Great Commission Filing for Bankruptcy?


Jimmy was one of the craziest country boys I’ve ever known. Whether riding his horse full speed into ponds, fighting, or jumping off query cliffs, for good or for ill, he has always been willing to make things happen. Several years ago, Jimmy became a Christian, steadily growing ever since. The last couple of years he’s actually served as a deacon. Right now, he and his family are in the midst of adopting an orphan from Ethiopia. On my most recent visit, Jimmy told me that he is taking his family to the mission field (international). They’re so excited. I’m excited. God is working in the lives of his people.

But there’s just one little problem. The International Mission Board (IMB) doesn’t have the money needed to support those who want to go to the mission field. Southern Baptists are going to have to tell people like my buddy Jimmy that the SBC can’t afford to send them. Covering the recent IMB trustee meetings in Denver, Hendricks and Bridges write:

In response to reduced giving during the current economic downturn, International Mission Board trustees approved suspending new appointments to the International Service Corps and Masters programs during their May 19-20 meeting in Denver.
The IMB also will reduce the number of new appointments to its career, apprentice and associate programs. New appointments will continue on a more selective basis, involving the most strategic assignments.

The implications of this suspension are clear and devastating. Amongst other things, it means that the lost people across the globe who haven’t heard the gospel and the Christians who are willing to leave America behind to tell those people about Christ, will not be able to connect. This is heartbreaking. Many Southern Baptists, of course, have lamented these developments (including the IMB trustees that had to make this tough decision). For instance, SBC President Johnny Hunt was quoted saying, “It is not acceptable in my heart that we can have missionaries in the pipeline and need to tell them we can’t send them.” IMB trustee chairman, Paul Chitwood, said, “On this day when God has answered our prayers for workers for His harvest, lack of funding has forced us to temporarily suspend categories for service.”

The solution to this problem will be difficult to come up with in any specificity and even harder to implement. Dr. Danny Akin has sounded the trumpet for a Great Commission Resurgence, providing ten axioms for Southern Baptists to follow. SBC Pastor, Tom Ascol, wrote a compelling piece about the intersection of Akin’s GCR call and the IMB’s actions as well. Picking up on one of Akin’s GCR axiom’s, Ascol primarily points to the need to reevaluate how Southern Baptists pool their money, specifically in relation to convention structures. He writes, “The need to reexamine the structures of the convention should be a rallying call to all Southern Baptists who want to see the sacrificial gifts of their churches make it to the places where it is needed most.”

What are Southern Baptists to think about this? On the one hand, a “restructuring” of convention funding would result in the removal of convention jobs (local, state, and national, perhaps). Of course, the argument goes, this action would allow more money to fund the most critical Great Commission ventures like international missions. But, on the other hand, the jobs that would be cut are jobs that workers, no doubt, see as a key component of the Great Commission. Those working for state conventions would argue that their jobs play a critical part in the advancement of the Great Commission. More must be and, no doubt, will be said.

The way forward is tough. In my estimation, the greatest danger our Southern Baptist leaders and our churches face in all of this is the temptation to be paralyzed by the difficulty of the task. A Great Commission Resurgence has to be more than a slogan or it will fail. It has to be the battle cry of every Christian, everyday, in every place. It will be easy for Southern Baptists in their respective roles to point to “other” people and institutions that need fixing. These “other” people and institutions stand in the way of the advancement of the Great Commission.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that tough decisions do not need to be made. This kind of evaluation is healthy. Families, churches, businesses, etc. do it all the time. Why shouldn’t denominations do this as well? But, a true Great Commission Resurgence goes much deeper than this. A real GCR will be seen when men and women realize that God has given them enough grace in Christ to do ten times as much as they’ve been doing for the kingdom of Christ. Perhaps, some denominational workers will voluntarily take a large portion of their income and give it to those Southern Baptist families that will lose their jobs as a result of the needed changes. Maybe some Southern Baptist families will put off their vacations so that they can send more money to the state conventions, waiting missionaries, seminaries, the IMB, etc.

My buddy Jimmy is waiting. He’s waiting for a revival to sweep across our churches. He’s waiting for Southern Baptists to worry more about the advance of the gospel amongst the nations than they are about their shrinking 401k. He’s waiting for brothers and sisters in Christ held captive to the American dream to be transformed as they soberly look to Jesus, who so believed in the advance of the gospel that he forsook the comforts and joys of heaven for the torture of the cross. Jimmy’s waiting for you and me to pray, give, think, and act. More importantly, the nations are waiting.

Comments 0

  1. Good word, Jed. I have several friends serving as denominational employees, whether it be in the state conventions, associations, or seminaries (as I imagine you would too). While I would never desire to see them suffer through job loss, I cannot imagine being in a situation knowing that Cooperative Program money is not making it to the mission field partly due to my salary or job.

    Like you said, everyone is having to make cuts and changes; we should have not to make cuts or changes on the very things that is most important to us – international missions. Making the right changes would be painful and yet appropriate. Fundamental to the right changes in this SBC Titanic would not be rearranging deck chairs but having more life boats.

    We hear a lot about the unemployment rate right now. God-called missionaries, however, should not be numbered among them.

