“Bullying is not going to make your mom proud. It’s not going to pay your bills. It’s nothing to be proud of.” DeSean Jackson
Let’s start at the end of this article by Baptist News. More Baptist leaders cite pattern of bullying from Ezell and NAMB.
Ezell and NAMB’s communication office have a longstanding policy of not responding to press inquiries about controversial issues. If a response is received, BNG will publish it.
Kevin Ezell heads the North American Mission Board of the SBC. According to the NAMB website:
NAMB mobilizes Southern Baptist churches for their next step in missions in North America; whether that’s in church planting, compassion ministry or evangelism training and outreach.
Having served since 2010, Kevin has led NAMB and Southern Baptists to plant more than 10,000 churches during his tenure. These church plants are responsible for nearly 10% of all baptisms in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and, by 2030, one-third of all SBC churches will have been planted in the last 20 years.
With a laser focus on evangelism, NAMB’s 3 Circles tool has been distributed to and downloaded by more than two million people in the last seven years, making it the most used evangelism resource in NAMB’s history.
In cooperation with the International Mission Board, NAMB leads the SBC’s compassion ministry called Send Relief. Operating 20 ministry centers across the U.S. and Canada and offering mission trips and training opportunities, Send Relief is connecting people in need with people who care, all with the goal of leading people to faith in Christ.
Prior to joining NAMB, Kevin served as the senior pastor of churches in Texas, Illinois and his native Kentucky.
Ezell takes the UK’s royal family’s approach to embarrassing or uncomfortable news. “Never explain.”
The NAMB has been getting lots of press recently, and much of it is negative and unnecessary. More Baptist leaders cite pattern of bullying from Ezell and NAMB.
In Dee’s opinion, what are some problems with the NAMB?
- The NAMB will not release how much their organization’s leaders are paid. Dee suspects people might be startled at the salaries of these leaders. Why isn’t an entity of the SBC accountable to the people who tithe?
- The pewsitters are so used to being told that the salaries and expenses of the NAMB are secret for a “reason.” I suspect the reason is that the spending is often used to control those unfortunate enough to be under the control of the secretive NAMB.
- The NAMB appears to be the “go-to” slot for pastors who have had enough of being pastors and want to earn the big bucks from the tithers.
- The organization will not say how much they spend on church plants or buying houses for church planters (I’ve heard some of those houses are very nice).
- How many houses does the NAMB own? Are they investing in these homes for real estate purposes?
- How many of the church plants fail?
- Is the NAMB biased in favor of larger churches, often failing to support the efforts of churches with a membership of 100 or less?
What are the problems of coordinating efforts between the SBC, the local SBC state entities, and the NAMB?
time massive changes were rolling out of NAMB’s headquarters in Alpharetta, Ga., as NAMB President Kevin Ezell changed the partnership agreements between the national body and the state conventions, pulling back previously shared funding for church planting to use in a national strategy controlled solely by NAMB.
That drew criticism from a number of state convention executives, particularly of smaller conventions without the financial resources to go it alone.
In my opinion, the SBC is getting big enough to fail. Decisions are made by the Executive Committee, the NAMB, the local state organizations, etc. These groups are all chasing the same pot of money. This mixed-up approach to making changes in the structure, combined with little accountability, is bound to cause friction and outright rebellion. I do not blame the state conventions that appear gobsmacked by Kevin Ezell’s decisions that only the NAMB will control church planting if that church plant wants SBC bucks.
They have been told that the big bucks are now in the hands of Ezell, who appears to have control of the secretive NAMB bucks.
Is the NAMB attempting to blackball anyone questioning its ability to remove funding from the state conventions?
Has the NAMB and the Executive Committee ever put out a position paper about their plans to radically decrease funding to the state conventions? Did they ever carefully give a time frame for the assumption of these duties? If so, they should be published somewhere for the members of the SBC to see them. If not, then this is no way to run a business.
It appears that Ezell and NAMB leadership attempted to get state convention leaders fired, using unChristianlike business practices.
In a relatively short period of time, Gilstrap went from being someone pursued by Ezell to a staff position in Alpharetta to being someone who couldn’t get a phone call returned, the former state leader said.
Gilstrap was pushed out of the state leadership role in 2014 after he was branded as uncooperative with Ezell and NAMB.
Ezell, who later would call McRaney a “nutcase” and urge other organizations not to hire him as a consultant or speaker, did the same thing to Gilstrap, both Gilstrap and another witness have testified.
