For the next few articles I will share my thoughts on the new satellite strategy unveiled last Wednesday by Smyrl and Brunson. Before you reject my analysis because its unspiritual and ignores what "our awesome God can do" and before you say "But God can do things way beyond what you can imagine" - keep in mind that this strategy I'm analyzing was birthed by Mac and his crack church MARKETING firm the A-Group when Mac was in Dallas, using, well, basic marketing principles they are known for. So I'm going to examine this strategy from the same business marketing principles from which it was birthed, at the risk of sounding unspiritual.
First of all, I'm not saying that the strategy won't work, and I in fact hope it DOES work - and I acknowledge it MAY work. But before one throws all their support behind the satellite ministry as a means of reaching people for Christ (meaning growing the church), let's do a sober review of the past two years:
1. Mac's first two years have yielded very little "growth". The "cloud" hasn't moved as we had hoped and as Mac's "John the Baptist" David Allen predicted it would when Mac arrived. No one can know for certain why, but we can't ignore the fact we hoped Mac was the man who would lead us to a brighter future - and no doubt, NO DOUBT, the search committee and trustees thought this too, else they would not have pursued Mac so vigorously, giving him all that he was given to come here from FBC Dallas. Given the tenacity of the search committee in trying to get Mac to come, the gifts and perks and family jobs it took to get him here, now the lack of growth, and his abuses since coming here, all should cause serious Christians to wonder if Mac is God's man to lead us in ANY direction.
2. And Mac should not blame us. We did everything we could to help Mac lead us into the future. From the gifts to help ease the transition, to agreeing to put his family on staff, the free use of a condo, etc. we tried to assist. We rolled Mac out to the community at the Sermon on the Mound on Father's Day 2006 (which Mac called a huge success in his pastor's guide book). Why even Times Union religion reporter Jeff Brumley trumpeted to the community Mac as the pick-up-drivin', Krispy Kreme - eatin', business card tooth pickin', good ole boy redneck preacher coming to Jax that would be a perfect blend of Homer and Jerry Vines (which I guess we now know it means if you add the value of Vines' and Lindsay's homes you almost get to the value of Mac's home).
3. We had hopes...we thought once we got the new preacher in that he would come in and work hard and lead us in a new direction. But that didn't happen. Mac was preoccupied his first year getting the land gift inked, staying at the beach an hour away from the city he was called to minister to, starting construction of his new million dollar home, finishing his book manuscript, traveling around the country preaching...in fact we never heard from Mac about his "vision" for the church until he had been here almost a year. No hurry in setting a course for the future - although he was in a HUGE hurry to get the house started, the pastor's suite constructed, getting wife and son on staff - no need waiting for God to move in those areas, after all those were priorities his first year, not getting us moving again in reaching Jacksonville.
And don't you know Mac is frustrated. Mac has seen no growth at our church his first two years - we've lost huge market share for our brand as the city has grown but our church has been stagnant. He no doubt blames us, the "dry dead bones", the "hotbed of legalism", the "worshipping the past" and "worshipping previous pastors" and "comfortable in our sin and in our compromise"...and he JUST can't get all of us to bring our BIIIBLES....for some reason Paige Patterson thinks Mac never got a honeymoon (hmmm, how would he believe that lie that unless Mac told him?). He's spent the last year in so many ways blaming the recalcitrants to cover for his lack of leadership now that things are not going well in Jax. Maybe he's worried that FBC Jax will be the case study for those reading his book "how churches die" (which by the way is mostly focused on church members and how they cause a church to die - not on preachers - does that surprise you?)
So one has to ask: Is this satellite strategy his "long bomb" in an attempt to save his ministry at our church? Maybe it is. If it fails, no sweat he'll be off to another church or ministry (probably a seminary to teach or to be a president) and we'll be stuck holding the bag and the bills. If it succeeds, he will write a book - because as I'll point out in the next article, his strategy is indeed very novel - never been attempted before (as I'll explain, so hold your horses), and if it is successful it will indeed be a move of God's hand!