Mike Ebert, the Vice President for C0mmunications at NAMB, logged in yesterday to call me on the carpet for my criticisms of Kevin Ezell, the president of the North American Mission Board. He is an effective PR director; adept at dealing with those who challenge Dr Ezell. However, I would like to use his comments to lay down a challenge to Dr. Ezell and other SBC leaders.
Mike Ebert’s Comments
Essentially, Mike accused me of being unfair to such a degree that no SBC leader would ever want to come here.
“However, your post provides a good example of why so many in SBC leadership avoid the bloggers and don’t respond when you send questions: there’s very little chance of being treated fairly.
He claims that the reason that leaders won’t talk to us is that we would mistreat them, be unkind and unfair. I would ask a question to Mike, to his fellow PR men and to the leaders of the SBC for whom they work:
How do you know? How many entity heads or convention leaders ever tried talking to bloggers? Convention leaders have talked about bloggers, but I do not remember them really talking to us. (Of course, I’m not talking about superstar bloggers like Ed Stetzer or Al Mohler, they are in a different category, as I see it.)
We know you are busy leading your agencies and we appreciate that. You have limited time. But maybe you would find that if you conversed with us periodically, you might generate goodwill and be treated respectfully. None of them is under any obligation to do so – morally, ethically, legally or in any other way. But I think it would be a good thing.
So, here’s my challenge:
Talk to us. Test the Ebert theory that SBC leaders can’t get a fair hearing here. If we mistreat you, then at least you will have a real reason not to come back.
Any of you could: 1) Answer some questions here about the SBC and about the place that blogging has or could have.
2) Write a letter. If you don’t want to answer questions, just write us a letter to communicate your heart. I guarantee you that SBC Voices or just about any other Baptist blog would publish a letter from an entity head of the SBC – even if it did not answer questions we might have.
I make this promise. While we might criticize leaders and we might ask tough questions, ANY SBC leader who comes on this blog will be treated with fairness, contrary to Mike’s assertions. I will see to it.
Questions I’d Like to Ask
1) You are accountable to the Board of Trustees that oversee your ministry. But what level of accountability do you believe that you have to average Baptists?
2) To the best of my knowledge, none of our entities publish the salaries of employees. Can you explain if you think that is a good idea, and why it is that executive salaries should not be made public?
3) It seems to me that there has been a growing culture of secrecy in the SBC – in which things are done behind closed doors and in executive sessions. Do you believe that is accurate or am I being unfair? What is your view of the tension between accountability and confidentiality in SBC work?
4) Be brutally honest here. What do you think of Baptist blogging? What frustrates you about what we do? What could we do to improve what we are doing?
5) Many of us disagree with decisions being made and directions being taken in the SBC. Is it good and right for us to express our disagreements or do you believe that it is wrong for us to dissent from our SBC leaders? Do you have any wisdom for us on how we should voice our dissent in productive ways?
6) What do you think needs to change in the SBC for us to get back to where we need to be?
Of course, there are individual questions I would like to ask specific leaders. Yeah, I guess I’d like to ask Dr. Ezell why he told people to simply ignore his critics. I’d like to ask Dr. Mohler what he thinks the place of Calvinism should be in the SBC? I’d like to ask Dr. Patterson if he thinks that Calvinism should have any place at all. I’d like to ask Dr. Akin about the balance between being biblical and being culturally relevant. But I would love to ask them all questions like the ones above.
I know I’m tilting at windmills here. I’m guessing most of the leaders of the SBC would rather have dental work done without anesthesia than to expose themselves to a rowdy bunch like this. But I think it would be great if someone in power took the challenge and talked to some rank and file bloggers.
But, with all the pessimism I have, I’m issue the challenge. Talk to us. Give it a try. Give us a chance. Who knows? You might like it!