Dr. Rick Patrick, Pastor
FBC Sylacauga, Alabama
Exec. Director, Connect 316
I don’t really understand how things like this happen, but on Thursday, February 15, 2018, less than 72 hours after David Platt announced he would be resigning as the President of the International Mission Board, I received notices from no fewer than three independent sources, on the same day, telling me that a certain candidate had already been chosen as the next President of the International Mission Board.
Some of the sources even shared additional details. The announcement would be made public prior to the SBC Annual Meeting in Dallas. The individual selected as the next IMB President would leave a vacancy in their current position. Even the selection of their own replacement was already described as a done deal.
Of course, none of this made any sense to me at all. Monday’s press release had stated: “A presidential search committee will be comprised of IMB trustees selected by trustee chairman Dr. Rick Dunbar, a member of First Baptist Church, Madison, Mississippi.”
Southern Baptists have not even been informed of the names of the trustees on this Search Team. The Search Team has not yet begun their work. They have not yet collected resumes. They have not yet conducted interviews. They have not yet received references. They have not yet had the time to pray over the matter.
And yet, it would seem that somehow everybody already knew what the result was going to be. Before the Search Team had even started its work, I was being told that the result was already a foregone conclusion.
Can anyone explain this to me? Because the only explanation that makes a lick of sense gives me the heebie-geebies. Think about it. If we already know the result of a committee’s work before the committee even meets, then it must be true that somebody, somewhere, is in a back room, pulling the strings and calling the shots, determining the outcome of meetings that have not even been held yet, and setting in motion the steps that will eventually lead to the outward display of their private decrees.
I have long suspected that certain Southern Baptists might be quietly working behind the scenes to accomplish a hidden agenda within our denomination. But I never expected to find the smoking gun, the incontrovertible proof that real decisions are not being made by the groups elected by Southern Baptists to make them, but by shadow coalitions functioning as puppet masters before our public leadership teams have even been selected.
What other explanation can there be? Could it be that the Southern Baptist Convention functions like the game show Jeopardy by first revealing the answers and only later asking the questions?
Theoretically, how could all of this be accomplished? One would have to influence the selection of the committee members in a very specific way. As a condition of being placed on the committee, they would have to promise in advance to vote for the candidate one desired. If they made no such promise, they would not be selected for the committee.
The reason this is so profoundly disturbing is that it flies in the face of our congregational polity, for if this is truly going on, we are no longer making decisions through democratic processes. If a secret group can control the selection of the Southern Baptist executive managing our largest budget and supervising the greatest number of Southern Baptist employees, then they can do anything they want.
No, I am not going to mention the name identified by all three independent sources as the next IMB President. Neither will I mention the individual we somehow already know will take this person’s place at their current post. Why not? Frankly, it’s not my place to announce such news. Besides, the committee may choose to resist such a secret mandate and move in an entirely different direction. I am holding out hope that they will do so.
Honestly, I don’t want to believe that any of this might be true. Words cannot describe the sense of corruption and betrayal I would feel if the candidates going through the IMB Presidential search process are denied a fair opportunity to earn the job because the decision has already been made and even announced through the Baptist grapevine.
Frankly, I have come to terms with the existence of a rumor mill in Southern Baptist life. I could live with the answer being leaked AFTER the Search Team had completed their process and come to a decision. However, this is something very different. It is a predetermined result—a predestined Presidency. For some reason, I have a strong visceral reaction to such prejudicial decisions, viewing them as both clandestine and unjust.
Despite today’s strong evidence to the contrary, I am still hoping and praying that the process of selecting the next IMB President is one that is truly fair, open, honest, and transparent, rather than one secretly fixed in advance.
Southern Baptists deserve nothing less.
I have the flu. My nose is ”topped’ up; my head is pounding. My head feels like it contains at least six gallons of mucus. I’m not on a treadmill, but my nose is running. My fever must be at least 98.7 degrees. I don’t feel like getting up, and I don’t feel like lying down. I am so sick that I am lying in bed watching “Family Feud” and “Little House on the Prairie.”
