At an annual summer leadership conference, leaders of Southern Baptists' two mission boards presented a new communication strategy to help transform churches into worldwide mission centers. The “Acts 1:8 Challenge”—that will be acted upon by the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board, along with Baptist state conventions and local associations—is a comprehensive mission strategy based on Christ’s promise of the Holy Spirit to empower His disciples to share the Gospel in “Jerusaelm, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
The announcement of the strategy, made at NAMB's annual Summer State Leadership Conference, came about two months after trustees of both NAMB and IMB met together at First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga.—a first in the history of the boards. It was at the May 19 meeting that the two mission boards adopted a resolution affirming the Acts 1:8 challenge. Trustees also met for an extended joint prayer session.
According to the Southern Baptists, by adopting the missions strategy, churches would commit to mobilize volunteers for missions in their "Jerusalem" through opportunities in their local Baptist associations, their "Judea" through their state conventions, their "Samaria" through NAMB and "the ends of the earth" through IMB.
NAMB and IMB leaders are encouraging churches to apply Acts 1:8 in their ministry contexts each year by participating in missions concurrently on the local, state, national and international level.
"You have a primary partner in your local association, your state convention, NAMB and IMB to help you, the local church, as the center of the recipient of Jesus' Great Commission," said Nate Adams, NAMB's vice president of mobilization and media.
Pastors or mission leaders are encouraged to make a formal commitment to implement the missions strategy church-wide by registering as an Acts 1:8 Challenge church at www.ActsOne8.com or by calling the Acts One8 Response Center at 1-800-4-ACTS18 (1-800-422-8718).
Churches that register as Acts 1:8 Challenge churches will receive educational and promotional resources including video clips, sermon outlines, bulletin inserts and brochures on CD that support a Great Commission missions strategy.
The Acts 1:8 Challenge also will be featured as LifeWay Church Resources' 2005 doctrinal study. The 6-week study will be available through LifeWay Christian Stores and LifeWay.com in October.
The ActsOne8.com website will connect volunteers with mission opportunities and resources offered through their local associations, state conventions, NAMB and IMB as well as provide free downloadable versions of the CD resources.
At the recent meeting, Jerry Daniels, church and partner services team director with the IMB, introduced an eight-step Acts 1:8 Challenge missions strategy to conference attendees:
Step One: Prepare -- "If you're going to do something that matters you've got to be intentional about it," Daniels said.
Step Two: Learn -- "In the preparation process you've got to find out what's going on in your world, who's living in your Jerusalem or your Judea, and who are missionaries and partners you can participate with," Daniels said. "Your congregation needs to have a global awareness of what God is doing around the world and how He's calling us to be involved with Him."
Step Three: Pray -- "Unless we're informed, our prayer is not as effective," Daniels said. "We need to first be praying that God would give us His kind of perspective of the world. We need to be praying for Christian workers, for unevangelized people, for the lost cities. Prayer needs to permeate every aspect of this kind of strategy."
Step Four: Give -- "[In the New Testament], you will find churches gathering their resources together to minister to the needs of the saints," Daniels said. "We need to call our people to be good stewards both of their time and their financial resources."
Step Five: Go -- "We need to give our people opportunities to go on short-term trips, on marketplace ministries, to go into their neighborhoods, to go into the nations," Daniels said.
Step Six: Tell -- "We need to find out and help our people know how to relate and share the Gospel with someone from a very different culture," he said.
Step Seven: Send -- "We need to help cast a vision for people to invest their lives in missions for a career, for a lifetime and mentor those folks God is working with," he said.
Step Eight: Multiply -- Churches need to start new churches and facilitate a church planting movement, he said.
NAMB's annual Summer State Leadership Conference was held July 25-29 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in the Orlando International Airport in conjunction with NAMB's Connection 2004 "Preparing for Kingdom Growth" conference for Southern Baptist pastors, missionaries and associational directors of missions.