Tuesday, December 01, 2009

A Recommendation to IMB Administrators and Trustees in the Midst of a Financial Shortfall

I have long been a supporter of the International Mission Board and her paid administrative leadership. We hire the best missiologists to do our work, and there has been no greater defender of our paid staff in Richmond, particularly when it comes to keeping trustees from exerting control in areas that are the sole responsibility of professional staff. Recently my fellow Oklahoman and friend, David Severson, CFO for the International Mission Board reported that there could be a reduction of 600 missionaries from the SBC missionary force in 2010 if the current 8% to 10% decline in revenues through the Lottie Moon Offering and Cooperative Program gifts continue. That's the bad news.

Here's even worse news.

The IMB administration in Richmond has informed all International Service Corp, Journeymen, and Masters missionaries that they will no longer be reimbursed by the IMB for dryers, cell phones, or air conditioning while on the field. These missionaries will be allowed to have heat in the winter, but the IMB will no longer be able to pay for air conditioning. Phones for communication (an essential in foreign countries) will now be paid for by the aforementioned missionaries themselves. Clothes will need to be dried by air or the missionaries will pay the cost for drying their own clothes. This information has not been publicized except through emails sent to the supervisors of the ISC'ers, Journeymen, and Masters affected. It is hoped by Richmond that these cost saving measures among the front-line staff will allow for more missionaries to be appointed in the short term.

As Lee Corso might say, "Not so fast, my friend!"

I and the people of Emmanuel are not unfamiliar with budgetary shortfalls during this time of year. We, too, are 8% behind budget in giving. I wrote the following article (edited for the blog) to our church family two weeks ago:

"We are rapidly coming to a close to the 2009 calendar year. As has been our custom for the past several years at this time of year, we are behind in our year-to-date budget giving. However, every December for the past eighteen years we have always financially caught up and wound up surpassing our budget needs by 1% to 5% per year. As we all know, the economy is different this year. We knew it would be and so the Finance Committee held the line on the budget during the budget planning process for this year. There was no overall budget increase, including no salary increases for the 2009 budget. However, due to rising costs , attendance and increases in the 2009 budgeted ministries of Emmanuel (Refuge, Abounding Grace, Celebrate Recovery, Missions, etc.) there is very, very little cushion (if any) in this year’s budget. For this reason, I am asking for your help. We will not promise you God’s blessings if you give to Emmanuel – you already have them in Christ. We will not try to guilt you into giving to your church – that’s between you and God. We will simply tell you of our need, and ask you to help us these last eight Sundays of the year to catch up financially. If you have been blessed by Christ and the ministries of Emmanuel, then we ask you to give. If God sees fit for us not to meet our budget this year, then we as a church will be making some very tough decisions regarding ministry, personnel and missions. Those tough meetings will begin in January if we have not met our budget, but I am hopeful that this will not have to happen ..."
I anticipate our church will again surpass our budget in terms of our giving, but if we do not because of the current economy, then the person who should receive the largest pay cut (in both percentage and dollars) for our new fiscal year (April 2010 ) is me. That's the way it should be. There is nothing worse in ministry than for the lowest paid personnel to be given cuts when the highest paid personnel go unaffected. Frankly, I believe it should be the reverse.

Likewise, in my opinion, there is nothing worse for missionary morale than for those missionaries on the front lines--the very ones getting paid the least to be there--to have their expense reimbursement or salaries cut. Those sitting around in stifling heat, having their clothes permanently saturated by sweat, and then having to carefully count their meager dollars to have enough money to pay for their ministry cell phones are not the ones who should be the first in line when it comes to financial cuts. The "cost cutting" efforts being implemented by the IMB in terms of ISC'ers, Journeymen, and Masters actually save the IMB very little money, but they do negatively affect missionary morale. I know my friends in leadership at Richmond are doing everything within their power to get more missionaries on the field, and I commend them for this, but I've got a few suggestions that might actually save them some real money for future appointments.

