Big God Across the Ozarks format changed

Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Over 400 people were in the stands at Body of Christ Ministries for the first night of Big God Across the Ozarks, a five-night event focused on reaching residents of the Barry, Newton and McDonald counties who are "unchurched." The event, now in its fifth year, is sponsored by the Wheaton Ministerial Alliance. "This year's theme was every preacher was committed to preaching as if this is the last sermon his audience would ever hear," said Paul Wahlert, pastor at the Wheaton Southern Baptist Church.

Organizers of the fifth annual Big God Across the Ozarks event, sponsored by the Wheaton Ministerial Alliance, changed the format for this year's event.

"In the past, we paid speakers to come and deliver the message," said Gene Robinson, pastor at Body of Christ Ministries in Wheaton. "This year, we saved the money we would have paid those speakers, and with donations from businesses and individuals, are able to host this event free of charge and provide meals for those attending."

The event, which in the past focused on teen revival and dedication, is now open to people of all ages.

"We have members of various church choirs from east of Monett to west of Cassville who practiced for six weeks to get ready for this event," added Paul Wahlert, pastor at Wheaton Southern Baptist Church. "Each night, speakers gave their testimony before the service."

The theme of this year's event was simple but intense.

"It wasn't about entertainment this year," added Robinson. "This was about delivering the message of God and focusing on the message rather than the messenger."

"Each minister delivering the message vowed to preach as if that was the time, the last sermon the audience would ever hear," Wahlert continued. "Like it was their last chance to be saved, whether it was because the person died or because Jesus Christ came again."

"We advertised Big God Across the Ozarks in this corner of the three-county area," Robinson said. "Most of the people here are local, from Barry, Newton or McDonald county."

Speakers included Wahlert, Robinson, Donnie Spears, of Corinth Baptist Church in Cassville; Steve Spilman, of The Church in Wheaton; and Ryan Pendergraft, of First Baptist Church in Wheaton.

In previous years, the event drew in as any as 2,500 people over five nights.

"Our focus is to reach the unchurched," Robinson said. "Then God built this place. We had planned Big God before the first shovelful of dirt was turned on this event center. Our first Big God rally was held right here five years ago."

Now, the property, which includes 20 acres, is owned by Body of Christ Ministries.

"This is a big change from where we were," Robinson said.

Plans are already underway for the sixth Big God Across the Ozarks in 2014.

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