Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The New NAMB: Plant churches or 'Good bye!'

Like the new North American Mission Board of not, it is substantially different in significant ways.

Last year’s NAMB news was about emptying their Alpharetta, GA headquarters of considerable numbers of personnel to free up money for the job of church planting.

This year’s NAMB news may be in the sharper focus on church planting of personnel outside HQ. Back in June, Baptist Press reported (a reprint of a Christian Index story) on NAMB head Kevin Ezell’s plant to make job assignment changes for the considerable number of associational missionaries that NAMB funds:
About 250 directors of missions fully funded by NAMB will have their ministry assignments changed to "church planter catalyst." Ezell said the areas of the nation where most of them serve -- in heavily unchurched new work areas -- are where new churches are needed the most.

Use for an example of that assignment change what NAMB is doing with the Baptist Convention of New York. The Christian Index reported last week that the BCNY has seven associational missionaries who are fully or partly funded by NAMB. These people have been reassigned as church planting catalysts who have a goal of starting four churches per year in their associations.

In the past six years (2004-2010) the number of churches reported by the BCNY has increased by a total of thirty. If goals are met there will be about that many started in 2012 alone. That’s progress, and pressure.

Two things that might be said here. First, one of the problems identified by Ezell and the new NAMB was described as “soft” numbers in NAMB’s reporting of new congregations. One supposes that these new churches in New York will not be “soft” just to meet the goals. Second, what is to be done if goals are unmet?

Concerning the latter, here is what BP reported in June:
In most cases missionaries serving in director of missions positions will be allowed a year of transition, beginning in January 2012, to see if the new job description is a good fit. If not, they can retire or decide to find other ministry opportunities.
NAMB to AMs: 'You've got one year.'

I wouldn’t want the pressure, unless I was called to the task and confident in the Lord working to get churches started in the BCNY.

Well, a focus on church planting was the intent of the Great Commission Resurgence report. It was what Kevin Ezell said he would do. Here's the reality on the ground in the BCNY. Presumably, NAMB intends to do the same for the other 243 associational missionaries that they fund.

Want a pressure cooker job? There might be some available soon.


Anonymous said...

Wow, this is amazing. I have to admit that I'm conflicted over this. You see, I believe that NAMB should have control over their money. They have a responsibility to make sure that the money is being used in a way most consistent with their mission. For too long, money was sent to NAMB, just to be sent back to the State Conventions on to the Associations with very little oversight by NAMB. So, if money comes their way, if they are made responsible for it, then they have the right to say what it goes for.

That being said, an Association is supposed to be an autonomous agency. That they allowed NAMB to pay the salary of their DoMs is saddening. I know they thought that they would never be made to give up their autonomy, but it has been bought and paid for. The only way for them to get out of it would be to hire a bi-vo DoM. Sure, they wouldn't get the same services from the position, but they regain their autonomy.

NAMB has a right to use the money given into their care in the most responsible way they know how. At this moment, it looks like DoMs they fully fund will be church starting catalysts. And, Local Associations have the right to say "no" to NAMB money, possibly even have their churches keep more of their money home, so that the Local Association can be the agency it was created to be: an autonomous Baptist Association.

Tim Dahl

William Thornton said...

Some of the seven are fully funded, some partly funded by NAMB. If NAMB feels that their mission for Southern Baptists is primarily to plant churches they should certainly direct funds to that purpose.

I don't see any problem with NAMB doing this or weak associations partnering with NAMB to get churches planted in their area.

I have no idea how many of these associations are strong enough to fund their own personnel. Probably not many.

Dave Miller said...

I know where this post should go next.

Jon L. Estes said...

In the pioneer states the DOM is often the one individual which holds the churches together. When I pastored in western PA our DOM worked hard keeping the churches connected. We were 21 churches in 9 1/2 counties.

I do wonder what will become of this needed work. New work (church plants) with new pastors but churches not connected because they are so spread out and no one is being the resource which keeps them tight.

Even the church planters will need the fellowship of the other churches. I'll be watching.

Les Puryear said...

To me, the issue is not the number of new church plants. The issue is the number of new church plants that survive.

What is NAMB doing to give new church plants a better than 50/50 chance of survival beyond 4 years? Their own study in 2007 reported that 1/3 of all church plants do not survive beyond the fourth year.

Our new church plant has decided that we will focus on multiplication instead of growth. When our first church plant reaches 100 attendees, then we will support a leader of the church and 25 people to go and plant a new church. When that church grows to 100, then it will multiply the same way. We believe this approach has a better chance of succeeding than just planting new churches on a predetermined timetable. We're emphasizing quality over quantity. We've developed a detailed model which meets our church planting vision and it doesn't take thousands of dollars to implement.

Personally, I would like to see NAMB do that as well.


Anonymous said...

As a NAMB jointly funded missionary in another state, I can tell you the hurt is deep among our NAMB missionaries. Many of us accepted a position of ADOM with the job description written by our association and approved by NAMB and the state Convention and most funding coming from those two sources. When the new job descriptions were written, they were written by NAMB with no input from the association, yet they still want the association to provide ministry expense, and office space and I personally know some cases where the missionaries received 85-90% of their support from their local association and yet were told by NAMB either change or lose your benefits and NAMB position. I do not question NAMB's right to do that, but it doesn't seem like a partnership to do it that way and it does not provide an environment of cooperation. The SBC I grew up in is no more when missionaries are being terminated all across the country. Check with the BCM missionaries and CCM missionaries. Most of them got their walking papers for Dec. 31, 2011.

William Thornton said...

anon NAMB missionary, how about emailing me at the address on my profile.