2 Samuel 16:9,11 - "Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head...let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord hath bidden him."

Matthew 7:15 - “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

Matthew 24:11 - “…and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.”

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Marketing of a Man....

After watching the Democrats' convention last week, I couldn't help but think about the danger of electing a man like Barack Obama, whose reputation in the minds of most Americans is based more on slick marketing messages than a true record of leadership and accomplishment. The purpose of their convention was to mask, through clever marketing and visual images, the fact that this man, Barack Obama, is THE most liberal Senator, and has zero executive and foreign policy experience. As William Safire has said, "When you hire a plumber, the one thing you want to know is if these are the first set of pipes he has worked on." Electing Barack Obama would be a tremendous risk, and he would likely make Jimmy Carter's four years look like a dream.

But that is the power of marketing, branding, and visual images. It can get a man hired in a very powerful position for which he is totally unqualified (see also "Adrian Soud").

Have you ever considered how Mac Brunson was pitched to us as a congregation? If you ponder that, you will realize we were sold an image of Mac Brunson and Team Brunson to gather our support and generate enthusiasm about him, and to prepare us for the fleecing that was about to begin. It was marketing. It was delivering a "brand" to us, something that Maurilio Amorim of the A-Group knows all about. We knew next to nothing about him - he was an unknown - had preached a forgettable sermon once at the pastor's conference in 2001 or 2002. And then we were told he was God's man for our church.

We received the marketing and branding messages about Mac Brunson in several ways: first we were shown a video introducing "Team Brunson" - their history, their marriage, their family. He was an everyday Joe, a guy from a small North Carolina textile town. He was a red neck. Then we were fed a steady stream of Mac stories by high-priced SBC preachers (most of them friends of Paige Patterson) about the wonders of Mac Brunson. We were told by Ergun Caner that he drives pick up trucks and eats Krispy Kreme. We were told by our previous pastor and others in the SBC that he was a fine bible expositor.

After we trusted our search committee and voted for Mac and put he and Honey on the payroll, the signs that they were something other than as advertised began to show immediately, and I mean RIGHT AWAY. After the vote in 2006 calling them as pastor, they promptly took a nearly two month-long paid vacation (who gets hired for a job and says "great, I'll see ya'll in two months") while their 3000 sf office suite was constructed, and we were treated to two months of high-priced preachers coming here to pave the way for Mac, all of them carefully orchestrating the message of what a great man Mac was while busting our pastoral budget line item to pay huge honoraria at the same time paying Mac's salary and benefits. Can you say "fleeced"?

David Allen, one of Paige's boys, was selected as one of the primary messengers paving the way for Mac. We paid David Allen to preach several times while Mac took his 2 month "sabattical" before arriving in Jax, and David set our expectations high. There were even some cute videos recorded to get us to laugh and giggle as we waited for the great Macsby to arrive. We were told by David Allen that "the cloud would soon move again" under Mac, but we found that the only "cloud" moving was actually the steam rising from his hot head as he angrily yelled at us for being "legalistic" and "stuck in the past". Oh yes, we did vote for 8 people to find the right man for the job, but by all appearances they focused like a laser on one man who was already selected by Jerry Vines and Paige Patterson, and it was not easy to convince Mac to come. We thought our search committee was being lead by the Holy Spirit, but they were led by men to entice one man. Entice him they did, and come he did, and we've paid dearly for it, and will continue to do so for a long time.

What were some of the other marketing images fed to us by the SBC preacher boys and the A-Group to get us to buy the Brunson brand? We were told of Mac's humble beginnings, from a small town in North Carolina. We were told Mac was a conservative preacher, an expository preacher, who loved to just preach. But we found out he is anything BUT expository - he hunts and pecks and regularly misuses scriptures to fit his points rather than preaching the text and letting the Holy Spirit speak. He preaches topically most Sundays. We were told he is a historian who pours over his sermons for hours and hours - but he regularly misrepresents historical facts in his sermons and even has slandered a former church member from the pulpit. As I said we were told he drove a pick-up truck and ate Krispy Kremes; a regular "red neck" from the South. We had no idea that when he came to Jacksonville this "red neck" would live an hour away on the Atlantic Ocean beach on exclusive Amelia Island for a year in a multi-million dollar condo, all the while building his million dollar mansion in a gated community. That wasn't part of the marketing message, that they loved the high life, the VERY good things.

Part of the branding was the "Team Brunson" concept. We were told he and his wife were a "team", that they counseled together and for that we were glad. This led us to believe his wife would have a lay ministry like other minister's wives at our church who serve without salary but serve along side their husband and teach and lead and model ministry. We had no idea that "Team Brunson" meant "Two Salaries" and a huge new office suite on the ground floor of our new Children's Building - the most prime spot of space for ministry - an office suite which by the way is about twice the size of the average church member's HOUSE...for Mac and Honey to have a private office suite for them and their dogs.

We were sold a bill of goods. We had no clue that Mac's first move would be to hand over our website design to the Nashville based A-Group run by Maurilio Amorim - to take our website backwards and that in the next 2 1/2 years we would never archive one single sermon on the website; and to this day our flash demos of ministry are over 3 years old, still featuring ministers long gone. While our website is stale and floundering, Mac invested thousands with Maurilio in revamping the Pastor's Conference website.

We were told about how close of a family the Brunsons were, how they did everything together, and for that we were glad. But we didn't know this meant he would immediately would put wife and son on PAID STAFF in newly created positions...that his son would become the Director of Special Projects at age 22 right out of college and would be handed the responsibility of coordinating and raising funds for the Pastor's Conference and then be praised at the 2007 conference for "raising $100,000" to help pay for it. Who knew that Mac's wife would be put on paid staff, earning a reported $100,000 per year working a very light schedule with no specific church ministry responsibilities, and who takes time off to sit on the IMB board and to travel with Mac.

We didn't know that we would be asked to contribute money for Mac's son's wedding reception, whom we didn't even know..and that Mac would immediately push his Holy Land trips to the very wealthy in our congregation...we had no idea that our preacher would damage our church's reputation by accepting a $300,000 land gift upon his arrival showing that he cared more about building his personal wealth out of the box than hitting the ground running as the new preacher in town. We had no clue, this man would turn our Wednesday night services into a "Church History" night when he arrived - causing Wednesday night attendance to plummet and from which it has since never recovered.

We had no clue that this redneck from North Carolina would be building a million dollar home and he and wife would be driving Jaguars and BMW's instead of the pick up truck that Ergun Caner told us about. Neither could we have possibly seen that his preaching schedule the first year would be sporadic at best, vacating the pulpit without notice, even being so arrogant as to announce that his new book was keeping him from preparing his sermons necessitating a guest speaker...then we read the book and find out he doesn't live by the precepts on money and greed and gifts he puts forth for other pastors.

We were told he would be more of a loving "pastor", a man of the people unlike the other pastors. Who would have thought that this new loving pastor would repeatedly beat us up and charge us as being "legalistic", and "worshipping the past" and "worshipping previous pastors"? Who thought that this loving pastor would tell the pastors in his old stomping grounds of North Carolina that we are a "hotbed of legalism"? And who can forget about the way our bylaws were clandestinely changed to give him more power, calling for a vote with no explanation of the changes given to the congregation? And we know he wants a school, so he holds an unannounced vote to take $500,000 from the church offerings to start the school. We've spent hundreds of thousands to put Mac on INSP network so that Mac can put on his bio that he is "heard around the world on radio and TV"...and of course he allowed some "influential deacons" use our church facilities to host a "Time to Stand With Israel" to raise funds for an Israeli hospital where abortions are performed...yes, under Mac's wonderful leadership our church facilities, built by saints of God over decades with sweat and sacrifice: have been used to raise funds for an Israeli hospital that performs abortions. I must have missed that part of the David Allen's sermons describing what we had in store with Mac Brunson.

