"...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

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Jim Smyrl's Church, LHBC, Distributes the "Member Covenant"

This past week Jim Smyrl's new church, Loyal Heart Bible Church, distributed it's "Member Covenant".

The Watchdog did get his copy delivered this weekend from a reader of the blog, and I have had a chance to review it. I was a bit concerned what it might contain, given Smyrl's reformed theology and knowing what other reformed churches require their members to sign - a list of rules and regulations, and an agreement to submit to the "authority" of the church.

I am not going to provide the entire covenant here - it is two pages in length - but will give some portions and commentary of what stuck out to me, and I'm going to compare and contrast this covenant with portions of the bylaws from FBC Jax from whence Smyrl comes. The "member convenant" for FBC Jax members is found in Article V of their bylaws.

It Was Distributed to Everyone
What a concept! Smyrl actually drafted the covenant, and is letting everyone have a hard copy, and they were allowed to take it home with them!! Unlike the goons at FBC Jax, who when they made significant changes to their bylaws in December 2007, they did not distribute them, they only allowed members to read them in the church library, but could NOT take a copy with them!! Then, before voting, neither the pastor, nor the president of the trustees, nor the head deacon read or even described the nature of the changes, they just called for a vote! The changes significantly changed the church governance, added a discipline committee, and other very significant changes, as I blogged 2 1/2 years ago here, here, here, and here.

So kudos to you, Jim, you're letting the folks have a hard copy. A.C. Soud, are you reading this? When will you freely distribute and post the December 2007 bylaw changes? Why not post them on the Internet, like you did the Deacons Resolution 2009-1?(affectionately called the "Anti-Criticism Doctrine" by yours truly).

Members Must Sign It
The covenant says all LHBC members must sign it. If I wanted to join Smyrl's church I wouldn't sign it. Why does one have to sign it to become a member? Why does one have to become a "member" anyways? Why not just attend, and contribute as the Lord leads? I would drop that requirement, Jim. The covenant already says that the congregation will reaffirm their commitment to it at the beginning of every communion service.

Members Affirm They Will Live "Under the Authority of Christ"

Biggest shocker - the document doesn't require members to submit themselves to the authority of the pastor, the elders, or the deacons or any other special group of believers.

No Reference to "Pastor" or "Elder"
There is no definition of church heirarchy. It refers to "believers", "mutual submission", "working in brotherly love". It does not set up a difference between the pastor and elders, and the regular members. Throughout it assumes all believers are on equal footing with one another. I assume that there will be "bylaws" at some point that flesh out some sort of operational structure of the church, but at least the covenant recognizes the priesthood of the believer, and not the "senior pastor".

Doesn't Require Members to "Love, Honor, and Esteem" Their Pastor
One of the creepiest aspects of the FBC Jax member covenant is this requirement of members:

"It shall be the duty of each and every member of this Church to honor, esteem and love the Pastor, to pray for him constantly, and to manifest a tender regard for his reputation."

Notice, that is NOT in Smyrl's member covenant - he doesn't mention "pastor" at all. The further time slips that I have been away from First Baptist Jacksonville, the more that statement makes my skin crawl. Who on earth prays for their pastor "constantly", and why would that be a "duty" of each and every member? What on earth does it mean in the real world to "manifest a tender regard for his reputation" mean? Of course, it means shut up, don't complain, and follow your pastor without question.

So FBC Jax members: you better be meeting your duty to pray constantly for your pastor. Do not complain about your pastor, as to do so would not be to manifest a tender regard for his reputation, and could get you a visit from the discipline committee, or worse! Memo to FBC Jax Trustees: please add a section that requires the pastor to manifest a tender regard for the church's reputation, ok? Thanks.

Does Specify "Church Discipline", No Discipline Committee
Smyrl's covenant does state that they will "...lovingly seek to restore a believer in sin through the practice of biblical restoration including the removal of unrepentant members from our fellowship." I don't see the creation of a discipline committee, but that could come in future LHBC bylaws. The FBC Jax bylaws specify a discipline process which in effect excludes the pastor, since the discipline committee has to get the approval of the pastor before taking disciplanary action! (FBC Jax bylaws, Article XIV, Section 4).

