Posted by: cmgroupprojects | April 6, 2010

Group 5 Mission sending agency SBC – International Mission Board









The International Mission Board

The International Mission Board (IMB) is an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).  The Southern Baptist Convention consists of more than 40,000 churches.  The IMB’s mission is to fulfill the Great Commission, to spread the Gospel to all people groups throughout the world.

In 1845, Southern Baptist Churches joined together to form the SBC.  The main purpose of this was to establish two mission organizations, the Foreign Mission Board, now called the International Mission Board, and the Domestic Mission Board, now known as the Home Mission Board.  In 1846, the Foreign Mission Board held its first commissioning service in Richmond, Virginia, appointing Samuel C. Clopton to China. They incorporated in 1901.   Over 20,000 foreign missionaries have since been commissioned and appointed through this board.

The purpose of the IMB is to recruit, select, appoint, train, and support God-called, qualified career missionaries.  The goal is that they will win the lost to Christ and start churches.

For the next 75 years progress was slow.  After the turn of the century Southern Baptists seemed to have a greater world view understanding and became more determined to properly fund and expand their overseas missionary efforts.  In 1925 the Cooperative Program was established for the sole purpose of funding the Foreign Mission Board.  By 1955 there were 1000 foreign missionaries in the field around the world being supported by the Cooperative Program through the Foreign Mission board.  By 1980, there were more than 3,000 in 94 different countries. Today there are over 5,500 missionaries in the field and over 34,000 volunteer that serve over 1,200 people groups, in 153 different countries.

The IMB also has a section devoted to Health Care ministries and Human Needs ministries. This includes providing food, shelter, clothing, medicine and any basic human needs around the world.  Baptists respond around the world when disasters strike whether it is a Tsunami or an earthquake.  While meeting basic human needs they also have a strategy for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.  They also have a section devoted to Christian Leadership development and one to Media Ministries.

The IMB has developed programs where people can participate in International Missions that last from four months to twenty-four months.  The mission is always the same, to carry the good news of Jesus Christ to a lost world.

Another task of the IMB is to provide materials to the local churches to mobilize prayer support, as well as provide training materials for every age group in the church from preschoolers to senior adults.

In 1997, the Southern Baptist Convention voted to change the name from the Foreign Mission Board, to the IMB.   The IMB sums up their mission statement as follows: IMB’s mission is to make disciples of all peoples in fulfillment of the Great Commission.  Their mission statement is straight-forward and simple, yet they are making great strides in the fulfillment of their mission statement. Almost 5,000 people groups – 1.6 billion people – still live with little or no access to the Gospel.

The IMB understands the need to bring the gospel to those who have no access to it.  In fact, their vision states: Our vision is a multitude from every language, people, tribe and nation knowing and worshipping our Lord Jesus Christ.  In order to achieve their mission and vision, the IMB has seven core values they put into practice. 1. We commit to obedience to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and to God’s inerrant Word.  2. We believe Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for salvation and all people without personal faith in Him are lost and will spend eternity in hell.  3. We seek to provide all people an opportunity to hear, understand and respond to the gospel in their own cultural context.  4. We evangelize through proclamation, discipling, equipping and ministry that result in indigenous reproducing Baptist churches. 5. We serve churches to facilitate their involvement in the Great Commission and the sending of missionaries to bring all peoples to faith in Jesus Christ.  6. We partner with Baptists and other Christians around the world in accordance with IMB guidelines.  7. We understand and fulfill God’s mission through God’s Word, prayer and the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

The IMB has a massive training center that enables them to live out their mission and vision for global mission efforts.  The Baker James Cauthen and Eloise Glass Cauthen International Learning Center lies near Richmond, Va., on 238 acres of beautiful pastureland alongside a 15-acre lake. Since the center opened in 1984, more than 10,700 new IMB missionaries have been trained there. The center – which includes a school for missionary children – also offers training for missionaries throughout their careers and for returning short-term workers. The center is named for the late Baker James and Eloise Glass Cauthen, who served as missionaries in China. Baker James also was the board’s executive director from 1954-1979. Harwood and Louise Cochrane donated the land and funds for some of the buildings, Cecil and Deen Day of the Day Foundation helped launch the ILC program and countless others have helped sustain the center by volunteering and faithfully giving through the Cooperative Program.