(1). Stop having multiple meetngs in Richmond and other parts of the US, flying all the missionary supervisors home from overseas, spending tens of thousands of dollars on travel expenses in the process. The missionaries on the field pay close attention to the fact that these meetings for supervisors often conveniently fall close to United States holidays, and with technology the way it is today, there's no reason to pay such enormous travel costs for meetings in the US. This will save real money.

(2). If there is a consensus that shutting off air conditioning payments will save funds for future appointments, then well and fine. But the air conditioning should also be shut off in Richmond as well. I imagine having no air conditioning in the former capital of the Confederacy during July will convince a few strategic people that such "cost saving" efforts are not very effective in sustaining missionary morale.

(3). From this point forward stop having trustee meetings in exotic places and luxurious hotels. Make every trustee who come to Richmond pay for his own car (if he must have one), and put him up in the cabins at the ILC (or let him pay himself for his hotel if he must have one). It should also be a requirement that every trustee attend those trustee meetings without the benefit of air conditioning. A little sauna wouldn't hurt the long term health of many anyway.

(4). Let the missionaries ON THE FIELD determine the kind of ministry that is needed. Allow for the creation and adoption of reports that count "conversions" and "church planting" in the various countries by reflecting the different cultural and demographic make-ups of those respective countries. We must resist the cookie cutter approach that forces every missionary in every country to do the same thing the same way. Resisting perpetual world-wide reorganization of the IMB (every five years) will save huge amounts of money in the long term.

(5). Any reduction in work force "on the field" should be met with a corresponding reduction of the work force in Richmond. Further, if there are to be cuts in benefits, salaries, or expense reimbursement, the people who should take those cuts FIRST should be the career missionaries and administrators--the highest paid personnel. Taking cost cutting measures amongst the lowest paid, semi/volunteer ISC, Masters and Journeymen at the IMB without first cutting either the expense reimbursement or salaries of the highest paid missionaries is unwise.

Again, I commend the IMB for their pro-active approach to these matters and urge churches to send their missionary offerings to Richomond as soon as possible. But I think the above suggestions, combined with increased missions giving by our churches, will provide the best solution for the appointment of more missionaries.

In His Grace,



Anonymous said...

I affirm.*

(Signed Kevin M. Crowder)

*With NO caveats or reservations.

Rex Ray said...

The Baptist Standard wrote on November, 15, 2009 that on November 10, the IMB trustees were told Southern Baptist will be forced to draw down their overseas mission’s force in 2010 by as many as 600 missionaries.

This would be accomplished through natural attrition, completion of service, retirements and limiting appointments. No personnel would be recalled from the field.

The 2008 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering came in $9 million short of the previous year’s receipts and $29 million short of its goal of $170 million.

Wade, then you reported even WORSE news.

Does the IMB plan to keep the same number of missionaries by making all 5,000 sweat, or is that just more of Jeroboams: “I’ll whip you with scorpions” to show power and control?

You said, “I have long been a supporter of the IMB and her paid administrative leadership.” …this paid staff keeps the trustees from exerting control in areas that are the sole responsibility of professional staff.

I’d like to know WHO’S RUNNING THE SHOW?

I think your best suggestion is reducing the IMB meetings, their exotic places, and their perks. (Are they still meeting 9 times a year?)

And for churches to show their support; the SBC should mandate churches use no air-condition.

Hey! If the SBC can tell churches the sex of their pastors…

to-obey-is-better said...

understand what you're saying...however it seems to me that these new policies you mention are simply standardizing things on the field.

In our country (not our region) we did not purchase cell phones for ANY personnel (career or isc). Only the Strategy Coordinator got cell phone charges reimbursed at 100% and other team members at around 50% (after you bought your own phone).
Never was a dryer provided for anyone on the team...and we didn't need a/c where we were....
I realize each region/country has different needs, but the three specific examples you gave were not true for our team...and likely not true everywhere.

I do think it is helpful that there will be some across-the-board standards that don't vary from country to country. Now how that plays out in fairness....?

Rex Ray said...

Maybe God will call more missionaries to the North than the Equator because hell won’t be so hot since they’re use to heat.

