By Jonathan Nida, bi-vocational pastor
Like many Southern Baptists, I was distraught at the news that the International Mission Board (IMB) was forced to make a dramatic reduction in the number of full-time missionaries that we send out.
Unlike many Southern Baptists, I have had my livelihood provided for strictly through Cooperative Program giving as a former full-time employee of the Georgia Baptist Convention.
Additionally, I’ve helped secure funding for NAMB church planters and interns. I say all this to convey this money is not an Excel entry to me.
I’ve seen the lives that have been profoundly changed by the CP; both the ministers and those who’ve been ministered to. This is why I am personally so somber about our financial distress in a major mission board.
But it’s not as a minister I write to you today. In the Lord’s providence, he led me to prepare for bi-vocational ministry and the door he opened for me was in the financial services industry. It is from that desk I seek to communicate today.
According to a Boston College Center for Wealth and Philanthropy study, between 2007 and 2061, there will be $59 trillion transferred from estates in the US.
That’s a 59 with twelve zeros. Let’s think about that for a minute. Let’s assume only 5 percent of that is money being transferred from Southern Baptists (this assumption is based on the fact Southern Baptists make up roughly 5 percent of the US.) It would leave us with $2.95 trillion in wealth being transferred from Southern Baptists to their heirs, the government, and estate services. That is a truly staggering figure.
The question is, what does this figure have to do with the Great Commission as worked out through the IMB?
My contention is that it has everything to do with our missional work. Consider this, were you to annualize the figure stated earlier, you could assume over $5 billion every year is being transferred from SBC estates. What if each of these SBC estate holders was committed to tithing on their estate?
Would we be scaling back our mission work with an additional $500 million each year?
That’s more than our total CP giving for the 2013-2014 fiscal year. Obviously there are a lot of assumptions being made here, but even if the number was 10 percent of that, we wouldn’t be calling missionaries home from the field because of financial reasons. We’re eight years into the time period discussed in the Boston College study, why aren’t we flush with cash?
Many faithful givers don’t even consider planned giving on their estate despite the fact that it can reduce their taxable estate and make a lasting impact for the Kingdom of God.
It is often complicated to consider gifting illiquid assets or setting up proper estate documents, but these are fairly routine procedures that a competent financial advisor should be able to take the lead on.
Planned giving can work hand in hand with your comprehensive financial plan to help you maximize the impact you can have for the Kingdom.
A few meetings with the right people can ensure that the work you’ve supported your entire life continues to benefit from your support after you’ve been called home.
It is easy to look at the IMB budget numbers and become disheartened, but there are more numbers that we should be examining.
The task of taking the gospel to the nations is certainly a great one. Great tasks require great commitment but carry the promise of great reward.
My point is simple: with improved estate stewardship, no missionary need leave the mission field.
In fact, there is plenty of Baptist money to increase the number of missionaries in the field. We do not have a money problem.