The Barna Group, considered to be one of the leading research groups on matters of faith and culture, just released a new study that found that 51% of churchgoers don’t know of the Great Commission. If you are part of the other 49%, then you are well aware that Matthew 28:18-20 contains Jesus’ famous command to go and make disciples of all nations. However, just what do common church folk DO with that command?
If we are all honest, most church members get super anxious when there is a Sunday service dealing with missions. They are afraid that some pastor or special speaker is going to ask them to consider leaving their home, traveling to a far off place, and raising money to do it! Even worse, once that person asks them to consider this, they reluctantly ask God if that might be His purpose for their lives for fear of what His answer might be. Even though sacrificing a few dollars is painful for most, throwing a few bucks at the missionary cause is a relief in comparison to consider GOING on mission. If only Jesus had not made that little command tucked away in Matthew 28 then everyone would be off the hook, right?
The truth is that the Great Commission is a real call to all Christians to be spreading the Gospel message to all nations. That’s right—ALL Christians—every age group, every ethnicity, every income segment, EVERYONE is called to be part of the Great Commission. Yet, it does not have to be a painful, dreadful calling!
The whole key to the Great Commission is to realize that the call to GO can actually be just as strong of a call to SEND others. Individuals are happy to hear that, but this is what puts pastors and missions committees into their panic modes because they find this part of the calling completely overwhelming. There are a few principles that can be applied to make this much less of a sticky situation!
1) Churches and church leaders should seek “expert” help. 1 Corinthians 12 reminds us that the body of Christ is made of many parts, and church leaders should seek wisdom from those who have experience in the “part” of missions. There are resources available from those who have served on the field and from those who research best practices in this area. It can save time, money, and most importantly, headaches!
2) Develop a comprehensive missions program for your church. The Great Commission is for EVERYONE, and churches should be giving missions opportunities to all ages, all genders, all income levels…all members in a congregation can be part of the going or sending of missionaries to spread the Gospel.
3) Develop a comprehensive missions program that includes the Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria of Acts 1:8 so that your church is equally sending local, national, and international missionaries. Far too many churches are focused only on local missions or only on short-term missions or only on overseas missions. Scripture points to near, far, and very far as being part of the whole missions picture.
It is time to change the statistics so that all church goers know what the Great Commission is, and at the same time, mentioning the word missions does not have to be dreaded like a trip to the doctor! The call to send is just as strong as the call to go, and it is time for the church to seek to do both parts even more effectively!