"...When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matt 9:36

"Do not rob the poor, because he is poor... for the Lord will take up their case and plunder those who plunder them." Proverbs 22:22-23

Friday, October 31, 2008

Huckabee Speaking at FBC Jax Nov 2

According to the FBC Jax Website, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee will be speaking at FBC Jacksonville on the evening of Sunday November 2nd.

We welcome Governor Huckabee to our church and am happy to host him. He has a new show on the Fox News channel that airs on weekends and is getting rave reviews.

However, we hope his appearance at our church won't hurt him in the future. Its very likely that Mac Brunson will use this as an opportunity to advance his own brand - Mac will be on the platform with him no doubt, will introduce him, etc. A great attempt for Mac to bolster his own image. However, I can see in the future when Huckabee runs for president again they will pull out the video of Mac Brunson blaming 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, high gas prices, and the current economic downturn on God and ask Governor Huckabee: "Why did you go speak at a church and take the platform with someone who blames God for America's problems?"

Below is the video once again. Notice that Mac is not just saying that God could use these unfortunate events; not that God can work through these events...no, you will see Mac speaking on behalf of God in the first person, saying that God was actively working to bring all these things about in order to wake up the His people, that God tried to do it with blessings, but is now trying to get our attention through "buffeting" via 9/11, Katrina, gas prices, and economic calamity. Mac traces our current problems back to the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal and our failure to respond appropriately to that, and then God decided to bring 9/11 and the rest.

So when you take the platform with Mac Brunson, Governor Huckabee, keep in mind that the footage of you and Mac will be aired right after the clip below of Mac blaming death, disaster, and calamity directly on God punishing Americans.

Unfortunately, Governor Huckabee, Sunday night might be your "Jeremiah Wright" moment.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mac and Deb's Little White Lie About Sheri Klouda - Can you Apologize?

After seeing the folks at SBC Today once again telling untruths about Sheri Klouda, and their unwillingness to answer my sincere question and going so far as to deleting my posts about their statements concerning Sheri Klouda, I am going to again call on Mac Brunson to apologize to Sheri Klouda and to apologize to his congregation for using his power and his pulpit to spread a malicious lie about Sheri Klouda on July 13, 2008.

Mac Brunson is abusing our church in many ways. As I've said, abusers will often get emboldened when they get away with their abuse, and we see this here. Mac felt emboldened to the point of perpetuating a carefully crafted lie by completely mischaracterizing Sheri Klouda's testimony concerning the scriptural validity of her lawsuit against Mac's buddy Paige Patterson and the Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary. Sheri Klouda responsed to this lie on my blog here.

When you listen to the audio clip below you will hear Mac coldly refer to Sheri as "that person" and he says that Sheri Klouda admitted on the stand that her lawsuit violated 1 Corinthians 6. This is no small matter to Sheri. This must be very hurtful to Sheri as she is a seminary professor and takes great pride in living her life in accordance with the scripture that she teaches. To have Mac from one of the most prominent pulpits in the SBC delcare that Sheri admitted to have violated scripture in her lawsuit is to call her a hypocrite. It was a shameless attempt by Mac to rub salt in Sheri's wounds, and to show off to the SBC that he's not afraid to stick up for Paige Patterson. Too bad that the SBC Today faithful can't see this has nothing to do with one's opinion on Klouda's lawsuit - it has to do with lying about and ignoring Sheri's own testimony concerning the validity of her lawsuit.

I can only wonder...where is Debbie Brunson in all of this? As a woman serving in the SBC as an IMB trustee and as a prominent staff member (dare we say "co pastor"?) at FBC Jax, wouldn't she be incensed to hear her husband slander from the pulpit another woman serving in the ministry? Unlike Debbie Brunson, Sheri Klouda isn't riding the coattails of her husband to land a cush job at a mega church and a spot on the IMB board...unlike Deb Brunson, Sheri Klouda must support her family due to her husband's chronic health issues. Can't Debbie Brunson show a little heart and get her man to come clean and apologize to Sheri and to FBC Jacksonville? Or is she as cold-hearted as Mac? Its the least Debbie Brunson can do, given that she couldn't offer any support to Sheri while the whole mess unfolded at SWBTS even though Sheri was a member at FBC Dallas.

So listen below as Mac delivers his cowardly encoded lie. He isn't even man enough to use Sheri's name, and isn't even man enough to acknowledge that he is talking about a woman...only "that person". Coward. And he certainly isn't man enough to admit that "that person" is actually a former church member whom he pastored at Dallas and never offered one helping hand to her while her world collapsed. The people at FBC Jax should DEMAND that Mac apologize. But they won't. They don't care.

Come on, Mac. Humble yourself and apologize. Deb, perhaps you can help him.

How NOT to Preach a Stewardship Sermon

On election day November 4th, our beloved pastor will travel to Dallas to preach at the SWBTS chapel. He will march in, Paige Patterson will have some glowing words to say about Mac, might mention how much poor Mac is being attacked....and then Mac will get up and talk. He'll sound impressive, and the his deep, bellowing voice will fill the hall and the students will be impressed. His sermon will start with a year, no doubt. "It was [1492, 1854, 1904, 1961, 1993, or 2006]" and he will start with a historical illustration. And he'll sound so good.

But as Lee Corso says, "Not so fast, my friend".

Before the SWBTS students think Mac is some kind of A+ preacher...before they think he is the next Jerry Vines or Adrian Rogers....we want the students at SWBTS to see Mac in action from a recent sermon. Preaching a really important sermon to his congregation. A stewardship sermon, where Mac has the duty of calling his sheep to action, to spur them to give and to serve like they've never done before. Mac's church faces a steep hill in 2009. Our neglected facilities need $1 million in urgent repairs - urgent in the sense of "neglected" while other out-of-budget special projects were undertaken. We have a school starting soon. Mac is opening a satellite church despite our facilities being at less than 1/2 their capacity. So we need a real stem-winder from Mac - one that will just motivate us to love Jesus, love the church, and to commit our time and money. What does Mac do? What sermon does he pull out of his holster? What did Mac learn at SWBTS? How did they train him to preach to his sheep on such an important occasion?

Watch this brief video, the first of three parts that we will show in advance of Mac making a return trip to his alma mater to preach at chapel, and you can decide for yourself. And please, when its over, say a prayer for FBC Jax. And SWBTS students, remember: this is how NOT to preach a stewardship sermon. The last scene is "how to come across as an angry, fundamental, legalistic" - its a classic.

Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

People Don't Like It When Leaders Use Position to Gain Wealth

Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens was found guilty yesterday of failing to report about $250,000 in gifts he accepted from a wealthy oil contractor. As I blogged about in June, Senators are required to publicly disclose any income, including gifts, that they receive in addition to their $180,000 salary.

The reason Senators are required to disclose gifts is obvious - accountability. If a Senator receives a gift and reports it, his voting record can be examined by his constituents to ensure that he has not provided political favors in return for the gift. So its a serious matter when a Senator fails to disclose $250,000 in gifts from a corporation that did benefit from Stevens' actions as a Senator.

Our society does not like it when people in positions of power and public trust use their position to enrich themselves and their family. And they REALLY don't like it when they use their power to benefit the giver of the gift.

Mac Brunson is a man in a position of power. He is the pastor of one of the largest churches in the Southern Baptist Convention. Many Christians trust him as the "man of God" and above criticism and scrutiny, thereby increasing his power since this trust results in little disclosure of financial matters to his congregation such as his pastor salary and benefits and salary, and benefits of family members. He even can use believers' Bibles to preach to them that God says they need to give his church more money; all tax-free revenue to the church. Point is: Mac Brunson has LOTS of power.

