Southern Baptists are a great-commission people. As a result, Southern Baptists are a church-planting people.
Southern Baptist are also a confessional people who, as a result, have real clarity on what the important terms “church” and “pastor” mean according to Scripture. This clarity allows Southern Baptists to accomplish what they intend in church planting, namely to plant Southern Baptist churches.
A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.
The New Testament speaks also of the church as the Body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.
As Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Daniel Akin recently articulated, there is no ambiguity in what Southern Baptists confess. Scripture knows of no office of pastor available to women, regardless of what other adjectives and qualifications might be attempted.
Thankfully, Southern Baptists have an excellent mechanism for planting Biblically-faithful Baptist Faith and Message 2000 churches in the North American Mission Board. However, the last two weeks have revealed that the blessings of Southern Baptist churches planting Biblical Baptist Faith and Message 2000 churches through the North American Mission Board is experiencing a disruption that has to be addressed.
January 26th, 2020 brought to light the first sign of the breakdown: A North American Mission Board church plant, 1 Name Church of Planation, FL, was found to be using the title “Pastor” in unbiblical fashion, applying it to a woman within the church.
When this breakdown in healthy practice – most importantly, by breaking with Scripture’s clear teaching but secondarily also by breaking faith with the Southern Baptist donors who sponsored the church in good faith with the North American Mission Board under the assumption that NAMB would plant churches keeping with our confession of faith – came to light 1 Name promptly ended their relationship with the SBC and asked to be left alone.
Ultimately the decision of a local church to cooperate or not with the Southern Baptist Convention is that church’s decision. What remains is for the North American Mission Board to account for (a) how much money they were tasked with stewarding on behalf of Southern Baptists has been sunk into a church that was clearly not of like faith and practice and (b) what safeguards failed to prevent this from happening.
There was an initial indication that Dr. Kevin Ezell, President of the North American Mission Board, was willing to address the seriousness of the problem directly.
What appeared to be an invitation to engage directly with Dr. Ezell via email resulted for those of us who reached out in a form-letter response from someone other than Dr. Ezell that amounted to a shutdown in further communication (the last I personally received directed me back to Dr. Ezell’s tweets, for instance).
Unfortunately, the intervening days have revealed the problem is more pronounced than just one church. In fact, – in the most distressing fashion possible – it is now clear that the situation with 1 Name Church is far from an isolated incident. As Nate Scholman has demonstrated here on CR Voices – and please read the whole thing – there are a disturbing number of churches receiving sponsorship from the NAMB who are in open contradiction to The Baptist Faith and Message 2000, indicating a breakdown in the partnership/stewardship relationship of Southern Baptist donors and the NAMB, doctrinal fidelity to our confessional statement, and faithfulness to Scripture’s clear teaching.
Since the problem is now seen to be worse than indicated on January 26th and the opportunity to engage with Dr. Ezell resulted in no additional way forward to address these breakdowns in Southern Baptist cooperative ministry it is now time to call on the trustees of the North American Mission Board to fulfill their responsibilities to Southern Baptists. The trustees of Southern Baptist entities work on behalf of Southern Baptists (rather than on behalf of the entities themselves) to supervise the work of these entities in such a way that the entities fulfill the mandate given them by Southern Baptists.
As you may know, Southern Baptist Trustees are listed in a public directory on SBC.net. You can find the listing of North American Mission Board Trustees here (PDF). If you are someone who rightly recognizes the problems of egalitarian churches being planted with Southern Baptist resources contrary to both our confession and Scripture the course of action to take is to contact the trustees and direct them to take the necessary steps required to correct this breakdown in cooperative missions within Southern Baptist life.
One problem you may note that reflects an unfortunate anachronism in Southern Baptist life: the trustees’ contact information is limited to mailing addresses. This system, again, is unhelpful in that it leaves Southern Baptists and their trustees no means of knowing whether or not intended communication has been received. Furthermore, it provides no mechanism by which the intended communication will be addressed in timely fashion should the message even be received.
To fix that problem we have looked at information available publicly via a simple Google Search and / or Twitter search to provide more direct options for contacting North American Mission Board Trustees. If you choose to reach out using this information please remember that you are doing so as a partner in cooperative missions and all communication should be sent in the forthright and charitable spirit of Christ. An example message can be found at the bottom of this post.
