The Great Commission
“All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:17-19, CSB).
In westernized Christianity, there is a “comfort” I have observed that seems to contradict the teachings of Christ, and it has to do with missions. I will be the first to admit that I enjoy comfort and predictability. However, there is not much room for worldly comfort when it comes to denying myself, taking up my cross, and following Christ. Jesus has not called the church to comfort. That will come in glory with eternal rest in Christ.
In Matthew 28, Jesus calls us to “go” and to “make disciples.” Jesus does not call Christians to conform to a “bubble” mentality and function within that context. Rather, Christians must step outside their comfort zones and reach others with the gospel of Christ. Christ descended to our sin-cursed world, leaving his throne so that we might receive reconciliation. We are Christians, which translates to“little Christ.” We are called to imitate our Savior. There is no excuse for the church not to step out and reach as many people as possible.
Open and Closed
I have seen churches have an “us four and no more” mentality. This is devastating to the local church and the community surrounding the church. We have the words of life to give to people who are lost – why would we not want to reach as many people as humanly possible? Yes, it is temporarily uncomfortable. But it is of eternal significance.
On the other hand, I have seen churches use whatever means necessary to get people to hear the gospel. They are people-focused and people-driven. They take Paul’s words in Romans 10 seriously. “How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14, CSB). Within these churches, there is a “ministry energy” about people that is exciting and stimulating for the mission-minded Christian.
Be a “Both-And” Church
As wonderful as these people-focused churches are, the focus can easily become a central focus on local ministry. This local focus is necessary. The local church is vital in the life of a healthy Christian. However, in this context, there can be a loss of vision when it comes to the global aspect of the gospel and missions. For the Christian, involvement in missions is not an option. It is of the utmost importance if we take the Great Commission seriously.
The local church has three options for involvement in missions: 1) be a sending church, 2) be a supporting church, and 3) be a sending and supporting church. Ideally, churches should aim for number three.
I bring this up because a lot of churches (especially small ones) carry the ideology that if we support missionaries, that is enough. Missionaries need support, especially prayer support. However, if your church is not actively discipling others, does not have a global mission focus, and is not actively reaching their local community with the gospel, the chances that your church is stagnant and unfruitful are very high. (See articles one and two on spiritual and numerical growth). This sending and supporting is possible within a small church just as much as a large church. God pays for what he orders.
The Call of Jesus Christ
In summary, God has not called the church to comfort. The church must grow and expand both spiritually and numerically. This involves Christians getting excited about reaching people with the gospel. Outreach must happen on a local and global scale. Unfortunately, many churches tend to focus only on the local context to the exclusion of the global context.
My goal for this article is to raise awareness of global missions within the context of the local church, to encourage pastors to become more mission-minded in how they think about the world and communicate that to their people. Additionally, this article serves as a call to laypeople to not be complacent in faith and “go with the flow,” but a call to radically give their full devotion to Jesus in their calling to reach others with the gospel. God has humbled himself to allow us, his creation, to proclaim his gospel among the lost. This is an immense privilege that should not be taken lightly.
“The call of Jesus Christ…causes a disciple to leave his nets and follow him.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Brittany Proffitt lives in Dallas, TX, holds a BA in Religion, and is a student at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. She is passionate about Scripture and how God’s Word impacts individuals’ hearts and lives.