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Christians ‘have failed’ those ‘outside the church,’ Welch says

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–As an Associated Press reporter and a camera crew looked on in astonishment, Southern Baptist Convention President Bobby Welch warmly shared the Gospel with a young woman with tattoos on both arms on the doorstep of her Massachusetts home.

Welch and the woman then quietly bowed their heads, and he led her in a prayer to receive Christ as her Lord and Savior. The media personnel, who had come to report on Welch’s door-to-door evangelism efforts as part of his national “Everyone Can Kingdom Challenge!” bus tour last year, had no explanation for what they had just seen.

“These guys had never seen the power of God unto salvation,” Welch said of the crew of unbelievers who accompanied him. “They think they’ve got the church figured out, but they can’t explain what they’re seeing out there. They wrote about how different it was in the streets and doorways wherever we went.”

Welch told that story March 29 in chapel at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary to illustrate how believers must hit the doorsteps of America to give the lost world the answer it is missing. After all, he said, the Gospel is still the power of God unto salvation, and God is still at work saving the lost.

“The only people who do not know that souls are searching out there are people who do not go out there searching for souls,” said Welch, pastor of First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Welch’s much-publicized goal for churches in the Southern Baptist Convention is to “Witness, Win, and Baptize … One Million” in the coming year. He has been speaking on the theme in churches, seminaries and conferences around the country leading up a key evangelistic thrust June 18 in Nashville prior to the SBC’s June 21-22 annual meeting.

Welch adamantly reminded students that they can do something about decline or plateau within many Southern Baptist churches — they can witness.

“We in the church have failed the people outside of the church,” Welch said. “We have come to the point where we think it is all about getting a crowd inside the church, and I am amazed at how many pastors out there don’t get it.

“I don’t know what keeps you going. It cannot be the crowd inside that keeps you going. It’s that massive crowd outside, the lost, that keeps you going…. Why are the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses growing…? It’s because they’re going out there. We leave [the church] and never make another peep.”

He reminded the seminarians that the impetus for evangelism is that Christians serve the Lord of the harvest, who is able to save lost souls as believers take the Gospel to them.

“Here’s the Good News,” he told the Southeastern chapel audience. “We’re just carriers. We can’t do it. The Lord has to do it. You don’t have to do it all. You just carry the message. You can’t save anybody. The Lord of the harvest is the one who does the moving, the empowering and the changing. He’s the one who does it, but we must go.”

In closing, Welch voiced his prayer that Christians would be mobilized to obedience to the Great Commission, realizing that they are God’s plan for reaching the lost.

“God, help us to realize that we are it, You are able, and now is the time to go,” he prayed.

    About the Author

  • Kyle Smith