"...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, February 27, 2009

A Lie and a Breach of Trust by the FBC Jax Leadership

As we head into the weekend, I want to give everybody who stood up on Wednesday night, February 25th ratifying what I affectionately am calling the A.C. Soud "Anti-Criticism Doctrine" something to think about.

Members who were asked to stand in the picture at left, you were lied to.

How does that make you feel?

This was not just that a preacher saying something untrue and hurtful during a sermon about someone, like Mac did with Sheri Klouda.

This is worse. This was a carefully crafted, legal, official statement of the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Inc. that was officially adopted by the church leaders, and then ratified by the members. And they lied in it. That would technically, make everyone who stood, a party to the lie. That hurts.

This means that Mac Brunson, A.C. ("Anti Criticism") Soud, and the other trustees and deacons violated the trust of the congregation that night. The congregation stood in affirmation of this motion sight unseen and with no discussion or questions for no other reason than because they TRUSTED these men. If the good people of FBC Jax thought for one minute that these guys didn't do their homework, or purposely lied in the motion, many would NOT have stood up.

All of you present and were visibly seen standing on the live Internet feed that took a wide camera shot at the time of the vote: Jim Whitmire, Jim Smyrl, Jarred McConnel, the Pianist, the Organist, even you [insert YOUR name here] that stood up to ratify Judge Soud's edict....you listened to arguably the most respected man in all of Northeast Florida stand and read a motion. He even had our media guys put his motion up on the I-mags so you could follow along as he read his beautifully crafted paragraphs and could appreciate them fully, word for word in all of their glory. This was a big day...the day his committee's motion would fix the problems plaguing Mac once and for all, and put the Watchdog in his place, show everyone what a coward he was, and then warn that anyone else following in his footsteps would suffer the same terrible fate as he. Problem solved, right? Wrong.

Only one problem.

They chose to lie to you.

Yes, you were lied to.

They asked you to stand and ratify a document that contains a "Whereas" statement of fact that was a bald-faced lie.

Makes one feel a little bit like Ralphie in the "Christmas Story" after he decoded the secret message in Little Orphan Annie only to find the secret message was a bogus "Drink Ovaltine" ad.

Deacons who voted Monday night February 23 unanimously to approve Anti-Criticism Soud's wonderfully crafted motion, you were lied to. Even some of you Trustees that voted on Febraury 18, you were lied to as well, since its safe to assume you would never voted to bring a motion to the deacons and then the church that told a lie about a member or former member.

But should this surprise any of us? The Watchdog has tried to warn you.

These are the same cast of characters that brought you "The Bylaw Changes of 2007", a church administration horror flick where a motion was made to approve bylaw changes without even so much as charactering the nature and purpose of the changes. Not a single peep about the bylaw changes that took church members' rights away to call a special business meeting, granted the pastor expanded authority, and created a discipline committee and discipline process that begins with the Pastor. Oh, and a little tiny clause stating members "forfeit their right" to ever bring legal action against the church. Almost forgot that last one.

But this vote was worse.

Because they lied.

About a former member.

Did I just say that?

Yes, I did. You better believe I did.

Judge Soud, which part of the A.C. Doctrine did I just violate in saying "They lied"? Would that fall under the "harmful opinion" clause? Or would that be a "false statement"? To claim "they lied", would that possibly cause "financial and spiritual risk" to the church? Was its intent to be "divisive and cause strife and disgruntlement"? Or maybe I just violated the Judge's "unjust criticism" clause? In what manner will I be "confronted aggressively"?

Are you shook up enough FBC Jax? GOOD! (to quote Mac).

OK, what was the lie?

Obviously it was Soud's intent in this motion to do several things. The crafty Judge sought to accomplish three things in a skillfully written lawyerly prose:

1. They wanted you to know that they caught the Watchdog;

2. They wanted you to know the accused left in a cowardly way to hurriedly join another church before A.C. Soud and his band of Merry Trustees and Discipline Committee members could get their hands on him ("that 'wascally wabbit', we almost had him and he got away!"); and

3. If any of you other plebe decide to follow in the accused's footsteps and you engage in any of the sinful conduct of the accused, they will aggressively hunt you down and do the same thing to YOU and your wife that they did to him and his wife.

I'll address #1 in a later post. They obviously believe they caught the Watchdog, and they believe they have proof. Good for them. So I'll grant them that they acted in good faith based on the evidence they have (which they still have not provided to the accused despite repeated requests for it - more to come on this later) making it impossible for the accused to answer their claim.

I want to address the second of the three main points of Judge Soud's A.C. Doctrine. What he said was a lie. He could have said any number of facts about the accused. Perhaps it would have been most helpful to those voting to state what the nature of the EVIDENCE was against him. Even a vague description of the nature of the evidence, or even a statement that they know beyond a shadow of a doubt they got him. No, they decided to tell you the circumstances of him leaving to show him to be a coward and call into question the family's sincerity in joining another church - as though the accused's new church was a snap decision not out of the Lord's leading but a cowardly move to avoid the discipline that they deserved at the hands of Anti Criticism Soud and his discipline committee.

But Soud got it completely wrong.

Judge Soud's grand edict says the following:

"And whereas said member within the last three weeks has requested his letter be transferred to a sister church in Jacksonville, Florida but only after being advised that the discipline committee of the deacons would recommend to the deacon body that disciplinary action be taken against him for such conduct which the deacons find is contrary to Scripture and the bylaws of the church."

They could have said the member has already left, or the member has changed churches and is not therefore subject to any further discipline, but no, they wanted you to know he RAN like a coward after they said discipline would be taken.

Here's the truth. Here's what Anti-Criticism Soud should have told you:

The discipline process started November 28 with trespass warnings being issued against the man AND his wife. Anti-Criticism Soud didn't tell you that. There was no Matt 18 biblical process initiated whatsoever. None. Period. Minor detail, huh?

The accused and A.C. Soud's committee were at an impasse since December 13, 2008. The Committee demanded that the accused meet with them, the accused said he would as soon as the bylaws describing the process were given, that the basis of the accusations were stated, and that he be allowed representation. A.C. Soud and his committee declined all three of those reasonable requests, thus no meeting took place.

As the holidays drew near, being barred from their church of 20 years by threat of arrest, the family was forced in late December to start looking at other churches. After visiting a handful of churches, the family found a very loving church, where the preacher preaches expositorially, with power and conviction but in a loving, humble manner. For most of January they visited the church, and after seeking the Lord's will and meeting with church staff members at their new church, they decided to join fellowship with this church on February 1, 2009.

After nearly 1 and 1/2 months of no word WHATSOEVER from Blount or A.C. Soud's committee, they joined another church they had visited for OVER A MONTH.

Did you read what I just wrote? Not that the man ran like a coward with his tail between his legs to quickly join a church to avoid the discipline he had coming. They visited their new church for more than a month before decided to join, while he waited for the discipline committee to send him the bylaws and tell him the basis of the accusations.

THEN, and ONLY THEN, after they joined this church on February 1st, and their letters were requested by the new church, did John Blount call the accused at 12:30 pm on February 10th to tell the accused that the discipline process was going to be started again, and the committee wanted to meet with him.

So Anti-Criticism Soud decided to mis-characterize the decision process by which this family joined another church to hurt their reputation and make him look cowardly. The family, and the staff at the new church will testify that this family sought the Lord's will during this time, and although they love FBC Jax and its people they knew the Lord wanted them to join another church. Souds remark calls into question the integrity of the new church, that they would accept a "scoundrel" like the accused to allow him to escape his due penalty at the hands of the "bishops" of the FBC Jax discipline committee.

That's fine, take a final swipe at the accused by saying something as ridiculous as Soud did...but for the Lord's sake A.C. Soud, why get the people of FBC Jax to GO ALONG WITH YOU AND RATIFY THE LIE? You could have taken the swipe in your comments, but you PUT IT IN THE MOTION WITH A WHEREAS, as though it was a finding of fact, and had Keith Hill ask the sweet people of FBC Jax to stand.

And another lie throughout the document is that they desire to use "biblical church discipline".

What A.C. Soud didn't tell you is the process used against the accused was no where close to biblical church discipline. It STARTED with Rev. King and Rev. Blount delivering trespass warnings. There was never, ever, EVEN TO THIS DAY, an attempt by ANYONE AT THE CHURCH....not Brunson, not Mrs. Brunson, not A.C. Soud, not John Blount, not anyone ever contacted this family to explain the charges against them in accordance with Matthew 18 as Mac has preached. Just trespass warnings to both the man and the wife to force them to meet with six men. We're all waiting for the explanation of how this process was anything close to "biblical church discipline". Perhaps its in the Greek text, right next to where Mac found that the churches in Rome were all "satellite churches".

