By Julie McGowan
International Mission Board trustees celebrated a balanced budget, unanimously approving the 2017 budget during their Nov. 10-11 meeting near Richmond, Virginia. Trustees also appointed 50 new missionaries during a Sending Celebration. Scott Harris, missions minister at Brentwood (Tennessee) Baptist Church, presided over the meeting.
“I am pleased to share with you that because of generous giving from Southern Baptist churches to the IMB, disciples have been made and churches have been multiplied over the last year among the nations in truly breathtaking ways,” IMB President David Platt told trustees.
“Furthermore, we are pleased to be able to present to you a balanced budget request for 2017 that projects growth in both fully supported missionary appointments as well as new pathways designed to see multitudes more men and women taking the gospel to people who have never heard it.”
“We have a sense of glad celebration with responsible projections,” Platt said. “As we are communicating to churches, we want to say two resounding words: Thank you.” (WATCH: Thanks to Lottie, lives are being changed from Africa to London to Central Asia!)
The budget presented to trustees represents a reversal in a trend of recent years that has seen a decline of missionaries on the field. The budget proposes an increase in full-time, fully funded missionary appointments for 2017, Platt said, while also opening the door for missionaries to go through other pathways.
Rodney Freeman, vice president of support services and IMB treasurer, led trustees through an exhaustive review of the 2017 Fiscal Resources Strategy Plan during their sessions and in the Support Services committee meeting, and he recapped the budget proposal during the Nov. 11 plenary session. The 2017 budget request is balanced with receipts and expenses both projected at $270,000,000. Freeman noted the budget proposal reflects short-term financial responsibility and long-term organizational stability.
Key factors presented with the budget include:
— The budget relies on the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering®.
— LMCO giving projections for the 2016 calendar year are on pace to be the largest offering in IMB history, with projections the offering could exceed the 2015 record giving by 10 percent.
— The 2017 budget proposal projects growth in fully funded missionaries plus new pathways that take the gospel to all peoples.
IMB projects appointing 451 new personnel in 2017, which represents a 3 percent net increase in total field personnel (100 additional field personnel). Of those newly appointed, 351 will replace personnel who retire, complete a mid-term assignment or transition through resignations or other departures. In 2016, 310 missionaries were appointed, bringing IMB field personnel to 3,651.
“We are very excited to have these funds in the budget to send additional personnel, and these funds will only be used to send additional personnel,” Freeman told trustees.
Freeman also reported that IMB contingency reserves are projected to be at 5.5 months of operational expenses in 2017. The figure falls within SBC Executive Committee guidelines, which allows for a maximum of six months of operational expenses in contingency reserves.
Platt reminded trustees what the budget numbers represent: the 40,000 Southern Baptist churches partnering together through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering to send and support missionaries around the world.
Platt shared a video of the Cregg Family taking the gospel to the people of South Asia looking for hope and light. The video represents the upcoming Dec. 4-11 Week of Prayer for International Missions, which launches the 2016 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering emphasis. [Find resources here to promote the offering in your church.]
Trustees also voted to affirm a revised mission statement for the organization, which states: The International Mission Board partners with churches to empower limitless missionary teams who are evangelizing, discipling, planting and multiplying healthy churches, and training leaders among unreached peoples and places for the glory of God.
The appointment of 50 new missionaries highlighted the meeting during a special Sending Celebration broadcast to churches, families, and individuals via livestream. The service recognized both the new personnel and the churches sending them as Southern Baptist missionaries to take the gospel to the nations.
The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® is a registered trademark of Woman’s Missionary Union.
Julie McGowan is IMB public relations leader.