We were told at the past yearly meeting of Southern Baptists that we needed to trust the Trustee System. After that statement by Dr. Thom Rainer, President of LifeWay, I gave a hearty Amen! As I think about his statement and view the recent Baptist Press public service announcement for the North American Mission Board (NAMB) I am struck with where my allegiance lies. Yes, I trust the Trustee System, but it is the sitting trustees that I am beginning to lose faith in.
The beginning of Great Commission Resurgence occurred when Dr. Danny Akin in a chapel message “The Axioms of a Great Commission”, (cannot be accessed through Between the Times) and is noted to be the inspiration of the GCR Declaration, spoke of a “bloated bureaucracy”. Read more
In a recent Baptist Press article, that is nothing more than a public relations article, we see something that is sandwiched in the “Other Action” section of a report on the recent North American Mission Board (NAMB) Trustee meeting. The report reads:
“Trustees approved guidelines for NAMB church planters in relationship to other church planting networks.”
After contacting the Vice President of the Communications Group with NAMB, Mike Ebert, and being caught up in the voice mail network and finally leaving a message I still cannot find a copy of the guidelines. To be fair it maybe Ebert is traveling and will not be in the office until Monday. NAMB is within their rights to make this decision. The problem exists that we are now partnering with other church planting networks and no one I can find has any idea what those guidelines are that we operate within.
Let me make this as clear as I know how. NAMB is an autonomous entity and they constantly scream that we need to trust them in their appointments and those that are funded. I say, fine I want to trust you. However, with the trustees recently removing the 2006 Presidential restrictions and now announcing “guidelines for NAMB church planters in relationship with other church planting networks” without producing such guidelines it seems something is not above board. If we are asked to trust someone then that someone should produce the openness and transparency needed for us to support.
According to William Thornton the Partnership Guidelines are five statements. You can see them here.
Dr. Mike Licona resigned from his position as the Apologetics guru of the Southern Baptist Convention at The North American Mission Board. In a recent Baptist Press article Dr. Licona said; “Historical research, Licona said, must work on a case-by-case basis.” According to Dr. Licona’s own words, he believes the Scriptures are to be approached with a question in the back of the reader’s mind concerning the historical accuracy of the text. Friends, this is not inerrancy. Any approach to the text with a question concerning the historical accuracy of the text negates the basis of the text being without error. It is like two Baptists, one a Frewill Baptist and another a Confessional Baptist singing the song, “when we all get to heaven”. The confessional Baptist sings it with a statement of fact in his voice. While the Freewill Baptist sings it verbally, but in his mind changes the words to; “if” we all get to heaven.
Well it looks as if the “scholarly” community, as expressed by SEBTS’s professor Dr. Evans, desires to be “the appropriate places for such a discussion to occur“. This scholarly community is saying, in essence, “these dumb preachers are just trying to jump on a band wagon.” Well, let’s look at who is leading the “band wagon.” Read more
In the last installment this writer expressed his concern about where he saw the Seminaries, The ELRC and Executive Committee, and Doctrine in 2025. In this post we will look at this writer’s non-scientific future prediction for the Mission Organizations, Local Associations, and the Cooperative Program in 2025.
In 2009 Dr. Danny Akin presented Myths concerning the GCRTF. Myth #8 was the myth that people were afraid the GCRTF was going to recommend the combining of the IMB and the NAMB. In that myth Dr. Akin stated: “If this involves minor adjustments that will bring this to pass then wonderful. “ The issue was Dr. Akin’s title for his article. Myth #8 article clearly, by its title, indicated the rumor was not true. Though, it was clear that while Dr. Akin did not speak for the GCRTF, he made it crystal clear the combining of the two mission boards was something he was praying that “God will give us the courage to make those changes.”
It is now 2011 and it appears that the “minor adjustments” are coming down the pipeline. SBC Tomorrow has presented an excellent review of the IMB’s recommended Mission Statement change. Lumpkins offers excellent insight into how the IMB statement is vague concerning “the agreed upon assistance ” to NAMB and exactly what/who is/are the “unreached and underserved” people groups.
At Ebenezer Baptist Church, where I serve, various ministry groups visit and we often take up special offerings for them. Many times we would find out months later that some members continued to send money to that particular ministry, designating it through the church. But we eventually took a stand and set a policy that the church would only forward funds to outside ministries specifically approved by the whole body and we asked individuals to send contributions to their special interest ministries directly and without the imprimatur of the congregation.
We felt it was inappropriate to tie the church to a ministry without the consensus support of the entire membership.
Now Southern Baptists have learned that the North American Mission Board is not using this same type of discretion in the distribution of church planting funds Southern Baptists have contributed through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.
