I base this prediction on the following observations:
- 2010 SBC Keynote Address: Brunson was selected by the 2009 SBC Annual Meeting attendees to deliver the SBC 2010 convention sermon (akin to a "keynote address") in Orlando.
- Friendship with Current Prez Hunt: Perhaps Brunson is the choice of current president Johnny Hunt. After all Hunt is a very outspoken friend and supporter of the Brunson family. In his most recent show of support for his good friend Mac during these troubling times during Brunson's tenure at FBC Jax, Hunt flew in to Jax on Friday 9/25 in a plane flown by one of his church members to speak to the FBC Jax deacons and their wives at their Daytona Beach deacon's retreat. Hunt flew in that night, had a riverfront dinner at the Chart House with the Brunsons, then flew back that night after speaking to the FBC Jax deacons. Johnny Twittered during his trip, declaring his love for Mac and calling him "God's man". Another example of the Hunt-Brunson connection is that Hunt this past year hired Mac's son-in-law who just graduated from SBTS. The Hunt and Brunson friendship is deep, and Mac is very close to Paige Patterson. No doubt Mac would be an excellent choice for the Patterson CR crowd.
- State Convention Speaking Gigs: Brunson recently announced to his church that this year he has never received more invitations to speak to groups, and that is schedule is "scary" busy. He has been invited to speak at several baptist state conventions, including Georgia, Tennessee, Indiana, and Oklahoma. These are great stumping opportunities for Mac to garner support for his presidency. The current controversy at FBC Jax seems to not have waned Brunson's popularity with the SBC faithful, and in fact may have served to give his image a big boost amongst the conservative pastors.
- Local Speaking Slots: I found it interesting that Calvin Carr, pastor of North Central Baptist Church in Gainesville and long-time youth minister at FBC Jax, has invited Brunson to speak at his church for their special "Harvest Banquet" day in November. On his blog, Calving Carr described Brunson: "Dr. Brunson leads a mammoth congregation with the heart of a loving shepherd. I know you will not want to miss this special night." So even Calvin Carr is on board with Mac Brunson, "the loving shepherd". Apparently smaller churches like Calvin's find Brunson an attractive preacher to be brought in to speak to their people.
- Support of FBC Jax Lay, Staff, and Leadership: Reportedly things are going very well at FBC Jax, numbers are up, giving is strong, and the ministry is thriving. Mac apparently has full support of his deacons and trustees, and all is well at FBC Jax. After all, Mac has had huge victories of late: the successful launch of the First Baptist Academy and a satellite church in St. John's County.
Why Brunson's increase in popularity of late on the preaching circuit, as Mac himself admits? I don't know, but perhaps he is viewed as the resilient, martyred, humble pastor, or on the other extreme perhaps some in the CR crowd hail him as the one with the guts to take on recalcitrant, blogging, vocal critics of SBC leadership. Or maybe its the influence of his friend Johnny Hunt.
Some may call this prediction a no-brainer, some may say "no way". But I say it is a long-shot prediction when one considers what Mac told Tim Rogers in an SBC Today interview in February 2008:
"I can tell ya right now, I've about determined I'm not runnin' for anything, I'm not going to take an office of anything, I don't want to. God would have to do something awfully, awfully unusual. I don't think my wife would let me do it, number one. But number two, I just don't want to do it."
This last year, certainly has been "awfully, awfully, unusual"....so maybe he will go for it. Needless to say, in this writer's opinion, there is much about Brunson that should cause SBC lay people concern, and the people of FBC Jax great concern, about Brunson's ascension to the convention presidency, and I'll make a few comments in the coming weeks on this.
I know its early, more than 7 months to the 2010 annual SBC meeting, but I want to be the first, at least that I know of, to predict Brunson's ascension to the SBC presidency next year, and if it comes to pass, I'll say a hearty "Congrats" to Mac Brunson!
We shall see next June in Orlando! See you all there!