We would therefore expect him not to use his position as pastor to accept large gifts, if for no other reason than just the appearance of impropriety. And certainly we would expect him NOT to engage in official actions as pastor that would give any appearance of him using his position to return favors to the giver of such gifts.

Yet this is precisely what has happened at our church. And no one seems to care, save for a few recalcitrant bloggers. And I won't let it go. In light of his continued abusive preaching, and his recent display of arrogance in coldly DEMANDING that we fork over $1 million cash in two weeks' time for neglected repairs of our facilities, when we as a congregation DID meet our budget while Mac spent our money on non-budget special projects - this arrogance further demands disclosure and explanation of his gift of 2 1/2 years ago. Maybe a loving, humble man we might let bygones be bygones - but its clear now that he needs a check on his power.

I'll rehash it: Mac Brunson accepted a land gift in 2006 that at the time was valued at $250,000 (how ironic) from a wealthy developer in our city named J.D. Collins - JUST THREE WEEKS AFTER BRUNSON BEGAN HIS PASTORATE. Thus it was not a gift based on years of friendship and trust. It was a gift from a man who barely knew Mac Brunson. It is reasonable to assume that the gift was given to Brunson solely based on his position and nothing else. I wonder why MAC got the gift, and not say, John Blount. Or Calvin Carr. Or anyone else. It was given to the new pastor, the man coming in who just so happens to have the most power. I find no fault in J.D. Collins - he can give gifts to whomever he chooses. He has a long record of donating money to people in positions of power and is free to do so. But it was not a gift Mac had to accept. To use a favorite Mac-ism: "See also David Tarkington" (and see Mac's own book).

If that was not bad enough, Mac then took an unprecedented action that gave the appearance of using his position to return a huge favor to the giver of the gift. I'm not saying it was "quid pro quo", but the unprecedented nature of this action gave the appearance of such. On March 16, 2008, Mac aired a testimony/infomercial highlighting "Collins Builders", a home construction company owned by the sons of J.D. Collins. The professionally produced testimony/infomercial, complete with on-the-job clips of their office and job sites - showed how the owners of the company made the bold and courageous decision to close their business on Sunday out of their Christian convictions. It is not uncommon for us to show testimonies at church. But Mac aired this one RIGHT SMACK DAB IN THE MIDDLE OF HIS SERMON - actually at the climax of his sermon. Right after discussing Jesus trusting God in the garden, Mac aired this professionally produced testimony to show how the Collins' trusted God in their business decision. Then Mac asks us if we trust God enough to start a school and satellite ministry. As far as I know, never in the history of our church has a pastor aired a testimony highlighting a members' business during the sacred preaching hour. This ensured of course that the video would be shown the following week on TV in the local market when Mac's sermon would be aired. You can listen to the audio of the sermon excerpt containing the commercial here.

Why did Mac choose THIS business to highlight in the middle of his sermon? Why not one of the many other businesses in our church that trust God? Why THIS one? I don't know. But the fact that his dad gave Mac a $250,000 gift gives the appearance that it was a returned favor for his land gift.

This concerns me. It should concern others in our church, especially in light of recent developments at our church. In addition to how little financial information concerning the spending of our offerings is shared with us, we now know how the Brunson regime is now involved in "raising funds" through marketing of the church. The prostituting of our pastor's conference this year and next year through selling of advertising space, and even selling platform time (did you ever think you would see the day when people could BUY time on the platform in our santuary? That day is here my friends) - this tells me that Team Brunson is very congnizant of the power of promotions and Christian "testimonies" in the sanctuary - to the point that Brunson now brazenly SELLS them. But Mac delivered a huge gift to the Collins - for free.

So our justice system works. Senator Ted Stevens' will likely go to jail. His greed did him in.

Ted Stevens should have read Mac's most recent book where Mac says:

"Guard against greed. It will do you in."

Amen, Mac.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Promoting Even a Missions Conference

Hate to be a nit-picker, but I can't ignore once again how promotions-minded the Team Brunson regime is at FBC Jacksonville. In November the church is hosting a mini Missions Conference for some missionaries. One of the events is a "Golf Tournament" at the private golf club "Deerwood", Mac's home course. The registration fees are a whopping $95 per person, and if someone or some business wants to "sponsor" a hole, they can donate $200. This means that a small sign advertising the donor's business would be placed at the tee box for the hole. Does everything FBC Jax does now include money-making through advertising? Why charge $200? The donors will likely have deep pockets, so why go for $500 or $1000?

Mac's house backs up to hole #12, so perhaps the back 9 will include a quickie tour of Mac's million dollar, 5600 square foot home. Then these missionaries can see what they could have had if they had just stayed here in the states and tried to become a megachurch pastor...and our members participating in the tournament can see what their tithes and offerings they give to God for the furtherance of the gospel help pay for!

The tournament involves prizes and giveaways...rumor is that one of the prizes is a one-night stay at the Brunson "Lincoln Bedroom", with a private tour of the Brunson office suite at the church. All participants in the tournament get 10% off any exhibit booth at the 2009 Pastor's Conference and 50% off any Mac Brunson books and coffee mugs. A drawing will be held for all hole sponsors for a 30 second commercial to be played in the middle of Mac's Easter Sunday message next April.

Here is the information from the FBC Jax website showing the golf outing costs and promotional fees. Watchdog will be there, as he is a near-scratch golfer and is looking forward to playing on Mac's home course.

Friday, October 24, 2008

What the Fleecing of a Congregation Looks Like

Below is a video clip that will show how an abusive, arrogant, unloving pastor can fleece his congregation - on TV no less! And get Amen'ed while doing it! Like a skilled sheep sheerer, he smoothly applies the sheer down our backs while holding us about the neck to immobilize us. Watch it in full color, with caption commentary for maximum effect. You can actually see what a "fleecing" looks like!

This is a clip from September 2008, in a service that was two weeks before FBC Jax's "Chest of Joash" Sunday where the church members submit their pledge card for the church's annual budget.

In this video Mac explains that there are some serious facility maintenance issues that must be corrected immediately, and they total nearly $1 million. He even has pictures. And he doesn't bother to explain why these weren't taken care of in our operating budget which the church met - he doesn't explain why other "special projects" that he unveiled during the fiscal year were addressed before these important repairs. And he doesn't even bother to lovingly ask the congregation to sacrficially give to meet these needs. Instead, he asks us which of us have homes in such disrepair - and then he plays the "debt card" as he likes to do. He actually threatens us that our 60+ year record of being debt free is in jeopardy unless we pony up and fork over to him $1 million in two weeks' time. As though the facility problems were caused by US and not him and his misplaced spending priorities. And the manner that he says it is about as unloving and arrogant and condenscending as it could be done.

Why the videos you ask? Easy. When I saw Mac put a video on our website with him in a santa hat telling everyone just how much he and Honey care for the poor, and they are proving it by ringing a bell...I realized that he will spare no expense to use all church resources available to let everyone know what a great, loving, caring pastor he is. He knows how to use the power of the visual to build his brand. But so can we use the power of the visual to show what is happening to our church. Enjoy.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mac Brunson: Our Faltering Economy is God's Judgment on America

Below is a video clip showing Mac's assessment that the current stock market crash and the spike of fuel prices this summer was the direct result of God working behind the scenes to get the attention of Americans. He preached this on Sunday October 12, right at the time when many Americans were very fearful of what was happening to out stock market and economy - especially seniors whose retirement income is directly tied to their hard-earned life savings and investments. The message they got from their preacher was not one of hope, but one of fear. In this video Mac builds the case that what we see today is from God, and he even starts it all with the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal, 9/11, Katrina, all precursors to God causing our economic crash...its all been God, like the evil magician, working to bring calamity on Americans.

