Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Kansas City IMB Meeting, May 7-9, 2007

This Sunday I will drive to Kansas City for the May trustee meeting of the International Mission Board. At this meeting, the report of the Ad Hoc Committees studying the new policy forbidding the appointment of missionaries with the private prayer language and the guideline that forbids the appointment of missionaries who have not been baptized in a Southern Baptist Church or one that teaches 'eternal security' will be considered. At the St. Louis trustee meeting on November 1, 2006, it was stated in the plenary session by trustee leadership that trustees would receive the Ad Hoc committee report in advance of the meeting in which we would consider it.

I have not yet received the report via mail, and it was not available on the trustee internet site, so after calling the International Mission Board staff last Wednesday and learning the offices were closed due to a staff retreat until Friday. I called the IMB staff in Richomond again on Friday and received a prompt call back from support staff saying the report would be made available to trustees in Kansas City. They were very helpful and said if I had any further questions to contact Paul Chitwood, Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committees. I decided not to contact Paul since I had already visited earlier in the day with fellow trustee Rick Thompson, Pastor of Council Road Baptist Church in Oklahoma City and he had two calls into Paul to ask the same question (where is the report?), and up to that time Rick's calls not yet been returned.

I do not know what the Ad Hoc committe report contains. I don't know if there are recommendations or not. I don't know if it is simply 'a report' with no action, or a report with recommendations that require action. I don't know how long or short it is, and I don't know if the private prayer policy and baptism guideline have been reworded, rescinded or left the same. I'm sure the Ad Hoc Committee has worked diligently putting this report together, and I trust that it will be well written, with supporting evidentary, logical and Biblical reasons for whatever action they have taken. Whatever happens in Kansas City, we will leave with one of three things occurring: (1). The board will keep the new policy on private prayer language and baptism guideline as is, or (2). The board will reword the private prayer language policy and/or baptism guideline, or (3). The board will revert back to the practices of the mission board prior to November 15, 2005 in the evaluation and acceptance of missionary candidates regarding their baptism and use of a private prayer language. Prior to November 2005, missionary candidates had to give to the board expression of their faith in Christ and that they had followed Him in believer's baptism, by immersion, trusting Christ alone for their salvation. If the candidate had a 'private prayer language,' they were instructed to simply keep it in their prayer closet and not practice it publicly or they would face staff discipline and/or correction.

My question, as a trustee for the IMB, from the day I heard of the effort to implement the new requirements for missionary candidates has been 'why do we need the tighter restrictions?'

There are some who say the policy and guideline are needed, 'because of problems on the field.' Well, by George, if there are problems, let's change the policies and guidelines, but show us the problems, don't just tell us there are and act as if staff has not appropriately dealt with it. Others say, "it's a doctrinal issue," well, by George if you are going to impose a new doctrinal standard upon the largest SBC cooperative ministry, you better be sure that there is clear cut agreement on the issue. As has been pointed out numerous times, the issue is not the PUBLIC speaking of tongues, for that has always been prohibited by policy; the new issue is barring a person from having 'a private prayer language' in his closet. There are a handful of people in the SBC who hold to viewpoints on both ends of the extremes regarding the gifts, and neither group should hold sway. The vast majority of Southern Baptists are hesitant about tongues being spoken publicly (and rightly so, for Scripture restricts the practice as well), but I think you may be surprised that most Southern Baptists don't care what someone does in their prayer closet.

I am hopeful that a full and free discussion of this report will take place in a public plenary session and not behind closed doors. Closed door forums are for the protecion of missionaries and appropriate for security, but Southern Baptists have every right to know the reasoning behind major policy shifts at agencies that occur on 'doctrinal grounds.' Specifically, if our agencies determine a shift to an adoption of a total cessationist viewpoint is needed at the IMB, then the explanation for the demand for cessationist conformity before cooperating in missions needs to be heard and understood by the average Southern Baptist who has no access to closed door meetings. If there is a desire to accept only those baptisms done in a Southern Baptist Church or a church that teaches 'eternal security,' then the average Southern Baptist needs to hear and understand the rationale behind baptism being identification with 'a church' rather than Jesus Christ and faith in Him.

It should be an interesting meeting. In the past year I have spoken publicly in our board meetings only one time. The meetings have been run quite well, with proper decorum by all present, and the focus has been on missions.

