Great Commission Advance through the Northwest Baptist Convention

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Yesterday I released a series of messages on social media that contain factual information detailing the decline of Southern Baptist’s Great Commission impact. You can check my Facebook or Twitter to see those messages. I will release a future article that will go into greater detail.

Today I want to briefly share what the Northwest Baptist Convention (NWBC) is doing to help our churches advance the Great Commission. You see, I believe in a cooperative, systematic approach to evangelism and advancing the Great Commission. While it is the local church that does the biblical work of sharing the gospel, preaching the Word, raising up the missionaries, teaching tithing and stewardship principles, the local Baptist Association and State and National Conventions have played an important role in developing a cooperative system of training and sending and developing resources, among other things.

First, when I arrived in the Northwest in 2013 I promised our churches that the NWBC would provide evangelism resources to every affiliated church, without charge, so that every church, from the smallest to the largest, could equip their people to share the gospel and deploy them to actually do it. The reason we can provide the resources at no cost is because our churches have already paid for them through the Cooperative Program and our NWBC Mission Offering. When I was in Oklahoma I led Oklahoma Baptists to do the same, with my team developing the My316 evangelism materials. We have continued to use these materials in the Northwest, and other state conventions have used them too. However, the NWBC also provides other evangelism tools. In fact, we will pay the bill for any biblical evangelism training resource that a church chooses to use.

Second, we provide evangelism workshops and training every year. Our Annual Meeting always includes workshops on evangelism, and we sometimes do them at other times too. Our Pastor Cluster groups make evangelism a key part of their monthly meetings.

Third, the NWBC established an IMB partnership with East Asia that launched in 2015. In addition to dozens of churches sending teams to work with missionaries, volunteers from the Northwest have staffed several major IMB retreats. These have been coordinated by our NWBC staff. For example, in 2016 we sent 163 people from 32 NWBC churches to minister to our missionaries and their children in a huge training conference. In 2019 we sent 113 people from 23 churches to do the same. We have also staffed smaller IMB East Asia retreats, sending up to 50 people from multiple churches. We do this because we believe in Acts 1:8 missions. Our churches could not do these big retreats and partnerships without leadership from both the NWBC and IMB. That’s part of the “mission system” Southern Baptists have established. Additionally, I have personally preached in 9 IMB retreats and conferences, going back to 1993 in Pakistan. Every church and convention I have served in has been heavily involved in missions, both locally and globally. The result of which has been increased support of missions, both in financial giving and in sending missionaries to the field. Three Northwesterners were commissioned by the IMB just last November.

Fourth, the NWBC has a strong and growing commitment to church planting, in partnership with NAMB. I believe in partnership and cooperation and it grieves me deeply that we do not cooperate like we once did. The NWBC is the only State Convention that remains in a jointly-funded partnership with NAMB. We do this because we believe in what NAMB and the NWBC can do together. Churches young and old need local partners, the Southern Baptist system, which historically was highly relational and local, with national partners primarily supporting the local denominational partners. I believe in that system. I believe in local partnerships strategy and methods that are driven and developed as locally as possible. In my experience, locally driven strategies better mobilize local churches than top-down strategies.

This is a fairly brief summary, but I hope it gives you some idea of our commitment to actually do things that help our churches advance the Great Commission. Is it working? Yes. Not like we want it to work. I always want more and am never quite satisfied with what we are achieving. But since I came to the NWBC in 2013 baptisms have increased, mission giving has increased (Cooperative Program and the mission offerings), church plant numbers have increased, and the net number of churches has increased by more than ten percent (60 more churches at last count). As always, I am happy to address questions and provide clarification or additional information. It is a good day to serve the Lord in the Northwest!

Randy Adams
Executive Director-Treasurer
Northwest Baptist Convention

Giving the SBC Back

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The way to turn the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and expand its global mission efforts, is to give it back to those who built it. The phrase “take back the ship” has been used by some who have attempted to change the direction of the SBC. For better or worse, some of these efforts succeeded while others failed. However, the best and only long-term solution to unite and “save the ship” of the SBC is to give it back to those who built the ship.

Common convictions, while necessary for unity, are not enough to mobilize a people to advance the Great Commission together. As a pastor, and now leader of a State Convention with hundreds of churches, I have learned that increasing participation builds unity. Pastors work with volunteers, and State Executive Directors do as well. Volunteers can choose to participate, or they can opt out. The choice is often made based on whether they’re included in the process, and whether leaders are transparent and accountable in how they go about the ministry.

Unity and vibrancy in our SBC mission efforts will grow when we give back the SBC ship to those who built it.

“And who built the ship?” you ask.

