The Next IMB President

After roughly three years on the job, IMB President Tom Elliff has informed the proper folks to begin considering his replacement.

As I wrote shortly after the IMB approved him as the organization’s 11th president, I’ve always believed Elliff came along as the right man at the right time.   He wasn’t “God’s man” for the organization, implying that every other candidate was Satan’s choice.  I just believed he possessed the proper characteristics for what we needed at the time.  In the interim, I’ve seen nothing to gainsay that conclusion.

But who will replace him?  What characteristics should that guy have?  What will or should the next guy be?  I’ve got a few ideas.

(Just a small warning: this is not a comprehensive list.  Neither is it some sort of critique against Elliff and current leaders.  As well, I’m not attempting to tell IMB leadership what we need – they know better than I.  I’m only trying to share my concerns with SBC folks.)

1.  He should be a big-tent Baptist.  An entity head has the right to hold to Calvinism or non-Calvinism or the Traditionalist position or whatever.  However, I believe it would be a mistake to enthrone someone whose personal view of doctrine and theology are such that only certain theological systems are permitted.  The Baptist Faith and Message should be sufficient and a further doctrinal litmus test (“Five points?  Three and a half?  Calvin was the devil?”) would not serve the organization well.

2.  He should be a partnering, bridge-building guy.  A cooperative guy is going to be a bridge-builder between various SBC groups with distinct agendas, goals, and personal theological systems.  He’s going to be someone who continues the IMB’s history of seeking partnerships with like-minded Great Commission Christian groups.  He would be a unifier more than an isolationist.

3.  He should be a former field missionary with the IMB.  I’ve spent too much time writing about missions and getting confused responses to believe we should settle for a non-missionary or a non-IMBer.  There’s a set of experiences and stresses that cross-cultural workers encounter that lie well outside the average pastor’s life (and vice versa).  I could tell you stories about cultural rules and confusing norms to make your hair stand on end, but suffice it to say that we need someone who understands these things from the inside.  As for being a former field missionary, the US has changed sufficiently that someone coming in directly from the field would not likely have his fingers on the pulse of the SBC.  Famous names rise and technologies change from one term to the next, and a full-time field-based missionary whose eyes are on the country where he lives really wouldn’t (on average) be able to know the trends and patterns developing in the US.  A former missionary would bring the field experience necessary while having enough recent time in the US to have a feel for how the SBC is changing.  (FYI: Most Richmond-based personnel are not considered to be field missionaries, so former front line workers who have moved into administration fit the bill.)

4.  He should be a proven leader, not just someone who has headed up big projects.  In ministry there are bosses, there are supervisors, and then there are leaders.  Not every boss overseeing a large project or supervisor managing 300 employees can rightfully claim to having true leadership qualities.  Ministries around the world have made the mistake of elevating a skilled, godly manager to a leadership role only to realize they chose the wrong person.  I’ve encountered some fabulous supervisors and wonderful bosses both within the organization and without, but true leaders are a rare species.

5.  He should be someone whose personal ministry reflects support of SBC projects and programs.  Don’t ask me how much his church should give to the Cooperative Program or Lottie Moon.  I don’t know.  I just think that as long as his personal ministry as a whole reflects a consistent support of SBC programs, he should qualify.  If his church gives 4% to the CP, and gives an extra 1.5% to their state association and has significant designated giving for NAMB, WMU, and IMB, then I think that should trump someone whose church gives 15% to the CP but no designated funds and possesses stagnant Lottie Moon numbers.  And that’s just a bunch of numbers I made up in my own head – don’t go comparing it to your mental list of IMB presidency candidates.  

6.  He should possess a balance of visionary skills with pastoral care.  Elliff has done a fabulous job in inventing ways for missionaries to renew their hearts and calling.  As well, he’s been active in creating new initiatives that stand to include more SBC churches and groups.  Someone who can only create new plans runs the risk of forgetting the impact on the little guy.  A leader who is exclusively pastoral might overlook opportunities for change in his concern for the rank-and-file.  As Elliff has shown, a combination of the two can provide a creative environment while caring for everyone.

It’s a short list, I know.  Feel free to tell me I’m an idiot.

And yes, I have my own opinions on who it could be.


  1. Bart Barber says

    7. He should have the doctrinal sense and personal integrity not to be associated with any approach to evangelism that suborns any Christian to tell any Moslem that Christianity agrees with what the Koran says about Mohammed.

    • Dave Miller says

      For the record, I’ve heard three names bandied about as serious candidates.

      However, I would love for whatever discussion we have on this post to focus on the qualities of a theoretical IMB president rather than the comparative qualities of specific candidates.

      Knowing you all will ignore me, I am


      • Dave Miller says

        I did not know that.

        I wonder if he still believes that policy was a good idea. Frankly, if what you say is true, and he still stands behind the awful policy, it would lessen my enthusiasm for him dramatically.

  2. William Thornton says

    “I just think that as long as his personal ministry as a whole reflects a consistent support of SBC programs, he should qualify. If his church gives 4% to the CP, and gives an extra 1.5% to their state association and has significant designated giving for NAMB, WMU, and IMB, then I think that should trump someone whose church gives 15% to the CP but no designated funds and possesses stagnant Lottie Moon numbers.”

