Mac's sermon (infomercial) Sunday was a hurried attempt to try to paint Mac and Smyrl as innovative leaders in our church - as though they have ushered in a new day with "theology driven ministry" - as though we were previously "comic book driven ministry" or something else...but don't be fooled church. There's another side to Mac's story. That is the side that Mac has hijacked power at our church to himself to do what HE wants, irrespective of what his congregation, which is a royal priesthood of believers at FBC Jax, believes should be done.
Its been almost 3 years since the end of the Lindsay/Vines era at our church, and as time passes and we are exposed to the Brunson regime week after week through his abusive preaching its very easy to be become numb, to forget what the leadership and decision making principles were that made our church great. Don't listen to Mac when he proclaims to know what Homer Lindsay Sr. or Homer Lindsay Jr. would do - as I said he never met either man, and he is very ignorant on the history of our church as evidenced by him thinking we were "cutting edge" in years gone by.
Here are three leadership and decision making principles that made our church great that Mac has absolutely turned upside down:
1. The "Priesthood of the Believer" was recognized by the Congregational Rule form of leadership in our church and our bylaws.
- Our pastors and lay leaders have long understood that our church was governed by "congregational rule", under the biblical principal of the "priesthood of the believer" in 1 Pe 2:9.
- When a decision was to be made that required special funding or capital funds, a vote was taken before the money was spent. The vote was announced, and it was genuinely taken in a regular, or previously announced business meeting. If the congregation did not approve it, it wasn't done.
- He and our yes-men lay leaders clandestinely changed our church bylaws on November 28, 2007 in a business meeting where absolutely NO explanation was given by the pastor as to what the changes were, or why they were made. These changes shifted power from the congregation to the pastor and the lay leaders of the church, thus we are in effect no longer a congregation led church
- The bylaw changes removed the right of the church to hold a special business meeting (thus the congregation could not call for a vote on the pastor's position);
- The bylaw changes specifically state that members agree to have all disputes with the church settled by arbitration - the end result of which is to remove a path for members to legally demand detailed financial records of the church
- The pastor has assumed sole responsibility to appointing trustees of the church, and the finance committee was disbanded and made part of the trustees, appointed by the pastor.
- Mac has repeatedly demonstrated a low view of the members of his church by constantly accusing them of not reading their bibles, not supporting the pastor, and his low esteem of his congregation was evidenced by his failure to distribute the bylaws prior to the vote. He has spoken ill of our congregation away from our church on multiple occasions, further evidence of his low view of the sheep he was called to pastor.
- FBC was a congregational ruled church, and our pastors recognized that. Calvin Carr will vouch for that as he has preached about church polity in his new church in Gainesville. However, our church had chosen to willingly give our pastors much moral authority in making decisions. Our pastors had demonstrated their love and commitment to the church and this city after years of sacrifice; they were rewarded with loyal members following their leadership in almost all decisions;
- This moral authority was not something demanded by the pastor as a function of his position - it was granted to him by our congregation. He didn't use his power to lord over us and beat us, or to be a dictator and demand we do what he does without a vote or before the money is given. We willingly followed their loving leadership based on years and years of them demonstrating to us that they walked with Jesus, and that they loved the church and had the best interests of the church and the community.
- Mac came in from day 1 behaving as though he should have the same moral authority granted to him as a function of his position as the new "Pastor" at our church. This was evidenced by taking a salary as large as previous pastors, practicing blatant nepotism by putting wife and son on staff in newly created positions , and having our church spend $100,000 and using 3000 sf of prime Children's Building space for a lavish office suite. Its good to be da king.
- Even accepting the $300,000 land gift and a year's rent free stay at an ocean front condo as he did three weeks after arriving in Jacksonville send a signal that he believes himself worthy of such an honor as receiving a 6-figure gift based solely on his position, not his sacrifice. He should have politely refused that gift and urged the man to use it for the Lord's work, not to enrich the pastor.
