PHOENIX (ABP) -- The Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention voted June 13 to recommend changes to working agreements that will allow the International Mission Board to work directly with internationals living in the United to States convention messengers meeting June 14 in Phoenix.
“I think what we see this allowing us to do is us -- in conjunction with NAMB, 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 Mission Board.
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 and Canada.”
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 effort.
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 geographic limitation.”
A separate recommendation by the Executive Committee would also change the ministry assignment of the North American Mission Board, 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.