The Church’s exclusion of the Great Commission
Today’s culture of missions encourages only the “called.” | Photo courtesy of Marika Adamopoulos.
Since the beginning of Christianity, the intention was for every follower of Christ to become a committed and dedicated disciple who has a desire to make other disciples. Disciples are able to accomplish their mission by committing to going into the world in an effort to make disciples until everyone has heard the gospel. In Matthew 4:19, Jesus has a clear desire for his followers to become 'fishers of men,' which he continues in Matthew 28 with the Great Commission -- a statement that makes both a promise and command.
The promise Jesus makes is a two-part pledge intended for his followers. He says in Matthew 28:19 that he will make them disciples and disciple-makers themselves. In the following verse, Jesus commands his followers to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to obey his commandments. It appears that the modern American church has become comfortable in its calling, often skewing the meaning of the Great Commission when we consider the stark reality that the Great Commission is taken as intending what it does not mean.
COMPLACENCY IN THE CHURCH
It has become normal for Christians to simply fulfill aspects of the Great Commission that keep them comfortable. Thus, the church has transitioned from being evangelistically active to being complacent with a revised Great Commission to suit their contentment. We have seen a church that acts upon the Great Commission which commands us to receive Christ and be baptized ourselves, to the complacency of simply listening to a sermon on a Sunday morning. The stark reality of our culture is that the church is in real danger of ignoring the Great Commission.
A CONSUMER MENTALITY
The church’s intentions of making itself more seeker-sensitive to those searching these past few decades has certainly resulted in a consumerist mentality. The seeker-sensitive methodology that the church took to attract numerous people through the use of various programs is extremely understandable when taking into account the intent and purpose. Unfortunately, the downside is now evident, given the reality that our program driven methodologies have resulted in discipleship only being a part — at best — in a consumerist centered program. The program-centered approach has resulted in many individuals becoming left behind as spectators to the Great Commission believing active involvement only falls on the select few who are called into ministry.
REVITALIZING GENUINE DISCIPLESHIP
The church is certainly experiencing a shift in philosophy in response to this mindset aimed at changing the church culture — there are several movements with varying ideas and approaches leading the way in revitalizing the need for genuine discipleship. It is still too early to gauge the effectiveness or lasting power of these various movements. Nevertheless, we do know their efforts have caused a shift in thinking at a minimum.
There has been much progress on this front, yet plenty of growth opportunities remain. The hope is that the church continues striving toward leading people toward becoming genuine disciples of Christ who have a natural overflowing desire to make disciples.