IMB Exodus: 1,132 Missionaries & Staff Take ‘Voluntary’ Pink Slips

February 29, 2016

Will Hall | Editor
Baptist Message, Louisiana

**This article was originally posted HERE and is used by permission**
For more information on Will Hall click HERE and www.baptistmessage.com

Southern Baptists’ overseas mission forces will be reduced to levels not seen since 1993 with the departure of about 22 percent of its personnel, including 983 missionaries leaving the field and 149 severing ties from various stateside assignments.

International Mission Board President David Platt announced the 1,132 terminations Feb. 24, stressing the “voluntary” nature of most of the departures.

However, 30 communicators with approximately 500 years of IMB service among them, which included bringing IMB communications into the Internet age, were fired in January.

Platt said in a Baptist Press report the team was “way behind in developing the digital mindset” and “struggled to form new methods for reaching a changing audience.” Yet the group included award-winning writers and photographers who are featured speakers at national conferences for their expertise.

UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES

Platt declared in September 2015 his goal of 600-800 terminations, including personnel “here and overseas,” saying such were needed in order to balance IMB’s books after the agency had spent $210 million more than it received from 2010-2014.

He rejected the notion of using natural attrition (retirements and other separations) as too slow. IMB loses approximately 300 missionaries a year, which would have meant reaching its goal of 4,200 missionaries (600 fewer) in two years. Instead, his plan targeted missionaries who were at least 50 years old in order to reduce personnel levels now, while still hiring new missionaries.

Platt indicated in earlier discussions his reason for hiring novices while releasing seasoned field personnel (each having at least five years of experience), was his desire to keep faith with churches that were sending missionary candidates to the IMB.

IMB spokesperson Julie McGowan confirmed to The Baptist Message that IMB hired 403 first-time missionaries in 2015 (136 for long-term appointments and 267 for short-term assignments) and projected another 340 initiates will be appointed in 2016 (135 long-term and 205 short-term).

Platt said the missionary sending agency had met its goal of 600-800 terminations during its first phase of reductions, which offered an enhanced set of separation benefits called the Voluntary Retirement Incentive (the financial particulars were withheld from the public by IMB). This package was taken by 702 missionaries on the field and 109 who were working in a myriad of capacities in the United States (811 total).

Moreover, when phase two was offered (called the Hand Raising Opportunity) another 281 missionaries took a reduced severance deal after turning down the enhanced VRI offer, and another 40 stateside did the same, presumably including the 30 fired communicators who were not aware their positions would be eliminated when the VRI was being tendered.

In the end, despite taking these drastic measures in order to deal with deficit spending, the personnel reduction will necessitate continued overspending by the IMB for at least one more year.

The 2016 budget included a planned $23 million shortfall, covered by operating reserves, for the costs of terminating 600-800 personnel, IMB reported. However, actual departures (1,132) exceeded estimates by nearly 42 percent and possibly could drive the deficit toward $33 million.

NOT QUITE TRANSPARENT

Platt told a group of Southern Baptist journalists Feb. 16 he had assured all IMB missionaries they did not have to leave the mission field if they sensed “the Lord” was telling them to stay.

He went further to say “many of our personnel instead of calling the VRI the voluntary retirement incentive started calling it the voluntary reemployment initiative because they really saw, ‘This is not me stepping off the sidelines in missions. This is stepping into a new phase, new place of involvement in missions.’”

However, Platt balked at allowing the terminated missionaries the freedom to tell Southern Baptists for themselves how they viewed the situation.

According to a missionary who wishes to remain anonymous, a paragraph included in the VRI release states “Missionaries will not directly or indirectly at any time, make any disparaging remark, either oral or in writing, regarding IMB or any affiliated entity or any of their respective employees, officers, directors, affiliates, or agents, either individually or in any representative capacity. Notwithstanding the foregoing, this provision shall not preclude Missionaries from making truthful statements to any government agency or pursuant to any lawful subpoena.”

When asked by The Baptist Message during a Feb. 16 question and answer time whether he would grant missionaries permission to share “truthful statements” with Southern Baptists similar to the freedom they had to share “truthful statements” with the government, Platt refused.

Saying at first he did not understand the question, Platt followed up by saying the verbiage was “pretty standard procedure.”

But when pressed, he insisted that “for the good of not just the IMB but the SBC” he was “going to encourage our missionaries to do everything that legally they’ve agreed to do.”

“I am confident that what has carried out, people have signed, is legally for their good, for the good of the IMB and for the mission of the IMB and so I encourage everybody to do exactly what they said they were going to do,” he added.

Trustees likewise are prevented from expressing concerns publicly.

A document published by Baptist Press outlines the IMB’s guidelines for trustees, including the statement that “trustees are to speak in positive and supportive terms as they interpret and report on actions by the Board, regardless of whether they personally support the action.”

EEOC CONSIDERATIONS

The insistence that missionary terminations were voluntary, and, the imposition of an oath of secrecy on former IMB personnel likely have to do with the specific targeting of 50 year olds in the force reductions.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act forbids age discrimination against people 40 years old or more, and the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act adds the specific requirement that an employee must make a “knowing and voluntary” informed choice whether or not to sign a waiver of these protections when terminated for age.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the national entity charged with enforcing labor laws, requires that waivers must:

— be written to be clearly understood;

— specify rights or claims arising under the law and must expressly spell out “Age Discrimination in Employment Act,” and not simply refer to it by ADEA;

— provide 21 days to consider the offer;

— give employees seven days to revoke the waiver;

— not require an employee to surrender rights and claims that may arise after the date the waiver is put into force; and,

— be supported by “consideration” (pay and benefits) in addition to that to which the employee already is entitled.