    I’m OK with your numbers. Four percent would come close to covering the megachurches. The low single digits are problematic and in part demonstrate lack of support of state conventions. A new IMB head will necessarily need to be viewed as cooperative. While the board has some special direct arrangements with some of the megachurches that skirt the CP and state conventions, I’d hate to see someone who isn’t viewed as cooperative across the convention. That is unlikely I suppose.

    • says

      Glad you are ok with the totally made-up numbers. My point was not a specific level (4%) but instead the notion that there’s more to evaluating financial support than simply Cooperative Program giving. That’s certainly a large piece of the pie, but only a piece.

  3. Greg Harvey says

    I’m not sure if he would be interested or not, but Clyde Meador is one of the current Executive VPs that came on as a field evangelist in Indonesia while we were there in the 70s and has been with the Board since then. He’s probably nearing the point of being interested in retiring–I know he and his wife Elaine are celebrating their 50th in Richmond next month after a slight delay due to travel from last fall–but he was who came to mind as I was reading the title.

    I haven’t had the opportunity to interact with him much over the years–more recently mainly exchanges with him on his daughter’s facebook wall (she was a class or so behind me)–but he always struck me as a humble leader who could help a group of people work together to create momentum in a helpful and meaningful direction.

    • Jeremy Parks says

      To what degree do you think age should be a factor? Back when Tom Elliff was approved, some folks felt that his age meant he would only be a caretaker president. You have mentioned here Dr. Meador who is almost certainly somewhere near Elliff’s age, meaning we wouldn’t get 15 years out of him.

      Should age play a part? Does the SBC want a long term president for their international missions agency?

      • Dave Miller says

        I would love to see a candidate in his late 40s to perhaps very early 50s. That way he has both experience and the ability to serve 15 or 20 years.

        Don’t want to be going back through this in another 5 years.

      • Dave Miller says

        On the other hand, most of us said Elliff was too old. But I’m glad he was hired, even for a short time.

  4. David Rogers says


    I like your list a lot. I even like Bart’s suggestion #7 (though, there are a lot of nuances involved in this question that would need to be taken into consideration).

    We all need to be in serious prayer regarding this. From what I understand, the search committee had a whale of a time trying to find someone who might meet all these qualifications the last time. And I can’t think of any particular reason why it might be easier this time around.

    I do think it is a pretty safe assumption, though, that God has His man for the job, and if all involved diligently seek Him for wisdom, that person will come to light.

  5. Greg Buchanan says


    I like #3 and agree that should be high on the priority list. An alternative would be someone who has spent a lot of time living/working outside of the US; 6mths minimum in my book.

    As you know, living overseas is like dating and meeting a family: you can fool them for a time, but the real you will come out eventually. It can be novel or difficult at how “the people” of “Wherever” crowd in and out of the subway; especially if the missionary has never lived in a big city, just a new rule of life. BUT, it will be VERY annoying in 3-6mths when just one little old lady will shove you out of the way getting on that same subway car when 1) no one else is on the platform, 2) no one is getting off the car. It’s just a cultural difference.

    KNOWING that Koreans speak Korean and BEING in Lotte World surrounded by no one who speaks English and have a vastly different concept of “personal space” are two different things. The next (and successive) IMB leaders should have a heart for missions and a hunger for Qui in Ecuador and Goat’s Eye Soup in Kazakhstan, or at least the willingness to try for the sake of building relationships.

    (caveat: a strong stomach, Tums, and peanut butter in one’s suitcase also help)

  6. Dave Miller says

    I wonder if the discussion this time will be the same as the last time – the comparative value of having either a megachurch pastor or a field missionary as the president.

    My personal feeling (from talking to missionaries and my own sense) is that at least SOME experience as a field missionary is essential if someone is going to understand those he leads.

    Part of the work of the IMB Pres is to be a missions strategist too. That would (to me) point to one with missionary experience.

    Perhaps the best of both worlds would be a pastor with missionary experience.

    • SFG says

      It would be wonderful if the new president was not just a mission strategist, but a excellent missiologist. Someone who has lived cross-culturally for at least five years, and is professional competent in a second language.

      This person would be able to lead by example as well as personality, and hopefully would be able to explain the nuances of presenting the good news to a Muslim or Buddhist to his fellow missionaries as well as to the churches in the USA.

  7. Rick Patrick says

    I know the 4% CP giving number is hypothetical and simply used to illustrate that there is MORE to overall missions giving than supporting the CP.

    Nevertheless, a 4% CP giving figure condones an approach to missions that, while possibly healthy overall in certain cases, is still LESS than “CP worthy” and even LESS than “GCR worthy.” If all of our churches gave 4% through the CP, we would be in even worse shape than we are right now.

    Electing an IMB President giving 4% through the CP sends the signal to all the followers of this new leader that 4% giving through our “central means” of supporting Great Commission ministries is completely acceptable.

    Why in the world would we ever entertain doing that?

    • William Thornton says

      Here’s what you are either ignoring or missing here Rick.

      1. We can call it our “central means” but it isn’t. It is our central means of supporting state conventions, the Xcomm, some of the seminaries and the ERLC. It is highly important to the two mission boards”

      2. Four percent is not too far from the average. As does Jeremy, I think the LM offering has to be checked here also.

      3. You are aware that some mega churches have a direct relationship with the IMB in regard to some international mission work. That has value on my book beyond the same dollars going to the CP where 80% or so is directed elsewhere.

      4. You might ask this question as well: what if all SBC churches gave to the LMCO as does nominee X?

      One thing for sure. The new IMB leader faces several challenges in regard to funding.

