They Never Even Voted

September 4, 2015

Dr. Rick Patrick | Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church, Sylacauga, AL

The recent directive by IMB executives to offer Voluntary Retirement Incentives to reduce our missionary staff by up to 800 people is a complex mixture of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. While IMB Trustees were informed of the plan, there was no “up or down” vote taken on the matter. At best, the Trustees can be said to have offered their tacit approval through mutual consent. No Trustee served on the team that brainstormed in developing the plan. This was a staff-driven decision. 

THE GOOD

Under Dr. David Platt’s leadership, the IMB is now tackling the problem.
I am pleased that Dr. David Platt is leading the IMB to deal directly with this financial crisis. He inherited this problem and he is doing something about it. Clearly, a solution other than spending reserves and selling assets is needed. Platt is right to raise this issue. He is right to talk about the $210 million deficit that the IMB has run over the past six years. I applaud his effort to tackle the problem.

THE BAD

Churches are just hearing about the $210 million of deficit spending.
While Trustees have known about this growing deficit for years, very few Southern Baptists actually know the extent of our deficit spending. This can be attributed in part to a penchant we have for trying to make every report sound positive. We rejoice over a minor short-term giving increase, but fail to properly emphasize a twenty-year trend of decline. Two months ago, the vibe at the SBC in Columbus was celebratory. Southern Baptists do not need spin, but brutal honesty. The news is bad, and we should report it as such. Mixed messages are confusing. Perhaps our churches have failed to give as sacrificially as possible. Unquestionably our leaders have been significantly overspending the budget and selling the farm for years. It takes time for Southern Baptists to process both pieces of terrible news. Before we start discussing a solution, let us immerse ourselves in the enormity of the problem.

The IMB overspent receipts by $210 million over the past six years.
Apart from the issue of whether or not Southern Baptists were properly informed concerning our deficit spending crisis, can we take a step back and simply ask ourselves about the very practice of an organization consistently spending more money than it receives? Can we agree our churches would never allow operational expenditures significantly greater than budget receipts for more than one budget cycle? In other words, apart from special building programs or other designated receipts, our Finance Committees take measures to balance our church budgets.

I believe Southern Baptists deserve to know why the IMB has not been operating with a balanced budget over the past six years. I choose to believe that IMB leaders optimistically anticipated that this shortfall was only temporary and were waiting for the economy to rebound. While I appreciate their desire to keep missionaries on the field, pursuing this course for six straight years was an unfortunate decision. As I have informed church members that, over the past six years, the IMB spent $210 million more than Southern Baptists gave them, dipping into reserves and selling property to stay afloat, every single person thus far has made a comparison with the federal government. “Sounds like Washington to me!” While I believe this deficit spending was driven by a passion for missions, to many people in the pew it sounds simply like a rather extraordinary level of financial mismanagement.

THE UGLY

This plan replaces experienced missionaries with inexperienced ones.
The Voluntary Retirement Incentive may not work, which is to say that since it is truly voluntary, most of our missionaries might simply choose to remain in place. However, if it does work, then it means approximately 15% of our experienced and highly trained missionary force will leave the field. While estimated figures were between 600 and 800, let’s use the number 600. Inexplicably, this is an employee reduction plan without a hiring freeze. The board plans to appoint 300 this year and 300 next year. This two-year total, then, is also 600. To clarify, we are subtracting 600 current employees while adding 600 new employees. The old ones have vast amounts of experience and on-the-job training. The new ones have little to no experience or on-the-job training. For my money, I would prefer that we “retire” the inexperienced 600 missionaries we have not yet hired, while leaving in place the 600 experienced missionaries who have served God faithfully for many years.

This decision making process was less Trustee-driven than in the past.
IMB Trustees neither participated actively in developing this strategy (which is to say they did not serve on the team putting the proposal together) nor officially voted to approve the action—although their approval was certainly tacit by their silence. Rather, it was a directive presented by the Executive Staff of the IMB to inform the Trustees of their decision. Although a few questions were asked and answered, it was all done with little to no real opposition. While I appreciate the irenic spirit of everyone involved, if I am going to be asked to trust the Trustees, then I want the Trustees to be driving the policy decisions and strategic initiatives. Several Trustees should have been included among those working up the proposal. Hundreds of missionaries supported by millions of Southern Baptists were asked to consider retirement in a plan developed by a team with no Trustee representation that was never formally adopted by a vote of the board. One listens differently if one is being briefed about a matter than if one is being asked to vote on a matter. I believe this approach inappropriately elevates the authority of the Executive Staff.

Executive salaries at the IMB (and the SBC overall) deserve closer scrutiny.
This final concern is one I did not anticipate when the story first broke. As I have discussed these matters with a number of Southern Baptists, it is clear to me that there is a growing curiosity concerning the executive salaries at the highest levels of the International Mission Board. When an organization spends $210 million more than it receives over a period of six years, it is reasonable to expect that such questions will arise among the rank and file members contributing to the cause. If trust is to be restored at the IMB, greater transparency and disclosure must soon be forthcoming regarding all expenditures. My understanding is that salary figures, not only at the IMB but also at other SBC institutions, are no longer available to the average Southern Baptist. This is problematic, for we are now on the lookout for the existence of anything resembling a bloated bureaucracy. At least part of that bloat may in fact reside in our executive salaries. As our leaders continue to ask state conventions and churches to sacrifice financially so we can reach the nations, can we really blame church members for holding up the mirror and asking our highest paid executives to do their part as well?

CONCLUSION

The IMB has been overspending for six years, a situation that has now attracted the attention of Southern Baptists, who are generally delighted they are ready to stop. If we were not paying attention before, rest assured, we are paying attention now. There are many ways to balance a budget. Bringing our trained missionaries home before their work is truly done does not at all strike some of us as the best option.

 

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Norm

Trust is the operative word, here. In my 25 years of denominational service, I have encountered this “spiritual shell game” all too frequently. Many of our leaders have sought the salary without being worth their salt. Depsite one’s soteriological convictions, such attitudes and actions of subterfuge span the decades.
As I have trekked from the Jesus Movement of the late ’60s – early 70s, thru the Conservative Resurgence, and now with the SBC’s minority emphasis on Calvinistic opinions, there has been a most displeasing trait: too many of our leaders have suffered and do suffer from either the inability or unwillingness to lead as Jesus taught.
Some leaders have defaulted to the worldly style of management that is based in fear, and one example is that our execs want to keep their salaries a secret.
Very few leaders have exemplified a competence that comes from wrestling in prayer with the problems that beset us.
Count me among those who have failed in these regards. But also count me among those who are turning their backs on the worldly model of management and who are choosing to swim upstream — because it is the dead fish that go with the flow and float downstream.
Have I arrived?
Nope.
Yes, trust is the operative word. And what we are seeing from those who hide their salaries and make decisions ex cathedra is not demonstrative trust, but the lack thereof.
What a shame, for without faith, it is impossible to please God.
It grows increasingly difficult for those of us who pay the cab fare to trust those cabbies who are following their own, unpublished maps.

Trent Weaver

The sad irony is that in that time frame, many churches were pushing financial classes to help members get out of debt so that they could give more back to God, while the IMB was writing checks they couldn’t cash and not addressing the issue. I’m glad it is in the open now, because you cannot fix what isn’t known.

    William

    Not a valid criticism. IMB used proceeds from properties deemed unneeded and financial reserves to meet budget needs. There is no appreciable long-term debt save for accrued post-retirement and post-employment benefit obligations.

      Scott Shaver

      Beg to differ William:

      Very much a “valid” criticism, along with several valid others.

      Properties “deemed unneeded” by whom? Who is responsible for perpetuating consecutive annual budgets millions in excess of actual receipts?

      If you don’ think the current 210 mil short-fall represents “no appreciable long-term debt save for accrued post-retirement and post-employment benefit obligations” … stand back and watch.

Rick Patrick

As I continue to consider this issue, I cannot help but wonder about the “Cost of Incentives” being offered to our missionaries in order to encourage their early retirement. How much EXTRA are we spending in order to induce our most highly trained missionaries to ACTUALLY LEAVE the mission field? One might even characterize that amount, whatever it is, as a payment to a missionary for the purpose of encouraging them NOT to do international missions work. I may have a philosophical problem with that.

Donald Holmes

I also comment Platt for doing something rather than continuing as-as. Regardless, I still want to know why this did not dominate the IMB report to the Convention. I would also like to see the minutes for the meetings that discussed what to do, and to know when these discussions took place.

Scott Shaver

Just read David Platt’s open letter to SBC dated 9-4-15.

The letter favors several interesting conclusions. Platt did not walk into the job without at least a basic understanding of the budget nightmares he faced.

He now owns the situation and is attempting to address it as best as he knows how.

Additionally, “No-one” is to blame for the current dilemma….not “selfish per Aikin” churches nor any current or previous IMB leaders/trustees. I suppose we are to file a quarter billion worth of overage spending under the category of …….”Stuff Happens”?

I certainly don’t envy the man his responsibilities at this point. Trying to piece back together a “rope of sand” has to be exponentially harder than herding cats.

Stephen

As an auditor and business owner, I have to agree with the IMB senior management on this issue. The easiest way to quickly reduce expenses in this type of organization is to reduce salaries. You incentivize the retirement of the senior employees who are the most highly compensated, and replace them with lower compensated new employees. A hiring freeze does not reduce the current expenses, it just stabilizes the expenses. In such a case, unless there is an increase in revenues the net result will be continued loses.

To me it is logical to retire a missionary earning $70,000 with thirty years of service and replace him with two new missionaries earning $25,000. Even if you have to pay a $10,000 incentive payment to get the senior missionary to retire, you have saved the organization $10,000 and maintained your ability to do missions. You don’t tell the two $25,000 missionaries “No job for you” and keep the senior missionary. If you do that, you will still have a $70,000 expense and continued losses.

    Rick Patrick

    Stephen,
    While I agree with you that this approach is the “easiest” and “quickest” solution for balancing the budget, I believe the decision should not be based on those two criteria. I would be looking for the “best” and “most ethical” solution, apart from how hard it was or how long it would take.

    Since the goal of the mission board is to reach the nations for Christ, I would look for a solution that keeps the “best” missionaries I could keep on the field. When I have my heart attack, I want the most experienced cardiologist, not the guy fresh out of med school who hasn’t seen all the possible complications that might arise. The “best” solution may cost more per missionary, but if it accomplishes the Great Commission more effectively, I prefer it.

    Another consideration is the “most ethical” category. When we appointed these missionaries, we made a pledge or promise to support them on the mission field. If we cannot support as many as we are sending, then we need to stop sending so many. My rhyming motto is, “To reduce the spending we must reduce the sending.” This assumes, of course, that I feel an almost marital covenant to support existing missionaries “until death do us part.” The people in my church whom I have made aware of this situation are likening it to the age discrimination that they have experienced in the workplace. From an ethical standpoint, I simply feel a greater responsibility to support the existing faithful missionaries on the field than I do to support the uncommissioned potential missionaries with whom I have not entered into any kind of quasi-sacred commitment.

      Joni Hannigan

      I began to answer the business question and then got so choked up, I stopped. I’m glad I read your very calm response. We are not a business. We are not a business. I remember Dr. Rankin telling me in 2006 he didn’t know when he would retire, that God hadn’t called him yet. I remember Dr. Sullivan in Florida saying over and over, he didn’t know when he would retire, that God hadn’t called him to yet. How are our missionaries any different? I entirely and totally agree with you on your answer. If sending 10 missionaries will make us sound good, what good is it in the long run if that’s not the person whom God called to that time and place on the mission field. Who are WE to make those calls. I have seen state conventions and others make these calls over and again in the past several years and I stay up at night grieving over the lack of what I perceive of a reliance on the Holy Spirit when we try and turn financial incentives into Holy Spirit direction and calling — so we can put warm bodies in places and keep those numbers up. I know that numbers represent people and all of that, but God honors those who honor those whom He calls. We are to respect each other’s calling and gifts in the body of Christ, regardless of age — and sometimes, maybe because of age. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to respond.

        Max

        “… God honors those who honor those whom He calls …”

        Indeed Joni! In the scurry to get out of the red, it’s crucial that SBC and the IMB do the honorable thing when it comes to the destiny of hundreds of veteran missionaries called into service by God, not man. The destiny of the SBC itself may hinge on how it deals with its primary means of evangelism to the nations. The torch of evangelism which has characterized this denomination may very well be surrendered to another.

        Anonymous Missionary

        Brother and Joni,

        Thanks for your ministries and your faithful giving. Thanks most of all for your concern for us and for your concern to see our leadership take the high ethical road. I do not think that is what is being done. We hope that the outcry from our churches will be heard.

        We do not like to be called heroes because we all know our own weaknesses and inadequacies. All we are doing is what God has called us to do. However, many of us are risking our lives, literally, on a daily basis. We are not whiners, but we would appreciate being listened to and more consideration being given to other options. Many of those eligible for the incentive are so valuable to us as mentors and as hard working laborers for the Kingdom of Christ.

        Again, thank you for speaking up for us and for our coworkers.

          Anonymous Missionary

          That should say Brother Rick and Joni. ;)

          Lydia

          “We are not whiners, but we would appreciate being listened to and more consideration being given to other options. Many of those eligible for the incentive are so valuable to us as mentors and as hard working laborers for the Kingdom of Christ.”

          A precious commodity is the energy of youth with the wisdom of experience in the trenches. Something our culture does not value. Only the very unwise do not listen to those who are on the front lines. Once I did some strategic planning with a state guard. The colonels and the one general in the room kept deferring to the ONE non com sergeant major in the room. During a break I asked the General why the constant deference. He said, that the sergeant major knows the soldiers well and the dynamics of the group. He would be a total fool not to seek his advice on everything related. A lesson for us all about “leadership”.

    anonymous missionary 1

    Let’s talk about facts. The salary of a career field missionary is $2200 per month (leaders, field, etc all make the same). Missionaries are provided a small cost of living adjustment for some countries but in most cases it is not a significant amount. Missionaries also rewarded for longevity with a $200 increase in salary every 5 years. So – after 25 years of service, learning language, development of relationships, etc… that family makes a whopping $1000 more per month. I just think it is fair to lay it out because I have heard some missionaries speak as if there are people getting rich overseas – this is not happening. Missionary kids still go back to the states to study and have to pay for college, they still have to one day buy a house in the US(with no equity built up), and they still have normal expenses that everyone has. Missionaries are provided with insurance and housing but no missionaries serving with the IMB that I know is saving money.

    New vs Old – GENERALLY SPEAKING – missionaries that last 10, 15, 25 years are much more productive than people in their first few years. Why? Well honestly many of the new people don’t make it past 3-4 years. During the first three to five years most are still trying to become fluent in their languages and also working to build relationships. There are obviously exceptions to this but if someone says they would rather have a younger mission force because they cost less – you need to understand that learning languages, start up costs, and having children on the field is expensive. It is not as simple as it is in the business world. Also – your missionary with 24 years of service costs a whopping $9,600 more per year in salary. Those years of experience are much more valuable than the dollar amount.

