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MEGA Millions for MEGA Churches

When it comes to church planting there is almost no transparency from NAMB. 

Unlike years past, we do not know how many planters are funded.  Unlike years past Baptist conventions and associations are largely cut out from the church planting relationship, and know little of what really happens.

What we do know from NAMB is that some are fully funded, and some are not. 

 

https://www.namb.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/2020_Annual_Ministry_Report.pdf

 

“1. Some missionaries are fully funded through and by NAMB, meaning 100 percent of the missionary’s approved funding (the amount varies by category) is from NAMB. These personnel may be national or regional missionaries, student missionaries, apprentices, interns or even state convention missionaries who are fully funded for the state convention by NAMB.

2. Some missionaries receive a blend of funding through several sources. Many church plants/planters are funded through money set aside as Church Planting Funds (CPF) in the budgets of state Baptist conventions. Many of these funds come from NAMB. The amount varies depending on the strategy of a convention, age of the plant, the trajectory of the plant, the plant’s location and the amount of other funding sources available to the plant (sponsoring church, association, state convention, etc.).”

What NAMB does not share in their public document is who is qualified to be fully funded or how they make those decisions. Thankfully we have a document, that shows more insight into those decisions. 

Some major concerns are in this document.

  1. This seems to be the prince John method of church planting. Since an X Factor Church has to be in the top 10 of giving to CP, that means that they most likely have the most money already. It makes no sense that a church backed by both the Prestonwood Network and the Longhollow Network would need to receive the lions share of church planting funds.
  2. The key personal requirement about the planter is that they have charisma. Not wisdom. Not character.  If that’s the case, Carl Lentz would qualify. 
  3. X Factor churches are listed as less than 1% of the church planters. However, all the other  categories only add up to 90%. Is the missing percent for support staff for churches? Or could it be that NAMB expects to set aside about 10% of their funding for x-factor churches. NAMB does not list a cap on funds for x-factor plants and only states their funding as “whatever they need.”  If you have 600 churches planted in a year and a $69M budget in a year, that could mean that 6 of those churches get $6.9M dollars ($1.1M each) while the majority of planters get less than $13,000 a year. 

These points explain why we have seen so much money from NAMB going to mega churches.  According to reports from Chicago, NAMB’s Houses in Chicago could only be used by James MacDonald’s church.  That is, until reformNAMBnow published that information. Rob Wilton, Son of famous Pastor Don Wilton and  poster boy from NAMB who is a part of three networks lives in a NAMB house, whose original building was bought by NAMB, and had 11 other homes/units all next to his original church plant in Pittsburgh. Even JD Greear’s own network had a staff member, not planter, in a NAMB house. (See Housing)

 

If it seems like Mega churches love NAMB, it might be because they can get more for their church plants than smaller ones.   It could also be that NAMB seems to like to pay influential pastors and leaders in regions to be brand NAMB “Ambassador” and receive a higher stipend from NAMB than 83% of NAMB church planters. 

If people really care about transparency, they will call for a forensic audit of NAMB’s books. 

2 Comments

  1. I attempted to find out how many missionaries are fully funded by NAMB for the past five years. The only response is “that information is confidential.” I’ve asked NAMB Trustees about it and never received an answer. One of those Trustees now works at NAMB.

    1. Yep! Prior to 2010, that information was not confidential. Sad to see it hidden now.

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