By Bob Allen
The Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board will offer voluntary incentive for early retirement in an attempt to cut between 600 and 800 jobs from the agency’s missionary force and staff.
Leaders of the Richmond, Va.,-based IMB released details a plan to address ongoing budget shortfalls Aug. 27, the one-year anniversary of the election of agency President David Platt.
Currently the IMB supports 4,800 missionaries and 450 staff, according to an FAQ sheet issued Aug. 27. The plan calls for reducing the total number of missionaries to 4,200 and liquidating property in order to keep as many on the field as possible. Leaders will also study day-to-day operation and long-range planning of the Richmond staff.
Sebastian Traeger, the IMB’s executive vice president, said the goal is “to align our cost structure with the amount of money given to us each year.”
This year IMB anticipates a budget shortfall of $21 million, and over the past six years expenditures have exceeded revenue by a total of $210 million.
The IMB plans to appoint about 300 new missionaries in 2015 and hopes for a similar number next year. Details of the retirement incentive offer are being finalized and will be announced Sept. 10.
The high-water mark for the 170-year-old mission board was 5,600 missionaries on the field in 2009. In May Platt, former pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., outlined a vision of providing “multiple pathways” for service that include both traditional missionaries and people in the pews who work overseas.
“As we know, God is going to make his glory known among all the peoples of the earth, and I am confident that he wants each of us to play a pivotal part in making that happen,” Platt said in a statement Aug. 27. “Over the months to come, he will give many of us new parts to play, including new places of service and new paths for mission, both within and beyond the IMB.”