Twenty years ago, evaluating a Southern Baptist Church’s support for missions at the associational, state, national and international level was fairly simple—report the percentage of undesignated receipts forwarded by the church through the Cooperative Program and through their local association and you would have a pretty good idea if they were cooperating. Continue reading
For quite some time now in Southern Baptist life, when controversial decisions have been made within our entities, I have heard our leaders repeat the mantra, “Trust the trustees!” But is it truly a prudent exercise of stewardship to bestow upon our trustee boards this kind of unlimited trust? Is it not possible that situations might arise in which we should not blindly trust the trustees, but rather investigate our processes for trustee selection and training and participation to make sure our leadership groups are functioning appropriately? Continue reading
The mission field complexities and challenges are increasing almost daily in North America. Southern Baptists have a strong historic past, but I am troubled about our current levels of effectiveness and the diminishing mission capacities of Southern Baptists going forward.
We are all stakeholders and part owners of the SBC, which includes the North American Mission Board entity. Through the work of our trustees, collective voices and financial resources, we can help to shape the priorities and the use of our resources in advancing the gospel both in North American and around the globe. Through our elected trustees, we also engage with the leaders of our NAMB and other mission agencies.
Questions to Consider…
As stakeholders of NAMB, several summary questions should be asked periodically…
The answers to these questions and others are troubling. My concerns regarding Dr. Kevin Ezell’s actions as NAMB President are based on personal experience as the former Executive Director of the Maryland/Delaware Baptist Convention, my extensive experience, research, writing and teaching in both evangelism and church planting, and from many conversations with other SBC leaders at national, state, associational levels.
I have laid out detailed concerns related to Dr. Ezell on my website in both an Open Letter to the SBC (http://willmcraney.com/open-letter/) and a Letter of Concern to the NAMB trustees. I encourage you to explore the docs on my website, ask questions of various SBC leaders around you, read, do some investigating and draw your own conclusions. I lived these matters and have 149 pages of interlinked documents on my website supporting these claims. I would not dare make these statements knowing I will give an account to Jesus for the words unless I could and in this case, already have supported these hard claims.
The short answers to the above questions …
From my perspective, several significant matters are at stake regarding Dr. Ezell’s leadership of our North American Mission Board.
My gifting, wiring, and experience is that of a strategist as I seek to see and analyze the interconnected parts and unintended consequences. In addition to my personal experience, I have done extensive research in SBC evangelism and church planting as a tenured professor, and served in many other aspects of SBC life. I have experienced Dr. Ezell’s work on the ground in MD/DE as the Executive Director after seeing the work from the FL Convention Evangelism and Church Planting staff. This approach cannot continue with these behaviors.
My conclusion is that …(1) we fail under Dr. Ezell, either now as we are, or (2) we fail in the next few years because of Dr. Ezell’s damaged relationships, tactics and dismantling strategies. If current plans were succeeding, the SBC will experience delayed failure, but we are currently not making progress. Actually we are experiencing Great Commission Regression. The necessary local trust, goodwill and resolve of Southern Baptists to cooperate in mission efforts are all being hurt, and most state and national leaders know and state this privately, as do many associational leaders.
Whatever the past shortcomings of NAMB may have been, they were not of this nature. The sins of the current NAMB President are against people and are damaging our future mission capacity. These are offensive to God and are more damaging to our future than shortcomings of the past. Wrongs are wrongs and right is right, all the time. An organization gets what it tolerates.
Baptist leaders are responding in different ways. Some national leaders believe we have passed a point of no return and beyond repair. Some faithful already have and others will just walk away and be done with the SBC. Others will ignore current challenges and let the widespread behaviors continue. However, others are beginning to rise up and call attention to the current realities in spite of the constant positive national PR. Each man will have to seek the Lord as to His role. Part of my assignment as an informed leader with firsthand experience has been to bring exposure in keeping with Mt. 5 & 18, and Eph. 5 in an honorable way.
Southern Baptists deserve better from their NAMB President and financial investments. We need an overhaul of the existing culture created under Dr. Ezell. Southern Baptists and its national, state, and associational leaders are operating in fear, intimidation, and under financial threats to keep them silent. This is absent of the Spirit of God and must change.
Process Toward the Light…
I do not share this lightly or as a first step. I have had strong, wise biblical counsel throughout this process. In Feb. 2016 I provided a 5 page Letter of Concern to the NAMB trustees. 20 hrs. later I received a letter from the NAMB Trustee Officers denying all my claims. Shortly after I then received a letter from the NAMB attorneys that was similar in nature. (all of these can be found on my website) I have made myself available to friends who are trustees. I also began receiving counsel from 3 SBC statesmen on God-honoring ways to bring these matters to the light.
After these efforts, I then added the website to speak to a wider SBC audience. My position is…it is up to Southern Baptists to determine what they (we) will do, but they (we) have the right to be informed. It should not take a court to address the libelous type actions of Dr. Ezell, his continued threats and gag orders across the SBC, and the Missional ineffectiveness we are experiencing under Dr. Ezell. Southern Baptists are a grassroots, field up people. This is our SBC and our NAMB and you have the right to know and act.
I encourage you to not just take my claims, but investigate these and other claims, talk with your State Executive Director regarding the gag orders and other matters, and then both contact your NAMB trustee (see SBC 2015 annual or PDF list on my website under Supporting Documents) and encourage others to do the same. Continue reading