SBC President Bobby Welch
Bobby Welch, now serving his second term as the President of the Southern Baptist Convention, recently talked with Bill Cooper, CEO of ChristiaNet.com concerning current issues facing the Church, and Southern Baptists in particular.
Pastor Bobby Welch & William Cooper
Bobby Welch has a passion, vision and heart for evangelism. He feels the church has a "Kingdom Challenge to Witness, Win, and Baptize one Million." Bobby Welch said "We need evangelicals to become evangelistic...Too many pastors have stopped giving invitations to accept Christ at the end of a sermon because they don't want to put pressure on people. One of our convention's largest distractions from witnessing, winning, and baptizing one million people is that we have lost our focus on the main thing. We are not urging our people to do evangelism. We are not equipping and teaching them to do evangelism in effective and comprehensive ways."
Bobby explained he has a six point evangelistic plan to challenge the members of today's church. Detailing the plan he said, "One, we train and equip the Christian community on how to effectively reach out to those who are lost. Second, we put our training into action through participation in evangelistic visitation efforts organized by the local churches. We believe that if you witness, you win, if you don't, you lose. Witnessing is an expression of love, concern and care to those around us, beginning with family and friends. Third, we help new Christians understand and appreciate the joy and obedience of believer's baptism. Fourth, we learn and apply God's Biblical teaching of stewardship for the expansion of His Kingdom. Fifth, we personally involve ourselves with Vacation Bible School, because we are convinced that we must reach our children and their parents for Christ. Sixth, we encourage the effort to start new Sunday School classes and/or new churches."
In explaining the direction of Christianity in the future, Bobby said" We need, as a church, to sense urgency for evangelism and pass on that urgency to others." Bobby explained it this way "...all the people are exactly the same. It doesn't matter what a person's religious background is, what their sin background is, or what their political background is-- if the Holy Spirit is working in that person and working in you and you've got the Gospel and you know how to effectively and comprehensively share it, people are open to hear it." Bobby went on to discuss the role of the denomination in working towards a more evangelical message saying, "While we may be doctrinally sound, we need to be more active doers of the Word. What won't work is if the church thinks evangelism is people bringing their friends to church and letting the pastor preach to them and hopefully lead them to the Lord. That won't work. The key to the future in North America for the evangelical church is to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry."
Bobby was also questioned on the political climate and its relationship to evangelism. Bobby replied "One of my greatest fears is that we in America are going to somehow begin to think that if we vote right politically, that relieves us from our evangelistic responsibilities. You cannot depend on this kind of thinking. My fear is that people will think, "If we just get the right man in office, then God is going to bless us." We ought to want the right people in office and pray for them and encourage them and help them. But that will not for one nanosecond relieve us from our responsibility to share the Gospel and extend an invitation. We better stick with the methodology given in the Scripture. My other largest fear is that God is ready and is trying to bring revival out on the streets and in the homes of millions of seekers, but the church will not leave the confines of the walls to go out and share the Gospel with the lost. We in the United States of America have reached a point where, if we do not get back to New Testament evangelism, we're going to be out of business. New Testament evangelism is where you equip and train the people to go into where they live, share the gospel, and not just bring back others to hear good preaching or see the biggest Christmas tree. Now, I'm all for the Christmas tree, but somewhere in there the Gospel has to be shared. Our spiritual future and budget lie out in the highways and byways, not at the church house."
When asked about the pornography problem among today pastor's and its affects on the church Bobby was quick to reply, "God is not going to bless ungodliness. Period. Does that mean God cannot use different people to do different things to do His work? Well, He's used roosters and He's used mules and a lot of different things. He could use anybody, but He's not going to use someone to their full potential if that person is not living a righteous life. I do think pornography is part of the problem. We are absolutely inundated with Internet pornography. Inundated. We are a society heavily distracted, not focusing on God."
Bobby Welch has commited himself to this message of evangelism, often averaging three states a week. Bobby feels strongly that God is leading him in this direction. When asked about it he replied, " For this season God has equipped and prepared me for this with my wife, friends, church, opportunity, and especially with Himself. " Bobby Welch is a dynamic man who is constantly challenging others. But some worry about his ability to keep up this pace. When asked about his work schedule he replied, "Someone in my congregation came to me one day and said, "Pastor, you're really burning the candle at both ends." He was being helpful and caring. Then he said, "You know you'll burn that candle out twice as fast that way." I said, "Well, I guess it's a matter of whether your purpose is to preserve the candle or to make light. My purpose is to make light."