Rev. Bobby Welch, the new president of the Southern Baptist Convention, will travel from coast to coast to promote a 1 million-baptism goal for the largest denomination in the U.S.
"The goal is not to fill the church house, but to empty it to go into the fields," Welch said Thursday at Decatur's Central Park Baptist Church, with about 175 people in attendance.
Welch, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Fla., developed the well-known FAITH (Forgiveness, Available, Impossible, Turn and Heaven) plan for evangelism; a program adopted by over 300,000 people around the world.
Prior to his appointment as the SBC president this June, Welch had said evangelism and witnessing would be some of his primary goals in leading the 16 million-member denomination.
Keeping to that goal, Welch, along with his staff and reporters from the SBC’s Baptist Press newspaper, will travel more than 18,000 miles on a chartered bus that has the slogan “Everyone Can!” plastered on the side.
According to Welch, the SBC has never baptized even 500,000 people a year, although the body has 32 times that in membership. Also, some 10,000 of the SBC’s 43,000 churches performed no baptisms last year, which may be part of the reason why the denomination’s membership has “plateau” for the last several decades. Several of the SBC leadership went so far as to say that the membership is actually decreasing, although it is not yet visible.
Therefore, Welch explained that the church needs to get a “unified direction.” Then, a “million baptisms will be routine for Southern Baptists”
Welch also said it is possible; if each of the churches baptize two people per month every year, baptisms will exceed 1 million.