As a follow-up to the previous post, I want to offer one more ministry model that Jim Smyrl left off his article on TDM...its called the "Celebrity-Preacher Driven Ministry". Yep, CPDM.
When Mac first came to FBC Jax, his mantra for the first few months was "We don't come to church to worship a pastor or to hear from a preacher, but to worship and hear from God." Fine and true, although one might assume he said that to tell us that was what we WERE doing before he came along. And now that he was there he was going to put a stop to the evil of preacher-worship and celebrity preachers at FBC Jax.
Only problem was we really did NOT worship our pastors, and they did NOT behave as celebrities. We really DID come to church to hear from God - fortunately our pastors were preaching the Word of God every single Sunday.
Three years into Mac's tenure, we can look back and see the obvious contrasts - that while our previous pastors were NOT celebrities, Mac really does behave as though he is a celebrity, in many ways.
I suppose Vines and Lindsay were "celebrities" if by that you mean "beloved pastors". The people loved these men. Not because they were perfect, not because they had the title of "Pastor, FBC Jacksonville". And not because they expected or demanded special status. They were beloved because they proved themselves over many years to be loving toward the people, faithful to God in their call to preach Jesus and the Bible, and faithful to do right by the church called FBC Jacksonville. They were hard on sin, soft on people...and people loved them and God blessed their ministries.
Whatever love and admiration the people of FBC Jax gave them, they earned - they didn't have to demand it. They didn't come riding into town with a $300,000 land gift in their hip pocket, jobs for the family and a brand new $100,000 "pastor study" in the choicest of church space...and neither Vines nor Lindsay came into town to staying at Amelia Island for a year in an ocean-front condo while they built their million dollar mansion as Mac has.
So really, who was/is the "celebrity" preacher?
Mac has come here and used his position to give special status to his family, as though they are the "first family". We now have a 24 or 25 year old Director whose primary qualification is that his last name is Brunson. His wife also has a special position in the church. Some of you might say that Homer, Sr. gave Homer, Jr. a job - that this was nepotism. No, Jr. went away to seminary, earned his doctorate, and "earned his stripes" so-to-speak as a pastor before coming to Jacksonville. Hear me: Homer, Jr. didn't seek out this position, he didn't negotiate a deal for he and his wife and son...in fact his dad had to convince Jr. to give FBC Jacksonville a try.
Homer or Vines never held a "special offering" to raise money not in the budget to put themselves on national television.
Homer or Vines never used their position as our pastor to advertise for "Holy Land" trips on our website. Vines did travel and preach on "Christian cruises" once per year, but he never advertised them to us on the website or in the church bulletin! Even when Vines retired he was very careful to not use the pulpit to promote his "Jerry Vines Ministry" launch - with 20+ years at the church he could have and no one would have said a peep, but he knew how unbecoming it was for a pastor to use his position as pastor of a mega church to sell and promote and advertise themselves or their ministries. Vines had wisdom. Vines had class.
Once the transition to "celebrity" is made, the next logical step is to view events as promotions and revenue opportunities. And then to advertise to SELL the promotions packages - what arrogance - sure, we're going to charge you money to put you on our I-mags and to mention you on the "stage" - we can sell you a little bit of "celebrity" status if you have have the money to pay for it! Homer or Vines never sold advertising and promotions to our Pastor's conference - such a thought would be very foreign, to charge ministries $750 for a table and $12,500 for a "platinum promotions package" including "emcee recognition" and video displays and "banners in prominent positions" and "premium booth space". I would submit that doing such things would not even be a consideration for a "Jesus driven" ministry, but in a celebrity driven ministry, why not sell a little bit of "celebrity"?
For Brunson, envelopes with requests for money were passed through all the Sunday School classes for several weeks to collect money for a "money tree" for his newly married son before we even got to know Mac OR his son.
The birthday cards sent to members have Mac's entire family even though his children are grown and have families of their own. I'm glad he has a wonderful family, but one must think they are a celebrity in order to put their out-of-town daughter and son-in-law and grandchild on birthday cards going to members of FBC Jax. I mean really...does son-in-law Barry really need to be wishing FBC Jax members "Happy Birthday"? Get real.
We held special baby dedication services for Baby Broc. We held a special ordination service for Mac's son-in-law. Celebrity status - you get special baby dedications and ordinations. Never would other staff members, and certainly never would the plebe - ever get a special baby dedication or ordination service for their relative. But if your pastor is a "celebrity", it makes perfect sense to do that! But wait, maybe we can market this, and for a handsome donation one can get a special Sunday morning baby dedication.
Now again we are treated to the Brunson's including their extended family on their Christmas greetings, featuring a picture of "the Child", Baby Broc. I'm happy for Mac that he has a grandson. I'm also happy that he's proud to be a grandfather...but are members of FBC Jax to be overjoyed at the sight of his grandson who lives in Kentucky? Is there something special about HIS grandchild that he should be featured on our church website? The greeting makes it seem as though its Mac and Deb's 4th child, for crying out loud. Mac is our pastor. He has a wife. Wouldn't it be enough for Mac and his wife to give us Christmas greetings?
What empty nesters their 50's and 60's that has grown children and grandkids sends Christmas cards out that includes their grown kids, their kids' spouses, and the grandkids names on it? I have never in my life ever seen such a thing. And what is with the "Doc" and "Honey"? Let's see, Sleepy, Dopey, Doc....and "Honey"? Isn't it "Mac and Deb"?
But the Brunson's do it. Perhaps they view themselves as "celebrities". Just a guess, but I will bet this was not Mac's idea, if you know what I mean. But since women are more "sensitive to the Holy Spirit" as Mac says.
The Lindsays and Vines knew that while they were beloved, they didn't abuse that love by showcasing all of their family members in our church or promoting their families! They kept their families private.
I love babies in general, but like most members at FBC Jax I'm not all that interested in "Baby Broc" in particular. If they are presuming that we care to see Baby Broc and are filled with joy at his sight, they must assume they are celebrities, and that anyone associated with them is of interest to us. Like the baby of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie - we don't care anything about that baby but that its parents are celebrities! Oooh...let me see the little baby!
By the way, I found it a bit uncomfortable Sunday when Mac declared to us that his daughter was expecting another child, and he said "...its another boy, thank GOD, we got another man coming...the 'man-child' is coming".....as though there is something inherently wrong with a girl baby?