Have I made my point?

Now we are stuck with Mac. With the bylaw changes there will be no getting rid of him until he gets tired of dealing with us recalcitrant sheep and he moves on to something else. He won't humble himself to address any of these items with his church, and thus he has damaged his ability to lead.

I hope our country doesn't make the mistake of hiring Barack Obama. If he is elected, we're stuck with him for 4 years...but at least in his case there are checks and balances to not let him have total control of our government and the damage he wreaks can be muted.

Not so with Mac - no checks and balances, he is "God's man" and has the keys to the church. And he leads us into a satellite ministry while our church is at less than 50% capacity. We are spending $500,000 of the church's money on the school start-up, and the architects are nearly done with the renovation designs and cost estimates that we'll have to vote on.

So get ready folks...it is going to take one heck of a marketing campaign to sell all of this to the church - good thing Mac has the ace church marketer Maurilio Amorim on his team to help make the sale to the gullible sheep of FBC Jax; even Maurilio is going to find this a tremendous challenge.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Watchdog!

Readers: Today, August 30th marks the first anniversary of the Watchdog website. In the first year, the site has logged over 100,000 visits, and a quarter of a million page views from all over the United States, and countries all over the world. There is extreme interest among Christians in our city and all around the SBC of what is happening at our church under the leadership of Team Brunson.

Thank you to the readers of the Watchdog who have kept this site going. I ask that those of you in the Jacksonville area share this site with others so that they can keep up with what is going on at FBC Jacksonville, particularly as it pertains to the "Life Links" and "South Campus". I will continue to share on this blog what is happening at our church, and my personal observations and analysis.

Blessings to all....

The Watchdog

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Satellites and "Life Links" - It IS All About Mac After All

Just some brief notes (and questions and observations) about the FBC Jacksonville's plan to expand their church through the use of what they call "Life Links" and satellite churches. I received several emails from congregants who attended an informational meeting Sunday 8/24 about these plans. The meeting was poorly attended, only 50 or so people showed up. Below are some answers you might have about this ministry.

- Why Satellites? 'Cause Mac is AWESOME! Jim Smyrl gave several reasons for going the satellite route versus a mission church; main reason? According to Smyrl, few if any preachers in Jacksonville or the country, are preaching spiritual truth in wonderful sermons like Mac Brunson. There you have it...we actually need to get more visibility for Mac in ALL of Jacksonville. He's just so darned talented in his preaching!! Our model for church growth? Build the brand of Mac Brunson. Can Jim point us to an example of where a stagnant downtown church, one that is legalistic and traditionalist, has achieved growth through a satellite ministry? Aren't most satellite concepts born out of necessity, a growing, vibrant, alive church busting at the seams needing more space?

- Where will the Satellite Be? Where the rich, er I mean the "unchurched" are, of course. The first satellite, the "South Campus" will open up Easter Sunday 2009. I'm not sure, but from the information I have it might be at Nease HS or some other location on 210 near Nocatee.

- Can You Be a "Life Link"? Only if you give up the beer and illicit sex! In advance of launching the satellite the church is enlisting volunteers to be "Life Links" - holding bible studies or in-home church, including child care, in their homes on Sunday evenings to disciple new believers. But you do have to sign a pledge card which I'm told were passed out at the informational meeting! On the pledge card you have to agree to the following:
  • you cannot allow any of the current church members to attend your home church (you wouldn't want us anyways, we're so traditionalist and legalistic). Church staff will be driving by and doing spot checks to make sure none of the downtown legalists infiltrate your home church;
  • you must agree to abstain from consumption of ANY and ALL alcoholic beverages and any illicit sexual activity (at least until you stop being a Life Link leader). Maybe that's a wise policy, but can we get any more legalistic than that? So a person at our church who might enjoy a glass of wine isn't qualified to hold a Bible Study at his house? Get REAL! Not only is that legalistic, its so hypocritical! Mac in 2 1/2 years has never, ever from the pulpit encouraged his congregation to abstain from alcohol. But he needs to put that legalistic yoke on the Life Linkers? Is that the same requirement for Sunday School teachers? Has the "No Limits" class adhered to this policy?
  • You agree to do everything you can to ensure the safety of children. Strange that this would be on the commitment card - isn't that common sense? Is this to limit church liability if someone gets hurt on the property? "We told them to ensure the safety of the children!!" Good question for a LifeLinker to ask Smyrl: does the church's liability insurance cover me while I am hosting a FBC Jax sponsored event in my home?
  • LifeLinkers must agree to do everything they can to launch another LifeLink home within so many months. They also agree to submit required data on their meetings Monday morning, attend all LifeLink organizational meetings, attend church downtown Sunday mornings...you know, a list...a legalistic list that is preached against Sunday after Sunday.
  • Have to agree to not send any anonymous emails to the pastor, or read any of the Watchdog blog entries, must bring your Bible to church, and you must "stop sitting there and do what the pastor says". (OK, I made this one up...but I hear the above parts of the commitment are true).

- Who Will Preach The Services? Who Else? Our Rock Star Preacher! when the South Campus opens there will be 2 services, a 9:00 am service where Mac will preach live, and that sermon will be recorded and shown in a 10:30 service. Yep, we're exporting Mac Brunson to southern Jacksonville! This is going to be tough for Mac, since he only averages about 1 sermon a week lately. We need to pray for him that he can do it! But research does show that sheep beatings are much less effective and motivating when delivered by tape or satellite feed. Might need to invest in some Bose speakers to get the full affect of Mac's anger.

- What About Life Links in Other Parts of the City? Smyrl said that they are interested in Life Links all over Jacksonville, not just the southern part. Perhaps the longer range plan is to start campuses in other parts of the city...which makes sense, because if these other preachers aren't preaching the Word like Mac does, then by golly we need to get satellites all over Jacksonville and quick! News flash: like many of you, I've heard pastors all over this city, from the independent fundamental baptists to the "seeker friendlies"...and Mac doesn't have anything on most other preachers in this town...except that he is angrier, yells louder, assumes the worst of his congregation, doesn't make Jesus the center of most sermons, doesn't check his historical facts, and even tells an occasional slanderous fib about former church members. Seems to me that Mac is what we could call a "hybrid preacher" - he has combined the worst of "fundamental" and "seeker friendly" preaching styles....in short: angry, negative preaching, and not much Jesus. Not sure who the target audience in southern Jacksonville is for that brand of preaching.

On Sunday morning Mac told of a wealthy man that he had breakfast with earlier in the week - he was a professing Christian, but not a Southern Baptist...and this man stroked a check for a large sum of money ($20,000 I believe) to help pay for a FBC Jax satellite in Jacksonville. Mac used this little story as proof of there being a great demand for our church in southern Jacksonville. This made me wonder: would Mac would have accepted the $20k if the man had tried to give it to Mac personally out of "love and affection"? Hmmm....Mac, be sure to give this man's name and number to our Director of Special Projects - a good source of cash when he needs to raise another $100k for the pastor's conference like last year.

