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Sword & trowel: Resolved

Sometime after we feast at Thanksgiving and step toward the New Year, many people begin to think about making resolutions for 2020. Speaking of resolutions, on Tuesday, Nov. 12, messengers to the 113th meeting of Oklahoma Baptists approved eight resolutions. I will highlight a few that were of particular interest.

Resolution No. 2, “On Brokenness as Opportunity for the Gospel” recognized “that Oklahoma has vast areas of social and personal brokenness. These issues are wide-ranging, including substance abuse/addiction, a foster care crisis, high incarceration rates, abortion, hunger, pornography and more.”

Cable TV news would tell us these are simply social problems, and all we need to do is assign blame to someone for them.

Meanwhile, echoing the life of Jesus, the resolution reminds us “we can embrace brokenness as an opportunity for the Gospel. We commit to help our neighbors in need through the saving message of Jesus Christ. We will embrace brokenness as an opportunity for the Gospel.” This Christ-like mindset can power effective ministry.

Resolution No. 3, “On Increasing Baptisms in Oklahoma” addressed the plateaued and declining baptism rates in Oklahoma.” The resolution went on to say, “As Southern Baptists, we recognize the importance of baptism, knowing it is the first step of discipleship. As part of a renewed focus on evangelism in Oklahoma, we will pray and seek to increase baptisms in Oklahoma by 20 percent by 2025, trusting the Lord to give the increase. This baptism goal pushes the priority of evangelism and feeds our focus on discipleship and church membership.” If Baptists cannot focus more on baptism, then we ought to consider a name change. I’m grateful for this special focus on baptism.

Resolution No. 5 was “On Increasing Missions Sending.” It said, “We will pray for, call out and encourage Oklahoma Baptists to go as journeymen and career missionaries. This focus on sending more journeymen and career missionaries through the International Mission Board (IMB) will ultimately spill over to increased sending through other pathways.”

International missions, in many ways, is the reason we cooperate as Southern Baptists. May the Lord call out and send more laborers into the harvest, starting right here in Oklahoma.

Resolution No. 7 dealt with the issue of abortion. Previous Oklahoma Baptist annual meetings have spoken into this issue, with as many as a dozen resolutions on the topic in recent years. The 2019 resolution, though, was perhaps the strongest ever.

The resolution said, “We… believe in the sanctity of human life, that every person—born and unborn—is created in God’s image and deserves life. We are deeply grieved that the barbaric practice of abortion continues in Oklahoma. We are horrified to know the abortion rate is increasing in Oklahoma, recognizing the loss of each one of these unborn children is a tragedy.

“We are calling on Oklahoma Baptists to unite toward positive and effective efforts that build a culture of life and that work to end abortion. Through fervent prayer, preaching, legislative efforts, education, volunteering and more, we pledge to renew our efforts to promote life and protect the unborn. With God’s help, we will work to see a day in which every unborn child in Oklahoma and America is protected. Finally, we call upon the Oklahoma State Legislature to enact legislation that calls for the immediate end of abortion without exception or compromise.”

Other resolutions deal with key topics, like increasing Sunday worship attendance, encouraging the pastors of Oklahoma and more. Though resolutions are technically non-binding, they do provide a strong framework for ministry and action going forward.

With God’s help, the resolutions of 2019 will serve as a springboard to great ministry in 2020 and beyond.

Brian Hobbs

Author: Brian Hobbs

Brian is editor of The Baptist Messenger.

View more articles by Brian Hobbs.

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