Everyone important likes Kevin Ezell. Shoot, everyone who has said anything about him likes him: He is an outstanding pastor, he loves missions, he is a gifted preacher, he is a committed Christian, he is a great church starter. Absent a train wreck, he will be the CEO of the North American Mission Board, Southern Baptist’s second largest agency come next Tuesday.
But there seem to be a few things he cannot do:
1. He cannot say he has led by example in giving to NAMB's major offering, Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, which provides more of NAMB's funding than any other single source.
2. He cannot say that he has led by example in giving to the Cooperative Program, which, together with the AAEO provides over $100 million of NAMB's $130+ million budget.
3. He cannot say that his church is an example of what the Great Commission Task Force recommended with respect to the Cooperative Program being the "central means of supporting Great Commission ministries."
Now Kevin Ezell can say that his church has been doing direct church planting as a substitute for sending NAMB these funds. Maybe that's the way he (and NAMB trustees) look at his record.
He could say that his church is so large that the idea of funneling money through a state convention is not necessary.
He can say that what his church has been doing is what NAMB ought to be doing, that is, to help the churches plant churches like his church has been doing.
He might can say that what his church has been doing is working better than what NAMB has been doing.
He can say and do a lot of things but he cannot say to the tens of thousands of SBC churches that they should give generously and sacrificially to Annie and the CP without a serious personal caveat.
All that said, we all know that churches have been giving smaller and smaller percentages of their offering plate dollars through the Cooperative Program for decades with megachurches being the leading example of this practice. Ezell’s church fits this pattern. It is where we are and where we seem to be headed.
Maybe his church had some formal partnership arrangement with NAMB whereby they coordinated on church starts and by-passed putting their money in Annie to fund that. I don’t know.
His nomination could perhaps be simply and directly explained as a recognition that we do have the bloated bureaucracies, primarily within state conventions, and we are attempting to change that by having leaders who pointedly speak against and direct their giving around those state conventions? After all, Kevin Ezell said that his church wasn’t interested in giving to the KBC when they kept about 2/3 of the money in state. No one tells a local church they cannot think that way, but as leader of NAMB...?
Southern Baptists know, NAMB trustees acutely know, that NAMB needs some success. I hope they find it with Ezell. I'm not against him at all. I’m just making the obvious points here and I do wish that trustees and Ezell would address the questions here.
Peter Lumpkins, a racehorse whereas I am a plodder, has a much more
detailed analysis of Ezell's church spending practices.
If I'm wrong someone please, quickly show me.