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The Church Planting Shell Game

Empty Land. Empty Buildings. All Under the Guise of Church Planting.

Since 2013 we have seen a dramatic increase in church planting spending. Despite that increase, church plants are down almost 50% from 2010. Why? One answer obviously is an ineffective NAMB strategy. A second answer might be that NAMB has gone into the real estate business. Whether it is purchasing empty land for possible future churches or purchasing empty buildings for possible future churches, NAMB apparently considers that "church planting." How is that harmful? 1. It helps put NAMB firmly in the driver‘s seat of Church Planting, which historically has been the responsibility of State Conventions and local churches Prior to this "new strategy" from Dr. Ezell, NAMB partnered with State Conventions to make low interest loans to churches who selected a property for the new church they were sponsoring. It appears NAMB is now buying empty property and saying, "start a church here." The people already on the frontlines tend to make better decisions than remote bureaucrats. And, NAMB’s choice of which property should be purchased further encroaches on the role of the State Conventions. 2. Property doesn't reach people. People reach people. The money spent for vacant lots and empty buildings will not reach people for Christ. By tying up so much money in property, NAMB keeps that money from actually going to the people who are actually planting churches. 3. A serious question is raised: Is NAMB be hiding cash in assets to avoid their formal guidelines? NAMB has formal limits on the amount of cash it can keep in operating contingency. By the purchase of varied properties is there an attempt to avoid the limit and hang on to many additional millions? At this point, the answer is not clear, but the issue is serious. The question deserves a further investigation and a clear and fact-based answer. NAMB is an agency of the SBC. It has an obligation to use our Annie Armstrong offering with integrity to effectively help us bring our mission field to Christ—not engage in a financial “shell game.”

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