NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The Music City is no stranger to Southern Baptists and this June, Nashville will host thousands of SBC church messengers and their family members who will gather for ministry, evangelism and worship and to conduct the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The focus of the two-day business meeting, June 21-22, will be the “Everyone Can Kingdom Challenge,” a bold emphasis that has the goal of winning to Christ and baptizing 1 million people in one year. This denomination-wide goal for evangelism is the vision of SBC President Bobby Welch.
Welch, pastor of First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Fla., went on a bus tour last year and visited Southern Baptist churches in all 50 states and Canada to underscore the importance of evangelism. Video vignettes from that trip, featuring the testimonies of Southern Baptists, will be shown at the annual meeting.
“I think we have the potential of having one of the most thrilling meetings we’ve had in a long, long time,” Welch said.
“The purpose is to create a unity of purpose in the convention and to do so around evangelism,” Welch said of the Everyone Can Kingdom Challenge. “… It is my view that the convention has lost an overwhelming amount of its ability to create unity of purpose, and consequently, we have lost the ability to capitalize on one of our most valuable assets, and that is our diversity and our size.”
There will be a number of related activities before and after the two days of official business, but none more important than the Crossover effort that will set the tone for the “Everyone Can” initiative. Coordinators of the June 17-19 campaign have reported that more than 12,000 volunteers combined have pledged to participate either in event ministries or in what is believed will be the largest one-day, door-to-door ministry event on record.
Since Crossover began in Las Vegas in 1989, more than 34,000 persons have prayed to receive Christ through this evangelistic effort. In addition, many new churches have been started. The largest previous participation in the annual Crossover campaign was about 2,000 volunteers.
The one-day, door-to-door ministry event will take place Saturday, June 18, and officially will launch the Everyone Can Kingdom Challenge to witness, win and baptize one million people in one year.
Crossover will conclude that Saturday night with a celebration service at the Gaylord Entertainment Center featuring recording artists Clay Crosse, Ricky Skaggs and The Whites. Welch, LifeWay Christian Resources President James T. Draper Jr. and author Bill Fay (“Share Jesus Without Fear”) are among the scheduled speakers. The “Everyone Can Mass Choir” — several thousand strong — also will perform.
For many Southern Baptists, Crossover will be only the beginning of a weeklong stay in Nashville. It will continue June 19-20 (Sunday and Monday) with the Pastors’ Conference and the Woman’s Missionary Union meeting and be followed by the SBC annual meeting June 21-22 (Tuesday and Wednesday). Finally, on June 23-24 (Thursday and Friday), LifeWay Christian Recourses is sponsoring “Fast 50” — seminars for pastors and church leaders that will provide skill-building, networking and resources in key ministry areas.
The SBC annual meeting itself, which also will take place at Gaylord, figures to be another busy session for Southern Baptists. Among the highlights:
— For the first time, each session will feature a baptism. The person will be baptized into a local church, with members of each church present.
— Evangelist Billy Graham will be honored.
— A bivocational pastor will preach, highlighting the importance of bi-vocational ministers within the denomination.
— Recording artist Casting Crowns will perform.
— Messengers will be asked to adopt the corporate model known as sole membership for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
— Ken Whitten, pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in Tampa, Fla., will deliver the convention sermon.
But the Everyone Can Kingdom Challenge will be the week’s focal point. Four “Everyone Can” challenges will be given, capped by a sermon by Draper at 9 p.m. Central Wednesday. Casting Crowns and the “Everyone Can” People’s Choir will deliver a concert immediately preceding Draper.
Welch, who is completing his first one-year term as president, will deliver his president’s address at 10:55 a.m. Central on Tuesday. He will be up for a second one-year term at this year’s convention.
The first Everyone Can challenge will be delivered at 3:25 p.m. Tuesday by Dawn Smith Jordan, a contemporary Christian singer from Columbia, S.C. Other Everyone Can challenges will be delivered by Michael S. Lewis, pastor of Great Hills Baptist Church in Austin, Texas (8:50 p.m., Tuesday); Anthony Williams, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Durant, Okla. (10:05 a.m., Wednesday); and Draper (9 p.m. Wednesday). Following Draper, Welch will deliver a brief message kicking off the Everyone Can Kingdom Challenge for the year.
Whitten will deliver the convention sermon at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.
The North American Mission Board will deliver its report at 9:20 p.m. Tuesday, while the International Mission Board will give its report at 8:10 p.m. Wednesday.
The Executive Committee will deliver its reports at 9:35 a.m. and 1:25 p.m. Tuesday. Part of the report will concern a recommendation for messengers to approve sole membership for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Sole membership is a corporate model that seeks to clarify in legal language — within each entity’s charter — that the convention owns all of its entities. If that action is approved, then messengers also will be asked to adopt sole membership for the Executive Committee.
The other five SBC seminaries — Golden Gate, Midwestern, Southeastern, Southern and Southwestern — previously adopted sole membership, as have the North American Mission Board, International Mission Board, LifeWay Christian Resources, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and Guidestone Financial Resources (Annuity Board).
New Orleans Seminary officials are expected to express their reservations about sole membership to SBC messengers. Seminary officials say they are committed to the Southern Baptist Convention but have concerns about the corporate model and want to seek other ways to clarify that the SBC owns the school.
LifeWay Christian Resources will give its report at 3:45 p.m. Tuesday, followed by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission at 6:50 that night. Guidestone (Annuity Board) will deliver its report at 11:05 a.m. Wednesday.
The Woman’s Missionary Union report will take place at 1:55 Tuesday afternoon.
All six Southern Baptist seminaries will present a separate report, with three taking place each day. On Tuesday messengers will hear reports from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (3:05 p.m.), Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (4:20 p.m.) and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (8:05 p.m.). Wednesday’s reports will include Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (9:40 a.m.), Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (10:30 a.m.) and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (6:20 p.m.)
The special recognition of Billy Graham will take place at 7:40 p.m. Wednesday.
For the third consecutive year, online registration is available to churches and their messengers. Churches can register their messengers online at the SBC website, www.sbc.net, to avoid waiting at the counter upon arrival at the convention while a registration volunteer types in various lines of information.
By registering online, the SBC website gives a church a “messenger reference number” form to be printed out and presented by each messenger at the SBC registration booth in exchange for a nametag and a set of ballots. The appropriate church-authorized representative must complete all online registration.
Messengers wishing to propose resolutions must submit them at least 15 days prior to the annual meeting, giving the Resolutions Committee a two-week period in which to consider them. Detailed guidelines on submitting resolutions are available on the Internet at www.sbcannualmeeting.net.
C. Barry McCarty of Dallas will serve as the chief parliamentarian at the annual meeting. Jimmy E. Jackson of Huntsville, Ala., and John Sullivan of Jacksonville, Fla., also will serve as parliamentarians.