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In Anaheim, Chitwood talks new IMB branding, growth in missionary sending

Panelists Ed Herrelko, Paul Chitwood, Henry Phan and John Brady discuss the work of the International Mission Board. BP photo

ANAHEIM, Calif. (BP) – International Mission Board President Paul Chitwood talked about the IMB’s new branding and how it relates to the entity’s mission during two panels on the Cooperative Program stage in Anaheim, Calif., during the Southern Baptist annual meeting last month.  

The two panels took place Monday afternoon, June 13, and featured Chitwood alongside with other IMB representatives.

Ed Herrelko, chief marketing and communications officer for the IMB, hosted both panels.

Herrelko opened the first panel, titled “Missionary Presence: How Southern Baptists and the IMB Take the Gospel To The Lost,” by asking Chitwood to explain how the entity’s new branding reflects its mission.

“We wanted our new branding to distill in the simplest of terms who we are as an organization and what we do,” Chitwood said.

“Above everything else, we are about sending missionaries from the local church in order to sustain a missionary presence among the lost around the world. For 177 years, Southern Baptists have been addressing the world’s greatest problem, which is lostness. Lostness is the greatest problem because it is the one human problem that is eternal. The solution to that problem is the Gospel, which Southern Baptists have preached faithfully for years.

“That’s what this new brand is about. Even this new icon of the map pin indicates we are working around the world. We are taking the Gospel to different places around the world where there is now a missionary presence because of the generosity of Southern Baptists.”

Other guests on the first panel included Henry Phan, a long-time IMB missionary now stateside, and John Brady, IMB vice president for Global Engagement.

Brady spoke about the importance of presence in missions work, even with all of the modern advances in technology.

“In Romans 10 it talks about people carrying the Gospel to other people,” Brady said. “It is that presence between two people where the Lord gives us the opportunity to share our testimony and share the Gospel from his Word. In an amazing way, when you are in these conversations, the Holy Spirit works His work and bears the fruit of salvation.”

The second panel was titled “How the IMB is Investing in Sending More Missionaries and Opening More Pathways for Southern Baptist Churches to Participate in Short-Term and Long-Term Mission Work.”

Scott Ray, director of assessment and deployment for the IMB, discussed several ways the entity is working with churches to help simplify the sending process so that more missionaries can be sent.  

“To get more people to the field, we have simplified who can go,” Ray said. “If there is someone in your church that wants to go to the nations, they can go to the nations. There is a spot for them. We have worked to simplify the process where we are working more closely with the local church so that applicants are healthy and sustainable when they do leave. We are making it quicker for them to get to the field.”

Chitwood closed the panel by expressing the growth the IMB has been experiencing and exhorting churches to continue to be a part of it.

“Can you imagine us as Southern Baptists, with our resources and churches, having a shrinking missionary force when the problem of lostness is a growing and eternal problem?” Chitwood asked.

“For us as an organization, rebuilding our missionary force has been priority number one. After years of decline, we’re seeing growth again in both financial provision and missionary candidates. We’re encouraging pastors to call out the called, and when anyone in your churches expresses interest or a heart for the nations, send them to the IMB.”