“In life, we can have results or reasons. If you are not getting the results you want, your reasons are the lies that you keep telling yourself.” – Harald Anderson.
I sat for 2 1/2 years before joining my Lutheran church. I was most interested in how they spend the hard-earned money of the generous congregation. It is relatively easy to figure out where the money is going since the church is a smaller operation. There are about 700 members. An annual budget is well spelled out in regular reports to the congregation. Try as I might, I could not find anything questionable. I know how the pastors and other employees live, and there will never be a report on fancy houses, cars, and airplanes for this church. There is something to be said about a community-based church where folks get to know each other.
On a national level, Concordia Seminary, which trains pastors for my denomination, does not charge tuition for those studying for the pastorate. As for starting new churches, here is how our church was founded in 1996. Local area pastors and leaders decided that there was a need for an LCMS church in our area. The national denomination also agreed. Unlike the Baptists, they do NOT compete with one another. In the Raleigh area, one trips over SBC churches, new and old which vie for the tithe income of the Baptists.
Instead, the local churches all agree on the start of the new church and begin to contribute resources and find a pastor who might be willing to lead the church. Over time, they slowly built a lovely yet simple church on a well-traveled road, and the church grew quickly. Seven hundred members of a Lutheran church sitting in the shadow of SEBTS is an accomplishment!
SBC and NAMB
Where does your money go when given to the SBC or the North American Mission Board? Did you know that you can’t find out? I discovered this while reading this post by Mark Wingfield on Baptist News Global. Does NAMB have no clue?
NAMB has booked the Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans for its annual meeting of state Baptist convention evangelism directors next Monday through Thursday.
Today, some of your mission-minded employees are cooling their jets at the Ritz.
One of the cheaper rooms taken from the Ritz website.
One of the en suite bathrooms taken from the Ritz website.
Let me be clear. I used to stay in Motel 6 when we were first married. I have moved up to the Hampton Inn for our road trips and find them comfortable and clean with a good quick breakfast. I do not need more when I travel, and I cannot imagine the laborers at the NAMB need anything more than a Hampton Inn to be comfortable. But is this lavish spending on accommodations something new? I’m not sure since we apparently cannot see the accounting of the NAMB.
Mark Wingfield’s bio is of interest to me since he has incredible experience in the SBC.
Mark Wingfield serves as executive director and publisher of Baptist News Global. He recently served 17 years as associate pastor of Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas. Prior to that, he spent 21 years in denominational journalism. His latest book is Why Churches Need to Talk about Sexuality (Fortress Press). He and his wife, Alison, are parents of two adult sons and live in Dallas.
I plan to follow up on this article on Wednesday. So today, I want to outline the problems presented by Wingfield.
- Complaints by many of lavish spending by NAMB which is producing fewer results.
- Stories of file cabinets full of high-dollar gift cards that are handed out like candy to church planters and state convention employees to buy their loyalty.
- Stories of employee buyouts and Non-Disclosure Agreements to buy their silence.
- Documented real estate holdings of NAMB owning extremely expensive residential properties in multiple cities.
- SBC messengers who have requested more transparency are somehow ignored.
- Trustees have refusedto make public financial information: for good or for bad.
There are some other questions/observations that I have.
- Does the NAMB make it a point to hire well-known SBC personalities retiring from their pastorate?
- Is this a way to give cushy jobs to pastors/personalities who are “tired out?”
- Is this a way to pay an unknown amount of money to one of those personalities?
- Is the NAMB very successful in its goals or not so much?
- Why do the state conventions appear to be at odds with the NAMB?
Reform NAMB Now
This is an anonymous group that is seeking to reform the NAMB. Here are some questions/concerns raised by this group.
- Church baptisms are down by 30%
- 50% decline in church plants.
- Spending on church plants increased by 269%.
- The group has over $438 million in total assets.
My question on church planting remains unanswered.
How many church plants fail?
This question was prompted by an SBC church plant I heard about in the mountains of North Carolina. Not only did I receive reports of abuse from the church planter, but I also heard of turmoil in the “congregation.” Supposedly, many people who went from the RDU area to start this church quit and returned. This sort of thing may be happening regularly, especially when you get the authoritarian, Calvinist-Baptist pastors involved.
Guess what? They will not tell you about church plant failures. So think about it. If they spend lots of bucks starting up a church, making sure the pastor has a place to live or is even given a home. due to the flush of cash in this group, they may be wasting your tithes and will not tell you about it.
However, maybe I’m wrong; everything is pristine, and I’m just suspicious. But I get these phone calls telling me stuff.
To be continued…