Prepare for action – Southern Baptist Convention President Bobby Welch said he is beginning to see the makings of “something extraordinary” in the denomination.
Prepare for action – Southern Baptist Convention
President Bobby Welch said he is beginning to see the makings of
“something extraordinary” in the denomination.
The current Everyone Can Kingdom Challenge for
Evangelism “is getting the same touch, the same feel about it” of a
great revival, Welch said during a recent address to a group of
Tennessee Baptist church planters.
Welch launched the Everyone Can campaign last year
via a nationwide bus tour, traversing the country and urging Southern
Baptists to “Win … Witness … & Baptize 1 MILLION” people from
Oct. 1, 2005 to Oct. 1, 2006.
He currently is continuing his effort by focusing on
the upcoming Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Nashville, Tenn.,
set for June 21-22. Welch even has temporarily relocated to Nashville
in order to help lay the groundwork for his emphasis.
There, he is employing the same approach he used in
his nationwide bus tour, during which he spoke in various locations and
engaged in one-on-one witnessing.
This time, Welch is focusing his evangelistic effort
on an 80-mile radius around Nashville. “I want to do what I have done
all across the nation,” he said. “It is intense. I’m speaking two or
three times a day.”
This included a recent address to the church
planters group. Recalling what he had heard about the famous Shantung
revival in China from 1933-47 during that address, Welch confessed to
the church planters he had thought something like that never may happen
However, years, later, Welch said he witnessed a
similar event in Tanzania. “I saw people in Tanzania coming out of the
bush country, looking for the message of God,” he said. “I woke up one
morning, and the people were lined up at the door before daylight.
Hands folded and heads bowed, they were waiting for someone to share
the gospel with them,” Welch said.
Similarly, people today are ready for a spiritual
awakening, said Welch, who has served as pastor at First Baptist Church
of Daytona Beach, Fla.
“The wind is blowing out there,” he said. “I can
feel it. … We might be jumping up and down on the end of the diving
board and into the next big thing God is going to do.”
Welch advised persons to get ready for revival and
an influx of new Christians – but not to wait for June and the annual
convention. “(Start now in) the world where you live,” he urged.
“Dive in. Attack it. Go out there with all four
wheels burning rubber. They’re ready. They’re waiting. They want you to
Welch noted how often he hears people say, “It’s all
about the Lord, and it’s not about us.” He reminded persons that the
statement must be proven beyond the walls of the local church.
“That’s where the harvest is –
out there,” he said, pointing out a nearby window.
“That’s where your future and spiritual fortune lies – in the streets.”
Welch summarized the ongoing Everyone Can effort as
a “unity of purpose” for the sake of reaching people with the message
of Jesus Christ.
“The greatest danger for (the Southern Baptist
Convention) is committing collectively the sin of not being able to
come together for the sake of the kingdom and lost souls,” he warned.
“This convention borders on that sin.”
Welch said a reporter recently asked what he wanted
to see happen by the close of the convention’s annual meeting.
“I want to have proven something,” emphasized Welch,
adding that he wants to see a large turn-out and a “substantial
movement of God in a significant and memorable way.”
To that end, Welch is placing much emphasis on the
Crossover Nashville evangelism thrust that will take place June 18,
just prior to the annual convention. Some 10,000 people have committed
However, that is not all Welch envisions for the
June convention. His plans stretch from a record number of persons
involved in the Crossover evangelistic effort to baptism services
during the convention sessions to a special segment honoring the life
and work of Billy Graham.
A stated goal is to fill the 23,000-seat Gaylord
Entertainment Center in Nashville for the culmination of Crossover
events and during the annual meeting.
Welch also is planning a convention with unique
features. For instance, it will include video clips from the Crossover
events and baptisms at the opening of each session.
Nashville-area churches participating in Crossover
will be the ones holding the baptisms. “It is certainly possible that
people who accept Christ at Crossover could be among this group,” a
convention organizer noted.
The convention also will feature a mass choir,
scheduled to sing in the closing session. Welch said he is hoping the
choir will have 2,000 members. About half that many already have been
As far as the speakers go, Welch has invited a
bivocational pastor, a divorced mother of two and a young pastor to
speak. He said the last speaker will be the only well-known person –
James Draper Jr., president of LifeWay Christian Resources of the
Southern Baptist Convention.
Finally, the convention will feature a segment
honoring the life and work of Southern Baptist evangelist Billy Graham,
although Welch declined to reveal whether Graham himself would be
However, whatever the feature, Welch’s focus is clear – evangelism.
“If the convention will go to the people and major
on the main thing – winning their families and friends to Christ – then
the convention will come together to do more than ever before,” he
“If that happens, we will know what we need to do next. …
“If that does not happen, then, this convention has
got far deeper problems than it ever imagined, especially after the
effort we’re making now,” Welch added.
“But I believe (the revival) is just about to happen.”