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    Thanks for the comments. I think we should do whatever it takes to get folks to the mission field. I like President Hunt’s statement, “We need to take the gloves off in Jesus’ name and tell the truth so the people will know.” Of course, the difficult thing will be making the needed cuts, restructuring, etc. In a sense, every job that is supported by Cooperative Program money is a job that keeps CP money from making it to the mission field. By the grace of God in Christ, I pray we can make the needed changes.

    Hoping the SBC avoids the iceberg,


  3. Just as the GCR builds up steam we are faced with the news that the IMB does not have enough money to send more missionaries…and it’s not that there aren’t more people God is calling to missions! There are! Something is desperately wrong.

    Money isn’t everything. We can do a lot of things without money. However, missionaries can’t get to where they’ve got to go without money. They can’t eat and house themselves without money. They need at least the basic necessities of life to survive.

    What is the problem? What are we doing wrong? I’m not going to mention the mega churches and how they spend their money. I’m not going to mention the bloated bureaucracy of our institutions. I’m not going to mention how American Christians waste money on a multitude of THINGS. I’m not going to mention it because I don’t have to. We know that this is PART of the problem.

    However,the real, deep-seated problem is our hearts. God bless the GCR! God bless our institutions! God bless the mega churches! But I fear that we are not in line for blessings, but a need of repentance and we know how God sometimes uses the circumstances of life and the events of this world to turn us around. I tremble at the thought at what God is going to do to get our attention. Or maybe He will leave us to ourselves and us another people.

    God help us. God send Your Holy Spirit. God send us REVIVAL!

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  5. Dear Jed,

    As an IMB M, I am heartbroken for guys like Jimmy as well as many others that I know, who are stuck in the process. First I know that the Lord will get done what He wants done. He still is in charge, no matter what the economy seems to dictate.

    I see this as a time when the Lord is going to see what we are made of. What are our priorities? Will we give lip service to reaching the nations, or will we make sure the facilities are first class, the AC the right temperature, the stage lighting just right, etc. “You’ve got to stay up with the Across Town Baptist Church Joneses.”

    I pray that we step up to the challenge. I have seen churches go into bunker thinking. “now, we’ve got to look out for our needs first.” I don’t know if it is mindset or the hand of God, but they have died and become a “us four and no more” type church. I pray that this will not happen to a denomination. If we give it lip service alone, I truly believe that the Lord will look somewhere else to put the mantle of reaching the world with the Gospel.

    The bottom line:the heart of the matter is priority. What is our priority? Also, the church was given the Great Commission. Not the IMB nor even the SBC. It was given to the church. I am excited to see how we are working with local churches in creative ways of fulfilling the Great Commission. I am grateful for leadership that is “getting it”.

    These are exciting days. Really. Tough days, but exciting days.

  6. Thanks for this Jed. I had a student in my office early this week saying she had heard about the cutbacks and wondered how this would affect our two plus two students. I, ever the optimist, said I cannot believe we would see any kind of cutback in sending missionaries. Just after that I saw the report.

    Pick your cliche. It is time to put up or shut up. To fish or cut bait. It is time for the Southern Baptist Convention, which I have given my entire life to serve as have so many others, to determine whether or not we can find a way to bring together what we say is important and how we live (including how we spend out money). This is gut wrenching. Makes me want to get in touch with my inner John the Baptist.

    I will be sitting down with Michelle and discussing how we can as a family do more. We can all do more. I do not want to merely point a finger, but to contribute as well. May God in His providence help us to sacrifice for the Great Commission.

    If we cannot come together in a time like this on something as vital as the Great Commission, we are never going to come together.

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    Thanks for your faithfulness in going and for your comments. I really think that all of this will result in a greater urgency and faithfulness to the Great Commission in our churches. I pray the Lord will continue to bless you in your ministry my friend.


    Thanks for the comment. That’s a tough place to be in! Don’t lose your fire! My family is praying for people like you. God will bring all of this about.

    Dr. Reid,

    I love those cliches! Like you, I hate to see these cutbacks. I think if all of us follow the kind of example that you’ve mentioned with your family, we’ll all be more faithful to the Great Commission as a result of this stuff. More has to be done. In the end, I think we need to see more John the Baptist from all of us! Thanks for the comments!


  8. Dr. Reid said:

    Makes me want to get in touch with my inner John the Baptist.

    Go ahead, sir. We have 100 politicians for every prophet in the SBC. We could use another voice crying out in the wilderness. 🙂

  9. Jed,
    Thank you for your call for Southern Baptists to pray, give, think and act so that we can better support those like your friend Jimmy to answer God’s call to go to the nations with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am thankful that Southern Baptists have supported me in answering that call.

    You are right in saying that tough decisions have to be made. My question is, are we willing to make those decisions after an honest evaluation? Danny Akin, Johnny Hunt and Paul Chitwood seem to be putting the burden on the state conventions to make those decisions and refer to unnamed bloated bureaucracies. I think they need to first look at their own CP supported entity and their own churches. You quote Johnny Hunt as saying this situation is unacceptable and he has said elsewhere that Southern Baptists need to prioritize their giving. If I have heard correctly, his church gives about 2-3% of undesignated funds to the CP. Doesn’t he need to reprioritize his churches giving to the CP before asking others to do the same? Paul Chitwood laments the fact that only about 18% of CP giving by a church in his state goes overseas. Both Chitwood and IMB trustee Hershael York were recently president of the Kentucky state convention. I would like to hear what attempt they made to increase their states CP percentage given to the SBC while they were president. I also wonder what percentage their churches give to the CP.

