?

Was it the the changing of the by-laws without explanation or not making them available to all who wanted to see them?

Or is it his continued, ongoing refusal to humble himself, apologize specifically about his handling of Tom's questions, and his stubborn, arrogant, ongoing refusal to meet with Tom and try to resolve issues that if not resolved, are only just beginning and will be resolved in the legal arena?

What was it for you? Or, if you are still there, the more important question is "What in the world WOULD IT TAKE before you would say...I have seen enough and I want to go to a real local church body with a real pastor for me and my family!"

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

TP - I don't think I was claiming you were impugning my character. What I was saying was that your post was an attempt to drag another church into the FBCJ mess, and also hurt my family in the process. You are a leader at FBCJ I assume, and that was a pathetic attempt. At some point I will post your post and make direct comments on it, but now is not the time.

Enough on the tithing. You've made your point. You don't need to remind me of the use of Malachi 3:10. Lindsay quoted it quite often when he prayed the offeratory prayer. That doesn't mean that its correct doctrine. Maybe Lindsay was wrong? Certainly McArthur thinks Lindsay was wrong on that point.

Your last statement - sorry, I totally disagree. Can't say more at this point, but that YOUR post was wrong and said things that were not true, and was an attempt, I believe, to bring harm to other churches and to myself. Sorry, my opinion. Hope you don't take too much offense, since you are an anonymous "coward" and I don't know who you are and have nothing else to judge you by other than what you post here.

Anonymous said...

Another day and another bunch of people complaining about Mac's shortcomings. You all just repeat the same thing over and over--and have basically have accomplished nothing by your words.

I'm still waiting on someone who actually has some authority at FBC Jax to tell us some truth.

Tom, its kind of pathetic for you to call someone a coward for not revealing their name. The only reason you use yours is that you were outed--it had nothing with your integrity or honesty.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"The final straw for me was when Yvette was told she could not sit in the auditorium to watch her daughter sing."

July 7, 2009 5:04 PM
=================================
This "Anonymous" individual who has never met the Tom Rich family is the very reason we have decided to remain as members, as it was wrong, wrong, wrong!

By the way, I'm sure (you) FBCJAX leadership and your (pups) has already tracked the few comments I have made on this blog and know who I am.

No concern, if need be will gladly sign my name and stand up for the Rich family.

Thus far, from my readings I would say most everything written has been said with truth and not fiction. I sense "hurt" and not retaliation feelings!

There is no such thing as "confidentiality" as people talk and there is leaks - by the way the "cold shoulder" treatment has been noticed since our $$$$$$ has been re-directed to non-greedy ministries.

I'm ashamed of the action the leadership has brought to the testimony of FBC - but not enough to run away or to step aside.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Gee, you can't win. You're a coward if you're anonymous, you're a coward if you keep blogging non-anonymously because you are outted.

Fact is I called TP a "coward" in quotes because that is the word others have always used against me. Its quite obvious that I don't believe it cowardly to blog anonymously...just showing absurdity by being absurd./

Truth Purveyor said...

Tom, no offense taken on the "coward" comment. I assure you that I am not in leadership, nor am I out to cause harm to your church or your family.

As I have said in the past and I will say again- I totally disagree with the way some things were done, especially the trespass warrant against your wife. I thought this was totally out of line and uncalled for.

Not being in any leadership position though they may have been making that decision based on some other logic. Which frankly, I cannot see, and personally I still think wrong.

Personally, I was not a fan of the son's wedding thing. But who really knows who set that gig up.

I also was not at all happy with the comments made to the newspaper by those in leadership at FBCJ.

As far as Marilio goes, I can understand why a fellowship might want to hire this guys services, but for me I don't see the need.

I could go on, pro and con about a lot of the things blogged back and forth, but my time is short, and everything has been beat to death both ways and frankly, I personally believe that everyone's minds are made up.


Sincerely,



T

Anonymous said...

I was just sitting here speculating today about how much more authoritative this blog would be if Tom or any of you were actually on key committees at FBC, Jax and could tell us the truth about what's happening.

It would be nice to hear from someone who actually knows facts and not a bunch of speculation.

