NAMB’s New Church Planting Bus: Who’s Off?

In his best-selling book, “From Good to Great,” author Jim Collins explains the leadership principle known as “First Who, Then What,”

“Those who build great organizations make sure they have the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the key seats before they figure out where to drive the bus.  They always think first about “who” and then about what.”

At the new NAMB, it appears that the “right” people are being invited to get on the bus and the “wrong” people are being ushered off the bus.  Apparently the old adage is true:  “out with the old (all non-church planting related ministries) and in with the new (church planting).”

Ever since the (increasingly divisive) GCR was passed last summer in Orlando, the new NAMB bus was being assembled.  The GCR report and recommendations laid out clear guidelines for the specs of this new bus.  In September, Dr. Kevin Ezell, who had limited experience in riding in older models of the NAMB bus, was called upon to not only drive the new bus but to oversee its construction.

The new NAMB bus is almost finished, ready for its maiden voyage.  Dr. Ezell has begun to lay out the map for where he wants to drive the new bus.  And, he’s also issuing tickets and assigning seats to the riders of the new NAMB bus.  All those who used to ride on the bus — State Conventions, local Associations, and their non-church planting related ministries — will probably not be invited to ride on the bus.  Because of the GCR’s unambiguous guidelines and the desire to implement those guidelines, it appears that most, if not all of the seats on the new NAMB bus will be occupied by church planters, many of them fresh out of Southeastern or Southern Seminary (a few token seats maybe reserved for the other four seminaries).

The interior of the new bus has been loaded with everything that the chosen riders could ever want.  It’s got the latest innovations and gadgets for a modern culture — after all, nothing good is old or is it nothing old is good.  I forget.  Many of the riders will be young and enthusiastic, searching for the destination that God has called them to.  There maybe a few older riders (those that didn’t “take” early retirement) that are still allowed to ride on the bus.

But, in order to ride, there must be fuel in the gas tank.  Because of the faithful and generous Cooperative Program and Annie Armstrong gifts of the SBC’s established churches, the riders of the new NAMB bus will have much (if not all) of their church planting expenses paid for.  That is as it should be.  However, when the driver of the new NAMB bus and some of its riders appear to convey the message that only church planting passengers are worthy of seats on the bus, the friendly relationships that once existed may be in danger of further strain.  It’s one thing to ask long-time passengers to scoot over to make room for new passengers.  It’s quite another thing to be told to get off the bus entirely!

Does everyone need to make room for the up and coming generations?  Absolutely.  Do we need to re-prioritize where people sit on the bus?  Perhaps.  But sadly,  it appears that NAMB (and many within the SBC establishment) continue to morph into what so many churches — large and small — have become:  a place where youth is encouraged and almost idolized and where older generations are often discarded (sent into retirement) like an yesterday’s newspaper.

For those who think I’m being too harsh, ask yourself how many churches in the SBC have been split, destroyed or “radically reprioritized” by pastors who come in and tell the church folk that they haven’t done it right for the last 30 years.  The new pastor comes in like a bull in a china shop and immediately sets about to make sure that “his” church is done the “right” way, even if relationships are destroyed in the process.  The new pastor tells those who haven’t already left

 “If you don’t like “my” vision, then you can get off the bus (leave).  If you buy into the radical overhaul that I’m trying to accomplish in my first six months (with absolutely no creditability or trust built up) — then by all means stay.”

Some stay, but sadly, many know when they are not wanted and simply move on to another church.  I know Godly men and women and churches where this has happened.  If you’ve been in SBC life over the last 20 years, you most likely know of such instances or perhaps have even experienced the sadness and pain personally. 

It is a sad commentary on Southern Baptist life that this radical reprioritization — at all levels — has become the modus operandi for so many within our Convention.  From some of the largest, most well-known churches in the SBC to so many of the smaller, out-of-the way churches that no one has heard of to many of our entities and agencies, new and young is in.  Out-dated and old is out.

There are thousands of churches that have been decimated by pastors who forced their vision on people who were not ready, but who could have been led to move into the future.  The danger for Southern Baptists in the days ahead is similar.  Instead of experiencing a true Great Commission Resurgence (which is first spiritual and then organizational), we may see the SBC decimated by “leaders” who forced their vision on people who were not ready, but who could have been led into a bright and exciting future.