Well, that's what I know about the Life Links and Satellite plans for southern Jacksonville. Sorry, if you need more info you need to contact Jim Smyrl. Churches in that area, you have about 8 months to prepare for the "FBC Jax Southern Campus" invasion...yes, we're concentrating on just new converts now, but you can bet there will plenty of sheep stealing going on as we start the new campus in 2009. But not to worry, once people get a dose of Mac Brunson cruising in his "luxury car" from his "executive home" to preach Sunday mornings, and his anger and animus and arrogance from the pulpit, they'll be longing to return to their humble shepherd pastor down the road. Besides, the FBC Jac members are a "hotbed of legalism", so who would want to link with that kind of church anyways?

Life Link converts: Just be careful of the Kool Aid that will be supplied by the church and served at the Life Link locations; I hear its quite addictive. ;)

Monday, August 25, 2008

How Shall We Vote?

Readers: I know this is awfully late in the game as we go to the voting booth tomorrow to vote for Circuit Judge, choosing between Adrian Soud (left) a member of our church, and Mark Hulsey (right), but I received the following email today from a reader and it got me to thinking about the vote for judge tomorrow and thought I'd share it with you:

Mr. Watchdog - I read your site occasionally. The email below was forwarded to me by a family member. Please feel free to post it for your readers if you think it relates to your topics. In my opinion, it looks like lay leaders at FBC Jax think they can handpick leaders, even inexperienced judges to rule over us.

Jacksonville voters: If you are planning on voting Tuesday, you may not have much information on the judge candidates. Please help make our judicial system better for yourself as a future person in front of our judges, and for our attorneys, who will be practicing in front of these newly elected judges. OUR CIRCUIT JUDGES MUST PRESIDE OVER AND DECIDE CASES IN FIVE AREAS OF LAW - criminal, civil, family law, probate and juvenile law.

http://hulsey4judge.com/experience.html) has 25 years trial experience, including family, commercial, products liability and negligence litigation and is a great candidate with over a decade of military experience as well as having raised a family. He is running against 34-year-old Adrian Soud, who is a personal injury lawyer who worked only one year with a large law firm (did he ever actually see ANY client's during that training year before he left the firm?) before working for himself in his own office ever since. He has NO JURY TRIAL EXPERIENCE in four of the above areas of law he will be presiding over if elected! Why is Adrian Soud even running against Mark since Adrian admittedly has no experience with family law, juvenile law, probate cases or criminal law? It may be because his dad was a judge with a reputation of integrity and people know the family name. Also, Adrian also has the support of influential people at the First Baptist Church downtown, who would like to see one of their own elected, regardless of any legal experience deficiencies he may have. As reported in the Jacksonville Times Union (who has endorsed Mark Hulsey): "Soud's father, A.C., was a Circuit Court judge for 26 years. His mother, Ginger, spent nine years on the City Council. But the elder Soud said a spot on the bench is no hand-me-down."Forget politics," the retired judge said. "No one should assume they're going to get a position on the Circuit Court bench as a matter of entitlement or legacy. It's just simply too important." I agree! Please vote for Mark Hulsey, not Adrian Soud!

For the out-of-town readers: Adrian Soud is a former Treasurer-Secretary at our First Baptist Church, and has grown up at the church. I believe he is a Sunday School teacher as well. His dad has been a judge and member at FBC Jax for decades, and his mom also a long record of stellar public service. A great family with an impeccable reputation. I personally want Christians like Adrian Soud to run for office - that is great - but now I'm a bit perplexed on who to vote for in this election. It seems hard for me to fathom how a man with limited trial experience at all, at just 34 years of age, and who has very limited experience in practicing law in 4 of the 5 areas of law that he would preside over as judge...could do a good job in that position whether he be a Christian or not. For those FBC Jax church members who might be inclined to vote for Adrian because we know of him, his family, and his reputation...would not the wiser choice be to vote for a more seasoned, experienced man? Do we really want a 34-year old personal injury lawyer from our church to take over the important role of Circuit Judge?

Would be interested to hear some thoughts from the rest of you. By the way, you can visit Adrian Soud's election website at: http://www.soudforjudge.com/.

Friday, August 22, 2008

"How Not to Garner Support for Your New Ministry" by Mac Brunson

In the next clip from Sunday 8/17, Mac decides to whip the sheep into submission. Instead of displaying the love, care and compassion of a shepherd, Mac likes to put his hands on the sheep so-to-speak. His sheep are concerned over his plans to start a satellite campus. How does he motivate? How does he encourage them to get involved?

Before the quote let me explain the plan for satellites. I've blogged about this plan before, and here's how it works: Mac is getting couples to commit to hosting "Life Links" in their homes - which are a re-hashed version of "cell groups" from the 1990's...but these cell groups will meet on Sunday night while church is held at FBC Jax. The people hosting these cell groups have agreed to allow the church to come in and inspect their home to make sure that it is suitable (including an inspection of their browser cache to make sure they're not reading the Watchdog). The cell groups, er I mean Life Links will be focusing on reaching "unchurched" people in their neighborhoods.

Then, after these Life Links are formed and we have new sheep, when they're ready for fleecing we'll be moving them to a satellite church or two...with the first satellite to host the inaugural service on Easter Sunday 2009! We can then teach them about tithing, introduce them to Mac's 501(3) website and Holy Land Trips, and we can start sheep stealing from the other church's in that area to build the FBC and Mac Brunson brands.

So that is how it works. Mac needs to motivate people to sign up to be a part of this ministry, so how does he do it? Well, only like Mac can do it, he decides to bully us. Instead of focusing on the positive, that he has a significant number already but that we need more...and that its an exciting ministry....no Mac decides to take the dark, negative road in motivation.

"We're desperately trying to get couples to come and sign up to be hosts for these Life Links. We're going into the southern part of Jacksonville....[then mockingly quoting his opposition]: 'Well I'm just not really for that'. You're not for reaching the southern part of Jacksonville for Jesus Christ? [again mockingly quoting opposition:] 'Well I just don't want our people to leave'. I'm not here to hold warm fuzzy meetings. So we can all be close, and all be tight, and all be wonderful. [screaming:] I WANT TO REACH PEOPLE FOR JESUS!! That's why we're here. This isn't a club. This is the church. The church exists to give God glory and to reach a lost generation. That's why we're here...."


Instead of lovingly explaining to us again the ministry (some still might be confused about what it is), instead of telling us the benefits of becoming involved...he instead decided to attack the motives of some who might have reservations! Instead of honesty, humbly, lovingly addressing some of his sheep's concerns over this major change that will greatly affect every area of our church, he decides to condescendingly belittle and mischaracterize and dismiss their concerns. In Mac's world, if you're not in favor of his new ministry, then you are out of God's will because you don't want to reach people for Christ. I might be opposed to his ministry, but still be in favor for reaching people with the gospel. Not in Mac's mind. You're either for his ministry, or against God's plan to win the lost in southern Jacksonville. What a jerk. These are not the words of a shepherd pastor. Shepherd's don't whip their sheep into submission.

Some people who are concerned about how this will affect our fellowship had Mac insult their intelligence by sternly saying "this isn't a club". We know its not a club. And because its not a club, its not to be used for fund raising for Israeli hospitals where abortions are performed when a couple of influential deacons decided to use our church for that last fall (with Mac's lame excuses like: "last time I checked the Old Testament is part of our Bible" and "Jesus was a Jew"). You ought to also realize sir that its a church, not a travel agency to be used by you to promote your own 501(c)3 Holy Land Trips!! Come on Mac! Can't you see what a hypocrite you are?

Let's just hope that Mac's plan for the satellite campus is to use some of our other preachers like Marcus Allen, Jr. and Rush Whitt to preach, and that it wont' be a weekly dose of bashing from Mac Brunson. However, based on Mac's explanation of satellites back in 2006, his plan is to drive and preach at each location until we get live satellite feeds. Now that's motivation: let's all work hard so Mac can whip the sheep via satellite.