And then A.C. Soud has the audacity to characterize the leaving as being only after the threat of discipline.

Anti Criticism should be ashamed of himself.

And the FBC Jax leadership: from pastor to Trustees, to Deacons...should all be ashamed of themselves because they didn't do their due diligence on the motion - but who can blame them, if it was written by A.C. Soud himself, right?

And I hope the good people of FBC Jax, after being fooled twice by this leadership, has learned their lesson.

Isn't it ironic...a Judge reads an edict warning people that they better not lie, tell hurtful opinions or false statements in the church...but one of the findings of facts IN THE EDICT ITSELF is a lie.

Go figure.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

"The Anti-Criticism Doctrine" of FBC Jacksonville

Obama and the Democrats have their "Fairness Doctrine".

Brunson and the Trustees have their "Anti-Criticism Doctrine".

Below is the video of the motion read and passed at FBC Jacksonville on February 25, 2009 that passes judgement and condemns the FBC Jax Watchdog blog and its accused blogger (as well as giving factually incorrect and misleading allegations about both), and also delivers their new policy, warning that deacons will "confront aggressively in accordance with scripture" those who say things in the future they think are divisive or constitute "unjust criticism and ridicule". Not just lies they are going after, but "unjust criticism" will be deserving of being "confronted aggressively".

After seeing and hearing that motion, I have more questions than answers:

- "aggressively confront in accordance with scripture"....is that not an oxymoron? Sort of like "I'm going to kick your butt...in accordance with scripture";

- was there any love or grace or mercy of any kind in that edict read?

- Considering the edict itself has incorrect and harmful and misleading information about the accused member, how hypocritical is it for this edict to contain admonitions to those who express "harmful opinions and false statements"?

- how does this new doctrine square with Mac's message this past Sunday about how we as Christians are to endure affliction without striking back, and to be patient to those who abuse us, for Christ's sake and the sake of the gospel and the abuser?

- "Unjust criticism and ridicule of the ministry..."? We need to vote on a motion addressing criticism and ridicule?

- I thought the pastor said blogs were nothing more than "beauty shop gossip" and that anonymous bloggers have zero credibility? So how is this blog so dangerous to the spiritual and financial health of the church? Or is it widespread dissemination of the facts (not lies) on the blog that are causing harm?

- where were the 8 minute business meeting motions from our deacons in years past addressing the evil of child molestation by deacons, and adultery by ministers?

- isn't this edict closer to what Islamic fundamentalists would read, than would ministers of the grace and love of Jesus Christ? You say something we don't like that we think is divisive and hurtful, we're going to come after you and "shut you down".

- I thought we were Theology Driven, and that the bible is sufficient in all matters...why do we need an edict read by the retired judge, President of the Trustees to address blogs and criticism?

- was a quorum present to pass this? Were there 1000 members present to vote on this? Did I just ask that? You better believe I did.

- if Homer were here and faced this problem, would he address it himself with the accused and then personally to his congregation, or would he send the president of the trustees out to read a cold, unloving edict while he's out of town? Just askin'....

- are you as surprised as I was that our lay leaders really did buy into Mac's "church discipline is to put the fear of God in you?"
- don't you love Bro. Jim Whitmire? You could sense his uncomfortableness with having to clean up after that mess, but his sweet spirit did bring the service back to a worshipful atmosphere. God bless you, Bro. Jim, you are a spiritual giant among some mighty puny men.

Watchdog will have plenty more to say on this motion in the coming days, particularly the false and misleading portions of the "Anti-Criticism Doctrine of 2009"

One last question: is this what we've become and are all about? Edicts about blogs, opinions, false statements and criticism and aggressive confrontation?

Followed by applause? What WERE they applauding?

A dark day indeed in the history of FBC Jacksonville.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

FBC Jax Votes on Blogger Resolution Brought By Trustees

On Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at the FBC Jax regularly scheduled business meeting, Judge A.C. Soud, President of the FBC Jax Board of Trustees brought a motion to the church that included charges against the accused blogger, and also a statement of the church's intent to "confront aggressively" what would be deemed "...unjust criticism and ridicule of the ministry, staff, leadership, pastor, and people expressed to the general public at large in any form and by any means by any member of the church...". The motion was overwhelmingly approved by asking those in attendance to show their approval by standing to their feet.

Below is the transcript from the meeting of the motion. Video or audio of the motion will be provided soon:

Moderator: I'd like to recognize A.C. Soud, Jr., a trustee... uh... president, who will bring a resolution from the deacons.

Soud: Thank you uh... Keith. Uh, ladies and gentlemen, um... I'm going to uh... read to you, and you will be able to view them on the image mags... a resolution that was unanimously adopted by the trustees of the church, and the trustees obviously being an integral part of the deacons serving under... Keith's uh... leadership was brought to the same resolution. The same resolution was brought to the deacons at their meeting uh... Monday night. And it was uniformly and uh... unanimously adopted. And so the resolution I'm about to bring to you was adopted unanimously by the trustees, unanimously by a large group of deacons, and then we are going to uh... Keith will then ask for... uh... your vote as well when a motion is made. I am going to read it. It will be on the image mag so you can follow along.

Whereas it has come to the attention of the deacons of the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville that the ministry, staff, leadership, pastor, and people of the church have come under severe but false criticism and ridicule by means of a blog site on the internet which publishes to the world.

And whereas a current blog site owned and administered by an immediate past member of the church calling and advocating for the dissemination of such harmful opinions, false statements, and doctrine to all members of the church by using whatever contact means that are available including Sunday School rolls, with home and e-mail addresses, and phone numbers.

And whereas said member within the last three weeks has requested his letter be transferred to a sister church in Jacksonville, Florida but only after being advised that the discipline committee of the deacons would recommend to the deacon body that disciplinary action be taken against him for such conduct which the deacons find is contrary to Scripture and the bylaws of the church.

And whereas such opinions and false statements have the potential of causing financial and spiritual risk and damage to the church and its personnel, ministries, reputation, and good will however and by whatever means communicated as well as having the intent to be divisive and cause strife and disgruntlement among church members against the ministries, staff, leadership, pastor, and people.

And whereas the deacons believe it is in the best interest of the church that a policy be adopted by the deacons, trustees, and the church body condemning such action and conduct both now and in the future by any person or persons who are then members of the church whether such action and conduct is done, advocated, or communicated to other members of the church by whatever means is available to them.

And whereas members who participate or actively pursue a course of conduct like that described above will be confronted with their sin and approached in accordance with the biblical pattern for the purpose of reconciliation, restoration, and/or scriptural discipline.

And whereas it is not the intent of this resolution to suppress thought or freedom of expression in casual or official encounters but those which have a manifest aim and intent to cause a mood of disgruntlement, strife, and/or division among members of the church toward any person, ministry, operation, leadership, and/or pastor of the church.

And whereas the trustees of the church are charged with managing the legal and financial affairs of the church and are an integral part of the deacon body for the purpose of organizational and scriptural unity for the work and ministry of the church, and said trustees have likewise unanimously adopted such a resolution as this on February 18, 2009.

And whereas it is the belief and expression of the deacons herein that division, strife, and discord caused to church members and unjust criticism and ridicule of the ministry, staff, leadership, pastor, and people expressed to the general public at large in any form and by any means by any member of the church should be viewed as an attack against the Lord's church contrary to scriptural truth and confronted aggressively in accordance with Scripture and the disciplinary provisions of the bylaws of the church.

And whereas in such circumstances it would be detrimental to the ministry of the Lord and His church not to take any action or to defer taking action or to simply maintain and update a responsive website or to attempt to resolve any such issue in a court of law.

Now therefore be it resolved by the deacons of First Baptist Church of Jacksonville that the foregoing policy of biblical confrontation and restoration as stated above is hereby adopted and approved for the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville and requests this resolution be presented to the church body at its regular monthly business meeting to adopt, endorse, and encourage a policy strongly dealing with discipline and issues such as described above but in strict accordance with scriptural authority and the bylaws of the church by voting on this resolution.

Now, brother chairman uh... moderator... uh uh... I make a motion that this uh... resolution be adopted.