Its amazing really, that this sort of thing is now coming forth from the pulpit of First Baptist Jacksonville. To explain that God is causing this calamity and the suffering of innocent people is beyond the pale. It not only gives people the wrong impression of the nature of God, but it strikes fear into the heart of God's people. Using Mac's logic, I suppose we can explain other calamities and suffering, such as children dying everyday from starvation and malaria - is that God's doing to in an attempt to get our attention?

This is what happens when a preacher gets away from expository preaching and begins to rely on his oratory skill and story telling and history. Mac here takes the story of Hosea and Gomer from the Old Testament, and spends several minutes translating that into modern day to tell us that God is punishing us.

Preachers, just stick to preaching the Word.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Mac the Legalist

For your viewing pleasure, Mac explains his "legalistic list" of what he "detests". He declares he's going to get "fundamental". And he decided, of all things when he talks about separation, tells us that he detests pants that people wear below their waiste. He doesn't explain why that is bad. He doesn't use scripture to explain why he doesn't like it. He just blurts it out. This is careless, emotional, non-Spirit led preaching. Notice some of the folks in the congregation start getting worked up. They are part of the Kool Aid drinkers who have forgotten what a Spirit-led, Bible expositor preacher is like. Now we hoot and holler for a red neck popping off about how he doesn't like low riders.

More to come.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Can Someone Justify This Greedy Double Dipping by Mega Church Pastors?

Why do mega churches allow their pastors to earn a huge paycheck from God's people at a local church, then to take off on a preaching circuit many weeks a year to collect preaching stipends to pad their already fat wallets?

Take Mac Brunson for example. His trip to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee this week to preach at the "nationally-acclaimed evangelist" Phil Waldrep's Celebrator's Conference is the worst example of this greed and excess.

Mac safely makes $300,000 salary, but with wife on staff and all the perks and bennies he is likely earning $400,000 per year from his church in Jacksonville.

Yes, $400,000 per year. That's $33,000 per month. That's $8000 per week. Shall I make a pie chart?

Why then, if his job is so darned important that we must pay such a huge salary, should he be allowed by his congregation to take time off from his pastoral duties WITH PAY to preach at a 4-day conference to collect more money? I might understand it if he were traveling to conduct a revival at a much smaller church where he wasn't paid - maybe a love offering is taken - in which case we as a church are then allowing the Lord to use our pastor to bless another church and advance the kingdom as he seeks to save souls. But this kind of conference where the attendees are paying hundreds of dollars, Mac likely knows what his payday is going to be based on the attendance and fees - it just stinks of greed and excess. It stinks! But man it must feel good for Mac!

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"Guard against greed. It will do you in."
Mac Brunson, warning pastors in his book "The New Guidebook for Pastors"
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Reading that quote from his pastor's guidebook that seminary students are required to purchase, we can say Mac is TRIPLE DIPPING. Leave your church to preach a 4-day conference, then sell books WARNING OTHER PASTORS OF GREED!! You gotta love it!

You say, "But God is perhaps calling him to preach at this conference." Interesting isn't it, how these mega church pastors are called to where they get big paychecks. And interesting isn't it that God called Mac during his December 2005 camel ride to leave Dallas for FBC Jax with a hefty salary, but God didn't call him to go to a church of 300 paying $30,000 per year! Is it God's call or man's quest for wealth? After 2 1/2 years of Mac, we know the answer now.

"You're just jealous" you say that Mac is in demand and that people want to hear him. Heck yes I'm jealous, as I've been looking my whole career for an employer who would allow me to take time off from my salaried, full-time job with pay AS I DECIDE...and go earn money in other pursuits. I'm jealous that I can't double dip like that. And Mac knows he is a "brand"...the more he attends these conferences the more books he will sell, and the more demand he will create for his preaching. And he'll sell a few books at his books table, and he'll sign them for the attendees. What a gig. God love ya Mac.

What a gig indeed. The conference website says attendance is limited to 1200, and the average cost is around $250 per person. If 1000 people come, that is $250,000 in revenue. The registration includes the cost of lodging but no meals are included. Its likely that Waldrep is clearing $100,000 after his expenses. So what do you think Mac's take is? I would say around $5000 to $10,000. Just a guess. Can we at least assume that Mac pays his own airfare and lodging, or does FBC Jax pay for that? And are we paying Honey to attend with him? Do we really want to know?

Should not a pastor earning about $8000 per week to pastor a church like Mac is, give that money back to the church if he is going to take time from his pastoral duties to collect another check for speaking at a 4-day conference? Mac knows its wrong, and knows we wouldn't like it, as he doesn't even tell us on Sunday that he is leaving out of town all week. How can he with a straight face tell us just after he went on a 2 week European vacation tell us he's heading up to Pigeon Forge to preach at a 4-day senior adult conference?

Why do we allow this nonsense?

What does this say about the man who does this?

I've known pastors to be fired by their congregations because they let "side interests" distract them from their main job for which the church hired him.

Its time God's people stop this abuse. Yes, it is abuse of God's people. No, Mac's not texting and bedding girls like Darrel Gilyard or fondling boys and girls in his office like Bob Grey...but its abuse of another type. Like Gilyard and Grey, he is abusing his power and privilege to take advantage of the congregation. Not sexually, but financially. Not suggesting a moral equivilency here, but want people to wake up and open their eyes that a pastor that keeps his pants on and doesn't try to seduce church members still is capable of abuse of another form that for some reason the church is willing to accept. Oh sure, the Jacksonville Sherrif's Office won't be investigating Mac like it is Darrel Gilyard, but praise God, Jesus didn't put up with such sin. He reserved his harshest actions and emotions to be displayed in the house of worship, against greed in the in the house of worship. Thank you Jesus for setting the example for us.

And our church is run by men who know how to run large corporations and handle huge budgets at work, and not a one of them would allow an employee to do what Mac does. They have too much respect for and accountability to the organization and for the shareholders to allow such shenanigans.

But its OK for the preacher to do it.

What a terrible testimony.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Off to Pigeon Forge - SEE YA SUCKERS!!!

Well, Mac put in his 2 hours of work today, and now its OFF TO PIGEON FORGE, TENNESSEE to do some more double dippin'...he takes two weeks vacation including a tour through Italy with Tom "Yes Man" Stimler....comes back and takes another trip to preach....comes back and preaches to us today...now he is off for the entire week to preach Monday through Thursday in Tennessee! Mac takes his bloated salary from FBC Jax, along with his wife and son...but that isn't enough! How do you expect Mac to make a living off of $300,000 to $400,000 each year? So he is off to preach to a group of seniors at Pigeon Forge, TN with his good buddy, the nationally acclaimed Phil Waldrep so he can pay for that trip to Italy!

Notice Mac didn't bother to tell us today that he would be out all week preaching. Our previous pastors told us what they were doing if they traveled. If Vines was traveling to preach, he would tell us for three reasons: 1. He wanted us to be praying specifically for him; 2. If he was going to be out of the pulpit that Wednesday he showed us the respect of letting us know, and telling us who would be in the pulpit; and 3. HE SHOWED US COMMON COURTESY AND ACTED LIKE HE HAD SOME ACCOUNTABILITY TO US. How laughable is that? The pastor being accountable to us? Do you remember when Mac declared he was accountable to us? That was a joke. He thinks because he says something it is so. Actions speak louder than words Mac. We know you don't view yourself as accountable to us. We're just stupid sheep that are supposed to give the dough so you can earn your "base" salary from us, and then your book deals and preaching circuit is where you earn your extra spending money.

