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Acts 1:8 Challenge adds new resources

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–New leadership seminars, celebration rallies, renewal and student weekend events, podcasts and a revamped website are among the new resources under development as part of the Acts 1:8 Challenge.

More than 3,200 Southern Baptist churches have committed to an intentional and comprehensive Acts 1:8 missions strategy since the initiative was launched in 2004 by cooperating Southern Baptist associations, state conventions, the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and the International Mission Board (IMB).

“Acts 1:8 is an organic, evolving initiative,” said Tim Yarbrough, director of church relations and Acts 1:8 Challenge coordinator at NAMB in Alpharetta, Ga. “It’s not a program, it’s a passion.”

“While we’re happy to have 3,200 Baptist churches registered for Acts 1:8,” Yarbrough noted, “there are thousands of others who have not made a formal commitment to be strategic in their mission efforts.”

Yarbrough emphasized that the Acts 1:8 Challenge is not intended to be a NAMB- or IMB-driven strategy but, rather, an initiative created and supported in cooperation with Baptist state conventions and hundreds of local associations.

At the second Acts 1:8 Challenge Roundtable — attended by representatives of 18 state conventions in Orlando, Fla. — implementation plans for the new strategies for 2007-08 was a key topic of discussion.

Indiana Baptists, for example, are working to get their 435 churches committed and registered for the Acts 1:8 Challenge. Steve Blanchard, Acts 1:8 Challenge coordinator for the Indiana Baptist State Convention, said about a fourth of the state’s churches have signed up.

“It’s obvious that Christ wants to bring Southern Baptists back to remembrance of His command as expressed through Acts 1:8,” Blanchard said. “Many of our churches in Indiana have caught the vision and are obeying Christ’s command. The Acts 1:8 emphasis is powerful because it is not a convention program –- it’s a Christ-honoring biblical strategy.”

The Georgia Baptist Convention’s Acts 1:8 Challenge coordinator, Mike Gravette, called the mid-July roundtable “a significant step in the integration of Acts 1:8 into the Southern Baptist family.”

“The roundtable demonstrated a new commitment to partnership that will enable the SBC to move forward in an unprecedented way,” Gravette said. “We often talk about partnership among states and agencies, but Acts 1:8 is putting talk into action.”

Gravette said the partnership was demonstrated by the “Do Missions NOW” Acts 1:8 rally held recently at Eagles Landing First Baptist Church in McDonough, Ga.

The pilot event, jointly sponsored by Georgia Baptists, NAMB and the IMB, featured J. Robert White, executive director of the state convention, and Geoff Hammond, president of NAMB, as keynote speakers.

Among the new resources launched recently is the Acts 1:8 Challenge Podcast. An audio podcast is like a recorded radio program but aimed at specific audiences. The recording can be listened to online or downloaded for listening at another time.

Yarbrough described the Acts 1:8 Challenge Podcast as “a great way to keep up with how pastors and missions leaders are leading their churches to become worldwide missions centers. Podcasts feature interviews and advice from a variety of local church, association, state convention and SBC leaders.”

The podcast can be accessed two ways. Itunes users can access it via iTunes Podcasts, searching for the “Acts 1:8 Challenge” direct link. The podcast also can be accessed via an RSS feed on the Acts 1:8 Challenge website at www.actsone8.com.

Yarbrough said other new strategies are planned to promote and further expand the Acts 1:8 Challenge, including:

— MAPchurch (www.mapchurch.com), a missional assessment tool designed to be used by individual churches and Acts 1:8 field consultants.

— a “toolbox” of resources, conference and consultation tools for Acts 1:8 consultants and trainers, including an Acts 1:8 church-wide curriculum, leadership seminar, celebration and rally, renewal weekend and student weekend.

— an Acts 1:8 Challenge “document store,” where churches, associations and state convention partners can order and customize materials for printing and delivery from their local FedEx Kinko’s store.

— pastor “testimonial” videos featuring pastors and churches that have embraced Acts 1:8.

— an Acts 1:8 “coaching network” of pastors and missions leaders for all state conventions active in the Acts 1:8 Challenge.

Debbie McDowell, Acts 1:8 Challenge coordinator for the South Carolina Baptist Convention, said the new resources “should be useful tools on the journey to help every Southern Baptist experience the joyful purpose of living a missions lifestyle and to assist churches in developing an intentional Acts 1:8 strategy.”

Texas leads in the number of churches registered for the Acts 1:8 Challenge with 284. Others in the top are Georgia, 274; Missouri, 258; Florida, 223; Alabama, 183; North Carolina, 182; Tennessee, 181; South Carolina, 176; Louisiana, 166; and Mississippi, 144.
Mickey Noah is a writer for the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board. Pastors and missions leaders interested in more information about the Acts 1:8 Challenge can access www.actsone8.com; call 1-800-4ACTS 18 (1-800-422-8718); or e-mail [email protected] Following is a breakdown of the 3,201 SBC churches registered for the Acts 1:8 Challenge, as of Sept. 27, 2007: Alaska –- 7; Alabama –- 183; Arkansas –- 84; Arizona –- 27; California –- 78; Colorado -– 35; Connecticut -– 5; Delaware –- 2; Florida –- 224; Georgia –- 274; Hawaii –- 24; Iowa -– 4; Idaho—7; Illinois –- 59; Indiana –- 106; Kansas –- 22; Kentucky -— 127; Louisiana -– 166; Massachusetts –- 4; Maryland -– 32; Maine –- 2; Michigan –- 48; Minnesota –- 3; Missouri -– 259; Mississippi -– 144; Montana –- 9; Nebraska -– 2; New Hampshire -– 3; New Jersey -– 6; New Mexico –- 31; Nevada –- 9; New York -– 14; North Carolina –- 183; North Dakota –- 7; Ohio -– 53; Oklahoma –- 90; Oregon –- 11; Pennsylvania -– 22; Puerto Rico –- 1; South Carolina -– 176; South Dakota –- 5; Tennessee -– 181; Texas –- 284; Utah -– 12; Vermont –- 1; Virginia –- 100; Washington -– 17; West Virginia –- 36; Wisconsin –- 2; Wyoming -– 5; Canada -– 5; American Samoa –- 3; Japan –- 1; Africa –- 1; Cotonou BJ –- 1; Bahamas -– 4.

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  • Mickey Noah