TRUSTEES: IMB transitions from Platt to interim Meador

RICHMOND, VA. (BP) -- International Mission Board trustees heard a final address from outgoing president David Platt and approved Clyde Meador as interim president during their Sept. 26-27 meeting near Richmond, Va.

Trustees appointed 66 new fully funded personnel to take the Gospel to unreached people and places and approved a balanced budget for 2018-2019 and a recommendation about trustee representation from state conventions. Rick Dunbar, trustee chairman and a member of First Baptist Church in Madison, Miss., presided over the meeting.

Platt has served as president of the IMB since Aug. 27, 2014. Since September 2017, he also has served as pastor/teacher of McLean Bible Church in northern Virginia, a role he will fill full time after the trustee meeting. In expressing his gratitude for Platt, Dunbar said Platt's preaching and teaching has changed his life, and he also expressed appreciation for the commitment of the Platt family to his service as the entity's president.

Platt told trustees: "I want to thank you for granting me the privilege four years ago of stepping into the role of IMB president. That was not an easy decision, and I want to thank you for putting me in this position. It was a position that I did not deserve then, and I do not deserve now. It is evidence of God's unmerited grace to me that He would grant me, through you, the pure privilege and honor of serving the brothers and sisters who make up the International Mission Board." 

As he departs the presidency, Platt encouraged trustees to strive for both biblical faithfulness and practical effectiveness.

Biblical faithfulness

One of the reasons he has been passionate about the theological foundations of the IMB, Platt said, is because of the lack of biblical faithfulness he sees in the missions world.

"There is much activity in supposed 'missions' today that is gospel-less or gospel-light," Platt said. "There is much activity in supposed 'missions' today that is church-less or church-light. ... We would be the most foolish of all to think that the adversary is not actively working every single day to pull any and all of our personnel away from the centrality of biblical Gospel proclamation and the integrity of healthy church formation.

"So as you lead the IMB, please do not assume biblical faithfulness; please assert biblical faithfulness -- and practical effectiveness," Platt implored.

"The IMB is entrusted by Southern Baptist churches with over $260 million a year for the spread of the Gospel among the nations. So never stop asking the question, 'What is the most effective way to spend that money for the spread of the gospel among the nations?'"

Current trends

Platt also said he believes it is critical for IMB trustees to carefully consider the realistic trends of Southern Baptist church attendance and giving in IMB decisions about sending missionaries and engaging churches.

"If I could humbly exhort you today: Select a president who will not be content with this status quo, who will not be content with business as usual as long as everyone feels good with anecdotes that abound," Platt said.

"Elect a president who will aggressively drive the IMB to push forward and press boundaries and redefine paradigms. And as he does this, I humbly exhort you: Give him freedom to push and support him as he presses. Don't squeeze him into the mold of the past. Release him and those he leads alongside to move into the future so that the IMB [as a part of the SBC] does not drift into increasing irrelevance." 

Missional urgency

Platt, lastly, encouraged trustees to prioritize missional urgency over political expediency.

"I want to plead with you to refuse to play political games while 2.8 billion people have little to no access to the Good News of God's love," Platt said. "I want to plead with you to refuse to pander to the applause of men, constantly trying to please every person when the only thing that matters is the pleasure of God.

"Life is too short, the need is too great and the mission is too important to waste our time on anything less than continual, intentional, biblical, strategic, honest conversations about how to get the Gospel to unreached men, women and children who are on a road that leads to an eternal hell. I plead with you: Prioritize missional urgency over political expediency." 

Following Platt's address, trustee Andy Davis, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Durham, N.C., offered Scripture of support as Platt steps into the pastorate. Trustees gathered around Platt to pray specifically for his transition.  

Not 'interim'

During the Sept. 26 plenary session, trustees approved a motion by their Administration Committee to name an interim president for up to one year in the absence of a permanent president. Trustees voted unanimously to name Clyde Meador to the role, and he gave a report during the Sept. 27 plenary session.

"The highlight of this board meeting was last night, when we celebrated together the sending of 66 long-term, fully-funded missionaries," Meador said. "They are sent out through the IMB by their local Southern Baptist churches, and they are supported by the cooperation of more than 47,000 churches and millions of Southern Baptists who give faithfully through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.

