I have spent a lot of time in board and committee meetings across the years. In fact, I often tell people that if one makes it to Heaven by attending meetings, I overshot Heaven many years ago! Some people think of board meetings as a place to be bored. That may be so in some places, but it is not true in Oklahoma. I just finished a round of board meetings of our affiliate organizations and the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO). Each meeting was exciting because of the tremendous work accomplished for the glory of the Father!
In some state and national board meetings, the focus is on political maneuvering, time is spent haggling over the way money is divided, and every issue is laced with a backdrop of competing agendas. Healthy discussion in the context of competing ideas and brotherly disagreement without being disagreeable is always appropriate when handled in the right spirit. But how refreshing to attend our Oklahoma board meetings to hear people excited about, and united around, Kingdom mission.
Most of our BGCO and affiliate board meetings are filled with rejoicing as we hear of the difference being made by Oklahoma Baptists in a myriad of places. I am privileged to attend the affiliate board meetings. I hear of children’s lives being transformed and given hope and a home at Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children. While at a Baptist Village Communities meeting, I revel in the way we are serving our seniors. Or hear of the number of students on mission this summer from Oklahoma Baptist University, and that more missionaries serve under appoint from OBU than any other school in the nation!! Or consider the millions of dollars returned to the work of the Kingdom because of the investments held by The Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma. Add to this the stories of families served through disaster relief or the number of lives changed for eternity through CrossTimbers, Falls Creek, and Baptist Collegiate Ministries. WOW! I stay on a high all the time.
There is a common thread through the myriad of stories we hear at these meetings. It is the undergirding of the work provided through the Cooperative Program. Every church in Oklahoma has a share in the success of these ministries because of the Cooperative Program. Yes, we raise other money, but the consistent and significant impact on ministry comes because churches are committed to a unified approach to support through the Cooperative Program.
Last week, I stood before almost 300 graduates, their families and friends, at OBU and told them that during their four years of study, Oklahoma Baptists through the Cooperative Program have invested $10 million in their education. Every Oklahoma Baptist church, no matter how small in size or contribution, participated in preparing these tremendous students to engage their world for Jesus. Little becomes much when pooled together!
Some would say we should walk away from these ministries and focus our resources internationally. I respect the passion demonstrated by these people. Yet, I believe it is short-sighted. First, we are admonished to reach and disciple at every point on the Acts 1:8 scale. Second, the missionaries for international missions come from CrossTimbers, Falls Creek, and OBU through our churches. Third, pure and undefiled religion is reflected in our care for widows and orphans. It is not an either/or but a both/and.
I don’t want to ever take for granted the wonderful privilege to serve Oklahoma Baptists. We are so blessed. We have tremendous leaders in our churches and cooperative ministries. Our together ministries are seeing some of their greatest impact in the history of Oklahoma Baptists. Oklahoma Baptist churches, more than any other state, believe and give through the Cooperative Program to keep strong these vital ministries that impact near and far.
So with all the board meetings I attend, I can honestly say I am not bored—NO, I am fired up, blessed, and excited! And if I can say so, I am proud of the spirit and accomplishments of our cooperative efforts together. Bless you, Oklahoma Baptists. You are the best.