    Incentives – please realize that corporate incentives that might entice people in the US don’t really work as well when people have a calling to serve the Lord. They are already being paid much less than most of them could make in the US. Most people say unless the Lord calls them home, they don’t understand why they would go. That said, the Lord may use this to help them examine their calling.

    Also – missionaries coming home will need to buy a house, car, outfit their house, etc… And most have little or no savings. It will be very hard to move to the US in the coming weeks when they did not anticipate retiring for many more years. This will play into the retirement decision.

    Why hasn’t more been done?
    There have been many things done. The IMB has cut expenses, frozen stateside hires, and lowered the level of missionaries by nearly 1000 in the last six years. Reserves have been at 4 of a max allowed 6 months for a while – this was not overnight.

    Selling of properties has been happening for a while and will continue. Why? In many cases it is places where they have had lots of property and strategy was changing – they needed to sell the properties. I can’t speak for them but it appears as if they examined the options and thought that selling properties to keep missionaries on the field meant they could try to address the missionary reduction through attrition and retirements while still being financially responsible. I want to point out that every year the IMB has continued to pay all bills and has no debt. They also still have millions of dollars of properties (I have no idea how much) and will continue to sell these properties, especially properties in places where they are no longer needed.

    There has been total disclosure about the financial situation over the years. If we were not listening, we can’t blame the people who made the difficult decisions of lowering almost 1000 missionaries on the field. They have been selling properties but many of these were vacant, in areas where there is no longer work, and have needed to be sold. Why not sell them and keep people on the field?

    I write this not to start any arguments but instead to point out some facts that are often left out. Let’s not argue. Let’s pray for those who are having to make decisions in the coming weeks that will affect their entire lives. Let’s pray for those who will stay and the changes that will be made as they mourn the loss of their co-workers.

      Alan Atchison

      Wow! So, an experienced, wise hand that has built relationships and knows the language costs about $10,000 more per year than a young whippersnapper?

      Hmmm. Makes you wonder if there is more going on behind the scenes as the leadership churns the staff.

        Lydia

        “Wow! So, an experienced, wise hand that has built relationships and knows the language costs about $10,000 more per year than a young whippersnapper?

        Hmmm. Makes you wonder if there is more going on behind the scenes as the leadership churns the staff.”

        It read like a “deal you cannot refuse” right out of the Godfather. “We are being very generous with you, old man. More generous than you deserve. But I warn you, if you don’t take this deal we won’t be so generous with you and you will suffer even more. But remember, it is “voluntary”. ”

        And I liked the part where the staff closest to the Don at headquarters are not under the same labor laws— so, in other words, don’t ask about them.

          Scott Shaver

          But Lydia, “the hearts of these men were in the right place and they did what they did to keep missionaries on the field”…ad nauseum.

          And that will be the same rationale for allowing an asleep at the wheel good ole boy trustee system and 3500 to 4000 messengers to keep the party going.

            Lydia

            “But Lydia, “the hearts of these men were in the right place and they did what they did to keep missionaries on the field”…ad nauseum.”

            Well, then there should be no consequences! Just think of all harm people can cause to each other when their “heart is in the right place”! Ok, your heart is in the right place while those over 50 are going to be thrown into a horrible economy and possibly future destitution. Way to go! But what matters most if the leaders “heart was in the right place”. It is so silly and dare I say, platitudinal–ouchy feely, I would think they would be embarrassed to say it out loud. These are not men who understand basic fairness and justice.

            .

              Scott Shaver

              Ah yes….some hearts were in the right place while some hands were in the cookie jar.

        anonymous missionary 1

        Alan – I am not saying that at all and forgive me if I led you or anyone to a conclusion of any inference of wrong doing or inpure motives. I find that most non-missionaries make assumptions about salaries. I put the real salary out there just to make sure that people know some real numbers. I want to be clear. I pray for and support our leadership. I have prayed for and supported our previous leadership. If I have led anyone to assume otherwise, I am sorry and ask your forgiveness.

        I am very grateful for how missionaries have been taken care of by our convention. Missionaries didn’t become missionaries to become wealthy. I know doctors, lawyers, pastors, accountants, dentists, and many other professionals who have left high paying jobs to become a missionary because the felt the call of God on their life to do this. I only put the salary information out there to give some perspective and to keep people from making incorrect assumptions about waste. One challenge is that outside of salary, it is expensive to live overseas. Missionary support costs are rising. Health Care costs have risen exponentially. While the IMB has provided a very modest salary, they have always provided a good benefits but the cost of these benefits have grown.

        I do not want anyone to assume that I feel that there is anything unethical happening or that other administrations did anything unethical. I believe that previous leaders made equally tough decisions to try to keep as many missionaries on the field but drew down the ranks by about 1000 over six years while balancing the budget through selling property that in many cases should have already been sold. This obviously is not a model that would be sustainable for another 10 years, maybe not even the short term. For the record, I am a nobody and I have no idea what the future property sales would be. I choose to believe that the Lord provided these properties for this time to help keep missionaries on the field. There is no scandal, there is no mismanagement, and Southern Baptists have been told for the past few years that things were not good. No, they didn’t ask missionaries to resign but they did see a decrease in the force by about 1000. Could we do better? Absolutely. Everyone can always do better.

        We need to concentrate on how to make the best of a really bad situation. We need to pray that the Lord would move mightily across the United States. We need to pray that people would repent, follow Christ, and that our own unhealthy situation in America would change. We need to pray that our churches would support missions and the spread of the Gospel to unreached groups around the globe. People are dying and on their way to an eternity of being separated from God. They have no idea of their spiritual state and have no hope of knowing Truth unless someone tells them. Our country is being flooded with the nations coming to us. We need to take up our responsibility to take the Gospel to them instead of seeing them as a threat. Our God is a mighty God and is worth of praise.

        Let’s not get into political squabbles. This is not a time to question motives nor agendas. It is not a time to make assumptions that previous administrations were mismanaging funds as I have not seen this. I see men and women that the Lord used in difficult times to make difficult decisions. I choose to thank the Lord for his financial provision in the previous difficult years. Whether it came through property sales or donations, the bills have been and will continue to be paid. This month the decisions made just got more difficult.

        We need to pray for our leadership that the Lord would speak to them very clearly and that they have wisdom long beyond their years. Let us all commit to prayer and fasting for the proclamation of the Gospel to unreached peoples.

          Lydia

          “y. While the IMB has provided a very modest salary, they have always provided a good benefits but the cost of these benefits have grown.”

          We have many over 50 in our entities in the top levels of our bureaucracy. Perhaps we should start there since age seems to be the factor.

            Alan Atchison

            Are these over 50 people restless? If so, then they have imputed youth.

              Lydia

              “Are these over 50 people restless? If so, then they have imputed youth.”

              No, just old and potentially more costly. So make them an offer they cannot refuse to come back to the Obama economy where they are not valued either. At least they have Obama care. I am wondering why we have many “protected” over 50’s our entities– including leadership. Are they more valuable than a “boots on the ground” missionary? Jesus is not amused as this is not how His kingdom operates.

          Alan Atchison

          Anonymous Missionary 1, I thank you for the response and yours words are indeed wise.

          I will say, that the entire process causes me significant concern as it targets our experienced people and appears to favor a younger, new generation at their expense. While God will provide, this process bothers me as I do not feel this is how Christ wants us to treat our people.

Lucian

This occurrence and others like are just the proof statements for those who foster the “independent” Baptist arguments that direct support of missions is better. I believe fervently that the Cooperative Program is the best method support for our outreach, but we must depend upon and demand good business practices at every level. And problems should not be allowed to continue on year after year only to be suddenly reported after the losses are so great. If age adds wisdom (which I’m not too sure about) then my 64 years preaching .. still a pastor .. I would think we need to get down and get this right.

    Scott Shaver

    Where you around Lucien, between 1969-79 when your dreaded “independent baptist movement” was being used as the shoe-horn for the consequent “Conservative Insurgence” denominational split over the shibboleths of inerrancy?

    Now you want to warn against the very spirit upon which the “reformation of the SBC” occurred.

    It’s amazing how history repeats itself when folks ignore it.

Preston Atkinson

interesting indeed. Thankful for Platt knowingly taking a position and trying to do something about the corruption of big convention, top heavy suits, and a disastrous understanding of missions. Not so thrilled about taking and exchanging missionaries already in the field but likely another misunderstanding of missions which has gone western in its cultural understanding. Thankful we suppport our own missionaries where 100% of money goes to the laborers in the field and resources in ‘said’ country. Not going back to ‘big convention’ trust and obey. For there are other and better ways to be in the mission of God’s story. Thanks for sharing this article. Confirms some things for me and my experience as a former delgate and shareholder.

    Scott Shaver

    Thank you Preston for your honesty in hindsight.

    Took a closer look this morning at the missions activity of my own church and surprised to learn that we have far more “private” endeavors both locally and abroad than we’ve ever had. Still doing old school SBC mission work philosophy…..just privately or jointly apart from CP.

    Makes me feel better to know that our pastor and deacons have seen this coming long before the IMB decided to do something about it.

Alan Atchison

I can’t get my head around Platt’s statement that board policy does not require a vote. Sending hundreds if not a thousand or more people into early retirement is the kind of thing that should require trustee involvement. If trustees abandon oversight of the executive so much, it forces every Southern Baptist to doubt the trustee system.

As to Stephen, yes, you are right in that if you look only at salary then you might get such a conclusion. However, don’t new missionaries require thousands of dollars and hours and hours of training? Are not the people in the field already much more effective than most new arrivals? If I ran Wal-Mart or Apple or US Steel, I might do just what you recommend. However, shuffling off the most experienced for cheaper labor just appears repugnant to me and not something worthy of the church! Should we run our ministries like a business? If so, why even hire an American when we can hire some very cheap Chinese labor?

The real answer to this dilemma is to freeze all non-essential new hires while letting attrition work and then also if necessary offering retirement incentives. You do not try to get rid of 1,200 of your most experienced workers so you can hire 300 new ones this year and 300 new ones next year just so you can have a net reduction in force of about 600. That is nothing more than letting no financial crisis go to waste and reshapes the entire face of our missionary force. I’ll let others analyze why that might be happening…

    Anonymous MIssionary

    Amen! Yes, the investment to train people and put them on the field is very significant

Bill Mac

If in fact they did not vote, then the trustees are certainly at fault. It still seems incredible to me.

However this:

then I want the Trustees to be driving the policy decisions and strategic initiatives

I don’t agree with. This just isn’t my understanding of what trustees do. Trustees should guide and approve policy and strategy, they should not drive it. The people who develop strategy and policy should be the ones you are paying to do it. The trustees are there for accountability, not strategy. Remember trustees are not part of the organization (in a sense). They have their own lives, and their own jobs. They meet a few times a year, and there are, in the case of the IMB, a lot of them. Advise and consent sums it up

    Stephen Jones

    To Bill Mac – David Platt confirmed today there was no trustee board vote. http://bpnews.net/45432/imbs-platt-sends-open-letter-to-sbc-family

    Scott Shaver

    Bill Mac:

    If “accountability” is the role of trustees, and I agree that it is, the only conclusion one can reach is that IMB Trustees HAVE FAILED MISERABLY FOR 20 YEARS!

    Each and every member of the IMB trustee board still sitting upon Platts arrival should be given the boot for failure to provide both honesty and accountability. THEY STINK!

    The quicker they devote attention “to their own lives and their own jobs” the better IMO.

Rick Patrick

The IMB has UPDATED their FAQ on this issue: http://bit.ly/1EFsHde. According to Dr. Platt, this decision does not require a vote of the Board. Obviously, my position is that asking 15% of your staff to retire early SHOULD require a vote of the entire Board, since I do not consider this to be a routine operational matter, but a broad strategic initiative.

We also learn from this sheet that the hiring freeze option, which the Administrative Staff rejected, could balance the budget in three short but painful years WITHOUT bringing our most highly trained missionaries home before they have run their race. Personally, this is the option I prefer, both for strategic purposes (better missionaries on the field) and for ethical purposes (we have already made promises to existing missionaries but have not yet entered into any such agreements with potential future missionaries from 2017-2019).

Scott Shaver

“They have their own lives and their own jobs….meet a few times a year …advise and consent sums it up.”

Probably all the more reason for churches to be careful about how and where they’re sending and spending their missions dollars.

Paul

So how can we as Southern Baptists actually do about this? My father had a saying that a problem well stated his half solved, we stated the problem now what can we do to finish solving it? Or is there nothing we can do? How can we address this issue with our pastors and churches? How should this affect the money we give to the convention? Is it a wise use our tithes, God’s money, to support this? Nothing seems to be done about it at the convention meetings, what can be done? How can a member of the church make a difference about this without taking all his time away from evangelism and helping other Christians out? Should we try contacting these entities with our opinion would that make any difference?

When I first heard that David Platt was made head of our mission board I googled his name and saw what he said about the sinners prayer. I contacted our mission board about his appointment and I was told that is statements were insignificant and I was told to wait and see what he would do. Well, I’ve waited and I’ve seen what he has done. Now what?

The only other time I contacted someone at our convention about something,at the end he suggested if I didn’t like how things were I could join an independent Baptist church. Is that my only option? I really like the Southern Baptist Church I’m a member of,it’s the most cooperative in it’s giving in our area. I’m feeling disconnected from my church and I don’t know what to do. Having come out of an elder ruled reformed Baptist church,church politics are foreign to me and I don’t want to spend all my time in business meetings which I don’t understand or in conflict with people. What the employee of one of our entities suggestion,that I look for an independent Baptist church, seems to be the only option and I am looking into non-Southern Baptist churches.

Patrick, I appreciate the work of Connect 316 and I financially support it. Could you all make up a booklet or an e-book on what Southern Baptists can actually do about the situation? The problem is been well stated but how do we get to finish solving it?

Lydia

“As an auditor and business owner, I have to agree with the IMB senior management on this issue. The easiest way to quickly reduce expenses in this type of organization is to reduce salaries.”

Oh but Steven, there are several problems with your view. The large bureaucracy of the IMB are not the “owners” or even stockholders, are they? Why not START there? Is Platt not radical enough to live on the average American wage? This is his big leadership moment. REAL Christians, right? Doing the right thing? Cut travel, conferences, ridiculous things not needed for the oligarchy there. Why would Christians think of cutting other Christians who have been the boots on the ground. Aren’t they the front line? Aren’t they the actually carrying out the IMB “MISSION” ?

And please, find me some YRR who will take a 25,000 year job with some real hardship to it. I cannot stop giggling. The SBC has become so top down authoritarian they cannot even think in terms of plain old servant stewardship.

