Is NAMB being too heavyhanded with State Conventions?

Some say yes. You can easily find that assertion elsewhere. I don’t judge our second largest entity, the North American Mission Board, nor their leadership to be perfect but have come to regard their work as effective and worthy of the support of SBC churches, pastors, and laypeople.

It wasn’t all that long ago that the SBC so motivated the institution through the Great Commission Task Force and Report to take control of their budget and be more effective in North American missions. My lay understanding of processes and actions is informed by several years of observations and unsophisticated analyses. In short, I think NAMB is attempting to show some progress particularly in the planting of churches. Their work has been effective in my view.

The complaint is that NAMB has been overly harsh in dealing with some state conventions and their executives. NAMB is given tens of millions each year to do their job. If they shuffle those millions off to the states that’s fine. Let’s just see some results. I trust their leadership make good decisions and their trustees to pay attention and provide proper scrutiny and policy oversight.

In the latest complaint about NAMB being heavyhanded with some state conventions these five state conventions are mentioned specifically: Alaska, Maryland/Delaware, Michigan, Northwest, and West Virginia. A quick look at the past fourteen years in these states reveals this:

Alaska: added churches over this period at about a single church per year.

Maryland/Delaware: Increased the number of churches by more than half to 607 in 2016. I don’t have all the data at hand but it looks to me like about 2/3 of the increases came during the tenure of the current NAMB leader.

Michigan: Lost churches during the period.

Northwest: I lack one year’s figures and can’t make a quick comparison.

West Virginia: Increased church numbers by about 2% per year, a creditable number.

Over the years, I’ve led or been with group in Alaska and Michigan and worked with some very fine people. I have no opinion about pastors, associational missionaries, or state staff in any of these states and assume all of good people; however, if we are pouring millions of missions dollars here or anywhere, there ought to be accountability, including accountability in regard to results. If past plans for staffing, church planting, and growth has not yielded results then perhaps a new plan should be employed.

One axiom in Southern Baptist life is that everyone protects their position and budget. We should expect a bit of pushback when the systems and protocols are changed where there are budgetary winners and losers.

NAMB just reported a record Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions. Southern Baptists, SBC pastors and churches voted affirmatively on NAMB’s work. Those who think NAMB is awry must have successfully stifled some unpleasant memories of not one but two major meltdowns in the past 11 years. NAMB is fortunate, blessed if you are spiritual, to have righted the ship.

It’s a pleasant and positive reality of our time that ordinary hackers and plodders in the SBC have the ability and the apparatus to discuss issues that concern us. The day of an oligarchy of SBC worthies keeping important matters close at hand and dispensing only what they want the SBC nobodies is past. Those of the latter group who raise concerns and ask questions should have them answered.



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