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

I've Learned You Can't Judge Someone's Motives

The state paper of IMB Chairman Tom Hatley, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, ran an article this past weekend on the Board of Trustees' recommendation for my removal and the subsequent move by the IMB Executive Committee to seek the recension of the motion for removal.

There were two statements in that article, attributed to Tom Hatley, that are very odd.

(Statement 1). "We are not against his blogging or anyone elses communication in public..."

That is definitely news to me.

This blog was THE issue at the last Board meeting in January. In fact, the basis for my removal in the official recommendation was "gossip and slander" associated with this blog. When I asked for specific evidence of gossip and slander from my blog I was given nothing, and to this day, I have still been given nothing. For me to defend myself against "gossip and slander" I must know what it is that is "gossip and slander."

A day after the board meeting the basis for removal became "resistance to accountability" and "loss of trust." The first time I heard these two phrases was when I read them in the Baptist Press release. I was really shocked.

But the point is this. THE problem was my blog. What I said on this blog caused some to be very upset. On this blog I have questioned why we needed these new policies. I asked why these policies were being pushed without staff support or evidence of problems on the field, and I simply wondered out loud why we were disqualifying people from service as a missionary for the IMB, including our own President, Dr. Jerry Rankin. As a trustee this just did not make any sense to me at all.

However, I remind everyone that I violated no confidentiality, I only repeated what I have attempted to say publicly to all the trustees on several occasions, and I simply fulfilled my responsibility, according to our policy manuel, to make known my interpretation of events to the Southern Baptist Covnention at large. I have been supportive of the work of our IMB, our President, and our missionaries. I have never spoken a critical word about any individual. I have simply asked some tough questions that demand some straight answers.

I believe that this is my job as a trustee, and I have used this blog as a tool to fulfill my responsibilities. I have repeatedly said, and I continue to say, that I will cease blogging if there is a policy passed by the trustees that forbids a trustee from blogging, or if a policy is passed that forbids a trustee from voicing minority dissent.

However, to say that the problem is not "blogging" is really big news to me.


(Statement 2). Chairman Hatley described the problem as Mr. Burleson's "behavior toward his fellow trustees...just a general approach to his relationships on the board."

I am stunned.

I have enjoyed each and every relationship I have with the trustees of the IMB, even with those with whom I disagree. Every opportunity I have had to fellowship with another trustee, to share a cup of coffee or to buy a trustee a meal, or simply to spend a few minutes of conversation in the hallway, is an opportunity that I have taken and enjoyed. Sure, there were tense moments when I first heard the motion for my removal (having never been approached privately about the motion before it was made public), but even then, it was an experience that I will never forget and one through which I have learned a great deal about myself and others.

I guess what shocks me about Dr. Tom's statement is the implication that there has been something wrong with MY BEHAVIOR toward my fellow trustees. Hmmmm. First, it was what I said ("gossip and slander"), and now it is how I behaved. Dr. Tom was asked by the reporter for specific examples and he said, "We're not going to sling mud publicly." I thought I might not have read that last sentence correctly, so I wiped the back of my hand across my muddy eyes (humor is intended here) and I read it again.

Nope, I read it right.

It seems there are things that I have done that Tom refuses to reveal. Hmmm.

The person who has been with me during the IMB meetings is Rick Thompson, a fellow trustee, and pastor of the influential Council Road Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Rick read the same article in the Arkansas newspaper and blogged his response. Following is an excerpt from Rick's blog:

I do not believe that there is another person on the board who can speak to this issue (Wade's behavior toward fellow trustees) more thorougly than I can. I have been with Wade from the beginning, as we are good friends and fellow pastors from the same state. I have sat with him at all the meals, accompanied him to most of his meetings and have stood in the hallway with him in the normal discourse of fellowship between meetings. I have been with him when he has discussed difficult issues with fellow trustees and have heard his public statements to the board in plenary and executive session.

Believe me when I tell you that he has been gracious in his opposition. He has never lost his temper, blown his cool or discredited or disparaged others opinions that were different from his own. He has never shied away from an opportunity to bring closure to a disagreement. He has expressed his love and respect for others at every turn.

Wade may be guilty of being unflappable and unyielding and disciplined in his opposition, but from what I have observed, he has not been hard to get along with. He goes out of his way to show kindness and respect.