    Stephen

    Well, at least Lydia is willing to wear her animosity toward the YRR whom she thinks are responsible for the present situation. Her honestly is refreshing.

    You complain about a large bureaucracy at the IMB. The last report I saw, the IMB had less than 450 stateside employees and stateside expenses for the IMB were less than 17.7% of total expenses. I audit several non-profit entities, I can tell you that in the non-profit industry, 30% for general and administrative expense is considered very good. The idea that the IMB is running a large bureaucracy is as ridiculous as it is uninformed.

      Scott Shaver

      Stephen:

      Stateside expenses reported at 17%. What over-seas expenses (travel, meals, lodging, ent) paid out of overseas accounts should rightly be factored into category of “general and administrative expenses”? Additionally, what total percentage of over-seas expenditures drawn from foreign and American banks are categorized as “administrative expenses” separate from stateside “administrative” spending since it is directly related to the foreign field?

    Les Prouty

    Hi Stephen,

    You should be able to click on my name and see my website. I would really appreciate being able to follow up with you by email and talk about non profits, accounting, etc. if you are willing. My email is Les at haitiorphanproject dot org

    Thanks Stephen,

    Les

    Andy

    If you are in Louisville, perhaps you can head over to the ups distribution center and see the yet ants students who work the night shift carrying around heavy boxes and packing trucks, with the goal of funding Their ministry preparation, while also providing for their families the best they know how…

    Your contempt for young men seeking to serve God and love their families is disturbing, even if you think their views of soteriology are in error.

      Andy

      Above should say “YRR SBTS” Students…not yet ants students…. :-)

      Lydia

      Andy, And the tuition money paid by UPS for their hard work….goes where?

        Lydia

        And Andy, I have been around church budgets all my life (except for a few places where the peons were not allowed to see them) so could you please explain to me how the Acts 29/Sojourn type SBC churches can afford all the pastors and staffers? I can assure you they are not bringing in enough money from the pew peons to pay for all the staffers. But then budgets are a big secret.

        The big whine here is that they must have a livable wage….which is different from the typical American livable wage. But it is all a big secret.

          Andy

          I don’t know the first thing about acts 29 or sojourn s budget….but I would guess that the big churches tha t make the news are in the small no minority….I suspect that most reformed, and non reformed, young sbc pastors are not making that much money, and are not at very large churches.

          Also, are you saying you can ASSURE me that sojourn and churches like them are DEFINITLY RUNNING A PERPETUAL DEFICIT? IS THAT what you are saying?

        Andy

        1. It goes to sbts for tuition, paying profs salaries and the wages for others, such as ground staff, some of whom are also students doing the same thing…I’m not sure I get your point.

        2. I’m glad to see you admitting that these reformed minded students ARE I fact working hard.

      Mary

      I’m trying to understand what you’re attempting to convey here. Are we supposed to be in awe that these guys work while going to school? Or is that they’re working blue collar? Like this isn’t what adults do? Don’t know a lot of blue collar people? What exactly is the point because people working while going to school and “gasp” some having to do actual physical labor is not a big deal. It’s called life.

        Andy

        No, certainly nothing extraordinary here…Lydia seemed to not think any young reformed guys would do any hard low paying job.

          Mary

          They don’t actually work very hard when they get a church. You’ve never seen around the blogs how the YRR guys think their job is to “research” and “pray” all week to prepare for the Sunday sermon.

          Tim Rogers

          Andy,

          Let’s be honest here. All seminary students did menial jobs to make ends meet. When I went to seminary, I left a full time car sales job making over $35k per year, back in 1989, to a job pumping gas for 30 hours a week making $7 per hour. Was it hard? You bet. Did God provide? you better believe He did.

          I think what Lydia is referencing is the move by many YR&R guys that look at established churches and complain when coming to a church fresh out of seminary and turning their nose up at a $33k a year ministry position. We try to base our salaries on a teaching position for a person fresh out of school with not experience but with a Masters degree. Then when the church offers such a salary package the person complains about vacation time, or sick time, or you name it.

          Now, this is not to slam YR&R people. Just stating a fact of what churches are seeing after speaking to various candidates.

          I praise God for your work and your desire to be trained. Stay true to the calling God has placed on your life.

            Andy

            Mary, Tim, Lydia,

            I fully realize most seminary students work low paying jobs durring school…this is nothing remarkable…I also realize that many students (reformed and traditional) dream of larger salaries than the ones they are likely to find…

            However, I also know of calvinsitic young men who serve and lead in smaller churches, one with several kids who just accepted d a 30,000 position…and in fact others who do lots of visitation and other hard “people work”…I also know a very faithful non Calvinist pastor up the road who does the same…we are all just talking anecdotes here, so there’s not really an argument…UNTIL someone starts saying that there aren’t any hard working YRR guys, or that they know what blogs that I, a person they have never met, have seen or not seen about what YRR guys think is the pastoral job description…or any other thing they simply can’t know.

            Fact is, I have personally seen young Calvinists take low paying jobs AND even seen some blog about the importance of personal ministry …

            …so the degrading generalizations simply won’t stick.

            Andy

            As a side note, I was fortunate in my time at SBTS to find a hotel night audit job, so I didnt have to do much heavy lifting like the UPS guys….I just had to stay awake all night…

            And while my formal training has been finished for several years, I thank Tim for his encouragement.

            :-)

              Tim Rogers

              Andy,

              I honestly do encourage you even though our soteriology does not match. I am for anyone that shares the Gospel with the lost. If a dog were to run through town barking “Jesus Saves” I would encourage him. :)

              Seriously, I did not mean my response as a slam on YR&R guys. I was just trying to explain something it seemed Lydia was trying to say. I agree that we have Trad young guys that may be looking only at the salary and trying to get more. I am sharing from personal experiences, and from my experience I have seen YR&R guys that have intentionally cut off relationship with a church that was willing to support to go with an organization simply because of name recognition. Let’s face it, branding will be the demise of all things Christian.

        Lydia

        Mary, I even know some bi vocational pastors who take very little from the Body and work full time jobs.

Lydia

You know, all this reminds me of the bail outs. The very people who knew about the HUGE problem for so long and were part of creating it are then trusted with the solution? If the solution is coming from internal sources, SBC’ers are really naïve for sending them more money.

    Scott Shaver

    You are exactly right Lydia.

    Current SBC leaders are getting very “sentimental” right now about the CP. Have read the comments of Ezell, Mohler, Platt etc from the recent SEND conference. Some of these guys (exception Platt, whose church wasn’t real hard-wired to the CP before he was selected for NAMB) didn’t care one wit about the cooperative program or its collective means of support when they crusaded to divide the SBC over “inerrancy”. That’s a cat they still haven’t managed to completely extricate from the briar patch.

    In fact, not too many years ago, some of these same guys (especially Mohler, Patterson et al) were telling us that if we did not divide the SBC by purging “liberals” (their definition of course) then the CP, Evangelism, as well as the denomination itself would land in the “dust-bin of history”.

    What’s the difference between the “Dust Bin of History” and spending yourself out of existence, something our current leaders seem to be well on their way to doing?

    If you really want to know what dynamic and which folks are directly responsible for the IMB’s current fiscal nightmare,, take a look at the men who intentionally divided the denominational base for the sake of their own self-promotion and preferred theological templates. These guys talk now like the Cooperative Program is the most important thing in modern Christian collective effort. Sickening, these same guys surely weren’t promoting the CP early in their history,they were coming up with every machination possible to quench the spirit of voluntary and cooperative giving by their constant attacks on Southern Baptist leaders, institutions and churches that didn’t “Believe Right”.

    The wheels of consequence may grind slow, but they grind exceedingly fine.

    Good luck SBC leaders on your efforts to put spilled milk back into a shattered bottle. Perhaps Mohler and Aikin should quit training “missionaries” and “preachers” at their respective institutions and replace those programs with courses in accounting, capital outlay, and hedge fund management. Looks like they’re going to be needing such in their efforts to put this destructive “biblically orthodox” genie back in its bottle

Lydia

“The IMB has UPDATED their FAQ on this issue: http://bit.ly/1EFsHde. According to Dr. Platt, this decision does not require a vote of the Board. Obviously, my position is that asking 15% of your staff to retire early SHOULD require a vote of the entire Board, since I do not consider this to be a routine operational matter, but a broad strategic initiative. ”

Can you guess how many “by law” (policy) tricks I have seen the Neo Cal’s play in churches to gain power? You cannot rely on open and honest communication with these guys. They always find a way to protect their brand and gain power. Shaming works well for them.

volfan007

If our SBC leadership wants to really be “radical” in their Christian faith and missions support, maybe they could live on the same amount that our missionaries and seminary profs make? THAT would get a whole lot more money to the mission field, and maybe some seasoned missionaries could actually stay on the field, instead of having to retire early.

Just a thought.

David

    Stephen

    David:

    Lets take your logic to its logical conclusion. What if the junior missionaries agreed to the wages (not salary) of the janitors and secretaries at the IMB. The senior missionaries could agree to the same wages as the junior missionaries. The senior management could agree to the same wages as the senior missionaries. If everyone was making $15.00 an hour and worked 40 hours a week, we could employ 10,000 people in the IMB.

    Wow David. How is it that nobody thought about this before? You are a management genius. Do you think you can patent this as the “VolFan007 Lowest Common Denominator Budget Fixer”? Or maybe, just maybe, this is complete garbage because no one runs an entity this way. If you are going to have the best talent, you have to compensate those people accordingly. I doubt that Dr. Platt is making much more than did Drs. Ellif and Rankin before him.

      volfan007

      Stephen,

      I guess I’m just trying to say that if entity heads in the SBC are making over $150,000 plus great benefits, then maybe they should think about cutting their huge salaries, in order to help the financial woes? Maybe? I’m not saying to poverty levels. I’m not really saying that they should make the same as the missionaries…I was exaggerating a little bit on that one. But, instead of asking older missionaries to retire early, maybe some people at the top levels, entity heads and staff, should think about taking cuts. Does anyone need to make more than $150,000?

      Anyway, Stephen, I never claimed to be a management genius. In fact, I’m not a genius about anything. But, about the talent thing, and having to pay to get it, this is supposed to be a MINISTRY….not a business. We are in the ministry…to serve the Lord…..not in a fortune 500 business. And, our entities(ministries) shouldn’t be looked upon as a big company. They’re not, or they’re not supposed to be.

      Also, Stephen, thanks for being so gracious in your response to me.

      David

      Joni Hannigan

      Stephen,
      I’m very interested in your way of thinking, and I think you are very well-intentioned in your remarks. The comment that you “doubt that Dr. Platt is making much more than did Drs. Ellif (sp) and Rankin before him,” should be a bit troubling, however, unless you are of a sort of socialist thinking that all education levels and experience levels should be paid equally, as you suggested in the paragraph before. Certainly, no one would suggest Platt is making more than Elliff, unless he was being paid on a mega pastor salary inconsistent with that of that of one who has 30 or more years of experience to boot as in the case of both of the previous presidents of the IMB, as well as Rankin’s experience as a missionary prior to his election as the head of that entity.

      More importantly, it is always dangerous to assume one can somehow know without asking. I seemed to have learned somewhere along the way that the top 5 salaries of every non-profit are supposed to be readily available — perhaps it was in an investigative journalism course. Again, if it’s warm bodies we are after, and hours per week, the math works well. Botton line is that it is dangerous to assume one know unless it is transparently shared. Finally, if Platt does make more, than the question would be, “Why?” and does this growing trend devalue experience and maturity and is that an indication of a shift in philosophy at the IMB? I think these might be among the elephants in the room that are not being addressed.

      As for the numbers of poor seminary students that are having to wait to go to the field, my sympathies are with them. They should know, however, that God has a plan. My sister and brother in law spent 18 years laboring, schooling, and raising support with another Baptist fellowship to get on the field in Czech Republic. After just 8 short years there, he died of cancer. Did I say, “God has a plan.” Some of the missionaries who are being trained now are the very same who talk about not boasting about numbers or acting as if Southern Baptists are superior to others; not having denominational pride, as it were. So how about those who are watching see an example of that first hand. What I see now is a very mixed message — “if we don’t get on the field now, the nations won’t be reached.” It is as if some are saying in order to have an “innovative vision” — we have to prune the task force of those who are older — I mean that’s what’s meant by those eligible for retirement. This implies older people are not “innovative.”

      Alan Atchison

      You doubt Dr. Platt is making more? Why don’t we know?

      This secrecy regarding pay packages to top officers is intolerable and should be ended. What does Dr. Platt make? What does his top man Sebastian Traeger make? I should know all of this without having to drive all the way from Alabama to IMB HQ in Richmond to request the public IRS Form 990.

      As for this discussion about appropriate overhead and comparative levels to other nonprofits, all I can say is that overhead historically has been lower than its present levels. I’m sure Dr. Platt is going to reduce the overhead. That is probably a big part of his retirement incentive plan, but a great way to gain confidence is to begin with far more openness regarding what top denominational executives earn. Hey, I’m not asking people to take a vow of poverty, but I think sunlight is a good thing for accountability.

      Tim Rogers

      Stephen,

      If you are going to have the best talent, you have to compensate those people accordingly. Let’s address that comment. That is a comment straight out of the world of Enron. Wall Street makes statements like that as does any Fortune 500 company. While that statement sounds attractive, let’s face it, it has no place in a Christian environment. Whatever happened to a calling on a person’s life? While I believe we need to compensate people for the work they do, I also know that denominational servants are no longer servants to a denomination if we are trying to find “the best talent and willing to pay for that talent.” A workman is worthy of his hire but a workmen is supposed to have a sense of calling and be willing to go to any place without weighing the salary. Especially when the salary is enough for a living wage and not based on the size of the organization a person is leading.

lydia

“Well, at least Lydia is willing to wear her animosity toward the YRR whom she thinks are responsible for the present situation. Her honestly is refreshing.”

Thanks for being true to the movements tactics. :o)

Non profits have become the new chic for high profile altruism, high salaries and perks. And why would I believe anything the IMB puts out. Surely someone like you would be aware of the simple tactic of labeling positions so they fall into certain categories for reporting. Been on a few np boards myself and the last thing any want is for donors to see high admin costs.

    Les Prouty

    “Non profits have become the new chic for high profile altruism, high salaries and perks. And why would I believe anything the IMB puts out.”

    Maybe because you and the people at the IMB are Christian brothers and sisters? Believing the best about your brothers? “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” What has the IMB ever done to you Lydia?

      Lydia

      “Maybe because you and the people at the IMB are Christian brothers and sisters? Believing the best about your brothers? “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” What has the IMB ever done to you Lydia?”

      Hi Les, long time no see. Let’s see. I should look the other way because someone calls themselves a “brother or sister”?

