NAMB clearly adrift, perhaps drowning

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NAMB clearly adrift, perhaps drowning

Postby William Thornton » Wed Aug 26, 2009 4:49 pm

I like the metaphors used in the Biblical Recorder article, exerpted below:

NAMB on ice floe
Read the stories recently pertaining to the North American Mission Board and you may wonder how many chances remain for NAMB to erase doubt of its worth. Already the subject of at least nine studies on whether to continue its ministry as a separate missions board, or eliminate it or combine it with the International Mission Board, its trustees put the agency in position for yet another evaluation by forcing the resignation of President Geoff Hammond. Although North Carolina’s representatives on that board will not talk about meeting specifics, Alabama trustee Ellie Ficken quit the board in disgust after the meeting. Before the meeting, she’d said, “We should never be afraid of the truth. There should be full disclosure on what is happening.”

Full disclosure is not a NAMB trademark. The agency still will not disclose the terms under which it “sold” FamilyNet, the last remnant of the Radio and Television Commission, to InTouch Ministries.

“The first sin that our Holy Father judged in the church was hypocrisy, and He did not judge it lightly,” Ficken said. “What I observed would make it impossible for me to serve Alabama effectively as a trustee.”

It may be just global warming, but NAMB must feel like a polar bear on the last chunk of sea ice.


How many more chances will NAMB get? Not many from me. Both the silence and the statements from a few trustees are adding to the damage.

Full disclosure is not a NAMB trademark? Please, it is an unknown concept to the trustees.
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Re: NAMB clearly adrift, perhaps drowning

Postby Sandy » Thu Aug 27, 2009 3:16 pm

The tragedy of this, if there are major changes, is that there are many ministries and programs at NAMB which are excellent, and which do an excellent service for local churches, which will suffer the most.

As a college student, I participated in their collegiate summer missions program for two summers. There are lasting memories associated with that, along with the foundation and encouragement those 20 weeks provided to me as I was struggling with a calling to the ministry at that time. And I met my wife while serving one summer in St. Louis. That program is still ongoing, and over the past three years, we've had five college students from our church involved, including one young man who made a commitment to vocational service this summer as a result of his service.

World Changers has put more than a quarter of a million participants, mainly high school and middle school students, in short term missions experiences and is one of the largest social ministry programs in existence. In Savannah, alone, they've rehabilitated something like 20,000 homes in their 17 or 18 years of existence, 13 of that as part of NAMB.

In my home state of Arizona, NAMB pretty much makes a border ministry possible. They provide financial assistance, send both full time missionary personnel and MSC volunteers, and organize groups from individual churches to take mission trips to Cochise County and the border area where there are several dozen new church starts each year, especially on the Mexican side of the border.

It's a shame that the politics of string pulling and influence peddling have created a monster in the administration of the organization.
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Re: Hammond dismisal

Postby Chris » Sat Aug 29, 2009 8:24 pm

Jim White, editor of The Religious Herald, the Virginia state Baptist newspaper, has written an editorial about Geoff Hammond. The complete editorial can be read here:

http://www.religiousherald.org/index.ph ... 8&Itemid=9

When Hammond was picked to be the President of the NAMB, has was, at that time, Senior Associate Director of the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia (SBCV), the breakaway, renegade state Convention. Mr. White placed several phone calls to Hammond, hoping to get an interview. The calls were not returned. White wrote a letter, and sent it to two addresses, hoping to reach Hammond that way. Hammond never responded.

White cites this statement from the Trustees of the NAMB when they hired Hammond: "We were so moved by the Hand of God through the process concerning Dr. Hammond that we are presenting a recommendation to you unanimously..."

I (Chris) have become so cynical about statements like "We have felt God's Hand in this decision;" "We are convinced this is God's man for the job;" "We have felt The Lord's Moving (whatever that is) in this decision;" "Pastor (fill in any name) is a true Man of God;" etc. etc., that I will immediately dismiss the next such statement I hear. It is Baptist speak, and I'm sick of it.

Perhaps the most revealing thing in Dr. White's editorial is the final paragraph.

Jim White wrote: Since the last two NAMB Presidents came from the ranks of the SBCV, I think they should come this time to the BGAV. Within our fellowship are several excellent people I would like to recommend.



I encourage you to read the entire editorial, if you have time. It says a lot about Geoff Hammond you may not have known.
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Re: Hammond dismissal

Postby Chris » Sat Aug 29, 2009 8:40 pm

Another article (attributed to associated Baptist Press {ABP}) says that Hammond reportedly "hired friends instead of qualified persons for key positions."