Maybe the IMB is doing some really deep thinking.

I read your blog of being in a poor country with poor people all around. Jesus said we would have the poor always.

He didn’t say why, but I believe partly because of their ‘poor’ thinking as your many examples showed. Some were so wild, they were almost funny.

This ‘thinking’ is NOT all outside of America. One man owed me quite a bit of money.

One day he told me he owed a lot of people, but he had a solution.
If I’d loaned him the money to pay everyone, I’d be the first one he’d pay back. Duhh
He was smiling ear to ear.

He and his wife had come to Texas to look for jobs, but were hitch-hiking back North when I picked them up.

They lived with us a month until my wife said it was either them or her that was leaving. Through the years, they had children and name us as God-parents.

For many years he would call once a year and say he was going to pay, and each time I’d tell him to consider it a gift.

His health was poor and when the calls stopped, I figure I’ll meet him in heaven and neither of us will remember the debt.

Man of the West said...

Wade, those are all ideas worthy of consideration, but, were I a gambling man, I'd bet my last dollar that not one of them will ever be seriously considered.

I am totally convinced that those people are totally convinced that what they do is completely necessary, if for nothing else than to retain what they consider vital, perhaps irreplaceable, personnel. It's classic management-think.

I'd tell you more about why I think this, but it would be better to do it in person. I'm in Enid once or twice a year; next time I'm scheduled to go, I'll make sure to free up an hour and see if I can catch you in your office to tell you more.

Bill said...


As one pastor told me when I 1st started pastoring 25 yrs ago "Brother saying things like that will get you LABELED. And if you get labeled, you will never get a big Church or appointed to a committee"

To which I say great! Now everyone know where I stand!

John Fariss said...


Are you suggesting that what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander? Unheard of! Unebd---lievabale!


Joe Blackmon said...

All of these are great ideas but (2), (3), and (4) are the best even with your obvious dig of "former capital of the Confederacy". There is no way the suits in the Ivory Towers would EVER consent to such sacrifices, however. But they should and it would send a good message to those in the field who do the real work.

John Fariss said...

By the way: my son went to the University of Richmond, and their dorms are NOT air conditioned.


Tom Parker said...


That those in charge of the IMB leadership would make these missionaries suffer more than they are already suffering without making any concessions on their part is beyond conscience. They must make some financial sacrifices and it should begin TODAY!!

Do SBC CP funds pay for all of the IMB leadership perks?

Unknown said...


I affirm your suggestions/recommendations.

DL said...

I think you're right on Wade. This problem isn't caused so much by policies as the heart behind the policies. But even if nothing changes, don't be saddened by the conditions of those who need most even while giving most in service to their Master. We back home with the air conditioners and clean clothes will be gawking at their mansions in Heaven and celebrating the size of their eternal reward.

wadeburleson.org said...

To Obey,

I think one of the things we must try to avoid, at all costs, is the approach, "The way we do it in the Far East is the way we should do it in Europe."

Uniformity in missions to a diverse world is counterproductive.

Blessings and thanks for your comment.

wadeburleson.org said...


I don't think there are a great deal of "perks" for IMB leadership -- at least in terms of other SBC agencies. In fact, I commend Dr. Rankin for the approach he takes regarding his own salary. It is the lowest among all SBC executives.

The issue is cutting off air conditioning for low paid missionaries in the tropics when a greater cost savings act would be to cut off high expense travel for meetings in the US.

Also, I am trying to point out that there are some things WORSE than not appointing missionaries next year -- it's not taking care of the low paid semi-volunteer ISC, Journeymen and Masters who are already on the field.

We lose them, we lose more than people comprehend.


wadeburleson.org said...

John Faris,

Wow, I've been to Richmond many times (one of my favorite cities). I CAN'T IMAGINE your son going to college without AC.

But, I guess everybody did it before 1950. :)

wadeburleson.org said...


Great point.


In our men's discipleship class yesterday, we had a great discussion on "rewards" in heaven.

I will give you my opinion, but confess I could be wrong.