The radical reorganization and reprioritization happening within NAMB and the greater SBC will not be without its consequences.  Some good things will happen — people will get saved who may not have otherwise heard the Gospel.  Some will be used of God in a mighty way that they did not expect.

However, there will be others who will be left standing by the side of the road, having been told to disembark, that there is no longer any room on the bus for them.  Planting new churches is needed.  But so is reaching college students on our secular campuses.  And reaching children through our Vacation Bible Schools and Back Yard Bible Clubs.  And reaching students at camp.  Not all of these involve church planting.  Some involve discipling Christians who will be about the Great Commission — which is evangelism AND discipleship.

Maybe I’m naive.  At 44, maybe I’m over-the-hill and old-fashioned.  Call me whatever you want, but I think there is a better way.  Instead of designing a new, cool bus that could only accommodate church planting, why not build a bigger, better bus that could carry not only church planting (hey, even put them at the front of the bus) and evangelism, but could also carry church revitalization and discipleship?  I seem to think both kinds of riders are included in the Great Commission.  In the end, that kind of re-designed bus will get Southern Baptists a lot further than the brand new model being assembled in Alpharetta!

22 comments for “NAMB’s New Church Planting Bus: Who’s Off?

  1. February 2, 2011 at 7:55 AM

    NAMB has had two failed leaders and a recent history of dysfunction, so much so that trust with pastors and churches has been significantly eroded.

    The new people and plan may be an improvement. It may not. There are serious questions to be asked and answered.

    One thing for sure, the NAMB status quo had to go.

    • February 2, 2011 at 8:04 AM

      William,

      There’s no question that NAMB needed a major overhaul. I’m not convinced that NAMB need to be completely changed into a church planting organization. I’m at our state’s annual evangelism conference and have heard continued reports from some of the folks on the ground that NAMB’s stragegy — as per the GCR guidelines and vision — will leave most, if not all, Great Commission discipleship ministries off the bus (i.e., no funding unless connected to church planting). I think this is a short-sighted strategy that will further erode confidence and trust between many churches and state conventions. This did not have to be the case. I still maintain a bigger, better bus could have been built that would accommodate both parts of the Great Commission — evangelism and discipleship. Why throw the baby out with the bathwater? We are in interesting times to be sure. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. God bless,

      Howell

  2. Adam
    February 11, 2011 at 10:51 AM

    “I still maintain a bigger, better bus could have been built that would accommodate both parts of the Great Commission — evangelism and discipleship. Why throw the baby out with the bathwater? ”

    Do you not think that evangelism and discipleship are both done best through the local church? An emphasis on church planting is not a move away from discipleship, but instead saying both should be accomplished through the church.

    • February 11, 2011 at 1:06 PM

      Adam,

      Thanks for reading and for the question. I’m not sure that the emphasis on church planting is saying what you think it’s saying, but I suppose that depends on how one defines the terms we are using, including “evangelism” and “discipleship.” Should planting new churches be a part of NAMB’s mission? Without a doubt. Should NAMB morph into a church planting network? IMO, no. The Great Commission was given by Jesus to His disciples. While this is an individual mandate, it should be carried out in and through the local church. However, to say that evangelism and discipleship are “both done best through the local church” does not negate the fact that Southern Baptists can do far more when local churches cooperate together to carry out the Great Commission. If it is all about the local church, then why cooperate through the SBC? No doubt some churches are large enough to not have a need to cooperate with any other church and can fund their own missionaries and church plants, but that is different than what we have been about as Southern Baptists. We probably disagree on this point, but I appreciate the dialogue. God bless,

      Howell

  3. Adam
    February 14, 2011 at 5:43 PM

    Howell,

    Thanks for the response. I do believe there is a great benefit to partnering together with other churches, as we do in the SBC. I just believe that the best things to do together are train our leaders (supporting our seminaries), planting churches and sending missionaries. I believe these are the best things to do cooperatively. This is what I meant when I emphasizes the local church: while there are a lot of good things we can do, they should all be ties to the local church and we should be heavily investing in new churches (domestic and international).

    • February 14, 2011 at 7:13 PM

      Adam,

      Thanks for the dialogue. I think the problem comes down to how to define what is “best.” Starting with the last one, there is no question that sending missionaries (both domestic and international) is one of the things that Southern Baptists do best — perhaps better than any other Christian organization. As to supporting seminaries and church planting, I would also agree that these two areas are worthy of continued support through the Cooperative Program. I would not, however, turn NAMB into an almost exclusive church planting entity. That’s why I have continued to be critical of the GCR and its implementation.

