Clyde Meador, IMB VP:
“…clarified changes in how statistics are reported, noting that the work relating to work with which IMB personnel have direct involvement is tabulated apart from statistics relating to Baptist conventions and unions overseas. New IMB categories have been added to document the number of gospel presentations, challenges to make commitments and professions of faith.”The IMB has been criticized for lumping statistics of all the groups that our overseas people relate to. The resulting numbers are, well, fuzzy.
"This doesn't mean we're devaluating baptisms, but we understand better the kind of interactions our people are having," Meador explained.
Even with the new approach, Meador said the number of baptisms stemming from IMB-related work remained strong at 360,000 and the number of new churches started was even greater than the previous year.
Memo to IMB: I know you have many people in difficult places. My support of your work doesn’t depend on your knocking my socks off with statistics.
NAMB’s new leader, Kevin Ezell’s approach to reporting church starts was summarized by Baptist Press thusly:
While church planters can expect a faster track to start new work, Ezell also promised greater accountability, making sure all of the partners are "using the same dictionary" when defining what constitutes a church, a church plant and a missionary.To be blunt, no one really can tell what NAMB has been doing. I commend him for paying attention to reality and not having a goal of spiffy stats rather than honest church starts.
One caveat here is this: The SBC seems destined to be ruled by megachurch pastors, folks who know something about numbers and who understand the value of looking good on paper. I trust that they will respect the folks who pay all these bills, ordinary SBCers like me, by being honest in their reporting.