This is the fourth part of my continuing effort to weigh in on the Great Commission Resurgence interim report that was given in Nashville on Monday, February 22nd. My assessment will consist of several more parts over the next few days.
The second component moves from philosophy to practice. It speaks of the necessity to reinvent the North American Mission Board. Reinvent is an applicable word, because what will emerge from this will bear little resemblance to what currently exists. The task force is recommending that NAMB will be primarily a church planting organization. It will decentralize into up to seven regional offices assumed to have regional foci. Many things are introduced in the report that will have to await the details for final judgment, such as the cessation of reciprocating funds to state conventions. I wonder how this will impact small conventions like West Virginia’s. My initial impression is that support will continue, but with far less state autonomy. That point was driven home by the report’s emphasis on project driven funding and the repeated references to accountability. That seems to run counter to the stated and much-needed goal of decentralization. Also running counter to the idea of decentralization is the highly centralized plan for church planting. The report endorses the creation of the Leadership Center of North America. Details of this entity are not given, but the generalities are troubling. It will have the purpose of assessing and equipping church planters. Does that not go against the stated primacy of the local church? Should not the local pastor be the primary assessor of a potential church planter? Additionally, how will this leadership center equip church planters that cannot be better performed by our seminaries and our state and local associations? If one of the primary stated objectives of this component of the GCR is to decentralize NAMB, this is a huge step in the wrong direction with the chief consequence being the choking out of our state conventions. If that is the plan, then state it openly in the report. If that is the most effective way to reach the lost for Christ in North America, then so it shall be—say it openly and convince me. But political obfuscation does nothing to move us in the right direction as a convention. As it stands, I have serious doubts that regional NAMB offices will be more effective at assessing, training and equipping church planters in Southern West Virginia than people who live here.