ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–For the first time in 25 years, the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual doctrine study focuses on missions, sparking a significant increase in year-to-date sales of the study.
The 2005 study examines the mission task of the New Testament church, challenging today’s churches to take the Gospel to “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth.”
The six-session study, “The Acts 1:8 Challenge: Empowering the Church to be On Mission” from LifeWay Christian Resources, includes a member book and a leader guide, although many pastors use the sessions as a sermon series or Bible study.
LifeWay officials say interest in the study has been high and sales are more than double previous years’ doctrine study materials.
Nate Adams, the book’s author, said the study explores the doctrine of missions action.
“It’s a study of how the first-century church actually went about doing the mission of the church, and how those principles translate to today’s 21st century church,” he said.
“Regardless of its size or location, every church can be a church of worldwide influence when it identifies its Acts 1:8 mission fields and works cooperatively with its partners to go to those fields with the Gospel,” he said. “If every local church committed to having a Spirit-led, Acts 1:8 ‘ripple effect’ on its world, the overlapping waves of those mission commitments would soon take the Gospel to the whole world.”
Chapter 1 of the study explores God’s purpose for humanity and the meaning of Jesus’ last words in Acts 1:8. Chapters 2-5 discuss the four mission fields mentioned in Acts 1:8 and how churches can apply the principles to their efforts to reach their own Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and ends of the earth. Chapter 6 concludes by leading the church to identify actions it can take to accept the mission challenges of Acts 1:8.
The study supports last year’s denominational missions emphasis by the same name. Launched in May 2004 by representatives of the International Mission Board, NAMB, state conventions and local associations, the Acts 1:8 Challenge asks SBC churches to embrace a comprehensive, year-round strategy for reaching their local, regional, national and international mission fields in partnership with their denominational missions partners.
More than 800 churches have registered their acceptance of the challenge at the initiative’s website, www.ActsOne8.com. The site also includes a number of resources to help churches design and implement a missions plan.
Pastors and churches interested in more information about the Acts 1:8 Challenge may go to the website or call 1-800-4-ACTS18 (1-800-422-8718). The Acts 1:8 Challenge study is available at LifeWay Christian Stores or online at www.LifeWay.com.