Friday, April 27, 2012

NAMB funding to state conventions: "Entitlements"?

I don’t know of any Southern Baptist who can speak about missions with more credibility than Jerry Rankin, immediate past president of the International Mission Board. 
Rankin wrote a blog article on the North American Mission Board yesterday:

Here’s a portion of it:
For years [NAMB] has been a conduit of funding for state conventions; partnership agreements channeling their work through these and other entities have left little margin for initiative and resources to take the gospel to underserved and neglected areas. Meanwhile baptisms have continued to decline and church growth has stagnated outside the Bible belt…

…It is understandable that there would be denominational leaders disagreeing with changes in strategy and priority; after all it means reductions in subsidies and elimination of effective programs and staff fulfilling significant roles.  

Collectively and cooperatively we can have the resources and resolve to make a difference, but not if the priority is to continue traditions and maintain the status quo. Why should NAMB’s strategy and resources be funneled to state programs in the Bible Belt that already receive the bulk of Cooperative Program funding and are where there is the  greatest concentration of established churches in the world.

Certainly there are still vast swatches of lostness, needs for ministry and areas new churches need to be planted everywhere, but should not churches in those states take more responsibility for the mission where they are located and free NAMB to represent us in areas that have a dearth of churches and  minuscule resources? No one likes to give up entitlements, but if we truly have a heart for reaching the lost everyone should be willing to make sacrifices in their own programs to get it done.

One notices that he used the term “entitlements” in a context that questions NAMB’s legacy practice of “funnel[ing]…state programs in the Bible Belt”.

“Entitlements” you say, Jerry? That’s a pretty strong term, and not particularly positive either.

Those who are paying attention, an admittedly small slice of Southern Baptists, are aware that a number of state convention leaders are doing some fairly serious complaining, something SBCers consider a God-given right, about changes at NAMB that affect their budgets. These executives, one presumes, are complaining even more loudly in private than they are in public.

The complaints stem from changes in funding formulas and policies. NAMB’s critics may speak of such things in terms of how the organization has dictated changes, how they have been heavy handed, or how historic cooperative relationships have been discarded. 

None of this language for Jerry Rankin. Read the whole piece. 

It is infused with frank terminology like “subsidies,” “continue[ing] traditions,” “self-interest,” “provincialism,” "status quo," and, yes, “entitlements.”

Ouch...but I cannot say that each of those terms are accurate.


Anonymous said...

It's a tough day for all of our entities. Money is scarce (if we want to continue to business as usual) and the mission need is greater.

Our church among many in our association have cut programs and we don't like it but if we can't afford it, we must be wise.

I like the idea of more money to the SBC unchurched areas. I am still not sure where I stand on changing the focus of the many DOM's who have done great work and are needed in those small pioneer mission churches. It's easy to say they can still do that but time and health then become an issue.

All for the kingdom should be all of our attitudes. Yet, many of us, including me, can think my piece of the pie is more important than someone else's piece of the pie, especially if I am the one purchasing it.

Jon Estes

Anonymous said...

I serve in Montana - definitely outside the Bible belt. Namb changes have affected our work, and in many cases it needed to happen. I understand the struggle Namb has. Every year our church works out a budget. If the finances are growing, no problem. Sometimes we even put in some people's pet projects (unwisely) just because we can. The hard part is when the budget has to be trimmed. Trimming is hard. Those pet projects, little extras, have become budget items just as important (to some) as everything else.
Praying for Namb. Enjoying your posts.
Steve in Montana

Anonymous said...

Thanks Steve. Everyone involved needs our prayers. It's a tough time.


Matt said...

Baptisms are declining EVERYWHERE, not just outside the Bible belt. I understand his point, but I agree that he definitely should have chosen a different way to say it.

At the same time, what's to stop state conventions from encouraging their churches to allow them to keep more money in house (similar to what the BGCT has done)?

William Thornton said...

State conventions may do whatever they wish. I would like to hear my state or other legacy SBC states make a case for keeping more than the approximately two-thirds of each Cooperative Program dollar that they already keep in-state.

I don't quibble with Jerry Rankin about his choice of words. He is right on target.

Anonymous said...


William Thornton said...


Matt Richard said...

Sorry William, it seems I misread your post.