"...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

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Fellowship Church Jet Scandal: What Not to Do When Caught With Your Pants Down

We are now more than a month removed from the Ed Young jet scandal at Fellowship Church. And I'm quite certain we haven't heard the last of this from the news media. John Cross' and Mac Richard's ridiculous defense of Ed Young all but ensured that the media will continue to dig and reveal more details of Ed's lavish, jet-setting lifestyle.

Ed Young and his trustees were caught with their pants down, and they handled it wrong, ensuring further scrutiny. They gave non-answers, and played the victim.

Ironically, on the same day that the WFAA report was broadcast in Dallas, here in Jacksonville another local TV news reporter did an expose' on a Jacksonville organization.

Our local electrical utility, JEA, was caught with their pants down, too.

But oh, how different was the response of JEA's leadership and that of Fellowship Church.

I'm quite certain no one out of Jacksonville is interested in reading about the JEA scandal, but it was the lead story on the February 4th news, and here's the skinny: seems a number of electrical repair work crews who immediately upon receiving their work orders for the day would drive their JEA trucks out of the JEA lot and down the road for an early morning breakfast on the clock. And some of the crews would park their trucks and sleep for hours at a certain dead-end road doing zero work. Not just once in a while, but almost every single day during the three-month long investigation.

Crews not working, but crews feasting and napping on the clock.

And the news reporter filmed it and documented it for three months, and caught JEA with their pants down.

JEA is accountable to the people of Jacksonville as they are at least partially owned by the city. And people in Jacksonville are not happy with rising electrical rates, so they are not happy to hear that their money is being wasted by having work crews eating breakfast and lunch, and taking naps with their money.

How did JEA respond when caught with their pants down? The contrasts between JEA and Fellowship Church, both of whom were caught in a scandal - is striking. Ed Young was found to be living high on the hog and leasing a luxury private jet to the tune of millions of dollars, while JEA crews were found to be eating and sleeping instead of maintaining our electrical infrastructure.

Very embarrassing for both organizations.

But John Pitre, the JEA manager responsible for the work done by these crews, faced the music. He actually talked to the reporter ON CAMERA. He looked nervous. He didn't deliver a prepared speech with make-up like Ed Young. Pitre looked like a deer caught in the headlights at times. But to his credit, he gave answers and expressed regret. He didn't refuse to talk to the reporter like Ed Young. He didn't tell JEA customers that he refuses to watch the TV report. No, the man sat down with the reporter, watched the filmed footage of his crews slacking off, and said this, on the record:

"Perception-wise it's very bad...if I saw something like that I'd be angry too. I myself I take the trust of the community and citizens seriously and if I saw something like this going on I'd probably do the same thing and report it...as my position here, now that I know about it, I'll do what I can to investigate this and deal with it appropriately."

What a contrast. Subsequent to the initial report JEA announced they were launching an investigation into the employees involved, and some received discipline. And JEA answered all questions about this scandal, and other follow-up issues like overtime pay.

If JEA took the approach that Ed Young and Fellowship Church did, they would have employed the following tactics:

- Pitre would have not talked to the reporter, and the JEA would have held a press conference to say that Pitre still has not, and never will, watch the news report.

- Pitre would have said that he has in impeccable reputation, and that God in fact called him into the power business and that his ultimate authority is God, and therefore everyone can dismiss the news report since he will give an account to God on how JEA's money is spent;

- Pitre would have flown in two board members from other utilities, to talk about what a Godly man Pitre is, how wonderful his wife and kids are, and that if there was even a "whiff of a impropriety" they have better things to do and wouldn't be board members of JEA.

- Pitre would have said that we should all pray for those people behind the report (like the reporters, the camera men, the irate JEA customers), that they would get right with God.

- Pitre would have announced that this report was an attack not just on him, but on JEA, and all of JEA's customers.

But Pitre didn't, and JEA handled this scandal by being open, honest, and transparent. They never attacked the messenger, instead they dealt with the facts presented to them.

Some may say there is no comparison: one is a church, and one is a power company. But both of these organizations are accountable to their communities. JEA's public trust is obvious. But FC is supposed to be a church that proclaims the gospel and people in the community don't expect them to operate for the personal benefit of the pastor. So they, too, are accountable to Dallas/Fort Worth citizens in that regard.