Moderator: Thank you, brother Soud. Ladies and gentlemen, you've heard the motion. Is there a second? I would appreciate it if you would approve this motion by standing. {pauses while most of congregation stands} Thank you very much. The motion carries. That will conclude our business meeting. {applause}

Saturday, February 21, 2009

FBC Jax Deacons to Vote 2/23 on Fate of Couple Accused of Being the "Watchdog"

In a special deacons meeting called for Monday February 23rd, the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville (FBC Jax) Deacon body will hear the charges against the man and wife who are accused of being the FBC Jax Watchdog, and a vote will be taken determining their discipline. Even though the couple has joined another church, even though not one single, solitary staff member, deacon, or pastor has spoken to them personally about these allegations in accordance with Matthew 18, even though they have not been given a copy of the bylaws or been told the basis of the allegations against them, John Blount and the Discipline Committee say they are compelled to complete the discipline process. The deacons will vote on Monday 2/23, and then the church will be asked to "ratify" the Deacon's decision at some future church business meeting.

FBC Jax began the discipline process against this couple at approximately 6:00 pm on Wednesday, November 28th, 2008 (the evening before Thanksgiving), when Reverends Kevin King and John Blount, ministers of the church who served for many years under Homer J. Lindsay, Jr, delivered to the couple's home a sealed envelope containing a 3 page letter outlining 16 charges against the couple of being "derogatory, divisive, destructive, and demeaning to the ministry of First Baptist Church", along with an executed trespass warning for both, barring the couple from attending church under threat of arrest. When they delivered the letter, King and Blount were invited to come in the home, but they refused the invitation and just delivered the sealed envelope and departed.

The accused couple are long-time members with three children who grew up at FBC Jacksonville, and both served in multiple areas of ministry in their approximately 20 years of membership at FBC Jax, right up until the day they were banned from the church with the trespass warnings.

For the benefit of deacons and members who are not aware of the events leading up to this special Deacon's meeting, below is a chronology of events that has unfolded leading up to this disciplinary meeting.

Why is this information provided in a public forum?

One might question what purpose is served by airing this entire process on the Internet. The Watchdog has maintained from the very beginning, that the best disinfectant to church abuses are to shine light on them. This Watchdog blog has sought to share the truth about Mac Brunson and his leadership abuses that most people in the church would not have access to. To the greatest extent possible, the Watchdog has provided documentation to support the articles - audio, video, and written documentation - often times using audio and video of Mac Brunson himself both in Jacksonville and away from Jacksonville when he thinks we aren't listening to him. The purpose of this article is to not rehash these abuses, but they are all available here on this website in the article archives at right.

The Watchdog believes that this entire church discipline process is unbiblical, abusive, divisive, coersive and just plain unloving and nasty. Despite John Blount and the Discpline Committee stating their intentions are "reconcilation and restoration", its quite clear when all facts are taken into consideration that this is not so. The Watchdog believes that this process being played out, that is now culminating in a Deacon's meeting and then a church-wide business meeting to discipline two former members, is meant NOT to reconcile and restore the accused (after all they were forcibly removed with threat of arrest, and have joined another church), but it is Mac Brunson's attempt to intimidate church members into silence, from speaking up against him or challenging his leadership in any way. Mac himself has stated that one of the purposes in dealing "harshly" with people in church discipline is to "put the fear of God in YOU". Thus, in keeping with the Watchdog's intent from August 2007, he is shining light on this entire process, giving it a fair and full hearing here on this website so that church members and deacons can be informed before they are asked to vote on this matter. Very likely little of this information will be shared with the deacons Monday night 2/23.

Just as important as it is for the deacons and FBC Jax church members to hear the charges and evidence against the couple Monday night, it is equally important that the deacons and church members understand the process that John Blount and the Discipline Committee executed - under the leadership of Donald McCall Brunson - because the unloving, unbiblical process says just as much about what FBC Jax has become under Mac Brunson as does the existence of the Watchdog blog itself. The members must look at this process and ask themselves: Whether the accused former-members are responsible for the Watchdog site or not...is this process implemented by the Pastor, John Blount, and the Deacons what we expect from our leaders? Is this unloving, unbiblical process going to help our church reach this city? Once people in our city know of this process, what will this say to the lost world about the church members who allow this to be done in their church? Is this the church that we have allowed ourselves to become in three short years since Mac Brunson arrived? Or were we always like this, and Mac Brunson has just served to expose it in us?

So here is the story of the Watchdog blog, and the disciplinary process exacted on the members accused of owning it.

August 2007 - The Blog Begins

The FBC Jax Watchdog blog started August 30, 2007. The blog is essentially a website containing a series of articles about FBC Jacksonville, along with comments posted by readers. Since its inception, the blog consists of approximatley 250 articles, and has had nearly 200,000 visits and half a million "page views", and a readership from all over the country. It has been the topic of conversation in many SBC circles and websites and blogsites, and even several news media web sites. Every single article ever written on the Watchdog blog is available for viewing at the right hand column, sorted by year and month.

The FBC Jax Watchdog articles have been quite critical of Mac Brunson and the lay leadership of the church, pointing out a number of abuses that have occured under the leadership of Mac Brunson. The blog includes documentation of the allegations, including audio clips, video clips, and public documents. Since the blog was opened and readership grew, the leadership in the church have been determined to find the author, and apparently they believe they have found him/her and are seeking to shut it down. It should be noted that another blog focusing on FBC Jax and Mac Brunson existed earlier in 2007 that was closed down around March 2007.

November 28, 2009 - The Allegations

As mentioned above, this is the date that Reverends King and and Blount delivered the written charges and trespass warnings to the accused. Rev. Blount placed a phone call to the accused home telephone about 15 minutes prior to their arrival - the husband picked up the phone, and Blount hung up - apparently to confirm that he was home so they could personally deliver the letter.

The letter outlines the allegations against the couple, items A. through P. in the letter hyperlinked below. It also tells them that they are banned from the property until they agree to meet with the "Discipline Committee" consisting of the Chairman of Deacons, Vice Chairman of Deacons, and 4 other members. Neither member knows these 6 men personally. The letter was signed by David Bristowe, David Kay, Jerry Ward, Bob Harrison, Jerrett McConnell, and A.C. Soud, Jr.

It should be noted that in this letter, it is stated that the process they are using is "...in accordance with....Matthew's Gospel, Chapter 18, verses 15-20, and in compliance with the Bylaws of First Baptist Church of Jacksonville...". This is a lie, since in no way does biblical church discipline begin with trespass warnings delivered to keep people from attending church until they meet with 6 men. Biblical church discipline as described in Matthew 18 starts with one person, then two people, going personally to meet and attempt to correct the offenders. Furthermore, I doubt that the Bylaws of FBC Jax grant this Discipline Committee the authority to ban people from the church premises as a tool of coersion to meet with them.

The Allegations Letter

The Trespass Warnings

December 1, 2009 - The Accused Respond

The accused couple replied to the November 28th letter, stating they would be very willing to meet with the committee, provided three reasonable requests were filled: 1. A copy of the bylaws be provided to the accused so that they may understand the process and their rights in the process; 2. That they be allowed representation with them in the meeting for protection of everyone involved; and 3. That they be informed beforehand the basis of the allegations, that is why they were singled out, among the 24,000 members, of being the owners of the Watchdog website.

The couple also asked that the trespass warnings be immediately lifted, as it is completely unreasonable to barr people from worshipping at their church who pose absolutely no risk to anyone. This request was especially important to them as they desired to attend church Wednesday 12/3 as their daughter was singing a solo in the service with her ensemble.

The Accused Response Letter

December 3, 2009 - The Committee Stands Firm

Rev. Blount quickly responded on behalf of the Discipline Committee to the accused. In short, Rev. Blount said the couple must first meet with the committee that night before they would be allowed back on the property to see their daughter perform. Blount ignored their request to give a copy of the bylaws, said that never at any time will they be allowed representation at any meeting because of the "ecclesiastical nature" of the meeting, and regarding the desire to see their daughter perform that night, Blount said:

"....the trespass warnings remain in full force and effect.....Your non-responsive, unwillingness, or unavailability to meet at this time will prevent you from being granted permission to attend this evening's service".

When it was apparent that the committee was going to ban them from seeing their daughter perform unless the gave into their coersion and meet with the Discipline Committee before their reasonable requests were met, the couple sent Blount an email letting him know they would comply with the trespass warnings and not attend. So the accused couple drove their daughter down to the church, dropped her off, and drove home to watch their daughter perform via the live Internet feed. A releative brought their daughter home from the service that night.

