Have Christians lost the culture war? On the surface this appears to be the case.
However, when Christians lose, everyone loses. Except that is, the Christian.
At the very worst, we may lose our lives; but we are only here briefly anyway. We have an eternal perspective. On the one hand, we are waiting for the return of Christ who could come for His church at any moment. On the other hand, if we were to die today, we would go immediately into His presence where we will spend eternity. Good options either way, although the Rapture is obviously preferable.
Perhaps Christians have failed to be the salt and light we were commanded to be in our respective societies. Our greatest personal losses would be in the people we fail to bring to Christ, yet we also trust in God’s sovereignty in reaching them through someone else.
When we reach out, we grieve over those who think we are narrow-minded, when in reality we are simply trying to honestly present and preserve an accurate message of what God has said to humanity through the Bible. We are willing to suffer rather than compromise that message. Jesus died for the sins of the world, which includes every one of us. If we change God’s definition of sin in order to make people feel falsely comfortable, then we fail to warn them that God is a holy God who must by His nature punish ALL sin. It is not just specific sins that have separated us from a holy God. It is mankind’s fallen nature that produces individual acts of sin. It is that nature that separates us from God. God’s forgiveness came through Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, and is available to all who believe.
Have we lost the culture war? Not to make excuses, but the world rejected Noah’s message before the flood. And we are living in the last days before the return of Christ. We can beat ourselves up over our failures, but we need to remember that most of the world never listens to God or His messengers.
The supposed winners of the culture war are actually the losers.
The sexual revolution has transformed the world by making temporary pleasures and freedoms acceptable. Yet the clear teachings of the Bible are not changed by redefining marriage, or by the creation of a nation of voyeurs by the entertainment industry, or by abandoning marriage in favor of cohabitation. The Bible defines every sexual encounter outside of marriage as sin. This is not changed by public attitudes, or by the entertainment industry, or by common practice, or by the Supreme Court redefining marriage.
Life on earth is short. Victory celebrations end. Balloons deflate. Skin ages and wrinkles. Bodies die. Today’s artificial victories are in reality defeats when the victors face the God of the universe to discover they have rejected the only hope they have of true life and happiness. Failure is eternal when the true definition of love – God’s love – is missed. Eternity never gets old, and God does not change.
RICHMOND, Va.— International Mission Board leaders have outlined a plan to address IMB’s revenue shortfalls and complete a reset of the organization in order to move forward into the future with innovative vision, wise stewardship and high accountability.
The plan was presented by senior IMB leadership, including President David Platt, during an Aug. 27 town hall meeting including missionaries and staff, who collectively attended either in person or through digital communication. IMB trustees were informed of the plan during their Aug. 25-26 board meeting in downtown Richmond, Virginia.
Platt said the urgency of the plan is based in the reality that while Southern Baptist giving through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering has increased in recent years, the IMB projects it will fall $21 million short of its current annual budget, marking several consecutive years of budget shortfalls for the 170-year-old organization. Over the past six years, the organization’s expenditures have totaled $210 million more than has been given to it each year.
To address revenue shortfalls over these years, IMB enacted a plan to slowly reduce the number of missionaries through normal attrition and limited appointments, while using IMB’s reserves — including global property sales — to keep as many missionaries on the field as possible.
“We praise God for the reserves and property sales that made this possible and for leadership which chose to spend these resources for the spread of the gospel,” Platt said. “But we cannot continue to overspend. For the sake of short-term financial responsibility and long-term organizational stability we must act.”
OVERCOMING REVENUE SHORTFALL
Sebastian Traeger, IMB’s executive vice president, explained that senior leadership considered several options to overcome the revenue shortfall.
“The challenge is that we’re looking at both large revenue shortfalls and low cash reserves — so any action needs to include a plan to address both simultaneously,” Traeger said. “We considered multiple options — such as further reducing missionary appointments or liquidating additional property — but none of them bring about a balanced budget fast enough, or they are not feasible to implement in the short term.))Our goal is to align our cost structure with the amount of money given to us each year.”
Leadership determined the only option that is both feasible and has significant financial impact is to reduce the number of personnel it supports, since the vast majority of the IMB expenses are personnel related.
“If we are going to balance our budget, we must reduce approximately 600 to 800 of our staff and field personnel,” Platt said, indicating that number represents up to 15 percent of IMB’s total employees.))
IMB leadership has decided the best way to reduce staff is to begin with a voluntary retirement incentive that will be offered to all eligible employees, including both missionaries and staff. While the parameters defining who is eligible are still being finalized, details of the incentive will be announced Sept. 10, 2015, and those eligible will be notified in the days following the announcement.
“Whether to accept the incentive is a voluntary decision completely up to the discretion of eligible individuals,” Platt said. “This offers personnel who may already be considering a transition in their lives an opportunity to make that transition.
“We want to be as generous as possible, and we want to honor every brother or sister for his or her service. We know that taking a voluntary retirement incentive does not mean stepping onto the sidelines of mission, but moving into a new phase of involvement in mission.”
IMB is sending approximately 300 new missionaries in 2015 and expects to send a comparable number in 2016.
As phase one of the plan (the voluntary retirement incentive) is being implemented, phase two of the plan will focus on concluding a reset of the organization. Platt said that phase would include consolidating support services, recalibrating mobilization, assessing global engagement and re-envisioning training.
He noted the organization must humbly and openly ask God, “What are you leading us to do?” and individual employees must ask God, “What are you leading me to do?” “We must get to a healthy place in the present in order to be in a healthy position for the future,” Platt said. “We want to move forward with innovative vision, wise stewardship, and high accountability to the churches we serve, the peoples we
reach, and the God we worship.”