We encourage one another to advance the Gospel. With that sentence, I am stating the purpose of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma as we gather together for our annual business meeting. We are a partnership, a fellowship of churches working to spur one another on in the Lord’s work. The Lord’s work is the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Paul employs the idea of the advancement of the Good News of Jesus. “Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the Gospel” (Phil. 1:12 NASB). The word translated “greater progress” has a rich history. It carries the idea of making headway in spite of adverse blows. Thus, our English translations use words like furtherance, progress and advance. Even while Paul is in prison, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is advanced.

We work to advance the Gospel of Jesus in our communities, our state and to the ends of the earth. We share the Good News with our neighbors, and we send our sons and daughters to the nations with the Gospel. As I write these words, 25 more Oklahoma Baptists are in Richmond, Va., making final preparations to go with the Gospel through the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. Our business is Gospel advance.

We believe that healthy churches are the Lord’s plan for the progress of the Gospel and that healthy pastors are the key to healthy churches. Healthy churches advance the Gospel of Jesus through two strategic priorities: We make disciples and we embrace brokenness as opportunity for the Good News of Jesus.

“It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31-32). We can impact our communities by wading into all that ails us with the message of Christ crucified and risen. We are confident that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes!

Ultimately, we pursue the glory of God. The people of God advance the Gospel of God for the glory of God. We work so that all the peoples will praise Him, so that our neighbors and the nations will know the Lord like we know Him and join us in worship around His throne. He is worthy, and we want them to know it. So, our dream is to be a family of churches, healthy and strong, who are working together to advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ unto the glory of God.

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen” (Eph. 3:20-21).

In 2019, we are going to do what Paul believes we will do—we are going to think and ask. We will think, dream, imagine how we might best do our cooperative work; we will fall on our faces before the Father and ask Him to do what only He is able to do.

Father, use us to glorify Your Name as we advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ.