Saturday, January 28, 2006

An Offer To My Fellow Trustees

I do not ever recall having a personal conversation with John Schaefer, a fellow IMB trustee from Georgia, but someone sent to me his comments from The Christian Index.

Frankly, John seems like a really nice guy, and I am greatly encouraged by some of what he says. However, I would like to gently and lovingly question John's understanding of a few events. There are some things that people say that will never elicit a response from me just because what is said is so bizarre, but in a case like this, John seems to be a great guy with a sincere heart, and I feel it is appropriate to respond to his thoughtful comments on the IMB situation.

John said, "in quotations" . . .and my responses

“Wade wasn’t happy with the vote on those issues and, not liking the results, went public with his views by expressing them in his blog."

John is mostly correct here. When a Board establishes policy contrary to the consent, counsel and advice of their President, there better be really, really strong reasons for doing so. I believe the new policies create problems rather than solve any. In fact, the old policies were quite sufficient. However, the Board took two years to address these issues and ultimately voted, by majority, to establish the new policies, contrary to the desires of our President who was not allowed to address the trustees on these issues with the freedom and authority his very office deserves.

Where John and I probably disagree is that I feel as a trustee I am ultimately accountable to the Convention for my service. Once the Board passed these new policies, the proper procedure for a trustee in the minority position is to take his dissent to the Convention at large. Trustee public dissent should always be gracious, principled and for the betterment of the mission of the Convention at large. I know my heart in this matter. I am willing to apologize to anyone and everyone that feels my blog is the cause of division. I am seeking to keep us from becoming divided amongst ourselves, splintered and separated from former areas of cooperation, and ultimately isolated from other Great Commission Churches. That is truly my heart.

I am not demanding that my fellow trustees "conform" to my beliefs in order to cooperate with me in missions and evangelism, but I am simply saying to them, "It is wrong and un-Baptistic when you are demanding that I and others conform to your beliefs on non-essential doctrines in order to serve on the mission field." Praying in tongues in private and the qualifications of the person who baptizes you are non-essentials. In my opinion, these two new policies are detrimental to the cause of Christ and our work on the mission field through the International Mission Board.

However, if these two new policies are Biblical and essential for the effectiveness of the IMB fulfilling her mission, there ought to be no concern that the Convention is made aware of them through public dissent. But if there are real problems with the policies, and the President chosen to lead the IMB is now DISQUALIFIED from serving as a missionary in the very organization which he presides over, then as my good friend would say, "Something smells rotten in Denmark."

Some people who find themselves still not able to comprehend the connection between these new policies and the future of the IMB, might give pause and consider that I might have information that sheds light on why these new policies are even an issue. In other words, though I am simply arguing principles and taking the high road in this matter, you may rest assured I would not argue on the basis of principle if I were operating off of "hearsay" and "conjecture." I am operating on what I know firsthand, or if you prefer, truth. I have gone through the proper channels to express my concern, but until this date, I have not had the opportunity to address them before the entire board. It is not because I haven't asked, but rather because no one, so far, is willing to discuss it. I am hopeful at some point to be able to do so.

We run enormous risk in society if we begin using blogs to shape policy. There is great potential to destroy an organized, orderly process for governance, regardless if you are serving in the secular or denominational world."

I don't know what Board John has served on in the secular world, but I am sure that the investors in companies like Enron and WorldCom would have appreciated knowing about certain policies and practices before both went bankrupt. The IMB is not comparable in circumstances to those two secular companies, but the principle is the same. A trustee has a larger obligation than to simply be loyal to fellow trustees by doing what they expect him to do.

The attorney for the IMB has a written opinion that is available to the public that states a trustee's minority dissent of a majority action, whether written or verbal, is not a violation of IMB policy unless the dissent violates confidentiality, is intentionally deceptive, or seeks to harm the organization. Any careful reading of my blog will convince the fair minded reader that I am fastidious in meeting all three requirements.

Not one trustee has ever alleged I broke confidentiality regarding the new policies. I have simply voiced public opposition to the action of a majority of the trustees. I am seeking to help our convention for decades to come by ceasing the narrowing of the parameters of cooperation on the mission field by demanding conformity on non-essential doctrines.

