Tuesday, November 18

What is your church's commitment to international missions?

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of preaching missions at the Lewisville Baptist Church in Lewisville, NC where Les Puryear is pastor. I have long appreciated his thoughtful blog posts on many topics, but Les is probably known best for his focus on "small church" issues in the SBC.

When I first read Les's post about SBC church involvement in international missions, I was shocked by the data he shared...

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...During the IMB Pastor/Missions Leader Conference, I was stunned by the following information:

SBC Churches Involved in International Missions (2006)

Limited = 51.5% (24,700)
Supporting = 48.5% (23,300)
Exploring = 9.5% (4,500)
Partnering = 1.0% (480)
Multiplying = 0.1% (50)

Definitions of Involvement Categories:

"Limited" means no discernible involvement with international missions either through prayer or through financial giving.

"Supporting" means some level of prayer and financial support.

"Exploring" means prayerfully investigating opportunities to be on the international mission field.

"Partnering" means prayerfully and personally engaging a specific UPG or segment in a church planting strategy. This includes both churches working with an existing missionary or the church working as the missionary with the UPG or segment thereof.

"Multiplying" means encouraging, enlisting, and equipping other churches to become strategically involved in international missions.

I was stunned to hear that more than half (51.5%) of the churches in the SBC do not financially contribute to IMB.

Almost 25,000 churches have no discernible involvement in international missions.

Less than 10% of our churches are actively looking into opportunities to go on the international mission field.

Only 1%, (480 churches) are actively partnering with our missionaries to help accomplish the goal of communicating the gospel to all of the world.

I have been weeping over this information since I first heard it... Currently, the church that I pastor is in the "supporting" and "exploring" categories. It is my prayer that God will move the hearts of Lewisville Baptist Church to become a "partnering" and "multiplying" church in regards to our missions involvement.

Have the local churches, who comprise the SBC, lost their fervor for missions?

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Les's question is one we all need to be asking ourselves. With all the activity going on in our churches, are we losing our fervor and commitment to see the nations come to Christ? Is missions just another minor activity and program of the church? Can missions really be just another option for the church? What is your church's commitment to international missions?

8 comments:

Ministry Happens in Ukraine said...

Hi, I'm a semi-frequent blog stalker. I too am a little surprised that half of SBC churches have no involvement with IMB/Missions. I think it's a trend that will continue though. I think there's a major disconnect between IMB/Missionaries and local churches. I feel like the IMB needs to borrow from all the faith supported missionaries that do a much better job of maintaining relationships with churches/supporters. It's an out-of-sight, out-of-mind thing: I think the average SB Church Member doesn't even know an IMB missionary. These days no one wants to give to an anonymous entity.

GuyMuse said...

Ministry...Ukraine,

Good points. Thanks for sharing. I too think we need to be doing a better job at making the personal contacts with churches/supporters. I suspect this will be more of a priority matter in the months ahead with the economic slowdown. The IMB at any one time has hundreds of potential "PR" people as M's come to the States for Stateside Assignment. A lot more could be done, but probably won't until some clear expectations are made known.

Les Puryear said...

Guy,

My church was thrilled with your visit. I'm looking forward to going on a vision trip in the near future to Ecuador.

Blessings,

Les

Scott in Vegas said...

again, insightful in terms of how churches function and makes us re-assess how we spend our resources...

...linked it to http://www.newchurchreport.com - thanks, again!!

GuyMuse said...

Scott,

Thanks for the comment and the link to newchurchreport.com. Indeed we need to be careful with how we allocate our limited resources. This will be even more crucial in these days of economic downturn.

GuyMuse said...

Les,

Thanks for stopping by, and especially for posting this material on your blog. I think it is a wake-up call for all S. Bapt. churches. We look forward to your upcoming trip to our part of the world.

Anonymous said...

Our house church is exploring what the NT says about giving. From what I find in Scriptures the early believers first and foremost took care of the needs of the saints. The tendency seems to see this as inward focused, but I disagree as the sharing with other believers is an incredible witness to the world...and vice versa, when believers look the other way to the needs of the saints, the witness is diminished if not ruined.

I also see giving to the poor and needy, regardless of their citizenship in the Kingdom.

I also see the principle of supporting Apostolic work or missionaries...this is what I believe you're talking about. I agree with Ukraine guy that their is a disconnect between the sent ones and the senders in regard to the IMB...there is little to relationship.

Another interesting giving principle, in my opinion, is the principle of taking care of our parents when they get older. No one speaks of this one, but I believe that believers are to take care of their parents which always necessitates finances. Once again, this is an incredible witness to the world, especially in North American culture.

Anyways, those are a few of my initial thoughts on giving

Travis

GuyMuse said...

Travis,

Couldn't agree with you more. Well said. But to practice giving in the way you describe would overturn the cart of the current way churches operate and would upset a lot of people. We have been practicing this pattern for several years now and giving the NT way is so much more fun!