Wow! We sure hit a nerve down in Jacksonville. The defenders are on the move and are quite blunt. No wonder people have bodyguards down there. They sure go for the jugular. We are believers and find what is happening at FBC Jax inexcusable. Imagine how the liberal press in going to view this.
Finances, family employees and cognitive dissonance
Here are the claims that FBC Jax watchdog reported on his blog. If these facts are challenged, we would be more than happy to post documentation proving that they are accurate statements.
1. When Mac Brunson arrived to pastor FBC Jacksonville, he must have been on Cloud Nine. He was given a million dollar + beachfront condo to live in while he was building a house in the Jacksonville area.
2. A few weeks after his arrival, he was given a gift of a piece of land in an exclusive gated community, which was appraised at approximately $250,000 at the time the gift was made.
The Brunsons proceeded to build a 5200square foot house with 6 bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms that was valued at around $500,000 (estimate does not include the lot value). It is claimed that he received discounted contractor services, which reduced his out of pocket expenses. It is also alleged that the inside of his home is absolutely beautiful!
4. It is alleged that he drives a Lexus, and his wife drives a Jaguar.
It is alleged that Brunson found the previous pastor's offices insufficient to meet his standards for a comfortable work environment. Therefore, the church spent approximately $100,000 renovating an office in one of the new areas of the church. One site said that the office is 3600 square feet.
This office was designed to meet not only the needs of Brunson and his dogs but also to meet the needs of his wife. This new office moved him away from the lesser pastors who had to remain in that wretched, old building.
It is alleged that his salary was $300,000 and that Brunson said that other “megachurch” pastors make more. Life can be trying.g. (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/04/mac_brunson_baptist_tyrant_and.php)
Also, Pastor Mac appears to think his followers can’t handle money as well as he can. Listen to his reasons here:
7. It is alleged that Brunson's wife is also on the payroll at the church.
8. There was a concerted effort on the part of some FBC members to coordinate monetary gifts for the pastor's son who was getting married around the time that the Brunsons moved to Jacksonville. Money trees were an accepted way of contributing, and this was advertised throughout the church.
9. Pastor Brunson hired his son to be the Director of Special Programs.
We are opposed to pastors accepting gifts of great magnitude from anyone in their congregation. All Christians should strive to live a life of such integrity that non-Christians seeing how they live will be affected. Who is one of the world's most admired religious figures? Mother Teresa. Why? Her life demonstrated sacrifice and service. She only had two sets of clothes. All of the money given to her supported her work with the most desperately poor. Compare that to the lifestyle of Mac Brunson. There is no question that the world, looking for a real servant, will question the way he chooses to live .
In North Carolina, former governor Mike Easley is in a heap of trouble. He was given a $50,000 membership at a country club, which he did not disclose while in office. As a result, he could be facing some serious charges. Why should it be of anyone's concern if a private citizen who received no political favors gave this to Easley? Because it's against the law, it looks bad, and it could have undue influence on him when he might have to make a decision. Our laws recognize the propensity of all individuals to show favoritism to those who give them things. Pastors are just as susceptible.
In fact, Mac Brunson knows this to be true. At the exact same time he was accepting this gift of an exclusive lot, he was writing a book called A New Guidebook for Pastors. In his book, Brunson writes of his admiration for Billy Graham who never accepted gifts of cars, etc. The purpose ofthis book was to suggest ways for pastors to lead well. Is this a form of cognitive dissonance? Let's look at a review of this book posted by a woman on Amazon.com
“Unfortunately, one of the authors (Dr. Brunson) needs to read what he wrote and follow his own advice. He speaks to young pastors in this book and tells them not to accept gifts, yet he himself has accepted a rather large gift from a church member worth over $300,000. Truly, it makes the rest of what he has written in his book suspect. No stars for hypocrisy in action.”
She said it better than we could.
There is a wonderful discussion posted at Wade Burleson's excellent blog defending the valid use of anonymity. Please read these thoughts before commenting.