      As to “believing the best” that is sicko in the face of evidence. In your world, even asking uncomfortable question is not “believing the best”. However, it was the same mantra employed by certain mega church pastors when people inquired into things they did not want them to know about. It was also a favorite of CJ Mahaney. It fits right into the “thought reform” tactics. The last thing wanted is for people to actually think and question. Just “believe the best” like a good little kool aid drinker. The leaders know best for you so keep giving your hard earned money and quit being selfish.

      Love is not stupid, either. And the question “what has the IMB ever done to you”….is a serious question? It is like asking “what has Obama ever done to you personally”.

      Look, I know ruling elders don’t like it when people think for themselves. It makes it harder to “rule”. :o)

        Les Prouty

        Have a blessed day Lydia.

          Lydia

          Les, I don’t buy into cheesy christianese anymore after a condescending and shaming comment meant to shut down questioning or opinions. It reminds me too much of sgmwikileaks. And I have read you for a long long time. It only works in certain bubbles. But thanks anyway! See, I think “mean” is using other people’s money for Jesus Christ deceptively and lacking in transparency. I think “mean” is protecting predators or promoting those who protect predators. I think “mean” is protecting and promoting known charlatans. And so on.

          Les Prouty

          Lydia,

          “Les, I don’t buy into cheesy christianese anymore after a condescending and shaming comment meant to shut down questioning or opinions. ”

          I’m sorry if I came across as condescending to you and as wanting to shut down the conversation. I will just keep heartfelt grace comments coming your way.

          God’s richest blessings to you.

            Scott Shaver

            Just out of curiosity….what is a “hearfelt grace comment”…..that one sounds particularly…..”cheesy”.

              Lydia

              Scott, It is sort of a reverse Dale Carnegie rebuke/cheesy nice sandwich. Shaming rebukesque comment followed by “blessings” when there is a response. it must work in his world or he would stop. Been reading Les too long. If you go read sgmwikileaks, it is practically a manual on how to do it.

              Les

              I don’t say this with any sarcasm at all. True. I wish I knew as
              much as you. Especially about people’s heart intentions and motives.

              Have a blessed Lord’s day.

            Les Prouty

            Scott, it just means that I will continue to truly, with all sincerity, say things like I originally said…”Have a blessed day Lydia.” That apparently is what led Lydia to say “Les, I don’t buy into cheesy christianese anymore after a condescending and shaming comment meant to shut down questioning or opinions.” “Cheesy” means “cheap, unpleasant, or blatantly inauthentic.” I was just trying to say that when I write something like that I really mean it. Lydia, and maybe you, I suppose question my sincerity.

            Many blessings to you as well.

              Scott Shaver

              Les: I’m sorry you feel your “sincerity” is doubted via my questions as I am still trying to become conversant with the “hidden meanings” of language in today’s “Southern Baptist” realm, particularly neo-calvinism.

              Since our only interaction is in the surreal world of cyberspace, my primary concern by engaging in these threads is to learn what we’re up against by confronting logic (or the lack thereof)…….way down on the list of primary concerns would be whether or not some people I engage are “sincere”.

              Some would rather try to leave the “touchy-feely” along with the language of Zion out it. This is human beings showing their ignorance with each other. No reason to drag in or invoke the name and character of The Almighty in this mire.

                Lydia

                “Les: I’m sorry you feel your “sincerity” is doubted via my questions as I am still trying to become conversant with the “hidden meanings” of language in today’s “Southern Baptist” realm, particularly neo-calvinism.”

                Scott, it is perfectly honest to take long time patterns of behavior/communication into consideration when conversing with someone. When you deal with determinists this can be harder as in being passive agressive is considered pious. As you know, Jesus was passive agressive. (sheesh!) We see it all the time in that world if we take a good look but most people are scared of looking “mean” if they don’t play the game. I personally think being “mean” is deceiving people about how their hard earned dollars were spent. Les’ original comment to me was about –what? Here it is, read it again:

                Les wrote: “Maybe because you and the people at the IMB are Christian brothers and sisters? Believing the best about your brothers? “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” What has the IMB ever done to you Lydia?”

                This is from a “ruling elder”. This is a study in the philosophical bent of determinism. The comment is a good reminder of how they think. I thought it was worthy of being analyzed in context of the topic. It provides us with so much insight into the typical determinist authoritarian thinking and their promotion of cheap grace. “Believe the best” is totally cultic in this situation and good for those who have decided to check their brains at the door of church. Believe the best even when the evidence is overwhelming to the contrary? These are not people I would follow out of a parking lot.

                So, I analyzed it with a response and he said “Have a blessed day”. Cheesy….after a “though reform” rebuke. (See sacred science) Have people stopped thinking for themselves anymore? Or has cheap grace and wicked hearted constant sinning so pervaded our churches we are unable to actually deal with wrong doing and question where 210 million went and why the solution is to trash those over 55?

                But if we Born Again believers are wicked and remain evil, I suppose we can expect a lot more of this we cannot question or risk being mean and hateful.

                  Les Prouty

                  Lydia,

                  “This is from a “ruling elder”. This is a study in the philosophical bent of determinism. The comment is a good reminder of how they think. I thought it was worthy of being analyzed in context of the topic. It provides us with so much insight into the typical determinist authoritarian thinking and their promotion of cheap grace. “Believe the best” is totally cultic in this situation and good for those who have decided to check their brains at the door of church. Believe the best even when the evidence is overwhelming to the contrary? These are not people I would follow out of a parking lot.”

                  I truly mean no disrespect, but that saying comes to mind as I read your comments: “Better to remain silent and be ‘thought’ ignorant than to speak (or in your case write) and remove all doubt.”

                  You know very little about me. You think you do. You think you have some sort of special ability to analyze my comments and get “nsight into the typical determinist authoritarian thinking and their promotion of cheap grace.” You really would be better off to just move on to some other comments in this thread.

                  Tell you what. How about you or anyone else drive or get on a plane and head to St. Louis area and talk to people at the church where I’ve been for 23 years. Ask them about what ruling elders are like. Ask them what they thought when I was there for births, burials, very difficult times in their lives, husbands leaving wives and wives leaving husbands. Ask them over these years how my “bent of determinism” worked out for them and their families as we together walked thru the pain they experienced.

                  See Lydia, I live and minister in the real world of growing Christians and hurting Christians. Children growing up and sometimes children dying. I don’t live at “ground zero” for what you call neo Calvinism. I live at ground zero for the way sin has ravaged and continues to ravage people’s lives. And the grace these people encounter is nothing like cheap. But I can tell you what it is. It’s real.

                  Of course you can continue to pontificate about someone you no really nothing about and continue to look pretty silly and rather small. That’s your right. So carry on sister.

                  I really pray God richly blesses you with His grace and peace.

                    Scott Shaver

                    No thanks Les. Couldn’t get of St Louis fast enough when I left there 11 years ago.

                    Lydia

                    “You know very little about me. You think you do. You think you have some sort of special ability to analyze my comments and get “nsight into the typical determinist authoritarian thinking and their promotion of cheap grace.” You really would be better off to just move on to some other comments in this thread.”

                    If you are a totally different person or think differently than the comments on blogs I have read over the last few years all I can ask is, why?

                    “Tell you what. How about you or anyone else drive or get on a plane and head to St. Louis area and talk to people at the church where I’ve been for 23 years. Ask them about what ruling elders are like. Ask them what they thought when I was there for births, burials, very difficult times in their lives, husbands leaving wives and wives leaving husbands. Ask them over these years how my “bent of determinism” worked out for them and their families as we together walked thru the pain they experienced.”

                    Why would I ask people who actually go to a church with “ruling elders”? That answers the question for me.

                    “See Lydia, I live and minister in the real world of growing Christians and hurting Christians. Children growing up and sometimes children dying. I don’t live at “ground zero” for what you call neo Calvinism. I live at ground zero for the way sin has ravaged and continues to ravage people’s lives. And the grace these people encounter is nothing like cheap. But I can tell you what it is. It’s real.”

                    I am well aware as you constantly remind us. I wish you had a message of hope for them here and now. But according to your belief system, all you have for them is that God determined it all.

                    I don’t play games with this doctrine, Les., and what I see it produces now and throughout history. I think it is that sick.

                  Les Prouty

                  Also Lydia,

                  I’m fully aware that my comments will likely be used as another set of evidences to show that I’m a passive aggressive determinist who tries to be pious and see, this is what neo Calvinist ruling elder types are really like. I know. In fact, we all know how you turn everything into that. ad nauseam.

                  But I still pray God’s blessings on you.

                    Lydia

                    “’m fully aware that my comments will likely be used as another set of evidences to show that I’m a passive aggressive determinist who tries to be pious and see, this is what neo Calvinist ruling elder types are really like. I know. In fact, we all know how you turn everything into that. ad nauseam.”

                    Then the comment wasn’t really for me, was it Les? Cos you know I have your number. I just decided not to back down for a change.

                  Les Prouty

                  Lydia,

                  “If you are a totally different person or think differently than the comments on blogs I have read over the last few years all I can ask is, why?”

                  Well Lydia feel free to search back through and tally up all my comments to see how they stack up. What you will find is not perfection on being kind and gracious, but far more so than not. But I doubt real evidence would change your mind anyway. It’s already made up.

                  “Why would I ask people who actually go to a church with “ruling elders”? That answers the question for me.”

                  Well perhaps you’re closed minded. I rather doubt you know very many people well who attend churches where ruling elders exist. Your preconceived bias based on a small sample has blinded you.

                  “I am well aware as you constantly remind us. I wish you had a message of hope for them here and now. But according to your belief system, all you have for them is that God determined it all.”

                  I actually have the message of hope. It’s the gospel. And if you did a little research by getting to know people outside your biases you’d discover how the belief system I hold to actually has and does minister to many, many people. But again I doubt real evidence will change your mind. You probably wouldn’t even bother to find out. What you find would completely undermine your blind biases.

                  “I don’t play games with this doctrine, Les., and what I see it produces now and throughout history. I think it is that sick.”

                  I don’t play games either Lydia with this doctrine. I’ve seen first hand how the doctrines I hold to have ministered to so many people in times of great need. Far from sick, it’s the healing people need.

                  “Then the comment wasn’t really for me, was it Les? Cos you know I have your number. I just decided not to back down for a change.”

                  Yes it was for you Lydia. No you don’t have my number. As I said earlier. you think you do. And to keep on pretending like you do really diminishes you. It’s more than arrogant. It’s just plain…IDK what else to call it. And back down? Not you.

                  God bless you.

                    Scott Shaver

                    Les:
                    I’m afraid you’ve just spilled tons of digital ink demonstrating specifically and in detail the “ad nauseum” modus operandi she described: )

                    Les Prouty

                    Scott,

                    “I’m afraid you’ve just spilled tons of digital ink demonstrating specifically and in detail the “ad nauseum” modus operandi she described: )”

                    Well apparently I can’t help it. Predestination and such. :)

                    Have a great and blessed rest of the holiday.

                    Lydia

                    “Well perhaps you’re closed minded. I rather doubt you know very many people well who attend churches where ruling elders exist. Your preconceived bias based on a small sample has blinded you.”

                    You are right. I am terribly closed minded on this and do have a preconceived bias. I am close minded on: Pope, Emperor, Benevolent Dictator, Ruling Elder, etc , among others.

                    I don’t consider determinism to be “Good News”. Or “hope”

                  Les Prouty

                  Lydia,

                  “You are right. I am terribly closed minded on this and do have a preconceived bias. I am close minded on: Pope, Emperor, Benevolent Dictator, Ruling Elder, etc , among others.”

                  I’m with you on being closed minded on Pope, Emperor, and Benevolent Dictator. No biblical warrant. On Ruling Elder? Since that one is biblical I’m quite open minded to it. “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.” And

                  “Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.”

                  Have a blessed day.

                    Lydia

                    And don’t forget that a great way to protect deception and wrong doing by elders is to trot out vs. 19! Its “biblical”.

                    I tend to agree with an old baptist preacher, now deceased, who said those who are so focused on their titles as authority are those to watch out for.

                    Andrew Barker

                    Les: ” On Ruling Elder? Since that one is biblical I’m quite open minded to it. “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.”

                    This demonstrates your absolute inability to correctly “divide the word of God.” You’re equating function with position of authority. If you need (you probably do) further insight on the matter, look how Jesus dealt with the concept of authority over a fellow believer. “Not so among you”!!

                    You see Les, I’m an elder in my current church which is part of the Anglican Communion where there are no recognised elders! There is normally a Bishop! But there is no power struggle going on to oust the Vicar or anything like that it’s simply that I take on some of the functions of being an elder within our church fellowship.

                    You see Les, until you understand that “rule well” does not equate to ‘being’ a ruler, you will never be a true elder, let alone a ‘ruling’ one. :)

                    Les Prouty

                    Andrew,

                    Thanks for the correction Andrew. Or attempted correction.

                    “This demonstrates your absolute inability to correctly “divide the word of God.” You’re equating function with position of authority. If you need (you probably do) further insight on the matter, look how Jesus dealt with the concept of authority over a fellow believer. “Not so among you”!!”

                    Andrew I think what you have done is demonstrate that you need to do some more simple bible study. The scriptures make it quite plain the the differing functions of elder (see I apparently do get that because that is what we do in my denomination…differing functions) AND that both kinds of elder (in function) “superintend or preside over” others. Oh I know some like to use the word “ruling” to try to make it out like REs are just tyrants. Those people just demonstrate their ignorance on the matter.

                    So thanks for the correction, but I and many, many others (including many, many theologians) do in fact know something about how to rightly “divide the word of God.”

                    “You see Les, until you understand that “rule well” does not equate to ‘being’ a ruler, you will never be a true elder, let alone a ‘ruling’ one. :)”

                    Oh I think we understand it just fine. And God is my judge on whether I am a true elder. But thanks.

                    Have a blessed day!

                    Les Prouty

                    Andrew,

                    It is also quite humorous that you of the Anglican Communion would attempt to school me on rightly dividing the word, and on a Baptist site! It’s a bit more funny that the Baptists who are the regulars here and defenders of all things non Calvinism see your “correction” of me on a point about ruling elders, letting me know that I have shown my “absolute inability to correctly “divide the word of God” and other than silence from the NCs if there is any peep it will be a jumping in with you to pile on the ruling elder guy. You who used the word Vicar in your comments correcting me about ruling elder. Too funny. If I used lol I would use it here.

                    Let’s see about rightly dividing the word among the Anglican Communion.

                    “In July 2015 Rachel Treweek was consecrated as the first female diocesan bishop in the Church of England (Diocese of Gloucester).[37] She and Sarah Mullally, Bishop of Crediton, were the first women to be consecrated and ordained bishop in Canterbury Cathedral.”

                    “The parish is looked after by a parish priest who for historical or legal reasons may be called by one of the following offices: vicar, rector, priest in charge, team rector, team vicar.”