Reminds me of former NAMB President Robert Reccord (another Fundy Conservative Virginia Baptist) who gave a no-bid contract (for 6 figures) to a friend from Virginia Beach (likely a member of his former church).

The arrogance of these two men is hard to fathom.

Annie is rolling over in her grave. :(
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Re: Hammond dismisal

Postby William Thornton » Sun Aug 30, 2009 6:45 am

Chris wrote:White cites this statement from the Trustees of the NAMB when they hired Hammond: "We were so moved by the Hand of God through the process concerning Dr. Hammond that we are presenting a recommendation to you unanimously..."

I (Chris) have become so cynical about statements like "We have felt God's Hand in this decision;" "We are convinced this is God's man for the job;" "We have felt The Lord's Moving (whatever that is) in this decision;" "Pastor (fill in any name) is a true Man of God;" etc. etc., that I will immediately dismiss the next such statement I hear. It is Baptist speak, and I'm sick of it.



The full statement of the chair of the search committee that selected Hammond was:

“We were so moved by the hand of God through the process concerning Dr. Hammond that we are presenting a recommendation to you unanimously as a committee -- a true unanimous recommendation from our committee,” Greg Faulls, chairman of the president search committee, told fellow trustees. They agreed and elected him unanimously.


I'm with you, Chris, in being cynical about such statements but I come by it honestly. How many times have we heard the boilerplate God-talk about such things? Too many. God should not be blamed for the foolishness and blindness and for the failures in due diligence by these high profile Southern Baptist committees. This committee did a very poor job. They should take responsibility for it.

You notice that we got the same type of worthless God-talk from the NAMB trustee body as a whole when they met and Hammond resigned before he could be sacked. Are we to conclude that God hired him and God fired him? Perhaps we need trustees with a fresh vision of the Almighty as something more than a corporate Human Resource person who can be blamed for the utter failures of trustees who make these decsions.

NAMB is a mess. The trustees couldn't do much more to lower their esteem and worth in my eyes. So far, I find exactly one honorable and responsible trustee: the lady who resigned rathen thatn stay silent in the face of the hypocrisy of the trustees.
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Re: Hammond dismisal

Postby rfuss » Sun Aug 30, 2009 2:33 pm

William Thornton wrote:
Chris wrote:White cites this statement from the Trustees of the NAMB when they hired Hammond: "We were so moved by the Hand of God through the process concerning Dr. Hammond that we are presenting a recommendation to you unanimously..."

I (Chris) have become so cynical about statements like "We have felt God's Hand in this decision;" "We are convinced this is God's man for the job;" "We have felt The Lord's Moving (whatever that is) in this decision;" "Pastor (fill in any name) is a true Man of God;" etc. etc., that I will immediately dismiss the next such statement I hear. It is Baptist speak, and I'm sick of it.



The full statement of the chair of the search committee that selected Hammond was:

“We were so moved by the hand of God through the process concerning Dr. Hammond that we are presenting a recommendation to you unanimously as a committee -- a true unanimous recommendation from our committee,” Greg Faulls, chairman of the president search committee, told fellow trustees. They agreed and elected him unanimously.


I'm with you, Chris, in being cynical about such statements but I come by it honestly. How many times have we heard the boilerplate God-talk about such things? Too many. God should not be blamed for the foolishness and blindness and for the failures in due diligence by these high profile Southern Baptist committees. This committee did a very poor job. They should take responsibility for it.

You notice that we got the same type of worthless God-talk from the NAMB trustee body as a whole when they met and Hammond resigned before he could be sacked. Are we to conclude that God hired him and God fired him? Perhaps we need trustees with a fresh vision of the Almighty as something more than a corporate Human Resource person who can be blamed for the utter failures of trustees who make these decsions.

NAMB is a mess. The trustees couldn't do much more to lower their esteem and worth in my eyes. So far, I find exactly one honorable and responsible trustee: the lady who resigned rathen thatn stay silent in the face of the hypocrisy of the trustees.


rfuss: As one old Christian Lady told me years ago after still another preacher claimed a call of God away from her church, "Poor God, He gets blamed for everything".
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Re: Hammond dismisal

Postby Neil Heath » Sun Aug 30, 2009 4:37 pm

William Thornton wrote:The full statement of the chair of the search committee that selected Hammond was:

“We were so moved by the hand of God through the process concerning Dr. Hammond that we are presenting a recommendation to you unanimously as a committee -- a true unanimous recommendation from our committee,” Greg Faulls, chairman of the president search committee, told fellow trustees. They agreed and elected him unanimously.


