KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Delivering the devotional to trustees of the North
American Mission Board (NAMB) at their May 19 meeting in Kansas City, Mo.,
Great Commission Resurgence Task Force (GCRTF) chairman Ronnie Floyd said he’s
“never had a greater passion than I do today to see that North America and the
world have a gospel witness for Jesus Christ.”
“How long has it been since you’ve re-thought what you’re being asked to do on
this board?” asked Floyd, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Springdale,
Ark. “Pause and get your heart around that. God has entrusted you with the
privilege of sitting on this board and to operate as a team to develop a heart,
passion and vision to reach North America with the gospel. I have a big
spiritual word for that — ‘Wow!’”
Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) President Johnny Hunt, senior pastor of First
Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., also attended but did not speak at the
meeting. He addressed NAMB trustees in an informal gathering the night before
when he and Floyd discussed details of the recent GCRTF recommendations and
took questions from trustees.
NAMB trustees elected Tim Dowdy, pastor of Eagle’s Landing First Baptist Church
in McDonough, Ga., as the board’s new chairman. Dowdy has served for two years
as the board’s first vice chairman. Elected first vice chairman: Doug Dieterly,
an attorney who serves as executive pastor of Plymouth Baptist Church in
Plymouth, Ind.; second vice chairman, Ric Camp, pastor of Sonrise Baptist
Church in Mobile, Ala.
The search for a new NAMB president continues, Ted Traylor, chairman of the
president search team and pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla.,
“Although the announcement of a nominee is not imminent, the team is making
progress,” Traylor said in comments after the meeting.
While Traylor’s eight-year term as a NAMB trustee expires in mid-June, trustees
voted in executive session to allow him to continue to chair the search team.
The extension gives Traylor a vote on the search committee, but he will not
have a vote when the entire board of trustees ultimately decides on a new
president of NAMB.
In addition to Traylor, other members of the NAMB president search team are
trustees Tim Dowdy; Doug Dieterly; Larry Gipson, pastor of First Baptist
Church, Oneonta, Ala.; Chuck Herring, senior pastor of Collierville (Tenn.)
First Baptist Church; Lisa Knutsen, an elementary school teacher from Las
Vegas; Mike Palmer, pastor of Salmon Valley Baptist Church and Lemhi River
Cowboy Church, Salmon, Idaho; and ex-officio member Tim Patterson, outgoing
NAMB trustee chairman and senior pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church,
In his remarks to the trustees, interim NAMB President Richard Harris
rhetorically asked whether NAMB’s staff and trustees will face the future with
faith or fear.
“NAMB’s future has been described by some — not me — as broken and which can’t
be fixed,” Harris said. “I’ve heard others say NAMB is ineffective and
insignificant — that NAMB has no future and has squandered its opportunities.
“The day I think those things, I’ll walk out the door. If you believe NAMB is
ineffective, insignificant or has squandered opportunities — whether you’re on
the staff or a trustee — you ought to resign and go home. I think NAMB has a
greater future that most of us can imagine,” Harris said.
Harris said he agrees with the assessment of longtime SBC attorney Jim
Guenther, who has stated that “As NAMB goes, so goes the SBC.”
Harris said the mission board’s work and purpose has not changed: to lead the
Southern Baptist Convention to evangelize and congregationalize North America
in order to penetrate the continent’s vast lostness, encompassing some 258
million non-believers, or three of every four North Americans.
“Ladies and gentlemen, staff and trustees, this is our watch,” Harris said.
“We’re going to stand before God and give an account of the decisions we made,
the faith we exercised and the directions we took. In my humble conviction,
this may be the most crucial year in the history of NAMB, the staff and the
“We need to stop looking in the rearview mirror and get our eyes on where the
Lord is leading. We need to commit to a new cooperation and collaboration by
those in this room. We need to bring forth creative ideas — pooling the ideas
of the best missiological thinkers.
“We need a new model of partnership among the national agencies, state
conventions and associations — a partnership to build the Kingdom, not our
kingdom. We need to work together to help churches partner and succeed in
fulfilling the Great Commission. Most important, we need a fresh touch from
above and to be empowered by the Holy Spirit.”
Harris highlighted the positive results of several recent NAMB initiatives:
commissioning of 88 new missionaries and chaplains on May 16 at Lenexa (Kan.)
Baptist Church in Lenexa, Kan.
the upcoming deployment of 437 semester missionaries and 745 summer
- coordination of the delivery of 155,000 Buckets of Hope in Haiti, with major
support from state conventions, associations and local churches. As a result of
Southern Baptist disaster relief volunteers and Haitian Baptists, more than
135,000 professions of faith have been recorded since the earthquake on Jan.
12; for every two DR workers, there have been two professions of faith. So far
135 new Baptist churches have been planted in Haiti since the earthquake.
- success in the March 1-April 30 God’s Plan for Sharing (GPS) campaign, with
10,500 churches participating to distribute some 15 million “Find It Here”
In his financial report to the trustees, NAMB’s vice president and chief
financial officer, Carlos Ferrer, announced that through April 30, overall
year-to-date revenues were down 2.8 percent. Cooperative Program revenue was
down 5.15 percent. Ferrer said Annie Armstrong Easter Offering revenue normally
doesn’t start coming in until June. This year’s Annie Armstrong Easter Offering
goal is $70 million.
In closing the meeting, newly elected chairman Tim Dowdy reminded trustees of
NAMB’s primary task.
“There are 258 million lost people in North America,” Dowdy said. “I went to
bed last night thinking about that number. What if it was my best friend? What
if it was my dad? What if it was my mom? Let’s go to the (annual Southern
Baptist) Convention and do our work in the years to come not so interested in
what we have to protect but what we have to proclaim. The gospel is indeed
still Good News no matter what language you speak and that’s what we’re about
at the North American Mission Board.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Noah is a writer for the
North American Mission Board.)