Rev. John Blount 12/3 Letter

Accused 12/3 Response to Blount

December 15, 2009 - A Request to Go to Church

For about 3 weeks after the trespass warnings were delivered, the wife of the accused continued to take her children to church so they could participate in the church functions uninterrupted. In most cases she would drop them off, and stay in her car in the parking lot until the service was over, or sometimes relatives would bring the children home. The couple complied fully with the trespass warnings, but still decided it best for the church to provide a copy of the bylaws, allow them to have some representation at a meeting with the six men, and wished to know why they were singled out as being owners of the website, prior to meeting with the Discipline Committee.

But on Sunday December 14, the wife emailed Rev. Blount out of frustration, desiring to accompany her daughter to the special Travis Cotrell Christmas musical that evening. Her email stated:

Mr. Blount, Could I please accompany my daughter to the service tonight? She has been attending some of the special Christmas services and it breaks my heart to have to wait outside for her. Why are you penalizing me and my daughter when we have done nothing wrong?All I have done for FBC is good by giving of my time and talents in every children and youth ministry for the past 20 years. I would appreciate a prompt response and for you to reconsider my simple request. Thanks,

Quite a shame that a mother has to gain permission from Rev. Blount to attend a worship service with her daughter without the threat of arrest. Understandably, Rev. Blount didn't check his email that afternoon and thus was not able to respond, so the mother again took her daughter downtown, dropped her off, and waited in the parking garage until the concert was over.

Rev. Blount did respond the following day via email, with the same message: entrance will not be granted to the church until the meeting with the Discipline Committee. Out of his "generosity", he did agree to lift the trespass warnings for an hour, so that the church bylaws could be read (not copied) by the accused in the church library.

December 21st - February 1, 2009 - The Family Leaves

The family of the accused began visiting other churches, as their own church had effectively excommunicated them. Several churches were visited, and finally they found a loving church, an honest, humble preacher, and people who love each other. The kids adjusted well to their new friends at this church. On February 1, 2009, the family joined their new church.

February 11, 2009 - The Discipline Process Continues

Apparently the new church wrote FBC Jax and asked for the "letters" of the family the Week of February 1st. Ironically, it was then that the Discipline Committee and John Blount, after nearly two months of silence, cranked up their Discipline process once again.

John Blount left several voice mails, and sent an email to the accused, asking them to contact him.

John Blount's 2/11/09 Email

February 12, 2009 - The Accused Respond to Blount

The accused email John Blount to ask that no more attempts be made to contact them. The accused again stated that because the committee could not provide a copy of the bylaws, allow representation at the meeting, or give them the basis of the allegations, they have complied with the trespass warnings and wished to be left alone.

The Accused 2/12/09 Email

February 13, 2009 - Investigation is Completed

John Blount ignores the request to leave the family alone, and Blount presumably knows the family has joined another church. But his next email says he and the Discipline Committee are "compelled by the Bylaws" of the church to continue the discipline process, and notifies the accused that the results of the "investigation" into the Watchdog website is complete. Apparently the Deacons and the Pastor have decided that one of the functions of the FBC Jacksonville is to be investigating websites on the Internet, to try to find out who owns them so they can be "shut down" as the pastor says. Blount states that because the accused has "refused to meet with the committee" the meeting with the deacons will take place without them - which is a lie, since the couple has stated their willingness and desire to meet with the committee once their reasonable requests were met first.

John Blount's 2/13/09 Email

February 16, 2009 - The Accused Respond Again

In response to Blount's 2/13/09 email, once again, the accused respond saying that they are willing to meet with the committee, but Blount and the Discipline Committee refuse to give the accused the bylaws, tell them the basis of the allegations, and refuse to allow them to bring a representative. The accused state their disappointment in the entire unbiblical process they are being subjected to by the John Blount and the Discipline Committee.

The Accused 2/16/09 Response to Blount

February 17, 2009 - Invitation Extended

Unexpectantly, John Blount sends an email to the accused, offering an invitation to appear at the February 23 Deacons meeting to speak on their behalf to the Deacons before they vote on the disciplinary measures.

Rev. Blount's 2/17/09 Email

February 18, 2009 - The Accused Accept the Offer to Defend Themselves

The accused send an email back to John Blount, accepting the offer to speak on their behalf. The husband states that he will be present with his wife, to hear the allegations against them, and to have a chance to speak to the deacons - despite still not being given a copy of the bylaws, and despite the Discpline Committee still not sharing the basis of the allegations as to why they were singled out as the owner of the blog - the were very happy to have the chance to meet with the deacons and defend their name, and to speak to the allegations in the November 28, 2008 letter.

The husband sent an email back explaining he needed at least 15 minutes of uninterrupted time so that he could speak to the allegations - to answer all A. through P. of the allegations in the November 28th, 2008 letter would be no small task.

Accused 2/18/09 Email Accepting Invitation to Speak

February 18, 2009 - Not So Fast!

After receiving the email from the accused that they very much wish to attend the deacon's meeting, the Discipline Committee sends back a letter through John Blount stating that the wife of the accused cannot accompany him to the meeting. They say she is no longer a member and thus not subject to the disciplinary process. But technically neither is the husband, since on February 1st they joined another church. Apparently they recognized the wife's desire to leave the church, but not the husband's.

Furthermore, the Discipline Committee puts stipulations on the speech of the accused, and does not guarantee that he will not be interrupted. Instead of being able to address the allegations of the November 28th letter, the committee says the accused's remarks must be limited to:

1. Whether he is or is not the owner of the Watchdog web site; and

2. Whether the content of the blog is "wantonly sinful".

The accused is told that if he "abuses" the time allocated, the moderator, Mr. Keith Hill the Chairman of the Deacons, will terminate the response time.

Presumably John Blount and the Discipline Committee will have freedom to present their entire case to the deacons accusing the man and his wife, but they feel they must limit the speech of the accused.

Blount 2/18/09 Email Not Allowing Wife to Attend

February 19-20, 2009 - Thanks, But No Thanks

Once the accused understood that the committee did not desire the deacons to hear the full story from the man accused of owning the Watchdog site - which would necessarily include a description of the unbiblical discipline process, the trespass warnings, the unfair treatment of his wife, and the accusations in the November 28th letter - he knew that it would be pointless to show up only to be silenced as he tried to speak.

The accused sent an email to John Blount stating they would not be present based on their decision to no allow him to speak freely and to keep his wife out of the meeting.

John Blount sent a 2/20 email back saying they have rescinded the invitation to the accused to speak because he had "voluntarily declined" the offer to speak.

The accused responded with a 2/20 email pointing out Blount's false statement that he had voluntarily declined to meet, but in fact did wish to speak but not if they were going to limit his ability to speak to the allegations in the November 28th letter.

Accused 2/19 Email Declining Invitation

Blount's 2/20 Email Rescinding Invitation

Accused 2/20 Email Correcting Blount's

So that is the story.

The end result is likely a unaninmous vote by the deacons, and a unaminimous vote by the church on Wednesday 2/25 to exact church discipline on people who aren't even members, and who were forcibly removed with trespass warnings nearly 3 months ago.

The Watchdog will not be intimidated by these abusive actions, and hopes that the rest of the FBC Jax membership won't either. The Watchdog will continue to do his best to tell the story of FBC Jax under the leadership of Mac Brunson, and his "Team".

Angry Pastors, Angry Churches - Part 2

Below is a sampling of the responses from the lay leaders who received an email from a member of FBC Jax asking members to pray for the church membership. (click here and scroll down to the read the letter in blue letters).

The standard response was:

"Please remove me from your mailing list as I do not wish to receive emails that are "harmful" and "divisive" to the body of Christ. Thank you,"

but the uglier ones, starting with a deacon from the church:

"I am not sure who you are, but I have reason to believe you are using a 'fake' name. If you are truly a 'sister in Christ', why are you trying to ruin our church? Are you a member of our church?. If so, why not use you real name? Are you ashamed? Satan is surely using you to attempt to destroy our church. What a COWARD you are! Why don't you go to the church officials --Dr. Brunson, the head of the deacons, or other staff and be sure of your facts. If you do not like the policies of our church, why don't you move your membership to another church you can support and lift up. Or better yet, start a church of your own if you are looking for a church that is perfect in your own eyes!
[Name Deleted]
Deacon, Frst Baptist Church of Jacksonville.

