We are living in an age of instant communication, and a growing ability for secure communication. In this age of information I believe an important challenge we face at the International Mission Board can be summarized in one little phrase --- too little communication.
I do not speak in an official capacity in this post, only as one person with an opinion.
Let me give some examples of too little communication:
(1). In an organization as large as the International Mission Board it would be helpful for every department in Richmond to obtain daily, secure information on major decisions from other departments. The sense of teamwork among the major divisions of the IMB can only be enhanced by MORE communication, not less. This will require an initial investment for design and implementation, but the longterm benefits would seem to me to far outweigh the cost.
(2). Important reports presented during the public sessions of the International Mission Board trustee meetings could be made available immediately to the public at large through either internet pod casts or the posting of the transcript of those reprorts. Waiting three months for the official minutes to be produced allows either misinformation or miscommunication to foster for too long.
For instance, the Chairman's report during our last Plenary Session this past Tuesday, as I heard it, gave two less than favorable opinions on two different matters:
First, the Chairman, according to my understanding and several others who were in the room, seemed to indicate blogs were lowering the morale of missionaries. From the perspective of those I visit with, blogs have only energized, motivated and compelled missionaries and average Southern Baptists to be informed and involved. However, if I and others misunderstood Dr. Floyd, it would be helpful for his report to be made available immediately in order for us to be corrected in our misunderstanding.
Second, the Chairman also seemed to indicate that his major concern with the work of the International Mission Board was the sending out of missionaries into the field without adequate training. This concern of Dr. Floyd, I believe, is without basis or merit, but for Dr. Floyd to convince me and others that this is a truly a legitimate problem, he will need to communicate MORE with evidence that the training of our missionaries is inadequate.
Frankly, there is a report coming to our Board at our next meeting from a subcommittee that has investigated training of missionaries at the ILC and I will be VERY surprised if it says anything other than the IMB is superior in missionary training. Maybe the Chairman is referring to inadequate "seminary" training, but since I don't know for sure, I again reiterate that what is needed is MORE communication.
(3). As a trustee I asked at my first meeting, over a year ago, for anecdotal evidence that the new policies were needed in order to combat charismatic problems on the field, or inappropriate baptisms on the field. I never received an answer to my question. I believe that had there been an attempt to answer my question with straightforward, clear communication when I initially asked the question, then much of what happened last year could have been avoided.
However, my question was only finally answered THIS week, one year after I initially asked it --- and I was told that there is no anecdoctal evidence of IMB staff not dealing appropriately with charismatic problems on the field, or unbiblical baptisms taking place on the field, that would support the need for the new policies. I really appreciated the honesty in answering my question by the Chairman of the Committee that dealt with the policies, and now I know that the policies were pushed not because of any anecdotal evidence of problems on the field not handled properly by the IMB administration, but because of a particular doctrinal mindset within the Board (in other words --- "this is what we believe the Scripture to teach").
Again, if that information had been communicated to me early last year we could have moved on to other issues, but there was too little communication, not too much.
(4). There is a new trustee subcommittee, chaired by Dr. Corbaley, that was appointed this week in order to research our mission work around the world and focus in on any problems we might be facing. It was said during our plenary session that this committee will be interviewing field personnel, administrators, trustees, seminary presidents, missions professors, and others (as listed by Overseas Chairman Chuck McAlister).
My concern at the outset for this committee is one of TOO LITTLE communication, not too much. Do trustees know enough about field conditions to determine if something is actually a problem? Do seminaries know enough about the admistration of the IMB to determine there is actually trouble that needs to be addressed? In other words, I'm not saying this research is a bad idea, but frankly, unless there is a WEALTH of communication between all the people involved, too often preconcieved ideas and alternate agendas can sidetrack the important work of the Board.
I think the real problem we face as a Board is not too much communication with each other, but TOO LITTLE communication.
Lord willing, that will change.
In His Grace,