PERSPECTIVE: A high five
Oklahoma Baptists are a people on mission. Sermons, bulletin and worship announcements, and newsletters all are filled with challenges to be involved in ministry and mission projects. We are passionate about reaching the world with the Gospel.
There is a growing commitment among Southern Baptists to plant churches in our state, nation and world. BGCO and associational leaders spend a great deal of time encouraging churches and members to invest time and money in mission trips. We are a people on the move. Today hundreds of BGCO churches are sending teams throughout the nation and around the world to participate in the task of spreading the Good News to the ends of the Earth.
There is a constant appeal to give through the Cooperative Program and to mission offerings to develop healthy churches, train leaders for the churches and the mission field and support dynamic efforts to reach a lost world. While the economy has taken its toll on giving, Oklahoma Baptists continue to be generous in their support of missions.
Although we have experienced two difficult years, Oklahoma churches continue to be among the best in percentage giving through the Cooperative Program. The national average is an abysmal 5.8 percent of undesignated gifts through the Cooperative Program; in Oklahoma we are just below 9 percent. In addition, we are on pace to possibly give a record Lottie Moon Christmas Offering even during the worst economic climate since the Great Depression.
A little known fact that needs to be exposed is the amount of money that stays in Oklahoma and the amount given to national and international causes. Currently, every dollar given through the Cooperative Program is divided 40 percent for SBC causes and 60 percent for Oklahoma missions and ministry. But when you add together, the Cooperative Program dollars and the money churches give to state, national and international mission offerings and then look at the division of dollars, the picture is much different. Oklahoma Baptists gave 51 percent of our mission dollars beyond our borders in 2010.
Perhaps in the midst of leading our people to pray, give and go, we need to stop and give thanks to God for what has occurred. Maybe we need to clear a spot and have a celebration of the work of God in and through our churches. Oklahoma Baptists are generous people. We are a mission-centered people. As Oklahoma Baptists, we do have the world on our hearts.
Rejoice and praise God for His mighty work of grace among us! Give yourself permission to stop challenging for just a moment and lift a joyous shout to God. Praise Him that even in the midst of pull back and budget cuts, Oklahoma Baptists have stayed by the stuff. We have not relented in our desire to see a world come to Christ, both within our borders and beyond. Can we do better? Sure. But for the moment, let’s just rejoice together. Give one another a high five.
Anthony L. Jordan is executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.