International Mission Board

South Western professor declares war on IMB missionaries

Paige Patterson

Paige Patterson

I just shake my head and I say, How many wars you got left in you, boy?
— Dr Paige Patterson Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Earlier this year Dr Paige Patterson declared war on Southern Baptist missionaries who were committed to multiplying disciples and churches. He called for the sacking of David Garrison, a leading proponent of church planting movements.

Dr Patterson is the President of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is no stranger to denominational battles. He was a prominent figure in the Southern Baptist Convention conservative resurgence.

Four months before the IMB (International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention) announced plans to eliminate 600-800 jobs due to financial constraints, Dr Patterson called for the removal of Garrison and 750 other missionaries due to incompetence or theological error. Patterson rejects Garrison’s concept of the “wrinkling of time.”

What he means by this is it’s taking too long to evangelise the world, so we need to get out there and we need to do church planting by the thousands and thousands and thousands of house churches. It doesn’t matter who’s pastor of it. As soon as you get there, identify the man or the woman who is the most natural leader and tell them they’re the pastor, and you’re ready to go. We have tried a number of these in Bangladesh and in China, particularly, where the results have been disastrous. Predictably because a small house church with no biblical understanding and are hard put to find the Gospel of John in a Bible drill; they’re not going to lead to biblically based congregations. What they’re going to do is to watch Benny Hinn on television and follow him, and that is exactly what is happening. The vast majority of our house church plants that we have done are now off in the name-it-and-claim-it gospel and have abandoned New Testament faith entirely and completely.

These are serious charges —  if they are true. And at least one charge is true. David Garrison wants to plant thousands of churches. He is eager to win a lost world for Christ. He’s guilty on that one.

Here are the other allegations, as yet unproven:

  1. IMB missionaries, who follow Garrison’s approach, don’t care who leads a new church. They’ll appoint anyone to be a pastor who is a natural leader then move on.
  2. The new churches have no Biblical understanding. They don’t even know where the gospel of John is in the Bible.
  3. The “vast majority" of the new churches in Bangladesh and China are following Benny Hinn on television. They follow the “prosperity gospel.” They have abandoned New Testament faith. “This is exactly what is happening.”

Now we’re getting somewhere. These are allegations that can easily be proven if someone has done their homework before making them public.

Dr Patterson is the President of a theological seminary. He is an academic, a PhD graduate and a published author of numerous books and articles. He would never make allegations like these public without careful research and evidence. That's what he would expect of his students at South Western. He'd expect them to do their research, gather the evidence and present their case.

So I asked Dr Patterson to  provide the evidence to back up his charges. So far he has been unable to do so.

Meanwhile, Paige Patterson has won this latest battle. After 30 years of distinguished service with the IMB, David Garrison has resigned to become the new Executive Director of Global Gates. The mission of Global Gates is to reach the ends of the earth through global gateway cities. They began in New York and are now in six North American cities with plans to reach more gateway cities around the world.

Seems like David “Wrinkling of Time” Garrison is still impatient to reach a lost world. He's still devoting his life to fulfilling the Great Commission. Someone had better warn Global Gates to watch out for this dangerous man.


Southern Baptist Missionaries Go Home UPDATED

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The Southern Baptists have been in the wars lately. For the first time in their history, church membership is falling. Now the denomination’s mission arm, the International Mission Board (IMB) has announced 15% cuts to its overseas missions force due to a $21 million annual shortfall.

But let’s not be too harsh, the SBC is still planting more churches than it’s closing, and for decades the IMB has led the world in fueling movements that multiply disciples and churches.

Here’s a list of some of the leading practitioners, trainers, and authors in the field of multiplying movements — David Watson, Steve Smith, Bill Smith, Kevin Greeson, David Garrison, Bruce Carlton, Ying Kai, Curtis Sergeant, Neil Mims, Nathan Shank and Jeff Sundell.

They are all either current or former IMB staff.

Unfortunately for the IMB too many of these men are now former IMB staff. They now serve with other agencies. Perhaps even more will be caught up in the current attempt to reduce the number of IMB staff. If that happens the IMB is in real trouble.

Financial crunches will come and go. But any denomination that makes life hard for its best people is already in decline.

UPDATE: Steve Smith, David Garrison, Neil Mims, and Kevin Greeson have just announced their resignations. Of this list of outstanding pioneers of movements that multiply disciples and churches, only Nathan Shank remains as a serving IMB missionary. Other leading practitioners like Mike Shipman and Jared Houk remain, (along with others I've not met personally).

The kingdom will not suffer. The ministries of those who have left the IMB will continue under different arrangements. But the IMB must face the root causes of their departures. This is a trend over a number of years, and it should worry any mission agency committed to movements that multiply disciples and churches.

CORRECTION: Jay Pratt has already left the IMB.

Missionaries Go Home

From the Wall Street Journal—Cash-Strapped Missionaries Get a New Calling: Home.

Peter and Jennie Stillman felt a divine calling to preach the gospel abroad. So the Southern Baptist couple left Texas with their three young daughters 25 years ago and became missionaries in Southeast Asia.

Now, the Stillmans are responding to a new call: early retirement. They are among hundreds of Southern Baptist missionaries working abroad who are being summoned home in a move to slash costs, after years of spending to support missionary work around the world led to budget problems.

The International Mission Board, an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention with 4,800 missionaries and 450 support staff, plans to cut 600 to 800 people from its workforce, a 15% reduction. It is starting by offering voluntary early retirement to veteran missionaries.

Since 2010, the organization has spent $210 million more than it has taken in, officials said. Last year, it had a $21 million shortfall.