Here is our second podcast. This episode features Dr. Blake Newsom. He discusses his method of sermon preparation as a bivocational pastor. Notes from the podcast can be found here.
Patrick Weaver, Caskey Center Research Assistant post.
Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth”
When Jesus spoke these words he did so with an intention that the disciples would not become complacent in just reaching those in their direct community, but actively would be reaching people outside their comfort zone. The second geographical region in which Jesus asked his disciples to be his witnesses was Judea and Samaria. In the Bible, Judea encompassed the city of Jerusalem and the immediate surrounding territory. Samaria, on the other hand was much different. It was established as the capital of the Northern Kingdom during the divided kingdom, but by the time Jesus’ earthly ministry began Samaria represented a people who were culturally, racially, and religiously different.
For the American church this region represents people who are outside our city, outside our state, and also those outside our culture. For those of us involved in smaller membership churches reaching our diverse nation for Christ may seem like a daunting task, but it is not. Dr. Jeffrey Farmer of the Caskey Center for Church Excellence, recently conducted a survey that showed what some of the Caskey Center churches are doing to reach the nation with the Gospel. The most predominate way these churches supported national missions was by giving funds through avenues such as the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering (16.2%), the Cooperative Program (14.1%), and through miscellaneous giving (12.6%). The second way that smaller membership churches are involving themselves in national missions is by going on mission trips (12.1%).
There are many examples of how Caskey churches are becoming involved in national missions. One Caskey Center pastor explained how they have strategically incorporated prayer into their church, “Every single week we have a part of our worship service that we pray for a different NAMB church planter and chaplain for the military. We use pictures provided by the NAMB website.” Another pastor described how his church has become involved in supporting church plants, “We financially support two families of church planters in Montana and New York. We took a team last summer to Montana to physically help that family.” These are a couple examples of how churches are reaching their Judea, but in order for your church to reach their Samaria it must be sensitive to reaching those who are culturally different in their own community. One such example of a church reaching people unlike the demographic of the church was a church that started an intentional Bible study to reach gang members in the neighborhood.
The call to reach our nation is one that must begin now. So here are three practical ways that your church can begin being intentional with national missions:
- Pray: Begin now by praying. If your church is not currently involved in national missions, like the 8.1% of churches in this study, ask God to give your church clarity and a passion about what to do next. Your church may begin by praying for NAMB missionaries and church planters during your worship service or prayer meeting.
- Give: One of the first steps of obedience is giving. Give to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering or continue to give through the Cooperative Program. If there is a like-minded local ministry in your area specializing in reaching a particular culture, you may consider giving to that ministry. Also consider giving to a church plant.
- Go: Go and serve personally! Partner with another church, church plant, or mission agency that is going and do it together if need be. There is indeed strength in numbers.
Watch the first session (Dr. Chuck Kelley) of the No Restraints conference here.
Watch the second session (Dr. Drew Landry) of the No Restraints conference here.
Watch the third session (Dr. Drew Landry) of the No Restraints conference here.
Watch the fourth session (Dr. Fred Luter) of the No Restraints conference here.
Watch the fifth session (Q & A Panel)of the No Restraints conference here.
Watch the sixth session (Dr. Chuck Kelley) of the No Restraints conference here.
This post was written by Patrick Weaver, our new Research Assistant.
Some of the most commanding and encouraging words that Jesus spoke on earth were also some of the last words that he ever spoke. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The final command was for Christians to share the Gospel in all corners of the world. This may seem like a daunting task for ministers like me and you. How are we ever going to find the time to plan a mission trip to Africa when I still struggle finding the time to prepare my sermon for Sunday? This very question is answered in the first part of Acts 1:8, “we will receive power, when the Holy Spirit comes upon us.” The power to accomplish any task in ministry (including missions) is not dependent on you but the power of Christ in you!
There is yet another question that needs to be asked. Where do I start? The first area of missions that Jesus lists in this verse is Jerusalem, or the place that your church is located. In a recent survey conducted by Dr. Jeffrey Farmer of the Caskey Center for Church Excellence, it was discovered that Caskey Center churches along with a few other small membership churches are involved in over 60 different local mission ministries. What are they doing? The number one local missions outreach performed by these churches was one-on-one evangelism (10.1%). These ministries included door-to-door witnessing, evangelistic visitation, and personal evangelism. The second most prevalent local ministry is servant evangelism through providing needs such as food (9.3%) or conducting service projects (7.1%).
There are also many other ways of doing ministry in your area such as partnering with the local association, a church plant, a school, a local ministry, or nursing home in order to show and share with them the love of Jesus. Also do not forget the importance of planning and preparing your Vacation Bible School. For many churches this is the largest outreach event in your church year an also the time where you will find the most unchurched young families.
Within our Caskey Center circle there were a few notable ministries taking place that you may be able to adapt for your church. One pastor said, “We go out every week to the front of our parking lot to hand out bottles of water to people driving by. Our church is right by the entrance to a neighborhood so we get really good traffic. We use this opportunity to pray with people and share the gospel. Also, we do a weekly tutoring program with the apartment complex right down the road. This has brought in 25 new kids on Wednesday night Bible study.” Another pastor said, “We have a ministry called Hope Mobile. We converted the inside of a school bus into a classroom, and twice a week we take it to community trailer parks to teach kids.” A final example said, “We host a multi-language vacation Bible school every summer. We pray for local church starts, and church planting missionaries.”
Often times if we are not careful we will over complicate reaching the people down the road or even across the street so start with prayer. Encourage your church to pray intentionally for those around you. Next, do not underestimate the power of availability. Be available to go and serve community organizations such as schools or city events when the opportunity arises. Finally, make sure to share the Gospel, not only with actions but with words.