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When it comes to missions, unfortunately, many churches practice without strategy. Even scarier than not having a strategy, is not having the right strategy. There are many possible strategies, some healthy and some not. Warren Wiersbe says, “Ministry is not done by imitation but by incarnation”. (Philippians 1:6) The best strategy would obviously be a Biblical strategy, and I love using Acts 1:8 as ours for Cross Church. It says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
As a pastor, when you are setting a missions strategy, you should ask yourself, “What is God doing in and through me as pastor, and our church, to fulfill Acts 1:8?”
Here are 4 things an Acts 1:8 missions strategy can do for your church.
1. Brings focus. Pastor, don’t just throw spiritual darts at a map to select where or what your church will do in missions. It is a key responsibility of the pastor to set missional focus for your church. Use Acts 1:8 to bring that focus. Acts 1:8 does not move on tracks like a train, with whistle stops along the way in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the world. It moves like the sweeping hands of a clock, never ending, and with continuous movement. I love the thought that I can connect Jerusalem (local) missions to the ends of the world! Focus on how your missions strategy can connect local missions to the far ends of unreached peoples around the world. Begin reaching the nations in your own back yard to learn about the culture and language etc. Then you will be equipped to travel to their nation more effectively and with great focus.
2. Prioritizes the focus. Start with local missions, then move to regional, national, and international. I have said for years, at Cross Church, we will not forsake Northwest Arkansas on the altar of the world when it comes to missions. I believe we earn the right to go abroad. Pastors, let’s make sure we are getting it done in our own communities equal to our efforts abroad. It is a tragic thought to think we have thousands of churches in America that aren’t reaching and baptizing people in their own churches, but will buy plane tickets to go overseas to share the gospel.
3. Empowers the people. Jesus said, “you will be”. When we have a biblical strategy, it actually empowers people to be involved personally in your church’s missional vision. I want to see as many people as possible empowered to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth. When we communicate clear, biblical strategy, it is amazing how many people feel empowered to get personally involved. When our people are empowered missionally, they will begin to live and believe “I am Acts 1:8”.
4. Honors Jesus and the Holy Scripture. “My witnesses”. The emphasis (mine added) on MY. Wow, what a thought. I can be a witness to the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ beginning in my local community, and extending to the ends of the earth. Now, that honors Jesus and His Holy Word. There is nothing that brings more honor to Jesus and His Holy Scripture than when people are led to place their faith in Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior. When we, as believers, practice being a witness for Jesus Christ, we can almost hear a proud Father say, ”they are MY WITNESSES and wow, I am honored!”
Pastor, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I bring focus in my church’s missional strategy?
- Do I prioritize our church’s missional strategy?
- Do I empower my church members to fulfill the church’s missional strategy?
- How much honor is being brought to Jesus and the Holy Scripture through my church’s missional strategy?
I would love to help you or your church in any way I can. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 479-751-4523.
Minister of Global Missions, Cross Church
The air that September morning of America’s First Continental Congress was fraught with anxiety and trepidation. The men who gathered had a monumental decision to make: will the colonies stand united and challenge British rule or will they disband and leave each to its own? Yet, they couldn’t even decide on who should lead prayer.
Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Quakers, Anabaptists and Congregationalists were all present at the assembly, and their differing traditions caused some to oppose the motion of opening the meeting in prayer. But after some consideration, a local minister from Philadelphia named Jacob Duché was found and summoned to pray.
I’ll leave it to John Adams, who was present at this historic meeting and wrote to his wife Abigail in detail about it, to tell the rest:
“Accordingly the next Morning [Rev. Jacob Duché] appeared with his Clerk… and read several Prayers, in the established Form; and then read the Collect for the seventh day of September, which was the Thirty fifth Psalm,” recounted Adams to his wife.
This psalm begins, “Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me! Take hold of shield and buckler and rise for my help! Draw the spear and javelin against my pursuers! Say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation!’”
These words pierced straight through the hearts of those present at the assembly, tearing down the fear and animosity that had permeated the beginning of the assembly. “I never saw a greater effect upon an audience. It seemed as if heaven had ordained that Psalm to be read on that morning,” wrote Adams.
But the good Rev. Duché was not finished. To everyone’s surprise, he broke into an unexpected prayer:
“Be Thou present, O God of wisdom, and direct the councils of this honorable assembly,” he prayed. “Enable them to settle things on the best and surest foundation. That the scene of blood may be speedily closed; that order, harmony and peace may be effectually restored, and truth and justice, religion and piety, prevail and flourish amongst the people.”
“I must confess, I never heard a better prayer, or one so well pronounced,” said Adams. “It has had an excellent Effect upon every Body here.”
All of this took place Sept. 7, 1774 — seven months before the famous “shot heard ‘round the world” at the Battle of Lexington and Concord officially inaugurated the Revolutionary War. No matter how much historians and political commentators might argue, our history cannot be rewritten: America’s fight for independence began with Scripture and with prayer, not with muzzles and gunpowder.
Yet, as undeniable as the influence of the Bible is in our traditions and values, America seems bent upon attacking the very faith that strengthened our Revolutionary War heroes. While our Founding Fathers turned to God in supplication for wisdom and truth, we’ve driven prayer out of our schools and torn down the Ten Commandments from our public buildings. Like an autoimmune disorder that cannot recognize friend from foe, we turn against ourselves when we deny the faith of our founders.
On this Independence Day, I’m praying for a spiritual awakening in America that will lead us back to God and to the values that have made our country great. And I’m praying we will remember American freedom is won not only on the battlefield but also on bended knees.
God Bless America!
Dr. Ronnie Floyd is the senior pastor of Cross Church and the immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Follow him on Twitter @ronniefloyd. Subscribe to Ronnie Floyd on Life and Leadership Today here.
This article was published on ChristianPost.com on July 4, 2017