One other option for those of you interested in reaching your neighborhood for Christ: instead of doing a "Life Link" and having your home inspected; instead witness to your friends by being a loving, helpful neighbor, tell them about Christ and what he's done for you and your family, and encourage them to go to a local church where they can be loved on by a humble, pastor-shepherd and congregation, and where they can be fed from the Word...and not subjected to the verbal abuses of Mac Brunson each week.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

How Much Pastoral Abuse Must We Take?

Storm Update: Sorry Mac, the government is on the way. President Bush has declared Florida a disaster, and thus FEMA has been activated. Thank you President Bush for offering the assistance of FEMA, even though our Pastor Mac Brunson has been praying that you do NOT send FEMA, we are very happy that you have and we welcome the assistance. So until Mac "rises up the church" we'll take the government's help!
This past Sunday the members of FBC Jax were treated to another childish rant by their pastor Mac Brunson. He doesn't learn from his mistakes, and its so painfully obvious that he doesn't have anyone who is willing to speak the truth to him about how he needs to stop abusing his congregation from the pulpit. His negative rants against his congregation are becoming more frequent, and more abusive.

Case in point: in Sunday's sermon Mac presumed to know whether his members had or had not filled out the "316 cards" that were passed out to members a few weeks ago. The "316 cards" were a gimmick to get people to write three names of lost people, and to agree to pray for them 1 time a day, for six weeks. Pretty clever, huh? Get it: 3 - 1 - 6, as in John 3:16). Do you think Maurilio Amorim, Mac's ace church marketing consultant, came up with this? Good job Maurilio if it was your creative team in Nashville that came up with the 316 card! After we get the A-Group to print more of the 316 cards maybe we can have them work on archiving and making available video of our services on the Internet!

Sunday Mac says the following to his congregation, in an accusatory, negative tone:

"We passed out two weeks ago '316 cards'; we asked you to fill those out. I wonder how many did that. I'm afraid to ask you to raise your hands. You all just sit there and you don't ever do what I ask you to do. I asked you to fill these things out....How many of us have taken those 316 cards and we're everyday praying for three people that are lost. See, we won't even pray for 'em. We won't even write their name down because if I write their name down then I'm under obligation...YOU'RE ALREADY UNDER OBLIGATION!! Not my word, if you got a Bible, Paul says it right here!"

Wow Pastor...thanks for painting everyone with a broad brush. How the h-e-double-hockey-stick do you know who has filled out the cards? Who's telling you that we aren't praying for people to be saved? And do you really think that preaching this way is going to motivate people to fill out your little card? Where's the love pastor? Why the anger, pastor? Not only that, how legalistic is this. Mac and Jimmy Smyrl like to preach about the dangers of legalism, even accusing our church of being legalistic, yet Mac boils down our faithfulness in witnessing to whether we participate in he and Maurilio's latest gimmick of writing names on a 316 card. Like you've told us Mac...YOU'RE LEGALISM STINKS.

This kind of anger expressed by a pastor, this kind of presumption to think the very worst of his congregation and lashing out...its just so against a pastor's calling to be a shepherd of his people. Even Mac knows this, as he has written in his "The New Guidebook for Pastors", where he is discussing a pastor's leadership and "shepherding" of God's people:

"It is obvious that God chose someone [David, as an example of a shepherd of God's people] who was tender and gentle and a reflection of Himself...The method of biblical leadership is one of tenderness, gentleness, and compassion. We are never more like Christ when we are shepherding God's people." ("The New Guidebook for Pastors", page 75)

Another example of how Mac is making money from his book (which is required reading at many of our seminaries) by telling pastors how THEY should behave, while he himself behaves in another way. Maybe Darrell Gilyard will write a book on marital fidelity and youth ministry and we can make that required reading too.

This case is not just an isolated event. Most Sundays Mac takes a swipe at his congregation. Whether its about bringing Bibles, or paying attention, or presuming to know what we're doing or not doing...how we are legalistic, or worshipping the past...he seems to find a reason to assume THE WORST in his congregation, not the best. So sad.

Later in this same sermon, Mac decided to whine about how he is not getting enough support for his "Life Links" initiative. But I'll save that rant for a post later this week.

Watchdog checking out...weathering the storm waiting for Mac and the church to "rise up" and bring their aid to help!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

David Tarkington Speaks on The Gift...

Readers: As Mac and FBC Jax are mobilizing their Fay relief efforts (by the way the church canceled all Wed 8/20 activities), I wanted to give a brief update on Pastor David Tarkington of the First Baptist Church of Orange Park. This past Sunday before his sermon he did address the controversy directed toward he and his church after he decided it best for his church to refuse the $600,000 gift from one of the church members - the gift reportedly was a tithe on $6 million in lottery winnings.

David Tarkington has been silent since the story broke, refusing to speak to the news media, but did feel an obligation to speak to his church - very reminiscent of how Jerry Vines handled the controversy when his sermon at the 2002 SBC Pastor's Conference gained national news attention. Vines did not speak publicly on the controversy until he was in front of his people the following Sunday, when he gave a brief statement and has been mostly silent since about the controversy.

But Sunday David Tarkington did address the Lotto tithe gift controversy, and you can listen to his statement and his sermon by clicking here:

This link is a download of the entire .mp3 file, and it may take several minutes to download.

In his statement he explains that he did struggle with the decision, that he made his decision because God spoke to him through His word, and he stated that he is friends and pastor of the family offering the gift and they agreed with his decision. He said that since, his decision has been confirmed by people, pastors, and friends who have spoken to him. When I listen to David Tarkington I hear a humble man, a man who desires to be a shepherd of his people, a man who genuinely loves his people, who made a decision that was in the best interests of his church.

Lord bless you David Tarkington. You made the right decision, and God has been glorified, and you have shepherded your church well. May other pastors learn a lesson in all of this.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Mac's Hurricane Prep: "I Pray the Government Doesn't Get Involved"

"If a hurricane hits this city, I PRAY that the government doesn't get involved. I pray that the church rises up and does what the church is supposed to do." Pastor Mac Brunson, 2008

Just wanted to remind everyone of the brilliance and bravery of Mac Brunson declaring that he prays the government doesn't get involved in hurricane relief, but hopes the church does it. Really? He's praying that? Is he even doing anything about it?

Now that the first tropical system is headed to Florida, people are making their preparations...and the GOVERNMENT begins to mobilize forces like moving National Guard forces into place. Government officials track the storm and alert people and get ready to issue evacuation notices if necessary...the National Hurricane Center (run by the GOVERNMENT) flies planes into storm to gather data; the state GOVERNMENT makes recommendations to the citizens, interacts with the federal GOVERNMENT to move federal resources through FEMA if necessary. Local GOVERNMENTS are opening up shelters and are enacting their emergency response plans. We are getting ready.

Last time I checked, FBC Jax is doing nothing to get ready for a hurricane hitting Jacksonville.

I'm glad the people, through the government, do rally the resources of our country to help prepare, and to help recover. How ignorant must a preacher be to say he "prays the government doesn't get involved?" Its ignorant because the reason the government has to provide the aid and not the church is that so many churches today are primarily interested in building buildings, in going on Holy Land trips, and giving money to CEO pastors. Churches like FBC Jax are not at all interested in using a significant portion of their budget to helping hurricane victims. I'm not making the case they should...just pointing out the stupidity of Mac's statement. So until you start to put your money where your mouth is Mac, I'm glad that the government will be involved.

