April 24, 2006—My resignation letter spells out the reasons for my departure as plainly as I can state them. I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to lead the finest group of missionaries in the world and to work with an incredibly talented staff. I am also grateful for those who have stood beside me in recent days and reminded me of some of the amazing things we've seen in the last nine years.

At the same time, I am heartbroken that so many items contained in newspaper stories are either inaccurate or have been reported without the benefit of context. I wanted to take this opportunity to try and shed some light on just a few of those issues:

Missionary Count

Some have reported that NAMB, under my leadership, tried to inflate its missionary count in order to reach a Bold Mission Thrust goal of 5,000 missionaries by the year 2000. In fact, NAMB did not change the way it counts missionaries or any criteria for inclusion as a missionary prior to the year 2000. The SBC Bold Mission Thrust goal was achieved using the same criteria that had been in place since NAMB's beginning in 1997 and, prior to that, under NAMB's predecessor agency, the Home Mission Board. Just last year, in 2005, NAMB did change some of the criteria for Mission Service Corps missionaries to make their service requirements more consistent with the other categories. This was in no way related to any attempt to "inflate" the missionary count or reach some predetermined goal.


Steve Sanford, president of InovaOne, was an acquaintance and member of the church I pastored in Norfolk, VA. When Steve relocated to Atlanta several years after I came to NAMB, he contacted me and I learned of his expertise in digital, Internet and media communications. He performed a communications audit in 2003 for the agency. Contrary to newspaper reports, that audit did not suggest any outsourcing that would result in the reduction of NAMB jobs. It was not until two years later that my COO suggested such outsourcing and that suggestion was not the result of the 2003 audit. I have acknowledged that the selection of an interim outsourced media vendor should have included a better bidding process but, to my knowledge, InovaOne has provided quality work at fair prices. Nobody at NAMB benefited from this personally in any way. The money associated with InovaOne contracts was spent on more than 70 different projects including a high-profile package of television and internet ads with print media as well as Internet backup resources. Furthermore, the total spending on InovaOne is lower than what NAMB traditionally spent when doing all of its media production in house.

Elevate Conferences

These events were designed to help Southern Baptists reach out to college students and young professionals who are leaving our denomination in alarming numbers. I, and our team, believed it was critical for our churches to regain a footing with this key demographic. But more than that, it is critical for young Christians to discover their calling from Christ to make an impact for Him right where He has placed them in the culture. That was the message of Elevate. In all of NAMB's conferences over the past nine years, this was one of the highest rated by those who attended. We spent more on these events than I intended, but it was with the desire of attracting the younger generation through dynamic speakers, well-known entertainment and exciting production and venues, not with the intent of extravagance. While the events fell short of their attendance and revenue goals, I'm thankful for the nearly 4,000 students and young professionals who attended and gained an eternal perspective on their life's mission … and who won't merely settle for a career, but will celebrate a calling.

Speaking schedule and media work

Although it has been reported in the press that my speaking schedule and media efforts were self-focused, those efforts were instead focused on the core of what NAMB is about. The outside media relations firms retained were used to bring more attention to NAMB efforts such as World Changers, our youth mission trip program which brings more than 25,000 young people each year to refurbish inner city housing and the work of Southern Baptists related to Hurricane Katrina and the other storms. The firms coordinated dozens of media inquiries and lined up dozens of interviews with me and several others with secular media outlets, supplementing our own in-house people who do an outstanding job with the religious press. Interviews were focused on NAMB's work and the work of Southern Baptists. Those efforts brought a record amount of positive media coverage as well as a significant increase in donations to Southern Baptist disaster relief work … over eight times the highest amount in previous history.

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This is a sidebar to "Evangelism Exec Exits | "Entrepreneurial leadership" clashed with "denominational requirements" at second-largest domestic missions agency."