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TV ads launch Okla. evangelism push

OKLAHOMA CITY (BP)–“Across Oklahoma,” a campaign to blitz the state with the message of Jesus, is expected to be the largest-ever sowing of the Gospel in Oklahoma when it launches today (March 15) with television commercials and continues with a door-to-door effort March 31 for a potential audience of 1.8 million people.

“We’re estimating it takes two weeks for the commercial to get noticed,” Alan Quigley, evangelism specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, said. “Then households are hit with a secondary source, the door hangers. It takes two weeks for people to take action, and that will be Easter Sunday. And that’s what we want to do — bring people to hear the Word of God on Easter.

“We thought when we started this endeavor if we could put the Gospel on 100,000 doors, we would be successful,” Quigley said. “But we are now pushing the 650,000 mark. With an average of 3.2 people per household, we will be getting the Gospel in front of more than 1.8 million people.”

Churches have received a sample packet containing a DVD with the television commercial, all of the printed material options and a radio spot. The state convention will provide clear bags to hang on doors, which will have in them a printed piece with an evangelism tract and a message from BGCO Executive Director Anthony Jordan. Also included in the bags will be the offer of a free book, “The Most Important Thing,” which encourages Christian growth and has information about the OklahomaLife.com website.

Churches may add to the bags information about their ministries, and they can buy billboards, put out yard signs, do radio spots or think of other types of advertising.

“What we are doing is broadcasting the seed,” Quigley said. “This strategy ties everything to the local church and draws attention to the local congregation rather than the larger body of Southern Baptists.”

Jordan said there are more unchurched and unsaved Oklahomans today than at any time in the 100-year history of the state convention.

“The Across Oklahoma emphasis takes us to the streets to touch tens of thousands of Oklahomans with an invitation to return to church on Easter,” Jordan said. “I am overwhelmed with the response thus far of our churches and associations in committing to hit the streets on March 31.

“With the television commercials running at the same time, I believe we will see tremendous results,” Jordan added. “I am proud of Alan Quigley and our evangelism group for challenging all of us to follow the Good Shepherd in seeking after the one lost sheep.”

Quigley said he has heard of several churches working together to make a larger impact. In Stillwater, three pastors discovered they could distribute 80,000 pieces of literature in 20 minutes by following the city’s paper routes.

“They said, ‘If the Stillwater paper can deliver the news every day, we can spend one day delivering the Good News, following paper routes,’” Quigley said.

The Kay Baptist Association in Ponca City has organized a campaign with churches in the association participating in additional media and posting yard signs, and First Baptist Church in Forgan developed a two-month strategy around going door-to-door March 31. Two pastors in the Panhandle were negotiating to buy additional spots on cable stations, and Oklahoma Baptists’ partnership states of Utah and Idaho are planning a crossover event that day, attempting to reach 30,000 homes.

Gibson Largent, former youth minister at Northwest Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, now attends Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and has challenged students there to make 10,000 evangelistic contacts this semester. Largent plans to drive to Oklahoma to participate in the distribution event there.

Chris Forbes, evangelism strategist for the BGCO, said that in his research to find out why people don’t go to church he discovered most people believe they have a relationship to God.

“They said they don’t have time for church, but they do miss relationships church provides,” Forbes said. “And one-fourth of those surveyed said they would attend a Baptist church, so this campaign has a lot of potential.”

The television ads, which are sponsored by some of Oklahoma’s largest churches, will appear throughout the state during all hours of the day and night through April 15. They will be seen during such popular shows as “American Idol,” “Dancing with the Stars,” “Wheel of Fortune,” “Good Morning America,” “Lost,” “Law and Order,” “Oprah,” “Dr. Phil” and “Fox & Friends.”

Estimates are that the average Oklahoma City-area resident will see the Across Oklahoma advertisement 13 times.

Oklahoma Baptists baptized slightly more than 15,000 people in 2006, and Quigley said that was the lowest number of baptisms since the 1940s.

“We have done the poorest job of any generation in reaching lost people. We have not gone into the field. That is the only answer,” Quigley said, noting that, among pastors, nearly four out of five had not attempted to share the Gospel with a lost person in the last six months. “If that is true, what would be the percentage of the laity who failed to share the Gospel?”

Quigley believes the Holy Spirit has been working on a lot of people and they just need the opportunity to do what they know they need to do.

“Some of the harvest from March 31 will come immediately,” Quigley said. “Some will come later. I don’t know when the seed will produce a harvest, but it will.”
Dana Williamson is associate editor of the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger newsjournal, online at www.baptistmessenger.com. To watch the “Across Oklahoma” TV ad, go to www.oklahomalife.com/Video.

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