[To be clear, they’re not asking churches for offerings.]
All of our entities have suffered. Jobs have been cut and budgets reduced. Financial outlooks have been tempered by the virus crisis.
I thought that our International Mission Board was looking at a record Lottie Moon offering prior to the crisis. Surely, a significant reduction is in store now. IMB receives just under 60% of it’s annual budget in Lottie Moon offering receipts. A five or ten percent reduction in this would be $7 million to $15 million. Significant sums.
The IMB receives about 37% of it’s operating revenue from the Cooperative Program. This will be down. CP receipts by the Executive Committee were down 8% in April as compared to April of 2019. An 8% reduction in CP revenues would cost IMB around $8 million.
When the crisis hit, it was a world-wide pandemic, pardon the redundancy. Our personnel all over the world were affected. The IMB made an emergency decision to allow all personnel who believed they needed to return to the states to do so. Travel expenses were paid. Most personnel remained in place but hundreds took the offer to return to the state for a period.
The Board provided supplies of gowns, gloves, masks, and disinfectant to personnel who remained who needed such things. Emergency relief supplies of food and food vouchers are being provided in many countries. The cost to the IMB for this was in the millions.
Thank God for an organization that maintains reserves and has contingency funds for unexpected events. They can handle these things without borrowing money.
To maintain reserves and provide uninterrupted ministry the IMB has asked for a mid-year gift. IMB president Paul Chitwood’s appeal letter is direct without being melodramatic. He acknowledges that many Southern Baptists are already dealing with hardships and might not be able to give. Sounds very pastoral in this, about what I would say: “If you can give, now’s a good time. We could use it. If you can’t, just pray for us and we will be praying for you.”
My wife and I plan to give.
Sometimes Southern Baptists surprise me and sometimes it is in a positive way. When the full story was told of how the IMB was unable to maintain the numbers of overseas personnel, giving shot up. It was, ironically, too late for those who chose to retire or resign but increased giving did give IMB a more solid foundation for the future. We are seeing the results of better fiscal management in how this crisis is being managed.
Incidentally, IMB is not one of our entities that sunk a small fortune in an expensive building only to find they don’t need it and it is a drag on ministry. The photo is of IMB headquarters in Richmond. It’s not one of Southern Baptists great edifices but then great edifices are for great egos, not necessarily for great ministry.