David Platt, who has announced his resignation but is still CEO of the IMB, had a plan to greatly expand the Board’s overseas workforce. The plan was to meld unpaid overseas secular workers into the IMB’s work. Not a few questions were raised about this but it was a plan to get IMB’s numbers back up.
I know of no SBC entity or institution that is planning for significant expansion based on projected increases in Cooperative Program revenues. IMB receives less than one-third of their budget from CP revenues, much more from Lottie Moon offering and direct gifts. I don’t see much going on in the SBC that will do anything but reduce the Cooperative Program. There’s just too much conflict and acrimony. Frank Page was a positive influence and he’s gone. If trustees make a misstep and put the wrong person in his position (or Platt’s) we could be in for some difficulty.
But, IMB could increase appointments through greater designated giving. The agency, in spite of difficulty, is our oldest and largest and has the support of SBCers across the board. I expect that there will be a small increase in the 2017 Lottie Moon offering when the totals are announced at the Convention in June. When IMB had their budgeting problems a few years ago, churches spontaneously responded by a large increase in the LMCO.
Seems to me that the approach of appealing to churches and their members for direct, Lottie Moon, gifts throughout the year would be doable. Many churches already budget some LMCO funding and/or receive their LMCO in non-traditional fashion, i.e., not just during the Christmas offering season. IMB would be prohibited from making appeals throughout the year but promotional materials are available already that churches could use.
A Chattanooga church, Brainerd Baptist, has an initiative that I like, One for Seven
With 5.2 million active Southern Baptists each week, it would require a little less than an additional $1 each week from each Southern Baptist. When we saw that number we realized, that’s a goal that we can reach! When we realized that this was a doable goal, we got really excited! So here’s what we are asking you to consider. We are asking each Southern Baptist to give $1, per week, above and beyond their current giving to the Lottie Moon offering.
The pastor is Micah Fries, former IMB missionary and current PhD student at Southeastern Seminary and well known in our circles.
I love this as a local church initiative, as a way to increase a church’s LMCO and support of international missions. It’s thoroughly Southern Baptist, all the funds go to IMB and supports our global strategy to reach the nations. It is painless. It keeps international missions in front of the congregation 52 weeks of the year rather than six or eight.
Any plan that is expressed as “if all Southern Baptists” or “all SBC churches” did something then we could double overseas personnel, gets immediate skepticism from me. All Southern Baptists don’t do anything together. But I like the thinking and this is doable. If enough churches adopt this approach, year-round IMB support, has a chance to move the IMB worker levels upward.
Quiet now…listen…you can hear the critics: “Great Commission Giving,” they sniff. “Societal giving,” they scoff. “Not fully cooperative,” they complain. It’s hard to imagine but I once heard a state convention worker say, and he was serious, that if IMB gets more than we all need to share in that. Seriously.
The CP pie would have to almost double for IMB to receive what it would if the 5.2 million SBCers gave one dollar per week. The CP pie is on track to grow this year by a percent or so. No chance of it doubling.
While they do good work, I don’t see anything state conventions are doing that would motivate me to try and double CP giving, and most of the CP dollar doesn’t get outside of your state boundary. What IMB is doing, and has done for all these scores of years, is worth my effort to double giving.
If I were a pastor, I’d seriously consider this year-round plan.