I suspect that what Chairman Hatley is referring to is Wades tendency to be resolute and to not bend when be believes he is right (even when he is greatly outnumbered). It is in his nature. When a man believes with all of his heart and soul that he is standing on the side of scripture, if it is his nature to do so no matter what the reaction or "vibes" he is getting in response, he will go to the wall with that conviction. This has been the dynamic at play, because Wade is one of those kind of guys. I am sure that some have been offended by this straightforward resolve.

Wade has told me on many occasions that he really does like many of these people who have voiced their anger and disgust at him. That is an admirable quality.



Thanks Rick, I really appreciate the affirmation.

Why would something different than what Rick knows to be true be implied by others?

I don't know, but one thing I have learned through this process is that it is probably not wise to judge someone else's motives.

Therefore, I will just continue to do what I know is right, do it with a smile on my face, and a genuine love for people who serve with me as trustees, especially those those who disagree with me and wish I would simply go away.


In His Grace,



Wade Burleson

43 comments:

Ann said...

You seem so nice. Are you sure you are a preacher?

JUSTAMOE said...

It appears to me that the Texas pastor who indicated his plan to recommend that the entire IMB trustee board be set aside by the SBC's messengers in their June meeting--if straight answers are not provided by the board chairman or his designees by/at that time--probably should begin the final draft his recommendation.

Effective leaders of ministry teams of believers do not function the way the persons occupying top positions of the IMB have--too much is at stake. For the Smiths, Joneses, Garcias, and others to go to Heaven instead of Hell, all the SBC must function like a high performance team achieving exceptional results (ie, people going to Heaven, not Hell). The SBC's leaders clearly are not getting this done, and they are losing the team (another thing effective leadership never lets happen; these "high performance team" and "exceptional results" concepts, by the way, are taught by NAMB's Next Level Leadership staffers--see NAMB's website for more details).

Bro. Texas Pastor, are you out there?

Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Dr. B,

I think I have steam coming out of my ears. Let me check---Ouch!---yes, that is indeed steam, out of both sides!

First, and officially, it was "gossip and slander" (actually libel---yes, that still irks me!), then "resistance to accountability," now "general approach to his relationships on the board." And there is still not an iota of support for any of these accusations.

This kind of personal attack of a whistleblower is what we have come to expect from the worst of the political maneuverers in Washington. But to hear it from the International Mission Board!?!?

How about this verse:

(Psalms 109:4) In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer.

We're praying for you, Dr. B. Thanks for what you are doing, and what we're learning from you!

Love in Christ,

Jeff

Anonymous said...

I just keep wondering...Where were you when the attacks by the Board were leveled at me and other good and godly missionaries who refused to sign a creed (or as they call it, 'an instrument of doctrinal accountability')? Those who refused to bow to what was nothing but a political smear campaign full of lies and inuendo? Where were the Wade Burleson's to speak up for us? SHAME ON SOUTHERN BAPTISTS for turning their backs and burying their heads in the sand while God-called missionaries whom they profess to support were mistreated and used and eventually thrown away!
Signed,
Still Grieving

Wade Burleson said...

Mr. Anonymous Missionary,

Obviously, I was not a trustee at the time. Furthermore, I have drawn the line in the sand on issues that go BEYOND the BF&M. But I promise I am sympathetic with your statement about slandering good missionaries. Our men and women on the field should never be called "liberal, heretics, etc. . . " That language is inflammatory and not even true.
I am doing my best to stop that behavior.

Justamoe,

Let me be clear about something. I would never, ever be in favor of vacating the entire board for two reasons.

(1). Every single trustee is doing what he/she believes is "best" for the IMB.

(2). There are many, many trustees (a clear majority) who want to do what is right, but have been maybe in the dark about some of the important issues I have raised. They are now coming up to speed very, very quickly.

(3). Even those few who may have had less than pure motives for some of their actions, or possibly a warped sense of "doctrinal purity," do not need to be removed. I would not want them to miss the opportunity of working with me for the next seven and one half years.

tl said...

I would conjecture (and that is all it is) that Dr. Tom is either quite inept when it comes to public accountability (he feels he can say anything and not have to back it up) or he has heard from the powers that be that he has not taken care of the "Burleson problem" yet.

