If your church is like the average Southern Baptist church, more than 90 percent of its resources are invested in reaching your community and less than 10 percent goes to reach the rest of the world. How much should we send to be obedient to the Great Commission?
In Acts 1:8, Jesus declares to His followers, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Based upon that declaration, churches sometimes talk about an “Acts 1:8 Strategy,” whereby we seek to be intentional about sharing the gospel in our town/city (“Jerusalem”), our state (“Judea”), our country (“Samaria”), and overseas (“ends of the earth”).
How much of your church’s resources are invested in gospel work in your Jerusalem? How much of those resources are invested in Great Commission work in the rest of the world? How can you even know?
Try this: From your church’s annual receipts, calculate how much your church gives through the Cooperative Program, special missions offerings, and to help fund mission trips, independent missionaries, mission partnerships, and church plants. Include everything that goes outside of your community. The remaining amount is what your church spends on its Jerusalem. That money is probably budgeted to pay for items like the pastor’s salary, utilities, building repairs, insurance, Sunday School materials, outreach programs, local ministries, etc.
What did you discover? Does your church have an Acts 1:8 budget? If you have doubts, I suggest your church do the following.
First, every church should carefully study what God’s word says about God’s heart for the nations and God’s missionary call on Christ’s church. Scripture is not silent on these subjects. Study will prove that a disregard for missions beyond our own community is nothing short of disobedience. Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Jesus also loves all the children of the world.
Second, every church should evaluate how it can be most effective at gospel work beyond local evangelism? How can the church best multiply itself through church planting? How can the church minister to the sick, imprisoned, orphaned, and victims of disaster? How can a church help prepare the next generation of gospel ministers? Depending on the church’s size and strength, some of these ministries can be undertaken by the church on its own but, oftentimes, cooperative missions is the most effective approach and the best stewardship of the church’s resources.
Third, every church should be intentional in praying for God’s leadership in the budgeting process. As we are exhorted to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and assured God will hear and answer our prayers (1 John 5:14), how we use the resources we steward is a matter for prayer.
Our communities need the gospel and so does our state, our nation, and our world. Might God find us faithful in the Great Commission!
Paul Chitwood is the Executive Director-Treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.