      I do not believe that you meant anything disparaging, but your last comment about “heavily investing in new churches” could be viewed by some that existing churches — who are also trying to fulfill the Great Commission mandates of evangelism and discipleship — are somehow not worthy of investment. Maybe its the percentages that we disagree on, but most of the talk from the NAMB leadership — as well as the GCR report and recommendations — indicates that existing churches are somehow inferior to new church starts. That may not be what is reality, but that is the perception among many, at least out in my neck of the woods. Thanks again for stopping by. God bless,

      Howell

  4. February 27, 2011 at 7:00 AM

    It would seem that the new leadership is more interested in church plantings as a means of spreading Calvinism rather than the Gospel. All too often I have seen many Calvinists infiltrate and takeover existing churches, by misleading the current congregation, rather than build their own from scratch. They let others do the hard work then they move in. Apparently the Calvinists want to use NAMB to fund their efforts, essentially taking yet another free ride and short cut.
    http://www.freewill-predestination.com

    • February 27, 2011 at 2:20 PM

      Dave,

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I know that many of the young seminary graduates, particularly from Southern Seminary and Southeastern Seminary, who are called to church planting, are Reformed/Calvinistic in their theology and practice. I don’t know exactly what is driving the radical changes, especially at NAMB. You may be on to something in your linking Calvinism with the church planting effort underway at NAMB. While I would disagree somewhat with your comment about the new leadership being “more interested in spreading Calvinism rather than the Gospel”(I think Calvinists can preach the Gospel as well). However, when TULIP becomes your main hobby horse or preaching points for all your sermons, then I think their is valid room for concern. Of course, I am writing this as an inconsistent Calvinist who still gives “altar calls” at the end of the worship services and still preaches about man’s responsibility to choose Christ. I lost my union card long ago. Will be interesting to see how things progress from here. Thanks and God bless,

      Howell

  5. Max
    March 9, 2011 at 2:36 PM

    From my vantage point of observing two new SBC church plants in my area, I would say that DavidB has taken the axe to the root of this tree. One of those plants resembles the “bull in the china shop” that you point out in your blog. I truly believe that under the new leadership at NAMB, the church-planting vision may very well be to plant reformed theology churches which plant more reformed theology churches which plant … etc. Certain SBC seminaries have indeed produced a new breed of young, restless and reformed pastors with revolution on their mind, who are changing the SBC landscape in a very underhanded (deceptive) way and are standing in line to assume leadership roles in NAMB-sponsored church plants. While the actual theological shift may take awhile to recognize in some plants (young pastors have a lifetime of ministry ahead of them), you will be able to recognize who they are by their EVS study bibles, John Piper books, lack of passion for lost souls, few or no altar calls, and hearts set on elder-rule (whereby they recruit like-minded reformed leadership to control church governance and theology). God will not bless this rebellion.

    • March 9, 2011 at 11:09 PM

      Max,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I do not think you are far off the mark. While I consider myself a lapsed Calvinist (my union card was revoked a few years after I graduated from Southern and actually started pastoring Southern Baptist churches), I am opposed to what I see as an attempt by (mainly) reformed types to plant churches outside of the SBC and who will ultimately identify with non-SBC networks (i.e., Acts 29). I use an ESV (probably my Reformed roots :-)) and like to read Piper, but I consider myself a Southern Baptist first and foremost (after Christian of course). We are witnessing nominal Southern Baptists taking positions of leadership and planting churches, all the while expecting Southern Baptists to fund the endeaver. That will not be sustainable long-run and, in fact, will collapse of its own weight. The GCR has brought more Southern Baptists together in a spirit of unity. Just not in the way the SBC leadership envisioned. God bless,

      Howell

  6. Max
    March 10, 2011 at 9:13 AM

    Howell,

    I appreciate your openness to the views of a non-Calvinist … one who still loves to hear and share the old, old story of Christ’s unlimited atonement for all men. You are right-on regarding the influence of non-SBC reformed movements, such as Acts 29, on this new breed of Southern Baptist pastor. Many of the “New Calvinists” entering SBC pulpits have a strong allegiance to such influencers (even though they won’t admit it to pastor search committees). I venture to say that the majority of Southern Baptists in the pew have no idea what is headed their way, but the current leadership within SBC (including NAMB) and many State conventions know exactly what they are doing and the course they are charting. I have been watching this development closely and offer the following discernment for your readers regarding this movement.

