IMB talking points from recent board meeting

Editor’s Note: The International Mission Board provided this summary to trustees following their Feb. 24 meeting. For reporting on the reduction in the IMB mission force click here


February 24, 2016

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20

â—_x008f_ IMB is committed to partnering with churches to empower limitless missionary teams who are making disciples and multiplying churches among unreached peoples and places for the glory of God.

  • We are committed to biblically faithful, theologically responsible, and missiologically urgent work around the world.
  • We are deeply grateful for the ways that Southern Baptist churches give generously to IMB through the Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, and we are committed to wise stewardship of all the resources Southern Baptists entrust to us in the days ahead.


â—_x008f_ Over recent years, IMB has consistently spent more money than we have received (a combined $210 million more since 2010). Though we have covered our shortfalls through reserves and global property sales, we have faced a critical need to balance our budget.

â—_x008f_ Because 80% of IMB’s budget is devoted to personnel salary, benefits, and support expenses, IMB concluded that we needed to reduce the total number of our personnel by approximately 600-800 people in order to get to a healthy financial place in the present for sustained growth and engagement in the future.

â—_x008f_ In August 2015, IMB announced a two-phase process for reducing the number of personnel:

  • Phase One involved a Voluntary Retirement Incentive available to eligible retirement-age personnel, which officially came to a close December 11, 2015.
  • Phase Two included a Hand Raising Opportunity available to everyone in the IMB, which came to completion February 22, 2016.


â—_x008f_ Even though a more involuntary process would yield more precise and predictable results, IMB chose a voluntary process that would leave as much decision-making as possible in the hands of IMB personnel. Knowing that such a voluntary process would yield more imprecise and unpredictable results, we believed that we should trust God with this process and every individual within the IMB.

â—_x008f_ In order to start this process, then, IMB called all 5,250 personnel (including all missionaries and stateside staff) to seek the Lord and to ask Him if He is leading them to make a transition during this time.

  • This process remained entirely voluntary for all IMB missionaries. No IMB missionary was required to leave the field during this time. IMB missionaries were encouraged to make a transition off of the field only if they sensed the Lord leading them to do so.
  • The same voluntary nature of this process applied to stateside staff with the exception of 30 personnel in our Richmond communications office, whose positions were eliminated in IMB’s new mobilization structure.


â—_x008f_ The final number of personnel who have transitioned outside of the IMB over the past six months is 983 missionaries and 149 stateside staff.

  • 702 missionaries and 109 stateside staff took the Voluntary Retirement Incentive.
  • 281 missionaries and 40 stateside staff took the Hand Raising Opportunity.  NOTE: It is possible that the number of missionaries who took the Hand Raising Opportunity may decrease, for they can rescind their decisions through April 2016.


â—_x008f_ Because of this process and the generosity of Southern Baptists who have given sacrificially during these days, IMB is now in a much healthier financial position.

  • IMB is confident that for the year 2017, we will operate with a balanced budget. Due to increased giving from Southern Baptist churches, Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering giving are both trending upward.


â—_x008f_ In addition to reducing the total number of personnel over the last six months, IMB has made significant changes to our infrastructures and systems in order to work with greater excellence, effectiveness, and efficiency, all with prayerful dependency upon the Holy Spirit.

â—_x008f_ The organizational reset begun in August 2015 has now come to completion in February 2016, and IMB is positioned to move into a future marked by faithful stewardship, operational excellence, wise evaluation, ongoing innovation, and joyful devotion to making disciples and multiplying churches among the nations.

â—_x008f_ The future strategy of the IMB revolves around:

  • Enabling limitless men and women to participate in global mission through a multiplicity of pathways and opportunities.


â—_x008f_ Continuing to support full-time, fully-supported personnel around the world as the essential, critical core of our missionary force.

â—_x008f_ Surrounding these personnel with students, professionals, and retirees who are leveraging their studies, vocations, and retirements for the spread of the gospel.

  • Serving and mobilizing local churches as the primary agent God has promised to bless for the spread of the gospel in the world.
  • Training and equipping Christians and church leaders, pastors and missionaries to make disciples and multiply churches across cultures.


â—_x008f_ Engaging and reaching unreached peoples and places through missionary teams who are maximizing opportunities for evangelism, discipleship, church formation, and leadership training from the most populated cities to the most extreme places in the world.

â—_x008f_ Supporting and strengthening an ever-multiplying mission force through practical services that include everything from logistical help to health care to tax assistance.

â—_x008f_ IMB remains the largest mission-sending organization of its kind in the world, providing support for thousands of missionaries around the world with thousands of years of collective experience.

â—_x008f_ IMB is committed to working with churches and entities across the Southern Baptist Convention to unite churches and their members like never before in their praying, giving, going, and sending for the spread of the gospel to people who still haven’t heard it.

â—_x008f_ On Thursday, March 3, at 11 a.m. EST, IMB will host a livestream focused on “The Future of the IMB.” IMB President David Platt will cast vision for the future and respond to questions or comments which people submit live via Twitter. For more information, go to

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