In last week’s devotional, we examined the context in which this verse is found and how it is often misused as a verse emphasizing evangelism. Nonetheless, there is an implication here. Jesus’ words state that a natural byproduct of the disciples being indwelled with the Holy Spirit is communicating what they had experienced—what they had seen and heard during their time with Him. And this testifying would be performed in three geographies.

If you have heard this verse preached before, you may be familiar with Jesus describing the intended reach of the disciples. Jerusalem represented the disciples’ local community, Judea represented the larger community, and Samaria communicated the “other” community or those with whom they would not typically identify (viz., foreigners). Of course, “the ends of the earth” pretty much wrapped up everyone else. Essentially, Jesus described the disciples’ impact as affecting everyone regardless of locality or nationality.

Given this implication, we are faced with a stinging question.

As someone who spent many years in full-time street evangelism and teaching believers how to share their faith, I was often asked if I had ever considered participating in what many would call foreign missions. My response would be two-fold. First, as a personal calling, I never believed that was where I should focus my efforts. Second, I would challenge the questioner with the fact that many believers take a week off from their job and spend thousands of dollars on travel expenses to share their faith with someone on the other side of the world, but they neglect to spend 15 minutes and $20 on lunch to share their faith with someone on their doorstep. This is a great disservice to the community by its local church.

When many churches examine their mission programs or budgets, they consider areas such as foreign mission trips, financially supporting missionaries, or their involvement in denominational programs. Unfortunately, the local church often overlooks the needs of its immediate community. Jesus, however, said that a disciple’s impact should start with their closest opportunities. Our missional work must include reaching our neighbors with the Gospel.

How can so many neighborhoods be filled with churches but empty of converts? How can the local church believe that this is acceptable? Want to measure the impact of your church? Close its doors for a week and see if anyone notices.