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.
Pastor, FBC O’Fallon, IL