P.S. You, 'Ms. Gail Saunders', and those like you, are the servants of Satan, and are so messed up by pretending you are trying to act 'concerned members of our church'. Get a life and try to do something positive. LEAVE THE CHURCH, OR GET ON BOARD WITH THE PROGRAM. How about leading someone to Christ? YOU ARE DOING NOTHING POSITIVE TO HELP OUR LEADERS TO 'WIN JACKSONVILLE FOR CHRIST'"

and

"Ms. Saunders, Please send me the name or names of the person or persons who gave you my email address. This information could only have come from someone hacking the Church's database or accessing a file that they had no business copying. After your response with the name or names, I will not be interested in receiving anymore emails from you or your conspirators."

and

"Gail, Your timing is impeccable, minutes before the start of the pastor's conference. The blog does nothing to further God's kingdom, which should be our first priority, and is without a doubt our pastor's desire. I will let scripture speak for itself. Titus 1:9-16 speaks volumes."

and

"Mrs. Saunders, Please remove me from your mailing list. My email was given to First Baptist for the furtherance of the ministries of the church, not to be used by others who seek to divide the church family. Thank You!"

and

"DO NOT SEND ME THIS NOR ANY OTHER MAIL: I AM NOT INTERESTED IN PROPAGANDA: THANK YOU"

and

"If you don't like our wonderful church leave take me off your e-mail list you have no right to invade any ones privacy get thee behind me satan." [This is a long-time deacon]

and from a relative of one of our regular visitors to the blog:

"Ms. Saunders, You talk of openness and transparency, yet you refer the recipients of this email to a blog that is written by someone who writes in complete anonymity and does nothing but try to create the divisiveness you say you are against.

It's really simple. You attend church in obedience to God and to worship him, not Pastor Brunson or anyone else. You are only responsible for your obedience, no one else. If the direction of the church is getting in the way of you being fed spiritually, then you have an obligation to your spiritual growth to go where you can be fed. If God is big enough to keep you out of hell, the he's big enough to keep the leadership of First Baptist in line.

So please contact me if I can be of assistance in the children's department where I work on Sunday mornings, but Do Not send me anymore email regarding this topic. If you are so unhappy with the administration of the church that is prompts you to endorse the watchdog, please find another church where you wont feel the need to participate in this kind of activity. In complete transparency, "

and

"I don't know how I got on this email list, but take me off. I want no part of this trash talking about our church, Pastor or the leaders. It was very ironic that you sent this just before the start of the Pastors conference, and further that the Pastor called out those who grumble. If you don't like it at FBC...LEAVE!!! Thanks,"

and

"Please remove my name from your list too. Dr. Brunson is a true man of God and his desire is follow God's lead. I am thankful to worship under his direction. May God bless you."

and

"Ms. Saunders. I will never understand people like you Gail. Please take me off your email list. I’ll pray that God will show you your true motives for this. "

and

"I'm not sure where you got my email from, but I would GREATLY appreciate you removing me from your list. I love my church and my pastor and I have to trust that the man GOD put in position to lead our church is trusting God to lead the decisions he makes for the church. "

and

"Gail, please remove my email address from any futher correspondence. I will raise neither my hand nor voice to strike the Lord's anointed."

and

"Ms. Saunders,

To say this as politely as possible - get a life and while you are at it, please remove me from your distrubition list."

and

"Ms. Saunders,

Please remove me from your mailing list. Your email must certainly displease our Lord."

and

"I'm not sure where you got my email from, but I would GREATLY appreciate you removing me from your list. I love my church and my pastor and I have to trust that the man GOD put in position to lead our church is trusting God to lead the decisions he makes for the church. "

So those are the results of an angry preacher, preaching an angry brand of Christianity, where the pastor attacks people from the pulpit. Remember, these are from the people who are the closest to Mac Brunson, leaders in the church, many of whom were invited to his Next Generation meeting in November. Mac behaves like a bully in the pulpit against those he claims are slandering and attacking him. He doesn't preach love and grace to people, but anger, and SHUT EM DOWN. So its not unusual that his members too will act like a bully to those who they think aren't "falling in line" with the pastor. Mac Sunday night might as well have been Dr. Phil - he gave no scriptural counsel whatsoever on how to deal with people like Gail Saunders who are complaining about something in the church. His counsel was just "Shut Em Down", followed by no explanation of what that means, and a pregnant pause for effect.

FBC Jacksonville - "Just SHUT EM DOWN."

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Watchdog Will Not Shut Down

The FBC Jax Watchdog Says:

I was going to phase this blog out.

But after I saw Mac's sermon Sunday night, telling his "churchmen and church ladies" that if they encounter someone that "robs their joy" (which is to say voices displeasure at something in the church), to SHUT EM DOWN....I determined at that point:

I will never, ever, shut this blog down.

Because Mac seeks to shut it down.

I will not shut it down.

Mac, Deb, Trey, and Maurilio, or the Trustees and other enablers, will have to get a court order to shut it down.Yes, a court order.

And if they do, it will pop up somewhere else. Plans are in place, it will pop up somewhere else.

Yes, it will.

[Stomp].

I will continue to point out the abuses of Mac Brunson in and out of the pulpit as I become aware of them. [Stomp]

Unrelenting.

Mac's arrogance has sealed his fate as it pertains to this blog.

He will have to deal with this blog as long as he continues his abuse.

And he has been relentless, for THREE YEARS...in being a bully, and behaving in ways contrarty to scripture and to his own Pastor's Guidebook...and I will not shut this blog down, since he seeks to shut it down.

Did you hear me?

Did I just say that?

You better believe I did.

This blog will not shut down.

If I croak, it will be passed on.

Word to the Trustees: if we hire a pastor who verbally abuses the congregation and acts like a bully and promotes himself and his family and his marketing consultant: SHUT HIM DOWN.

Pregnant Pause.

And the blog continues.

[Stomp] and [Chomp].

Thursday, February 19, 2009

"Kingdom Kill Joys": Angry Pastors, Angry Churches

The motto of the 2009 FBC Jax Pastor's Conference was "Healthy Pastors, Healthy Churches".

Good motto, actually. It says that to some degree, the spiritual health, the spiritual demeanor of the pastor will be reflected in the spiritual health and demeanor of the church and its members.

We saw this for years. A Pastor that loves Jesus, loves people, loves the Word, is thankful and loving and dedicated to the task - produces over time a church membership that also loves Jesus, loves peole, loves the Word and is incredibly dedicated to the task of the church.

Healthy Pastors, Healthy Churches.

Unfortunately, in our case, its "Angry Pastors, Angry Churches". This past Sunday night Mac was again in his sheep beating mode, going after what he calls "Kingdom Killjoys" who dare to raise issues of concern, who magnify insignificant concerns into reasons to complain.

Mac is very angry in the pulpit. People see it. Perhaps this blog has really taken its toll, and it shows most every sermon. Mac relentlesssly continues in his "the best defense is a good offense" posture...he will never, ever address any concerns his sheep have....but in most every sermon he preaches about slander and being attacked. This past Sunday night he compared the Pharisees who were out to kill Jesus and who denied Jesus' miracles, to those in the church who "magnify" the miniscule problems they see at church to have something to complain about. He calls them "Kingdom Killjoys".

Imagine that....people who express displeasure at something at church that the pastor doesn't care for, are branded by the pastor as legalists, Jesus-hating Pharisees. Wow. Now, do complainers exist in the church? Of course. But are they to be compared to the lost, legalistic, hell-bound Pharisees who sought to murder Jesus and denied Jesus' diety? In Mac's view, yes. Anybody in church that would dare question him, or his actions, is unworthy...they are lost...speak a word of complaint, you're a legalist. Ask a question or voice displeasure with Sunday School, you're a Pharisee. In Mac's world, at least.

Mac is a bully. He likes to intimidate and stomp around (see the video). Which is quite interesting, because despite his Pastor's Guidebook warning pastors to never use their pulpit as a "bully pulpit", he bullies most every week. Here is what Mac writes on page 186 of his book:

"It is unethical to use the pulpit to attack those who disagree with the way you are leading the church, even if you do not use their names. The president of the United States is said to have a 'bully pulpit'. The pastor should remember the imlications of servant leadership and refuse to become a bully in the pulpit." - Mac Brunson

In his "Kingdom Killjoy" sermon from Sunday night, Mac said that complainers in the church seek to rob the joy of other church members, and what is Mac's advice on how to handle "Kingdom Killjoys" in the church? Did he say "love them", or maybe "listen to them"? Did he say pray for them? Did he say to offer a kind word in return to them? No, none of that. Mac's only advice on how to treat "Kingdom Killjoys": three words: SHUT 'EM DOWN. Yes, Mac said just "SHUT 'EM DOWN", followed by a pregnant pause for effect. No explanation of how to SHUT 'EM DOWN...just presumably, anything that you have to do. Just be sure to SHUT 'EM DOWN. What does SHUT 'EM DOWN mean? Or was that his message to the discipline committee: shut down the watchdog, as he is a Kingdom Killjoy? I'll let you watch the clip below and decide for yourself.

