To our visitors: This blog arose from the blogosphere last September after members became increasingly disappointed in Mac Brunson's leadership at FBC Jax. The blog closed down about 4 weeks ago, but the Watchdog is back for a series of articles directed toward the attendees of the FBC Jax Pastor's Conference. We want to make sure that the SBC knows about the events that have transpired in the first two years of Mac's reign at FBC Jax.
Keeping up with the theme of questions to be asked by our visiting seminary students at the FBC Jacksonville Pastor's Conference, here are some for Mac Brunson....a few borrowed from the Anon poster in the previous thread.
When can you ask Mac these questions? If you're a seminary student, you can expect Mac to invite you to his "office suite" to show you the 20 foot high ceilings, massive book cases, personal library collection, etc. When you're there, you'll have a chance for some Q&A with Mac. Here's some possible questions:
1. Dr. Brunson, how much do you pay the speakers at this event? I only ask because the cost of this conference has skyrocketed from only $100 (inclusive of meals!) during Dr. Vines last time he hosted it in 2006, to $175 (exclusive of meals)...are we having to pay thousands and thousands of dollars to entice men to come in and speak to us lowly pastors who aren't worth their time unless they get thousands in their pocket? I wouldn't even dare ask this question, but when we see the cost going sky high we wonder - some of your church members tell us that the money does NOT go to underwrite the costs incurred by the FBC Jax church, so we just were wondering.
2. Dr. Brunson, I do love your office suite...but tell me...we understand you have your wife on staff, and son as well. Can you tell us what steps we should take as pastors to avoid the appearance of "nepotism"? Should we do as you and give our family members positions at the church without telling our congregations what their official job descriptions are? Should we be concerned that if we create positions for our children that this could create unrest and dissatisfaction among our long-term staff members? By the way, just what IS Trey's official job title at the church? We don't seem him on the church website, yet members tell me that you mention Trey regularly from the pulpit as though he has a very prominent staff position at the church.
3. About the office suite: why the rapid conversion of the Children's Building conference room to a pastor's office Suite? We're told it was converted before you ever arrived. Wouldn't it be more prudent for you to get your feet on the ground here and assess the current situation facilities-wise before spending tens of thousands of dollars on converting this space to your own personal use?
4. Some questions we have been mulling around in our heads and discussing with our fellow seminary students since we were here last year: when we were here for last year's conference, you made it a point to talk about how "change" is inevitible in our churches as we try to reach people, and that we will always be criticized for change...you even said that it wasn't the drunk or prostitutes that caused you grief but church members who complain about change...but now that we're here can you tell us: WHAT REALLY INNOVATIVE, GROUND-BREAKING, RISKY, ON THE EDGE CHANGES HAVE YOU IMPLEMENTED HERE AT FBC JAX SINCE ARRIVING TWO YEARS AGO? The only thing we see that has changed since you arrived is this lavish office suite you are so proud of, the long time staffers are gone, and you hired Jim Whitmire. Oh, you did change the start time of the services by a few minutes we noticed, and of course the pastors conference fees have doubled. But we see no contemporary service as most mega churches have to reach out to a younger generation...just what changes HAVE you implemented or tried to implement?
5. Another question from last year's conference: why on earth did you get up and high-five and hug Dr. Vines when he uttered the words during his sermon: "You don't pay me enough to be your preacher, brother"....were you saying that some of your flock just aren't worth the trouble, and that you're underpaid to have to put up with the recalcitrants? Now that we know how well you ARE paid (enough to live in a 6 bed, 4.5 bath million dollar house), and now that we know you WERE given a quarter of a million dollar piece of property when you were hired....well, it makes your antics on that night seem even more disgusting (OK, you might want to reword this one if you ask Mac).
6. We hear that you changed the bylaws of your church in a clandestine fashion, keeping the proposed changes under wraps in the library, only allowing members who would check them out and sign their names look at them, and you didn't allow any copies to get out. Maybe understandable, but what we are confused about is why your members are claiming you have not bothered to even one single time mention the bylaw changes to them - very odd since they were not at all minor changes - there's even an ugly rumor that you added a "discipline committee" in those bylaw changes and then preached in a threatening way about church discipline right afterwards. We're told you were even in the service when the bylaw changes were voted on, yet you never stood up to explain what your church was voting on. Is this true? We can hardly believe it. Is this the pattern of how we should operate in our church when we become pastor?
7. Is it really true that door-to-door evangelism is dead as you preached to your congregation to convince them that a school is needed at your church? Do churches really need to start a school in order to reach their communities?
8. Dr. Brunson, we read that you purchased a piece of land, valued at over a quarter of a million dollars, from one of the donors of your church for only $100 only two weeks after you arrived here at FBC Jacksonville in 2006. I didn't believe it at first, but this being the Internet age I saw the deed and property record on the City of Jacksonville website. Can you tell us, as seminary students and future pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention, is it ever wrong for a pastor to accept large gifts from one his congregants? If so, can you tell us perhaps what kind of gift, or what size of gift is OK, and what kind or size of gift is not OK? I'm not saying you did anything wrong in accepting YOUR gift of over a quarter of a million dollars, but what criteria should I apply when my wealthy church members might try to give me very large gifts?
9. Lastly, we know our time is short with you...about your house...is it a good testimony for a pastor to live in such a lavish dwelling like yours? A 1/2 acre, 5500 square foot, 6 bed, 4.5 bath house on a golf course in a gated community...I'm happy for you that God has blessed you with such a nice place, but should we be worried if we ever get a mega church gig that our community will be put-off by the use of "God's money"? Could a house ever be too big for a pastor? Especially when we become empty-nesters, to go and build such an oppulent home...well, we would be worried that this sends the wrong signal to our church and our community...especially if we have to ask them to "dig deep" for so many things the church is trying to do.
10. Sorry one more quickie: WHAT WERE YOU THINKING WHEN YOU HELD THE NIGHT TO SUPPORT ISRAEL IN YOUR CHURCH - were you ashamed of your church fellowship for not supporting that event after they found out that the funds raised were going to an Israeli hospital that performs abortions? When we are pastors, do you recommend us using our church facilities for non-Christian fund raisers? Is it true that you hardly explained this to your congregation, and only mentioned the event from the pulpit just days before the event, but never addressed the questions about the funds going to the Israel hospital where abortions are performed?
Thanks Dr. Brunson, for allowing us to ask you these questions...we know you don't answer anonymous emails, so we thought we'd ask them in person.