Friday, March 24, 2006

I Will Continue To Blog With Comments

I have arrived home from Florida and the International Mission Board meeting in Tampa. I have reflected the last couple of days on this blog, and will start it up again. I will be very careful to remind people that comments on my blog do not necessarily represent my position or feelings, but to maintain an open and serious dialogue, I will post comments unless they are personally critical of individuals by name.

There are a few who seem to feel that my blog has been a detriment to the work of the International Mission Board. I want my blog to be a help to our mission work, not a hindrence. I have made the decision that if I were to shut down my blog at this time, and the comments section, it would be detrimental to the SBC, especially among young pastors, missionaries and leaders. I have received hundreds of emails and comments from around the world. One, written by Alan Cross, gives me a clear understanding about the importance of my decision to continue blogging.

"I just want you to know, that we are all looking to you right now, and whether you asked for this or not, there is a whole generation of young SBC pastors who are trying to figure out our role in a convention that confuses us and is causing pain. I fear that if you fade away and become another cog in the machine, we will all do the same thing - just fade away, I mean. I/we do not have the denominational loyalty that our parents and grandparents had. While I love the SBC, our church gives faithfully to missions and the CP, and we have participated greatly, I personally will not continue to waste time and effort on a denomination that has gone astray unless there are strong voices like yours that are speaking the truth. I feel that you have been muzzled and that grieves my heart."

After further reflection on the new policy guidelines, here are some observations about the new direction of this blog, which I will carefully insure follows the new policies on trustee accountability. . .

(1). I will blog anything I feel necessary for the good of our Southern Baptist Convention and the mission work of the IMB regarding proposed policies and pre-approved actions of the Board, and I reserve the right to criticize Board approved policies if they violate the Word of God. This is one of the reasons the Board should be very deliberate in major decisions, and make sure all policies can be supported and defended with ease.

The pre-approval debate of motions before the International Mission Board becomes that much more important.

This is where communication between trustees and the Convention becomes critical. We trustees have been given a sacred trust by the Convention. I think the new trustee accountability guidelines make it absolutely essential that every single matter of business be done in the public eye. There cannot be even a hint of business discussed in forum. There must not be any Executive Sessions except for the fear of safety of missionaries. We must, because of these new policies do everything single thing in the light of day so Southern Baptists know what is being done BEFORE IT IS APPROVED.

Let me go even further. Because I have studied these new guidelines and will abide by them to the nth degree, I will continue to remind those of you who appointed me that you must demand openness in ALL business sessions of the IMB. You can not settle for less.

In fact, any policy change that requires Board approval should be debated publicly, presented by committees before all the trustees for suggestions, proposed in one meeting for serious reflection and open, free dialogue before all trustees, and then trustees should be able to reflect on the proposed policy changes for a few weeks before the actual vote. I promise you, if that is done, and it seems the new policies demand this, then we are take some very real, positive steps forward in our work.

It is in the public record that I voted against the new trustee accountability policies, but I want to be clear. My "no" vote was solely on the basis of just one statement in the four page policy. It is the statement forbidding trustees to publicly criticize "board approved actions."

That means, on this blog, I will try to keep you up to date on what is being proposed at the IMB. I want the convention to be informed. I want you to have your say. I want our business to be open. Our consitution demands openness.

(2). I will continue to speak positively of my fellow trustees. My blog has never been a personal attack on any person. This is a non-issue for me. You may be interested to know I have called two people who voted to remove me to be my accountability partners under these new policies. I believed I followed the old policies to the tea, but I want to be able to say the same under the new policies as well.

(3). I want to be clear. If I feel the trustees are about to vote on a very important matter, I will be insisting that we discuss it publicly and give due process to all sides of the debate before the actual vote. The new policies demand this.

(4). There are several Board approved policies in effect besides the tongues and baptism policies. These Board approved policies would include New Directions, Church planting policies, etc . . . For any trustee to publicly criticize these Board approved policies would be a violation of the new trustee guidelines. I will be reminding my fellow trustees of this, and I am sure they intend to follow the new policies, as do I. The office of President is Board approved. Public criticism, outside of Board meetings, of the IMB President by sitting trustees is unacceptable.

