I want to congratulate Mac Brunson on a stellar performance in September 2010. He exceeded even the September 2008 fund-raising performance that I criticized when I was still a member that ended with a criminal investigation into my blog the day after the offering. This year Mac really pulled out all the stops, and took the fund raising at FBC Jax to a "whole nutha level". Textbook stuff, really. Mac even taught the church what "10 percent" means, as shown in the picture at right. Unbelievably, everyone now knows that "10 percent" means "1 out of 10".
Here's a recap of the month; it was a lot, so I'll try to be concise:
He started out the month giving a staunch defense of the tithing doctrine. He still teaches that the borderline between obedience and disobedience is exactly 10% of your income. He took a swipe at authors Frank Viola and George Barna who are among a growing number of credible Christians who dare to speak the truth that the storehouse tithing doctrine is unbiblical. These tithing preachers need to stop with the misuse of Malachi 3 and the "robbing God" accusations, and they need to teach more of Proverbs 22:22, where it says "Do not rob the poor because he is poor...for the Lord will plead their case and take the life of those who rob them." Perhaps that should be quoted right before the offerings on a regular basis. But you don't hear much about THAT "robbing" Old Testament verse, which is much more appropriate today in the storehouse tithing mega churches, than is the Malachi 3 verse.
Mac announced via a special letter that they needed to raise $1 million cash or they wouldn't be able to finish the renovations of the auditorium. Somehow, FBC Jax was a whopping 25% short of cash needed for a $4 million project that included addition of Sunday School space, and then ripping up the carpet and replacing the pews and wall coverings in the 9000+ seat auditorium. Mac said the carpet was "ratty", the "pews were a mess", and the wall coverings needed to come down. Mac said he was just following his dad's advice: "You can at least be clean". One expensive "cleaning", that is for sure.
Mac then preached "reaping and sowing" out of Genesis 26, misusing scripture to say that because Isaac sowed of his "resources" during a "double dip recession" (it's in the Greek), that people today should also sow of their financial resources and portfolios into the church to be obedient and receive God's blessings during our own double dip recession. He actually said that Isaac planting seeds means he was trusting God with his "commodity, his portfolio, his finances". I didn't see that in the text. It says Isaac planted seeds. But Mac said Isaac's sowing and then bountiful reaping from God means Christians today during terrible economic times need to give more money to their church so they too can reap. Amen!
Mac then declared that the people of FBC Jax are "gripped with fear" because they won't let loose of their 10%. He used himself as the model of faith, as he tithes, he doesn't "mess with the tithe, or the house payment or the shoe money". Hardy har har.
Mac then brought 10 people out of the audience to show everyone what "10 percent" means. Everyone now knows that 10% means "1 out of 10", because Mac took one of the 10 people, who all had dollar bills in their hands, and made her move to the end of the newly constructed stage. Mac then declared that this is "what all the fuss is about", "just that little 10%", that little part that "God requires". Again, more of the same: God requires 10%, and you people are just not trusting Jesus.
Then Mac showed a video of a stay-at-home mom of four children whose husband was sentenced to jail on drug charges a few years ago, and the mother's testimony was that they were completely out of money, couldn't pay their electric bill, couldn't pay the rent, almost at foreclosure...a real-life family and financial tragedy. And her testimony is that at that moment of financial disaster, she said she made the decision to start tithing. I'm not criticizing her, but what does this say about the ministry of FBC Jax and Mac Brunson, that a poor mother with no food and money decides to start forking over 10% of her income to the church? But then again, this is what Dave Ramsey teaches: that he tithed all the way into and out of bankruptcy. Apparently the tithe to the mega church must be paid by poor struggling moms who have lost their husbands. This testimony sent the message: even you poor folks who can't pay your bills, you need to give 10% too, so you can be obedient, and your bills will be paid too. It is nothing short of financial and spiritual perversion.
Mac squeezed the good folks at FBC Jax for all they're worth. Even the Sunday of the offering, they moved the offering to the END of the service to give everyone a chance to "prepare" their special offering. This also gave Mac one more whack at the wallets, preaching again out of the Old Testament on the temple of God, and how the care of the temple reflects what Christians think about God.
So it was a great month of fund raising. It had it all. Scripture was misused, tithing was put forth as the path to obedience and God's blessings, and Mac wrongly characterized the real concerns that his church members have with their finances during these days. People need to give 10%, they're not, they're fearful, and not exhibiting faith. Times are tough for a mega church with such cheapskates as members.
September 2010 will be a perfect case study of non-scriptural "fund raising" that other pastors can be sure to follow (or avoid, whichever is the case).
And let's see if they raised the million.
If not, perhaps I'm just days away from more subpoenas.