I spent my early years on a farm, and there I learned a very simple but foolproof principle. If you do not sow the seed, you will not reap a harvest—but if you sow, you will reap. That is a concept that even a city slicker can understand. The Scripture applies this principle to the sowing of the seed of the Gospel in multiple texts.
For two years, Oklahoma Baptist churches planted the seeds of the Gospel in a coordinated effort called ACROSS Oklahoma. The gospel message, along with information about our churches, was left on the doorsteps of a combined total of nearly 1.5 million homes in those two years. In addition, television and radio spots were used to get people thinking about church and the Gospel. Did it work?
Last week at the State Evangelism Conference, we announced that for the first time in many years, we experienced a significant upturn in baptisms among our churches. The total was 6.7 percent. While ACROSS Oklahoma was not the only factor in this increase, I assure you the principle laid down in nature and Scripture worked. We sowed the Gospel, and we reaped a harvest.
As a pastor, I learned very quickly that when the church engaged the community, God would send an increase. Regular visitation, creative events and a congregation excited about Jesus ensured that the Gospel would be cast like seeds on the ground. And invariably the Gospel fell on good ground and a harvest resulted.
Also announced at the Evangelism Conference was a new Gospel strategy called MY316. It is not a program, but a strategy developed to train our members to combine two of the most powerful tools available for communication of the Gospel—our story and His story—and use them in their daily lives.
I recently wrote about my journey to the Land of Lottie. One of the things that impressed me the most was the aggressive and powerful use of the personal testimony by believers there. Everywhere I went, followers of Jesus wanted to tell me what life had been like before they met Jesus, how they met Jesus, and the difference Jesus had meant in their lives. It is one of the tools that God is using to stimulate the remarkable growth of Christianity in an often hostile and difficult environment. A believer’s testimony builds a bridge into the lives of others over which the Gospel can walk.
The approach of MY316 is so simple a child can use it—and that means even we adults can. Frankly, I am amazed that we as believers go years without ever telling anyone our story. Can you imagine what impact it would have if we would just tell each member of our family our spiritual story? Traveling home together from a family event, each of us told our story, including our salvation experience and what God was doing in our life at the moment. It was one of the greatest trips ever with our adult children.
The second tool is His story. Like many of you, the very first verse of Scripture I memorized was John 3:16. It is the Gospel in a nutshell, speaking of the love of God, the sacrifice of Christ, the power of faith and eternity—in hell or Heaven. It is the wonderful story of Christ leaving Heaven to come to this Earth with the sole purpose of redeeming a lost world. What a Savior! What a story!
The old hymn says, “We’ve a story to tell to the nations.” That is very true. But our story to the nations needs to begin in our home, our town, our circle of family and friends. It is the story of the Christ Who died, rose from the grave and is coming again. It is a story of the difference He has made in our abundant life here and the glorious life beyond.
My prayer is that every church in Oklahoma will take time to teach and train its members to use their story and His story to touch Oklahoma with the love and truth of Christ. My prayer is that every believer will make MY316 a way of life.
Anthony L. Jordan is executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.