Our Vision

Why Oak Park Baptist Exists as a Church

The reason we exist as a church can be summarized in a single sentence based on two key scriptures.

We believe a Great Commitment to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission will grow a Great Church.

The Great Commandment: "Jesus said, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart...soul...and mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.  All the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments."  (Matthew 22:36-40)

The Great Commission: "Jesus said, 'Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:19-20)

To "Love God with all your heart: is WORSHIP
To "Love your neighbor as yourself" is MINISTRY
To "Go...make disciples" is EVANGELISM & MISSIONS
To "Baptize..." is to INCORPORATE INTO FELLOWSHIP
To "Teach them...all things" is DISCIPLESHIP

 

Our Purpose

GROWING OAKS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS IN THE COMMUNITY OF FAITH     

In February of 1998 we adopted a brief purpose statement to help us focus our ministry.  "Growing Oaks of Righteousness" is based on Isaiah 61:3.  When Jesus went to His hometown of Nazareth after He began His ministry, He was offered the scroll of Isaiah.  He opened the scroll to the passage recorded in Isaiah 61:1-2.  Verse 3 is the continuation of the first two verses.  Here’s the way it reads.

1The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me;  because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek;  He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;  2To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all that mourn;  3To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.  (Isaiah 61:1-3)

The focus in verse 3 is on what the Lord would do for Israel and on what the Lord would do and is doing for us and through us.  Toward the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry He gave us a task to accomplish with a promise of the power to do it.  Some people call this task the Great Commission.

18And Jesus came and spoke unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in Heaven and in earth.  19Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, 20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.  (Matthew 28:18-20)

Jesus clearly said we are to make disciples.  But in order to make disciples, you have to be a disciple, because discipleship is taught as much by living examples as by formal teaching.  So what does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus or in other words, what does it mean to be a growing oak of righteousness?  Just as all living things must have food and water and nurture to grow to maturity, so it is with the disciple of Jesus.  A good balanced "diet" for Christian growth includes (but is not limited to) the following... Worship, evangelism/missions, discipleship, fellowship, and ministry. These five essentials make up the basic structure of our Mission Statement.

Our Mission

 

The mission of the Oak Park Baptist Church is to Glorify the Lord in worship, to Reach people with the Good News of the Gospel, to Apply God’s word in our daily lives, to Cultivate Christian fellowship, and to Empower believers in ministry.  Our mission field begins in Gainesville, Florida, and extends to the ends of the earth.

The word, GRACE, used an an acrostic, describes our mission.

Grace acrostic

To glorify the Lord is one way of expressing the concept of WORSHIP.  The word Worship, comes from the Anglo-Saxon word Weorthscipe, which was modified to worthship, and finally to worship.  It means "to attribute worth".  Worship of God, then, is an active response to God whereby we declare His worth.  To love God with all our heart, soul, and mind is an expression of how we are to worship God. (See Matt. 22:37)

Reaching people with the gospel is a description of EVANGELISM. Jesus said that we, as believers, would be His witnesses. (See Acts 1:8)  We witness with our lifestyle and we witness with our words.  To be an effective witness, the two must coincide.  MISSIONS are a coordinated effort to reach people with the gospel and to establish churches and ministries.

Applying God’s word in our daily lives refers to DISCIPLESHIP.  A disciple is a follower or a learner.  Some of the basic disciplines of a follower include Prayer, Bible Study, Stewardship, and being On Mission with God.  Prayer is communication with God - talking to God and listening to God.  We are instructed to pray at all times or to maintain an attitude of prayer without ceasing. (See Eph. 6:18)  Fervent prayer can accomplish a lot. (See James 5:16)

Bible Study is important because the Word of God is our guidebook for faith and action.  The Bible is the Holy inspired Word of God. (See II Timothy 3:16-17)  As such, it is our foundation for absolute truth, moral values, instruction, and ministry.

Stewardship is a word often only associated with the giving of money.  This is a very important aspect of stewardship because all ministries are financed with the tithes and offerings of God’s people.  For a Biblical principle on giving, see Luke 6:38.  However, the word has a much broader meaning.  Peter says that we are stewards or managers of the grace of God. (See I Peter 4:10)  Now that’s an awesome thought!  Therefore, let us be like the Macedonians, in that they first gave themselves to the Lord. (See II Cor. 8:5)  Once you give yourself and all you have and are to God, then you become a manager of God’s property.  Then giving of yourself, your time, your energy, your resources is according to God’s will.

