Observations on Selecting Mission Sites From the Book of Acts
By Rev. Jack Cascione
The best information about prioritizing and selecting mission sites is in the Book of Acts.
The guiding principal throughout Scripture is that God doesn’t think like we think.
Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.”
All too often Jesus went where He was not expected and chose what we would not choose, and sent the Apostles where we would not send them.
He delights in raising up the low and lowering the high.
1 Corinthians 1:27 “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:”
We see this pattern again and again in the Book of Acts as God establishes congregations. All this being said, God gave us the Bible and He gave us brains to read and apply His Word, with our best judgment.
If anything, examples from the Book of Acts show that we what we should send out his Word as soon as possible without waiting for His external motivation. Examples from the Book of Acts demonstrate how God has acted in the history of His church. We may safely assume that God, who changes not, is still acting with the same approach today.
How wide is the mission field?
The following verses tell the church to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
Luke 24:47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Acts 13:47 For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.
How does the Bible describe the growth of the church?
The Bible describes the growth of the church as the growth of the Word, that is, more people believing the Word.
Acts 12:24 But the word of God grew and multiplied.
Acts 19:20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.
Acts 6:7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.
2 Thessalonians 3:1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:
How are mission sites selected in the Bible?
The Gospel is transmitted in the Book of Acts when:
- Christians, Evangelists, and Apostles are driven out and or flee for their lives.
- Christians travel from one place to another.
- God prevents Christians from traveling from one place, so they must go to another.
- People are sent to preach the Gospel by other churches or apostles.
- Churches or Evangelists are invited to preach the Gospel to them.
- God tells the Apostles and Evangelists where to start preaching.
- People reject it and the evangelists look for other places to preach.
A letter of the alphabet above has been placed in front of the verses from Acts that corresponds to the verses below. Please note the frequency of the letters “A” “B” and “D.”
The letter “A” is God’s most common approach to mission work. It is also the approach God used to establish the LCMS. We begin our examination of mission work with the Gospel going out from Jerusalem in Acts 8:1, about two years after Pentecost.
- Acts 8:1 And Saul was consenting unto his [Stephen’s] death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.
- Acts 8:5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
- Acts 8:14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
- Acts 8:26 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.
- Acts 9:19 And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. 9:20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.
- Acts 10:1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, (He prays for God’s help and God sends Peter)
- Acts 11:19 Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. 20 And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.
- Acts 11: 22 Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.
- Acts 13:50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts. 51 But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium.
- Acts 14:6 They were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about:
- Acts 14:19 And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. 20 Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.
- Acts 15:30 So when they were dismissed, [by the church at Jerusalem] they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle:
- Acts 16:4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. 5 And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.
- Acts 16:6 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.
- Acts 16:9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. . . . 12 And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.
- Acts 17:1 [After being beaten and jailed in Philippi] Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:
- Acts 17: 5 But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.
- Acts 17: 10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
- Acts 17: 13 But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people. . . 15 And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed.
- Acts 18:1 After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth;
- Acts 18: 17 Then all the Greeks [at Corthin] took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things. 18 And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow. 19 And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not;
- Acts :18: 22 And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch. Acts 18: 23 And after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples. 24 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.
- Acts 20:1 And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia.
- Acts 20:2 And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece
- Acts 20:3 And there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia. 20:4 And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus. . . .5 These going before tarried for us at Troas.
- Acts 20:6 And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days.
- Acts 20: 6 For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost. 17 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. 18 And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons,
- Acts 21:1 And it came to pass, that after we were gotten from them, and had launched, we came with a straight course unto Coos, and the day following unto Rhodes, and from thence unto Patara: 2 And finding a ship sailing over unto Phenicia, we went aboard, and set forth. 3 Now when we had discovered Cyprus, we left it on the left hand, and sailed into Syria, and landed at Tyre: for there the ship was to unlade her burden. 4 And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.
- Acts 21: 8 And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.
- Acts 21:12 And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem. 3 Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.
- Acts 21:27 [ At Jerusalem] And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him,
- Acts 22:22 And they gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live.
- Acts 23:23 And he called unto him two centurions, saying, Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea, and horsemen threescore and ten, and spearmen two hundred, at the third hour of the night; Acts 23:24 And provide them beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor.
- Acts 27:1 And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus’ band.
- Acts 28:1 And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita.
- Acts 28:16 And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him.
- Acts 28: 30 And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, 31 Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.
June 28, 2005