“Truth never damages a cause that is just.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
Is the NAMB a sinecure for the designated in-crowd?
Did you know that you have no way to find out how the NAMB is spending its money? I started thinking about this recently when I read the following post at Baptist News Global’s Mark Wingfield, who is asking all the right questions. 48-year-old pastor ‘retires’ from Texas megachurch, citing failing health, but will become a vice president at NAMB.
The 48-year-old pastor of one of the largest churches in the Southern Baptist Convention told his congregation Sept. 11 he will “retire” as their pastor due to serious health problems but will continue his ministry as vice president for church planting and church mobilization at the SBC’s North American Mission Board.
“I talked to several pastors that left their pastorate and came to NAMB, and all of them said it’s significantly a less stressful situation than pastoring the local church,” Matt Carter told Sunday worshipers at Sagemont Church in Houston.
I am sorry that this pastor has dealt with significant health problems. Let me tell you how what he said sounds to me. He has experienced weakness after his illness and has found a position as a vice president in the NAMB, which is less stressful than leading a church. Does this mean he will have to work less? Are the NAMB and other leadership positions in the broader SBC a sinecure for those in the in-crowd?
What is a sinecure?
an office or position that requires little or no work and that usually provides an income
If one reads Wingfield’s post, one gets the feeling this goes on regularly. Here are a few more.
Vance Pitman, president of NAMB’s Send Network, came to the agency after 21 years as a church planter and pastor at Hope Church in Las Vegas, which grew to 4,000 members under his leadership. Travis Ogle, senior vice president of NAMB’s Send Network, served on staff with Pitman in Las Vegas.
Bryant Wright, president of NAMB’s Send Relief, came to the agency after he retired as pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist
Even the staff structure of the NAMB is a big secret.
Wingfield pressed for more information. Guess what. The NAMB would not release its staff structure except for six top leaders!
Exactly where Carter will fit in NAMB’s overall staff structure is not clear. BNG asked NAMB’s executive director of public relations for clarification on the agency’s staff structure and how many vice presidents there are, and that information was not provided. The leadership page on NAMB’s website lists only four top leaders. Further information about NAMB’s staff structure is not publicly available.
Matt Carter is excited because now he will be a passion to his wife.
This sounds nice and all, but what is he going to do for the NAMB, and how much is he being paid to “pastor his wife” since it seems he is saying he wasn’t doing that before? Now, it seems he’s going to have loads of time to do this.
Um, what really put me over the line to make this decision honestly, was my wife. She did not move me to this. It was my desire to pastor her. My primary calling is to the person of Jesus Christ. My secondary calling is to my spouse, to my wife, and my third calling is to the ministry.
There’s only one man that can be a passion to my wife. And so I’m going to make that my priority.”
Is there fraud in the NAMB?
I think this is a good question, and I can honestly say, “I don’t know.” Here’s why. One of my pastors reminds us regularly that he is as much of a sinner as the rest of us. Whenever he says this, I think about the need for transparency on all fronts. Mark Wingfield wrote another post at BNG: Still no external review of North American Mission Board finances.
Here are the issues that raised my eyebrows. Did you know that there are critics who believe there may be fraud in the NAMB? At the SBC meeting last June, motions were made, trying to force transparency. It was unsuccessful. It looks like the SBC President is for secrecy as well.
This week, for the second straight SBC annual meeting, their attempts to peel back the curtains from NAMB failed, as motions and maneuvers were ruled out of order by president SBC President Ed Litton, whose wife is an employee of NAMB.
Litton made the rulings not on his own, however, but upon the advice of SBC parliamentarians and legal counsel who said they were unanimous in their judgments.
Frustrated, critics of NAMB President Kevin Ezell weren’t buying the parliamentary argument. But they were left with no recourse.
Once again, I ask, “Are cushy Baptist jobs being given to the in-crowd?” As you saw above, Ed Litton stepped down after one year. This may have been due to the plagiarism scandal. Did anyone notice that his wife works for the NAMB? I wonder how much she makes, but I can’t find out. Why is that?