I have another key symptom: The sicker I get, the more I talk like a child. My wife asked, “What is wrong with you?” I hope she was asking about my physical health and not referring to the way I do things, but sometimes, it’s hard to tell. Continue reading
Dr. Rick Patrick, Pastor
FBC Sylacauga, Alabama
Exec. Director, Connect 316
David Platt has resigned as President of the International Mission Board. His resignation will not become effective until his replacement assumes the office. Read his RESIGNATION NOTICE.
Southern Baptists are right to express thanks to Dr. Platt for his service to the board during a tumultuous tenure in which 25% of our missionaries were brought home from the field. In fairness, approximately half of these missionary recalls could legitimately be justified on the basis of financial shortfalls. On the other hand, there were alternative approaches for addressing such deficits, including a temporary hiring freeze that would have resolved this issue through missionary attrition within a span of two or three short years.
But that is now water under the bridge.
This is a time to express gratitude for Dr. Platt’s unquestionable passion for the Great Commission. Every Southern Baptist must admit that Dr. Platt possesses extraordinary skills as an expository preacher. He is a bright and godly young leader who can look forward to many years of fruitful and productive ministry.
Personally, I have been blessed by his teaching and preaching ministry on a number of occasions. It will come as no surprise to readers of SBC Today that I disagree with Dr. Platt’s soteriology, but on a great many matters of theology and ministry, we are kindred spirits. We wish for him nothing other than God’s best and richest blessings upon his life and ministry.
Having said that, here is the first draft of a candidate profile for our next IMB President.
1. We need a leader who is mature, experienced and trusted.
If Southern Baptists will take a brutally honest look at the record of recent SBC entity heads installed in positions without adequate seasoning as a leader, they will be reminded of the folly of Rehoboam, who heeded the advice of the younger men rather than the elders. Southern Baptists would be well served to place someone at the helm of the IMB who has successfully sailed through many stormy seas in the past. We need someone who will exemplify the stable and prudent leadership required at the largest missionary sending body on earth.
2. We need a leader who “really gets” the Cooperative Program.
Astonishingly, in this century, Southern Baptists have selected two mission board executives whose ministries were not marked by anything resembling strong support for either the Cooperative Program or the Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong Special Offerings. How can I put this? A man is not even made the President of his local Kiwanis Club or Lions Club if he does not pay his organizational dues. How much more should this be an absolute requirement of the person Southern Baptists put in charge of leading our Great Commission outreach to the world?
3. We need a leader who resonates with rank and file Southern Baptists.
There is a certain kind of “cool” Christian stereotype today, broadly marked by the tendency to sport a hipster personal appearance and the habit of questioning all that is conventional both in Christianity and in Southern Baptist life. Can we please avoid such candidates this time around? We need somebody who looks like a Southern Baptist, sounds like a Southern Baptist, and relates well with the Southern Baptists in the pews who are paying the bills. We need a basic Southern Baptist.
4. We need a leader with a proven missionary sending philosophy.
There is nothing wrong with asking laypeople who are serving overseas (such as students, retirees, and professionals) to cooperate with our full-time missionaries and support them in various ways. But this practice is not, and never will be, anything approaching a legitimate strategy for reaching the world for Christ. We simply cannot pin our Great Commission strategy upon part-time, temporary efforts. Additionally, we must reconsider our strategy for the placement of our missionaries. Yes, we must go where we have never gone before, but we must also go where the fields are now ripe for harvest. The solution proposed by experienced missiologist Robin Dale Hadaway is brilliant. Let us allocate our resources with 40% going to Frontier Missions, 40% going to Harvest Missions, 15% going to Education, and 5% going to Administration.
5. We need a leader whose full-time passion is promoting the IMB.
I want the President of the International Mission Board traveling to some large Southern Baptist Church nearly every weekend, asking them to consider supporting missions with a generous gift through the Cooperative Program in the neighborhood of ten percent of undesignated receipts, along with generous special offerings like Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong. We have a world to reach for Christ. I want our IMB President to beat the drum, loud and proud, for the strong and cooperative financial support of missions, and I want him to have already demonstrated such commitment personally through a life and ministry marked by generous Cooperative Program support measured both in terms of dollars and percentages.
In the days ahead, let us all be faithful to pray that God’s perfect will is done in the selection of the next President of the International Mission Board. And let us pray that God will raise up a proven and experienced missiologist whose philosophy for reaching the nations will once again chart a steady course for the Southern Baptist Convention.