It seems to me if I am called a "co-heir" with Christ, if I am given the "righteousness of Christ" as a gift of God's grace, and if "grace" is truly "grace," then every reward I have in heaven will have been earned for me by Christ.

In other words, I believe that Christ's obedience earns for me what I receive in heaven.



DL said...

That could be true Wade because the Bible doesn't say much about how it works. If it's as you say, it seems that the reward would be uniform among all believers.

In that case, perhaps the capacity to enjoy the reward, whether the reward is the same for everyone or not, will be deeper for those who developed that capacity through their loving actions on earth. I think Piper and Storms have pointed to some form of this idea.

“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

wadeburleson.org said...


Laughing. I already pastor a large church and have had my share of ocmmitteee jobs.

But I see your point.


Bill said...


That was the irony of the post my friend

Have a great day


SATEENA said...


I have followed your blog for years. Signed M with YOUR organization because of security reasons. I have agreed most of the time with your postings. I haven't read your blog in over a year now though, but just happened by today. I must post a comment today...

I've lived in 2 regions, tropical and I have never heard of anyone having A/C paid for ... especially ISC, Jmen or anyone to that fact. I am very sure that these things that you have mentioned here affect a VERY small portion of those people.

Dryers were never provided to anyone in those regions of tropical climate I lived in either.

I think you are blowing this out of proportion.


Tom Parker said...

You said--"Stop having multiple meetngs in Richmond and other parts of the US, flying all the missionary supervisors home from overseas, spending tens of thousands of dollars on travel expenses in the process. The missionaries on the field pay close attention to the fact that these meetings for supervisors often conveniently fall close to United States holidays, and with technology the way it is today, there's no reason to pay such enormous travel costs for meetings in the US. This will save real money."

Are these above not perks?

wadeburleson.org said...


I'm sure those meetings would be called necessary business, not perks. However, I'm saying in tough times those things once believed "necessary" are not as necessary as some might imagine.

I do believe the trustee meetings are "perks" for people (mostly pastors) in the SBC. People who serve as trustees on the IMB should work in the most mundane, inexpensive environments as possible.


wadeburleson.org said...


Not sure what I'm blowing out of proportion, but thanks for your comment and I wish you the best in your ministry efforts.

In His Grace,


Christiane said...

I imagine people of the Faith of Christ would and do personally sacrifice much to support missionaries.
But, if they realized that the organization that
'controlled/directed/supervised' these good missionaries was skimming from those donations in order to support their own perks, I don't think the faithful would feel the same about 'giving'.

Thing is, if the trustees and leadership of the IMB were in the business of 'supporting' their missionaries, they would do ANYTHING they could to help them.

Who is supporting whom?

When the donations fell below expectations and there was no where else to cut costs, who was asked to make a sacrifice?
And on whose behalf?

Yes, it's a good post all right.
BTW, flying people in around holiday time is a LOT more expensive than any other time of year. I know.
And why have so many expensive 'meetings' in a certain locale, when people can communicate via technology, equally well ? Cost savings would be enormous.

It's not just the morale of the missionaries that is affected. The morale of those who sacrifice in their own lives to donate is affected. The morale of the larger Christian community is affected any time 'trustees' and their minions skim from the donations given for the holy work of the Lord.

Caritas Christi,

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Wade - the timing of this is curious. Maybe this is a ploy to compel people to give more to Lottie Moon?

I can hear the pastors this Sunday:

"Dig deep, given generously to Lottie Moon, else our missionaries will be living with no a/c and soggy clothes. "

Sheila said...

This represents, in my opinion, the further erosion of the Cooperative Program. The missionaries on the field in need of a dryer or air conditioning will simply appeal to their churches, who will provide the funding.

And that is fine, but we need to recognize that churches will classify that money as mission spending, and lessen their CP giving to reflect the increase in direct mission giving. The decrease in CP giving will force the IMB to find new cuts, and the downward spiral will continue.

Bob Cleveland said...

My dad taught me that doing the right thing was the only thing to do. And I guess he did it early enough that the idea is just sort of part of me.

