Rogue Baptist

The Rev. Deron Spoo doesn’t preach within the lines.



Deron Spoo became lead pastor of First Baptist Church of Tulsa 16 years ago, at age 29. He and his wife, Paula, have three children: Kira, 19; Caleb, 16; and Seth, 14.

Evan Taylor

One Sunday morning, a homeless man in a hoodie sat crouched outside First Baptist Church. The congregants walked by swiftly, in a hurry to make it to the service and get on with their Sunday routines. Only two people stopped to speak to him. During the service, the homeless man walked through the worship hall and onto the stage — revealing himself to be the Rev. Deron Spoo, the lead pastor.

 

What changed after that? We really started stepping up the Caring Center Ministry. We do food, clothing and emergency assistance for people who have hit hard times. We help a ton of people every year.

It’s too easy for a church to become inwardly focused. We must be intentional about staying focused on the community outside the church walls. 

 

You’ve got a reputation for being non-traditional. Has that ever caused controversy? I’m a very open and honest person, and probably the biggest pushback is whenever we’ve talked about sex. Especially pornography. In the early days, whenever I would bring that up, there would be pushback. But that’s a topic that we have to deal with. 

 

Why do you think people are uncomfortable when things get too real? I think we separate our church life from every other part of our life: “That’s over here in a compartment on Sunday morning, and it doesn’t affect the rest of my life.” A couple of years ago, we did a teaching series called, “The Gospel According to the Beatles.”  We would take some of their songs and attach them to a Biblical theme. There were people who were a little upset at first that we were playing Beatles music in church. But here’s my contention: If Beatles music is inappropriate, you shouldn’t be playing it anywhere. If it is appropriate, we can use it anywhere, even in church.

 

What happens when people break down the barriers between their “Sunday selves” and the rest of their lives? We call that integrity, don’t we? Just being the same person all the time. I believe that’s who God calls us to be. I also think that’s a lot simpler way to live.

 

Baptists do not traditionally observe Lent. Why do you encourage your congregation to do so? On Easter we prefer to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, but we have neglected the sacrifice. We’re asking our church members to sacrifice one thing from their daily lives. Every time they want that, they’ll think of the sacrifice of Christ. They’re sacrificing this small thing, but it’s a trigger.

 

How do you avoid “compassion fatigue” and recharge? One of my favorite things to do is to go to Clear Creek Monastery. They live out in the middle of nowhere. It’s beautiful. You can’t get a cell phone signal beyond the parking lot. It’s a good place to be quiet, get some perspective. I call it the last quiet place on the planet. We live in a very noisy world. At first they wondered why a Baptist was coming out to a Benedictine monastery.

 

It sounds like you’ve never been too concerned with where such lines are drawn. (Laughs) No, I’m not. 

 

It was a delight to talk shop, but that wasn't the whole story. Full disclosure, I hadn’t set foot in a church for years. That is, until I interviewed Spoo in his tastefully kitsch-filled office at First Baptist Church downtown — think posters of historical heroes, a signed Eagles guitar and, to my delight, Star Trek memorabilia. I also noticed an old photo of Spoo himself — with much more hair and a thick mustache — that was suddenly weirdly familiar. And not 10 minutes into the interview, Spoo started to interview me instead, asking the question I was most afraid of:
Do you go to church? 

 

I don’t. Give me some insight. Why don’t you go to church somewhere? What is it that the church is missing?

 

I’ve never personally been particularly religious. It’s been a double-edged thing — growing up in Oklahoma, everyone goes to church, so I missed out on a lot of social stuff. I think when churches get really big, it feels like they’re selling a message or a product. It seems like church has gotten so slick these days — it’s like a theatrical production. That’s funny, we talked about that just today; that we don’t want to be too slick. We want to be authentic. How do you do that and not come across like you’re bumbling or you don’t know what you’re doing?

 

That’s a hard balance to strike. So when you found out you were interviewing a pastor, did that freak you out just a little?

 

A little bit, maybe. I mean, I’m not religious, but I have a lot of respect for people who devote their lives to it — and a lot of good is done because of it. But actually, I don’t know how many years it has been, but I used to come here (to FBC). When I was maybe 8 or 9. Did you go to the day camp?

 

My dad played for the services; he’s a musician. So, our family would come along. I’m 23 now, so that would have been 12-14 years ago. So, it was probably during my early years here.

 

It’s so funny, I’ve probably heard a few of your sermons, when I think about it. Back in the day?

 

Did you ever do one about psychological barriers, like a million years ago? It was about the four-minute mile. Yes! You remember that?

 

Yeah, that stuck with me for years. That’s fantastic. There’s a book called “The Perfect Mile” by Neal Bascomb. Roger Bannister, Wes Santee and John Landy — Bannister was in England; Santee was here in Kansas; Landy was in Australia — and all three were trying to break the four-minute mile barrier. Bannister did it first. And as soon as Bannister broke it, everyone started breaking the four-minute mile. It was just a matter of, “Can it be done?” Once someone showed it could be done, then everyone started doing it.

