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Ezell seeks ‘Gospel Conversation Resurgence’ in report to trustees

June 15th, 2017 / By: Joni Hannigan / comments

Ezell seeks ‘Gospel Conversation Resurgence’ in report to trustees

Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, gives a report June 13 at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting at the Phoenix Convention Center. Photo by Matt Jones

PHOENIX – Now that the North American Mission Board has been “completely transformed” by the Great Commission Resurgence, NAMB President Kevin Ezell told trustees it’s time for another GCR—this time a “Gospel Conversation Resurgence.”

Delivering his report during the plenary session of the June 12 meeting of the board of trustees prior to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Phoenix, Ezell said of the GCR that, “some liked it and some didn’t, but God used it to get us to where we are today.”

Seven years ago NAMB started “beating the drum to focus on church planting,” and now, more than any time in SBC history, churches are so aware of the idea that a banner can hang from church rafters, Ezell said.

That said, with 15,000 of 47,000 churches not baptizing a single person last year, Ezell said part of NAMB’s ministry assignment is to also emphasize the importance of personal evangelism so that people can come to faith in Jesus Christ.

“Everything we do is about sharing our faith so that people will come to know Christ,” Ezell said. “I think it’s one of the best times to be a Southern Baptist. But it’s also a time to help churches focus.”

Ezell said Send Network for church planting and Send Relief will continue, but he also pledged “every ounce of energy that we possibly can in helping our convention see the importance of having gospel conversations.”

NAMB will be producing podcasts and other resources that capture pastors and entity leaders sharing their recent gospel conversations.

“We are going to do everything we have at the North American Mission Board to stir … the passion for evangelism in our churches,” Ezell said. “The North American Mission Board has never baptized anybody. We are not a church. We come alongside of churches; we come alongside associations; we come alongside state conventions. I am thankful for that work. We are not going to step back one inch.”

After hearing a report about Canada, Ezell wondered aloud whether the North American country should be represented on the board. Trustees affirmed a resolution calling for the ad hoc bylaws and policy committee to study and make recommendations to the board regarding its makeup, specifically as it relates to smaller conventions and Canada.

SBC bylaws specify the number of church members each state or territory must have to qualify for trustee representation on various entities, with that number set at 20,000 at both NAMB and the International Mission Board. A trustee subcommittee of the IMB is currently studying the impact of decreasing numbers of Southern Baptists in several states.

The Executive Committee of the SBC addressed the problem by granting exceptions to four areas that lack the number of churches stipulated in Bylaw 30, a move approved by messengers to this year’s annual meeting. A motion referred to NAMB, IMB and LifeWay asked each entity to amend their governing documents to ensure their trustee boards include members from each state convention.

NAMB board chairman Mark Dyer of Plano recognized the value of hearing how a sister entity handled the matter but stated, “We ought to be a group and a body making these decisions on our own.”

The board elected new officers, including Stephen “Spike” Hogan of Jacksonville, Fla., as chairman; Danny Wood of Birmingham, Ala., as first vice chairman; and Daniel de Armas of Orlando as second vice chairman.