There are other proxies of the junta who are battling good and decent men (and women) with slander and inuendo (see Tom Ascol's Founder's Blog for evidence of that. The junta's proxies there are calling some Baptists "viruses".

Jim Shaver said...

To the Anonymous Missionary:

While it is certainly within the scope of Baptist polity and tradition for a convention to require that its missionaries agree to teach within certain parameters of belief, I believe we (the SBC) made a mistake over the BF&M 2000 requirement.

The mistake was that there should have been a "grandfather" clause in that requirement.

JUSTAMOE said...

Wade,

I agree: not having the opportunity to labor beside you for the coming 7 1/2 years definitely would be something missed if the entire board were set aside! And, your statement should be a relief to those IMB trustees who read the postings here without offering a single comment regarding the matter.

However, I stand by what I said: the condition of the world in which we live--and the denomination of which you and I are a part--requires better leadership than what is being experienced at this time. The apparent evidence is that, repeatedly for the past 5 months or longer, folks occupying trusted roles among us have failed to serve the team--as the team serves the important task of world evangelization--or even to inform the team fully of important actions made on their part. This is not effective leadership. I dare say that, if you consistently offered the same to the nice congregation you serve as senior pastor (and you don't), that church would have legitimate reason to be gravely concerned at the least, and the responsibility for a strong conversation or worse at the most.

I, for one, appreciate the grace you continue to extend--it is what makes you a good candidate, I think, for the SBC president's position now being discussed at other blog sites.

The main thing: be God's man, no matter what I or anyone else says.

Charlie said...

Wade
The fire heats up. Even Pilate was
not wont to condem Jesus without knowing the charges. Men of GOD, such as yourself, must rely on the Holy Spirit and the inspired word of GOD rather than vain traditions of men. This one thing I know, this episode has brought many more Baptist to their knees and that's a good thing. I ,for one, want more calluses on my knees for you and our beloved Southern Baptist.

Charlie

Former M said...

Your trustee friend also wrote in his post: "I love our diversity as Baptists. It is the essence of the cooperative program to invite others into a big tent that has been adequately defined by our confession. The BFM 2000 does that for us. To promote cooperation and to embrace diversity is to value dissent and open debate about issues of substance. In this environment, it is important to remember that just because we disagree it does not mean we don't like each other."

This is the crux of the conflict. Wade, you are not as afraid of diversity as other leadership would like you to be. The official reasons for requesting your termination are no more correct than missionaries were fired for the reasons declared against them.

Terminated missionaries were not liberal, except in their giving and sacrificial ministry. Those who signed did not state by such that they were not liberal, they simply stated that they would bow to pressure "from on high." Various regional leaders told missionaries that it did not matter so much what they believed, as long as they would sign the paper.

Libel, slander, innuendo, sly winks and nods have been the tactical norm for removing those from SBC life who would not bow to the political agenda. This has been the way of life for much of the conservative ressurgence leadership.

I am aware of your love for the BF&M 2000. That is not sufficient for some. Signing the document likely would have "protected" me from being fired in 2002. I know, however, how others that did sign were being and have been treated. Many missionaries are still under pressure to jump ship because of this fear of diversity.

Whenever faith is defined as the set of beliefs we accept, there will always be a lot of anxiety in the system that makes room for diversity. Propositional faith is only as secure as its premises. If someone disagrees with one's beliefs, it is not a simple matter of disagreement, it is an attack against one's framework of faith. If you take out one card, the whole structure collapses. Such a faith cannot abide diversity.

The logical problem is that we are all infallible humans without a perfect grasp of the truth. "Where two or three are reconciled (gathered together)," Christ is the glue that unites them (Mt 18). There are too many that are afraid of allowing grace to cover for someone's failure of understanding, even their own. Rather than to become reconciled, they would rather sever relationships. This is not the will of Christ Jesus, but of frail and fearful humanity.

"My faith has found a resting place, not in device nor creed, I trust the ever-living One, His wounds for me shall plead."

Anonymous said...

