PHILADELPHIA (BP) -- A goal of 55,901 Southern Baptist congregations by the end of 2020 has been set by North American Mission Board President Kevin Ezell as part of the Send North America strategy NAMB is implementing in evangelistic church planting. The goal would mean a net gain of 5,112 SBC congregations in less than a decade -- more gained than in any decade since 1900.
Photo by John Swain
"This should be the golden age of church planting in the Southern Baptist Convention," Ezell said during the Oct. 17-19 meeting of NAMB's trustees in Philadelphia.
The growth is based on projections of new church plants, new affiliations and church deaths between 2011 and 2020. Reaching the goal would require nearly a doubling of the SBC church birth rate by the end of the 10-year period. The 55,901 "congregation" target includes new self-supporting churches as well as church-type missions which will become new churches at some point. The goal was shared with trustees during an informal update by Aaron Coe, vice president of mobilization at NAMB, a day before their meeting.
NAMB's trustees also approved a $115 million budget for 2012, toured new ethnic church plants and -- with state convention and local association leaders and church planters -- celebrated groundbreaking church-planting efforts now under way in the historic "City of Brotherly Love."
"This trustee meeting in Philadelphia has been good for us," Ezell said in his presentation to the trustees. "In a lot of the places we live, there's a high population of Southern Baptist churches. Where I live in Atlanta, there's one stretch with nine evangelical churches in a two-mile area.
"Driving into Philadelphia, we saw one evangelical church. It reminds us of our priority of impacting people's lives with the Gospel. We can't get away from that. We need to stay focused on impacting the lost with the Gospel."
Ezell's report to trustees and many of the activities surrounding the meeting focused on Send North America, the NAMB initiative focusing on church planting -- especially in North America's largest cities and least-reached areas.
NAMB continues to make progress toward its goal to transition 50 percent of the mission entity's budget to church planting, Ezell reported.
"In 2009, NAMB spent 28 percent of its budget on church planting. In 2011, we are spending 37 percent and, in 2012, we will spend at least 42 percent of our budget on church planting," Ezell said. "So we are progressing rapidly toward our minimal goal of 50 percent." Read More