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Vision for FAITH goes beyond ministry model

GRACEVILLE, Fla. (BP)–The creator of the FAITH Sunday school evangelism strategy told a group of students at the Baptist College of Florida that his vision for FAITH is more than a model for effective church ministry.

Bobby H. Welch, pastor of the First Baptist Church, Daytona, Fla., authored the first written version of the FAITH Sunday school evangelism strategy in 1998. Since that time more than 7,500 churches and pastors have been trained through FAITH clinics all over the country, resulting in over a quarter of a million total participants.

“Faith is far broader than just evangelism,” Welch clarified, “it is a strategy and process wherein a local church can crystallize the ministry task.” Suggesting the visualization of a box holding many items, he explained that the FAITH strategy is like a box holding the varied components of evangelism, assimilation, discipleship and ministry.

Welch presented his vision to a classroom of evangelism students at the college March 12, citing eight principles for effective church ministry.

The first principle, he said, is that church leadership must understand the difference between “church growth” and “growing the church.” According to Welch, “church growth” is often considered the art of “how to fill a building” rather than what he says is a more appropriate approach of “growing the church.” To grow a church he states one must take the people in the church and invest in their lives. As a result they will be equipped to reach others for Christ wherever life may lead them.

Second, church leadership must learn the secret of a balanced New Testament ministry that Welch states is a mixture of evangelism and discipleship. However, he said that in effort to accomplish this balance, “you must always favor evangelism.”

Welch explained that as a whole, people tend to favor discipleship because it involves people they know and with whom they share relationship. In effort to offset this natural tendency to lean heavy to discipleship, extra emphasis must always be placed on evangelism. He said a pastor can favor evangelism by simply providing leadership and effective training and by “teaching people to love fishing and not just catching.”

Third, he expressed the importance that church leaders “don’t say no for their people.” In short, Welch encouraged pastors to give their congregation a chance by not arbitrarily deciding what they will not do without even asking them. “Let [the congregation] feel a part of leadership and be a part of breaking the trail,” he implored.

The fourth principle, Welch explained, is that leaders must lead. “Leaders should inspire, excite, and mobilize,” he said. Emphasizing that there is a purpose for managers who often get caught in the details of a situation, he emphasized that leaders should not try to be managers caught in the details, but always see bigger and better.

Fifth, he conveyed that churches must learn to demonstrate the difference between passion and compassion. To get excited about the message of Christ is passion, while leaving the doors of the church and doing something about it takes compassion.

The sixth principle explains that churches must learn to develop “force multipliers.” Citing II Timothy 2:2, Welch said this simply means to take something known and tell it to someone who needs to know it with full expectation that they will tell someone else. The process thereby creates a chain that will reach further than any one individual ever could on their own. “FAITH is to take the force you have in your church and explode it,” Welch explained. Expanding on this principle, he stated the seventh principle is to encourage Christians to become dangerous by pouring their lives into others around them.

For the eighth principle Welch drew from his military experience stating that pastors must “lead like a warrior.”

“Jesus did not come to be ministered unto, but to minister others,” he explained. It should be every person’s goal to choose sacrifice, self-denial and suffering all for the purpose of accomplishing the mission for which they were sent. “Find the load and get under it.”

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  • Heather Stewart