July 6, 2009 2:48 PM

The members of the Body of Christ need folks on a committee to know the truth of what is happening in the Body? Doesn't that thought tell you something? I am not critisizing you. I used to think such things were normal for the Body of Christ, too.

But...the truth is...

The Holy Spirit indwells in each member of the true Body. There is spiritual unity not committees with secrets or attendees that must speculate.

Someday, everything hidden will be known. God says it will be so.

Anonymous said...

" would never support a law that would require that they disclose that publicly. And I would never want those organizations to feel that they had to disclose that.

Those are significant freedoms that should be remembered and maintained."

As someone very involved with mega operations and ergo finances, I have to agree with Tom on this. Churches have a special exemption that goes beyond tax breaks. They do not have to report as other non profits do. There is NO accountability whatsoever. As a matter of fact, starting a 'church' has been a refuge of scoundrels because of this. John Hagee closed down his para church organization because the reporting requirements were bringing him grief. He just ran those activities through the church where he has no accountability for those 10's of millions. But he can do that because he is the absolute ruler there.

Churches also do not have to abide by any labor laws at all. They are not required to offer unemployment as other qualifying organizations must.

These things have been horribly abused. I saw it everyday. Mega churches go to extremes to keep the senior staff salaries secret. These are some of the most closely guarded secrets. And, they do not want members to realize the senior pastor (and perhaps other senior staffers) have more than one income stream besides their salary.

"Giving the state the power to tax the church is exactly the type of thing that the founders wanted to avoid. They had good reasons for that."

Yes they did. Up to the ratification of the Con., the Church of England was the official church of the colonies with government supported clery and mandatory tithing for members. That was the main reason.

If we are truly the Body of Christ, such tax exemptions should not matter to us. I admit, I have changed my stance on this issue because of the abuses I saw. Does that make the system bad? Or is it just too great a temptation? No accountability or reporting means the pastor can take a huge salary (in a mega usually way above the average member salary, even when that includes many wealthy members AND the salary is NOT the full picture of income streams)
and only a handful of yes men know what it is. And those yes men usually make the same or more. It is a 'living wage' to them. And they will always tell you that it is comparable to a secular corporation that size. As if the Body of Christ is an enterprise. Well, The church is an enterprise in most cases.

If we follow Christ, why do we care what the world knows about us? Again, everything hidden will be made known someday.

Matt

Bible Believer said...

Baptist Reunification?


http://www.baptiststandard.com/index.php?option=com_myblog&show=Baptist-reunification-.html&Itemid=114

Anonymous said...

Is FBCJ really sending out cards asking people why they left? I wish. But I am afraid a card will not get the job done. They may get back more information than they want. Volumes actually. I think most people left for many and varied reasons. They really should save the postage and read the blog. Most of the reasons are posted here. Also, this may be a way of finding out who the bloggers are, if they can identify a complaint on the card and match it with the same complaint on the blog. Can you tell I don't trust anyone? But I don't think they really care why people left, or they would have been more concerned about the people before now. And they would not have done so much to upset the people. What good would it do to tell them anything? They won't do anything differently. They are beyond answering any criticisms. Now, if the money stops coming in, then they may have to come down a step or to and actually deal with the people giving the money. My experience so far has been that the members still there don't want to deal with anything, just keep the "party" going. It's socially necessary for them. How sad for the cause of Christ!! Has it occured to anyone that we are talking about a church? A church that is supposed to be in existance to lead the lost to the saving Grace of Jesus Christ. What has happened here?

Anonymous said...

Matt:

As I said, it's not that the church should be afraid of anything that it is doing.

And, it's not that we should ignore abuse and fraud. it does exist.

It's just that history has shown the abuses committed by governments, which have the power of compulsory taxation and the power to seize, imprison and kill by force of law (which the church does not have) are the greater powers and can result in damages unlike anything a modern church can inflict. That's what our founders were concerned about. They saw the potential for abuse on both sides, but figured that the abuse that could be committed by the sovereign was great, and that the church needed protection from that.

But I do respect your opinion on this, and the context that you are coming from.

Louis

Anonymous said...

