On October 7, Bobby Welch successfully completed his 50-state evangelism tour to encourage Southern Baptists to “Witness, Win and Baptize…ONE MILLION!” in one year. Culminating in the coast of Hawaii, the 25-day tour kicked off the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC)’s “Everyone Can Kingdom Challenge for Evangelism” effort to offset the plateauing levels of membership in the nation’s largest denomination.
Upon reaching his last stop, Welch was greeted by Hawaiian Baptists from all around the island of Kona who welcomed Welch by placing a purple and white lei around his neck.
Welch’s message to the Hawaiian audience was the same one he delivered to all of America: “Instead of going off in all different directions, let’s all pull together as one and make a real impact on this country.”
Welch also commented upon his cumulative experience of the entire tour, where often he and local Southern Baptists went door-to-door evangelizing.
“I have done the same thing in all 50 states and Canada, and my experiences have confirmed suspicions I have had for 30 years,” Welch said.
“Critics have told me, ‘Door-to-door visitation or street witnessing will not work in this part of the country or that part of the country. It’s too confrontational. It’s too intrusive.’
“But you know what?” Welch asked rhetorically. “Every one of the people I have spoken to on this trip have reacted almost the same way. People all over this country are open to a winsome presentation of the Gospel. If you show kindness, genuine care, naturalness and don’t get all worked up when you talk to them, people everywhere will listen to you.
“There is a difference between being intentional and being confrontational. I am not confrontational. I am not talking to people to work out the problems with their theology, even though that will be important on down the line. I am intentionally sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is nothing wrong with that in most people’s eyes,” he said.
“Some people think maybe I am somehow special or gifted to talk to people,” he said. “But that just isn’t true. I believe it is the Holy Spirit who works through me as I intentionally share Jesus Christ with people. He will work through anyone if they will just try.”
Welch said he is praying that many local Southern Baptists will be able to attend the Southern Baptist Convention conference in Nashville, Tennessee next June, where the year-long evangelism effort will officially launch.