Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Questions for NAMB, IMB, and seminary leaders

One feature of the annual meeting of our beloved Southern Baptist Convention is a time for reports from entity heads. These leaders usually leave a short time for questions from the floor. While I'm not planning to be in muggy St. Louis next month, if I were and could stake out one of the floor mics here's a question or two that I'd like to ask:

For David Platt, International Mission Board leader:

The locations of our overseas personnel has shifted over the past years to a greater proportion being in World A locations. I presume that these are more difficult and stressful places and would like to know some things about attrition rates:

  1. What is the attrition rate for our career personnel after 5 years, 10 years?
  2. Is there a difference in rates in World A countries and other locations?
  3. What is the IMB doing to reduce these rates?
  4. Has the IMB found that certain measures or methods of support from the home churches of personnel have reduced attrition rates.
What is the average cost of a career missions couple (single) from initial contact with IMB through appointment and the end of the first full term?

For Kevin Ezell, North American Mission Board leader:

NAMB uses "Strategic Cooperative Agreements" and "Strategic Cooperative Budgets" with state conventions to spell out joint work and funding for such work. Given that all of NAMB's funding comes from the churches and individuals, what is the reasoning behind the policy that these agreements not public information to Southern Baptists?

NAMB has been criticized for being heavy-handed in it's relationship with some of the non-southern states where NAMB provides much or most funding for many personnel. Why would it not be preferable to distribute funds to these state conventions as grants not tied to specific positions or goals and let local staff utilize them as they think best?

For Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary:

SBC presidential candidate Steve Gaines is quoted as saying, "Calvinism does not need to be taught as the exclusive, optimal theological viewpoint in our seminaries. Non-Calvinist students should not be subjected to Calvinistic professors who proactively seek to convert them to Calvinism. None of our seminaries should have a faculty of professors who are exclusively Calvinistic. Non-Calvinistic professors should be an integral part of each one of our seminary faculties because most Southern Baptists are not Calvinists, and they are the ones that fund our seminaries and pay the salaries of our professors."

Although Gaines did not name SBTS and SEBTS, others have made accusations about your two seminaries doing that to which Gaines objects. Are non-Calvinist students subjected to proactive conversion efforts by professors in your seminaries and does your faculty include non-Calvinistic professors?
On the questions for Platt, I don't know the answers and don't know that I've ever seen material published by IMB or by missiologists in our seminaries who have been given IMB data on which they have done research. This is perhaps the most critical personnel issue for IMB and I'd like to see these rates.

On the questions for Ezell, he has an article that generally explains the agreements and the reason they are not public. While I have an idea about the second question, being the troublemaker that I am, I'd just like to see how much explanation he would give.

On the questions for Al Mohler and Danny Akin, Gaines has laid down a marker by raising the questions and making specific demands. I don't disagree with him at all. He didn't name names but others have and have named SBTS and SEBTS. I'd like to seen Mohler and Akin have a chance to respond. Akin has responded specifically to such things in the past.

Of course, no one will ask these questions and there's not enough time to fully treat the subjects anyway. But, when Southern Baptists have questions, it's always good for our leaders to give answers. If this convention is like any of the couple of dozen I've attended, a lot of floor time will be expended on subjects much more trivial than these.

I trust that my SBC convention-going colleagues will have a grand time in St. Louis.

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