"It's just that history has shown the abuses committed by governments, which have the power of compulsory taxation and the power to seize, imprison and kill by force of law (which the church does not have) are the greater powers and can result in damages unlike anything a modern church can inflict. That's what our founders were concerned about. They saw the potential for abuse on both sides, but figured that the abuse that could be committed by the sovereign was great, and that the church needed protection from that."

I understand your position. I am arguing purely from a spiriual position. I can remember standing with a friend in a high rise office building while he showed me a site for a new hospital. He was on the board. He mentioned causually that the land was owned by the Archdiocese. I asked how much land they owned in that city and was astonished to find they owned almost 1/8th of the land in the large metro area. As I looked into this more, I was astounded at the amount of land the Catholic church owns in the USA.

Mosques are popping up all over the US. Brand new ones. Also with the same property tax exemption.

Where is all this leading us and why the property tax exemption?

Listen to what Judge Renquist, a conservative, wrote in Regan v. Taxation where the court upheld that tax exemption was equivalent to a tax subsidy:

Both tax exemptions and tax deductibility are a form of subsidy that is administered through the tax system. A tax exemption has much the same effect as a cash grant to the organization of the amount of tax it would have to pay on its income.

So, what does this mean? Does it mean that the tax exempion, a form of subsidy, is a clear violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment?

What does this precedent mean to the future? I don't know. But when I look at the vast amount of land owned by religious organizations in this country, I see potential untapped dollars for the state. I think it is only a matter of time.

I also disagree with you that we must fight this. Why? When the populus looks upon this tax exemption as a subsidy, then they will decide that churches must comply with other government policies or lose their tax exemption. Many will not see it as a right but a priviledge we must pay for. I see the opposite of what you see in this matter. Our protection will cost us in more costly ways.

From a spiritual perspective, I do not see we have a leg to stand on. We cannot seek protection from the government because we are already protected with a tax exemption that fills our coffers and quite frankly, our standing in many communities is not exactly above reproach. I am speaking here generally when thinking of the Catholic church scandals, the high salaries of ministers and other scandals coming out of the apostate churches. These hurt us all.

Another place they will strike is tax deduction for donors. For most non profits it is required that they make financial reports open to inspection from donors. Churches, specifically, are exempted from this requirement. Which is why you do not see churches on the Navigator site.

You want to keep the tax deduction for offerings? Then open the books to donors. No more high secret salaries and other revenue streams. No more wasteful spending like we see in so many mega's.

Spiritually speaking, this could be the best thing that ever happened to the church. It would have the effect of cleaning house. God is in control. How we respond to these threats will decide who gets the Glory: God or man?

Matt

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Matt. The "rotten apples" have spoiled the barrel. The "financial abusers" within the churches have brought this upon themselves, if indeed, churches lose their tax protections. Some of the most arrogant people I know are yes men behind the pastor and leadership. They have not the spiritual welfare of the church in mind, but the welfare of the preacher, their position as yes men, and in SAVING FACE for the destruction they have brought on the church. I had no idea how unspiritual people in a church could be.They have brought it upon themselves and indeed us. We are losing freedoms in every area of our lives daily because of "abusers" on BOTH sides of issues.

Former FBC Insider said...

WD,

In response to your earlier comment,

"However, I am somewhat skeptical of this, because Mac is a very, very close personal friend of Maurilio, and I believe Maurilio and his company were sole-sourced for the services he provides and it was not a competitive bid process."

When Mac came, Maurilio came with him. Staff buzz was that 'some guy whose name they couldn't remember or pronounce' was now going to be guy #2 for quite a while, at least until Mac's manuevers (his removing 'The 3 Kings') was completed.

My first meeting with him in the room was way back at the start with Rodney in charge of the meeting. It was an 'artistic' meeting regarding the upcoming services.

No bidding. He was in Mac's suitcase when Mac unpacked.

Anonymous said...

There are 2 types of taxes now being discussed here. At first, we were talking about 501(c)(3), which is an IRC provision related to income taxes. As stated, churches pay taxes on unrelated business income. The question is whether churches should also pay income taxes on money donated to them by people who have already paid taxes on that money.

I believe it is very dangerous for the government to have access to church financial information. Other non-profits have this exemption too (scientific and educational entities - e.g. Harvard, Mayo Clinic etc.). You are right that the reporting requirements are different. None of these other organizations have the role that the church has - to speak truth to society. Sometimes the government might not like that truth.