This is why these so many of these mega church CEO pastors are such a detriment to the gospel. They think they're God's gift to Christendom, when actually it is their lifestyle and humongous egos that turns the world off to their Christianity. And when the world sees church members lap it up and give the Ed Young's of the world a standing ovation for their non-answers to scandal, they realize whatever religion THAT is, its not for them. The non-Christians refuse to drink any Kool Aid that would cause them to have to fork money over to Ed Young's church and then give him a standing O when its found out that he used some of it to lease an 8 million dollar jet.

Pretty sad day when our government and quasi-government agencies are the ones setting the example for the church, instead of the other way around.

As my friend General Larry Platt says:

"Pants on the ground, pants on the ground, lookin' like a fool with your pants on the ground."

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dog:

I have worked (yes, lawyered) with utilities for sometime.

A public entity has to respond. The comproller or other government entity that oversees them has a right to come in and look at the books and prosecute, if wrongdoing has occurred.

Plus, there is political pressure that can be brought to bear. Heads can roll.

As a private entity, a church operates with different set of rules. It answers only to the congregation (ultimately, even if people can only vote with their feet).

Not arguing it's right. But that is the way it is.

And I am not saying the church handled the plane thing right.

I still don't understand the arrangement or anything about it.

Louis

Junkster said...

Yes, the "rules" may be different, but we should expect a higher standard of transparency, accountablity, and humility from Christian churches and organizations than what we see from a secular agency.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Louis - yes, I understand that.

However, the JEA did not have a legal requirement to respond to some nosy, jealous reporter who was spying on their employees and then shows up with some video footage of their trucks and employees. They could have pooh-poohed the reporter and his nonsense. They could have said "why didn't you come to ask us about our people, instead of spying on us anonymously?" They could have ignored him, could have done an internal investigation with the info. This was not the city looking into their affairs. It was some reporter looking for a juicy story to run on sweeps week.

But you miss the larger point...when it comes to scandals, just about every area of our society understands the need to be open and honest with their "stakeholders" - those in their community that have some interest, or are impacted in some way, but the organization....but sadly Ed Young's church does not.

Same with financial transparency...most areas of our society understand the need to report detailed financial information - especially salaries and bennies of the heads of the organizations to hold them accountable to ensure funds are not wasted on excessive compensation. But not mega churches.

Anonymous said...

Dog:

I agree with you totally.

Organizations that are not transparent with other people's money eventually see support slip away.

Plus, it's the right thing to do, anyway.

Louis

Anonymous said...

I was actually interested to see that news story. Friday, my electricity was out for 7 hours. JEA kept telling me I was in queue, but the trucks only get one call at a time fed to them. A truck would get my call sent to them when they completed an assignment.


...or, apparently, breakfast and a nap.

New BBC Open Forum said...

I would say that the appropriate "discipline" for such on-the-job behavior is the loss of one's job. With all the people who are unemployed these days, surely finding people who actually want to work for a living wouldn't be too difficult. If the employees caught on tape are still employees, JEA's response has been no more appropriate than EY's.

Jack therrell said...

To me it is appalling that we have come to believe that these mega-church pastors cannot be questioned that because of their position and the ability to draw a crowd they must be closer to God than others. We seem to confuse size with quality. Quanity is more important to some. We are still in the nickel and nose counting but it is no longer nickels but mega bucks. The temptation to be allured by, if not by wine women and song, is surely and extended pride. We can put a bed on the platform and give instructions for it's use and that is grandiose to some. Jack pastor of a mini-church

Anonymous said...

I just found a great video on youtube concerning the false tithing doctrine discussed in today's churches. This video breaks down the verses in malachi and talks about how popular preachers guilt their congregations into tithing so they can buy planes, expensive stuff, etc. There are 6 parts in total. These are must watches!

Anonymous said...

Sorry for not posting the links.
Here it is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DR3_zNDPmVU

Anonymous said...

