Southern Baptist missions suffering under NAMB's leadership

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by gb93433, Feb 17, 2006.

  1. gb93433

    gb93433
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    http://www.abpnews.com/www/835.article.print

    Associated Baptist Press

    Southern Baptist missions suffering under NAMB's leadership, report says

    By Joe Westbury and Greg Warner

    Published: February 16, 2006

    ATLANTA (ABP) -- The number of career missionaries funded by the North American Mission Board has dropped 10 percent since 1997, according to a newspaper report, despite promises the restructured Southern Baptist agency would expand the mission work in America.

    The decrease is among a number of efforts by NAMB that have failed to meet expectations since the Southern Baptist agency was formed in 1997, according to a news analysis by the Christian Index newspaper. Both NAMB and the Index are based in the Atlanta area.

    Bob Reccord directed the massive Southern Baptist Convention restructuring effort in the mid-1990s and later was tapped to lead NAMB, the centerpiece of the new denominational structure. But NAMB has not lived up to its promises, the Index reported, and Reccord's leadership has raised concerns among Georgia pastors and former employees.

    Other NAMB shortcomings cited by the Georgia Baptist paper are:

    -- A lack of a consistent evangelism strategy, illustrated by the failure of two national evangelistic campaigns.

    -- A loss of momentum in church-planting efforts.

    -- The outsourcing of jobs to a secular company started by a friend of Reccord's, while NAMB employees were laid off.

    -- Potential conflicts of interest between Reccord's role as head of NAMB and his moonlighting ministry as a speaker and author.

    -- A drop in NAMB cash reserves from $55 million to $23 million.

    NAMB officials dispute most of those charges, which they say distort the facts and ignore successes.

    The Index analysis looks at the North American Mission Board since it was formed in 1997 by combining three Southern Baptist Convention entities. The report concludes that, while NAMB has accomplished much, it has failed to produce the anticipated results.

    NAMB announced in January 2000 that it had reached the SBC's Bold Mission Thrust goal of 5,000 missionaries in North America. But the actual number of missionaries on the field depends on how you count them.

    The number of long-term, NAMB-funded missionaries has actually dropped since 1997, the paper says, while self-funded volunteers now make up more than half of the missionary total.

    NAMB regularly claims that more than 5,300 North American missionaries are funded through the SBC's Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. A closer look shows only 2,942 are long-term missionaries funded by the offering. The remaining 2,422 -- or 45 percent -- are self-funded volunteers who serve through NAMB's Mission Service Corps.

    When the Mission Service Corps was founded in 1977, its workers were categorized as volunteers. To avoid any confusion, the Home Mission Board (NAMB's predecessor) included them in the total missionary count but kept the volunteer designation. Volunteers had to serve a minimum of two years before they were listed in the missionary personnel count.

    NAMB, on the other hand, removed the volunteer status, lowered the service requirement to only four months and commissioned them as full-fledged missionaries -- which blurred the line of who's who in the headcount.

    Meanwhile, the number of NAMB-funded career missionaries has actually declined by 329 since NAMB's first year -- a drop of 10 percent -- while the MSC volunteers have jumped by 827, or 34 percent.

    NAMB acknowledged the number of non-volunteer mission workers -- what NAMB calls "career" and "limited-term" missionaries -- has declined since 1997. In a statement released to Associated Baptist Press Feb. 16, NAMB said the drop is explained by the rising cost of health benefits, a rash of recent early retirements, and the inability of state conventions to fund many jointly appointed missionaries.

    But NAMB said the agency's classification of missionaries has been handled consistently and openly. "There is absolutely no deception in the way these missionaries are categorized or reported," the statement said. As for Mission Service Corps volunteers, "we are proud of the fact that we recognize these dedicated servants’ commitment and calling by referring to them as 'missionaries,'” NAMB said.

    In January 2003 NAMB announced the launch of the most extensive evangelistic campaign in SBC history. It was billed as the denomination's response to the widespread soul searching which the nation was experiencing following the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

    The "What Now?" campaign, tailored for both the United States and Canada, was built on a three-year strategy for personal revival and spiritual awakening. Tens of thousands of dollars were spent on the publication of leadership materials by NAMB and state conventions that were gearing up to prepare their laity for the campaign.