    The percentage giving by state conventions has changed little over the last few decades. The problem has been that the CP percentage giving by churches has dropped dramatically since the CR takeover. I believe it at least partly because of the poor example set by CR leaders such as Johnny Hunt, Jerry Vines, Charles Stanley and others. The problem isn’t with the state conventions it is with the churches and the SBC/CR leadership. Are they willing to accept your challenge to change their priorities?

    I will tell you why I think state conventions are important. Your grandfather on your mother’s side was executive director of the Missouri Baptist state convention in the early 80s when they had a 3 year partnership with the mission field where I serve. I met him on one of his trips to our country but I had known of him before when he pastored a strong CP giving church in my home state of Arkansas. Missouri was an excellent partner and made a great contribution to our work under his leadership. They were unified and committed to the Great Commission and using their CP funds well. This was before Conservative Resurgence leaders Gerald Davidson and Roger Moran took over the Missouri Baptist convention and destroyed their unity, lost their Great Commission excitement and became less theologically conservative than they were under your grandfather’s leadership. Your other grandfather was my teacher at a state supported Baptist university in Arkansas. You grandmother was my Sunday School teacher. They were two of the finest Christians I have ever known. At a crucial point in my life your grandmother gave me encouragement and advice that I have never forgotten. If not for a state convention supported Baptist university, I and hundreds of others would not have had the benefit of the influence of your grandparents. That did not keep the Conservative Resurgence leaders in Arkansas from attacking that university and trying to take it over. Thankfully the theological conservatives rejected the Conservative Resurgence leader’s political attacks. That is why I do not want Johnny Hunt or Danny Akin or any other CR leader making suggestions on how to run my state convention.
    I have no problem with evaluating CP giving in the SBC if it is done fairly. I do not want the same people who have put us in this mess to be the ones doing the evaluating. Fifteen years ago was the last time we had a Conservative Resurgence evaluation and reorganization of the SBC. It hurt us more than it helped us. The NAMB is good example of the harm done by that evaluation. Two of the members of that evaluation team were CR leaders from my state. One pastored a church that at one time was receiving more funds back in matching retirements funds for its staff that it was giving to the CR to be used in our state. The other was a member of a church that gave similar poor CP support. Despite also serving on the SBC executive committee he later decided to switch his attendance from a Southern Baptist church to a Lutheran Church. I wonder how much this Conservative Resurgence leader was committed to the SBC or its theology?

    Your post is excellent and if the spirit of your post was followed though it would be a great day for Southern Baptists. The problem is history has given us reason for concern. If I could name the evaluation team, I would probably be for it.

    In the spirit of transparency I would like to ask you a question. My salary is paid through CP funds. I see several names that are familiar on this blog. Akin, Bush, Coppenger and Moore (Is this Moore related to Russell Moore?) Your parents have at least partly because of their support for the CR been employed at CP supported institutions. How many of you are employed by or have been employed by SEBTS or some other CP institution?
    Ron West

  10. Ron,

    Thank you for your comments and questions. I will try to answer them as best I can.

    1. Are men like Danny Akin, Johnny Hunt, etc. willing to look at their own CP supported entity and their own churches? I think the answer is Yes. In Akin’s Axioms of a GCR message he specifically references evaluating SEBTS. I agree with your comments as long as we are all willing to evaluate ourselves, including state conventions and not go into fight mode instead of asking the tough questions.

    2. A couple of points concerning your criticism of Johnny Hunt’s “undesignated CP funds”: 1) undesignated CP giving is not the only way to support the CP, and a certain percentage of undesignated CP giving should not be a standard for considering a church a legitimate CP supporting church. 2) If I have heard correctly, a few years ago Dr. Hunt’s church gave over 1 million dollars to help with IMB work in hard areas (and it was asked of them by the IMB) but it is not reported b/c it is designated. In my opinion that is an example of someone who has their priorities in the right spot.

    3. Concerning the drop in percentage giving from churches, is it possible that the drop is because churches feel that state conventions keep too much in state and don’t send enough to support foreign missions? I know that is the case at my church.

    4. I understand your points, and I would not say that all of the blame lies with state conventions or anyone else, but it is unfair to say that the leaders of the CR are the ones “who have put us in this mess” and not be willing to evaluate the state conventions as well.

    6. Love your comment about being the one who picks the evaluation team. I would really love that job too!

    7. As to your last quesiton: I’d say that half of our contributors get pay checks from CP institutions and half do not. Nick Moore is not related to Dr. Moore, and is not employed by a CP institution. I am a pastor in a church and am not employed by a CP institution.

    Hope this helps and I do pray that all of us on individual and corporate levels would evaluate where we are at in the support of the GC.

    Jon Akin

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    Mr. West,

    Thanks for your service and the comments. I’m so thankful for the example my grandparents set for us grandkids. I would love to hear any stories you have about my grandparents (email them to me if you like). As you know, my Papa (Missouri Exec) died when I was young and my Grandma (other side of the family) when I was in college.

