The big news back in February coming out of the Fellowship of State Executive Directors annual meeting was the naming of a state executives' special committee, "A Study Committee on Implementation of NAMB Initiatives with State Conventions."
The concern was over how the North American Mission Board was redirecting its budget to reflect new priorities. The changes at NAMB meant that some state conventions were to get less money and sacred cows were mooing mightily all across the SBC landscape; hence, this highly visible study committee, sort of a shot across NAMB's bow.
The study committee thereupon went into the deep freeze, since not a syllable has been heard about it since...until now.
Sensibly, the state convention leaders have decided to go along and get along with NAMB. Baptist Press reports this today in their story,
All that was said publicly on this is in the quote below:
On September 13, 2012, state executive directors met with North American Mission Board president Kevin Ezell. David Hankins, executive director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention and chairman of the special study committee, presented a report that was enthusiastically received by the Execs. The result is that the Conventions and the North American Mission Board have determined to move forward together in unity to impact the lostness of North America.There was some kind of internal report. Guess we will never see that. Regardless, this is good news, although one might be curious as to the process and discussion.
"'It is our desire that all of us can join ranks around the task of evangelizing and congregationalizing North America,' said Hankins. 'Southern Baptists can have confidence in our united effort.'
"Ezell added, 'We are excited to be moving forward together in unity for the sake of the kingdom.'"
State convention leaders may have been given pause by one or more of the following factors:
- Kevin Ezell, NAMB's leader, has NAMB doing quite well in the eyes of many SBCers and had made efforts to mollify some of the state exec's complaints.
- No less than retired IMB president Jerry Rankin labeled NAMB's kickback funding for state conventions, the trigger for the study committee, as "entitlements," hardly helpful to the states in shaping SBC opinion.
- While NAMB received criticism for some of their changes, it's tough to argue against NAMB's putting a laser focus on church planting.
- Early high profile critics of NAMB's changes did not gain much traction in the SBC.
- It has been tough to argue against NAMB's policy redirecting mission money from heavily churched states like Arkansas and putting it in less churched areas.
- The Annie Armstrong offering was up over one million dollars this year, indicating SBC support of the new NAMB.
- NAMB's signature Grand Program, Send North America, is off to a promising start with thousands of SBCers and SBC churches on board.
Slice this any way you want. It is good news for Southern Baptists to stop complaining and lock arms in reaching the lost in North America.