The Pen

A Great Commission Suggestion: Pink Slip the ERLC (not by Dave Miller)

It isn’t personal, its business!

Great Commission business.  I think it is time that the SBC de-funds the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and gives those funds to the IMB to increase our missionary force around the world.

I know that Russell Moore is one of the bogeymen of the Baptist right.  They disdain him because he has taken liberal and progressive stands on political and social issues through the years.  I have no such axe to grind.  I’m in agreement with the vast majority of the opinions I have heard him put forward.  I do not dislike Russell Moore or disagree with his stances (for the most part).  I just think that in these troubled economic times, there are better things we could be doing with 3.236 million dollars per year (1.65% of CP gifts).

I don’t see the comparative Kingdom value of the work of the ERLC.  Its as simple as that.  I think missionaries on the field could accomplish a lot more than Russell Moore in Washington.

Is the ERLC really making a difference in America?  Do politicians change their votes because of Russell Moore’s pronouncements?  Are there Baptists out there who are influenced or educated by the ERLC position?  I can say that in my 30 years of ministry in Baptist churches, the ERLC (and its predecessor) have made no discernable impact on the work I have done or the churches I have served.  Would anything significant be lost if we just did away with the ERLC?  Is that which might be lost comparable to what might be gained by sending more missionaries around the world?

I’m willing to be educated.  If someone can tell me what work the ERLC does that is of great eternal value, I’m willing to listen.  I really am.

I have a friend who was in the appointment process at the IMB.  He is a fine young man with a fine young family.  Because of budget shortfalls, he got the pink slip from the IMB.  They won’t be sending him now or in the near future.  He is still going as a missionary, but with a different board.  The IMB lost a good missionary family because of budget shortfalls.  He and his family are not alone in this.  Instead of sending missionaries out, we are sending them away, and I find that disturbing.

I think that the IMB could do more of Great Commission significance with the 3.236 million better than the ERLC does.  In good economic times, maybe there was a good reason to keep the ERLC around.  But when we are cutting missionary forces and denying service to competent, qualified and willing missionaries, I think its time to make some hard choices.

What does it cost to fund one missionary?  I really don’t know.  Let me take a guess – perhaps 100,000 per year to pay them, provide benefits, travel and all the other costs.   High?  Low?  I don’t know.  But if we transferred the money from the ERLC to the IMB, at 100k per missionary family that’s around 32 new missionary families on the field – more if the per-missionary costs are less.

Someone answer this question:  What would have more eternal/Great Commission value – 32 missionary families serving around the world or the ERLC lobbying on political and social issues here?  Dozens of missionaries or a culture-warrior?

In times like this, we have to make choices like that.

[Not Contributed by The Company Man™, Dave Miller]

Editor’s Note: Actually, no. Dave didn’t contribute this. Actually, he’ll probably ask us to take it down eventually. In fact, Dave wrote this article five years ago. The only words we changed were the words in bold. His original article is here, and is about Richard Land’s conservativism rather than Russell Moore’s progressivism. We would have agreed with the article as it was originally written, and we agree with the article even with our slight edits above. Oh, and if you prefer to read his post in a pdf file, A Great Commission Suggestion: Pink Slip the ERLC.

2nd Editor’s Note: Well, it turns out that Dave wasn’t pleased. He posted an angry retort here and accused P&P of “lies.” For the record, the first editor’s note (right above) was posted here from the very beginning. For those folks who can’t read well, we put an underline under didn’t in the sentence, “Dave didn’t contribute this.” As the editor’s note says above, these are all Dave’s words, except for those in bold. In fact, we linked the original article – three times – in red. In his retort, Dave says that his mind has changed about the ERLC. What would be incredibly, incredibly helpful would be if The Company Man™ would explain in detail why he now thinks that the ERLC budget is more important than having foreign missionaries in the field. That would be helpful. Oh, and we put a “not by Dave Miller” in the title to pacify him a bit.