GCR Component #2: Reinventing NAMB

In what may be the most controversial component of the progress report, the task force is calling for an overhaul of the North American Mission Board. There has probably been more discussion on this component than any other. It's easy to understand why.

When the task force remains in the realm of theory, when they're calling Southern Baptists to a change in attitude or to certain core values, pretty much everyone can agree with that. There's no cost. But when change to structure and funding models enters the picture, thats when reality sinks in. The rubber hits the road in Component #2 with some recommendations for remaking NAMB into a more effective organization.

The Text of Component #2:

We believe in order for us to work together more faithfully and effectively towards the fulfillment of the Great Commission, that our North American Mission Board needs to be reinvented and released. Therefore, in order to do this, we will ask Southern Baptists that the North American Mission Board prioritize efforts to plant churches in North America and to reach our nation’s cities and clarify its role to lead and accomplish efforts to reach North America with the Gospel.

The task force is recommending that the restructuring be centered around a strategy for church planting. They call for at least 50% of NAMB's budget to go toward church planting. The church planting should focus on metropolitan areas (especially outside the Southern Baptist South) and underserved people groups (pioneer areas of North America).

In addition to church planting, the task force envisions NAMB:
  • assisting churches in evangelism and discipleship
  • assisting churches in leadership development
  • assisting churches in having a missional impact in their various contexts
  • becoming the leader in Southern Baptists' strategy to reach North America
  • becoming streamlined in order to be a true leader in reaching North America
  • directly appointing missionaries to fulfill NAMB's strategy
  • mobilizing existing church to plant new churches in metropolitan and pioneer areas
  • become decentralized to serve more efficiently
  • be released to budget for a national strategy (including ending cooperative agreements, see below)
  • developing a Leadership Center of North America

So a few minor changes should take care of things, right? Absolutely not, and that is one point I think the task force is trying to convey. NAMB is broken, complicated, messy, confusing, and inefficient. Do they do some good things, and even some great things? Probably so, but that misses the point. Overall the organization is in turmoil (see recent leadership turnover) and lacks focus. Major restructuring is necessary to stop the bleeding that has been going on for some time now.

I like the fact that the task force is calling for a major renovation to NAMB. There are specifics in these recommendations that I still have questions about. There are some I would either like to see dropped and given totally to state conventions, or have state conventions get out of the business and leave it entirely to NAMB in order to avoid duplication. But the emphasis on church planting is rightly placed. That is where the resources for a "home" mission board need to go.

On Ending Cooperative Agreements
The most discussed aspect of Component #2 is the recommendation to phase out cooperative agreements over a four-year period. NAMB currently sends back over $50 million to the state conventions for various projects and staff. Some have argued that the state conventions will be dramatically harmed by this elimination. Let's be honest here: The larger state conventions will feel the difference, but it will not be dramatic when considered in light of the size of these organizations. The smaller state conventions, those in pioneer areas, may actually be seriously harmed by a decrease in funding in this way.

One of the points of emphasis of the task for is how we can better reach pioneer areas, so at this point I am giving the task force the benefit of the doubt that they have considered and will have some answers as to what will happen to replace this revenue stream to the smaller state conventions.

There is no doubt in my mind a better system can be invented and implemented than the current system. In reality, the 14 largest state conventions (represented in blue on the map to the left) do not need money returned to them. They are large enough to support themselves completely and should be called on to do so.

It is exciting to think of the possibilities of a reinvented North American Mission Board. I think the task force's recommendations could still use some tweaking here and there, but overall the vision cast in Component #2 is sorely needed and a breath of fresh air for those of us who want efficiency with our resources and deep impact on our continent for the gospel.
blog comments powered by Disqus