"...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

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Final Thoughts on the Marketing of the FBC Jax 2010 Pastor's Conference

As I wrap up my look at the 2010 FBC Jax Pastor's Conference promotional disgrace (see my two previous posts here and here), I want to contrast the FBC Jax method of attracting and charging vendors and advertisors and "sponsors" to their conference, with how the Southern Baptist Convention charges vendors at their annual convention.

I wanted to first address the anons who posted in the last few days that there is nothing inherently wrong with FBC Jax charging for "sponsorships", and selling for thousands of dollars the rights to display organizational names on image screens, or putting a price tag on mentioning the names of ministries from the pulpit. Their logic is because that is standard fare for other "conferences" and therefore not to be criticized when done by a church.

I would draw a huge contrast between a Christian event held in a church sanctuary, like FBC Jax, and one that is held in a public, rented venue such as a convention center or even municipal arena. The points of difference:

- a municipal venue will costs tens of thousands of dollars to rent, whereas there is no rental fee whatsoever for the use of a church santuary that has been paid for cash by the gifts of the church members. If a convention or Christian event is held in a public venue, it may make perfect sense for the costs of the facility rental to be shared by the ministries using the rented facilities (this is what the SBC does as I will show below).

- There are obvious operational expenses that FBC Jax must bear in hosting the Pastor's Conference: security, housekeeping, utilities, etc. These costs have been covered by the church or by the registration fees or special offerings from attendees in years past. But there is no extra cost in providing square footage for vendors, the space is in the foyer area already. There is no extra cost in allowing a PowerPoint slide for a Christian organization to be displayed on an image screen, or in having a minister mention the name of a worthwhile ministry through the sound system - these systems are not rented - they are in place for the sole purpose of the gospel, not to be used as a means to charge Christian ministries to raise revenue. Yet market-based prices, nickel-nose prices are charged to ministries for those privileges.

Why should these ministries bail out the FBC Jax bunch who is managing the conference? Attendance is WAY down over years past - so obviously there is a problem with the product being offered, or the pricing is out of whack...let them figure out the proper pricing structure and conference attributes to raise the required revenue - without the embarrasing selling of advertising in the church.

Another argument for selling advertising at the conference is that helps keep the registration costs low. Its not apparent that the registration fees for the FBC Jax conference are significantly lower than for other similar conferences. The cost now for a husband and wife to sign up and attend the 2010 Pastor's Conference is $299. Compare this to the Shepherd's Conference held by John McArthur, which charges $300. I won't go into comparing the goodies and meals given at each conference that or may not be included in the respective pricing, but my point is: FBC Jax is charging comparable fees to other conferences. And by the way, if all the promotional packages are sold, its adds up to just about $100,000. Assuming they sell 20 vendor booth spaces at $750 a pop, that is an addtional $15,000.

These marketing plans also serve to feed the "good ole boy" network that exists in the SBC. The leaders of some of the organizations that will pay these fees are also speakers at the conference and will be paid handsome speaking fees by FBC Jax! And who can forget the embarrassing moment in 2007, right in front of David Jeremiah who was about to preach, when Mac Brunson brought his son, Trey, up to the platform and congratulated him for "raising over $100,000" to help defray the expenses of the conference, and declared that this was more than twice Trey's salary - I'm not kidding, he actually said that. As I have said on this blog before, although Mac didn't explain HOW Trey raised this money, Mac was likely giving Trey credit for monies raised by Conexus and The A-Group through these very same promotions that we see being pushed in 2010. Poor David Jeremiah, who was probably a little embarrassed having to follow that raw display of arrogance and nepotism, declared something along the lines (I'm paraphrasing): "Gee, if the money raised is tied to his salary, let's give that boy a raise!"

At least one poster yesterday gave some options: cancel the P.C., raise the registration fees, or find other "creative" ways to "finance it. Well, the registration fees have risen in the past five years, and these promotional gimmicks could certainly be called "creative". But I can tell you, Homer Lindsay would sooner cancel the Pastor's Conference than allow his church to be selling the rights to display ads in the Main Auditorium, labels on bottled water, and logos on bags. Homer would be embarassed by it all. Homer believed that the church should pay for its ministries - including the Pastor's Conference; and it was a ministry to pastors - to let them hear solid preaching that they were not getting at that time at the Pastor's Conference of the SBC Annual Meeting - and it was a time for them to see just what was going on at FBC Jax.