Additionally, when a group of employees is terminated, each one must be given written notice of layoff and at least 45 days to consider the waiver before signing it, and the waiver must specify eligibility terms and state definite time limits.

Employers also must inform these individuals about the “decisional unit” (class of employees) from which the employer chose who would and would not be terminated, and, provide a table listing the job titles and ages of all individuals who were terminated as well as those who were not terminated in each decisional unit.

Although the IMB is required to give this table of information to those who are leaving, the agency declined to give the same information to The Baptist Message.

In response to a request for the EEOC information, McGowan wrote back that “IMB complies with applicable EEOC reporting requirements.” She also said the request was denied “to safeguard the privacy information of its employees,” and the data is “for EEOC use only.”

PLATT’S PLIGHT

Platt, who turns 37 in July, faces a number of imposing challenges in leading the Southern Baptist Convention’s largest evangelism entity, while having limited executive experience and evangelistic success.

He came to the IMB in the fall of 2014 having served eight years as senior pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama. The year prior to his arrival, the congregation averaged 5,047 in weekly worship attendance and baptized 159 new believers, according to data extracted from the Southern Baptist Convention’s Annual Church Profile database. In his last year with the church, attendance averaged 4,608 and 58 converts were baptized, an internal church document shows, and the proposed budget for the next year was about $9.3 million.

Meanwhile, the reported IMB budget for 2015-2016 exceeds $304 million, and information shared at the SBC Annual Meeting last year indicated more than 190,000 baptisms and 13,000 church starts resulted because of the work of IMB missionaries (2013 data collected in 2014 reported in the 2015 SBC Annual). Both numbers are down from highs of more than 600,000 baptisms reported for 2006 and nearly 27,000 church plants in 2007, although it is not known how much of the respective drops are due to changes to reporting procedures that began in 2009.

However, Platt has brought aboard three IMB outsiders to assist him with the organizational reset — Sebastian Traeger, Rodney Freeman and Lukas Naugle.

Traeger is described in an IMB press release as “an entrepreneur, business professional and management consultant” who led several businesses focused on communications (Village Phone), self-publishing (Christianity.com) and crowd funding (Razoo.com). He was a member of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., and served as an elder with the Reformed congregation before coming to the IMB in 2014.

Freeman was an executive with two international pharmaceutical companies, according to Baptist Press, managing budgets of $1 billion (Merck) and $120 million (Schering-Plough), and leading staffs of 950 and 490 personnel, respectively. He was a member, deacon and Sunday school teacher of Somerset Hills Baptist Church in Basking Ridge, New Jersey.

Naugle was a rebranding consultant (ChangeGoat.com) who named such clients as Together for the Gospel and The Gospel Coalition (both groups advocate Reformed theology), as well as Darrin Patrick (an Acts 29 church planter) and Radical (Platt’s book and resource website). Naugle was a member of Redemption Church in Phoenix, Arizona, a non-SBC Reformed congregation.

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Chuck Williams

Dr.Platt writes good books but he does not model evangelism. 58 baptisms with an average attendance of 4608 should be an embarrassment. He should have been better vetted before being hired. His core value is not about winning souls otherwise there would be fruit. Jesus said “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men”. Isn’t the IMB all about reaching the lost? Leadership at the top doesn’t reflect that.

    Jon Estes

    I am not so sure calling Platt on baptisms is fair since we have no idea how many times the gospel wsas presented and the final result of such a time of sharing is in the Lord’s hands. Maybe, just maybe, many he and the church shared with were not part of God’s sheepfold. John 10:26.

    Let us not forget he did not put the IMB in such a financial deficit and about anything he did to correct the overspending was sure to be criticized by somebody in the convention. Of course we all can do better from our recliner.

    I get it — he is not you and is not doing it the way you would have but for some reason the Lord did not put you in that office.

    He inherited something ugly and it remained ugly when he made plans to reduce the force. Not sure if there was another way but speculation can be fun.

      Chuck Williams

      I stand by my statement as I am sure you do yours.

        Scott H

        Chuck,

        So what is the standard to not be an embarrassment… 100? 150? I find zero biblical evidence for a set number here of conversions one must produce annually to not be an embarrassment. I guess Jeremiah and most of the prophets were embarrassments too then. And since Carey and Livingstone and other church history greats didn’t have many converts over their whole careers then they were also embarrassments by this harsh, man made standard.

          Chuck

          Scott, those heroes you mentioned were in pagan lands. They were the pioneers. Dr Platt was not pastor of a pioneer church. Churches 80% smaller, in the same area, baptized 58 or more.

    Tyler

    “Dr.Platt writes good books but he does not model evangelism. 58 baptisms with an average attendance of 4608 should be an embarrassment.”

    That is the most ridiculous comments i’ve seen on this site. Ask those 58 people if this is an embarrassment. Ask God someday when you get to heaven if this is an embarrassment.

    “he does not model evangelism”
    Really? You’ve gone evangelizing with him? Tell me how that was?

William Thornton

Baptist state papers aren’t know for doing much that is actually newsworthy so, I’ll agree with Hall on the non-disclosure provisions and commend him for making that known. Why should a thoroughly Christian organization believe that it is in their best interests to keep former employees muzzled? If there are legitimate criticisms, let them be heard. That’s the Baptist way. That said, Platt is not incorrect in saying that such is standard procedure. If I were a betting man I’d bet that some Louisiana Baptist entities have used them as well. God help us if we are so infected with standard business practices, no matter where they are found, that doing the right and proper thing is jettisoned.

