News Articles

Changes announced for 2 NAMB v.p. posts

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–North American Mission Board President Robert E. (Bob) Reccord announced key leadership changes during the agency’s semiannual employee Spiritual Focus Day Jan. 13. The moves include changing assignments for John Yarbrough, vice president of evangelization, calling well-known Georgia pastor John Avant as his replacement, and filling two strategic department leadership positions.

Reccord told the board’s employees that he asked Yarbrough, who served six years as NAMB’s evangelism vice president, to move to the board’s strategic initiatives group as vice president. That position was left vacant last year when longtime missions executive Mike Day retired. In the new position, Yarbrough will have leadership responsibility for NAMB’s Strategic Focus Cities initiative, the associational strategies team and leadership development, areas that Reccord called “key to Southern Baptists’ success in reaching North America for Christ.”

“As I looked at John’s track record, his evangelistic zeal, leadership skills and denominational experience, I knew we needed his stability and strength in strategic initiatives,” Reccord explained. “I also knew that John Yarbrough is the ultimate team player. He’s told me many times that he wants to serve wherever the organization needs him most, so I asked him to consider moving over to this new challenge. He came back and said, ‘If that’s where you need me, I’ll be there tomorrow.’”

“John Yarbrough has done a magnificent job leading [NAMB] to create the most cutting-edge, effective evangelism training materials available anywhere,” Reccord said. “In fact, last year, more than 1 million Southern Baptists learned how to share Christ using NAMB materials. We owe a tremendous debt to Dr. Yarbrough’s six years as NAMB’s first vice president of evangelization.

“The challenge, then, was finding God’s man to fill John’s enormous shoes, and God led me to Dr. John Avant, a wonderful brother, loved across our convention,” Reccord said. Avant, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Ga., “has agreed to allow me to submit his name to our trustees for consideration as NAMB’s next vice president of evangelization when the board meets next month,” Reccord said.

Avant earned a doctoral degree in evangelism and a master of divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and a bachelor’s degree in religion and Greek from Baylor University in Waco. He pastored four churches in Texas before being called to New Hope in 1996. What has become known as the Brownwood Revival started at Coggin Avenue Baptist Church in 1995 while Avant served as pastor.

Avant currently serves as a member of the SBC’s Empowering Kingdom Growth Task Force. He has served as a NAMB trustee and as adjunct professor at Criswell College and Oklahoma Baptist University as well as a teaching fellow at Southwestern Seminary. He has preached and led conferences across North America and around the world and is the author of several books. He and his wife, Donna, have two daughters and one son at home.

Yarbrough pastored seven churches in Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee before joining NAMB in 1997. He was a member of the SBC Executive Committee for eight years and served on the SBC’s Implementation Task Force for the Covenant for a New Century which restructured the denomination, including creation of NAMB. Yarbrough also was president of the Georgia Baptist Convention from 1994-96.

Yarbrough has preached in hundreds of church, associational, state and national conferences. He is an Atlanta native with degrees from Truett McConnell College, Mercer University, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Southern California Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Diana, have two adult children.

Reccord also announced two other leadership additions to the NAMB staff. Former Phoenix director of missions William (Bill) Agee is the new director of NAMB’s associational strategy team and Michael Licona is director of the interfaith witness team.

Agee is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University who has pastored churches in his native Oklahoma and Arizona. He also started several churches in South Dakota, led the Northern Plains Convention in baptisms and served as president of the Dakota Fellowship of Churches. Agee was called as director of missions for Central Baptist Association in Phoenix in 1995 and was named Director of Missions of the Year in 1998. He and his wife, Pam, have two adult children.

Licona is one of the country’s leading young Christian apologists. He will lead NAMB’s development of apologetic resources as well as its interfaith evangelism research and training programs. He has a master’s degree in religious studies from Liberty University and is a Ph.D. candidate in New Testament Studies at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. Licona has authored three books, including recently published “The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus.”

    About the Author

  • Martin King