Having read what’s available on this and some of the discussion here are some things to ponder:
To me, the IMB has been more open in laying out the facts and figures on this than they have in the past, perhaps because of the severity of the crisis I’d speculate. There are almost 100 trustees who will make the broad policy decisions and the way forward has a number of permutations and uncertainties. Are we to sit back and wait for some consensus or majority decisions before having all the facts and options available? I recognize the trustee role but it is not written that they must huddle in a room behind locked doors and hash this out until the vast number of stakeholders, SBC churches and members, see white smoke from the chimney and rejoice that a decision has been made and we will be soon be told what it is.
Best I can see, as of today there is no paradigm shift. It is business as usual, just leaner and more affordable.
The real estate sales intrigue me, partly because some SBC entities have had huge windfalls recently – namely, Golden Gate seminary and the Georgia Baptist Convention (indirectly though an earlier sale of the Georgia Baptist Hospital). In these cases the money was a boon and allowed the entities to make a change otherwise likely not possible (GGBTS) and a reset that cleared burdensome debt (GBC). The IMB just paid bills with the real estate sales and the money is gone. A cursory examination of financial reports of the IMB gave me a figure of over $161 million for the past four years.
Those who decry the paltry per capita giving to Lottie Moon and declare that we can do vastly better might consider reality. It is not a viable financial plan to presume on an annual increase of $10, $20, or $50 million more from Lottie Moon. The LM offering for 2003 was $21 million greater than the previous year and $3 million over an aggressive goal. That was then. We haven’t met a LM goal since 2006 and haven’t been within $20 million of the goal since 2007. The LMCO is the most successful and easily the largest offering the SBC has but one might speculate that the attitudes have shifted in the past 10-20 years. One thing for certain: IMB leadership is not willing to plan for the future with the presumption of greatly increased LM revenues, a wise decision. We could surprise them, though. Something I’d love to see.
Talk of any significant impact, either positive or negative, as a result of the Great Commission Resurgence and actions since is unfounded. You could crunch the numbers on how much additional revenue IMB receives through the Cooperative Program as a result of state conventions decreasing their “keep” of the CP dollar, not that this wasn’t a positive change in the CP. I just don’t see the bottom line being anything other than a marginal improvement for IMB.
Back to the real estate sales (and mostly unrelated to the current crisis), some of our missionaries were made wealthy in 19th Century China because real estate they personally bought skyrocketed in value. They cashed in. One of our missionaries, a co-worker of Lottie Moon, no longer needed FMB funding and eventually caused great problems. The financial independence might be seen to have contributed to the negative impact on the mission. If IMB is going to put great numbers of financially independent people on the fields one might wonder if the work will be balkanized and less unified that at present. Present IMB personnel are prohibited from earning money overseas. Proposals have been made to plug those who have overseas jobs into the equation. Just asking questions (and there are questions to be asked here). I don’t know the answers.
Clearly, some long-serving IMB personnel have concerns about the retirement incentive business. If voluntary retirements don’t yield the numbers required what will be next? Good question. I’m sure leadership has looked at the end game on this. Expenses must be reduced.
How magic is the 300 additional personnel IMB has committed to sending each year going forward? Will the preferred route to a balanced budget be to reduce the 300 rather than force personnel into retirement? It would seem that the former would be the better route, but let’s be optimistic that neither will be demanded. We will know by the end of the year, I suppose.
IMB has about one administrative employee per ten field missionaries. Some administrative staff, most stateside I presume, are compensated at a higher level than field personnel. I have no idea if the ratio of 1:10 is reasonable or excessive or if the ratio of field expenses to stateside expenses is normal or excessive.
No question about it. Any proposal to cut 1 of every 6 missionaries in order to balance the budget is severe.
There are thoughts on this that I haven’t had and salient points on it that I have undoubtedly missed. Perhaps the wisdom of the group will yield things that I and others need to know.