    But the campaign failed to coalesce. Halfway into the effort, funding was pulled. But that important decision was not uniformly communicated to state conventions. And some state papers, like the Index, continued to publicize the national campaign for nearly a year after its demise.

    In response, NAMB officials said the agency's representatives apologized for any confusing communications and explained NAMB discontinued the campaign, at the behest of state conventions, in order to avoid confusion for the local church caused by a number of SBC national initiatives.

    The biggest holdover from the campaign -- a one-year goal of a million baptisms -- was resurrected last summer when SBC President Bobby Welch, who sensed a lack of emphasis on evangelism, launched his "'Everyone Can' Kingdom Challenge."

    But in the June 2005 -- during the same SBC annual meeting when Welch was launching his million-baptism theme -- NAMB unveiled a new, improved evangelism initiative. Reccord announced the new "Who Cares?" campaign would begin in the fall of 2005 with a variety of television commercials dealing with life issues.

    But as of mid-February, eight months after it was announced, there is still no sign of a campaign. No billboards. No newspaper ads. No radio or television spots.

    NAMB said Feb. 16 "Who Cares?" was not another campaign but simply media support for the SBC-wide effort. Chuck Allen, NAMB chief operating officer, said the rollout had been delayed due to the Gulf Coast hurricanes, which overloaded NAMB staff with other responsibilities.

    But the campaign was not being produced by NAMB staff but outsourced to InovaOne, a contractor with ties to Reccord. That arrangement would not have affected NAMB's personnel responding to the hurricanes.

    But in response, NAMB said its staff would have been involved in every step of "Who Cares?" implementation.

    InovaOne, which was already producing NAMB's video coverage of disaster relief, did not have adequate staff to operate on both fronts. Something had to give, and it was the evangelism launch, according to Allen.

    At the June 2002 meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, Reccord gave a progress report on the first five years of the agency's existence. The committee leading the SBC restructure anticipated $34 million in savings during those early years.

    "I'm here to tell you we didn't make it; we surpassed it, … redirecting to front-line ministries a total of $40,387,000," he said.

    The redirected funds, he said, made possible Strategic Focus Cities church-planting and evangelism efforts ($14.1 million), the Nehemiah Project ($7.3 million) to train church planters, and other ministries. But the efficiencies in those early years have not carried over to future years, the Index said.

    Meanwhile, NAMB has drawn down the cash reserves it inherited from the former Home Mission Board in 1997, despite lower overhead than the HMB. At its founding, NAMB had a $55 million cash cushion for emergency operating costs. The balance is now $23 million, a decrease of $32 million in seven years.

    NAMB has apparently swung between periods of erratic belt tightening and loosening. For example, in August 2003 it announced it was trimming its 2004 budget by 6 percent, eliminating 31 positions and reducing program support due to a softening economy.

    But the following year, when staff was being asked to do more with less, NAMB launched the first of five college leadership conferences called Elevate.

    NAMB confirmed to the Index that the 2004 conferences lost more than $600,000. But rather than canceling the two conferences scheduled for 2005, the first conference was held at a loss and the second was cancelled. A fifth conference in the series, set for next month in Atlanta, has already been cancelled.

    Another expenditure was the creation of a high-tech walk-through exhibit called the Vision Center, which was constructed in NAMB's lobby. Modeled after a similar interactive information center at Focus on the Family, the three-dimensional, interactive experience of sight, sound, and touch using ultra-realistic professionally designed sets was built, sources say, at a cost in excess of $1.2 million.

    The exhibit debuted in 1999 as the crown jewel of NAMB's early years. But the repeat crowds failed to materialize and the center was shut down four years later.

    A look at church planting numbers shows a period of less than stellar growth for NAMB, given the efficiencies that were expected, the Index reported.

    SBC church planting increased slowly yet consistently for the eight years prior to NAMB's launch. Under NAMB, congregational starts have been on a roller coaster ride. Its most recent year shows an increase of 132 church plants from the Home Mission Board's final year of 1996.

    The most significant increase was for the years of 1999 and 2000 following Reccord's announcement of providing an additional $2 million for church planting and evangelism. When those one-time funds were put on the field, results were almost immediate -- church plants jumped 258 to a record 1,747 in the first year and baptisms jumped 12,078.

    But when the funds were depleted, the momentum ceased and growth came to a standstill, the Index reported.