      • Rick Patrick says

        “We can call it our ‘central means’ but it isn’t.”

        The GCR Report clearly states that the CP is our “central means.” The convention voted to affirm as much. Assuming for a moment that you are correct and the CP is really NOT our central means, then the GCR Report contains a falsehood, a deception, a flat out lie.

        If all of the above is true, then our current guiding philosophy is largely based upon a deception that we are telling ourselves. If we are lying about the CP, what else are we lying about in the report? I want the next IMB President to be truthful and honest—and not to base our mission strategy on a lie.

        Either change our strategies to reflect the statement we said that we believe, or change the statement to reflect the strategy we really believe.

        • Greg Harvey says

          I think the quibble is essentially a violent agreement. The GCR is a marketing pitch seeking to sustain and expand support for the CP. The LMCO is presented in isolation at the majority of SB churches in my experience as a critical method for funding missionaries directly. It usually got better in-church marketing precisely because it was an offering instead of a budget line item.

          I also think it’s more than a little ironic that in a nearby conversation “means of grace” was rejected as a descriptor of an ordinance and yet in essence we make a similar claim about a funding mechanism being a central means. Perhaps that irony is helpful here: any obedience to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to turnover human material “means” should be counted as participating in Kingdom spiritual work.

          But the idea that human funding is central to the accomplishment of God’s redemptive work strikes me as at least off-key. It definitely IS a privilege to cooperate with God in the accomplishment of His plan. And Jesus is both the central means and the end of that plan for the Bride. By that standard, the CP is recognizably ancillary though clearly of incredible importance in supporting HUMAN cooperation with God’s redemptive work.

        • Adam Blosser says

          “We call upon Southern Baptists to recommit to the Cooperative Program as the central and preferred conduit of Great Commission funding, without which we would be left with no unified and cooperative strategy and commitment to the Great Commission task. We are a Great Commission people, who are called to sacrificial and increasing giving that the peoples of the earth may know the salvation that comes through faith in Jesus Christ alone.”

          I assume this is the part of the GCR report you are referring to. Please help me understand how what William said makes this a lie. If this is not the part you are referring to, please point me in the right direction.

          • Adam Blosser says

            I copied from another document and tried to eliminate all of the poor formatting, but was apparently unsuccessful.

          • william thornton says

            That the CP is what the GCR said it is is an aspirational statement. I merely point out the dollars and sense reality. No one is lying about anything.

          • Adam Blosser says

            Agreed, William. That was the point of my post. Rick is claiming that the GCR report lied on this issue, and therefore likely lied on others. I am asking him to show me how the paragraph I posted is a lie or point me in the direction of another statement in the GCR report that contains the supposed lie.

          • Rick Patrick says


            William said that although we call CP our “central means” of fulfilling the Great Commission—a phrase he admits is aspirational—the reality is that the CP is no such thing.

            I agree with William about his analysis of the statement in the report as compared with our present situation. I disagree with him on the proper way to label something that is not currently true but that you merely hope might one day be true. By definition, if it’s not true right now, it is a ________.

            Fabrication? Exaggeration? Goal? Dream? Aspiration? If we ASPIRE to it, but are not living it out right now, then we should have said something like, “In the future, we hope once again to make CP giving our central means of fulfilling the Great Commission.”

            Here are just a few of the parts of the GCR Report I was referencing:

            At the center of our funding stands the Cooperative Program, which since 1925 has served to mobilize the stewardship of Southern Baptists for worldwide missions and ministry.

            The greatest stewardship of Great Commission investment and deployment is giving through the Cooperative Program.

            …to honor and affirm the Cooperative Program as the most effective means of mobilizing our churches and extending our

            My primary point is that there is a GREAT DISCONNECT between (a) the GCR Report’s actual language extolling the primacy of the Cooperative Program, and (b) the manner in which we look the other way while de-emphasizing the Cooperative Program at every turn and justifying the declining percentages.

            If the CP really is all that we said it is in the GCR Report, then the next IMB President should have a record of CP support that is worthy of all our lofty verbiage.

          • Adam Blosser says

            I certainly don’t have a problem with the next IMB president emphasizing the importance of Cooperative Program giving. I even think that his church’s history of Cooperative Program giving may be an important factor in his selection.

            The thing that I took issue with from your initial comment was that you suggested the drafters of the GCR report lied on the “central means” of giving and then went on to suggest that they probably lied in other places throughout the document since they lied in this one place.

          • Rick Patrick says

            Again, to be perfectly clear, WILLIAM is the one who first pointed out that these drafters (a) “called the CP our central means” when in fact the true situation is that (b) “it isn’t.” William is the one who said they called it something it really is not. Therefore, I quoted William’s words directly, and merely labeled any statement any person might make that is not true as a “lie.”

            In this case, once again assuming William’s analysis is correct and that the Report calls CP our central means when in fact it is not, then the drafters did not lie about the fact that the CP SHOULD BE our central means, but only about the fact that it IS.

            I guess the word “lie” is too emotionally charged. I will leave to you the task of coming up with a better word for calling something a name that it “isn’t.” To get back on track, I think every time we ignore the primacy of the CP as presented in the GCR Report, it does indeed undermine the credibility and integrity of the report.

            If the CP is important to all the GCR leaders, it is time to prove it.

          • Greg Buchanan says

            Rick –

            you are creating a straw man or being intentionally divisive. You are correct and so is the GCR report:

            At the center of our funding stands the Cooperative Program, which since 1925 has served to mobilize the stewardship of Southern Baptists for worldwide missions and ministry.

