"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Richmond IMB Meeting January 9-11th, 2006

The Board of Trustees of the International Mission Board will be convening this Monday, January 9 through Wednesday, January 11, 2006 in Richmond, Virginia. The headquarters of the IMB is located at 3806 Monument Avenue, a prominent, beautiful street in a very historic city.

The IMB trustees meet six times a year for regularly scheduled board meetings, and an additional two or three times per year as needed. The highlight of each IMB meeting is the appointment service of new missionaries on Tuesday night. I have met some absolutely wonderful new missionaries at each and every board meeting, and have even flown some new missionary friends to our church to have them share their testimonies to the people I pastor in Enid, Oklahoma.

In my opinion, the work of the IMB is unparalleled in the evangelical world. I know I may be biased, but I love the IMB!

It is in my heart to help those of you affiliated with the SBC to love the IMB as much as I do. For that reason I will be blogging from Richmond, Virginia for all three days of the board meeting. I would like to give you the reasons I will be blogging from Richmond.

THE REASONS FOR BLOGGING FROM RICHMOND:

(1).To Bring More Understanding and Support for the Cooperative Program, the Lottie Moon Offering, and the Work of the IMB among Younger Pastors and Church Leaders.

There is a generation of young pastors who are feeling disenfranchised from the Southern Baptist Convention. Many of them pastor churches that are non-traditional in most areas of church polity and practice. These pastors are feeling disenfranchised because they seem to feel they are not welcome BECAUSE they are different. It is my desire to let these young pastors see that the Southern Baptist Convention is composed of many pastors, including me, who do not walk lock step with the current trustee leadership of the IMB. I want these young pastors to see that at the heart of the polity and practice of the Southern Baptist Convention is the tremendous privilege of disagreeing, yet cooperating. As those of you know who read my blog, I do not agree with the new policies of the IMB regarding baptism and tongues, but I am as much a cooperating member of the IMB and Southern Baptist Convention as those young pastors can be, and even should be. Doesn't it make sense to let these young pastors see the inner workings of the IMB to help them feel involved?

(2). To Allow Missionaries Around the World to Have a Peek Inside the Board Meeting that Ultimately Holds All Missionaries Accountable

I have received several emails from missionaries around the world who are grateful that they can find out about the IMB trustee work through my blog. The following is a sample of the letters that I have received:

From a meeting in an undisclosed location, let me say thank you so very much for your prayers for us during this time. We are having a fabulous meeting, one of the best I have ever attended in my 12 years in Central Asia. Dr. Rankin spoke to us today. It was a Spirit-filled, annointed word from him and something that encouraged and inspired all of us.

There are many here, due to their isolation that are only now finding out about what has been happening in Richmond. It is imperative that you continue to stand for all of us here. I have yet to find a single worker among our 450 people that serve in Central Asia that is supportive of the new policy. What is utterly amazing is that apparently decisions are being made without our knowledge and no one is bothering to ask those of us who are out here whether we even have an opinion or not.

Again, thank you for your words of encouragement and mostly for the prayers that sustain us all.

Sincerely in Christ,


STG
Central Asian Region, IMB

(3). To Bring Support to the IMB Staff from Trustees through Calling Attention to Any Undermining Influence Among Some Trustees.

I have felt for some time that there are a few trustees who are dead set on opposing the direction, vision and leadership of Dr. Jerry Rankin. It is impossible for IMB staff and Dr. Rankin to set and implement vision if trustees continue to oppose the head of the IMB. Obviously we have a duty to hold Dr. Rankin accountable, but for any organization to run effectively, the trustees must hold the Chief Executive accountable, and either fire him for cause, or give 100 percent support to his vision for the IMB and to NEVER UNDERMINE HIM. I can assure you this godly man cannot be fired for cause. As a result, we trustees MUST support him --- period.

I am blogging to make sure Dr. Rankin is no longer undermined, or if he is, to call it out. Of course, the most recent undermining of Dr. Rankin's leadership is the passing of the new policies on tongues and baptism, policies opposed by staff and Dr. Rankin. As a new trustee, I asked specifically to be able to hear from Candidate Consultants regarding their views on the new policies, and was declined the opportunity by a trustee in charge of the meeting. Further, I feel strongly that the trustees were kept in the dark regarding Dr. Rankin's true feelings regarding the new policies lest he "influence" the trustees. I personally think Dr. Rankin ought to always be able to "influence" the trustees. To refuse him this opportunity is undermining his leadership.


