NAMB President Kevin Ezell placed Bass' name before the board of trustees April 30.
Bass, 54, who has served as the Arizona convention's top administrative leader since 1996, said the prospect of witnessing something monumental captured his imagination.
"I am incredibly fascinated by, and drawn to, the possibility of being part of a church planting movement in North America. That excites me -- to be a part of something we have not seen here," Bass said. "A vision that big, where there is no way we can get this done without an incredible outpouring of God -- I am excited to be considered to be a part of that.
"In Arizona, I am not known as the executive director; I am the state missionary. That is the way we think," Bass added. "As the began to unfold, I asked the Lord what it would be like for this to happen in the West. As I was watching from a distance and thinking about what strategies we would need here, I was also talking to other state leaders. I emailed Kevin Ezell and asked him a question. He emailed back and that began a dialog about how Arizona might align with the new vision."
Although Bass said he originally had no intention of joining NAMB, Ezell said the dialog eventually led him to ask Bass to consider the regional vice president's nomination.
"Steve has a love for the people of the West and he has a passion for church planting," Ezell said. "He's also very well liked and respected by those who know him. I'm excited about the possibility of him serving in this role. It would really give our work in the West region a significant boost."
Bass said he is "flattered, honored and humbled by the nomination to be part of the NAMB team. If the board affirms me, I can't wait to get started.
"In the West, we know we do not live in a Christian land. Roughly 1 percent of the 6 million people in Arizona are Southern Baptist, and only 6 to 8 percent are evangelical Christians," Bass said. "We face similar demographics and a percentage of lostness that our friends at the International Mission Board face in some foreign countries. I have a passion to reach the West to see it become part of a strong base for worldwide mission sending."
Bass could not resist a pitch for his fellow Southern Baptists to join him this summer in Phoenix for the national convention's June 14-15 annual meeting.
"If Southern Baptists want to get excited, they need to come to the Southern Baptist Convention. Not only will they be able to attend the SBC, but they also can help us work here in Phoenix," Bass said. "They will see that we are conservative, but we don't take ourselves too seriously. We don't have a Southern Baptist culture to maintain. It is fun to be a Southern Baptist here. We do things on the edge."
Should his selection be affirmed, Bass said he would miss being a member of the fellowship of state executive directors, a group he has served as president.
"There has never been a more close-knit group of guys. They are committed to reaching people for Christ," Bass said. "I want Southern Baptists to know that their executive directors are personal soul-winners, they are evangelists, they are sharing their faith -- they do it. Being a part of that group is something I will miss."
Born in Tulsa, Okla., Bass graduated from Oklahoma Baptist University and received a master of divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a doctor of ministry degree from Vanderbilt Divinity School.
After serving as pastor of three churches in Oklahoma, Bass was executive director of the Tulsa Metro Baptist Association where, in 1995, he was honored by the former Home Mission Board as metropolitan DOM of the year for the western United States.
Bass and his wife Dorothy have three children, Stefanie, Lucas and Andrew. Stefanie Powell serves as the pre-school coordinator for Journey Church, a church plant in Millbrook, Ala. She and her husband, Jesse, have two daughters. Lucas Bass and his wife Kristen helped launch the Basses' last church plant in Phoenix. Lucas serves with Arizona Baptist Children's Services. Andrew, 9, is the last of the Basses' 27 foster children and was adopted as their second son.
Joe Conway is a writer for the North American Mission Board.
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