Jill Duggar and Derick Dillard are rejected as missionaries by the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and the International Mission Board (IMB) for lack of qualifications. The couple's controversial organization, Dillard Family Ministries, has been the subject of criticism almost since its inception. Many presumed that they were supported in their work by their local Baptist church or the IMB. Now it is revealed that those presumptions are false.
When the Duggar family reality series, 19 Kids and Counting, was pulled from the air by TLC on May 22 after Josh Duggar's alleged incestual molestations were revealed Derick Dillard quit his job in the accounting department of Walmart corporate headquarters in Rogers, Arkansas. (TLC had been a cash cow for the couple since their first meeting, which was filmed for an episode of the reality series, Going the Distance for Love.) The Dillards then filed incorporation papers for their non-profit on June 17. They immediately began to solicit funds from donors for a non-disclosed purpose in a non-disclosed location.
Three months down line, the Dillards have yet to set up a foreign mission. After watching Jill Duggar and Derick Dillard jet-setting to and from Central America and the U.S. for the past three months, many disillusioned donors to Dillard Family Ministries asked for a refund of their donations.
Ambiguous messages posted by Jill and Derick on social media led many people to believe that their self-described missionary activities were supported by the SBC, because of their association with Cross Baptist Church and an Instagram post by Derick Dillard on September 6.
"We are so grateful for the support of our church fellowship Cross Church as we were officially commissioned during the morning service today."
On the Dillard Family Blog, Derick Dillard admitted that the "commissioning" by the church was nothing more than a prayer.
"Just this past weekend, we were commissioned to the mission field by our home church. The commissioning consisted of our pastor leading the congregation in praying for our family as we work on the mission field."The Dillards were married in Cross Church – the largest church in Arkansas – and that is their home church when stateside. The church has donated over $1 million to funding missionaries this year, but no financial support is given to the Dillards.
Cross Church is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention. The pastor of Cross Church, Ronnie Floyd, serves as president of the SBC, which supervises funding of missionaries for all Southern Baptist churches. The SBC employees over 4,800 missionaries and 300 new missionaries were added just this year. The Dillards were not included in the multi-million-dollar budget of SBC's missionary funding.
"I don't really understand. Are they with the IMB or not?"Again, the answer is "no." The SBC's International Mission Board (IMB) cannot approve the Dillards for funding for the simple reason that they do not qualify as missionaries.
To be a funded missionary of the SBC and IMB requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited university and between 20 – 30 graduate hours of designated courses, such as: Biblical Studies, Theology, Church History, Missions, Evangelism, Discipleship, Preaching, Interpersonal Relationships, etc.
Although Derick Dillard has an undergraduate degree in accounting, he has never taken a college-level religion course and has no graduate credit hours. Jill Duggar has never been to college at all. To qualify as the spouse of a Baptist missionary, she must complete at least 12 college credit hours by taking these courses at an accredited college. The requirements are as follows.
■ 3 hours of New Testament Survey■ 3 hours of Old Testament Survey■ 3 hours of Biblical or Systematic Theology■ 3 hours of Elective Courses in General Ministry
The Dillards seem to have the cart-before-the-horse, or the fundraising before the preparation to be missionaries. With TLC now filming a special on the couple's missionary work, it will be interesting to see what footage is aired about what the two are actually doing in Central America.
On September 10, Derick stated on the couple's blog that the two planned to return to Central America to learn Spanish.
"Our current plan is to continue in language school once we return to Central America."In August, they spent all of two weeks in the tourist city of Antigua, Guatemala, while Derick studied Spanish and Jill studied online for a certificate to become a non-nurse midwife. To watch someone study Spanish is not exactly exciting television for a TLC special.
Perhaps they are biding time until they can tag along as volunteers on another trip with SOS Ministries. They spent at least $5,000 to tour with that group in August, and there are week-long trips scheduled beginning on December 4 in Honduras and on December 11 in El Salvador. The Duggar family has gone on those December trips for the past eight years and were filmed for their reality TV show handing out trinkets to the locals and painting the faces and fingernails of little kids. Off camera, they also distribute books written by accused sexual molester Bill Gothard (who is also the author of their homeschooling curriculum).
The Gospel according to Gothard might be a little hard to explain to a missions board if Jill Duggar and Derick Dillard ever decide to apply to be Baptist missionaries someday. Since founding their non-profit, the two have hobnobbed to Central America to spend four weeks as volunteers with another religious group and two weeks studying Spanish, all the while asking for donations from fans of the cancelled TV show, 19 Kids and Counting. The other ten weeks the Dillards have been in the U.S. apparently have not involved being missionaries or studying Spanish. The first tax filing for Dillard Family Ministries will be a public document and will be interesting to see.
Did you know that Jill Duggar and Derick Dillard's missionary work was not funded by their church or the IMB? Scroll down to leave your comments and opinions.
[Photo via Instagram]