Group Launches Petition to Demand Forensic Audit of NAMB and LifeWay

The newly launched petition website, SBC Transparency, calls for a forensic audit of the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and LifeWay, the for-profit publishing arm of the SBC, declaring that “members of the SBC have a right to know that their sacrificial gifts are being used for the mission, not self-enrichment.”

The case they make is simple, in light of the lawsuit between LifeWay and Thom Rainer which has brought financial shenanigans and impropriety to the spotlight.

The North American Mission Board (NAMB) Trustees and staff steward assets of $435 million on behalf of Southern Baptists, with an annual budget of $125 million. It is imperative that we operate with full transparency and accountability in order to build trust in our voluntary cooperative Kingdom work. We believe there are significant questions and concerns around possible financial irregularities, misuse of funds, use of funds outside of their approved purposes, conflict of interests with NAMB Trustees and the NAMB auditor and violations of SBC bylaws and governing Business and Financial plan. 

Therefore, we the undersigned call upon the SBC Executive Committee (EC) to commission and direct an independent forensic financial audit of the North American Mission Board and report the complete findings of the audit to the entire Southern Baptist family of cooperating churches and partners (State Conventions and Associations). As well, because of similar questions of irregularities, we are calling for the SBC EC to conduct a forensic audit on LifeWay Christian Resources.

The group details several questionable practices, such as NAMB having multiple large financial reserve accounts more than they should, the independence of the financial audits by NAMB, the SBC business and financial plan as it pertains to fundraising, and a host of other queries.

Of note to us, as we put the call out several weeks ago with information on who is owning houses bought and paid for by NAMB.

Millions in Houses for a Very Few Church Planters. NAMB has spent tens of millions on houses for use by a few church planters. Some of these homes cost over $500,000 and have amenities like swimming pools. Where are these homes? How many are there? Who lives in them? How many of these homes are tied to SBC President Greear and NAMB Trustees or the churches they lead in violation of SBC governing documents? Are there any other favors or friendships factors in the distributing use of these homes? Are any of the homes not being used for their NAMB Trustee approved purposes as evidence reveals may be the case in several homes. 

New Home Built and Large Investment to NAMB Staff Member Who is a NAMB Planter Questions arise regarding the building of a new 3,300 square foot home valued at $500,000+ for a planter who is a NAMB staffer in Pittsburgh. Questions arise regarding the purchasing of about a dozen homes in Pittsburgh and the $500,000 church building purchased from the Presbyterians that was being used by a NAMB planter, who was subsequently hired by NAMB for Send Relief.

Church Planting Budget Tripled while Plants Reduced by Half. The NAMB church planting budget has grown from $23 million to $75 million in 10 years, but the number of new church starts has dropped to less than half the number a decade ago. How is NAMB spending $50 million more in church planting and getting less than half for it? Where is that money specifically going? 

The whole website is a wealth of good questions and details the broad cloak of secrecy that surrounds SBC entities. Go to sbctransparency.com, read the whole thing, and sign the petition.

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