    You raised a lot issues in your comments! I’ll try to be brief. Basically, I think that we want the same thing (the advance of the kingdom of Christ). But, in light of your comments about the CR and the leaders that you mentioned specifically today, I think we would disagree about how to bring everything about, what kind of “mess” we’re in, and so forth.

    In my article I was trying to call for a both/and approach to this Great Commission evaluation. I don’t think that we should just look at State Conventions or just at the Seminaries. I think that we should look at every aspect of the CP, see how it is functioning, and why it is functioning as it is. I think that Jon’s example about Pastor Hunt makes good sense. Folks in the State Conventions probably have examples of similar things (like the example you mentioned about my Papa). I don’t think anybody is trying to get rid of the state conventions (I’m certainly not advocating that). I think we all just want to make sure our money is being used for Great Commission purposes (surely we can agree that this is a good thing).

    The tendency, of course, is to point the finger to other people (which I mentioned in my article). Let’s say York and Chitwood did absolutely nothing for the KBC (which is not true), it wouldn’t make sense that the rest of us should then do nothing as well.

    Finally, while imperfect, I think the CR was great (but there is still much work needed to do!). If it weren’t for the CR, it’s hard to imagine the “mess” that we would be in right now. After all, only the Lord knows how the seminary would have accommodated the cultural norms throughout the 90s and these last 9 years, since some professors were already affirming that women could pastor, God could be prayed to as mother, and people could be saved apart from trusting Christ. I know that the thousands of people who are currently studying at the SBC seminaries wouldn’t be if this were the case. Surely, we can agree that this is not happening is a good thing, Mr. West.

    Not too long ago, my grandpa (who will be 100 in September!), my dad, and I were walking around SBTS. My grandpa loves what is happening here. We know that there were mistakes made along the way. But, overall, the CR was great.

    There’s more that needs to be done. I think that is why the GCR has been called for by Akin and others. I can’t vouch for everyone, but I know Dr. Akin and my Dad and many others believe in the advancement of the Great Commission with the utmost sincerity and biblical faithfulness (both Dr. Akin and Dr. Coppenger have children, grandchildren, etc. on the mission field). Will mistakes be made? Sure. Mistakes will be made if we don’t act. But the biggest mistake would be inaction.

    Btw, all of the contributors to this blog have listed their personal information on the “Who We Are” section of the blog. Do you work for the Arkansas State Convention? Great state.

    Blessings in Christ,


  12. Jedidaih and Jon,

    Thanks for your thoughtful and gracious response to my remarks. I can assure you that I too believe in the advancement of the Great Commission and I would love to see a true Great Commission Resurgence in the SBC. I do not work for the Arkansas State Convention. I have been with the IMB in Asia for 30 years. Jedidiah, I was in college with your Dad but haven’t seen since about 10 years ago when I bought him lunch at the Pentagon dining room. I would usually see your Grandmother and Grandfather when I was back home on stateside and especially enjoyed being with them several times the year I was MIR at Ouachita.

    I am sure you are right that we would disagree on the CR. I notice that many of you have spent most of your life inside the CR bubble. I will share with you some of my experience with the CR from outside that bubble and maybe you will understand why I do not support it. I am a theological conservative and an inerrantist. When many of us first heard talk of the CR by its leaders, it sounded good. I will support any effort to keep our convention conservative theologically. We soon discovered however that very little done in the name of the CR or by its leaders has anything to do with conservative theology.

    Before 1979 my state convention, Arkansas, was theologically conservative. My Southern Baptist university and seminary, Ouachita and SWBTS, were conservative theologically and the IMB/FMB where I was employed was conservative. They have all been hurt by the conservative resurgence and its leaders in a relentless drive for control that had nothing to do with conservative theology.

    The week the SBC executive committee was voting to recommend withdrawal from the BWA I was invited to dinner with Billy Kim, the BWA president and several pastors in Asia. Billy shared with them he had asked Paige Patterson not to do this and told Paige his charges that the BWA was liberal were untrue. I was the only non-Asian and the only Southern Baptist in the room so they all turned to me and said why is the SBC doing this? We are not liberals we are Baptist with the same beliefs as you. I did not tell them the truth that it was because Paige and the other CR leaders were throwing a temper tantrum because the BWA had allowed CBF to join and it had nothing to do with liberal theology. Billy Kim is one of the outstanding conservative Southern Baptist statesmen in the world. To say the organization he was president of was liberal was an insult.

    I had a friend who was in a meeting with Adrian Rogers and several IMB personal and a WMU member when Adrian made has statement that the WMU had better get hard wired into the SBC/CR leadership or they will lose their seat at the SBC table. That had nothing to do with theology but all to do with trying to control the WMU.

    Probably the place where it is most obvious is in appointments of trustees to SBC entities. Before 1979 I am sure there may have been trustees that were not sound theologically but all the trustees I knew were conservative theologically. Starting in 1979 conservative theology stopped being a factor. Support for the CR was the only thing considered. There is no need to go over again the IMB trustee chairman who was having an affair with a women in his church while calling us liberals, or the IMB trustee who called us neo-orthodox heretics or the IMB trustee who was elected after being convicted of fraud and served until he had to resign when he went to jail. No CR leader has apologized to our missionaries for sending these trustees to our board.