The facility includes 44 major buildings that house 12 classrooms, three auditoriums, a gym and accommodations for approximately 600 people. To help build team relationships with other missionaries from the same region, the center now houses orientation participants by the region of the world where they will be serving, rather than by appointment classification.  Before departing for their assigned field, all missionaries spend five weeks at the center. Missionaries returning for stateside assignments also spend time there for debriefing.  All personnel go through orientation together, instead of in separate conferences for career, journeymen, Masters and International Service Corps.

Missionaries in orientation also take field trips to observe followers of other world religions in their places of worship. A parallel program helps the new missionaries’ children prepare for their own changeover to another culture. Personnel in orientation also spend time preparing for health issues they may face overseas, such as malaria, water purification and other illnesses. More than 6,000 immunizations — for everything from Japanese encephalitis to rabies — were given at MLC in 1999. A total of 1,318 missionaries, plus 391 children, prepared for overseas service at the center in 1999. With Southern Baptists coming forward for mission’s service in ever-larger numbers, the strain on the facility will only increase. Thus in 2000 to address that critical need, IMB trustees approved a $23 million construction project that added living quarters, expanded the dining facilities and built a larger children’s educational complex.

Our very own Kevin Gregory has visited the center.  He told our group the joys of his personal visit and how astonishing the center is.  Kevin told us that there is also significant security for the training of missionaries who are called to places around the world that are not safe.  Today, the center continues as a launch pad to the world.

The IMB currently has a total of 5,413 field personnel.  These personnel are serving all over the world in various capacities.  The IMB lists the total number of personnel broken down by continent as follows:  Africa and the Middle East – 811, Americas – 1,568, Asia and Oceania – 2,273, and Europe – 761.

The focus of mission work today has shifted more towards engaging people groups.  People groups do not always fit within a specific geographic boundary.  Because of this, field personnel often live in countries where they are not working.  Sometimes they may serve in more than one country.  Their assignments focus mainly on evangelism, church planting, church development, seminary teaching, and support services.  Each of these 5,413 field personnel serve under one of five titles:  Career Apprentice, Career, Journeymen, Master, or International Service Corps (ISC).

Prior to becoming a Career Missionary, one must first serve as an Apprentice.  The Apprentice serves a three-year term and then moves into a Career Missionary.  An Apprentice does not have to raise his or her own support.  They receive a salary that comes from gifts through the Southern Baptist Cooperative Program and through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.  Apprentices will receive a Personnel Consultant who will help them through the application process and through the job assignment.  The Personnel Consultant will advise the applicant on their education, experience, stewardship, nations, and their physical health.  Apprentices must be at least 21 years old and not older than 50 when they are appointed.  Families with teenagers are encouraged to not pursue appointment until those children are out of the home.  Apprentices must also be an active member of a Southern Baptist church and have been for at least three years.  Divorced persons are not hired as Apprentices or Career Missionaries.  Once an Apprentice has successfully served their three year term, they are then approved as Career Missionaries.  Career Missionaries are at the foundation of the IMB’s efforts.  They invest their lives into cross-cultural ministries.  Currently the IMB employs 999 Apprentices and 3,318 Career Missionaries.

The IMB also offers several other opportunities to serve overseas.  The first of these is the Journeyman program.  This program is for recent college graduates who are single or married with no children.  They must also be an active member of a Southern Baptist church for at least the past two years, be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States, be willing to commit to a two-year assignment, have good emotional, physical, and spiritual health, and most importantly a sense of God’s calling to this field.  The journeyman does not have to be fluent in the local language but it is expected that they will participate in some intense language study during the first few months.  Housing will also be provided and will normally be a house or an apartment.  In some instances a journeyman may have a room with a local family.  The salary is completely funded through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.  The salary includes a base amount plus a cost of living supplement.  Comprehensive medical insurance, along with life insurance, is included in the package.

The International Service Corps began in 1990 for singles, couples, or young families who were willing to accept a two to three year position serving overseas.  Divorced persons are able to apply for the ISC.  These applicants must be 21 years of age, have good emotional, physical, and spiritual health, be an active member of a Southern Baptist Church, and have education and/or experience to meet the job requirements, have a commitment to evangelism and a growing Christian faith.