    The agency disputed that assessment. NAMB officials said the last eight years included five of the highest years of church planting in SBC history. In its eight years of existence, NAMB has averaged 277 more church plants per year than in the last eight years of the HMB, the statement said.

    NAMB officials said they were "extremely disappointed" with the Index's article, which they said was timed to cause "maximum damage to North American missions," coming just before the annual Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.

    "The article clearly was not intended to be an objective review of NAMB and its accomplishments and disappointments, but a highlighting of a few programs where we failed," officials said.

    -- Steve DeVane contributed to this article.
     
  2. guitarpreacher

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    I pastor a three year old church plant, and we have received almost nothing from NAMB. In fact, we have received almost as much from the local wholesale liquor distributor as we have from NAMB. I talk to a lot of other church planters and most have had pretty much the same experience that I have had. I used to believe that the SBC was the greatest missions sending organization in the world. Now I believe the SBC is the greates missions money gathering organization in the world.
     
  3. go2church

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    Your experience is one that I hear time and time again from church planters as chairman of our association's finance committee.

    This comment is in my opinion part of the problem. This report is coming from a source that has been supportive, to say the least, of the SBC and rather then throwing up the "they are being over critical" wall they should sit down and listen and get to work fixing the obvious problems that exist within NAMB.

    It is unfortunate and you can bet I will be passing this along to my church.
     
  4. gb93433

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    The states which help church planters the most are in the south? The states where they want to plant SBC churches the most, they help the church planters the least. They claim there is less money there. Duh!
     
  5. guitarpreacher

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    OUOTE: "The agency disputed that assessment. NAMB officials said the last eight years included five of the highest years of church planting in SBC history. In its eight years of existence, NAMB has averaged 277 more church plants per year than in the last eight years of the HMB, the statement said."

    That's a real problem I have with the current system. They talk about how many churches were planted, but they never talk about how many were successful, and honestly, I'm not sure they even try to keep track of how many churches that launch fail within the first couple of years. Their philosophy is throw as much against the wall as possible and hopefully something will stick.
     
  6. Jimmy C

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  7. shannonL

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    I've heard the same things from a few friends that I have who are NAMB missionaries. They are actual missionaries too not the mission corp folk.
    They also have to work other jobs to help support their family. Then the deadlines they have to meet are ridiculous as far as the timetable they have to get the church to full supporting status.

    I looked into Home missions after college. I just thought alot of what NAMB says they do and where they throw a little money to is just "window dressing".
    1.2 million for some silly exhibit? Please...

    Is the Georgia paper really SBC friendly though?

    I know in NC the Biblical Recorder which was always called the "Distorter" in our state is a very bias paper.

    I'm saying I don't know just curious?
     
  8. Jimmy C

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    Shannon

    I think the GA paper is controlled by the "conservative Resurgence" folks - but pardon my attempt to hijack the thread, but - isnt a free press more valuable to the SBC than a controlled press?

    I applaud the GA paper for delving into the NAMB - I have no idea if they are right or wrong in thier charges, but if they are correct it shows that the NAMB has some major corrections to make!

    I am sure that the folks in Lousiana would have preferred to have an independent press covering the sole entity issue for NOBTS, and it is only because of the Bogs that Wade Burleson has been treated anywhere remotely to fairly.

    We dont need an SBC version of Pravda - unfortunately that is what we have when we need an objective reporting from Baptist Press, at least when it comes to an issue that may be controversial or opposite what the executive committee would like the preson in the pew to know.
     
  9. MikeinGhana

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    Too much like a business for my liking. Isn't the goal of missions to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth?

    I am an independent Baptist missionary so my two cents may neither be wanted nor appreciated here. The real shame in the SBC missions strategy/philosophy is that it is run as a big scale business enterprise instead of a spiritual endeavor.

    Our missions work is a faith based endeavor. I know there are many godly SBC missionaries who live by faith so do not jump down my throat. But when God's work and its subsequent success of mission is determined by the bottom line and numbers it is in real trouble.
     
  10. gb93433

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    That is exactly one of the reasons why I quit church planting with the SBC. I replanted one church with the SBC and was in charge of planting two others. The last two I worked with another pastor and recruited ten churches to pool their money and was able to pay a man to develop churches full time with full support. Now each of the newly p[lanted churches have pastors. It worked very well and had the support and interaction of ten other churches.