“Because his blog is mixed with truth and heresay (sic), people now don’t know what to believe."

Again, I really appreciate John's perception of things, and I don't intend for this to sound harsh, but I would like to ask John a direct question."Since you have never contacted me in private before you made this public statement, allow me to ask you a gentle question, "What hearsay?" You show me what I have said that is hearsay (not first hand knowledge by me) and I will repent on the spot. Again, "Show me the hearsay!" Give me chapter and verse. Give me the sentence, the word, the paragraph." Show me. By the way Christian Index editor, I am sure the misspelling of hearsay in your article is an honest mistake.

"He seems to be comfortable with the idea of making public what is said at trustee meetings"

Well said John. You got this one on the money. I am very comfortable with the entire Southern Baptist Convention knowing what goes on in PUBLIC IMB meetings. Confidential meetings such as Forums and Executive Sessions must remain confidential. Confidential meetings are necessary for security purposes, but Christian organizations better be very, very careful to make sure Board meetings are open to the public at large as often as possible. I will never intentionally violate confidentiality rules, and if I do, and it is pointed out to me, I will be the first to repent and make it right. Confidentiality is very necessary in some instances of Board work, but the dissemnation of information and the communication of events that occur in public meetings are both even more essential than confidential meetings. The Convention should know, and MUST know, what is taking place in our agencies. Public meetings are by definition public and you can't get more public than the Internet!

"But I think there is basically a great spirit at the IMB and I can’t think of a trustee who is not supportive of President Jerry Rankin.”

This last statement excites me to no end. I wish it were true. In fact, I'll go a step further. I want it to be true; so much so, that I am making an offer to my fellow trustees.

If John's perception is true and there is unanimous support and respect of President Jerry Rankin, I propose at our next IMB meeting in March that the trustees go on record by roll call with a statement of our love and support for Dr. Jerry Rankin and his service to the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. I further propose that if this statement of support is unanimous, then the trustees should suspend the new policies until our respected President and staff offer a solution that is more satisfactory to the IMB's stated mission as defined by our President.

If this happens, all of my concerns are absolutely unfounded.

Someone might ask, "But why can't we just vote on the recommendation of support for our beloved President and KEEP THE NEW POLICIES?"

Again, the new policies disqualifies our respected leader from serving as a missionary on the very Board he oversees.

If we as trustees can't see this as a problem, then something is wrong with us.

In His Grace,



Anonymous said...

Dear Wade,

I am repeatedly amazed at people's sloppy handling of God's work, especially in important matters like this. The trustees, in their official record, accused you of "slander" when they really meant "libel," when actually there was no example they could produce of slander or libel! Now this newspaper has released an article in which they use the word "heresay" in quoting a fellow trustee who is accusing you of hearsay, when that trustee cannot produce (I am sure) one example of hearsay in your blog articles! Thank you for setting such a good example of taking care in what you write in this blog. Hopefully that will be part of your critics' undoing! Hang in there---we're all praying for you!

Love in Christ,

Anonymous said...


Maybe, just maybe, good, practical policies which represent what Southern Baptists believe, and more importantly, what missionaries have experienced would be the outcome if IMB trustee meetings were more open through blogs such as yours. Through your blogs and Marty's, I am now more informed...what is wrong with the constituency being informed?

Anonymous said...

Of great irony is the fact that the majority of trustees of the IMB could not be appointed because every candidate is asked if they will teach and function under the BF&M 2000--which many of these trustees obviously feel to be an inadequate statement of faith.

Anonymous said...

Wade, The Holy Spirit is definitely working thru you/ He is your guide. Stay the coarse....

charlie said...


Obviously the HOLY SPIRIT is guiding you. Truth is truth. Right is right if nobody's right and wrong is wrong if everybody's wrong.What did JESUS say about the "traditions" of the forefathers. GOD is at work all the time. How many times do we read HIS word and wonder when did HE put that in. What a GOD

Stay the course

Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher said...

I think the whole thing that bothers me the most is:

How does anyone know what the majority of Southern Baptists believe. Why so many of us are Southern Baptists is that we believe in the priesthood of the believer.

