In a day of rapid changes — morally, politically and spiritually — I often return to my owner’s manual, the Bible, for instruction and encouragement. Two of my favorite passages — Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8 — both deal with the Great Commission, but sometimes are interpreted somewhat differently.
In Matthew’s gospel we are told to make disciples, baptize and teach the “nations.” In Acts we are instructed to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the Earth. There is no doubt that both passages point us to be about God’s business of bringing men, women, boys and girls to repentance through Jesus Christ.
In Matthew we are told to make disciples all over the world. In Acts, however, Christ is a bit more specific to His followers by telling them to be witnesses in local communities, geographic areas, states and nations. It is almost as if He is describing a “ripple” or “concentric circle” effect where an impact is made at a center point and moves out.
That is what we saw in the first century through the accomplishments of the apostles. As executive director of California Southern Baptist Convention, I would not be fulfilling my duties if I didn’t believe our call is to first reach our state for Christ. Clearly our focus as California Southern Baptists must begin in our Jerusalem, the cities, towns and metropolitan areas where we reside. That is where the majority of us can and should have our greatest impact in witnessing, reaching and discipling others.
This is why the California Mission Offering is so important to the ministries in which we cooperatively are involved. You see, it is through CMO that we are able to do more in our cities, associations and state by working together to start churches; to revitalize existing congregations; to train our members to be soul winners; to minister to those who are less fortunate; to meet physical, spiritual and emotional needs in times of disaster; and to reach and minister to language groups that have made the Golden State their home.
Let’s live out an Acts 1:8 strategy of reaching our communities and state, our nation and our world. As Southern Baptists we do this through Cooperative Program ministries. But during the fall of each year, we have a special prayer and offering emphasis — CMO — for our state. The offering is inspired by S.G. Posey, one of my predecessors. He believed, as do I, that Christ is the answer for every situation, every person and every government.
September is traditionally the season of prayer and offering, but churches can celebrate California missions anytime during the year. Printed materials and videos for the 2015 emphasis currently are available. A multitude of other resources have been developed to help churches with the observance. To learn more about all the resources available for CMO, visit www.calmissions.com.
I encourage churches to pray for CSBC ministries and to take an offering so we may do more to reach the 33 million in California who don’t know Christ as Savior. Join me in making Acts 1:8 a reality in the lives of many.