I think Mac operates in a paradigm of FBC Jax being in a sense his own private corporation. He's the President and CEO, his wife is the vice president, and his son is the LWO (I'll let you figure that out - we'll see how back some of you readers go on the blog). Since this is HIS company, and we are merely low-level "employees", he doesn't need to tell us what he is doing or where he is going or when he's out of the pulpit. Its none of our business. Its HIS church, not ours, and he is accountable to no one.

And let me tell you something. I made some comments on the pseudo-sermon this morning that if there are many people who struggle with the security of their salvation as Mac says, its because Mac himself preaches confusing sermons that would make an immature Christian doubt their salvation if they don't fall into line with Mac's orders. He preaches legalism in giving and service, has said that God is a God seeking to punish us with higher gas prices and falling stock prices, that God is looking to "zap" us when we get out of line.

But tonight was just an example of empty rhetoric. His one point tonight: DON'T LEAVE GOD OUT OF THE EQUATION when things get tough. I do declare, from the FBC Jax Watchdog Blog: Mac Brunson's entire tenure is full of decisions made leaving God out of the equation. I've chronicled them on this blog and won't bore you with the details. The way he beats us up when we don't do what he wants (after all we answer to him not the Holy Spirit), how preaches legalism in giving in service and giving, his changing of bylaws without telling his congregation, telling us that God is "gonna zap us"....even when he ripped us up one side and down the other because he didn't get 150 men to pray with him...those are all examples of MAC LEAVING GOD OUT OF THE EQUATION. So brother pastor it rings hollow when you preach to us to not leave God out of the equation. To all but the ardent believers who have been baptized in your Kool Aid, we see right through it all.

Here's one for you Mac: Don't you trust God to meet your needs by the salary you draw here? Don't you think God can take care of those seniors at Pigeon Forge without you vacating your pulpit here to preach to them and grab another paycheck? Stop leaving God out of the equation Mac.

Friday, October 17, 2008

What to Do After Asking for $1 Million Cash - Part 2

As a follow-up to my post "What to Do After Asking for $1 Million Cash"....at left is our loving, humble pastor (right), and the head of the FBC Jax finance committee, Tom Stimler touring Europe.
Just wanted to draw a parallel between the disgust of so many Americans when we saw the AIG executives take a European spa vacation just days after Congress voted on a $50 billion bailout for their company, and the disgust of believers at FBC Jax over Mac and Mr. Stimler taking a European vacation after asking us to give $1 million cash (or $200 per "giving unit").

The week after Mac asked us to give $1 million for his "bailout" of our dilapidated facilities that our leadership (Mac and Stimler and Leverett and Blount, Jr.) failed to take care of with the $40 million given since he started his tenure, he and the chairman of our finance committee, Tom Stimler, headed off for a tour of Italy! Yes indeed, the same two guys who oversaw a year where we grossly overspent on missions (by Mac's own admission - click here to listen as he 'fesses up to his NC friends while preaching out of town, and read about it here), held out their fat hands for a cool million in cash from the plebe of FBC Jax. After we gave, they boarded a plane for a tour through Italy with their wives. Ain't God good? Amen! "We're gonna have CHUCH!"
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Memo to Trey and A-Group: please work on a special project whereby we can begin charging for the Sunday Anniversary Announcements. I've made a few suggestions below that you can start with.

Platinum Level: Jim Whitmire puts your picture on the I-mags, calls you to the platform, and we show a brief 3 minute video testimony of your marriage - including your place of business if applicable. Mac says a few words, and tells you what each of your first names mean in Greek. Cost $9550 w/ financing available. "Ultimate" Upgrade Available: Each grandchild can come to the platform with you, for only $500 per child under 3, $750 per child ages 4 to 12. Mac will pray for your marriage for an extra $750 (paid separately to Inlight Ministries).

Gold Level: Jim Whitmire calls you to the stage, Imag image show for 9.5 seconds, Jim shakes your hand, and gives wife 1 rose. Cost $3999 (1/2 payable the Sunday before, balance due at conclusion of offeratory prayer day of showing - 5% penalty for late payments). Super Duper Upgrade available: $50 for each additional rose. To have Mac shake your hand, $500 (paid separately to Inlight Ministries).

Bronze Level: Jim Smyrl will call you to the platform, announce your names, shake your hand. Cost $399. Upgrades: Jim will do said shaking of hand without tie for $250 (paid separately to Loyal Heart Ministries). Jim will use his whispery voice and pray for you for an extra $99 (paid to Loyal Heart Ministries). Flip Flop Special: Jim will wear jeans and flip flops for $29.99 (paid to Loyal Heart Ministries). Leather jacket and chaps worn by Jim with jeans only $19.99 extra.
Limited Time Only: BAPTISM BONANZA SPECIAL!!! Have Mac re-baptize both of you on that Sunday evening for only $1000 (baptism garb and towels extra).

BRAND NEW!!! If you want to have your grandbaby dedicated, even if they live out of town and are members of another church, you can have Mac dedicate them for $150. Rose for mom an extra $25. Mac to read your babies first name in Greek $100. Middle name for $75. Researching to find a verse for your grandbaby is $100. TAKE YOUR GRANDBABY DEDICATION TO A WHOLE NEW LEVEL: For an extra $1000, Mac will do the baby dedication on a SUNDAY MORNING! Just like he did with his grandbaby! Imagine the pride you will feel as our man of God pastor dedicates your baby in front of 8000 church members. For a limited time Mac will sprinkle holy water on your grandbaby if you register for your grandbaby dedication by the end of October!

JUST ANNOUNCED: Any members who have son-in-laws that need to be ordained to the gospel ministry, we will do that for $10,000 on a Sunday night. If you arrange for multiple ordinations on the same night, a 25% discount will be applied. Schedule these well in advance to make sure that night our pastor is not on a Mediterrean Cruise, Holy Land Trip, Preaching Gig at Pigeon Forge, Preaching Gig in North Carolina or New York, or on a European Vacation with his favorite trustee.

That is a start, anyways. Come on Maurilio, now let's get creative in how we can raise some additional revenue!! Trey and Maurilio: Watchdog is available for consulting, I charge $150 per hour for my church marketing services; would be happy to meet you at Deerwood Country Club for a "creative session" on this and other special projects.

A Word To My Readers at FBC Jax

This week the revelation of the Team Brunson sponsorship plan has generated intense interest in this blog all over the country. The hits within Jacksonville have tripled, and the hits in total have nearly doubled in just a few days as people are becoming incensed over this abuse of our church's pastor conference ministry.

I am hoping that more of our members are becoming aware of this blog so that they can at least consider another paradigm of what is happening at our church. I know the vast majority of members view Mac as the jolly ole preacher up there, the good ole boy redneck who just loves to preach, and tells a good joke and they sit in Sunday services and giggle at his antics. Well, there is another side to the story of Mac and Team Brunson that this blog is trying to get members to consider.

So keep spreading the word, FBC Jax readers of this blog...don't be afraid to email this blog to any of your Sunday School associates. If you have an email distribution list for your department, be bold and email this blog address to them. If you don't feel comfortable doing this for fear of attack on you and your family (which will likely happen if you were to do it), then go to www.gmail.com, get yourself a new email address with an email name that is not descriptive of you, and email it anonymously. It is very important that people at least consider what is being exposed on this blog. If you do suffer for daring to bring up this blog to others, you have an open venue at this blog to expose those who are trying to harm you or your family.