While I believe that many who speak in tongues in the US do so for perhaps prideful purposes. I strongly feel that authentic use of tongues is when God divinely allows people to communicate with an unreached people through the gift of language one has not learned.

In fact, if one has this happen and suddenly begins to speak a dialect of Chinese which they have not heretofore known and they are called to work with the Chinese I feel that person is double called.

We do not speak in tongues in our First Baptist Church, however, tongues are not necessary to reach the believers in the pews -- we all speak the same language. (We'd also need an interpreter to be Biblical.)

However, if it is an authentic presence of the Holy Spirit I do not think Southern Baptists would argue with GOd's own Holy Spirit.

Who did a survey to see what we as Southern Baptists believe?

I'm as conservative as they come but I feel in my heart of hearts that they have this one wrong.

It is important for you, as I believe you are doing,not to be tempted to focus on yourself but to focus on CHrist and His word.

I also pray God will leave you on the Board if it is His will.

Anonymous said...

I remember a time when I loved attending the yearly missionary field meetings. There was often some kind of controversy and discussion stemming from budget constraints or policies from Richmond. There was always representation from the Richmond offices. There was always open discussion of issues. While missionaries on the field did not agree with all new policies, they had freedom to air their concerns.
I saw skits enacted that made fun of policies which seemed ridicuous. I heard musical presentations addressing concerns from the field. I remember someone giving an anouncement after a Richmond presentation that marbles had been found on the stage, and would Richmond please come and claim them.
In all of this openness, there was also a sense that we would abide by the policies. That did not mean we had to agree with them. We could speak against them and yet accept our accountability to them.
That day is gone. Throughout the last seven years I spent on the field, there was no sense of openness and the ability to address concerns. "Public forums" were under tight control so as to be simply pro forma. In the process of shutting off criticism and honest dialogue, the IMB lost the trust of its missionaries. Sure, it does not have to respond to open criticism, but that is because it has ushered in a new day in which fear has overtaken the role of trust.
This is not love. This is not the pattern of authority and leadership we find in the gospel of Christ Jesus.
Wade, your position before the trustees is very different from that of the missionaries serving under the IMB. They do not have the freedom to speak out for fear of harming their ministries, families, and livelihood. Twenty years ago, they had the freedom to disagree without the fear of repercussions. No longer is that true. We need openness. Missionaries need to be able to trust the administration and the SBC leadership. When unity is defined as "you must agree with my positions," it is a forgery. Unity is found in purpose, not in opinion.
1 John 4:18 reminds us that there is no fear in love. Rather, perfect love expels fear. We have left love somewhere behind in the trajectory of ruling through fear. Doctrine is overrated where love is cast aside.

Anonymous said...

Wade, you wrote, "When a Board establishes policy contrary to the consent, counsel and advice of her President"
"Her" sort of jumped at me. Is the Board a him or her if you know what I mean? Would 'their President' be better?
Of course I'm straing at a nat, when the big picture is 'what in the world is the Board doing and do they think they are God'?
It's been said a lot of times a person is promoted until they reach a position they are ineffective, and that's where they stay.
In days gone by, the Board sent missionaries and mailed their salaries and trusted the Holy Spirit to guide them.
Not anymore. The Board has promoted itself as Jerry Rankin stated in his "Reflections on Response to Missionaries Affirming the BFM". He wrote: "We seek to hold missionaries accountable."
When did missionaries get a bad reputation? Jesus did not warn us of missionaries. He told us to bewared of techers of religion. (Living: Mark 12:38)
The Board has promoted itself to being teachers of religion. That happened when the 'glue' that held Baptists together was changed from 'missions' to 'doctrine'.
It got off to a good start by a letter (recorded in the April 1997 Board's documents) to missionaries to have "a confidence and willingness to follow the wisdom and guidance of God-appointed leadership, whether we necessarily understand or agree."
It's sad to hear the "fear" that missionaries report...not of the enemy but their complaints leaking to their God-appointed leaders.
I asked in a letter printed in the Baptist Standard March 18, 2001, if the rules put on missionaries would require a Baptist KGB.
Wade, with the help of God and concerned Christians, maybe we can get back to what Baptist used to be.
Rex Ray

Anonymous said...

