The fall season here in the States is a visual reminder of Jesus’ words to His disciples: “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37–38).
One of the ways that our church, as well as many other unaffiliated Baptist churches, reaffirms and renews our commitment to praying for harvest laborers and participating in the work of those on the field is through our annual missions conference.
World Impact Conference, as we’re calling it this year, is not something we do just to fill a few days on the church calendar. It is one of the most important weeks for our church in the calendar year and is an event we approach with clear purposes in mind.
What are the goals for our church, or any other church, for hosting a missions conference?
1. To See the Great Commission Come Alive
During a missions conference, a church has the chance to see the Great Commission come alive as missionaries from around the world gather to give testimonies and present their mission fields. Newer Christians are able to understand the big picture of the Great Commission and their church’s far-reaching impact through missions. Seasoned Christians, reminded of the need, develop a stronger burden for the lost.
2. To Develop Relationships with Missionaries
One of the great advantages and defining characteristics of independent Baptists is its local church-based, rather than denomination-based, missions program. Following the Acts 13 model in this way, allows churches to have direct relationships with even more missionaries than are sent from within their own congregation.
At missions conference, there are even greater opportunities to meet the missionaries present, seek to understand the unique challenges and needs of their fields, and learn how to pray for them.
3. To Develop a Heart for Missions among Young People
For young people to get to hear first-hand accounts of the power of the gospel in other countries and cultures is faith-building for them. During this time, we have missionaries speaking in our Christian school chapels and in West Coast Baptist College chapel. Additionally, the missionaries have displays at church where children are encouraged to meet them personally.
Many teenagers and Bible college students—including some who are now adult missionaries sent out from Lancaster Baptist Church—have sensed God’s call to missions during missions conference.
4. To Encourage Missionaries
Although the missionaries who will participate in World Impact Conference this week are certainly not on vacation as they serve among our church family, we do want to be a blessing to them as a church. By better understanding their needs through time with them, we’re able to renew our prayers for them. And we pray that the conference itself and the preaching and fellowship through it will be an encouragement to them.
5. To Renew Our Giving Commitments for World Evangelism
Because our church pledges direct support to missionaries, we need to be faithful in our commitments to them. By having a designated week each year when we, as a church family, look to the fields white unto harvest and prayerfully ask the Lord to guide us in grace-filled giving commitments, our church office is able to make financial commitments based on a budget.
God’s plan for giving to missions through the local church not only enables His work to flourish around the world, but it gives Christians an opportunity to invest in the eternal and to have fruit that will abound to their account (Philippians 4:17).