Soccer and the Gospel
20 BY 2020
By Clint Morgan
The mission statement of Free Will Baptist International Missions (IM) declares: “We exist to labor with the Body of Christ to fulfill the Great Commission.” From 1935, when we sent our first missionary Laura Belle Barnard to India, to the present, the desire to do our part in fulfilling the Great Commission has been the major impetus for our programs, strategies, activities, and ministries. The biblical foundation of this task, and its focus on all nations, make it relevant to all believers of every era.
If, as a Mission, we come to a point we are no longer driven by Christ’s passion for the nations we become little more than pious programs of little, if any, eternal value. We must be steered by the perpetual presence of God’s Spirit to accomplish His desires. Our strategies must be founded on His desires, directed by the eternal light of His presence, and executed in humble obedience.
During one of the darkest times in IM history, the leadership team (IMLT) focused on the light we could see and determined a path of renewal. We committed to reestablishing IM as the denominational agency tasked with leading Free Will Baptists to follow the Great Commission.
One might say it was one of the most unlikely moments for us to set five-year goals. Our financial picture was bleak, momentum had stalled, and denominational confidence wavered. However, the IMLT sincerely believed the worst was behind us. Our responsibility was to set a new tone. Above all, it was imperative not to lose hope.
In October 2015, the IMLT spent three days in prayer, discussions, and analysis. We then set five major goals we believed were realistic, forward-thinking, and faith-based. Those goals, known as the 20 by 2020 goals, established specific areas to increase by at least 20% by the end of the year 2020.
Let’s consider two aspects of this strategic plan. First, we will review the benchmarks in the five areas when we launched this plan on January 1, 2016. Then, we can look at the latest statistics to analyze our progress toward reaching the goals. Based on our 2015 statistical reports, we laid out the following projections reflecting a 20% increase by the end of 2020.
Grow the number of churches giving monthly to IM from 1,104 to 1,324.
Establish and sustain cash reserves at a minimum of 20% of our annual budget. Between 2008 and 2015 we hovered around 5% in cash reserves.
Boost the number of missionaries sent by IM and its national church partners from 79 to 95.
Raise the number of Free Will Baptist believers outside of North America from 25,524 to 30,628.
Expand the number of Free Will Baptist churches outside of North America from 314 to 377.
NOTE: On some of our present fields, legal implications do not permit the organization of mission outreach points into churches. This leads to a somewhat skewed number when speaking of churches overseas. The total number of organized churches and not-legally-recognized churches is well over 550.
Throughout my time with IM, strategic discussions have always stirred my creative juices. However, the best-developed strategies aren’t worth the paper they are written on unless those needed to execute them are in agreement. In the case of our 20 by 2020 goals, both the IM home and field teams are aware of these goals and the work it will take to see them realized. Together, we are working diligently to see them properly communicated and the plans and incumbent ministries executed with excellence.
The clock started ticking on these goals January 1, 2016, and the alarm will sound on December 31, 2020. Today, we are just over two years into the process, a good time to pause and see how we are doing.
According to 2016 statistical reports, we enthusiastically present the following progress report toward our 20 by 2020 goals. (Field reports from 2017 are not available at this time and will be presented at the National Association in Little Rock, Arkansas, in July 2018.)
131 new churches gave to IM = 8.4% increase
Throughout 2017, our cash reserves remained over 20%! Goal met.
Five missionaries left IM in 2016, but we saw an increase of eight partner missionaries for a 2016 total of 82 = 2.6% growth in this area
Statistical reports show 27,612 attending services each Sunday in Free Will Baptist churches outside of North America = 7.5% upswing
Field reports indicate 346 churches on our fields = 10.4% buildup
NOTE: We do our very best to provide a clear and concise statistical report. In some cases, the reports are either late or not presented. We do not take the liberty to make assumptions about statistics. You may see numbers go up and down in seemingly strange ways. Be assured, we desire to give you the most accurate picture possible of what God is doing around the world through Free Will Baptists.
Hopefully, you are inspired that we are seeing positive movement in each goal. The numbers have increased across the board, and we rejoice in what God is doing around the world.
Success in ministry cannot, and should not, always be measured in numbers. The element of faithfulness cannot be measured. However, the facts allow us to conclude the faithfulness of our missionaries and national brothers and sisters is producing eternal fruit.
The progress made toward our 20 by 2020 goals is due to three major factors: God’s work in the hearts of believers; their obedience to His directives; and in the last two goals, unbelievers submitting to the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
Developing strategies is great. I am all for laying out strategic plans. But, let us not forget the clear biblical exhortation given in 1 Corinthians 3:6-8, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.”
As our mission statement constantly reminds us, we exist to labor with the Body of Christ to fulfill the Great Commission. We must follow through. This calls for ongoing strategic planning and constant laboring together until He returns.
About the Writer: Clint Morgan has been general director of International Missions since 2011. Learn more: