In the Book of Acts, we discover the exciting story of the church's birth. It's here we encounter the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, see the church become established, watch the disciples grow as leaders, meet the apostle Paul, and see the church spread outside of Jerusalem.
Here are three lessons we can learn about missions from this inspiring book:
1. The Spirit empowers missions
It's easy to get caught up in formats and strategies but forget the part the Spirit plays in missions. From the get-go, Jesus explained to the disciples what the missionary process would look like:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8, emphasis added).
As an exclamation point to Christ's statement, over 3,000 new believers were added to the church after the disciples were filled with the Spirit (Acts 2:38).
It's the Spirit that empowers us to boldly proclaim the good news (Acts 4:31). And it's the Spirit that enables others to receive it:
What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words (1 Corinthians 2:12–13).
2. Christ is on a mission of multiplication
Right now, the church is partnering with Christ in multiplication. When he delivers the Great Commission, Jesus makes it clear the church is to go into the whole world and create disciples. We're in an era of reproduction.
During the church's birth, we see this duplication happening daily:
Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:46–47, emphasis added).
As the church continued to develop, it also grew:
So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith (Acts 6:7).
And as Jesus explains in the Parable of the Leaven, this modest little movement begins to work its way through the known world.
Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers (Acts 9:31).
Until the Lord returns, He has called the church to the same mission of multiplication—and the Lord is at work growing His kingdom.
3. We partner with God in prayer
Our job isn't just to "go." We also demonstrate our commitment to God's work of multiplication through our prayers. This prayerfulness is demonstrated over and over throughout Acts:
- The disciples prayed before choosing a new disciple (Acts 1:24).
- They prayed for boldness after Peter and John are dragged before the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:23–31).
- They prayed when choosing seven men to serve the Hellenistic Jewish widows (Acts 6:6).
- Peter prayed regularly (Acts 10:9).
- The church gathered in homes for prayer (Acts 12:12).
- They prayed and fasted before sending Paul and Barnabas out on their first mission (Acts 13:1–3).
- They prayed and fasted before appointing elders (Acts 14:23).
- They prayed in prison—which became a witnessing opportunity in prison (Acts 16:25).
- Paul prayed before leaving the Ephesian church on their own (Acts 20:36).
- They prayed throughout their journeys together (Acts 21:1–6).
- Even the miracles they performed were empowered by prayer (Acts 28:8).
There' no way we can read the Book of Acts and not see the connection between vibrant prayer and the movement of God. Why would this be any different today? If we want to see dynamic mission work in the world, we'll be committed to prayer.
Joining Jesus in His work
The Book of Acts tells the story of the church's beginning, but the work of growing the church continues today. Following Jesus presupposes that we're passionate about this work. The Great Commission isn’t a duty for professional ministers; it's a call for all of us who serve Him.
If you're interested in discovering how you can partner with Jesus Film Project® to share the gospel with world, check out our How You Can Help page. It can give you some ideas for ways you can continue the work that started in Acts!
All references to Scripture quote the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise noted.