Evangelism, leadership pipeline on display as NAMB trustees meet in South Florida

By Mike Ebert

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (BP) — North American Mission Board (NAMB) trustees meeting in South Florida this week saw first-hand the remarkable impact a sending church can have on its community. They also heard a challenge to be personally involved in NAMB’s new “Who’s Your One?” evangelism initiative.

“Could I ask each one of you as pastors and church members to start praying right now about your one?” Johnny Hunt asked at dinner Monday evening. “If we are going to turn around evangelism trends in the SBC, I believe it is going to happen one person at a time.”


Johnny Hunt, senior vice president for evangelism and leadership at the North American Mission Board (NAMB), challenged NAMB trustees to pray about someone with whom they can share the gospel as part of the new “Who’s Your One?” evangelism initiative. NAMB trustees met Feb. 4-5 in West Palm Beach, Fla. NAMB photo by Kalie Drake.

Hunt serves as NAMB’s senior vice president of evangelism and leadership. The trustee gathering took place Feb. 4-5 in West Palm Beach, Fla., with an emphasis on the gospel need and ministry that is taking place across South Florida.

After dinner, trustees loaded onto buses and traveled to Family Church to hear how the congregation is identifying and training leaders to plant and pastor new churches throughout South Florida.


As part of their vision tour in South Florida, NAMB trustees visited Family Church and heard how the church’s leadership pipeline is identifying leaders and training them for church planting and pastoring in the area. Since 2014, the church has graduated 105 graduates from its program and has a vision for planting 100 neighborhood churches in South Florida. NAMB trustees met Feb. 4-5. NAMB photo by Kalie Drake.

South Florida’s diversity, unceasing growth, great wealth and extreme poverty can all be a challenge for churches trying to connect with the more than 6 million residents in the region. Dozens of legacy churches are struggling or have shut their doors.

Family Church has confronted this challenge with a goal of planting 100 neighborhood-focused churches in South Florida. To do that they have partnered with NAMB to start a leadership pipeline residency program that began with seven students in 2014 and has now seen 105 graduates complete the two-year program.

Trustees met Sal Cavarretta, who planted in Boca Raton in November 2017, and Kostiantyn Goncharov, who is planting a Russian speaking church to reach the nearly 400,000 Russian speaking residents of the area.

At another stop, trustees heard the story of how a dying church—Jog Road Baptist—partnered with Family Church to transition their building to a Spanish-speaking congregation that is now thriving and strongly rooted in its surrounding neighborhood.


On their South Florida vision tour, NAMB trustees heard the story of how a dying church—Jog Road Baptist—partnered with Family Church in West Palm Beach, Fla., to transition their building to a Spanish-speaking congregation that is now thriving and strongly rooted in its surrounding neighborhood. At right is Keith Albert, former pastor of Jog Road Baptist and now missions pastor for Family Church in West Palm Beach. Also pictured is Jose Dasilva, pastor of Iglesia Familiar Green Acres. NAMB trustees met Feb. 4-5. NAMB photo by Kalie Drake.

The next morning trustees heard more about church replanting efforts from Mark Clifton, NAMB’s national director for church replanting.

“77 percent of churches in the SBC that close each year are located in cities with over 100,000 people,” Clifton reported. “We’re closing churches where we desperately need churches.”

Clifton’s “Revitalize” podcast hosted with LifeWay president Thom Rainer has had more than 250,000 downloads. An upcoming NAMB replant certification workshop for Associational Mission Strategists is sold out with 250 attending, and an upcoming “Am I A Replanter?” workshop has 100 attending. Currently at least 200 SBC congregations are walking through the replanting process.


Mark Clifton, national director for church replanting at the North American Mission Board (NAMB), shared a devotion at the beginning of NAMB’s trustee meeting Feb. 5 in West Palm Beach, Fla. “77 percent of churches in the SBC that close each year are located in cities with over 100,000 people,” Clifton reported. “We’re closing churches where we desperately need churches.” NAMB trustees met Feb. 4-5. NAMB photo by Kalie Drake.

During their Feb. 5 plenary meeting, trustees heard several reports:

  • NAMB Chief Financial Officer Matt Smith reported that NAMB’s fiscal year spending to date is 7.7 percent below budget and that offering income from both the Cooperative Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering® are at anticipated levels for this time of year.
  • Andy Addis, pastor of Cross Point Church in Hutchinson, Kan., and chairman of the Send Network committee, reported that Send Network’s Leadership Pipeline has grown from 237 churches in early 2018 to 750 today, with 216 of those churches actively implementing the process and 660 individuals participating.
  • Erin Bounds, chairwoman of NAMB’s Financial Services Committee, and a member of North Valley Baptist Church in Odenville, Ala., reported that NAMB’s annual end of year audit conducted by an outside auditing firm resulted in “a completely clean audit. The highest rating you can get,” Bounds said.
  • Trustees voted to defer a final recommendation on a motion from the 2017 SBC Annual Meeting until they have more time to finalize a response. The motion asked NAMB to alter its guidelines for representation on the NAMB Board of Trustees.