One thing missing in the article is any criticism of former IMB leaders under whose leadership the years of heavy deficits occurred without a workable plan to end the same. While Hall and others suggest that attrition could have eventually solved the problem, that was precisely the policy of former leaders. It didn’t work and it brought IMB to the point of a serious crisis. I haven’t seen the math that makes that work without inflicting greater damage on the organization, but it’s a perfectly legitimate subject to explore.

I didn’t see this article identified as an editorial piece by Hall. Maybe I missed it. It is clear that it conveys as much of Hall’s opinions as facts.

    Lydia

    William, I am confused on one point. I don’t have a timeline on this but wasn’t Platt touting sending more missionaries out several months before he dropped the huge deficit bomb?

    Was he ill informed and just doing the typical rah rah stuff? Did he find out before or after he finally saw the “beauty of the CP”?

    I agree with you about allowing the deficit to go on. Wasn’t that Eliff? The one who helped Mohler fire Debusman 8 mos before retirement at SBTS back in ’93?

      norm

      Rock on, Lydia.

    Scott Shaver

    William Thornton works from a premise that “Baptist state papers aren’t known for doing much that is actually newsworthy”.

    And Baptist Press does? What a joke.

    State Baptist papers have been the only inside sources of truth about the perpetual Southern Baptist debacle ever since Jim Richards and Al Mohler served as fundamentalist foot soldiers in a denominational take-over and Patterson was running Criswell College.

    No need for Hall to distinguish between “editorial opinions” and “facts”. “Facts” rise to the service as opinions are expressed. Would be interesting to know which news entity among Southern Baptists Mr. Thornton feels is most responsible and unbiased.

      William Thornton

      BP isn’t known for much of anything in the way of news, a point I have made for years. Some state papers on rare occasions depart from promo stuff and do valuable reporting. The Christian Index did such on NAMB a few years back. I would find nothing amiss in Hall’s piece if it were straight reporting but his stuff has a certain thrust that I’ve come to expect.

      I doing know an unbiased news outlet among SBs which is why I always read BNG and other outlets.

Lydia

Standard procedure for whom? Christians? They had to sign to get their money and come back as over 50s in this horror of a job market yet they are censored to boot. You want your money… Sign away your right to speak as you wish.

This is just more of the Godfather mentality that epitomizes that movement.

Did we catch what Platt implied? It is now a legal issue what they can say.

. Such men of integrity. Not.

Scott Shaver

I’m not gonna pick on Platt over baptisms in his church.

It’s interesting to note, however, that we obviously had a larger percentage of the IMB force than anticipated looking for an exist strategy prior to the offer of voluntary retirement incentives.

That does not speak well for morale if not the direction of the organization as a whole, IMO.

Rick Patrick

1. I have grown weary of referring to the actions of these retiring missionaries as “voluntary” when, in fact, such decisions were incentivized by up to $33 million of Southern Baptist missions money.

2. The math still does not add up. If we needed to reduce by 600-800 but had 1,132 missionaries agree to leave, why not “refund” between 332-532 in order to keep more missionaries on the field? These “additional cuts” are a separate issue from the earlier ones because no one can honestly claim they were necessary to balance the budget.

3. My biggest problem, procedurally, is the implementation of downsizing without a corresponding hiring freeze. The 403 new hires in 2015 and the 340 new hires in 2016 makes 743 INEXPERIENCED missionaries taking the place of 1,132 EXPERIENCED missionaries at an ADDITIONAL COST of an estimated $33 million. Clearly, other options existed to deal with this financial crisis that would not have decimated our missionary force so severely.

    norm

    Good points, all, Rick. I still contend that the graduates from our neo-Calvinistic seminaries, who cannot find employment as pastors (because established SBC churches don’t want that brand of “theology” in their pulpits), cannot get jobs elsewhere. Platt is hiring Calvinists to advise him. Stands to reason the green missionaries also are predominantly Calvinists. Shall we ask the IMB to reveal the seminaries from which the new appointees graduated? Hah!

    William Thornton

    Rick wanted a freeze. Fair enough. A freeze would have had its own negative impact. Rick has some weariness from seeing “voluntary” as the term used to describe those who by their own choice retired. Fair enough. I tire of seeing my colleagues use the term “fired” or it’s cousin, “pink slip” as slanderous substitutes. Hall puts quotes around the word ‘voluntary’, demonstrating in the title that he is offering an opinion. Fair enough. We’ve all got in inexhaustible supply.

    I’m one who says that airing out complaints is perfectly acceptable. Where critics go from here is more important.

    Lydia, Platt was quick to tout his idea of limitless numbers, ‘blow the doors off’, and 100,000. I look askance at such aspirational/inspirational/motivational language when the first task is to pare down the numbers by 15-20%. I never liked the ‘hand raising opportuity’, nor the ‘blank check’ stuff, either. That said, he took action when predecessors, for whatever reason, chose to avoid doing so.

      Rick Patrick

      “By their own choice?” That stretches it a bit for me, William, because it was clearly not “by their own initiative.” They did not come up with this plan. It was offered to them. They chose between two options they would not have chosen between otherwise. If this was truly 100% voluntary, they would not have needed a VRI with incentives, because the 1,132 missionaries would have just said, “I want to go home.”

      Those of us who view this termination pretty much as a “pink slip for older workers” have a point.

        William Thornton

        You move the goalposts, Rick, not to mention applying your own definitions to fit your narrative. Every one who took the VRI made a choice. Why don’t you find out from IMB how many were offered the VRI and how many chose NOT to take it.

          Kyle Gulledge

          If things were by their own choice–then why have they been silenced on discussing the situation and instructed they are not allowed to speak negatively? We are becoming more worldly in how we handle our business in the SBC. It’s disgusting.

