Since 2009 Living Oaks Baptist Church has been working with McAuliffe Elementary School for their meet the teacher night. We provide a snack supper and drinks for the students, teachers, and parents. We also donate bicycles, skateboards, razor scooters, footballs, basketballs, and soccer balls as door prizes for the kids that show up and register. We have also been able to provide every student in the school with a brand new backpack to start the new year. It is always a wonderful night at the school and they are so kind to allow us to work with them.
I share this because I just received several hand-made “Thank You” cards from the students. They are so appreciative that someone would generously give them a special gift. As a church we decided years ago that we wanted to give ourselves away and expect nothing in return. That is how we started this ministry at McAuliffe. Little did I know how much I would personally get from giving without expecting anything in return. But today when I read through the children’s beautiful expressions of gratitude I understood more clearly what Jesus meant when He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
I have been a Southern Baptist since my first day in church when I was enrolled in “Cradle Roll.” I have had many opportunities to attend churches of other denominations. I have spent a great deal of my life searching the Scriptures to ensure what I was being taught is truth. So you will understand if I tell you I have a special place in my heart for the Southern Baptist Convention.
This week I read an article about “America’s View of Southern Baptist” that was especially surprising. It talks about how people are turned off from attending a church when they see it is affiliated with the SBC. Most of those who felt this way were those who are not currently attending a church anywhere. How does this happen? How can a group of individuals who pool their time, money, and lives together have such an effect on those for whom they are trying to reach? If the church is to continue to fulfill it commission given by Jesus we must resolve this issue immediately!
In my personal opinion, this has happened because individual churches are seen as a denominational church and not a community church. I love being a part of the SBC; however, as a pastor my aim is to constantly keep the spiritual needs of our community in front of the church members. We are to be salt and light to the world. Our world just so happens to be in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It is easy for the people in the community to see us as just another Southern Baptist Church if we have the mentality of opening the doors and waiting for people to come in and see how special we are. This was never what Jesus intended. Christians are to go out and engage the community one individual at a time. We are to share that they are so special to God that He sent Jesus to die for them that they might spend eternity with Him.
Please understand, this has nothing to do with whether you need the word “Baptist” or “SBC” on your church sign. What I am saying is this, our communities need to know that we are reaching out to them with the love of Christ. We are not a denomination. We are the bride of Christ. We are the body of Christ. We are to be the heart, hands, and voice of Christ to those who are hurting. As Christians, we are to leave our homes every day knowing that God is going to use us to reach out to others that they might have an opportunity to believe in Jesus Christ.
Come on, Christians—let’s demonstrate to the world that we are not just a denomination or a church building. Let’s show them we are people so filled with gratitude for what Jesus has done for us we want to share it with everyone! Let’s change the opinion of those who don’t know us by getting to know them!
If you would like to read “America’s View of Southern Baptist” please click here.