    In the first church I replanted I was accountable to a man who had never planted a church. The DOM however had planted two. So he was much more help. Later I wanted to plant another church with the SBC and found out that the person who was in charge of church planting in that area had never even planted nor pastored a church. He was a retired prison chaplain. A great guy but no experience and just repeated what the SBC told him.
     
  11. shannonL

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    I grew up in a SBC church. My parents go to one.

    I will always keep my eyes and ears open to what goes on in the SBC. Yet ministry wise out of conviction I cannot serve in the SBC.

    Mike in Ghana,
    You are right. I couldn't go with the IMB because I didn't have a Masters degree, my credit was not perfect etc.... Then when you get to the field they run your life like you wouldn't believe. They even have missionary strategists to determine where missionaries should be placed in a particular country. At least I know it is something like that.

    GB,
    Alot of associational missionaries are guys that are just killing time until retirement. Sorry but that is the truth. I 've seen it alot. You are so right they got these guys that are supposed to be in charge of church planting in different associatons throughout the country. They aren't a bit more qualified than a man in the moon.
    I don't know if I spelled this right but friends the SBC is so full of buocracy that it ain't even funny.Alot of how they tout themselves nationally and what really goes on in the trenches are not the same thing.
    Associations and conventions are so bloated with pointless employees doing pointless jobs that it is incredible.
    I have experienced some of this lately because I believe God is closing the door to the foreign field for my family. I'm higly interested in either pastoring in more or less unchurched area or planting a church in the same type of field in the US.
    Calling different state conventions and different associations within those conventions has really enlightened me all over again as to how bogged down church planting endeavors can be.
    Some of these guys don't know what to do if they couldn't read it from a book they read or whatever. Most of the ones I've dealt with they are just into the latest gimmicktry or program that is supposed to be to church planting what miracle grow is to plants.
    Anyway I'm rambling. I'm a independent baptist I just can't help it I suppose. I just don't want to have to deal with the politics, the struggle etc... that is always taking place in the SBC. If it is not the moderates and consevatives bickering it is the reformers vs the arminians. IF it is not that you got charismatics whining about their place as SB people. Then you got guys that count themselves as SBC people when they aren't a bit more baptist than a man in the moon.

    Too big of a tent for me to get under myself. God bless you if that is how you feel led to travel it just isn't for me. I can't find conventionism in the Bible as hard as I try.
     
  12. TaterTot

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    CAn you find independantism? lol Goodness, you cant find lots of stuff in the Bible, but we preach them like they are there (trinity, rapture, etc)

    THere are always going to be issues wherever there are people involved. I have served thru NAMB, and I know there are issues, but I still think the SBC is the best and most cooperative way to go.
     
  13. PastorSBC1303

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    Shannon, I am not directing this at you, I am making a general observation here.

    Should not the NAMB and the IMB have standards for being a missionary? I have heard this complaint a lot from some IFB people I know. Out of one side of their mouth they are complaining that the liberal SBC has no standards, and then out of the other they are complaining that the mission boards have standards for their missionary appointees.

    One guy I knew in seminary told us of this great calling he felt to be a missionary overseas. The IMB told him he needed to loose about 75 lbs, and suddenly he felt called to be a pastor in a little country church. :confused:
     
  14. Salamander

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    An "A-MEN!" just jumped out of my throat! ( from my heart of course!)

    As men try to organize the efforts of others to reach people for Christ, it is still the Holy Ghost who empowers and uses our feeble efforts as we obey Him.

    I have had a few try to tell me that I had to "join" them before God would really "use" me, but I found that they only wanted to congratulate themselves as if my ability to do something for God relied solely upon them and their fellowships. LAUGH!

    I have yet to find a sinner who is seeking the Lord tell me that I couldn't help them unless i was part of some recognizable organization. I am a working member of a local assembly as part of a living organism.

    I know it helps to have "friends" and the Lord admonishes us to make them.

    I ask you all to help me pray for the empowerment to move ahead in the will of God for my ministry in the Mid-west. I may not have the "laying on of hands" by some that regard themselves to have some specific authority, and I am not a rebel either. I depend upon the authority of our church to whether or not I would be spiritually supported by them, if there is something I am lacking to perform my duty as to the call of God then they need to tell me, not an organization that hardly if ever even knew me.

