Component #2: “We believe in order for us to work together more faithfully and effectively towards the fulfillment of the Great Commission, that our North American Mission Board needs to be reinvented and released. Therefore, in order to do this, we will ask Southern Baptists that the North American Mission Board prioritize efforts to plant churches in North America and to reach our nation’s cities and clarify its role to lead and accomplish efforts to reach North America with the Gospel.”
The GCRTF envisions a restructure of the North American Mission Board. NAMB has had its share of problems over the past few years that have led to a decreased effectiveness. Constant turnover of leadership at the top, duplicated ministries (down the associational level), and a broad focus have contributed to this ineffectiveness. Many would say that NAMB is broken. I would not go that far as to agree. This envisioned restructure is centered around the belief that the planting of healthy new congregations is the most effective way to reach North America. Dr. Ronnie Floyd, Senior Pastor of FBC Springdale, AR and Chairman of the GCRTF said, “This reinvention of the North American Mission Board that we envision will implement a direct strategy for planting churches in North America with a priority to reach metropolitan areas and under-served people groups. We desire for the North American Mission Board to encourage Southern Baptist churches to become church planting congregations. Regardless of the size or location of our churches, we want each to have a vision for and get involved in planting churches some way, somewhere in North America. It is our desire that at least 50% of the ministry efforts of our North American Mission Board be given to assist churches in planting healthy, multiplying, and faithful Baptist congregations in the United States and Canada.”
The task force is calling for the following specific actions to be considered, including church planting, pastoral leadership development, local church assistance in evangelism and discipleship, and putting more Cooperative Program money where it will be most effective. The task force is also recommending the dissolving of “cooperative agreements” between NAMB and state conventions, where NAMB forwards portions of their CP budget dollars back to the state. Dr. Al Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and task force member states, “The idea of Cooperative Agreements is simple – the North American Mission Board (and originally, the Home Mission Board) established agreements with each state convention in order to avoid overlap, confusion, and duplication of work. When the Great Commission Task Force recommends the phased elimination of these agreements, we are calling for the North American Mission Board to rethink how it should relate to the state conventions so that the mission board retains a more focused ministry of assisting Southern Baptist churches to reach North America. In the year 2009, about $50-million dollars was routed through these Cooperative Agreements. Many of these dollars were spent on the salaries of workers in the state conventions and associations. The monies are allocated and channeled in way that are difficult to trace, much less prioritize.”
The goal of dissolving these agreements is to streamline the work of NAMB, increase productivity, and improve accountability of CP dollars. There are parts of this component that I like and some I don’t like. I agree with the focus on church planting and leadership development. Aspects of these cooperative agreements trouble me greatly. Also in the initial report the task force envisions giving priority to the top 100 metropolitan areas of North America. While I understand that these large urban centers require more effort and resources (due to population), what about the other areas of North America? What about the pioneer regions of North America where lostness is just as real? What about the rural areas of North America? Will funding to reach these types of areas be sacrificed for the sake of reaching the top 100 metropolitan areas? There are still many questions left to ask, and answer.