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.