Title Your Choice: State Conventions Suck, or 5 Heart Attacks, or Leading Above Reproach

  • Are you in a State Convention that Sucks?
  • Does the NAMB Prez want Your State Exec to Have a Heart Attack?
  • Living and Leading Above Reproach: Can We get there from Here?

Integrity involves the consistency of one’s public, private, and secret life.  Living and leading above reproach is the biblical requirement of leadership.  The public releases, public statements, Twitter kisses, and platitudes from Dr. Kevin Ezell as the NAMB President reportedly do not match his private thoughts and attitudes, nor the words he has shared with multiple people, multiple times.  

Kevin Ezell’s Public & Private Statements Conflict

According to Nov. 13, 2015 Baptist Press article, “Ezell: NAMB-state partnerships remain strong”.  http://www.bpnews.net/45834/ezell–nambstate-partnerships-remain-strong  However, according to multiple reports, Dr. Ezell shared with multiple witnesses and settings that State Conventions “suck” and that all of his problems with State Conventions would go away with “5 heart attacks” and “change is coming”.  

Trustees: Questions Answered & Accountability Needed for SBC Stewardship Duties

In light of the enormous missions challenge, amount of money, and trust State Conventions and their churches place in NAMB, is it reasonable for individual church members, SBC churches, Associations and State Conventions to know the real perspectives of their NAMB President toward State Conventions and their elected leaders?

The Stored and Distributed Money is NOT Ezell’s Money

Churches First Entrust Their Money to State Conventions Who Entrust to the SBC 

The money is given by people in the pews to their churches who entrust parts of it to others for Kingdom work.  Annually, 47,544 SBC churches and individuals and entrust $500 million dollars to their State Convention leadership for missions, who then select the amount or percentage to forward to the SBC.  NAMB does not print, earn or give away its own money. 

From those dollars to State Conventions, $197 million of those dollars are to used to fund the mission and ministries of the SBC through the Cooperative Program.  Of those dollars, the SBC annually entrusts $43 million to NAMB leaders from the Cooperative Program and another $60 million directly to NAMB through the Annie Armstrong Missions offering.  From these SBC resources, the selling of loans, and cuts to staffing and evangelism, Ezell/NAMB has been able to stockpile a whopping $330 million in net assets and reserves, including $223 million in liquid forms (an estimated $40 million in houses and an additional $140 million in assets).  WHY?  Are they storing it for a rainy day, more missionary houses with pools and a beautiful view, more favors, or more gifts and trips?  Even Ezell has publicly acknowledged that SBC members do not gibe money for NAMB to stockpile, yet they are.  

In light of Dr. Ezell’s statements, has he forfeited the privilege of stewarding SBC national missions, money, staff, partnership and the spirit of cooperative which is essential for our form of missions?  

Heart Attacks for State Convention Executive Directors?

What does Dr. Ezell want to see happen to those Christian leadership with those heart attacks that he wants?  Was Ezell referring to your State Executive Director and if not, which ones?  Does he want the Executive Directors to die from the heart attacks or just become incapacitated for continued ministry?  

Expected Responses: Ezell Silence and NAMB PR Spin

If patterns hold, Ezell will likely not publicly defend or give an accounting of his known statements.  He may continue to stand by “I will let my attorney speak because I am in a lawsuit.  He has his lawyers and I have mine”.  If other patterns hold, NAMB will be dismissive of the importance and impact of this “one-time” statements.  

Consider These… 

I encourage you to consider the following 4 statements before Ezell, Trustees, Ezell defenders or some of the 30 NAMB staff working in marketing/PR dismiss or spin Ezell’s ‘heart attack’ and ‘suck’ statements.  First, what comes out of one’s mouth is a reflection of what is in one’s heart and mind.  Second, Ezell’s statements were not one time, but reportedly made multiple times to multiple people separated by months and years.  Third, the statements are reckless and demeaning.  However, a basic requirement for serving as the NAMB President is the discipline to guard one’s speech.  Fourth, the speech not only demonstrates the perspectives and reveals insights into Ezell’s character, it damages the listeners and partnership with State Conventions for years after there is a change in who stewards the duties of the NAMB President.  

Is Ezell Fit for Continued Leadership, Stewardship and Trust of NAMB for the SBC? 

Should SBC members and the NAMB Trustees question Dr. Ezell’s fitness for continued leadership of the SBC’s North American Mission Board and the stewardship of over $400 million in SBC assets for their mission impact?  There is a current lawsuit claiming libel and tortious interference with the former BCMD Executive Director.  Additionally, there are reports of Dr. Ezell’s damaging interference and seeking to buy influence, including in the selection of Executive Director positions with SBC mission dollars?  …. AK, MI, CA, WVA, MD/DE, others.  

