Introducing Rev. Dr. Brian Winslade, new WEA Deputy Secretary-General

Introducing Rev. Dr. Brian Winslade, new WEA Deputy Secretary-General

It is often in retrospect that we see the hand of the Lord guiding and shaping us. At any given moment, we simply do what is in front of us, only to recognize later how different chapters in life fit together and prepare us for what is ahead.

 

The diverse chapters in my journey as a Christ-follower are like that in leading me to join the World Evangelical Alliance staff as Deputy Secretary-General for Ministries on the 1st March. Had it been suggested to me a few years before, I would have laughed out loud.

 

My engagement with WEA began in 2018 when I joined the International Council, representing the South Pacific. While I live in New Zealand, my wife and I have lived and served the Lord in four countries. My ministry career began in 1978 with the evangelistic organization Youth for Christ, only to find that I would not be offered a full-time position at the end of my internship year. (My Director informed me I had no future in Christian leadership!). A friend invited me to become his Youth Pastor, and there began my vocation as a Baptist Pastor these past forty-two years.

 

All of my theological studies were undertaken while in-ministry. Over the years, I’ve pastored five multiple-staff churches, from medium to mega-size, but probably my most formative spiritual formation was the two and a half years we lived in Bangladesh, where I worked with the evangelical alliance, National Christian fellowship Bangladesh, and oversaw their relief and development department. It is amazing to find myself connected again with the world of evangelical alliances all these years later.

 

I’ve only failed two exams in my life; one in my final year of high school where we studied the grammar and structure of language, the other in seminary where we studied Islam. In both instances, I boldly declared I would never use this. Perhaps that was why God sent me to live in a Muslim country and learn a new language! We adopted our daughter in Bangladesh from Mother Teresa’s orphanage in Dhaka and proudly say we have Bengali blood in our family!

 

My passion for the church to be effective and strategic in mission has often led to me be uncomfortably provocative within my denomination. Perhaps as a result, from 2001 to 2006, I found myself National Leader/CEO of the Baptist Union of NZ as we sought to deliberately put mission back into the driver’s seat of local churches. At the time, they wanted a “practitioner-leader” — someone still currently engaged in leadership and church transitioning, rather than someone looking back at what they “used to do.” So, I led our movement simultaneously with being Senior Pastor of one of its largest churches. While effectively juggling two full-time jobs, the opportunity arose to study for a Doctor of Ministry degree from Bethel University in St. Paul, MN.

 

The Australian Baptist Churches then knocked on my door, asking if I would be their National Director. Much of the next three years were spent on an airplane crisscrossing that vast nation and engaging internationally with the Baptist World Alliance. In 2011, Liz and I said to the Lord we were willing to go anywhere in the world he wanted to send us. (It was a dangerous prayer to pray!). We found ourselves pastoring a church in San Francisco, amidst one of the lowest church-attendance counties in the USA, with a particular suspicion of anything evangelical. For the last seven years, I’ve pastored a large Baptist Church in Hamilton, New Zealand, where we currently live. Rather than coasting toward retirement, God had yet another ministry adventure for us to fulfill.

 

Looking back over the years, a pattern emerges. While never an ambitious person, invariable wherever I’ve served, I’ve found myself in leadership and governance positions. I’ve come to appreciate this as spiritual gifts of leadership and wisdom, and I guess this is the core credential I bring to my role as Deputy Secretary-General within the WEA. The historians will assess whether I was good at my role, but my focus is simply to do as the Lord instructs, staying faithful in the “little things” he puts in front of me.

 

While my interaction with the World Evangelical Alliance is relatively new and fresh, the core values of being “evangelical” and the imperative to express the unity of the Spirit is deeply embedded. I’ve always seen the church and the mission of God as greater and more profound than the particular church/entity that I serve. Finding ways to express the vision Jesus prayed for in John 17 resonates in my soul – whether amidst my local town or nation where I live or across the globe.

 

The World Evangelical Alliance has a rich and diverse history and an even more exciting future and potential. When God invites us individually into relationship, we discover we’re connected across a diverse and dynamic family, and this sense of “better together” translates across all levels of the Christian church.

 

I am excited (with due foreboding and apprehension!) at the opportunity to offer strategic leadership across the WEA, and especially with national alliances and ministries that are particular to my responsibility. I believe in innovation and new ideas and that God often surprises us with the “new things” he is doing. I love the story of Barnabas’ visit to a new innovation of Gentile believers in Acts 11 and how he recognized the grace of God at work and encouraged them. That’s my ambition as a leader within our movement.

 

I look forward to meeting the wonderful people who make up the evangelical alliances of Europe, and together seeing God’s kingdom come in fullness and power.

 

Maranatha!

 

Rev. Dr. Brian Winslade

Deputy Secretary-General

World Evangelical Alliance

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