Fifteen months ago the IMB was sailing through an ocean a red ink, their spending exceeding revenues by tens of millions of dollars. It seems like along time ago that the Board and all concerned Southern Baptists endured the painful series of voluntary personnel reduction measures that saw 800 IMB workers leave the company. The ocean now is black ink with a projection of a balanced budget for 2017. Thank God for that.
Missionary appointments are up,
IMB projects appointing 451 new personnel in 2017, which represents a 3 percent net increase in total field personnel (100 additional field personnel). Of those newly appointed, 351 will replace personnel who retire, complete a mid-term assignment or transition through resignations or other departures. In 2016, 310 missionaries were appointed, bringing IMB field personnel to 3,651.
The improved financial picture is a result mostly of the mammoth Lottie Moon Christmas Offering of this past year. It was Lottie’s biggest year by far, $165.8 million. The IMB now projects the 2016 calendar year offering to be 10% above the 2015 calendar year offering (which is somewhat confusing, given that the offering generally isn’t totalled by calendar year; perhaps they will clarify).
With a 2017 budget of $270 million and a Lottie Moon Offering in the neighborhood of the $165 million from this past year, the IMB is more dependent on the seasonal offering than ever before, around 60% of the total budget comes from the LMCO. This makes it all the more critical for individuals and churches to continue healthy and sacrificial giving to the offering. The Cooperative Program is stable, slightly increasing but will contribute a much lesser amount, under $100 million, to IMB budget.
This time last year the Board was in the middle of voluntary personnel reductions. IMB’s financial woes were on the minds of concerned Southern Baptists and people responded generously with what ended up being a record offering to LMCO. It is unclear if we may expect the same this year but, as most of us have said repeatedly concerning our own church giving: if we can have a big offering once, we can do it again. Give.