An Acts 1:8 Understanding of Missions

Acts 1:8 is a verse that can be extremely helpful in shaping one’s understanding of Missions — primarily because it tells us where the mission field is.

This verse states:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth. (NASB)

There are clearly four areas mentioned in this verse, and each area represents an aspect of missions to which the church should be committed.

Jerusalem

This was the hub of the early church. This was the home base. This was the starting place. This was where they were located. This was where their home church would have had the greatest impact. This is where they lived and did business on a daily basis.

For churches today our Jerusalem is the area around our local churches. Depending on the specific location, it could be a group of neighborhoods, a small town, or a suburb of a larger city.

Judea

This was the region. The people in Jerusalem would probably have traveled within Judea on a regular basis. Perhaps they had family who did not live in Jerusalem, but if they lived in this region they would still see them fairly often. A trip inside Judea was not uncommon for those living in Jerusalem.

Today, the same principles apply. Our Judea is the region around our churches; but beyond the reaches of daily operation. Perhaps it is the next city or town up the interstate. Maybe it is a rural area outside of your city. It is possible that some cities today are so large that the other side of that city would fall into this category.

Samaria

This is not just about another geographical location…even though it is that. Geographically this would require a deliberate trip. It would be our country so to speak. But it is much more than that. Almost every time Samaria is mentioned in the Bible it is in the context of cultural differences. It is not just about location, it is also about reaching people who have significant cultural differences than you.

For us it means that we intentionally reach out to other cultures within the USA. There are significant pockets of Hispanics living in the US that need to be reached. There are areas with a high concentration of Jews, or Muslims, or Hindus. Reaching our Samaria is about sending missionaries to other portions of our country, as well as targeting those within our country who have different cultural backgrounds.

Remotest Parts of the Earth

We understand this. This is the part of mission we are most familiar with. It is an emphasis on other parts of the world. NASB translates this as the “remotest parts of the earth.” We are to take the message of Christ to those areas who not yet heard of who Jesus is and what he has done.

Our understanding and application of missions must include an equal focus on all four areas mentioned. To neglect some of these areas is to neglect our responsibility concerning missions.

5 Benefits of a Missions Month

As a pastor, I am always looking for ways to make missions more of a focus in my church. I often talk with other pastors and missions leaders about how churches are highlighting missions. The goal is to see our church’s commitment to missions increase. One idea that is growing in popularity is having a missions month. This is where a church focuses on missions every Sunday of a particular month. This is something I’ve done in the past and plan on doing in the future. There are several benefits I have noticed to having a mission month.

1- A missions month provides time for an extended focus on missions.

The truth is that one week isn’t enough. One week out of 52 is not sufficient time to focus on missions. The church needs a more extended focus on this vital part of God’s plan. A missions month provides an opportunity for that extended focus.

2- A missions month gives everyone multiple opportunities to hear about missions.

I don’t know how it is in your church, but the chances of everyone being there on the week that you focus on missions is probably slim. This means that some families in the church may go a year or two without hearing about or being challenged with the message of missions. A missions month almost guarantees that everyone in your church will be presented with missions multiple times. This can’t be anything but good.

3- A missions month provides opportunities to have a different focus each week.

I have been in a number of one-week missions conferences that have had a singular focus. This is not necessarily bad, but having a missions month gives the flexibility to have a different focus each Sunday of the month. For instance, each week could focus on a different aspect of Acts 1:8 or a different part of the world. Having a different focus each week, encourages church members with different aspects of missions.

4- A missions month gives more time to do creative things.

In a one-week or three-day conference time is limited. This means that opportunities to be creative are also limited. Having a missions month provides more opportunities to think outside the box and do things a little differently.

5- A missions month gives time for the message of missions to sink in through the avenue of multiple speakers.

Typically, there is only one speaker in a one-day, thee-day, or one-week conference. The focus of that speaker, however good it is, is what will be driven home in that conference. Having a missions month allows the opportunity to have a different speaker each week. For instance, in our missions month we had different speaker each week: the pastor of a Spanish church, the director of a mission agency, an overseas national church planter, and a pastor who used to be a missionary in Central America. Our members heard about missions and outreach from several different perspectives, and I think that is a good thing.

A missions month might not be for you, but it can provide some benefits that are worth considering. Give it some thought. You may just find that a missions month is exactly what your church needs.


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4 Things Pastors Need to Teach Their Churches About Missions

Missions is something that most churches talk about and even give money towards, but it is not usually something they passionately embrace. While it is a concept that they like, they often do not fully understand what missions really is. Many times this is caused by pastors failing to teach their churches accurately about missions.

Here are 4 things pastors need to teach their churches about missions.

1- God has a heart for the nations.

The heart that God has for the nations can be seen all throughout Scripture. The concept of missions is not just a New Testament concept, it is evident in the Old Testament as well. This is seen clearly in Psalm 67:2-5.

That your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Selah. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!

Pastors, teach your church about God’s heart for the nations.

2- We are called to send and support.

There are two sides to biblical mission. The first is the sending and supporting of missionaries. This enables missionaries who have been specifically called to go to the foreign field to do so. Our love for the nations and our desire to see all people know the love of God should cause us to want to send people to tell them about Jesus.

Missions is more than working at summer camp. It is more than just providing for the physical needs of people in impoverished places. Missions is leading people to faith in Christ, starting churches, and then those new churches reaching more people with the gospel.

Pastors, teach your church that the heart of missions is telling people about Jesus. 

3- We are all called to live on mission where we are.

The second side of biblical missions is each believer living on mission where they are. The word “Go” in the Great Commission is not the primary command. Grammatically the passage is structured to indicate that the going is assumed. So while there are some who are called to go overseas to make disciples, we are all called to make disciples wherever it is that God has placed us.

If we are willing to give money so that others can go but we are unwilling to live on mission where we are, we are only committed to the kind of missions that doesn’t require us to change how we live. So Christian, wherever you are going and as your are going, make disciples. Where you live, work, and shop is your mission field.

Pastors, teach your church to live on mission where they are.

4- Churches have been given a mission.

The responsibility of missions has been given primarily to the church. While parachurch organizations are helpful and can further the work of the church, they cannot and should not replace the work of the church. Churches have been given a responsibility to further the mission both locally and globally. To fail to pursue this mission is to fail to do what God has empowered us to do.

Pastors, teach your church that they have a responsibility to not just ‘do church’ but to pursue the mission God has given them.

Much more could be said about what we need to teach our churches about missions, but these four things are foundational to a biblical understanding. Pastors, let’s lead our churches to be passionate about missions.