That’s amazing that you remember that.

 

I don’t know why I latched onto that particular sermon, but I just did. The power of a story, it sticks with you.

 

And I was a super nerd, so I always loved your sermons because it was always something interesting. That’s why I think Jesus told stories, because they stick with you longer. If I were to give you an idea, you probably wouldn’t remember it tomorrow. But if I told you a story, you’d remember it a dozen years later.

 

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September 2019

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Cost: $15

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Asbury United Methodist Church
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Cost: TBA

Where:
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Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

Where:
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View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
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More information

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Cost: Free and open to the community

Where:
Woodland Hills Mall
7021 S Memorial Dr.
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View map »


Telephone: 713-224-9115
Contact Name: Woodland Hills Mall

More information

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Cost: Adults $5/Kids Free

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Sponsor: Tulsa Greek Festival
Telephone: 918-583-2082
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More information

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Cost: TBA

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Mike Fretz Event Center
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View map »


Telephone: 918-663-5820
Contact Name: Morgan Sikes
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More information

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Cost: $25 - above

Where:
Tulsa Ballet - Studio K
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View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Ballet
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More information

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Sponsor: OKEQ and Pat Hobbs
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Contact Name: Pat Hobbs
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Cost: $75

Where:
Southminster Presbyterian Church Community Center
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View map »


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Telephone: 918-928-2663
Website »

More information

Show More...
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Cost: Free and open to the community

Where:
Woodland Hills Mall
7021 S Memorial Dr.
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View map »


Telephone: 713-224-9115
Contact Name: Woodland Hills Mall

More information

Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
Website »

More information

Experience the sites, sounds and smells of Greece!  The best lil stop in OPA!homa - just off route 66. Live music, dancing, kids zone, Greek food and drink, delectable baked goods, Greek...

Cost: Adults $5/Kids Free

Where:
13th & Guthrie Ave
1222 S. Guthrie Ave

Tulsa, OK  74119
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Greek Festival
Telephone: 918-583-2082
Contact Name: Tonya Boone
Website »

More information

Living Arts of Tulsa will present a multi-media exhibit of Jave Yoshimoto’s work. Intractable Chasm examines the refugee crisis in Greece, experienced firsthand by Yoshimoto when he...

Cost: Free

Where:
Living Arts of Tulsa
307 East Reconciliation Way
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View map »

More information

Get moved with Tulsa Ballet! Experience incredible works from the most in-demand choreographers in the world at Creations in Studio K. Tickets start at $25. Read all about the exciting pieces...

Cost: $25 - above

Where:
Tulsa Ballet - Studio K
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View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Ballet
Contact Name: Dan Meagher
Website »

More information

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View map »


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Website »

More information

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Cost: 15-20

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110 E. 2nd St.
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View map »


Sponsor: Portico Dance Theatre
Telephone: 918-321-0682
Contact Name: Linda Davis
Website »

More information

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Cost: $75

Where:
Southminster Presbyterian Church Community Center
3500 S Peoria
Tulsa, OK  74106
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Fencing Club
Telephone: 918-928-2663
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

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ONEOK FIELD
201 N Elgin Ave
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View map »


Telephone: 405-234-7095
Contact Name: Astrid Rodriguez
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More information

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Cost: 5K - $20; 1 mile - $10; Ages 5 and under – Free

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ONEOK Field
201 N Elgin Ave
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View map »


Sponsor: St. Jude
Telephone: 915-841-9154
Contact Name: Adrian Ordonez
Website »

More information

Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
Website »

More information

Woodland Hills Mall is excited to host Beauty Week, which is a unique way for the people in Tulsa to experience all the beauty that Woodland Hills Mall has to offer.  Participating retailers...

Cost: Free and open to the community

Where:
Woodland Hills Mall
7021 S Memorial Dr.
Tulsa, OK  74133
View map »


Telephone: 713-224-9115
Contact Name: Woodland Hills Mall

More information

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View map »


Sponsor: river parks
Telephone: 918-596-2008
Contact Name: Ryan Howell
Website »

More information

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Cost: 10

Where:
Spread throughout Metro Tulsa
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Sponsor: Pella Windows of Oklahoma
Telephone: 918-663-5820
Website »

More information

Experience the sites, sounds and smells of Greece!  The best lil stop in OPA!homa - just off route 66. Live music, dancing, kids zone, Greek food and drink, delectable baked goods, Greek...

Cost: Adults $5/Kids Free

Where:
13th & Guthrie Ave
1222 S. Guthrie Ave

Tulsa, OK  74119
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Sponsor: Tulsa Greek Festival
Telephone: 918-583-2082
Contact Name: Tonya Boone
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Living Arts of Tulsa will present a multi-media exhibit of Jave Yoshimoto’s work. Intractable Chasm examines the refugee crisis in Greece, experienced firsthand by Yoshimoto when he...

