This is my penultimate Baptist Messenger article—that is, next to the last. On June 25, I will bring my service as Oklahoma Baptists’ executive director-treasurer to an end with a final word of blessing. For now, I want to challenge Oklahoma Baptists to always be mindful of the Main Thing: Advancing the Gospel.

Our Lord gave us clear marching orders, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” ALL is a mighty big word! ALL includes our family, our friends and our neighbors. ALL includes people who are like us and not like us; people who like us and people who dislike us; people near to us and people far, far away; people from every tribe, tongue and nation. We are called to evangelism that results in new disciples of Jesus Christ who will join us to praise His Name forever.

From our beginning, Oklahoma Baptists have been committed to getting the Gospel to people in our territory and every territory on the planet. This global mandate is the primary reason why we work together. Sending and supporting missionaries is not easy or cheap. The great majority of our churches could never do it alone. But, working together, we can fulfill the Great Commission. This brings us to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).

Southern Baptists will gather in Nashville next week for our annual convention. We are anticipating a large group—more than 13,000! We will fellowship, worship, debate and, in some cases, even divide over important and controversial issues. You will probably see some headlines that focus on “hot button” topics. You will probably not see much coverage of the Main Thing—the primary purpose for our cooperative work. So, before we even get started, let me remind you of our One Sacred purpose.

Southern Baptists met for the first time in 1845. In that meeting, the convention voted to form the Foreign Mission Board. In fact, the preamble of the original constitution of the Southern Baptist Convention states the purpose of the SBC as “eliciting, combining and directing the energies of the whole denomination in one sacred effort, for the propagation of the Gospel.” This One Sacred Effort must always be primary for Southern Baptists. Primary means “earliest in time and of chief importance.” Our sacred cooperative effort to advance the Gospel to the nations is both—first in time and first in importance.

So, before our Southern Baptist Convention gathers next week, allow me to suggest what the headlines ought to read. “Southern Baptists Commission 68 New Fully Funded Missionaries.” On June 14, we will do just that! Some of these new missionaries are Oklahoma Baptists. These 68 will join our global missionary force working to fulfill our Lord’s marching orders.

No one does a better job of sending and supporting missionaries than the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. This is the One Sacred Effort that brings us together.