We’ve been waiting for the results of the IMB reset, especially the need to reduce personnel by 600-800. The reset was announced yesterday. Click here to read the full statement from the IMB. No doubt it will come as a shock to the SBC system that almost 1,000 have voluntarily chosen to come off the field. But, here are some reasons we are as thankful and hopeful as ever for the future.
- The IMB is setting itself up to mobilize even more missionaries than ever before to the unreached places around the World – We are excited for the new strategy that intends to open the flood gates for SBC missionaries to the nations. This is a more comprehensive SBC international missions strategy than we have ever seen. We must pray for the days ahead as the IMB works to open up these pathways to mobilize even more to the international field.
- The IMB is being very proactive to be good stewards – We are thankful for the IMB leadership’s desire and actions to be good stewards of Southern Baptists’ money. The IMB is the heartbeat of the SBC – it’s the reason the SBC was created. Yet, no organization can continue to function much less thrive if it doesn’t have a balanced budget. We should all be grateful that the IMB in 2017 will have a balanced budget and is now healthy and poised for future impact! Certainly dipping into reserves and selling property was less of a shock to the SBC system than the voluntary reduction of missionaries. However, that strategy couldn’t nor should it continue. We should be thankful to have leadership that was willing to lead even when that meant making tough decisions.
- Many IMB missionaries will spend their retirement among the nations! – Reports are that many missionaries who have prayerfully chosen retirement will go back either short term or long term to serve in the exact places they have been serving for decades. They are so dedicated to the work that they want to continue it. These men and women have decades of experience and knowledge in language, culture, and missions that they will continue to utilize for the spread of the kingdom. Let’s rejoice over them, pray for them, and support them.
- Many trained missionaries are coming back to the States to continue to be disciple-makers among the nations – Let’s give these brothers and sisters a heroes welcome home and lets be sharpened by their gifts and wisdom when it comes to reaching the nations that are coming to our neighborhoods. We should rejoice that these brothers and sisters sought the Lord for their future and that God in His providence is bringing them back to our churches so that they continue to labor for His glory. If it is possible these brothers and sisters should be utilized on church staffs
While these changes can certainly come as a shock, we have ample reason to rejoice and be hopeful for the future of the IMB. More than that, here are some next steps we all should take in response:
- Let’s continue the GCR’s push for more resources to go to the areas of greatest need – We need to sacrifice more at the local level for greater impact globally. We rejoice that the IMB has made difficult decisions to get healthy and ensure future impact. We also are sad that it has come to this, and we feel there is more we can do at local levels. Please, local pastors and churches lead your people to sacrifice and give more to Lottie Moon and the CP. Please, state conventions, do what IMB has done and make difficult decisions to get leaner, keep less CP dollars, and send more to the nations. We have the money to fund much more global ministry right now without an increased dime. Let’s do it!
- Let’s not let the adversary get a foothold in our cooperative missions – It is a good thing that the IMB is in a stable financial place and the future is limitless. We still have the largest missionary force in the history of the world, and we are putting a strategy in place to blow the doors open! Let’s rejoice and pray to that end and as we do let’s reach out to and care well for those returning and those staying. Let’s labor hard on their behalf in prayer so that King Jesus receives the fame He is due!
- Let’s pray for and encourage everyone involved – While we are hopeful and excited for the future (as seen above), this is certainly a sad day in many ways and requires our prayers. We should pray for and encourage the missionaries who are coming home, who are in a season of uncertainty, and who are wondering what comes next. We should pray for and encourage missionaries who are staying on the field but will miss teammates. And, we should pray for IMB leadership who no doubt have heavy hearts and have had to make tough decisions. And, let’s rejoice that over 5,000 brothers and sisters have spent months already in prayer trying to discern God’s will for their lives and have come to decisions about where God would have them. Let’s commit to pray and encourage not ignore or tear down
Note: Next week IMB President David Platt will be conducting a livestream Q&A about the future of the IMB where viewers can send in questions. Click here for more information.