(5). You may comment freely. The only thing I will not publish are posts that criticize Board approved policies, or negative, personal criticisms. This is a very difficult task to monitor, but I give my pledge if it is pointed out to me that a comment has been unintentionally posted that criticizes a Board approved action I will remove it as soon as possible. I do not think the new policy demands this but I want to be above reproach. Some were attributing your comments as coming from me.

So, I will continue blogging.

I don't want to resign.

But I want to fulfill my duty to the Convention. I also want to build trust with my fellow trustees.

I believe both can be done.

IN HIS Grace,



Anonymous said...

Please do keep posting. I agree with Alan, we have been let down so much the last few years. Many of us are dis-illusioned. We have seen fine men and women run off. Now you have to stay the party line. It makes me sick. My church gives over 70K a year to CP and missions. It may not be much but I owe it to them as their pastor to make sure that it is being well spent.

There are a lot of us who stand behind you!

Anonymous said...

Good for you.

When iron sharpens iron, sparks fly. Let us thank God for the sharpening, and not rejoice in the sparks.

That's what the Corinthians did, in effect, when they rejoiced in their gifts rather than rejoicing over the Giver.

It'll be fascinating watching the Lion at work.

God bless you anew as you rejoice with your family this week. The ones at home and the ones at church.

Anonymous said...

Your point number 3 encourages this missionary working in the 10-40 window. We did not know anything about the two policies voted on in November until after the fact. Likewise, the definition of a church was just given to us last month (one year after it was enacted). By adhering to your point # 3, we on the field can keep up with what is happening and maybe give some first hand input. Keep Blogging and we will all be better served

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Wade, on the IMB board's decision not to remove you as a trustee.

But doesn't their banning of your participation on subcommittees continue to imply that you did something wrong? Some may wonder wonder why YOU are the one still having to re-earn trust.

Mark said...


I can't comment on Board approved actions.

Wade said...


I should have said that I can't comment critically on Board approved actions.

Therefore I can't comment on your question.

Anonymous said...

Wade- Thank you for your continued commitment to blogging, and more importantly to God and His work around the world.

There are many of use who see a disconnect between the trustees and the missionary personnel themselves for a variety of reasons. Men like you give us hope that there will continue to be a good track record of success. Your involvement, and others like you, is vital for many of us who desire to conintue to work with the SBC and IMB BoT but who are leary many who are currently in leadership.

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I want my blog to be a help to our mission work, not a hindrance.

I have always been interested in missions, but not too involved. Since I first read your open letter and then contacted you about speaking in Tulsa, my activities as well as interest have grown.

I won't give you ALL the credit, but I've been asked to serve on our Church's Mission Team, am attending my first annual meeting, and today met with the director of our association's camp about several projects I would like to do within the next year.

Openness and conflict have, I believe, spurred me to be more involved in the SBC; involved in a positive manner.

When will people learn they don't have to be afraid of conflict? said...


Thanks for the nice comments. You made my day. That was my purpose in beginning the blog. To get people involved.


Anonymous said...

I am an M in a communist country where freedom of the press doesn’t exist and dissent is harshly punished. Yet, God is working in this land as men and women are faithful and obey Him. Likewise, thank you for choosing to stay on and be faithful and obedient to Him.

All we ask is for Godly men and women to lead us.


Anonymous said...


You blog today gives us all great hope for the future.

Thank you for your continued service as a trustee of the IMB.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for being a man of integrity.

Thank you for being a man of policy.

Thank you for being a man of grace.

Thank you for being a man of forgiveness.

Thank you for being a man of Christian character.

I have just one question:

Could you explain to me how a Board could vote to remove you for "gossip and slander" (I read the actual motion in the minutes for the first time today), and a scant eight weeks later vote UNANIMOUSLY to rescind the motion, but nobody offered an apology to you?

In the corporate world if somebody's reputation was publicly sullied as the trustees seem to have publicly sullied yours, but then in an attempt to cover it all up by approving the minutes in EXECUTIVE SESSION closed door meetings, and then UNANIMOUSLY reversing the recommendation for removal for gossip and slander ----


There would be the mother of all lawsuits.

Can you tell me why there is not an apology? Shouldn't someone be held accountable for the motion to remove that slandered your name?

Pastor Bob said...

Pastor Bob,

I can assure you, Pastor Bob, this Southern Baptist would never sue a Baptist Board.