And if you believe that Mac is harming our church, you now have only one vote, and that is your wallet. The congregation has had taken away from it the ability to call a special business meeting in the recent bylaw changes, so there is no more congregational rule. So to withhold your giving is exactly playing by the rules of the new Brunson regime at our church. To them its all about the dollar, and he who gives the most money gets the most exposure - give Mac $300,000 tract of land and you get a 3-minute video shown smack dab in the middle of his sermon right after preaching about Jesus' suffering in the garden (is that not sick?). But on the other extreme we now know that if you can't come up with $750 for an exhibitor's booth, you can't tell pastors about your Christian ministry or business. And it doesn't get any more obscene than this: if you can't pay the registration fee for the pastor's conference, you can't even show up for the sessions - which are held at the facilties that your sacrifices paid for over the past three decades. Don't have the money, you're shut out. It sure is a "new day" at FBC Jax. That's why our logo be "Linking Wallets to Team Brunson" instead of "Linking Lives to Jesus Christ"


or

I'd like to think that our lay leaders can help us out of this mess, but they are entrenched with Brunson. The man who is the head of the finance committee (if that committee still exists) has been touring Italy with the pastor. Other lay leaders and board members who have financial interests in Israel got Mac to allow them to use the church to raise money last fall for an Israeli hospital that performs abortions, so don't look to the board members to help in this. The paid staff? They have either drunken the Kool Aid and can't look objectively at what is happening, or they do see it but for fear of their jobs they can't do anything.

So let's play by THEIR rules...he who has the dollars has the power and the privilege. It used to be the joke around town that the more you gave to FBC Jax the closer to the front you could sit. Now in a sick way that joke has come true - the more you can give, the more marketing exposure you can gain. Don't have the money, no exposure or even access to the events.

So withhold your dollars from Mac, and watch his power and influence wane faster than you can say "Come help us Calvin Carr".

Watchdog

Thursday, October 16, 2008

REMINDER: Mac Said he is Accountable


Now that quite a number of members are ticked off to see how Mac and his son have prostituted our annual Pastor's Conference and transformed it into a marketing bonanza by selling "sponsorships" for $12,500 and charging the ridiculous fee of $750 for an exhibitor's booth, I want to remind everyone what Mac said to us in his sermon August 3rd, 2008:

"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"

So come on church, let him know. You need to email the pastor about your disgust and expect a response. If you get a response from him that is unacceptable, send it to the Watchdog and we'll let everyone look at it. Mac needs to be shamed into reigning in his son and Maurilio's plan to sell sponsorships for $12,500 and exhibition booth space for $750. Ask him why he has turned our Pastor's Conference into a marketing bonanza...ask him where the money raised from Pastor's Conference registrations and advertising revenue goes. Last time the Watchdog checked, there are no revenue line items in our church budget that indicate money from this conference. So where does it go? He owes us an answer. He's accountable. At least that's what he said.

I hate to say it, but the Watchdog was right. I've been chronicling over a year now how this bunch is market driven, how dangerous it is that our pastor listens to the A-Group instead of the Holy Spirit. I challenge you to go back and browse my articles dating back to September 2007. I warned you all about the danger of a pastor who believes its OK to allow a Time to Stand with Israel event to raise money for an Israeli hospital that performs abortions. Get the picture church: several influential deacons and trustees go to Mac last year to hold a fund raiser in our sanctuary...now what moral ground to those same lay leaders have to tell Mac that he can't do what he is doing selling advertising at the Pastor's Conference? We're in trouble church, big trouble. These shenanigans call into question ALL of Mac's major decisions up to this point: the $500,000 he took from our church for the school, and the money he is getting ready to spend on a satellite church. I warned you all about a pastor who thinks he can clandestinely change the bylaws right under our noses without even uttering one word of explanation - if the pastor will do THAT....then it stands to reason he'll change our pastors conference into a money-making enterprise...and we can only wait to see what is next.

Here are the sponsorship levels:


Can you believe it? They're selling everything! We're allowing companies to PURCHASE what our pastor says from the platform! We're selling placing a hyperlink on a website!

Can't afford $12,500? Well Trey and Maurilio have a 2nd option for you!!


Can't go "Platinum"? In this economy when Christian ministries might see decreased giving, FBC Jax is trying to extract maximum money from for using our facilities that were built not to sell space to the highest bidder but to spread the gospel. So you get the "Gold" treatment. But if that's too much, maybe you can go down to this level:

This is my favorite....you pastors attending the conference who believe Mac's letter that he wants to minister to you when you come....GET REAL!!! Mac views you as a marketing unit to be sold to advertisers. Look at that above "Up to 2000 at dinners each night". When you're eating your chicken dinner in our dining room, you will be shown 3-5 minute video presentations...not because we think you'll be blessed by the video, but because Mac pocketed $5000 to show the dang video!

So you're a non-profit, Christian organization that has a real ministry that you'd like to tell the pastors about to see if the Lord might move in their heart to invest in your ministry? Well, you first have to INVEST IN MAC'S WALLET and fork over $750 for an exhibitor's space! Can you believe it?

Wow, how generous! You get TWO BADGES, a DRAPED TABLE, TWO CHAIRS, and a POWER STRIP! Hey Trey, how much will a third chair cost? Oh, and we'll run the vacuum cleaner also. "General cleaning of exhibit area"? How about including "air conditioning" and "moderately worn carpet" in exhibit area.

There's the buzz word: CUTTING EDGE in the above advertisement.

Are you incensed? Mac, I'm told from inside reliable sources, is absolutely incensed over this blog. GREAT!!! Because we're incensed over this Mac.

Some other questions you recalcitrant bloggers, you 20,000 "bosses" of Mac might have:

1. Are you treating all potential vendors the same? Is Jerry Vines ministry going to have to pay for their space also? Or just the Christian vendors who aren't buddies with Mac and Trey?

2. Where is this revenue going?

3. The costs incurred by the church to put this on: namely the hourly workers in the kitchen, security costs, maintenance and housekeeping, cameras crews, A/V, etc. Are these costs paid out of the revenues generated?

4. How much is paid to the speakers?

5. Since Mac and Trey and Maurilio find it necessary to charge people for "advertising"...has Mac paid the church for advertising his Holy Land trips? He has had that on our church website and in our church bulletin for some time now, and I think he owes the church for that advertising space.

6. How much did the producers of the Bible on tape series pay us to have Mac interview Jim Caviezel during the Pastor's Conference last year?
And to top it off, here's what Trey is charging to place an advertisement in the conference brochure:



If we're charging this much money in our pastor's conference, how much longer until we start selling advertising space in our church bulletins?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

URGENT MESSAGE: Spread the Word of Brunsons' Greed

The fleecing of the church. Jesus turned the tables over to drive the moneychanges out of the church. Who will drive the Trey and Mac Brunson money changes out of our church?

There you have it church. If Mac is willing to sell our pulpit and I-mags, there is not much he WON'T do....


ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

I know that pastors all over the SBC read this blog daily. I'm asking you to share this blog site with pastors around the country who might be considering coming to the 2009 Pastor's Conference at First Baptist Jacksonville.

Mac and his son Trey and likely their marketing consultant Maurilio Amorim are hell-bent on fleecing to the maximum extent they can the attendees at this conference established by Jerry Vines as a ministry to pastors and was never intended to yield profits through selling the attendance of godly pastors as marketing units to the highest bidder.

Not only are they charging $260 per person, but they have now begun to charge $750 for a Christian organization to set up an exhibit booth, and they are now selling "sponsorships" valued up to $12,000 that include perks like videos shown on the video screens in the auditorium. Even your attendance at the dinners is used to entice potential sponsors as they say "up to 2000 in attendance for dinner" so you'll see marketing messages even while you're sitting down and enjoying a meal on our dining room.

The $260 per person registration will yield about $900,000 in revenue, when there is no real facility rental cost, much of the labor is volunteer from members at FBC Jax who take vacation time to help out...and now Mac and his son Trey - the one Mac bragged "raised $100,000" last year for the pastor's conference - has a web page up on the PC 2009 site giving the details of these sponsorships to generate over $100,000 of advertising revenue. And we don't even know where all this money goes.

