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SBC’s North American Mission Board and conservative control

Broken at creation, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) North American Mission Board is a “wasteful funding mechanism” that “has served as a pressure device to keep state conventions in line with Southern Baptist Convention programs,” wrote SBC elder statesman Duke K. McCall.

North American Mission Board

McCall, who was SBC Executive Committee chief executive officer and president of two SBC seminaries, wrote in an essay in the recently published book Against The Wind by Carl L. Kell that:

The state conventions are a better alternative for domestic missions than a central organization. This has been obvious for at least 50 years in that most of the Cooperative Program funds sent to Atlanta for the North American Mission Board have actually been spent by the state conventions through various kinds of ‘partnership’ programs.

McCall is apparently recommending a return of power to and retention of funding by the state Baptist organizations – a view that is echoed complaints voiced recently at at Hardin Baptist Church in Dallas. Norman Jameson of the North Carolina Biblical Recorder wrote of that session:

Unfortunately, the church planter funding process through NAMB is cumbersome, even “stupid” as Jeff Long from Parkwood Baptist Church in Gastonia labeled it.

Host pastor Austin Rammell said there is “massive replication” in the process of identifying, training, placing and funding church plants and planters. “Either the state convention needs to go away or NAMB needs to go away,” said Rammell, who is on the Baptist State Convention board of directors. “I think the obvious answer is NAMB.”

Also arguing that the NAMB was a mistake from the moment of creation is Larry Lewis. He was president of the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1995 when it was merged with the SBC Radio and Television Commission and the SBC Brotherhood Commission to create the NAMB. The NAMB was not created for the sake of efficiecy, Lewis said in an Aug. 13 interview with the Biblical Recorder:

Lewis said he has been told that the real reason behind the reorganization was that leaders of the “conservative resurgence” were displeased with him because he wasn’t aggressive enough about weeding out what they viewed as vestiges of liberalism at the HMB, but they didn’t want to fire him because they had supported his election and he affirmed biblical inerrancy. The solution, the story goes, was to reorganize the agency in a way that didn’t leave a place for Lewis.

It seems nonetheless clear that the GCR Task Force strategies will not involve the return of authority to state conventions that McCall implies and Lewis might accept. If there is a reorganization, it will almost inevitably involve further concentration of SBC executive authority through the merger of the troubled NAMB, whose focus is domestic ministries, with the SBC’s also troubled, missionary-sending, International Mission Board.

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October 22, 2009 - Posted by | Religion, SBC | , ,

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