As I have repeatedly said, I like my fellow trustees, and I look forward to working with them.

In His Grace,


Anonymous said...


Saw the comment above about lawsuits, and had to put in my two cents worth. While that may be true in the world, we ain't of the world. Christ's command to turn the other cheek I take to mean a deliberate refusal to take revenge in any form. So in this Kingdom, the lawsuit is out. Christ calls us to a life of absolute faith in Him and in His ability to provide for and defend us. The apology or lack of one is in the King's hands. We must be content to leave it there. He'll use this part of the situation for the good of His flock, just wait and see.

Thanks, Bro. Wade. Keep a-bloggin'.

Greg said...


I cannot answer Pastor Bob's question.

I don't have an answer.

Love covers a multitude of sins.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

Anonymous said...

As far as the blog being detrimental in whoever's view, I think not. It has opened eyes to the fact that their are problems within the IMB and they need to worked out. After all, we're not perfect and people should not try to cover up problems but get to the root of them. said...


I am not sure if the IMB will post the new policies on their website, but if they do not, I will do so.

It's four pages, but it is a public document so every Southern Baptist should have it if he/she wants it.


Bob Cleveland said...

I think people confuse two things here, when they ask why there's been no apology.

One thing is your scriptural duty to forgive. Jesus didn't put any qualifications on it when He told the disciples that, if they didn't forgive those who wronged them, that God wouldn't forgive them. No "only if", "not until" or anything else of the sort.

It's apparent you've done forgiven whoever it was that libeled you (you're right .. it was in writing). Good for you.

The other thing is the wrongdoer's scriptural obligation to apologize for wrongs done.

You're the wrong person to ask about that.

The Lion is at work. Go ask Him.

Anonymous said...

Though not one of the Young Men, I commend you for following wise counsel in your attendance at all sessions of the BoT/IMB.
Sounds like you have a wonderful and supportive Dad.... based on his comments to you that were published in one of your blogs..... but, that was already obvious based on your demeanor and response to recent events at the IMB!
Several times in the past, people have complained about process and procedures in other Agencies, and generally things have continued to be Blessed by the Lord's evident Presence.... Keep up the Good work! There have always been some who have difficulty with SBC process! I once had a friend from another denomination say, "There is NO WAY the SBC can be successful with such diverse organization!" He was trying to give me encouragement after someone had suggested that I should "get out!" Well, He has become a "Southern Baptist" and still marvels that things "work" in our Convention!
Repressive Policy usually meets Agressive People and Policies change about as often as the People
who make them! I have the privilege of serving on Staff for one of the larger churches of our city. The past two years our CP support has been close to a quarter of a million, yet only two or three folks would make the effort to attend the SBC sessions! That is, in addition to a couple of our Pastoral Staff! I'm pleased to inform you, based on your bloggin' and the ordeal you've experienced, a number of our lay people have indicated plans to be in Greenville and several have suggested attemping attendance of "Crossover Triad 2006"! Tell Me a little Controversy doesn't help focus on Issues! It's obvious that there are Godly men serving as our Trustees and I appreciate your affirmation of them, but that doesn't always mean that Godly men make wise or informed decisions! It certainly hasn't been my experience that wise and Godly men will always reach the same conclusions! Hence, the vote, and subsequent accountability!
Keep your focus.... Hebrews 12:2-3 NIV..... Blessings....

Anonymous said...

Wade – We are missionaries in Montevideo, Uruguay and have been following your blog and the overall situation within the IMB/SBC very closely. We appreciate your openness and your sincere concern. We will continue to pray for you and for the BoT as we feel there are still some unresolved issues. Since the motion for your removal from the BoT has been withdrawn and will no longer come up on the floor of the convention in Greensboro, NC in June, what assurances do we have that the two policies you took a stand against will be addressed at the convention? Regardless of what has been said by trustees to support their rationale, there are many who still believe these policies go beyond the BF&M and even beyond the teachings of the Bible. It would seem that these policies need to be addressed again in a forum where the general Baptist membership (those who give to support missionaries!) should have a voice.

Karen and Charles Clark said...

Karen and Charles,

I will only be offering a "no comment" regarding approved actions of the IMB that I cannot praise. Of course, if I can sincerely praise the approved actions I will.

The Southern Baptist Convention cannot pass a a motion that changes any policy of the IMB. Policies of an independent board can only be changed by that board itself.

