America’s View of Southern Baptists

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.

Life Saving Call

Each year at Christmas the Southern Baptist Convention takes up the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.  One hundred percent of this offering goes directly to missionaries serving all around the world.  As part of this offering, we always have The Week of Prayer for International Missions.  Sometimes, they share stories of the challenges missionaries face.  Other times, we can read about the individuals they are ministering to or the people groups they are working with.  In honor of this week of prayer, I want to share with you some of the testimonies of those who have given their lives to serve far away from home in obedience to the call of Jesus.

Today, I want to share with you the story of Kiyoshi Sugioka, a 53-year-old man from Tokyo, Japan from the IMB website:

Kiyoshi Sugioka entered the busy Tokyo train station with a single purpose in mind – to end his life. Dressed in a business suit and dress shirt, the 53-year-old looked like any of the hundreds of Japanese businessmen crowding the station.

But on that day in July 2009, Sugioka’s life was dramatically different from those surrounding him at the station. He had hit rock bottom. In one year, Sugioka had lost two jobs, his family, his home, his honor and even his identity. Sugioka was unemployed and homeless.

He stood at the edge of the platform, preparing to jump. Then he remembered a phone number he had in his wallet. IMB missionary Josh Park had given him his cell phone number when he had met him two months before. Sugioka called Park from the station.

“When I saw him … he was in really bad shape,” Park said. “He look tired, weary and worn out. “I just listened to him talk,” Park continued. “I remembered that he wasn’t interested in hearing the Gospel … then he said, ‘Tell me about God.'” After Park shared the plan of salvation, Sugioka prayed to receive Christ. Following a few weeks of discipleship, Sugioka was baptized in Tokyo’s Tama River in August 2009.

“He introduced me to God and Christ,” Sugioka recalled. “It was a world I didn’t know. I felt like I was born again.” Park didn’t learn until later that Sugioka had been on the brink of suicide when he called. Southern Baptists provide Park with the cell phone service that costs about $50 a month. Thank you for giving so Sugioka could make a life-saving call.

To read more about Kiyoshi Sugioka story click here. If you would like to follow all of the testimonies from the International Mission Board you can click here.

If you would like to help support missionaries all around the world please send a check to:  Living Oaks Baptist Church, 8855 East 91st Street, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 74133.  Please write “Lottie Moon” on the memo line. One hundred percent of all the gifts we receive will go to help missionaries share the good news of Jesus.