The 18th and 19th centuries had some of the biggest religious frauds in the U.S. that ever walked the planet. The founders were quite aware of the abuse and potential for abuse, and yet provided that the state would not establish religion and would not prevent its free exercise. That is why churches have been exempt from taxation, even preceding the adoption of the IRC in about 1917 (I think).

Also, the reporting to members requirement (which you and I agree about) is not really connected to IRC enforcement. I know why you would like it to be - to force openness. But the IRC and the exemption for churches is not related at all to openness. Those are 2 different issues. Some religions may have rules about financial matters and openness. I don't know. But debating the removal of the IRC exemption should stand on its own, and not be connected to whether churches are open enough with their donors.

Again, there is a remedy here. Don't give to a place that his not open and transparent.

continued...

Louis

Anonymous said...

The property tax issue is a state and local matter and not related at all to the IRC or income that the church receives.

Property tax is based simply on the objective market value of the property, and does not require the government peering into the accounts, budgets and income of the church. I am still opposed to removing this exemption, but I will admit that it is not as much related to the intrusive nature of government involvement. But the First Amendment, in my opinion, still plays a role here.

Property tax exemptions have been around forever. They also usually affect not only religious, but non-religious ventures- colleges, medical facilities, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, all sorts of non-profits. Citizens have determined that these ventures are important to society and have granted exemptions from property tax. The property has to be exclusively used for the exempt purpose, so the non-profits have to pay property tax on properties that are unrelated to their non-profit mission. In our state, for example, churches have to pay property tax on residential properties that are held for use by missionaries when on furlough. So, in our state, the exemption is pretty narrowly drawn.

Again, without getting into the First Amendment issue that I have already mentioned, let me say from a practical standpoint that removing property tax exemptions for non-profits would have a huge impact on society. Of course, it might be unconstitutional to remove on the exemptions for churches, but not other non-profits. But if all the non-profit exemptions were removed, many churches in inner cities where property is expensive, but attendance is small due to the declining surrounding residential communities would be immediately bankrupt. Churches, synagogues and mosques all over Manhattan, for example, would go broke instantly. The same would be said of other types of non-profits.

I am not at all bothered that the Catholics own 1/8th of some city. I think that property being held by private parties (including non-profits) is what makes the US free, as much or more than the right of free speech or to vote.

And again, the property tax exemption was not at all instituted in connection with the openness of the non-profit. They are simply unrelated matters.

I respect you very much, but I think that we would be in a very bad situation in this country if we let our frustrations about the openness (or lack thereof) on the part of some religious organizations should be a basis for removing either the income tax exemption or the property tax exemption.

Again, the remedy is to help educate people not to give to organizations that won't tell them where their money is going. That will cause more openness than anything, as people stop giving over time to the organizations that don't provide information.

So, I am with you 100% in preaching on openness. It should be done often, not against people or groups in particular, but as a fundamental of the church.

Louis

Anonymous said...

When my people (Christians) who are called by my name (Christ) shall humble themselves, then will I hear from Heaven and heal their land. God is waiting on Christians no ONW else to humble themselves. Possibly this administration and the recession will help stir up Christians to call upon the Lord for help and not themselves. Then God will do something, but not until THEN!!!

Bro./Pastor Rod H. said...

"As a matter of fact, starting a 'church' has been a refuge of scoundrels "


Matt no truer statement could you have uttered. As a matter of fact were can a charlatan go were he can accumulate lots of money with literally no accountablility;..Ahhhhhhhhhhh I know:

"THE CHURCH"

Anonymous said...

"I am not at all bothered that the Catholics own 1/8th of some city. I think that property being held by private parties (including non-profits) is what makes the US free, as much or more than the right of free speech or to vote."

In some locations, schools are funded by property taxes.

I am not sure how large groups like the Archdiocese owning masses of property makes me more free. I would like it best carved up and owned by individuals. I would feel more free. (wink)

Do you know why there are so many churches on Hilton Head Island? When Charles Fraser was developing the Island he made free land available for churches. I contrast this to the site we found for a mega church and trying to keep it quiet because the land would double if they knew who was inquiring. So, we used third parties to make inquiries.