(4). Most Importantly, I Am Blogging During the IMB Meeting to Make Sure We STOP Narrowing the Parameters of Cooperation in Missions and Evangelism.

Some people misunderstand the purpose of this blog. I am not trying to convince anyone that I am right and they are wrong about the new policies. I am trying to convince EVERYONE that if we continue to disqualify people because of specific interpretations of Scripture on non-essential doctrines (see Tears for Miss Bertha, we will soon so fragment and isolate the SBC that there will be very few dollars to support a shrinking pool of SBC missionaries, because everyone who is told, "You don't qualify" will leave the SBC. I AM ATTEMPTING TO KEEP PEOPLE IN THE SBC, AND TO NOT LEAVE.

This comment from Gordon Cloud expresses my feelings in a very articulate manner:

Bro. Wade I think that you are on track with your concerns. Having several friends in the independent Baptist ranks, I have seen what the progression of legalism has done to them. Eventually they reach a point of not only independence but also isolationism. I hope that our convention leadership will keep a broad perspective: that is, that Satan is our enemy, not man, and if he cannot defeat us with persecution from without then he will most certainly try to subvert us from within with useless divisions. Let us pray for them and one another that we will all run the race looking unto Jesus.





THE SCHEDULE FOR MONDAY, JANUARY 9th

I arrive Sunday night and will have breakfast with Trustee Winston Curtis at 9:00 a.m. on Monday. Winston is a wonderful, gracious, kind-hearted man that I respect deeply. He and I do not see eye to eye on the issues before us, but to me, he is what Christian cooperation is all about. He understands that I am passionate and persistent, and he knows that I am not even trying to change his mind about the new policies (which he supported). Winston understands that I am attempting to involve MORE PEOPLE with the SBC and IMB and to stop the restrictive and isolating tendencies that are currently in place. HE DOES NOT AGREE WITH ME ON MY POSITIONS, but he and I can work together because he and I LISTEN to one another. I want to have breakfast with him, catch up on his family and life, and let him know how much I appreciate and love him.

I will spend the rest of the morning visiting with staff at the IMB building, simply going from office to office encouraging all the people that I can, thanking them for their work and meeting new people.

At noon I will be having lunch with David Button, a former employee of the IMB, former head of what we now call Mobilization, and currently a trustee of the IMB who is employeed by the state of New York. David sent an email to all the trustees expressing his displeasure with this blog. I invited him to coffee and he graciously asked to meet me for lunch. I'm looking forward to getting to know him better. He seems like a really bright guy, and I absolutely love New York. I have already told David I would also like to discuss the appropriateness of a former employee of the IMB serving as a trustee. There are a handful of trustees who used to work for the IMB and I'm just trying to figure out why this is so. I have always thought that this kind of thing would lead to conflict of interest problems, but I am sure willing for someone like David to change my mind about this issue.

At 3:00 p.m. the IMB will enter what is called "The Trustee Forum." No press or guests are allowed for this two hour or longer meeting. It is here that trustees express whatever it is they feel. I will be unable to tell you what happens during this two hour forum, but I anticipate trustees will make known their displeasure with this blog (again, I will be unable to tell you if I was right or wrong in my prediction). The reason I predict this is because of three emails I have received from three different trustees who have expressed displeasure with Grace and Truth to You.

I have removed the name of the trustee who sent me the following letter because I do not want to embarass him/her, but it gives you a feel for what a few think about me.
The following email is a response to an email I sent to all the trustees explaining how excited I was that we would be holding accountable trustees who were meeting in private meetings and caucuses, contrary to written policy and guidelines of the IMB. These caucus meetings have been held on Tuesday night DURING THE APPOINTMENT SERVICE (and various other times), and are held to set a preplanned agenda, sometimes directly opposite of the agenda of IMB Staff.

Dear Wade,

Well, I have been listening to you rattle on and on. I guess I am ready to talk a little.

You say you do not want trustees to visit with each other in any location because it is bad policy. Are you going to bug all our rooms like they do in China? Do you think women don't talk? We talk all the time! Do you have committees in your church and you have a policy that they cannot discuss church issues at any time? Do you check on Sunday School class members about whether they discuss church issues on Sunday mornings?

Do you have policy that your deacons cannot discuss anything going on or decisions made at your church? How do you police this? Do you control your members this tightly? What are you afraid of them saying?

