We have in our Grand Old Convention a cadre of “tire slashers.” These are folks who contribute nothing to forward progress but are happy to disable and destroy. Our North American Mission Board seems to attract the most of these people but, alas, it is the birthright of Southern Baptists to act in this way.
Those people, loud though they be, are best ignored.
Here are a few recent facts about NAMB gleaned from public documents and news reports.
[In the interest of full disclosure, I have a bunch of swag from NAMB, picked up at recent SBC annual meetings. My favorite is the small duffel with NAMB logo. I use it to house my spotting scope for bird watching. My wife’s favorite is the cozy blanket, soft and warm. Although NAMB is only 48.6 miles from my humble domicile, I haven’t been there in over a decade. Kevin Ezell, NAMB president, preached at my church around 2010 or so. He refused an honorarium and gave me a nice NAMB polo shirt. It still fits. Oh, I did meet with a couple of NAMB guys a few years ago at the local Chick-fil-a. I bought my own lunch.]
NAMB is receiving record Annie Armstrong offerings.
Last year’s offering was $66.5 million, a record. Whatever the tire slashers are doing, and they are loud, mostly anonymous, and persistent, it hasn’t stopped ordinary SBCers and churches from NAMB support. The venerable Cooperative Program provides a little over one-third of NAMB’s total income. The Annie Armstrong offering, designated money specifically for NAMB, accounts for about one-half. Churches support NAMB both ways and NAMB is financially healthy.
NAMB is doing a lot of things.
Exactly what do we want from NAMB? Inertia and indolent consumption of our funding?
Not me. NAMB is doing church planting, evangelism, relief work and other things. Read their ministry report for more details here.
SEND Relief is budgeted for $5 million annually for SEND Relief Ministry Center Development. Their website lists 16 of these. Looks like a good place to visit and look around.
Church Planting is NAMB’s main activity, and the entity claims to spend half of their income on it. around $62m this year. Looks good to me.
Does any other church planting network support planters better than NAMB?
I don’t know of one.
Consider this article of last week about NAMB paying the entire premium for family coverage for planters for their first year of coverage? Impressive, especially to planters.
Or what about NAMB’s policy of jump starting planter retirement accounts with a $1,000 deposit? Outstanding policy.
NAMB president says,
“When these new additions are combined with what we already provide through assessment, funding, training, coaching and care, Send Network cares for its planters better than any other church planting network,” Ezell said. “That’s what Southern Baptists expect and that is what their church planters deserve.”
I read that NAMB sends gift cards to planters. Sounds like a nice thing to do to encourage planters on their birthday or holidays or whatever. Who would gripe about that? (Answer: the tire-slashers)
NAMB is budgeting for “Ministry Housing for Residency Programs” at $20 million for this year. I presume this temporary housing for planters in areas difficult to find affordable housing. Sounds like a good plan to me.
Pay no attention to the critics touting the outstanding church plant numbers of pre-2010. No way to verify those numbers. Here is a real number: NAMB reports having started 588 churches in 2020 (which is, I presume, the last comparable reporting year). Only 40% of this number are “white” churches. The rest are various or multi-ethnicities.
NAMB is getting back into collegiate ministry. They have money. State conventions do not. NAMB, seems to me from my limited experience, would likely do a better job at it than the states. State conventions can do all the college ministry they want in their state if they convince churches they are doing a good job.
Give me enough information and I’d probably find things I so not like but I’d rather have an active, progressive NAMB that is engaging church planters, that has the support of SBC individuals and churches than a lugubrious legacy entity that doles out funding like it always has, untethered to results.
And, sure, some of the tire slashers like to spend time examining websites of NAMB affiliated church plants, a “Gotcha!” game.
Bottom line: NAMB has the support of Southern Baptists.