The Masters program is very similar to the ISC but is designed for persons 50 years of age or more who have no dependent children, are able to commit to serving overseas for two to three years, and are able to raise a portion of their salary/living expenses.  They also must have good emotional, physical, and spiritual health, be an active member of a Southern Baptist church for the past two years, have a commitment to evangelism, and a growing faith.  Divorced persons are also serving in this capacity.

The IMB receives approximately 54% of its income from the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. 35% is received from the Southern Baptist Convention’s Cooperative Program.  The remaining 8% of the IMB’s income comes from field-generated funds, investment returns and endowments, and individual donations.

The largest portion of the IMB’s income is from The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering which is collected in churches during December. During the holiday season, churches usually set aside time to learn more about what our missionaries are experiencing and how the money is used to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is also a time for Baptist to be encouraged to pray more earnestly for missions.  Some churches simply take up special offerings each service, and some churches do extra things to raise money.  Some will hold an auction, some a yard sale, or bake sale, or craft sale. The point is the same, to raise awareness, prayer support and money for international missions.

The second largest portion of the IMB’s income is from the Southern Baptist Convention. Each participating church sends a certain percentage or designated amount of its budget that the church has agreed upon to their states Baptist Convention. The state convention keeps approximately two-thirds of those funds and the balance is sent to the Southern Baptist Executive Committee in Nashville. The Executive Committee distributes those funds to Southern Baptist agencies. The IMB currently receives half of the funds sent to the Executive Committee.

The remaining 8% comes from field-generated funds, investment returns and endowments, and individual donations.  71% of the total budget is spent on missionary support.  This includes salaries, housing, medical care and children’s education.  The average cost to support one missionary family per year is $43,000.

For 2009 the IMB trustees adopted a $319.8 million budget for 2009.  Less than 17% of this will be used stateside for administrative and promotional expenses.  The rest will be used to support the efforts of our international missionaries.

The chart below shows provides a general overview of the way the IMB operates financially.

The IMB and its relation to the local church is critical to its success in supporting missions overseas.  One of IMBs core values is: “We serve churches to facilitate their involvement in the Great Commission and the sending of missionaries to bring all peoples to faith in Jesus Christ.”  The local church is responsible for the IMBs very existence.  Without the local church supporting the Cooperative Program monetarily (through their giving to missions) through either the Lottie Moon Christmas offering and or other missions giving, the IMB would not be able to train and send missionaries across the world.

It is the local church’s missions giving coupled with several hundred other local churches missions giving across the country that make up the IMBs budget. The local church is also the entry point for potential missionaries to the IMB.  Individuals or families learn of missions and mission opportunities through the local church’s mission’s education programs, through mission’s conferences, visiting missionaries, or through other programs like Women’s Missionary Union (WMU), or Kids on Mission (KOM).  Once individuals within the local church feel called to the mission field, it is the local church that endorses them to the IMB as candidates for missionary service.  So, the IMB doesn’t only get money from the local church, it also receives its personnel resources (missionaries) from them as well.

The local church often takes on more active roles in support of its missionaries other than just sending money to the Cooperative Program.  Some churches often will send short term missions teams into the field of service with missionaries for specific mission projects or special needs. Others may get involved in projects that only require sending needed materials, supplies or equipment.  There are numerous ways that the local church can involve themselves in missions and often it does not require a significant amount of resources to get everyone from the youngest to the oldest involved in supporting missions work.

The IMB teams up with local churches as well to host missions conferences, stating in their conference advertisement that: “This conference will give participants an opportunity to learn about the priority needs of the affinity peoples groups around the world.  It will afford opportunities for participants to connect with those within the IMB organization responsible for connecting individuals, churches and other Great Commission partners to field personnel and national partners.  Since all areas of the world will be represented, it presents an opportunity for you, your church or Great Commission group to learn more about the people group(s) or regions of the world in which you have interest and connect with those who are able to assist you as you get involved in reaching the unreached of the world.”  It is through hosting these conferences that the local church can learn of ways that they can personally get involved in missions work.  Without the local church the IMB would fail to exist.