Visit the church's website, click on the Conference header, click on the Exhibitor's link, and click on the hyperlink to view the brochure explaining these advertising sponsorships. It will turn your stomach. The hyperlink there is a pdf file that can be downloaded to your computer, and if you like email it to your pastor friends so they can know what Mac and his son are up to. Or get the file here:

Read the Exhibitor and Sponsorship Plan

Those of you attending and paying your $260 - you're a "market unit" to the Brunsons - your attendance allows them to sell advertising and marketing space.

Pastors that find this blatant display of opportunism and greed - where the conference established by Jerry Vines in the 1980's to minister to pastors is now set up to charge $750 for a stinking table and two chairs to display a Christian ministry or Christian business - where $12,000 or the highest bidder gets certain marketing perks...PASTORS IF YOU FIND THIS DISTURBING, PLEASE LET MAC BRUNSON KNOW. LET'S SHOW MAC DURING THESE TOUGH ECONOMIC TIMES THAT WE'RE DRAWING A LINE IN THE SAND AGAINST HIS GREED. I hope that pastors will cancel their registration and demand a refund, and pastors will email Brunson to tell him enough is enough and you're passing this year.

You can make a difference. But your attendance at the conference will be a vote for the greed and arrogance and marketization being brought into what used to be the flagship church of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Shame on you Mac Brunson and shame on your son who is responsible for this.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mac "The Double-Dipper" Brunson - 1 Week out of 4 Ain't Bad!!

The people of FBC Jax are beginning to get a complex in that maybe our pastor, Mac Brunson - the man hand-picked by Jerry Vines and pursued and enticed vigorously by our search committee to be our loving pastor and to minister to the city of Jacksonville - doesn't like to spend much time in Jacksonville!

He just finished a two week European vacation taken immediately after asking us all to dig into our wallets and give $1 million to do facility maintenance because we just couldn't find the money despite $40 million being given since he arrived. And while he was gone we watched a video produced to show how caring he is of the poor in Jacksonville by agreeing to man a Salvation Army kettle...what a generous man!

So Mac is enduring one week with his recalcitrants at FBC Jax after his two week vacation, and then off again for another week! Where does he have to go? Its a tough assignment, one that only the bravest of ministers will go to shine the light of the gospel...he's going to preach to a senior's conference at Pidgeon Forge, Tennessee october 20, 21, 22, and 23rd.

Yep, four days. He's going for four days to preach at his buddy Phil Waldrep's "Senior Adults' Celebrators" conference in beautiful Pidgeon Forge, Tennessee. Not going to preach a revival. Not preaching to seminary students. Not seeking to save the lost. No, he's going to preach to a group of seniors. For four days. Not that they don't deserve a quality speaker, but Mac is a busy pastor of a large church - he has a DAY JOB is what I'm saying, so to preach a four day sermon series is a bit much.

Why does he do this? Why does his church allow him to take 4 days off WITH PAY to go earn an honoraria or stipend to preach a conference? Does anyone out there have an employer who would give you time off with pay to go to another employer and earn some additional money?

The more we observe Team Brunson, the more its apparent - we are not purpose-driven, we are not theology driven...we are a MARKET DRIVEN church. Its about hiring a church marketing firm to increasing market share, its about showing videos in sermons of people who have donated large gifts to the pastor, its about using guilt and intimidation to prompt people to give 10% of their income to the church, its about using money given for ministry to start a school to reach those in the community who have the most money, and sadly its about selling sponsorships of up to $12,500 for our pastors conference. Its about revenue, its about money. These guys are so market driven it calls into question every other decision they make like the satellite ministry. Now Mac is going to earn an extra buck by preaching to Aunt Bertha, Uncle Charlie and Grandpa Willie in Pidgeon Forge. I'm sure the demographics tell Mac that he can sell some of his books since many Seniors who go on these retreats likely have considerable discretionary income.

The Watchdog has at least one attendee at the conference who will check in and let us know which of Mac's sermons he recycles there at the conference, and who it is that man's the Brunson book and tape sales table.

Cynical? Yes. Surprised? No, not a bit.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Mac "Jeremiah" Brunson: God Is the Cause of High Gas Prices and Economic Crash

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Bonus clip for my readers: listen to Mac 'get fundamental' and rail against those who wear their britches too low (and hear the red necks hootin' and hollerin'), and against those who wear words on their hineys. OK, be legalistic Mac, but at least can't you and Jimmy coordinate your legalism? Jimmy the Pearl Smyrl says those who wear slacks and button down shirts are "worldly" while the flip flaps and ratty jeans are fine, but now Mac decked out in his power tie and monogrammed cuffs complains about certain peoples' style of clothing.
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It's official: Mac is the Jeremiah Wright of the Southern Baptist Convention. We can now call him Jeremiah Brunson. Maybe Jerry Brunson for short.

I'm trying my best not to think Mac is a false teacher. I'm trying hard to view him as just a preacher who has an anger problem who likes really nice things and who tries to manipulate his congregation by stretching the truth and scripture every now and then. But then he goes and says something like what he said Sunday night and I then have to wonder how this guy is even in the Southern Baptist Convention, how this guy ever landed a preaching gig paying him hundreds of thousands of dollars per year...and I wonder did he really did get a doctorate degree from SWBTS. Have we checked this guys credentials?

Mac was preaching Sunday night October 12, 2008, that God's goodness to us is God's way to get our attention, but if God's goodness doesn't do the trick, then God resorts to purposely seeking ways to hurt us.

According to Mac, all that America has suffered of late: 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, an oil crisis with $4 a gallon gasoline, and an economic crash - its all caused directly by God in an attempt to punish us for not responding to him during times of blessing:

"You think God hadn't been actively doing something? God says 'I've been active all this time. I've been active putting into place all these things [referring to 9/11, Katrina, oil crisis, economic crash], I've been actively seeing how high I can get gasoline for you Americans, I've been actively seeing how I can cause the economy to crash because if you will not turn to me in my blessings on you I will take them away as Hosea took away the blessings of Gomer."



Mac isn't saying that God can teach us some things through these difficulties. Mac isn't saying that God might allow these things to be used to draw people to him...no, Mac is saying God is actively, purposely, CAUSING, God is the AUTHOR, God is bringing into existence all these things as punishment for us not turning to him when he gives us blessings. Even worse, MAC IS SPEAKING ON BEHALF OF GOD...Mac is presuming to know what God says about these events, Mac presumes to speak the mind and heart and will and intent of God.

This is heretical. This is abusive. This is cultish. This is dangerous. For a man to speak as though he speaks on behalf of God and tells his followers that God is ACTIVELY PUTTING INTO PLACE terrible events in our lives is to lead his followers astray, trying to implant an irrational fear of God, seeking to distort their view of God's role in the affairs of man - this is dangerous stuff.

But this is Mac's view of God. Its not the first time Mac has given us his dark vision of who God is and how He deals with us. Mac believes that God is waiting to "Zap" us. I blogged about Mac's distorted view before. Click here to listen to Mac explain that God is waiting to "zap" Christians. This is consistent with Mac's preaching on giving. He doesn't preach giving out of love, but out of fear of God and duty to Old Testament scripture.

So let's deliver the message to all of Jacksonville - we have the answer for all of that ails our economy and world - straight from God's lips to Mac's ears - the rotten economy is not the result of Barney Frank and Chris Dodd and people taking mortgages out that didn't pay them. Its God! God is doing it to us! Hear that Jacksonville! Hear that recalcitrants?

