But that is the power of marketing, branding, and visual images. It can get a man hired in a very powerful position for which he is totally unqualified (see also "Adrian Soud").
Have you ever considered how Mac Brunson was pitched to us as a congregation? If you ponder that, you will realize we were sold an image of Mac Brunson and Team Brunson to gather our support and generate enthusiasm about him, and to prepare us for the fleecing that was about to begin. It was marketing. It was delivering a "brand" to us, something that Maurilio Amorim of the A-Group knows all about. We knew next to nothing about him - he was an unknown - had preached a forgettable sermon once at the pastor's conference in 2001 or 2002. And then we were told he was God's man for our church.
We received the marketing and branding messages about Mac Brunson in several ways: first we were shown a video introducing "Team Brunson" - their history, their marriage, their family. He was an everyday Joe, a guy from a small North Carolina textile town. He was a red neck. Then we were fed a steady stream of Mac stories by high-priced SBC preachers (most of them friends of Paige Patterson) about the wonders of Mac Brunson. We were told by Ergun Caner that he drives pick up trucks and eats Krispy Kreme. We were told by our previous pastor and others in the SBC that he was a fine bible expositor.
After we trusted our search committee and voted for Mac and put he and Honey on the payroll, the signs that they were something other than as advertised began to show immediately, and I mean RIGHT AWAY. After the vote in 2006 calling them as pastor, they promptly took a nearly two month-long paid vacation (who gets hired for a job and says "great, I'll see ya'll in two months") while their 3000 sf office suite was constructed, and we were treated to two months of high-priced preachers coming here to pave the way for Mac, all of them carefully orchestrating the message of what a great man Mac was while busting our pastoral budget line item to pay huge honoraria at the same time paying Mac's salary and benefits. Can you say "fleeced"?
David Allen, one of Paige's boys, was selected as one of the primary messengers paving the way for Mac. We paid David Allen to preach several times while Mac took his 2 month "sabattical" before arriving in Jax, and David set our expectations high. There were even some cute videos recorded to get us to laugh and giggle as we waited for the great Macsby to arrive. We were told by David Allen that "the cloud would soon move again" under Mac, but we found that the only "cloud" moving was actually the steam rising from his hot head as he angrily yelled at us for being "legalistic" and "stuck in the past". Oh yes, we did vote for 8 people to find the right man for the job, but by all appearances they focused like a laser on one man who was already selected by Jerry Vines and Paige Patterson, and it was not easy to convince Mac to come. We thought our search committee was being lead by the Holy Spirit, but they were led by men to entice one man. Entice him they did, and come he did, and we've paid dearly for it, and will continue to do so for a long time.
What were some of the other marketing images fed to us by the SBC preacher boys and the A-Group to get us to buy the Brunson brand? We were told of Mac's humble beginnings, from a small town in North Carolina. We were told Mac was a conservative preacher, an expository preacher, who loved to just preach. But we found out he is anything BUT expository - he hunts and pecks and regularly misuses scriptures to fit his points rather than preaching the text and letting the Holy Spirit speak. He preaches topically most Sundays. We were told he is a historian who pours over his sermons for hours and hours - but he regularly misrepresents historical facts in his sermons and even has slandered a former church member from the pulpit. As I said we were told he drove a pick-up truck and ate Krispy Kremes; a regular "red neck" from the South. We had no idea that when he came to Jacksonville this "red neck" would live an hour away on the Atlantic Ocean beach on exclusive Amelia Island for a year in a multi-million dollar condo, all the while building his million dollar mansion in a gated community. That wasn't part of the marketing message, that they loved the high life, the VERY good things.
Part of the branding was the "Team Brunson" concept. We were told he and his wife were a "team", that they counseled together and for that we were glad. This led us to believe his wife would have a lay ministry like other minister's wives at our church who serve without salary but serve along side their husband and teach and lead and model ministry. We had no idea that "Team Brunson" meant "Two Salaries" and a huge new office suite on the ground floor of our new Children's Building - the most prime spot of space for ministry - an office suite which by the way is about twice the size of the average church member's HOUSE...for Mac and Honey to have a private office suite for them and their dogs.