And lastly, I want to commend the SBC for how they deal with vendors at their Annual Meeting each year. Since this meeting is held at municipal stadiums or convention centers which must be rented, the SBC has a policy on how vendors are charged for the space. You can read their entire policy here, but here are the excerpts dealing with vendors:

"Other groups [besides those directly affiliated with the SBC] may obtain space if they are sponsored by an SBC entity or Woman’s Missionary Union, or if that SBC entity has Convention responsibility for the area of work represented by the group (i.e., Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists sponsored by the North American Mission Board)."

.......

"1. The exhibits are to operate on a cost-recovery basis. Exhibitors will be billed by the Executive Committee on a cost-per-square-foot basis. The cost per square foot should be sufficient to recover the cost of the rental of the exhibit hall, security services, general decorating services (i.e., basic drapes and signs), and janitorial services. All exhibitors will pay the same rate per square foot of exhibit space."

So that is how the SBC operates...they divide the total costs of providing the space, by the square footage and charge all vendors the same per square foot fee. No gimmicks. No selling of bottled water ads or logos on canvas bags. Definitely no hiring of promotions firms to see how to use the assembly of pastors and lay people to raise revenue.

Oh, and one other minor detail that allows the SBC to operate their convention like this: they aren't paying huge speaking fees to the people on the platform.

FBC Jax, if you want to follow the anon's advice and do something REALLY creative: try cutting the speaking fees you are paying by 95%, and see who still will come to speak. Sure, pay their travel and their lodging and meals (and a free ticket to the conference!), but try paying them just a $250 dollar stipend. Try reserving hotel space at the Holiday Inn instead of the Omni. Try trimming (eliminating) the consulting fees paid to church marketers and promotions firms. There are ways to be creative, but they would require the big name speakers to pocket less money, and the consultants would have to find their own revenue.

As I said yesterday, I truly hope no Christian ministries will give in and puchase these promotional packages. I understand they will have to fork over the $750 for the display table - there is nothing they can do about that. But to pay for bottled water, canvas bag logs, cheesy promotional pen ads, and "banners at the snack areas" and displays on the TVs and image screens...I hope they save their ministry money for other more worthwhile investments.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

How many of these "annual conferences" are held around the SBC churches each year. The "fund raising" tactics show me that churches have gone into the world to cheapen and market their idea of the gospel. Indeed the passage on Jesus and the money changers is an example of what the "current" events are about.

When the conferences first started, as you mentioned, it was to refresh the pastors and enable them to gather strength from like minded pastors. Also to see how we did some things here, that they could implement and take back to their own ministry. Primarily it was PREACHING that was the preeminent event. The church did not make a profit from this event. We members gladly (in the most part) footed the expense as our own ministry, to help these pastors that came. Many even housed pastors and in some cases wives, that could not afford the expense of a hotel. So it was a ministry. The present turn to market Gods church and endless "programs" smacks of the way the world does things. Therefore, losing the spiritual aspect of the event. You can't have it both ways. You can't take on the ways of the profit oriented world and use it for spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The argument that "we must be modern, and market God, we must use the "up to date programs, we must utilize the business tactics to get Gods message across is a lie. God uses the weak things of the world to confound the mighty. (1Cor. 1:27). Mans ways are NOT Gods ways. We don't need to improve on Gods ways. But the world is winning more and more everyday. I for one don't intend to profit from the Cross in any way.

Junkster said...

Watchdog,
Have you done any research to see how prevalent these promptonal packages in other church-hosted events? Does MacArthur's conference do anything like this? Does anyone? Or is FBCJax unique in this?

Anonymous said...

Coming soon, the tape store sponsored by Best Buy!

Anonymous said...

Why do you care? Its not your money. Why don't you post your bank statements so we can all see how you spend your money. I am sure we could start a blog about that!

David

The Southern Baptist Believer said...

To begin, I don't agree with anything you say. It disgusts me. Nor do I like the tones you use in your writing or the lack of respect you demonstrate when addressing opposing opinions. But what disgusts me even further is the fact that you claim to be a concerned christian while spewing this vomit. The hate that emanates from your blog is not consistent with your born again christian status that you claim to hold to. It just doesn't add up.

Then why do I read your blog, you ask? Why do I come back over and over again if I do not like it? I have observed that this very question is asked repeatedly of anons who voice the same opposition as I do over and over again.
Well, perhaps it's for the same reasons sports fans like to watch replays of a big hit in a football game, or a total meltdown of tennis player in a big tournament. There's just a rush of enthusiasm and adrenaline that a person feels when they observe or read something so radical in nature. And that is what you are, radical.

