There are two things you ought to know about me that have influenced what I will write in this post.
- By a tutelage difficult to forget, I have come to understand that those who serve on our boards and committees deserve some level of deference. They are always in a position to know a little more than we do about matters that come before them. That level of deference is not infinite, and showing deference does not mean remaining silent about important things. It just means striving to maintain some charity and some humility when differing with a board or a committee.
- I have also come to believe (at about the same time and in much the same way) that throughout the Southern Baptist system some unified source of trustee training and continuing education could offer us a vast improvement in our work to fulfill the Great Commission. This is true for a number of reasons that may justify the authorship of a post all its own someday.
Because of the first item, I want to be patient and reserve judgment concerning the Executive Committee’s decision to investigate the effect the ERLC has upon Cooperative Program giving. But because of the second item, I do want to go ahead and make an appeal to those serving on this task force.
I know of no entity better poised to provide the sort of initial training and recurring education that I have in mind than the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. There have been back-channel discussions about instituting just this sort of thing, as well as repeated motions from the floor of the SBC. There exists, I have been told, some resistance to this kind of training.
For the needed training to come into existence, Southern Baptists are going to need to have some degree of confidence that the Executive Committee is a good-faith entity who can be trusted to train trustees without bias. The objective, after all, is not to shape the decisions that trustees will make, but rather, to provide for them general guidance and an introduction to best practices for trustee service. We want trustees to make their own decisions, but to be equipped to make the best possible decisions.
Any sense that the Executive Committee has its own axe to grind will poison the well. No one is going to be in favor of our creating One Board To Rule Them All—not even I, who am firmly convinced that we have a need for unified training and continuing education, would be in favor of anything that smacks of Connectionalism and Hierarchicalism.
So, dear task force, we need you to discharge your duty in a way that shows your full neutrality, your respect for the stated will and opinions of the messengers, and your ability to work in a fraternal and cooperative manner with ERLC trustees. I’m appealing to you not to get bogged down into the minute details of present controversies, but rather to take a big picture view of the systemic needs of our fellowship of churches and to act in the best interests of those needs.