“Of all the conferences we get to host, this is by far, by far, the most significant one…because it matters to the kingdom of God, to the Great Commission.”
That’s how Rick Warren opened the Finishing the Task Conference this morning. Warren’s Saddleback Church in Orange County, California, is in its fifth year hosting the annual missions event, which began in 2006.
This year’s conference, called “Within Sight,” is the largest gathering to date, with more than 600 missions leaders, pastors, resource providers, and cross-cultural workers gathered to learn, network, and make progress toward the goal of active ministry work among every people group in the world (“Why Do We Talk about People Groups?”). The missions research initiative Joshua Project currently counts 17,004 people groups.
Warren emphasized the centrality of the mission to all nations in the Bible: “God says from the beginning…I care about every nation.”
Later Warren spoke about the place of global missions in the local church, saying that many Christians misread Jesus’s commandment in Acts 1:8. The church’s assignment isn’t sequential—to focus first on local work (“Jerusalem”) and then move on to the global (“the ends of the earth”). “It’s simultaneous,” Warren said. “We have to be global and local at the same time.”
He closed by challenging the gathering to regain a sense of urgency: “In the next 365 days, 54 million people in the world will die. Most of them will go into eternity without hope and without Christ. This is why we have urgency. We can’t wait another ten years. We can’t wait another five years. We need to get this thing done now, so that in every spot in the world there’s a believer and a Bible…and a body of Christ.”
The conference continues through Thursday, December 6.