We need to give the Convention back to the churches, small, medium and large; back to churches rural, town, suburban and city who have faithfully and generously built our Convention through faithful Bible teaching and generous support of missions through the Cooperative Program. We need to give the Convention back to the pew, back to Bob and Betty Baptist, and to Britney, Alex and Briana Baptist, too. We need to give it back to the people who love their neighbor and minister to the sick and send missionaries to the nations because they take seriously the command to obey Jesus’ teaching.

We need to give the Convention back to those whose heroes are missionaries and not Christian celebrities. We need to give the Convention back to widows who tithe from their Social Security because they love Jesus, love their church, love their pastor, and they love their missionaries.

We need to give the Convention back to deacons who pray for their pastor and serve alongside him. We need to give the Convention back to Sunday school teachers and door greeters and the women of the WMU, and all the others who make our Convention of churches work. Let’s give the convention back to the shepherds who love their flock, do the marrying and burying, evangelize the lost, preach the Bible because they believe the Bible, and model a life of joy and gratitude to their community. We need to give the Convention back to those who weep over sin, including their own, and who welcome the repentant sinner.

How do we give the Convention back?

We do it by valuing every church and every person in every church. Respecters of persons cannot lead the SBC to honor God and rebuild a witness to our nation. How do we give the Convention back? We do it primarily through transparency, accountability and broadened involvement through remote access voting at the annual meeting of the SBC.

Transparency is vital if we are to give the Convention back to those who built and continue to sustain it. Entities must open their financial records and provide detailed financial reports, not summaries which fail to disclose crucial information. When tens of millions of dollars are spent to purchase property, provide grants to certain churches, pay monthly stipends to certain pastors, and the details of these expenditures are known to only to a few, it creates the conditions for dividing not unifying. Many financial details are not disclosed to the Trustees charged with oversight. They should be disclosed to every Cooperative Program supporting Southern Baptist pastor and church.

Transparency means that habitual use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) should be discontinued. NDAs are used to suppress speech and information that might be critical, or revealing, of the practices of an institution or entity. NDAs are often used to keep information from being revealed that might embarrass someone or something. Although we don’t use them in the Northwest Baptist Convention, in SBC life they are used by churches, conventions, seminaries and SBC Entities. While NDAs have limited application in Baptist life, they are too often used as part of standard-operating-procedure and this should be stopped.

Regarding transparency, the SBC made an expansive strategic change in the 2010 Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) recommendation, yet the minutes of the committee meetings, which would reveal important details and discussions, have been sealed for all of these years and won’t be unsealed for many years to come. Why should this important information be kept from Southern Baptists? Shouldn’t we operate in the light? Is there some information that should only be accessible to a select few of Baptists, but not provided to the everyday pastor or layperson? According to the numbers, the GCR has actually been a Great Commission Regression, and I think it would be helpful for Southern Baptists to know the details of the internal debate. What concerns did the committee have? Where did the ideas originate and who argued for them and against them? The GCR served to weaken State Conventions and Associations (outside the South) and strengthen the national SBC. How was this debated? It’s been ten years and we still don’t know. It’s time to open the records. And it’s time to evaluate the GCR and re-calibrate (more about that in a future article).

Accountability. We give the Convention back to the pew, back to those who sustain Southern Baptist mission efforts, by enforcing accountability. Leaders must be held accountable for how we steward the ministry of the SBC and affiliated Conventions. Trustees should be trained by someone other than the entities they are selected to hold accountable. Accountability should include the performance of the Entity or Convention, stewardship of resources, Christian character, and, of course, faithfulness to our Lord and His Word. Holding leaders accountable is the chief responsibility of Trustee Boards, but building trust, and debunking conspiracy theories and rumors, is greatly aided when leaders hold themselves accountable to those who built and sustain the Convention.

Remote Access Voting. We give the Convention back by increasing involvement in the SBC through remote access voting. The last time remote voting was investigated by the SBC Executive Committee we were using dial-up. Ninety-two percent of our churches do not participate in the SBC Annual Meeting each year. The time has come to extend involvement to messengers from tens of thousands of churches, small and large. Involvement in making Convention decisions should not be restricted to those with the money to travel across the country to the Annual Meeting. Increasing involvement will build trust and support for Cooperative Program missions.

The SBC becomes stronger when we increase inclusion and empower each autonomous group, not when we centralize power and control. Today’s technology makes this completely doable.

I am allowing my name to be submitted to serve as President of the SBC because I believe we can unite the convention and save the ship. However, we need to do more than philosophize about the problems we face as a convention. We must discuss and find practical solutions to our problems. Offering practical solutions is what I am attempting to do.