As a born and bred (but recovering) SB I find all the current news fascinating. After "rescuing" the SB from the "liberals" the take-over is cracking and the plaster is falling. One of the things I've learned over these 25 years is that fundamentalism requires an enemy in order to thrive. Otherwise the movement starves. The modis operata is to demonize a perceived enemy, which then justifies the effort to destroy (by any means). Now that all the former "enemies" are gone, and requiring an enemy to exist, the SB is now beginning to devour its own. I love it! The list keeps growing (I'm sure I'll miss several, but these come to mind): Hemphill, Snider, now Rankin, now Reccord. If I were a fundy I'd have to be wondering, "Am I next?" It does beg a question: Land? Patterson? Chapman? One thing for sure--the list will continue to grow. Otherwise the movement starves, and "they" ain't gonna let that happen!

Kevin Bussey said...

Great advice for us Wade. Thanks for your grace and your toughness during this ordeal.

Elizabeth said...

Wade,
Is there anything at all that we can do to let the trustees know how unhappy we are with the way this is now being handled? I want them to know that this constant stream of "new and changed accusations" that are never backed up with any proof is totally unacceptable and ungodly. Since everything has to go through Tom Hatley now, I feel that we do not even have a voice. Thank you for your blog. I can't imagine what kind of things went on before the "electronic age".

Anonymous said...

Ann's first comment on this post stings me to the bone. I want to weep when I hear things like that, because from her--and many other outside points of view --she's right. What happened to servant leadership? How can we win others to Christ when the perception is that we don't even follow Him? As pastors and ministers, we exist to serve, not be served, to be a channel of Christ's saving power to a lost and dying world, not to grasp power for ourselves. Where is the fear of God in us? Don't we realize that we will be held accountable for every word we say, every thought we think when we appear before His throne? How can you justify the abuse of power that turns others away from the saving grace of Christ? God forgive us.

Greg Cloud
Muldrow, OK

art rogers said...

Wade and everyone...

There is a significantly stark contrast in what Chairman Hatley said and what has happened.

Specifically, he said they had no problem with public dissent and yet the entire issue has been just that. This is the first time we have heard that the problem was with the way Wade interacted with other trustees.

That leads us to think he is trying to obfuscate the issue with this story. It clearly stands in contrast to the original claims and there will be no way we will let that go unchallenged.

This is a big issue. I will be blogging on it today myself. Frankly, this has my adrenaline pumping, and it should have everyone else's as well.

Anonymous said...

Wade,
As a student at one of our seminaries studying to go on the mission field I am proud that we have loving and trusting men such as yourself on the BOT looking out for the future of missions and the convention. I have been appaled at what I have seen written about you and your stand. I for one wnat to personally thank you for your blog which has kept me up to date and in prayer for the whole situation. I am praying for you as well as for all of the other trustees on the decisions that will have to be made in the near future. And just remember as one of my dear friends who has posted on here stated. "what is easy is not always right and what is right is not always easy" Blog on!!!!!
BY

Anonymous said...

Wade, Like you said; you picked your battle and drew a line in the sand. You saw something that wasn't right and voiced your opinion.

Any missionary that tries to do the same is gone. The same unfair tactics that are happening to you by SBC fundamentalists are also happening in increasing numbers by the current leadership of the IMB.

You have posted many times how much you support Dr. Rankin and the current IMB leadership, but that doesn't mean they are not susceptible to being wrong or doing something against others that isn't right. Many of us (missionaries) have heard the same thing when we question our leadership; "we have a problem with trust and reject accountability".

The problem is not that IMB leadership is ungodly or doesn't love the Lord. The same could be said for those that are opposing you. But at least you had a way to express your side of the story so that everyone can make a better decision to what the truth is. IMB missionaries don't have that same privilege.

Power corrupts no matter who you are or how godly you desire to be. Usually the best years of leadership are the first ones when the new leader is more humble and willing to listen to others. Once the leader begins to believe that he/she really is a leader and knows whats best for everyone simply because he/she has the temporay position of being the leader things usually start to go sour.

Perhaps for the IMB we should have leaders that serve one 4-year term and then go back to the field. Otherwise they become disconnected from what is really happening on the field and what the real struggles are instead of focusing on pushing their own political agenda and cutting off the heads of all of those that oppose them.

Signed,

Soon to be ex-missionary

Wade Burleson said...

Soon to be ex-missionary,

I do believe that any healthy organization has a 360 degree review process. Just as increased dialogue, healthy dissent, and the willingness to listen to opposing views is essential for effective trustee leadership, the same principles apply within the missionary force. It will not happen overnight, but I do believe that we will eventually get there.

Kevin said...