To be On Mission with God is to understand that God has a calling on all of us to be His ministers; His ambassadors.  A common saying lately is "It takes a village to raise a child".  That is certainly true as far as spiritual things are concerned.  It takes the entire community of faith to grow up a disciple.  We are not all called to the same particular ministry, but we are all called to the same mission - reaching and discipling. (See Matt. 28:18-20)

Cultivating Christian fellowship is very important in the Christian community.  Fellowship however, is more than sharing meals together.  The Greek word, Koinonia, means "communion; fellowship; or sharing in common."  We share in common the fellowship with the Lord made possible by the blood of Christ.  Our common faith enables us to commune heart to heart and soul to soul with each other.  Since we are a community of faith, we are instructed to be faithful in our assembling together. (See Hebrews 10:24-25)

Every believer is called to be a minister.  God not only calls, but He empowers His children to accomplish what He has called them to do.  Ministry to one another is important since we are commanded more than 50 times in the New Testament to love one another, pray for one another, encourage each other, etc.  We are also instructed to minister to others who are not a part of our fellowship. (See Luke 6:27-38)

Let each of us commit ourselves anew to these essentials for Christian growth, and let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together as we encourage one another and as the Lord adds others to the church. Then we will truly be "Growing Oaks of Righteousness", as we grow in our own discipleship and as we help others to grow.

THE BODY OF CHRIST and LOCAL CHURCH MEMBERSHIP

Just as Jesus, the Head of the church (Eph. 5:23, Col. 1:18) is not bound by time or space, His body, the church, consists of people from all around the world and even from different time periods.  In this sense, His body, the church, is universal (sometimes referred to as ‘invisible’.)  The church is also a local, visible fellowship of believers.  In this sense it is much like a university school system.  In Arkansas for example, UALR is the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, UAM is the University of Arkansas at Monticello and UAPB is the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.  In the same way, the epistle to the Ephesians was a letter to the local body of believers in Ephesus.  The same could be said of Galatians (the church at Galatia), Philippians (the church at Philippi), Colossians (the church at Colossi), Romans (the church at Rome), etc.

The Lord, through the leadership of the Holy Spirit, has called people and ministries to establish local church fellowships throughout Europe, North and South America, Africa, Australia, the former USSR, and in many parts of the Middle East and the Far East.  Jesus said, "..I will build my church.." (Matt. 16:18).  The Lord has chosen to work through local church fellowships, like Oak Park Baptist Church, to accomplish His purposes on the earth.  The primary purpose of course, is to make disciples (followers of Jesus) who make disciples, who make disciples, etc., until the Lord returns.

In the very early days of the church, "...the Lord added to the church daily, those who were being saved." (Acts 2:47)  In those early years, for persons to embrace and confess Jesus as their Lord was a serious step.  They were cut off (treated as if they had died) from family and community.  This is still true in many parts of the world today.  The church fellowship became their "new family".  They were bound together by their faith and love under the leadership and authority of the apostles and other spiritual leaders.

Today in Alachua County, Florida, the culture is significantly different, but the principles concerning the church are essentially the same.  Our Lord calls us to covenant together as a local body of disciples to accomplish His purposes on earth.  It is important that we make and maintain a strong covenant commitment to one another (over 50 times in the New Testament we are instructed to pray for, encourage, love, etc. one another) as a community of faith and love, living in fellowship and not forsaking our assembling together. (Heb. 10:23-25)

In the early days, the Lord added to the church those who were being saved.  This is still true today.  However, just as in the first century it is important for a believer to identify with a local congregation.  This is done by publicly confessing Jesus as Lord and Savior and identifying with Him through believer’s baptism. (Matt. 28:19, Acts 16:33)  Persons who have already taken these steps at another local church can identify with the Oak Park fellowship by requesting a letter of recommendation from their church or by making a public statement of their faith and baptism.

It is important to seek membership in a local congregation because it is a way of expressing your belief that the Holy Spirit has led you to a fellowship where you can grow and serve with other believers.  It is also important because, just as the early believers submitted to the spiritual leaders, today’s disciples (by making a covenant commitment with a local congregation) submit themselves to the spiritual leaders (pastors, elders, deacons) of that fellowship.  In this way, the local body can function and fellowship in unity.  Although our members are many, the body is one. (Rom. 12:4,5)

The question then, is this.  Is God leading you to associate yourself with this local congregation?  If so, present yourself at the next worship service as a candidate for local church membership.

 

Staff Contacts

Rev. Dr. Danny Austin
Pastor
pastor@oakparkbaptist.org

Dr. Elsie Wilson
Director
disciple@oakparkbaptist.org

Aimee Stewart
Children's Director
children@oakparkbaptist.org

Lee Bailey
Youth Director
youth@oakparkbaptist.org