Yesterday, Micah Fries tweeted:
If Southern Baptists would send & fund just 1% of our regular attenders overseas as missionaries we would send over 52,000 global missionaries. We currently have 3,551 personnel on the field with the @IMB_SBC. That's .068% of our people who are being sent overseas.
— Micah Fries (@micahfries) March 22, 2018
I’m fully on board with Micah’s enthusiasm and passion for new worker being sent out. I have to wonder about this, however. What would this imply?
Several years ago I wrote a long form piece called “What would it take,” that said we needed 150,000 new workers on the field, and what kind of structures would be required. The original article (a little bit dated) is here.
One question I’d have is whether the existing structure of the IMB would be able to handle a more than 10-fold increase in personnel. “Send & Fund” – what would the funding equate to? In 2017 the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering had a goal of $160 million. I don’t know how much they actually reached (yet), but $160 million / 3,550 workers = $45k per worker (not unsurprising). 50k workers X $45k each = $2.2 billion.
Second, are we ready for American workers to be “that big” a portion of the global mission force? Right now, the total worldwide cross-cultural mission force (inclusive of Protestants, Catholics and Independents) is estimated at 430,000. Somewhere between 60,000 and 100,000 (actual number is hard to know) are North Americans–or about 20%. If we were to add another 50,000 workers, that would bring the total to 480,000 – of which fully 26% would be Americans. That doesn’t sound like a huge increase. I wonder what the “spike” would be in specific world regions.
Third, I wonder if we are ready for the implications of a 10X increase in Baptist Americans (hey, I like a lot of Baptist Americans, but…) in teams, partnerships, networks, conferences, etc?
I do think America needs to send more workers. I think, with Micah, that all of our church networks/denominations are sending paltry %s. But I also wonder – how can we be helping a 10X increase in mission sending from other places? What if we had 10X the number of Chinese, Nigerian, Indonesian, and Korean workers – just to name a few?