Wade and everyone
I agree with Greg the statement by Anne also stung me, not only as a pastor but also as a PK (preachers kid). I have no doubt that Dr. H is a good man but it seems that he and the BoT don’t want to be held to an accountability of the churches that make up the SBC. I have e-mailed the IMB and the SBC to explain to me how trustees are chosen and heard nothing. I had to ask a good friend of mine how, because he has been more involved in the SBC process than I have in my 11/2 year of service as a pastor and he gave me a good answer but maybe if you could let some of the others understand how the trustees are chosen it would help to not want to take so drastic steps as what has been suggested. The statements you have used have been nothing but positive and you have in my opinion handled yourself very well.

The LORD bless you, and keep you; The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.' Numbers 6:24&25

In Him
Kevin

a pepper said...

One of the ancient desert fathers said:“there will come a time when the crazy point to the sane and say they are crazy”.

Wade Burleson said...

The President of the Convention appoints what is called the Committee on Committees who in turns nominates men and women to serve on the Nominating Committee. Then, this Committee on Nominations (two people, a layman and a person in fulltime ministry, from each state convention), meets together in March to nominate individuals from across the nation to serve on the various boards, committees and commissions of our Convention. The slate of nominees from the Nominating Committee will be voted on in June at the Southern Baptist Convention. The Nominating Committee will gather in Nashville in two weeks to work on their nominations. Any Southern Baptist can contact the Nominating Commitee member from their state convention to recommend a person for a position of service.

The recommendation from the Nominating Committee can be changed from the floor of the convnetion, but it must be done one nominee at a time, and it must be a substitute motion (a person recommended in the place of the committee's recommendation).

It is a long process, but in essence, the President of the SBC is essential in choosing a Committee on Commitees that is broad based and representative of the entire SBC.

andrea said...

Wade,

You truely are an effective communicator and one that encourages those reading your posts to action. I continue to learn more about my christian heritage, missions, how to conduct clear and kind communications in the midst of great turmoil.

As I read the different posts, bottom line, it appears we all want to make a difference for the kingdom. If not me, then who? We are the salt of the earth..(salt sometimes stings, but it also adds flavor) We are the light of the world...

You keep on being the salt & light ....your heart is speaking volumes... the journey continues..

Anonymous said...

I really feel for Soon to be ex-missionary. He, like me and many others, have suffered greatly over the handling of sensitive issues. The IMB has many strengths, but has a lot to learn in communicating with field personnel and supporting them through organizational changes.

Still, the IMB is the best overall missionary organization I know of and where I feel called to remain.

M

darren said...

Perhaps Dr. Hatley's motivations, consciously or sub-consciously is to take the attention away from this...

"On this blog I have questioned why we needed these new policies. I asked why these policies were being pushed without staff support or evidence of problems on the field, and I simply wondered out loud why we were disqualifying people from service as a missionary for the IMB, including our own President, Dr. Jerry Rankin."

Perhaps by making you the issue, it delays having to deal with the original matter. Speaking of the original matter, where does all that stand now Wade? Is it just a done deal? Can anything, is anything being done about it? What can we do? I know there are a whole lot of us out there who long for the continued direction of Dr. Rankin and for an SBC that embraces cooperating conservatism and a "big tent" mentality of working together with those of whom we may disagree over non-essentials.

Anonymous said...

Dear Wade,

I just stumbled (or, was I providentially led?) onto your blog. I am a seminary student in one of the SBC seminaries, and at one point was considering a career in missions with the IMB. However, what I have observed over a 10 year period has led me to call that into question.

This current controversy really began at (though most likely prior to) the adoption of the BFM 2000. (I try to adhere to the London Baptist Confession of 1689.) I remember when the IMB: 1. required all missionaries to sign the BFM, and 2. summarily dismissed all those who did not, regardless of their point of contention. Most of the points of contention were on the wording "graciously submit." At the time I thought that if they get away with this behavior, who is to say what will be next. At any point in time, some behavior will be considered "liberal" and those who hold it will be denounced.

Salem Witch Trials, anyone? When honest discussion and questioning is not permitted (on an issue that has nothing to do with salvation or Scripture), then I will remove myself from the SBC with a clear conscience.

This beginning to resemble an oligarchy, NOT a Christian community. Impuning somone for having a difference of opinion is not merely wrong, it should frighten us to the very center of our being.