Does Not Require Members to Waive Legal Rights
The covenant doesn't require members to waive their rights to file legal action against the church. Unbelievably, in the December 2007 bylaw changes at FBC Jax, the following statement was added in Article XIV:

"All members waive the right to file any legal action against the Church in a civil court or agency."

And they didn't even bother to explain to the plebe at the voting meeting that this was what they were voting on.

So all in all, not a bad covenant. As I said, Smyrl freely distributed it, and people can read it and judge it for themselves.

LHBC members, I urge you to demand that any bylaws drawn up for LHBC that further define your responsibilities, a discipline process, how elders are selected, etc. etc. be freely distributed to everyone. I am confident Smyrl will do this, as he most certainly had to see the injustice done at FBC Jax by trustees making changes to bylaws and not making every effort possible to educate the members.

52 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why don't you tell us about the by-laws of the church you attend. Not your opinion of the church that booted you out or one you seem to think is the answer for Jacksonville. If its all so good then why don't you go join it?

I'd like to hear an in-depth analysis of the church you now attend, your pastor, his family, your deacons, and your Sunday School teacher. It might prove interesting to your many readers.

Anonymous said...

Jim Smyrl is a leader - not a follower. Just wait, his church will grow - be open & honest with your fellowship and they will treat you with respect. I doubt very much there will ever be a blog written about him, read by thousands, such as is the downtown senior pastor.

On a funny note, this preacher said the blog was beauty shop gossip - he got it right as I was at a salon & was asked if I had heard about that downtown preacher. I just responded with a smile as I recalled that statement in the newspaper & here it is what, 2 years later & non-believers are questioning. This will not happen with Jim Smryl!

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Anon 9:45 - your comment just oozes with bitterness. Please, please, stop reading this blog.

Anonymous said...

Wow WD.. do I detect some bitterness from anon 9:45? Could that be Brunson, Trey, or one of his other cronies?

I agree that Smryl is doing it the right way and his church will grow. People want to be loved,nurtured, and have a pastor get them excited about Jesus. FBCJAX doesn't do that.

Why they demoted Smryl and elevated Blount, who is not seminary educated, to 2nd position is amazing. What is evem more amazing is that Blount preaches on Wednesday night while Brunson is in the audience. What is that about? Why doesn't Brunson preach when he is there? Isn't that what is paid to do?

God Bless LHBC!

Anonymous said...

I'd like to hear an in-depth analysis of the church you now attend, your pastor, his family, your deacons, and your Sunday School teacher. It might prove interesting to your many readers.

Start a blog of your own.

Anonymous said...

"One of the creepiest aspects of the FBC Jax member covenant is this requirement of members:


"It shall be the duty of each and every member of this Church to honor, esteem and love the Pastor, to pray for him constantly, and to manifest a tender regard for his reputation"


Please, please please tell me you are not serious! it actually says this?

I had no idea it was this bad and blatent...this idolatry? There really are 'special' people in Christendom?

Why not love, honor and pray for the 'least of these' in the Body? Or just each other?

Because it is NOT the Body at FBCJax.

And you are right. NO ONE should sign a member covenant. Does not one read Matthew anymore? Let your yes be yes, folks.

Anonymous said...

Anon, you have bitterness and envy in your heart. Your pastor does not want you to read blogs tht have any negatives about their temples...oops churches....so should you really be here? You know you should obey what the pastors teach on these things...since that is what you believe about them.

Your pastor only wants you to think good things about him NO matter what he does or teaches. And that is YOUR duty since you follow him.

Anonymous said...

When I was a kid, my dad told me we would go to a park. I asked him if he promised. "Do you promise?" He got angry, and he never got angry. His word was good. He was an honest man. To ask him to promise was an insult. It suggested he might not be an honest man. It is the same with these covenants. Christian believers have already vowed to follow Christ. To ask them to "promise" by signing covenants is an insult.

