In a recent Sunday night discipleship class in an Oklahoma Southern Baptist church, some mature adults were asked to share their definition of the Gospel. A frustrated pastor shared that the results were underwhelming. “I was shocked at how off base or incomplete was their understanding of the Gospel.”
Refocusing the church on the Gospel is the aim of this year’s Missional Ministry Conference at Oklahoma Baptist University, March 24-25. Micah Fries, pastor of St. Joseph, Mo., Frederick Boulevard, is the keynote speaker for the conference. Joining Fries as guest speakers are Alan Bandy and Scott Pace of OBU.
Choosing to focus on the Gospel this year is a cutting edge decision, according to Bob Mayfield, event coordinator and Sunday School and adult discipleship specialist for the BGCO.
“The Gospel is the heart of the church’s message,” Mayfield said. “The Gospel is what separates the church from the Rotary Club and other civic or religious organizations. Although other organizations may help with issues faced in this earthly life, only the Gospel brings meaning to life, conquers death and brings eternal life for the soul. We live in a world where tradition, reason or personal experience has replaced the Gospel, and unfortunately, the church is not exempt from the intrusions of these three imposters.”
A key decision was made this year to move the MMC to Oklahoma Baptist University.
“We realized we need to get next to the upcoming generation of leaders” stated Mayfield, “and moving to OBU helps us do that.”
Students will be visible from the platform leading worship and sharing testimony and prayer. Church leaders are going to have the opportunity to interact with young leaders during the entire conference. In addition, the conference is designed to help a new generation come to grips with the eternal message of the Gospel.
Fries was chosen to be the conference keynote speaker for a number of reasons, and a key reason is his young age. At 32, Fries will be able to connect with the younger OBU student population. But Fries also has the heart of a pastor. Falls Creek Student Evangelism leader Andy Harrison is excited about Fries.
“Micah will definitely connect with OBU students, but he also brings a lot of experience for someone of his age,” Harrison said.
This experience was another important reason Fries was selected as the keynote speaker.
Harrison continued, “The last couple of years, we have brought in the experts in the field of missional ministry. This year, we wanted a practitioner. Micah is not a megachurch pastor. He leads a mid-size church in a county seat town in Missouri. We like the fact that he can relate to where most of our pastors and staff are in their ministries.”
Other speakers for the event include OBU professors Bandy and Pace. Both are relatively new additions to the OBU faculty and bring a fresh perspective to the conference. Mayfield shares, “In the very first session, Bandy is going to share a message about how the Gospel marches through the culture through the local churches in the book of Acts. Thursday evening, Pace is going to share what may be one of the most critical issues facing the church today—apatheism! It is a well done message and so timely! Many church members are unable to distinguish the Gospel from the apatheistic view of our culture today.”
As always, the Missional Ministry Conference offers breakout sessions for pastors, worship leaders and age group leaders. Micah Kersh of Edmond, Henderson Hills will be leading the combined MMC-OBU worship celebration Thursday night. Kersh will also be leading breakout sessions for pastors and worship leaders Thursday afternoon that focus on making the Gospel preeminent in worship. Scott Kindig, student pastor at the Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala. is leading breakout sessions for student and youth leaders. Tommy Sanders of Dallas Baptist University is the seminar leader for childhood leaders.
Also, Jason Hayes, young adult specialist and Threads editor at LifeWay Christian Resources will be leading three seminars focusing on the Gospel and young adults. Hayes’ topics include: The Gospel-Centered Home; Reconnecting Cause and Christ; and Developing Next Generation Leaders.
Another feature this year is a panel of Oklahoma pastors who are impacting their communities in different ways. Varying from traditional to edgy, these pastors will each briefly share their strategy to impact lostness in their communities and then take questions from the audience. This panel discussion is designed to spur the creativity of each participant to bring the gospel message to their local community.
Registration is underway for the Missional Ministry Conference. Early Bird registration of $49 ends Feb. 15, and regular registration of $65 ends March 21. Walk up registration is $80. You may register and pay online at www.missionalministry.net, or contact the Sunday School office by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 405/942-3000, ext 4656.