When Deb and I began this blog, our husbands expressed concern for our family's protection against nasty blogger types out there. In this day and age, there is reason for concern. Pastors and their defenders are not above 'punishing' those who disagree with them. If you read our blog, you will see that elderly ladies have been arrested for 'trespassing', mailboxes have been knocked down, fires have been set, etc., for those who dare speak out. If anyone out there thinks that a pastor could not do such a thing, they need to reread their Bible.
Tom Rich loved FBC Jacksonville. His extended family had been there for years. He watched as others were thrown out of the church or shunned for raising legitimate concerns. He has children who had friends there. His wife loved the church. He did not want to be forced to leave. He hoped that by raising some issues with Pastor Brunson he could effect a change.
Whether or not you agree with his reason, deep down inside you know that these feeling are valid. I want to challenge all of you who read this blog to look deep into your own hearts. How many of you have avoided confronting a friends when you knew they were doing something wrong but you didn't want to upset them? Didn't you really mean you didn't want to lose that friendship? How many of you have sat by when you saw an injustice and chose not to speak up because you didn't want to “get involved” which is code for you didn't want to deal with the consequences of your actions? Maybe, just maybe, have you gossiped about your concerns to others?
Our bet is that everyone reading this remembers a time when they didn't speak out because of a fear of the consequences. Does that really mean that you are not a coward and Tom is? Do you all know the history of the Lutheran church in Germany during World War II? People there knew of the atrocities that the Nazi's were committing but sat by because they didn't want to sacrifice their positions in the community.
Here is another thought. Could there have been a way that Mac Brunson and his pastors could have handled this situation that would have turned out better? How about trying the way of love and humility. When Tom wrote his anonymous note to Mac, couldn't Pastor Brunson have made an announcement at church that went something like this: "I know that there are probably people out there who strongly disagree with me about my finances. I would love to dialogue with each and every one of you. I promise that I will take no action against you for revealing yourself to me. In fact, I will do you one better. I will invite you over to the beautiful house that you helped me to purchase, my wife will make a great dinner, and we will sit down over dessert and hash this out, brother to brother. Our love for one another as brothers in Christ is far more important to me than any embarrassment that I might have at getting called out on my lifestyle. You, anonymous person, mean more to me than my pride. Pray for me. I love you, brother, whoever you are."
It is strange to me that this is not tried more often. My guess is that there wouldn't be a dry eye in the house and Tom, as well as others, would fall all over themselves to reveal their identity. If Mac were such a person, it wouldn't have been necessary to write this post. So, my question is, "Why isn't Mac like this?"
Finally, Jason commented on yesterday's post that Tom didn't tell us about a particular lie. Besides being a spokesman for FBC, Jason must fancy himself a mind reader. Tom told me about this lie during one of our initial conversations. He is an honest man. Here it is, in all of its glory. A pastor at another church asked Tom, who was stressed out and in pain from what was happening, if he was the infamous "blogger". He said, "No". Are you satisfied? Are you feeling smug and self-righteous? Have you ever told a lie when you were beaten down, tired, and hurting? In fact, have you ever told a lie when you were on top of the world? Don't lie to yourselves. I wanted to find an example of such honesty. I guess none of the morally upstanding folks at FBC who claimed that Tom showed cowardice would ever do such a thing.
So, I decided to go down into the dregs of humanity and find some other fiend who would lie. Some of you may know him as Peter, a disciple of Jesus. You know, the one that confessed Jesus as Lord and the one to whom Jesus said, "Upon this rock I will build my church." After the arrest of Jesus, Peter was tired, scared, confused, and in anguish. He made an error and denied Jesus on three separate occasions. He was being self-protective. Interestingly, this horrible coward went on to be one of the leaders of the new church. And he was such a coward that he was martyred for Jesus while hanging upside down on the cross because he didn't feel worthy to hang upright, as Jesus did.
Stay tuned for more stories from FBC Jax. Sorry folks — we refuse to "butt out".