    I won’t bother to point out the exaggerations of liberalism at our seminaries but at SWBTS we had Roy Fish, Russ Bush, Curtis Vaughn, Jack Gray and many other solid conservatives. You wouldn’t know that if all you heard was the CR leaders.

    Jon, I am glad to hear that Hunt’s church gave a million dollars to the IMB. I had not heard that. I know several churches much smaller thatn his that if you were to combine the CP giving and Lottie Moon giving they give a million dollars to the IMB every 5 -7 years. If your church lowers its CP giving to your state convention, it probably only means that other churches have to take up the slack and therefore less of their CP giving goes to the SBC. I have no problem with state conventions looking at their CP giving and increasing the giving to the SBC if they can. I believe it should be the state conventions that do that and not the SBC leaders. After all, far more churches take part in the budgeting process of our state conventions than at the SBC level. State conventions are much closer to the grass roots level than the SBC. My salary is paid by the CP on the SBC level not the state. However, in my state our CP funds support an outstanding children’s home ministry, two great Universities, a state missions program that is starting churches, strong BSU programs in many colleges and a state Baptist newspaper that keeps our state informed on Baptist missions. I know missionaries who were raised in our children’s homes. The year I was appointed more SBC missionaries were appointed from Ouachita than any other Baptist college. I have served with IMB missionaries who received their initial church planting training in our state missions program. We have had several summer missions teams work with us from our state BSUs. I don’t want to hurt any of those programs. In fact in the long run it would hurt the SBC and IMB if any of them were cut back.

    What I would like to see Johnny Hunt do to start the GCR is ask for God’s forgiveness on behalf of the SBC for all the faithful servants of God who have been slandered, attacked and harmed over the last 30 years by the CR.

    I enjoy your website. Despite what I sounds like I agree with the spirit of your blog. Keep it up.
    Ron West

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    Mr. West,

    As tempting as it is to try to bash liberals, moderates, or whatever to
    counter your efforts, I will have to decline. We are all well aware that
    there are people involved with the CR that have sinned, just like those
    opposed to it. I’ve seen it first hand. Of course, this doesn’t negate the
    fact that many godly men (like my father, Dr. Akin, etc.) were very
    concerned with recovering conservative theology and personal holiness. To
    argue otherwise is at best historically absurd.

    I guess we’re more interested in seeing greater faithfulness to the Great
    Commission than we are comparing our wounds from the past. That’s what we’ve
    tried to make this blog about. That’s what we’ve tried to make our lives
    about. If Southern Baptists are willing to do this from the pew to
    Nashville to the ends of the earth, great things will come about.

    Blessings in Christ,


  14. I praise the Lord for your last paragraph. If you and others will remain true to that, it might bring about the repentance and revival that our convention so deperately needs.

  15. Jed,
    Great article. As became apparent to me in reading the exchange of the last several comments, great misunderstandings arise when assumptions reign. I read a great book in Seminary written by CBF commentators against the CR. I was amazed at the perspective. For me it was new to see how others viewed the CR. I was reminded that it is good to enter the conversation.

    Dr. Hunt is one of the most missionally minded pastors I know of. To bash him is warrantless. Until we have walked in his mocasins…(someone said).

    Shame on us all if we allow our desire for comforts keep us from sending people to impact lostness…in our nation and to the ends of the earth.

    Keep up the good fight. Love ya and pray for you often.

    Chris Aiken

  16. Pingback: The Link 6.5.09: Teaching Writing, The Great Commission, and Church Planting « owen strachan

  17. I feel the need to respond to Mr. West because to let his question about my actions and my church hang there unanswered is to invite doubt about my own efforts and my church’s commitment to the CP. Frankly, I resent a question being thrown out there which could be found out with a phone call or consulting any KBC annual. If one really wants the answer to the question, one can easily find it. If, however, one wants to imply something while retaining plausible deniability that one is in fact implying it, one can just ask a question. That way, when someone comments about it’s snarkiness, the proper response is, “I just asked a question.”

    My church gives 10% of our undesignated receipts to the CP. Our giving to the CP has steadily increased since I have been pastor at Buck Run. We do this in addition to our own building program, and our ongoing missions commitment to Romania, Brazil, South Africa, and Ethiopia. We will not cut CP giving to fund our own programs or mission efforts. We believe in a both/and approach, not an either/or.

    Secondly, while I was president of the KBC, the KBC increased the amount going on to Nashville for the first time ever. It was only a percentage point, but it was what I could get. Furthermore, Paul Chitwood and I as well as other past presidents are staying involved precisely because we long for the day when we can persuade the entire state that we should keep less funds in the state. These things aren’t done unilaterally, and changing the way things have always been done is challenging to say the least, but I assure you that we are working on it.

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  19. As a member of my church’s Mission Team, we too are dealing with the issues of what to tell people who wish to serve overseas. We are dealing with one couple who have been told they cannot go yet, until further funds come in to the IMB. In recent budget cuts, the issue came up about giving to the IMB. The reason being that our missionaries get paid anyway, which completely misses the point. I think there is an education problem in our churches in that the people don’t understand that if we do not give, then new missionaries cannot be sent, regardless of whether we support them directly or not. Some missionaries we do support directly because they are not with the IMB. Our IMB missionaries, we divide our budget among them and send that amount to the IMB. The problem is that the people still do not understand about giving to the IMB. There may be some churches that do not understand how the giving works. Thank you for a thoughtful article on the funds issue. If we do not give, we cannot send. John Piper says that we are either senders or goers. Sadly, too many people in our churches are neither, and some of the largest SBC churches could probably send more.