I trust the same will be true of this meeting as well.

Look for reports on the IMB meeting beginning Monday and going through Thursday of next week.

In His Grace,



Bob Cleveland said...

Wade: I have a somewhat off-the-wall question, but it's a serious one.

I don't know if this has ever happened, but let's say a believer in an IMB-instituted church, on the field, is baptized and does all the required things to be a member. And then is given the gift of unknown tongues. Would his recognition, position, or membership in that church be jeopardized?

Anonymous said...


I regret I must remain anonymous, but I felt I needed to comment on this post.

I am a long time reader but first time writer among those who comment. I have worked for the Southern Baptist Convention at North American Mission Board for the last fifteen years.

You have a ton of fans within our agency and across the denomination. Water cooler discussion is often about your insight, courage, grace under fire and ability to articulate complicated issues in a style and manner that makes us all understand what is at stake within the SBC. We all have known what you are writing, but none of us had either the courage or insight to do anything about it.

Keep on keeping on. If you have time, I and others with NAMB have a favor to ask. We have seen the boards of the SBC stacked with friends, loyalists, pastors and family of a handful of key people within the SBC who hold to a very narrow interpretation of several minor doctrines. As a result, though there is the desire to change the BFM to reflect their very strict, independent, cessationist and often Landmark Baptist views, these key leaders have used their trustee friends to backdoor doctrinal changes at the largest convention agencies.

Let me give you one illustration.

Many people now know that the policy at NAMB is to prevent appointment of missionaries who have a 'private prayer language.' Thanks to your blog, stories like Jason Epps, and the increasing awareness of the average Southern Baptist, information like this is getting out.

What people don't know is how that policy forbidding the appointment of missionaries at NAMB who have a private prayer language came into being.

Not even the trustees know.

Not even the staff knows.

It just happened. Overnight the new policy was in the handbook. No study. No vote. No questions. Why?

The key leadership committee of the IMB, composed of only selected trustees strategically placed by those in control of the appointment process in the SBC changed the policy in committee.

It required only a few key strokes on a computer and 'poof,' the new policy was in place post de facto.

My favor request is simple. Could you please investigate and report to those of us who read your blog on the background and implementation of the policy at NAMB?

Thank God for men of courage like you who will not let our SBC slide into fundamentalism without attempting to do something about it. If there were more trustees who acted with conviction and grace like you, we would be focusing on what is really important rather than trying to exclude everyone who doesn't think exactly the same way. From all of us at NAMB (at least those I visit with), we say thank you. said...


To answer your question. I don't think so, simply because the IMB has no authority over an autonomous church established on the mission field. The church would deal with the member on their own terms, not the IMB's. said...


I had heard from others what you are saying. I'm not sure I have either the time, energy or ability to do what you ask. However, I do think that putting everyone in the SBC on notice that nothing else will be allowed to be done behind closed doors helps prevent things that you just described.

Jason Epps said...


If you do ever get to the bottom of how that policy was insituted at NAMB, I would be very interested in hearing about it.

Jason Epps

Anonymous said...


Your anonymous blogger (if credible) may well have provided some information toward answering a cluster of questions I tried to check out before doing my presentation at BCHS last weekend. After a Google search to no avail, to do due diligence in my research, I had called the NAMB offices and specifically asked both when and how their policy on private language language came into being (and I was going to ask several follow-ups beyond that). But, I got passed around to lower level people who, although they were nice enough, said they really knew nothing. I got absolutely nowhere beyond finding out that it had been in place for some time. So, yes, how it happened appears to be effectively shrouded in secrecy.

You would think that an action of that magnitude would necessarily have to be included in the minutes of the NAMB BoT. But, since I could not get even anyone to tell me exactly when it took place, how is it possible to do a search of the minutes? It would be the proverbial "needle in a haystack."

Boyd Luter

Anonymous said...

We could all do something quite remarkable... pray. Live in the reality of the spiritual war around us. Submit to the Father, knowing that we don't have the weapons to win this war, but He provides them to us and, when submitted to Him, we can join Him in the battle.

Could it be that there are spiritual forces at work that desire to bind up a missions agency with more potential than any other because of its funding? Is it possible that some of the binding comes from its own policies?

