We've noted before that the BGCO spends less than one-tenth as much on "personal" and "ethnic" evangelism as it does on OBU. So today, as Oklahoma Baptist clergy, church staff, and laypeople gather in OKC for the State Evangelism Conference, we are asking people to consider how many more souls could be won for Christ if the BGCO invested heavily in evangelism rather than subsidizing a huge institution with its own $80 million endowment. Even when you include the BGCO's spending on "student evangelism," the convention still contributes six times more to OBU than it does to evangelism efforts.
Since Oklahoma Baptists are very serious about lostness, it seems that they should want to invest as heavily as possible in evangelism efforts. Instead, they send 18 cents on every Cooperative Program dollar to OBU, where 99% of students and 100% of faculty are already Christians!
Not only does OBU not save souls, even it is present form (descending headlong into fundamentalism), it still drives more young people away from literalism, strict orthodoxy, and fundamentalism than it indoctrinates. Empirical evidence shows that Baptists who attend Baptist colleges are more likely to identify as moderates and less likely to be fundamentalists than Baptists who attended secular universities.
Given the fact that hardly anyone who works in evangelism or collegiate ministries for the BGCO came from OBU, Oklahoma Baptists should ask themselves why they are throwing so much money at a school with such a moderating influence on students.
The State Evangelism Conference provides a great opportunity for Oklahoma Baptist clergy and laity to become informed and start a discussion about just how OBU fits into the convention's stated goals and purposes. They have long worried that OBU is "liberal." It's not. Given how dramatically the convention has moved toward fundamentalism in the past 25 years, it's easy to see why they might think that. But it's not easy to see why OBU is a good investment for the convention. Sure, it produces a lot of missionaries (who were called to missions at Falls Creek, not at OBU) and a few fundamentalist pastors. But mostly it produces graduates who leave OBU much more moderate than when they arrived.
OBU graduates will participate in soul winning ministries with or without the BGCO's annual institutional welfare check ($2,500,000.00) But imagine what more Oklahoma Baptist pastors, evangelists, clergy, and laypeople could do for the Kingdom with $2.5 million to invest in training, education, and equipping activities.
Ask yourself: Did any of the SEC '12 speakers besides the current BGCO president graduate from OBU? And while you're in OKC, ask the BGCO power brokers why six of your hard-earned offering plate dollars go to OBU for every one that goes toward student, ethnic, or personal evangelism.
Get updates from the conference here.