While Mac is high-tailing up I-95 to North Carolina when the first hurricane heads this way, FEMA and the National Guard will be coming to help people.

Thank God for the government in hurricane preparation and relief.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Strange Explanation of Pedophile Priests...

Jim Smyrl, Mac Brunson's right-hand man at FBC Jax who has been preaching Wednesday nights this summer, gave an interesting explanation of the root cause of the Catholic Church pedophile priest scandal in a recent sermon on the decline of the church in America :

"...how could that happen [12,000 pedophile priests]?....There was a little historical event called the reformation that was denied. And when you deny the sufficiency of the Lord Jesus Christ as the only mediator and the sufficiency of scripture alone as the only authority you will unleash all your sin."

Click here to listen to the entire clip.

I'm not sure I buy that explanation. It sure doesn't explain why there are many Southern Baptist and Independent Church pastors who have abused boys and girls.

Does it make sense to trace the pedophile priest scandal back to the Catholic church's failure to acknowledge the reformations of Martin Luther? Or could it more be blamed on sick, abusive men who feel empowered to abuse their power as "God's man" to seduce the innocent, operating in a climate where there is no organizational structure by which "God's man" is held accountable by other men, and where the needs and welfare of the "church" organization trumps the welfare of the abused?

I think that explanation is more realistic than tracing the problem back to the reformation. And it sure explains the abuses of Darrel Gilyard and Bob Gray.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Pastor Refuses Gift From Lottery Winnings

Pastor David Tarkington of the First Baptist Church of Orange Park (Orange Park is a suburb of Jacksonville, Florida) is showing pastors what integrity is all about when it comes to gifts. And he's showing that even very large gifts - given to the pastor or to the church - sometimes aren't worth accepting if its possible that the gift might cast a shadow on the church.

A news report came out today that Pastor Tarkington (see picture at left - he, like Brunson, is a SWBTS grad) has refused a $600,000 gift to his church from Robert Powell, who recently won $6 million in the Florida Lotto and attempted to give a tithe to Tarkington's church.

Tarkington is not speaking publicly about his refusal of the gift, at least not yet, but what an example Tarkington is setting for pastors when it comes to gifts. Perhaps Tarkington believes it would be a poor testimony for his church to accept a gift that was generated by the vice of gambling. Perhaps Tarkington has preached to his congregation that playing the lotto is not wise and Christians should avoid it - and accepting the gift would make him look like a hypocrite. Tarkington knows that the potential....just the potential....of bad press by accepting "lotto money" just wasn't worth it. So he refused the gift. Wow. Now that's a testimony. That's integrity.

Contrast Pastor Tarkington with Mac Brunson. As I have written about numerous times here on this blog (here and here), Mac Brunson accepted a $300,000 land gift from one of the donors of his church, FBC Jacksonville, just three weeks after Brunson was hired. When this blog called Mac out on this and said he had no business accepting a gift from one of the church members, especially just weeks after Mac was hired and given a generous salary and benefit package by the congregation, Mac's supporters have said repeatedly that the gift was God's blessing on "God's man", that it was a private matter. To make matters worse and raising even more suspicion, about a year or so after the gift was given, Mac aired a commercial for the business of the sons of the man who gave him the gift - right in the middle of his sermon.

Too bad Mac didn't have the integrity of Pastor Tarkington when he was faced with the decision to accept or not accept the $300,000 land gift. Too bad he didn't realize that people would learn that in his textbook for pastors that he cautions pastors against accepting large gifts and he would be viewed as a hypocrite if he himself took a large gift. Sure, the local media hasn't reported on Mac's gift...not yet...but if and when they do, he'll have to a bit of explaining to do as why he accepted the gift, why he did it when he tells others to not do it....why the deed says "for love and affection" when he barely knew the giver...and why he never told his congregation about the gift. So many answers he'll have to give, and when it hits the press it will set FBC Jacksonville back a few more decades when people again accuse FBC Jax being a church of rich, money-hungry fat cats. Too bad Mac couldn't see that the problems the gift is causing him now in his ability to lead the church, and WILL cause him when the media shines light on it.

Jim Smyrl preached tonight about how America is becoming a "post-Christian nation", and that perhaps in the next generation churches will be turned into bars or coffee houses as in Europe. Jim says people in America are becoming less interested in church and Christianity - and he likes to blame this on stuck-in-the-past Christians, traditionalists, legalists - you know, those crusty old church members who like the preacher to wear a tie. Maybe one of the contributors to this problem too, Jim, is pastors like Mac who seem hell bent on using their people and their position and their power to enrich themselves and their family. When people see a preacher earning hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, putting family on staff, accepting $300,000 land gifts from his church donors on the side, driving luxury cars and using God's money for building luxury office suites and putting himself on national TV...maybe THAT is one of the major problems in Christendom today Jim Smyrl. The lost seeing men like Mac using Christianity to gather riches unto themselves while calling others to sacrificially give. Its not just complacent church members that are the problem Jim - its preachers among your own ranks that are hurting the church.

But thank goodness for the David Tarkington's out there...that still can look at a gift and rightly judge the wisdom of accepting or not accepting it. His decision to turn the $600k down probably wasn't easy, some in his church will no doubt tell him all the good he could have done with it...some might even call him a "legalist", a "traditionalist", and a "fundamentalist" for not accepting it. As I've written before, Mac could have used his influence on the giver to encourage him to give the gift to the church, as a down payment on the school, to perhaps serve as a seed to encourage others to sacrificially give - but he didn't. But Pastor Tarkington, you advanced the cause of Christ in your decision to refuse the gift. Good for you and good for your church.

Too bad Mac couldn't do the same.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Visitor's Reception - Its All About Mac

What makes Mac's rapid departure Sunday and cancellation of the visitor's reception particularly egregious is that our church paid for a TV commercial spot Saturday evening on the local NBC affilitate during the Olympics at around 9:00 pm - it was Mac's "make FBC Jax your third place" commercial where he tells prospective church members to visit and after the service "the coffee's on me". No telling how much we paid for that prime time spot to air during the Olympics, but couldn't Mac perhaps arrange his preaching gigs so that he can make it to the visitor's reception on the Sunday immediately following a high-priced TV spot inviting visitors? NO ACCOUNTABILITY

Again Mac left the church service during the invitation this Sunday. He had to catch a plane to "go to the mission field up north to preach to Yankees". As soon as he said "Come to Jesus", he made a beeline for the exit door, bouncing off the plebe coming to the front wondering why the pastor was leaving so quickly.

Again, where's the accountability? I thought he said he was accountable to his congregation LAST WEEK? If he was accountable to his congregation he would show us the respect of at least staying for the entire service and not leaving before the invitation is over like he's some high-paid rock star. Can't our lay leadership explain the rules to Mac: don't leave services early...ESPECIALLY when you bless-out the church when THEY leave early!

Yep, that's Mac a few months ago angrily telling us to "sit down for once in [our] lives". Does he look for ways to sound like a jerk? And notice he gives the one acceptable reason to leave early: medical reasons. He needed to add a second acceptable reason: "...if you have to leave to catch a plane so that you can earn some supplemental income at another church by recycling the sermons you've already preached to your congregation."

And to make matters worse, poor Brother Jim Whitmire had to announce to everyone that the guest reception was canceled because our pastor has to catch a plane after the service. Why oh why do we need Mac Brunson to hold a guest reception? What happened to the cup of coffee that Mac promises visitors ("after the service, the coffee is on me" is what Mac tells our visitors in our "third place" commercial running after midnight on TV-12 and Fox News channel)? Can't we still greet them, have our highly paid executive staff there to greet them and answer their questions about our ministries? Was John Blount too busy yesterday? What about Smyrl, was he needing to get to Golden Corral? Most of these executive staffers could stand to skip a meal anyways. How about George Kemp? And the others...they aren't qualified to greet our visitors?