The Southern Baptist Convention, however, from my understanding, can make motions regarding the expected responsibility of trustees since the SBC is the one who appoints them.

In addition, the SBC can adopt resolutions that speak to the policies of independent agency boards, but resolutions are not binding.

Anonymous said...

I’m trying to find words that won’t be rejected as too harsh. I suppose I am of the generation whose denominational loyalty was referred to in the email you quoted, although I tend to consider my parents and grandmother (the only grandparent I knew) to be that; they taught me “denominational loyalty”(as the email called it) to the SBC. (I hate to think of how they would feel about the changes in recent years if they were still in this world.) But I have learned denominational loyalty has its limits - loyalty to the work of Christ is more important. Though it may be painful at times, we need to remember that denominations and such are means to an end, not the end in itself.

I have read varied opinions on what you chose to do about the events earlier this week. I will not put my opinion into the mix, except to say that judging another’s actions is a tricky business unless we have been in the exact same place, which seldom happens. I will say this: I have learned that sometimes it may seem God is calling us to beat our heads against brick walls. I wonder if this is the case here. If so, keep the Tylenol handy and try to have friends around to pick you up if you get knocked out. I hate to say it, but I don’t think you are Joshua in this situation. The brick walls I experienced didn’t fall, but it is possible for good to come from the experience.

If I interpret the new guidelines correctly they mean there can be no future changes in them or in policies, since to try to change them would be speaking against something established. If that’s true then at least it can’t get any worse. (I hope this comment does not go beyond what you can print.)

I think I have reached the point of having trouble being careful in my words, so I’d better quit for now.


Bro. Rob said...

Wade, you wrote: The Southern Baptist Convention cannot pass a a motion that changes any policy of the IMB. Policies of an independent board can only be changed by that board itself.

The Southern Baptist Convention, however, from my understanding, can make motions regarding the expected responsibility of trustees since the SBC is the one who appoints them.

So, let me get this straight, the IMB was formed by and is supported by, the people and churches who comprise the SBC, but the IMB is independent from the people and churches who formed it and support it? We can make suggestions, but there is no direct accountability to the people and churches who formed it and support it? In other words, it is like this, Thank you for your money and support but don't tell us what to do with it.

I've been following your blog and story very closely, as well as the NAMB events. I'm one of those younger pastors who is becoming more and more disillusioned with the whole SBC process. With all the politics, it's certainly the grace of God that anything really gets done in building the Kingdom. I'm sorry for my attitude, but I'm loosing confidence in the whole process.

Rob Westbrook said...

Bro. Rob,

Don't be discouraged.

Any IMB policy can be changed, but it will require a majority of IMB trustees who believe they should be changed who debate it in a business meeting forum.

Trustees rotate. Policies change. It is a matter of patience.

James Hunt said...

I love number 4.

I wonder if the trustees thought through the ramifications of what it meant to not publically criticize board approved policies.

Thank God for you. Thank God for the trustees and the IMB. Thank God that trustees do rotate off. Thank God that you and Rick are there.

I'll be praying.

Alan Cross said...


I am so glad to see you blogging again and allowing comments. I see what you are doing and feel that if this had been happening before, the two new policies might have met a different fate back in November. Thanks for keeping us updated on what is going on.

Concerning "denominational loyalty", I will be a Southern Baptist until they tell me I can't. There is so much that is wonderful about the SBC, and it all starts with the Baptist Faith and Message, which I believe is the best confession of faith in Christianity. By "fading away", I want to make it clear that if the denominational system continues to SEEM to be a closed door system made up of insiders with agendas, then I, and many others, will just choose to not be involved. Because we are a generation that demands participation and hands on experience, de facto, our giving and energy will begin to go to other causes with which we can have more direct involvement. I think that this is already happening. Your voice gives us hope that the door to involvement has a crack in it. Perhaps there will be room for us after all.

Concerning the two new policies, I understand that you cannot discuss them. This pastor, however, will not rest in prayer or action until I know that every avenue has been exhausted to see them overturned. Please do not hear this as criticism of the board (I understand your position according to the new guidelines), but truth is truth and others of us must not forget what started all of this and just move on. By God's grace, I pray that we won't. I am praying for you and thank you for your leadership - you truly are a man of integrity!