I'm with you, Chris, in being cynical about such statements but I come by it honestly. How many times have we heard the boilerplate God-talk about such things? Too many. God should not be blamed for the foolishness and blindness and for the failures in due diligence by these high profile Southern Baptist committees. This committee did a very poor job. They should take responsibility for it.

You notice that we got the same type of worthless God-talk from the NAMB trustee body as a whole when they met and Hammond resigned before he could be sacked. Are we to conclude that God hired him and God fired him? Perhaps we need trustees with a fresh vision of the Almighty as something more than a corporate Human Resource person who can be blamed for the utter failures of trustees who make these decsions.


I think these trustees would be more willing to say that God made a mistake than to take the blame themselves. :)
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Re: Hammond dismisal

Postby Chris » Sun Aug 30, 2009 8:38 pm

Neil Heath wrote:I think these trustees would be more willing to say that God made a mistake than to take the blame themselves. :)


I nominate this for a Golden Spur! ! :D
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Re: NAMB clearly adrift, perhaps drowning

Postby Sandy » Sun Aug 30, 2009 11:43 pm

Chris wrote:I (Chris) have become so cynical about statements like "We have felt God's Hand in this decision;" "We are convinced this is God's man for the job;" "We have felt The Lord's Moving (whatever that is) in this decision;" "Pastor (fill in any name) is a true Man of God;" etc. etc., that I will immediately dismiss the next such statement I hear. It is Baptist speak, and I'm sick of it.


Translation: We have chosen someone who has the right Baptist pedigree and the right connections on the trustee board. Phone calls have already been made to propose whatever deals need to be made in order to get this person in the job. An effort has been made to create an appearance of a legitimate search so that there won't be too much complaining of influence peddling. This is the guy that the select few have chosen and that's that. So let's put on a smile, and a happy face, spin the media reports in whatever way they need, and move on.
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Re: Hammond dismisal

Postby David Flick » Mon Aug 31, 2009 1:27 am

Neil Heath wrote:I think these trustees would be more willing to say that God made a mistake than to take the blame themselves. :)
    Re: Neil's quote, Chris wrote:I nominate this for a Golden Spur! ! :D
Nomination accepted...

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Re: NAMB clearly adrift, perhaps drowning

Postby David Flick » Mon Aug 31, 2009 1:32 am

Chris wrote:I (Chris) have become so cynical about statements like "We have felt God's Hand in this decision;" "We are convinced this is God's man for the job;" "We have felt The Lord's Moving (whatever that is) in this decision;" "Pastor (fill in any name) is a true Man of God;" etc. etc., that I will immediately dismiss the next such statement I hear. It is Baptist speak, and I'm sick of it.
    Sandy wrote:Translation: We have chosen someone who has the right Baptist pedigree and the right connections on the trustee board. Phone calls have already been made to propose whatever deals need to be made in order to get this person in the job. An effort has been made to create an appearance of a legitimate search so that there won't be too much complaining of influence peddling. This is the guy that the select few have chosen and that's that. So let's put on a smile, and a happy face, spin the media reports in whatever way they need, and move on.
Re: Sandy's translation...

. . . . . .Image
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Re: Hammond dismisal

Postby Mark » Mon Aug 31, 2009 9:13 am

This is probably a topic for at least one or more separate threads, but...

Is it possible that God did lead the committee to choose Geoff Hammond and/or Bob Reccord, knowing in advance (unless one believes in Open Theism, of course :wink: ) that these leaders would veer off course, as did King David, Judas, etc? Perhaps so that some greater aspect of God's purpose could be achieved? Or, that folks would depend on God more? Or something else?

I'm not saying that's what I necessarily think. Just wondering out loud...
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Re: Hammond dismisal

Postby William Thornton » Mon Aug 31, 2009 10:30 am

Mark wrote:This is probably a topic for at least one or more separate threads, but...

Is it possible that God did lead the committee to choose Geoff Hammond and/or Bob Reccord, knowing in advance (unless one believes in Open Theism, of course :wink: ) that these leaders would veer off course, as did King David, Judas, etc? Perhaps so that some greater aspect of God's purpose could be achieved? Or, that folks would depend on God more? Or something else?

