Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Thursday, November 09, 2006

IBSA Convention Follow Up Thoughts

Well, my family and I finally got back from the Illinois Baptist State Association’s Annual Convention in Springfield.

It would have been better, but Moriah has been throwing up this week and now both she and Vicky are sick, both throwing up on the ride home. On Vicky’s birthday to boot.

Here’s a couple observations. I may have been one of the youngest people attending other than my children—and I only saw 4-5 children. It was not a very family friendly event and children were not an expected part to bring along. Middle of the week, nothing family friendly. When one speaker commented on the grayness of the messengers, my thought was, “Gee, I wonder why?”

Overall, this was the most uneventful convention I’ve ever been to. It was mostly a “Go Get Em” pep rally. One significant complaint, however, had to do with our mission agencies, the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board. While I enjoyed hearing the stories and other efforts of the IMB and NAMB, considering the embattled years these institutions have had—resignation due to mismanagement, trustee battles over narrowing of missionary qualifications over “3rd tier” doctrinal issues like Private Prayer Language—I expect to be informed about the status of each and what if any corrective measures are in place. Rather than a pep talk—we’re doing great—keep sending your money—softball that keeps churches uninformed, I’d rather have transparency and an honest assessment of the health of the ministry.

IBSA has made the health of churches a priority under the guidance of the new Executive Director, Nate Adams. I like him by the way, he seems honest, passionate and straightforward without all the polished political smoozing. If the health of churches is a priority—so should the health of our missions agencies—and yet nothing was said on those important issues. Not a word. I was saddened. What is the health status of NAMB, the IMB? I don’t know—I certainly didn’t learn anything from their representative—who made a fine presentation. The numbers present a great picture—but I know there are leaks in that dam—that if not dealt with will breach and cause a flood.

In the future for the IBSA—if you want to have younger involvement, you’ve got to engage families and kids. Maybe move the event to Friday and ½ Saturday—maybe allow churches to train workers with the new VBS materials. I don’t know yet. I’m planning on writing the new Ex. Dir. so they’ll consider it next year. Also, please respect me and your pastors and messengers enough to not gloss over significant issues at play—please keep us informed rather than hope nobody asks a “sensitive question”.

Overall, I would have enjoyed the Convention more if my family was a little healthier, if some would have moved to the plethora (sure Jefe!) of seats in the middle of the rows so a family with kids and a stroller could sit on the end and make a quick exit when needed, rather than clog up the ends, or if my family was truly welcome and engaged somehow.

To top it all off, as one of the newest alumni of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in IL, I quickly got pegged to help with next year’s alumni luncheon. Oh joy. Still, I’m glad I went.

Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life,

Kelly Reed


Kelly Reed said...

An unnamed source who read the blog had this to say about current changes and issues in NAMB. I found them very helpful and informative--the kinds of things a convention report should include.

"NAMB is more mission-focused than ever, as we have narrowed our six major ministry objectives to just three: evangelism, church planting and missionaries. We are also restructuring the staff to reflect this new focus. This is more than just cosmetic. We eliminated a quarter-million dollar discretionary fund that belonged to Dr. Reccord and reduced it to $50,000 (with accountability controls), and we increased our budget to missionary support by $10 million, including restoring the funding for stipends for student summer missionaries that had been cut last year.

NAMB has adopted new executive level policies to require greater accountability and we pray to prevent the problems that went on in recent months. We have had a record year of giving to the Annie Armstrong Offering.

Pray for us, as we are currently searching for a new president of NAMB."

This source also suggested that the probable reason such reports don't include this kind of information is time constraints imposed on them in order to keep the convention rolling. I'm giving my vote to giving our agencies more time to report on this type of information because we need to hear directly from them. The implementation of these changes is ongoing.

Thanks for the update.

Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life,

Kelly Reed

doug munton said...

It was good to meet you at the IBSA and the alumni dinner. I understand your lack of enthusiasm at convention work but don't want you to stay there. I just read (I can't imagine more than about three people read this entire book) the Robert Naylor book on his 60 years as a messenger to the SBC. It was interesting in a way. His generation was very institutionally loyal- your generation is not so much. But, by being involved he had an opportunity for impact. I want to encourage you to stay involved because through that you will have the opportunity to have an impact. (Plus, I always benefit from the encouragement of the pastor's conference- shameless plug!)
I am also a trustee at NAMB and I must say that I feel that there is more accountability and a greater desire for mission-focus. I think the previous post is accurate. We need, in my opinion, to do three things better at NAMB. We need to be really focused on evangelism being at the core of our work. (We are a mission agency after all!) We need to be geniune partners with our conventions, associations and fellowships. And, we need to be good stewards of the resources with which we have been entrusted.
I am very glad to have your input and your participation. I pray God will bless your ministry!
Doug Munton