            This is true in that it is for missions AND ministry, that is not to say it is the SOLE source of all funding for all foreign missions or home missions.

            You are making a mountain out of a mole hill for a disingenuous purpose: to bear false witness. The GCR report is not lying and neither are those that wrote it or those who supported the GCR in the first place. The figures as stated by the OP were hypothetical for discussion and description.

            But for the sake of your argument, then logically we should do away with LMCO and AAEO so that the CP is then our sole central means of funding, using your definition/description. That way, your misleadingly narrow logic above would be the new truth: the CP is THE central (and only) means of funding.

          • Rick Patrick says


            Not being divisive. Never initiated the statement that anyone lied. William said the report has something in it that isn’t so. I have a word for statements that aren’t so. I call them lies. For his part, William calls them aspirations. Somehow, people are twisting this into me being the one who first pointed out the discrepancy. William pointed out the discrepancy. I agreed with William. I then added the above definition for things that “aren’t so.” If you want to quibble with me, quibble with me for defining as a lie a statement the truth of which “isn’t” in William’s words.

            Look, I’m not trying to be divisive—not saying it was intentional. Or misleading. Or anything bad about anybody. It’s just that if we say that “the greatest stewardship of Great Commission investment and deployment is giving through the Cooperative Program” then we really should put our money where our mouth is—and giving only 4% through our greatest Great Commission giving channel just doesn’t measure up.

            Also, I did not at all imply that CP is our SOLE giving channel, but only that it is our CENTRAL one. And it if is indeed our central one, we should act like it. And I personally think that must mean north of 4%.

          • Tarheel says


            Think about it like this. If someone were to say this;

            “Connect 316 and the “traditional document” asserts flat out lies. ”

            Would you a supporter, author and leader connected with Connect 316 movement and document not ask for clarification if not be all out offended by the assertion?

            You said that the GCR forwards a flat out lie….its hard not extrapolate from that statement that you feel those who crafted and supported the document are forwarding a lie.


          • Greg Buchanan says

            It’s just that if we say that “the greatest stewardship of Great Commission investment and deployment is giving through the Cooperative Program” then we really should put our money where our mouth is—and giving only 4% through our greatest Great Commission giving channel just doesn’t measure up.

            I agree that 4% in reality should not be a level measure, but it also shouldn’t be necessarily attributed to the pastor since we are congregational. If the pastor has tried to lead to 10% CP (which should be subsequent to preaching/leading on tithing) but the finance committee “can’t see how that is possible w/o cutting the budget” then what can he do?

            How many in your church give 10%? (by the way no one as pastor should NEVER know that answer or you endanger yourself vis-a-vis Michah 3:5) If our people have trouble being led to personal tithing (and thus missing the blessing) they will have lots of trouble doing corporate giving to CP or anything else but their own local needs.

            Is it fair to hold Pastor Dr S. Western from Whoo-Haa Lake SBC, nominee to the IMB president accountable for his church not giving more than 4%-6% when his repeated pleadings for such are voted down?

            I think it would be fair if he has led the church to reduce giving, to hold him accountable for that reduction. But seriously, do you want to think that the goings on at a church (grown, shrinkage, numbers, money, etc) can be part of a pastor’s resume?

            Do you want to attribute tremendous growth in numbers and ministry outreach at The Church at Brook Hills to David Platt for his resume (look what I did)? Or do we attribute any “success” to God since he works through us? To whom goes the glory? David’s resume or God’s?

            Is the growth effectiveness at your church yours or God’s? Is the shrinking church the sign of a bad or “unsuccessful” pastor or could it be God’s judgement/pruning before he brings the rain?

            I think we would all do well to not always check RA badges as a sign of one’s readiness or capability. Training, education, experience; these are measurable, but can we completely credit a potential IMB pres with “success” at his last ministry?

            I would say, by education and experience, I’m as qualified or more qualified to be the next IMB president as any other potential candidate:

            – BA in Russian and Foreign Service – Baylor Univ ’94
            – MBA in Global Mgmt – Univ of Phx ’02
            – MAEL – GGBTS ’08
            – Lived for a year in South Korea – US Army SGT – 1997-1998
            – Extended visit to Moscow and St Petersburg, Russia – 5 weeks – Summer ’93
            – Called to ministry in Guayaquil, Ecuador on a mission trip – Summer ’04
            – Studied (formally or informally) 7 languages: Russian, Korean, Spanish, German, French, Arabic, Mandarin (working on that one now, alone, uggh)
            – My wife is Hispanic, so I understand multicultural issues and identity personally and practically
            – Youth pastor for almost 2 official years (wasn’t voted on until after 1st youth camp in 2012) which means I’m becoming adept at herding kittens
            – lifelong SBC member, like Dave (and many others i’m sure) I was in an SBC church 9mths before I could breathe air

            But, i have little experience leading large corporations or organizations. Maybe that’s a draw back. Maybe its an advantage that I’m not going to run things the way they always have been and can see improvements due to lack of experience that others will take as a given.

            I confess that I’m an inconsistent tither: sometimes I fear more for my wife’s health and need of meds than I fear God’s wrath (Malachai ch 3). Its not an excuse, but is the reason I struggle. I know it. God knows it.