Our new chorus:

Praise God from whom all calamity flows!
Fear him all recalcitrants here below.
Thank him for Katrina, 9/11, and crashing stocks,
God is looking to fill your stocking with rocks.

And our new motto: "That Jacksonville May Fear Christ."

May God help us.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Chest of Joash is a Royal Bust?

Looks like the 9/28/08 Chest of Joash service may have been a royal humdinger of a bust.

As of 10/3/08, the budget committments were $8.5 million, compared to an annual budget likely to be around $16 million. Mac tried to fleece us for a cool million in cash that day, but only got $245k (which ain't bad).

I said it before and I said it again: those of you who are wising up to Mac and Honey's fleecing of our church, the ONE AND ONLY way we can make a difference and be heard by Mac and his hand-picked trustees is to stop the money faucet.

Maybe more money and pledges will trickle in. Maybe this is typical for us to be so low on pledges as compared to our budget and I'm just whistling Dixie. But its worth noting that the giving is way down.

If we have to tighten our belts and cut, let's see is Mac gives up some of his salary. Or his wife's. Or son's. Not likely.

By the way, if you haven't been able to drive through Deerwood to check out your preacher's pad because its a gated community, here is a front picture of Mac's digs that your tithes and offerings help pay for - this is the 2-story, 5200 square foot, 6 bedroom, 4.5 bath home valued at $1.1 million. It sits on the 0.6 acre tract of land valued at $275,000 that was given to Mac just 2 weeks after he arrived in Jax in the spring of 2006. The picture below wasn't wide enough to show the entire house, it is so wide.

Ain't God good?

Friday, October 10, 2008

What to Do After Asking for $1 Million Cash

Immediately after our Chest of Joash service on Sunday September 27th in which Mac was attempting to collect 1 million dollars CASH MONEY for facility maintenance, and after a series of sermons prompting his church members to give more to the church, what did Mac Brunson do?

Why, do what any very rich mega church pastor would do! Take a two-week vacation to Europe! Go shopping in Milan, Italy! See ya later, suckers!

Yep, after his sermon series to tell us that we are spending our money carelessly because we're only giving on average 3% of our income to Mac's church, after poor-mouthing about how we have to get by with only $15 million in our budget because the 5000 "giving units" of our church aren't tithing...Mac packs his bags with his wife and heads off on a two-week vacation to Europe.

Mac likes to do that apparently, after asking for special offerings to fleece his sheep he heads out of town, out of COUNTRY, on expensive vacations that most of his congregation could only dream of. While we're staying in Jax and maybe splurging to see a movie after we gave sacrificially for the maintenance of our facilities, Mac heads off to Europe - what a tough life he has as our pastor. He did it on Easter Sunday - asked for $180,000 to put himself on nationwide TV, and left actually before the service was even concluded to begin his Mediterranean cruise. Then two weeks ago he asks us to give $1 million for church maintenance that our church failed to take care of with the $45 million that we have given since Mac arrived as pastor...Mac and Honey bolt for Europe. Must be that beating the sheep for money is very tiring, necessitating a long vacation after he gets us to open up our wallets.

And to top it off...Mac has the church show a video on the Sunday he is gone telling everyone how much he and Honey care for the poor:

"This Christmas season Debbie and I are going to man one of those kettles, and we're doing it in the name of Jesus Christ [actually, in the name of "FBC Jacksonville"] and I'm asking everyone of you in this congregation to join Debbie and myself in being a part of this...we care about those who have so much less than we do."

Yeah, right.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

So FBC Jax Cares for the Poor?

"What an important thing we can do for this community, what a message it would send to the city for them to see the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville out there joining hands with other Christian churches saying 'We care about those who have so much less than we do'.
Mac Brunson on the Salvation Army Kettle Drive

Interesting that Mac declares that by us manning a Salvation Army Kettle at the Avenues Mall near our new satellite campus that we are showing the community how much we care about the poor.

Really? Is that what this kettle drive says? A 25,000 member, $15 million annual budget church manning a kettle to generate a net $3000 for the poor in our city?

I find no fault with the church coordinating a kettle drive. Its a great idea. We can do it with no problem at all. Its the least we can do. With our numbers we could man 3 or 4 kettles. We should do it. And we can feel good about it.

But let's be straight: it in no way tells our community that we care for the poor despite what our pastor says in his Santa Hat and Salvation Army Apron. As I said in my previous post the net contribution of our manning the kettle will be around $3000.

Mac a few Sundays ago used a pie chart to guilt us all, the church's "giving units" he called us...into giving more to the church. His pie chart showed what terrible givers we are, that we only give on average 3% or our total income to charity. We sat there stunned. No attempt to remind his church about the New Testament principles of giving. No loving reminder of how much we are indebted to Christ. No, Mac closed out his sermon with a pie chart to show that we are spending so poorly, and declaring "you're not going broke by giving to the church."


So Mac likes to use pie charts? That's great. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Below is our own little chart. Not of the pie variety like Mac's, but of the bar variety.

Conservatively we can estimate the salary and benefits of Team Brunson to be $300,000. A wealthy member offered Mac a $275,000 piece of land upon his arrival in Jacksonville, and Mac accepted it. On Easter Sunday, Mac used the largest crowd of the year in an attempt to raise a special offering of $180,000 to put himself back on national TV on the INSP.

Got that Jacksonville? Mac held a special offering to get $180,000 to put himself on national TV on a Christian channel, even though we can reach nationwide through the Internet.

Salary of pastor and family: $300,000.

Land gift from wealthy member to newly hired pastor: $275,000

Money for TV broadcasts of pastor: $180,000.

Funds to Build Pastor's Lavish Office Suite: $100,000

Amount raised for the poor: $3000

Mac's claim that we care about the poor: PRICELESS

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Salvation Army Kettle - New Marketing Gimmick for Satellite Campus

I don't know if this is the brain child of our marketing consultant Maurilio Amorim, but I find it quite interesting:

First Baptist Jacksonville is "sponsoring" a Salvation Army Kettle at the Avenues Mall in Southern Jacksonville - we have committed to "man" the kettle for the entire holiday season and church members can sign up for an hour slot at the FBC Jax website.

Yesterday at the beginning of the service we were treated with a video promo piece for this "ministry" featuring Mac in a Santa's hat and Salvation Army apron in his swank library in his office suite, where Mac unveiled this incredibly generous gesture on the part of FBC Jacksonville. The kettle poster has the FBC Jax logo on it so that donors will know we are from FBC Jax...and Mac said this is a great way to spread the gospel - but didn't say exactly how we would spread the gospel by having church members ring a bell.

But here's an excerpt from the FBC Jax Website that shows Mac's real motive for having us ring the bell:

Our kettle will be located at the Avenues Mall off of Philips [sic] Hwy. and Southside Blvd. just south of I-95 (Food Court area). This will allow some exposure in the area of the new south campus. All proceeds will got [sic] to help the Salvation Army'd [sic] effort to help the needy families with food, toys, etc. during the Christmas season.

How can we get "exposure" for our new campus? Let's ring the bell for the Salvation Army at the Avenues Mall! We can get our "brand" down there! Free exposure!
Since this is a marketing move, we need to maximize the FBC Jax brand exposure, and we need to make sure we have coordinated marketing messages to those who put coins in our bucket. So for those of you ringing the bell, the Watchdog has just received from the A-Group some of the scripts you can use while ringing the bell that will help draw people to our new satellite campus:

"Ring a ring....Merry Christmas! Thanks for the change and digging deep, come hear Mac Brunson at our new campus, he'll be beating his sheep!"

"Ring a ring...Thank you for sharing your money with the poor...visit our south campus on Easter and Mac will be asking for more!"

