Not On Our Watch

Today, I sat in a NOBTS chapel service which left me in tears. The entire service is worth watching, from Dr. Rhyne Putman’s call to pray for the complete abolition of abortion to the time of corporate singing.

The Dean of the Chapel, Dr. Blake Newsom, preached a message from his series on the parables of Jesus. The entire sermon video is found below. In his closing remarks (at 30:30), Newsom addresses the recent announcement by the Southern Baptist International Mission Board to request that hundreds of missionaries volunteer for early retirement. In the context of Jesus’ warning against greed and materialism, Newsom speaks prophetically to our convention of churches. I encourage you to find and watch that portion of the video. Some of his statements include:

“On our watch, we’re bringing in workers from the field?!”

“God help us, that we are buying $5 coffees and we are bringing in missionaries from the field.”

“Has lostness been penetrated to such a great level that we need to call in our workers? No!”

This is a powerful call that I needed to hear, and I think others would benefit from considering his call to do with less so our missionaries can continue their work.

Should the IMB & NAMB Merge?

According to this report in Christian Examiner, SBC President Ronnie Floyd asked this question at last week’s conference hosted by Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary: 

For the sake of Gospel advancement, should the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board become one mission board, the Global Mission Board of our Southern Baptist Convention?

The answer to this question will either strengthen or weaken the evangelistic work of one of the most significant mission-sending efforts in history. For that reason, I hope the answer is formed carefully and with input from: the convention of Southern Baptist churches (which would reflect congregational polity rather a Presbyterian or Episcopal polity), not decided by a small group of people hand-picked by an individual; seasoned IMB missionaries and seasoned NAMB missionaries, rather than only agency administrators.

I have spoken privately with several missions leaders and thinkers who each have decades of experience in both domestic and international missions. All of them have strong reservations about merging these agencies. Their reasons are not based in economics, but in missions. Will money be saved if offices of two agencies are combined into one? Yes. However, social, cultural, and linguistic issues create significant differences between reaching Somalis in the United States with the gospel and reaching Somalis in East Africa. Can one mission agency do both well? That is the question that Dr. Floyd has raised.

The Lord has entrusted Southern Baptists with incredibly rich resources of people, finances, and opportunities. He will one day hold us accountable for what we did with what He entrusted to us (Matt 25:14-30; 2 Cor 5:10). I pray we will answer Dr. Floyd’s question in such a way that the Lord will one day commend the present generation of Southern Baptists as faithful stewards.