Jack of mini-church...You are to be congratulated. You see the light like other Bible believing pastors who take the Word of God seriously and are not in the ministry for MONEY. Those that are in the ministry for MONEY are soon found out, but many attempt to follow in their footsteps only to learn later in life a "mess of pottage" is all they received in exchange for their works and sometimes their very souls. You, on the other hand, when you lay your head on the pillow at night know that you did your very best for Jesus that day. You don't need accolades from fellow big shots because they don't really care anyway since they push their own brand and are still just little people in the scheme of things that really matter in life.

They can't prepare a sermon on their own. They can't talk to very many one on one. They don't hold to Bible doctrines or even believe in any Bible but the Originals which no one has seen, in thousands of years. They lose their kids and oftentimes their wives. They too need psychological counseling. They have very low self- esteem but put on an act in the pulpit. They love to strut on stage and play the role of a mega man. They love to travel and make speaking engagements especially when the pay is good. They believe they are called when they arn't. The real shame is that many of these men know they are out of God's will but their pride will not permit them to examine their open rebellion and hard heartedness. On and on I could go, however you get my points.

The pastors that are doing what they are supposed to do day in and day out deserve our prayers.

Thanks for doing God's work and leaving the finances to HIM!!! Besides when we die we leave it ALL!!!

Anonymous said...

As you do well in explaining money issues in many aspects to church life, you might want to explain the SB administrators at SWBTS what happens when biblical counselors won't regard scientific diagnostic research on learning disorders and other organic hindrances just as important to in counseling. There is an medical insurance issue that they are overlooking in this whole field in counseling and their decision has major implications. Sola Scriptura was not really the issue in the reformation it was Prima Scriptura just as Luther stated "unless you convince me by reason and Scriptures." I really hope you dedicate some blogging time to this issue.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget - the JEA could have had their top CEO and board members call the people that complained cowards and mentally unstable sociopaths. Then maybe no one would believe what they were complaining about.

When is the JEA sponsored Danube River Cruise? or trip to the Holy Land? Any JEA execs have sons we don't know who will be getting married that we can lavish gifts and cash upon?

I have a piece of land I would like to donate to the CEO of JEA... Wait for it... out of love and affection.

Priceless. You can't make this stuff up.

Anonymous said...

March 9..10:32 PM: WHAT? Your point is unclear. Please clarify.

Anonymous said...

Being new to this blog, I am reminded once again of the spiritual warfare we are in, in these last of the Last Days. The Enemy is seeking to tear down the church and wear-down the saints - who admitedly act like "ain'ts" at times.

What has happend at FBCJAX is a carbon copy of what happened at our mega church. Why? Because we have a common Enemy who seeks whom he may destroy. If he can't have our souls then he will seek to tear down our faith, our love for one another, and our testimony to the unsaved world.

Behind all that is happening, not only in the mega churches, but many smaller churches is PRIDE.
Position and power have become the idol for both pastors, staff and lay people in the church. God says over and over in His Word that He
HATES pride and resists those who have it. And those in spiritual leadership roles on every level are held even more accountable.
There is little or no fear of God in the culture and the church is
mirroring the culture.

The Lord warns us: "A house divided cannot stand." Our "house"
- the body of Christ- is being divided and thus weakened. The blogs can encourage strife among
God's people and rebellion against spiritual authority. BUT they are also being used to uncover that which was hidden and thus holding
those with lack of integrity accountable for their actions. Maybe, just maybe, the Lord is cleaning house to get his Bride
presentable for her coming Bridegroom. "Even so, come Lord Jesus" (Rev. 22:20).
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ
be with you all. Amen." (v.21)

Anonymous said...

"What has happend at FBCJAX is a carbon copy of what happened at our mega church. Why? Because we have a common Enemy who seeks whom he may destroy. If he can't have our souls then he will seek to tear down our faith, our love for one another, and our testimony to the unsaved world."

Satan is the architect of the mega church movement. The very process and structure required to grow aand maintain a mega church plays right into his hands.

Matt

Anonymous said...

well my utility provider comes and sits in my parking lot. It is legal. They can not go back to the office until getting off time so they find a place and sit until they get a work order. So I had a security light out so I gave them a hand delivered work order and they have not been back since they fixed it.

Anonymous said...