"Ring a ring, ring...Have a blessed Christmas season...that gift you gave sure was swell...our new satellite campus will be where you can hear Mac yell."

"Ho, Ho, Ho...Merry Christmas, thanks for the coin, visit our satellite and agree to tithe, and you will be welcome to join!"

"Happy Holidays...isn't the weather getting cool? Drop in a quarter, and let me tell you about our new for-the-rich downtown school!"

"Ring, Ring, Ring....thanks for the dime even though you're short on money these days...by the way our pastor says 'Praise Jesus you got no raise'!!"

"Merry Christmas - we're starting a satellite campus and that ain't no lie...come and visit and you'll see Jim Smryl preach without that legalistic tie."

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Hint of Things to Come? Mac says "Let's See if I Make It Here..."

In our Chest of Joash service September 28th, right before Mac left on a two-week vacation (what's up with Mac always taking a vacation immediately after asking us to dig deep for a "special offering"?), Mac said the following near the beginning of his sermon:

"This past Monday morning by eight-o-clock I had been to two different hospitals and had listened to Dr. Lindsay's sermon on this passage [2 Kings 6], all before eight this past Monday morning. And God just used his message - one day down the road I'm gonna share with you something that God said to my heart out of that message but I'm not gonna do it for a while, let me get, uh, let me see if I make it here for a while, if I do I'll share with you what God said to me out of what Dr. Lindsay said. It spoke, really, to my heart..."

Very interesting. Why would he tell his church that he has to see if "he'll make it here a while" before he tells us what God said to him? Why not just tell us? Was it similar to what God told him while riding the camel in the Holy Land in December 2005?

Is he saying that he might be leaving soon? Does he sense his job is in jeopardy? Or is it him signaling that he's just so fed up with his recalcitrant sheep that he doesn't know how much longer he can take it?

He leaves it up to his listeners to assume what he means. I've never heard one of our pastors plant doubt about his tenure at our church - at least not in a serious way. Mac was serious when he said it. He wasn't kidding when he spoke these words. If you want to hear the clip in its complete context, go to Mac's website http://www.inlight.org/ and you can hear it. He says it in the first two minutes of his sermon "The Iron Did Swim".

I'll go ahead and assume what he means...even though as Jim Smyrl says "assumption is the lowest form of knowledge." But Mac must want us to have to assume what he means, else why utter such a statement planting the thought with his sheep without explaining it?

My assumption is that he wants to plant the thought with his congregation that he's the embattled pastor, trying to do the right thing, but there are those out to remove him and he's not sure how much longer he can hold on. Another attempt at garnering sympathy, to tell us just how darn tough it is to be our pastor. Why tell us twice in the same sentence that he was busy visiting two hospitals and listening to a Dr. Lindsay sermon all before eight? "Here I am busting my butt to be your pastor, getting up early, visiting the sick and infirmed, and you guys want me out and I'm not sure if I'm even going to be here long."

By the way, did anyone hear the dollar amount we gave to the special offering for maintenance of our buildings? I was shocked that we didn't get an update in church yesterday. I'm sure Mac will tell us when he gets back next week.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Welcome Dr. David Allen

This Sunday Dr. Allen will be preaching at FBC Jacksonville in the absence of our pastor Mac Brunson who is on vacation. Our church has always been very fond of Dr. Allen's preaching and we look forward to having him at our church on Sunday. He is the Dean of the Southwestern Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas.

Dr. Allen preached a number of times in advance of Mac Brunson coming to our church in the spring of 2006. After we voted to call Team Brunson to our church, it took nearly two months for them to come to Jacksonville in which time we had a number of very high profile preachers "preparing the way" for Mac.

Those of us present back then will remember the theme of Dr. Allen's messages, that the cloud would move again for our church - according to Dr. Allen God was going to again begin moving in our midst once Mac came. Those 2 months between calling Mac and him actually arriving were great months of anticipation in our church. Most of the preachers devoted parts of their sermon to heap praise on our new pastor, and we were so hopeful.

Mac finally arrived in April 2006, and it didn't take long to see that maybe the cloud wasn't going anywhere too quickly. In fact after about a year, it seemed that the only cloud moving was the steam coming from Mac's head as he raked us over the coals. Instead of a pastor coming to love us and get busy ministering to our church and our community, it seemed like we were viewed more as a source of capital for the projects and promotion of Mac Brunson and a new market for the Brunson brand than we were a church in need of a loving shepherd to move us into the next generation.

Dr. Allen, Mac tells us that you are one of his closest friends, that you were Mac's prayer partner as he considered the call to come here. We know that perhaps you are getting one side of the story of his first 2 1/2 years, and we want you to know a few things as you come to preach to us:

- its been a rocky 2 1/2 years for our church to say the least. Although Mac has told you and Paige Patterson that he never got a honeymoon at our church, that is a lie so please don't believe that. Our church welcomed Mac with open arms, we prepared a lush office suite for him, put wife and son on staff, and he was given the reigns of our church. We introduced him to the community on Father's Day by renting our minor league baseball stadium. He had our full support. We even allowed him to bring his marketing consultant and put him on our payroll. There were some people alarmed over Mac using the NASB, but that was a small minority and that might be expected in a church that has used the KJV for decades. So we were behind Mac fully, but within the first few months he squandered the good will through his tepid effort at pastoring and preaching and his acceptance of land gifts and free rent at ocean front condos upon his arrival - made all the worse when we found out he counsels pastors in his pastor guidebook to NOT do the very things he did when he came to our church.

- Mac has likely told you that he has been opposed at every turn, that he has had a rough time for the last 2 years, we want you to know it has been EQUALLY as hard on us. Mac has preached hard. Not hard on sin, but hard on people. Not only have we had to deal with the departure of most of our staff in the first year and a half, but we've had to deal with Mac slandering us when preaching at other churches. We're used to pastors preaching the truth in love, but we're getting preaching of some truth, lots of history and legalism, and unhealthy does of pastoral anger. We're not used to it. He has told us that we are worshipping the past, that we are worshipping previous pastors. He hired one of our favorite "preacher boys" Jim Smyrl who many thought was Vines-esque when he served under Vines, but now Smyrl has followed Brunson in the style of hard-on-people preaching with very little love and even less wisdom. We've seen Smyrl transformed right before our eyes under the tutelage of Brunson.

- And we've had to deal with a pastor who seems to be a legalist. While he denounces legalism, and even declares that we are a "hotbed of legalism", he himself preaches legalism in the areas of service and giving in the church and church discipline. Our previous pastors did preach tithing, but they also balanced this with the New Testament principle of giving out of love for our Savior. But we don't get that from Mac.

So many of us are hurting. We feel like we've been brought an uncaring, self-serving preacher who wants to exert his will on the church. He changed our bylaws without even explaining why, and didn't even care enough to hold an honest vote on starting a school. We've been told that if we don't follow his lead and direction we are sinning.

We are praying Dr. Allen that you are bringing a message of hope to our church this Sunday. We've had Mac bring in preachers in his absence that also preached hard on us in defense of Mac - even our own former pastor Dr. Vines came in February 2007 and angrily preached to us about anonymous emails and people complaining about the pastor's salary - with the disgusting sight of the two men high-fiving each other on the platform after Vines declared about a troublesome church member "...I don't get paid enough to be yo pastor, bruther." Some laughed. Many of us cried at that sight.

We hope you aren't going to come in and judge us. We are a loving people. We aren't legalists. We want to follow a loving pastor-shepherd. We hope you can speak the truth to Brunson about his actions these first 2 1/2 years - and on Sunday we hope you can speak some love and truth to us.

After all, its been 2 1/2 years, and we are still waiting for the "cloud to move".