Dr. Kevin Ezell, NAMB President
As a Southern Baptist pastor that believes in and supports the Trustee system, I fully support the new President at NAMB. Dr. Ezell is the man the Trustees affirmed, reportedly by a 76% vote, to be the next President of that entity. According to one report NAMB has a budget that consists of 17% for Church Planting. My question is simple. Out of a $70 million budget, where is $12 million being used in church planting? In NC we have set aside $4 million in our budget for church planting. What part of NAMB’s $12 million is being used in cooperative agreements? What part of that $12 million is being used in administrative costs?
Now the hard part begins for Dr. Ezell. He will need to tie up loose ends in Kentucky and then he will be on his way to Alpharetta, Georgia. Some question his ability to build the divide that is apparent between him and some state Executive Directors. Will he simply dismiss those that have raised concerns or will he try to mend broken bridges? Dr. Paige Patterson has issued a statement in favor of Dr. Ezell as a model of character and integrity. So it seems that the entity heads are in favor of this latest addition to the Presidential Council. It seems Southern Baptist are rallying around this newest entity president.
I have always been one that has spoken in favor of our trustee system. I will not abandon that conviction. The trustees have spoken and I will follow. I will not stop questioning when there are legitimate questions that need to be asked. I will certainly voice my concerns and not be afraid to do so. I will not sale the call of God on my life to be a pastor for a denominational position because of political expediency either. I will stand up and call on our denomination to do better. I will stand up and call for our leaders to model the CP as central to their missions giving. I will call on trustees of both missions organizations to be models for us in giving to the Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon offerings. I will call on the nominating committee to look specifically at those giving items when placing names before us. I will call on those leading Southern Baptist to affirm the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, without caveats. This I will do because that is who we are as Southern Baptist, we trust God and tell the people.
And when the votes are cast and Southern Baptist have spoken. I will call on all Southern Baptist to rally around our leaders and move forward taking the Gospel to the world. Anything less will not be cooperative and certainly will not be what Southern Baptist have historically stood for.
Dr. Kevin Ezell, North American Mission Board Presidential Nominee
In a message to Highview Baptist Church this past weekend, Dr. Kevin Ezell made a statement that speaks volumes to the attitude of his leadership style. It appears that Dr. Ezell’s position toward someone in disagreement with him is to paint their disagreement with a broad brush. Thus, making the disagreement about the person instead of dealing with the disagreement. In Dr. Ezell’s message he said concerning those that were issuing critical assessments;
“Typically those are bloggers who live with their mother and wear a housecoat during the day. Just ignore them, but I apologize if you are hurt by anything that they might say about me or indirectly about you.”
The apology to his congregation certainly reveals the heart of a pastor for his people. But, it must be pointed out that no one has attacked the congregation of Highview Baptist Church. Every article and blog I have read expressed the great work that Highview Baptist was doing. However, when one looks more closely at the statement one sees a clear tactic that certainly should be called into question. First, I am one that has been critical and I do not live with my mother and I certainly do not wear a housecoat around all day. Second, his attitude is to “Just ignore them”. No dear reader you do not ignore legitimate concerns. When legitimate concerns are raised one must address the concerns. If Dr. Ezell would have addressed the concerns when it was announced he would be the nominee it would never have gotten to this. However, Dr. Ezell has just raised the stakes by complaining that those who were critical are “living with their mothers and wearing housecoats”. Excuse me, but I do not believe Dr. Hankins lives with his mother, nor does Dr. Emil. These two men are Executive Directors of states that Dr. Ezell is supposed to be working with.
Dr. Kevin Ezell, North American Mission Board Presidential Nominee
The announcement of Dr. Kevin Ezell to be nominated as President of the North American Mission Board is one of encouragement and confusion. I agree with our current president as he stated on August 16 on Twitter:
Dr. Bryant Wright tweeted on August 16 “Please join me in praying 4 the search committees 4 pres. Of NAMB and IMB. No decision 4 future of SBC is more important than these.”
The position of President of NAMB is one of importance and one that calls for a statesman like leader. With that in mind the Presidential Search Committee appears to have found someone that people could rally around. According to the tweets from leaders in one area of our convention we certainly have found that person. Notice the following tweets after the announcement.
Dr. Denny Burk tweeted
“Ezell to NAMB: This is the happiest SBC news I’ve heard in a long time. I can’t imagine a better leader for NAMB. ..”
Dr. Al Mohler tweeted back-to-back
“Need some great news? Here is truly great news. Kevin Ezell is nominated as President of the North American Mission Board
I have known Kevin Ezell [ @kevezell ] for over 15 years as pastor, friend, & visionary leader. He is a man of honor, truth, & conviction.”
Dr Danny Akin tweeted
Thrilled about Kevin Ezell going 2 NAMB! This is great news 4 the SBC! A great leader with a great heart and vision! I am pumped!