You are being prayed for. So, by the way, are the other trustees. May God shine the light of truth on the issue at hand.

Anonymous said...

Toward the end of your sermon I wept because as a pastor I witnessed a church die in less than a year because leaders followed a corrupt leader and were too afraid to stand up for what is right - principled by God's Word - TRUTH and Gospel-life. They saw personalities rather than principles of a Kingdom mindset. My conscience could no longer live a lie and we resigned with strong warning after 6 months of discussions etc. - the church has died, we are broke and in transition but had no choice but to live by faith in Christ and His Truth. Wade fight on. Luther said: "Eurem geist hau ich of die Schnautze" when a group came to him with half truths. Translated your spirit by which you claim these things I will punch on the snout. He was passionate about the greater cause of Christ like you are. It's not about any of us but Christ and the principles that go the distance to eternity.

Vicki A. Davis said...

What grieves me is people who are choosing to NOT be IMB missionaries or to return because of troubles such as these.

We are in the world --
John 16:33
In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

We WILL have tribulation not MIGHT.

My church has disagreements -- do I quit the church and stop going -- certainly not!

Galatians 6:9
And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Keep the faith! Keep working! Do not quit! We shall reap IF we do not lose heart!

CharlieMac said...

I am a Southern Baptist layman/deacon in my 70's. My father and grandfather were Southern Baptist deacons. I have watched the fundamentalist "resurgence" with
great distress. Many good Christian men and women have been dismissed, disheartened, and run off by being simply labled as a "liberal" when all they did was disagree on some point or matter. I fear more will follow as we are witnessing at this present time. Sure does remind me of the old saying about the political take over in Gremany before WWII. They came for others and I kept quiet until when they came for me there was no one left to speak up. Yet if all us "liberals" leave (a liberal Baptist is still very fundamental in belief compared to many other denominations) the "fundamentalist" will surely win! Praise God that our WMU has not seen fit to "graceously submit" to the wishes of the executive Committee as of yet.

Greg Hicks said...

More evidence that public dissent IS the issue: Don Kirland, Editor of the Baptist Courier (www.baptistcourier.com/198.article) notes in a January 28, 2006 article, "James Guenther, a Nashville attorney who counsels both the Southern Baptist and South Carolina Baptist conventions, has... offered his opinion that what he termed 'minority reports' are inappropriate once trustees have made their decisions concerning institutional business." This is consistent with Chairman Hatley's remarks quoted in the TimesDispatch article by David Ress (February 24, 2006): "If you want to be a critic, you need to ask if you should be on the board; if you want to be an internal critic, criticize internally."

Anonymous said...

I grieve with the ex-missionaries above and the soon-to-be ex-missionary who have been the victims of innuendos and baseless accusations of liberalism. My family and I always envisioned ourselves retiring one day as emeritus missionaries after a lifetime of service with the IMB. We too found ourselves on the wrong side of the BF&M 2000 debate and unwilling to sign what we interpreted as a creedal statement in contrast to the historic Baptist view of confessions of faith as expressions of general consensus regarding biblical doctrines rather than "instruments of doctrinal accountability." That this was an ongoing manifestation of the power struggle that has characterized the “conservative resurgence” is evident in the fact that the term "inerrancy," the battle cry of those who sought to oust the supposed liberals from denominational posts, was not even incorporated into the language of the new BF&M 2000 in the article dealing with the Scriptures. The conservative resurgence from its inception has been and continues to be about control, domination, and the suppression of any dissenting voices. The commentary above about fundamentalism requiring an enemy to survive is certainly apropos. I continue to pray for my former missionary colleagues and their invaluable work, but the system itself is definitely ill—some might suggest that it’s even on life-support. I pray for the sake of missions and kingdom advance that some of the young voices within the SBC will rise up and say “enough is enough.” Otherwise, I fear that while God will certainly continue to mobilize Spirit-filled and Spirit-led believers to participate in the harvest He has prepared, Southern Baptists will be watching from the sidelines as internal squabbles and feuding decimate a once-powerful missionary force.

Wade Burleson said...

I am only refusing to post comments that personally attack individuals. Those of you who comment regarding the signing of the BF&M need to be reminded that the issue today is the demand for doctrinal conformity on issues that go BEYOND the BF&M 2000.