            Bill Mac

            I agree. Non-disparagement agreements are un-American and un-Christian. I do wonder if the people outraged over this situation were equally outraged when an IMB Trustee was being silenced in the same way several years ago.

              William Thornton

              So far, everyone here agrees on this. Perhaps we should have a party.

              Lydia

              “I agree. Non-disparagement agreements are un-American and un-Christian. I do wonder if the people outraged over this situation were equally outraged when an IMB Trustee was being silenced in the same way several years ago.”

              Was that before or after the GCR lockbox? :o)

              Its wrong no matter who does it. And it did not work for the trustee, did it? He wrote a book and we all know about it. Evidently he did not have to sign a legal document to get money to live.

          Lydia

          “You move the goalposts, Rick, not to mention applying your own definitions to fit your narrative. Every one who took the VRI made a choice.”

          The word “choice” in this scenerio is nothing but spin.

          But you ignore the obvious. What were their choices if they did not take the VRI? I have gone through them in another comment. They were told it was the best deal they would get. The next one would be worse. They would at least be brought home on the IMB dime. They would probably be laid off if they didn’t, etc.So, that is the choice? Oh and the whole thing targeted on those over 50. I mean you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see what is really going on here.

          IMB showed their hand when they hired a celebrity when they knew there was a hidden crisis.. What they needed was a no nonsense numbers CF0 type person. Clean it up instead of sweep it under the rug and declare people need to write blank checks. . Instead they hired a celebrity who was talking about expanding the mission field BEFORE the bomb was dropped who did not declare a hiring freeze while cleaning it up and is now still talking about the new direction with new hires. Nothing suspicious here except for the mean bitter hateful people who dare question the great men of God? Yeah, heard it before. A balding accountant guy with serious experience would have been a better choice to show that the trustees can be trusted again with OPM.

      Scott Shaver

      Rick mentioned his “weariness” of the term “voluntary”.

      “Weariness” doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings toward requests like Thornton’s for Southern Baptist to “look askance at apirational/inspirational/motivational language” from their institutional leaders. It’s a nice way of saying please overlook the spin, hype and shell games. Same game that got us where we are with IMB, etc.

      The only “slander” here is in the ear of some particular readers/listeners defending their “colleagues”.

      Lydia

      “Rick has some weariness from seeing “voluntary” as the term used to describe those who by their own choice retired. Fair enough. I tire of seeing my colleagues use the term “fired” or it’s cousin, “pink slip” as slanderous substitutes. Hall puts quotes around the word ‘voluntary’, demonstrating in the title that he is offering an opinion. Fair enough. We’ve all got in inexhaustible supply.”

      Hold on here! Definitions and process are important. Are we forgetting the caveat presented to the “volunteers” that a better deal won’t be coming along? It was basically if you dont take the “volunteer” deal you might brt stranded and you won’t get a better deal later…in fact it could be worse. Now sign a paper that says you cannot speak about these terms or the process in anything but glowing praise….if you know what is legally good for you.

      At least Vito Coleone does not do business like this in the Name if Jesus!

      OK, so I am over 50 living in a foreign country and a career missionary. What exactly did you expect with that sort of voluntary retirement deal? William, do we even speak the same language?

        Greg Roberts

        Lydia,you beat me to the Luca Brasi quote. Not much of a choice

      Lydia

      “That said, he took action when predecessors, for whatever reason, chose to avoid doing so.”

      My view is that Platt iwas the chosen willing celeb figurehead and the “action” was planned out previously to save face for some and change the subject for others. And that is just my view based on the timeline, what was presented and choices made. I learned a long time ago that a conferred title does not automatically denote wisdom or integrity. But most people will believe what they are told if the title is powerful enough to them and they will ignore patterns of behavior or very strange timeline behavior that did not match the crisis. The secrecy and back room strategies with lock boxes and a history of promoting stealth behavior seems to have become a way of life in the SBC. The pew sitters are to pony up the bucks and not ask uncomfortable questions.

      In the meantime SBC YRR pastors will go and hear CJ Mahaney at T$G speak of his suffering….just like Job.

norm

This is what happens when a Christian leader/organization defaults to the world’s model of management (and when such organizations pay such leaders a salary that hardly reflects the kind of asceticism Christians ought to exhibit, per former pastor Platt).

A threat of retire or be fired is not voluntary retirement. Utterly disgraceful it is that some among the “forced-to-retire” may have to appeal to EEOC regs for any salvation. (Just wondering how many in IMB’s upper management [$$$] took the early retirement plan, and how many who did not were forced to retire? 22 percent?)

It is an absolute embarrassment and falsity to accuse the Communications Dept. employees of lacking tech-savvy. Few things are more disgraceful than shoving someone out the door and then tripping them on the way through it. This is an act requiring repentance and recompense.

Great Commission Resurgence, indeed. More like divergence. Come December, many Southern Baptists will be asking, “Lottie who?”.

Why?

Because those who squandered $210 million, and those who are “spinning” to cover that with “sanctified subterfuge” do not deserve another dime.

Show me, please, just one instance where Jesus engaged in “spin” such as we read about in the latest IMB debacle. “Let your yes be yes and your no be no” unless you have been booted from the IMB. Whatever happened to “the truth will set you free”? Remember, people, that those who contrived the “Great Commission Task Force Report” also conspired to have the minutes of their meetings sealed for 15 years. Speaking in the secular, there are “sunshine” laws. Yet the SBC has leaders who fear the kind of sunshine that would reveal their doings. Seems clear to me that gagging former employees and secreting minutes from meetings is akin to a passage that talks about why some men prefer darkness.