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    Thanks for the comment. I think that you’re right that we need to come at this thing from all angles. I pray that we all use our imaginations and energies to advance Christ’s kingdom quantitatively and qualitatively. I’ve got friends (and family) overseas with the IMB, waiting to be sent by the IMB, and overseas without IMB support. Exciting times! Hope the Lord continues to be patient with us as he transforms us into Christ’s image.


  21. Good discussion. Even though there are areas on which people disagree, it seems the passion for sharing the gospel is definitely there and that’s exciting. I am prayerful that one of the outcomes of the discussion about the GCR will be a growing awareness of and appreciation for the Cooperative Program.

    I have the privilege of working for the Kentucky Baptist Convention and get to see every day how Southern Baptists are sharing the Gospel all over the world through what I consider to be the most effective and efficient missions support program ever devised. In addition, our system of messenger-elected mission boards and committees means Southern Baptists have a highly accountable and very transparent process as well.

    I agree with everyone who has said that all of us — from individuals to churches to denominatinal organizations — can benefit from regular examination. It’s healthy to be having these discussions and I’m sure we’ll all find areas in which we can and will improve in order for us to better glorify God.

    As Dr. York said, here in Kentucky, our convention has been moving to increase our percentage to SBC causes. An interesting part of the mechanism that has been set up is that the increase is tied to increased giving from the churches. As CP giving grows, so does the percentage to SBC.

  22. Sorry, I was not aware people were still commenting on this post. I wish to answer Dr. York and apologize if he took offense. I have no contact with the Kentucky Convention and have no idea how to get a KBC annual. I am not sure what snarkiness means but if my question was snarky I guess I was just asking a question. I think that Danny Akin and Johnny Hunt’s questions about state conventions being bloated bureaucracies left hanging there unanswered is to invite doubt about their efforts and commitment to the CP. I am thankful for the CP support your church gives to the SBC. I think it was a legitimate question after Paul Chitwood’s seemingly negative remark about the Kentucky Convention percentage giving to the CP. He left his remark hanging out there and needing further explanation. I do know that the churches of two of the three IMB trustees from my state give far below the average percentage giving from our state.

    Dr. York, I would welcome our trustees and other questioning our missionaries any time you wish about anything to do with our service our commitment. I remember another IMB trustee chairman from Kentucky named Bill Hancock and his friend Ron Wilson who left statements hanging out there accusing us of being liberal and teaching heresy. If they had ever bothered to ask and try to find the truth, they would have discovered they were spreading slander and lies. In recent years Jerry Corbaley has done the same.

    In case you do not read this post I will try to send it to you.

    Chris Aiken, You wrote, “I read a great book in Seminary written by CBF commentators against the CR. I was amazed at the perspective.” I would probably disagree with the CBF commentators also but I too have been amazed at the perspective on the CR I hear from those who were not there. I was there before 1979 and most of the comments made by CR leaders and there off spring about liberalism in the SBC at that time have no relationship to reality.

    Ron West

  23. Pingback: The Great Commission Resurgence | sbcIMPACT life :: theology :: church :: ministry :: missions :: worship

  24. Dear Brother Ron West,

    In this comment stream you falsely accuse me of saying our IMB Missionaries are liberal and teaching heresy. That is just not true, and it has never been true.

    What I have said is that during my tenure as a trustee on the IMB, that I found our Missionaries to have a lower incidence of doctrinal failure or moral failure than virtually any of our State or Regional Conventions. That means I think they are more faithful than the ministers of our State and Regional Conventions. I am very pleased to be associated with them as a fellow Southern Baptists.

    You could not possibly have gotten your information from me. It is patently false.

    Please stop this false accusation. I have never harmed you. I have never persecuted you. Why are you doing this here, and on other blogs? I am your brother in Christ. Please just stop.

  25. Hello Brother Jerry. I hope you are enjoying your new ministry in Hawaii. Yes I did accuse you of saying our missionaries were liberal and teaching heresy. I based that on your statement that there were doctrinal problems on the mission field and that our staff was not dealing with problems that did exist. It was partly based on the following BP article.
    Rankin finished his report saying he felt compelled, on behalf of the missionaries, to say he was not aware of doctrinal problems among IMB missionaries. He said he knows the rumors and innuendoes and that they have been going on a long time.

    “You screened them, you examined their denominational loyalty, their faith, their church background and commitment, their affirmation of the Baptist Faith and Message, and our regional leaders are in touch with them, monitoring them,” Rankin said. “If there were any problems of doctrinal aberrations, of charismatic influences or practices, or even tolerance, or anyone not practicing baptism, or contributing in any way to ecumenical-type practices, we would know about it and deal with it.

    “It is disrespectful to missionaries –- those giving their lives and sacrifices and taking their families and laying their lives on the line -– that anyone, without identifying and verifying facts, would spread rumors and innuendoes about doctrinal issues on the field. I want to make a public comment and stand for our missionaries in defense of their faithfulness.”

