In the first week of the new year, a key group of NAB leaders gathered to strategize for the coming year and beyond. These leaders from the NAB Executive Team, Executive Committee, Regional Ministers, Field Directors (from Cameroon and Japan), and leaders from Sioux Falls Seminary, Taylor Seminary, Church Investors Funds, Women’s Ministry Leadership Team, Youth Ministry Leadership Team, and the NAB Foundation met in Tucson, Arizona, to pray together, listen for God’s leading, and plan according to where He directed. Additional members of the Executive Committee joined this strategy team in the second day of meetings for a time of concerted prayer, and then continued with their own governance meetings.
At Triennial last July, Dan Hamil, NAB executive director spoke about it being a new day and a new season for the NAB, and the momentous meeting in Tucson was yet another step in that direction. The two-day gathering was one of supernatural unity, and it included a clear indication of the pathway God has for the NAB. As Ron Norman, president of the NAB Foundation, shared, “There was healthy conflict and a spirit of cooperation rarely experienced in General Council sessions.”
Kent Carlson, NAB vice president of leadership formation, helped to set the tone by leading the group in three powerful prayers. The first was one of quiet trust and was based off of Psalms 131:1–3. The second was a prayer for indifference toward everything except the will of God. The final prayer was for God to show up, that we would experience incommensurable results beyond the sum of all of our parts. The second prayer especially opened the door for God’s Spirit to move among His people.
Regional Minister Dan Heringer led one of our initial sessions reminding everyone of our four Ends (i.e. highest purposes) as a conference: Missional Initiatives, International Missions, Leadership Development and Ethnic Partnerships. Bob Fast, former NAB Moderator, reviewed and led a discussion of the results of a recent SWOC analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges), paying special attention to the opportunities for advancement that our Conference has. Expanding out of these four Conference Ends, and the discussion of opportunities, Dan Hamil expressed his desire to focus on eight specific strategic expressions in the years ahead. These eight were:
1. Evoking & equipping missional churches
2. Church planting
3. Sending missionaries
4. Developing international partnerships
5. Training in cross cultural ethnic ministries
6. Engaging in racial righteousness
7. Developing young leaders
8. Forming pastors spiritually
The bulk of the discussion, led by Regional Minister Jim Leverette, centered around which areas of ministry should command our greatest level of energy and focus in the next few years. At its heart, the North American Baptist Conference is a missional movement, so though nothing will be neglected, the Strategy Team needed to decide which missional endeavors we would strategically invest in with the greatest energy in the year ahead.
The results of the leaderships work after two days of prayer and discussion were a renewed focus on pastoral spiritual formation, church planting, and evoking and equipping missional churches. Beyond even the decisions that were made, the largest impact was on the sense of love and unity amongst the team of diverse Conference leaders. Regional Minister Larry Burd described it as “nothing short of a wonderful move of the Spirit of God in our midst.”
Please pray with us about the results of this historic gathering of leaders. Pray that the vision we all received from God for our future would not be lost or watered down. Pray as well that these strategic recommendations from the Strategy Team find their way into the life of NAB in beauty, creativity and fruit.
Report by SBA Area Minister, Ken Solberg