The spin coming from the IMB is indicative of a greater spin — that of the SBC’s continuing downward spiral.

So, how’s that Calvinism thing working out for you, fellas?

    Lydia

    “Utterly disgraceful it is that some among the “forced-to-retire” may have to appeal to EEOC regs for any salvation”

    That is just it, Norm. It is doubtful they can because the IMB operates like a religious entity and they are protected. They can treat anyone like they want and get by with it. Labor laws in the form of equal opportunity or discrimination are not usually enforced when it comes to religious groups. I am sure the highly paid perfumed prince from Princeton working with Platt knows this quite well as do the lawyers who crafted the document. I am sure he is well aware they are in NO DANGER of age discrimination complaints as a religious institution even though it was AGE DISCRIMINATION. Pure and simple. Such a great Christian witness these guys are!

    That is the way it is. In the world of Christendom we are supposed to be able to trust one another in such matters. No secret agendas but full transparency. The real message from this debacle is to stop trusting SBC entities and organizations as employers you give control of your financial life. People are safer in the secular world when it comes to such things as there is a recourse. Young people who are gushing over working for Platt and his types, are you paying attention?

Lydia

No, it was about as voluntary as “We have a deal you cannot refuse”. Now the over 50’s thrown to the curb cannot even speak about it unless the words are approved by Platt and company. After all, they get to decide what is negative, right? I sure would not trust it. They have a legal position now as to appropriate (in their view) words are spoken or written by those who were given a deal they cannot refuse. And the trustees are in cahoots with this? Are they just star struck with the celebrity Platt or scared of Mohler or what?

The actions and words of Platt over the course of his time there are simply not matching up. But that seems to be the SBC’s new normal.

Max

Perhaps sister agencies, such as NAMB, should have curtailed expenditures to help make up the IMB budget shortfall when Platt first noticed the red ink at IMB. Where should SBC priorities be right now: new church plants or keeping seasoned missionaries on the field? But, that appears to be a mute point at this point. I spent a career in corporate America, where business departments pitched in to help the struggling areas of a company until the overall corporate climate improved. Oh, and a word about bringing in “outsiders” to help … in the business world, we called the down-sizer specialists “hatchet men” … they did their deed and moved on. There is no doubt that David Platt inherited a financial mess at IMB due to past management blunders, but it’s just sad to see this going on in the Body of Christ. The pew didn’t have a clue and can’t be blamed for reduced mission giving in a depressed economy; accountability floats to the top.

Andy

So what’s the way forward?

A. Write off the sbc and imb and send our support elsewhere?
B. Keep supporting at similar levels, knowing that the 4000 missionaries left are still out there working?
C. Make some actionable effort toward changes at the imb? (What exactly would this look like?)

I suspect most will do A or B, or some combination. I doubt there is appetite in the current sbc for any kind of uprising, so either leaders will make wise decisions that inspire confidence in the churches and members, or those churches will graduallly lessen their support over the next year’s and decades.

It is a unique situation, because up untill this IMB situation, many churches were lowering CP but giving more to IMB….I don’t have the foresight to predict what exactly the next few years will look like..

Gerry Milligan

Hall mentions in his article that hose who opted for VRI were to receive more compensation than those choosing the HRI. As with the non-disclosure clause, I guess that these amounts are something we will never know, but it would be revealing to know.

    Jon Estes

    Hey Gerry – Heading to Bangladesh Saturday for a 3 day Pastors retreat. This is one of our mission spots where we underwrite the cost and spend 3 days investing in the lives of 75-100 pastors in and around Bangladesh. RD (Agustus) is the one who put this together a few years back. It’s called Barnabas Project. Come see us sometime. I know those who know you would love to see you.

Bill Mac

I think it is perfectly reasonable to suggest this plan for balancing the budget was not the best one that could have been formulated. However I’m trying to connect the dots between Calvinism and this plan, as if only a Calvinist could have come up with a plan like this, and a Tradtionalist would never have. Are bad plans (if in fact this is one) solely the purview of Calvinists?

    Tyler

    The thing is, he wouldn’t have to have come up with a plan if the IMB wasn’t in a financial mess when he was hired. It doesn’t matter what Platt could have done…people would be critical nonetheless

    Rick Patrick

    Here is one possible Calvinism connection. Since younger Southern Baptists are considerably more Calvinistic than older ones, it follows that replacing 1,132 older Southern Baptists with 743 younger Southern Baptists cannot help but bring about a significant shift in the salvation doctrine we proclaim among with the nations…at a cost of $33 million. My personal view of this connection is that we could never prove its intent…nor deny its result.

      Scott Shaver

      Bingo on “never proving intent nor denying result”.

      Bill Mac

      If younger SBCers are considerably more Calvinistic than older ones, are you going to oppose sending new missionaries onto the field, regardless of the VRI? It seems to me, based on your logic, that you are going to have to wait for Traditionalists to take back the seminaries before you will be comfortable sending new missionaries out to spread the Gospel.

        Lydia

        “If younger SBCers are considerably more Calvinistic than older ones, are you going to oppose sending new missionaries onto the field, regardless of the VRI? It seems to me, based on your logic, that you are going to have to wait for Traditionalists to take back the seminaries before you will be comfortable sending new missionaries out to spread the Gospel.”

        Which Gospel? :o) the Neo Cals don’t have Good News for all.

        Btw, you make it sound like a strategy…. getting younger Neo Cal missionaries after throwing the old ones to the curb then claiming how mean people are for not wanting to throw more money into an organization that plays these sorts of games with people’s lives and has a history of fiscal malfeasance.