- Instead of Mac coming in here and getting busy to preach and roll up his sleeves and work hard and love us, he took 2 months with pay to arrive, sporadically preached his first year, vacating the pulpit on Sunday mornings and night without letting his congregation know, sometimes by his own admission he could work on his book manuscript (the book where he counsels pastors not to accept large gifts or live in "executive" homes) began using our church to advertise for his Holy Land trips, etc. Mac embarrassed our church by not keeping his commitment to serve faithfully on the Mayor's crime prevention steering committee. In short, Mac came in as the "rock star", not as the new humble preacher coming to build good will with the people.
- When the pastors determined what major direction they believed the church should go in, they brought it to the church and clearly communicated it - why it was necessary, how it was rooted in scripture, and they asked us to pray.
- If it required capital funds (as many decisions did during our high growth years), the financial needs were communicated, and the people were asked to pray and give as the Lord moved. When the funds were raised and we were ready to launch, a vote was taken of the congregation to spend the money.
- Our church historically has used the people's willingness to give as a sign that the Lord was moving in the church. The pastors did not go into debt for several reasons, one of which was they knew that if the Lord was in something, at least as God had moved in our church for decades, then God would move the hearts of his people to give the money needed! It wasn't just a desire to stay out of debt; but the pastors trusted the people to give as evidence that God was moving.
- Because of his low esteem for the people of God, that we don't read our bibles, we don't even bring our bibles, and we're a bunch of legalists with "no real relationship with Jesus Christ": because of this, the congregation must be told what to do.
- After Mac tells us what he wants to do, then he builds a case to convince us that its a good idea. For those who might disagree or don't respond as he asks, he will mischaracterize or minimize their concerns from the pulpit. Case in point his anger at the church for not being behind totally behind the satellite concept. He'll use guilt to try to convince people to go with him.
I have blogged about many instances making the above case. The latest one I will point to is the decision to start a school downtown. Mac wanted a school. He believes that it is necessary. He lied to us and said that knocking on doors doesn't work, and thus, we MUST start a school if we're going to reach Jacksonville with the gospel. That's a lie out of hell. Its not a requirement to reach our city. But Mac wants it. An endeavor like that takes start up costs...to the tune of $500,000. So what did Mac do? Well, I can tell you what Homer or Vines would have done. They would have communicated the vision, and asked for people who were behind this vision to give to a fund. When the money was raised, a vote would be taken to start the school and spend the money. What did Mac do? He held an unannounced business meeting to vote to take $500,000 from our church funds, money given by God's people to the ministry of FBC Jax, to start the school. Shameless.
And as further evidence of how stupid he thinks we are, he holds out his hand for $1 million in maintenance costs when these should have been taken care of when he first came on board, or certainly before spending money on pastor office suites, INSP broadcasts, and start-up of a school for the very rich. And now that we don't have the money we should put it in the budget for next year.But the sheep will give deep...and Mac will receive a hefty Christmas bonus for his wise and able leadership. And Smyrl writes his "Theology Driven Ministry" book.
And the sheep march to the sheerer....
Watchdog, this is your best post to-date.
This is a damning indictment of Mac Brunson and his company. This post to me explains everything. I can now clearly see given the past and present of fbcjax, why the issues you raised about the church governance, about money issues were important to you and others.
This post explains, why you can not "go to" Mac Brunson with a brother or two and confront him. He literally pulled the floor of the church and replaced it with something else. The members who were led by Lindsay's and Vines have all the rules changed now.
Now, I am very certain, if the Lindsay's were to come back, they would not approve of Mac Brunson and his compatriots.
I used to think, this was all done by Mac Brunson to cover his perceived problems of him being unable to accept criticisms. But this goes way deeper and more insidious.
The reason being this was planned. By more than one person. This was thought through over time and implemented.
All without the involvement of the body of the church.
I personally would lay lot of the blame also on the leadership of the church for letting this happen. I am new to christianity and am not familiar with the differences between the roles of trustees, deacons and lay leaders. I feel they are all to blame. They are all partakers of this scheme to defraud the fbcjax members of their authority and roles as they were laid out by the Lindsay's.
