170 Years Later...
OK, I've heard of David Platt, but what is this "IMB" thing?
Well, let’s start with a bit of history: In 1845 the International Mission Board (or IMB) was founded at the first Southern Baptist Convention as part of “one sacred effort, for the propagation of the Gospel.” Southern Baptist churches believed that by working cooperatively, they could accomplish more for God’s kingdom. That belief still stands strong today. Fruit can be hard to quantify, and numbers can be tricky, but we know that in just one year’s time, IMB field personnel (there are 4,000 or so of them currently serving long-term) shared the message of Jesus with 1.7 million people and started 6,200 churches.
Of course, if you grew up Southern Baptist, the IMB is a household name - they define “missions” for us, and unfortunately, we have sometimes assumed that their job is to DO “missions” for us as well. That misunderstanding, along with many other things, is being flipped on its head by our new IMB president, David Platt. As he says so often, ‘The Great Commission was given to the local church,’ and he is pleading with us to recognize our role and join with the IMB in this great work. Our job is not simply to give them our people - our job is to send our people in partnership.
So, moving forward, the IMB will focus on serving and mobilizing local churches and training and equipping Christians and church leaders, pastors and missionaries to make disciples and multiply churches across cultures. They hope this will enable limitless men and women to participate in global mission through a multiplicity of pathways and opportunities — surrounding their full-time, fully supported personnel with self-supported students, professionals and retirees who are leveraging their studies, vocations and relocations for the spread of the gospel, from the most populated cities to the most extreme places in the world.
Do you see the vision? Limitless missionary teams. Endless possibilities. But for any of this to happen, we (the local church) must be willing to sacrifice.
Are we willing to give generously to the mission? Are we willing to send our BEST people to the nations? Are we willing to let our sons and daughters go to the hard places?
Are YOU willing to go? Have you asked God the question? Are you living with open hands, letting Him decide where you live out your days? Could you relocate your practice, or get reassigned with work? Could you finish your degree at an international university? Could you give 2+ years to work alongside a long-term missionary? Have you considered retiring abroad?
If we aren’t willing to ask these questions, and make these sacrifices, it doesn't matter what the IMB does - the mission was given to us, the local church, and the IMB exists moving forward to equip and mobilize us to see all peoples reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Are you in?