David Platt had a live stream question and answer session earlier this week. Here are some subjects covered. I appreciate his efforts to be available and to communicate with Southern Baptists. The link is to the Baptist Press article reporting on it.
— “Has any thought been given to changing the funding model of IMB missionaries?”
Platt said he hopes some IMB missionaries will be “totally self-funded,” travelling overseas as students in international universities, business professionals employed by corporations and retirees funded by their own savings and U.S. government programs. He also raised the possibility of fully-funded IMB church planters expanding to a mobilization model where business professionals on their church planting teams “begin to pull together” and “actually begin to support the fulltime church planter much like we support a pastor here.”
Another possibility is for churches to utilize the IMB’s existing GC2 (Great Commission Global Connect) and SBC Direct programs to fund specific missionaries outside traditional cooperative funding channels.
“I know as soon as I mention that,” Platt said, “there are a lot of questions that come up just along the lines of: What does that do when it comes to Cooperative Program or Lottie Moon or your giving? We have closely monitored that. The churches that are sending people through those pathways have actually increased their giving to the Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon as they’ve sent more missionaries.
The GC2 program has been around for a few years. What was said at its beginning was:
Through GC2, IMB will partner with a Southern Baptist church that is focused on engaging a people group or population segment in an indigenous church planting strategy, and as a part of that strategy sends and supports missionaries from its own fellowship for two to three years.
IMB will walk alongside the church, providing field strategy development, personnel selection criteria and process, training, administrative support, and supervision of the church-sent missionary as a part of an IMB-directed team.
SBC Direct is not something easily assessed. I hear the terms often but can’t find online explanations. Maybe I’m just inept and some savvy individual can bail me out on this.
The reason that this is an interesting and relevant subject is that if we are resetting IMB operations and approaches and are utilizing more non-traditional funding mechanisms, the question is raised about how this impacts the two giant funding engines for our international mission work – the Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon. If churches can take their own mission money and arrange with IMB to fund specific missions and personnel, will the churches shift their CP and LM gifts to do so?
Not a lot is said about this but Platt is keenly attuned to the issue. For now he says that the money flows are “closely monitored” and that LM and CP have increased in churches involved in those programs.
I’d like to see figures on it.
Interesting days ahead. I appreciate Platt’s attempts to stay connected with the hoi polloi.