    I am accountable to my local church, the people who know me. They either qualify me or disqualify me by what they know of my character, not by some pre-requisite made through application as laid out by men.

    I firmly believe in KNOWING your missionaries, it certainly makes it easier to pray for them, and to know they're doing what they say God called them to do. Besides, they sure could use the fellowship!
     
  15. shannonL

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    Tater tot,
    True there are things that are not found in the bible that are still biblical like the rapture, trinity, even the word bible is not found in the bible. Unity, cooperation are both found in principle in Scripture. This is true. Yet cooperating with folk who don't have a high view of Scripture is not cooperation it is compromise.

    For example in my home state NC the state convention sends money to about 4 liberal arts colleges that are supposedly baptist. Some of these schools have Divinity schools within the university itself. Such as Wake Forest Divinity School, Cambell Divinity School, Gardner Webb Divinity school Mars Hill College and Wingate College and also Cowan college and Meredith Girls College in Raleigh.
    These colleges especially the divinity schools are full of either rank liberal professors or those who have a neo orthodox view of Scripture. None of them except maybe a very, very small minority would hold to infallibility or the inerrrancy of Scripture.
    Well if I'm a SB in NC my money goes to help pay the salaries of these profs. along with giving money to other things that are in no way God honoring. That is not called cooperation that is called compromising for the sake of the convention.
    Some may think that is to narrow minded. I can't help it. I can't stand the thought of knowing my money is going to train some young man in the ministry who will not stand up for the Bible. Nor do I want to support financially divinity schools that teach women to be pastors etc....
    Yet if I'm going to be a good SB preacher in NC I just have to let that slide for the "greater good" that is accomplished through the "cooperation" that comes by working together even if it means working together with people who don't believe all the bible is infallible.
    Believe me there are plenty of folk like that in NC Southern baptist churches. I know I have been in several associations where I have seen this difference in beliefs time and time again.
    Again working with folk who deny the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture isn't Scriptual at all. Those two parties will never get along simply for the fact that both hold their positions due to core convictions that they both feel cannot be given up which is fair I suppose.

    My home church in Asheville NC used to have a ministry to the kids out at Mars Hill College in Mars Hill, NC. It is sad when a SBC church has to have somekind of outreach program to college kids that go to a SB college because the school is so liberal that they teach the kids that the bible is full of myths and errors etc..... Some of the most theologically messed up young adults that I have met have came out of SBC liberal arts colleges or universities where the profs. destroyed the young kid's faith.
    Yet we should just keep supporting these schools in whatever particular state your in I suppose just because it is a SB school. That is not
    cooperation that is compromise
    So just remember depending on what state your in the money that God blessed folk with is going to some college somewhere where Jesus and His Word and His miracles are being mocked and played off as myths etc....

    SBC,

    Sure standards and qualifications are needed with any mission board whether it is IFB board or a SBC entity. Yet I just think the SBC has gone into overkill mode when it comes to how they run the IMB and the missionaries.
    Obviously a real fat person needs to lose weight if they are going to some real, physically demanding field.
    THere is a pretty high turn over rate I'm sure in IFB circles where folk go out untrained, underschooled etc...The problem is there is no way to formally test to find out.

    I think the article from the GA paper points out the fact that the NAMB and maybe Reccord are putting to much stock in marketing etc... instead of letting God get a hold of them to find out what He might want to do. Who knows?
     
  16. TaterTot

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    ShannonL says: "So just remember depending on what state your in the money that God blessed folk with is going to some college somewhere where Jesus and His Word and His miracles are being mocked and played off as myths etc...."

    Maybe there is a prof or two somewhere teaching these things, but I am not aware of it. (Doestn meant it aint so) But also, a percentage of every dollar I give goes to the foreign field, the home field, toward homeless kids, seamen's ministries, student ministries and many many more ministries and ministers that DO love and serve the Lord wholeheartedly. No other denomination has that. Lets not throw out the baby with the bath water.
     
  17. SaggyWoman

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    Several mission sending organizations, not just IMB have limits on how much debt a person has.
     
  18. TaterTot

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    and how fat a person can be
     
  19. rbell

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    ...or how much debt a fat person owes [​IMG]
     
  20. TaterTot

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    lol, how true how true
     

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