Larry Cheek, associational missionary for Stone Mountain Baptist Association of Churches in Georgia, has publicly stated that Ezell called him in 2016 and urged him not to hire Gilstrap as a church planting strategist.
Did Kevin Ezell attempt to blackball state leaders who didn’t consent to the new policy?
We have been following the efforts of Will McRaney, who Kevin Ezell allegedly blackballed. It appears the same thing was happening to Gilstrap.
Eventually, he was informed by his own trustees that he would be evaluated because he was unable to cooperate with NAMB. That charge came to a head when Gilstrap was invited to a trustee’s home and asked to resign.
“They said to me that NAMB had said I was too difficult to work with,” he recounted.
And that label stuck with him for years, even as he interviewed for the part-time job as leader of the Urban Atlanta Church Planting network led by Stone Mountain Association with three other associations. It was then he learned from Cheek that Ezell was working against him being hired..”
I don’t care if the SBC wants the NAMB to invest in casinos in Mississippi so long as they present a position paper to all SBC members to read. I don’t like any organization that claims to be Christian but hides their business model and money from the faithful.
Last year, I wrote Do You Think Your Hard Earned SBC Donations Are Being Used in the Way You Intended? Read This to Be Disabused of Your Naive Notions. Here is what I had to say about the NAMB.
Do you trust these guys? I don’t. Show us the financials. All of them!
Which genius at the SBC set up a NAMB that didn’t have to show any financial information to the SBC faithful? This would be worth a loud laugh amongst those who have completed at least one class in an MBA program. I wonder, are the boys at the NAMB laughing at the SBC faithful?
In the meantime, people should consider directly sending their money to missionaries and groups where they can see what is being accomplished. In other words, groups that emphasize transparency and accountability. Trying to figure out where the money goes in the SBC is like watching sausage being made. It turns the stomach of the uninitiated.
Stop giving money to the SBC until you know how the big bucks are spent. Don’t be suckers because it seems to me that the tithing faithful are being played.
And what about the well-funded abuse implementation task force?
Here is the last report, on September 18, 2023. Why do I get the feeling things are not going well? Maybe it’s about time to keep track of days. We are still waiting 112 days from the last post and about 1+ years into the process.
This update serves as a representation of the collective efforts of the Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force (ARITF) in our commitment to enhance safety within Southern Baptist Churches. We aim to create environments that are secure, both from abuse and for survivors, guided by our shared responsibility as followers of Jesus.
As Mike Keahbone said in his report tonight to the trustees of the Executive Committee:
“Our main goal is to help BC churches become safer places for everyone-places that are safe from abuse and safe for survivors. We have a strong biblical mandate to do this and do it right. I hope this update will show you that this task force is committed to doing everything we can to further that goal.”
An Overview of Ministry Check
A significant development in our ongoing efforts is the creation of Ministry Check. This initiative, which we introduced several weeks ago, is not merely a tool or a website but a comprehensive platform designed to enable Southern Baptist Churches to prevent abuse by sharing crucial information.
Our intention is to assist churches in helping one another prevent abuse, acknowledging that they often rely on reference checks when hiring candidates for ministry positions.
However, this process is limited by the information available.
Ministry Check will address this limitation by facilitating access to information about individuals who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse, beginning with those who have been criminally convicted or found liable in civil court for sexual abuse.
We are well underway in the process of launching Ministry Check, and we anticipate announcing the official launch date soon.
Apart from Ministry Check, our efforts extend to providing churches with essential tools and resources to prevent and
respond to abuse effectivelv.
Our team has recently collaborated with national entities, state convention partners, local associations, and pastors to develop a comprehensive Ministry Toolkit.
These resources will be readily accessible on our website, SBCabuseprevention.com, which we envision as the central hub for abuse reform within Southern Baptist Churches and entities.
We are pleased to highlight the commendable progress achieved by many of our state conventions in the field of abuse reform.
The ARITF has initiated communication with all 41 state conventions to explore opportunities for strengthening and supporting their ongoing initiatives in this critical area.
Lastly, in response to the directives from the Messengers in Anaheim, the ARITF is actively formulating plans to recommend a long-term option to assist with abuse prevention and reform across all Southern Baptist churches and entities.
Given the gravity of our responsibility and the current needs of our convention, we intend to recommend a proposal that will resource and assist churches in preventing and responding to abuse and provide the necessary oversight for the Ministry Check process
We look forward to sharing further details about this recommendation as it takes shape in the coming months.
My hope is fading…No wonder folks don’t trust the SBC leaders.