We were sold a bill of goods. We had no clue that Mac's first move would be to hand over our website design to the Nashville based A-Group run by Maurilio Amorim - to take our website backwards and that in the next 2 1/2 years we would never archive one single sermon on the website; and to this day our flash demos of ministry are over 3 years old, still featuring ministers long gone. While our website is stale and floundering, Mac invested thousands with Maurilio in revamping the Pastor's Conference website.
We were told about how close of a family the Brunsons were, how they did everything together, and for that we were glad. But we didn't know this meant he would immediately would put wife and son on PAID STAFF in newly created positions...that his son would become the Director of Special Projects at age 22 right out of college and would be handed the responsibility of coordinating and raising funds for the Pastor's Conference and then be praised at the 2007 conference for "raising $100,000" to help pay for it. Who knew that Mac's wife would be put on paid staff, earning a reported $100,000 per year working a very light schedule with no specific church ministry responsibilities, and who takes time off to sit on the IMB board and to travel with Mac.
We didn't know that we would be asked to contribute money for Mac's son's wedding reception, whom we didn't even know..and that Mac would immediately push his Holy Land trips to the very wealthy in our congregation...we had no idea that our preacher would damage our church's reputation by accepting a $300,000 land gift upon his arrival showing that he cared more about building his personal wealth out of the box than hitting the ground running as the new preacher in town. We had no clue, this man would turn our Wednesday night services into a "Church History" night when he arrived - causing Wednesday night attendance to plummet and from which it has since never recovered.
We had no clue that this redneck from North Carolina would be building a million dollar home and he and wife would be driving Jaguars and BMW's instead of the pick up truck that Ergun Caner told us about. Neither could we have possibly seen that his preaching schedule the first year would be sporadic at best, vacating the pulpit without notice, even being so arrogant as to announce that his new book was keeping him from preparing his sermons necessitating a guest speaker...then we read the book and find out he doesn't live by the precepts on money and greed and gifts he puts forth for other pastors.
We were told he would be more of a loving "pastor", a man of the people unlike the other pastors. Who would have thought that this new loving pastor would repeatedly beat us up and charge us as being "legalistic", and "worshipping the past" and "worshipping previous pastors"? Who thought that this loving pastor would tell the pastors in his old stomping grounds of North Carolina that we are a "hotbed of legalism"? And who can forget about the way our bylaws were clandestinely changed to give him more power, calling for a vote with no explanation of the changes given to the congregation? And we know he wants a school, so he holds an unannounced vote to take $500,000 from the church offerings to start the school. We've spent hundreds of thousands to put Mac on INSP network so that Mac can put on his bio that he is "heard around the world on radio and TV"...and of course he allowed some "influential deacons" use our church facilities to host a "Time to Stand With Israel" to raise funds for an Israeli hospital where abortions are performed...yes, under Mac's wonderful leadership our church facilities, built by saints of God over decades with sweat and sacrifice: have been used to raise funds for an Israeli hospital that performs abortions. I must have missed that part of the David Allen's sermons describing what we had in store with Mac Brunson.
Have I made my point?
Now we are stuck with Mac. With the bylaw changes there will be no getting rid of him until he gets tired of dealing with us recalcitrant sheep and he moves on to something else. He won't humble himself to address any of these items with his church, and thus he has damaged his ability to lead.
I hope our country doesn't make the mistake of hiring Barack Obama. If he is elected, we're stuck with him for 4 years...but at least in his case there are checks and balances to not let him have total control of our government and the damage he wreaks can be muted.
Not so with Mac - no checks and balances, he is "God's man" and has the keys to the church. And he leads us into a satellite ministry while our church is at less than 50% capacity. We are spending $500,000 of the church's money on the school start-up, and the architects are nearly done with the renovation designs and cost estimates that we'll have to vote on.
So get ready folks...it is going to take one heck of a marketing campaign to sell all of this to the church - good thing Mac has the ace church marketer Maurilio Amorim on his team to help make the sale to the gullible sheep of FBC Jax; even Maurilio is going to find this a tremendous challenge.