COLUMBUS, Oh. — Meeting a day before the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), North American Mission Board president Kevin Ezell shared updates and a new “NAMB Phase II” vision with members of his entity’s Board of Trustees.
“We are going to have the very best,” Ezell said “Premiere assessments, training and coaching. Southern Baptists deserve that.”
Ezell said NAMB wants as many new churches as possible but will give greater focus to quality, not quantity as church planters receive foundational assistance from the entity.
As the meeting started, Tommy Greene, the newly elected executive director of the Florida Baptist Convention, shared words of encouragement and challenge from Ephesians 5:15-16 which admonishes believers to make the “most of every opportunity because the days are evil.”
“This is NAMB Phase II and it’s time to buckle our seat belts again to get this done.” — NAMB president Kevin Ezell
“And that’s not the end,” Green said. “That’s just the beginning. As Cooperative Program money increases in our state we are not going to use it to add more people at the Florida Baptist Convention. We don’t need more people. We need more to go to the ends of the earth in order that the gospel can go forward. Pray that Florida one day—and I pray that it will be very quickly—will be a state that that’s sending 60 percent and keeping 40 percent.”Green said once the Florida convention passes its budget this fall 51 percent of Cooperative Program giving will leave the state for national and international SBC causes.
Noting that what NAMB is able to accomplish now is “because of men and women who have come before us who laid the foundation and made some very stern decisions,” Ezell introduced Ronnie Yarber, a retired Texas pastor who helped form the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and served on its staff. Yarber served as a Home Mission Board trustee from 1981 to 1989 during the time when the SBC was engaged in pivotal battles such as inerrancy of Scripture.
“It was a difficult, difficult period of time for those eight years that I served,” Yarber said, “out of which God did wonderful things.
“You are under the direction and leadership of one of God’s great men,” Yarber continued. Work with him, pray for him, follow him and God has greater days yet for Southern Baptists. I believe with all of my heart.”
In other highlights:
- Ezell shared that 53.92 percent of NAMB’s budget will go toward church planting in its 2015-2016 budget year. It was only 18.1 percent of the entity’s budget in 2011.
- Ezell announced that Fred Luter will serve as NAMB’s National African-American Ambassador. Luter is immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention and he will continue serving as senior pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans. Luter will help NAMB mobilize efforts to increase the number of African-American churches in the SBC from the current 4,000 to 5,000 over the next five years.
- NAMB chief financial officer Carlos Ferrer reported that revenues from all income sources including the Cooperative Program and Annie Armstrong Easter Offering® are running 2 percent over budget and expenditures are running below income.
- Trustees re-elected the three officers who had just completed their first year of service. Stephen “Spike” Hogan, senior pastor of Chets Creek Church in Jacksonville, Fla., will continue serving as second vice chairman; Mark Dyer, an attorney and member of Parkway Hills Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, will continue serving as first vice chairman and Chuck Herring, senior pastor of Collierville First Baptist Church in Collierville, Tenn., will continue serving as chairman.
- Ten trustees whose terms of service concluded after the meeting were recognized: Larry Gipson of Oneonta, Ala.; Ronald Toon of Batesville, Ark.; Douglas Dieterly of Lakeville, Ind.; Steven Holdaway of Bellevue, Neb.; Jason Pettus of Bowling Green, Ky.; John Wenberg of Bridgeton, Mo.; Carroll Vaughn of Bloomfield, N.M.; James “Bud” Parish of Greensboro, N.C.; Steven Mayes of Amherst, Ohio; and Patrick Adams of Edmond, Okla.
In his remarks to trustees Ezell outlined a potential new way for NAMB’s work to be organized: Send Network and Send Relief. While not yet ready to present a final plan, Ezell said Send Network will be “all about church planting.”
He then highlighted the process through which NAMB will take church planters.
“We want you to know that we do our due diligence,” Ezell said. “We run them through the car wash and they come out much better than when they started and we have a real good analysis of where they are.”
Coaching will be added to NAMB’s church planter process.
“We are going to make sure that every church planter is not walking the road alone,” Ezell said. “That they have a sending church but they also have a coach who has been there, done that, walking [with] them and helping them navigate that.”
Send Relief will bring resources and volunteers to needs such hunger, military family support, sex trafficking and exploitation, disaster relief, monthly mission construction projects and others. Ezell said he would bring additional details about Send Relief to trustees at their October meeting.
Evangelism, mobilization, chaplaincy, partnerships and mission support services will run across and serve both Send Network and Send Relief.
“These are good days,” Ezell told trustees, “but let’s not take them for granted. Let’s not take our eye off the goal. We have to keep our eyes focused and keep moving ahead. This is no time for cruise control. This is NAMB Phase II and it’s time to buckle our seat belts again to get this done and I’m honored to be able to do it with you.”
Mike Ebert writes for the North American Mission Board.