          Scott Shaver

          Here’s a twist…..How about if “younger” SBCers become considerably more MORMON?

          Hypothetical, but that’s the logic of deferring at all costs to “younger generations”.

        Rick Patrick

        Bill,
        Let’s not talk about what I would oppose, but what I would favor. Because I want to fulfill the Great Commission, while also remaining true to my commitments to the existing missionary workforce, and to the doctrinal convictions of our convention’s churches, I would favor sending new missionaries onto the field, provided that (a) we could afford to pay the new missionaries while continuing to pay the old ones, and (b) the new missionaries we send proportionally represent the salvation doctrine affirmed by the churches of our convention.

          Bill Mac

          OK, but let’s follow this through. We can afford to send 1000 new missionaries next year. We have 1000 candidates in the hopper, ready to go, but 35% of them are Calvinists, and that exceeds what you think is the proportion of Calvinists in the SBC. Do you send less than 1000, so as not to upset the quota?

          Are missionary candidates asked their soteriology as part of the vetting process?
          Do we now have a solid answer as to how many Calvinists are in the SBC as a % of the total?
          Is there an agreed upon definition of Calvinist?

            Rick Patrick

            Good questions all. Let us roll up our sleeves and work together in unity to arrive at some answers. Within a couple of hours, a plan could be devised that would result in the appointment of missionaries who reflect the doctrine in our churches.

            Some have wondered if the surplus Calvinists graduating from some of our seminaries but unable to be placed in our existing churches are being funneled through Send North America and the IMB in disproportionate measure.

            We have some research to do and some problems to solve. I suppose we better get started instead of shaming as divisive those who ask such questions.

              Bill Mac

              I’m not too sure. Although I’m not a Calvinist I don’t think I’d care for hunting them down and pigeonholing them either. I’d rather assess people on their actions rather than their beliefs. If someone is preaching the Gospel and not Calvinism (or traditionalism) then leave them alone. If they are trying to make soteriological converts then yank them. I know some people here don’t believe Calvinists are capable of preaching the Gospel, but that’s nonsense.

              Your idea for a quota system is understandable. I just don’t see how you will implement it in practical terms.

                Scott Shaver

                Bill Mac says “I’d rather assess people on their actions rather than their beliefs”

                I’ll second Bill’s suggestion here. And based on “actions” IMB leaders, both past and present should be pink-slipped first prior to any VRIs. 210 million in expenditures beyond budget would result in the convening of a jury trial or class action law suit in most corners of corporate America.

                As far as “Southern Baptists” are concerned, I don’t see how a quota system will serve to unspoil water that’s already been mixed with arsenic. I’m reminded of the words of the servant of Elisha to his master…..”there’s death in the pot”.

          Jon Estes

          “(b) the new missionaries we send proportionally represent the salvation doctrine affirmed by the churches of our convention.”

          Do the new missionaries have to affirm the BF&M 2K? Isn’t that document the one the convention voted on and uses to define our held beliefs? It covers or conventins stand on salvation and when it was being put together, there were both traditionalists and Calvinists on the committee.

          My question then is… Can you support, even a reformed thinking SB who affirms the BF&M as an IMB missionary?

          If not, is there another postional statement on salvation you want them to affirm?

        Scott Shaver

        Perhaps not “traditionalist” per label, Bill Mac, but biblical in soteriology without hyper-deterministic filters ala Calvin, Gill and neo-mutations of aforementioned? Early in it’s history, the SBC tended organically to filter hyper-calvinistic influence.

        This will be “Southern” baptists last dance with that particular theological strain, one way or the other, this go around.

        Ball game/ landscape has changed significantly in this day of instant mass communication, popularism, LIFEWAY, and deficit spending.

      Max

      Good Lord! You would have to have your head stuck in the sand to not make a theo-political connection at this point! (but most Southern Baptists still do).

      Bill Mac

      “My personal view of this connection is that we could never prove its intent…nor deny its result.”

      Then why say it?

        Rick Patrick

        Because someone trying to connect the dots between Calvinism and this decision asked me a question. The Calvinism connection is factually established as a RESULT. I have not spoken to one person who denies that this strategy will result in a greater percentage of Calvinist missionaries in the IMB than existed before. So the dots connect. The only thing that cannot be established for a fact, ONE WAY OR THE OTHER, is that such a decision was undertaken WITH THE INTENT of more completely Calvinizing our missionary force. (But if it was ONLY a financial decision, and our goal was to keep every single missionary on the field that we possibly could, then why did we not stop at 800? Terminating the additional ones does not seem to have accomplished any financial purpose at all. This raises the question of what purpose it did serve.)

        Scott Shaver

        “Then why say it?”…..Bill Mac?

        I don’t know, it’s a free country and soul freedom as well as freedom of religious conscience are baptist distinctives?

        If you don’t put stock in those things, perhaps it could at least be suggested for the same reasons you pen some of the things YOU “say”.

          Tyler

          “I don’t know, it’s a free country and soul freedom as well as freedom of religious conscience are baptist distinctive?”

          Free country, yes, but perhaps we should extend Godly charity and not assume the worst of someone until it is absolutely proven otherwise. Otherwise we are in danger of unintentionally bearing a false witness to our brothers and sisters.

            Rick Patrick

            “Absolutely proven” is an almost impossible to achieve courtroom standard, even when evidence is pouring in from all sources. In our situation, we have very little transparency and information being shared from SBC entities and leaders. The combination of “hush until you have proof” and “we will not give you any information so you can establish that proof” is a trap leaving those who are forced to speculate about what is going on susceptible to such false charges as “bearing false witness.”

