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Young leaders begin weighing input for N. American missions

ALPHARETTA, GA (BP)–Sporting trendy haircuts and wearing blue jeans and even a pair of shorts, attendees at a meeting at the North American Mission Board didn’t look like typical denominational leaders. And, they aren’t. They were members of a newly formed task force for missional young leaders, fulfilling a commitment by NAMB President Robert E. (Bob) Reccord to better include young leaders in the Southern Baptist entity’s strategy.

“We need your help in shaping this mission agency to better serve you, other missional young leaders and your churches,” Reccord told the mostly 20- and 30-something pastors who gathered in NAMB’s executive conference room this fall. “Help us know how we can link arms with you and your peers and together reach more people in the United States and Canada for Christ. That’s the bottom line.”

Reccord explained that missional young leaders are among the many constituencies that NAMB serves, from ethnic leaders to traditional churches, but they are an essential constituency for reaching all parts of North America with the Gospel.

Reccord has joined Lifeway Christian Resources’ president, James T. Draper Jr., and other SBC leaders the past year in dialoging with and soliciting input from mostly younger SBC pastors who often feel left out of the denomination. Reccord told a gathering of 400 young leaders at last summer’s Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Nashville there would be “radical change” at NAMB to better include younger leaders. The task force is one step toward that change.

“I love to take risks,” Reccord said. “If we’re not living on the edge, we’re taking up too much room. So, help us at NAMB know how you believe we can be more innovative, more creative and more effective in helping you reach your communities for Christ.”

NAMB’s research team director and resident missiologist, Ed Stetzer, is co-chairing the task force along with Darren Patrick, pastor of The Journey church near St. Louis. Stetzer explained the group’s task “is not to fix everything at the agency nor in the SBC,” but to develop recommendations for NAMB to consider implementing.

“By the end of this year, we want to have a series of recommendations that are realistic, attainable and that will lead NAMB to be more effective in partnering with missional young leaders and their churches,” Stetzer said. “We simply want more lives transformed more frequently. Help us help your churches do that.”

The 14 task force members are from 10 states and various ethnic backgrounds, pastoring churches with non-traditional names such as Journey, Mosaic and Sanctuary. Most have successfully started a new SBC church in the last two to five years and are well under 40 years old, but age is not the issue according to Stetzer.

“This is more about innovation than age. Some of you are using missional methods to reach people, and some more traditional methods,” he said. “But you are all leading churches that are reaching people. That’s what we need to hear from you -– what are our blind spots in helping you and pastors like you reach more people.”

In addition to Stetzer and Patrick, other members of the task force are Ted Baird, Anthem, Ariz; Tyrone Barnette, Decatur, Ga.; Matt Carter, Austin, Texas; Jeff Christopherson, Oakville, Ontario; Jackie Flake, Fort Smith, Ark.; Bob Gomez, Corpus Christi, Texas; Ryan Heller, McKinney, Texas; Gary Lamb, Canton, Ga.; Kevine Marsico, Monrovia, Md.; Daniel Montgomery, Louisville, Ky.; Jim Perdue, Gainesville, Ga.; and Ariel Tolentino, Bayonne, N.J.

Reccord thanked the group in advance for its work and told them “this is a great opportunity for you to influence this agency and this denomination in the years ahead. Help us hand our kids and grandkids a denomination that’s worth being a part of for the Kingdom of God.”

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