Anonymous said...

Several things that should have been in the Covenant...

Thou Shalt not write Blogs about our Church and its Leaders.

Thou Shalt not cause problems and bring lawsuits.

Thou Shalt not be a Whiner, a Gossip, and a pain in the Rear to the Body of Christ.

That would rule you out Dog.

Anonymous said...

"All members waive the right to file any legal action against the Church in a civil court or agency."

This will not, has not, and would not hold up in a court of law in any church fellowship.

As a matter of fact anyone can sue WD or anyone else they don't like and he or they would have to hire an attorney to defend themselves.

Nuf said.

Anonymous said...

"Several things that should have been in the Covenant..."

Thou shalt not read negative comments about the pastor

So, why are you still here?

Anonymous said...

Where in the bible dose it say we must sign our rights away, Is it the rule of god.

Larry Geiger said...

Odd. I've never heard of a church with a "covenant". Been in lots of churches, never been asked to sign anything. I guess it's a Suthern Baptist thingy. Oh well.

Adam said...

Hey Watchdog, I have been lurking here for a while, interesting reading for sure!

I would ask a question, and I really don't mean this as a troll. What kind of a church (if any) do you currently attend and are a part of? Choosing a church can be difficult, no doubt, and you have had your share of difficulties with them. I hope you have found a good one friend.

Do you have any sort of covenant there? Not sure how common this is. We have a leadership covenant at my church, but attenders don't sign anything for sure.

Have a great day!

Anonymous said...

TROLL alert!
Don't fall for it WD.

Anonymous said...

If you don't like the Covenant, catch a bus and go to another Church.

If you don't like Mac and Team Brunson, hit the road. Mac has proven (and I as a man appreciate it!)that he will kick you out of the Church in a New York Minute.

I like this Blog and I am not sure really why?


Maybe it is sinful and my flesh enjoys sin.

Maybe it is borderline gossip and my flesh enjoys gossip.

Maybe there is some truth to what is here and my spirit likes truth.

I love Mac and Tom...I wish Mac and Tom loved each other.

Anonymous said...

The fact that a church would have to state that the congregation had to love, pray, and protect the pastors reputation is not evidence of a true pastor or man of God. Dr. Lindsay never required that and it was not in the bylaws until long after his death.

If the pastor truly loves his current flock, treats them with respect and continually directs them to the throne room of God, then it should not be necessary to have it in a convenant.

You can't force people to love, honor or respect them, which is why God gave us the free will and and its because of God's love to I want to love, honor, respect, and protect my Lord and Savior!

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Anon 4:12

Not sure you are correct there. The "thou shalt love, honor, and protect thy pastor" clause was there before Brunson, possibly in the Lindsay era.

Anonymous said...

What is so bitter about asking you to write about the church you currently attend? You seem to be so good at analyzing Mac and his motives that you should do a good job. I would actually be interested in knowing what kind of church and pastor you actually do like.

Another thought: it might be nice if every blogger put whether or not they are actually a member and/or attender of FBC Jax or just an interested bystander.

If you are so much interested in transparency this would go a long way toward you having it.

Anonymous said...

"I like this Blog and I am not sure really why?"

This blog is not for the man-worshiping kool-aid drinkers.

It is for those who are not afraid to test long-held traditions in light of scripture and hold fast to what is true.

It is for those who don't put their mega-church pastor on a pedestal and worship him in place of Christ.

It is for those who are not intimidated by sheep-beating sermons, self-serving interpretations, and trespass papers.

Anonymous said...

"If you are so much interested in transparency this would go a long way toward you having it."

Bad logic.
No one is demanding a tithe here.

Anonymous said...

The POSITION of pastor should be loved, respected, etc.--that's why you kick some of the PEOPLE in those positions in the seat of their pants! They have little if any business being in the position--none if they behave so insecurely as to REQUIRE that a congregation love them. Those pastor you starve out if you have to, to move on into the future with one who will earn the love of the church by the service for which he is called (not to mention paid).

very old Lindsay Sr. era deacon said...

