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...
...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?
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?