A briefer--but similarly one-sided--account of the situation is found today at the Missouri Baptist Convention's "Pathway" website (see the link: So far, many (of the few!) articles read alike--it seems that reporters are surveying Wade's blog without considering the real issues, talking to IMB trustees they can identify as in the majority on the matter, and basing part of what is written in their publications off of articles in other publications.

This trustee's statements can apply to the news agencies' staffs: how can they know what to print if none of them have a conversation at some length with Wade? That kind of action--or, inaction!--makes their reporting very slanted and, honestly, suspicious.

Two huge concerns, still: (1) most of the messengers attending the Greensboro meeting will not know the issues when this matter comes to the floor--they're good-hearted people hard to reach with the news; (2) the real issues aren't being reported to those who ARE reading about the matter in Baptist publications--for the reasons I mention in the first paragraph above. Better keep blogging, everybody!

And another thing: the Christian Index editor didn't catch a split infinitive before taking this story to print (can anyone else find this error?--analysis that close should be able to understand these issues, and analysis that loose probably will miss the bigger point).

Anonymous said...

If it makes you feel any better William Carey was booted out of the Baptist Missionary Society.

Jay R. said...

Rex Ray,


Wade said...


I really think that my fellow Southern Baptists will hear my heart and Das Boot will be removed!

Keep preaching Christ Jay Jay.


Anonymous said...


I hope your Saturday posting was a time-released one--the time stamp that I see reads "2:44 AM"!

"The most holy thing a person can do when he is tired: rest."

Dr. John said...

I have been following all the events that have occurred, documented both in your blog and through accounts in the secular press. As a Southern Baptist for many years who has observed changes in policy and participated in some changes in direction of the convention, your present stand on the issues before the IMB are correct and very much needed in such a time as this. I am proud of your courage and the unwaivering support of Rachelle, your children, your church and so many who are like minded. Since I do know your heart in this matter and in other matters that I have been personally involved, I support your stand completely and am thankful to join you and to be called your friend.

Anonymous said...

Dear Wade,

I am so glad that you have taken a stand for our convention. When these new policies were approved I was grieved in my spirit. I am a pastor in Oklahoma and I love the IMB. However, the IMB should serve the churches who constitute its membership. These new measures are not biblical, and they do not conform to the BFM, nor do they represent the views of the churches.

The trustees new guidelines are devisive. It's paradoxical, but your efforts are tring to restore the freedom and unity that have always been a landmark of our convention.

Let me know if we (your supporters)can help in any way.

Praying for you, the IMB, and our convention,


OKpreacher said...

Pastor Wade,
I'm praying for you to be able to stand strong and have great wisdom. What your doing is so needed. As a recent graudate of one of our seminaries, what you're talking about happening on the IMB committee is happening in many of our seminaries as well. So stand firm.


Anonymous said...

I was baptized in a Southern Baptist church in college. Soon after, I was asked to participate in a Sunday School class taught by a pastor explaining basic tenents of the Christian faith, and basic Southern Baptist doctrine.

Having grown up in a church, the explanation of Christianity was review. However, I did not grow up in a Baptist church, and the Southern Baptist doctrine was all new to me. The ideas of priesthood of the believer, independance of the local church, cooperation in funding for missions all resonated with me. I have been a loyal Baptist, tithing and giving to the cooperative program ever since.

I have read every one of your posts, and your arguments make perfect sense to me. However, I am willing to hear with an open mind why the trustees believe that the new requirements for missionaries are necessary. I invite one of the trustees in the majority to start a blog to inform us why the new policy is important. We SBCers are intelligent enough and fair enough to look at the issues and decide what we think is right. It's possible that we may think the issues are important enough to ammend the BFM to exclude glossolalia and to include the Landmarkist position. Give us a chance to hear both sides.

