Yellow shirts, resolutions and elections, oh my! These will be a few of the sights and sounds of the 107th Annual Meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO), Nov. 11-12 at Broken Arrow, First.
This year’s meeting, which is based on the theme of “Serve,” promises to be special in many ways. First, on Monday evening, Oklahoma Baptists will celebrate the 40th anniversary of one of our crown-jewel ministries, Disaster Relief. During the evening session, messengers and attendees will see a sea of yellow shirts, the trademark outfit of DR volunteers and enjoy a brand-new video documentary about the first 40 years of service and ministry.
Messengers to the Annual Meeting also will hear powerful sermons from God’s Word from BGCO President, Nick Garland, pastor of Broken Arrow, First, the BGCO’s Anthony L. Jordan and Larry Nigh, pastor of Ponca City, Northeast. The times of music and worship are always special. Important business will be conducted, as messengers elect officers and consider important resolutions on key social and spiritual topics.
Aside from these attractions and business matters, just why is it so important to meet every year? In this technological age, can we not conduct our business virtually? Consider these reasons:
Many families use Skype or Face Time to place video phone calls. To see the grandkids on a screen and hear their voices can mean so much. Yet there is no substitute for being in the same room and a receiving hug.
While the event will be streamed on the Web (www.bgco.org), there is no substitute for the in-person fellowship. It is important to remember that, as writer Christian George said, “Christ came as a person, not a pixel.”
The higher tech we become as a society, the higher touch we must become, and the Annual Meeting is the best opportunity for this.
What separates Southern Baptists from, say, Independent Baptists or non-denominational groups? There are theological and methodological differences we could point to, but fundamentally it is that we are bound to one another by real ties and cooperate with one another willingly.
If we forsake assembling for the Annual Meeting, we miss a great part of cooperation and coordination. In an age of Christianity where churches are more tempted to “do their own thing,” this meeting is a way for us to sing off the same page and better coordinate our efforts.
A great example of this for 2013 will be the ReConnect Sunday School initiative, which will be a major focus of the Annual Meeting. This small-groups ministry movement is reawakening churches to the power and potency of Sunday School in the 21st Century. We can do more together than alone through efforts like this.
It has been said that there are no Lone-Ranger Christians, to which I say, “Amen!” It also has been said that while Southern Baptists churches are autonomous, they are not an island. We are, as Baptists, a chain of island or body of land, that put together become a significant part of the Body of Christ.
Through missions here and internationally, through ministries and organizations we treasure, we are Oklahoma Baptists. The Annual Meeting is the best time to hear what God is accomplishing through our shared work and thereby discern what His will is for our future.
There are many things you could do with your time on this particular Monday and Tuesday, but there is no chance you will regret investing those hours by taking part in the Annual Meeting in Broken Arrow. See you there!
P.S. During October, pastor appreciation month, ads and features within the pages of the Messenger gave church members ideas of how to honor your pastor. On page 12 of this issue, there is a special message from to pastors to conclude this special month.