Its sad really- people under his preaching are learning an angry side to Christianity. If people don't fall in line, if they are not pleased with Sunday School, if they have concerns about money being spent and they VOICE THOSE concerns...Mac's answer, and the answer he recommends to his "churchmen and church ladies"...is to SHUT EM DOWN. This also is the discipline process exacted on the couple accused of being the Watchdog: deliver a trespass warning and SHUT EM OUT. Don't go talk to them. SHUT EM OUT.

Let this be a warning to you parents considering sending your little ones to FBC Academy: don't think you've got an ear at FBC Jax if you need to complain about something at the school regarding your child. Don't like the meals served and dare to raise it as a concern? You're a "Kingdom Killjoy". Kids bullying your kid and you need to take it up with the administration: you're a Pharisaical Kingdom Killjoy who needs to be SHUT DOWN. The teacher isn't treating the students right and you'd like to bring it up with the principle or the pastor? Have a concern about the level of security? Maybe are concerned about one of the teachers? Don't be surprised if you get fingered as a Kingdom Killjoy by Mac and his lay leaders, and the church will mobilize its resources to shut you down. Heck, the preacher might even use you in a sermon illustration. You'll be labeled a "Kingdom Killjoy", and they'll need to SHUT YOU DOWN.

But this kind of attitude that the pastor has, the angry, bullying, intimidating attitude will eventually rub off on the lay leadership of the church. Mac WANTS it to rub off. He directed his SHUT EM DOWN remarks to the "churchmen and church ladies".

The process of an angry preacher forming an angry church has already begun at FBC Jax, unfortunately.

As reported on this blog a week or so ago, an email was sent out from a member of FBC Jax to leadership in the church. The sender was "Gail Saunders", who claims to be a member of the church. Here is the email Ms. Saunders sent to 100 or so lay leaders at FBC Jacksonville:

My dear fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, as one who was invited to the meeting last year for the unveiling of the Next Generation program, I am writing to each of you to ask you to join me in praying for our leadership in regards to some specific concerns that have been raised by many of our fellow church members. If you believe this message to be harmful or divisive for any reason, please read no further and delete this email. I certainly understand and hope you will see my heart in writing to you.

I truly believe our church can wholeheartedly follow our pastor wherever he feels the Lord is leading us, but this can only be done with openness, humility love and more accountability between the church leaders and our entire congregation. I am particularly troubled over recent bylaw changes revoking certain legal rights of the members while concentrating more power with less accountability in our pastor; a newly formed discipline committee delivering trespass papers to long-time, active members who expressed concerns about transparency in finances; the charging of large fees for promotions at the Pastor's Conference; a $300,000 land gift accepted by the pastor and Mrs. Brunson just weeks after he arrived; and several other actions that, when taken as a whole, lead me to desire to see more transparency from our leaders during these upcoming exciting days in our church.

Thank you for your prayers for our church.

P.S. - For those of you that are interested in reading what your fellow church members are discussing, these concerns and many others are being discussed at this site:
www.fbcjaxwatchdog.blogspot.com. I believe that some, not all, of the concerns raised there are valid, and if left unaddressed, may hamper our pastor's leadership ability. Perhaps we as leaders can work with our staff and lay leadership to address and correct these issues and alleviate many of these members' concerns. This will help, I pray, to bring all of our members along with us as we strive to move forward in ministry together.

What was the response of the churchmen and church ladies to Ms. Saunders, the KINGDOM KILLJOY? Well, I have the email responses she received. She sent I think a very kind email, but likely what got everyone's dander up was the reference to this blogsite. People went stark raving mad. They completely ignored her request to pray. She said not one single, solitary response said they would join her in praying for the church. The majority of recipients did not respond at all, but of the 40 or so who DID respond about 1/2 just said to stop sending emails, and 1/2 reprimanded Ms. Saunders for sending the email. And some were very ugly, sent by deacons, Sunday School teachers, and other lay leaders.

Its a sad day at FBC Jax, when a person sends an email asking people to pray for their church leadership, expresses some genuine concerns, and they are immediately judged as trying to be harmful, devisive...and in one case called "Satan" and in another asked to "LEAVE THE CHURCH".

But when the pastor preaches that brand of Christianity, these results are completely expected. When the preacher brands these people as Pharisees and legalists, and tells his church to SHUT EM DOWN, no wonder some church members responded the way they did to this email.

As I said, "Angry Pastors, Angry Churches".

In the next post, I will provide a sampling of the ugly responses (with the names and email addresses deleted, to protect the angry), and the one and only positive post, which turns out was a reply to an ugly post from one of the responders. If the church administration did indeed send out a response, feel free to send it to the Watchdog for posting also.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ministerial Ethics, Gifts, and Depositions

Mac still owes his congregation an explanation of the $307,000 land gift he accepted three weeks after he came to pastor us. He owes us a better explanation than "I'm paying for that house" (uh, we're paying for that house), and something better than "Last time I checked the U.S. government said I could live anywhere I wanted."

He can strut around like he did Sunday night and tell us in the most theatrical manner how "Kingdom Killjoys" at church take the insignificant, minor details in church and blow them up to find a reason to complain...and he can tell his congregation to "shut 'em down" when the "killjoys" bring up such matters that rob their joy.

It still doesn't address his problem: he needs to deal with the land gift. It ain't a minor thing when at the very least he accepted a land gift that on the surface appears to be unethical - taking a large gift from one of the donors of his church.

But most ministers won't give answers or explanations about income or gifts unless forced to do so.

And its not easy to force them to do so.

And with the recent bylaw changes at FBC Jax, there is no way the membership could ever force Mac or the church to give details of this gift or other financial matters - the moment that a member files any legal action to access financial information, the bylaws will allow the member to be kicked out for violating the bylaws - since the bylaws now state that all members have forfeited their rights to file any legal action against the church.

But there was an interesting lawsuit involving a church and a member where a minister WAS forced to give details about a gift received from a member. Read this interesting article about a deposition given by a former minister of First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach (FBCWPB).

Lawsuite Reveals Ministerial Ethics Breach

About 4 years ago a mentally-ill member of FBCWPB inherited several million dollars. The pastor and other ministers of FBCWPB allegedly began to "...systematically, repeatedly, and relentlessly solicit money" from this lady, who had inherited the money from her great-grandmother. Within several years she was destitute.

The article above zeros in on one particular minister, Tommy Weir at FBCWPB - a graduate of Criswell College and Liberty University. According to court records, Tommy Weir accepted a $25,000 gift directly to the minister by the woman, whom Weir says he hardly knew.

Several interesting questions asked by the author of this article:

"Should he have asked [the woman] to process her gift through the church?

Should a minister ever accept a personal check from someone they don’t know, especially a $25,000 check? Is that wise decision making?

Although he was leaving the church, the church was still his employer. Did Weir have an obligation to report such an unusual gift to his employer?

Should the church have had a clear policy about employees accepting checks directly from church members?"

Weir was forced to give answers to some hard-hitting questions about his gift. No doubt he would not have provided ANY truthful answers to ANYONE on this gift unless forced to do so under oath by a lawyer and the threat of perjury.

It is a sad day when our church won't get answers from Mac Brunson about his $300,000 land gift he and his wife accepted just 2 weeks after arriving in Jacksonville - from a man that Mac hardly knew. If Mac was able to do this, what about other ministers at our church. Can they now accept large gifts from members too and claim its a private matter and no one's business? Or does that privilege only rest with "God's annointed", the mega-church pastor?

Some questions Mac might have to answer some day:

"So how long did you know this man at the church that gave you the land gift worth $307,000? When did you first meet him face to face?"

"On what date did you learn that this gift was available to you? Were you and/or your wife made aware of this gift before or after you accepted the job offer at FBC Jax?"

"Did you think it strange a man you hardly knew wanted to give you a quarter of a million dollars? Would you characterize your relationship with the giver of the $300,000 give as one of 'love and affection?' as stated on the deed?"

