Wade Burleson, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church of Enid, Oklahoma, member of the SBC’s IMB Board of Trustees, and blogger, has been censured by the rest of the board.  The stated reason is that he violated board policy by reporting, in his blog, on actions taken at trustee meetings. 

Yeah, I did a double take on that one, too, especially when I read that the trustee who made the motion, Jerry Corbaley, a California pastor, submitted a letter that took up 153 pages of cyberspace.  I read Corbaley’s letter, the motion made to the trustees and the portions of Wade’s blog that were cited as backup evidence, and I could not see that he violated any board policy, at least, not the ones that were cited.  Apparently, considering the comments out there in cyberspace related to this action, there are not very many Southern Baptists who can see it either, so we are at the very least in good company.

As disagreeable as the board’s action may be, there is a proper way to respond to it.  Taking down the Lottie Moon offering is not the proper way.  The trustees receive no benefit from that offering, and witholding funds only hurts those on the mission field, who have nothing to do with the trustee actions, but who live in fear of these things happening because they know what the reaction will be.

There are several things that we can do to properly respond to the trustees. 

1.  Flood their email inboxes with emails telling them that their decision was wrong, and that an overwhelming majority of Southern Baptists disagree with it, and want it undone immediately. 

2.  Make plans to attend the convention in Indianapolis, and vote for whatever motions are introduced to tell the board that their action doesn’t represent the views of the majority of Southern Baptists.  This is where our system breaks down.  We have a cumbersome, old fashioned way of doing business, requiring the expense of sending messengers to wherever the convention happens to be meeting in order for them to vote.  The prevailing attitude is “Why go to all that trouble?  It’s already cut and dried.”  But in fact, it is not.  From the response that has developed over the past few days, if the Southern Baptists who are not happy with the board’s decision would just go to Indianapolis, and take some messengers from their church with them, they would easily have the numbers to do whatever they wanted.

3.  Nominate, and elect Wade Burleson as President of the Southern Baptist Convention. 

4.  I suppose that motions of “no confidence” in the board could be brought, or that, if enough messengers went along with it, the board could individually be unseated and a new board elected.  But those things have negative connotations and should be saved for the extreme. 

Using the Lottie Moon offering, or your church’s Cooperative Program giving to punish a trustee board for its lack of accountability is not effective, and it hurts people who are not even involved. 

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About LS

I'm 56, happily married for 25 years, B.A., M.A., career educator with experience in education as a teacher and administrator, native Arizonan living in Pennsylvania, working on a PhD and a big fan of the Arizona Wildcats, mainly in football and basketball.

11 responses

  1. Kaylor says:

    Very good analysis and suggestions. The censure is a dangerous effort to suppress dissent. At the same time, the missionaries should not be punished for the misdeeds of the trustees.

  2. Tim Dahl says:

    Aren’t we assuming that all of the Lottie Moon money actually goes to missionaries?

    I’m just curious…

    Tim Dahl

  3. TMAX says:

    DOES ALL LOTTIE MONEY GO TO MISSIONARIES? I HAVE HEARD CONFLICTING STATEMENTS.

    I HAVE BEEN TOLD FOR MANY, MANY YEARS THAT NOT ONE CENT OF LITTIE GOES FOR ADMINISTRATIVE PURPOSES. IS THIS CORRECT?

    DOES ANYONE HAVE A REPLY?

  4. Lee says:

    I’ll find out. At any rate, serving as a trustee is a voluntary position and witholding Lottie Moon gifts does not have an affect on them.

    According to the IMB website, every penny of the Lottie Moon Offering, which constitutes 52% of the total IMB budget, goes to missionary support. There is a small amount of “missionary support” included in administration, but a very small amount.

  5. Tim Dahl says:

    I’ve tried to access an internal audit from the IMB for the past 5 years. I’ve called. I’ve emailed. I’ve snail-mailed. All I ever get are Financial sheets, especially made up for churches; and summary statements.

    I’ve spoken to people that have seen an internal audit that has 10% of Lottie Moon going for IMB ExBoard expenses; and paying for re-catagorized positions at the language school; but I haven’t seen it for myself.

    Needless to say, I’m sad and frustrated at the inability to get detailed info….especially in how the Lottie Moon is being used.

    Tim

  6. JMatthews says:

    I’ve had a hard time getting that kind of information from them, too. “Missionary support” includes all of the things that are considered expenses related to putting and keeping a missionary on the field. But from what I gather, the expenses for trustees come from the Cooperative Program portion of the IMB budget, and not Lottie Moon.

  7. David Lowrie says:

    Lee,

    Thank you for your insights and perspective on this critical matter in Baptist life. We still have much to learn about openness and cooperation. Often I wonder what it is we are so afraid of.

    I agree with you about not taking out our frustrations on our missionaries by withholding funds. I suspect many of them are as frustrated and confused as we are. In fact I suspect most of them don’t even know this is going on because their focus is on our mission of reaching the world. We also need to be reminded that the real victims would be those who would not hear about Jesus if we pull back.

    I don’t know Wade personally, but I have grown to appreciate his courage and willingness to speak out. I pray his tribe will increase. We need to move past these power plays and get back to Kingdom business the way our King taught us to do business.

    David Lowrie

  8. Tmax says:

    Thank you for attempting to shed some light on the Lottie Moon Offering! I have been taking up Lottie Offerings for close to fifty years. It has been a blessing.

    Having said all of that, I would like to know how God’s money is being spent.

  9. Amen to your post Lee. Our missionaries need and depend on our support for their own livelihood. We should never ever use either the Lottie Moon fund or the Annie Armstrong fund for blackmail purposes. Ever.

  10. Tim Dahl says:

    I think that the IMB has opened up ways for people to support particular IMB Missionaries.

    Does anyone know if it is true?

    Tim Dahl

  11. gregwh says:

    Traditionally funds donated to a specific missionary could be applied first in funding his/her annual budget needs. Any funds in excess of those budget needs essentially returned to the general FMB budget.

    I’m not sure how it works today, but I suspect there are still safeguards designed to prevent the situation where exceptionally gifted speakers would become “haves” while those with gifts in other areas might become “have nots”.

    Greg Harvey