The IMB is tied in with agencies both within the Southern Baptist Convention, especially the North American Mission Board, and without, including other mission sending agencies around the world.  IMB cooperates on mission efforts in some areas and especially with unreached people groups.  This supports an IMB core value of: “We partner with Baptists and other Christians around the world in accordance with IMB guidelines.”   A recent quote from the IMBs website under news and information states: “Because IMB relationships with other Great Commission Christian groups are intentional, they have five different guidelines depending on the purpose of the partnership.”  These guidelines are reviewed annually by the IMB’s Board of Trustees in light of the organization’s mission and vision and are utilized to establish strategic partnerships to reach people with the Gospel message.

The most recent partnership activity examples include missions support work to disaster relief efforts in Haiti and Chili.  There have been several articles and pictures on the IMB website in regards to efforts in both countries to meet the needs of the people and to support mission efforts in both countries.

The publications of the IMB are many and varied, and include books, booklets, brochures, clothing, language materials, magazines, maps, newsletters, postcards, posters, calendars, training modules, and videos.  The list of  published periodicals includes: Commission (The IMBs primary quarterly publication), Commission Stories Tabloid, Kids On Mission Newsletter, Living Letters monthly flyer, and IMB Connecting, all of these tell the stories of the workings of the IMB and its missionaries around the world and are available in hard copy or electronically through the IMB website.

Several of the IMB’s mission information videos are web based and accessible by anyone on the web and include the following: Johnny Hunt’s Vision Tour, Keeping Lottie’s Legacy Alive (2:00), Who’s Missing? Whose Mission? Promo (:50), A Life of Significance (2:50), Sketches from the Edge: A Portrait of Partnership (2:10).

There are videos that you can share with your entire church about projects that the IMB is involved in around the world and many are also available via the website:  Who’s Missing? Whose Mission?, A challenge from Jerry Rankin, and Lead You to the Cross music video featuring No Other Name, are just a few examples. There are other mission story videos as well, describing individual missionaries and their ministry stories.  Examples of these include: Let God, Moses, The Pursuit of Happiness, and Stereotypes Unmasked. As well as missionary testimonials: Shari Lopez – Canary Islands, Spain (2:07), Derrick and Barbara Pennon – Christian workers (:52), Kay Frost – Tanzania (1:21), Randy Whittal – Argentina (2:34), and Ward and Marilyn Zercher – Christian workers (:38).
The IMB offers several missions resources for children and students as well, examples of these include: Lost (Kids On Mission Show) (13:17), Candra in Canary (3:53), Heart Art (3:14), Canary Islands Geographic Locator (:52), Beans on Toast (1:20), MK Shout-out (Robert Morris) (:55), Lottie Moon to Me (1:17), and the Kids On Mission Promo (1:59). For students they offer: Tell Me a Story (4:18), I Am Lottie Moon (2:22), Faith Versus Fahrenheit (3:45), Christmas in China (1:47), and Shout-out to Lottie Moon (2:43) all items are designed to tell the IMB story and to get children and students interested in missions.

The IMB has also published and or endorsed several books through their website.  A few of those books have been written or co-written by their recent past president Jerry Rankin (In the Secret Place, Spiritual Warfare: The Battle for God’s Glory, The Challenge to Great Commission Obedience, Empowering Kingdom Growth, Impact your World, The Journey, and Lives Given, Not Taken – Co-written by Erich Bridges). Many other books have been written by IMB missionaries telling their stories or by others describing missions and/or how to go on missions.  The IMB is intent on getting their story and the stories of its missionaries out to the public and especially the cooperating churches of the SBC.

The IMB also publishes much of its own missionary training material and an example of this is: ICEL Explore Pathways to Missions – A set of books on becoming a field missionary.  They also publish various maps, brochures, booklets, language tools, postcards, training modules, etc., developed as needed to meet the needs of churches, missionaries, and other organizations.  As you can see from the examples above getting the message out about missions is varied in format and material and of real importance to the IMB.

Interviews were conducted via email with three personnel from the IMB about their work and their responses are noted below. Chris Alley (identified below as CA) is a Mission Trip Organizer for TASK, the student missions sending agency that is a part of the IMB; Cindy Hawkins (identified below as CH) is a full-time Career Missionary who lives in Thessaloniki, Greece; and Kathy Emerson (identified below as KE) is one of the home office personnel, she works with the Digital Asset Management Team.