    “New Calvinism” – Characteristics of the ministries of young, restless and reformed pastors/teachers – a growing movement within SBC ranks:

    •Lack of passion for the lost to repent and receive Jesus as Lord and Savior; few or no altar calls; “Gospel-centered” ministry implies reformed belief & practice; to them, Calvinism is the gospel;

    •“Born again”, “personal Savior”, “accepting Jesus” are not in their vocabulary;

    •Lack of salvation sermons or evangelistic (revival) preaching … “circle A to learn about Jesus” is not preaching the Gospel!

    •Too easy on sin, making light of rebellion … little or no call to repent … being “culturally relevant” pushes moral boundaries;

    •The sacraments of communion and baptism take on a whole new meaning … “sign up for baptism on Facebook!”

    •Use of the English Standard Version (ESV) Study Bible (this is one of their marks to identify each other, kind of like the fish symbol) = Calvinist editors & commentary;

    •More emphasis on teaching/preaching from the writings of Paul, than the Gospels (especially, selected passages in Ephesians and Romans);

    •Lack of participation with other churches in evangelistic campaigns … they would never invite an evangelist from the Council of Southern Baptist Evangelists to preach in their church;

    •Very “missional” minded … however, their missions are intended to plant reformed theology churches which plant reformed theology churches, etc.;

    •Membership covenants often refer to “historical biblical theology” as a core value (= Calvinism to them) … the revised Baptist Faith & Message (2000) gives them wiggle room to defend their theology (Al Mohler = key author in BF&M revision);

    •Moving their church to elder rule (a way to control the church’s message & mission in the hands of a few like-minded reformed elders);

    •Focused on creating the “true” church (young reformers feel they are at the front of a revolution to return the church to its “real” roots – they are serious);

    •Followers of the Resurgence movement (Mark Driscoll and his Acts 29 network to plant reformed theology churches) – growing number of A29 churches in SBC;

    •Primary “influencers” are John Piper (Bethlehem Reformed Baptist Church, Minneapolis), Mark Driscoll (Acts 29 Network), Al Mohler (Southern Theological Seminary), Tim Keller (Redeemer Presbyterian Church, NYC) … reformed pastors monitor their blogs daily/weekly – always looking for the next “Piper Point”, etc.;

    •Utilize social networks (FaceBook, Twitter, etc.) to link with other reformed folks;

    •Actively recruit reformed believers in their communities to their ranks;

    •Target young believers who have been disillusioned and/or discouraged by traditional works … mobilize them via small group ministry … stress “community”;

    •Use/abuse contemporary Christian music to attract young worshippers (watch out for Calvinist lyrics from popular reformed musicians!);

    •Always dropping a quote or recommended book to read by Calvinist authors (in their blogs, sermons, or coffee shop conversations) = indoctrination;

    •Emboldened by their influencers, these young pastors feel they are at the front of a “revolution” (resurgence) to restore Southern Baptists back to their theological roots (which they believe is reformed theology);

    •Matt Chandler & his Village Church (Texas) are their model … they borrow from his methodology and teachings in their works … they follow his ministry closely;

    •They will call other Calvinists to join them on their church staff (to achieve like-minded elder control);

    •They will methodically employ a strategy of “converting” members to the Doctrines of Grace (small group studies, recommended books, sermons slanted toward “systematic theology”);

    •As the circle widens, the movement grows bolder within the fellowship (they come out of the closet!);

    •Tendency towards a highly logical systematic theology where all the questions about life and God have answers and fit neatly and nicely into a theological box (4 or 5-Point Calvinism, TULIP, Doctrines of Grace);

    •An appearance of being “elite”, “we have the Truth”, “we are the chosen ones”, lots of arrogance and pride in their ranks;

    •They love to write and blog about their reformed theology and/or refer you to writings and blogs of leading reformed teachers;

    •Tendency to use their pastoral authority against any member that questions their reformed theology or direction;

    •Tendency to be elusive and evasive about their theology;

    •Will cover their tracks if exposed (will present a salvation message or altar call every once in awhile if they feel challenged … a deception to appear mainstream while they transition their church to reformed theology belief and practice).

    May God forgive the spiritual complacency within SBC churches which has allowed this mixture in our camp.