Part One: I was elected to the Pelham City Council for the term 1980-1984, and was appointed Fire Commissioner.That was ironic, in a way, as my older son is a firefighter here, was at the time, and it was the suggestion of one of his fellow firefighters that caused me to consider running.

At the end of the first year, there'd been substantial inflation. Like 12-14% or some such. There was a clause in the City Ordinances governing Council pay which mandated that the councilman's pay be indexed to inflation, so the pay ($200/month at the time) was going to go up that much.

The trouble was, we'd voted the city employees a 4% raise for the coming year, and it struck me wrong that we were going to get more than that. So I asked if it could be limited, and the city attorney said it was "all or nothing" .. but I could refuse the increase completely. So I did.

Same thing next year.

In the 4th year, we gave the city employees a substantial increase, which brought their level up to where it exceeded the cumulative effect of inflation, so I took the increase for that year.

Bob Cleveland said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob Cleveland said...

Part 2: In the early 1990's, as an insurance agent, I wrote a Wrecker Service near Huntsville. Nancy was the owner and one year at renewal time, she called and said she got a lower price somewhere else and would not be renewing. My insurer couldn't sell it that cheap, so I begged off and told her I'd appreciated her business.

A few months later, I went to Comp USA one morning to get something. When I came out it was raining, and I spotted something lying on the pavement near my car, in a puddle. I ran to the car, picked it up, got in, and looked. It was a $7.00 (a $5 bill and two $1 bills).

So I parked under the marquee at the Comp USA store, went in and gave the money to the manager. I told him it wasn't mine and I couldn't keep it. He looked at me like I was crazy.

So help me, as I drove away, I felt good about that and told God so. Then I laughed out loud and thought "wouldn't it be like God to do something about that" .. but I hastily added I didn't want him to.

When I got back to the office 5 minutes later, there was a note to call Nancy. When I did, she said "Can you write my insurance again? " I said sure, but I can't do it as cheap as those other guys, to which she responded "I didn't ask you that, did I?". I called the insurance company, got a new price on the spot, and called her back, told her, and she said "I'm sending you a check right now." And she did.

I figured the commission, sitting there, not an hour after I'd taken the money into Comp USA. My part of the commission was $700.00. I had to laugh again.

CONCLUSION: God honors doing the right thing. God honors placing others ahead of yourself. God honors showing love for others above self. And that's what your post was really about ... not the dollars .. not the budget .. not the number of missionaries or cell phones or ISC or any of the world's measurements. It's about doing the right thing.

I am a country mile from the best anything, but as we sit here with everything paid for and living within Social Security for the most part, with a retirement plan that we've not had to touch, which we mysteriously (yeh right) took out of the stock market at $14K+ and put into annuities, able to continue to live as we did when we worked, not having to cancel vacations, and me an insecure sort who never DREAMED we'd be where we are ... I have to wonder if it all isn't a result of God meaning what He says about blessing His people if they'll just do the right thing. If they'll make doing the right thing, the "target on the shore" to which they consistently row, through the storms on the lake of life.

And if that really is the case, and we're not so blessed just because God randomly picked us out, then I have to wonder if the church has really ever scratched the surface of the power of simple obedience.

Some day we'll get it through our head. God means what He says. Always has, always will. And He's told us enough.

(Waxing philosophical) .. the hard part about living a Christian life is doing what you don't want to do. If you don't want to tithe, get to church on time, be there every time without fail, shoulder a responsibility like teaching a class and never missing, serve in some function to which you're gifted, or love the unlovable, it's HARD to do. But if you WANT to do as God says, without limit, then it's easy to do.

Including doing the right thing for our missionaries, and ordering our own lives accordingly.

Keep on keepin' on, brother.


Gram said...

as a "lowly per-sitter" it amazes me that your suggestions aren't already status quo.

B Nettles said...

"Joe Blackmon agrees with Wade Burleson"
"New Orleans Saints, 11-0"
Which of these headlines would you believe first?

Anonymous said...

"...else our missionaries will be living with no a/c and soggy clothes."