1. What attracted you to work for the IMB?

CA– I like working in the congregational area but wanted to do more with missions. The IMB offered me this marvelous opportunity to work in my church but also have the opportunity to work with hundreds of teens to impact our world. Plus, the IMB is a great organization that has a large support base.

CH– As a southern Baptist, this was really my only thought. I grew up in a southern Baptist church and became very active in the life of the church and WMU. I felt God’s call early in life and knew that this organization which I knew so much about would be the best.

KE– I knew the IMB was a great organization but wasn’t sure I could use my gifts with them. They offer a great work environment and I always wanted to work with a Christian Organization.

2. Can you give a brief synopsis of your duties?

CA– I spend my year working at a local SBC church and keeping contact with international missionaries. The IMB assigns me a country to organize a mission trip for primarily teens. They give me contacts in that country and a week the trip will be. I make the trip happen. I visit 2-3 times during the year to plan and set up mission projects and work with the other local churches to successfully get 100+ teens to the missions’ site.

CH– It is my duty to find a way to engage the Greek people and minister to their physical needs. By doing this I can gain relationships and take care of their spiritual needs. I also work with volunteer mission teams from the US to ensure a successful missions experience.

KE– I lead, manage, and develop IMB’s media supply chain, work in close partnership with functional units and ensure the acceptance, usability, and growth of its digital asset. I also deploy and manage selected digital asset technologies, workflows, standards, and taxonomies to meet long term goals, while making sure all my short term requirements are filled. I provide much of the media to your churches in print, online, or video.

3. What is your favorite part of your job?

CA– Seeing the change that occurs in the lives of teenagers and adults alike from our volunteer teams.

CH– Being submerged in another culture and loving those people.

KE– Providing churches with the materials to change the world. That’s me being a missionary.

4. How big of an impact do you think the IMB is having globally?

CA– Just judging by the trips I have organized over the years, HUGE. If every team in every nation and city is doing what we are every year, the IMB is changing the world drastically.

CH– For many nations the IMB is making a very large impact but there are some nations that are still left untouched and this is where we need more people and resources. You would think that such a tremendous organization like the IMB would have more than enough but that’s just not true.

KE– I see where more churches are becoming involved or requesting information at least so I think that missions is spreading like wildfire.

5. If you could assemble a team of people to help you, how many would you pick?

CA– I would have at least two more people.

CH– I would have thousands!

KE– Probably three of us total.

6. Have you ever considered another job (or location) within the IMB?

CA– Not seriously. My wife and I have talked about being career missionaries but I love this ministry too much.

CH– I would go anywhere I was sent but I like Thessaloniki.

KE– No, this fits my skill set well and I would only consider my supervisor’s job.

7. What other organization would you recommend for International Mission work?

CA– I am not sure of how well the other organizations are run but I know that Youth On Mission (YOM) sends a lot of youth.

CH– The NAMB for something a little closer to home.

KE– Maybe Global Expeditions or Samaritan’s Purse.

The IMB is the largest missionary sending agency in the country and based on all of the above gathered information and the responses from some of its workers does a decent job with meeting its mission statement and operating within its budget.  It is one of the few Christian mission organizations from the United States where its missionaries do not have to go out to churches to raise their monetary monthly support.  Missionaries from the IMB are fully trained and fully supported prior to departing for their target country or people group.

While one might argue the amount of money that the IMB pays for training and the large amount of dollars being spent to provide administrative support to those in the field to be excessive or greater than other organizations, there are not many organizations in the country that can claim the same statistical successes of the IMB as mentioned above.  Also those we interviewed were an additional testament to another organizational statistic, that of employee satisfaction.

The IMB also takes its role as a mission’s educator very seriously and puts forth a lot of effort, several man-hours and numerous dollars to being effective in that area.  The evidence of effectiveness in this area can be seen annually in the increasing amount of money that individuals and churches give directly to missions each year through the Lottie Moon Christmas offering.  All of this money goes directly to putting missionaries in the field overseas.

In conclusion the IMB is a successful organization and can show completely where its money is going and how they are meeting their mission and reaching the world with the gospel message.  No organization is perfect and neither is the IMB, but their efforts and the efforts of their leadership have been noted by others and they are recognized worldwide for their accomplishments.


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