    Max

    • March 10, 2011 at 4:52 PM

      •Tendency towards a highly logical systematic theology where all the questions about life and God have answers and fit neatly and nicely into a theological box (4 or 5-Point Calvinism, TULIP, Doctrines of Grace);

      •An appearance of being “elite”, “we have the Truth”, “we are the chosen ones”, lots of arrogance and pride in their ranks;

      Max,

      Thanks for the reply. While some of the characteristics of the new Calvinist movement — in and of themselves — are not necessarily bad if kept in proper perspective, I think the two above quotes just about sum up problems that crop up with some/many within this new strain of Reformed theology/methodology within the SBC. Even though I loosely hold to all five points in TULIP, I have found that in real-life ministry in my church, that my grip on TULIP is not quite so tight. I know God is sovereign, but I do not have the answers to why my music pastor’s son was killed in action when he stepped on an IED in Afghanistan. At that point, TULIP is not as comforting.

      I was at Southern from 1994-97 with several guys that were in what we called the “cage-stage” of Calvinism. They thought they knew it all and they wanted everyone around them to come to the same conclusions. I think there is a huge problem with young, mostly Reformed (but non-Reformed as well) seminary graduates who come into established churches and see that the way things have been done is “wrong” and that they will immediately right the wrong, all within a six month period. All the while, they move as fast as possible to minimize traditional ties and cooperation with other Southern Baptists and begin to “network” with like-minded folk who happen to agree with them in theology and perhaps methodology.

      I have no problem cooperating with a wide variety of conservative Southern Baptists. But, when someone nominally identifies as a Southern Baptist but strongly self-identifies with non-SBC groups or causes and when he particularly wants to be in leadership within SBC, I have major concerns. That is what is happening Convention wide and most especially at NAMB where they think that church planters are going to plant SBC/Acts29 churches. That will not fly and I will not support nominal SBC churches with CP money, even if I am a lapsed Calvinist!:-) Thanks again for the insight. God bless,

      Howell

      • Max
        March 11, 2011 at 11:04 AM

        Howell –

        It’s refreshing to see that we agree about the heart of this problem, rather than flailing at the branches. Regarding the tragedy experienced by the music pastor, your pastor’s heart speaks volumes. Hurting folks don’t want to hear about theology when they’re going through a crisis. Love – the greatest commandment – supersedes doctrine. Hmmm … perhaps SBC leadership should be reminded of that … to pray, repent, and seek God’s face until love causes them to toss the teachings and traditions of men into the trash can.

        In reference to the title of your blog re: NAMB’s church-planting bus: if you find yourself on a bus that is going the wrong way, it would be prudent to get off at the first stop. Scripture puts it this way “Does not wisdom call? Does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand” (Prov. 8:1-2). These young, whipper-snapper, know-it-all, militant New Calvinists, and SBC leaders that encourage and support them, are about to see wisdom get off the bus.

        –Max

        • March 11, 2011 at 1:47 PM

          “These young, whipper-snapper, know-it-all, militant New Calvinists, and SBC leaders that encourage and support them, are about to see wisdom get off the bus.”

          Max,

          Truer words were never spoken! As a life-long Southern Baptist, if the leaders at the new NAMB think that I will lead my church to keep giving through the Annie Armstrong Easter offering and through CP so that they can fund megachurches to plant other churches that are nominal SBC, but who identify and partner with Acts29, then they are sadly mistaken. If the new leadership of the SBC’s mantra is correct — “the local church is primary” — then this local church will primarily give to our State Convention or to other causes. There is a silent majority of Southern Baptists — inconsistent Calvinists, Revivalists, Traditionalists, and even Contemporaries — who will not continue to fund the radical redefintion of the SBC. The elites keep missing the point, but they might get it sooner or later. Thanks for the dialogue. God bless,

          Howell

  7. April 22, 2011 at 5:15 AM

    The statement you made is NOT true

    “Ever since the (increasingly divisive) GCR was passed last summer in Orlando, ”

    It was not passed by the Convention it was referred to the entities, by the Convention for study and see if the implementation of the GCR report will effect the mission assignment of the entity. Then according to the SCB Bi-laws each of the entity will report back to the Convention in the June 2011 meeting their findings and the entity recommendations on whether to accept ort accept any are all of the GCR Report, and what steps they will take IF they implement any changes. If any of the recommendations affect the Ministry Assignment of the said entity the SBC Bi-Laws require a vote by the Convention to amend the Ministry Assignment of said entity.