We need to talk less and Pray! I hope many will be joining you at that meeting in the Holy Spirit, Wade, through prayer and intercession. Praise God that His arm is not too short!

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the heads up. Bryan is right, we ALL need to be praying. This is it. The enormity of this decision cannot be underestimated. I really do not think that the IMB Trustees fully understand the consequences of this decision or the effect that it could have on the spirit of cooperation within our Convention. God, please give them wisdom!!!

I'll be writing about possible ramifications of this later tonight and will be following this decision closely next week.


In the fourth paragraph from the bottom, you said:

"The key leadership committee of the IMB, composed of only selected trustees strategically placed by those in control of the appointment process in the SBC changed the policy in committee."

Did you mean to say NAMB, instead of the IMB and accidently make a mistake? If not, I don't totally follow. As far as your allegations, if they are true, it is unbelievable and there definitely does need to be an investigation. I will be happy to look into it, but I doubt that I will get very far.

If anyone has any information on this or can tell me who to talk to, please feel free to email me at

I will do whatever I can to make sure that this story comes to light and will protect sources. If true, it should at least require a review of those policies. Where is due process in the SBC?

Anonymous said...


Thank you for the correction. I meant NAMB not IMB. Thanks

Nick said...

Are the NAMB guidelines/policies in question these, for 'exempt staff' ( restricting glossolalia and PPL


Adult, career missionaries' policies restrict glossolalia and PPL (

MSC guidelines don't even seem to talk about glossolalia. (

US/C2 guidelines restrict glossolalia but don't refer to PPL (

Sojourner (high school) missionary requirements - no mention of glossolalia or PPL. :-)

Perhaps if the origin of the policy is unclear, then the inconsistency in the guidelines could be expected also?

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous NAMB employee et al:

Is there a reason that you or any of the others have not asked a trustee to look into this? I've found Bill Curtis, current chm to be open and responsive. The new head sounds quite cooperative and transparent.

Have the trustees refused to look into this? Have they even been asked?

Public, yet anonymous postings of nefarious conspiracies doesn't look like what would be a best first choice although if such is the only alternative, so be it.

NAMB trustees as a group have not proven terribly attentive or responsible but perhaps, post-Reccord, we are in a new mode over there.


Anonymous said...

x"Is there a reason that you or any of the others have not asked a trustee to look into this?"

Not to worry, I have researched and investigated this issue and it appears that, and this is for the RECCORD, the trustees did infact have FISH and not HAM MONDay.

Always in His service,


Anonymous said...

When and where are the IMB-KC meetings that can be attended by the SBC public?

Anonymous said...

don't baptists trash the church of christ (or at least some of them) for requiring to be baptized in their church? jeez! i am sure christ will say "wait! were you baptized in one of those sanctimonious baptist churches? you weren't? well... off to hell with you!" it reminds me of what the jewish priests did to their followers - they took 10 simple commandments and turned them into hundreds of requirements.

this blog is soooo entertaining...

Unknown said...


Let the force be with you!!!
We are sure that you can lead the way to an "OPEN DOOR" policy with the old folgies of the SBC:)

You go boy ...........

Unknown said...


You were made to grab the new generation, and link it with the old generation. It is sooooo important to merge the two together. This could utimately reinvent a positive energy - - stronger than ever before!! Bridge the gap my friend - more power to you!

I don't see how you do it. You need to know that people love you and pray for you often!! The spirit is there for you!!

child of grace said...

Pravda (aka BaptistTheology.Org) has posted a white paper defending the secrecy of SBC BOT's @

OC Hands said...

You and the other trustees are in our thoughts and prayers during this meeting with the BOT. We pray that God will give discernment to all concerned, and that all meetings and deliberations will be under the direction of the Holy Spirit.

Bart Barber said...

Not only that, but I don't think Jack really ought to be able to know who's on the boards of trustees…how many boards of trustees there are…where and when the convention meetings will take place…Secrecy! Secrecy! Secrecy! Mind your own business, you plebians! More power to the few! And its mine! ALL MINE! HAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Ha! -That's very funny, Bart.

Having re-read your white paper I withdraw my original characterization of it.

It's a thoughtful, well-written defense of the status quo.


Bart Barber said...

Thank you, Jack. In response, I'll withdraw my evil laugh. :-)