"These new missionaries are going out to serve in eight of our nine affinities," Meador said. "Twenty-eight of those 66 -- 42 percent of them -- have served with us previously for at least two years." 

Meador also addressed his interim role: "Indeed our president is interim," he said. "But nothing else about IMB is interim. No one has pushed the pause button for IMB. Our vision is unchanged as we move forward." 

Meador recounted a conversation with a Southern Baptist worker serving on the other side of the world. The country in which the person serves has seen great response for many years but persecution is growing at an alarming rate. Church meeting places are being forcibly closed, and many missionaries have been ejected from the country. Meador asked the worker to share the greatest victory he had experienced in the last two weeks. He said they had been able to share the Gospel 200 times.

"Folks, that is not interim," Meador said. "And there are many more examples I could share. God is not on pause and neither is IMB. Based on the latest statistics, to be released soon, I can report that as God uses our personnel around the world, a new church is planted every hour, and a new person comes to faith in Christ every five minutes. That is not pausing."

IMB budget

Meador and Rodney Freeman, vice president of support services and IMB treasurer, introduced the 2018-2019 proposed budget during the Sept. 27 plenary session, which is balanced with receipts and expenses both projected at $264.4 million.

Meador emphasized the IMB's priorities for the budget are to sustain an increasingly efficient and effective organization; undergird the existing mission force and staff; replenish the current mission force in response to natural attrition; and expand the future mission force with the remaining budget. The budget is based on IMB's fiscal year, Oct. 1, 2018-Sept. 30, 2019.

The IMB budgeting process follows five core principles:

-- Uses realistic to conservative projections for receipts from the Cooperative Program, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and other receipts (projecting Cooperative Program receipts at $97.8 million and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering receipts at $154.4 million for 2018-19).

-- Maintains contingency reserves at an appropriate level (set at 5.5 months, which falls within SBC Executive Committee guidelines).

-- Excludes property sales from budget receipts or expenses.

-- Spends 100 percent of LMCO receipts on the mission field.

-- Presents a balanced budget for approval each year ($264.4 million for 2018-2019).

"By the grace of God, and the consistent giving of Southern Baptist churches through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering," Freeman reported, "I am pleased to present [this budget] for the trustees' approval." Freeman said "the men and women of the Finance Team work diligently and with high integrity each day as they help us wisely steward the monies that God has entrusted to us." 

Broadened trustee representation

Meador reported action related to trustee representation from state conventions: "Of interest to many Southern Baptists is the action to ask the SBC to approve an amendment to our articles of incorporation, which would slightly expand the composition of our board," he said. "Should this be approved, by 2020 the SBC would be electing trustees to our board from throughout the country, including from state conventions with relatively small populations of Southern Baptists."

The trustee Administration Committee, as reported by trustee Michael Cloer from North Carolina, recommended that the board's articles of incorporation be adjusted to allow for the appointment of an IMB trustee from each state or defined territory; one additional trustee per 250,000 church members; and one additional person for every additional 250,000 church members. The recommendation will go to the SBC for further action.

The week also included orientation for eight new trustees elected in June during the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Dallas: Nate Bishop Jr., lead pastor of Forest Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky.; Alan Brumback, lead pastor of Central Baptist Church of Sanford, Fla.; Joyce Chambers, a member of Grace Baptist Church in Monroe, Ga.; Trudy Crittendon, a member of Townville Baptist Church in Anderson, S.C.; Rick Hedger, a member of Freshwater Church in Jefferson City, Mo.; Doug Melton, pastor of Southern Hills Baptist Church in Oklahoma City; Carol Pfeiffer, a member of Southview Baptist Church in Rosharon, Texas; and Chris Wall, pastor of First Baptist Church in Owasso, Okla.

The official launch date for the 2018-2019 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is Oct. 1. For more information, go to IMB.org/LMCO to find new church resources for the offering. 

The next IMB trustee meeting is scheduled for Nov. 14-15 in Richmond.

Julie McGowan is public relations manager for IMB.
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