NORTH AMERICAN MISSION BOARD Trustees
Kevin Ezell, President
Daniel W. (Danny) deArmas, Chair | firstname.lastname@example.org
|Name & City||Twitter Handle / Email Contact|
|Charles M. (Danny) Wood of Birmingham, AL||Danny Wood C/O https://www.shades.org/contact|
|Erin S. Bounds of Springville, AL||Ebounds@esbgroup.net|
|Eric Brown of Jonesboro, ARemail@example.com|
|Brian Bowman of Phoenix, AZ||@DBrianBowman / C/O firstname.lastname@example.org|
|William G. (Bill) Ingram of Aurora, CO||N/A|
|David Saylor of Glastonbury, CT||PDave777@fbcman.org|
|William E. (Willy) Rice of Oldsmar, FL||@WillyRice|
|Daniel W. (Danny) deArmas of Orlando, FL (Chair)||DannydeArmas@FirstOrlando.com|
|Brian E. Nall of Pensacola, FL||@BrianNall|
|Gary Yochum of New Albany, INemail@example.com|
|Andrew (Andy) Addis of Hutchinson, KS||@andyaddis|
|C. B. Scott of McDowell, KY||@CBScott5512 / firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Tanya K. York of Frankfort, KY||@tanyayork / Tanya York C/O email@example.com|
|Gevan L. Spinney of Haughton, LA||C/O firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Alisa J. Henley of Grandview, MO||C/O email@example.com|
|Ron L. Crow of Webb City, MOfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Tommy Mitchell of Lucedale, MS||C/O email@example.com|
|Bill H. Wright of Purvis, MS||C/O firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Steve Hardy of Lewisville, NC||N/A|
|Cynthia E. (Cindy) Bush of Wake Forest, NC||C/O email@example.com|
|Bill D. Richard of Edgewood, NM||C/O firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Chelsi N. Holbrook of Long Island City, NY||N/A|
|Stephen P. Spurgin of Miamisburg, OH||C/O email@example.com|
|Rick L. Frie of OK||C/O firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Danny Ringer of Elk City, OK||https://www.gpbaok.org/danny_ringer (Form)|
|Briana Weathersby of Harrisburg, PA||C/O email@example.com|
|Joe T. Youngblood of Graniteville, SCfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Randy D. Bradley of Greenville, SCemail@example.com|
|Harry L. Smith of Germantown, TN||C/O https://bellevue.formstack.com/forms/contact|
|Kenneth W. Priest of Irving, TX||@kwpriest / firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Clark Reynolds of Bellaire, TX||C/O https://houstonsfirst.org/people/clark-reynolds|
|Bill L. Coffey of Silsbee, TX||https://www.pinecrestsilsbee.org/staff|
|Denny J. Gorena of Leonard, TXemail@example.com|
|Zoila Lopez of Sunnyvale, TX||C/O firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Jarrett L. Stephens of Plano, TX||@jarrettstephens / C/O email@example.com|
|Robert J. (Bob) Lowe of Yelm, WA||N/A|
|Brandon S. Carter of Winfield, WV||@servinyahweh / firstname.lastname@example.org|
This same information can be downloaded as a PDF as well.
Finally, here is an example of the kind of message that would be profitably sent to our Trustees:
I am reaching out today as a fellow Southern Baptist to you in your capacity of Trustee of the North American Mission Board. I am thankful for your service to our Convention in this role and also for the good work of the North American Mission Board.
I specifically want to ask you to consider how best to correct the breakdown in the cooperative mission partnership between Southern Baptists and the North American Mission Board found in NAMB sponsored church plants that identify women in their congregation as pastor. As we both know, this practice represents a severe breakdown in the confessional fidelity of Southern Baptists as identified in Article VI of the Baptist Faith and Message but, more importantly, in honoring the clear teaching of Scripture.
Some might suggest that this is merely an issue of semantics; that Scripture speaks only to what we now refer to as “Senior Pastor.” However, this is inappropriately imposing modern categories on Scripture (at best) or an attempt at rhetorical manipulation (at worst). Southern Baptists have historically stood on the clarity of Scripture on the role of pastor. As SEBTS President Daniel Akin recently said, “To bring clarity: women cannot serve as a pastor. Pastors are always men in the Bible. To call a women [sic] a pastor in any capacity is not faithful to the biblical revelation. She can serve in many capacities but it is theologically in error to call her a pastor.”
Please use your role in Southern Baptist life to restore the highest level of confidence on the part of Southern Baptist donors that their cooperative missions work though the North American Mission Board is executed faithfully, specifically that the North American Mission Board will guard the doctrinal fidelity and stewardship entrusted to them by sponsoring, partnering, and supporting churches that honor Scripture’s clear teaching reflected in The Baptist Faith and Message.
I encourage you to lead help NAMB leadership see we Southern Baptists need an accounting of how much money has been invested in churches found to be erroneously identifying women as pastors. We need an account of what safeguards to prevent these errors failed and what proactive steps will be taken in the future to prevent this problem from re-occurring. One additional consideration: perhaps it is time for a full audit of NAMB income and expenditures for the last, say, 3 years (considering our prolonged inability to meet in Annual Meeting as a Convention) conducted by an independent agency to be made available publicly.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, your work on behalf of Southern Baptists, and your diligence to guard the cooperative mission of Southern Baptists.
 Twitter handle is listed first, email address second. C/O indicates email should be send Care of to email listed.