Our North American Mission Board is devoting about half of their $120 million budget to planting churches and is enlisting church planters to plop themselves down in locations, mainly cities, all over the nation to gather and plant a congregation.
Needless to say, there are expectations and requirements for planters. Here’s the NAMB web page that outlines planter expectations:
Included in these expectations are such things as:
- Adherence to the Baptist Faith and Message
- An investment of a minimum of 25 hours per week in establishing the new church
- At least monthly communication with prayer team and ministry partners
- Regular participation in an intentional coaching relationship
- Occasional participation in a coaching relationship for spouse, if applicable
- Submission of monthly reports to NAMB, coach and ministry partners
- Lead church plant in a minimum 10% missions giving: minimum 6% to SBC Cooperative Program and 4% to other Great Commission causes
- Monthly participation in a peer-to-peer learning community
Most of us know well that the SBC has no code of conduct. You can be an SBC pastor (actually a pastor of an autonomous local church affiliated at some level or several levels of SBC life) without any written code of conduct. No church I have ever had has had a written code of conduct for the pastor or staff. No church document was handed to me that spells out what I could do and couldn’t do; however, all have had extensive unwritten rules for conduct.
But note that NAMB has a specific, detailed Code of Conduct. You want to partner with NAMB to plant a church then you as a planter have to agree to these:
• I will conduct myself in a way that reflects positively on Christ and the North American Mission Board.
• I will not visit the opposite sex alone at home, other than my spouse.
• I will not counsel the opposite sex alone at the office.
• I will not counsel the opposite sex more than once without the person’s spouse.
• If married, I will not have lunch alone with the opposite sex, other than my spouse.
• I will be careful in answering cards, letters and email notes from the opposite sex.
• If married, I will not be in an automobile alone with anyone of the opposite sex, other than my spouse.
• I will not show affection that could be questioned.
• I will be a tithing member of record and in good standing in a Southern Baptist Church.
• I will abstain from consumption of any alcoholic beverage.
• I will not view pornography.
• I will maintain financial integrity.
• I will pray for the integrity of other missionaries and staff members.
Heavy on sexual matters? You bet. (I’m not certain of the one about counseling the opposite sex more than once without the person’s spouse. I’ll let others explain the why on this one.)
I was mildly surprised recently when a married friend said that her pastor called and made a date (uh, appointment) for just the two of them. Never, not once in 30 years as a pastor, did I arrange to meet a female not-my-wife for lunch. This is the old Billy Graham rule: never alone with a woman not your wife. Worked well for him. Worked well for me. A good policy. If the pastor wants to play with fire and get burned let him tiptoe around this rule.
Pornography? Probably the killer of more honest planter applicants than any other single item.
NAMB has a number of critics but reading their policies for planters, their code of conduct, and talking to some SEND City Coordinators who supervise planters makes me confident that NAMB is responsible in their use of our folk’s donations.
I commend them for it.
Any issues with this?