    Trustee Jerry Corbaley of California voiced some misunderstanding about Rankin’s comments that there are no doctrinal problems on the field among the missionaries.

    “Your statement there is no doctrinal problems on the field -– (that) if there were they would be recognized by staff –- seems to be in direct conflict with the fact we are dealing with several such instances now, Corbaley said. “Perhaps some clarification can help everyone.”

    Rankin replied: “There have been several comments made, particularly that the policies were necessary because we’re sending missionaries out that are not truly Baptists, are involved in ecumenical movements, are tolerating, even promoting and practicing charismatic practices.

    “Throughout the process of our policies, I’ve asked for evidence — for verification — if that is so then tell us who and where, and we’ll deal with it. But I have yet to have anyone document where there is a problem that we aren’t dealing with or haven’t dealt with when we became aware of it. That was the intent of (the statement).”

    I wrote you on your blog and discussed this at least twice. I do not have both posts but here is what I wrote in 2006.

    posted on your blog:
    You said the following on your blog in response to my note. “My public assertion during the plenary session was in regard to a statement by Dr. Rankin that there were no doctrinal problems on the mission field. I think that is a misstatement. I thought it could be misused and misunderstood by Southern Baptists at large and that Dr. Rankin might want to take the opportunity to clarify what he meant.”
    Brother Jerry, in BP your statement was that there are doctrinal problems on the field and that the trustees are handling several of them now and that they haven’t been recognized by staff. I think without clarification that could be misused and misunderstood by Southern Baptist at large. Why is it so important to you that we keep saying to Southern Baptists at large that there are theological problems with our missionaries? It doesn’t agree with your statement that we are factually healthy. You need to answer the questions I asked earlier in order to have some perception of what you are implying. What types of doctrinal problems are we talking about? Are they major problems concerning fundamental theological issues in conflict with the BFandM? How many missionaries out of the 5,200 are involved? Thousands? Unless you give further clarification, there are some who will take your statements as proof that there are many missionaries, maybe the majority, who are liberal in theology and teaching heresy all around the world and they will say that is what Jerry Corbaley is saying.

    Brother Jerry, you said there were doctrinal problems on the mission field. If you are not willing to state what those problems are, then I and most people assume you are saying we are liberal and are teaching heresy. If you are not willing to name the number of missionaries involved then we are all under suspicion because of your statements. You felt it was so important to point out there are doctrinal problems that you spoke up in an open IMB meeting and contradicted Jerry Rankin and repeated it for BP. Jerry Rankin and I are both saying the same thing. “We’ve asked for evidence — for verification — if that is so then tell us who and where, and we’ll deal with it. But I have yet to have anyone document where there is a problem that we aren’t dealing with or haven’t dealt with when we became aware of it.” I also want to say along with Jerry Rankin, “It is disrespectful to missionaries –- those giving their lives and sacrifices and taking their families and laying their lives on the line -– that anyone, without identifying and verifying facts, would spread rumors and innuendoes about doctrinal issues on the field. I want to make a public comment and stand for our missionaries in defense of their faithfulness.” Brother Jerry, that is why I will continue to speak out when men such as you and Ron Wilson make statements attacking our theology and witness.

    Brother Jerry if it is true as you say that our Missionaries have a lower incidence of doctrinal failure or moral failure than virtually any of our State or Regional Conventions why do you feel it so necessary to keep making statements about doctrinal problems. As you are aware, there have been examples of strong moral and doctrinal failure among our trustees. We do not say continually or in BP that there are adultery and dishonesty problems among our trustees because of the actions of a few. We believe you will take whatever action is required to correct the situation.

    I want to also add that I have served under 3 FMB/IMB presidents. Baker James Cauthen, Keith Parks and Jerry Rankin. We were just as doctrinal sound when I was appointed in 1979 as we are now and have been all this time. That has not stopped a continual parade of men from spreading rumors and innuendoes about doctrinal issues as Jerry Rankin said. We have to defend ourselves. Our trustees seem to be too timid to do speak up for us.
    Ron West

  26. Dear Brother Ron West,

    The object of my comment is not past SBC politics, but present Christian morality.

    Your accusation is false. I have never said, written or thought that our Missionaries are liberal or teaching heresy. In this comment stream you are asserting the damage done to our Missionaries’ reputations by false accusation. And then you falsely accuse me, a retired SBC Missionary.

    Please stop. Just stop.

  27. Brother Jerry, when I communicate with you it sometimes feels like we are speaking two completely different languages. Your answers seem to have no relation to my questions. When you say there are doctrinal problems on the mission field and that our staff is not dealing with those problems and that Jerry Rankin is wrong when he says there are not problems, how can you say the only object of your comment was “present Christian morality.” It seems you are clearly saying there are doctrinal problems with our missionaries and to most of us that can only mean liberal theology and heresy. If that is not true, Jerry Rankin and I have both asked you on multiple occasions to clearly state the doctrinal problems and how widespread they are. Are we talking major doctrinal problems or something like whether the pastor should wear a tie while he is preaching? Are there hundreds of cases or thousands or just 2 or 3? Has Jerry Rankin and our staff refused to recognize these problems? You don’t seem to be able to give a clear answer to these questions and that is why your accusations are open to misunderstanding.

