FIRST-PERSON: What now for the IMB & the SBC?
EDITOR'S NOTE: Ronnie Floyd is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and senior pastor of Cross Church in northwestern Arkansas.
SPRINGDALE, Ark. (BP) -- I feel I should address the financial situation of the International Mission Board, released last week to the Southern Baptist Convention. I know there are many questions and concerns that Southern Baptists have about these matters. When I first became aware, I had several questions myself.
I want to remind all of us of two things. First, the Board of Trustees has the responsibility of overseeing the fiscal responsibility of the International Mission Board. Annually, the Southern Baptist Convention approves the board of trustees of each of our entities.
Secondly, Dr. David Platt, our new president of the International Mission Board, has been in this job less than one year. Each of us knows of his commitment to reaching the nations. I am very thankful that he and his team are taking the necessary steps to operate within the financial means given by our churches and people annually. I believe it is the right thing to do.
Where do we go from here?
Now that this situation has been made known to our Southern Baptist Convention, what do we do now? I want to appeal to each of us to consider these things seriously.
1. Trust our proven trustee system
The trustees of our International Mission Board will lead through this time and provide a future long-term financial strategy. Under God's leadership, the trustees called Dr. Platt to provide leadership to Southern Baptists with mobilizing our churches to reaching the world for Christ. Therefore, our proven trustee system is at work, and we need to trust they will lead through this hour.
2. Rally together to reach the world
Unquestionably, reaching the world for Christ is what rallies us together. It is our missional vision of presenting the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and making disciples of all the nations that has kept us together through the years. This commitment has not changed, nor has our passion decreased. It is this very missional vision that has moved Dr. Platt and the Board of Trustees to take the action they have taken.
3. Reset does not mean regress
The financial "reset," as described by the IMB, means to set again, while regress means to move backward. I can assure you, this moment of resetting is only about one thing: Getting into a financial posture to launch into a greater commitment than ever before to reach the world for Christ. There is no intention or desire to go backward in fulfilling our missional vision.
If you know anything about Dr. Platt or know him personally, I'm sure you realize he is consumed with the Gospel and reaching the nations. Resetting matters today will only provide support to re-launch into a wiser and more intentional way to reach the world.
4. Evaluate where our churches are financially
I am so thankful for every gift our churches make through the Cooperative Program and our Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. Many have been leading the way for years, and others are stepping up in this season of our convention.
But each of our churches can again evaluate where we are in our missions giving through the Cooperative Program. This serves as our financial base for the International Mission Board. With the monies the Southern Baptist Convention receives, over one-half of those funds go to the International Mission Board.
Our church recently re-evaluated again financially. We have chosen to give more monies through our Cooperative Program, and I want to encourage you and your church to do the same. The 90-year history of the Cooperative Program is proven, not just statewide, but across the nation and the world. I want to appeal to each pastor, church leader and finance committee member to please reevaluate your commitment of giving through the Cooperative Program. Regardless of your church's size, this is a tremendous way to advance the Gospel to America and the world.
5. Pray more than ever before
Regardless of our thoughts or feelings about the International Mission Board's budget announcement, now is the time to go to the Lord in prayer about it more than ever before. We are a people who believe in our powerful and providing God, and no one is more committed to reaching the nations than the Lord Himself. When His people fasten their eyes to joining Him in this eternal task, God will move powerfully and provide generously. He always has and will do so again.