5 Desires for the International Mission Board

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +

from Make Disciples of All Nations: A History of Southern Baptist International Missions
by Paul Akin
Edited by John D. Massey, Mike Morris, and W. Madison Grace II

David Platt’s 5 Desires for the International Missions Board (IMB) outlined:
Exalting Christ

Foundational to anything and everything at the IMB, Platt believed that the goal of exalting Christ was to be supreme. He argued, “In order for the IMB to be faithful to the collaborative task entrusted to it by Southern Baptist churches it represents, Jesus must be the center of everything the IMB does.”[1] For Platt, the starting point in an effort to exalt Christ was uncompromising confidence in the Word of God. He urged those in the room to acknowledge that “the Bible must serve as the authority for what the IMB believes and how the IMB operates. Leaders and strategists across the IMB must start in God’s Word, on our knees, reading, digesting, observing, seeing, learning, and letting the Word drive every facet of our work.”[2] In summarizing this first desire, Platt concluded by stating, “All those associated with the IMB must want the glory of Christ more than life itself. For everyone associated with the IMB, missions must not be our life. Instead, Christ must be our life, and missions must be the overflow of lives that exist to exalt him.”[3]

Mobilizing Christians

In an effort to exalt Christ among the nations, Platt also believed that it was essential to mobilize Christians for the nations. He declared, “With more than 2.8 billion people in the world who still lack access to the gospel, the IMB cannot settle for anything less than aggressive calls for all Christians to pray passionately, give sacrificially, and go intentionally for the glory of Christ among all peoples.”[4] Citing the example of the Moravians in missions history, Platt asked this room of leaders to consider what God might do if Southern Baptists began praying fervently, giving generously, and going intentionally out of the overflow of their desire and passion to see Christ glorified among the nations. Platt believed that if the IMB really wanted to see God move and work in a fresh way, more energy and effort needed to be spent intentionally mobilizing Christians at home and abroad.

Serving the Church

One of the convictions central to Platt’s missiology is the understanding that the local church is God’s chosen agent for the accomplishment of the Great Commission. Platt noted, “Christ’s commission is not going to be completed primarily by individuals, conventions, or even by missions organizations like the IMB, but by local churches that are making disciples and multiplying churches.”[5] Platt shared his concern that missions organizations, if they are not careful and aware, can usurp the responsibility of the local church in global missions. He underscored the need for coordinated cooperation and collaboration by churches to accomplish this task. He summarized his perspective by stating, “The IMB exists to partner with more than 50,000 Antiochs (Acts 13) across the Southern Baptist Convention: churches of all sizes worshipping, fasting, and praying, leading to those churches sending and shepherding missionaries for the spread of the gospel all over the world.”[6] The IMB laboring to serve and work alongside the church was a critical conviction and desire for Platt as he led the IMB.

Facilitate Church Planting

If the local church is God’s chosen agent for the accomplishment of the Great Commission, then the planting and establishing of the church among unreached people and places is paramount for IMB strategy. The IMB is a leader in church planting around the world. Platt desired for that to remain true and only increase in scope. If the IMB was going to excel in any one facet of mission strategy, it would be facilitating church planting around the world for the glory of God.

Playing Our Part

Last, in all the talk about strategy and desires, Platt acknowledged that one day this mission would be complete. The vision of Revelation 5 and 7 would be realized, and there will be a multitude around the throne from every nation, tribe, people, and language praising the Lamb of God. Therefore, IMB leaders and missionaries needed to discern wisely the unique part God was leading them to play in the completion of Christ’s mission. Platt remarked, “In the days to come, the IMB must continually look at the opportunities before us, the resources available to us, and the wisest ways possible to steward those opportunities and resources in obedience to him.”[7] In concluding, he recalled the decision facing the Israelites at Kadesh Barnea (Num. 13–14) to obey the Lord and play their part or to cower away in fear. He remarked that the IMB, like the Israelites in Kadesh Barnea, had a choice to make—retreat or engage. He closed by stating that the IMB could retreat and embrace cultural Christianity, “or we can decide that Jesus is worth more than this. We can recognize that he has created us, saved us, and called us for a much greater purpose than anything this world could ever offer.”[8]

The meeting in Asia concluded with substantial excitement and anticipation for the future. The five desires were a compelling, fresh, and uniting vision for the IMB. The vision centered on Christ, his Word, and his plan to rescue and redeem a lost world through the mission of his church. It was exciting for the IMB to consider the role that they might play in that mission.

 


 

[1] Platt, “The Future of the IMB and Our Collaborative Great Commission Work,” 170.

[2] Platt, “The Future of the IMB and Our Collaborative Great Commission Work,” 170.

[3] Platt, “The Future of the IMB and Our Collaborative Great Commission Work,” 171.

[4] Platt, “The Future of the IMB and Our Collaborative Great Commission Work,” 172.

[5] Platt, “The Future of the IMB and Our Collaborative Great Commission Work,” 173—74.

[6] Platt, “The Future of the IMB and Our Collaborative Great Commission Work,” 174.

[7] Platt, “The Future of the IMB and Our Collaborative Great Commission Work,” 179.

[8] Platt, “The Future of the IMB and Our Collaborative Great Commission Work,” 180.


This post is an excerpt from the forthcoming Make Disciples of All Nations: A History of Southern Baptist International Missionsedited by John D. Massey, Mike Morris, and W. Madison Grace II; adapted from the chapter, “The IMB Faces the Twenty-First Century,” written by contributor Paul M. Akin. If you are interested in adopting this book for a college or seminary course, please request a faculty examination copy. We will also consider requests for your blog or media outlets.

A contemporary evaluation of the history and present status of Southern Baptist Missions

For more than 175 years the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention has been sending missionaries around the world to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. It has also developed strategies and methods that have been adopted by numerous other missions groups. Make Disciples of All Nations tells the story of this groundbreaking organization, including its most recent developments.

Besides recounting its historical development, the contributors to this volume critically evaluate the IMB’s strategies and methods, as well as examine its controversies, regional developments, and organizational changes. The concluding chapter explores how Southern Baptist missions can best adapt to an era of global Christianity.

Students, missionaries, and those involved in supporting them will be informed and encouraged by this account of one of the oldest and largest missions organizations in the world.

Editors:
John D. Massey (PhD, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) is dean of the Roy J. Fish School of Evangelism and Missions and associate professor of missions at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Mike Morris (PhD, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary) is Ida M. Bottoms Chair of Missions, associate dean of applied ministry and mentorship, and senior professor of missions at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

W. Madison Grace II (PhD, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) is associate professor of Baptist Heritage and director of Oxford Study Program at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Share.

About Author

Paul M. Akin (Dean, Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry and Assistant Professor of Christian Missions). Before coming to Southern Seminary as the dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry, Paul Akin’s career has been defined by missions and missions mobilization. Most recently, Akin served as team leader for new missionary sending at the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. He has lived and worked in Africa and the Middle East, trained missionaries in the local church and seminary contexts, and served alongside missionary teams in more than 40 countries. Akin earned both M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, where his father, Danny Akin, is president.

Leave A Reply