Friday, August 28, 2015

Southern Baptist Convention To Cut Hundreds Of Missionaries

Christianity Today reports that the International Mission Board, the foreign mission arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, is cutting hundreds of staff including missionaries: Southern Baptists Will Cut 600 to 800 Missionaries and Staff. David Platt, president of the IMB, announced that the IMB has overspent by almost a quarter billion dollars and it sounds like the prior leadership was not exactly fiscally responsible. Is this a sign of things to come? It sounds like it could be...
Scott Moreau, editor of Evangelical Missions Quarterly, said the IMB staff cuts could be a sign of things to come. Since the 1700s, he said, evangelicals have used the “William Carey” model of missions funding.
In that model, churches and individual Christians donate to a mission society, which then sends out missionaries.
It’s a model that could falter in the future, Moreau said. “This might be a step toward the demise of the centrally funded mission agency.”
To me it is inconceivable that the current model of missions will survive the near future. We should be thinking very seriously about how to fund mission work and we should have started to do so a long time ago. Being a missionary supported by the IMB must be nicer than having a dozen local churches you have to ask for money from but I think both of those models are in trouble, We should have been moving to a model of using mission funds to equip local Christians in foreign mission fields. rather than parachuting white American missionaries into foreign countries to save the heathen. We have plenty of white heathens right here in America and you can find a bunch of them pretty easily because they are in a pew on Sunday mornings. By equipping and even supporting for a time Christians in their own native lands we change the 'Murica To The Rescue! paradigm and hopefully have a more genuine and less threatening Gospel witness. Plus I think it would be far more cost-effective. For a fraction of the cost of supporting U.S. missionaries in the lifestyle they are accustomed to, we can send equippers to help Christians already on the ground obtain the tools they need to be witnesses, which is far more Biblical anyway (see Ephesians 4:11-16).

Of course it wouldn't be like me to not point out the institutional elephant in the room. The SBC's IMB has been selling off mission property and not replacing retiring missionaries because they lack the funds to stay within budget. That means people in foreign lands are not hearing the Gospel and are dying condemned in their sins. Meanwhile as I have posted previously, the Southern Baptist Convention, as the largest Christian denomination in America, has tens of billions in real estate that sits mostly empty most of the week (see my post, Speaking of haranguing the institutional church  to see where I come up with that claim.). How can we sleep at night as the church knowing that our priorities are that screwed up? Let me say that again: people are dying and going to hell without Jesus and the richest and most powerful Christians in the world can't be bothered to spend less on ourselves so we can send the Gospel to them. You can bet we have the money to support sending Marines and drone strikes to those countries but not Bibles and missionaries. If God were not infinitely patient and sovereign  I fear that every lot in America containing a "church" building would be a smoldering ruin. I am not at all joking about that.

We are at the point where we have to decide which is more important for us, having a cozy and convenient place to get our religion on or taking the Gospel to every corner of the earth. We don't have enough money to do both now and that is only going to get worse in the future. I am quite confident that the Bible already answers that question for us in favor of the latter. The only remaining question is whether the church of Jesus Christ will be a faith Bride and carry out the Great Commission He entrusted to us.


Neil Braithwaite said...

Corporate church is to the gospel what the Fed Govt is to freedom.

Guess how much of what my family gives goes to its intended party after I cut out the "middle-man" church?


This model worked well before man set up his corporate church. It still does when practiced today.

How much of the money given in Acts was used to buy real estate, build a building and pay hirelings to watch over the Ekklesia?


"44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need."

Wow - turns out that God knows best - what a concept!

Marshall said...

Can we regard the "gospel" currently SBC-sourced as intact? ...complete?

Arthur Sido said...

Marshall, the SBC is a big entity but based on the SBC leaders I know of I would say yes even as I would say that their practice of ecclesiology is not.