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Recover from ‘addiction to the status quo,’ Welch urges

RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP)–Southern Baptist Convention President Bobby Welch is known for being willing to do just about anything to fire up the lukewarm faithful to kindle revival -– but nobody was expecting him to suggest a 12-step recovery program.

Welch’s plan, however, is about steps of faith.

“I encourage everyone in the Southern Baptist Convention to get on a 12-step program to break their addiction -– their addiction to the status quo,” Welch quipped in his keynote address during Discipleship/Leadership Week at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center near Asheville, N.C.

In August 2004, Welch launched a nationwide bus tour from First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Fla., visiting churches in all 50 states to work toward 1 million baptisms during the upcoming church year.

Reissuing his six-point “Everyone Can” Kingdom Challenge to reach that goal (ranging from personal evangelism to Vacation Bible School), Welch listed six additional challenges, including asking every association in the SBC to hold two public baptism rallies over the next year for outreach purposes.

“I think we will really touch a nerve in our community,” Welch said.

He said he also wants churches to hold three “SBC baptism days” -– on the Sunday following Thanksgiving 2005, Easter Sunday 2006 and the last Sunday in September 2006.

Finally, as the “12th step,” Welch challenged Southern Baptists to show up in record numbers for next year’s SBC annual meeting in Greensboro, N.C.

Welch voiced his “12-step” program after preaching on the need for passionate leaders in the church today -– no matter the size of their congregation or their role in the church.

“We desperately need … leaders who will rev up what we’ve allowed to run down,” Welch said.

He encouraged anyone facing something in church that “has run down on you” to not be hopeless. Leadership, he noted, is earned and learned, not an inherited trait.

“Leadership is the most observed and least understood phenomenon on earth,” Welch continued, likening it to the abominable snowman whose footprints are everywhere but is nowhere to be seen.

He admonished the Discipleship/Leadership Week audience to “be obsessed” by the need to lead for leadership, alternately quoting Scripture and war strategy with his blend of disarming southern charm and authoritative military efficiency.

He added it doesn’t mean they have to “scream and holler like I do.” The key, he said, is to know the enemy.

“Not only is the devil a sorry … low-down … good for nothin’, but he is just an absolute defeated enemy. Every way you turn, you can kick the socks off of him. You can work that fella over,” Welch said. “He is a defeated foe.”

Quietly yet with emotion, Welch explained to the crowd that they are the greatest preachers and lay leaders in the world because they will be the ones at the emergency room in the middle of the night for the members of the church they love and care for.

“The TV boys ain’t coming on a Friday night,” he said. “You’re the greatest people in the world.”

In gentle tones, Welch asked those present if they believed they were the greatest preachers in the world, and they responded with a barely audible, “Yes.”

“Well, then, bless God!” Welch thundered back. With many coming tearfully forward to the altar during a time of invitation, Welch prayed for them to rededicate themselves to advancing God’s Kingdom.
LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention sponsored Discipleship/Leadership Week June 27-July 1 at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center near Asheville, N.C.

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  • Andrea Higgins