Wednesday, January 26, 2011

NAMB has $70m Annie Armstrong goal...and not a snowball's chance of achieving it. (updated)

The Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions is nigh upon us and our North American Mission Board’s key collection, it provides over 40% of their budget, is sharply down for 2010.

Last year the churches gave $54.3 million, down from $56.6 million in 2009. The decline was expected, I suppose. The goal for last year was $70 million, same goal this year.

One wonders when a goal becomes a completely meaningless figure. The offering was $2.4 million under goal in 2008, $8.4 million in 2009, and a staggering $15.7 million under in 2010. It doesn't cost anything to set a goal but are we challenging the churches or mocking them? Is it defeatist to reduce a goal? I’d be satisfied with realistic goals. Sure, NAMB rarely meets their goals but they have never been so far short of them.

Goals aside, will the offering increase? I would like to predict an increase but I get the sense from reading the tea leaves that this will be a more difficult year financially for churches and receipts will fall. Hope I'm wrong.

This AA offering will be Kevin Ezell’s first as head of NAMB. He earlier stated that he didn’t see why Southern Baptists couldn’t give $100 million if the agency offered a “compelling vision and effective strategy.”

It's fair enough to visualize far more and better things than we have now. NAMB trustees’ grand experiment in bringing in an individual with a record of nonsupport to head Southern Baptist’s number two entity will have a measurable outcome beginning sometime this summer. I suspect that most churches aren't too focused on the CEO's past record and will give based on economic realities.

As for the “compelling vision and effective strategy,” we will get to see the latter part in a couple of weeks, Ezell says. Indications about the new strategy don’t show anything new to me. Perhaps the compelling part will be in the details.

In my church we will, as we have for scores of years, support the AA Easter Offering, though not as vigorously as we do the Lottie Moon offering for the International Mission Board.

Unrealistic goal aside, if NAMB can demonstrate better stewardship, better leadership, and better prioritizing of their tasks, I will be willing to be more agressive in financially supporting them.
More Annie Armstrong facts:

Since 2000, the offering totals have been less than the previous year five times, including the last three – 2008, 2009, 2010. From 1933 to 2000 the offering declined only five of those 68 years. Now, five of the past ten. Times are tough.

The offering goal has been reduced from the previous year only five times since 1933, the last in 1998. Might be time to reassess reality here.

The offering has declined at an increasing rate since 2007. Down 2.2% in 2008, 2.6% in 2009, and 4.1% in 2010. From the halcyon year 2007, largest ever offering, the offering has declined almost 8.7%, over $5m.

Just to stop the rate of decrease would be a success for Kevin Ezell and NAMB.

[I thank Mike Ebert from NAMB for the Excel chart on historic goals and giving.]


Anonymous said...

... he didn’t see why Southern Baptists couldn’t give $100 million if the agency offered a “compelling vision and effective strategy.”

I've been watching and reading and I could not tell you what compelling and effective strategy has been implemented and put into place. I do think the people in the pew are smarter than many in present and past leadership want to give them credit for.

The 79 and forward years taught the people to look. Many have not quit looking and are finding now an uncomfortable feeling with all that is known to be going on and even a more uncomfortable feeling about what they don't know and can't find out.

Jon Estes

William Thornton said...

Ezell said he would unveil the new stragegy to trustees on Feb 9th. Presumably, this will be made public.


Anonymous said...

Well, we exceeded both our AA and LM goals for 2010. Granted, the AA wasn't much of a goal, but it looked like we weren't going to even meet it for a while. Our LM goal was more aggressive, and it was nice to exceed it.

I'm not sure what kind of plan he can put out there that is compelling enough for me to get excited about it. Downsizing was probably a good idea. But, I really want to see how they choose to spend the money over a year or two before I get excited about it. The verdict is still out on Ezell, as far as I'm concerned. We'll see. Who knows, having non-supporters lead religious institutions may be the wave of the future.

Tim Dahl

William Thornton said...

Congratulations on meeting your goals, Tim. I think everyone understands that NAMB is on probation in a sense here. My hope is that they have success in reacquiring the trust and confidence of Southern Baptists.