He filled out the meeting room at the Ramada Inn, and had upwards of 100 people present. The crowd was mostly current or former First Baptist Jacksonville members, including some very, very prominent long-time members whose names you would recognize if I posted them. Present was a cross-section of older and younger members.
But more than that, what was most surprising is the vision he laid forth about this new church that will be radically different from the typical Southern Baptist church. Smyrl took the high road, and never mentioned the past about First Baptist Jax or Mac Brunson or John Blount, but did look to the future in explaining the following about the new church:
- Smyrl will be a bi-vocational pastor, as he has secured a job with Chase Bank that starts later this month;
- The church will affirm the priesthood of the believer, as prescribed in the New Testament, the "ecclessia" church model
- Smyrl says the church will absolutely not focus on buildings and programs and positions - but will focus on spreading the gospel with funds going to ministry, not salaries and buildings;
- The home groups will be autonomous in nature, where they will decide themselves on mission projects to support
- Smyrl does believe in supporting the Cooperative Program of the SBC, so the church will be involved in some manner in funding missions through the CP;
- Smyrl is not interested at all in building a huge church - in fact, if the church were to grow to 300-400 it would plant another church.
- The location of the church will be at Crystal Springs Elementary on the Westside of Jacksonville, with the first service being at 10:00 am on July 31st.
- Did not go into detail about the "membership covenant" that he tweeted he was working on - this would be my only concern, that members have to sign a "covenant" agreeing to some sort of conditions of membership, including subjecting themselves to the authority of an elder board and church discipline. I hope Jim Smyrl doesn't go that route.
Now get ready for the onslaught of those slamming Smyrl, saying he is divisive and bitter - and blaming any harm that might come to FBC Jax on those darned Calvinists.
And contrary to rumors being spread by yours truly, there were no FBC Jax deacons or trustees spotted taking down license plate numbers in the Ramada parking lot, although surely the Discipline Committee would love to get their hands on that list. :)