You know, on second though, the m's could wear the soggy clothes and "run the race marked out before them" and presto, instant A/C! Problem solved.


B Nettles said...

Great recommendations.

The dryers, cell phones, and AC for non-career are red herring issues, but the statement simply indicates an attitude problem in Richmond, which is the bigger issue that your post points out.

If you treat ISC, Journeymen as 2nd class citizens, there will be a drop in career people. Those are big feeder programs.

It's much better to have regional meetings than to bring supervisors to the US. The fellowship and break from cultural stress is important.

I especially love your point about letting the ministry be driven from the field rather than cookie cutter work from Richmond. Richmond should ask, "What do you need to do the work of the Gospel?" , not sayings "Here's how we want you to do it."

It's certainly not American Business to take the cuts at the top, but like you say, IMB trustees should conduct their work in uncomfortable surroundings, remembering the physical conditions which affect those on the field. I would suggest they meet in a "hub" city where the airline flights are cheap, then go to a Motel 6; flying to Richmond ain't that cheap.

Anonymous said...

FBC Watchdog has it right. These churches most likely have reduced the amounts they were sending to the IMB and/or CP because of their own bloated budget needs. So, now they can ask their congregations to give more to their budget (not likely to get a response), or ask them to give more to the poor IMB missionaries with no A/C. Which is the easier "sell" to the sheep?

In other words, "we will keep more of the money you thought we were giving to missions for our own salaries and raises, and then we will hit you up for more money around Christmas time to raise the money we already raised for missions but kept for ourselves."

That's like paying the pastor a total package of $500,000 per year, having him hire his wife and son on staff, use church resources to hire the A-group, use church websites and bulletins to promote a Danube river cruise, and then tell the folks our walls in the nursery have mold and mildew in them so you need to give a million dollars in two weeks."

I believe this is just another fund-raising tactic of the IMB and the churches, who are feeling the pinch now that the sheep are waking up to their financial abuses and poor stewardship. Giving is down to the IMB and in some churches for a reason.

Kudos to Wade for his suggestions and his example. If more folks follow his lead, churches will be able to minister with what God has provided through the people.

Ramesh said...

One big factor that might be exasperating the situation is the slide of the dollar against all the other currencies that are not tied to the dollar. I am afraid this would be another hit for missionaries going from US to other countries.

Add the factor of the slide of the US dollar and its effect on the rise of oil costs within US and possible inflationary effects on costs within US.

The next several years would be "interesting" economically around the world.

ml said...

Additionally, the air condition ought to be turned off at all of the president Mansions of the respective SBC entities--especially the Seminaries. If they are not producing SBC pastors with misionary hearts then something is amiss in our convention. Let's not have all the blame fall on IMB headquarters. They are not responsible for the overall tenor and direction of the SBC.

Ramesh said...

Given the slide of the US Dollar, the following might make more sense to do from and within US:

1. Harness the power of the internet to spread the Gospel and teach. Example: MIT offers all its courses, materials, lesson plans free on the internet. Of course MIT does not give free credits, but the materials are free.

2. Spread the Gospel by doing more creative work within US, especially musical creative work and sermons and also broadcast this via internet or for on demand access.

3. Offer free or reduced tuition scholarships in colleges and universities within US to foreign born students who wish to become missionaries or preachers.

I understand nothing beats one on one personal relationships that are developed by missionaries working in other countries.

Anonymous said...

Wade and others,

With church budgets being approved this week and next in most cases I ask the following question:

With a few exceptions, in this economy, and in light of the current IMB news, is it appropriate for an SBC Senior Pastor to receive/accept a raise this year?

The same question of entity Presidents?

I ask this question not in regard to budgets being met or not, but purely on the basis of principle, and totally understanding that there will be critical exceptions where a pastor is grossly unpaid.


wadeburleson.org said...


I would probably be against any hard and fast rule, across the board, that Senior Pastors and entity heads should not receive any raise. I think each insitution and church is different, and each situation is different.

But I do agree that there ought to be good, valid reasons before there is any raise given to any Senior Pastor or entity head.