Ezell Reveals His Real Views in SBC funded meeting, inside SBC funded building, “Your State Conventions Suck”

In the late 2014 or early 2015 according to an email, Ezell and then IMB President Dr. David Platt met with over 20 younger SBC pastors in offices in Alpharetta funded by SBC mission dollars and while both Ezell and Platt were drawing SBC funded salaries.  The young pastors had to leave their cell phones outside the meeting and agree to not write or post on social media the contents of the meeting being funded by SBC mission dollars.  WHY?  

What did Ezell know he was going to communicate that he did not want to be known outside that meeting?  According to the email report of that meeting, where Ezell could have been wearing his navy blue NAMB logo sweater vest and toting other NAMB swag, “Kevin and David then came into the conference room and “basically told us, ‘we know your state conventions suck, but just hang with us because change is coming’”.   (INSERT) 

Well, has Ezell’s “change is coming” damaged your State Convention like it did in the BCMD in Dec. 2014 and June 2015?

Ezell Brings Changes and Damages the BCMD and Their Elected Executive Director

According to the signatures of Ezell and then NAMB VP Jeff Christopherson, on December 2, 2014 (see Platt’s statement below), Ezell was providing notice of cancellation of a historic partnership with the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, and making false allegations against the BCMD Executive Director.  (INSERT) (INSERT denial letter & other facts) 

Ezell Threatens State Exec and State Convention During Board Meeting

Are Dr. Ezell’s privately shared views consistent with the threatening text message that Dr. Ezell sent to a BCMD General Mission Board member DURING their special called Feb. 6 2015 meeting to address their concerns with Ezell/NAMB.  In that meeting after Ezell’s threat was read aloud, the GMB voted their unanimous support for the Executive Director McRaney AND their unanimous rejection of Ezell’s offer to take over church planting in MD/DE through another new Strategic Partnership Agreement?  Is it possible that the NAMB President would make written lies and interfere with State Conventions who dared to think for themselves and faithfully carry out their duties to their churches in stewarding the God entrusted mission field?  

IMB’s Platt told us this Behavior was Happening

Is this the type of meetings and behaviors that Platt was referring to when he said to the IMB Trustees and Baptist Press as he departed, 

I hate the politics of the SBC. And I don’t say that as an outsider. I say that as an insider these last four years. Some of the lowest points in my leadership have been when I found myself participating in them — jockeying for position, continual self-promotion, backroom deals followed by spin in the front room, strategizing like brothers are your enemy, feeling like others see you as their enemy … getting to the point where you wonder if you can trust anyone even as you start to wonder how trustworthy you’ve become,” Platt said. 

NAMB Trustees, Not NAMB Insurance Attorneys are Charged with Oversight 

In the SBC, the sole member of NAMB, the responsibilities and authority for oversight and accountability lies with the Trustees of NAMB after their election by the SBC in its June annual meetings.  Is it reasonable to expect that the NAMB Trustees would call Ezell in and demand answers regarding these reports of his statements?  Is it reasonable and in good order for the NAMB Trustees to report the answers or have Ezell report his answer to all the State Conventions and their churches?

What Pieces of the Puzzle Reveal

The pieces of the portrait when put together reveal failure in key areas.   Failure in strategies, other than PR, which were built on lies about the evangelistic effectiveness of church plants, which has resulted in significant declines in baptisms and the number of churches planted and the dismantling of essential long-term partnerships.  Failures in leadership with the abuses in power and partnerships; acting to damage fellow servants out of view with one hand while handing out favors and “swag” publicly with the other.  Failures to steward SBC resources in public view with good reporting, while adding unknown people to the payrolls and buying houses across North America as ways to store extra reserves which are over $220 million.  And, failures to lead above reproach as required Biblically.  Let him who has eyes, see.  Let him who has ears, hear.  

Next Steps

It is the duties of the NAMB Trustees address these matters on my behalf and behalf of SBC churches.  However, if the Trustees do not address these matters and provide public and appropriate actions, there are other options.  One option is for State Convention leaders to consider directing their funding for North American mission efforts around NAMB and directly fund State Conventions and leaders in those mission fields.  

A second option is for the Executive Committee of the SBC to recommend that the SBC reduce funding to NAMB and redirect those funds directly to State Conventions for use in their local mission fields.  A third option involves the Executive Committee leadership directing BP leadership to do investigative journalism and reporting so that SBC members and churches can make more informed decisions and also encourage state paper editors to do the same.  A fourth option is for SBC members to express their concerns in variety of ways: funding, letters, calls and the like to Associational, State and National leaders and entities.  

SELECT QUESTIONS to be answered for SBC church members and partners