Jack of mini-church: Preach the Word in season and out of season.
Love your sheep; don't Lord it over them. From Dr. Charles Stanley: "True shepherds do not beat their sheep." Be true to your convictions. Be an example unto the believers. And remember in God's economy, the last shall be first.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it ironic that the Bible warns us of FALSE SHEPHERDS. Not police, not politicians, not teachers, but false shepherds. People are getting the message that they have infiltrated the church. Yes, the day of the Lord is soon approaching. These Mega's very seldom mention this fact. I suppose they either don't believe it or they are scared of it. Some will hear Jesus say depart from me I never knew you!!! BTW, the only "spiritual authority" I recognize is Jesus Christ, and His Word the Bible. I find that most of these self called preachers know very litle of the SPIRITUAL and of the BIBLE. Bible History does not count. Anyone can learn history. But, only the spiritual person will be led to know the deeper things of God! Head knowledge does not trump heart knowledge.

Anonymous said...

March 10, 2010 10:39 PM :
I pretty much agree with what you've stated. I do think we have to be careful though not to lump all megas together in the trash heap. I do agree that there is more danger of misuse of power and monies with a mega. And I'm thinking the mega church may become a thing of the past. More and more people are weary of the
lack of accountability and the excess and are wanting to go back to the basics.

Anonymous said...

Love your sheep; don't Lord it over them. From Dr. Charles Stanley: "True shepherds do not beat their sheep." Be true to your convictions. Be an example unto the believers. And remember in God's economy, the last shall be first.

March 10, 2010 7:50 PM

STanley does not have to beat them because they are loyal followers of him unless they dare dissent publicly.

He even refused to allow his congregation to be told that his church has Christa Browns rapist on staff there.

Stanley is one of the ones repsonsible for the state of the SBC today. His heavy hand goes all the way back to the imfamous airport meeting when some tried to fire Paige Patterson.

Doug said...

This may be a little off topic, but I thought it would be very interesting for others to read and see how Baptist try to pull that cash, even when someone dies and from other family members who may need the inheritance just as well.

We all know most Sr Adults are very vulnerable when it comes to death and a church. They do not want to upset anyone at their deaths, thinking it may cause them to miss heavens gates or something like it.

Below you will read another step in which the Baptist intend on the continued attack for financial choking all the way to members now die.


An example:

The Legacy Fund managed by the Georgia Baptist Foundation was setup to get that last gasp dollar from its Baptist denominational friend.

The below text is from a Mega Church website in GA begging its members to "not forget them - the Georgia Baptist Convention"

and it says.........

...... "Historically, churches are not predominantly considered when families are setting up planned gifts or bequests. Instead, most gifts of this nature go toward non-religious entities, (colleges, hospitals, charitable organizations, etc.). In addition, most churches do not have a Planned Giving ministry established. To address this need, this church is partnering with the Georgia Baptist Foundation to create this ministry and offer the ability for our church family to set up planned gifts and bequests.

Under the umbrella of our Planned Giving Ministry, we will be establishing an Endowment Fund, called The Legacy Fund, which will be managed by the Georgia Baptist Foundation.

The majority of people do not take the time or understand how to put any of these things in order for their family. Our initial offering to our church family was to make available FREE Will & Estate Planning for simple estates for the first 200 to sign-up. We kicked this off during our change series and it was a great success! Thank you to those who participated.

We will have a designated witness, signing and notary day where we will provide witnesses and notaries for you as you sign your documents. Please hold all of your documents until that day and stay tuned for more information. Please note that most financial institutions have a notary on site if you prefer to get your documents witnessed, signed and notarized on your own. You can also contact your county clerk’s office."

Note all the Free stuff and other "benefits" they beg for.

Sickening!

Still signing my name and....

Following Christ, Not Man
Doug

Anonymous said...

And they call this a MINISTRY!! To whom? If you arn't saved when you die, leaving your money to the church isn't going to get you to heaven! That's called works.

Anonymous said...

Following Christ, Not Man
Doug:

I'm not sure I have a problem with giving out information as to HOW to give certain monies to a church at one's death. Now, if pressure and manipulation are used on the
vulnerable elderly then, of course, that is WRONG.