From a human perspective, the only thing that will impact the new fbcjax, is the amount of money coming in. As long as the money keeps coming, the new fbcjax will continue.
The other alternative, is for the current members to be educated as to what actually took place and somehow they can impact the direction of the new fbcjax.
I do not know where God fits in all this.
Readers - I do want to clarify: in this post I hyperlinked to my Dec 2007 article about the 11/27/07 sham business meeting changing our bylaws and church governance. This was an incredible, monumental abuse of the church. Notice in my Dec 2007 article that I made reference to an upcoming vote on the First Baptist Academy. The reason for that is that Mac had told us several Sundays prior that he would be bring it to us for a vote on whether to start a school.
That vote never happened.
Did you hear me? It never happened.
Or changed his mind, and never explained it.
Then, lo and behold, out of nowhere, UNANNOUNCED...Mac decided to take a vote...not on whether to start the school, but on whether or not to "loan" $500k of our church funds to the school for its start up. When the vote was approved, Mac announced that the logo was ready and the school website would be up the next day!
So do you see what I'm saying? Mac went forward with his plans for the school way before he ever came to the congregation, and way before he ever had the money!!
Then, he asked for the money in an unannounced business meeting on a Wed night...that's how Mac does things. He decided what to do (can't trust the stupid sheep to vote on it)....moves forward, spends money on the deal...then comes to us unannouced to TAKE $500k from our church budget for his special project.
Lindsay and Vines used to tell us often that the way counterfeit bill inspectors are trained to recognize the counterfeit is by intimately knowing the real thing. By knowing the real thing, they can instantly recognize the counterfeit. I knew Vines and Lindsay and know Jesus intimately and know the truth of God's Word. Therefore, it is very EASY for me to spot a counterfeit. Mac Brunson is a counterfeit! Period. Everything else you blog about stems from that simple truth. Like Homer used to say, "I'm not judging him, but I am a fruit inspector and his fruits stink!" The Bible says you will know them by their fruits. Well, you have laid out clearly the fruits of Mac Brunson. And don't get me started on the love Mrs. Shirley Lindsay demonstrated to the congregation by her years of lay (free!) ministry alongside Homer and her decades of public witness and testimony in our city. She was not living the high life in a gated community enjoying all the finer things of life. She was a real loving servant.
What we have is the "best leadership MONEY can buy." I'd rather have someone who humbly served the Lord and led us in His ways.
Watchdog: A suggestion.
Is it possible for you setup on your front page, like the way Wade Burleson does on his blog and show the list of the following:
- Posts most viewed
- What you deem as the most important posts
Watchdog: This explaination was masterful. There should be absolutely no room for question or excuses after this.
Many of us who have been there for years know what the church was and the terrible position it is in now. I also hold the lay leadership responsible for this current disaster. Most of them were in their positions under Lindsay Jr., and at least 4 of them under Lindsay Sr., as well. They know better, but got their eyes off Jesus and started following a man. They compromised their trusted positions and helped to bring on this situation. Looking at how the by-laws, the money, the manuvering of key positions, the dismissal of Godly staff, the shunning of people that saw a problem from the beginning and refused to compromise their beliefs, one can now see a plan emerge that can only be described as a hostile takeover.
Galatians 6:vs.7: "Be not deceived: God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." The church is the least of the critics to be faced. I would not want to face God knowing I had contributed to the downfall of His church.
I don't know how these people and the pastor look the people that know what's going on, in the eye, much less sleep at night. Just because the pastor tells them to follow him doesn't make him right. Some dumb sheep will follow another off the cliff thinking they are right. What a shame!!!!
I continue to pray for this church that I love.
Did you vote against loaning the $500K to the school?
What saved Paige Patterson from the Klouda case was the Separation of the Church and the State. I know LOT of Southern Baptists rail against the government for banning the displaying of the Ten Commandments in the Court Houses and displaying Christian religious symbols on government property. The irony was Paige Patterson got saved out of his jam with Klouda case, due to the Separation of the Church and the State.
