Friday, September 18, 2009


I started this post a while back, and with the recent news of retirements there is much more to speculate about...

When I first heard news concerning the proposed merger of NAMB and IMB, I was completely against it.  They are two very different institutions.  I did not realize just how different they were till I called NAMB today.  I am trying to start some international church planting in my city {lets just say it is a top 5 metro area}.  Someone challenged what I was doing with "it sounds like you are competing with NAMB."  I called them today and asked if there were any NAMB personnel in my area doing international church planting.  The response was: "uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh" {about 8 seconds worth}
"weeeeeeeeeeeeeeelllllllllllllllllllll" {another 5 seconds}
{slowly} "thats not exactly how we operate"

It went down hill from there.  IMO, if you have personnel in a sizable city, you need to know it.  I have been trying to get everyone I know to call in and ask about their area.  Turned out, we only had two NAMB personnel and only one of them was actually paid by NAMB and neither were doing church planting.  What a lot of people do not know, is that half the of the purported 5000+ missionaries they have are volunteer.  These volunteers are primarily retired folks working to strengthen churches.  I am grateful for their service, but by definition, that is not missions.

I am now in favor of merging the two where IMB strategy takes precedence.  Essentially, NAMB needs to go through New Directions {Short story: this shifted IMB folks out of "church work" to front line work}.  They wait on the initiative of churches, associations, and state conventions before they plant any churches.  I understand the reasoning, but the down side is that we have unreached people groups within the major urban centers.

So here is the speculation: since both NAMB and, in a year, IMB both president-less, is this the precursor to a merger?

Concerning restructuring the SBC, which is all the GCR is really about{Call it restructuring the SBC, and everyone would throw a fit.  Put "great commission" in there you cant vote against the great commission}, SBCers must know that merging NAMB and IMB will not fix the money problems or inherent spiritual problems.  Here is my plan;
1. Get rid of state conventions.
2. Merge IMB and NAMB where unreached people groups is the priority.
3. Move the local associations into the position of "strategy coordinators".  They would work closely with the new conglomerate mission board.
4. Get rid of ERLC.  Nobody listens; nobody cares.  We should look for spiritual and cultural transformation and get out of politics.

We need to be less about dumb resolutions [Version debates, Reformed debates, Homeschool debates, etc] and more about the mission.


Mike Ebert said...


I'm sorry you didn't get your questions answered properly, but don't give up on us just because someone wasn't able to clearly explain how we work! Because all of NAMB's mission field—North America—is on someone else's home turf—state conventions, associations, churches—we're very careful to work through SBC partnership. That means some missionaries who receive partial funding from us don't even receive a paycheck that says "NAMB" on it. It comes from the local state convention or the association or the church and those entities receive dollars from NAMB.

And isn't that the way we would want it? Most state conventions or local associations or local churches for that matter don't want (or need) a national entity coming in and telling them where they need a church. So we work in conjunction with them. We provide research, training, strategy, experienced church planters, resources, etc. And, yes, funding.

In some parts of North America the church planters and other Southern Baptist missionaries receive up to 95 percent of their funding from NAMB. But in other areas, the NAMB blend is lower based on need, the type of ministry and how much the local state convention is able to contribute.

As for MSC missionaries. They've been a part of what we do since the late 1970's. We don't appoint an MSC missionary unless the local state convention tells us they fit with their state mission strategy. True, they are not funded in the traditional SBC missions model way, but the origin of the paycheck is not what makes a missionary. Our state convention partners provide local oversight of MSC missionaries and hold them accountable to the missionary ministries they are performing.

I hope you'll give us another chance. Feel free to contact me if I can provide more info.

Mike Ebert
Communications Team Leader
North American Mission Board

Rastis said...

Thanks for your comment. I will respond to this in my next post. I think my readers will gain something through our interaction.

David Rogers said...

I am curious about your model for working toward cultural transformation, while getting out of politics. It seems a lot of people I read link the two. And, what is your Scriptural basis for working toward cultural transformation?

Rastis said...

There are any number of ways of transforming a culture. Typically, we just choose the ballot box. I find this one, though not unbiblical, not to be biblically mandated. Aside from scriptural support, or lack thereof, it is just a temporary fix. Everything we "successfully" vote in one term, will be changed by the next. I think if we take politics off the table, we are forced to deeper issues.

Culture only exists in the minds, hearts, and lives of humans. Culture itself, is not an institution--although many institutions do get fleshed out through the process. Thus, culture only changes as people change. People only change as their worldview changes. The only way of truly redeeming an institution, is to redeem the individuals within that institution.

Worldviews change based on relationship and story. Our impetus should not be to vote our views in, but befriend those with whom we disagree--particularly if they are in a place to influence others. The old adage says that the only difference in an individual a year from now is who they meet and what they read. I think this is true. We need to convey a different story to people over the bridge of relationships. This may not be as satisfactory as winning an election, but the results are longer lasting and are at the convictional level. For example, if we ban gay marriage or homosexuality legally, we haven't actually changed the status of homosexuality in our country, we have simply "criminalized" it. Everyone who is gay will still be gay. The "victory" will be hollow.

David Rogers said...

Reminds me of the lyrics of an old Larry Norman song:

This world's in trouble, you know it's true.
But who has the answers to help us get through?
We look to our leaders, they politely yawn,
The press gives coverage, and the world goes on.

This song won't stop the world from goin' round.
'Cause a song can't stop the world from being unsound
But it might change a heart, change a heart or two,
No it can't stop the world, but it might stop you.

The radio's blasting, the music's loud,
A message is given to a face in the crowd.
By a prophet of music, a poet of song.
The truth is spoken, and the world goes on.

This song won't stop the world from goin' round.
'Cause a song can't stop the world from being unsound
But it might change a heart, change a heart or two,
No it can't stop the world, but it might stop you.
No it can't stop the world, but it might stop you.

David Rogers said...

FWIW, I found the youtube...