What role does the trustee board possess in overseeing an agency of the Southern Baptist Convention? Is the board primarily a support group for the agency's president and his administration? Do trustees of our convention agencies and/or entities function similarly to trustees of a local Southern Baptist church? A group possessing proxy empowerment to represent the church in real estate, banking, and other legal matters where the church's signature is required? Or, does the trustee body have more of an authoritarian role which includes writing, establishing, and maintaining agency policies; approving direction, visionary plans, salaries, and appointments of all top-tier personnel? What constitutes the day-to-day operation sphere which most people understand is an administrative matter in which trustees should never involve themselves?
Alabama pastor, Rick Patrick, posted a piece which raises afresh the questions above concerning the recent announcement from our International Mission Board that since 2010, it has spent beyond its projected income close to a quarter billion dollars besides selling off tens of millions of dollars of Southern Baptist assets to keep going. The IMB further has depleted its six months' cash reserves. As a solution, IMB announced it was offering voluntary retirement to some 600 veteran missionaries only to replace them with some 600 freshman missionaries. Besides the unintelligible swap of hundreds of effective field personnel with hundreds of untested new personnel, I encourage others more intelligent than I to do the math on how exactly that's supposed to save significant amounts of money. My math is just not adding up here.
Here's the kicker.
According to Patrick, while the trustees were informed about the plan to fiscally save the IMB, they were not given the option to vote for the plan to fiscally save the IMB.
"The recent directive by IMB executives to offer Voluntary Retirement Incentives to reduce our missionary staff by up to 800 people is a complex mixture of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. While IMB Trustees were informed of the plan, there was no “up or down” vote taken on the matter. At best, the Trustees can be said to have offered their tacit approval through mutual consent. No Trustee served on the team that brainstormed in developing the plan. This was a staff-driven decision."
For my part, it now becomes undeniably necessary for Southern Baptists to pursue a serious conversation on the future viability of the trustee system to manage agencies and entities owned by the Southern Baptist Convention.
It's well worth your time to read Dr. Patrick's entire piece.
Read "They Never Even Voted" at SBC Today