IMB Policies, Baptism, David Platt, and Wade Burleson

On October 30, 2014, I published an article on expressing my frustration for a young lady at Graefenburg Baptist Church who felt a call to international missions but was ineligible for service through the International Mission Board (IMB) because she was baptized in a Church of God. The policies for the IMB only allowed missionaries to be appointed who had been baptized in a Southern Baptist Church. I was hopeful that newly elected president David Platt might bring some clarity to a regrettable policy for the world’s most effective sending agency.

Fast forward to the week of May 10, 2015. I had the joy of attending an IMB missionary appointment service in Louisville, KY and experienced a tremendous night of worship as we listened to the tear-inducing testimonies of new IMB missionaries. Coinciding with this service was the announcement that the Trustees of the IMB had rolled out a new set of policies to coincide with Platt’s “Pathways” strategy for sending a wider range of people and talents overseas to share the gospel with unreached people. To my astonishment, these new policies struck down the infamous baptism requirements, as well as the private prayer language restrictions. Instead, the new policy is incredibly simple and streamlined. It’s requirements for baptism reads, “Currently a baptized member of a Southern Baptist church.” What is so amazing about this development for me is the manner in which it was announced – just a simple, quiet notice on the IMB website that things have changed.

I couldn’t read about the new changes without thinking of Wade Burleson. Wade is pastor for Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid, OK and was a Trustee for the IMB in 2005. Wade strongly opposed the new policies, wrote dissenting opinions on his blog, and eventually resigned from the IMB in 2008. I was curious to get his thoughts on the development of things over the last couple of years and especially this past week. So, I will be posting an interview with Wade Burleson here on in the next couple of days. I think you will find it to be interesting.

I’m thankful for David Platt and his leadership in the IMB, but also for the many other gifted leaders who are helping him along. These are exciting days for cooperative missionary efforts among Southern Baptists and I’m excited for the future.

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