"Did you discuss this gift with your wife? What was her view of the gift, did she want to accept it?"

"Did you have any reservations about taking such a large gift from a man you hardly knew?"

"Did the church reduce your relocation package in proportion to the size of the land gift?"

"Would you allow one of your ministers to accept such a gift, even if both parties said it was a private matter, and it was for love and affection?"

"Was there any spoken or implied requirement attached to the gift that you were aware of?"

"Did your decision to play the commercial/testimony of the business owned by the sons of the man who gave your this gift - was it at all influenced by the fact that this man gave you the gift? Did this man, ever, say, or even hint or suggest at any time that he might expect some sort of quid pro quo for the land gift? "

"Did you discuss with this man other options for donating the land that might benefit the entire church and not just yourself?"

"What policies existed at your church that governed the accepting of such large gifts directly from donors, and not requiring the gift to go through the church? What policies exist now that govern you and other ministers actions regarding gifts made directly from church members to the staff members?"

"What was your decision making process of accepting the gift, given the contents of your book that counseled other pastors to avoid accepting gifts; gifts much smaller than this one you accepted? Did you foresee any ethical problems, or appearance of ethical problems in accepting such a sizeable gift so soon after arriving at FBC Jax?"

Mac owes an explanation to his church of the land gift. Of course he doesn't have to answer detailed questions like the ones above...just be honest, explain what happened, explain why it was or was not unethical. If he has any regrets or would do it differently, tell us and apologize.

He should have never accepted that gift, unless he was willing to be totally open and honest and transparent with his congregation concerning the details of the gift.

We hope he provides answers now on his terms in his way.

Or who knows, at some point he might find himself being asked more difficult questions not on his terms. And no theatrics or yelling will help then. Only the facts.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"GO ARGUE WIT DA BOOK, BRUTHA!"

Sunday Mac was in rare form. Its hard to come to grips if what we see on display Sunday after Sunday is spiritual abuse, or if Mac is just doing his dead-level best to be jerk. Maybe its both.

Mac starts off Sunday morning announcing that the church is $100,000 behind budget.

And Mac says the Lord has spoken to him that he and Deb can give more to the church.

So he tells us that he is going to "give a tithe of his tithe", in addition to his tithe.

Now I've heard of people in ministerial leadership positions increasing their giving, or in difficult times decreasing their incomes. For instance, Johnny Hunt last week said that he and his wife DOUBLED the amount they give to the church in these difficult times. The president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary gave himself a 10% pay cut recently while times are tight. I've heard of Rick Warren and his "reverse tithe", where he KEEPS 10% and gives 90% to the Lord's work. But I ain't heard of a "tithe on a tithe".

Just to clarify, that is one tenth of one tenth, which is 1%. So Mac is increasing his giving 1%. OK, hard to criticize a guy who says he is going to give more, but 1% increase from a guy making as much as Mac and Deb do is hardly something to brag about. Not much leadership shown there by a guy with a very stable job and revenue stream and huge income as compared to the average church member. His 1% increase really falls flat later in his sermon when he refers to his wife's shopping habits as "Congress' greatest weapon" against the recession.

But then Mac goes further, and groups his congregation into three groups: those who are obedient and giving more like him, those who don't know how to trust God with their finances, and those who "argue about tithing". And Mac then does one of his famous screams to intimidate people who argue about tithing:

"...take it [the issue of tithing] up with Jesus. That's what you do. Don't take it up with me. GO TO DA BOOK. GO ARGUE WITH DA BOOK BRUTHER. Don't argue with da preacher."

Then he says..."you shook up enough? Good!" This guy is a bully, plain and simple. His emotion has replaced the Holy Spirit at our church. As though his job is to bother us, or "shake us up". And he's happy about it.

And by the way, Mac has never given a clear explanation of what the Old Testament tithe is and how it fits in with the New Testament principles of giving out of love. Its all out of duty in Mac's eyes, and he is more than happy to ram his legalism down your recalcitrant throat. What about new Christians that don't understand tithing? What about Christians that don't agree that tithing is scriptural, can't he make a sound defense to lovingly convince them and teach them? What about visitors who hear him angrily scream this at his congregation? If I were a visitor and heard the preacher say this to his people, I would be heading for the exits. Spiritual abuse.

What's funny about this is Mac's marketing consultant, Maurilio Amorim, just yesterday posted an article on his blog about "legacy churches"...and how they have not modernized their methods and contexualized their messages to the culture...and how these legacy churches are doomed for failure and will lose the next generation. News flash to Mac: there is absolutely nothing more offensive to people we are trying to reach with the gospel than a fat, balding, wealthy, mega church preacher angrily screaming at people to give 10% of their income out of legalism and an Old Testament scripture and to teach it by screaming "look it up in da book!". That goes over like a lead zeppelin, Mac. What might work is a person who calmly explains and/or teaches the concept, uses scripture to make his point, and acts like a normal person who respects his audience. People can't stand angry arrogance, especially from a wealthy mega church pastor screaming at people to let loose of their money. That advice was free, Mac, and I didn't charge you a $100 an hour church marketing consultant's fee.

But if the trend of being behind budget continues (many churches these days are), get ready for more bullying from Mac. And by the way: if he tithes on the tithe of the tithe, that would be an increase from 11% to 11.1%. And if I calculate correctly, a tithe on the tithe of the tithe of the tithe would be 11.11%.

For other tidbits from Mac's sermon that demonstrate his "jerkness", listen below. You will find it enlightening, and even mildly amusing....and you might even chuckle.

Go get 'em Mac.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Church Discipline - The Process Continues

Just as the Watchdog announces he is ready to wind down the blog, in a strategic move that only Barney Fife could appreciate, the FBC Jax leadership takes another move to keep the blog going.

The man and wife accused of owning this blog and issued trespass warnings last November the day before Thanksgiving by Reverend King and Reverend Blount, after two months were again contacted by the Rev. Blount this week via phone and email.

The accused has forwarded the following emails exchanged:

To the accused, Blount writes:

xxxxxx,

Please call me to discuss meeting with the committee. (356-6077)

Thank You!

John Blount


To which the accused responded with the following email:

Reverend John Blount: Received your two voicemails and email yesterday.

I made it quite clear immediately after I was served the tresspass papers by you and Rev King I would meet with the committee immediately after three reasonable requests were met: that I be provided a copy of the bylaws, I am told the basis of the allegations made against me and my wife, and I am allowed to bring someone with me to the meeting. I have interpreted your silence for about 2 months since the committee declined these requests, to mean the committee was not interested in meeting me under those conditions. So be it. My wife and I have complied in full with the trespass warnings and have not returned to the church property.

Please, Rev Blount: we respectfully request that you and staff and refrain from calling us, emailing us, or leaving voicemails for us. Please inform your staff members also, to stop calling or texting or emailing me, my wife, and my children. I am hereby informing you that any attempts to visit me at my home by you, Rev King, or any other staff members or committee members will be unwelcome, and considered trespasses.

Thank you.

To which Rev. Blount responded with:

xxxxx,

We respect your wishes that the church not contact you any further. However, we are compelled by the Bylaws to communicate to you the church's actions with regard to discipline.

On December 3, 2008 I e-mailed you the Discipline Committee's response to your demand for terms and conditions regarding their requested meeting with you. Their position has not changed. I indicated this in my follow-up e-mail to you dated December 15. Therefore, there has been no further need to communicate with you since then.

The Committee has completed its investigation of the "watchdog" site and its content. Per the Church Bylaws, the committee will present their findings to the Deacon body as a whole. That will take place on February 23. Your refusal to meet with the Discipline Committee and the sentiments expressed in your e-mail below substantiate your disinterest in any reconciliatory process. Therefore, the meeting will take place without your participation.

Any action recommended by the Deacons must subsequently be presented to the Church body for ratification. Should that occur, we will communicate to you in writing the action the church has taken.

Thank You!


John Blount

Amazing. The accused tells me he has not step foot on the property since the trespass warnings were issued. He says his wife in December out of disgust asked the church to remove her from the church rolls as a member. The family has even joined another church. But Mac and his minions still need to proceed with their church discipline. Reminds me of two of Mac's great quotes from 2008: Mac said, he is to deal harshly with sinners "...to put the fear of God in YOU [the congregation]" - which is a quote of his the very night the accused were denied the request to attend church to hear their child sing. And as Mac said last August: "Because God has not judged you in the past does not mean the judgment of God won't fall tomorrow morning. 'The mills of the 'god's' grind slow, but they grind exceedingly fine'...in other words God may not have judged you yet, but when it catches up to you, only God can help you then." Amen, Mac.

