Question 1: How do you envision IMB, NAMB, and local churches working together to reach unreached people groups in the States (college students, refugees, etc)?

10.4.2011

Question 1: How do you envision IMB, NAMB, and local churches working together to reach unreached people groups in the States (college students, refugees, etc)?

Reply: Let me begin by expressing how excited I am about the direction both of the IMB and NAMB. The presidents of both are men for whom I have the greatest respect and admiration. Tom Elliff is a father in the ministry to me and a hero in the faith. Kevin Ezell was my pastor for 8 years and one of my closest friends. Both men ooze integrity and vision for reaching the nations with the gospel. They are passionate for implementing the GCR and are already taking major steps to see this happen.

With that said I believe you will see great synergy between the IMB, NAMB and local churches that have a passion to reach the unreached people groups that the Lord has brought to our nation. I believe you will see the IMB providing, not personnel, but training. They will let the personnel needs be met by NAMB and the local church. I think you can expect them to provide training through missionaries who are home on sabbatical who have particular expertise with specific people groups. I also think you can look for NAMB to provide encouragement, training and even funding as we seek to reach out and share the gospel with those who have yet to hear the name of Jesus in us.

I believe college campuses in particular are one of the greatest mission fields available to us today. We still have free access to walk on these campuses and share the good news of King Jesus. That we don’t do it more passionately and pro-actively than we do is to our shame. However, I sense a growing passion for this very thing. I know that there are a number of students at Southeastern, who at their own initiative, regularly go to the campuses seeking out internationals to build relationships for the purpose of sharing the gospel. I believe we must become intentional in doing this, and we have a golden opportunity right now.

Kevin Ezell and NAMB: A Great Day for Southern Baptists

My family and I moved to Louisville, KY in 1996 to assume a position at Southern Seminary. Those were eight wonderful years for all of us. During that same time, we also had the joy of being members of Highview Baptist Church, sitting under the pastoral ministry of Dr. Kevin Ezell. During that time all of us came to greatly love and respect Dr. Ezell as a wonderful man of God and a tremendous leader who would take Highview Baptist Church to heights she had never known before. Two of my sons serve with Kevin today as a part of the pastoral staff. Both greatly love and respect their pastor and mentor.

Words are not adequate to express how excited I am that Dr. Ezell will be the new president of NAMB. This is truly a great day for Southern Baptists and especially the North American Mission Board. Why am I convinced this is a wonderful thing for our convention of churches? Let me share several reasons.

First, Kevin and his wife Lynette live out the Great Commission. In addition to their three biological children, they have adopted three others from China, Ethiopia, and the Philippines. Their love for the nations is not something they merely talk about. It is something they live!

Second, he is an incredible leader who knows how to recruit, inspire, motivate, and implement. I saw this first hand when living in Louisville. Kevin will build a great team and foster a healthy culture at NAMB.

Third, he is theologically conservative, balanced and fair. He gladly affirms the BF&M 2000. Now, anyone who knows Kevin knows he is not a classic Calvinist. They should also know that Al Mohler has gladly called Kevin his pastor since 1996! Kevin is not a Calvinist and therefore he does not have a Reformed agenda. At the same time he is not paranoid about Calvinism. He is not afflicted with Calvinophobia, and doesn’t see a Calvinist lurking behind every bush ready to highjack the SBC back to Geneva! He will gladly and effectively work with anyone with a passion for the lost and a heart to serve the unreached and underserved regions of North America.

Fourth, Kevin has led Highview in aggressive church planting in North American and passionate missions to the nations. I believe he will work well with the new leadership at the IMB and lead Southern Baptists to the most fruitful days of church planting in their history! 70,000 churches by 2020 may be more than a dream. It may become a reality!

Finally, Kevin is a team player who will reach out to all members of the Great Commission Council, the leaders of our State Conventions and those who serve in the trenches of our local associations. And most importantly, he is a local church man. The SBC will find in Kevin Ezell a friend and encourager who will challenge them and help them do great things for the glory of God.

This is a great day for Southern Baptists. This is a great move for the expanding of the kingdom of God and the renown of King Jesus in America. Kevin will have my prayers and full support as he takes on this awesome assignment. I am excited to watch what God does in and through this man for His great glory in the days ahead.

