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Encourage: ‘WE’ are Oklahoma Baptists

On November 11-12, Oklahoma Baptists will gather at Oklahoma City, Quail Springs for our Annual Meeting. I hope you will come and participate, even if you have not in the past.

This is an important year for us. As we move toward the Annual Meeting, I want to reflect on the reason why we exist. Our mission is simple:

We encourage one another to advance the Gospel.

Consider the three primary building blocks of our mission: 1) We, 2) Encourage, 3) Gospel Advance.

Today, let’s think about the significance of the word “We.” Oklahoma Baptists work together as We. “We” and “one another” are vital New Testament words. John Wesley used to say, “The Bible knows nothing of a solitary religion.”

When Jesus saves us, He changes “me” to “We.” The “We” is often described as fellowship. Fellowship, koinonia in the New Testament, describes the deep sharing that followers of Jesus Christ experience. We share a common redemption in Christ Jesus; we share the same experience of grace, and we share the Holy Spirit within.

Christian fellowship is theological, and our fellowship is very practical. Do not overlook the very practical aspect of fellowship in the pages of the New Testament. Our fellowship is a sharing of time, work and money.

“We” stands firm against some other words I hear from time to time; words that I resist. For example, “We” is much better than “it.” The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma can sound like an “it,” an institution—buildings, budgets and boards.

At the core, our cooperative work is a sharing, a fellowship in Christ Jesus. We share time together; we share money together, and we share the work together. Let’s try to eliminate “it” as a pronoun that refers to Oklahoma Baptists.

“We” also stands firm against the word “They.” When a fellow Oklahoma Baptist uses the word “They” to refer to our convention, the word scrapes across my ears like fingernails on a chalk board.

We encourage one another to advance the Gospel. This is not about what They do for me, and it is not what I do for them. We serve one another. We are Oklahoma Baptists.

When we gather in November, consider all the discussions, reports and presentations about our cooperative efforts. You will observe an emphasis on our gatherings, our goings and our giving.
Remember that New Testament fellowship has always involved gathering together (time), going together (work) and giving together (money). These are the tangible, practical spheres in which Christian fellowship is expressed.

I hope that you will come to our annual gathering this year but leave behind “it” and “they.” Oklahoma Baptists, WE encourage one another to advance the Gospel.

Hance Dilbeck

Author: Hance Dilbeck

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