RICHMOND, Va. (BP) — Restoring the International Mission Board (IMB) to full financial health will be a long process that requires patience among Southern Baptists and the cooperation of local churches through a variety of avenues, IMB President David Platt said Oct. 27 during a live stream Q-and-A session.
Addressing a live audience that tuned in using more than 1,500 separate electronic devices, Platt reiterated IMB’s need to reduce by 600–800 its total number of field personnel and staff in light of spending $210 million more than Southern Baptists have given since 2010. Reserve funds and proceeds from property sales made up the difference, he said, and no debt was incurred.
Despite the sobering financial report, Platt said the future of Southern Baptist missions is not “a dismal picture.”
“I want to reframe” negative prognostications “based on reality,” Platt said. “When I think about [the] SBC, I don’t think decline. Yes, we’ve got challenges in the culture we’re in and when it comes to reaching people in the culture and seeing them baptized. … At the same time, know this: the global witness that God is providing the nations through the SBC right now is nothing short of awesome.”
He expressed appreciation that “churches’ giving to the IMB through [the] Lottie Moon [Christmas Offering for International Missions] and [the] Cooperative Program actually increased over the last couple of years.” Platt’s goal, he said, “is in no way to shame the churches and say, ‘If you just gave more, we wouldn’t have to do this.'”
Questions that Platt answered during the live stream include “How would you advise our church to consider its mission budget allocation in light of the IMB needs,” “How do we balance our giving” and “Has any thought been given to changing the funding model of IMB missionaries.”