IMB Cuts More Jobs as Financial Struggles Continue

From this week’s Ministry Briefing, more financial struggles for the International Mission Board:

The cuts for the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board (IMB) continue to take effect as the IMB has closed a communications office in Virginia, eliminating 30 jobs and transferring 10 other positions. This is part of a move to get the financially troubled organization out of the red–a move that will eliminate between 600 and 800 positions.

Source: Christian Today

Why does this matter for church leaders?

This story really started in the fall when David Platt announced that the IMB is struggling to make ends meet financially. Most shocking in Platt’s initial announcement was that since 2010 the IMB had spent $210 million more than had been given to the organization. Shortfalls had been covered by selling property and through the use of reserves, but it seems that the IMB is now out of options and is beginning to restructure its staffing in order to create a more sustainable way forward. This story raises a few questions for me:

  • IMB missionaries are returning from the field en masse: Todd and I discussed this on Friday’s podcast. Through his work with ChurchJobs.TV, he is seeing a large number of recently returned missionaries looking for jobs in churches. I am interested in seeing what the long term effect of this return will be on American churches.
  • Is it time to rethink the traditional missions organization? I wonder how the IMB’s financial struggles will affect the work of missions organizations in the future. I know of groups in the Southern Baptist Convention that are working on alternative missions funding efforts, many of which reflect the traditional bi-vocational model that we see in smaller churches… is this where the IMB is headed?
  • How big of a factor was the Great Commission Resurgence or the economy in these struggles? I don’t have an answer for this, but this is the first thing that came to mind when I originally heard about IMB’s financial struggles. The Great Commission Resurgence was voted on in 2010, with many suggesting that the GCR would do significant damage to the SBC’s Cooperative Program. A significant portion of IMB’s funding comes through CP giving (31%, they receive a little more than half of all CP giving), though the lion share comes through the Lottie Moon Offering (58%). Are the struggles the result of SBC restructuring, a poor economy, both, or something else?

What should churches be learning from the IMB’s struggles?

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About the Author: Matt Steen

I love Jesus, Theresa (my wife), the Redskins & Capitals, and am currently living in Waco, Texas where I am studying the finer points of BBQ (while working on my MDiv and MBA at Baylor University). When not studying, I serve church leaders through MinistryBriefing.com and am the Director of Connections for Harris Creek Baptist Church's Downtown Campus.