                    “The most senior bishop of the Church of England is the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is the metropolitan of the southern province of England, the Province of Canterbury. He has the status of Primate of All England.”

                    Now tell me more about how I have demonstrated my “absolute inability to correctly “divide the word of God?”

                    Have a blessed day Andrew.

                    Andrew Barker

                    Les: I’m not responding to most of your post because it is irrelevant. Neither do I hold to Anglicanism. In fact I disagree with much of the way it does things. So you’re knowing the Arch Bishop is top dog is not what I would term “correctly dividing the word of God”.

                    Les, the site moderator is well aware of who I am and that I’m not Baptist let alone SBC. I am kindly allowed to comment and I try not to abuse that privilege and keep my comments to theological topics. Hence your misuse of the term ‘ruling elder’ comes under that, whereas I wouldn’t comment on CP or IMB matters directly.

                    Andy: Not sure why your confused. Anglican’s don’t have a position called ‘elder’ but they do have Bishop. It’s the same word, just translated differently. I’m not a Bishop or at least don’t hold that office and never will :) But that doesn’t preclude me, or anybody else, from fulfilling the function of an elder. In fact the Anglican set up is rather poor from this respect since there are far fewer Bishops than church congregations. Essentially, the Vicar or others in a church congregation has to step in and fulfill that brief. They may also have a pastorial function, but they’re never called Pastors!

                    Lydia: I’m Open Brethren stock. Dyed in the wool really and don’t think too much of the Anglican way of doing things. But life has dictated or at least the lack of good evangelical witness in Wales has meant that’s where we as a family have ended up. They’re a good bunch where we worship and we’re learning lots about being tolerant and understanding different view points. I’m responsible in part for music so worship on a Sunday morning is part of what I do but also teaching/leading Bible study is the other area. I may even do a Reader’s course so I can preach. Heaven help them! There’s a lack of depth in Bible understanding within some congregations (certainly ours) so sharing what you know and learning from others while you do it is all part of ‘eldership’. At least, that’s how I see it. No title needed. Just doing what I can, as where and when God leads. :)

                  Les Prouty

                  “And don’t forget that a great way to protect deception and wrong doing by elders is to trot out vs. 19! Its “biblical”.”

                  I agree that those who are deceivers do just that. And of course in all of Christendom there are far more who protect deception and wrong doing by just calling themselves pastors and deacons than ruling elders. Lots more examples of that, but churches keep using those terms…pastors and deacons.

                  “I tend to agree with an old baptist preacher, now deceased, who said those who are so focused on their titles as authority are those to watch out for.”

                  Wise old fella. I agree with him and I’m so thankful that at least in my denomination such focus on titles is rare.

                  Have a blessed day.

                    Andy

                    ANDREW: “I’m an elder in my current church…where there are no recognised elders!”

                    –> I’m confused.

                    Also, Andrew & Lydia, would it be fair to say that you would have NO PROBLEM with a church that, seeking to use scriptural language to distiguish certain leaders in the church (pastors, deacons, elders, etc…), designated certain leaders as “ELDERS WHO RULE WELL” (ruling elders), provided that their recognition as such was not accompanied by tyranny or un-accountable leadership practices?

                    …AND that you would, in fact, have MORE of a problem with a church that simply calls their leader a “pastor”, but who DID lead in an authoritarian, dictatorial manner?

                    Lydia

                    “Also, Andrew & Lydia, would it be fair to say that you would have NO PROBLEM with a church that, seeking to use scriptural language to distiguish certain leaders in the church (pastors, deacons, elders, etc…), designated certain leaders as “ELDERS WHO RULE WELL” (ruling elders), provided that their recognition as such was not accompanied by tyranny or un-accountable leadership practices? ”

                    Andy, Your question is worded in a way to miss the larger more important point. IMO. Perhaps this will help: I have been blogging around Andrew for a few years now. And this is the FIRST time he has ever mentioned anything about his “function” in his church. Yet, the years I have been blogging around Les, he let us know right away his title of “Ruling Elder” as if the title lent special credibility to his views. Two totally different approaches. I suppose you can guess whose I like best?

                    Lydia

                    “It is also quite humorous that you of the Anglican Communion would attempt to school me on rightly dividing the word, and on a Baptist site! It’s a bit more funny that the Baptists who are the regulars here and defenders of all things non Calvinism see your “correction” of me on a point about ruling elders, letting me know that I have shown my “absolute inability to correctly “divide the word of God” and other than silence from the NCs if there is any peep it will be a jumping in with you to pile on the ruling elder guy. You who used the word Vicar in your comments correcting me about ruling elder. Too funny. If I used lol I would use it here.”

                    You can dish it out well Les but cannot take it since your entire belief system comes from Reformational ST. Calvinism is basically Catholic lite as the entire ST was about “Reforming the Catholic Church”.

                    The Anglicans are all over the board from what I can telland that might result in how that church came to be. NT Wright is from the CofE and is considered somewhat of a heretic by John Piper for his views on justification which I happen agree with overall without getting into nuances and frankly they seem more Trad Baptist than the “live like worms but are the elect” I see from the philosopher king, specially anointed ones in the Neo Cal leadership thinking.

                    I spent a few days this summer with an Anglican Bishop from Africa who believes in mutuality but not homosexual marriage. Incredibly deep guy who astonished me with his simple love for Christ. Those guys have lots of challenges financially and many are in situations where their titles have no power, either.

                    As far as what you quoted about Anglicans, NT Wright has a funny anecdote concerning the woman question. He got into a cab in London and traffic was horrific, He was wearing his Bishop garb and the cabbie asks him if he is CofE. The cabbie said, you all are having problems right about women bishops, right? Wrights says yes. The cabbie says, Well I figure if Jesus was raised from the dead, all the rest of it is just rock and roll.

                    Gotta love it. The resurrection is what it is all about. New Life. The New Human. You use proof texts to shame, control and build youself up. The scripture as club. Taking beauty and truth and turning it into a weapon against others is not wise.

                    Les Prouty

                    Oh dear Lydia,

                    “You can dish it out well Les but cannot take it…”

                    I can take it quite well thank you very much. After all, I’m a RULING elder. :)

                    Andy

                    LYDIA SAID: “Andy, Your question is worded in a way to miss the larger more important point. IMO. Perhaps this will help: I have been blogging around Andrew for a few years now. And this is the FIRST time he has ever mentioned anything about his “function” in his church. Yet, the years I have been blogging around Les, he let us know right away his title of “Ruling Elder” as if the title lent special credibility to his views. Two totally different approaches. I suppose you can guess whose I like best?”

                    Actually, my question was meant to focus on the fact that while you, in your comments, repeatedly disparaging the TERM “ruling elder”; Your arguments would be more effective if they simply accepted the freedom of a church to use various BIBLICAL terms to describe their leaders…and instead focused on the root problem of abuse of power, WHATEVER the leaders’ title is called.

                    The actual facts of life are: There are “ruling elders” who practice great humble servant leadership as well as those who “lord it over” their people…and there “pastors who illustrate both sides as well.

                Les Prouty

                Scott,

                I do understand. I realize that some have probably been less than forthright in comments here and elsewhere. That can be frustrating.

                We apparently differ on how best to communicate, at least online. Maybe if we ever met in person and had coffee we would be able to discuss things with no problem. Cyber communication is fraught with opportunities to misunderstand one another. I just happen to think that even in cyber communication these biblical admonitions still matter:

                Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

                Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

                Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

                Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

                Now admittedly I have not always communicated in accordance to the above biblical admonitions. I’m thankful that others have forgiven me and most of all that God has forgiven me. But I’m always working on it. Lydia thinks my first comment was a “Shaming rebukesque comment…” All I can do is say I’m sorry I came across that way, which I did. We’ll have to et it go at that point.

                Anyway, have a blessed day.

                  Scott Shaver

                  Sorry Les:

                  I think your invitation to the “mourning bench” rings a little hollow.

                  I’m too angry with slight of hand reports, denominational pep rallies and kingdom builders who spend like drunken sailors to join you in a group hug right now.

                  Les Prouty

                  Scott, don’t know much about a “mourning bench.” But anger? I’ve had my share of having to deal with that.

                  “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”

                  Blessings to you brother.

                    Scott Shaver

                    “Slow to speak” huh Les?

                    This coming from one whose daily barrel consumption of digital ink stretches to the stratosphere?

                    Les Prouty

                    Yeah Scott. Sometimes I talk too much.

                    Lydia

                    “Yeah Scott. Sometimes I talk too much.”

                    And couldn’t one take your comment to Andrew as an “anger” response like you were proof texting us on?

                    (Note, I think anger in the form of justice and actions taken to protect the innocent from those who use, deceive and abuse– is noble. It is good anger because it is not destructive except to those who deceive, abuse, etc. But all anger is often positioned as a sin to marginalize people who dare speak up)

                  Les Prouty

                  “And couldn’t one take your comment to Andrew as an “anger” response like you were proof texting us on?”

                  Certainly one could. I don’t think it was written in anger, but I’m not above the sin of anger at times.

                  Have a blessed day.

Lydia

“If you are going to have the best talent, you have to compensate those people accordingly. I doubt that Dr. Platt is making much more than did Drs. Ellif and Rankin before him.”

Wow, that sounds just like Jesus! (sarcasm alert)

Well, we are not hiring doctors or engineers to run the IMB to do brain surgery or build a bridge, are we? So exactly what IS Platt;s expertise we are paying for? And before him, Rankin or Eliff? I would seriously like to know. Or are they positions of good old boys or perhaps nowadays, a celebrity name brand?

Lydia

Steven, You also might want to take into consideration that Platt build his name brand on “Radical” as in living on very little in the bad part of town in order to do God’s work. It is HIS shitck which he seems to have put behind him —except for others should still do it.

    Scott Shaver

    Right about now he sounds “radically confused”. How can budget over-reach of this magnitude be “nobody’s fault”.

Jake Brown

I’m glad to see the IMB is trying to work within the means provided from sponsoring churches. Not only is operating in the red is bad business, but it is also poor stewardship. If one missionary retires, and two are sent for less than the price of the one, that means more missionaries are taking the gospel to the world. No part of this situation is ideal, but I applaud the trustees and the executive staff for acting with the hope of sending missionaries for many years to come.

Going forward, we should continue to send equipped missionaries based on the means God has given us. Further, we should equip and encourage more non-sponsored missionaries who can move to areas and work to support their families as they seek to share the gospel with anyone who will list and perhaps even some who won’t. Many men and women in the field of business, education, medicine, engineering, and more can realistically seek work in other countries with the goal of being ambassadors for Christ.

We should all pray for our missionaries, those retiring, those on the field, and those who will soon be on the field. We should also pray for the IMB, and the SBC as a whole. May we all have wisdom in the coming years regarding global mission work.

“And he said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.'”
-Luke 10:2

Jim P

Dr. Patrick,

Are you own this board? Are you associated with this board? It looks like you are simply giving yourself and others a reason to be critical and insulting while hiding behind righteous indignation. This is a public forum for many not at all connected. You should be careful it does not end up being an indictment on you.

    Joni Hannigan

    Every Southern Baptist who puts money into an offering plate of a church that gives to the International Mission Board through the Cooperative Program or directly is “associated” with the trustees of the International Mission Board by virtue of the fact those same churches cooperate annually to send messengers to the SBC annual meeting where those trustees are elected. Those trustees are accountable to the members of the Southern Baptist churches at whose pleasure they serve. Those trustees do not serve at the pleasure of the IMB and they do not belong to David Platt as some have indicated. He actually serves them and they hire him. The boards of SBC entities are neither self-sustaining or absolute. For more information about the 511 pastors and layperson who are elected by the Convention to serve rotating terms go to http://www.sbc.net/aboutus/legal/organizationmanual.asp

      Scott Shaver

      Thank u Joni for this expression. U R much appreciated

      Jim P

      So because everyone who gives is “directly” associated with the trustees they can be mercilessly criticized publicly?

        Lydia

        “So because everyone who gives is “directly” associated with the trustees they can be mercilessly criticized publicly?”

        Am I dreaming that such a position saw themselves as accountable? One man’s merciless criticism is another’s critical thinking skills. At some juncture, it became a sin to dare question leaders. Driscoll’s “Sinning by questioning” seems to have caught on in SBC leadership circles.

        Scott Shaver

        That would be correct Jim P. Just like it’s okay for Danny Akin, yourself and others to mercilessly criticize churches for being “selfish”. Welcome back to the “dark side”. ;)

      Stephen Jones

      Joni, thanks for joining this conversation! I can see why you are a prize-winning journalist. Your spiritual point of view expressed in your earlier posts on this article are refreshing. Keep us on track!

    Scott Shaver

    An indictment of Rick by whom Jim? A half dozen denominational storm troopers like yourself? Folks in pews with check books may indict you. Flip side to that coin.

    Rick Patrick

    Jim,
    As others have already shared, as a Southern Baptist Pastor, I am indeed associated as a stakeholder and contributor to the IMB. In fact, the form of Baptist polity I was taught places the Southern Baptist Church at the very top of the SBC organizational chart. Our entities serve our churches and not vice versa. While I agree with you that I have been critical—in the sense of “thinking critically” about issues of tremendous importance—as I review the article I cannot find anything that rises to the level of “insulting.” While I appreciate your concern that my strong opinions might possibly invite indictment, you should know that one of my pastimes is to debate New Calvinists on the internet. Like the beekeeper used to being stung, I am already the recipient of a thousand such indictments.

      Jim P

      Dr. Patrick,
      So as a pastime you challenge the integrity of those in authority of an organization openly, publicly, because you are a Pastor of a Church that is associated with that organization? You don’t see a problem with that? I don’t know many pastors who would encourage members to that kind of practice in their church. Anti-new calvinism may justify these practices with a lot of anti-Calvinists but I’m not sure with God. I hope that is Who you are considering first.

        Rick Patrick

        Jim,
        To clarify, the “pastime” that I referenced was the back and forth with New Calvinists over theology, not the registering of concern over decisions made by denominational employees. My point is only that I have experience with baseless indictments, and I am far less concerned with the opinions of men than with the judgment of God. He holds me accountable for sharing the truth in love, which is all I’ve done.

        You have written that I “challenge the integrity of those in authority of an organization openly and publicly.” I certainly would not characterize the sharing of my principled concerns in this manner at all. In my article, I actually take great care to compliment the PEOPLE involved (Platt for addressing the matter, the Trustees for their irenic spirit, the overspenders for their good intentions, etc.) while expressing my concern regarding the POLICIES involved (the $210 million deficit spending, the confusing communication strategy, the Voluntary Retirement Initiative in lieu of a hiring freeze, the procedural rules not requiring a formal vote, and the non-disclosure of salaries).

