Tuesday, April 10, 2012

So, how do we expect NAMB to spend our money?

The North American Mission Board is Southern Baptists' second largest entity with a budget for 2012 of $115 million. NAMB gets the second largest slice of Cooperative Program money, about ten percent. Their annual mission offering, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions, totaled over $56 million in 2011.

One wonders, just how do we expect NAMB to spend our money?

Were Southern Baptists satisfied with the spending under prior administrations which included overseas trips to movie premiers, ice sculptures for in house events, and millions in wasted money on programs now defunct?

Were Southern Baptists satisfied with centralizing spending in NAMB's Alpharetta headquarters with hundreds of employees and paying millions in travel expenses?

Were Southern Baptists satisfied that NAMB in reaching North America for Christ, was spending only about twenty-eight cents on every budgetary dollar on church planting?

Are Southern Baptists displeased that headquarters employment and spending and travel expenses have been cut by many millions and that spending on church planting will consume forty-two cents on every 2012 budgetary dollar?

I hear a lot of general complaining about NAMB but I'd like to hear someone make the case made for the status quo ante at NAMB.

Aha, it's about NAMB cutting funding to state conventions some say.

Fair enough. Can we talk data?

NAMB no longer pays insurance for positions they fund at less than a 50% level (although I understand that for some of these they have agreed to take several years to transition the ending of that funding). There are several positions that NAMB funds at a very insignificant sum, couple of hundred dollars a month, for which they have paid 100% of insurance costs.

Does anyone think it inappropriate that this system be ended?

NAMB has a policy that is reducing cooperative funding to the stronger state conventions and increasing funding in the weaker state conventions.

Do Southern Baptists think this is unwise or unfair?

A commenter here made the assertion that NAMB is "decimating" missions in  the Colorado Baptist General Convention.


Well, not really, if funding is any measure of things, since NAMB has increased funding to Colorado by about one third for 2012. Other states may wish for NAMB to decimate missions in their state in this manner.

A popular blogger from New Mexico lamented NAMB's cutting of mission funding for his state.


Well, really. NAMB has dropped their funding for New Mexico by about $222,000 for 2012, about a twenty percent cut.


Seems New Mexico is a pretty strong Southern Baptist state with well over 300 congregations serving a total population of right at two million. In fact, the case can be made from the data that New Mexico is a stronger Southern Baptist state than even Florida and than every other state outside the South except for Wyoming. NAMB has adjusted their funding based on parameters that make sense to me, although making sense isn't always the measure in SBC funding issues.

I wish someone would make the case for NAMB spending our money differently and in doing so specifically address all of the above.

I've seen Kevin Ezell and, to make a wild conjecture, he doesn't look like he can walk on water. I suppose he has made some mistakes at NAMB and perhaps some of the new NAMB policies are not wise, not workable, or appropriate.

Would some insightful SBCer please make the case for how NAMB can better spend our money.

The field for doing so is wide open. Have at it.


Jonathan said...

So far, I'm reasonably impressed with Kevin Ezell's leadership of the NAMB...even accounting for the very low bar for excellence set by previous agency leadership.

While it is not off base to see some of the complaints from the state level as being something akin to whining, there is something else here that is perhaps being missed.

The current NAMB plan was largely formulated without input from states...and the majority of funding comes from states. In other words, we have yet another example of the SBC saying, "send us the money and don't ask for meaningful policy input".

While I agree with most of what you write on this, I also know that when you eliminate one of the largest stakeholders from a seat at the decision making table, you risk losing support from that stakeholder.

Anonymous said...

Jon Estes said:

Jonathan -

Isn't the largest stakeholder the local churches? I like the idea of putting the focus on the areas where little work is being done. here in NC, we have more churches than we know what to do with. It seems most are declining with older membership and a refusal to think outside the 1950-1960 way of doing church. The new church plants happening seem to be thriving but the state could better itself in the eyes of the local church (thinking of mine specifically), if there were as much effort to help the older established church get out of the rut (maybe they don't know how) we are in.

My church is making ground but I know that planting a church would be much easier and less stressful than working through the established limits I have faced. I do not want to sound as if I am complaining, that is not my intent, this is my calling but the fact remains all the churches I have pastored fight new growth and fresh ideas. They talk right but it ends there.

Overcoming that is hard. We have made a huge turn in the last 6-8 months. Blessings are coming but I am convinced, it should not be this way. It ought to be easier among the body of believers to be the church.A new day with an old mindset is a formula for stress.

NAMB is not responsible to help,but the state convention should be. let
s let NAMB plant churches and let the state convention get back to being the state convention. Less ministries but greater resources. If this happens, all entities might have enough money to do what they should be doing.

Jonathan said...


Yes, the local churches are, supposed to be, the largest stakeholders. I also agree that church plants tend to grow faster and are more flexible than older established churches.

In my experience, state conventions often have a top down mindset regarding work within a state. This does give their complaints about the NAMB an air of hypocrisy...but the complaints are still valid.

William's questions about how should the NAMB spend the money are on point. But the NAMB needs to understand that the money comes through the states from the churches. In a lot of states, the NAMB needs the states (funding) much more than the states need the NAMB.

If the NAMB (and SBC) continues to exercise the heavy hand (which is pretty much all the mega-top heavy SBC knows) with regard to the states, how long will be it be before the states start moving beyond dragging their feet toward the 50-50 funding split and start finding ways of reducing funding?

Anonymous said...

Jonathan -

I agree that as long as the CP dollars from the churches flow though the states, NAMB will work to find ways to get a bigger portion or spend less in those states which give much. It is possible that the states, for survival purposes, will find ways to keep more.

What's the answer? Who knows but I would like to know.

Jon Estes

Anonymous said...

This former NM Baptist and current Colorado one cheers NAMB on.

With the boom up north, I would much rather see money go to start churches in the Bakken play than continue to fund things in heavily Baptist NM.