By Mike Ebert
PHOENIX (BP) — North American Mission Board (NAMB) president Kevin Ezell told the entity’s trustees that in order to see the kind of turnaround in baptisms that Southern Baptists desire, it will take millions of Southern Baptists having tens of millions of gospel conversations.
Without decreasing NAMB’s emphasis on church planting through Send Network or compassion ministry through Send Relief, Ezell said NAMB will “put every ounce of energy we possibly can to help our convention see the importance of having gospel conversations.”
The message echoed the theme of NAMB’s Send Luncheon which trustees had just attended earlier that day, during which NAMB featured several prominent pastors speaking about how churches can mobilize their members for evangelism.
“We own our part of that responsibility,” Ezell said. “In fact, it’s our ministry assignment to stir the passion within the pastors to do that. Although we can’t make pastors do anything.”
Ezell added, “We are grateful for where Send Network is, and we are grateful for where Send Relief is. The reason we do Send Network and the reason we do Send Relief is so that people will come to faith in Jesus Christ. Everything we do is about sharing our faith and seeing people come to know Christ.”
A few days earlier, LifeWay Christian Resources had released preliminary results from the 2016 Annual Church Profile (ACP) which indicated an increase in the number of Southern Baptist churches, but declines in membership and baptisms.
In other actions at their June 12 meeting, NAMB trustees:
• Heard a financial report indicating NAMB’s revenue for the year is running .33 percent above projected budget while expenses are 10.9 percent under budget.
• Passed a resolution approving the Fiscal Year 2018 operating budget of $125.4 million.
• Approved a resolution authorizing a trustee subcommittee to study and make recommendations to the full Board regarding the qualification and makeup of the Board, especially as it relates to smaller state Baptist conventions and Canada.
• Elected Board of Trustee officers who will serve throughout the upcoming year. Stephen E. (Spike) Hogan, lead pastor of Chets Creek Church in Jacksonville, Fla., will serve as chairman; Charles M. (Danny) Wood, Jr., lead pastor of Shades Mountain Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., will serve as first vice chairman; and Daniel W. (Danny) de Armas, senior associate pastor of First Baptist Church Orlando, will serve as second vice chairman.
• Recognized several trustees whose terms of service had reached completion. They included Cleatus Blackmon of South Carolina, Billy Van Camp of Arizona, Brent Campbell of Missouri, Mark Dyer of Texas, David Green of Tennessee, Blake Gideon of Oklahoma, Heath Peloquin of Texas, Dan Walker of Utah, Natalie White of New York and Rick Wyatt of Florida.
Trustee chairman Mark Dyer, whose term of service as a trustee ended after the meeting, said serving had changed his life. He encouraged trustees to advocate for North American missions in their churches and shared how his had recently become a Sending Church for a church plant in Phoenix.
“We are making a difference, but this should make a difference in your life as well,” Dyer said.
Mike Ebert writes for the North American Mission Board.
Published June 21, 2017