Robert E. (Bob) Reccord resigned in March 1997 as chairman of the Implementation Task Force. Appointed as chairman in September 1995 by the SBC Executive Committee, he helped guide the SBC restructuring process which reduced the number of SBC agencies from 19 to 12 and created the new mission agency NAMB.
Ordained in 1973 by Calvary Baptist Church, Evansville, Ind., Reccord has a broad ministry background that spans almost 25 years. He has been senior pastor at the First Baptist Church of Norfolk, Va., since October 1992.
On June 19, the newly appointed trustees of NAMB elected Reccord as the board's first president. Reccord agreed to share his perspectives on the new ministry in an interview with SBC LIFE.
SBC LIFE What is your vision for NAMB?
Reccord My vision is to give every person in North America the opportunity to respond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This doesn't mean leading everyone to the Lord — that's not our responsibility — but we need to get the message to them so everyone has opportunity.
SBC LIFE How would you describe your strategy for working out that vision?
Reccord As we worked through the restructuring process, we settled on four major focuses. First, we want to focus on reaching the major cities. The greatest concentration of North America's population is in our major metropolitan areas, so they need to be a key focus of our efforts.
Secondly, we need to reach our junior and senior-high youth. Years ago, when we lost our youth it was at that period between the last year of high school and college. Today, we're losing them between the 6th and 7th grade. We've not had a concentrated effort to reach our teenagers in over twenty years. It's time for us to concentrate on that age group.
Also, we need a renewed effort on our college and university campuses. Our campus ministries have done a fine job, but we need to strengthen our evangelistic outreach to college students.
Finally, we will concentrate on reaching our rapidly growing ethnic population, both in the U.S. and in Canada. This is one of our most exciting areas of the future.
SBC LIFE How do you believe God has prepared you for this task?
Reccord As I look back, I can see how God has woven a tapestry in my life to prepare me for this ministry. I was saved while attending college, and served the following summer as a youth director at my home church in Evansville, Indiana. The next summer, I asked my pastor how I could serve and he recommended summer missions with the Home Missions Board. I hadn't heard of either, but after getting some more information, I served as a summer missionary at Grove Level Baptist Church in Dalton, Georgia.
Early on, I had a heart for evangelism, and the Lord eventually led me to serve with the Home Mission Board, training churches in Evangelism Explosion. After that I served as a bi-vocational pastor in Michigan for four and a half years, working with churches that couldn't afford a full-time pastor. I can relate to the bi-vocational pastors in our Convention. I know what it's like to pastor a church that isn't a mega-church.
Having served as a staff member and a senior pastor, as an executive in a corporation, and as a staff member with the Home Mission Board, I've been exposed to the broad spectrum. Now I see how God was equipping me all along the way for this particular ministry.
SBC LIFE What does NAMB bring to Southern Baptist's "missions table" that may not have been there in the past?
Reccord Synergy — a unified effort. In the past, Brotherhood, the Home Mission Board, and the Radio and Television Commission each had its own strategy and direction. Now, the merging of these three into one agency will result in a unified effort — we'll all be under the same umbrella, going the same direction.
In the future, when we focus on reaching a city, we can use the media in the early stages to prepare the way. The mission projects which the Brotherhood directed in the past will continue, but they will be brought together in a coordinated effort.
Some have been concerned that the emphasis on volunteer missions will fall through, but that won't happen. They will continue, but now they will be coordinated for greater effectiveness.
SBC LIFE How would you list your personal priorities?
Reccord My first priority is cultivating a dynamic and growing relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ. To be effective, today's Christian leaders must avoid the temptation of substituting vital, ongoing, spiritual growth with a lot of activities. This means I will have to guard my time, but if I want to lead, rather than merely manage, I've got to have that time alone with Him.
My next priority is my family. When I was interviewed for this position, I told them that if they were looking for a man to spend a lot of time traveling, they had the wrong man. I know that this position requires travel, but I will limit myself to strategic travel — travel that is essential for my ministry and that makes the most effective impact for NAMB and its role in the Kingdom. Otherwise, my family will suffer. This goes against our "busyness" culture, but if a man loses his family, or even the vitality in his family, he loses his ministry.
Third is the staff — the leadership team. I can't minister to everyone in the field, but I can minister to the staff. I will see myself as a facilitator, encourager, cheerleader, and pastor to them.
SBC LIFE What will be your priorities for the agency?
Reccord Our first priority will be to solidify the new team. The summer will be a transition time when everyone gets moved in. Then, in the fall, we'll work on drawing the team together. We will be developing one new culture out of four past cultures — the cultures from each of the three prior agencies, but also from those who might come from outside those agencies. We will need those first few months to bring everyone together into one team.
Also in that first six months, we will concentrate on building a broad prayer base across the Convention. It's crucial for us to have the churches praying if we are going to be effective.
As we approach 1998, we will be getting extensive feedback from the field, which will help us lay a strategy on the table for the coming year. That includes strategizing a major evangelistic impact for Salt Lake City in the summer.
By the summer of '98, we hope to have goals on the table for each of the four focus areas. Beyond that, I want to avoid making sweeping promises. At this point, we need to be careful not to write checks we can't cash. It's tempting to publish unrealistic long-term goals, but if we do, it will only cause frustration in the long run.
SBC LIFE How will NAMB affect existing missionaries in the field?
Reccord There should be no negative change for the existing missionaries. In fact, we plan on increasing and strengthening our support for them. We want to serve as an even better resource base, strongly supporting their work. No, any changes will be for the positive.
SBC LIFE How will the local church relationship with the home missions agency be different?
Reccord The nine ministry statements from our Covenant for a New Century all begin with "churches." One goal will be for every church to have free and easy access to NAMB. We will not try to tell churches what they need, but find out what they need, and then try to meet their needs. We recognize that every church is different. There's a broad spectrum of churches in our Convention — they have different styles and come in different sizes. When a church contacts us, we want to get that church specifically what it needs to minister most effectively. We want to facilitate them, fulfilling their dream and vision. Also, we plan on getting that church what it needs within forty-eight hours.
SBC LIFE How do you address those who express concern over changes in the announced structure of the new agency, particularly among ethnics?
Reccord We are working hard at getting ethnic leadership on the entire leadership team, especially in the area of church planting. Our new congregation implementation group has five teams. Only one team is designated for Anglos. The remaining four teams are African American, Asian, Hispanic, and Multicultural for all other ethnic groups and languages.
We recognize that our ethnic population is a wonderfully increasing segment of America. We are committed to increasing, not decreasing our ministry to that segment.
SBC LIFE If you could sit down with every Southern Baptist, what would you want to tell them?
Reccord First, I would ask you to please pray for us as we put together this new agency. And we need your sincere, your earnest prayers, not just lip service.
Next, please be patient with us. Sometimes as Baptists we overestimate what we can do in one year and underestimate what we can do in ten. We ask you to look with us ten years down the road.
Finally, purposefully join us. We need your participation. We can have gifted leadership and wonderful goals, but if we're not working together, it will all be in vain.
I ask you for your prayer, your patience, and your participation.
Robert Reccord asks that you would pray specifically for the following:
1. A smooth transition for so many families in the midst of change in the formation and launching of NAMB.
2. Rapid molding together of new NAMB staff into a unified spirit and vision.
3. The sweeping of God's Spirit across North America reviving Christians and thrusting them into evangelistic mission while also converting and calling the lost to Christ.
4. Wisdom and boldness for him and the leadership team to step boldly into the 21st Century with a vision as big as our commission.
5. That NAMB leadership will seek where God is working and join Him in it, watching Him open doors that no man can close.
Please place this prayer list where it will remind you to pray for NAMB.