The economy is a great motivation for the mammoth SBC denomination to address the elephant in the room of the denomination’s allocation of missions funds. Pres. Johnny Hunt is attacking it as a spiritual battlefield.
At the heart of Southern Baptist life is a passion for the lost. The mechanism for doing missions has been through cooperative giving and colaborative implementation of North American and Global Missions. Yet, Dr. Jerry Rankin points out the disparity between the location of the lost and the allocation of Southern Baptist’s funds. The two are so out of whack that is frightening.
Today, for the first time that I can recall, the President of the International Mission Board is publicly challenging the State and National distribution of funds toward international missions. Hurray! Of course I’m biased but have known this to be true since the first time that I delved into the subject in 1997.
The game we play is to call any thing that moves (or does not move) “missions.” So one can easily challenge the claim that too little goes to “local and global missions” with a description of why this or that institutional endeavor is “real missions also.” But the day is gone when the church of today and tomorrow buy that bill of goods. Information about the bottom line is available for all to see.
Thank you Dr. Rankin for pointing out that of the $12 billion that Southern Baptists received in offerings, only 2.5% serves international missions. Yet the SBC was born for the purpose of International Missions.
Thanks Johnny Hunt for “taking off the gloves” to attack the issue. Imagine the impact if the percentages were reversed – if 90% of the $12 billion were spent on International Missions, and North American church planting. Isn’t that what followers of Christ would expect – More for Missions – Less for Us? Of course that’s what Jesus Would Do!
Read the article below for a fresh, authentic look at how conviction, stewardship and passion for the lost are rising to the surface of one of the largest mission sending forces in the world.
TAG: Taking off the gloves
TEASER: SBC and IMB presidents say it’s time to refocus on the Great Commission and ‘rise to the occasion.’
Hunt says take off the gloves, Rankin challenges Baptists to adjust priorities
By Shawn Hendricks
DENVER, Colo. (BP)—After a vote by International Mission Board trustees to suspend some short-term appointments and limit the number of new missionaries it can send, Southern Baptist Convention President Johnny Hunt told trustees it’s time “to take the gloves off.”
“We need to take the gloves off in Jesus’ name and tell the truth so the people will know,” said Hunt, as he spoke at the IMB’s trustee meeting May 20.
Lack of funds is forcing the IMB to limit the number of missionaries it can send to the field.
“I think Southern Baptists are going to say there are some things we can cut, but sending missionaries is not one of them,” Hunt said. “That is not an option.
“I personally believe that with all my heart that the people of God will rise to the occasion.”
Hunt’s message echoed an earlier report by IMB President Jerry Rankin.
In that report, Rankin gave unequivocal endorsement to the concept of a Great Commission Resurgence as advocated by Hunt. He indicated that the health and vitality of Southern Baptist churches and the future effectiveness of the denomination are dependent on reclaiming this focus for which the Southern Baptist Convention was formed.
Rankin also challenged Southern Baptists to retool “outdated” denominational formulas to reach a lost world for Christ.
“God has blessed Southern Baptists in numbers and resources, and we will stand accountable before God for whether we use those resources to serve our own needs, church programs and denominational entities or fulfill our mission task to reach a lost world,” Rankin said.
With 95 percent of the world’s population living outside the borders of the United States, Rankin said the percentage of Cooperative Program funds being channeled toward overseas missions is not enough. In order for Southern Baptists to adjust to a changing world, that percentage needs to be increased.
Last year, the Annual Church Profile reported that Southern Baptists gave $12 billion in offerings. Of that amount, less than 2.5 percent made it to international missions through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering — which provide the means to send and support overseas missionaries.
“The number of missionaries we can support is totally contingent on the voluntary giving of Southern Baptists and determined by the allocation of Cooperative Program resources as determined by state conventions and the Southern Baptist Convention,” Rankin said.
“Although we are driven by a vision to reach a lost world … we must operate within available resources.”
Rankin acknowledged that the problem begins with personal stewardship. The number of Southern Baptists who tithe regularly is diminishing.
Yet now is the time to act. The opportunity to reach a lost world has never been greater, he added.
Last year’s IMB Annual Statistical Report showed that 565,967 people had been baptized, and 26,970 churches had been started overseas through IMB missionaries and their Baptist partners.
“God is using global events to provide unprecedented opportunities for global advance,” Rankin said.
“The harvest is accelerating, unreached people groups are being engaged as never before, but we are on the verge of forfeiting the opportunity to fulfill the Great Commission.”
If the IMB doesn’t send those who have a passion for missions, Rankin said, many of them will find other channels, other mission agencies. Many of them will be forced to raise their own support. Churches then will begin diverting resources to support those called from their congregations.
“They will be forced to be obedient to God’s call by going independently,” he said. “The Cooperative Program will suffer as a result.”
“We need to recognize that we must get on board with God’s agenda of going into all the world and making disciples of all nations.”
Hunt’s letter to the Southern Baptist Convention calling for a renewed commitment to the Great Commission is available at greatcommissionresurgence.com. To see a chart on how Cooperative Program funds are channeled, go to imb.org/main/give/default.asp.
Shawn Hendricks is a writer with the International Mission Board.