SBC Life Articles

NAMB: One Year Later

Bob Reccord compares the North American Mission Board's (NAMB) first year to changing a tire while the car is traveling at sixty miles per hour. "It's an exciting ride, but very challenging," said the mission agency president.

"When the North American Mission Board was created last summer, there were literally thousands of ongoing activities that had to continue," Reccord explained. "We did not have the luxury of starting from scratch, to stop everything until we could develop a new direction for assisting Southern Baptists to reach North America for Jesus Christ. We had missionaries on the field to support, programs and projects already scheduled that had to be planned, and publications to be produced. All without a real sense of how we were to be different than the three predecessor agencies."

NAMB has been called the centerpiece of the Covenant for a New Century, which restructured the SBC by reducing the number of national agencies from nineteen to twelve. NAMB was assigned the resources and most of the ministries of three agencies: the Brotherhood Commission, the Home Mission Board, and the Radio and Television Commission.

Reccord says although he wishes the transition to the new agency was over, he feels it will take another year or two to complete. "This transition is much like relocating and building a church — it doesn't happen in a few months. Actually, we're farther along than I had thought we would be by this time.

"I am especially pleased with how this team, both in Alpharetta and Ft. Worth, has worked so very hard to form a new culture. I believe we're doing exactly the right things as we have continued most the vital ministries, and at the same time, laid the groundwork to understand what God's vision is for this agency," he explained.

"That's why one of the most important things we did all year was to shut down the agency last September to spend three full days in spiritual renewal and prayer. It was a wonderful time that we're still experiencing the results of, and we're planning to do it again this fall."

Reccord credits NAMB's strategic planning process for helping the new agency focus on what its priorities should be.

"We've known from day one that evangelism and church planting are our first priorities. Everything else we do serves those two assignments," Reccord explained. "That's why next year we will put $1.5 million in new money on the field through our state convention partners — the largest increase in ten years.

"Our commitment to evangelism and church planting is why we made 4 percent salary increases available to our missionaries this year, and will again next year. They are the ones starting the churches, and sharing Christ through every conceivable ministry."

Reccord said during the agency's planning process, two emphases emerged as critical to the success of evangelism and church planting: penetrating the secular culture and mobilizing Southern Baptists to be personally involved in missions, a concept the agency calls being 'on-mission.'

"Every reasonable person knows 5,000 vocational missionaries are not enough to reach the U.S. and Canada for Christ; neither would 10,000 or even 100,000 missionaries be enough," Reccord said. "God's plan is that every believer, not just missionaries and pastors, would share the Good News with the lost. The idea of mobilizing people to be on-mission Christians has become one of the core tenants of everything NAMB does."

Reccord explained the two major components of creating on-mission Christians are mission education and voluntarism, which he says are complimentary. "Our mission education programs will be geared to getting people involved in missions, and one way they can be involved is by being a mission volunteer — locally, nationally, or internationally. After someone has been a missions volunteer, he is much more likely to support missions in other ways too. Mission education and voluntarism feed each other, and that's why we've grouped them together organizationally."

"We've reviewed these mobilization concepts with most of our mission partners including the International Mission Board, the Woman's Missionary Union, and state convention leaders, and have found them wonderfully supportive," Reccord said.

Reccord explained the other emerging strategy critical to the success of evangelism and church-planting efforts is what NAMB is calling 'penetration.'

"One of the most powerful keys to getting through to our lost culture is broadcasting. We have some excellent resources that are already preparing the soil, others that plant Gospel seeds, and yet others that reap that harvest," Reccord said. "Now, we're re-focusing our efforts to be more intentional about providing quality programs that reach people through these powerful technologies."

Reccord cited as an example a new fast-paced documentary being produced by NAMB's broadcasting group about Christians on the NASCAR racing circuit. The program will premiere at the SBC in June and air on NBC television affiliates across the country this summer.

In the midst of the planning and re-focusing, Reccord cites numerous examples of how God continues to work through NAMB's many ministries including:

• last summer's World Changers volunteer projects that resulted in 600 professions of faith,

• a 40 percent increase in missionary applications,

• last year's record gifts through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering

• record numbers of volunteers, and,

• "CrossOver Salt Lake City will be the most significantly financed in the history of Southern Baptists," Reccord said.

Asked what had been the most surprising aspects of serving as head of the national agency, Reccord, who came to the position from the pastorate, cited two that he called "sobering realities."

"Although I receive a tremendous amount of mail, it's the telephone calls that eat up a voluminous amount of my time. And, I have to constantly work at keeping myself physically and spiritually fit. It's not a lack of desire, but I'm just pulled in so many different directions," he said.

Reccord asked that as Southern Baptists pray for NAMB's missionary personnel, they also pray that NAMB's staff and leadership will have:

• wisdom to choose the right things to do and not do,

• continued and growing unity within the NAMB team, and

• cooperation as relationships are forged with partner agencies, state conventions, associations, and churches.

"We have made some remarkable accomplishments in this transitional year," Reccord concluded. "But I believe we've only touched the hem of the garment of what God will do with and through the North American Mission Board to reach North America for Christ."

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  • Martin King