However, any spirit of hostility or unChristlike behavior was wrong then, just as it is now.

Anonymous said...

I'm the 'soon to be ex-missionary',

I wanted to comment to both Vicki Davis and the last post that you (Wade) placed.

First to Vicki, I'm not giving up because things got tough or I wasn't willing to suffer. I was given an ultimatum by the IMB to sign a document within a two week window or resign and if I didn't resign I would be fired.

I fully expected to serve out my career as an IMB missionary. I had no intention of giving up or throwing in the towel. The decision was made for me.

I should also note that the document was not the BFM 2000. It had nothing to do with doctrine or theology, but it would have caused me to violate laws in my host country that I was not comfortable in doing.

This was a situation where the IMB got it wrong, and like the responses you've been given in questioning a policy or decision, I too have received the same responses, just from a different set of people.

Wade, to you this may only be about issues related to the BFM 2000, but in reality those that want absolute power and control won't stop at just doctorinal issues.

If you don't want to post this I understand, but I would like vicki to know leaving the IMB was not my choice.

Anonymous said...

If I may direct a comment to Ann:
I hurt for you for knowing few if any preachers who are nice. I will be glad to introduce you to some, starting with my current pastor. I am glad that apparently this has not driven you from Jesus as has happened with some women I have known. Please don’t judge Jesus by some who claim to speak for him, but who do so in a manner that drives people from Him rather than bringing them closer.
I agree Wade seems nice. (I have never met him personally, so I must say it that way.) I was quite pleasantly surprised to find him open minded and gracious in his comments, even when he disagreed with someone. I say surprised because he is part of the SBC power structure - though I fear not for much longer - and so many of them seem very intolerant of any opinion not their own. He published my comments, when I was expecting him not to because I was expressing opinions I thought he might disagree with. Thank you, Wade, for being open-minded. I hope you succeed.
There are nice preachers out there. I pray you find some of them instead of the other kind, which apparently you have been overwhelmed by up to now.
To change the subject, “drawing lines in the sand” reminds me of the Alamo, and we know what happened there, and what happened subsequently to the winners of that battle. We don’t need more battles; there are too many casualties. That is not what will bring people to Jesus. It is more likely to turn them off.
Finding common ground with other Christians will make more resources available to do work in this world, and make conflicts that turn people away less likely. Finding common ground with non-Christians will make them more receptive to the message of Jesus. You can do either of these while still stating one’s own belief/opinion, as long as you are respectful of the other person. Seems like a win-win thing to me.
Susie

Anonymous said...

Wade,

you made reference to the 360 evaluation process, and that is a very good tool. It would be grand if we on the field had such a tool...I have spent more than 25 years on the field, and since "New Directions" (often referred to as "No Directions" by field personnel), I have had no opportunity to evaluate colleagues or any level above myself. Why does an organization with such a large number of "employees" not have a decent evaluation tool?

Anonymous said...

Wade,

Welcome to the world of the IMB. You are experiencing exactly what most missionaries on the field experience if we ask questions, try to get clarification or are "whistle blowers." The difference is that you will not have your career cut short, while we on the field have seen this so many times that we choose to not speak up because we know the outcome already. Welcome to the world, almost as we experience it.

Greg Hicks said...

I think the operative phrase in the quote from Chairman Hatley ("We're not going to do mudslinging in public,") is "IN PUBLIC." I get the sense the trustee leadership has decided, based on the reaction from their public mudslinging to date, that it would be wise to take their mudslinging back behind closed doors; hence, the move to reverse course on bringing a motion before the Convention to remove Wade (which would have forced the issue into the light) and "discipline" Wade (or "manage the issues" or whatever they are calling whatever they plan to do) in secret.

Wade, is there a way you can get into print, through a channel more widely disseminated (such as Baptist Press), your permission and request that they make public the specifics of their accusations against you?

Anonymous said...

I am a little disturbed to hear the comments by some of our missionaries on the field who are unhappy with "New Directions." I currently serve with the board in a closed country & while I have not spent 15 or 20 years in the field, I am all for anything straight from the Bible. And New Directions certainly is ... but then again, how it plays out kind of depends on our willingness to evaluate new ideas (which, in the case of New Directions are really ancient concepts that maybe we haven't been practicing for a while) ... and then be obedient.

