We live in the era of seemingly countless $10 million-a-year athletes ($3 million for sub-par performers), entertainers and CEO's. Now you can add a new superstar to these lofty ranks: the $3.9 million missionary.
Who in the world would shell out $3.9 million to field a missionary ... in America? According to Mary Branson, former long-time editing director at the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, the NAMB took an operating budget of $126,000,000 and managed to fund a total of 32 full-time home missionaries. That's not a misprint: 32 full-time missionaries, one missionary for each $3.9 of NAMB operating budget.
OK, it is true that no given missionary pocketed $3.9 million ... but it is also true that former NAMB president Bob Reccord helped himself, and his friends, to many millions of dollars in lavish personal expenses and contracts while at the helm of the organization, according to Branson. And while Reccord was preening his image and living high on the hog, and lining the pockets of his buddies, he publicly boasted that NAMB fielded some 5000 missionaries even as the missions agency quietly supported only 32 full-time missionaries with the $126,000,000 that Southern Baptists contributed to NAMB. Oh, and Reccord made certain to use some of NAMB's budget to give handouts of a few hundred dollars a month to several hundred church planters and pastors in "pioneer" areas of the U.S. How generous. (At one point, I and my wife, although never receiving a dime from NAMB, were counted as two of the thousands of NAMB missionaries, with our names included in the organization's printed promotionals. But I digress; that is another story.)
Although Reccord is now gone, there are no indications that Southern Baptists are currently getting any more bang for their buck in terms of missionaries. Perhaps next summer at the SBC annual convention someone should make a motion that NAMB take its $126,000,000 pot and select 32 missionaries who also happen to be professional baseball players. The NAMB Home Run Missionaries might put on quite a show. For a small admission price, Southern Baptists could attend games at Missionary Park, scarfing Gospel Dogs while watching the Home team relief pitchers try to convert save opportunities.