I am continuing my thoughts on the initial report of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force. What I thought would be three posts, will more likely be four or five.
Component #3: We believe in order for us to work together more faithfully and effectively towards the fulfillment of the Great Commission, we will ask Southern Baptists to entrust to the International Mission Board the ministry to reach the unreached and under-served people groups without regard to any geographic limitations.
The task force envisions the International Mission Board taking on the responsibility of assisting the North American Mission Board with reaching the lost across the North America. A large number of the world’s identified people groups that do not speak English are represented in major cities across the North America. Many of these groups have strategy coordinators working overseas with the same group. The task force seems to believe that a more effective reaching of these people groups would be accomplished by allowing the overseas coordinators to work in North America.
I believe this is a terrible idea. One statement from the report seems especially ambitious. Dr. Ronnie Floyd, GCRTF chairman wrote, “We are confident that the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board can communicate with one another effectively about their respective work and communicate with our state conventions and local associations about what God is doing in their gospel work. I don’t understand how improved communication at denominational, state, and associational levels can be accomplished through this “unleashing” of the IMB on North American soil. I tend to believe the opposite will occur. Here are a few of the concerns I have about this particular component.
1. The IMB has more than enough one their plate. With the number of unreached people groups around the world growing almost daily, their concern, efforts, and energy should be spent pursuing these groups. I believe with all of my heart that moving the IMB to North America will lead to a less-effective IMB. I would hate to see the IMB get so spread out that they would suffer the same ineffectiveness that the North American Mission Board is seeing now.
2. North America should be the responsibility of NAMB. I believe the responsible thing to do would be to restructure NAMB in order to reach these same goals. Of course, I’m just one pastor.
3. I believe this movement of the IMB to North America will blur the lines of responsibility between these two mission boards. I can also see a funding nightmare as it relates to the Cooperative Program.
4. Does this mean that NAMB will be “hands-off” in the areas of North America in which the IMB is working? Who will have the ultimate responsibility of reaching North America?
I would rather see the North American Mission Board strengthened through new structure and vision than to see the International Mission Board weakened by taking up the slack of the North American Mission Board.