I'm not saying that's what I necessarily think. Just wondering out loud...


Exactly how does a committee know the will of God, particularly in such a specific and unique manner - one person, and one person alone out of all the people of the world to be head of NAMB?

While I realize that this is exactly what churches and church search committees go through, I don't think that bad results can easily be blamed on God or dismissed with the reason that God wanted a meltdown for His own purposes. Let's not get too spiritual here, the simplest solution is generally the right one and the trustees put a leader in charge of our $130+ mil enterprise who was incapable of leading it, praised him effusively, and then cut his feet out from under him. If insider information would dispute any of that, I don't know what it might be.

Maybe God is punishing the SBC because SBCers don't know enough to give strong medicine to their own agencies when they are ill served by them.
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Re: Hammond dismisal

Postby Mark » Mon Aug 31, 2009 10:50 am

William Thornton wrote:I don't think that bad results can easily be blamed on God...

You know, of course, that I wasn't suggesting that. Nor do I believe Geoff Hammond was a good choice. He obviously wasn't. I'm just reminded of the fact that God often allows (or sometimes even creates?) our struggles. Nobody is suggesting that God be blamed for our bad decisions... Well, maybe the NAMB trustees are suggesting that.


William wrote:Or.. that God wanted a meltdown for His own purposes...

I'm simply wondering out loud if that's ever possible. Probably not in this case.


William wrote:Let's not get too spiritual here...

Wouldn't want that to happen on a Baptist discussion board. :angel:


William wrote:SBCers don't know enough...

No argument there. Especially since 1979. :D :wink:
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Re: Hammond dismisal

Postby Neil Heath » Mon Aug 31, 2009 11:20 am

Mark wrote:This is probably a topic for at least one or more separate threads, but...

Is it possible that God did lead the committee to choose Geoff Hammond and/or Bob Reccord, knowing in advance (unless one believes in Open Theism, of course :wink: ) that these leaders would veer off course, as did King David, Judas, etc? Perhaps so that some greater aspect of God's purpose could be achieved? Or, that folks would depend on God more? Or something else? Just wondering out loud...


I think it's more likely that God allowed (rather than lead) them to do what they had determined to do, as God often does, and God's mercy and grace will work to bring whatever good can be brought from our stubborn sinfulness...again.
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Re: Hammond dismisal

Postby Mark » Mon Aug 31, 2009 11:26 am

Neil Heath wrote:I think it's more likely that God allowed (rather than lead) them to do what they had determined to do, as God often does, and God's mercy and grace will work to bring whatever good can be brought from our stubborn sinfulness...again.

That's probably a good way to say it, especially in this case. Thanks, Neil.
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Re: NAMB clearly adrift, perhaps drowning

Postby Sandy » Mon Aug 31, 2009 10:59 pm

The public relations required by these organizations doesn't permit the admission that the hiring process is political, and not spiritual. I don't deny that there are trustees who do pray for the Lord's leadership, and that there are individuals who have a genuine interest in the job and who pray for the Lord's sense of direction, but I think those things are often overwhelmed by 1) the influence of some powerful trustees who have backing of "defacto" leadership from outside the board, 2) the salary and benefits package of the job itself, which makes the position attractive beyond the perspective of having the chance to lead a missional organization whose head has the additional opportunity to move to the head of the book publishing line, and other perks and 3) the fact that the head of NAMB becomes a widely recognized name and personality within the SBC itself, which also carries some defacto power to do favors for people whose influence can return to benefit you, and to maintain your influence and your power.

Considering NAMB's size, the number of employees who are under the direct supervision of its president in its headquarters building, the number of other management people in various divisions, and how the work gets done, I think NAMB could be successful, and find a long term, committed, successful leader if it did the following:

1. Cap all NAMB salary and benefits packages, and limit the president's salary and benefits to the median salary package in the SBC among churches which average between 250 and 350 in worship attendance. Naturally, division heads and other executives would make less. You would then be able to drop a lot of dead weight, "coffee clatch," employees as well, and you would have a staff that would be there for the work and the commitment, and not for the money and the perks. I think you would see productivity, as it is measured by a Baptist entity, improve to the point where the trustees would be astounded.

2. No trustee or executive employee of any SBC entity or agency, including the executive committee and its paid leadership, may submit a recommendation for this position, and no individual with a recommendation, endorsement or reference from any said group will be considered for the position.