              Tyler

              What if I said, “Rick Patrick may or may not believe that anyone who is not a Southern Baptist is going to spend eternity in hell.”
              How would that make you feel? Now, I don’t have any quote from you saying this, just like you don’t have any proof about what you may or may not know. But I bet I could find a couple of comments of yours that i could use against you just to plant the idea in others minds that you think anyone who is not a Southern Baptist is going to hell.

              Sounds like I should just shut my trap because I don’t really have a good bases for it.

              And you’re right to an extent in a courtroom scene, but when someone shoots a man they can trace the bullet back to the man, find out if the man had enemies, talk to witnesses, and a whole host of other ways to found out truth. You literraly are just assuming something that you have no reason to assume…oops I’m sorry…you are assuming something you may or may not be true. Well guess what, David Platt may or may not have had a chicken sandwich today. I don’t know. I wasn’t there.

              Also, be careful Rick. I know you don’t think you are but this is borderline false witness.

              Lastly, assuming Godly movies unless proven otherwise is the most freeing thing you can do. I suggest you try it.

                Rick Patrick

                “People go to hell because they do not repent of their sins and believe in Jesus for salvation, apart from their church affiliation.”
                –Rick Patrick

                See how easy that was, Tyler? Now, there is no confusion. Why? Because I am not withholding information like our SBC leaders do.

                We’re not just making stuff up here, Tyler. A hunch, a hypothesis, an educated guess…these are things investigative journalists are right to explore. If something doesn’t pass the smell test, you share what you know and you even share some theories. When all the facts come out, IF they ever come out, you clarify.

                But if the leaders don’t share information, they are just as much to blame for the speculating. They are not being transparent enough.

                  Tyler

                  I disagree and stand by my word. I’m sorry if I sound harsh, but I’ve heard of many”may or may not’s” really tear lives apart. Like any organization, the IMB is probably not being as transparent as they like right now. Where I work now my company is going through some massive changes and we won’t tell anyone until the time is right.

                  I will leave it at this, (And this is for Scott as well), the IMB does not need to get rid of some missionaries to push Calvinist missionaries later. There are already of 100’s of 100’s Calvinists missionaries. In fact, I think all the missionaries I know personally are Calvinists who are giving there lives to share the Gospel to places so dangerous that I’m not even allowed to mention them here. And many of those missionaries that retired are Calvinist. So let’s season our rhetoric with salt and be sure we think the best of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

                Lydia

                “Also, be careful Rick. I know you don’t think you are but this is borderline false witness.”

                Seriously, can you guys get a new insult?. That one is not only becoming cliche and therefore meaningless but is used for everything including uncomfortable questions. I can remember when it was used by your movement gurus on Mefford for asking uncomfortable questions concerning Driscoll’s plagiarism and his later buying the NYT bestseller list placement.

                  Tyler

                  Lydia,
                  I actually thought Mefford did a great job in exposing Driscoll. See guys? This is what I’m talking about. Lydia made a baseless claim about me on an assumption, and she was wrong.

                  (FYI, I wont respond to Lydia again. I did this time because she showed exactly what my point of responding in the first place was. I have decided not to respond to her, but I believe this time was necessary).

            Scott Shaver

            If that’s truly your rationale Tyler (i.e. “unintentionally bearing false witness”)…..there’s flip side to that kind of thinking (i.e. one could be bearing true, accurate, albeit troubling “witness”as finally confirmed by results.) In that scenario, I’ll bear the risk of “false witness”.

            210 million dollars in deficit spending on the heels of an announcement to expand mission forces comes to mind.

    Lydia

    Bill M, one thing we know is that a “Radical give it all away” Neo Cal celeb was chosen as president who did not understand “the beauty of the CP” until he was appointed to the 6 figure position who totally misreprented his “mission” situation in Dubai. He does a rah rah publicly about expanding the IMB then months later drops the deficit bomb. Was he too busy making public appearances not to know the real situation before the rah rah? Or was that to get more money in before the bomb? Either way, not exactly trusting.

    So far, not so good. Trust is a real issue which includes the past president and trustees. But the current ones are making it even worse.

    As for the Cals, that movement is solely guru celebrity focused. They make the seekers look like amateurs when it comes to speaking gigs, books, etc. it is constant. CJ is still a celeb for them!

norm

Baptists are known for many things, including “voting wth their checkbooks.”

Since IMB leaders, past and present, have proven to be fiscally irresponsible (except as concerns their own salaries), then maybe the IMB would respond to concerns noted here if SBC churches held in escrow this year’s LMCO monies until we had full disclosure, restitution, etc.

Donna

My husband and I are career IMB missionaries over 50. We were offered a generous VRI package, but God made it clear we were not to leave the field. We never have felt any pressure to leave from the IMB, only affirmation. It was completely voluntary. We said goodbye to friends who accepted the VRI after much prayer, also convinced they were following God’s leading.

I want to clarify that those who were led to take the HRO were, for the most part, younger missionaries who did not qualify for the VRI.

Please, I beg you and all Baptists, do not lose sight of the most important thing – that people are dying without having the opportunity to accept Christ. Pray for those who made the difficult choice to return to the US, and continue to pray and support those of us, your missionaries, who continue in the task. We live in a remote fishing village village among an Unreached People Group, in an area that is spiritually dark. Please do not abandon us, those who God led to stay.

    Bill Mac

    Donna,
    Thank you and your husband for your service. Our pastor led us to double our Lottie Moon offering this year and it is comforting to know it is going to support people like you.

      Scott shaver

      In light of current circumstances, Bill, you and your pastor might want to consider TRIPLING your Lottie Moon offering this year.

