Four months into his goal of leading churches in the Southern Baptist Convention to record 1 million baptisms in a single year, SBC president Bobby Welch has some catching up to do.
According to a table on Welch’s “Everyone Can Kingdom Challenge” Web site, just 80 churches had reported a total of 898 baptisms as of Dec. 31. The number is not yet updated for January.
Welch officially announced his goal of a million baptisms in 2005-2006 at the SBC annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn., in June. The first baptism in the count took place shortly after midnight on Oct. 1 in Kirbyville, Texas.
Welch, in his second one-year term as SBC president, asked all 1,183 local Baptist associations across the nation to hold two “associational baptism rallies” between Oct. 1, 2005, and Sept. 30, 2006. He also urged churches to emphasize baptism on Nov. 27, 2005, Easter Sunday 2006 and Sept. 24, 2006.
“We need to pray, pray, pray, give, give, give, and go, go, go as we never ever have in all of our convention’s history for the sake of lost and dying souls, for the sake of Jesus Christ, and for the sake of the Kingdom of God,” Welch said in a quote on the Everyone Can Web site.
There are more than 43,000 Southern Baptist churches nationwide. They baptize on average about 400,000 people a year. But few appear to have embraced Welch’s particular emphasis.
Seventy-seven churches show up in a database church for the city of Nashville, Tenn., and not a single one has entered any baptism information.
Welch’s own church, First Baptist Church of Daytona Beach, Fla., reported 38 baptisms in the four months October 2005-January 2006.
In 2004 Welch launched a nationwide bus tour, visiting all 50 states in 25 days to publicize his goal to “witness, win and baptize” 1 million persons. He stopped at Baptist churches along the way and made it a point to share the gospel with at least one person as a way to lead by example.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.