          • Rick Patrick says

            For crying out loud, everyone, it is only a lie if William’s observation is true that the report says a thing that is “aspirational” but not true of us right now, namely, in HIS words:

            “We can call it our ‘central means’ but it isn’t.”

            This whole discussion reminds me of the riddle someone once asked: “If you call a dog’s tail a leg, how many legs does he have?” The person inevitably responds, “Five.” And the riddler retorts: “Nope, calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it one.”

            If you enjoy trying to make me call people a liar, fine, but I would much rather you stick your neck out there and engage William’s actual observation. Is CP really and truly our central means? If SO, the report has spoken truthfully. If NOT, we are perhaps deceiving ourselves—not maliciously, not in some character assassination sense—but just not being completely honest with ourselves.

            If you write something and it isn’t true…give me YOUR word for it. William likes “aspirational.” Euphemisms are free today on the internet. Please come up with one, but feel free to leave me alone. I’m not picking on anyone.

          • Todd Benkert says

            My main critique of Rick’s point is not how he’s interpreting the language of the GCR report, but that he sees the Convention “de-emphasizing the Cooperative Program at every turn.” I do not believe that to be true (but please note that I am NOT calling Rick a liar 😉 )

          • Todd Benkert says

            … and I agree with Rick that “the next IMB President should have a record of CP support that is worthy of all our lofty verbiage”

          • Tarheel says

            But, Rick.

            William has clearly said that no one is lying….in fact he said “I would not call it a lie”, and “I do not believe anyone is lying”.

            You have chosen to call it a lie. You used the word. You took it to another level when you modified the accusation with the words “flat out” which infers a connotation of a lie that is maximum in nature.


          • Adam Blosser says

            Rick, part of the confusion on my part came from your use of the phrase “central means.” You put it in parenthesis to indicate that you were getting it from the GCR report, but I did not realize that initially. You did not reference the GCR report in that paragraph. I cannot speak for whether William realized that or not.

            Then William questioned the assertion that the CP is the “central means.” Because I did not realize that you were getting that language from the GCR report, I did not immediately link his questioning of the CP as the “central means” with questioning the GCR report as you obviously did. Because you are not a fan of the GCR, you chose to use inflammatory language to refer to the “central means” language in the report and went on to assert that this may mean there are other lies in the document.

            It seems like you are trying to back down some now from your original statements, which I am happy for you to do if you will do so without justifying them. It shouldn’t surprise you that supporters of the GCR would push back against assertions that the report may include lies.

          • Rick Patrick says

            Actually, Adam, in the comment at 8:57 AM I used the precise words, “…a deception that WE are telling OURSELVES. If WE are lying about the CP, what else are WE lying about in the report?” See, that’s not picking on others. It’s self-reflection. I am a part of the plurality of WE. My tone is not at all accusatory.

            I may not be a huge fan of the GCR, but I am an enormous fan of both the GC and the CP. If we are fooling ourselves into thinking that we are all about the CP—while at the same time no one blushes at the thought that our IMB President might only be in the 4% club—I just think there is a huge disconnect.

            It may not be lying…but it’s at least an extremely weak level of self-awareness.

        • william thornton says

          I wouldn’t call it a lie. I would label the CP as our preferential funding mechanism. If it were central then we wouldn’t see most SBC level funds as arriving not from the CP. The CP is our preferred aggregate funding scheme. We all join in promoting and supporting it. It is not central in the sense that it provides most funding for our largest entities or most important work. It is absolutely central to state conventions.

          The trends here are clear and longstanding and that is partly why we see more direct funding that bypasses the CP. The seminaries and entities rightly promote the CP but likely are seeing to it that alternative funding streams are strengthened. IMB partners directly with some larger churches. Perhaps NAMB also.

          I’d ask my perspicacious Alabama friend, exactly what strategy are we working right now relative to the CP? What are the plans to increase it? Frank Page has a plan that shows modest success, yet the CP continues to decline. Where are we seeing the CP increase?

          • Tarheel says

            These things have always bothered me;

            Does anyone besides me think it’s ridiculous for any state convention to keep more than 50% of CP contributions from their churches? I think there are some states where churches can pick a giving plan where only 30% or less goes to SBC.

            I also think it’s beyond ridiculous that churches in some states can designate money to any other “group” than the SBC.

            I think all states should be 50/50 at least and any money they wanna launder for the CBF should come from that share. The SBC CP should always get 50%.

          • William Thornton says

            Of course when some states talk 50/50, they really mean 55/45 or even 60/40. It’s in the accounting.

            I’m thinking that many southern baptists think the original CP agreement which was 50/50 is far outdated. Bryant wright famously said a few years ago that 25% was what the states should keep.

          • Tarheel says

            I agree with Wright 75/25 would be even better ….but at minimum the original agreement should be honored, IMO.

          • William Thornton says

            It is rather absurd to think that a 1925 arrangement should be maintained in perpetuity.

          • William Thornton says

            It is rather absurd to think that a 1925 arrangement should be maintained in perpetuity.

          • Tarheel says

            Perhaps, but its also absurd that some states keep 55-70% and many even launder money to the CBF, BWA ect.

          • Rick Patrick says

            Though not nearly as perspicacious as the Plodder, I am just as opinionated. I do not disagree with your analysis at all, William, but merely with the proper way to describe a statement that isn’t so.

            Over the past few years, I’ve led two different churches to embrace the One Percent Challenge. Nevertheless, I view it as fundamentally flawed. Why? Because it only asks us to give MORE than we have been giving already—as if the only benchmark is the comparison between where we are tomorrow and where we are today. Absent is any objective standard which could take into consideration one’s starting point.