In his report to trustees NAMB president Kevin Ezell started by stating, “Everything we do at NAMB is about sending the hope of the gospel.”

On church planting, Ezell reminded trustees that NAMB is involved in church planting everywhere across North America.

“Over 60 percent of the churches we helped Southern Baptists plant in 2018 were non-Anglo,” Ezell reported. “We plant churches everywhere, for everyone.”


In his report to North American Mission Board (NAMB) trustees, NAMB president Kevin Ezell, highlighted the upcoming “Who’s Your One?” evangelism campaign as well as the “GO2” initiative, which challenges college students to commit their first two years after school to helping a church plant in North America or abroad. Information on both initiatives and others can be found at https://www.gospelaboveall.com. NAMB photo by Kalie Drake.

Ezell spotlighted NAMB’s recently renewed efforts in Pittsburgh. He introduced Rob Wilton who now serves as Send Missionary to the city and will be starting a church this fall in its West Hills area.

“Just last month his church sent a $30,000 check for the Cooperative Program to the Penn-South Jersey state convention,” Ezell said. “That makes his church one on of the top five Cooperative Program giving churches in his state convention. And he doesn’t launch until October.

“So often,” Ezell said, “people talk about church plants in terms of what they get, and they don’t realize what they are giving, and that’s what’s so exciting.”

Wilton shared a map showing one existing and four proposed Multiplying Churches that will each plant at least five churches in greater Pittsburgh over the next several years.


At the Feb. 5 North American Mission Board (NAMB) trustee meeting, NAMB president Kevin Ezell, right, spotlighted the entity’s recently renewed efforts in Pittsburgh. He introduced Rob Wilton, left, ? who now serves as Send Missionary to the city and will be starting a church this fall in its West Hills area. NAMB photo by Kalie Drake.

“We are dreaming big in Pittsburgh,” Wilton said. “I believe this is just the beginning.”

Ezell also highlighted the upcoming “Who’s Your One?” evangelism campaign NAMB is implementing with current SBC president J.D. Greear as well as the “GO2” initiative, which challenges college students to commit their first two years after school to getting a job near a church plant that they can help get established in North America or abroad.

Information on both initiatives and others can be found at https://www.gospelaboveall.com.

NAMB’s next trustee meeting is scheduled for May 21 in Alpharetta, Ga.

Mike Ebert serves as NAMB’s executive director of public relations.
MASHALLTOWN, Iowa (BP) — Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams have begun cleanup work in Marshalltown, Iowa, following a devastating tornado July 19.

A Missouri Baptist Disaster Relief team arrived Tuesday to set up incident command at Iglesia Karios in Marshalltown. Chainsaw teams from Iowa have dispersed throughout the city to clear debris. An SBDR feeding team has prepared meals for recovery workers in the area.

Additional SBDR volunteers from Kansas-Nebraska and Florida already are on the ground in Marshalltown. Carlson, co-director of Iowa Baptist Disaster Relief, expects volunteers from other nearby states to arrive later this week and early next week. Teams from other states interested in providing assistance should contact their state disaster relief director.

“It looks like a war zone to tell you the truth,” Carlson said. “When you go downtown, you’ll see a lot of glass and brick everywhere.

“On the east part of town, there are about 10 blocks that are very heavily hit. There’s really not many trees standing. A lot of those homes aren’t livable,” Carlson said.

The EF-3 tornado injured at least 235 people in the town of 27,000 located 50 miles northeast of Des Moines. Carlson estimates that at least 100 homes were destroyed. Many more homes will take substantial work before people can return to live in them. Carlson believes it will take months, if not years, for Marshalltown to rebuild.

Some of the worst damage in Marshalltown came to the town’s courthouse and the brick buildings in the town square. In recent years officials and property owners had slowly worked to revamp the buildings, many of which are now destroyed. Jenny Etter, executive director of the Marshalltown Central Business District, estimates that the city had spent $50 million in building renovations since 2002.

A dozen or more tornadoes hit central Iowa last Thursday, according to the National Weather Service. The two biggest tornadoes, both rated EF-3, hit Marshalltown and Pella, with peak winds of 144 mph.

SBDR chaplains are also in Marshalltown to provide support and counsel to residents impacted by the tornado. Sam Porter, the North American Mission Board’s executive director of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, prays the SBDR response will provide volunteers opportunities to share the Gospel.

“[The] number one goal with disaster relief is to earn the right to share the Gospel,” Porter said. “We work with those impacted. We treat them with respect. We pray with them. When they ask the question, ‘What makes you do this for no charge?’ that’s when you’ve earned the right to share the Gospel.”

The Marshalltown tornado comes on the heels of the SBDR response to flooding in Des Moines, Iowa, where teams wrapped up work last week. Eight people came to faith last week during SBDR efforts in the capital city, Carlson said.

Porter and Carlson urge Southern Baptists to pray for Marshalltown and the rest of Central Iowa.

“Pray for all the people who live here,” Carlson said. “A lot of them lost their homes. They lost their cars. They lost their job. There is a lot of a need here.”

Tobin Perry is a writer for the North American Mission Board.,


Published February 6, 2019