SEBTS Casual Conversation With the North American Mission Board

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Seminary students engaged in a panel discussion with Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board (NAMB), about the organization’s ambitious vision and mission.

Ezell shared the strategy of NAMB to reach 32 send cities with the message of Christ. Today, 85% of North Americans live in or around major cities. NAMB also seeks to provide disaster relief and create missional communities behind disasters as a way to “connect the help with the hope of Christ,” Ezell said.

The Casual Conversation panel also consisted of Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS), Chuck Lawless, dean of graduate studies at SEBTS, and Tony Merida, associate professor of teaching at SEBTS and founding pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, N.C.

Merida shared his heart for church planting, “I wanted my life to be poured out to the church.” He highlighted NAMB’s support in planting Imago Dei Church, “Our very first gift came from NAMB. We received a lot of generous support from the organization.”

Lawless highlighted the new “laser beam focus on church planting” at NAMB. “Ezell helped us go back to what is the biblical precedent of churches planting churches, connecting with young people and helping them be biblically sound.”

Ezell spoke about NAMB’s role in church planting by connecting church planters with sponsor churches. “We mobilize churches to plant churches,” he said.

Akin reflected on the Great Commission task force that contemplated shutting down NAMB because it was highly dysfunctional. Ezell faced substantial challenges as he transitioned from a pastor to president of NAMB, “I prefer pastoring,” he noted. Through the leadership of Ezell, NAMB has made a significant impact on North America for Christ.

For students interested in church planting, Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) leaders spoke about specific characteristics they seek in church planters. Lawless believes that one should be entrepreneurial, willing to start form the ground-up and have a stick-to-it-ness to a vision and live it out under God’s grace.

Merida asserted that one should be theologically sound, have the ability to lead well, the right motives, and the gift of evangelism for the unchurched unbeliever.

Ezell’s desire for his team is to have determination, passion and a “do whatever it takes to get this guy to Jesus” approach. Work ethic is also important to Ezell and one “must love people.”

For those who are called to church planting but cannot move to Wake Forest, Southeastern offers multiple options for theological education. A SEBTS online degree in church planting is available along with courses in the Equip program, which provides theological education through the local church.

NAMB encouraged SEBTS students to partner with the organization. “Our best days are ahead, it is a transitional time,” Ezell said. “This is one of the finest missions resources available through the Cooperative Program. We desperately need young pastors to engage. In order to change, you have to engage.”

For more information on becoming engaged with NAMB: Contact Dr. Merida, Dr. Dodson or visit

To watch or listen to the chapel service online, please click here.

To view photos from the service, please click here

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