A Secret Meeting, The Misleading of Others, and the Promise of a Ministry:
Questions Loom about the Nomination of Johnny Hunt.
Edit: Even if we think a pick for a position is good, the right things have to be done in the right way. This is not a condemnation of Johnny Hunt but rather a call for transparency from NAMB's leadership and trustees because of the nature of possible infractions, and simply by the nature of promising a ministry to NAMB and then taking a position with NAMB. We are calling for Trustees to make sure the nomination followed the laws of the bible and the rules of the SBC, and we ask that they make it public since some Trustees may have broken protocol.
Johnny Hunt, mega-church pastor of FBC Woodstock, will be accepting Dr. Kevin Ezell’s nomination for Senior VP of Evangelism and Leadership at the North American Mission Board. Johnny Hunt is more than qualified for the job and could bring some needed changes to NAMB. However, recent events prior to his nomination raise questions about NAMB's handling of his nomination. NAMB’s leadership should answer these questions and clarify these concerns to not only all the trustees, but to the state conventions, local associations and churches that Johnny Hunt will be working with on his new task.
The Secret Meeting and Intentional Misleading
Except for the Executive Session, all trustee meetings are supposed to be open to the public and announced to the public according to SBC protocols. On the afternoon of June 11th, when the NAMB regularly scheduled Trustee Board meeting was supposed to start, reporters arrived to find NAMB’s leadership meeting with Johnny Hunt and some trustees in a secret, closed-door meeting.
When reporters and others asked about the nature of the meeting, a NAMB staffer told them that it was “just a devotional” led by Johnny Hunt. Johnny Hunt did not stay for the meeting of the full Trustee board.
On August 12th, NAMB’s Mike Ebert wrote in the Baptist Press that, “In June, Timothy-Barnabas founder Johnny Hunt shared with NAMB trustees that he was giving the ministry fully to NAMB.” Notice that it did not say Johnny Hunt told them in the trustee meeting or to all the trustees.
That means probably one of two things could have happened:
1. NAMB staff intentionally lied to or mislead reporters and other people as to the nature of the secret, closed-door meeting on June 11th before the board of trustees meeting.
2. The trustees held another secret meeting on another day in June with Johnny Hunt.
We should not be "backroom deal Baptists."
NAMB’s President and the Trustees should come forward to clarify and answer questions about that day and the events that transpired to make sure that accountability between NAMB’s President and the trustees has not been lost, and that the trustees have not violated protocol.
AND This time it should not be done behind closed doors.
NAMB Receiving Timothy+Barnabas: Potential Quid-Pro-Quo?
The selection of Johnny Hunt should not be surprising. Politically this makes sense for NAMB’s President, Dr. Kevin Ezell to pick a popular mega-church pastor with SBC experience to try to quell growing concerns over NAMB’s handling of the strategy and concerns about their methods for dealing with state conventions.
However, unlike like most if not all of celebrity pastors before him, Johnny Hunt has promised to “give” NAMB a ministry worth over a million dollars in revenue per year. The ministry he promised, Timothy+Barnabas, as of 2016 brings in roughly $1,500,000 a year with $300,000 or so in cash assets as of 2016.
The question every news outlet should be asking is, “If Johnny Hunt is not approved by the trustees, will NAMB still get Timothy+Barnabas?”
If yes, then all is fine. If not, then it could very likely be quid-pro-quo and NAMB’s Leadership should be held accountable for offering those types of deals in exchange for important positions in NAMB’s organization… which would not be too different than other dealings of NAMB's leadership.
Will NAMB Support Johnny Hunt as He Takes the Lead on Evangelism?
Since 2010 NAMB has cut the evangelism budget by 65%, In their June report, the Evangelism task force recommended NAMB to hire a senior level position to work with churches and conventions in evangelism. NAMB’s hiring of Johnny Hunt would satisfy that recommendation.
However, will NAMB just meet the bare minimum to satisfy the task force? As it stands right now, Johnny Hunt will become VP of a division in NAMB whose only employee is a director and one other employee. That’s like hiring a VP for a large chain of restaurants that only has a director of ops, one manager, and no cooks or waitresses.
Is there a plan in place with the funds necessary to expand the size of the team of evangelism department significantly? If not, then what exactly is Johnny Hunt being hired to do? Putting a man like Johnny Hunt in that position and leaving him there without giving him the support he needs to accomplish his challenge would be a waste of Johnny Hunt's experience and talents, and a horrible waste of funds from those who give to NAMB. Even the best evangelist will need a large to team be able to truly support the State Conventions and churches in evangelism.
Responsibility and Accountability
All indicators point to the confirmation of Johnny Hunt as a done deal. The concern though is that events around that deal may have been out of bounds ethically and according to the SBC’s guidelines.
The NAMB trustees may have already decided to confirm Johnny Hunt, but they should not affirm the handling of events surrounding Johnny Hunt’s nomination without first getting answers to these questions. The Trustees need to show that they will uphold their commitment to keep NAMB’s Leadership accountable to the laws of the Bible and the rules of the SBC. Since the secret meeting involved some NAMB trustees, the answer to these questions and concerns should be made public.
If NAMB wants Johnny Hunt to work with churches and conventions on evangelism, then churches and conventions should know that they can trust that his selection, appointment and confirmation were above reproach.