So mark it on your calendars, good deacons of FBC Jax. You will hear the evidence against the accused on February 23rd so that you can consider what discipline, or maybe even legal action, can be taken against the man and his family. And good people of FBC Jax, we will likely hear the deacon's recommendation on Wed. February 25th. What exciting days these are at FBC Jax, as we get to see the Lord at work through our discipline committee and deacons! How wonderful! Dr. Lindsay would be so proud! We can only hope the weekly video "FBC Jax in 80 Seconds" will highlight the excellent work of John Blount and the Discipline Committee! Maybe they could re-enact the delivery of the trespass warnings for full cinematic effect! And to think that we, the congregation, get to participate in the process, and "ratify" what the deacons present to us! Praise the Lord!

Seriously, let's hope that the Trustees provide just a little bit more information to us on Wed. February 25th before they ask us to vote and "ratify" their actions against the accused. Don't be fooled again church. You've been fooled by these men into approving bylaws that granted more power to the preacher, which took away your right to even call a business meeting, and you forfeited yours and all future church members' rights to ever bring any legal action against the church.

By the way, the accused say they have moved on and have joined another church full of sincere, loving people, and a preacher who preaches through the Bible verse by verse and does it with power and conviction, yet with love and humility. He wrote: "...it wasn't until we were forced to leave and got under the preaching of a humble servant of God preaching truth in love that we realized just how abusive Mac Brunson's preaching really is. Our hearts ache for the people of FBC Jax."

And the Watchdog says to John Blount and the Discipline Committee: Go get 'em Barney! Just don't shot yerself in the foot!

Ichabod: "The Glory is Departed"

Watch and listen to a brief prophetic word from Jerry Vines' final sermon at FBC Jax nearly 3 years ago to the day, back in February 2006...about the tragedy of the glory of God departing from a church or a pastor.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Memo To Maurilio

As the Watchdog website winds down in the last few articles before putting down the pen for at least temporarily and hopefully for good, just a few last messages to be shared.

One of them is for Maurilio Amorim, the FBC Jax church marketing consultant, and trusted advisor of Mac and Debbie Brunson.

Maurilio, since you posted 40 or so "twitters" while here at our conference, the Watchdog will post a few "twitters" here for you to read, some advice that might be helpful to you coming from a layperson at one of your biggest clients:

- First, we do like your website design. Nice work on the FBC Jax website. We were only sorry it took 2 years to get there, but maybe that was our fault and not yours.

- while you are hired by and serve for the pleasure of the Brunsons, keep in mind the paychecks your company receives for your services here say "The First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Inc." This means your clients are the people of FBC Jax, not the Brunsons. Never put down your clients in public. Never. Even when "attacked" or put down yourself. Its not about you, its about your client.

- as a "consultant", you should never be about "you". A good consultant is willing to work behind the scenes, willing to never get one ounce of credit for anything. Its about your client and the best interests of your client. Your intent should not be to make yourself and your jokes wisecracks known, but to help your client achieve their mission. Your twittering during our conference did NOT help us, it drew attention to yourself, often in a very distasteful manner.

- For as long as you are a consultant of a church especially, lay low. Know that the source of your consulting fees from our church is NOT the generosity of Mac and Deb Brunson, it comes from people who sit in the pew, who are told to tithe to the church out of love and obedience to God. Many of them are people of very humble means, much less than yourself - and they wonder why God's man needs to hire a marketing consultant at all, and even more so when they see that consultant "twittering" about a very lavish lifestyle (at least as compared to them) that they lead.

- As you twitter about the expensive hotels and meals, the Armani suits and Kenneth Cole shoes, while making fun of "polyester suits" of the southern baptists, the six-head showers and Vegas vacations and trips to the spa and personal trainers and yoga class, the fat guy "spilling into" your seat on the airplane, how some think you look like a "movie star" - it all wreaks of "elitism" and some of the people in your client's churches WILL begin to get upset about how their money is spent on such a consultant. Your pastor/clients who maybe life your same lifestyle might not mind your elitist twitters, but people in the church pews might. I'm not saying to not enjoy those things if God has blessed you financially, just don't twitter about them!! However, you're probably as safe as anywhere at FBC Jax since the people here have no say in any form as to how the money is spent, but the lay people in other churches who actually might sit on a budget or finance committee might just be looking closer at A-Group expenditures, especially during these difficult times. Lay low, my friend. Help the churches who have hired you, and stop the elitist twittering.

- definitely don't make jokes that might be interpreted as "homosexual". Your twitter about having a "man crush" on Tim Tebow was quite disturbing. Especially someone with your polished and well-groomed "look"...some might actually believe you. Much truth is spoken in jest, as they say, so stay away from the "man crush" remarks (you made that remark about Tebow twice now on your twitter).

- the brand that is most important is the brand of your clients, not your own. You should have been there to hear Jerry Vines speak, even it that would harm your brand to be seen listening to the old "fundamentalist" Jerry Vines. As Mac said, we should honor and respect those who have come befor us and laid the groundwork for today's ministry. The pastor of your client church, FBC Jax, has great respect and admiration for Jerry Vines, and if for no other reason than for respect for Mac, you should have sat and listened to Vines, maybe even twittered some kind words. If you were going to twitter during J.D. Greear's message about how great he was, then by golly stay for Vines too. And your twitter coming forth from the Chart House restaurant during Vines sermon was a slap in the face to Vines, Brunson, and the people of FBC Jax who PAY YOU your consulting fees.

- the fact is: if you can't stay and listen to Vines and Johnny Hunt, if that doesn't fit your "brand" and you don't want to be seen listening to them, then you should choose your clients more carefully. Maybe FBC Jax is not a good fit for you. Mac has called us a "hotbed of legalism", so maybe your services are better used in more modern, seeker-friendly churches where the people will buy into the church marketing concept of growing a church. Perhaps aligning yourself with Mac and FBC Jax might not be in your company's image.

- as Mac's trusted advisor, and as a consultant that has worked with pastors to develop their "stage presence" (you twittered about that recently), please help Mac. Help Mac know that if he is going to pastor a mega church, especially a multi-campus mega church, 90%+ of the people will never know him personally and thus his "stage demeanor" must be in line with his personal demeanor. If he is angry and condenscending in the pulpit, then his people will assume that is how he is out of the pulpit. Please help Mac in this area...or help Deb help Mac.

- Finally, Maurilio, please take a look at the strategies you have implemented at our church and pastor's conference. The embarrassing low turn-out from pastors and church members at the Pastor's Conference this year should cause you and Deb and Mac and Trey to take a hard look at what direction you are taking the church. One of the things that made the conference a favorite of so many over the years was its uniqueness. It was geared toward conservative, Southern Baptist pastors (yes, some polyester wearers), who enjoyed hearing from the Vines, Hunts, Rogers, etc. and who wanted to hear how FBC Jax was growing the church. News flash: conferences like the one we just had are EVERYWHERE. Implementing a PR firm with a promotions plan to sell advertising was a BAD MOVE. It made our conference look like any other non-denominational conference held in convention centers every week.

That is all, I suppose. Stay humble, Maurilio, even though you are enjoying success now.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Testimony From a PC Attendee

Below is a post made this morning by a pastor visiting the conference. He made it in the "Welcome" thread from Friday, but I'm posting it here.

"I am a pastor and I have travelled all the way down here from far up North for Pastor's Conference. This is the first PC I have been to since Dr. Vines retired. What a difference a few years make. I see the on the screens - "healthy pastors, healthy churches" and I look around at the half empty auditorium. I keep hearing people say the "economy" has prevented pastors from coming. Well it didn't prevent me. Airfare as cheap and I found a great deal on a hotel and car. It is not the economy, it is the pitiful line up of speakers (except Junior Hill, Johnny Hunt and Jerry Vines) and the junk "premium seminars". Mac says they are examples of expository preaching. I disagree. The speakers may be great expositors who can teach, but they are NOT expositors who can preach. I didn't understand anything Tommy Nelson said last night. I couldn't even understand him when he was reading his text. It is depressing! The choir has spread out to fill the choir loft, whereas before it was packed. And the music is missing something. I can't put my finger on it, but it just isn't the same. This is pitiful. This can't be a healthy church, it must be a dying church. Maybe they need to change the conference motto. This is coming from a pastor, not a "griping church member." I am so disappointed. "