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Neither Welch nor Graham will be ‘at Aunt Sally’s funeral’

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (BP)–Bobby Welch won’t be at your family reunion.

“I’m not coming, the preacher’s not coming, Billy Graham’s not coming to your family reunion,” Welch told a Nashville-area church Sunday morning, April 24.

Neither the preacher nor Billy Graham will be standing “at the water fountain where you work. They’re not going on your hunting and fishing trip. They’re not going to be at Aunt Sally’s funeral.

“You are it,” Welch said. “If you don’t get [the Gospel] to them, they may never get it. And they are longing and searching out there like I have never seen before.”

Welch, speaking at ClearView Baptist Church in Franklin, Tenn., continued to press toward his goal as president of the Southern Baptist Convention to call churches — and individual Christians — to deepen their resolve to evangelize their family members, friends, neighbors and co-workers.

Speaking at churches across Tennessee and in other states in recent weeks, Welch has been enlisting volunteers for Crossover Nashville, the yearly evangelistic thrust preceding the SBC’s annual meeting.

This year’s Crossover has additional significance as part of the kickoff of the “Everyone Can Kingdom Challenge,” the initiative Welch has launched to call Southern Baptist churches to baptize 1 million people in a year.

To date, more than 12,000 volunteers have signed up for Crossover Nashville, Welch said.

On Saturday, June 18, Crossover activities will begin with volunteers gathering at 8 a.m. at the Gaylord Entertainment Center. The morning will include praise and worship and a rally before volunteers depart for door-to-door witnessing and an array of outreach events across the region. At 6:30 p.m., the volunteers will return to the Gaylord Entertainment Center for a time of celebration for the day’s efforts, with Ricky Skaggs among the featured speakers and musicians.

“They are coming from all over the United States,” Welch said of the Crossover volunteers. ClearView, he noted, is one of the host churches for the influx.

Welch based his message on Jeremiah 8:20, which states, “The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved.”

This passage, he said, “is actually God’s cry as the voice for the lost and the left behind,” as if God is shouting for those who are separated from Him: “Look, you have missed all of us! Over here! We are not saved!”

“Church is not about coming. Church is all about going,” Welch said. “… The reason we have to go and the reason we’re designed to go is that most of the people are not in here. They’re out there.”

Church growth, Welch noted, entails “filling the building with people,” which is “a very good thing…. Every church should grow as large as God will allow it.

“But that is not synonymous with growing the church,” which entails “filling the people who fill the building with the Word of God, and training and equipping them, [so] that they leave the building and go out into their world and carry the Gospel and the love of God … that the world might be impacted by the Gospel and that they may rob hell and fill up heaven … with souls who are enjoying the joy and the triumph and the victory of Christ.”

Those who are lost “are our kinfolk, they’re people we know and love,” Welch said. “… I’m talking about work, I’m talking about your family reunion, your mothers, your fathers, your sisters, your brothers, your aunts, your uncles, your nieces, your nephews, the lady at the beauty shop, the man at the service station, the person you’ve been working with and hunting and fishing and talking and traveling with.

“Those people are people to whom God has placed us into their lives to filter through us the Good News of Jesus Christ.

“Do you think it’s great in here?” Welch asked the church crowd. “Do you like what you feel when you sing those songs? Are you thrilled and stimulated by the Word of God? Yes! But don’t you know many of those [people] are searching for exactly the same thing. And we have it. And they are longing for it.”
For further information about the “‘Everyone Can’ Kingdom Challenge” and Crossover Nashville, go to www.everyonecan.net.