[SLIDESHOW=41955,41956,41957]ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) — As North American Mission Board trustees gathered for dinner on the eve of their Feb. 2 meeting, the entity’s president, Kevin Ezell, called on several to share how their churches are involved in planting churches and sharing Christ.
“I am excited to say that we have trustees who are not only serving as trustees, they are actually out there doing the ministry,” Ezell said.
During trustees’ Feb. 2 meeting, they also heard reports of church planting and chaplaincy activity throughout North America, including news that preliminary 2015 reporting from Southern Baptist Convention chaplains shows more than 127,000 Gospel presentations with more than 15,000 salvations.
Andy Addis, one of the trustees, leads CrossPoint church in rural Hutchinson, Kan., a multi-site church that has grown from just over 100 attendees to 12 campuses with more than 3,000 in the last decade. Recently they started “Church in a Box” to help reach even smaller communities. It allows people to start faith communities right out of their homes, on ranches and farms and in areas unable to support a work with a building. “We’re giving it all away,” Addis said. The new works have the option of linking to CrossPoint or ministering independently.
Jay Watkins pastors Redland Baptist Church in Valdosta, Ga. Four years ago his church banded together with others to start “Community Day,” which offers free food, free clothing, free medical services and much more for those in need. Since the event started in 2008, more than 100,000 Valdosta-area residents have attended and more than 2,000 have accepted Christ.
“We are a very small country church with a budget of less than $300,000 a year,” Watkins said. “If we can do it, anybody can do it.”
Danny de Armas is associate pastor at First Baptist Orlando. His church recently celebrated with Storyline Fellowship Church in Denver as the church plant marked its one-year birthday. First Orlando took in church planter Ben Mandrell and his family of six as they prepared to plant. After seven months, First Orlando sent the Mandrells and a dozen other families to launch Storyline. The church is now running more than 500 on Sundays.
Also attending the dinner was Wanda Lee, executive director of Woman’s Missionary Union. Ezell presented Lee, who announced her pending retirement last month, with a gift of appreciation.
“Since Wanda became WMU leader nearly $900 million has been given to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering,” Ezell told trustees. “No one loves missionaries in the SBC more than Wanda Lee and the WMU.”
Lee, who shared examples of how WMU supports and encourages missionaries, said, “We are grateful for the opportunity to partner. It’s a privilege to serve alongside you.”
In other related news, trustees:
— Received a financial report showing that in the first quarter of the fiscal year 2015-2016, NAMB revenue came in 3.82 percent above expenses despite revenue being down slightly compared to the same quarter in the previous year.
— Approved adjustments to NAMB’s financial reserves which do not impact the total amount in reserve but allocate more for missionary housing-related expenses, a health care reserve fund and a short-term investment to increase promotion of the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.
— Voted to receive the Report of the Independent Auditors for fiscal year 2015. “We are pleased to report that we got an unqualified opinion which means a clean opinion,” said financial services committee chairman David Parks, a member of Porter Memorial Baptist Church in Lexington, Ky.
— Voted to appoint Batts Morrison Wales & Lee, P.A. as NAMB’s independent auditors for the years 2016, 2017 and 2018.
— Approved dates for NAMB’s 2019 Board of Trustee meetings. The Board’s public meeting dates will take place Feb. 6, June 10 and Oct. 9, 2019.
Ezell began his president’s report expressing gratitude for the $58 million Southern Baptists gave to the Annie Armstrong Offering in 2015. The goal for 2016 is $70 million.
Ezell reminded trustees why they voted in October to send financial help to IMB.
“In the SBC we are a family,” Ezell said. “Because of that, when IMB shared what they are going through, we felt it necessary to cut back in our budget. We took $4 million out of our fund for church plants this year so that we can help part of our family while they are in need,” Ezell said. “This was not out of overflow or excess money. It was out of a budget cut.”
More multiplying churches
Ezell said that as NAMB continues to help Southern Baptists plant new churches, a new focus for the entity will be to cultivate more plants to become multiplying churches.
“Our goal from this point on is going to be helping Southern Baptists plant 1,200 churches a year,” he said. “We are praying that a tenth of those would be multiplying churches. A multiplying church is on a path to being self-sustaining in five years. And within three years has a plan to reproduce itself. We want that to be part of the DNA. We need 120 multiplying churches a year.”
Ezell also highlighted NAMB’s recent church planter orientation, plans for the launch of Send Relief at the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis in June and several new and existing evangelism strategies and events. In addition, he shared three dates and locations for the 2017 Send Conference that will be presented in partnership with IMB. The 2017 dates are Feb. 3-4 in Southern California (Long Beach), May 19-20 in Dallas and July 25-26 in Orlando.
Ezell showed trustees a baptism service video from Candeo church in Waterloo, Iowa. Candeo is one of many churches planted by Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa.
“That’s why we do everything we do,” Ezell told trustees after viewing the video. “The reason we do all of it is not just to plant churches, but to reach people.”