NAMB Closes Task Force Created by Ex-President

A task force created by former North American Mission Board president Geoff Hammond will be closed, the agency announced.

The North American Missiological Task Force, which was commissioned by Hammond in May, was responsible for studying effective evangelism and church planting efforts in North America. But even though it is being dissolved, NAMB noted, the task force's 30-member team will continue to advise the agency's leaders about evangelism activities on the continent.

"This is a critical time for NAMB," said acting interim president Richard Harris, according to the missions agency. "It is essential for us to look at our church planting and evangelism areas and ask, 'What is our current involvement? What is working? What is not?'"

Ex-NAMB president Geoff Hammond resigned Aug. 11 amid criticism and pressure from the agency's board of trustees. He was accused of mismanaging the large organization that oversees over 5,600 missionaries and more than a quarter of a million Southern Baptists volunteers.

Critics also complained that he hired his friends who they felt were not as qualified for the high positions as others.

Three of Hammond's closest associates at NAMB resigned with him.

Lifeway Research president Ed Stetzer, who served as co-facilitator of the now dissolved task force, said he will continue to work with NAMB staff to study the agency's church planting and evangelism efforts.

"Facts are our friends," Stetzer said. "I'm glad to be working with NAMB to look at where we are so we all can think more clearly about where we need to be."

Both Lifeway Research and NAMB are entities of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Stetzer met with NAMB evangelism and church planting staff Tuesday and began discussing specific areas to study.

"NAMB has done good work in many areas, but it is always good to take a fresh look at what we are doing and what can be done better," he said.

Last year, the NAMB launched a national evangelism initiative called God's Plan for Sharing (GPS), challenging the denomination to share the Gospel to every person in North America by the year 2020.

In the same way that a GPS (Global Positioning System) identifies someone's current location, the Southern Baptist's GPS initiative asks participants to determine where they are located and identify the neighbors around them whom they want to lead to Christ.

The official launch of coordinated multi-city evangelism activities is slated for 2010.