            As any viewer of The Biggest Loser will tell you, the guy who is the heaviest to begin with is the one capable of losing the greatest amount of weight. When it’s all over, however, he still may not have the best BMI in the group—an objective standard measured against the ideal result.

            The church giving 2% through the CP will always win the “Give More” game over the church giving 9%. But the 9% church is actually making the bigger sacrifice and is much closer to the objective result we truly want to encourage from everyone.

            We used to hold ten percent up as an ideal. Today, we have no ideal except….MORE. That is woefully inadequate. It fails to recognize that the church already giving 12% may not need to give any more at all. They may need to focus more upon their local missions and ministries.

            Comparing ourselves with yesterday and tomorrow simply fails to account for our starting place. The SBC needs to pick a number. I like ten but I could live with something else. Regardless, we need an objective standard that could call on everyone to make not an equal gift, but an equal sacrifice.

            Those refusing to lead by example would not lead the SBC. It’s simply hard for me to accept that 4% might be that number.

          • Tarheel says

            Nevermind, I gotcha now …you are talking BGAV leadership…..I thought you meant Frank Page and elected SBC leaders…LOL

    • Sherry Hefner says

      I have spent a lifetime as a pastor’s daughter and pastor’s wife in Southern Baptist churches. If you ask me, the missionaries have lost touch with the churches that are sending them. There is little accountability to the churches for anything.
      You may appoint an IMB worker to the post, but I don’t see how that is going to help matters. We need a leader who can allow these missionaries to see what pastors are dealing with back home. Life is not a cake-walk in the US either. One of the last IMB speakers that came to our church complained that one of his missionary families was driving their children around the foreign fields in a 2005 car with close to 100,000 miles on it. That blew my mind. They consider this sacrifice? My husband and I drive a 2001 with 250,000 miles on it….those miles came from thousands of visits since it was purchased. Is this really the message the IMB wants the churches to hear?
      We need missionaries who once again love their commissioning churches. Who stay in touch with pastors about the real needs they are experiencing. And in this modern era, we need new ways to reach the lost.
      Its tough to spend millions of dollars sending people when I can turn on my computer and speak to people all over the world. Going is important, don’t misunderstand. But we don’t ALL need to go. We simply need some accountability from those who do.

      • George H says

        It’s amazing that you think we don’t love our sending churches. We are constantly reminded (either by ourselves or by our colleagues) about how thankful we are for SB churches. 1. Someone complaining about the ‘car situation’ does not mean they do not love their sending church. 2. What is your expectation from us to show that we love our sending churches?

  8. Dwight McKissic says

    I believe that I will apply for the job. I know for sure I wouldn’t get it, but it would be fun bd a learning experience going through the process. By going through the application process, I would then know how to encourage & equip other pastors to prepare themselves to become serious candidates for the job. I wish Fred Luter would allow his name to be nominated. That would be a far greater statement about SBC racial progress than being elected president of the SBC. Bart Barber has pretty much documented how limited & uneventful the job of an SBC president really is. Luter would make a great IMB president.

    But, I am going to seriously consider throwing my name in tge hat. At the very least, I will get some experience about what it’s like to go through the application process. Then, I can encourage pastors, who are International missions minded what they need to do to be ready to meet the job qualifications. Maybe I can get my friend Tim Rogers to nominate me-:).

    • Dave Miller says

      I would love to hear that you had done that, my friend. Then you could write here and tell us all about it!

    • says

      Brother Dwight,

      Did not know my name was being thrown around over here. :) As to nominating you for the IMB, I do not think I could do that since I know you oppose their policies on prayer language. Thus, it would be wrong of me to do that.

      However, I would be open to nominating you for the position that Fred Luter is vacating this year. We could nominate you under the pretense that if the SBC is serious about diversity they will not abandon now the move away from having a person of color in the highest elected position. However, in trying to investigate the record of Cornerstone I can’t seem to find an ACP since 2007. So, that would really limit my nomination of you for either position.

      But, maybe you can talk our friend Bart Barber into nominating you. 😉

      • Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr. says

        Bro. Tim,

        I would not vote for me to be the President of the IMB for various reasons. But it would be quite an education going through the process. I would hope that I would at least get an interview. Most African Americans don’t apply for those jobs for various reasons. Men like Tony Matthews, David Corneilus, James Dixon, James Ghrahm, and other SBC African-American pastors are quite engaged in International Missions, and I believe that they are sacrificially supportive of the CP. I am going to encourage those guys to apply. They would be much more qualified, and more likely to be selected than I. However, they education that I would gain by going through the process of applying would equip me to tell others what they might expect–process wise–by going through the process of applying.

        If the SBC want to really demonstrate and document serious racial progress and openness, this is the time to do it, and the position to reflect, a serious and structural change in the realm of racial inclusion and empowerment. One reason that CP giving among African Americans remain quite low is because there has been no documented proof that the SBC is open to including Blacks at a pinnacle level where budgetary and personnel oversight is entrusted. We are yet to see that in the SBC. That in part is why I am seriously considering applying.

        • says

          Any of the guys you mentioned been on the field as missionaries? Living there?

          I hate to keep pounding this particular point, but I do not know of any missionaries who would readily accept a lack of residential international missionary experience in an IMB presidential candidate.