I think any trustee who is a blogger on the internet and gathers in blogger groups and discusses IMB policies in writing for others to read and pass around is much worse than a group of trustees verbally visiting in private. In fact, it is much worse in that your mail has been published on the Baylor web site which is much more harmful to the cooperative program and IMB than the visiting of a small group of trustees might do privately. You are guilty of a much bigger infraction in my opinion. I would never get on the internet and discuss IMB business with those who are not trustees. You are calling the kettle black! I find you a very arrogant young man who has no respect for those who have come before you. I do not find
you gentle and caring.


The following email is my response to the above:

Dear ________,

In my blog I have been very respectful of every person on the IMB Board. Every time I mention my fellow trustees I have said, genuinely, that I found them all to be some of the most wonderful people I have ever met.

I realize that you may not be used to somebody saying what he feels as openly and honestly as I have, but I assure you, what you see in me is what you get!

My blog was an attempt to explain to the number of people who called or wrote me asking, "How could you pass the new policies?"

Frankly, it saves time rather than answering all the emails individually.

I also have been very respectful and supportive of all the work of the IMB, including saying we are doing the best work we have ever done, our missionaries are true heroes, etc . . .

So . . .

I love and respect the IMB and all the trustees, even those who have come before me.

I'm attempting to keep the IMB open to the cooperation of all conservatives.

I'm 44, and always respect the words of direct people like you who write me personally.

Thanks for taking the time to write me.

In His Grace,


Wade Burleson

I think you can see why I feel certain things may be said in the forum.

After dinner with IMB staff, trustees and missionary appointees, one of my favorite times of the week begins. At 6:30 p.m., and continuing until 9:30 p.m., trustees will be meeting with their regional committees to interview missionaries who will be appointed to their region the following night at the Appointment Service. We will also conduct business. I have felt my eyes water on several occasions over the last several months as I have heard the incredible testimonies of some wonderful people being appointed as missionaries from the SBC. My commitee is Central Asia, and in my opinion, we have a REMARKABLE group of missionaries. I love this three hour meeting.

From 9:30 to 10:30 I will visit with friends and other trustees about the day and, Lord willing, I will post my next blog at midnight on Monday. You can read my thoughts and reflections on the first day beginning first thing Tuesday morning.

THE REMAINING SCHEDULE FOR TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY

Tuesday morning I will be working with the Personnel Committee (and/or Regional Committees) reviewing what we call "green sheets," confidential information on prospective missionary candidates, and after review of the green sheets, we will vote "for" or "against" the missionary candidates brought to us by the Candidate Consultants of the IMB. These missionary candidates have already been through an extensive and exhaustive interview process, and the next to last step before they are appointed is approval by the Personnel Committee.

It is in this Tuesday morning meeting of the Personnel Committee (and/or Regional Committees) that the new policies will go into effect. The Candidate Consultants of the IMB will not bring before our committee anyone who has a "private prayer language" or anyone who has not been baptized in a Southern Baptist Church, or a church that meets certain qualifications including teaching in eternal security.

The IMB plenary session, the time when business is conducted and press and observers are allowed, is not until Tuesday afternoon from 2:00 p.m. till 5:00 p.m. The Appointment Service will be Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. at Staples Mills Road Baptist Church, 10101 Staples Mill Road, Glen Allen, VA.

I am looking forward to dinner with fellow trustee Rick Thompson and fellow blogger Marty Duren and his youth pastor Joey. Tuesday night will end with an exciting Appointment Service!

Wednesday morning we will have our closing plenary session beginning at 9:30 and running till 11:30. I will be leaving promptly at 11:30 in order to catch my flight back to Enid and teaching the Wednesday night Bible study. I will post the blog reviewing the day after midnight.


CLOSING THOUGHTS:


My prayer is that the trustees of the IMB will focus on world evangelization and missions coordination among all Southern Baptists, and stop focusing on non-essential doctrines that have nothing to do with missions and evangelism.

I really desire for trustees to LET THE STAFF DO THEIR JOB.

Hopefully, we can worship, pray, encourage, support and send some wondeful new missionaries appointed around the world!

I have heard that others intend to seek to reverse the new policies. Though I will not be the person who recommends that the new policies revert back to old policies, or possibly changed to a better set of well-written policies that don't "exclude" fellow conservative Southern Baptists, but rather "includes" all conservative Southern Baptists, if something to that effect is recommended, I will wholeheartedly support it.

I don't think enough trustees have changed their minds about the recently adopted baptism and tongues policies. I have heard from five who have, but since the vote on the policy that forbids missionaries to have a private prayer language was 50 to 15, it would require a larger number than 5 to reverse it.