Henceforth, I am referring to current FBCJAX as Brunson FBCJAX. The FBCJAX as it was is no more.
I am certain, legally, whatever changes that took place with the governance of Brunson FBCJAX were vetted and cleared. My guess in this would be the strong influence of the Separation of the Church and the State.
So I can only speak morally and spiritually about Brunson FBCJAX.
What took place at Brunson FBCJAX morally and spiritually is 300 times worse than what Darrell Gilyard did.
Please let me explain.
Darrell Gilyard, raped and sexually harassed may be at the most 100 women and children. This was a physical and spiritual rape and sexual abuse run rampant.
What took place at FBCJAX is not physical, but moral and spiritual stripping of one's authority and role as laid down by God and implemented by the Lindsay's with the Church Members.
From my perspective about 30000 members got affected. All without foreknowledge, warning and prior discussion. Granted, maybe only 8000 of them attend church regularly. Of them may be only 100 of them recognize what took place.
From my perspective, it does not concern me about how much the Brunson's make. It's not about money. It's all about abuse of power.
My suspicions are that there are outside players and powers who influenced this course of action.
There was no godly reason for what took place for the transformation of FBCJAX to Brunson FBCJAX, except for the grabbing of power. The sad thing was, this power was voluntarily given (though not the pastoral authority). Brunson's could have followed Lindsay's and explained the course of action to the body of the church and let the church debate and decide.
They short circuited the role and authority of the body of the church.
Sir(s), what you did was not right. No amount of prayer and supplication to God will vindicate what you and your staff did with the help of lay leaders, deacons and trustees.
God will hold you ALL accountable.
To all the supporters of Brunson who are shocked by my charges:
I know I am a sinner and my cleansing of sins only comes from the blood of Christ. My life is not perfect. But I have to make a moral and spiritual judgement against Brunson FBCJAX.
WD: Just think if Mac had refused the $300,000 land gift and expressed his wish to have the land value donated to the church we would be $300,000 better off in his quest for a million for repairs. If the church had not donated $180,000 to his personal desire to put himself on the Insp network (that is not received in Jacksonville) we would have another $180,000. If he had not taken $500,000 to start a school that most church members cannot afford to send their children to, we would have another $500,000. If we were not paying God knows how much (we don't know) to the pastor, his wife, and son in salaries and perks we would have sufficient funds and a surplus. Can you say mismanagement? Where is the lay leadership?
Anon - I agree. This is what I was harping on and asking the questions about last fall when Mac was saying we were "$500,000 behind budget" and when he told pastors in NC behind our backs that it was because "we overspent on missions" (as though that is noble, to overspend on missions)...he never admitted that to US, that we overspent on missions, just that we were "behind budget by $500,000".
But church, this pattern of saying one thing to us, another to people in other churches, confusing messages, misplaced priorities...I have heard from Dallas members and they tell me this is EXACTLY the pattern displayed in Dallas. When they got into their capital program, it was mixed messages, moving targets, changing priorities with no explanations to the congregation.
So get ready...this will be one rough ride as we begin to move toward the spring when Mac is going to launch his capital program to raise millions. But the watchdog will be ready too, and I'll be watching like a hawk.
One other thing Anon - about the $500k for the school...I doubt it was a one time transfer of funds, but that they are using money as needed out of the budget to start the school. If you go back and actually read the motion that was voted on in March in my post, I have the actual motion there. It is essentially a blank check to spend what is needed on the school because it was worded such that expenditures over $500k would NOT have to come to the congregation for approval.
Notice in the project "emergency" list is money for renovations for office space for the school. In the unannounced business meeting in March they already were given the authority to take $500k from our budget for the school start up expenses...AND Mac has said we are operting in the black...so now why does he add that need to the project list for this special offering of $1 million? He already has authority to take it out of the budget.