I would urge the various groups concerned about the SBC to host meetings in which conversation can occur. I am always glad to discuss the issues we face and the proposed solutions, especially with those who may disagree with me. Let’s discuss in venues open to our people, whether it is a video conference, livestream, or open forum. We can post them so that every concerned Southern Baptist can have access to the discussion.

Unity and vibrancy in accomplishing the mission will grow as we give the ship back to those who built it. My great hope and dream is that this Convention, which has been built and sustained for 175 years, can be given back to the Baptist faithful. The SBC ship was built to carry the good news of Jesus Christ to every person in every place. I believe that’s why God has blessed the SBC, and faithfulness to that great mission will bring continued blessing in the years to come.

Randy Adams
Executive Director-Treasurer
Northwest Baptist Convention

SBC Pastor’s Conference Controversy

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Several people have asked me to address the most recent issue related to the Pastor’s Conference line-up, and I wanted to take a moment to address it. However, we also need to address the work of the SBC.

The primary controversy on the pastor’s line-up stems from the issue that Hosanna Wong, a female “teaching pastor,” in a non-SBC church has been invited to perform “spoken Word” (poetry) at the SBC Pastor’s Conference. The BF&M 2000 is clear that the office of pastor is to be held by a man. By deciding to give a stage to people who operate contrary to some key southern Baptist beliefs, we have self-inflicted a wound to our unity and convention. The Pastor’s Conference should inspire and unite pastors as they are challenged from God’s Word, and it should point us to the mission God has given us.

Recently, these types of controversies seem to be cropping up more and more. We are in a pattern where we passionately discuss one controversy, but before we can find real solutions to it, the next controversy has arrived and distracted, leaving behind a bunch of unresolved issues in the SBC. We are also in a pattern where we become so distracted by each and every controversy that we fail to discuss, diagnose and solve key threats to our convention and Great Commission advance. We need to address and resolve our theological issues in a manner which enables us to do the Great Commission work Christ has given us.

As a result there are some things we need to keep in mind.

1. We only have a couple of days each year where we can handle important business as a convention. After that, the issues are handed back to the entities to work on. When it comes time to Orlando, and even now, we need to make sure we use our time to tackle the larger important issues, not just the specific controversies.

2. New controversies will always pop up. We can deal with them, but it needs to be clear and quick, and then get right back to fixing the other major threats to our convention and mission.

3. We need to make sure we are as passionate about the work of the mission as we are about the theology of the convention. We fought very hard for a conservative approach to the convention, however, if we fail to focus on the work of the mission, and do the work of uprooting and preventing abuse, and building transparency to regain trust, we will end up losing our convention.

These should be our focus as we seek to cooperate to reach the world for Christ.

The Peace of Jesus or the Peaceful Bigotry of Social Theories

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I once heard an Irish poet say that the peace agreement that ended The Troubles in Northern Ireland in the late 1990s did not cause enemies to love each other. It did not produce peace in people’s hearts. Rather, he said they had achieved a “peaceful bigotry,” meaning they still hated each other, but they had stopped killing each other. I would argue that “peaceful bigotry” is the best the world can do. We speak of peace in the Middle East. Peace in Afghanistan. Or even peace between political opponents in the Federal Government of the United States. But what the world calls peace is merely a cessation of violence, peaceful bigotry, not peace in people’s hearts.

The Bible tells us peace is found in the person of Jesus Christ. “He Himself is our peace” (Eph. 2:14). True peace in the human heart, and peace between enemies, can only be achieved as people meet at the foot of Christ’s cross, reconciling with God and then with each other.

This came to mind as I read that some Southern Baptists are embracing aspects of Critical Race Theory (CRT), and other social and political theories, that promise answers to the ongoing problems of racism and racial division. At best, the application of such theories can only produce a “peaceful bigotry.” Peace will not be achieved by embracing theories. Peace is only achieved through Jesus Christ.

To look at this another way, the Bible defines and describes justice and it does so without adjectival modifiers. The Bible doesn’t use the term “social justice,” but simply justice. When you add a modifier to the word “justice” you get something less than true, biblical justice. “Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand it fully” (Prov. 28:5).

The message of the church is unique. The uniqueness of our message is the person of Jesus Christ. He is our peace. He is just. He enables us to understand what justice is. And on that coming Day, He will produce perfect peace and justice. Jesus said, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” (Matthew 25:31f).

We must not settle for peaceful bigotry. We must not commit to social theories that enable the continuation of hate, bigotry, and division, and deny the gospel as the only power to change hearts, thus producing true peace. The Church only has one message – Jesus. He is our peace.