    This will be the process for ALL entities. We have a total of 13 last I counted.

    You may ask how I know this,

    For the last 8 years I have served as a Executive Committee and trustee.

    You can read more about this at the following links. You can also call the Executive Committee, and talk with Dr. Augie Boto, he is the Convention in house lawyer, and the Executive Vic President of the Executive Committee.

    If you watch the video on the home page of the GCRTF web site you will see and hear that we received the recommendations, we did not vote to implement them. That can ONLY come after each of the entities studies them and comes back to the Convention with their recommendations/

    I would go read these ASAP before they are taken down.

    http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=33162

    http://www.pray4gcr.com/

    There was a Video on BPNews.org of the press conference the GCRTF did on June 15th after that session.

    Can’t find it now but it is some where.

    Love, Martin

    • April 22, 2011 at 9:15 AM

      Bro. Martin,

      Thanks for taking the time to read and to respond. I suppose I could have been more technically precise in saying that the Final Report of the GCRTF was passed at last year’s Convention in Orlando. You are technically correct that the trustees at each of the SBC entities are not bound by the report or recommendations, but must vote on whether to implement any of the recommended changes. While the Executive Committee — probably due to the leadership of Dr. Page — will consider things in the manner in which you state, other entities — most notably the new NAMB — have begun to implement the recommendations in an expedited manner.

      I know that the new NAMB has not only voted to radically reorganize, but they appear to be phasing out the existing cooperative agreements in much less that the seven years stated in the GCR Final Report and are moving to an almost exclusive church planting network, also apparently well above the 50% target that was also specifically mentioned in the report. Unfortunately, I think at least at the new NAMB, the recommendations have been acted on and I’m not sure that the Convention as a whole will have anymore say in the matter. Dr. Boto may have a different opinion on this and I hope that there is a way for the Convention to speak again, but I’m not hopefull. I appreciate your service on the Executive Committee and your service to Southern Baptists. We shall see in the next year where things are headed overall. Thanks again for stopping by. God bless and have a wonderful Easter,

      Howell

  8. J.A.B.
    May 5, 2011 at 6:15 AM

    My current church is a resort ministry. My pastor and his wife are currently NAMB missionaries. However, as of December 31, NAMB has chosen to defund our church entirely, along with all resort missions, and should he choose to stay in the church- which he feels called by God to do- he will no longer receive salary or benefits package from the NAMB.

    Because our church is quite small, this means a secondary vocation and time spent raising money for the church will be a necessity for him and future pastors. This takes away from time pastors can use ministering their flock and doing outreach that is not fundraising. Personally, I find this completely a disgrace. I understand the need for church planting, but I do not understand telling commissioned missionaries they are no longer needed. I find it hard to believe this decision was reached by prayer- but instead was most likely reached by studying spreadsheets and trends.

    I am looking to relocate in the near future, and as a result of this decision will not be in search of a Southern Baptist church to call home.

    • May 5, 2011 at 8:12 AM

      Janey,

      Thanks for reading and sharing your experiences with the new NAMB. I think the new NAMB’s actions since day one have been disconcerting (to put it kindly). To tell your pastor and his wife that the church will be completely defunded as of the end of the year is both sad and sadly expected (that’s why I voted agains the GCR Final Report in Orlando). I agree with you that this is a disgrace. So much for the commitments that NAMB has made to OUR missionaries. I believe that as more grassroots Southern Baptists are made aware of this situation, there will be a continuing pushback against this “shortsightedness.” That is one of the reasons why I write about the new NAMB and their apparent disregard for anything other than church planting. I have no doubt that your church and other resort ministries are reaching people for Christ and discipling them. I also think that our collegiate ministries and student ministries — neither of which plant churches — are also fulfillling the Great Commission here in New Mexico and in other states. The Great Commission is more than just church planting.

      I know that you are inclined not to join a Southern Baptist church when you relocate. I would encourage you and remind you that there are many SB churches and pastors who are not on board with the directions of the new NAMB. There are thousands of grassroots Southern Baptist churches who believe that cooperation starts at the grassroots and flows up, not imposed from the top-down. Even though we may not understand why things happen the way they do, God is still in control. Others might think that their plans will succeed, but it is ultimately the Lord’s plans that stand firm. Thanks again for sharing. God bless,

      Howell

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