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Alabama’s Albright advocates for DOMs at NAMBcomment (0)

November 24, 2011

By Jennifer Davis Rash

He’s the sole strategist left at the North American Mission Board (NAMB) for associational missions, but he’s adamant the partnership is not just going to survive but flourish.

“I think the current strategy is solid,” Stan Albright told The Alabama Baptist. “But we are always learning to do better as the Holy Spirit reveals, and we will be a part of that.”

Albright, national director for associations for NAMB, spoke to the Alabama Baptist Conference of Directors of Associational Missions (DOMs) during the group’s annual meeting Nov. 14. The meeting was held at the University of Mobile (UMobile) prior to the state convention and included a performance by UMobile’s Impact vocal group and a combined luncheon with the Mission Belles (DOM wives’ organization).

Acknowledging the anxiety and confusion among associational leaders about the future partnership between associations, state conventions and NAMB, Albright — a native Alabamian who has served on staff with  several Alabama Baptist churches and Calhoun Baptist Association — sought to assure DOMs he exists to be their advocate at NAMB.

While some DOMs expressed a lack of trust in NAMB and concern over the way it defines partnership, several DOMs also affirmed Albright for keeping their concerns before NAMB leaders.

Outgoing DOM President Steve Loggins, DOM for North Jefferson Baptist Association, said, “I am now assured that we have at least one voice for the state conventions and associations at NAMB, but he is just one voice.”

Albright acknowledged his lone voice is much different from the former Home Mission Board days of as many as 25 employees relating to associations and churches in the 1980s, but he still contends he can make it work.

“Churches, associations and state conventions have always had a voice on the leadership team for NAMB,” he said. “This voice has been represented by previous vice presidents and team leaders and today is represented by the strategic leadership team as a whole. Each member at the table (of the strategic leadership team) has his own relationships with these valuable partners — from Dr. (Kevin) Ezell to the regional and team vice presidents to the unique roles of each team leader.  It is truly a team effort.  

“My role is unique in that my specific responsibility centers on the work of the local associations and the DOM/church planting catalysts that lead them,” Albright said. “This focus allows me to bring insights and suggestions concerning associationalism to the forefront of any discussion.”

But the accountability concerns of NAMB “telling” DOMs what they can and can’t do through a job description and covenant that must be signed are only for DOMs who are NAMB-funded, Albright explained. “Most, if not all, DOMs in the South are not affected by this.”

And even the requirements put on NAMB-funded DOMs, who are now called church planting catalysts (CPCs), have been tweaked a little since the original job description was written last year, he noted.

Originally the decision was that CPCs were going to be required to spend 60 percent of resources and efforts in church planting and that four churches would have to be planted each year.

“The percentage is no longer there,” Albright told the DOMs. “The current job description does not contain any percentage time requirements but places a level of trust upon the DOM/CPC to use the ... timetable he needs to complete his responsibilities. … We are saying, ‘It is your responsibility; just get it done.’

“And while the target goal for CPCs is to plant four churches a year, understanding and grace are applied in every situation,” he said, noting the CPCs don’t actually have to be the church planter themselves. But they have to see that it gets done. “If they are in an area where the ground is hard and needs a lot of preparatory work, then those things are considered. … There is a clear understanding that some regions are more difficult than others. … If a missionary does not reach his goal for a certain year, his situation will be evaluated with understanding and grace based upon his situation.”

Albright also clarified that the assessments and reviews of the CPCs in the field are going to be done by state conventions, not NAMB.

“We are not assuming that authority but have yielded that responsibility to our state partners,” he said.

“NAMB does not pretend to know everything about all the needs across North America, but the leaders strive to know so we can be more effective in our strategies, communication, training, etc., and so there is little or no confusion,” Albright told The Alabama Baptist.

“NAMB’s trustees have instructed that 50 percent of all funding must move to church planting. We’ve already moved from 28 percent to 42 percent since last year,” he said, noting that all NAMB’s funding to the field “will go directly or indirectly into reproduction activity.”

“The DOM is to encourage local churches to think outside of themselves as churches on mission … to consistently work with churches to remind them of the lostness that exists and to remind them to engage beyond the local area,” Albright said. It’s about holding them to a level of accountability, he noted.

NAMB is doing something similar by holding the CPCs accountable, he told the DOMs.

“I know you have ministries (in your associations that may have previously received NAMB funding),” Albright said. “We are not telling you to stop doing that, but we’ve got to plant churches, and that is where NAMB will hold [those who receive funding] accountable.”

As all of the resources are shifting to the church-planting focus, the training opportunities for DOMs also are changing, he noted.

“What’s going to happen is that there is going to be a huge dependence on the partnership and working with you and your state conventions and associations,” Albright told the Alabama DOMs.

But he plans to keep the lines of communication open through his new IMPACT strategy:

1. Inform

“The desire of the association impact team is to be an office that keeps you informed of what is going on,” he said, noting a new email newsletter he sends out monthly to explain happenings at NAMB impacting associations, promote missions opportunities across the nation and announce training events.

Recognizing communication coming out of NAMB over the past year has been confusing at times, Albright said he hopes this newsletter will help clarify information for DOMs.

2. Mobilize

“One of the desires in our office is to make you aware of ministry opportunities across our nation in order to mobilize your association,” he said. “We want to assist you, not tell you. We desire for you to be in the forefront.”

3. Prepare

“We want to help you with strategic thinking,” Albright said. “There is a difference between calendar[ing] and strategic thinking.

“When we start thinking strategically, we talk about really recognizing the landscape where we really are,” he said. “Knowing your community, population basis, knowing who lives there — then when you see all those things, it gives you ammunition to inform your congregations about what has to happen to push back the lostness in your area.”

4. Assess

“We have a process … where we can come in and basically take your association through an assessment process,” Albright explained. “It’s a situation where we can come in or we can teach you how to do it yourself, where we interview — or you get someone outside the association to do it — all pastors in 30- to 35-minute sessions individually.

“Data (from those sessions) reveals things,” he said. “What does this mean? What are implications? What are possibilities? Where do we go from here?”

5. Community

“We are a community of churches … and some are in need,” Albright said. “Your time could be consumed with working with these churches. I’m not telling you we are to move beyond them, but I am telling you don’t let them hold you back.”

NAMB currently is assessing a potential new ministry to strengthen at-risk churches, he noted. Called RENEW, the strategy would include a partnership between NAMB, the state convention, the association and healthy churches within the association in an effort to revitalize a church at risk.

6. Transform

“This is a culmination of the other five elements — for us to be able to sit down and talk together,” he said.

It also means partnership in leadership development and training, such as developing a coaching network among DOMs, Albright noted.

“The bottom line is … I want to be your friend, a truth teller, and to think strategically with you.

“I want to help but you are going to have to be part of the help.”

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