JACKSON, Tenn. – Oct. 12, 2010 – Refocusing the work of the North American Mission Board on church planting and assisting churches in their own church-planting efforts are the top priorities for new NAMB president Kevin Ezell, he told a group of pastors Oct. 12.
“We’re going to be about planting churches,” Ezell said. “But what I want to see is churches that plant churches. That’s the biblical way of doing it. We want to come along and connect and partner with the Tennessee Baptist Convention and the associations and the churches.”
Ezell was the keynote speaker for the Middle Tennessee Ministers’ Conference sponsored by Union University at First Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn. A Union graduate, Ezell was scheduled to speak about multi-campus churches while still senior pastor at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky.
“Kevin was really the pioneer of the multi-campus model,” said Jerry Tidwell, Union’s senior vice president for university relations. “He was doing this before anybody else was talking about it.”
But Ezell’s hiring as NAMB president added a new element to the conference, attended by about 100 ministers who heard Ezell provide a brief vision for the role of NAMB he intends to promote.
“Churches are not there to serve us,” Ezell said about NAMB’s work. “We’re there to assist them and to serve them. I’m very excited about partnering with our state conventions.”
Ezell also spoke about his experiences at Highview, where the church started multiple campuses across the Louisville area. Church members were at first somewhat hesitant about the concept, Ezell said, because they wondered where the church would get the leaders necessary for such an endeavor.
But the move forced people to step up and take leadership roles that they had never assumed before, and resulted in the opposite effect of what so many were expecting.
“It was not a leadership void,” Ezell said. “We multiplied leadership.”
Ezell said he hoped the same thing would happen at NAMB – “that we can partner with states and missionaries to do everything we can to reach North America for Christ.”
“We have to penetrate darkness and lostness,” Ezell added. “That’s what we’re to be about.”
Ezell also encouraged the ministers in attendance to invest in people and reminded them that doing so is a privilege.
“There’s no greater calling than to pastor God’s people,” he said.