Does giving to the Oklahoma State Missions Offering really make a difference for the work of the Kingdom? Does it make an eternal difference? These are questions worthy of being answered.

The largest single portion of the missions offering goes to support the planting of churches. If you believe churches have eternal impact, then the resounding answer to the above question is “YES!” When a new church is planted, new people are reached with the Good News of Jesus, discipled and united with other believers in a spiritual family.

Oklahoma Baptists plant churches for several important reasons. There are particular people groups in our state who have little or no Gospel witness. The ethnic population of Oklahoma continues to grow, and we must provide churches that relate culturally and linguistically. People groups are not always identified by skin color or language. We have segments of our population who will not attend a traditional church, but will be open to one that connects with their interests. We have seen very successful churches started among cowboys, and one of our stronger new church starts in recent years has been aimed at bikers. In addition, there are new areas in cities where population growth patterns require new churches to reach the new neighborhoods.

Even in a state like Oklahoma, new churches are vitally important because churches around the state are dying. In some cases, neighborhoods have churches that have failed to change with the neighborhood. The older church does not reach out to “those different kinds of people” who have moved in. Only a new church, planted with “those different kinds of people” in mind, will reach the changed neighborhood.

If we are Great Commission people, and I am convinced Oklahoma Baptists are, we must constantly be shifting and moving toward people who do not have a strong Gospel witness or church to reach them. New churches are essential to the task of bringing eternal life to those lost and without a Savior.

But where will we find trained leaders to plant the churches and develop them into strong Bible- believing and Gospel-centered churches? The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) has the ability to train them. Many of the BGCO ethnic churches are planted by bi-vocational leaders, most who have no pastoral or theological training. The BGCO has established the Robert Haskins School of Christian Ministry (RHSCM) to fulfill this type of training. Online training was developed, utilizing mentors, with the bi-vocational leader in mind. Your gifts to the Oklahoma State Missions Offering will make an eternal difference in the development of effective leaders for many smaller churches and new church plants.

The Robert Haskins School is designed so customized training can be provided for each ethnic group. For example, all students will be trained in preaching, but preaching in an Indian church has nuances unique to Native Americans. This is true of each ethnic group. So the RHSCM will have preaching professors who are distinctive to each individual group. Pastoral ministry looks different in an African American church than in a Hispanic church. The RHSCM is designing training exclusive to each ethnic group.

Your state missions offering will provide the funds to continue to develop this school. The goal of RHSCM is to provide practical training that a pastor can use next week in his church. The level of professors for the courses is outstanding, and are the kinds of professors that would be welcomed in any school. Yet, the level of training is practical to the extreme.

BGCO leadership believes the Robert Haskins School of Christian Ministry will become a gold standard for practical training. Men who have a degree in engineering, work a secular job and pastor a church, but who have no ministry training will be able to access online training at home. Others who do not have the education needed to attend college or seminary will find help for effective service in the local church.

Yes, your gifts to the Oklahoma State Missions Offering will make a great impact on eternity. So, I ask you to join Polla and me in giving generously to the offering and making an eternal difference.