This isn’t a sleeper item, it’s been publicized by Baptist Press: Rewritten Business & Financial Plan awaits adoption by SBC messengers.
It is a snoozer, though. Not one messenger in 100 will read it. Not one Southern Baptist in a thousand will care one whit about it, but it is an important item.
The various entities are required to report certain things to the SBC Executive Committee so that the ultimate, though indirect, decision makers, individual Southern Baptist messengers attending an annual meeting, may be informed.
The process is a mess, seems to me. Entities report a lot of stuff but the important stuff is either buried in miniscule type footnotes or disguised, or finessed, or not reported at all.
“Let trustees handle it,” you say. “It’s their job.”
Yes it is.
Seems most trustee bodies mean well but nap a lot during meetings; hence, (1) IMB is brought to near collapse by incompetency and neglect leading to a catastrophic reduction in personnel. What IMB was doing was reported in footnotes in the SBC annuals. Essentially they were selling hard assets to meet a payroll which was far beyond their ability to manage. The system crashed and 1,100 missionaries voluntarily retired or quit in order to get the organization down to a size that could be funded. I’m not sharp enough in the details to even know if the updated plan would have avoided this.(2) SWBTS is nearly run into the ground until one trustee tells the SBC in session that Trustees cannot even get the CEO to meet with them to discuss finances. To this day there has been no full accounting of the things that were happening during those years. (3) NAMB has had two meltdowns. Previous leadership squandered millions. There is more.
The things that concern me are matters that I am too ignorant to even be aware of. The general principle of SBC business is that if entities can keep SBCers from knowing things, they will.
Ronnie Floyd on the updated plan,
“We believe this recommended Business & Financial Plan provides a greater clarity of understanding and encourages cooperation, transparency and accountability from each of the entities to the Southern Baptist Convention,” he said. “The Annual Entity Confirmation alone represents the desired outcomes we have of each entity when they confirm in writing and for publication their adherence to this plan. This confirmation is signed by the organization’s board chair, chief executive officer and chief financial officer, which yearly asserts they are operating in accordance to the Business & Financial Plan of the SBC.”
CEOs will check boxes. I’m skeptical but let’s see how it works.
A few items to note and many of these have always been in the B&FP:
- Allocations to an entity from the Cooperative Program Allocation Missions Budget can only be used by the entity for its Convention-approved ministry assignments except with the approval of the Convention or the Executive Committee.
- Trustees must undergo a criminal and sexual offender background check.
- Trustees must disclose any potential conflict of interest. (Plodder opinion: if you are on the payroll in any fashion, even if you are an author published by the entity, you should not be a trustee. There are millions of SBs. We can live without some big names being trustees.)
- Trustees must be willing to complete trustee orientation.
- Trustees should not receive loans from the entity.
- Entities should have a gift acceptance policy.
- Entities cannot contact churches directly to raise money (exceptions are noted).
In regard to entity spending and compensation the document reads:
E. Required Board Communication to the Executive Committee:
In accordance with the principles of biblical stewardship, the Convention expects a statement executed by the chair of the entity’s board to be provided annually to the Executive Committee attesting that the board’s officers confirm the following fiscal conditions exist:
1. All executive compensation arrangements are considered fair and reasonable based on periodic comparable compensation studies, and all executive compensation has been approved in accordance with a board approved compensation setting policy.
2. All expenses and perquisites of the president and CEO are reasonable and are in keeping with biblical stewardship, including that every emolument and personal benefit of any kind (specifically including housing, travel, automobile(s), and personal assistants) are all valued at market rates.
3. All corporate expenses are reasonable and incurred to accomplish the entity’s Organization Manual mission statement, Organization Manual ministry assignments, and any other responsibilities previously approved by the messengers of the Convention and still in force.
4. All corporate expenses are incurred by the administration in a manner that reflects biblical stewardship and integrity, and avoids even the appearance of impropriety while upholding a positive Christian witness to the Convention and beyond.
This, in my view, is too weak. The CEO has to say, “We’re doing fine. Nothing to see here.” Past history argues against this as a workable solution. My longtime view is that entities should be required to publish annually not only the compensation of its CEO but all expenses and perquisites of the CEO. If we have million dollar employees, let us see that. They may be worth every penny. It’s our money.
Ronnie Floyd should exercise leadership in this area by being the first to do so. At the least, Southern Baptists should be able to look at the annual report, accessed online, and know exactly what their entity heads are earning. Period.
I’m hardly touching the document. There is a lot of content and I’m likely missing some of the most important things.
When this item comes up for a vote in Nashville, I’ll vote for it. If there are amendments offered, I’ll consider them as well.
Former Executive Committee CEO Morris Chapman proposed this two years ago. Randy Adams didn’t invent the issue of transparency and accountability but give him credit for pointing to the SBC’s ugliest side.
If this article and the documents behind it were the source of an opera it would be La sonnambula. My eyes are getting a bit droopy even now.
And did you hear the one about the secret deal between CEO, one HR person, and one trustee who had a business relationship with the entity? I suspect you did. That sound like the way we want our entities to do business? Not to me. This could have been easily avoided. Trust the Lord and tell Southern Baptists.
Looking for some astute business person to do a much better job on this subject that I am capable of doing.