The Southern Baptist Convention’s church-planting network, the North American Mission Board (NAMB) has released a video that should be insulting to practically every pastor in the denomination. The video released is of an Asian guy explaining that in order to reach people for Christ, missionaries need to lose their Southern accents.
One can only speculate as to the reasoning–he doesn’t really explain except to suggest that it is not possible for the Holy Spirit to work through a man with a Southern accent in other parts of the nation or world. Apparently, it makes you sound dumb.
In the video, released by NAMB’s New Churches website, around 1:22 mark, the following overlay pops up on the screen as Kenji Adachi is saying this. The overlay cites a 2012 study from the University of Chicago–where former SBC leader, Russell Moore now works–stating that people believe Southerners with an accent are “less intelligent” than their Northern-accented peers.
I don’t know about you, but it seems that if you’re going to accuse other people of being dumb, you should at least do so by spelling “according” correctly. Adachi explains why one Southerner from South Carolina who hired a voice coach to help him lose his accent was actually doing God’s work:
See, Paul is God’s ultimate cross-cultural missionary church planter, and he best engages his culture. And so when I Think about someone that I met, and this planter, I asked him where he’s from. He said he was from South Carolina, and I was stunned. I said, “Did you grow up there?” And I was stunned because he didn’t have an accent. And I said, “What happened to your Southern Accent?” And he says this, “I got a voice coach when I first moved here, and to get rid of my Southern accent.” And you talk about someone being all things to all people so that he can reach people for Christ.
What’s most sad about this is that this is how the elites that have taken control of the Southern Baptist Convention actually think. These tactics will always be at the forefront of men who do not believe that it is the power of the gospel that saves, that regeneration is purely the work of God in the inner man. What should disturb us is that this is the kind of training we are giving missionaries. To call it “deficient” does not come close to capturing how bad it is.
Full video below:
**Update: NAMB removed the original video from YouTube and has replaced it with a video that does not contain the infographic that states people with Southern accents sound “less intelligent.” While we are glad that NAMB took the initiative to update the video, it’s still baffling that the organization has yet to publicly acknowledge this error and instead just silently make it disappear. However, the Southern Baptist Convention has operated this way for years and we probably shouldn’t expect that to change.