In the words of William Bullein Johnson, first president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Foreign Mission Board was created with the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1845 “ . . . for the purpose of organizing an efficient and practical plan, on which the energies of the whole Baptist denomination, throughout America, may be elicited, combined and directed in one sacred effort for sending the word of life to idolatrous lands . . . .”
The International Mission Board (IMB) continues in that original purpose of being part of 46,000 Southern Baptist churches focused together in one sacred effort to fulfill the Great Commission among all peoples.
One. Acting as a single unit. Undivided. Singularly focused with a singular nature, a singular goal.
Sacred. Reverently dedicated and devoted to God. Holy. Not beginning in the heart or mind of man. Flowing from the heart and mind of God, and can be accomplished only through His leadership and empowerment.
Effort. An earnest and strenuous attempt. Requiring physical and mental exertion, dedication and commitment. Living and working as if the outcome is impacted by the commitment exerted.
What is this one sacred effort? According to our Lord, it is to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20).
As followers of Christ, we are laboring together, not to hold anything back. According to His command, we are empowered by His strength and His Spirit in His effort to advance His Gospel among all nations.
How is the work funded? The Cooperative Program helps fund ministries and missions through cooperating state conventions. A portion of those funds is forwarded by state conventions to the national office of the Southern Baptist Convention. Slightly more than 50 percent of all Cooperative Program contributions received on a national level are directed to help the work taking place through IMB.
The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions funds more than 50 percent of the work accomplished through IMB. Named for a courageous Southern Baptist missionary who served in China at the turn of the 20th century, this offering is used exclusively to help provide the day-to-day support for missionaries sent around the globe by their Southern Baptist churches through IMB.
Southern Baptists determine the number of missionaries that are sent by their churches by the level of financial support they provide through the Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
These missionaries proclaim the Gospel, start new indigenous churches through which new believers are baptized, disciple new and established believers in their faith and provide Bible-centered teaching to current and future church leaders so that churches are making disciples in their own Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and ends of the earth.An important role of IMB is training and equipping full-time missionaries. Recognizing that the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few (Matthew 9:37), IMB endeavors to assist pastors and church leaders in calling out the called from Southern Baptist churches to serve among the nations.
Recognizing the primacy of churches in the Great Commission, IMB assists pastors and church leaders in leading their churches to greater personal involvement in that one sacred effort. IMB assists churches to be involved in intercessory prayer, strategic partnership with missionaries on the field that often results in the sending of church members on short-term mission trips, and in greater financial support of the missionaries on the field.
Beginning in 2011, a challenge was issued by pastors and church leaders across our convention for individual churches to “embrace” an unengaged, unreached people group. These are people groups with little or no access to the Gospel and in which there is no identified effort taking place—and no missionaries working among them—to evangelize, disciple and plant churches.
In addition to those who God has called to serve overseas through traditional channels of missionary service, IMB recognizes that God is strategically placing Southern Baptist marketplace professionals in vocational roles around the globe. Through Marketplace Advance initiatives, IMB seeks to assist, equip and nurture these marketplace professionals and the churches of which they are members in their strategic role in engaging the nations.IMB hosts equipping conferences and training events during the year throughout North America to equip local churches to make disciples. Resources and coaching are geared to assist churches at whatever their current stage of missional involvement and wherever in the world they are seeking greater involvement. Recognizing the generational, ethnic and racial diversity of Southern Baptist churches and the unique opportunity that each church has in engaging the nations with the Gospel, IMB seeks to serve all the congregations of our convention, including our growing number of African American, Hispanic, Asian, Deaf, and non-traditional churches.
IMB also works stateside with other Southern Baptist entities. It partners with the six Southern Baptist seminaries for theological consultation, educational programs and extension training. It works with LifeWay Christian Resources and the Woman’s Missionary Union in the inclusion of training resources and stories in their materials to better inform and equip Southern Baptists about missions, as well as in the promotion of the Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
Furthermore, IMB assists churches, associations and state conventions in collaboration with the North American Mission Board to evangelize unreached and underserved diaspora people groups within North America. Many of the unreached people groups around the world also have a presence in North America. The valuable experience and knowledge gleaned from work overseas can better equip churches as they endeavor to make disciples of these people groups in North America. Such collaboration demonstrates the long history of Southern Baptists focusing together in one sacred effort.
As we strive to make disciples of all peoples, IMB stands ready as part of our 46,000 churches to assist your church in the effort that unites us all—one sacred effort—to fulfill the Great Commission among all peoples.
For more information call 1-800-999-3113, or visit www.imb.org.