The New Testament constantly confronts readers with the “one another” concept. Sometimes these words are used very specifically, targeted to Christians helping and encouraging another person. In other contexts, the concept is pointed toward the partnership of churches as they seek to impact lostness or meet the needs of brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering.
Throughout the years in SBC life, cooperation, collaboration and partnership have been the hallmarks of our growth and impact for Christ. In spite of differences that at times have been sharp, we have found a way to pull together. We have always seen our “together” approach as more impactful and effective.
In recent days, we have become more and more fragmented, much like our culture. “Me” and “my” have replaced “us” and “one another.” At each level of denominational life, separation and individualism have replaced our “one another” approach to ministry and mission. More and more churches focus on their own individual ministries and missions rather than “our” mission to reach the state, nation and world with the Gospel. Every level of the SBC seems to be seeking ways to take advantage of “me-ism” and garner support for their own cause. It is a sad day.
That is why “Strategic Focus Communities,” a work funded by our “together” giving through the State Missions Offering, is so significant. It brings together the local church, association and state convention to impact lostness in an immediate geographical area. This concept intensifies the strength of churches working together to take the Gospel to the streets and countryside to advance the Kingdom of God in the surrounding area.
BGCO specialist Jim Brunk works with the director of associational missions to bring together pastors and associational leaders to dream new dreams of evangelism and missions in their city and county. Strategic plans are made for a three-year period for evangelistic outreach that often engages churches together. Prayer events, block parties, festivals in the Hispanic community, evangelism training, door-to-door evangelism and other special evangelistic events are done in a “together” atmosphere.
It is not unusual for associational leaders and pastors to discover the need for new church plants. In fact, this process has proven to be the source of many new churches planted in Oklahoma each year. Numerous cowboy, biker and ethnic churches have been birthed through a strategic focus on the immediate area of ministry. This approach reveals the best in missional efforts that result in new disciples congregationalized through new churches.
All of this takes time, effort and money. That is where the “one another” concept is at its best. Strategic Focus Communities draws together leaders who take new steps of outreach and ministry within their communities. All of us are able to come alongside them through giving to the State Missions Offering to assist in planting churches and carrying out mission projects and evangelistic events. Your gifts to the Oklahoma State Missions Offering make it possible to cooperate and accomplish more together than can be done alone.
The results are very telling. Where this approach is implemented, baptisms go up, church attendance increases and spiritual fervor results. The idea is as old as the New Testament itself—believers helping other believers and churches helping other churches impact lostness.
In some parts of the SBC, this “together” approach may now be on the ropes. Not so in Oklahoma. We know that our work for and with “one another” is biblical and effective. We are stronger and have greater impact when we work and give together. I challenge you and your family to come alongside other Oklahoma Baptists in giving generously to the Oklahoma State Missions Offering. We can do more together than alone!
Anthony L. Jordan is executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.