NOTICE TO LAY LEADERS, SPECIFICALLY THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES AND CHAIRMAN OF THE DEACONS: Will you please do your job, and go to Mac and our "executive staff" and explain that we expect them to hold a guest reception EVERY SINGLE SUNDAY MORNING? Mac has told us that "people aren't home anymore", so our one chance to perhaps shake their hand, showcase our ministries, and ascertain their spiritual condition might be while they're at the church! We have AMPLE staff members to do a first class visitor's reception every single Sunday morning. That should be a priority every single week - we have people COMING TO OUR CHURCH TO VISIT and we need to do everything we can to have our staff personally greet them - having representative staff members to explain ministries that would be of specific interest to them.

But apparently our executive staff is either too lazy to hold this event on their own, or they won't stand up to Mac and convince him that Mac and Honey are not the focus of the reception, but the GUESTS are the focus of the reception. If we can't trust our highly paid, seminary-trained, executive staff members to do the right thing on their own, then the lay leaders need to come forward and explain it to them. Brother Jim Whitmire, you might be the one man down at the church who might be able to exert the influence. Tell these young whipper snappers to greet our visitors, that you're tired of explaining to our guests to "come back" next week to see the pastor.

But its amateur hour at FBC Jax. The Watchdog is trying to help, but they won't listen.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Welcome to Maurilio As a Reader of the Dawg...

We would like to take this time out to welcome Maurilio Amorim as one of our regular readers here at FBC Jax Watchdog. Maurilio is the blogging, twittering, church marketing consultant that Mac Brunson uses as his creative genius, and presumably to figure out new ways to convert the FBC Jax from a stuffy legalistic, traditionalistic, fundamental Baptist church into the new modern church that characterizes Maurilio's client base.

We know that Maurilio is a regular reader now after he posted an article on his blog about the "Top 10 Ways to Get in Trouble With Twittering", in which he took a swipe at some "anonymous", "jerk", "hateful" blogger who was critical of his twittering during his recent Vegas vacation. Like Mac did with his lie about Sheri Klouda, Maurilio doesn't refer directly to the Watchdog, but there is no mistake to his readers who he was referring to (do a Google blog search and you'll see I'm the only one he could possibly be referring to).

Yep, that's right. Maurilio, a fancy-pants consultant who draws a regular check from the people of FBC Jacksonville - has decided to use his blog to attack one of the members of FBC Jacksonville - yours truly. I don't mind, and I'm not bitter, but once again: "Team Brunson" (of which Maurilio is a member) has shown us what they're made of, and they will attack those who they don't like or those who might criticize them or attempt to hold them accountable.

Maurilio is not the topic of my blog, and I never intended to draw him into the blog. But since Maurilio believes he has the freedom to smear the Watchdog on his website, let's shine just a little bit more light on Maurilio and his relationship with the Brunsons and FBC Jacksonville.

First of all, let's talk about Maurilio's decision to be an avid "twitterer" and what that tells us about the man. What is "twittering" you ask? Twittering could best be described as "text messaging on steroids". It is essentially using your mobile device to text message to the world about your life. The people in Maurilio's life - his friends, his family, his clients, his clients' church members - they all get to follow the daily musings of Maurilio and all about his life as he text messages throughout the day. He texts about everything in his life as though people would want to read it. His meals, his exercise, his trips to Vegas, his visit to Cirque du Sulei, his client meetings, his 6-head shower in his bathroom, and on and on. I admit: I'm a reader of his twitter because I like to see how our church marketing dollars are used in the life of Maurilio - he is one of our "missionaries" - out there funded in part by FBC Jax and its great to be able to follow his jet-setting around the country.

Well, apparently Maurilio didn't appreciate me mentioning his Vegas twitters in my post called "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous", and he admits he is very bitter about it. I assume he also didn't like me making the connection between he and two businessmen at our church who are selling Alibaster that Mac promoted one Sunday.So bitter is our FBC Jax consultant who we pay tens of thousands of dollars every year in consulting fees (trust me FBC Jax, if you knew the dollar amount we spend on Maurilio and his A-Group, you might fall out of your chair), that he decided to write the following about me (he's writing about a reason why he "gets in trouble" from twittering):

10. Post fun twits about your Vegas vacation and watch some crazy, anonymous, fundamentalist, jerk turn you into this money-spending, luxury-loving, pleasure-driven Satanist on his loser hate blog (Do I sound bitter?). I guess what happens in Vegas really should stay there.

Wow. That is the FBC Jax church marketing consultant writing that about one of the church members at FBC Jax. He lies about me: I'm not crazy, I'm not a fundamentalist (unless that means I believe the Bible and that Jesus is the only way to heaven - if Maurilio thinks me a "fundamentalist", maybe he's a "liberal"?), I don't have a hate blog, and I never painted Maurilio as a Satanist. Nor have I "turned" Maurilio into anything. I just shone a little bit of light on his twitters on my blog to show the people of FBC Jax what their church marketing consultant does with the money we pay him. If he's going to be bitter about people blogging about his Vegas vacation - hmmm...maybe as a grown man he shouldn't be twittering about the details of his Vegas vacation (and 6-head shower) like a pimple-faced teenager.

But this is instructive: Maurilio feels the freedom in his relationship with Mac Brunson, that he can lie about and attack on his blog one of the church members at FBC Jax. Surprising that Maurilio would feel the freedom to do this? Any serious, grown man out there that would publicly attack one of the members or employees of your client's organization? Of course not. But Maurilio is so bold and brash, and dare we say cocky, that he feels he can do it. Wouldn't a pastor be upset if his consultant lashes out publicly at one of his church members? Perhaps, but apparently not Mac. Maurilio's just doing what Mac does. Mac lied about Sheri Klouda from the pulpit, and never apologized. Mac attacks his congregation as being "hot bed of legalism" when out of town - and he never apologizes. Now Mac and Maurilio have pulled Jim Smyrl into the mess, who now preaches and blogs about the evil of our "traditionalism" and scolds the elder members of the church to inform them "YOU DON'T OWN THE CHURCH" (as though they thought they did). Now Maurilio throws out the "F" word (fundamentalist) to describe me. So we're "traditionalist", "legalist", and "fundamentalists"...and Maurilio and the A-Group are on the payroll to save FBC Jax from these awful "sins"!

Here are some of the churches that Maurilio consults with:

First Baptist Church Rogers - pastored by Wes George

The People's Church - pastored by Rick White

Faith Church in CT - pastored by Frank Santora

First Baptist Church Dallas - pastored by Robert Jeffress

If you're a staff member or church member at one of these churches, take note of what Maurilio has done at FBC Jax - he didn't like one of the members blogging about the pastor's decision to spend money on a consultant like Maurilio - who then turns around and twitters about his lavish lifestyle. I passed no moral judgements on Maurilio, quite the contrary - but Maurilio didn't like this, and decided the Christian thing to do was to lie about me on his blog, thinking all of his twittering followers would think it cute. So beware to the other clients of Maurilio and the church members of where Maurilio consults - even though your tithes and offerings are going to pay for Maurilio's air fare to come in and have "sessions" with your pastor and staff, if he doesn't like what you're blogging about he might take aim at you too! He might even twitter about "obese" staff members or members - he seems to like to make fun of the obese (read his twitter). So watch out, you or your church or church members might make it on to his blog and twitter line! If I used him as a consultant and saw this juvenile behavior, I would tell him that if he ever does that to one of MY church members - however recalcitrant they might be - he and his firm will immediately be fired. And if I were considering hiring the A-Group as a consultant, I'd surely pass now that I see what the man does on his blog, and how he text messages about the details of his life.

