There are comments on my blog that are posted by people, both named and anonymous, that cause me to stop and reread what I just read. Today I would like to make one of those comments the subject of this post.
This is one of those posts you will want to remember, and I'm sure, I will point back to it in the future. The following comment was dated Saturday, March 4, 2006.
"About 5 years ago (in an open session), a motion was made by an IMB trustee that the board assess church plants on the field by conducting spot checks of some churches. This motion was defeated; one argument made was that once churches are established, they are autonomous and not under the authority of the SBC or IMB.
A similar motion was brought to the floor again in 2004 and passed. This explains the reference to prior board action in the following.
According to the public record (minutes of the September 2004 Board of Trustess Meeting) a report was made to the board of the results of an August 2004 meeting of representatives of the IMB staff and trustees and seminary presidents and missions professors. The trustee representatives presented 10 recommendations to the board (not for a vote but to be referred to committee for study). The following is an excerpt of several of those recommendations:
Michael Barrett brought recommendations from the four representatives of the trustees, Tom Hatley, chairman; Michael Barrett, vice chairman; John Floyd, chairman of the Mission Personnel Committee; and Bob Pearle, chairman of Overseas Committee.
The following recommendations are from the four trustee representatives in consultation with staff, seminary presidents and seminary professors coming from the August 13, 2004 meeting ...
THAT we refer to the Overseas Committee the action to implement an accurate annual audit of beliefs on the field as previously adopted by this Board, and that this audit is to be reported to the full board. (This is to insure that Baptist churches are being planted on the field.)
....THAT the Overseas Committee or appropriate sub-committee revisit the definition of boundaries and level of cooperation with G.C.C. groups, with the purpose of bringing clarification to the board, staff, and especially to our leadership on the field.
....THAT the Overseas Committee and appropriate sub-committee continue to study and evaluate the teachings and curriculum at M.L.C. and training on the field as especially regards ecclesiology and the role of women in ministry..
....THAT the proper Overseas subcommittee revisit and clarify for all the definition of a local church.
....THAT the Overseas Committee review the role of women on the field and work with staff to improve our communication in this area.
Tom Hatley referred these recommendations to the appropriate committees."
As far as can be acertained from subsequent minutes, the definition of a church has been addressed as has the issue of levels of cooperation with other groups. It will be interesting to see, in light of the discussion on this post, what will be the criteria for the belief "audits" and what will be the definition of "Baptist" church. It may behoove those interested to also be alert to the issue of the "proper role" of women on the field and whether that too will exceed the parameters of the BFM.
It is healthy for our convention to stay informed on these issues within the IMB.
In His Grace,