Monday, June 6, 2011

Ezell ambivalent about Acts29 and other pre-convention NAMB news

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:

NAMB’s Priorities
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.

Legacy staffing
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.


Anonymous said...

I didn't know that NAMB fully funds about 250 DOMs. What ever happened to autonomy? I guess it goes out the window when money is at stake.

This isn't a critique of NAMB, in any way. If NAMB fully funds a DOM, then that person is working for them, period. Let's see how far they get w/out the money from NAMB.

I lift my glass (of Dr. Pepper) to all of those baptist associations that decided to stay truly autonomous organizations, and not go asking daddy NAMB for a perpetual hand out. Sure, you may be able to get more stuff done (hypothetically), but you're still at NAMB's beck and call (imo).

Our associations need to be involved in more church planting anyway.

Tim Dahl

Anonymous said...

I realize that church planting is a wonderful goal but why not work on getting the existing churches to function properly? We have churches on every corner in the Southern US and sure don't need a bunch of new church plants. Not sure how they could do this but I'd sure like to see someone try. The Holy Spirit has been working on getting them to function properly but even He isn't making good progress.

BTW, I have no problem with anyone who does the work of the Lord even if they are a Calvinist. I happen to be one too and sure don't consider us to be the enemy.

William Thornton said...

Tim, the article says that most of these fully funded DOMs are in heavily unchurches new work areas, places where there are few existing SBC churches. I don't think there is any autonomy question on this. NAMB would happily 'release' these positions if churches were around to fund them.

John Notestein said...

I happen to agree with Ezell in the last point of your post. As long as SBC churches and plants agree with the BFM and support the CP, what difference does it make if they associate with other groups too, such as Acts 29, CBF, or whoever it take to do their mission where they are at? If the goal is to spread the gospel, then let them do it.

William Thornton said...

John, the article said that NAMB church planters often find other sources of support but as long as the church conforms with the BFM and supports the CP, and the planter adheres to NAMB's requirements (no alcohol, et al req.), it's not a problem.

I am unaware of any NAMB church that receives CBF money.

Anonymous said...

From my experience, church planters or missionaries with NAMB aren't allowed to have any connection with the CBF. I was asked the questions on both IMB and NAMB paperwork I have done in the past few years.

On NAMB's site for missionary guidelines (, they explicitly say that no CBF connections or sympathies are allowed.

I do like the concept of giving out trophies...maybe you can get a graphics guy to make you some "Ploddies" or something to give out every so often.

William Thornton said...

BP has picked up this story. I've linked it in my article and here:

Anonymous said...

If you would like to know how Texas associational offices were funded over the years contact Ken Coffee who retired after serving the BGCT as the man directly involved in working with associations and DOMs for several years. Ken also served as DOM for San Antonio Association prior to going to the BGCT. You may already be familiar with him through his blog "Strong Coffee".

Anonymous said...

On this article ...

I. The Plodder Nails It
II. The Plodder Notes It
III. The Plodder Needles It

<>< Ron F. Hale

William Thornton said...

Ummm...guess we are not yet disenthralled with the "A" word. :)

Anonymous said...

My post above should have been on your "alliteration" article ... sorry. :)

<><Ron F. Hale