Friday, July 31, 2009

A Chance to Demonstrate the Priority of Missions

How important is the Great Commission? Important enough that Jesus gave it as his final command. This central command of the New Testament is a corporate command. While the command has implications and application to individuals, it is given to the church as a body. Each of the four gospels and the book of Acts contains a commissioning statement, the most famous of which is in Matthew’s gospel:

"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matt 28:18-20

How important is the Great Commission to my local church? Important enough that it is at the heart of our mission statement: “Harvest Baptist Fellowship exists to glorify God and make His Son known throughout the world to this generation.” Important enough to be the climax of our church’s core values: “At Harvest Baptist Fellowship, we value a commitment to the . We will express this commitment through …the training of believers in personal evangelism and Christian discipleship, as well as through the sending, equipping and financing of missions efforts locally, regionally, and internationally.”

How important is my church’s commitment to the Great Commission now? Important enough to take a special offering for international missions at the end of this month. Earlier in the year, our International Mission Board reported a massive shortfall in missions giving. Due to the recent economic climate, churches had given less to the cooperative program, resulting in less money for international missions. In addition, the annual Lottie Moon offering for international missions fell a whopping $30,000,000 short of its goal. As a result of this budget crisis, the trustees of our mission board were faced with tough decisions including cuts in personnel and a reduction of new missionary appointments to some of the most unreached areas of the world.

When my co-pastor Chris and I heard this news, our hearts sank. We knew that our church needed to take action. In our quarterly business meeting, our church voted to amend our 2009 budget to shift some of our money to missions. At the same time, we came up with the idea of “Christmas in July” – Harvest would take up a special summer Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for missions to further help make up the shortfall. Little did we know that hundreds of other churches had the same idea. The proposal has been now made that SBC churches have a “Christmas in August” offering for international missions. Thus, at the end of August, we at Harvest will have another opportunity to show that the Great Commission is indeed a core value of our church and the heart of our mission. On Sunday, August 30, Harvest will answer the call and join hundreds of fellow Baptist churches in this special opportunity to give.

Whether you are a member of my church or not, pray for this offering. Ask God how he wants you to participate in this special opportunity to support the Lord’s work. Give sacrificially. If you are not a Southern Baptist, I encourage you to prayerfully consider a special gift in August to the missions sending agency of your choice – chances are, they are having similar financial difficulty. Besides, bad economy or not, giving to missions is always in season. I pray that Southern Baptists and other Great Commission Christians will rise to the occasion and meet this financial challenge.

To God be the glory!


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