Since our Board is ultimately held accountable to the entire SBC, I simply want people from across the convention to hear what is going on as it happens.

I apologize that this blog is so long, but the information will help you understand what is upcoming in the next three days.

May God give you a great Sunday and Monday, and I will post next at 1:00 a.m. Tuesday morning!

In His Grace,


Wade Burleson

24 comments:

Nick said...

I appreciate your humble attitude in talking about those who have spoken in opposition to you. I hope your meetings with them go well.

J.P.M. said...

I've been an IMB missionary for 10 years. Prior to being appointed by the IMB, I served in SBC life in a variety of capacities. It has long concerned me that the SBC has been dominated by backroom politics and bullying. I find your blog and comments refreshing and informative. Most Southern Baptists are unaware of the everyday workings and mechanics of our boards and committees. Your blog gives great insight into these meetings and the true tone of these meetings. Some may want you to remain silent, as illustrated in your letter. Please don't allow bullying to discourage you from being a voice for the rest of us.
It disturbs me when our boards and committees want to be cloaked in silence and mystery. I hope that John 3:20-21 will give you encouragement. May we as Southern Baptists strive for transparency and accountability.
J.P.M.
CEE Region

Carla said...

Thanks for this blog.
I've been a Southern Baptist since '92. Okay, I got disgusted, left and became Methodist for a little while. I've been Baptist most of that time, though. I don't generally pay any attention to Convention happenings. You mention some ruling about tongues. In keeping my balance in this life, I have to study the scriptures a lot. When I keep hearing the angry-sounding (to me at least) reactionary dogmatism about tongues coming from otherwise reasonable people, I don't know what to say.
Oh, I always say too much. But, in order to avoid the excesses of the nuts on one side of the Scriptures, we do not set a good example for our kids if we show them that the answer is simply to be spiritual politicians and to go to an excess on the other side of the Scriptures. The answer is to discern the truth rightly and carefully. God, please help us.

Anonymous said...

Wade,

I am an IMB missionary serving in Asia. I appreciate your efforts, and pray you will find God's strength and grace in the coming week. I expect you will have an interesting meeting--I think you are expecting that too.

Don't lose heart.

I will be heading on stateside assignment during 2006. I can only imagine the questions I will encounter (this is not my first SSA), but I suspect they will be the most pointed I have encountered--from those who find the new policies onerous who will wonder if I support them (since I remain an IMB missionary), to those who fear that field workers are full of prayer languages and are all theological novices.

I have neither a prayer language, though some might find me a theological novice since I am a strong proponent of house churches and cpms.

Hang in there.

Alex F said...

Regarding the opposition you face: It seems to me that Southern Baptists who participate in the CP have a right to know what is going on during trustee meetings. The trustees are stewards not overlords. Obviously you do not reveal sensitive data in a public forum, but your blog may help provide openness and accountability that the board obviously needs.

GeneMBridges said...

I would never get on the internet and discuss IMB business with those who are not trustees.

This says a lot. If they were acting on the up-and-up, why the need to conduct secret meetings? Isn't it ironic that they feel secret meetings are justifiable and open discussion is unjustifiable? I'm sorry, but they need to give you some biblical justification for that position, not simply an emotionally laden jeremiad.

More importantly, pardon me, but as a member of a cooperating SBC church, this trustee is, in point of fact, directly accountable to me. The way this is worded, I would hazard that the odds are that if I was to ask this trustee what was going on and voice my protest one-on-one, s/he would tell me to mind my own business because "you're not a trustee." This does not bode well for the SBC. One does not lord authority over the people, especially when you are elected by those people.

You haven't disclosed anything that we don't already know anyway. I hope you point that out when they criticize you. They made a decision that many in the SBC question, one that, if the next meeting maintains, I can assure you will come back to haunt them at the annual meeting in Greensboro in front of the entire Convention. I have already heard talk about bring this to the Convention floor. Would they rather us find out now or have the whole story laid out openly in front of all the Messengers, whom I sincerely doubt, if the question was put before them, would approve of this policy?

I hope you make a point to ask them what exactly you said that they felt revealed information about the inner workings of the IMB. You have not disclosed "sensitive" information about trustee meetings, nor have you named names, in fact, I see that you have gone out of your way not to name names and have only discussed unfolding elements of this drama by taking your cue from others.

