News Articles

Welch sees VBS & FAITH as keys to evangelistic thrust

BRUNSWICK, Maine (BP)–This is no fall color tour. The New England trees haven’t even started to change and Southern Baptist Convention President Bobby Welch already is talking about next summer.

“Summer is coming,” he said, “and I believe everyone should be getting ready to do Vacation Bible School.”

Welch, pastor of First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Fla., began a bus tour the end of August that will take him to churches in all 50 states and Canada by early October. At each stop, Welch speaks about the importance of evangelism and baptisms. The tour is a kickoff for “The Everyone Can Kingdom Challenge for Evangelism” campaign which has the goal of to “Witness, Win and Baptize … ONE MILLION!” by Southern Baptist churches in one year.

“This is so important, I wanted to speak at the SBC headquarters,” he told pastors in Brunswick, Maine, “and this is it — the local church. The SBC headquarters isn’t in Nashville or Richmond or Atlanta or Dallas. It’s right here. You are the headquarters right here in Brunswick.”

Welch said two important, and successful, means for sharing the Gospel and increasing baptisms are from LifeWay Christian Resources — Vacation Bible School and the FAITH/Sunday School Evangelism Strategy.

Welch sees VBS and FAITH as so strategic to his goal of sharing Christ that their logos are part of his bus’ colorful look as it rolls into church parking lots.

“In the SBC, we have a unity of purpose in evangelism,” Welch said. “VBS and FAITH are proven success stories in bringing people to Christ.”


Welch said he sat down with the LifeWay’s VBS team at LifeWay and made a bargain. “I said to them, ‘If, in the next two years, you will give us the two best Vacation Bible Schools, give us a component of evangelism and help us reach children and their parents in a way that will lead to baptisms, then I promise that I will never stand up as SBC president and talk about evangelism without mentioning Vacation Bible School.’ They told me, ‘You’ve got a deal.’”

It’s fitting that Welch’s bus tour hits on both VBS themes for 2005 -– “Ramblin’ Road Trip” and “Beach Blast.” He and his entourage are ramblin’ across the country, while their starting and ending point is Daytona Beach, Fla.

“I think VBS is the most dynamic and effective way to touch families,” Welch said. “We do not have a better way to reach children, their parents and their families.”

At Christian Fellowship Baptist Church in Londonderry, N.H., Welch went even further: “If you and I will do VBS these next two years, I believe we can reach more families and baptize more people than we’ve ever done before.”

Statistics prove Welch’s point. In the past five years, 472,707 people have come to a saving knowledge of Christ through VBS. Figures indicate that VBS is the No. 1 outreach tool for SBC churches in the SBC.


Welch is the co-creator of the FAITH/Sunday School Evangelism Strategy which in the past year alone has seen 184 churches active in FAITH baptize 2,575 people who found salvation in Jesus Christ.

Welch said FAITH will work according to plan. “You cast that net out, and you will gather people in,” he said. “It will work if you don’t care who gets saved and brought into your church. But if you are only interested in bringing in people who look a particular way, drive a particular kind of car and live in a particular kind of house, it may not be for you.”

Two pastors in Maine are starting beginning FAITH this fall. Pastor Dale Morell at Maine Street Baptist Church in Brunswick and Scott Baker of Little River Baptist Church in Belfast both said they were excited about having a new way to help their church members share their faith with the people in their areas.

“I’d been to several of the FAITH luncheons at the SBC [annual meeting] before I committed to doing it with my church,” Morell said. “I’m looking forward to how FAITH is going to help the people in my church. We’re excited.”

Baker said he sees FAITH as simple, non-threatening and effective.

“Up here, there aren’t many churches, and very few of those are evangelical. In the South, if someone decided he wanted to go to a church and hear the Gospel, chances are good he could find one without much trouble. That’s not the case up here. Someone can be honestly looking for the truth, but he can’t walk into just any church and hear how to be saved. I think FAITH is going to give our church a great opportunity to reach out to our area and let people know the truth.”

LifeWay President James T. Draper Jr., echoing “Bobby’s message to churches to focus on evangelism and baptism,” said, “These are two core values to Southern Baptists and to us here at LifeWay as well. We want to show our solidarity with what he’s doing.”

A break is scheduled for the bus tour until Sept. 16, when Welch will visit the SBC’s North American Mission Board in Alpharetta, Ga. The tour’s itinerary across the western United States will begin Sept. 23 in Arkansas and conclude Oct. 7 in Hawaii.

    About the Author

  • Polly House