The SBC only exists for two days. The rest of the time, the SBC Executive Committee runs the show, which means Kevin Ezell of the SBC is one powerful man.
This is relevant because technically “the convention” exists only two days a year when duly elected messengers gather at the annual meeting. In SBC polity, “the convention” has ultimate authority over all things. The other 363 days of the year, the SBC Executive Committee serves “ad interim” on the convention’s behalf.
But what about the six seminaries, two mission boards and other convention entities? SBC messengers elect 100% of the trustees of these organizations, and each entity has amended its bylaws to identify the SBC as the “sole member” of its corporation. That means none of the entities can declare independence from the SBC, which holds the only vote that matters
And it looks like the NAMB is jerking around the state conventions. Is there lots of hidden money in church planting?
In short, over the past decade NAMB has changed its strategy of working through state Baptist conventions and local associations in church planting and created its own superstructure that often bypasses state conventions. Tens of millions of dollars have been redirected away from state conventions and associations.
It appears that the NAMB wants to take over church planting instead of allowing state conventions to do it as it has in the past. This leads me to wonder if money can be made in the church planting business. Is this why the NAMB is so secretive about its budget?
BNG posted state conventions beyond the South question SBC North American Mission Board’s spending and accountability for church planting, which looks at this closely.
A decade-long disagreement over how Southern Baptists fund church planting and missions in North America is coming to a head and threatens the sanctity of the denomination’s spirit of cooperative giving.
The result: State conventions outside the South are reducing their contributions to the denomination’s highly revered Cooperative Program because the SBC is sending them less missions support money through partnerships.
The NAMB says it’s all about “reappropriation.” Isn’t that a nice term for changing the rules of the game?
The current uprising finds its strongest voice in the non-Southern states, where Southern Baptists are not as prevalent. Leaders in these state conventions claim NAMB has cut them out of longstanding partnerships in missions and church planting and has adopted more of a “franchise” approach
For its part, NAMB staff leadership and trustees don’t deny there has been a radical shift in missions strategy. They have been clear and consistent in their vision. The shift not only is necessary but has been endorsed by the SBC in annual session, leaders contend. NAMB has not defunded mission work in states, the explanation says, but has reappropriated funds previously channeled through state conventions for nearly three-quarters of a century — and on which those state and regional conventions came to depend.
This is a lengthy article and worth the read. In the end, I think it’s all about the money, and the NAMB ain’t talking about “how much” is at stake.
In fact, an important lawsuit is underway, and I plan to write a separate post about Will McRaney.
The SBC has tied itself in knots trying to prevent the lawsuit but has been unsuccessful. I am particularly excited to see the depositions.
This set the stage for Will McRaney to be fired as executive director of the Baptist Convention of Maryland and Delaware after he opposed NAMB’s new tactics. McRaney filed a wrongful termination and defamation lawsuit against NAMB that is still winding its way through the courts. NAMB has been unsuccessful in trying to stop the litigation.
It is not surprising that the NAMB Whistleblower site has been formed.
According to the site, church plant spending has increased by $50 million while starting half as many churches.
NAMB whistleblowers have REVEALED abuses of power and people, MISUSE of financial gifts, FAILURE to abide by SBC bylaws, in addition to other corrupt behavior. NAMB internal reports reveal a steep DECLINE in baptisms and numbers of new churches, while the spending on new church starts has EXPLODED by over 300% in a decade. Church plant SPENDING has increased by $50 million while starting 1/2 as many churches.
To be good STEWARDS of the mission GIFTS of Southern Baptist member churches these unrighteous actions must be EXPOSED.
If you are aware of any issues related to NAMB or its staff, please report them below. With transparency, Southern Baptists can see NAMB restored to operate righteously.
I have long asked how many church plants have failed. I can’t get an answer because they don’t have to tell anyone. We can’t determine how much money is spent on salaries, benefits, and perks for the NAMB leaders who are apparently living stress-free lives since they don’t have to tell anyone anything.
In the meantime, keep an eye on Will McRaney’s lawsuit and the subsequent depositions. I’ll be updating its progress.