Evangelical Relations off to 'running start'
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)--The Executive Committee's Global Evangelical Relations initiative is off to a running start, Bobby Welch, strategist for the effort, said at the SBC annual meeting in Louisville, Ky., June 23.
"Dr. Welch is a man who relates to all peoples everywhere in the world. He is a man who knows how to relate in a way in which they're immediately drawn to him," Morris H. Chapman, president of the Executive Committee, said as he introduced Welch during the EC's Tuesday afternoon report.
Welch is traveling to 13 countries this year and plans to visit 14 nations next year. In the process, Welch is assisting the Southern Baptist Convention in building a database of international evangelical leaders and many of their constituents because "there may be that day coming where we'll be glad that we can communicate with these like-minded Christians all around the world," Chapman said.
"Southern Baptists from the very beginning have clearly understood that Great Commission evangelism and discipleship is of course above everything a spiritual endeavor," Welch told the messengers. "But it also has that part as a human enterprise....
"So, consequently, our urgency as believers in this convention has always been to be fully engaged in connecting and building these hubs of connectivity around the world for the sake of the Gospel. That's exactly what Global Evangelical Relations is all about," Welch said.
The project is a one-of-a-kind ministry, he said, noting its unique assignment and approach. The assignment is to build relationships to complement and encourage all causes of the Southern Baptist Convention with a goal of moving forward in the Great Commission with other believers around the world, Welch said.
While Welch works with the International Mission Board and North American Mission Board in his global efforts, he is quick to say that GER doesn't "emphasize only one [SBC entity] or one church or one state...."
The approach of GER has a singular goal, Welch said. "That one goal is relationships. Relationships -- not projects, not missions, not partnerships. One goal, relationships," he said.
One of the innovative initiatives of GER is a Global Series of Encouragement Conferences, Welch said, adding that they have met with overwhelming success.
The conferences are intended "to go into parts of the world to discover, connect, encourage and then build relationships around the world -- a world, by the way, which you well know is shrinking, shrinking, shrinking faster than ever before.... It's not 'us and them' anymore. It's just us," he said.
Welch noted his enthusiasm about numerous "good faith agreements for the next five years on this course between us and leaders on each continent and many countries."
To demonstrate the global connections already established, Welch introduced via video evangelical leaders, including some who offered testimonies regarding their receptivity to and excitement about GER. Twelve of those leaders from every continent except Antarctica were present at the convention, and Welch introduced them as a group to messengers.
Welch also introduced 19 pastors of SBC churches in nine states who had connected with global evangelicals for the sake of the Gospel and unreached people groups. Welch said the pastors and the churches they represent "are our best foot forward" in the GER effort and "are already deeply engaged in this relationship-building process for now and into the future."
"What is happening all around the world is a rejuvenation of our connectivity for the sake of the Gospel in places that are unimaginable and among people who are overwhelming in their love for the Lord. This is a wonderful, exciting adventure in the Lord Jesus," Welch said.
Norm Miller is a freelance writer from Richmond, Va.