This particular sermon had many Mac-isms we'll look at later, but in the beginning of this sermon, Brunson went on to say how the rest of the convention is watching the FBC Jax transition over the last 2 years, and pastors and churches all over the country are marveled at how well it was done. Brunson said he and Vines should write a book about how to do it, its gone so well. Of course he pointed out how FBC Dallas flubbed their transition from Criswell until Mac came to the rescue.
But did we really do the transition well? By what standard would we say that it has gone well? Oh, we haven't seen a fall-off of attendance, and our budget receipts are steady, sure. Other than the fact that Mac is still here, other than the fact that the transition has been a smashing success personally for "Team Brunson", I don't see how it has gone "well" for the church as a whole. As pointed out on this blog certainly the antics of our lay leaders and Mac Brunson are NOT a model for other churches to follow - there's plenty more to be learned of what NOT to do in a mega church transition than what TO do. This is one of the purposes I hope this blog serves, is that other mega churches look at how we brought Mac in here, how abuses occured unchecked, and that other churches put protections in place to prevent what has happened at our church from happening to them.
More evidence of this terrible transition is when one looks at the conversion of the ground floor Children's Building conference to a personal office suite and library for "Team Brunson". Here's the record from the City of Jacksonville building permit database on this renovation:
Project: Renovations Pastor's office buildout
Business Name: First Baptist Church
Business Type: Religious
Project Address: 600 N. Main St., No. 100, between West Ashley and West Beaver streets
Zip Code: 32202
Entry Date: 3/21/2006
Square Footage: 3,633
We spent nearly $100,000 to convert 3633 square feet of the most prime space on our campus to a personal suite for the Brunsons. I mean the average church member doesn't have a HOUSE that large, inclusive of the garage and back porch! How smart was that? Look at the date...the permit was entered 3/21/06, which means that the design for this change had to begin around the time we voted to bring "Team Brunson" to Jax. Was this a requirement for him to come? Whose idea was this?
Why do we ask this? Easy: how in the world could anyone in our staff or lay leadership justify this expenditure and transfer of prime space use in our church? One would think that some clear-thinking member of the finance committee, or one of the staff members of our church involved with facilities management, or certainly one of the trustees, would have had the nerve to stand and say: "Wait a minute! Before we transfer all 3600 square feet of the most prime space on our campus at a cost of $100,000 of God's money, and more than that the opportunity cost of not having that space available in the future for ministry, SHOULDN'T WE AT LEAST WAIT UNTIL THE MAN HAS A CHANCE TO GET BOOTS ON THE GROUND, ASSESS OUR FACILITIES NEEDS AND STRENGTHS, AND COMPARE THOSE WITH ANTICIPATED MINISTRY NEEDS OF THE FUTURE?"
Anyone involved in the transition of leadership in a large organization knows that when undergoing major leadership transition, large expenditures that are not essential to the mission of the organization should be "frozen"...don't spend any unnecessary money, don't commit any valuable resources until the new leadership is in place, can assess the situation and determine the direction of the organization. But noooooo......we had to go and spend $100k to make sure the Brunsons had an office suite FROM DAY 1. In the most prime spot on our campus. That's arrogant. That's an abuse and outright misuse of God's money.
Under what possible scenario, other than a lapse of judgement on the part of lay leadership, or as a demand on the part of the Brunsons for their coming to Jax, would we see a project such as this begin before Mac Brunson arrives to assess our facilities needs as a church?
Fast forward 1 1/2 years, and there is Mac holding a vote to start a school that will be housed in the Children's Building. Where would the ideal spot be for the headmaster and administrative staff? Why of course the ground floor of the Children's Building....nope, sorry, Team Brunson already has already occupied that space. And what in tarnations costs $100,000 in converting that space? Sure, some partition walls, maybe new carpeting...but $100k, my gosh, I'm afraid to find out. Think I'm crazy? A legalist? A slanderer or troublemaker? Let's take a look at a quote from Jim Smyrl in his article "Politics and the Pew" available at his website for his 501(c) 3 ministry organization "Loyal Heart Ministries, Inc." (http://www.loyalheartministries.com/)" In this article Jim parallels wasteful spending on "pastor salaries and staff sabbaticals" to what he considers wasteful spending on children and youth and music ministries.
"...let us look to our own spending of Kingdom funds. The next time you pay to be spiritually nourished by entertaining music ministers, write a check for Jesus cruises, sign over property for the aesthetic pleasures of our children, or fund a mountain top excursion for your teens, make sure you are holding yourself to a higher standard than those who manage our national [government] resources. They will give an account of what they wasted by our standards at the poll. We will give an account of what we wasted by Jesus' standards at the judgment."
Couldn't have said it better myself Jim.