This past week, the IMB trustees adopted revised policies for personnel and shared their intent to empower “limitless teams of missionaries to make disciples and multiply churches among unreached people.” Part of the impact of the move was that it reversed previous policies including those enacted a decade ago that controversially narrowed the doctrinal parameters of those who could serve with the IMB. But the IMB’s president has hinted that these personnel policies have much more in mind than reversing controversial policies. Platt and our trustees are aiming at a bigger goal — increasing the number of missionaries on the field and the ways in which we send them. Just what that will look like remains to be seen and we will have to wait and see the particulars of this promised new vision and strategy from the IMB.
The Baptist blogosphere, which came to life the last time the BoT changed personnel policies, has rekindled discussion of their opinions on these matters and are asking questions about what this will mean for the future of SBC missions. My assumption is that these discussions will die down quickly and that, by and large, Southern Baptists will embrace the vision set forth by Platt and the IMB. We are a missions people.
I submit the real question concerning the future of SBC missions is not what changes are being made at the IMB, but what changes will we make as individuals and churches? If Southern Baptist are to be a part of finishing the task of missions and take the gospel to every people, tribe, tongue and nation, we will need more than policy changes and strategies that “provide multiple pathways” to serve. No, the real question is what steps will you take to increase your participation in world evangelization?
Whatever plan the IMB presents to its constituent churches, that plan can only come to fruition if we increase our level of praying, giving and going from where it is right now. We need churches and individuals who will give sacrificially to missions. We need churches that will increase their giving to CP, increase their contributions to Lottie Moon, and sacrificially give beyond their current level of giving. We need churches that will take prayer seriously and begin to consistently and strategically pray for missionaries, unreached peoples, and the lost people around them. We need churches that will seek increased ways to partner in sending both short term and career missionaries. We need churches that will identify and embrace the immigrant peoples around them and take on the responsibility of spreading the gospel to the world at their door. We need pastors and churches who will not be satisfied with their current level of evangelistic engagement and will call their people to be obedient to the Great Commission. We need churches that believe they are not too small to be engaged nor too big to work together. We need churches that will stop apologizing for what they can’t do and prayerfully seek out and commit to doing what they can. The path to increased support and engagement in world missions may look different for every church, but there MUST be an increase!
I believe that Southern Baptists, by and large, are ready to put our differences on minor doctrines aside and get to working together to complete the global missions task. The real question before us is will we answer the call and do more, no, do our utmost to see the gospel proclaimed among the peoples?!? Will we devote ourselves fully and sacrificially to His work?