I am just averse to any application of any rule across the board.


Lydia said...

I am so glad this is a place we can disagree.

I do agree with your suggestions for cutting back but I think the problem is only going to get worse. And I think that is a good thing for the Body of Christ. It will help us prioritize what we should have been prioritizing all along.

And I think more folks that give are going to question how money is spent. I realize that many pastors teach that it is a sin to question how the money is spent by our leaders but it isn't.

We are seeing this in other areas as the economy tightens. Over the past year, more and more teachers and administrators in our school system are sueing to get out of the union and the monthly dues. It is almost impossible to get out once you are in.

And they are asking hard question about how the money is spent, etc. And strong arm tactics are being used to keep them in the union.

Similar things are happening at churches. Pastors are beating sheep with 'storehouse' tithing sermons and many sheep have decided to ask questions instead of just blindly giving.

As our celebrity leaders love to talk about leadership...this is their leadership moment. And what do they do? Cut on the little guy. That is not 'leadership'.

Giving them MORE money would be like giving whiskey and car keys to teenagers. What are we thinking? They have already proven they are not real leaders by their initial response to a budget shortfall.

Let us not stop at the IMB, let's take a good look at our seminary's, too. Are the 'leaders' there taking leadership cuts, too? Or planning more layoffs?

jbrady said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wadeburleson.org said...


You make a great point, and you are correct, there may be other cuts of which I am unaware.

You have some good thoughts upon which I will reflect.

I believe there are many, many things worse than not meeting a proposed budget in terms of ministry revenue. In fact, NOT MEETING budget is sometimes one of the healthiest things that can happen.

It causes a reevaluation of how we do ministry.

I'm simply suggesting that we be very careful about taking from those who give us the most while receiving the least! Let's reevaluate, but from the top down.

And, having been a part of the budgeting process at the IMB for four years, I know that trustees set the big numbers over a year in advance and administrators at the IMB try to hold the line within budgeted line items.

It's time to focus on the big numbers.

Gene S said...


I totally agree with your concept--share and share alike. I, too, am tired of the excesses of the headquarters with little attention paid to the ones actually doing the work.

The IMB should consider itself lucky to this point. Most small businesses I talk with in eastern NC are trying to live on 30-40% of what we earned 3 years ago!

A reduction like this when translated to giving 10% could well be that much less IF everyone were realistic about our current economic state! This tells me there is still sacrificial giving taking place--so be grateful.

My parents both lived during and through the Depression. Our government still tries to use the term "Recession" to describe it. That is just sugarcoating reality. If unemployment payments had not been extended another 90 days recently by the feds, we would know what Depression really is. That can go on only so long. People are living in tents in Sacramento, CA, thanks to foreclosure.

I remind everyone of the famous insight of the Kingfisher of the Amos 'n Andy show: "If yo out go exceeds yo in come / yo upkeep will be yo down fall!"

I, too, am apalled at the executive excesses in all our Convention Boards and Agencies. We are trying to keep up with Congress and its perks from lobyists! In this case, the "winners" of Conservative Resurgence got their reward of being appointed/elected to executive offices with 3-digit incomes plus the same in perks and expense accounts.

While the average giving Baptist stays at the Motel 6, they stay at the Plaza!!

Can you imagine Jesus and the 12 enjoying a night at the Plaza near a holiday resort with sports events, a lemosine, and large meals at 5-star restaurants put on their credit card from their followers???

Steve said...

I wonder if the AC in a certain office tower in Nashville has an off switch?

Scott said...

Things like this are symptoms of a larger problem, that the whole system is broken.

I do not wish to impugn those who truly go out and do God's work through serving as missionaries, but the problem is that the brass ring isn't serving the Lord out in the mission field, the brass ring is to be one of the suits in Richmond. The system is set up as such that people are more desirious of the job rather than the mission. Heck, in Louisiana, the Director of Missions job is largely viewed as a reward position for a largely popular area pastor until he decides to retire permanently.