There is a saying: "A fool and his money are soon parted." This whole issue of churches misusing tithes and gifts all boils down to those who give not being alert/having the discernment to know if their church has integrity or not. There are many honest churches out there who are using tithes and offerings to preach the Word, spread the Gospel, minister to the poor and
support missions. Why not include them in your will IF you are a member of one of those churches?

My family has left a large church where we disagreed with how the new administration was funneling the monies as well as even deeper
spiritual issues. But that has not tainted my thinking to believe that
every church is greedy or on the wrong path.

Anonymous said...

This may be a little off topic, but I thought it would be very interesting for others to read and see how Baptist try to pull that cash, even when someone dies and from other family members who may need the inheritance just as well.
===================================
The SBC has "hired help" to fleece the elderly who have no family to inherit their monies and encourage them to leave it all to the church. Their program works and now the churches are beginning to set up their own endowment giving.

No thank you, leaving my monies to these "fat cat" church executives to live their affluent lifestyles at my expense is not in my plans. Be thankful for blogs like this where we have open forum on how they really operate.

Truth is, it is these very organizations who are now feeling desperation to make sure they have monies coming in to meet their own payroll budget.

Right on Doug, it is sickening!

Anonymous said...

But that has not tainted my thinking to believe that
every church is greedy or on the wrong path.

March 12, 2010 8:56 AM
___________________________________

I think we all agree on that. How can we tell which ones are greedy and on the wrong path? Simple. Observe the pastor's lifestyle, priorities and the openness and transparency of the leadership. Do they relate/associate/tie-in your amount of giving to your love for, and spiritual walk with, Christ? Do they tell you they need more money in order to be able to do any real ministry? (Don't we all?) If there is nothing to hide, they will hide nothing. And if anyone asks any questions, are they "shut down" and slandered?

Are they burdened and passionate for reaching the lost and helping others in need? Or are they passionate about getting out of debt so they can build a bigger building. Do they take special offerings to give to help others less fortunate, or do they take offerings to spend on themselves (ie: maintenance) and on salaries and bonuses for staff.

It really is simple to tell if you just watch and listen to what they say and what they do.

And finally, do they demand you give a certain percentage of your income and assets to them?

Now...applying the above...where does your "awesome" church fit?

Anonymous said...

There was a day I would have left monies to FBCJ because I believed it to be the best church in Jacksonville, but it's changed!

Thankfully, I'v lived to see the changes, not for the good of the church nor the gospel but in how they have misused monies to provide for the lavish lifestyles of their CEO's.

Leaving your inheritance to your beloved church does not guarantee it will remain the church you thought it was.

Anonymous said...

I'd rather leave my money to the humane society for starving or homeless cats and dogs rather than to "fat cats" who really don't need anymore funds than they already MISUSE. Common sense tells you that once you have this $100+Million project with the current pastor another one will come along and want $200+Million cause they know its in the Portfolio and they just twist and turn in every direction to get the MONEY!!!! Like many have said its all about the MONEY.

Quit giving to them and see what kind of ministry(?) they can develop without millions to spend. You might attract a legitimate pastor, one that really loves people more than themselves, hopefully. Are there any left, why don't the legitimate pastors rise up and defend their own ministry showing the difference between the fat cat celebrities and the God called ministers. No wonder God spuews the church of Laodicea (todays church) out of His mouth. I don't think these "professional businesmen preachers" really understand what it means to be the pastor of an end time church in this Laodicean age. Not something to be proud of. Churches are just another "industry" taking advantage of people and the tax laws!!!! People think they are still dealing with Godly organizations like they grew up with. Today's church is not your Grandma's church anymore.

Anonymous said...

Leaving your inheritance to your beloved church does not guarantee it will remain the church you thought it was.

March 12, 2010 10:46 AM

Agreed. But then there are no guarantees in this life.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:08

You asked "Are there any left, why don't the legitimate pastors rise up and defend their own ministry showing the difference between the fat cat celebrities and the God called ministers."

From what I read I believe we still have a couple of legitimate pastors who have dared to speak up on this blog.

For myself it's very refreshing when they speak - one knows when they speak, that they are God called - not fakes!

I also believe the Lord has led them to the FBC Jax Watchdog to give encouragement to some of us who have come to (respectfully) despise the celebrity preachers whose vision is more focused on SELF other than winning souls for Christ.