NAMB trustees celebrate increased baptisms, meet Atlanta-based church planters


ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Meeting at the offices of the North American Mission Board in metro Atlanta on Monday and Tuesday, May 6-7, members of NAMB’s Board of Trustees gained a greater understanding for the diversity of the city and the challenges that come with reaching it with the gospel.

During their opening dinner, trustees learned of the partnerships that boost church planting efforts in the city. W. Thomas Hammond, Jr., executive director of the George Baptist Mission Board, greeted trustees, expressing gratitude for that partnership. Later, participants in a panel led by NAMB president Kevin Ezell, echoed the necessity of working together.

Send Network (NAMB’s church planting arm) doesn’t primarily live in Alpharetta,” said Ryan McCammack, Send Network’s Send City Missionary for Atlanta. “It lives in our churches. Because the mission that God has called us to is way bigger than any one church. So, it takes all of us.”

Jimmy Baughcum, executive director of the Atlanta Metro Baptist Association, said cooperation allows each partner to bring their own strengths to the table.

“I am thankful that there are things I can be strategic about and things I don’t have to be strategic about,” Baughcum said. “Send Network has been strategic about the planter assessment, the training, the coaching and all of those kinds of things. In a partnership, we can work hand in glove.”

Another panel spotlighted Send Network’s Global Vision project, which, in partnership with the International Mission Board, takes Send Network church planters overseas to see firsthand the gospel need and how their churches can play a role in meeting that need.

“We reach America to reach the nations,” Send Network President Vance Pitman said during the discussion. “The end game is never just planting churches in North America. We are planting churches with a heart for the nations because God’s heart is the peoples of the earth.”

Another panel featured the work of Send Relief’s Atlanta Ministry Center. Trustees also met about a dozen local church planters and their wives who also attended the dinner.

During their Tuesday afternoon full board session, NAMB trustees heard reports from many committees and voted on several items:

  • NAMB Chief Financial Officer Carlos Ferrer reported that this year’s Annie Armstrong Easter Offering® revenues are ahead of projections and NAMB’s year-to-date budget variance is currently favorable by $2 million.
  • Evangelism committee chairman Rick Frie, senior pastor at Jenks First Baptist Church in Jenks, Okla., shared that 13 state conventions reported a tremendous increase in baptisms in 2023. Trustees applauded after he shared several of the specific increases in those states.
  • Trustees unanimously approved a report to the Woman’s Missionary Union, which details how the 2023 Annie Armstrong Easter Offering® funds were utilized. One hundred percent of the offering is expended on the mission field within the calendar year.
  • In three unanimous votes, trustees elected officers who will serve the board for the next year. Jonathan Jarboe, president and CEO of The Baptist Foundation of California and a member of Pathway Church in Redlands, Calif., will serve as board chair; Jeff Young, executive pastor of Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, will serve as first vice chair; and Josh Reavis, co-pastor of North Jacksonville Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., will serve as second vice chair.
  • Ezell and the trustees recognized five of their own who are concluding their service to NAMB after completing the terms to which they were elected. Those recognized were George Falldine, a member of Second Baptist Church in Warner Robbins, Ga.; Grant Gaines, pastor of Belle Aire Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Mark Gilbert, a member of Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, N.C.; Roy Henry, pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Battle Creek, Mich.; and Eric Thomas, pastor of First Baptist Church, Norfolk, Va.

In his report to trustees, Ezell noted the official counts for new congregations Southern Baptists added in 2023 and a strong 4-year church plant survival rate of 89.2%. Ezell concluded by emphasizing the need to keep NAMB’s work all about the gospel.

“I want to encourage us to stay focused on the mission and the task at hand and understand that we are about something that people can really unite over—the gospel vision. It really is all about the gospel, people coming to know Christ, and we are going to celebrate that.

“There have been more than 10,000 churches planted since 2010,” Ezell continued, “and in the next 10 years there will be 10,000 more. To be part of helping Southern Baptists plant more than 20,000 churches that are going to plant churches that plant churches—that’s something we can rally around.”