The Apostle Paul was very fond of the church plant in Philippi. The Spirit of God had clearly and providentially directed him and his team to Macedonia. There, Lydia and her household would come to faith after hearing the gospel proclaimed down by the river side (Acts 16:6-15). Later, the local jailer and his family would come to faith (Acts 16:25-34). As much as they wanted to remain working in that city, the local authorities pressured Paul and his team to leave as soon as possible (Acts 16:39-40).

Paul knew that for the work to continue in Philippi and beyond, the local believers would have to own their Great Commission responsibility as they grew their Great Commission competencies. Their faithfulness could not be determined by Paul’s presence, but by the local believers’ obedient response to the Spirit’s working (Phil. 1:27; 2:12-13).

At the end of January, a group of church planters met together to celebrate what God is doing across the Mid-South. The Lord is stirring up churches and church planters to own their Great Commission responsibility and grow their Great Commission competencies. Mitch Martin celebrated standing on the shoulders of more than a hundred years of history of Southern Baptists cooperating for the engagement of the gospel across the Mid-South. He asked the group, “What would it look like for MSBA to start afresh with an even greater focus on our Great Commission responsibility? What would it look like for greater collaboration to increase all of our Great Commission competencies?”

That evening, Jacob McAnally identified several locations and zip codes that are scarcely being touched by the gospel. He urged the group to pray to the Lord of the Harvest, that He would thrust out His laborers into the fields. John Charping encouraged the group to adopt the language of, “The Five Core Tasks of a Great Commission Church,” as a means of communicating and collaborating for greater effectiveness. Attendees indicated what they felt ought to be the association’s Great Commission priorities, and areas of interests for their own personal growth in their Great Commission competencies.

We are looking forward to a follow-up meeting to sharpen each other’s skills and sharpen our focus of the task at hand. Our prayer is that the Lord would raise up catalyst churches to lead out and help others own their own Great Commission responsibility. If you are interested in understanding some of the strategic areas of need for gospel engagement, or growing your Great Commission competencies, or help in becoming a catalyst church – please contact the associational office (901-373-6161). 

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