Monday, January 19, 2009

What the North American Mission Board Must Be

My friend Doug Munton, with whom I served for eight years as a fellow trustee with the North American Mission Board (NAMB), submits this "guest blog" on NAMB. What he says needs to be heard, and I appreciate the positive spirit in which it is said. -- Brother Bob

What the North American Mission Board Must Be
by Doug Munton

The North American Mission Board (NAMB) is a strategic organization in the life of the Southern Baptist Convention. Her responsibilities are huge; her opportunities immense. The success or failure of NAMB impacts the SBC in ways that are hard to overestimate. NAMB relates directly with every state convention and ethnic fellowship. She works with every association and seminary. What happens at NAMB greatly affects the SBC world.

I’m a Southern Baptist by choice and by heritage. I’m a second-generation SBC pastor and was saved (as was my father and my grandfather) in an SBC church. I attended an SBC seminary. I love the convention and want the greatest days for the SBC to be in the future. Having recently completed eight years as a trustee of NAMB I know the strong connection between the health of the SBC and the health of NAMB.

My time as a trustee at NAMB convinced me that there are three specific responsibilities for NAMB which must not be missed. The effectiveness of NAMB in these three areas will greatly determine how useful she will be and, therefore, will inordinately affect the future of the SBC.

The first responsibility is careful stewardship. NAMB (and all SBC agencies) has a double responsibility for careful stewardship. She must be faithful with the sacrificial giving of the churches through the Cooperative Program and Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. The widows who give sacrificially to NAMB need to be confident that their money is carefully spent. And, by the very nature of being a mission agency, NAMB must be above board in all financial dealings. It seems to me that NAMB, and her current president Geoff Hammond, are working hard to ensure that they are good stewards. Dr. Hammond appears to lead the way in frugal spending and shying away from a lavish lifestyle.

The second responsibility for NAMB is purpose. NAMB should be about evangelism, evangelism, evangelism. Evangelism should not be a part of NAMB; it should define and permeate NAMB. It seems to me, that the current administration has focused its energy and strategy primarily on church planting. It is true that church planting is a huge part of the evangelistic responsibility of NAMB. It should not be, of course, the only method of evangelism.

Church planting should be seen as a very effective means (one of the most effective means) of doing evangelism. I want it to have a high place of priority at NAMB. I just don’t want it to be seen as the only way we do evangelism. The more than 40,0000 existing churches need to see church planting as an important, but not exclusive, part of their strategy for fulfilling the great commission. The current administration seems (based on budgets and discussion) to have placed a higher priority on church planting and a lower emphasis on other means of evangelism. I have no problem with a higher emphasis on church planting. I think it a mistake to have a lower emphasis on other means of evangelism.

The third responsibility of NAMB is relationships. The partnerships NAMB has with state conventions, ethnic fellowships and local associations are critical. Some believe the current administration has not done enough to strengthen those partnerships. There is danger of a perception that NAMB tells these partners what to do rather than working with them in accomplishing the mission. The truth of that perception is hard to ascertain without an anonymous survey or some other such tool. But there is another partnership that is equally important. NAMB has some of the finest employees in her offices at Alpharetta, GA and some of the finest missionaries on the field in God’s entire vineyard. Rumors of morale problems are frequent and could be discovered through a trustee-initiated anonymous survey of the employees. Even the finest organizations have grumblings. But the finest organizations know those grumblings can’t be dismissed or ignored. A healthy, open environment at the headquarters and among the employees and other missionaries is critical to the success of NAMB.

I want and pray for the success of NAMB and the SBC. It is my hope that the greatest days are ahead of us. Careful evaluation and critical analysis can be part of making that hope a reality.

Doug Munton,

Pastor, FBC O’Fallon, IL


Anonymous said...

The old regime

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day;
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play,
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A pall-like silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, "If only Casey could but get a whack at that —
We'd put up even money now, with Casey at the bat."

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a hoodoo, while the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat;
For there seemed but little chance of Casey getting to the bat.

The interim period

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despised, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

the interview phase and announcement

Then from five thousand throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It pounded on the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile lit Casey's face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Casey at the bat.

The first year

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt.
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance flashed in Casey's eye, a sneer curled Casey's lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped —
"That ain't my style," said Casey. "Strike one!" the umpire said.

The Trustees respond

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore;
"Kill him! Kill the umpire!" shouted some one on the stand;
And it's likely they'd have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

The New Trustee officer's support

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey's visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the dun sphere flew;
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said "Strike two!"

The Anonymous Partners respond

"Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered "Fraud!"
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn't let that ball go by again.

Behind closed doors

The sneer has fled from Casey's lip, the teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow.

The present condition

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and little children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville — mighty Casey has struck out.

doug munton said...

I've got to admit that I didn't expect an analogy from Casey at the Bat! Don't give up hope for the Mudville nine- or NAMB- not while the Lord is on his throne. As I said, I'm praying that the greatest days for NAMB are still to come.

Anonymous said...

Haggai 2:3-9

Anonymous said...

It would be nice if the things hoped for, solid stewardship, a strong evangelism effort and to empower the staff and allow them to do what they have called to do would happen. But I am afraid that is not so, help me understand how a TV show at 9:30 pm on Saturday evenings on a Christian TV station shares the gospel with LOST People at a cost of over $250.000 for 2009, not counting what was spent in 2008 to rebuild and equip the new studio. The Trustees have once again stuck there heads in the sand. Southern Baptist from all over need to call for a detailed audit of the special project funds of Geoff Hammond and the monies being spent by Brannon Picket.

Bob Rogers, you owe Southern Baptist and apology for allowing this to happen on your watch. Also check your facts from your blog in March 2007 "Nobody on the committee had any personal connection to Dr. Hammond, although one member had met him when he was a missionary and had his picture on his refrigerator for years to pray for his missionary work." That is not true, Dennis Culbreath knew Him for years and was on the search committee that called Him.

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