The one person who has told us what we all suspected already, that there were secret meetings, did so on her own. She is the wife of a leader here in NC of Conservative Carolina Baptists, so her "credentials" are impeccable. A great many of the messengers in Greensboro this year will be NC Baptists (dare I say a much larger contingent will hail from NC than most other states), and we already have a rather large state convention when we gather in this state for our own meeting. Who will NC messengers believe if this issue is discussed from the floor? A: A trustee who doesn't like it that "information" is being discussed on the internet by a current trustee who has not disclosed any secrets we didn't already know or find out by our own inquiries or B: a former trustee with impeccable "conservative credentials" within the state holding the convention who has risked her reputation and the "kiss of death" from the current leadership to tell us about secret meetings that seek to undermine the IMB President and his staff? Also, alot of folks on the Reformed side of the aisle in this Convention will also be attending for the debate/discussion between Drs. Mohler and Patterson at the Pastor's Conference, folks who don't normally attend. To my knowledge, none of them support the new IMB policies, and many have been silent on this so far.

I do not believe that the IMB trustees really want this to come to the attention of the full Convention. They would find themselves in a disfavorable position at this particular convention. I truly hope it does not come to that; controversy at the IMB is something that every Southern Baptist would find problematic. The conflict in the seminaries was viewed as a "preacher fight" by many, probably more sympomatic of our general theological anemia in the Convention anyway. However, all of us hear about missions and know about baptism. This is no "preacher fight" and has the potential to be quite explosive if it makes it to the Convention floor.

I know you will handle criticism of your blog gracefully. My hope is that for every such criticism, you include a reply that your readers would like to see the exegetical defense of the new policies, particularly the one about baptism. If they protest, ask them to defend their position on baptism from the Bible. Let Scripture be our judge. I would gladly read a guest columnist on this blog who wanted to defend the new policy. It simply can't be done.

Paul said...

I was thinking what AlexF said. To my simple mind the trustees serve two bodies 1) The entities for whom they are trustees and 2) The local churches of the SBC.

I should think that in the vast majority of cases every word and action of every trustee of every SBC institution should be available for any SBC church or member to examine. If there is something that needs to be kept quiet then it seems that it is either a) critical to the safety of our missionaries and their ability to continue in ministry in their local context or b) doing or saying things they shouldn't be doing or saying.

May we eliminate all that would belong in category "b."

Wade, thanks for your gracious spirit as well as your diligence in seeking to expand the influence of Christ around the world. The same goes for your fellow trustees. May your meetings be blessed and filled with love for God and love for one another. We will be praying to that end. Thanks for sharing with us.

Dan Paden said...

I doubt you'll have time or inclination to catch up on all the comments for the next couple of days, but I will pray for you about the meeting and how it goes, and post a link to this post on my blog (not that that's worth a whole lot in terms of readership!)

I reckon that now the whole world knows that anything written to you, unless specifically requested otherwise, might wind up on your blog. That shouldn't cause problems; all the savvy people have known for some time that you should never day anything in an e-mail or on a cell phone that you don't want others to hear. But I do hope that your mystery correspondent took into account that his words might be made public. If it didn't occur to him, it may be a source of considerable friction.

Clif Cummings said...

To all who have commented. Having served on staff with Wade, I can assure you of two things. He will be graceful in all of his words to those who oppose him and that he will be a man of THE WORD when it comes to dealing with the oppostion. Let us covet together to keep him in our prayers for the next 3 days.

Kevin Bussey said...

Thanks Wade for doing this. I will be praying for you!

Bowden McElroy said...

Re: the letter from another trustee.

I'm struck by two things. First, the writer makes no distinction between "visiting" about IMB business (which I can't imagine you or anyone else would have too much trouble with) and agenda setting (caucusing)which is against the guidelines (for what I think are obvious reasons). I can't help but wonder what meetings at his/her church are like. It's easy to rail against a 'good ole boy' system, but I suspect the IMB merely functions as a microcosm of our churches. In too many congregations, turf wars and lack of communication between committees/ministry teams is an all too common problem.

Secondly, I am amazed that he/she is concerned that the Baylor website has quoted or linked to your blog. So what? It's much easier to NOT do something embarrassing than it is to try and cover it up later.

There is a saying among family therapists: the greater the number of secrets in a family, the greater the dysfunction. Looks like we're one big happy family after all.

Steven Gilbert said...

The impact of the new policy has already been felt in Central Asia. For the past several years we have been trying to enter a city in Central Asia with the gospel that has no workers (from ANY organization)and almost no believers among the majority people group of the area. We have had three different teams attempt work in the area, but due to various circumstances, including the latest team being removed by the local government, we were making our fourth attempt at place a team in this very difficult region.

