A call to action

*I realized the September 6th is Labor Day weekend and so I have adjusted the date by 1 week to September 13th*

Over the past couple of weeks we Southern Baptists have received troubling news. On May 21st we got news that the IMB, due to expected giving shortfalls, will have to suspend two of their significant, short-term missions programs. Both the International Service Corps and Masters programs will be suspended until further notice. If this were to have happened just 8 years ago, Tracy and I would never have had the privilege of serving in Burkina Faso, as we were ISC missionaries with the IMB. Furthermore, the number of missionary appointments in ever other category will also be limited to a smaller than usual number so that the IMB can work within the financial parameters that the less than expected giving have offered them. The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering this past year was $9 million less than the year before. Beyond that, the actual offering total was almost $30 million less than the expected goal of $171 million. This tremendous shortfall leaves the IMB’s leadership with no option but to reduce field personnel in an effort to keep their financial house in order.

In my opinion, this is a travesty. Our IMB has proven to be one of the most effective tools for world evangelization that our convention has to offer, and under the leadership of Dr. Jerry Rankin they continue to become more and more effective in their reach. Their efforts taking the gospel around the world has led to over 500,000 baptisms in the last year alone. It is disconcerting to me, to say the least, that we are reducing the number of field personnel which are some of our most faithful and effective evangelists, at a time when we are consistently decrying the diminishing numbers of baptisms in our own country. Something has got to give.

So, in response, here is what I believe God is leading me to do. Tracy and I are going to begin praying about giving a special amount over and above what we normally give. I’m also going to encourage my church to begin sacrificially saving, and taking up a 1 time, special offering for the purpose of sending that money to the IMB for overseas missions. I believe we will do this on the second Sunday in September, the 13th, so that we can connect with the largest amount of people in our congregation as summer vacations should be finished by that point.

Finally, I would encourage you to consider doing the same thing in your own church. Consider joining with Frederick Boulevard on Sunday, September 6th, to sacrificially give a special offering to help further the expansion of the Kingdom around the world.

Will you join us?

Micah is a husband to Tracy & a daddy to Grace, Kessed & Haddon. He’s Senior Pastor at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Most of all, he’s a debtor to grace.

2 thoughts on “A call to action

  1. This tremendous shortfall leaves the IMB’s leadership with no option but to reduce field personnel in an effort to keep their financial house in order.

    Micah, you know that I love you and think you are a great friend and pastor, but I totally disagree with this statement.

    I think that the shortfall is a mixture of many things, the economy among them.

    More significantly, though, I believe this to be the fruit of the IMB’s Trustees display over the previous several years and the commitment to hold tight to their “guidelines” concerning glossolalia and baptism. I think they have lost the trust of a great many churches.

    However, even if it is not agreed that the public actions and statements or the guidelines are even partially to blame, it is not true that they have “no other choice” but to cut these programs. Here are a few things that they can do:

    1. Cut staff salaries at the IMB.
    2. Cut staff at the IMB.

    Most relevant and important…

    3. Cut ridiculous spending related to travel expenses for Trustee meetings. They are already held more frequently than necessary. They could have some or even all of those meetings via electronic communications at a fraction of the price.

    The institutional response of keeping the bloated machine intact (and I am referring primarily to the Trustee spending) is precisely why most churches, who are experiencing financial pressure themselves, are not going to respond with extra offerings.

    Just so that no one says that I am not pro-IMB, I will tell you that we actually budgeted an additional $8,0000 to our Lottie Moon offering this year, which will be combined with our normal offering receipts and will double what we have raised in previous years.

    I am convinced that cutting missionaries is not the first thing that can be done and there are quite a few other options available. Wasteful Trustee spending at the top of my list.

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