Louis, Any price is worth paying if it means a pure and spotless Bride.

Matt

Anonymous said...

"I respect you very much, but I think that we would be in a very bad situation in this country if we let our frustrations about the openness (or lack thereof) on the part of some religious organizations should be a basis for removing either the income tax exemption or the property tax exemption."

Thanks, Louis but I think I have not communicated well at all. I am NOT advocating the removal of tax exemptions as government policy.

I am stating that it will more than likely happen in the future. And there are many reasons for this which include negative perceptions about religious institution but also the rise of Islam. We forget that the mega as institution is only about 30 years old. Like old Europe, the "church" is viewed by many, and rightly so, as a rich and powerful institution with many tax advantages.

Right or wrong, I think this is going to happen and quite frankly, we deserve it.

I do not think a true Body of Christ will fight it if that happens. Most organizations with a steeple call themselves a church but are not. I also made the point that this move would help clean up the Bride as a form of mild persecution which hits the pocketbook.

Ironically, the inner city churches will be hurt the least in any move like this. Most cities already have tax exemptions for any organizations that are willing to locate in those areas.

Matt

Anonymous said...

Matt:

Thanks for the response. We are running out of room here so I'll probably leave off.

I would like to see sites such as Mark Dever's IX Marks site and other places begin to talk about openness in finances.

There may be other people who could take that up.

Since this site is involved with a particular church and the debates/practices and disputes regarding that, I doubt that this site will become a hub for that reform. (no offense intended).

But there are other sites that were not born of controversy that may have broader appeal (again, no offense intended) to more people.

I believe that this issue has been around for a while in Baptist life (for all I know, it is the same in the large churches of other denominations).

I am going to give this some thought.

Take care.

Louis

Anonymous said...

"Since this site is involved with a particular church and the debates/practices and disputes regarding that, I doubt that this site will become a hub for that reform. (no offense intended)."

I think I understand your meaning but seriously disagree. Real internal reform always comes from without usually as a result of a crisis. Rarely from those who benefit or have been part of the system. Many times they make efforts that look like reform (Such as GCR as an example of reforming the SBC bureaucracy) but are part of maintaining or even saving the system.

In this case, a small exodus is taking place from the institutional church. I am meeting more and more folks who are questioning their own offerings as tax deductions and just giving to those brothers and sisters in need or personally supporting missions
without the tax incentive. They are also leaving the institutional church and seeking a true Body of Christ.

I am not saying the institutional church is dead as an organization
but it has symptoms of a terminal disease when it comes to being the Body of Christ.

There may be some big names leading the defense in politics and the church, but I am not so sure how influential they are anymore. There are many more Mark Sanfords out there than we can imagine. And the Richard Lands and Al Mohler's are not as influential as they were just 10 years ago.


Matt

Anonymous said...

If and when the tax status is changed, I believe we can blame the preachers that have left their first love, their calling to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If persecution should ever come to the church, I doubt you will find many preachers that will hang around for it. They probably will take the money and run. As they can't answer questions concerning money or their ministry now. And they think they are under some type of persecution now. Some preachers have been led to believe they must "survive" in a business world. So they stop trusting God to lead them. They start listening to some of their fellow preachers who have deserted their calling and have put their ministry into the hands of men and FAIL. So no wonder they feel persectued, they are out of their calling. They will never be truly happy or at peace, because they have let God down and then the people. Money and pride of place will never be enough to satisfy their conscience. This analysis does not include all preachers, only the ones that fit it. There are still some good God called preachers that are faithful.

Anonymous said...

"persecution should ever come to the church, I doubt you will find many preachers that will hang around for it. They probably will take the money and run. "

I don't think so. I think we will see much more compromise than running away. The church has become wedded to the state through political activism. both conservative and liberal are guilty of this. Why else would the SBC fund the ELRC? Why do we need lobbyist in DC?

We are closer to Rome than we might think.

Anonymous said...

Anon:

You may not realize this but ERLC is not a lobbying organization. That issue was actually tried in Washington because of ERLC's property tax exemption. If they were found to be a lobbying group, there would be no exemption. If they were found to be a ministry, they were entitled to the exemption.