          The men you have mentioned (Tony Matthews, David Corneilus, James Dixon, James Ghrahm) are unknown to me and normally I wouldn’t think of passing judgment on their ability to lead our organization. I don’t live in the US very much and most Names, white or otherwise, are fairly unknown to me. Even so – the question of their international living and working – for missions – is an extremely large and valid one.

          Thanks for interacting. It’s an honor to have a man of your stature commenting on something I’ve written.

          • Dwight McKissic says


            David Corneilus fairly recently retired from the IMB. He spent the majority of his career in Africa.

            The rest of the gentleman have led their churches to engage in many mission trips throughout the world. Keith Jefferson is a current IMB employee that has 20 + years of experience. He was stationed in South America for many years. I believe he would also meet your criteria. Tony Matthews, James Dixon, & James Ghrahm are local church pastors, but they lead their churches on Annual and even multiple times annually on International missions trips. They have worked in cooperation with the IMB; I don’t think that they have ever been official IMB short term missionaries, but I could be wrong.

  9. Dwight McKissic says

    ” …it would be a fun learning experience…” I have already disqualified myself for the job.

  10. Dwight McKissic says

    How about David Rogers? He would be my second choice behind Luter. He certainly has the burning, learning, and experience. He has a gold standard name. Why not Fred Luter or David Rogers?

    • says

      I know little of either man, sir.

      While there are obviously more issues than the ones I’ve listed here, I wonder: do Luter and Rogers fit the basic outline I’ve posted? I’m not daring to elevate my 6-point list to the level of screening tool for the job – never that. I’m just curious about Luter and Rogers.

      And while we’re at it, do Platt and Chitwood fit this short list?

      • Nick Horton says

        As I was reading I mused about Platt. I think, perhaps in 20 years, he’d do it. I don’t think he’d go anywhere near it now, though. That’s just my gut feeling from what little I know of him, which is comparatively nil in listening to sermons and interviews. Right heart, brilliant guy, not the right time. At least that’s what I think….

  11. David Rogers says

    Written version (for Jeremy)

    Go away from my window
    Leave at your own chosen speed
    I’m not the one you want, babe
    I’m not the one you need

    You say you’re lookin’ for someone
    Who’s never weak but always strong
    To protect you an’ defend you
    Whether you are right or wrong
    Someone to open each and every door

    But it ain’t me, babe
    No, no, no, it ain’t me, babe
    It ain’t me you’re lookin’ for, babe

  12. Todd Benkert says

    One question to consider: is the primary role of IMB president to be a missiologist who can oversee effective strategy, or a missionary statesman who can promote missions participation and giving?

      • Greg Harvey says

        Yes: both historically and prospectively as well. As well as chief administrator of a rather sizable corps of active missionaries and the logistics to support them.

    • Todd Benkert says

      Come on guys, don’t give me the both/and answer — which is the PRIMARY role? No candidate will do both with equal effectiveness, so which is more important? If you have two candidates who can do both effectively, but one is a better missiologist and the other a better statesman, which do you choose?

      • Jeremy Parks says

        The one who stands the best chance of bringing the necessary balance. If the statesman can’t see things missiologically, but the missiologist can add the skills of a statesman, then you pick the missiologist. And vice versa, of course.

  13. David Rogers says

    Though I myself fit that particular qualification—though not a lot of other equally important ones, and for that reason, though honored and humbled by Dwight’s suggestion, don’t think I could be a serious candidate—I do think Jeremy’s suggestion that the next IMB president be someone with both significant IMB field experience and an on-ground, up-to-date feel for the state of the churches in the SBC and the American church in general, to be very much on target. I have written on this before, but there really are a lot of realities regarding what it is like to be a missionary that are almost impossible to adequately grasp by means of distant study of missions and short-term, in-and-out mission trips.

    • Jeremy Parks says


      I become uncomfortable when I see recommendations for pastors and leaders – great men – who lack a significant chunk of time on the field as missionaries. It puts me in the awkward position of having to suggest they are not good enough.

      Even so, as far as I am concerned any candidate for the top IMB position desperately needs time on the field as well as current experience in the US. Missionaries crave someone at the top who has shared the sort of things we experience.

      • Dale Pugh says

        To say that someone isn’t qualified isn’t the same thing as saying that they aren’t good enough. They just aren’t qualified.

        • says

          Dale, that needs to be tattooed on to any discussion of people for leadership–

          “Not qualified” is about specific roles, not about worth, and we get that confused. There are some great people in the SBC that are not qualified to be IMB President, and so should not be.

  14. says

    If one would do the research I believe one will find that the best days seen in the IMB was when the President was someone who did not have a dog in the fight.

    Whenever the President was not a missionary he did not have all these friends he built throughout his tenure that he felt obligated to look after when he was placed in that position. Also, if it is a pastor that has a heart for reaching people for Christ we will find that he will allow the field personnel to make the best decisions on the field.

    Let’s face it we have got to stop placing people in positions just because they are the best connected person with the search committee. Neither should we place them there just because they will bring in the money from the mega-churches. Hey, whatever happened to seeking God’s man?

    While Jeremy has a great list and I agree with Bart’s #7. But let’s face it through the list out of the window and ask for God’s man.

    We have an entity that is not in the best shape. We are going to have, at best, 4600 missionaries. We are not making our budget. We have moved from the LMCO going straight to the mission field to fund mission items to now using it to pay salaries of the missionaries. Folks we need someone that has been in the past one who God uses to prophesy into what is broken.

