Wow, how things have changed. Giving is weak, and they started construction without having the cash, or having a financing plan in place. I would be nervous if I were the general contractor!
"What do you do with a church when people in the church are so gripped by fear that they don't give to support the work of the church, and let me tell you something, the work of the church goes on. We continue to do the work of the church, and it is obvious that a lot of our people are living in fear because you're not giving."I think Mac needs to come out of his ivory tower. While he and Whitmire are drawing HUGE compensation packages, many people in Jacksonville are suffering. He gives no credit to the fact that giving in his church is down because people are perhaps earning less during this time, people's taxes and fees and utility bills in Jacksonville have been rising, and uncertainty abounds in the job market. People might just be saving more, and paying more money to get themselves out of debt. Some might be giving elsewhere. Some might be helping friends and family who are hurting during this economic down-turn. But in Mac's world: you either fork over 10% or more to the church undesignated, or you are "gripped by fear" and not trusting God.
And Mac is not just upset over the general budget giving, he also not at all happy that he is short $1 million for the renovation of the main auditorium:
"We have on-going needs at First Baptist Church of Jacksonville that we feel like we've got to do some semblence of ministry in the midst of financially difficult days. But what am I to say to you? And what are we going to do in this auditorium. Next Sunday morning...the 30th of September we will have depleted all of our building fund money on the renovation that has about a million dollar's worth to go. We've got to finish this. We're under contract. We can't really legally get out of completing the work, we don't want to stop the work, but what do we do if God's people don't give? What am I to say to you in the midst of a financially difficult day about trusting God and giving to God?"Amazing. Who sounds fearful? Who is "gripped with fear"? Why can't he just "trust God" that the money will be provided?
Mac is asking what are they going to do about the auditorium renovation costs. That is a good question, Mac. What will you do? Are you implementing any cost cutting measures at the church, as in reduction of salaries starting with the top two: yours and Whitmire's? And I don't see Brunson recommending people NOT go on his "Holy Land Trip with the Brunson Family" (prominently advertised on the church website) and instead donate an equivalent sum to the auditorium or to make up the budget shortfall.
And why did Mac obligate the church beyond their means? Why did he sign construction contracts without the cash on hand, or a plan to finance it? And why did the renovation include ripping out all the pews, replacing the carpet and wall coverings? Was that absolutely necessary given the church didn't have enough cash for the entire project? Later in the sermon he gives a financial tip that a person should never buy anything that they can't pay for at the end of the month. What hypocrisy. Why did they sign contracts for construction that they didn't have the money to pay for? Of course: this axiom doesn't apply when you're spending the money of OTHER people, since you can just go ask them for more of it.
So Mac goes on to preach on "sowing and reaping" out of Genesis 26. Mac makes the point that God has promised to take care of his people IF they are obedient.
"I mean you cannot mistake it unless you're just lame in the head, folks. God is saying 'If you will be obedient to me I will take care of the needs of your life.' Now listen to me: God doesn't promise that he will give you your wants, but that he meets the needs of his people. "This sounds good, but in the context of Mac's sermon he is trying to convince his congregation that if you want to have God take care of your financial needs, you MUST be obedient in giving the tithe to your church. This is instilling fear into his people - most of them are not giving 10%, and thus Mac is telling them that they are exposed and God may not take care of them since they are not tithing. It is not true. Under the New Covenant, there is no prescribed percentage for a Christian that is a prerequisite for receiving God's protection and blessings.
Then Mac goes on to cover "sowing and reaping", and uses Isaac's example in Genesis 26:12-13:
"In economically difficult days, he (Isaac) took what he had, his seed was his commodity, it was his portfolio, it was his finances, and he sowed it in the ground, he planted it in the midst of famine, and the Bible says this: 'he reaped in the midst famine in the same year...ten thousand percent"...but the man of God did when he trusted God with his finances in the midst of an economic downturn. Now you explain it any better than me, YOU GET UP HERE AND EXPLAIN IT! That is exactly what the text says."That is not what the text says. The text doesn't say Isaac sowed his "finances", or his "portfolio". The text does not say Isaac trusted God with his finances in an economic downturn. I know, because I read it, and it doesn't say that. Isaac sowed SEED, and the Lord blessed him agriculturally. Mac implies that this means Christians should "sow" their finances (and portfolios) in the church, and they will reap God's blessings. Give to the building renovations, and God will bless and protect. This is Benny Hinn and Robert Tilton territory for sure. "Money, COME!" says Robert Tilton.
Mac then brings ten people to the platform, gives them each $1 that represents $50, which in total represents $500 net income for a person. He then separates one person out of the 10 representing the tithe and then condescendling says:
"Now here's your tithe right there. That is what you're worried about. That's what all the concern is about, that's what all the fuss, all the chatter, all the upset, all the despair, all the heartache, all the brokenness, 'I'm leaving church cause they talk about that right there.'...'Can't possibly survive because of that over there'.... Just that one little tenth that God says 'You honor me with that'....Now I want you to listen to me...why do we not tithe? Number one, because we don't trust God. We don't trust that God can take what is left over and can meet our needs with it."So Mac is trying to close the deal here, to let people know that their failure to tithe not only will cause them to not have God's protection and blessing, but he mocks the reasons why people might not give 10%. He says they are "fussing", and "chattering" about having to give what God requirs, etc...notice he says "that one little tenth". I've said it before, but 10% to a wealthy person who has plenty of margin is not the same as 10% to a person of modest means who has little margin.
I wonder if they will get the million dollars on October 3rd. One thing we know for sure, with both mega churches and the government: if you give it, it will never be enough. They have an insatiable appetite for YOUR money, and they'll likely need more in an "emergency" again next year.
And if they get it, the likelihood of wise expenditure cuts won't happen. No need to cut inflated senior pastor salaries if they can get people to fork over more money. They can get the million, it is there, it's just that they don't want to cut where they need to cut to get it. It is so much easier to ask the plebe in the pew.
And finally, listen to exerpts from the sermon below from earlier in September, where Mac preaches out of Ezra to show the church that the Jews "took up an offering" to rebuild the temple (with new pews and carpet and wall coverings I'm sure), and Mac reminds them arrogantly that they don't get free electricity from JEA, and he gives his reasons for the auditorium renovations ("My daddy says you can at least be CLEAN!!"). At the end, Mac complains about complainers, screams to tell people to STOP YOUR GRUMBLING AND START YOUR SHOUTING.
Rebuilding the Temple from FBCJax Watchdog on Vimeo.