Wade Burleson said...

Mr. Anonymous,

I affirm and support New Directions. I do believe hearing criticism is healthy. I make decisions as a pastor and really appreciate comments from those who disagree. It sharpens my ministry.

So . . . I am not as disturbed as you by the comments, even though I agree with you and not those commenting. Constructive criticism will only make us sharper where we are effective and possibly cause us to pause and consider changing methods where we are not.

Wade Burleson said...

Greg,

I am considering insisting that any resolution to the matter regarding my removal be done within a public board meeting. I have nothing to hide and have repeatedly asked that details be in the public record. Closed door secrecy is not healthy in our organization unless it is for the protection of our missionaries. I need no such protection.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the questions about the nominating process, sometimes finding information is not so much a matater of it being "hidden" from us as a matter of us knowing where to look for that info(which can be daunting!)Check out www.sbc.net and there will be a link on the right column that says "Understanding and Participating in the SBC Nomination Process." That will link you to a letter from Dr. Chapman explaining the process and at the end of the letter is a list of those trustees and committee members whose terms expire this year and whose replacements the Committee on Nominations is now working on. There is also a link "click here to recommend SBC trustees and committee members." This morning the link was not working, but is it supposed to take you to a nomination form and information on your state's committee on nominations members and the committee chairman. You may have to call the Exec Comm to get that info if the link doesn't work.

PLEASE NOTE: Trustees may be eligible for two consecutive terms of service, but the second term is not automatic. They still have to go through the nomination and election process. Jason Sampler has the IMB trustee term information in his trustee contact post on his blog. If the trustee's term of service is through 2006 and has an "E" beside it, that person is eligible to be nominated again this year. Your readers may want to ask some pointed questions of the nominating committee about these.

Joel Rainey said...

Wade,
Just three words from history that will hopefully encourage you:

"Athanasius contra mundum"

Keep pressing!

Bob Cleveland said...

Wade: You may have hit the heart of the issue. I've only been in the SBC for about 25 years, but I have learned that the preservers of the status quo do not like people disagreeing with them. They will frequently plead the need for unity and harmony as reasons to conceal what they do not want people to know. I used to go along with that, but I don't, any more.

All too frequently the truth has been painted over, and that is just not the King's way.

Keep on keepin' on, brother. Jesus did, and He was not afraid to call a bunch of pharisees "whitewashed tombs full of dead men's bones". I frankly think you are being more conciliatory than He would. But I think He approves.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Wade,

This is the disturbed anon from above. I am not disturbed in the sense that everyone should not have a voice, but in the sense that New Directions was implemented years ago & some still feel as if they do not understand it or have a place within this particular ideology. (I should have made that clearer in the initial comment, but was half-asleep). I am on the field & have had a couple of disagreements with folks we work with & they have been graciously resolved. In one instance the situation was resolved & those involved agreed with our position. In the other situation, we still disagree, but have submitted to the counsel of our leadership & trusted God with the situation (doesn't involve biblical issues ... more logistical).

All of that being said, it seems healthy to me to attempt dialogue through the proper channels if it involves a biblical issue, conviction, disagreement over logistical stuff, ideology, etc, etc. Fortunately, our issues were resolved at the first level, if that hadn't happened, we would have continued up the chain. If it was a biblical issue & no resolution was found, we would stand on our convictions & leave. However, if the issue is simply logistical or ideological & not a biblical issue, after all channels have been exhausted, there are two options: 1. I can agree with the direction of the organization & get to work within the framework of the ideology or 2. Consider that my calling is valid & so is the organization's, but that they are different & find another place to serve. Again, I say this comes after all attempts to resolve. You are quite an example of what this should look like. If my co-workers or I have similar issues, we should follow your example, no matter what the cost ... this is the way of Christ.

I am hesitant to include this next paragraph, but think it may be beneficial (not trying to boast, but it reveals our reasons for deciding to address our issues the way we did). Anyway, we heard that same stuff about leadership not wanting to hear it, they will shut you up, etc, etc. But in the end we decided that it didn't matter ... the biblical way is to seek resolution. So we decided whether we opened a big can or worms or not, we would follow the pattern set before us in Scripture. And were pleasantly surprised by the graciousness with which both situations were handled.

Again, thank you for taking a stand on behalf of those throughout the world who have not heard the Good News!