This can be carried out further by extrapolation by just looking at the landscape of the entire Southern Baptist Convention. How many smaller churches suffer, yet still maintain their CP giving, while large churches throw off a token pittance which dwarfs the smaller churches yet isn't even one or two percent? How many smaller churches do without the perverbial phone, A/C, or dryer?

And folks, things aren't about to change anytime soon.

Mark this down, the GCRTF isn't about to make any changes which upset the balance of power and the hierarchial structure now in place.

I've actually lost friends who attended seminary because they know that they have to toe the line, say the words, and they too will soon have a seat at the table down the road. Those friends decided that my belief in the message, not the methods, was flawed and reeked of liberalism.

And to think that the Southern Baptist Convention has no training field whatsoever for trained media types like myself. I wish I knew when the seminaries dropped their communications programs because that was what I hoped to achieve.

My main point still remains that the whole system is broke and it won't be changing soon. The GCR is just a wonderful smoke and mirrors trick to perpetuate it on into the future. Nobody wants to give up their power or their influence which is why the low-end missionaries will be the ones to suffer, just like the small, low-end churches which truly prop up the broke CP.

Liam Madden said...

I can say that during my time as a journeyman in Thailand, I often entertained my students in my home, some of whom were my Bible students and some of whom became Christians. I can't imagine having had to do so without air conditioning, or having to pay for that air conditioning myself.

Thailand is very hot country, and Thai people are proud of their air-conditioning. Every office, movie theater, mall, taxicab--whatever--is chilled to perfection. It would be ridiculous to try and live without AC in Bangkok. And it would have been burdensome to have to pay for the AC myself.

In my day, journeymen earned about $600.00 per month USD. In those days, we could live on about half of that and bank the rest to use as a start-up fund when we finished our terms of service and returned to the U.S.

I wonder what a a journeyman or ISC personnel makes today. With the fall of the dollar and the rise of inflation in a country like Thailand, that US dollar is not going as far as it once did, so the journeyman or ISC volunteer would already be doing with less, and now this.

And there is also the problem of what message is being sent by this decision. Are journeymen and ISC personnel second-class citizens? They may not be career missionaries, but in my own case, I worked a full-time teaching job as a journeyman. I imagine most journeymen and ISCer's are working just as hard and sacrificing just as much as career personnel. They shouldn't have their benefits reduced in the middle of their term. It may not violate a written contract, but it doesn't reflect a sense of fair play.

linda said...

Good post, but let's go a bit further.

Much of that funding that keeps folks at higher levels OR missionaries in dryers, cell phones, and a/c comes from folks who cannot afford them for themselves.

So maybe it is right to cut them for the missionaries, but let's cut salaries enough to cut them out of everyone employed by the convention.

Unknown said...

MB cut the benefits of missionaries on the field, for instance, retirement benefit was cut that, is a10% decrease on salary because now missionaries on the field have to compensate that amount from their own pocket. Also, while overseas the co-pay for health insurance is now $500 while abroad and $1000 while on the US, that represents another 10-15% cut depending on years of service. What is the problem with these new polices:

1. They are unfair: Most IMB missionaries are not overseas because of the money, but when they see their monthly budged cut 10%-20% that will affect the moral of the missionaries and the work they do.

2. The average missionary stays on the field for about 7 years, with this new policies the average missionary will serve for a shorter time, 3-4 years, that will result in more expenses for IMB in the long run.

3. IMB missionaries are paid based on time of service: because of these new policies, $500 or $1000 do not have the same value for first or second term missionaries. Most first and second term missionaries have small children or children in college. Veteran missionaries, like IMB's president, who has serve for more than 40 years and is about to retire, are empty nesters and $500 have a different value. It is at least awkward that these new policies come in place the year that he is retiring.

4. There are many more places that IMB can cut and save money, starting in Richmond VA. Cutting benefits iIS NOT SAVIGN MONEY! it is ONLY increasing expenses on missionaries' family budged.

If you care about IMB missionaries please contact trustees that you know or that represent your state convention and ask them to review these policies in their next meeting. These policies are not reflective of the character and maturity of Southern Baptist.