Watchdog: here we go again,money for schemes that we can do without. This church has its priorities completely wrong. This is not a profit making venture, business. The church is in the "business" of getting people SAVED and growing the members in Grace and love for the Lord and His word!!!! Which seems to be a minor afterthought at "Brunsons Church" now. If he and the trustees would realize how far they are from anything of a spiritual nature maybe things would change. It will take some "soul searching" and admitting they have gotten away from what's important, that would be JESUS. But I don't expect them to see anything wrong in themselves, they are an arrogant bunch led by an angry "I'll show you how smart I'am" preacher.I am wondering if Salvation means anything to these people.Gross mismanagement!!!
People all over this city are hurting and in need. Our church is focused on spending $18 million on ITSELF. Like the mayor said, pastors are stepping over needy people on their way to work while raising millions more for themselves. The mayor is frustrated, those in need are frustrated and Jesus is weeping over those who naked and hungry and in jail and we are not clothing or feeding them.
How do we change this immediately? Very simple. Do not give another dime to FBC JAX and let's watch that $18 million dollars go to work elsewhere in our city. $1 million can really make a difference to so many organizations and neighborhoods. Yet, FBC Jax needs $18 million year after year after year. To do WHAT that the local church bodies you pass on your way downtown aren't doing more efficiently?
FBC Jax's biggest problem right now is self survival. It is eating up $18 million per year to maintain itself. Stop giving and let's see what the real priorities are.
My guess is Mac would borrow against the assets to sustain his appetite for a few years and then leave us with millions in debt. Oh, never mind. He already did that in Dallas.
Watchdog: What's next do we start selling off the buildings in order to finance Brunsons eratic schemes? I have felt for awhile that the "poor mouth" scenario would be used to sell the buildings, strip the church of it's assets and provide a "reason" to move the church to a richer location. This is just a thought. But how far wrong is it really. We never thought we would be in the position we are in now 2 1/2 years ago. We still have assets that can be sold for profit. Isn't that scary?
Church you better wake up!!! Many have been warning you for years now, and sure enough you're in a mess. Someone with some backbone please raise the caution. Take the church back, by-laws or no by-laws!!!
How are they going to build a school and do all this stuff with the economy the way it is? Is ANYBODY watching the news? Why don't they instead build a great big homeless shelter to house all the church members who are fixing to be homeless and while they are at it how about reaching out to all those people walking all over outside the church who obviously don't have a home and give them more than just a sandwich? I cannot begin to imagine how burying your head in the sand and acting like its business as usual is going to help the millions of people who are about to be affected by the current financial situation in the United States. I don't understand. I just have this vision of tons of people reaching towards the churches for help coming up and being turned away while rich kids are being ushered in the door to go to "school"???? Go to school for what exactly? To learn to "help" people? Oh well, we all see things from our own perspective. I have a feeling the playing field is about to be leveled between the rich and poor in the USA anyways.
WD, and readers, A little over a year ago when asked by the Baptist Witness if he intended to move the church from the present downtown location, Brunson said there would always be a "FBC presence" downtown. What does a presence mean? Maybe it will be a mission outpost who knows.
Somehow I see a scenario coming of "We have too many old buildings to keep up so we need to sell some." And where will that money go, controlled by whom. Sounds like a bad dream, but it is just a thought. Hasn't happened yet.
Anon - I'd like to be clear on this:
I'm not necessarily against moving from downtown in x number of years.
I'm not necessarily against selling a building.
I'm not against change brought by a new pastor.
I'm not going to presume to know what God wants or does not want in the next 10 years for FBC Jax.
But the point of my blog has been and continues to be:
Unless Mac humbles himself, unless he leads in love, in openness, in transparency, showing respect for the congregation, working to unite people instead of divide them...unless he stops cutting us down to others when he speaks out of town...until he comes clean about his land gifts and explains it in love and humility...unless he stops the nepotism and taking money from the church for a school...unless he stops bulldozing his will, acting and behaving as though he possesses the same moral authority that Homer Lindsay and Jerry Vines had without first proving himself to worthy...he won't be able to lead us ANYWHERE or in ANY DIRECTION - downtown or in the suburbs.
