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Personnel join mission board to broaden development effort

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–In its quest to embrace the many ways Southern Baptists choose to work overseas, the International Mission Board has begun re-tooling its financial development programs — linking them to efforts to create missions-minded churches.
In the past, development officers have focused on raising money by nurturing people who sought to give through special programs. In the future, however, they will aim at helping churches round out their missions life through giving, going and praying.
Three associate directors — including two recently named — will show Southern Baptists who have indicated an interest in missions how to influence others to be on mission with God.
The new staff members are Jim Olson, a certified public accountant with experience in retirement and benefit planning from Manakin-Sabot, Va., and Steve Morrison, a former insurance executive from Russellville, Ark. They join Ned Stewart, a former Virginia pastor, pastoral counselor and human resources consultant who came to the board eight years ago.
“We’re trying to help Southern Baptists be New Testament mission activists,” said David Button, the board’s vice president for public relations and development. “It’s a perfect time for Southern Baptists to use the resources they have to bless the nations and bring glory to God’s name.
“How Southern Baptists respond will reflect how clearly we hear his voice.”
Each year, the board receives thousands of unsolicited gifts. Often, mission supporters respond to a specific project that engages their compassion. With the right nurture, that concern can be a catalyst for creating a missions enthusiast — and a missions-minded church.
“People who give often give out of a concern for specific needs,” Button said. “But when we explain the need on a global perspective, these same people quite often can be forceful advocates in their churches.”
Development representatives will help challenge pray-ers to be givers, and challenge go-ers — many who have participated as short-term missions volunteers — to be givers. At the same time, they will challenge givers to consider going and praying for missions. And they will help churches that have prayer partnerships in just one part of the world to enlarge their concern for missions globally.
The board’s redirected effort seeks to solve a quandary it has faced for many years: how to work with people who seek to give personally to specific mission needs while at the same time strengthening cooperative missions support.
The power of Southern Baptists’ missions program has grown out of the denomination’s unified giving plan — the Cooperative Program — and the annual Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, received by churches primarily in December.
Recent surveys show as Southern Baptist churches participate in any aspect of missions, they become more intense in supporting cooperative evangelistic endeavors of all kinds. Often their churches’ prayer efforts grow, and giving through the Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon offering increases.
Other Southern Baptist entities, such as colleges, Woman’s Missionary Union and state conventions, also practice financial development that leads to cooperative giving, Button stressed. “They are valuable partners who help their donors understand how their financial support can be used to touch a lost world,” he said.
“Missions support not grounded in the concept of the Cooperative Program might bring short-term gains, but it will not provide the long-term stability our missionaries need,” Button said. “We’re finding that as Southern Baptists partner with missionaries in some ways in supporting projects directly, they gain a greater appreciation for the way we’ve funded missions.”

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  • Marty Croll