In a message to Highview Baptist Church this past weekend, Dr. Kevin Ezell made a statement that speaks volumes to the attitude of his leadership style. It appears that Dr. Ezell’s position toward someone in disagreement with him is to paint their disagreement with a broad brush. Thus, making the disagreement about the person instead of dealing with the disagreement. In Dr. Ezell’s message he said concerning those that were issuing critical assessments;
“Typically those are bloggers who live with their mother and wear a housecoat during the day. Just ignore them, but I apologize if you are hurt by anything that they might say about me or indirectly about you.”
The apology to his congregation certainly reveals the heart of a pastor for his people. But, it must be pointed out that no one has attacked the congregation of Highview Baptist Church. Every article and blog I have read expressed the great work that Highview Baptist was doing. However, when one looks more closely at the statement one sees a clear tactic that certainly should be called into question. First, I am one that has been critical and I do not live with my mother and I certainly do not wear a housecoat around all day. Second, his attitude is to “Just ignore them”. No dear reader you do not ignore legitimate concerns. When legitimate concerns are raised one must address the concerns. If Dr. Ezell would have addressed the concerns when it was announced he would be the nominee it would never have gotten to this. However, Dr. Ezell has just raised the stakes by complaining that those who were critical are “living with their mothers and wearing housecoats”. Excuse me, but I do not believe Dr. Hankins lives with his mother, nor does Dr. Emil. These two men are Executive Directors of states that Dr. Ezell is supposed to be working with.
One has to ask how the search committee could defend such a choice? Well, it is very easy to defend Dr. Ezell’s Annie Armstrong giving record. Why? Those being elected to lead our NAMB Trustees give very little to Annie Armstrong. The current Chairman of the Board of Trustees’ ACP giving records reveals some very interesting amounts. 2006 Eagle’s Landing gave a whopping $1,915.00. Then in 2007 the church saw a need for an increase, evidently, and the church moved forward giving $7,740.00. But, then in 2008 it seems that something was amiss in the leadership so how does this church respond? A mere $4,248.00. But, that is not all. In the year that our Chairman was going to be elected as Chairman, what does the church give? They increased a whopping $1,134.00 to give a grand total of $5,386.00 to Annie. Allow me to be fair as it could be that Brother Dowdy was not pastor of Eagle’s Landing during this period. (UPDATE: I presumed that Brother Dowdy just began as Pastor of Eagle’s Landing because the 2009 ACP does not record a date as to when the Pastor came. However it was brought to my attention by a Georgia Baptist that Brother Dowdy founded Eagle’s Landing. Thus when I went to 1991, the first year they filed an ACP, I found these interesting facts. Brother Dowdy led his church to give a whopping $267.00 and they had 180 people attending. What wonderful growth but something else I found. Eagle’s Landing had a debt of $300,000.00 on property valued at $750,000.00. Wonder where Eagle’s Landing got their low interest loan?) Allow me to say something else to our readers. The Conservative Resurgence was successful because the Trustees were Southern Baptist and believed Southern Baptist doctrine and were committed to the missions giving of the Cooperative Program. The convention was saved because of the Trustee system. With these giving records of our current Trustees the convention will be given away to any and every Evangelical group that comes along. One may question if this chairman is the only one whose church gave such dismal amounts to Annie? Well, you may remember the past Chairman that desired to see Southern Baptist, as my state paper editor said; “kill NAMB and bury the body in Richmond”. Well, his giving record to NAMB through Annie Armstrong was the astronomical amount of $50.00. So, one can truly see that we have this type of atrocious giving records within the NAMB Board of Trustees.
One other item that needs to be brought to the attention of Southern Baptist. As Dr. Ezell established the satellite campuses how did he finance the personnel that were called to lead the campuses? If one will notice there are many professors from Southern serving as “Teaching Pastors” and other staff positions. Reckon what they are being paid? Of course that is none of anyone’s business as that is completely under the auspices of the local churches autonomy. However, it seems that as a Teaching Pastor drawing a paycheck from CP funds and probably receiving a minimum stipend for services performed at a local church would be acceptable. I know when I served a church close to SEBTS I utilized the services of the students there. We were able to get quality people for positions that usually we could not afford. Such is the nature of churches located in close proximity of our seminaries. However, when it was discussed in Finance Committee meetings about lowering our CP giving I reminded the people of the benefits we were getting at the reduced prices. Thus we continued giving over 10% to the CP. Think about this from the perspective of a mega church giving 2% to CP. Certainly $300k is a large sum of money. However, to utilize professors drawing the bulk of their income from the CP and then give minimal amounts to the CP one can only come to one conclusion. Dr. Ezell increased his campuses to seven and gave his missions money to Act29 while allowing smaller churches to finance his endeavor through those professors serving as Teaching Pastors.
The question for the Trustess does not concern Dr. Ezell’s accelerated growth as pastor. It concerns his attitude as a nominee for President of the NAMB. He will not answer questions that are legitimate and he paints those who ask these questions as fly-by-night hacks. I for one would like to remind Dr. Ezell that I am a Pastor of a Southern Baptist Church that gives faithfully to the Cooperative Program and lead my church to give to the missions offerings. The local church is king which is something Dr. Ezell will learn when he begins asking for funds. And it may be that the Trustees need to be reminded that the President of NAMB will have to work with state conventions. Expressing that the Executive Directors of state conventions live with their mothers and walk around in housecoats all day is not a good way to build momentum to partner with these state conventions.