He has in my opinion passed the point of no return. He has no interest in bringing along everyone with him. He is dividing our church. He said it Sunday. He said that God is moving, and that there are those who are upset about it. That is a lie out of hell. There are no Christians that would be against God doing great things in our church, but that is how he paints those who might be critical of him or have genuine concerns over his leadership, his bylaw changes, his salary, his land gift, etc. He views his opposition as people out of fellowship with God, out of fellowship with the church, and who are against God moving in the church. Fall in line with Mac, or you're the enemy.
Watchdog, in your last comment, in the last two paragraphs, you have hit the nail on the head. You are 100% correct.
Mac Brunson, last year when they abrogated the congregational authority, they already decided to leave the dissenters behind or oust them by making their life difficult.
This is so diametrically opposed to what Lindsay's did. They were consensus builders. They waited when there was opposition. They waited for God to move everyone with them.
Now logically, this is what will happen. Mac Brunson is going to go ahead with his grandiose plans. ALL plans come into problems, always. As you predicted, he will blame someone or everyone but himself for causing the problems. Lot of these projects will never be fully completed. They will be half done or in various stages of completion but never complete.
He will never see, that it's his attitude. His failure to see is the problem. If someone is humble or contrite or putting others first (including dissenters), trying to understand why there is opposition in the first place, they will succeed most of the time. Since Mac is not that, then failure(s) are mostly a certainty.
There is lot of wisdom in God's plan.
I know Mac preaches it, but he seems to have a hard time following it.
If he truly saw with a child's eyes and heart, he would see the cause of the betrayal amongst the dissenters. He would also know what he should do to bridge the gap and make amends.
Jesus, said the true leader is a servant. Mac, pay heed to your own sermons. You need to draw up ALL your members. You can not leave any of your flock to suffer and wander. If you did, then you are not a true shepherd.
You are exactly correct. Dr. Brunson is perfectly fine with "dividing" the church. He thinks it is necessary to accomplish his agenda, and those people who stand in the way might as well leave or die.
When Mac first came to Dallas, in his very first sermon as pastor, he referenced the turmoil and hurt the chuch had gone through in the 90s and indicated that we had to rebuild the body of believers. The exact quote was "we will rise together, or we will fall together, but by God we will do it together." He was preaching that the church needed to unite and work together to reach the city and each other.
This was the "old Mac" -- for his first few years in Dallas he really was a different guy. But after the building campaign started things changed, he became angrier, to the point that he literally said, from the pulpit, that those who opposed "God's vision" better watch out -- that they may not be around much longer. Obviously, this was perceived as over the line given the context that, for the most part, those opposed to the building plans were some of our older members.
His tone changed drastically in those days toward an "if you aren't with me you're against me" mentality, and suddenly his newfound preference for division in the church became quite apparent. He continued to preach against the "grumblers", to the point that he succeeded in running many away from the church.
He sees a division in the church as necessary and right. He no longer cares about "rising together" but rather about "rising regardless". And he's the one that gets to define "rising".
It was sad enough to see this go on in a church I love and had served in for 25+ years. Now, it saddens many of us further to see him continuing these tactics in another Godly congregation.
Your efforts here may or may not affect the final outcome of "Mac Brunson at FBC JAX". But know that you are correct in your perceptions and observations of Dr. Brunson, and continue to fight for what is right for your church.
I think this whole thing going on at FBCJAX is just sad! The unfortunate thing here is nobody Dr. Brunson, Jim Smyrl or Watchdog is wearing "the white hat". That's how messy this whole situation is. That is not to say that there is not some right on each side as well. I believe that WD has some tremendous facts and issues on his side as does Brunson. I can't help but feel sorry for the average lay people who just come to worship and serve and don't really have a dog in the hunt. Regardless. My prayers are with you guys.
Just a quick thank you for what you do. There are many of us who are hurting and appreciate your ability and willingness to put into words what we clearly see. Although it's a done deal for FBC it still helps to have a support group.
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