"The "thou shalt love, honor, and protect thy pastor" clause was there before Brunson, possibly in the Lindsay era."

Tom, you are correct.

Junkster said...

Never sign anything to join a church. If anyone asks you to, that's a big red flag warning you to run out the door and never go back.

Nancy said...

FBC = a power hungry pastor with an elitist attitude. Remember, the LOVE of money is the root of all evil. I think that pretty much sums it all up. Shame.

Seneca Griggs said...

Jim Smyrl's Church might be almost perfect.
Perhaps we can start a blog, LHBC Watchdog, and see if a discipline committee doesn't appear out of nowhere.
Jim probably wouldn't understand that LHBC Watchdog was actually doing him a favor. Godly people pointing out his flaws. LHBC Watchdog, here we come.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

James Brown - stop the games, guy. It is old. Stay on topic, don't come here to make pointless comments.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

I would write about the church I currently attend, but it would be boring. I'm not a member, just an attender. Relatively small church, very nice Christian people.

Anonymous said...

"FBC = a power hungry pastor with an elitist attitude. Remember, the LOVE of money is the root of all evil. I think that pretty much sums it all up. Shame."

Nancy, sorry to disappoint you, but you are clueless about FBC...and its pastors.

Thy Peace said...

I do not think this comment is Off Topic. From my perspective it bears strongly on the role of a pastor. I would strongly encourage any of the readers to listen to these two sermons of Wade from 1997 Emmanuel - Enid, the series of Ephesians:

Marks of a True Pastor - "A Prisoner, a Steward, and a Minister"

The Message of a True Pastor - "The Unsearchable Riches of Christ".

Blessings to All.

Anonymous said...

"It shall be the duty of each and every member of this Church to honor, esteem and love the Pastor, to pray for him constantly, and to manifest a tender regard for his reputation."

Is that for real?
Eeeeewwwww.
That is just creepy.

Anonymous said...

"It shall be the duty of each and every member of this Church to honor, esteem and love the Pastor, to pray for him constantly, and to manifest a tender regard for his reputation"...........

This can't be real. Can it? Are we talking about the Pope? If Mac did institute this language, then shame on him. As a former FBC Dallas member, when ol' Macky was back in town, I can say I am glad he is outta here.

This is the same guy who launched a $48M building campaign, then leaves to JAX to get a fluffy land deal, mo' money, etc. etc.

Wait, I do believe he would have such language passed (slipped by more like it, from the sounds of their methods).

And this troll dude (or dudette)is sad and bitter.

Garlando

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Garlando - the "thou shalt love and honor thy pastor" was in the FBC Jax bylaws way before Mac became pastor.

New BBC Open Forum said...

See, I told you "Seneca" isn't JLE.

Same Stuff said...

New BBC,
You're probably right, but he might as well be. SSDD.

But you said that like he said something that proved it. What did you mean?

Johnny D. said...

"Remember, the LOVE of money is the root of all evil."

Actually, what the Scripture says is that the love of money "is the root of all kinds of evil." Or, if you prefer, here is how The Message by Eugene Peterson puts Puts 1st Timothy 9-10,

"But if it's only money these leaders are after, they'll self-destruct in no time. Lust for money brings trouble and nothing but trouble. Going down that path, some lose their footing in the faith completely and live to regret it bitterly ever after."

Money is just a means of exchange. Lusting after it is the problem, but it is not the only problem we humans must deal with.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

I agree about signing the pledge. Jim is doing his best to pattern his church after the New Testament model (unlike the hyper-pastor-led model of the megas), so no need to sign a pledge.

I don't see anywhere in the NT that the disciples signed a member covenant.

Maybe Jim will drop that requirement.

Anonymous said...

WD.. I stand corrected if that "love, respect,etc.." clause was in the bylaws prior to Brunson. I think the difference is that the average member didn't need a clause to love, honor, respect and protect the reputation of Lindsay. He was the ultimate pastor, shepherd, caregiver, etc. You have to earn that and I believe Vines and Brunson both assumed it would transfer to them and it hasn't.