At the latest ISC/Journeyman conference, there were two units who have prayed and prepared to go to this difficult and oppressive city. They had the blessing of their local Southern Baptist church. They were qualified for two-year appointment in every area of character and competence. We were quite excited about their coming.

However, today (1/9), I was informed that one of the couples was denied appointment due to their "pentecostal backgroud." This obviously means that one or both of them have a prayer language.

So, all for the sake of "purity" an unreached people group that has been under the grip of Islam for 1200 years will continue to be denied a witness. An SBC church that sent this couple with its blessing will also begin to question its place in our convention and will most probably send its finances in order to send this couple independently, IF they have the resources to do it on their own. Or, they could be like the vast majority of Southern Baptist congregations that are unable to support even one couple in a place so far away.

So, this policy has had a direct impact now on world evangelization and upon our ability as Southern Baptists to penetrate a dark world. This is not a proud day for me. The latest policy has people who are in agreement with our basic doctrinal confession, the Baptist Faith and Message, being denied the right and privilege of serving God overseas. I do not believe the Lord is pleased.

Wade, please continue to be our advocate. Please continue to inform our fellow Southern Baptists of what this policy is doing to us on a practical level.

Many thanks and keep blogging,

Steven T. Gilbert
Central Asian Region

Wade Burleson said...

Steven,

Thank you my friend, for your candididness.

I knew the new policy would have a practical effect like the one you just mentioned.

One trustee who voted for the new policies was offended by my post on Miss Bertha Smith. "How," the trustee asked, "Can you speak for me and tell me I have disowned a great SBC missionary."

I sure hope that trustee is reading this comment section.

He has no pain disowning Miss Bertha.

She's dead and you don't have to give her an answer to forbidding her private prayer language.

But he ought to feel pain for the spiritual children of Miss Bertha, like this young SBC missionary couple, WHO ARE NOW EXCLUDED FROM SBC MISSIONS.

Shame on us.

This is what I am trying to stop.

May God forgive us.

In His Grace,

Wade

Anonymous said...

I am new to this idea of "blogging", but it seems an appropriate way to ask questions and from other comments, there seems to be appropriate people giving answers!!! If there is a trustee (or anyone for that matter) that could comment on this question, I would be most grateful. The question is an old one, and while it seems that "tongues" and "baptisms" are dominating the current IMB discussions, I wonder if it will ever be possible that an "old" issue is re-visited. That of divorce. In writing this, I realize that this topic has been discussed for ages, but the more I study and think on such things, it seems that the IMB's policy to forbid divorced individuals from entering the "career" path is certainly not Bibllically based. I do realize that many people can interpret those known scriputure (husband of one wife) to mean different things. And I do not ever mean to downplay the seriousness of this sin (or any other sin). However, is it Paul's idea to exclude indiscriminately anyone that has been divorced (even before their salvation, or in other cases) from eldership or long term ministry work? The IMB gladly allows a divorced person to serve (and we certainly accept their money), but not in the capicity of "career missionary". Is there any chance that such ideas/beliefs will be discussed and/or changed in the future. Thanks so much for any information!!!

Anonymous said...

As an IMB worker I appreciate your thoughts and gracious spirit. I'm a single guy who one day would like to get married. However if I marry someone who is not a regularly appointed person by the Board I will have to resign and reapply with my new wife. I've always known and accepted this but now with the new policies I would no longer qualify to be an IMB missionary. You see, like Dr. Rankin, I too have experienced a private prayer langauge in the past (and acknowledged that to the IMB) and I was baptized in a local church that isn't on the "approved list". I do believe my baptism was biblical and would never agree to an unbiblical re-baptism. In any case my trust remains in our sovereign God and not policies made by men that have no support in Scripture. I have heard that there are other single guys like myself who may be turning in our resignations soon. But God is not limited in any way by our limited understanding of prayer languages and baptism requirements!

Remember that we can disagree without being disagreeable! Please keep responding in a loving and gentle way no matter how others respond. The hope of the SBC is our young pastors who are committed to Scripture but also are "big tent" Baptists who can see the need for cooperating and not excluding conservative Bible-believing Baptists. God is bigger than the problems in the SBC!

Love you guys!

B.B

Wade Burleson said...

Mr. Anonymous,

Your comment is worthy of serious discussion and consideration.

