LEXINGTON, Ky.— The International Missions Board of the Southern Baptist Convention appointed 67 new missionaries to serve in 29 countries and evaluated the success of the recently adopted “New Directions” missions strategy during the two day meeting held in Lexington, Ky., Nov. 10-12.
The trustees heard a five-year evaluation of the “New Directions” emphasis that shifted the board’s focus from geographical countries to ethno-linguistic people groups. According to the information compiled through various overseas personnel, the number of people groups hearing the gospel more than doubled within the five-year period of application.
The overseas survey showed the number of people groups engaged by the IMB personnel has more than doubled to 1,371; Seven church-planting movements have been confirmed and 42 others reported, with the result that CPMs among previously unreached people groups now are generating more new believers and new congregations than even traditional "harvest field" countries like Nigeria and Brazil.
A 29 percent growth in the IMB missionary force over the past five years, the greatest in board history, and 70 percent of the unfilled requests for long-term missionaries are for evangelists/church planters and strategy coordinators was also reported. The board is also forging innovative approaches to help Southern Baptists understand God's heart for the nations and become personally involved with their missionaries, as well developing effective missions teamwork with Baptist partners and Great Commission Christians.
The focus on multiplying churches within people groups has resulted in amazing progress in just five years: an increase of almost 71 percent in the number of churches worldwide, a 95 percent increase in the number of outreach groups and the baptism of more than 1.8 million new believers. Among the concerns identified by the research were a need for improved supervision and more thorough training of strategy coordinators, a need for closer matching between strategy coordinator candidates and field needs and a need for more comprehensive training about the "nuts and bolts" of starting churches and church-planting movements.
The five-year strategy now adopted the name, "Strategic Directions for the 21st Century" (SD-21).
The challenge today is greater than five years ago," the report said. "It will take a more determined effort to reach all the people groups who are still unreached, initiate church-planting movements in more people groups, equip indigenous believers to be missionaries and be Kingdom-focused catalysts for accomplishing the Great Commission in our generation.
"We are now positioned to do this with missionaries passionate to reach their peoples, newly discovered ways to work, time-tested missiological principles and a biblically sound foundation."
The next meeting of International Mission Board trustees is scheduled for Feb. 2-4, 2004, in Richmond, Va. The meeting will include a missionary appointment service at 7 p.m., Feb. 3, at Bethany Place Baptist Church.