    Lydia

    Donna, what you are doing and the decision you made is why fiscal transparency is so very important. It is not good stewardship otherwise.

    Jon Estes

    Donna – Thank you for not only following God’s call to the foreign fields but for seeking God’s direction in whether to remain or return. The missinaries I have worked around over the years have always trusted God for their income for the present and future. God has always provided. For some it was through a VRI packagem for others it will be different. God is bigger than the IMB / SBC / critics and morem you are proof of His glory.

    Keep giving the heaven
    – SB and non IMB missionary serving in the Middle East.

    Lydia

    “I want to clarify that those who were led to take the HRO were, for the most part, younger missionaries who did not qualify for the VRI.”

    Is there a place we can view those breakdowns? Is that information available to the whole of the SBC?

    Tyler

    Thank you Donna. It sounds like many people are accusing the IMB of using force. Your testimony proves otherwise.

      Lydia

      “Thank you Donna. It sounds like many people are accusing the IMB of using force. Your testimony proves otherwise.”

      I have not read about guns being used. What is “force” in your book? How about unfair and bad choices letting you know it will be worse if you don’t take it.

      I get the rewriting of what was communicated to people. Donna made a choice. That does not negate wise stewardship for others. I would love to see the stats she mentioned.

        Tyler

        “What is force in your book?” Yes! This is exactly the question I want to ask those who are insinuating this.

        ‘How about unfair and bad choices letting you know it will be worse if you don’t take it.”
        -Could you give me examples of these? Not crazy assumptions. Links to actually objective material from the IMB that propose this. Pretend like you’re writing a paper for your senior thesis in college. Actually sources. Don’t just react this comment. Breath, gather your sources, and show me.

    Gerry Milligan

    Donna,
    I admire your candor and your decision to remain with FOAM. You continue in our prayers all these years later.

Scott Shaver

I appreciate your testimony Donna, and admire the inspired determination of you and your husband to stay put. My prayer for you is that God will, by his choice of means, continue and bring to fruition your work there as He has been faithful to do previously.

Unfortunately, here state-side, your network of denominational support is having trouble figuring out “what kind” of “gospel” the entity known as SBC is working to perpetuate post “CR” and post IMB liquidation clearance. A lot of “baptists” in that particular niche (SBC) would like to see the niche retain both it’s message and its identity. You and your colleagues are caught in the cross-fire.

    Jon Estes

    Scott – Is the gospel I share with others and see God bring a lost person to repentance and find a new faith in Jesus different than yours? Is the person I see come to Jesus less saved than those you see come to Jesus? As a Clavinist, every person I come into contact with has an opportunity to respond to the gospel. No Calvinist I know of stop and wonder if they are of His sheepfold or not (John 10). We gladly share and if they are His, they will respond (at some point).

    Who the elect are is God’s business, mine is to do my duty as an unworthy servant and take Jesus to the nations (Luke 17:10).

      Scott Shaver

      Jon:

      I’m all for folks being led to repentance and faith in Christ. It’s the the nature of God as presented by Calvinism following conversion that concerns me. God doesn’t work in contradiction to His revealed nature and character and I’ve seen too many spiritual “burn-outs” as a result of this particular theological template. A good number turn to agnosticism/atheism.

      Calvinism is kinda like the person who says they’re pro-life when, in reality they are pro-birth. They don’t care one whit after birth what transpires in the “life”. The message of faith in Christ as presented by Calvinism may result in the salvation of individuals, but their understanding of the nature and character of God post conversion tends to be more conditioned by theology than reliance upon the express teaching of scripture and Holy Spirit interaction.

      In conclusion, and in my opinion, hyper-calvinism tends to become “another gospel which is NOT the gospel”.

      If “who the elect are is God’s business” why do you and others spend so much time trying to convince the rest of us of election’s primacy in the exercise of faith? (Luke 17:10). It defies logic.

        Jon Estes

        “If “who the elect are is God’s business” why do you and others spend so much time trying to convince the rest of us of election’s primacy in the exercise of faith? (Luke 17:10). It defies logic.”

        I disagree to a point. Not everything about God is logical to man. Mayve that is one of the problems. Men try to maker God logical and in doing so have to make God more man than God. Oh, I am not trying to convince you of anything

          Scott Shaver

          You are correct Jon Estes:

          “Not everything about God is logical to man.” Equally as true is the following statement: Hyper-spirituality tends to make folks think they’re in a minority of being able to see clearly those things that only God can see and understand.

            Jon Estes

            “Hyper-spirituality tends to make folks think they’re in a minority of being able to see clearly those things that only God can see and understand.”

            You are correct Scott Shaver.

Les

Donna’s words are encouraging and refreshing.

Lydia

The IMB Presudent, David Platt, talk for the T$G conference coming up:
David Platt
Talk Title: Martyrdom and Mission: Why Reformers Died In Their Day, How We Must Live In Ours

    Max

    I wonder if Dr. Platt’s talk will cover the Anabaptists?

      Scott Shaver

      Max:

      I wonder if it could be possible that Platt has become only recently accquainted with Anabaptist history? :0

Lydia

“I wonder if Dr. Platt’s talk will cover the Anabaptists?”

If he does, I can hear it now: Mistakes were made.

It is a “mistake” to burn at the stake, drown, torture and/or banish people who disagree. But the preached the Gospel!

Sigh

    Scott Shaver

    Lydia:

    You know good and well that practices like the stake, the dunking pool, and torture went out with the early reformers. Neo-reformers use different tactics (age-group, ideological, theological purges/pink-slips)…..those kinds of things.

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