We maybe sheep but we aren't blind, dumb, and stupid. We want a pastor that cares about the flock, not worrying about where we live, or what we drive, or what cruise we can orchestrate.

Dr. Linsday would have never done those things. He was one of us.

Anonymous said...

We maybe sheep but we aren't blind, dumb, and stupid. We want a pastor that cares about the flock, not worrying about where we live, or what we drive, or what cruise we can orchestrate.

Dr. Linsday would have never done those things. He was one of us.

August 25, 2011 9:13 AM

=================================

Amen 9:13
Note to Nancy - this long time ex-member of FBC
says your post was a direct hit - clueless about the pastors, not so, you got it right!

Anonymous said...

Covenants are good things if worded correctly and they reflect biblical standards. In the Body of Christ we are all in covenant, that is why there are 57 "one another" admonitions in the N.T. We are clearly told to esteem our leaders highly, but they are responsible for exemplyfying biblical conduct and character as an example to us. The written covenant is a visible standard that exists in the biblical realm.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:33, not sure what you are trying to say. Speak clearly!

The pastor at FBC doesn't have a clue how to love, nurture, direct, lead, and tend to the flock God has given him. The Bible says that leaders will be held in higher esteem. Therefore, I pray God have mercy on him.

Anonymous said...

"James Brown - stop the games, guy. It is old. Stay on topic, don't come here to make pointless comments."

LOL! I see you figured out Seneca. Maybe someone will post a link to his church. he is all over the place wrecking havoc and being very nasty to victims of sexual molestation. Not a nice guy. Too bad this is typical of what is in our churches these days.

Anonymous said...

"Never sign anything to join a church. If anyone asks you to, that's a big red flag warning you to run out the door and never go back."

Bull. I means that church has expectations and wants some accountability and you coming to simply take a seat in a pew in unacceptable.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone document in the Bible where a signed coveneant is necessary to be part of the body of Christ? This is just more intimidation. Christ told his disciples to give up their lives and follow him, not "sign here."

Anonymous said...

the bible might not describe the disciples signing a covenant, but that doesn't make it unbiblical. while i might not choose to sign something - i certainly have that freedom - signing a covenant signifying my unity to a local church is my choice.

Anonymous said...

"But you said that like he said something that proved it. What did you mean?"

dawg's 8:18 p.m. comment

Seneca

Anonymous said...

http://sccjax.org/

New BBC Open Forum said...

But you said that like he said something that proved it. What did you mean?

What Anon 5:48 wrote.

Anonymous said...

the bible might not describe the disciples signing a covenant, but that doesn't make it unbiblical.

Mind control slave.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I'm just going to have to disagree on a written and signed covenant being appropriate, at least for me. Reeks of Southern Baptist legalism. May be OK for others, but I would just have to let my "yes" be "yes" and not sign anything. Like I said, may be fine for others, but a bridge too far for me.

I have no dog in this hunt, and I wish this new church well. May they be a vibrant and loving people, and a shining example of Christ's love to others. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Thought I might add something to those of you who are still here.

Check out Dutch Reformed Church in the USA. They are full of covenants. Robert Schuller came out of that denomination. Rick Warren an Bill Hybells were followers of Schuller.

This covenant signing is rampant in th DRC.

Brunson is buddies with Rick Warren.

The DRC were charter members of the World Counsel of Churches

Anonymous said...

this is my first whatever, blog smog gog and I am amazed at what I read, I have done some quick calculations on my abacus and have calculated 93.54 % of the commentors will not make it to heaven, smyrl is a truly spirit filled man unlike all the rest around him and cannot be judged on the merits of lost mankind. They are not his peers for sure, lets just wait and see for I know he will shortly, because of his "powerful annointed truth" rarely seen in this "do I hear an amen " world, he will draw all truth seekers to him via the "word", the real uncompromised word that is. Stop commenting on churches, you should be bloging or smogging government corrption, mindless regulation and political pursuits and godless leaders, get perspective.....blessings, joe g. m.