Monday, January 2, 2012

Money Monday: Falls Creek a Better Bet for OK Baptists

Literally thousands of Oklahoma teenagers walk down the aisle, pray the sinner's prayer, and accept Jesus into their hearts as lord and savior at Fall's Creek every summer.

According to Cooperative Program projections, the BGCO spends $4.3 million a year to operate Falls Creek and derives a little over $4 million in income from rent and registration fees.  The net subsidy, then, is about $250,000 (compared to $2.5 million for OBU).  In other words, the BGCO spends ten times more on OBU than Falls Creek.

Unfortunately for the BGCO, Falls Creek is a significantly better investment.  The camp and conference center reports that each year, 45,000 young people attend summer camp there (almost 15% of the teenage population of Oklahoma).  Usually, more than 5,000 make decisions for Christ (including over 2,000 professions of faith and more than 500 decisions for special service).  In addition, more than 35% of Oklahoma Baptist pastors and church workers were saved or received their call to ministry at Falls Creek. And nearly a quarter of Baptist missionaries with Oklahoma ties trace their call to missions back to Falls Creek.

OBU, on the other hand, has nearly the opposite effect on young people.  Young Baptists who go to OBU emerge less fundamentalist than those who attend state universities.  OBU sends a significant number of its ministry graduates to moderate seminaries like Baylor, Duke, and Princeton rather than the preferred fundamentalist SBC seminaries.  As for missionaries, many OBU students make other plans because they decide they do not want to serve under the banner of the fundamentalist Southern Baptist missions agencies which, among other things, require new recruits (and career missionaries) to sign the revised Baptist Faith and Message.

Yet, for some reason, the BGCO is fine with spending ten times more on OBU than on Falls Creek.  If the limited Cooperative Program dollars were spent more efficiently, the BGCO could easily commit more money to Falls Creek capital and operating expenses, offer scholarships to needy campers, and dramatically increase the number of people saved through its robust camping ministry.  But BGCO elites would prefer the power and prestige associated with making sure OBU becomes a fundamentalist Bible academy.  They would apparently rather tell the power brokers in Nashville that they resisted moderates than that they dramatically increased the number of people were saved or heard and answered calls to ministry and missions.

One final note:  When Baptist Building elites attempt to justify their need to continue to own and operate OBU, they frequently cite the number of IMB and NAMB missionaries who attended college at OBU.  This is a bit misleading, and I think the Falls Creek people know that their camp has more to do with Oklahoma Baptists' outsized contribution to the missionary ranks:
During the past 90 years, there have been over 200,000 documented decisions. Many of these decisions have been in response to God's call to full-time missions and ministry. Falls Creek is one of the reasons that Oklahoma Baptists have more missionaries on the foreign and home mission field than any other state in the Southern Baptist Convention.

With or without BGCO control of OBU, Oklahoma would send just as many people into the mission fields and just as many men into the clergy profession.  In fact, given OBU's moderating influence on students and the BGCO's opportunity to increase Falls Creek funding if it relinquished control of OBU, it's plain to see that Oklahoma Baptists would contribute even more missionaries and pastors to Southern Baptist life if the BGCO gave up its control of OBU.

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