Over the last several years, much has been said about churches becoming Acts 1:8 focused.
The emphasis is for churches to develop ministries and budgets that reflect clear efforts to impact lostness in their Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the Earth. Without
question, the idea is a biblical concept, and every church that follows the command of our Lord to fulfill Acts 1:8 can be assured to be in the center of God’s perfect will.
Baptists have organized around Acts 1:8 beyond the local church. The association, state, and national convention ministries are focused on the Judea through “the uttermost part of the Earth.” One of the geniuses of the Cooperative Program is the ability for every church, no matter how small, to participate in state, national, and worldwide evangelism through giving. I do love to tell churches that the sun never sets on the work of their church because they give through the Cooperative Program.
Church budgets are good reflections of the commitment to an Acts 1:8 strategy. How much do Oklahoma Baptists give beyond the local churches to reach a lost world around and beyond them? The remarkable design of Southern Baptist work provides a unique ability to take our giving through the Cooperative Program and combine it with 1,800 Oklahoma Baptist churches to make direct impact on lostness and discipleship. The funds are multiplied again when the dollars are combined with another 45,000 SBC churches.
But Acts 1:8 is not just about “beyond,” it is also about “up close.” Every church must look hard in the mirror and ask tough questions about the focus of its ministry. Are members giving themselves to being witnesses in their Jerusalem? Is the church focused on “us four and no more” or is it focused on the unreached people of the community? Is the end of the spear of the church’s ministry pointed inward or does it point outside the doors of the church?
What do you see in regard to the ministry of your church? Does your church send teams on mission trips, but won’t walk down the street to engage neighbors with the Gospel? All around our churches are hurting people who need friends who will tell them about the Eternal Friend. What is your church doing to engage lost people in your community with the Gospel? What are you doing?
One of the most important and necessary elements of reaching mission fields is prayer. Prayer walking is a very important task of mission teams. Recently, I was reading a book that surveyed major moves of God across the world, and key to all of them were people who prayed with Kingdom focus over areas that were hard ground. Indeed, the survey revealed that prayer is the plow that breaks up the hard ground into which the seeds of the Gospel can be planted and bear fruit. Wouldn’t it be prudent if Oklahoma Baptists prayer walked our own neighborhoods? I assure you, prayer walking in Oklahoma is as valuable as prayer walking in New York City or Mumbai.
I have posed a lot of questions this week, but they are questions that need to be answered by every church. Acts 1:8 is a continuum. We don’t seek to reach one part of it to the exclusion of the whole. Our God-assigned task is to continually, and at all times, be engaged from Jerusalem to Judea to Samaria.