    I think Johnny Hunt would be such a man. Look at his track record of going to churches. Nothing against any one who has been mentioned, but everyone mentioned has been someone that inherited something already healthy and they maintained the health. Everyplace Brother Johnny has been he has started with an unhealthy situation and God used him to bring health to the place. We need the IMB to become healthy!!!

    • Adam Blosser says

      Ok, so you suggest we throw Jeremy’s list out because we need God’s man, not someone who meets a list of qualifications. Then you go on to list the qualifications you feel the next IMB president needs. Do we not use qualifications derived from Scripture and the nature of the job to determine God’s man?

    • Dale Pugh says

      And how many people out there could fit the description of “God’s man”? Only one? I don’t think so.

      There are plenty of people out there who have long, solid track records in ministry. Some of them have just as much ability as any of those mentioned. But they’ll never get anywhere because no one knows them. It is what it is, but that doesn’t make it some stamp of approval from God.

      You look at “God’s man” from a biblical standpoint and you’ll see plenty of people who didn’t fit the qualifications we would lay out for “God’s man.”

    • Jeremy Parks says

      I’m not certain why you feel as though the IMB is not healthy.

      Sure, the IMB is a human organization and as such it will carry the usual human foibles. And yes, there might be parts of the organization that are healthier than other sections. That’s simply a reflection of the fact that company is filled with humans.

      But I’m not following your thinking on the notion that the IMB is inherently unhealthy and needs fixing. Neither can I see the any substantiation to the notion that we’re not in the best shape. Nor can I see a causal connection between “only 4600 missionaries” and a need for some sort of repair.

      Can you help me understand your approach? You obviously care deeply about the issue, and that’s great. I just don’t see the connections you are making.


      On a different note, I’m curious about your assertion that the best presidents were those without a dog in the fight. I’m taking this to mean “does not have a long history within the organization.” I reached that conclusion based on your concern that new leaders are beholden to friends and supporters who got them there.

      Two thoughts:
      1. Going all the way back to 1945, all FMB/IMB leaders were former field missionaries. M.T. Rankin (’45-’53) and James Baker Cauthen (’53-’79) both came out of China. Keith Parks (’80-’92) was a career missionary, and Jerry Rankin (’93 – 2010) got his start in Asia as well. Funding and overall missionary numbers only went upwards during this time, so I can’t see your point.
      2. If we go to someone outside the IMB community (say, a prominent pastor), we run the exact same risk: he would feel some sense of obligation to those he had known for years both in the IMB and outside of it.

      thanks for interaction.

      • Greg Harvey says

        Milledge Theron Rankin for those that are curious…thanks for putting up the comment, Jeremy. I was trying to scare up M.T. Rankin’s name and tenure. I remembered the coincidence of Jerry and M.T. sharing the same last name (I don’t believe they’re related, but I could be wrong) and then I ran out of time for my research.

        I personally do not think the lack of growth in career missionaries is a fault of the executive team at the board or of our line of careerist missionaries who have also led as chief executives. It might be that we’re not as effective in our messaging or it might be that the cost to be an effective missionary is so low today that there are other ways to go. Or it could even be that our churches feel they have their hands full in their existing ministries and feel called by God to spend their own monies there.

        But let’s be careful: when you disparage the organization–even if your disagreement is with a specific leader–it impacts the morale of all of the members of the organization. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t what Tim intended to do…

        • says

          The numbers in the career missionary group are below 5,000 for a solid reason: finance.

          Twice in the organization’s history we’ve gotten about 5,000 field-based workers. Each time, the ebb and flow of national and global economies have forced us to reduce headcount through natural attrition. It seems that 5,000 missionaries is the absolute limit for the IMB due to the natural rhythms of economic systems. Getting above 5,000 just isn’t wise because the financial experts in the IMB have seen that we’ll only have to reduce numbers and leave gaps in our mission force.

          This particular fact of life isn’t something the Big Man can really alter.

    • Tarheel says

      No job description? Just a subjective criteria of “God’s man?”

      What if each board member has a different idea which of the applicants is “God’s man”…what then? Draw straws?

  15. Tarheel says

    Nothing personal….but I’d, like Miller, prefer a younger person be appointed so we can get some long term stability.

    Hunt is 62.

  16. william thornton says

    In regard to CP percentages etc, I rather favor Rick Patrick’s attitude and demeanor towards such things even though I disagree with some of what he sees as important and helpful. We have to have leaders who are positive and who would exhort us to doing more than we are doing, not less, and Rick is a very good example of this. Frank Page is also, of course.

    When the XComm receives more in designated funding than in CP funding, I’m thinking that someone ought to be ringing a gong and making noise about that.

    What I would like to see is a realistic view of the present and some greater creativity and vision for the future of the CP. All of the stewardship plans I’ve been exposed to for the past 30 years just ask for more money. There has been no original thinking, no radical thinking, no innovative thinking in regard to the CP.

  17. says

    It seems that part of the problem with the IMB is the bureaucracy. I think he should be someone who his not constrained by old rules but empowers workers on the front lines to make decisions.

  18. says

    My wife and I served 12 years as missionaries under appointment by the IMB. Since leaving the board, I have served 17 years as an associational director of missions. I have seen both sides of international and domestic mission work. Your article is 100% on target. Thanks for writing it. Not a day goes by that I don’t pray for our IMB leadership and those who serve outside the states.