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.


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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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The Church’s Response to Immigration

A Missiological Opportunity

Although this topic is political, this is not a political post. Instead, the goal is to help Christians think about a political issue in a Christian light. Far too often Christians let their patriotism define their faith – which ultimately leads to the distortion of Christianity. Rather, Christians should let their Christianity define their patriotism.

When we come to the topic of immigration, many Christians fail to look at the issue through the lens of their faith, choosing rather to view it only as a political and social issue. The truth is that the way government is to address this issue and the way the Church is to respond to this issue should be different. Have political lines been drawn on this issue? Sure. Are their social effects? Absolutely. However, I would argue that the eternal effects should be our top consideration.

What do I mean by the “eternal effects?” By that I mean that all people, including both legal and illegal immigrants, have a soul that will one day enter eternity. The eternal destiny of those individuals should concern us. That concern should drive us to seek the best way to reach those individuals with the message of the gospel.

Many immigrants who enter the United States of America have a much greater opportunity to hear the saving message of the gospel here than they would if they stayed in their homeland.

Why not view the issue of immigration as a missiological opportunity? Churches are spending millions of dollars to send missionaries to the foreign field. This is good and needed. But what if churches began allocating a significant portion of their missions budgets to reach the mission field that God, in His sovereignty, has allowed to come to us? Would that not be a more cost and time-effective approach to reaching other cultures?

Again, the problem is that Christians fail to view this issue in light of its eternal opportunities, choosing rather to view it through the lens of their political party.

Sometimes toeing the party line causes us to miss out on God-sent opportunities. It’s time we began looking at the issue of immigration as Christians, not just as Americans. In so doing, we might just find a pool of people who are hungry for the eternal Bread of Life.

I, for one, am glad immigrants have chosen to come to America. And I pray that Christians take advantage of this God-sent opportunity to introduce them to true freedom in Christ.


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