After a full briefing and hearing on the matter, ERLC was determined to be a ministry, and thus, Washington, D.C. could not remove its tax exempt status.

We might argue about whether you think Dr. Land and ERLC have represented the moral concerns of Southern Baptists well.

But we should at least agree on the facts determined by a civil court.

It is true that ERLC speaks on public policy issues, but that does not make them a lobbying organization.

I am sorry that I don't have a court citation for you. ERLC may have one if it was put in the reporter.

Louis

Anonymous said...

"You may not realize this but ERLC is not a lobbying organization. That issue was actually tried in Washington because of ERLC's property tax exemption. If they were found to be a lobbying group, there would be no exemption. If they were found to be a ministry, they were entitled to the exemption.

After a full briefing and hearing on the matter, ERLC was determined to be a ministry, and thus, Washington, D.C. could not remove its tax exempt status."

Your hair is splitting, Louis. And so is the court's.

Anonymous said...

Anon:

If you are not willing to take, or even review, a court's determination after a full hearing of all the facts, there is nothing I am sure that can be said to change your mind.

Let's see. Should I believe, um, a court (where both sides - ERLC and Washington DC presented their cases) or should I believe some unidentified guy on an internet blog who shows no familiarity with the facts and has so made up his mind that he won't even look at the court's opinion?

Hum, let me see...

This is so hard...

They are both equally credible...

Louis

Anonymous said...

Anon:

That was snide on my part. Sorry.

I do think that we should speak accurately about what our agencies do, that's all.

ERLC does state the denomination's official position on moral and church/state issues.

That is not lobbying. But I know what you mean to say when you say that.

Louis

Anonymous said...

Ok, Louis, so the ELRC 'ministers'.

To whom?

Are they trying to affect policy?

And who do they represent?

Anonymous said...

"ERLC does state the denomination's official position on moral and church/state issues."

How do they do this.

And since when does the SBC, who is 'cooperative' in missions, have official positions that represent every single member? Since the CR.

The point is, we do not need the ELRC. I think we have ample proof it does not work, anyway. Proof in Obama as President, Pelosi as speaker and on and on. How many SBC'ers voted for Obama?

I am sure Mark Sanford agreed with many of the ELRC's positions.

The point is, we need to get out of the culture war and politics.

Anonymous said...

Anon: I thought we were done? my suggestion is that if you are really interested in the distinctions between what makes an organization a lobbyist vs. a ministry (not a lobbyist) that you get a copy of that court opinion.

The ERLC ministers every time they proclaim the name of Christ and his teaching in this world.

ERLC does not speak for each and every Baptist but does speak in the public arena as the voice of the SBC on the issues that the SBC has spoken to at the conventions.

Louis

Anonymous said...

"The ERLC ministers every time they proclaim the name of Christ and his teaching in this world."

To legislators? Are you sure they are proclaiming Christ or fighting a culture war?

"ERLC does not speak for each and every Baptist but does speak in the public arena as the voice of the SBC on the issues that the SBC has spoken to at the conventions."

Which is why we still put "16 million Southern Baptists" on their literature. The real figure would be a bit embarassing.

l said...

I'm not a believer in big churches. There are a few big reasons why I believe that to be true, but anyway.... The church our family attends is 700+- members of CBA denomination, is getting too big for me.

There's no doubt changes need to be made in many areas. One is the dearth of decent preaching . Money to missions, building for the sake of build it and they will come. I think 'christian' music, books, etc... are just over the top. The crass commercialization of anything with Christianity/Jesus in it as well. Such as: Jesus is my homeboy, Jesus pens, and other things. Soft books like Be a Better you, singers who look like they stepped from photo shoots for GQ & Cosmo are all problems.

However, there is NOTHING wrong with a church asking for money. In fact, we should give, and give generouslyY! Paul praised churches for stepping up to help other churches, others and himself. The problem is when it's used improperly.

Another one would be the fact that the vast majority of 'congregants' give absolutely nothing on each and every Sunday, Wednesday, etc... day.

So, while there isn't a hard and fast 10% tithe rule, there is a rule of giving up some of what God has given us rule.

Besides, He gave it to us. We didn't earn it, so we need to give it back to Him.