SBC Life Articles

Getting to Know Our New Strategist for Global Evangelical Relations

SBC LIFE Dr. Welch, please share with us the scope of your responsibilities.

Welch It will be to establish enhanced, intentional relationships with conservative evangelical Christians around the world, as well as here at home, for the purpose of growing, maintaining, and nurturing conservative Baptist evangelical cooperation on a global scale in order to reach more lost souls with the Gospel.

SBC LIFE Of those areas, how do you see them prioritized, and how will your time commitment be divided?

Welch There will be a clear, three-fold focus on foreign nations, North America, and Cooperative Program and stewardship. I will also focus on building relationships that will offer possible opportunities in the future for each area.

SBC LIFE Some might question the need for such a position and role. How would you respond to those who ask why this position and why now?

Welch As to the overseas focus of my responsibilities, Morris Chapman, as President and Chief Executive Officer of the SBC Executive Committee, has had a clear goal of making this type of effort in response to a recommendation by the Executive Committee back in 2004. In conjunction with the SBC's decision to withdraw funding from the Baptist World Alliance, the Executive Committee's recommendation was to develop and execute a new and innovative strategy to continue building strong relationships with conservative evangelical Christians around the world and together to bear witness of the saving power of our Lord Jesus Christ. Dr. Chapman and the Executive Committee have asked me to follow through on this commitment. I am glad to accept this challenge and opportunity.

This relationship building in no way whatsoever has anything but positive connections with the International Mission Board. Already Dr. Rankin, Clyde Meador, and Tom Elliff of the IMB have had conversations with me, and they are comfortable with my commitment to complementing our IMB's mission endeavors.

Beyond the overseas component, there are the components of North America and the Cooperative Program as the other two focal points for me. As I preach in our churches, conventions, and conferences in North America, I will attempt to fulfill the role of special spokesman and be a very visible ambassador for evangelism in America as well as internationally.

Also, it will be exciting for me to continue, as I have in years past, to champion and encourage Cooperative Program giving, along with the new stewardship initiative, It's a New Day. These are inseparable links to all of our evangelism efforts here and around the world.

These three challenges are strong spiritual matches for me, my gifts, experience, and passion.

SBC LIFE How does this correspond to the SBC's withdrawal of support from the BWA?

Welch The SBC continues to move forward in the area of building relationships all around the world for the purpose of cooperating in evangelism with like-minded Christians. Dr. Chapman and others have already traveled overseas and begun to explore this, and I expect to expand upon their good beginnings.

SBC LIFE Will you be attempting to form an alternative to the BWA?

Welch There is no attempt whatsoever to compete with or start any organization like the BWA. Internationally, the mission is to develop and execute a strategy for continuing to build cooperation and cultivate strong relationships with conservative evangelical Christians around the world as together we witness to the lost about the saving power of our Lord Jesus Christ. This initiative is not designed to be an alternative to, or compete with, the BWA.

SBC LIFE What would you like to see happen as a result of this new endeavor with our evangelical brothers and sisters overseas?

Welch To locate those persons that God has already prepared on every continent, and to make progress in relating them to each other and to the SBC in a unity of purpose for the cause of winning lost souls in an unprecedented way.

SBC LIFE Will overseas partners include any of those who are members of the Baptist World Alliance?

Welch At the time of the SBC's withdrawal in Indianapolis in June of 2004, it was emphasized that the withdrawal did not indicate a desire to separate from others but to "work directly with fellow Baptists around the world rather than through the BWA." The SBC will continue to be in close fellowship networking and netweaving with a host of others, some of whom will undoubtedly be members of the BWA.

SBC LIFE What are some of the goals of your domestic responsibilities?

Welch To be another voice and face that continues to wave the flag of soul winning and to help focus our greatest efforts upon winning the lost in a way that helps all other like-minded evangelicals see a great movement of God across America. Such would be done in concert and alongside of all NAMB's efforts for the same.

My desire, as it was when I was SBC president, is to be the best friend to, and greatest helper of, IMB, NAMB, local churches, pastors, and others for the sake of lost souls.

SBC LIFE What will be your first step in these roles?

Welch My first steps both domestically and internationally are to make certain that I have the very best possible working relationship with all our entities, especially IMB and NAMB, along with all our state executive directors and their staffs. These, along with our local church pastors and members are, of course, critical to any relation-building strategy for evangelism.

Beyond these first steps there are several other steps that are being explored and some confirmed already.

My primary duty is clearly distinct from both IMB and NAMB in that my concentration is upon relationships just as the title indicates. I have no programs, supplies, products, etc. My duty is to connect persons here and around the world to each other in the hope and belief they will move forward together for Great Commission evangelization and discipleship.

My prayer, goal, and intent is for IMB, NAMB, our states, and SBC to be blessed and accelerated in soul winning and discipleship by such a synergy of relationships. To that end I am going to strive to be what was termed as "a very visible ambassador" and "special spokesperson" of goodwill and evangelism for our great opportunity as a Convention.

There has already been a strong outpouring of encouragement and confirmation for this position and its potential. That thrills and energizes all of us!

    About the Author

  • SBC Staff