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These folks raised the standard & they intend to keep it there

INOLA, Okla. (BP)–While many churches suffer through the summer doldrums each year, one Oklahoma church decided it didn’t want business as usual this year.
As a result, First Baptist Church, Inola, in the Tulsa area had its second-highest attendance of the year in July as church members were challenged to “raise the standard” all month.
Pastor Mike Butler said the idea came about during a Sunday school council meeting.
“They were talking about summer attendance, and someone said, ‘We need to raise the standard,’” Butler said.
So, plans started for the church’s “Raise the Standard” month.
The first emphasis was “Raise the Standard in the Country” on July 4. The church was decorated with 161 flags, one for each member who served in the U.S. armed forces.
Veterans brought the U.S. flag in and posed in a stance reminiscent of the Iwo Jima memorial. Another person dressed as the Statue of Liberty and a quartet sang, “God Bless the USA.”
In addition, a man dressed as “Rocky Balboa,” from the “Rocky” movies, challenged the congregation to “Lift High the Standard.”
For “Raise the Standard in the Family,” the choir performed a musical, “Love Will Be Our Home,” that included a young boy singing, “Every other Saturday I get to be with you.” The church leaders passed out family devotions and asked members to turn the TV off for a week. Sunday night services were moved to Tulakogee Assembly, the Tulsa Metro Association campgrounds near Ft. Gibson.
Members painted City Hall and invited city service people such as firefighters, police and the school superintendent to church services, where they were presented plaques. Church members wrote thank-you notes to city service people, and the church gave copies of the Ten Commandments to Inola Public Schools for display in the schools.
Butler challenged members to give their best, do their best, look their best and be their best to “Raise the Standard at Church.” As part of the emphasis, 50 people signed up for FAITH witnessing training, and another 40 are on the waiting list for FAITH training. All told, 100 people committed to witness for Christ.
Butler said the series impacted the church, helping members to realize the need to commit their lives to making a difference. He said it also made a difference in the community.
“The city council was kind of amazed that we wanted to paint City Hall,” the pastor said. “It was going to cost them a lot of money to do that. They were surprised that we wanted to do it for free.”
Thirty-three volunteers painted the building in one day, including senior adults, young adults, children and youth. Anchor Paint donated the paint.
In addition, the church repainted the longhorn hoofprints leading into the high school football stadium.
With the thank-you cards also going to city officials, Butler said leaders told him they “couldn’t believe the church would invest that time in the community.”
“This is as close as I’ve seen to a church and school being the hub of a community,” Butler said. “Our community looks to the church to see what we’re going to do next.”
For the church, the emphasis served its purpose: Sunday school attendance was up by more than 100 over the previous July, with an average of 561 attending in a town of 1,500 people.
More importantly, people’s attitudes have changed.
“They don’t want to let the standard down,” Butler said.

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  • Dave Parker