I have several white papers on this subject (papers that defend a particular interpretation).

It is my view when the Scripture teaches "the husband of one wife" it is emphatically saying "a one-woman man."

This phrase is referrring to the heart. It is a description of one's character. The spiritual leader should have eyes for his/her spouse "only."

This text rules out adultery, polygamy, and sexual infidelity/and or immorality.

I do not believe it necessarily rules out a divorced person from ministry. You must examine the person's character. Did his spouse abandon him? Was he like Hosea, and his Gomer went away and married another? Or, if minstry candidate divorced a person contrary to the teachings of Scripture, was it prior to his conversion and personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?

In addition, a person who is divorced for biblical reasons (adultery, abandonment), is under no Biblical mandate to NOT remarry (of course Bill Gothard and others have a different interpretation).

It is often easier for the SBC to have a simple policy that does not require personal examination. The policy on divorce precludes any examination of a missionary candidate's divorce by simply saying, "We don't want to take the time to find out you character in marriage. Just tell us, have you ever been divorced."

I know some married people who have never been divorced who are not qualified for the mission field because they have wondering eyes.

But I have three men in my church, two deacons and one staff member, who are wonderful servants of God, and whose characters fit the description of Paul, "a one-woman man" because they are completely and totally devoted to their spouses.

So, to answer your question, "Is there any chance that such ideas/policies on divorce at the IMB will ever be changed in the future?"

Define future.

In the immediate future there is more of a chance for a man to land on Jupiter.

Unless, in my opinion, the IMB becomes more concerned with fulfilling her mission of world evangelization, and less concerned with narrowing the parameters of cooperation, so that those who participate look the same, believe the same, teach the same INTERPRETATIONS of Scripture, the policy on divorce will never be changed.

I am hopeful that issues like this can be seriously discussed in the near future.

Personally, I do believe a change on the policy of divorce is needed, and the last time it was attempted, it almost succeeded.

But until there comes a better definition and commitment to our mission as an IMB Board, it seems there will be little effort to broaden the tent of missionary cooperation.

In His Grace,

Wade

Anonymous said...

Wade, the board you serve on is accountable to the convention as a whole. Don't they get that??? They are trustees. They are NOT Regents (as are found at Baylor). Regents govern institutions. The trustees of the IMB should not act like regents or a board of directors. They are trustees who (should) represent and be accountable to us - and shouldn't be surprised when called on the carpet by us. Thank you for your stand and faithfulness to be true to the process, as opposed to those to have bastardized the function of the board.

Anonymous said...

Wade, Stay the course , what you say is correct, also young pastors are looking to bail on the SBC. I talk to many who feel the same as what you said. The field needs you in there supporting and letting the information out.

The only question I am confused on is: Are the trustees really accountable to the SBC? If so how? I have asked this question to several people without an answer and I do not ask it cynically, I ask it sincerely? It is the question I have gotten over and over from a pastor friend who has a trustee in his church because he has seen the “junk” go on. I have asked it myself. How do we hold the trustees who basically run the boards, accountable as a convention?

I appreciate being able to attend the plenary sessions and appreciate you being a voice to put things in the open.

Stay the course and thanks for honesty and truth. Hope to see you Tuesday.

Anonymous said...

Wade:

It's early afternoon on Monday, January 9. Feel no need to post any of these comments--simply more FYI's to be added to those already shared with you by others visiting your website.

The congregation on whose ministry staff I serve annually forwards to the CP/LMCO/AAEO about $100,000--but, honestly, never knows with certainty how those dollars are used despite promotional materials mailed to the church's office from Nashville/Richmond/Alpharetta.

Yesterday, the church learned that it can send 43 of its members--for the same amount of money--across the Atlantic Ocean during the summer of 2006 in partnership with a very experienced and effective Baptist (Southern, but independent of the IMB) ministry probably to see almost 600 people come to faith in Christ as Savior through evangelistic ministry. Members of the church learned that the congregation could do this with its $100,000 every year until the Lord comes back. I assume that every other SBC church could do the same, and see the same results.

As far as I know, none of the church's current ministry staff (senior pastor included) has the courage to suggest to the congregation--which is almost 100 years old, and a long-time contributor to the CP--that acting on what I mention above is a much more effective approach to world missions than it practices directly now. There are members who gladly would go, though, and our missions/discipling program is designed to produce hundreds of adults on-mission with God in exactly this way.