    I will stop this if you wish, but please do not continue to accuse us of doctrinal problems without a clear explanation of what you mean.

    Your friend Ron Wilson has plainly stated that our missionaries are controlled by liberals, are neo-orthodox in theology and are spreading heresy. Would you join me in saying he is wrong and would you also be willing to ask him to stop.

    I was not aware you were a retired missionary. Thank you for your service. Where did you serve and when?
    Ron West

  28. Dear Brother Ron West,

    The context of my offer to Dr. Rankin to clarify his remark was in reference to what the trustees and IMB Senior Staff had previously discussed in forum during that very meeting. I will not violate trustee guidelines and discuss it publicly. Period. I offered Dr. Rankin an opportunity to clarify what he said, and that is all I did.

    Nor will I be side-tracked into rehashing old discussions.

    What you are currently doing, here and elsewhere, is causing damage to my reputation with lies. The Biblical word for this is slander. Please stop it. Your current sin is more important than your questions, brother. You are causing me unjust damage.

    As you probably already know, the IMB Missionaries have about the lowest attrition rate of any similar organization. The attrition rate varies between about 3 and 4 percent. Of these, the vast majority are retirements, or leaving the mission field due to stateside family needs. It is a tiny minority of the 3 or 4 percent who have doctrinal or moral failures, that they refuse to correct, that cause them to leave the mission field. Many years, there are none at all.

    This is, in my opinion, a much better record of moral and doctrinal faithfulness than that of the ministers in virtually any of our regional or state conventions.

    As to a specific incidence of moral and doctrinal failure, and the naming of names, that is the business of the IMB Staff to address, and they do so faithfully and effectively. They also keep the trustees updated on such issues, because they are accountable to the trustees. The Richmond Staff are very gracious in working with their missionaries. The trustees are very gracious in working with the Richmond Staff.

    To assert that there are no failures whatever is extremely naïve. Sometimes Christians get off on a tangent regarding morality and doctrine. Such as yourself, in this comment stream. You are falsely accusing me, and that is sin brother. Please stop.

    I think your false accusations amount to Biblical slander brother. I think your sin is more important than your questions. Please stop. Please.

  29. Brother Jerry,
    Thank you finally. This is the first time in all our discussion that I remember you putting a number to your statements and saying it is a TINY minority. I apologize if it seemed I was accusing you of slander and lies. As I said in the previous post, I was accusing your of saying that our missionaries were liberal and teaching heresy. To me that is what doctrinal problems implies. I am glad you finally clearified what your meant. I was only wanting some numbers to quantify what you were saying. What you said is true when you say that our missionaries, “have about the lowest attrition rate of any similar organization. The attrition rate varies between about 3 and 4 percent. Of these, the vast majority are retirements, or leaving the mission field due to stateside family needs. It is a tiny minority of the 3 or 4 percent who have doctrinal or moral failures, that they refuse to correct, that cause them to leave the mission field. Many years, there are none at all. This is, in my opinion, a much better record of moral and doctrinal faithfulness than that of the ministers in virtually any of our regional or state conventions.”

    Why didn’t you say this to BP instead of there are doctrinal problems on the mission field and our staff evidently wasn’t dealng with it? Why did you need to give Jerry Rankin a chance to clearify what he said? What he said was perfectly fine. I was only trying to get you to clarify what your said. I thank you for saying that any moral or doctrinal failure is a tiny minority of those leaving the field each year and they are dealt with by staff. That has been true for my 30 years with the board and I am sure much longer than that. That is why I do not feel we have a doctirnal problem at the IMB. I felt if you left your remark unexplained there are those who will use your words to say there are major doctrinal problems and the numbers are large. That is what Ron Wilson was saying when he was a trustee and I have heard others make similar remarks. I hope that you and I can join together and put a stop to this type of remarks by trustees or anyone else who makes these charges. That is my only goal. Years ago when I heard someone make a similar remarks about those I knew to be solid theologcial conservatives I promised the Lord that I would not remain silent when I heard charges of liberal theology made against those I knew to be theologically sound such as our missionaries. If I seem fanatic about this, it is becaue of that promise and the fact that I have spent 30 years working beside some of God’s finest servants anywhere on the earth. They are our IMB missionaries. I apoligize again if I was saying you were using slander and lies. I assume your were either mistaken or were not communicating your real understanding of our missionaries. I will not mention your name again in respect to false charges against our missionaries. From now on when I hear others saying there are doctinal problems at the IMB or that our missioaries are liberal or spreading heresy I will be glad to report that it is the testimony of former IMB trustee Jerry Corbaley that our missionaries are as sound theologically as any group in our convention and Jerry Rankin and the staff deserve our thanks for keeping that true.
    Ron West

  30. Post

    Jerry and Ron,

    With the recent birth of our daughter Susannah (2nd child) I haven’t been following this conversation as closely as I should. Needless to say, it is out of control. If you want to continue your conversation, contact each other. This isn’t the place for this kind of fighting (don’t know of an appropriate place that is).


  31. Jedidiah,

    Congratulations on the birth of your daughter. The Lord has given Lynn and I two grandchildren in the last seven months. May Susannah be an eternal joy to you.
    I tried contacting Ron back on May 26th. No response.
    Thank you for interceding.
    Jerry Corbaley

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