Global Leadership Development Initiative encourages Texas pastors to lead their churches in theological education partnerships

Ashley Allen
| Oct 11, 2021

Approximately 80 pastors from both the Baptist General Convention of Texas and Southern Baptists of Texas Convention were challenged to lead their churches to be a “Champion Church” at the Global Leadership Development (GLD) Initiative Pastors Mission Consortium, which met Oct. 7 on the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The GLD, which meets once every two years, seeks to develop partnerships between international Baptist seminaries and local Baptist congregations in the United States. The event, which was sponsored by the World Missions Center (WMC), allowed pastors to hear from global regional representatives and other Southern Baptist representatives to learn how their churches could help meet strategic needs of Baptist seminaries around the world. Strategic needs include evangelism, discipleship, church planting, leadership development, online learning, and student and faculty scholarships among others. A church that becomes a partner church, known as a “Champion Church,” makes a five-year, tailor-made commitment to help meet the overseas institutions’ needs.

Jimmy Draper, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and Lifeway Christian Resources, addressed the audience by reminding them “God seems to have a special interest in how we communicate the Gospel.”

Recognizing the “magnificent … acts of God,” Draper preached through the book of Acts and the role of the Holy Spirit’s leadership in God’s Kingdom work.

Directing the audience to Acts 16 and Paul’s desire to preach in Bithynia but the Holy Spirit stopping him, Draper said God has a plan and encouraged the leaders to seek that plan.

“If we're not careful, we will have meetings like this and pool our best ideas on how we can do whatever we're trying to do,” Draper said. “But that's not what this is about. We're not smart enough to figure this out. God knew that. That's why He said, ‘I want the Holy Spirit involved,’ and when we got saved, according to Paul in Ephesians, we were baptized with the Holy Spirit. He planted the Holy Spirit in us.”

Draper, a Southwestern Seminary 1961 Bachelor of Divinity graduate, reminded the gathering “we’ll fulfill the Great Commission one person at a time.”

The group of pastors and state convention leadership then heard from global representatives explaining how people are equipped to fulfill the Great Commission around the world.

Daniel Sanchez, distinguished professor emeritus of missions at Southwestern Seminary, provided a summary of God’s work worldwide. Sanchez, who helped coordinate the event, has championed the partnerships between Southwestern Seminary and international Baptist theological seminaries.

One such example Sanchez provided was in a Latin American country where the growth of one seminary’s student body from 68 to over 800, as well as the establishment of multiple extension centers, caused a paradigm shift. Southwestern Seminary professors who began to visit the international seminary to provide training began training the “professors to become more effective in their training” rather than teaching the seminary students directly.

Sanchez spoke of the needs in other countries, as well. One country Sanchez highlighted is Mexico.

Mexico City, the capital of Mexico, has a population of 21.3 million people, he said.

“If you wanted to find a place to make an impact for the Great Commission, this is one place and they have 20 extensions,” Sanchez told the group. “But they're very little in comparison to the population” which is more than the entire population of Central America.

The work of the GLD, however, has resulted in a consortium of eight Baptist theological seminaries across Mexico, Sanchez explained.

Ian Buntain, director of the World Missions Center and associate professor of missions at Southwestern Seminary, said it is important for pastors to be involved in the work of the GLD because the mission of God begins with the local church.

“I believe that the mission of God belongs to the local church not to an extension of the church” such as boards, seminaries or parachurch ministries, Buntain explained. He said the WMC seeks to help “local churches satisfy their own mission ambitions through direct connections with like-minded nationals who are doing good, Gospel-centered ministry.”

David Mahfouz, pastor of First Baptist Church of Warren and member of the executive board of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, echoed Buntain’s words. Mahfouz, who helped coordinate the event with Sanchez, said, “Pastors recognize that theological education is the lifeblood of the work of the church.”

Theological education “is the framework upon which all other Christian ministry depends,” he said. “We must constantly seek to reach, teach, equip and mobilize the next generation of Christian leaders.”

More information about the GLD Initiative and becoming a Champion Church can be obtained by contacting Southwestern Seminary’s World Missions Center at wmc@swbts.edu.