PHOENIX — The
Executive Committee (EC) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC)
voted June 13 to recommend changes to working agreements that will allow the
International Mission Board (IMB) to work directly with internationals living
in the United States.
“I think what we see this allowing us to do is us — in
conjunction with (the North American Mission Board), as NAMB works with state
conventions and association and local churches — seeing places where there is
need for additional training and additional expertise that IMB personnel who
are in the states, usually on stateside assignment, would be able to be asked
to go to a particular place to provide training, possibly to work alongside
churches,” said Clyde Meador, executive vice president of the International
The motion, recommended by IMB trustees, would expand the
agency’s ministry assignment beyond geographic borders to authorize
“specialized, defined and agreed upon assistance to the North American Mission
Board in assisting churches to reach unreached and underserved people groups
within the United States
The change is designed to enhance cooperation between the
convention’s international and North American mission boards. IMB personnel
would lend expertise, for example, with a particular people group that lives
both abroad and in the United States,
while increasing communication between the two boards to prevent duplication of
Meador, who served as interim president between Jerry
Rankin’s retirement last year and the recent naming of Tom Elliff as his
successor, said the IMB does not foresee assigning international missionaries
in the United States.
“That is not what this is about, but what we do see is IMB
personnel have certain cultural, and language and other expertise that may not
be available otherwise, then this gives us a clear opportunity working in
agreement and in communication with NAMB,” Meador said.
The proposal stems from a “Great Commission Resurgence” task
force recommendation approved last year to entrust the IMB with “the ministry
of reaching unreached and underserved people groups without regard to any
A separate recommendation by the EC would also change the
ministry assignment of NAMB, consolidating nine ministry assignments into six.
NAMB leaders said some of the program areas were combined to
give narrower focus, while one area, to “effectively use radio and television”
is not needed because it is assumed the agency will use all forms of
communication technology. That ministry assignment was given to NAMB when the
former Radio and TV Commission was eliminated in a denominational restructuring
in the 1990s.
NAMB sold its Family Net television network four years ago
to Charles Stanley’s In Touch Ministries.