By Catherine Finch
Catherine Finch is a junior at OBU and a student worker in the University’s Marketing and Communications office. Her first-person experience with Mission 1.8, and the impact it has had on her, led her to research and write this story.
Acts 1:8 is the sole premise of the Mission 1.8 program at Oklahoma Baptist University. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth,” (Acts 1:8). This verse is a call to action, and challenges those who are a part of the community of the kingdom of God to live out kingdom values and multiply.
Mission 1.8 was originally developed by Kirk Goss, missions pastor at Northwest Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, for missions training of church members. Dr. Bruce Carlton, professor of cross-cultural ministry and WMU professor of missions, consulted with Goss as he developed the program, and Carlton led some of the training. Carlton asked Goss’ church if OBU could join in implementing this program, and then customized the program for students at OBU.
The objective of the program is to equip students with simple tools for evangelism, discipleship and the skills necessary to start kingdom communities that can be easily reproduced and multiplied in almost any setting. Mission 1.8 training covers four semesters. During the first semester, students participate in a kingdom community where these tools are modeled for them, then during the second semester, they co-lead a kingdom community where they model the program for others. During the third semester, they then coach or assist group leaders, and finally, in the fourth semester, they watch those who are coaching or assisting. This process can best be simplified by an acronym, MAWL – model, assist, watch and leave, implementing what was learned wherever they find themselves living and serving.
For me personally, being a junior at OBU, I have found the past three semesters involved in Mission 1.8 to be challenging and full of growth, both spiritually and personally. Never would I have thought that I would lead a group of students in a facet such as this. When I attended a group as a participant, I found myself developing relationships with students at OBU who I would not have met if I had not been involved in Mission 1.8. As I have led a group this semester, I am very aware of the great responsibility and privilege it is to be a part of the Mission 1.8 program.
I love gathering together with students of various ages on campus, sharing meals and worshipping together, memorizing Bible stories together and discovering new truths each time we fellowship. There is no time quota on how long a Mission 1.8 group is required to meet, and I love the freedom that gives our group to feel no pressure to finish at a set time. Countless times, people have stayed after the group time to do homework in my apartment, or further discuss topics brought up during the group time.
As an upperclassman, I am encouraged to see the freshmen in my group make it a priority to come to the group time every week. Some of the students in my group have already expressed interest in leading a group next semester, and that’s what Mission 1.8 is all about – multiplying with the tools we learn in our groups and applying these tools of discipleship to our daily lives.
I asked a few of the students in my Mission 1.8 group for their perspective on the experience. Freshman Andrew Joyce said, “Mission 1.8 challenges me continually to be missional in my conversations with other people and to point others to Christ. It’s challenged me to follow Jesus with all I am.”
Freshman Emily Wall added, “I would definitely encourage someone to join a Mission 1.8 group. It’s a great way to meet people who might be in a different class, and enables you to engage in deep, God-focused conversations. It’s a great addition to my week.”
Junior Haylee Belcher is completing her fourth semester in Mission 1.8. “The advice that I would give someone about entering Mission 1.8 is to come expecting to learn a lot about stories you’ve heard dozens of times,” she said. “Know that it is a time commitment, but in that time, you’ll be learning tools to help you share the gospel and start churches all over the world. You will also get an accountability partner that will become a great friend and a brother or sister in Christ.”
Carlton hopes the Mission 1.8 experience will impact these students far beyond their time on Bison Hill. “My hope is that students will actually take what they learn in Mission 1.8 when they leave OBU and seek to apply those tools wherever in the world they find themselves living,” he said. “We have one couple in Denver and one young man in Seattle who were part of the original Mission 1.8 group that are trying to use the tools they got from Mission 1.8 as they seek to start kingdom communities where they live. And we have two students who are putting their tools into use as they are planting a kingdom community in Shawnee.”
Mission 1.8 has taught me numerous discipleship tools and ways to share the gospel that I know will last me a lifetime. Community is crucial to our walk with Christ, and I am so thankful for Mission 1.8 and how it has impacted my life. It is through Mission 1.8 that I am better equipped to go and be Christ’s witness in Shawnee, Oklahoma, and to the end of the earth.