NAMB Deserves Support

Posted on April 26, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Rankin Connecting

It is the season of the year when Southern Baptist churches collect the Annie Armstrong Offering for support of the North American Mission Board. Some include their designated gift to the work of NAMB as a part of a Global Missions campaign at other times of the year or from a proportion of year-round missions giving, but most appeal to members for special gifts as an “Easter Offering” in March and April.

Reaching into unchurched areas of the U.S. and Canada, beyond what individual local churches could do, NAMB is seeking to penetrate the increasing lostness of our own country by planting a witness where Christ is not known. With a special emphasis on major urban areas and cross-cultural church planting among our growing multi-ethnic population, NAMB deserves not only generous financial support but endorsement of its new vision and priorities.

NAMB president, Dr. Kevin Ezell, and his visionary leadership staff around the country are boldly attempting to re-prioritize the focus of our domestic mission board. For years it has been a conduit of funding for state conventions; partnership agreements channeling their work through these and other entities have left little margin for initiative and resources to take the gospel to underserved and neglected areas. Meanwhile baptisms have continued to decline and church growth has stagnated outside the Bible belt.

It is understandable that there would be denominational leaders disagreeing with changes in strategy and priority; after all it means reductions in subsidies and elimination of effective programs and staff fulfilling significant roles. But we live in a changing world. We are losing the battle against humanism and secularism. It is not just unreached people groups overseas, but children are growing up in cities and communities in our own country never knowing about Jesus.

Collectively and cooperatively we can have the resources and resolve to make a difference, but not if the priority is to continue traditions and maintain the status quo. Why should NAMB’s strategy and resources be funneled to state programs in the Bible Belt that already receive the bulk of Cooperative Program funding and are where there is the  greatest concentration of established churches in the world.

Certainly there are still vast swatches of lostness, needs for ministry and areas new churches need to be planted everywhere, but should not churches in those states take more responsibility for the mission where they are located and free NAMB to represent us in areas that have a dearth of churches and  minuscule resources? No one likes to give up entitlements, but if we truly have a heart for reaching the lost everyone should be willing to make sacrifices in their own programs to get it done.

Having been in a leadership position that was a lightening rod for criticism, I appreciate the boldness of Dr. Ezell to finally take us where we need to go. The discipline to focus on priorities is never easy, because it is not a matter of what is right and wrong, but what has to been done to accomplish an objective. If we are to reach North America, churches have to be planted as a local, indigenous witness where there is none. We have got to move beyond self-interest and provincialism and support NAMB in its visionary new direction.

4 Comments on “NAMB Deserves Support”

  1. Wesley L. Handy

    Dr. Rankin,

    I agree that we should support NAMB, but I disagree with the following:

    Reaching into unchurched areas of the U.S. and Canada, beyond what individual local churches could do, NAMB is seeking to penetrate the increasing lostness of our own country by planting a witness where Christ is not known. [emphasis added

    The reason why we have the IMB is because there are no SBC churches within geographical proximity of the rest of the world. When it comes to North America, there is a different situation altogether. NAMB has and will continue to have an important role, but never “beyond what individual local churches could do.”

    Why is there a disconnect between the local church and missions (in general)? it’s because churches have become insular and inward focused. If every church was a church planting church, then we could really impact the lostness of North America. When churches become church planting churches, I think you will find an increased dedication to church planting overseas as well. We cannot be content with the ideology that only a specialized force “could do” missions. When that is propagated at any level, even if only to raise funds, then there is great danger for the life and outreach of the church.

    Should we support NAMB? YES!!! Should we reallocate resources and personnel to the must unreached areas? YES and AMEN!!! Should NAMB lead the charge in reaching North America? NO!!! Local churches planting churches among all the diverse and unreached areas of North America is who should reach this continent. Hasn’t it been the strategy of the IMB for the past two decades to plant church planting churches? Hasn’t the strategy been that it would take indigenous (meaning autonomous as well as native) churches to reach a people group? Why is North America any different? Do we not trust our churches?

    Brother, I greatly appreciate your vision and leadership in our denomination. You have done a great work for the kingdom in spreading the fame of Christ around the world–you by no means will lose your reward! I would kindly ask you though to use your influence to not just get SBC giving going in the right direction, but also to encourage and mobilize local churches to plant churches in North America and beyond.

    Respectfully yours,

    Wesley L. Handy

  2. Danny Egipciaco

    Id like to add to this conversation. As a send city coordinator for NAMB I can say that NAMB has really become a catalyst and mobilizer so that the local church has a connecting point to 30 major cities. My understanding of NAMB’s efforts are not to eliminate the local church, but empower it by creating systems and points of contacts with churches and missionaries all over North America. That’s what excites me! We have a strategy that is focused, yet allows the local church to be the driving force. Think about it. Where would a smaller church with limited resources begin to plant churches or connect with the cities? NAMB just connects the dots. My prayer is that the greatest entity in this world (the local church) will stand together and AWAKEN! May we continue to support the efforts of Southern Baptist and see that our scope of influence is greater than our lil church! WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR CITIES AND THIS NATION.

  3. Jerry Rankin

    Don’t disagree with a thing you said, Wesley. I’m leading a course called “Impact Your World” to mobilize churches to fulfill the mission for which God called them into the kingdom! The reason IMB and NAMB exist is because churches aren’t doing what they are suppose to be doing and have relinquished missions to the denomination. Perhaps you haven’t noticed that Kevin Ezell’s main strategy is to enlist churches in the Bible Belt to adopt the unreached segments of our nation and to be the the church planter. Until that happens they are not ceasing to place church planters where they are needed.

  4. Wesley L. Handy

    @Danny Well-said.

    @Dr. Rankin

    Thank you Dr. Rankin. As I said before, I appreciate your service to our denomination and the kingdom.

    I certainly agree we shouldn’t fall into an either/or strategy. I apologize if I”m making a mountain out of a molehill. I got the impression from the sentence I identified earlier that the role of the local church in reaching our nation was being denigrated, even if only unintentionally.

Leave a Reply

More News