        In a truly CONGREGATIONAL form of church government, those with concerns are ENCOURAGED to share them openly and freely. To be sure, we should not do so with an angry spirit or a cantankerous attitude of needless obstructionism. But our leaders deserve to hear from us and to be held accountable for actions when we possess legitimate concerns. Otherwise, there is a blind trust or the acceptance of almost anything those in authority seek to do. That is a dangerous leadership paradigm.

        The answer to your first question is, “No, I do not see a problem at all with registering my principled concerns regarding a decision by denominational workers who serve the churches of our convention, at least in part because our churches are at the top of the organizational chart. The church does not work for the IMB. The IMB works for the church. As long as employers have the right to inquire about the activities of their employees, churches have the right to inquire about their denominational agencies.”

        The answer to your second question is, “No, I have no problem with that. I am the kind of Pastor who encourages the loyal opposition in our churches to express themselves, to ask questions and to share their opinions. Everyone deserves to be informed and to participate in the process of decision-making. Our decisions are Pastor led, Deacon served, Committee worked and Congregation approved. We should never do anything to shame a person into just going along with everyone else, if indeed, after praying about the matter, their heart tells them this is not a wise course of action.”

        It is not a sin to express a concern. It IS a sin, sometimes, to remain silent when a concern needs to be addressed.

          Jim P

          Dr. Patrick,

          I respect your responding to my concerns (yes, criticisms) of your posts. I do find it difficult to see this as forum to dialog (dialogs? sometimes) these in-house concerns that do involve the reputation of a lot of sincere people. People who have taken on responsibilities that many who read on this sight may not appreciate. I will end with this to you and who ever cares: Raising the errors of Calvinism to the degree you and this web-site(seems to me) introducing problems in the conflict that an unbiased observer (the outside world, which this site is open to) would find hard not to be trouble by and then to consider your alternative. And there are other problems than simply reducing conflicts to Calvinism or not. For your consideration Dr. Patrick. You as a Pastor, I want to offer this,
          Respectfully. Peace

            Lydia

            “I respect your responding to my concerns (yes, criticisms) of your posts. I do find it difficult to see this as forum to dialog (dialogs? sometimes) these in-house concerns that do involve the reputation of a lot of sincere people. ”

            JimP, What about the sincere people who gave of their hard earned money who trusted it was being used to fund missions in a prudent and accountable manner?

            It is of great concern to me that the reputations of those with accountable positions are of such great concern when millions were being defrauded and now hundreds who serve will pay the price for such horrible management of other people’s money. They cannot even make the argument of how valuable our missions endeavor is when they are turning out hundreds of experienced missionaries and hiring more inexperienced missionaries who are cheaper. That is doctrine over people which is another thought reform tactic. Is that who we are now?

            Can we please at least think of the pew people who gave of their hard earned money only to see this public announcement that it was not stewarded properly and this went on for months? And now, some leaders are calling those who support the IMB selfish for not giving more. Why should they trust them with more? And why are the people in charge who caused the problem now trusted to fix it?

            What you all bring to this disaster is shaming because people dare to ask questions. Rick Patrick has been so reasonable that I am astonished that he is treated with such disdain on other blogs. it really is considered a sin to question leaders in the SBC now. It is not sinful to ask such questions and point out that thinking of our responsibility to those who gave and trusted—should be the priority.

            Scott Shaver

            Have you ever thought, Jim P, that one objective here might be to inform and warn “the unbiased observer” about the inconsistencies and pit-falls of neo-calvinism……not to mention it’s unhealthy fetish with “authority” and determinism?

            I would include also, it’s recent exposed willingness to shut down conversation among Southern Baptists over gross fiscal mismanagement. I would suggest you quit giving “sound spiritual advice” and get out your check book.

            Some of us are not pastors so let’s just take Rick and all other current pastors commenting on this thread off the straw-man hook Jim.

              Scott Shaver

              Are “unbiased observers” the reason Jared Moore has deleted more comments than he’s posted of folks questioning the recent fiscal mismanagement over at MillerVoices, Jim P?

              Miller is free to spew his criticism of churches being stingy (probably cued by his SBC handlers) while a guy named Moore (who’s having a hard time with the idea that women are created just as much in the image of God as men) deletes the comments from those who question the logic of failing leader. He calls them “hyenas”.

              Are we to understand that you’re asking Rick Patrick to doctor the raw data and “DIALOGUE” of Southern Baptist laypersons just like the good ole boys at PRAVDA?

              You come on here talking about the need for “dialogue” when such a thing is censored out of existence over at your base camp. Get Real Jim P. Get Real.

        Scott Shaver

        Jim P.

        What is your “past-time”? Personally, I don’t see a problem at all with complaints and questions raised by one pastor (and Rick is joined by a host of laypersons, church members and former vocational ministers in his concerns) against denominational “servants” who have no authority over anybody with the exception of those perhaps beneath them in the business model that applies to their respective jobs. ABSOLUTELY NO AUTHORITY OVER ANYBODY OUTSIDE THEIR LITTLE REALMS.

        It would really be a PROBLEM if there were no Rick Patricks or other SBCers to call attention to the fact that our LEADERS ARE SPENDING US BROKE!

        Your concerns about “What God Thinks” are nothing more than a distraction from the mismanagement.

        I have a PROBLEM with your “are you really listening to God” approach when the very men you defend we’re obviously not concerned about what God thought when they continued to spend beyond their means.

        If they burned heretics at the stake would still be willing to grant them the “authority” to do so?

        Lydia

        “So as a pastime you challenge the integrity of those in authority of an organization openly, publicly, because you are a Pastor of a Church that is associated with that organization? You don’t see a problem with that? I don’t know many pastors who would encourage members to that kind of practice in their church. Anti-new calvinism may justify these practices with a lot of anti-Calvinists but I’m not sure with God. I hope that is Who you are considering first.”

        I wish I had a dollar for every variation of this I have heard. Here is a translation. God loves secrets and NEVER question leaders. God also does not want us to be wise and seek to understand how a problem came to be but instead shame people for daring to ask. (sounds like our government) There is no right tone or proper words that the one being challenged or their followers will accept and they are the arbiters of such things,. See, they speak for God because God appointed them. God pre determined them to be there so if they overspend and are not forthcoming it is God’s pre determned will. As their underlings, we are just to keep giving them money, no questions asked. A good pastor would not allow any such questioning because as Driscoll said, sinning is questioning. And we have 9 Marks methods to deal with such people. Everything must be done in secret not publicly. We have to hide our true selves and wrong doing from the world or the money won’t flow in. And besides God has appointed us so He agrees that everything must be secret for sake of His reputation as we are His appointed ones who represent Him.

        These guys take every question or challenge to ridiculous heights. Thin skinned, secretive, authoritarian, etc. They want totally ignorant followers to just keep giving them money. They want us to pay them to be our authorities and use shaming tactics to shut people down from daring to question. I encourage everyone to read Lifteon’s Thought Reform tactcis and see what categories are often on display in so much of what we see going on in the SBC. Wise, mature adults won’t last in the SBC, folks at this rate.

        http://changingminds.org/techniques/conversion/lifton_thought_reform.htm

        Pay close attention to “loaded language”. The Neo Cals have turned “sin” and grace totally upside down. Grace means you can sin all you want if you have “authority”. Sinning is questioning the leaders.

        I hope people wake up to the authoritarian bent of the Neo Cals. It is ingrained and they expect total loyalty.

Lydia

Great article. I think a variation of this “being offended” over truth is going on in many aspects of Christendom these days.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/09/the-coddling-of-the-american-mind/399356/

David R. Brumbelow

Rick,
Good article. Thanks for your ministry and the stand you are taking.
Sorry for the disrespect you are subjected to at another website.
You speak for many in the SBC.
David R. Brumbelow

    Scott Shaver

    David:

    Are you sure you’ve “properly read and construed” Miller’s comments?

    After all, the man is probably best known for “not saying” or “not meaning” what he actually does say and write.

    The inconsitencies are both glaring and strangely humorous.

Scott Shaver

My conclusion, based on Platts disclosure of “SBC alarms and forthrightness” is that every single IMB leader and board post CR , including Platt, has been kicking the can of fiscal reality down the road until pressure is high enough for safety valves to start releasing. Law ate proactive about a three year old decision to reduce force gradually by 30 percent?

Scott Shaver

Correction: How proactive is a 4 year old decision to reduce force by 30 percent?

Scott Shaver

Sheesh!

Check out Wade Burleson’s latest post at Istoria.entitled “A Platt-Full of Trouble”

Confirms it’s even worse and more bizarre than the most skeptical of us previously imagined.

Let’s see how the boys at PRAVDA spin this one.

Lydia

“Actually, my question was meant to focus on the fact that while you, in your comments, repeatedly disparaging the TERM “ruling elder”; Your arguments would be more effective if they simply accepted the freedom of a church to use various BIBLICAL terms to describe their leaders…and instead focused on the root problem of abuse of power, WHATEVER the leaders’ title is called.”

Andy, I do understand where you are coming from but totally disagree with your view. I have been studying the roots of abuse of all kinds for a while now and would caution you that often the roots of abuse can come from groups/systems/thinking passed down– who tweak the spiritual meaning of the message to automatically mean some sort of power position. When they will actually take questions, they deny this, of course. If I take your view then I must say that words don’t really communicate meaning–as in “Ruling Elder”. What would most folks think it means? Someone who is in charge of others?. I do have to wonder about those who actually like being called a “Ruling Elder”. Why? You say it is because it is biblical. Isn’t that stretching it a bit as in they “rule well”? Obviously Jesus disagrees about “ruling” so perhaps we are misunderstanding and stretching Paul to fit an agenda? Andrew called it a function which I think is much closer to the truth. I ALWAYS interpret Paul through a Jesus filter these days. It is safer. :o) It might even be needed to discuss what an “elder” means. Spiritually mature? Making sure the others get away and putting themselves in danger? Wouldn’t they be sort of role models? It could be the janitor at church functions in his life as an “elder”.

“The actual facts of life are: There are “ruling elders” who practice great humble servant leadership as well as those who “lord it over” their people…and there “pastors who illustrate both sides as well.”

I agree there are those who use the term “servant leader” who rule over others and so on as you mention. They are deceivers, sadly. But I am at a loss as to why you don’t think “Ruling Elder” communicates “lording it over”. Is this more of changing commonly understood words like grace, sovereign, etc? I am having a hard time understanding how a “great humble servant ” ,as you describe, would dare allow themselves to be called “Ruling Elder”. It just does not make sense to me. However, churches are free to call folks what they want. And if allowed, I am free to question it even though I would never join such a church. I don’t do cognitive dissonance well.

As an aside, I am not convinced of elder polity like some are because of what I see modeled (or not) in the NT. It certainly caused horrible damage to a person at TVC and as we have seen in other places. But that as polity, is a whole other topic.

    Scott Shaver

    I would be inclined to think that an “elder” (ruling or otherwise) is granted only what the Holy Spirit encourages the hearts of believers to grant.

    The “authority” is willingly and collectively granted to the individual, for whom folks will stand in line, out of love and respect for the individual’s spiritual apprehension of the truth and example of Christ.

    Jesus never minded being questioned or examined at any point in his earthly life. Lot of his questioners were sorry they asked, however.

    Andy

    1. Kudos for moving the reply down here where it’s easier to reply to.

    2. Jesus warned his disciples against seeking positions of prominence, and against lording their authority over them, but he also praised a centurian for understanding authority. Jesus also (through Paul) wrote that Timothy should “appoint elders” and “overseers”…other scriptures speak of “shepherds” “ministers”, etc… as Andrew noted, these are likely different roles or functions of the same office…but elders were to be appointed…they were apparently some kind of leader. Hebrews mentions “submitting” to those in leadership. Paul mentions honoring elders how rule well. THE CONCLUSION I must draw from this is that in the view of Jesus and HIS New Testament: Authority, leadership, submission to leadership, and ruling ARE NOT NECESSARILY BAD…even though such authority can be abused.

    3. Regarding Presbyterian Elder polity specifically: It may interest you to know that, in general, “ruling” elders are NOT those trained for full-time ministry. Those are the TEACHING elders. In fact one purpose of the existence of the “ruling” elder is to WIDEN the voice of those making decisions to include those who are not clergy. So IF, in fact, Les’ church were to suddenly agree with you, and do away with the “ruling” elders…they would immediately shrink the number of those making important decisions to one or a few TEACHING elders, ie professional clergy…which would likely INCREASE the likelyhood of un-accountable leadership. The “ruling” elder term signifies that the “rule” of the church is shared among MORE people, not less. We as baptists may see that as unbiblical when contrasted with congergational polity, but for Presbys…it is sort of like having a town with just a mayor vs a town with a mayor AND a city council.

    4. I simply think it is better to explain biblical words and phrases, rather than throw them out because of possible abuse and/or misunderstanding.

    5. Janitors: It very will COULD be that some church janitors function as shepherds, or even overseers in some informal ways, in the church…but It seems that Paul had in mind someone that would be publicly recognized by the church as having some leadership position. So while my church has several laymen who do lots of shepherding, and some who do lots of leading in various ways, not all of them are recognized as pastors/elders.

    6. Thanks for the the thorough reply!

    -ANDY

      Les Prouty

      Andy, on your #3, you are pretty darn close to right in how you characterize it. And this, “hey would immediately shrink the number of those making important decisions to one or a few TEACHING elders, ie professional clergy…which would likely INCREASE the likelyhood of un-accountable leadership” while true is irrelevant to many on this site. Many do not think anyone should be in any governing position in any manner over people in the pew. Frankly, I don’t know what kind of pastor would want to pastor a flock where everyone, or many, didn’t want him to have any authority at all…but wait till the congregation tells him what he can do.

      Last, a little known fact is in Presbyterian government, the congregation votes to call pastors (teaching elders), votes to dismiss pastors and in fact has to vote to let him go even in an amiable departure. Likewise other elders (ruling) must be voted on by the congregation and can be voted out by a congregation. There’s far more congregational input than most of the uninformed non Presbys know (by uninformed I mean no disrespect, simply that unless one takes the tie to look it up one will not just know these facts).

      God bless,

      Les, the Ruling Elder :)

Scott Shaver

The cabbie, the vicar and the conversation between Lydia and Andrew almost convinces me to become Anglican Communion. Those are the kind of baptists I wanna be :)

He was certanly raised from the dead so the rest of it surely is “all Rock and Roll”.

Lydia

“2. Jesus warned his disciples against seeking positions of prominence, and against lording their authority over them, but he also praised a centurian for understanding authority. Jesus also (through Paul) wrote that Timothy should “appoint elders” and “overseers”…other scriptures speak of “shepherds” “ministers”, etc… as Andrew noted, these are likely different roles or functions of the same office…but elders were to be appointed…they were apparently some kind of leader. Hebrews mentions “submitting” to those in leadership. Paul mentions honoring elders how rule well. THE CONCLUSION I must draw from this is that in the view of Jesus and HIS New Testament: Authority, leadership, submission to leadership, and ruling ARE NOT NECESSARILY BAD…even though such authority can be abused.”

