On May 19th, mission leaders “from every level of Southern Baptist life” celebrated the Acts 1:8 Challenge – a framework that lets every church in the 16-million member Southern Baptist Convention to become a worldwide mission center.
“This could be the beginning tonight of revival around the world, for the hearts of men to be aflame with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ,” said Morris H. Chapman, president of the SBC Executive Committee, at the opening of the celebration service at the Atlanta-area First Baptist Church in Woodstock.
The mission strategy partners with associational, state, national and international missions levels, and takes the challenge of Christ to make disciples of all nations.
The SBC write that “Jerusalem” corresponds to the local Baptist association, “Judea” to the state convention, “Samaria” to the North American Mission Board and “the ends of the earth” to the International Mission Board.
“Our mission field is all of them ... and we need to be reminded of that,” said J. Robert (Bob) White, executive director of the Georgia Baptist Convention, representing state convention leaders.
“Christ reminded us that our mission field is the ‘uttermost (parts of the earth)’ but it is also Jerusalem. It is Samaria, but it is also Judea. It is the whole of our mission field that He has called us to and that He has empowered us by the Holy Spirit to reach -- not to our glory, but to His glory.”
Jerry Rankin, president of the International Mission Board, said the Acts 1:8 challenge helps churches develop together in unity.
“We have always had a vision for being obedient to the Great Commission task of our Lord,” he said, “But could it be that God has now brought us to the point of learning to face that task with a servant heart of empowering, enabling and facilitating one another with a new dimension of cooperation?”
Robert E. “Bob” Reccord, president of the North American Mission Board, said that God has called on the youth to advance his Kingdom as well.
“I believe God has ordered our steps to give us something so critically important that I want to give them something worth having,” he said. “I want to be able to say, ‘I’m Southern Baptist, and I’m proud to be Southern Baptist. For I’m a child of the King, and I’m going to tell anybody I can about the King, win them to the King and disciple them for the King.”
Jim Freedman, president of the Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Directors of Missions and director of missions for the Nashville (Tenn.) Baptist Association, noted the effectiveness of associational missions.
“The churches that had been established at that time realized that we can do more if we link with [other churches] right in our area,” he said. “We can reach more people for Jesus together. With Baptist associations across the Southern Baptist Convention, we can reach our Jerusalems.”
For more information about the Acts 1:8 Challenge, please visit: www.actsone8.com or call 1-800-4ACTS18 (1-800-422-8718).