Acts 1:8 Challenge leaders chart future
Adam Miller, Baptist Press
July 25, 2011

Acts 1:8 Challenge leaders chart future

Acts 1:8 Challenge leaders chart future
Adam Miller, Baptist Press
July 25, 2011


— More than two dozen Southern Baptist missions leaders are making plans for

the future of the Acts 1:8 Challenge initiative to mobilize churches to reach

their communities, regions, the continent and the world with the gospel.

Launched in May 2004 by the International Mission Board (IMB) and North

American Mission Board (NAMB) in cooperation with Baptist state conventions and

associations, the Acts 1:8 Challenge is designed to encourage Southern Baptist

churches, both English- and Spanish-speaking, to take a fresh look at how they

plan and execute their missions efforts.

Acts 1:8 state coordinators, state leaders and entity representatives addressed

the direction of the Acts 1:8 Challenge at their annual coordination meeting

July 6-7 at the North American Mission Board offices

in Alpharetta, Ga.

“The question is still the same,” said Neal Hughes, NAMB’s mobilization

coordinator. “How do we move Southern Baptists and mobilize them from their

heart’s desire to where God wants them to be.”

The overarching question for the group, though, was how will state convention

partners, local associations and their churches interact with NAMB with its

regionalized focus and with the IMB as it assists churches to reach unreached

people groups in North America.

Illinois Baptist State Association Executive Director Nate Adams, who authored

The Acts 1:8 Challenge manual, emphasized via Skype the design of the Acts 1:8

Challenge as a paradigm and not program, calling it a “grassroots” intention

rooted in Southern Baptists’ local church heritage. The consensus among the

group was that the Acts 1:8 Challenge will continue to be most effective as a

church-based effort.

Acts 1:8 state coordinators, state leaders and entity representatives addressed the direction of the Acts 1:8 Challenge at their annual coordination meeting at the North American Mission Board’s offices in Alpharetta, Ga.

“All we’re saying is how do we get the gospel to 6,476 unreached people groups

around the world, 3,800 of which have no access to the gospel,” said Eric King,

IMB’s director of missional church strategists team. “The only way we’ll do

this is if we continue to partner with churches who desire to reach unreached

people groups.

“We are challenging churches to pray and explore God’s direction for the long

haul,” King added. “We’re looking for churches to commit and do whatever it’s

going to take and however long it’s going to take to see an effective church

planting strategy for these people groups.

“It’s not an easy call. We admit that, but we are doing everything we can to

come alongside local churches.”

IMB mobilizer Terry Sharp emphasized the importance of reaching North

America’s cities in order to reach the world.

“Don’t just think about those over there in the 10/40 window. Don’t neglect the

fact God may have brought that people group here,” said Sharp, who works with

Southern Baptist state conventions and associations and facilitates urban strategies.

“I’m excited about how all of this is coming together. God is up to something.”

Sharp noted, “The cities of North America are changing,

and the unreached people groups of the world are coming to our cities. They’re

hard to get to and it’s dangerous to get into their own countries, but God is

bringing them to our cities.”

Shane Critser, NAMB’s church mobilization team leader, echoed Sharp in

emphasizing the importance of reaching North America’s

cities through evangelistic church planting.

“As we plant churches and evangelize communities to reach the fourth most lost

nation in the world, we will see more churches go to unreached people groups

throughout the world,” Critser said. “(NAMB is) committed to seeing healthy

reproducing churches in the key cities of each region.

“To do this we need a coalition of likeminded people who can pull together all

our strategies and resources and support each other to impact lostness.”

In the days ahead, Acts 1:8 Challenge momentum will hinge on state- and

association-based implementation as leaders ramp up efforts to mobilize

churches in missions, evangelistic church planting and evangelism.

“It was a giant step to see the concept of Acts 1:8 associations accepted,”

said Sid Hopkins, director of missions for the Gwinnett Metro Baptist

Association and chairman of the 430-member Network of Baptist Associations. “Whatever

things come and go, the biblical mandate of Acts 1:8 will always be there. I

think our gathering sowed solidarity of thinking about the Acts 1:8 strategy of


Mark Emerson, mission involvement director for the Illinois Baptist State

Association, said he was glad to see a renewed vigor as Acts 1:8 was embraced

by the missions entities at the meeting and further grafted into state and

associational strategies.

“We use that model as the way that we can help lead pastors and congregations

to establish missions strategy in their church,” Emerson said.

The next Acts 1:8 Fellowship Roundtable will be July 18-19, 2012, in Raleigh

facilitated by Mike Sowers, senior consultant at the Baptist State Convention

of North Carolina for church planting and missions development.

To learn more about what it means to be an Acts 1:8 church, visit www.actsone8.com; call (800) 422-8718; or

email [email protected].

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Miller is a writer for the North American

Mission Board.)