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Chitwood previews IMB’s plans for annual meeting

INDIANAPOLIS (BP) – In the latest “Road to Indy” video leading up to the 2024 SBC Annual Meeting in June, International Mission Board President Paul Chitwood joined SBC Executive Committee Interim President and CEO Jonathan Howe to discuss the IMB’s plans for the meeting as well as to share updates from the entity’s work around the world.

Sending Celebration

The annual Sending Celebration, during which a slate of new missionaries is formally sent out to their places of service, has become a centerpiece of the SBC meeting in recent years, Howe said. Chitwood agreed.

“This is what Southern Baptists have been doing since 1845 – sending those missionaries out,” Chitwood said. “And for us to get to celebrate that together as a denominational family at such a large gathering, it’s just such a shot in the arm. …”

Last year, the IMB recorded greetings from Southern Baptists at the meeting in New Orleans that were shared with missionaries around the world.

“It was such a lift to them to know that they were the focus … of the annual meeting,” Chitwood said.

“… [Missions] is what brought Southern Baptists together, and it’s what will keep us together.”

Missionary pipeline

The two discussed the growth in the number of potential missionaries entering the IMB’s evaluation process. When Chitwood came on board in late 2018, there were few. Then the pandemic dealt a blow to progress that had been made.

“Last year, we began to reach the heights that we were longing see,” Chitwood said. Last year’s pipeline stood at around 1,300. That number could grow to 1,400 this year.

Chitwood also highlighted the launch at last year’s annual meeting of the IMB’s strategy for reaching the world’s remaining unreached, unengaged people groups, saying he would like to see “more people coming through the pipeline with that on their heart.”

“We have seen coming out of convention last year, a significant uptick in the numbers who are applying to be a part of that very effort,” he said. “I’m going to be able to come to convention this year and give an update on that.”

Send Relief

As wars rage in Europe and the Middle East and natural disasters upend lives in many places, Send Relief – a partnership between the IMB and the North American Mission Board – is able to come alongside with help.

“What a remarkable privilege Southern Baptists have to know that essentially in all those places … and every story they’re seeing on the news headlines every day, they are there. Southern Baptists are there,” Chitwood said.

Missionaries on the field with Send Relief resources are “making it possible for us to extend a helping hand further than ever before,” he said, “and that goes with the extension of the Gospel to more people than ever before.”

Lottie Moon Christmas Offering

The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering – 100 percent of which goes directly to worldwide missions efforts – has had two record years.

“We’re just humbled and blown away by what the Lord is doing and what Southern Baptists are doing,” Chitwood said.

Though the fiscal year is only about halfway through, the offering is on record pace again, he said, even surpassing the last two years. This year’s goal is $200 million.

“That’s a huge goal,” he said, “but we’re looking really good right now.” Chitwood said he looks forward to celebrating with Southern Baptists in Indianapolis.


Chitwood asked Southern Baptists to pray for missionaries, whose work is physically and spiritually demanding.

“Pray the Lord would keep them healthy – physically, spiritually, emotionally. Their families strong and healthy, marriages strong and healthy so they can be effective in their work.”

He also asked for prayers that God would allow their ministries to bear fruit.