Most headlines about IMB news emphasize the communications staff reductions announced yesterday but The Christian Index’s Joe Westbury has a good article that notes what is probably the most salient news from Richmond:
No further International Mission Board missionaries will be required to leave the field as the agency enters its second and final chapter of getting the agency back on financial track.
That is the news from the 170-year-old missions agency the day after it eliminated 30 Communications positions and announced to staff it was shuttering their department on April 29.
Today’s development gives breathing room to personnel around the world who were awaiting news of whether their positions would also be eliminated.
There is a pretty good summary of the entire downsizing business at our flagship SBC entity in the article. A few noteworthy points:
- The voluntary retirement incentives offered last year were accepted by sufficient numbers to put the IMB in a position of not having to make additional mandatory missionary reductions in order to be at a sustainable number of personnel. That’s good news.
- IMB made a practice of keeping the high Lottie Moon goal ($175 million each year beginning in 2009) and budgeting and spending the money even though LM receipts never got to within $20 million of the goal. I wrote four years ago that “a goal becomes meaningless when it is unattainable.” I never realized that IMB was spending to the goal all these years; hence, the $210 million deficit. That’s all water under the bridge but the Index article mentioned it.
- IMB is reducing the LM goal to $155 million for 2016 which means, I presume, that they are budgeting that amount and spending it rather than $175 million. Good move.
- The current round of possible reductions is the so-named “Hand Raising Opportunity.” It will include some incentives but not as many or as much as the VRIs of last fall.
- IMB had 450 stateside support personnel. This is an enormous number but I don’t know if it is about ‘industry standard’ for mission sending agencies or not. Manifestly, that number will be reduced considerably.
- Painful though they may be, the reductions are essential to the continuance of IMB’s mission. From my informed but not fully educated position in the SBC hinterlands, we must get to the number of overseas personnel we can safely, adequately, and responsibly support.
- Opinions abound, we are Southern Baptists after all, but I trust that we have the administrative team that can get this right.
My church was surprised by the amount of the Lottie Moon offering. Pleasantly surprised.
[Dave Miller could do a much better job of this…but he’s away.]