“He said this.”
“She said that.”
The American public is obsessing over every detail of the Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump presidential race, exerting an unusual amount of energy in this election.
To be fair, this is an historic election, with untold consequences for many years to come. Yet I wonder, what if we spent as much time and energy talking with our neighbors this fall, not focusing them on an election, but instead on the idea of eternity?
The very idea of eternity and eternal life in Christ is at the heart of two important opportunities this fall for Oklahoma Baptists and others.
The first comes in the annual State Missions Offering, which, aside from the Cooperative Program, is how we fund joint efforts among Oklahoma Baptists to take the Gospel to every person in this state.
The theme of the 2016 offering is “Eternity” and was inspired by a man named Arthur Stace, an Australian man who, after being radically saved, spent every day of his life anonymously writing the word “eternity” with sidewalk chalk throughout the streets of Sydney. Stace tried to focus people away from the trivial toward the eternal, and his efforts remind us that we too can spread the message of eternity in our state.
The next great opportunity to focus on eternity this fall relates to the Connect>1 Evangelism Campaign. Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) staff members Bob Mayfield and Christina Beverage and others have spent a great deal of time getting materials ready for churches.
Through a variety of promotions and preparations, the BGCO has introduced an evangelism strategy that is usable by any Sunday School class, teaching church members how to share the Gospel. An exciting development related to Connect>1 this fall came because of a partnership between the BGCO and LifeWay.
As reported by the Baptist Messenger, the fall quarter curriculum of Bible Studies for Life, for 12 weeks, beginning on Sept. 4, will equip Oklahoma Baptists (and many others around the nation) with a Gospel presentation based on Romans 5:8, “But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!”
Included in this curriculum is six sessions titled “The Unvarnished Truth,” written by Oklahoma pastor Blake Gideon, of Edmond, First. These sessions encompass the heart of Connect>1 and will be utilized to equip and engage Oklahoma Baptists with the Gospel. These will lay a framework for the “3151 Challenge” (that is, Pray for 3 lost people, Learn 1 Gospel presentation, Invite 5 to church, Share the Gospel 1 time).
Because of this movement, Oklahoma’s evangelism campaign hopefully will lead the way to a fresh wave of evangelism across America.
Some key dates related to Connect>1 are Soul Winning Challenge Day on Oct. 2, where church members will take all that they have learned and begin to live it outside the church walls. On Nov. 6—just two days before Election Day—churches will have a Celebration Sunday and host baptisms for those who have come to know Jesus throughout the campaign. It truly will be a day of celebration in Oklahoma Baptist churches, seeing eternal impact!
While the stakes of the 2016 Election are high, the stakes of eternity are highest. C.S. Lewis put it this way. He said, “Christianity asserts that every individual human being is going to live forever… Now there are a good many things which would not be worth bothering about if I were going to live only seventy years, but which I had better bother about very seriously if I am going to live forever.”
Therefore, this fall and beyond, we need to be bothering about and busy sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ and the eternal life that only He brings.