The overall problem I see here is that the Christian life means maturing and growing in Holiness. It means abiding in Christ and possessing the indwelling Holy Spirit. So, to focus on ruling obeying humans and such negates the fact that the believer is responsible for who and what they support. The functions we are discussing are not static….it is a good and glorious thing when people mature past us. We are to rejoice in such.

We have recently witnessed disaster after disaster with the teaching of being “under the authority”of humans. I was aghast that Leeman over at voices actually talked about :human mediators”! Granted he had a lot of words to soften it with but frankly, expecting people to spend their lives looking for the “godly mediators” is ridiculous. We have direct access to Jesus Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit. Lets teach people that and to take responsibility for their beliefs and behaviors. This idea of rulers, obeying elders and human mediators is becoming the new normal in the SBC! It is frightening. They could turn into Diotrephes at any time. Then what? Diotrephes thought he was “ruling well”, too. It ends up being about word meanings, etc.

Randy White got it right about “appointed”, IMO, and I was thrilled to see him write about it. I looked into this deeply myself a while back and saw that “hand stretching” was a more likely interpretation as in voting. How that took place and who was all involved, we do not know.

As to Hebrews 13:17 (a favorite of many authoritarians), I did quite the study on that book, too, and the translation choices for that passage (which make sense as translated by those with a church state mentality.” Some of the pivotal Greek words used there were translated totally different in other passages. The translation choices are interesting in that respect. We could start with how the word leader would have been understood as “those who go before” but what “leaders” is the passage referring to? It does not mention elders. Those mentioned earlier or specific people they would know? Here is what I consider to be a much better translation which makes much more sense within the context of the entire NT (Don’t forget the Gospels!)

“Trust them that are your leaders and be yielding: for they watch in behalf of your souls….”

I also think you are reading into the Centurion story something not intended. I do not see the story as promoting the idea of human mediators for believers. Again, the bottomline is our relationship with Christ is personal. The indwelling Holy Spirit is personal. We are to share these things when we come together but the goal is maturing. Some are more mature than others but please Lord! Let us not keep it that way in order to have power!

As to Presbyterian Polity. To “widen” the voice of those making decisions they include “ruling elders”, does not do it for me at all. Lets widen it even more with everyone, the hand, eye, foot, etc of the Body to discuss, persuade and decide. That is another problem in people maturing with all these rulers and human mediators. People need to be part of the process so they learn and grow. All this obeying humans , human mediators and ruling elders in the Body is a serious sin trap for them, too!

Note: This is my opinion only and does not reflect anyone else here. I appreciate they allow me to comment.

Lydia

“ydia: I’m Open Brethren stock. Dyed in the wool really and don’t think too much of the Anglican way of doing things. But life has dictated or at least the lack of good evangelical witness in Wales has meant that’s where we as a family have ended up. ”

Open Brethren~ George Muller!

I totally understand where you are coming from. I have dear friends who moved North to Lancashire about 10 years ago from London who say the same. They started attending a CofE parish church that has about 40 peeps on Sunday —or the alternative–drive 50 miles one way.

    Andrew Barker

    Lydia: Muller was mentioned quite a lot when it came to stories of faith and the orphanage. His belief in particular redemption though….. oh dear! ;-) You can’t win ’em all. But in general he was more ‘open’ especially to those who held differing views hence the ‘open brethren’.

Scott Shaver

Here’s an idea. We’ve probably got similar or worse issues going on at NAMB.

Since we’re divesting ourselves of hard assets to meet budget requirements, LETS SELL OFF NAMB IMMEDIATELY AND PUT THE PROCEEDS INTO FOREIGN MISSIONS.

    Ryan Morris

    Just wondering if you have proof of this going on at NAMB? Seems you are making an accusation and I was wondering if there was proof to back it up.

    Just wondering because I wouldn’t think we would want to make a false accusation.

      Rick Patrick

      Ryan,

      At this site, we know the difference between a genuinely false accusation and the kind of speculation that people engage in from time to time when thinking about current events. Specifically, please notice that Scott used the words “probably” and “similar.” Readers of the English language will note that within the term “probably” there exists the possibility that Scott’s [hunch, idea, notion, theory, speculation, hypothesis, guess, inkling or conjecture] MAY not be true at all. Also, that events at NAMB are possibly SIMILAR to those at IMB means that they are not exactly the same at all. Scott is not, for example, claiming that NAMB spent $210 million more than Southern Baptists gave them over six years. He is saying that what they have been doing is “probably” (but not necessarily) “similar” (but not exactly the same) as what happened at the IMB.

      Scott is right about the downsizing aspect of both mission boards. Shortly after Ezell arrived at NAMB, he got rid of the so-called dead wood as well, in a reduction in force that reduced the payroll at NAMB by perhaps as many as a third of the headquarters. That took place in 2011. He got rid of older employees nearing retirement. And he began sending out tons of younger church planters, just like the IMB is still planning to send out the younger ones and retire the older ones rapidly. So, yes, similar things have happened at NAMB. Also, NAMB today is engaging in church plants with people from other denominations and networks whose doctrinal views vary from our own—by excluding certain Southern Baptists like me—in requiring more narrow doctrinal confessions than does the BFM.

      So Scott is perfectly fine and within his rights on this website to posit a conjecture, to suggest a possibility, to forward a theory and to reason freely about events—without being subjected to the false accusation that he is making a false accusation. Now, if Scott pulls a Barney Fife and tries to make a Citizen’s Arrest of Kevin Ezell, then that would probably be a false accusation, and we will be happy to contact the authorities at that point. But until then, may our speech be every bit as free as our will.

      If it were not for speculation and the forming of unproven hypotheses within the mind of man, no crime would ever be solved, no disease would ever be cured, and no investigative journalist would ever break a story. The process of arriving at truth involves making statements that cannot be proven….yet. This leads to the seeking of additional evidence, which, when discovered, confirms the speculation. Call it a theory. Call it a hunch. Call it an opinion. Call it an educated guess. But it’s not a false accusation.

        Alan Atchison

        And…we all know of the Reccord controversy involving NAMB, and considering the very shocking allegations Wade Burleson made regarding IMB slush funds kept off books and offshore and as mentioned the similarities in purging older employees to hire new, younger and likely more restless workers… it is worth asking lots and lots of questions not only about the past leadership but the present leadership of these organizations.

          Lydia

          “And…we all know of the Reccord controversy involving NAMB”

          Read Mary Kinney Branson’s book, “Spending God’s Money”.

        Lydia

        “If it were not for speculation and the forming of unproven hypotheses within the mind of man, no crime would ever be solved, no disease would ever be cured, and no investigative journalist would ever break a story. The process of arriving at truth involves making statements that cannot be proven….yet. This leads to the seeking of additional evidence, which, when discovered, confirms the speculation. Call it a theory. Call it a hunch. Call it an opinion. Call it an educated guess. But it’s not a false accusation.”

        There are also deductions based on past behavior and patterns of behavior. Without that, we would stay stuck in cults or married to pedophiles if one attends TVC. Because cult leaders are never transparent nor do they communicate for clarity. Addressing red flags is always healthy. It is the leaderships responsibility to be transparent with the management of donations given in the Name of Christ.

        I know using cult is provocative but who else calls people selfish for not giving more when they overspend using your money but the government and cults?
        How many Acts 29 plants have we given money to and how much?

        At this point the IMB would be wise to come clean and publish entire budgets for last 6 years. Be honest. Suck it up like real men. Christian men.

        Ryan Morris

        I don’t think the journalism standards should be our standards when making accusations. There were insinuating comments made about other believers in Christ. When comments like that are made in a blog they are easily taken as fact and can cause an uproar and for people to start thinking the worst about people when that is not something that can be proven.

        There are plenty legitimate things to discuss without making accusations with no evidence.

          Lydia

          “I don’t think the journalism standards should be our standards when making accusations. There were insinuating comments made about other believers in Christ. When comments like that are made in a blog they are easily taken as fact and can cause an uproar and for people to start thinking the worst about people when that is not something that can be proven. ”

          Ryan, the above is an insinuation without proof. Your comment could be taken as fact. and people could think the worse about people here that cannot be proven.

          You see, Ryan, the only “proof” you will accept is if your gurus are transparent. Is that going to happen? No. They make the rules and expect the young guys to be the loyal foot soldiers.

          That is how you have been indoctrinated to think and I know you don’t know any better. You can even imply it is sinning. Welcome to the world of Driscoll, Mahaney and Mohler…and Jared Moore. He is the king of “proof, proof”. We would not be able to convict murderers on your definition of proof. one could not even make an accusation of murder.

          Please learn to think for yourself instead of parroting..

          Scott Shaver

          Ryan says “I don’t think the journalism standard should be our standards when making accusations”

          You’re free to your own opinion and thinking, certainly.

          I don’t think the ethics of Enron from preachers and SBC agency heads should be among our standards either.

          Let’s put the onus on the latter to produce figures which substantiate there is no foundation or history for your declared “insinuations”. Is it still an “insinuation” or does it become prophesy if later demonstrated factual?

            Scott Shaver

            I may be behind the curve but were it not for the classical meaning of “journalism standards” why would anyone with Internet access anywhere for any reason be participating in perpetually running and recorded “journals”, aka “blogs”?

      Scott Shaver

      Uh Ryan:

      As Rick kindly pointed out and as Dave Miller recently said “grammar matters”.

      Additionally, I will kindly speculate from now until the world looks level. I’m not bound by your schizoid ethic and figure if the trail is scented, SOME coon dog will find the source sooner or later :)

      Or….NAMB could open up its books. After the IMBEnron, I couldn’t care less. Others might.

Andy

I’ve got it, if each of $45,000 SBC churches sold their building for an average of $100,000 (keeping in mind there are some mega-churches worth much more, some small churches worth less, and some church plants with no building)….we would have a whopping 4.5 BILLION to give to missions!

    Lydia

    “I’ve got it, if each of $45,000 SBC churches sold their building for an average of $100,000 (keeping in mind there are some mega-churches worth much more, some small churches worth less, and some church plants with no building)….we would have a whopping 4.5 BILLION to give to missions!”

    Well the employees in charge and their overseers have not been wise with other’s people money. Why would anyone with half a brain want to give the same people more money? That is simply enabling. Not wise. We cannot afford it but frankly, a third party indepth audit on headquarters is needed. There might even be some employees who owe the pew sitters some money. Why should the church goers pay for mismanagement and incompetence and worse, long time deception.

    Have we become so used to bail outs and corrupt managers in our culture we are willing to accept it from Christians, too?

      anonymous missionary 1

      I believe it is unfair categorizing people as being unwise with other people’s money. Can the IMB do better? Always. Your saying that people have been unwise is not fair. The IMB still has zero debt and has many assets. Previous leaders have lowered missionary numbers almost 1000 people in the last six years through attrition. They were addressing this issue and I actually believe they were doing it in a responsible way. They have continued to lower the number of missionaries through attrition. Most of the properties sold were properties that were not in locations where they were strategically necessary. This needed to happen whether or not funds were needed or not.

      I choose to look at the sale of properties that were no longer strategically needed as God’s provision to allow attrition to reduce the number of missionaries on the field by about 20% over the past six years even before today’s cuts are necessary. I appreciate the fact that in 2009 we didn’t send 1500-1800 missionaries home because we had a bad year but instead used the resources from property sales to keep ministry going while 1000 returned as they had planned. Properties needed to be sold, I am thankful that it allowed us to continue kingdom advance. It is not a solution that we can carry on for another 20 years. Either new revenue streams are discovered, revival happens in our convention, missionaries raise their support, or the numbers of missionaries will continue to decline.

      Again I say this is not to create argument or disagreement. I just want us not to get caught up in blaming people who did the best they can and followed the Lord’s leadership when the focus should be on praying for the nations, helping those who return to the US, and those who stay.

        Lydia

        “I believe it is unfair categorizing people as being unwise with other people’s money”

        That is ok. I think it is unChristlike to give people over 50, who are already making low salary, a Godfather choice while we have six figure bureaucrats and leaders. Should we not send a message to the world that we are not like them but more like Jesus? He would not throw people to the curb like this. He would forfeit his high income to save as many as possible. The big cheeses over 50 actually have a better chance to make a decent living outside the SBC largesse than a missionary coming back who over 50. As it is, expect them to be very grateful for what they get as they need good recommendations and as many contacts as they can get willng to put in a good word to keep from being Walmart greeters. After reading the Godfather deal, I have no doubt most will be quite silent.

        Scott Shaver

        I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt that you are an active or retired missionary and discard the anonymity of your perspective Mr or Mrs AM1.

        It is not unfair to call a duck a duck if its a duck.

        “1000” people in the last six years through attrition”? In hindsight, and based on the fact that the denomination drastically reduced it’s cooperating base with the CR and was guaranteed future short-falls beginning as early as 1985 in CP goals, that was “addressing the issue”?

        “I choose to look at the sale of properties that no longer strategically needed as God’s provision”….God’s provision to keep spending beyond means or what?

        “Keeping Missionaries on the field” or “Continually Kicking Can of Fiscal Reality” down road while spending as if “rapture” would occur before bankruptcy.

        Now we cut cream of crop to make sure that IMB loses it’s distinctly “Baptist” flavor?

Scott Shaver

Andy:

You realize your suggestion requires selling off the hard assets of LOCAL CHURCHES….right? There would be no missions of any kind without the “local” church.

DENOMINATIONAL ASSETS (i.e. NAMB), on the other hand, have already been identified (at least by IMB boards and leaders) as liquidable.

The denomination exists for and because of the local church (at least it did once in SBC life). Why would you lay axe to the root of the tree first?

    Andy

    1. I was joking.

    2. Are you suggesting that without a church BUILDING, the local church would cease to exist? :-)

      Scott Shaver

      You got me Andy :)

Scott Shaver

Iorg at Golden Gate has joined the rhetoric of “churches needing to give more money”.

I amazed at how clueless these guys are to the dynamic and the truth’s which are obvious all around their heads.

Have they eyes but see not….ears but hear not?

Note to self: Next appointment to search committee, stay away from Golden Gate, Southern and Southeastern.

Scott Shaver

It is absolutely amazing to me that a guy a like Jeff Iorg, obviously deficient in academic biblical hermeneutics, wound up as PRESIDENT of an SBC Serminary!

He’s actually stating that the percentages alloted by Christians to para-church, professional missions organizations are as obligatory as the OT tithe.

Somebody quoted elsewhere “The beatings will continue until morale improves”. Laughable that the guy can even think that way.

Scott Shaver

Here is Platt’s rationalefrom yesterday on continuing to appoint new missionaries while devising a VRI for seasoned vets.