3. Preference will be given to NAMB staff members who have served in the field as church planters, associational directors of missions, NAMB missionaries, and others who have demonstrated a commitment to NAMB's work by their service in the field in other than executive level positions.

It'll never happen, of course, but that's what it would take
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Re: NAMB clearly adrift, perhaps drowning

Postby Tim Dahl » Tue Sep 01, 2009 7:46 am

Sandy wrote:1. Cap all NAMB salary and benefits packages, and limit the president's salary and benefits to the median salary package in the SBC among churches which average between 250 and 350 in worship attendance. Naturally, division heads and other executives would make less. You would then be able to drop a lot of dead weight, "coffee clatch," employees as well, and you would have a staff that would be there for the work and the commitment, and not for the money and the perks. I think you would see productivity, as it is measured by a Baptist entity, improve to the point where the trustees would be astounded.


Exactly what is the $$$ range for the 250-350 worship attending church? If it is around $60K, then I would ask you to raise the amount. Give the lead around $100K plus some perks. There will be many silent expectations on him/her, which in the end will cost him/her personal cash. I don't want the head of any mission's agency I give to, to be overly anxious about personal monetary concerns.

Sandy wrote:2. No trustee or executive employee of any SBC entity or agency, including the executive committee and its paid leadership, may submit a recommendation for this position, and no individual with a recommendation, endorsement or reference from any said group will be considered for the position.


Amen, and Amen!

Sandy wrote:3. Preference will be given to NAMB staff members who have served in the field as church planters, associational directors of missions, NAMB missionaries, and others who have demonstrated a commitment to NAMB's work by their service in the field in other than executive level positions.


I'm not sure I would give preference to any of these, as is. I don't believe that the average missionary, church planter or DoM has the experience required to lead such a large organization. Though there may be some overlap, it doesn't seem that their training/skill set is exactly what is needed. I'm not against hiring from within, not at all. Perhaps that is the best thing. I would be against hiring someone fresh in from the field, with little experience in the systems/organizational realities of such a large organization.

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Re: NAMB clearly adrift, perhaps drowning

Postby johnfariss » Tue Sep 01, 2009 8:54 am

There is one point that I have not seen mentioned in any of the forums or blogs, so I'll bring it up here. It is the fact that there are relatively few leaders who have been gifted with the ability to lead an organization the size of NAMB, IMB, a 10 or 20 thousand member mega-church, or for that matter, a President of the United States. That is why the US has had a few Presidential failures and many mundane Presidents, but only a few great ones. Not many people have the gifts to lead a nation of 300 million people. Not many people have the ability to lead Ford or GM or AIG or any of several other defunct or struggling big businesses successfully either--I couldn't. There is no shame in that; it is simply reality that God gifts relatively few with those abilities.

And yet we have worked and strived to build this big, BIG organization, which seems to me to be based on the premise, "Bigger is better," as if it is an eleventh commandment. And when you factor in that for NAMB or IMB, etc., that CEO must be a Christian, and a Baptist Christian, and must pass the approval of the CR power brokers--the pool of prospects shrinks even more.

Maybe that is God's way of telling us to decentralize or some other radical move to take some of the administrative/leadership pressures off our institutional leaders.

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Re: NAMB clearly adrift, perhaps drowning

Postby Tim Dahl » Tue Sep 01, 2009 10:30 am

johnfariss wrote:There is one point that I have not seen mentioned in any of the forums or blogs, so I'll bring it up here. It is the fact that there are relatively few leaders who have been gifted with the ability to lead an organization the size of NAMB, IMB, a 10 or 20 thousand member mega-church, or for that matter, a President of the United States. That is why the US has had a few Presidential failures and many mundane Presidents, but only a few great ones. Not many people have the gifts to lead a nation of 300 million people. Not many people have the ability to lead Ford or GM or AIG or any of several other defunct or struggling big businesses successfully either--I couldn't. There is no shame in that; it is simply reality that God gifts relatively few with those abilities.

And yet we have worked and strived to build this big, BIG organization, which seems to me to be based on the premise, "Bigger is better," as if it is an eleventh commandment. And when you factor in that for NAMB or IMB, etc., that CEO must be a Christian, and a Baptist Christian, and must pass the approval of the CR power brokers--the pool of prospects shrinks even more.

Maybe that is God's way of telling us to decentralize or some other radical move to take some of the administrative/leadership pressures off our institutional leaders.

John


That is a good point, imo.
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