But it wouldn't surprise me if Mac is happy that his consultant has attacked one of his recalcitrant church members; maybe Maurilio can add that to his "portfolio" - I'll take care of your recalcitrants! I'm sure when Maurilio flies down for his next creative session with Mac at Deerwood, they'll all get a good chuckle over how Maurilio put the Watchdog in his place.

Maybe its time for the people of FBC Jax to demand an accounting: how much are we paying Maurilio and the A-Group, why is our website after 2 1/2 years still so far behind other churches' websites of similar size? Can Mac show us that we aren't paying out of our church funds for Maurilio's services on his 501(c)3 website, and that Maurilio's services on the Pastor's Conference website are not coming out of the church budget but out of the receipts from the conference? Why did we sole-source Maurilio's services? One of the very first moves Mac made when we voted him as pastor in March 2006 was he handed our church marketing and website design over to Maurilio - shouldn't we consider other firms? Why sole-source it? And finally, let's get the exact dollar amount: HOW MUCH DOES FBC JAX PAY MAURILIO AND THE AGROUP?

Does this make you even more bitter Maurilio? Maybe you can twitter about your bitterness. We'll be reading!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Update on Sheri Klouda

Readers: I wanted to give you an update on Dr. Sheri Klouda, the former professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) that I blogged about in the following posts:

Her situation made its way onto my blog when our pastor, Dr. Donald M. Brunson, maligned Dr. Klouda during his July 13, 2008 evening sermon at First Baptist Jacksonville by completely mischaracterizing her testimony regarding the worthiness of her case in light of scripture (click here to listen to the audio of Mac's lie). Mac Brunson, who markets himself as a preacher of deep instense study and preparation and historical accuracy in his sermons, did not even bother to contact Dr. Klouda before his sermon (instead relied on testimony about Sheri's testimony told to him by Paige Patterson's lawyer) to get the right story of how she viewed the validity of her case. Still to this day Brunson has not contacted Dr. Klouda to express his regret over his incorrect statements made in his sermon. How sad, especially when considering that Brunson was her pastor at FBC Dallas as the saga at SWBTS unfolded.

Now for the update: Dr. Klouda emailed me today to let me know that she recently received a check for $280 from Wade Burleson of monies donated to the the Klouda fund by members of FBC Jacksonville and readers of this blog, which will help pay off past medical expenses incurred from the health problems of her husband. Dr. Klouda expressed her deep thanks to the readers of this blog for giving to help her with her husband's medical expenses.

The Klouda's are still in need of additional monies (around $2000) to draw down their medical bills so that her husband can get a much needed defibrilator more quickly. If you wish to donate money to help the Klouda's, you may still do so by sending your check to:

Emmanuel Baptist Church
2505 West Garriott
Enid, Oklahoma 73703

Designate your gift "Sheri Klouda Fund". Your gift will be tax deductible, as Pastor Wade Burleson has set up a benevolent fund for the Klouda's through his church and 100% of all monies received will go to the Klouda's.

Thanks in advance for your generosity in helping the Klouda's even more. I will provide updates in the future as Dr. Klouda keeps me posted.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Non-Tithers, Criticizers, People Who Don't Visit...All in the Hands of an Angry God

Many people who come to Christ do so from a religious upbringing where they were made to fear God, that God was some sort of heavenly dictator who was interested in "zapping" them for their misdeeds. Some, even in Catholic upbringing, were taught that their sin as believers was storing up wrath that God some day would unleash on them. This is a perversion of the gospel, that Christians are storing wrath for themselves that God will unleash on them eventually for their misdeeds. Its such a dangerous perversion because it does set up a huge barrier to people who have been manipulated in this fashion from ever considering the true gospel.

Well, leave it to Mac Brunson to carelessly handle scripture to present this sort of perverted gospel to his congregation on Sunday morning while he attempted to preach out of Romans 2. I have noted in the past month several occasions where Mac has carelessly handled history and facts in his sermons and even spread a lie about a former church member - and my point was if he is so careless to handle history as a "historian", then its likely he will mishandle scripture as a "preacher". And Sunday this was on full display.

I recommend my readers listen to this excerpt from his sermon:

I will be accused of taking it out of context I'm sure, but I invite people to visit Mac's 501(c)3 website Inlight Ministries, Inc. where you can listen to the full sermon.

In this clip Mac starts off by talking about Christians:

"When you don't visit, and you don't tithe and you criticize, and you slander..."

Obviously talking to Christians...he mentions "tithe"...and of course the Watchdog who is a "criticizer" and "slanderer"...


"...and God doesn't pour wrath out on you, do you take lightly the forbearing of God?"

Then he describes how Israel had enjoyed the benefits of God, saw God move and pour out blessings....how God didn't pour out judgment in their disobedience...and then he says:

"..and this is what they thought: 'Because God has not judged us, God will not judge us'. That is a twisted, perverted theology of God's kindness, forbearance, and patience. And you sin in your sin and you never come to an altar, and you never go and say I have sinned, I want to make it right because God hasn't zapped you in the past and you think because God hasn't zapped you in the past God will not bring judgement on me in the future. That is perverted, perverted, perverted. He's talked about perversion in Chapter 1, he's now talking about a perversion of presumption upon the patience of God."

Interesting...so those of you who are not tithing, who are not visiting, who dare to criticize the pastor for his abuses of the church...you all, including me, are in danger of God's judgement. In fact its perversion, to not understand that God's wrath will not come.

Mac then goes on to quote his history professor from North Greenville College about the wisdom of "gods" and their "grinding mills":

"Because God has not judged you in the past does not mean the judgment of God won't fall tomorrow morning. The mills of the 'god's' grind slow, but they grind exceedingly fine...in other words God may not have judged you yet, but when it catches up to you, only God can help you then."

Still think Mac is on par with Adrian Rogers, Bro. Whitmire? What wonderful theology from Mac the SWBTS graduate. The Catholic church used that scare tactic, that manipulation, for years...God's gonna get ya! You better tithe...or God's gonna get ya! You don't visit? God's gonna get ya eventually? Why not teach it from a biblical perspective of sowing and reaping? That if we sow seeds of sin or disobedience, then we will hurt ourselves and we invite God's discipline as His Children...is God really waiting to zap Christians? Isn't he a loving heavenly Father who chastises his disobedient children?

Let's see how this theology preaches to Mac: Hey Mac, do you think that just because things are going great for you now...nice home, big salary, family on staff, going on nationwide TV next Sunday...that God will not judge you for your abuses at our church? Mac do you think you can use the sacred desk of our pulpit to spread a lie about Sheri Klouda and never apologize to us and to her, and God won't judge you? Do you actually think you can use our church finances to put yourself on nationwide TV and God will just let it go, no big deal? Do you think you can slander our congregation to pastors in North Carolina and call us a "hotbed of legalism" and God will stay patient with you? Do you not fear God, Mac? Mac, whatever "gods" you were referring to that have a slow grinding mill...know that those same mills of the "gods" grind exceedingly fine.

