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Welch calls for 'more' in final presidential address
June 26, 2006
By Norm Miller
In a sermon focused on witnessing, baptizing and Cooperative Program missions, Southern Baptist Convention President Bobby Welch concluded his two years of service June 14 at the SBC's annual meeting in Greensboro, N.C.
Preaching from the John 6:1-14 account of the young boy whose five loaves and two fishes ultimately fed 5,000 people, Welch often repeated the word "more."
After reading the passage aloud, Welch said Jesus looked at the crowd and wanted more souls to save.
"Isn't it a wonderful thought that Jesus always has an eye for the crowd?" Welch asked. "He's looking out for the multitude."
Revealing his concern that Southern Baptists aren't looking at the multitudes of non-Christians with the same Christlike compassion because of a waning confidence in the soul-saving power of God, Welch said, "We must rediscover our confidence in the power of God's Gospel to immediately and radically convert and change anybody, anytime, at any place when they will trust Jesus."
Welch, who recently announced his upcoming retirement from his 32-year pastorate at First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Fla., said some Southern Baptists demonstrate a flagging confidence in God's ability to transform someone's life instantly by thinking that lost people "might get more fully converted" if they came to a series of classes and filled in all the blanks in a workbook over a period of several weeks.
"But that is not true," Welch said. While affirming all efforts to bring people to Christ, he said the prevalence of such emphases on convoluted salvation processes in SBC churches is evidence "we somehow have become disconnected from the belief and confidence in our heart that God can bring it all on at one moment at one time at one place — the power of the Gospel to change a soul."
Advising Southern Baptists to ignore distractions, Welch said, "Let me tell you the great fear you've got as a convention. The fear that one day when we all die, God almighty is gonna call us all up together … and cause us to answer for our collective sin of squandering our opportunity as a convention. That's what we need to fear."
Noting he wasn't picking up on any contemporary theme, Welch said the themes of giving and going have been "running through my life for 40 years.
"I didn't get up a message. I'm a man that God got up and sent here to deliver a message," he said. "The Baptists' best bounce for their Baptist buck is through CP [the Cooperative Program]. With the Cooperative Program, everyone can." (BP)