IMB trustees approve pilot to aid churches in sending missionaries
Dec 2, 2011
Southern Baptist TEXAN

“We’re going to watch it like a hawk for two years and listen to our affinity group and strategy leaders who ultimately have the last word on it,” Elliff said, in closing. “We’ll discover what it does to our involvement in CP and Lottie Moon from these churches.”

IMB trustee David Uth, newly re-elected president of the Florida Baptist State Convention and the pastor of First Baptist Church in Orlando reacted to the news about the GC2 pilot program with enthusiasm.

“I am elated that it passed,” Uth told Florida Baptist Witness. “I was praying that it would because I believe that it will position us to aggressively go after the unengaged and unreached people groups. It will give more opportunities to churches all across the nation to the call of God to reach the nations.”

In Richmond, the board also heard a report that nearly 1.5 million people were presented with an opportunity to respond to Christ in 2010. Of that number, more than 442,000 became new believers, and over 333,000 new believers were baptized. Missionaries and local believers also started more than 28,800 new churches.

Scott Holste, IMB’s associate vice president of global strategy, said God used IMB engagement to accomplish some significant firsts, including newly engaging more than 200 people groups with the Gospel, 90 of which are unreached (less than 2 percent evangelical Christian). Missionaries also reported the first believer among 26 people groups, the first baptism among 32 people groups and the first church among 13 people groups.

In other business, trustees approved IMB’s 2012 budget of $324.3 million, $175 million of which is expected to come through this year’s Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. Charles Fowler, finance committee chairman and senior pastor of Germantown Baptist Church in Germantown, Tenn., said the 2012 budget was the “most difficult to balance of any in recent years.” 

“Our staff has worked splendidly to bring us to a place where we can enjoy a balanced budget,” Fowler said. “Though we wish the resources were more, we are so grateful for the resources that God does provide to IMB through our Southern Baptist family.”

Elliff was inaugurated the first evening of the meeting during a special service at Richmond’s Grove Avenue Baptist Church Nov. 14. The 77 newly appointed missionaries were present to hear their new leader describe his vision for the International Mission Board.

After the Nov. 15 plenary session, Elliff reiterated his excitement over the potential that Global Connect 2 could provide for more long-term missionaries. “The greatest feeder for Southern Baptist IMB personnel is having some kind of missionary experience on the field,” he said. “If you look at these people we just appointed, many of them were Journeyman, ISC, Masters or Hands On.” In 2009, budget cuts forced IMB to begin sending significantly fewer two and three-year missionaries, but Elliff feels GC2 will help fill that gap and rejuvenate the feeder stream.

“We’re anticipating many of these people who go out in this short-term endeavor through these local churches will come back and say, ‘You know something? We want to be missionaries. We want to go back through the IMB and be fully supported Southern Baptist Convention missionaries.’ So we’re looking for a whole lot of influx there.”

Norm Miller is director of communications for Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, Ga., and provided this report on behalf of the TEXAN.


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