Yes, slowly they grind. Ask Darrell Gilyard how slow they grind. He abused women at his churches for decades, while men in his church stood by and waited for "God to handle it". Ask Bob Gray how slow they exceedingly grind. He abused little boys and girls for years, and instead of men stepping in and putting a stop to it they shipped him off to Germany where he likely abused more boys and girls. The mills of these "gods" grinded so very slow for Bob Gray. And they're grinding quite slowly at our church right now.

I know the answer from some of Mac's defenders is that Mac wasn't talking about Christians here, but was talking about the lost. He didn't make it clear...his mentioning of tithes and visiting left his listeners with the idea that God is going to zap them unless they repent. Not a loving God wanting to discipline them - no, "zapping" by God.

We've gone from "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" to "Non-Tithing Christians in the Hands of a Zapping God and Angry Preacher." God help us.

On a lighter note: I'll close with a clip that fits the category of "much truth is spoken in jest" - listen to this clip where Mac says: "What about this church? God gave you Dr. Lindsay Sr, Dr. Lindsay Jr, Dr. Vines, do you think lightly of the kindness of God....now that he's brought judgment on you [followed by nervous laughter]"

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Mac: I am Accountable Because I Say I Am

Sunday night August 3rd, in Mac Brunson's sermon from Genesis 39 on "accountability", Mac took time out to explain how HE is accountable to all 28,000 members of his church. In fact he said he has 28,000 "bosses". He said to someone who said he doesn't have a boss: "I don't have but 28,000 of 'em".

Some other gems from his confession of accountability:

"I have to listen to every...single...person that comes to me. And a lot of 'em come to me that ain't even members of this church."

"I try to answer every single email myself, personally, that comes into my office. And THAT is a full-time job, in and of itself. That's what you pay me for....I am responsible. I am accountable"

Well, its a step in the right direction, Mac publicly announcing he is accountable to his congregation.

But here's the problem with Mac's little confession of accountability:

- I sure hope he is not himself answering every single email. Mega church pastors will tell you that they receive hundreds and hundreds of emails every single day, and its not practical for everyone of them to be answered personally by the pastor. Someone must screen them and answer the easy ones, and maybe pass a small number to the pastor. Those that have sent emails to pastor@fbcjax.com tell me that its quite obvious that someone other than the pastor is responding. That's OK...not a problem...but why tell us that he answers them all? Maybe that explains why he has had trouble with his fact checking in his sermons, he's too busy answering emails all day. He's either a poor steward of his time answering every single email, or he is lying.

- The bigger problem is this: accountability is not measured by whether he "listens" to people, or answers every email himself. Its measured by the totality of his management and leadership decisions over time. Its how he does or does not share information, how he implements change, what he says in and out of the pulpit, how he treats his congregation and speaks about his congregation...all things that he has shown to have problems with all the while never explaining himself or apologizing.

Many of the things highlighted on this blog are demonstrations of his lack of accountability to the "28,000 bosses" in our church:

1. Changing our bylaws and church governance: if he felt that he was accountable to his congregation, he would have at the very least explained the changes to our bylaws prior to asking for a vote on them in December 2007;

2. If he felt he was accountable to his congregation, he would explain why he accepted a $300,000 land gift from one of our church donors just weeks after his arrival as pastor, while his book tells other pastors to avoid doing the very same;

3. If he felt he was accountable to us, he would apologize to us when he stands in the pulpit and lies about one of his own former congregants as he did about Sheri Klouda;

4. If he felt he was accountable, he would apologize for or at least explain when he is found to have called us a "hotbed of legalism" while speaking to out of town pastors.

and other actions he has taken with no explanation to his congregation.

Another most recent example of his lack of accountability:

Mac is back on nationwide TV starting this Sunday on INSP network. He will be broadcast as "Inlight Ministry at First Baptist Jacksonville". Check him out here. He took a special offering on Easter Sunday 2008 to put himself back on TV, but as I recall he has not given us updates as to how much was given. According to Mac he needed around $180,000 to put himself on the INSP network. So did he receive the $180,000 as a special offering, or did he dip into our budget for a part of the $180,000? If he felt the need to come to us for a special offering, if he were accountable he would at least tell us that he is going back on TV, and he would explain where the money came from. Also, if there was one single person in our lay leadership that held him accountable, they would insist that his 501(c)3 organization name NOT be featured on the telecast. If its OUR church that is funding the program, it should be called either "First Baptist Jacksonville" or perhaps our church should have its own 501(c)3 name that we give the telecast. But Mac and Maurillio Amorim know the power of "branding", and thus his Inlight Ministries name must be on the telecast. NEWS FLASH TO MAC: As soon as YOUR 501(c)3 organization raises the funds for the INSP network telecast, you can put your Inlight name on it. Until then, the name of our ministry alone should be featured. But more on this later. We don't get the INSP network here in Jacksonville, but I'll get a report from an out-of-towner who will tell us about the broadcast.

Mac accountable to his congregation? I don't think so.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Good Gifts, Bad Gifts...

Interesting contrast in the news this past week about two different kinds of gifts that have gained media attention. These two gifts show two extreme sides of human nature: one side of gifts of corruption, greed, conflict of interest and quid-pro-quo....and the other side of gifts that are given to really do some good, to help those in need, and to honor those who have given much.

First, the gifts of corruption: Senator Ted Stevens from Alaska, who was indicted this week for accepting gifts from VECO, a firm that had been known to lobby Stevens for government action on their behalf. The gifts in question totaled around $250,000, and included renovations to homes, gifts to Stevens' family members. The indictment alleges that Stevens' lied on his financial disclosure forms by not reporting these gifts.

Second, the "good gift": This week CSX Chairman Michael Ward donated $1 million of his personal fortune to the "Wounded Warriors Project", to help support their Training Rehabilitation Advocacy Center (TRAC) which helps wounded veterans transition back to civilian life. This was not Ward's first sizable gift given to help his community.

Both of these stories were in the news here in Jacksonville this week, as well they should. Both of these gifts deserve to be shown - one an example of the decency of mankind, the other an example greed and entitlement.

The coverage of these two stories makes me wonder why the $300,000 land gift given by J.D. Collins to Mac Brunson in 2006 hasn't been covered in the media. Both are highly visible public figures. The gift wasn't needed by Brunson as he already was given a lavish salary and benefit package by his church. On the deed the gift was shown for "love and affection" and yet apparently they barely knew each other since it was given just weeks after Brunson's arrive in Jacksonville. For some reason the congregation was never told about the gift. There is perhaps a possible conflict of interest in Mac accepting this gift, since the giver of the gift is one of the donors of the 501(c)3 organization (FBC Jax) that Mac was hired to lead; then about a year and a half after the gift Mac Brunson aired a testimony/commercial (hyperlink of the audio of the commercial that played in the middle of Mac's preaching on Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane) during the worship service highlighting the business of J.D. Collins' sons - this commercial also aired when Mac's sermon was broadcast on TV in the local Jacksonville market the following Sunday. What a coincidence that the only commercial in the HISTORY of FBC Jax ever aired in the middle of a sermon just happened to be for relatives of the man who gave the preacher a $300k gift! Not saying its quid-pro-quo...just that it looks an awful lot like it is.

I commend Michael Ward for such an incredibly generous gift - no doubt when this kind of gift receives media attention it serves as a seed for others to follow suit. While we don't have all the facts yet on Stevens' gifts, it sure looks like he broke federal laws in accepting his gifts and not reporting them.

What kind of gift was Mac's? Doesn't it at least deserve the scrutiny of local media to determine why the gift was given, and why it was accepted and what good it did for the community for a leader of a 501(c)3 organization to accept a $300,000 gift from one of his organization's donors?