Pursuing that vision of God’s kingdom on earth
The progress BMS is making in its 2016-2020 mission strategy ‘One Million Lives Transformed’ was shared during its AGM on Saturday morning
The strategy captures a series of targets for each of BMS’s seven ministries, namely church, education, justice, development, health, leadership and relief. It was launched at the 2016 Baptist Assembly.
‘Our vision was one of faith,’ explained Peter Dunn, BMS Director of Mission, ‘one that stretched us, that caused us to look for God in new ways. To pursue that vision of God’s kingdom on earth.’
Reflecting on the first year of the strategy, Steve Sanderson, deputy director for mission, began by talking of the three priorities that underpin these more specific goals. BMS aims to work:
among the most marginalised people
in the least evangelised communities
in the most fragile places
In terms of that first aim, BMS has a target of investing at least one third of its resources in the countries in the bottom quarter of the human development index. Currently this figure is 26 per cent, which BMS characterises as reasonable progress.
BMS is also nearing its goal of investing at least half of its resources in the third of the world that is least evangelised, with a 39 per cent spend. 'We are getting there,' said Steve, 'but this shows there is more to be done.'
However, it is already meeting third target of working in 10 of the 20 most fragile states on earth. 'We have already managed 10!' said Steve.
Steve then moved on to updates on the seven specific targets.
In terms of church ministry, BMS aims to reach 500,000 people over five years. Last year it reached 70,012. ‘We want more people to know about Jesus, and we recognise we need to be more innovative about how we share Jesus,’ said Steve.
For education, the target was 50,000. In the first year, BMS reached 4,796 people. ‘This is some way below what we’d hoped for,’ said Steve, reflecting that BMS still has more to do in these areas in the coming years, but fully expects to hit the five-year targets.
However, the remaining five ministries were all on track, and in the case of both health and leadership, the targets had actually been exceeded.
He stressed this was not 'a numbers game', that BMS was aiming at lasting transformation, and having measurable targets helped inform its work. 'In this, we have faith that God will honour our work in ways we had not even imagined.'
Overall, in its first year of a five year ambition of seeing 1 million lives transformed, BMS has reached 193,000 people.
‘We are encouraged by signs of God in many places,’ said Peter.
To underline this, stories from ministries in Uganda and India were shared.
The session also saw an update on BMS’ finances.
‘This is an opportunity to celebrate the Lord’s provision, and understand the challenge BMS faces,’ said honorary treasurer Robert Ashurst. He shared that there had been an increase in giving in the previous year to BMS, after several years of it remaining constant.
‘We want to say thank you to you – and above all to God for another year of provision.’
In addition, the first five months of the current financial year the income is on budget.
However, BMS faced a number of challenges, Robert continued, meaning there no cause for complacency.
The weakness of sterling following the EU referendum means payments it makes to partners in foreign currency costs BMS a lot more. Secondly, BMS mission personnel may no longer be eligible for NHS treatment as the Government clamps down on health tourism, with reduced health care for mission workers being an unintended consequence of that decision. Thirdly, as with many pension schemes, there is some volatility, although BMS has actively and effectively managed that aspect over several years.
He ended by giving thanks to both Val Stephens, BMS Finance Director, and her former deputy Marian Rudall, who retired in March after 25 years.
‘Marian had a fine eye for details, but she always understood that numbers mean more. They allow BMS to fulfil its calling.'
Turning to delegates, he continued, ‘We are grateful for your support, your money, your prayers, sending your best people.’
In the first part of the session, delegates voted that BMS moves from being an unincorporated charity to an incorporated one. The motion was overwhelmingly carried. This will take effect on 1 November. This was a legal change to the charity’s status, said General Director David Kerrigan, ‘You will not see any difference in our work.‘