Mac and the A-Group are masterful marketers. Look at the "Media Evangelism" promo banner on the FBC Jax website and you'll see icons showing people using various media. The "sell" that Mac and the A-Group are trying to make to us is that this offering is for "cutting edge technology" ministry.
Unfortunately, that's not what the offering is for.
According to Mac's letter (which is now available on the FBC Jax website), the offering is for:
- buying local TV and radio advertising
- paying for special mailers
- putting Mac's sermons on the Inspiration network nationwide
Nothing innovative, certainly nothing cutting-edge there. We've included advertising and TV time in our budget for 3 decades as they are a very important activity to reaching those in our area. We have never gone onto a nationwide network with our broadcasts because we've never viewed our church and our pastors have never viewed themselves as "televangelist" in nature - as Dr. Vines used to say, when a person gets sick or experiences the loss of a loved on, the TV church and preacher and staff ain't going to be ministering to you. So we've always kept our TV ministry local. If Mac himself wants to go nationwide to build his personal brand, that's fine and he has the right to do it as his sermons are his intellectual property. Let him (or Trey) raise the funds to start a nationwide "Mac Brunson Sermon Broadcast" on a network, but please Team Brunson hold don't your hand out asking FBC Jax members to fund it. Like the school, its not really part of our church's ministry, and will reach very few people in our area for a huge expenditure.
I'd like to point something out for FBC Jax members to consider: in Mac's letter note how he uses the words "our podcast" and "our services" and "our broadcast". No, the podcast is not "ours"...it is the "Mac Brunson Podcast" with a full Mac Brunson mug logo, and its part of a separate 501(c)3 organization called Inlight Ministries. When he says we need to broadcast "our services" nationwide, he's not talking our services, he's talking his sermons. But its convenient and a clever marketing gimmick to use the words "our" in order to compel you to give to his project.
About the "The Mac Brunson Podcast": this offering is not either to pay for Mac's podcast, since that is already up and running and I assume our church has been paying for "The Mac Brunson Podcast" for some time. But there are some problems with that: he and the A-Group controls which sermons are available (for instance the 3/11 "I can't get 50 men and Homer would want to know why" and "your job is to listen" sermon was up only for a few days until someone wisely decided to pull it), there are no original broadcast dates with them (only dates posted to I-Tunes), and its called the "Mac Brunson Podcast", not the "First Baptist Church Jacksonville Podcast". If its "our" podcast and if our church is going to fund it, then change the name to "First Baptist Jacksonville Podcast", put our church logo on it, and put it on our church website with our church logo and not on Mac's Inlight.org webiste. This is an example of how Mac talks out of both sides of his mouth. He loves to say that church is not about personalities, that we don't come to church to hear from a man but to hear from God - sounds good, but then if he truly believes this why is his full face used as an icon and why is the podcast called "The Mac Brunson Podcast" when our church is funding it and its therefore a ministry of our church?
Since we've never gone nationwide with a TV ministry from our church (as I said if Mac wants to do that with his sermons, he's free to raise funds and start a Mac Brunson TV ministry), that doesn't mean we can't use technology to have nationwide and world-wide reach. Live streaming is great, but we can do much, much more at a relatively low cost as compared to buying TV time. After all, in many parts of the world our services are streamed live at inconvenient times.
We can archive our sermons video and make them available 24/7. I want to offer to you three examples of how churches are using technology to provide video streams of their full services, made available 24/7 world-wide. Consider the following examples:
1. First Baptist Church Woodstock: FBC Woodstock makes available online all church services for the past three months - not just Johnny Hunt's sermons (its not the "Johnny Hunt Broadcast" its the "FBC Woodstock" broadcast), but all sermons, even when Jerry Vines is preaching or one of the other ministers fills in. I'm talking full video of the entire service, praise music, preaching, invitation, and even an up front promo highlighting the ministries of the church. They even hyperlink in sermon notes. Click here to see it:
FBC Woodstock On-Demand Video Ministry
While there click on the Jerry Vines 3/2/08 sermon to see and hear a great Bible sermon. Listen to this sermon and you'll be happy to see he has hardly lost a step since retiring. Powerful message on the love of God.
2. First Baptist Church Dallas: The next one that I want you to see is how FBC Dallas makes their services available. They utilize a service called "316 network" to make there services available online:
First Baptist Dallas On-Demand Video Ministry
Notice on the viewing banner Robert Jeffress picture is there, but its the FBC Dallas logo, and the "tools" on the site are all hyperlinks highlighting the ministry of the church. Viewers can even click a link to submit a prayer request, or find information out about the church's ministries. Its not a ministry of just Robert Jeffress, its a ministry of the church that is funding it.
3. Northpoint Community Church: For a third example, take a look at Northpoint Church, the Atlanta church started by Andy Stanley in the 90's. At their website they archive all sermons (not the music), but they have a very unique and innovative interface that lists each sermon, its date, speaker, and three options for viewing. Take a look at the third option, that has the red "f" icon (for flash)...it is a viewer in which the wide screen sermon is viewed, with tools on the viewer to allow notes to be taken and emailed to one's self, hyperlinks to the previous parts of the sermon series, and pdf files for sermon outlines.
North Point Church On-Demand Video
Notice again: this is not the "Andy Stanley Video Broadcast", its the Northpoint Church broadcast at their website, and all sermons not just Andy Stanley's are put there for viewing.
So church, don't be duped. Giving to the "Media Evangelism" offering this Sunday will only be paying for advertising that should already be in our budget, and to pay for broadcast of Mac Brunson sermons nationwide when we FIRST need to make our full worship services (not just Mac's sermons) available on demand on the Internet.