(Our friend the SBC Plodder gave me permission to republish this reflection on the recent workings at NAMB. Thanks, William.)
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?