Children and adults participate in the Flag Processional representing the nations of the world who need the Gospel. MYRIAH SNYDER/Index
MARIETTA — From Feb. 27-March 1, Roswell Street Baptist Church hosted their first Act 1:8 Missions Celebration weekend.
Throughout the weekend, 18 missions partners – local, national, and international – spent time with staff and the Acts 1:8 Mission Team, met with Life Groups in homes and on the church campus, and interacted with the entire church during the Life Group hour Missions Fair. In addition, several participated in a Q&A panel during the church’s service hour.
Pastor Michael Lewis challenged the congregation to do three things: pray, give, and go. Attendees were given the opportunity to pray with a mission partner at the end of service. Lewis challenged the congregation to give sacrificially through one-time gifts as well as those contributed monthly. This offering, whose goal of $200,000 was met, will be divided among the 2020 mission partners as well as the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.
Lewis also encouraged members to serve “10 days in a cross-cultural” context. Noting that God could be calling some of them overseas, he said this goal could also be fulfilled without leaving the church’s campus each week at the International Learning Center.
Bringing missions home
The “biggest highlight” of the entire weekend, said Lewis was “to see the people actually experience Acts 13:2 when they listen to the Lord and respond to His heart to pray, to give, and to go.
“The response to our missions offering and prayer involvement and numbers of people who are willing to go on mission for 10 days in a cross cultural context is an evidence of Ephesians 3:20. God exceeded anything that we could have asked or thought in prayer.”
The worship celebration this year began with the church’s annual and anticipated Flag Processional. Joe Buckner, executive pastor, watched his six-year-old son represent the nation of Slovakia.
“It is both informative and inspiring as our entire family is reminded that there are real people all over the world who need Jesus just like we do here in the United States,” he shared. “All three of my children have vivid memories of the annual Flag Processional and the nations they’ve had the opportunity of representing over the past several years.”
A special treat for the congregation was having missionaries who grew up at or were called out of Roswell Street return “home” for the weekend celebration. Among them were Brent and Ebby Isbill (Epic Life Church) church planters in New Braunfels, Texas, and Patrick Thompson (New City Church), a former Georgia Baptist state missionary now a church planter in New York City.
Goals reached, but work to be done
Other motivating encounters came by the way of IMB missionaries to Unreached, Unengaged People Groups sharing stories of that vast number of UUPGS going down, one at a time, and partners to East Asia sharing how they are risking their lives in a very tangible way for the spread of the Gospel.
Each of the church’s goals for the weekend were met, Buckner said, including the mission partners being re-commissioned and sent out to the field and reaching the giving goal of $200,000.
This weekend was only the start, Ken Lassiter, Roswell Street’s missions consultant, said. The goal is to see lay leaders take ownership of the church’s missions.
This will largely be done through the Acts 1:8 Missions Team, Buckner added, which consists of about 20 lay leaders on a one-year rotation who “facilitate the Acts 1:8 Mission Celebration Weekend, vet potential new Mission Partners, stay in constant contact with our Mission Partners, and function as a liaison between RSBC and these missionaries, assist with training mission teams who are called out from our congregation to serve stateside and abroad, and encourage the church family to stay mission-minded.”
“A highlight to me was to see and experience the energy and excitement as our members interacted with the different mission partners,” commented Gary Stevens, a member of the Acts 1:8 Missions Team. And although Lassiter has been a facilitator of many of these types of events, he agrees the congregation of Roswell Street had as much or more excitement as any other congregation he’s seen.