Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Feel better about NAMB?

Our North American Mission Board has been the closest thing to a completely dysfunctional agency that Southern Baptists have ever had. Well, let's go ahead and say that NAMB has absolutely been dysfunctional for most of the 21st century. Informed SBCers, even those who love to argue anything and everything, will likely not argue that point.

Along came the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force and report and, more than any other SBC entity, NAMB was singled out for change. Soon thereafter NAMB trustees plucked Kevin Ezell, megachurch pastor whose disengagement with NAMB and non-support of the same was easily the most notable and puzzling part of his resume, to be the CEO of the dysfunctional half of our two mission boards.

After little over one year, Ezell has successfully made just about every constituency in SBC life mad at him for the changes he has made at NAMB - except of course those who have an interest, passion, and skills in the area of church planting.

Good for him.

Someone in the SBC ought to be mad about the way things have been going at NAMB. Even NAMB trustees expected us to just move on from one debacle to the next and keep on giving our money.

Very quickly, Ezell cut NAMB HQ staff drastically, saving millions. He found NAMB staffers flying all around the country to do events and cut the travel budget by half, saving more millions.

NAMB has re-engineered the complicated system of kickbacks to state conventions whereby churches give to Annie Armstrong and Cooperative Program, which money travels to state conventions, then the Executive Committee in Nashville, then to NAMB in Alpharetta, GA, then back to state conventions. The change was intended to put less money in low priority areas and ministries and more in church planting. Made perfect sense to me.

NAMB funded missionaries who fulfilled various jobs like ministry at ski resorts have been either eliminated or reassigned to focus on church planting.

I like the changes.

Baptist Press quotes Ezell as saying recently that,
In 2009, NAMB spent 28 percent of its budget on church planting. In 2011, we are spending 37 percent and, in 2012, we will spend at least 42 percent of our budget on church planting," Ezell said. "So we are progressing rapidly toward our minimal goal of 50 percent."


I like the direction of NAMB these days.

Some people don't. I like the focus on church planting. Some people may like NAMB doing a thousand things and making tens of thousands of people happy they get a slice of NAMB's budget. I don't think that concept was working well for us and am glad it is changing.

I feel better about giving to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions.

Some don't like the new NAMB. My working hypothesis is that if you look closely behind what is not liked about the new NAMB, you will find a funding cut. There is no better way to make an SBCer scream than to cut his funding stream.

The jury is still out as far as results go but I feel better about NAMB.

How about you?


Anonymous said...

Ezell wants 5,112 new SBC churches. Why do we need a bunch of new SBC churches when we already have one on nearly every corner. Perhaps they should be working on finding a way to make the current churches function in the proper way.

William Thornton said...

You are looking in the wrong corners. It's the NORTH AMERICAN Mission Board, not the BIBLE BELT Mission Board.

Anonymous said...

Then let them build them up north and not in the Bible Belt. We already have plenty.

William Thornton said...

Uh, I think that's the idea.

Dave Miller said...


WMB said...

I agree that that is the current focus. Also how is it that NAMB should make current churches function in the proper way? Due to our polity and denominational structure NAMB lacks the authority even if they had the ability to make churches function in the "proper way". Since this is the reality of the Bible Belt it seems that the only answer is to plant new churches that focus on reaching the lost people in the Bible Belt combined with massive church planting efforts outside the Bible Belt. This appears to be the strategy and I for one think it is about time and something I can support with my wallet and my own effort.

Jon L. Estes said...

In response to WMB... I wish there was a way to re-energize the churches in the south. New church plants will reach more people (stats have shown that) but why is it that established churches aren't. OK, we both know the answer so how do we help the BB churches get back on track?

Personally, I would like to see no more churches planted in the south and the churches who exist begin being the churches God intended for us to be.

Also. to keep in harmony with Williams Calvinist comment, I am under the belief that traditionalism is a greater problem than Calvinism. But, that's just me thinking.

WMB said...

I agree that the it would be best if the existing churches were reaching the people around them. As someone who lives in the south (ATL to be exact) it seems to me that established churches suffer from a lack of desire to see God's kingdom expand or they fail to see the need. I honestly do not know how anyone can fix that. What seems to happen where I am is that the churches hang on with a death grip to the things that actually inhibit reaching the community around them until it is just too late. Also I will say that there is a part of me that wonders if what we are seeing is not the dirrect result of the sin of racism. I don't really know what the answer is but I do not think it is NAMBs job to go around attempting to "FIX" broken churches. Can you imagine the outrage if that were to happen? It seems to me that everyone has choosen the path of least resistance which is planting new churches.
Also, while there are many churches in the south there has been great growth in population in certain cities and their surrounding areas, this has created some need for new churches even in the south, but I agree with you that our church planting efforts really need to be focused on areas lacking in churches.