It has been quite some time since Jerry Rankin announced his retirement and the search committee for the IMB was formed. I have no idea who the next president will be. I have no idea who the president should be. But there have been rumors floating around that one or more prominent SBC megachurch pastors is going to be recommended by the IMB search committee. I heard this first from a prominent pastor in a southern state. Then, I saw the name on another blog.
I do not plan to name that name. I’m not trying to delve into rumor-mongering. In fact, no discussion of the particular pastor or his qualifications will be permitted. I’d like to engage in a more general discussion: Does leading a mega-church qualify someone to lead the IMB?
I say no.
A Missionary Needs to Lead IMB
The IMB president needs to be someone from a missions background – someone who knows firsthand what it is like to work internationally, who has missiological experience and knowledge. I have talked to several missionaries and the ones I’ve talked to want someone in the big chair who understands what a missionary does. They want a missionary to lead them.
The world is changing so fast and mission strategies are in such a state of evolution, that direct, hands-on experience in missiology is essential.
Would we hire a non-SBC leader to lead one of our entities? Even if he was highly qualified in every way? No, of course not. We want our leaders to understand SBC life. We know that someone who leads in the SBC needs to have experience in the SBC. Why would we hire someone with no background in missiology to lead a missions organization? I think our missionaries would be about as enthused about a non-missionary leading them as we would be about a non-SBC leader of an agency. They want someone who understands what mission work is all about.
Being a Mega-church Pastor Is Not Enough
Granted, some of the mega-churches out there are bigger than the IMB, but it is two different skill sets to lead the two organizations. Mega-church. IMB. Not the same.
What about overseeing a church in a large Southern City qualifies someone to understand the workings of missions in Islamic states, or in Asia, or in South America? Wouldn’t someone with cross-cultural experience and a history of world missions experience be better?
My Hope and Prayer
The person whose name has been bandied about – I like him. I respect him. A lot. If they are going to recomend a mega-church pastor, he might be the one.
I just don’t think being a mega-church pastor qualifies someone to lead the largest Christian missionary organization in world history.
Here’s one voice hoping they recommend a missionary to lead our missionaries.