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Restructure savings on target, Reccord informs NAMB trustees

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–Bob Reccord, president of the North American Mission Board, had encouraging words for NAMB trustees Feb. 4 regarding the recent announcement that projected savings from the creation of the agency are in line with projections.
“We are on target with an overwhelmingly difficult target to achieve,” Reccord told trustees. “I say to all the team who are doing what had to be done … praise God!”
Operating efficiencies from the “Covenant for A New Century” restructuring have resulted in a projected first-year savings to NAMB of about $6.8 million — a variance of less than 3 percent from the $7 million predicted by the Implementation Task Force that directed the restructuring.
The North American Mission Board was created last year out of the former Home Mission Board, Radio and Television Commission and Brotherhood Commission, and the projected savings is based on the funding those agencies would have received. The restructuring reduced the total number of SBC agencies from 19 to 12.
Randy Singer, NAMB’s executive vice president, noted the agency is meeting one of the primary goals of the transition: to direct more resources toward direct missions and away from administrative overhead. “That’s a point of celebration, because to me it’s not about saving money; it’s about souls being saved,” he said.
Singer also recognized the sacrifices made by both former employees who lost their jobs and current employees, in administrative areas particularly, who have had to handle a larger workload with fewer staff. He pointed out, for example, that the number of finance and accounting staff was reduced from 32 to 19, and human resources
personnel were cut from 22 to 11.
The board continues to face challenges related to the
restructuring, Singer said. There is an expanded responsibility for areas such as student evangelism and mission efforts in all of Canada, and costs directly related to the transition produced a one-time expense
of about $7.35 million. The Implementation Task Force initially predicted costs of between $4.1 and $5.7 million.
“We had a higher-than-expected number of employees who took the generous severance package that we had in place,” Singer said.
In addition to 144 former employees who were not offered jobs with the new agency, another 45 employees have accepted the severance package since the final ITF report in June of last year. Employees of the former agencies who initially accepted positions with NAMB were granted the
option of accepting the severance package through Dec. 31, 1997.
Singer noted, however, the transition costs were almost offset by first-year savings, and future savings from operational efficiencies will be available for expanded missions opportunities.
In his remarks to the board, Reccord also noted other encouraging year-end statistics. “In the midst of unbelievable transition, our mission count went up … by 34 people,” he said, and Annie Armstrong Easter Offering receipts came in at a record $41,178,815.
Reccord also pointed out the urgency of the board’s mission. The number of baptisms reported by SBC churches peaked in 1972 at 446,000, and last year only 379,000 were reported.
“We have basically been plateaued, plus or minus 10 percent, since 1950,” Reccord said. “Only 40 percent of adults who were baptized in 1996 were baptized due to first-time conversion. That means 60 percent of them were being baptized again for whatever reason.”
The numbers illustrate more than ever the need for focused efforts. “In order to know how to get where you need to go, you better truthfully and realistically learn where you are,” he said.
Reccord reported several areas NAMB will be targeting
specifically, including:
— “Mobilizing Christian soldiers,” including a goal of 100,000 volunteers involved in World Changers renovation and ministry projects within five years. Last year 6,500 were involved.
— “Revitalizing Christian leaders,” through leadership training opportunities focused on igniting evangelistic passion and a multiplication mentality.
— Targeting key cities for evangelistic outreach. “In Salt Lake City (at the SBC annual meeting in June) we will announce those cities that are going to be first out of the gate as focus cities in the nation,” Reccord said. “In addition, we have asked the Georgia Baptist Convention and the seven local associations to put forth an all-out effort in Atlanta as the convention meets here in 1999.” The initiative would occur six months before and after the convention.
Another means of reversing the decline in baptisms is the “FAITH” initiative, a cooperative strategy with the Baptist Sunday School Board for integrating evangelism training into Sunday school. FAITH is an acronym for the initiative’s five points, Forgiveness, Available,
Impossible, Turn and Heaven.
“The Sunday school exists not primarily to teach content, but to change lives,” Reccord told trustees. He pointed to the project as an example of the increased emphasis at NAMB on partnering with other SBC
agencies and like-minded groups with a shared goal of evangelizing North America.
In other business, NAMB trustees:
— received an interim report and offered input on a set of core values and commitments being developed to guide the agency.
— heard that broadcasting licenses for the former Radio and Television Commission are in the process of being transferred to NAMB, one of several final transition legalities currently being completed.
— learned that 28 people had been approved for missions service since Jan. 1, who will join nearly 5,000 existing NAMB missionaries in the United States and Canada.
— heard that 16 new chaplains had been endorsed the day before, bringing the total number of Southern Baptist chaplains around the world to 2,710.
The next meeting of the board is planned for May 5-6 in Fort Worth, Texas. The location will give trustees an opportunity to visit the NAMB Media Technology Center, formerly headquarters of the Radio and Television Commission.

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  • James Dotson