Why We Believe the GCRTF Report is Good for the Future of the SBC (5): Reaching North America (IMB & NAMB Collaboration)

By: Danny Akin & Nathan Akin

Imagine this scenario. An IMB family is stateside for an extended period due to some family matters. In the city where they live they find a community of people from the very people group the IMB has trained them to reach. So they continue to do the work of the Great Commission (seeking to disciple) among this group. They eat meals with them, live life alongside of them, meet their family and friends, and share the gospel with them. And because of the efforts of this IMB family, a new work begins among this particular people group where previously there was none. Why is this an easily-imagined scenario? Because the IMB family knows the language, the customs, the religious backgrounds of this people group; therefore, they are more equipped than others to engage and disciple these peoples. In fact, the IMB is well-prepared to equip church planters and evangelists for cross-linguistic and cross-cultural ministries, and its workers are well-equipped to do cross-cultural and cross-linguistic ministry.

The cry of the Great Commission Resurgence has been that “the ends of the earth” are void of gospel-witness and Christ is not glorified among the nations, as He ought to be. And so the need for a GCR among Southern Baptists, who claim to be a missions people, is evident. And yet we live in interesting times. The potential for reaching the world’s unreached peoples has never been more within our grasp than it is now. One of the exciting things taking place that demonstrates this change is that God in His grace and providence is bringing “the ends of the earth” into many of our own neighborhoods. It is estimated that over 500 of the Unreached People Groups have significant populations on U.S. soil. Tragically, most of our congregations remain mostly southern, mostly white, and mostly middle class. So not only are we not reaching the “ends of the earth” geographically, we are not reaching the peoples from the ends of the earth that have moved into our neighborhoods. Sunday morning is still the most segregated hour in America. Although our cities increasingly house countless people from every “tribe, tongue, people, and nation,” our Southern Baptist churches remain, for the most part, culturally monolithic. The GCRTF has proposed a bold initiative that might help us address this problem.

Component five of the Task Force’s Report asks “That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting June 15-16, 2010, request that the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention and the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention consider a revised ministry assignment for the International Mission Board that would remove any geographical limitation on its mission to reach unreached and underserved people groups wherever they are found.”

This recommendation shows much forward thinking. IMB personnel are better equipped and trained for this type of work. The IMB does international missions well. The IMB’s primary focus is reaching people of differing tongues and cultures. In many ways, this takes some very intentional and specific training, which the IMB already provides. In short, the IMB is better poised to equip others for this work. This is not to say that NAMB and State conventions cannot help in this work, but NAMB and State conventions are not as prepared to reach groups that are radically different culturally, especially groups that speak another language. Given the recognition of the changes in many of our U.S. cities, with such an influx of Unreached People Groups, this component should make us more effective in targeting and reaching these UPG’s.

Another added consequence of this component might be stronger international missions as well. As we engage, and hopefully disciple these target people groups, it should enhance our work among their peoples globally. This is potentially a major benefit for the IMB, especially in countries that are difficult to get into or in countries where there is great suspicion of westerners. As we empower their own people to reach them, it is more likely that a church planting movement in that country will take place.

Some fear that this component will create unnecessary overlap and duplication, which is one of the things the Task Force was tasked to amend. This is a legitimate concern. However, we do not believe this Component is about duplication at all. Instead, it is about cooperation and utilizing the special training and attention IMB personnel have to reach people groups they are more specifically trained to reach. The other entities that might overlap with the work of the IMB among these peoples are not necessarily trained or training people for this work. That does not mean that they do not have strategies and ideas for this work, but that the IMB is better equipped to reach those of radically different culture (i.e. language).

IMB and NAMB have the opportunity for a creative collaboration. This excites us. The IMB specially trains people culturally and linguistically to engage particular people groups and in so doing helps state conventions in their desire to reach these people groups as well. In addition, hopefully, this work will go hand in hand with local churches. This could strengthen relationships between the IMB and local churches, which is always a good thing. So there is much potential in this component as we imagine the possibilities it brings.

The scenario mentioned at the beginning is not imaginary. This is happening already in places without any specific mandate from the IMB. Imagine what would happen if we released IMB personnel trained in the language, culture, and religions of these people groups, in tandem with our local churches and church plants in Urban centers. We might cease to be so mostly white, mostly southern, mostly middle-class. Our congregations and our convention might begin to better reflect the scenario in Revelation 5 in which believers from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation gather together to worship the risen Lord. Our convention might find itself being a witness to the fact that the gospel transcends socio-economic, national, cultural, and linguistic barriers. Imagine!racer mobile online