However, our city stands in need of at least 60 new churches--each one of which, I hope, will be baptistic in thelogy and practice when it is begun. I wanted to mention to you--and to my fellow- Baptists on the IMB board--that, if I were to be used of God to start one of the new needed congregations in my city this year, that church never would support financially the CP or the IMB; instead, we would seek to accomplish the Great Commission in the way described above. The response from some that that new congregation actually could do more if it were to forward its $100,000 to the CP is no longer valid, nor really listened to; that new church alone could witness about 6,000 new converts turning to Christ in a 10-year time--its 59 new sister churches started with the same passion and plan would witness a total of 324,000 additional new converts between them in a decade; that counts.

My church and I don't need the CP, SBC, IMB, etc. for the purposes of theology or finances; we know our Bibles, and we ask for no monetary support from SBC agencies. Similarly, the CP, SBC, IMB, etc. don't need me or my fellow-Baptists for theology--as it leaders believe that they know the Bible better anyway (though their practice of it continually betrays them)--but each does solicit us for our money (obviously, our money--tithes and offerings especially--are the Lord's, but it is no less God's if not sent to the CP). Something is wrong with this picture.

There is an enormous army of young, upcoming pastors on its way to SBC leadership; the senior pastors among them will speak to churches from their platforms, while equally-gifted associate pastors will speak in the hallways and on the sidewalks of the congregations' campuses. This group of young men and women is brilliant intellectually, conservative theologically, passionate spiritually, has no emotional connections to the fundamentalist struggle within the SBC, and cannot easily define "the Cooperative Program"--but it does want to change the world for Christ, and will.

It might be a very good idea for leaders of the IMB, SBC, NAMB, etc. to try to convince the army mentioned above that the SBC still is the place to be and from which to serve the Lord. I wouldn't wait until the house is gotten in order; the house appears slowly to be coming apart.


A Willingly-Anonymous Brother and Reader

Tim Sweatman said...

In response to the last post by anonymous, it is wonderful that your church has the financial resources to potentially send so many people as missionaries. But to assume that every other SBC church could do the same does not reflect the reality of most SBC churches. The typical SBC church does not have the financial means to send even one person on an extended mission trip, let alone support a full-time missionary. These churches need some way (such as the CP) to pool their resources to support missionaries. A church with only $500 to set aside for missions can't do a lot, but when that $500 is combined with $500 or $2,000 or $100 or $10,000 from several other churches then all of those churches can support missionaries.

The other thing to remember about CP giving is that it supports not only missionaries, but the work of state conventions and our seminaries.

Anonymous said...

This week I chartered a bus to bring our folks to North Carloina! It's time for a regime change in the power structure of the SBC. We need fresh blood within the trustees of our mission boards. It's time for the convention to review the personnel policies that the IMB and NAMB have been creating!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for having integrity!

Jeff said...

I just wanted to drop a note to let you know I appreciate the service you are doing for the SBC. I am in the Northwest where the controversies of the SBC rarely reach us on a practicle level, but this IMB thing is different. We are reaching those who have no background in traditional church up here, and when they read their Bibles they have a hard time understanding why the IMB would take this position. They also have a hard time understanding why they should give to a mission fund which would not accept them as missionaries.

I personally do not engage in a private prayer language and have my opinions about it, but I also have an appreciation for many prayer warriors who use this tool. Regardless, it does not really matter when it comes to the greater mission of the church.

I find those who feel you have broken a trust by letting SBC CP contributing members know what is going on need to rethink who it is they represent. You are keeping trust with those who give to this missions endevor, and I thank you for it.

Danny said...

When the policy about baptism says it must be done "in" a Southern Baptist Church does that mean my baptism in a river by a Southern Baptist preacher does not qualify? What if I got saved and was baptized in the desert in Iraq by a Chaplain (SBC or not)? Would the The scriptures do not tell us that we are baptized into a local church, but we are brought into the kingdom of God by salvation and then are baptized as a testimony to the world and in obedience to the command of Christ (Matt 28:18-20). For that matter a lay person can baptize someone.

I believe we should have some very well defined guidelines, because the Bible teaches we should be united in matters of doctrine (1 Cor 1:10), but when we try to use the Bible to control others we are stepping into dangerous territory.

When it comes to the leaders that are known for conservative politics I am disapointed in some of my heroes. I hope that they will stay humble and on their faces before God and seek HIS direction for our convention. I understand that meetings must take place, influence must be given, a consensus must be gathered, but we should just be careful to "avoid the appearance of evil".

I'll be praying for the IMB.