Now, my specific problem in response to this post deals with your idea of churches and businesses. I have read in the past your views of the paradox between businesses and church's and how churches should not be run like businesses and so on. That seems to be your position, that church's should not be run as businesses where profit is the goal and people in the church are numbers or giving units as you have pointed out.
The bottom line is you think church's should not be governed like corporations.
However, in certain instances, this position changes.
For example, take financial statements. You support the idea that church's should furnish each member with a line item financial statement. That would negate your view of a non-business governed church.

More about this advertising for this conference in respect to church's and business practices. Who do you expect to pay for the conference? According to past blogs that you have written, I get the notion that you do not like the pastor asking the congregation for money for things like the Ruth Lindsey chiller and the preschool renovation for example when the church could manage their budget better by setting aside monies to cover the cost of building repairs. That was the basic idea behind your reasoning I think. Going on that understanding, the church members should not have to fork out another special offering to cover conference expenses, especially during these difficult economic times.
So why not allocate the conference expenses to advertisers at the conference? Seems like a good idea to me. It would alleviate the church members from paying for the cost of the conference.
But you can't side with that idea. Because every time you look at a situation involving FBC Jax and money, you claim that FBC Jax is all about making the dough.

My point in all this is that you seem to be the kind of person who takes a story and the details of it and manipulates it to fit your personal agenda. And your position on certain ideas seem to swing back in forth in order to support your agenda. You can't seem to keep a consistent, solid position when it comes to matters involving FBC Jax and how it operates.

Now I know what kind of response I will get from this comment. And I'm fine with that. I have read many of the responses that people who oppose your views receive in turn. So I wait with excitement to see the lack of civility and crudeness in the responses of those who dislike my opinion.

Have a good day.

Anonymous said...

Why do you care? Its not your money. Why don't you post your bank statements so we can all see how you spend your money. I am sure we could start a blog about that!

David

September 30, 2009 2:40 PM

I think that would be quite relevant if Tom was living off offerings given by others for ministry.

I am not sure why you think church finances should not be public information? Why not? What do we have to hide?

Anonymous said...

You mentioned that attendance is way down from years past. I'm not surprised, I attended everyone from 1998 through Dr. Brunson's first year. I have not been back.

This conference used to be the highlight of my year. I came to it instead of the annual SBC convention. The music was tremendous and the preaching was uplifting and the seminars (which were included in the price) were something that I could take home and apply.

Now, the conference is way too expensive, and it has changed. I'm not against change, but look at the end result with what you have now, and compare it to what you had. Sometimes change is not always good.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

SBB - thanks for posting. You are wrong about how I respond to those who disagree with me. I disagree with you on some of your points, and agree with you on others, but I won't be disrespectful about it. Read your first line to me...you sound very angry and bitter, to start off a conversation by saying "I don't agree with anything you say." Is that anyway to start a conversation. And really, you don't agree with me on anything? There are many things you and I agree on, buddy.

I am neither all for bringing in business principles to the church or all against them. I'm for churches doing the right thing, as I'm sure you are. I just believe that SELLING advertising, and charging market based nickel/nose pricing for vendors in a non-rented building is wrong, and to charge a fee to utter the name of a ministry from the pulpit stinks. I held up what I think is a reasonable example of what should be done: what the SBC does at their annual convention. THAT is reasonable I think, and I'm sure you would agree...unless you will just disagree with me because you don't like me.

You, sir/maam, have allowed your hatred toward me to assume certain things about me that aren't true. You've said you disagree with EVERYTHING I've ever said, which can't possibly be true. I am not crude to you, and I am not crude to most (hopefully all) people that I disagree with, at least that's my assessment of myself.

So lighten up there big fella, stop projecting on to me your wrong view of me and anticipating how I will respond, and join the discussion! And have a great day!

Anonymous said...

To Southern Baptist Believer:
You really, truly see nothing wrong with the way the church makes merchandise of believers? Someone on an earlier post mentioned a church that marketed itself by producing disks for men's urinals with the church name on them. Do you have any objection to that kind of advertising? Where exactly DO you draw the line, I wonder. Does anything go as long as the ends justify the means? What would you consider to be a wrong use of funds? I'm just curious because this blatant materialism just seems so obviously wrong to many of us that I'd like to better understand the thought process of someone who actually thinks there is good in it.