Cost: Free

Where:
Living Arts of Tulsa
307 East Reconciliation Way
Tulsa, OK  74120
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Cost: FREE

Where:
Central Park Community Center
1500 South Main Street
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
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Telephone: 918-259-8437
Contact Name: Central Park Community Center

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Join us for our second annual Food Truck Frenzy on September 21, from 4-8 p.m., and taste a variety of delicious cuisines from food trucks located in our riverfront backyard. Families can enjoy...

Cost: Adults $17.95, Children 3yrs-12yrs $13.95 Military and Seniors(62+) $13.95

Where:
Oklahoma Aquarium
300 Aquarium Dr
Jenks, OK  74037
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Telephone: 918-528-1507
Contact Name: Liz Medrano
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Fundraising concert featuring popular Christian rock band Sanctus Real benefiting Circle of Care's three programs: state-wide foster care, transitional living for single mothers with children...

Cost: 20.00

Where:
Venue 68
6910 S. 101st E. Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74134
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Sponsor: Circle of Care
Telephone: 405-215-1400
Contact Name: Sarah Steffes
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Benefiting the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Broken Arrow Cosplay contest and silent auction. Fan made 1966 Batmobile on display. Food provided by Charlies Chicken, Panera and drinks...

Cost: $10, 12 and under FREE

Where:
1400 W. Washington St.
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
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Telephone: 918-406-9341
Contact Name: Sean Henry
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Circle of Care and popular Christian Rock band Sanctus Real are teaming up on September 21, 2019, to raise funds for Circle of Care’s three nonprofit programs. Band member...

Cost: Tickets start at $20

Where:
Asbury United Methodist Church's Venue 68
6910 S. 101 E. Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74133
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America’s LARGEST interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa Broken Arrow! At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: 59.95

Where:
Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa- Broken Arrow
420 W Albany St.
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
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Telephone: 866-496-0535
Contact Name: The Dinner Detective
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Get moved with Tulsa Ballet! Experience incredible works from the most in-demand choreographers in the world at Creations in Studio K. Tickets start at $25. Read all about the exciting pieces...

Cost: $25 - above

Where:
Tulsa Ballet - Studio K
1212 E 45th Place
Tulsa, OK  74105
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Sponsor: Tulsa Ballet
Contact Name: Dan Meagher
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Young and old alike will love the cherished story of Alice and her friends performed through original and exciting dance choreography! "Project Alice" is based on Lewis Carroll's...

Cost: 15-20

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center
110 E. 2nd St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: Portico Dance Theatre
Telephone: 918-321-0682
Contact Name: Linda Davis
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Young and old alike will love the cherished story of Alice and her friends performed through original and exciting dance choreography!"Project Alice" is based on Lewis Carroll's “Alice's...

Cost: 15-20

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center
110 E. 2nd St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: Portico Dance Theatre
Telephone: 918-321-0682
Contact Name: Linda Davis
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Whether you prefer Borg nanoprobes to Midichlorians, the Justice League to the Avengers, or Terminators to Daleks, don't let anyone force you into boldly going where no one has gone...

Cost: $8.00 ($4.00 for children under 12)

Where:
pH Community House
306 S Phoenix Ave
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Sponsor: Laughing Matter Improv
Contact Name: Jerry Henderson
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In our 4-week Beginning Fencing class, you'll learn about the history of Olympic fencing, the three fencing weapons – foil, saber and epee – and the general rules for each of the specific...

Cost: $75

Where:
Southminster Presbyterian Church Community Center
3500 S Peoria
Tulsa, OK  74106
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Sponsor: Tulsa Fencing Club
Telephone: 918-928-2663
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Where:
Veterans Park
1811 S Boulder Park Dr
Tulsa, OK
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Get wined and dined at the first annual Tulsa Beer & Wine Festival. Stroll through our landscape gardens and treat your taste buds to exquisite food pairings with local and national craft...

Cost: TBD

Where:
Gathering Place Great Lawn
2650 S. John Williams Way E.
Tulsa, OK  74114
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What's New


Oklahoma's Best-Sellers: Sept. 15

Based on total number of book sales at Magic City Books, Best of Books in Edmond, Brace Books and More in Ponca City, and Full Circle Bookstore in Oklahoma City.

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Branjae on the sixth sense, the street light and empowerment

A Q&A with the singer/songwriter, who just released a new single: “Street Light.”

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Oklahoma's Best-Sellers: Sept. 8

Based on total number of book sales at Magic City Books, Best of Books in Edmond, Brace Books and More in Ponca City, and Full Circle Bookstore in Oklahoma City.

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Cosplay, celebs and plenty of pop culture

TulsaPeople intern visits for the first time the annual Wizard World Tulsa comic-con

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3.03: Order Up -- Johnna Hayes

A conversation with Johnna Hayes, operating partner of 3 Sirens Restaurant Group.

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