I am heartbroken that the trustees of an agency with a mission as noble and important as the IMB are not operating in good faith. It seems they have lost sight that they are accountable to me and all of the others who give our offerings, pray for the missionaries and worship in the Southern Baptist churches around the world. What disturbs me is that they seem to want to operate in secret without explaining their positon, and they get angry when public meetings are discussed publicly. The first verse that comes to mind is John 3:21: "But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." Come into the light, majority, and let us discuss the issues openly. If I wanted my denomination to make decisions in secret and expect me to blindly agree, I would become a Catholic. Please tell me we have not come to that.

Jill Noble
Ankeny, IA

AT Coffey said...


I just became aware of the controversy swirling around you recently in our local paper the Victoria Advocate. I think you are right on the money in your stand and I too believer that you can draw the borders too tightly. I think of it this way about alot of matters: "If I'm so strict that Jesus can't be a member of my Church, I'm in real trouble.

Thanks for your stand for truth.

Yours in Truth & Fellowship,
Allen T. coffey

the tentmaker said...


I am a Baptist Pastor, and a graduate of Baylor University, 1967. I am also an SBC'er in self-imposed exile.
I am glad that there is still a voice of reason, guided by the Holy Spirit in the SBC. And I'm glad I discovered your blog. I suspect that there are more people within the SBC who believe as you do, but sadly, they remain silent. It is not unique to the politics of the SBC that the silence of the majority allows the agenda of a few to gain the lion's share of the power. And I am convinced that all of the angst within the SBC over the last 25 years has been over power, not doctrine, control, not love. That the tactics used to "drive out the liberals" are still being used to further narrow the limits of acceptable doctrine should be evidence of that.
"Liberal" and "Conservative" are such relative and exclusive terms. They are labels meant to divide not unify.

I will pray for you, your ministry and your efforts to stay the course of reason within the IMB.

Anonymous said...

Some Southern Baptists would claim most Pentecostals focus to much on the Holy Spirit and not enough on Jesus. As a Southern Baptist it has been my experience that we speak of God and Jesus but exclude mention of the Holy Spirit. We need to remind ourselves God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. I do not speak in tongues but one of the Godliest men I know does. He is a former SBC deacon. I also know Southern Baptist’s that practice glossolalia. I pray we as believers would look to God’s word and not to the traditions of man. We should all take time and re-read Acts. Let’s not exclude God’s promise, the Holy Spirit, from our lives, our churches and the mission field. We can do nothing with out God. I really appreciate you and I will be praying for you.

Anonymous said...

I am a new IMB missionary serving in South America. It is sad that this issue is diverting attention away from the "main thing" as many missionaries are troubled over these events. I hope our dear trustees will seek reconciliation and that this issue will be resolved under the guidance of Scripture. I am a conservative, but I am fearful we are about to shoot ourselves in the foot.

New on the Field

PS. You are right, there is a perception by missionaries on the field that there is a group of trustees against Dr. Rankin.

Rick said...

Wade -

Thanks for the rebuttal to the Schaeffer's comments. I read this article in last week's Christian Index and wrote my own rebuttal to the editor - we'll see if they publish it.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Anonymous said...

Dear Wade:

The new phrase among Chritians came to my mind--"What Would Jesus Do?"

This truly saddens my heart. I feel as though the next thing might be a door-to-door witchhunt. I can only imagine how sad it must make God's heart.

Anonymous said...

"Here" is what I have to "say." That's what "heresay" is, right?

I pray that the Lord continues to strengthen you as you hold the line against the lockstep attitude that seems to be developing not only in IMB but elsewhere, too.

I believe it being caused by the adoption by many in the SBC of the American corporate mentality with its defective definition of _teamwork_: "Don't ask questions, just trust me. The leadership is wiser than everyone else. Anyone who asks questions about why we have decided to do this or that is not a team player and is disloyal." The position of power is overshadowing their knowledge of the principles of servant leadership, and they choose to act in power. "Do like I say because I can make you do it." Shades of _The Prince_! I have seen it in other Baptist institutions.

It would be interesting to know the original source and motivation for these new IMB policies. Will anyone step forward and say, "I saw the need for these because... and I initiated the process." I'm sure that Dr. Patterson and Judge Pressler would do that for the "conservative resurgence," and Dr. Rogers would have. And they would have ample evidence of the problems and the need to take action. I just don't see that there was a problem at IMB.

