Unfortunately, Christians are often known better for what we're against than what we're for. We're also well known for our denominational rifts, segregated Sunday mornings — on and on.
But what if followers of Christ who are also leaders of the city came together in unity of spirit and love to bring solutions to community problems? What if Christian leaders from business, government, education, the arts, the clergy — from every sector — decided to set aside our differences and bring the full weight of our collective influence to dramatically impact our city for the good of everyone?
This is the conversation begun last week at the “SALLTed” conference in downtown Oklahoma City. More than 200 people, including the governor, lieutenant governor, present and former attorneys general, mayors and other elected officials, corporate CEOs and presidents, pastors, university presidents, cabinet secretaries, ministry, education and civic leaders, gathered to discuss what our city could look like, were we to focus with single-minded intent on major matters of public concern. These are matters that that don't make chamber of commerce promotional videos.
This isn't the first time Christian leaders have gathered to solve seemingly impossible problems. In the movie “Amazing Grace,” the story is told of William Wilberforce, a member of British Parliament who with other overtly Christian leaders from business and other sectors (known as the Clapham Circle) came together and eliminated slavery from the British Empire.
Their influence completely changed the country during a time (circa 1800) in which 25 percent of unmarried females of London were prostitutes and public drunkenness was common at every level of society. Animal cruelty was considered public sport and public executions and dissections were forms of entertainment. Hard as it is to believe, it wasn't fashionable to be “good.” The reason why we gather today for charitable enterprises and have our pictures taken doing good deeds is because a group of British Christian leaders made it cool to do so 200 years ago.
The first Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was their handiwork. Not to mention reforming child labor laws and a host of other things, ultimately helping usher in the Victorian Era of the 19th century.
It's increasingly unfashionable to be overtly “Christian” these days. However, where Christians are seen to be what we were meant by God to be — unembarrassed about our faith and unafraid to share it, but unified, loving individuals of salt and light to a troubled community — it becomes a lot harder to criticize those who are solving a community's toughest problems with a smile on our face.
One speaker at the conference announced a strategic plan to meet every need of children in foster care in this city over the next few years. This isn't a pipe dream. It's a plan being executed now. Stay tuned to hear more about “Count Me in 4 Kids.”
I suspect God heartily approves of this movement. Let's hear it for the Christian leaders!
Lane, a former Oklahoma County district attorney, is chairman of the state Human Services Commission and president of Salt and Light Leadership Training Inc.