Anonymous said...

The Southern Baptist Believer said...

This "believer" very much believes you have been a regular poster all along on this blog.

Good to know you wait with excitement to see the lack of civility and crudeness in the responses of those who dislike your opinion.

You are wrong, I really am not crude and I most certainly don't lack civility because I disagree with your assessment, but thus far, The Bill of Rights, gives you and I both the freedom of speech,

I also agree with WD on your personality given with what you blogged:

"You, sir/maam, have allowed your hatred toward me (US) to assume certain things about me (US) that aren't true.

Have a good evening 3:56 pm.

Thy Peace said...

New BBC Open Forum > Trouble Clef.

Watch the video. You will recognize familiar Fbc Jax Choir and Officers in the video.

If only Watchdog appears in Mac's dreams ... as a sermon interruption ... No, they already have issued trespass warnings and notices. Hey, it's a dream and anything can happen to make Mac happy during a sermon. Maybe for once he will stop complaining about the naysayers and troublemakers and the trials he is being forced to endure ... What hardships are placed on our leaders now-a-days!

Arce said...

How much was spent to make this ridiculous video? A choir in place to be videod with all the tomfoolery, the pastor and choir director on stage, lights, film, etc. Plus shooting the scenes in a bedroom!

I suppose that the "starring" roles justify the salaries????

And who was paid to do all of the above or does the church have staff with the time to do this kind of thing (insufficiently occupied with something truly meaninful)?

Anonymous said...

Someone on this blog made the comment, WORSE & WORSE!

The majority of members have no real insight as to the kind of behind the scenes activity going on at FBCJ.

So what if Watchdog is a former member - thanks to him and blogger Thy Peace along with Dee & Deb, and others we are hearing for the first time some very disturbing issues taking place.

Good Question:
Arce said...
How much was spent to make this ridiculous video?

Bro./Pastor Rod H. said...

"Does MacArthur's conference do anything like this? Does anyone? Or is FBCJax unique in this?"

September 30, 2009 1:20 PM

Junkster I have attended two Shepherd conferences and these were the best run conferences I ever attended.
The conf.fee maybe high by some standards,but its basically given all back to you in gifts,food and books!
So many books that we had to have them shipped back to Jacksonville.
The conference itself would be considered by most these mega-churches as "no frills".
Nothing but Bible,Bible and more Bible exposition.
Everything and I mean everything is centered around the Glory of Christ and making and developing Christ-centered ministry!!!

No advertising,no gimmicks,none of this foolishness that you see many churches including FBCJ doing!

Junkster I consider the Shepherd conf.to be by far the best Pastors conf.I have ever attended.Its like night and day between it and what FBCJ is now doing!
But this was not always so at FBCJ.
I attended many FBCJ pastors conf.and throughly enjoyed the music and the preaching it would be the highlight of my year!!!
But what Mac has done is basically sinlge handedly turn this once great pastor conf.into a den of thievery!!!

"Sad,so sad"!!!

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Junkster - I conversed with a Texas pastor last year who was a regular FBCJ PC attendee back in the 90's and early 00's, who said he now goes to the Shepherd's Conference. He said the preaching was superior, and the value for the $$ was not even close, just as Bro. Rod says. Apparently a good bit of the registration goes into providing more meals, snacks, and most of all: so many resources - books, tapes, CDs, that the attendees can't even get them home on the airplane. He said he would not attend a Jax PC again, and has switched to the Shepherd's conference.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

I'm with you Arce. While the video is cute, I hardly think it funny or worthwhile.

But it is nice that while the pastor bemoans that they don't have enough money, they need everyone to give more and sacrifice more to the church, apparently they have plenty of time and resources in the media ministry to be making funny video clips. They had plenty of money to be sending the media team with Brunson over to Israel to shoot his Holy Land trip, and apparently they are in the business now of producing comedy routines featuring Whitmire and Brunson. Praise the Lord!

Anonymous said...

I think that video was for the choir retreat. BWAHAHAHA! Whats the matter with you all? ITS FUNNY!!!!!!!!! Gosh, lighten up you all!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I think that video was for the choir retreat. BWAHAHAHA! Whats the matter with you all? ITS FUNNY!!!!!!!!! Gosh, lighten up you all!

October 1, 2009 11:08 AM
________________________________
Gosh, hadn't thought of it that way, indeed FBCJ members do need to lighten up and it we very well lightened up our purse strings to pay for this over NEW group of over 50 plus gray headed Choir of "Senior Citizen's. Funny, no way! Stupid, yes!

