Update: Baptist Press has picked up this story - EZELL INTERVIEW: Goal is to make NAMB 'first choice of church planters everywhere'
The Christian Index is about a fifteen minute drive from the sparkling North American Mission Board headquarters and the paper usually is pretty close to NAMB happenings. The paper interviewed NAMB leader Kevin Ezell (sorry, unavailable online unless you subscribe). Exerpts and observations:
Ezell and NAMB are more focused on church planting rather than a hundred other things, good things, aiming to put 50% of its resources in church planting. Despite the chicken little pronouncements coming from some, the figure is now about 38%. Getting to 50% will “stretch us,” says Ezell.
Honesty in Numbers
How’s the church planting been going? Ezell says that NAMB has been reporting 1,400 to 1,600 plants annually “for years” but that these are “soft” figures. He says that the “numbers we report may be less than previous years but we believe they will be more accurate.”
Give the man a trophy for saying that he believes that the truth is more important than impressing people with “soft” figures. Ask the Baptist General Convention of Texas about “soft” church planting numbers which for them translated into hard dollars, millions of them squandered on phantom church plants.
NAMB fully funds about 250 Directors of Missions. These will have a year to transition to “church planter catalyst.” If the new job description is not a good fit they can “retire or decide to find other ministry opportunities.”
“We are looking at newer, more efficient ways of working that do not require additional staff,” says Ezell.
Are we sure this guy is a Southern Baptist agency head and not some alien? A CEO who doesn’t want to grow his staff? Give the man another trophy.
The Acts 29 Network
Critics have dogged Kevin Ezell and the North American Mission Board about the Acts 29 Network, a church planting network that at least one NAMB plant (Grace Baptist Church, Boston) has affiliated with. The complaint is that our Annie Armstrong and Cooperative Program dollars are going to folks involved with this group who are calvinists, or who drink alcohol, or who cuss or some other stuff.
Ezell expresses ambivalence, “[NAMB] missionary participation in the Network does not concern Ezell one way or the other, he neither endorses or criticizes such involvement.” Plodder mades a safe prediction that this stance will be unacceptable to strident Acts 29 opponents.
Ezell: “We plant Southern Baptist churches that adhere to the Baptist Faith and Message and support the Cooperative Program” and “We don’t ask our planters who or what groups they associate with…”
Give the Index and Ezell credit for meeting this head-on.