Around the Corner
Don't Stop Planning: Strategic Goals for the Next Five Years
By Clint Morgan
“Plan your life like you will live forever and work your plan like you will die tomorrow” rewords a quote familiar to many of us. The certainty of death makes it imperative we do what we can in the present, because our future on earth is uncertain.
As believers in Christ, we can plan like we are going to live forever, because we are. Yet, our time on this earth is limited. Whatever we hope to accomplish must be done within the constraints of the ticking clock of this life.
In times of crisis—whether economic, health, or social—it is tempting to cocoon and focus all attention on survival. At the beginning of 2020, the entire globe was thrust headlong into the treacherous territory of the COVID-19 pandemic. People suddenly faced the daily task of adjusting to an unending flow of suppositions and truths linked to the spread of this deadly virus.
Simultaneously with this health crisis, racial tensions boiled over due to the horrific death of an African American man by a policeman while fellow officers stood and watched. On the streets of America, and even in Europe, protests erupted, calling for systemic changes in policing. In some cases, violence, rioting, and looting derailed civil demonstrations. In their wake lay charred buildings, defaced cars, damaged businesses, and obliterated dreams of a better life.
Thinking of the future during times like these is extremely challenging yet imperative. Strategic planning in crisis is a good indicator of organizational health. Even greater, it is an act of faith in God and not in man or our circumstances. Therefore, IM has chosen, even in the darkest hours, to be guided by His Spirit and “plan like we will live forever and live like we will die tomorrow.”
Moving forward successfully is dependent on the people of God doing the work of God in obedience to the Spirit of God. An African proverb challenges us to “put your faith in God but tie your camel tight.” We must start by putting our faith in Him, knowing He has a role for every believer in this yet unfinished task.
The Unfinished Task
Looking to the next five years, the leadership team set the following objectives and goals. For these to be realized, the full cooperation and collaboration of Free Will Baptist people everywhere is needed. By December 31, 2025, we want to see the following seven objectives and goals become our new reality.
First, we desire to see a greater number of Free Will Baptists learning about missions and grappling with the question of their personal role in fulfilling the Great Commission. Consequently, over the next five years we will work to:
See 500 pastors, leaders, lay people, and young people participate annually in missional training through GO GLOBAL, Perspectives, and other intensive,
Currently, around 200 people each year attend a GO GLOBAL event. Our department of development is determined to make GO GLOBAL—similar to a Missions 101 class—a premier training tool for Free Will Baptists. Through this program, we will offer a missions-formation program and materials to every church desiring to move its congregation from a group that “doesn’t mind missions” to becoming “missions-minded.” This simple shift in mentality will have a monumental effect on what churches do, both at home and abroad.
Several years ago, IM performed an analysis to determine the number of Free Will Baptist churches giving to IM. Of 2,100-plus churches, less than 50% gave anything to our ministries. This caused great concern, and we determined to address it. We have seen a slight uptick and now receive some level of support from just over 50% of the churches affiliated with the National Association. This is not an acceptable level for any evangelical denomination. Therefore, we have set a five-year goal to:
Expand the number of churches giving to IM from 50% to 75%.
Does it seem reasonable to see a 25% increase over a five-year period, when we’ve seen a mere 2%-3% increase in the previous five years? If it seemed reasonable, it would not be faith-based. We want to “expect great things from God and attempt great things for Him” (William Carey). So, the answer is yes, we believe it is possible within the realm of faith in Him.
As the number of churches giving to IM increases, we expect to see a significant increase in monthly supporters. This, in turn will affect our World Missions Offering (WMO). Presently, we average around $600,000 each year in this annual offering. Not satisfied with the status quo, we are setting a goal to:
Grow and sustain the annual World Missions Offering to $1 million by December 31, 2025.
The budgets for our partnerships are primarily met through the WMO. We hope to add another eight strategically focused partnerships to the 12 we have already. Without a $1 million WMO, that goal is practically impossible. Consequently, these efforts go hand-in-hand. If one fails, the other fails also. Failure is not a faith option, so we press on, believing we will see $1 million annual WMOs.
In 2015, our cash reserves rested around 15%. We determined to build it to at least 20% by the year 2020. By the end of 2019, our cash reserves had reached 37%. Due to the pandemic, we came face to face with the question, is 20% enough? We decided we need to raise the percentage. Our goal for the next five years is to:
Grow cash reserves from the present average of 37% to 50%, or the equivalent of six months of operational budget.
Having 50% in cash reserves will reduce our vulnerability to economic crisis. The pandemic thwarted giving for many people. Fortunately, we had cash reserves to help us navigate these unstable financial times. Something of this nature can occur again. We will be prepared to better withstand such upheaval with 50% in our cash reserves.
As people learn about missions and engage in giving to missions, they will want to become personally involved. We want Free Will Baptist volunteers learning and ministering on the mission field. Each year, we send 200-plus people for short-term experiences. We are committed to:
Grow and sustain the number of short-term team members (ETEAM, CMP, OA, THP) from an average of just over 200 to 350 per year.
The short-term volunteer programs serve as our richest pool for recruiting. Over 85% of our missionaries experienced an IM short-term, cross-cultural trip that influenced their decision to commit to overseas service. By continuing our recruitment efforts over the next five years, we believe God will:
Expand our missionary staff from 103 to 125 active IM missionaries.
As we send these men and women to “labor with the Body of Christ to fulfill the Great Commission,” we will see many people become followers of Christ. We are not in a numbers contest, but we love hearing amazing reports from the fields regarding the expansion of His Kingdom. Our 2019 stats revealed over 35,500 Free Will Baptists met in 845 churches outside North America each Sunday. Through the faithful witness of our missionaries and national Christians we believe we will:
See more than 50,000 believers gathering in over 2,000 churches by the end
IM has no desire to slow down, rest, or retreat. We certainly do not intend to quit working to reach the nations with the Good News. Our commitment to recruiting, mobilizing, training, and sending missionaries is unwavering and will not be diminished or derailed by a crisis, difficult circumstances, or hostile environments.
He is ours…we are His. His command to go into all nations and make disciples is still an active order. We must faithfully obey until His return or our departure from this earth.
Until then, we will “plan like we will live forever and work our plan like we will die tomorrow.”
About the Writer: Clint Morgan has been general director of
IM, Inc. since 2011. Learn more: www.IMInc.org.