By Gary Taylor
Longtime Billy Graham Associate, Cliff Barrows, spoke at the North American Mission Board (NAMB) dedication of the room set aside to honor Southern Baptist Evangelists (Missouri’s own Clyde Chiles was a featured honoree.). He closed his remarks with a story. He said, “I’m reminded of the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Va. Every hour on the hour, one group replaces the previous one. Only three words are spoken every hour on the hour, 24 hours a day. Three words are said as one departing group leaves and the other one takes their place. Here they are: “Orders remain unchanged.” The church has been given our orders. They are simple: “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). As the guards remind each other, every hour, on the hour, so the church’s orders remain unchanged.”
Missouri Baptists have been recognized by the North American Mission Board for their stellar work with GPS (God’s Plan For Sharing) this spring. Fifty of 61 Associations, consisting of more than 600 churches, participated in prayer walking their communities, then returning to place the Gospel on 750,000 doors. While this is a huge number, 750,000 represents only one out of three residences in Missouri. The churches marching orders from our Commander in Chief, Jesus Christ, require us to go to “every creature.” Simply stated, that means, “to every individual.” No one is to be left out. We will not have been fully obedient until the Gospel goes to each of the 2.3 million households in our state.
Can we do it? The challenge seems overwhelming, and it is. Just think of how overwhelming it was to the 11 disciples when our Lord first gave this command to them.
Thirty-eight MBC leaders met in May to pray, discuss and plan how we could complete this task and place the Gospel on every door in Missouri by the end of 2011.
One of their conclusions was that to accomplish the task, we needed more than one season of the year to prayer walk and distribute the Gospel. The 750,000 distributed this year were placed on doors just before Easter. So, in 2011, we will focus on three “seasons” of the year, not just one. The three will be:
• SPRING (prior to Easter again, which in 2011 is April 24).
• SUMMER (perhaps your church will have a special patriotic Sunday early in July, or back-to-school Sunday, in August).
• FALL (either high attendance day the last of October, or harvest Sunday, just before Thanksgiving).
Each of the three times will be preceded by prayer walking, then, followed up by the Scripture distribution and an invitation to that upcoming special event at your church. Some may say, “But, we did that this year?” Some in our state have already prayer walked and distributed a second time and are reporting greater results than the first time. One man said, “We have had churches come by with an invitation one time, but this is the first time anyone came a second time. You must be serious in wanting us to come to your church.”
Another conclusion this spring’s GPS Task Force arrived at was the concept of a Judean Ministry among Missouri Baptists. According to the Acts 1:8 commission by our Lord, Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts are the realms of the church’s ministry. Jerusalem is our immediate community, town or city. Samaria is our nation. The uttermost parts are the nations of the world. Where is Judea? Missouri is our Judea. Thankfully, several areas of Missouri were 90-95 percent covered with the Gospel this spring. However, some did not see 10 percent of their areas prayer walked or receiving the Gospel. What if we joined together in 2011, covering not only our own areas again, but reaching out to partner with areas where the population far exceeds our Missouri Baptist Convention constituency, and prayer walk and distribute the Gospel with them?
“No home left behind” is our 2011 theme. Don’t miss out on what God is up to across Missouri. We don’t have a choice, do we? Our orders remain unchanged! (Gary Taylor is the Missouri Baptist Convention’s director of evangelism.)