IMB’s Elliff unveils ‘One Sacred Effort’ theme

Don Graham/IMB senior writer

BALTIMORE, Md. – In his report to the convention, International Mission Board (IMB) Tom Elliff unveiled IMB’s theme for 2014, “One Sacred Effort,” encouraging every Southern Baptist to “find your place in God’s story.” For more information on IMB’s theme and how to get involved go to

Elliff’s report detailed the activities of Southern Baptist missionaries in 2013. But rather than highlight the total numbers of new believers and baptisms witnessed by Southern Baptists and their national partners, Elliff instead chose to focus on the efforts of the roughly 4,800 IMB individual missionaries.

He divided the results by the number of missionaries to reflect the work of a single missionary, an individual whom Elliff said participated in leading 49 people to faith in Jesus, walking with 24 of those believers as they expressed their faith through baptism.

“Seventy-five percent of the people in this world live in nations that are hostile to the Christian faith,” Elliff said, citing a recent email from an IMB missionary which caught his attention.

“How do you baptize 1,200 people on one Sunday morning in a Muslim country? It staggers the imagination.”

In 2013, an “average” IMB missionary also:

• Assisted in systematic, ongoing Bible training for 90 individuals and personally mentored five additional potential leaders;

• Participated in training and encouraging six different churches and personally led in the planting and establishment of at least one new church;

• Joined others in pointing 3,861 believers toward extended, formal theological training;

• Welcomed to the field the 1,918 Southern Baptist churches and entities that have committed to embrace UUPGS (unengaged, unreached people groups) across the globe;

• Witnessed the engagement of 120 UUPGs by Southern Baptists during the past three years and participated with other evangelical groups in engaging 919 previously unengaged, unreached people groups.

Elliff thanked Southern Baptist churches and the Woman’s Missionary Union for their role in making those numbers a reality by giving the largest Lottie Moon Christmas Offering in history in 2013: $154 million, $4.8 million more than the 2012 offering.

Recognizing this will likely be his last Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting as IMB’s president, Elliff also thanked Southern Baptists for the opportunity to serve. In February, Elliff announced God is leading him to leave IMB once a successor could be found.

“We believe people support what they help create,” he said. “And it seems we have an entire generation of Southern Baptists who’ve yet to have an opportunity to help us create who we are. There comes a time when leaders need to be cheerleaders.

“Jeannie and I have been so privileged to serve in this role for the past three and a half years. This has been one of the most incredible blessings of our life; the joy of serving you (Southern Baptists), of serving our personnel, of serving with our board of trustees.”

Messengers expressed their appreciation to Elliff with a standing ovation.