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New York, Miami announced as next ‘Strategic Focus Cities’

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–Two of the world’s largest cities — New York and Miami — will be the focus of concentrated, five-year efforts by Southern Baptists to introduce people to faith in Jesus Christ and help them grow in their faith.

Robert E. Reccord, chairman of the North American Mission Board, announced the two cities as the next to receive special attention in evangelism and church planting through NAMB’s Strategic Focus Cities initiative beginning next year and continuing through 2006.

“Strategies will be specifically and uniquely put together for those cities,” Reccord said during the Sept. 27 regular meeting of NAMB trustees. “The groundwork is already being laid.”

Previously announced Strategic Focus Cities efforts have focused on implementation during a particular year, with two years each devoted to planning and follow-up efforts. Chicago and Phoenix were the first two cities to be implemented this year. Boston and Las Vegas are scheduled for next year, while implementation efforts will be focused on Seattle and Philadelphia in 2002.

The strategies for New York and Miami will include extensive preparation time and pilot projects, but major events and other implementation will be spread over a longer period than just one year, said Doug Metzger, director of NAMB’s Strategic Focus Cities team.

“I would refer to them as unique strategies from how we’ve done the past cities, in view of the complexity and diversity of the two cities,” he said.

During his report to trustees, Reccord also offered a pastoral word about the importance of not allowing peripheral issues to distract from the primary task at hand — in the board’s case, the evangelization of North America.

“We’ve got to be careful that we never take vision and be sidetracked on the side streets of division,” he said. “We’d better never replace comforting with criticizing. And we’d better make sure that going isn’t replaced by meeting, because that’s where ministry and mission happen.”

Earlier in the same meeting, J. Robert White, executive director of the Georgia Baptist Convention, echoed a similar theme in a devotional message for trustees. He noted a message by former SBC President Ed Young on the “side streets” that tend to get believers off course.

“Looking among us today, I see us getting on side streets and we lose our focus on the cross. And we forget who we are, and whose we are,” White said.

Reccord also reported on several “praises” about what God is doing through NAMB, including:

— a record-breaking year for World Changers summer mission projects for youth. More than 17,000 participated in rehabilitating homes for low-income residents and 1,539 people made professions of faith — both substantially higher than the previous year.

— Exciting progress in implementation of the Nehemiah Project, a seminary-based plan for training and mentoring church planters. In year two of the plan, Reccord said, goals initially set for year five of the project have already been achieved. The number of church planters being appointed as missionaries has tripled with the help of the Nehemiah Project, he said.

— Encouraging progress with the International Mission Board in helping churches unify missions promotion efforts. NAMB is talking with IMB and four state conventions about developing new integrated approaches to missions promotion and communication.

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  • James Dotson