“Further, regarding the SBC, the IMB foundationally exists to serve SBC churches by facilitating the sending of missionaries from those churches” … the less people we send, the fewer churches we server, the fewer churches we serve, the more we forsake one of our primary foundations.”

Does Platt remember (or is he old enough) that “cooperation” became secondary to “doctrine” during the CR and “trustees” (using the term loosely) and “administrators” continued spending as if they hadn’t projected losing 30% of their SBC contributing base which occurred statistically as early as 1985! A decline in MONEY historically results in a decline in sending missionaries thus a decline in IMB’s relationship with other churches….an axiom which may also hold true.

Additonally:

Pay careful attention to this from Platt: “Third, sending people through IMB is ‘born out of conviction that new missionaries being sent from churches through the IMB is a foundational, non-negotiable part of who we are and what we do” … “If IMB were to freeze sending new missionaries, within three years IMB would have zero apprentices or journeymen on the field.”

WHO’S CONVICTION? When did NEW MISSIONARIES over SEASONED VETERAN MISSIONARIES become a “FOUNDATIONAL, NON-NEGOTIABLE PART OF WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE DO”?

Zero apprentices on the mission field within 3 years is much less expensive in terms of replacement than chiseled front-liners … language-ready, culture-ready veterans already making effective in-roads.

“Insinuation” or not, A BLIND MAN can see where this is headed…..and WHY.

    Scott Shaver

    I would imagine the “foundational meaning” of “sending new missionaries” in SBC charters would have been in an environment where the sending agency could be afforded!

    Historical context is generally a key to meaning, spirit and intent.

      Scott Shaver

      Parting Shot:

      Sending “new missionaries” (abeit a “foundational principal”) when you can’t afford the one’s you’ve got has already proven to be stroke of genius has it not?

    Andy

    For those of us who are blind, could you please spell out the WHY CLEARLY?

Andrew Barker

I don’t normally comment on what I view as ‘family’ matters so this is more in the way of a question which I hope does not show my ignorance of the situation too much.

My experience of missionaries is that they receive or feel called by God to a work and they then approach their local church(es) for backing. At this point, those who are responsible for the oversight (lovely term with double meaning depending on who they were) of the church would give their backing and the whole church would adopt the missionaries and they would be ‘sent’. But the impression I got from most of these missionary types is that they were quite driven and would have gone, with or without church backing, albeit in more constrained circumstances.

My question therefore is this. Of the 600 or so experienced missionaries associated with IMB who are being recalled by David Platt, how many of them are going to listen to ‘head office’ and how many of them are going to listen to the God who presumably called them there in the first place? In which case, will some not seek to stay with their calling and look for support directly from their ‘local’ churches. The name of George Muller came up in discussion recently and I was reminded that the basis of his work with orphans was funded by prayer alone and he never actively solicited financial help, but it always came. Are these missionaries in the field contractually obliged to come home or are they being beaten with a financial stick until they see what’s good for them?

Again, replacing 600 with 2 x 300 seems bizarre if not plain stupid. I’m assuming it’s cheaper to fund two tranches of new missionaries than keeping one existing set of six hundred. Except that it won’t be a like for like swap. The existing missionaries have experience, language skills, personal contacts, extended support network, local knowledge all of which cannot be easily passed on to new comers. It could easily turn out to be spending a pound to save a penny (dollar/dime?)

Again, apologies if this is a rather naive question which comes from my lack of depth of understanding of how the IMB functions. The kingdom of heaven is like a pearl of great price. Why do we expect to gain it on the cheap folks. why?

    Scott Shaver

    As far as I’m concerned, Andrew, you’re in MY “family”. SBC denied knowing family members like me around 1990. Didn’t want us or our money, which they now wish they had to keep spending.

      Andrew Barker

      Thanks Scott. :) The figures quoted in this debacle are truly astonishing. What IMB has overspent would have funded missions for a generation if it had been spent wisely. (speaking from a UK perspective)

        Scott Shaver

        Andrew:

        I would imagine that you folks in the UK have been dealing for a while longer with some of the “socially engineered” problems that are now manifesting in the West.

        You have guys have learned (at least in your tight-knit Christian fellowships that greed, power and ambition are detriments to the work of Christ on the ground level.

        Over here, at least in the Southern Baptist Convention, our leaders like frequent flyer miles, ornate offices, marketing percentages and book deals with speaking engaments. Consequently, our operating overhead before we even touch the issue of “missions” is astronomically high. These guys are jet-setters.

        They like to criticize and anathametize the ecentricism and showmanship of Donald Trump….but in reality they are his religious prototypes.

      Lydia

      Andrew,

      When thinking of “family”, I always think of this:

      48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

        Andrew Barker

        Lydia: Point taken ! :)

Scott Shaver

Why don’t you take a stab at it yourself Andy. You’re a bright intelligent guy, able to connect the dots…..what are your theories?

Pretty obvious to me that cutting experienced 50 year olds from the field while continuing to appoint new missionaries reflects the paradigm shift from the IMB sending “General” baptist missionaries to sending “Particular” baptist missionaries under a philosophy of missions that has been in a constant state of flux and redefinition since the departure of Keith Parks. Mohler and the seminaries aren’t about to tell their mission’s track students to choose another track due to fiscal mismanagement at IMB. It might effect enrollment as it would make it temporarily unfeasable for a student anticipating appointment to the foreign field to waste time and money attending school with no job prospect following.

And, of course, we’ve got to keep sending out the pure, orthodox and reformed because after all, according to Mohler, “where else but reformed theology can the nations turn to rejoice in Christ?”

Additionally, if you don’t recover the portion of the stressed budget that applies to these seasoned, higher paid missionaries, How will the big cheeses at headquarters continue to draw their salaries and perks while using the assets of the agencies to market their own materials for a percentage to churches plus travel, expenses and honorariums for speaking engagements. These guys are very good at using the assets of the agencies entrusted them to build their own lucrative side businesses.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. THE STENCH REACHES TO THE HEAVENS. If “Southern Baptist colletively continue to tolerate and work within this system of “TRUST and OBEY’ then we deserve every “BLACK THURSDAY” which happens to come down the pike.

Other can say what they want in defense of these guys or at the behest of their denominational handlers. For me personally, after both the recent NAMB and IMB disappointments, my “theories” are now CONVICTIONS.

Waste and double-dipping with percentages on marketing by headquarter personnel for years…..It’s a disgrace. A disgrace professionally addressed by the author of the book that Lydia referenced earlier in this thread, Branson spent 16 years inside NAMB as an editor/writer. Don’t take my word for anything but at least consider the words of those who’ve been there and done that.

http://www.amazon.com/Spending-Gods-Money-Extravagance-Ministry-Fourth/dp/0977940764 Mary Kinnon Branson

These guys don’t exist to serve Southern Baptists, they exist to make themselves NAMES, BUCKS, and PENSIONs while missionaries who have been paying their dues, both to us and to God, for years…..are about to come home to a hand-shake, donated housing, and an enrollment form for OBAMA-CARE.

Am I really on the “Dark Side” about all this? ABSOLUTELY!….the dark side is what folks should have been paying attention to for the last 15 years.

    Andy

    So you are saying that David Platt has seen the money numbers, knows they need to do something, and has decided the current course of action based primarily on his personal desire to get more young reformed Missionaries on the field, and the motivation for retirement of older ones is based primarily on the fact that they are mostly non-calvinists? That this is his primary motivation and that he has simply decided to be deciptive and not to share that part of the motivation? Or that there was some closed-door meeting in which the IMB leadership said: “option one seems more wise, but it leaves us with more non-calvinist missionaries…option two leaves us with increasing numbers of calvinists, so we’ll pick option two, but not tell anybody that’s our reason. IS this right?

    If so, I am curious what the other SBC today non-calvinists have to say about that. Do they agree, disagree, agree somewhat?

    Many of the SBC today leadership have said they DON’T believe there is a specific conspiracy to exclude non-calvinists, but that the effect has been that anyway. I wonder if they will address your post here. I hope they will.

    -Andy

      Lydia

      Andy, do you ever look at patterns? Perhaps you can tell me what Platt’s qualifications are for that position over anyone else in the SBC? Celebrity Calvinist?

      Personally, I think Platt speaks from talking points he is given and most likely some of the old guys they making an offer to that they cannot refuse…..would be great at that job. .

      BTW, The Dubai Hilton is not dangerous.

        Scott Shaver

        Given the wording and comments on “non-negotiable” SBC “foundations’, I would be willing to bet that Lydia is spot on about the talking points.

        Andy

        What I’m questioning is Scott’s seeming accusation that David Platt (or some leaders hiding behind plat) have made this IMB decision FOR THE PURPOSE OF CALVANIZING THE MISSION FORCE. If this were so obvious as Scott says, then surely the other SBC Today bloggers would chime in?

        I will agree that all SBC entity salaries should be disclosed…

        Perhaps Scott will know why this wasn’t done in the 70’s under the “old guard”?

        -andy

          Lydia

          “What I’m questioning is Scott’s seeming accusation that David Platt (or some leaders hiding behind plat) have made this IMB decision FOR THE PURPOSE OF CALVANIZING THE MISSION FORCE. If this were so obvious as Scott says, then surely the other SBC Today bloggers would chime in?”

          Why is it an “accusation” instead of speculation based upon patterns of behavior from that movement over the last 10 years in all areas of the SBC? Think of NAMB and ACts 29, Sojourn, Baptist 21. Think of all the stories we have heard of takeovers, etc. Look at the entity bosses and how many are now Neo Cals or fellow travelers/proteges of Mohler.

          What is going on at IMB is really the perfect storm. There is a “Crisis” that they really sat on for all factual purposes even though people actually gave more. Then, they must cut NOW. RIGHT NOW. And how convenient it is the over 50’s who are typically not part of the YRr. (some might be) But there have also been hints along the way about sending more missionaries. And of course, we are all about sending missionaries so people will buy into that. So who is available? Mostly YRR. Then you have the lack of transparency, no trustee voting.

          I mean really, Andy. If I want to pull a con, I hope you are the investigator. :o)

          “Perhaps Scott will know why this wasn’t done in the 70’s under the “old guard”?”

          There wasn’t a 210 mill crisis? Nothing will get donors asking tough questions faster than that bombshell.

            Andy

            1. Perhaps “Speculation” would have been a better word.

            2. I see the trends toward calvinists…nobody questions that, but to play devils’ advocate, consider this: According to you: “who is available? Mostly YRR.” Why would you say that? Don’t Southwestern it’s ilk send out missionaries too?

              Lydia

              “I see the trends toward calvinists…nobody questions that, but to play devils’ advocate, consider this: According to you: “who is available? Mostly YRR.” Why would you say that? Don’t Southwestern it’s ilk send out missionaries too?”

              The question, Andy, is why the trend is toward deterministic Calvinism which breeds authoritarians among the young adhering to it. And why that is a trend in a place like America. .

              We are digessing. My guess is 90 years of collectivism seeping iinto public education has helped. From healthcare to keys of kingdom human mediators people are surrendering their very selves to social and supposedly spiritual gurus. Thinking and maturing has ceased.

          Scott Shaver

          Andy:

          I was still in high school in the “70’s” Andy.

          Was about at the point in my life and your ministry when Patterson, Pressler and wrecking crew were at the zenith of their influence. Was obvious to many of us at that time that primary motivations were divide, conquer and assume control of agencies and institutions

          Look….you can come to your own conclusions as to wat happened with the CR, what’s happened with SBC seminaries, boards trustees, IMBs and NAMBs.

          Proof in 30 eyewitness years of pudding is what brings me to my own personal conclusions.

          We should have this talk about goals of the IMB, NAMB, SBC again in 5 or 6 years Andy. I’m sure the reflection would be interesting.

          Time to wash hands and move on with life. You younger guys are welcome to what’s left.

            Scott Shaver

            Was it Bill Murray in “Ghost Busters” who, upon seeing the STA-PUFT Marshmello Man remarked: “Now there’s something you don’t see every day.”

            Paige Patterson himself declaring war on methodology of IMB.

            After unlocking the door and approving appointments for such “errors” (aka “changes”) Paige wants you fellers to KICK EM OUT. “Grand Battle Time”. I “insinuated” on another thread that others were “tripping’. My bad, I think I am.

      Mary

      It’s always just some crazy coincidence that the people who are pushed out are nonCalvinists and the ones who replace them are Calvinists.

Scott Shaver

Go ahead pastors and churches. Listen to the shills calling for churches to forgive, forget and double their contributions to Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong to help with the shortfall. They need you until they can get this thing networked, bankrolled through other than SBC so they can send partner with anybody but “Southern Baptists”.
They’re tired, obviously, of accountability to what’s left of their honey hole.
By our own hand we are a disappearing breed of cat. Ironic!

Andy

On a personal note, if there’s one thing I’ve decided after the last 8 years of seeing the downfall of several well-know pastors, the biting online criticism of many other well know leaders, from SBC to IMB to NAMB to TGC, to T4G to SBC Voices and SBC Today bloggers to Conference speakers and organizers:

–> I’m really glad I’m not famous, or rich! (Although I am in the top 1% of all income earners on earth…if you make at least $40,000, YOU are too!” …So I guess I am rich…but that’s another topic….but also, fyi, if you are at $21,000, the federal poverty level for a family of 4, you are still in the top 10%) :-)

I don’t agree with Scott about everything he has said, but it does seem that for those who gain a certain level of publicity, or wealth, or position…that the temptation to strive to keep that position above other more godly pursuit seems to grow ever more likely to overcome a man.

    Scott Shaver

    I’m sure they’ll answer answer Andy….in that same good old “Southern Baptist” way.

Lydia

,”–> I’m really glad I’m not famous, or rich! (Although I am in the top 1% of all income earners on earth…if you make at least $40,000, YOU are too!” …So I guess I am rich…but that’s another topic….but also, fyi, if you are at $21,000, the federal poverty level for a family of 4, you are still in the top 10%) :-”

It is good to know that when you are over 50 and your Christian employer views that age as unproductive you will be grateful to live at poverty level in the US because you can always remember that is rich to someone in Ghana. Perhaps we should be concerned for the high salaried Christian employers soul.

    Scott Shaver

    Lydia:

    Could happen more like the situation of a good friend of mine this month.

    Just turned 60. For his 29th anniversary (served one church since graduating seminary) was told by a few upstanding members of his deacon board they’d “decided” he needed to retire. No vote, no discussion, no church involvement.

    Leaving after 29 years with a few month’s severance, a handshake and a “good luck” on the purchase of your first house.

    My friend will get his reward someday. His former deacons already have theirs.

Lydia

Scott, a culture that both protects predators (because they confessed) there by sacrificing the innocent and is disgusted by age is doomed to be cruel.

That, unfortunately, seems to be large swaths of evangelicalism.

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