While most churches have a budget that ends at year-end, the church year (Sunday School year) for most Oklahoma churches ends on September 30th. That means that churches are doing two important things – baptizing those who have made professions of faith through the summer and preparing to report their vital statistics to the Convention. First, let me talk about the importance of baptizing new believers. It is a part of the process of winning the world to Christ. In His Great Commission Jesus commands His disciples to go and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Baptizing was so novel to people of that day. There was a baptism in Judaism, but it was a baptism of repentance like practiced by John the Baptist. Few people ever experienced this baptism because few ever repented in a way that required a public expression. What Jesus taught was even fuller! Jesus instructed the disciples to baptize into the names of the persons of the Trinity. He was teaching them that they are a new creation, born again into a new family, God’s family. Those who believed submitted themselves to a public demonstration of the decision to commit their lives to Jesus Christ. I wish we had more visible, public baptisms down in the river instead of inside the baptistry.
The second important thing that churches do at this time of year is to report their progress in the gospel by completing the Annual Church Profile report. There are only a few questions on the ACP, essential questions about attendance, baptisms, missions projects, finances, etc. The questions are not invasive at all. We use the data to see progress, to identify needs, and to identify churches that are in trouble. They say that there are three things that churches must do be Baptist – support, report, and spell it correctly on the marquee! By the way we are Baptists because we baptize believers, so it doesn’t make sense to spell it babtist! Completing the ACP at the end of the year is so important. Please make sure it is submitted by October 15th, so we can have a summary of all our church in the Book of Reports for our Association’s Annual Meeting on November 6th at FBC Cordell! Please thank your Church Clerk for their faithfulness in keeping membership records and for submitting your church’s ACP each year.