Corporate lockstep is NOT the purpose of the Board. Sending out faithful Gospel messengers who can concentrate on the job of the Gospel without having to worry about raising money back home--that is the purpose of the IMB.

It should be the highest purpose of the Board to ENABLE, ENCOURAGE, and SUPPORT the field workers, not look for nit-picky, inconsequential data that can be used to disqualify a candidate.

If there are standards for missionary candidates, there should be standards for board members. I believe that it should be a requirement for any future IMB trustee that they have served at least six months overseas with the IMB as some type of field worker: journeyman, ISC, volunteer, semester, career, etc. As a bare minimum, current Board members should have been on at least 2 volunteer, down-in-the-trenches, at-least-10-field-days-of-work (not a preaching tour or vision trip) trip, or they should resign because they have NO perspective of what they are doing. I'll say this to anyone: If you've never been there (international field), you have no idea what it's like to work there and you can't make good decisions.

Finally, in the name of PUBLIC access, where is an accessible list of all the trustees of the SBC institutions? I have looked and looked for IMB trustees, and it's not to be found. I would probably not find other boards. I you know of a link, please publish it. If not, send me a list and I'll make a link.

All the Best,

Anonymous said...


That's my biggest fear at this point; that the trustees will adopt some such statement for Dr. Rankin, BUT then still keep the new policies in place.

No good, they have already taken the offensive shot at Dr. Rankin (and many others)

Recommendation of Support - PLUS - rescind these "new policies"

Yes, Yes...then let's get back to the real business! said...

Mr. Nettles I think a list can be find by searching the site.

Rex Ray, can't publish your post. Too personal. I'll be praying for you.

art rogers said...

Keep your integrity sound, Wade. At this point, anything that even hints at a lack of integrity will apparently be used against you.

As to the Index... It amazes me that people, leaders, pop off, just off the top of their head. We need to choose our words carefully, and keep speaking.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your responses. Knowing you know is enough for me. This may be another ‘too personal’ but here goes.
Years ago, three missionary couples met in our home for talk and prayer. One couple was my son who was not in trouble, but the other two were facing rejection from the IMB.
I had met one couple in Japan and they were staying in our church missionary house. Most thought they were on furlough, but were sent back to the States to make up their minds if they could obey orders or not. He had sent an angry email to the IMB stating he had been doing his job 15 years and didn’t need a new kid on the block telling him what to do. Later they joined a ‘team’ and are still missionaries.
The other man had played on our church softball team before becoming a missionary. His position had been canceled and was asked to join a team of his choice. He asked permission to accept being the interim pastor of a large church in Tokyo. The IMB said OK, but he could never be its pastor since new rules forbade a missionary being a pastor of a church that spoke English. He said in less than a year, more people accepted Christ than his efforts of 18 years. The church membership had grown tremendously as well as the offerings. He asked me to get a team to remodel their church and they would pay our expenses. He said he had accepted being their pastor and ended his prayer by saying, “as others have said before us, ‘we must obey the commands of God rather than the commands of men.’”
Later the vice president of the IMB, Avery Willis, preached at our church. He had been a former pastor before I joined. Afterwards, I met him for the first time. He said he had talked with our son three days before in London. I asked if he knew about the situation the ball player missionary was in. He said yes. I said my father was a Baptist preacher who believed the best thing about a good rule was to know when to break it. He laughed and said that was interesting but his hands were tied.
Within six months of the meeting at our house, we were remodeling the Tokyo church. I asked my friend if the IMB had given him permission to be pastor in writing. He said no, but he had it by the way of the grapevine, they were not going to bother him. Once he asked me a sad question: "If I just preach the Gospel, am I a conservative or a moderte?"
So the bottom line in my opinion, the IMB does best when they don’t bother our missionaries but let the Holy Spirit guide them.
Rex Ray

Anonymous said...

I keep reading that there should not be a focus on what isn't essential, but who gets to decide what is or isn't essential?

If Scripture is truly the final authority and there are two or more interpretations, especially in deciding what is essential or not (ultimately a person will have to do that), then there are deeper problems facing the SBC.

Unknown said...