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ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)--I am grateful that Southern Baptists have a passion for missions and a heart for seeing people come to Christ. When I became North American Mission Board president last September, one of my first priorities was to find a way -- quickly -- to put more money on the field for the work of our missionaries. We're making some good progress on that. Here's how and how much:
First, we have estimated a savings of $6 million as a result of the Alpharetta staff downsizing, and all of that will go to evangelistic church planting efforts in the field.
Second, we have reallocated our 2011 budget -- making an additional $3 million available for church planting. This money comes from cuts in travel, conferencing and other budgets throughout NAMB. These reallocations, added to the savings from downsizing, will put an additional $9 million on the field this year for new churches. That is all new money that wasn't available last year.
These shifts mean 37 percent of NAMB's budget -- more than ever before -- is going to evangelistic church planting. As we work with state partners to shift more resources to this key work, that number will grow even higher.
It is also important to note that 80 percent of the money NAMB sends to the field goes to new work states -- the areas in North America that have the fewest Southern Baptist churches.
I hope this news will send two reassuring messages to Southern Baptists. First, the changes we are making ensure that even more of your offering dollars benefit missionaries and church planting directly. Second, we are going to take care of our missionaries. We are working with our state partners right now to see how we can raise minimum funding levels and the length of time we are able to fund new church plants.
We are spending this money strategically. We are introducing a carefully and prayerfully thought-out plan for reaching North America through evangelistic church planting. We are also committed to finding the very best missionaries who are well-suited for the work and we will equip them well and hold them highly accountable.
Kevin Ezell is president of the North American Mission Board. This column first appeared at NAMB.net.