Randy Adams
Executive Director-Treasurer
Northwest Baptist Convention

Background Information on Randy Adams

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Because I have agreed to stand for nomination as the President of the Southern Baptist Convention, I have received inquiries as to my personal and ministry background. What follows is something of a resume, highlighting my experience and background.

PERSONAL

Full name: Everett Randall Adams, Jr, but I go by Randy

Married: Paula Ketchum of Bakersfield, CA, (12/29/81)

Children: Rett (September 3, 1991) and Luke (October 29, 1993)

Ordained to Ministry, First Baptist Church, White Settlement, TX (5/24/87)

Licensed to Ministry, Floral Park Baptist Church, Butte, MT, (5/8/83)

EDUCATION

Doctor of Philosophy, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, TX,
May 1993.

Master of Divinity, SWBTS, Fort Worth, TX, May 1986

Bachelor of Science, Petroleum Engineering, Montana College of Mineral Science and Technology, Butte, MT, May 1983

EXPERIENCE

• Executive Director-Treasurer, Northwest Baptist Convention (2013 to present)

o Led NWBC to establish its first-ever IMB partnership in East Asia, with hundreds of Northwest Baptists serving in East Asia, including providing volunteers for EA personnel retreats

o Cooperative Program Missions support from NWBC churches has increased for six consecutive years (2014-2019)

o More than 100 new churches have launched, growing from 446 to 508 affiliated churches and church-type missions since 2013.

o Provide evangelism training resources to every NWBC church without charge. We began with the My316 resource developed when I was in Oklahoma, and used by five state conventions, but have expanded to provide a variety of resources to our churches.

• Team Leader, Church Outreach Team (COT), Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (2004 to 2013)

o COT included 75 persons serving in evangelism, church planting, Falls Creek Youth Camp programming, pastoral leadership development, partnership and volunteer missions, student missions, women’s missions and ministries, Baptist Collegiate Ministry, associational outreach strategies, chaplaincy and community ministry

o Led in state mission partnerships IMB, NAMB and State Conventions

o Double Baptism emphasis led to 301 churches doubling baptisms (2005)

o Across Oklahoma Evangelism Campaign resulted in Oklahoma Baptists to visit 650,000 and 850,000 homes, mostly in one day (2007 and 2008). In 2010 NAMB launched Across North America based on our efforts

o Launched three international and two U.S. mission partnerships

o Began about 50 new churches each year

o Developed My316 Evangelism Resources and comprehensive statewide evangelism campaign involving hundreds of churches equipping and deploying children through adults to pray, serve and share the gospel

o Interim pastor for nine churches

• Pastor, First Baptist Church, McAlester, OK (1994 to 2004)

o Church experienced largest growth in its 120 year history, averaging 70 baptisms annually

o Partnered to start churches in Oklahoma, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Montana and California

o Mission partnerships established in Pakistan, Malawi, and Mexico

o IMB recognized FBC as a top-ten church in the SBC for mission gifts through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (2000, 2001)

o Contributed 12.5 percent through the Cooperative Program and 3 percent through Associational missions

o Volunteer Organization of the Year (2004) by Oklahoma Department of Health and Human Services

o Governor’s Commendation for ministry to families during the Terry Nichols Oklahoma City Bombing Trial (2004)

• Pastor, Central Baptist Church, Italy, TX (1989-1994)

o Strong numerical growth

o Supported two mission churches

o Expanded worship Center and purchased additional property

• Pastor, Fairview Baptist Church, Rhome, TX (1986-1989)

o Small open-country church tripled in attendance

o Launched a new church in Newark, TX

• Minister of Evangelism, First Baptist Church, White Settlement, TX (1985-1986)

• Baptist Student Union Director, Montana Tech, Butte, MT (1982-1983)

PREACHING and TEACHING MINISTRY

• Preach weekly in NWBC churches and have spoken in several State Conventions, Associations and camps

• Preached in several IMB missionary meetings (Pakistan, Singapore twice, India, Thailand, Malawi, United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong) and served in additional short term mission efforts in Myanmar, Indonesia, Malawi, Mexico, Bangladesh, India, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Turkey, Peru and China

• Gateway Seminary Adjunct Professor teaching preaching, evangelism and leadership classes since 2014

DENOMINATIONAL SERVICE

• President, State Convention Executive Directors Fellowship (2018-2019)

• SBC Trustee for Golden Gate Baptist Seminary (2002-2012; Board Chair, 2009-2011)

• Advisory Board, Global Mission Center, Oklahoma Baptist University (2005-2013)

• BGCO Board of Directors (1999-2002) and Nominating Committee (1997)

• Moderator, Pittsburgh Baptist Association (1997-99)