Anonymous said...

Agreed. That truly was in poor taste. Very bad form indeed.

Johnny D. said...

I'm the ignorant one here. What is the purpose of that video? Was it made for some specific cause or just for a lark? Just curious.

Word verification: dippie

Man, this is getting better and better.

Anonymous said...

"And who was paid to do all of the above or does the church have staff with the time to do this kind of thing (insufficiently occupied with something truly meaninful)?"

We did so much of this sort of thing in house that a few guys on staff started their own video production business and we started farming most of it out to them. They make quite a decent living from it to this day.

There are still in house folks who produce customized video just for staff meetings and retreats. If you do not think I am serious, think again. We once paid for the use of the Jeporady theme song for a staff meeting skit.

I keep trying to tell you all it is wally world at these mega's. We had no common sense. I still get sick when I think about the waste and ostentatiousness of it all.

Matt

Anonymous said...

You have barely touched on how much the speakers get....try asking if they would come for $250.00 period. No personal trainers and no spouse or family vouchers either. I know of maybe 3men in the entire ministry that would come and serve. How sad.

Anonymous said...

You have to hand it to the marketing gurus. They know a good thing when they see it. Some of these groups come into churches and get a percentage of the revenues if the total collections are increased. What an idea. Making money off the congregation and no one is the wiser. No wonder it is important that membership is increased.

Richard said...

Hundreds leave pioneering Fla. megachurch

Hundreds of congregants have left a pioneering megachurch in Florida to form their own congregation because they were unhappy with leadership at the church that's seen as a bedrock of the religious right.

The action by the unhappy members at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church was the culmination of a feud between loyalists to an evangelical luminary, the Rev. D. James Kennedy, and his replacement as pastor, the Rev. Tullian Tchividjian, a grandson of the Rev. Billy Graham.

FBC Choir Member said...

The video was made for the choir retreat. It serves a useful function because it helps the choir solve the problems that the fake choir does in the video. On the choir retreat, we worked on our music for Christmas.

Tonight, the Rev. Dr. Jim Whitmire taught us an "Amen" to put at the end of our first hymn Sunday, The Church's One Foundation. After the choir and congregation finish the song, we're going to bust out into an eight-part harmony "Amen." It's going to be wonderful.

I love being in the choir so much. It gives me a sense of ritual that is missing from most low church forms of worship. I get to leave Sunday School at 9:45, walk to the men's robing room, take my robe off the hanger, put my suit jacket on the hanger, put on my choir-issued brown clip on tie, then put on my beautiful, long, flowing robe. Then I look in the mirror to make sure it looks good and my tie's straight before I go into the Chancel Choir Rehearsal Room to warm up my lovely voice before the service. Then as a united group we process into the choir loft while the largest digital organ in the world plays awe-inspiring music through our very talanted organist. After that, we get to sing our lovely music to show the glory of God. My favorite part is when people tell me after the service how good we sounded.

In short, I get to dress up in a robe, sing music, feel successful, get a sense of ritual and unity, and feel loved and have people pay attention to me just by being in the choir.

Anonymous said...

I dont like Mac Brunson either, but Dr. Vines was a lot worst than Mac

Anonymous said...

At least the malcontents had the integrity to leave when they lost the vote instead of staying the destroying the church. Note that the malcontents were led by the dead former pastor's daughter. That should tell you something.

Sounds to me like a bunch of old geezers who didn't get their way and hated the new ways of doing things.

Sounds a whole lot like Bellevue and somewhat like Jax.

Anonymous said...

" We once paid for the use of the Jeporady theme song for a staff meeting skit."

You know what, churches that wastefully and arrogantly spend money like this are disgusting. And I am sure the pastor, whomever he was, still beat the sheep for cash.

Anonymous said...

FBC Choir Member, what is the point of your comment? What are you trying to say?

Anonymous said...

I think choir member was being sarcastic? (kinda hard to tell. sounded like a legitimate post.)

Anonymous said...

I think FBC Choir Member's comment was TIC. If it wasn't, dude has a huge pride issue.

Anonymous said...

"I love being in the choir so much. It gives me a sense of ritual that is missing from most low church forms of worship."

Could you give me an example of both high church and low church worship from the New Testament?

Matt

Anonymous said...

Choir Member is being sarcastic I think, and I never knew they had choir issued clip on ties. See what you learn on this informative blog.