According to the latest Barna report 51% of church goers do not know what the "The Great Commission" is. Take that in for a moment, the average "Christian" doesn't know the last and lasting mandate that Christ gave to go and make disciples of everyone everywhere.
That's like a doctor who doesn't know what the word "medicine" means or a soldier who has never heard of a gun before. In many ways it is unthinkable.
I believe that the responsibility of this falls squarely on the shoulders of the church leaders. If preachers and church leaders are not banging the drum that Jesus banged they may be playing in the wrong band. And if the leaders are confused about it then the people will be even more confused. As someone once said, "If there's a mist in the pulpit there's a fog in the pew."
Maybe the growing focus on social justice in our churches has overshadowed the primary mission that Jesus gave his followers. Perhaps the attention we are giving to loving our neighbors somehow has been psychologically untethered from the verbal proclamation of the Gospel to them.
Whatever the reasons, we must face the fact that a technical majority of the people in our churches are unfamiliar with the term "The Great Commission." Now the question is what do we do about it?
1. We reframe it.
What if we reframed the Great Commission as the primary way we make the world a better place? What if we showed that the best way we can love our neighbors is by introducing them to the only One who can truly solve their problems and overwhelm their lives with peace and purpose?
In Luke 19:1-10 Jesus reaches a infamous tax collector named Zaachaeus with his message of redemption. As soon as this tax collector believes he proclaims, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
As soon as Zaachaues believes his heart is changed and he immediately gives half of his possessions to the poor and pays back any social injustice he has committed four times over!
This powerful passage shows us that the real key to social justice is Gospel proclamation. When someone puts their faith in Jesus their hearts are changed. Greed is replaced with generosity and selfishness is replaced with selflessness.
If we genuinely want to see lives changed, systemic injustice removed, the poor fed and the prisoners freed we must make the proclamation of the Gospel primary in our lives and churches. The power of the Gospel (Romans 1:16) changes lives, families, communities, nations and situations. It turns sex traffickers into soul savers. It turns greedy overlords into selfless servants.
It's time to reframe the Great Commission as the primary way we love our neighbors.
2. We rename it.
At Dare 2 Share we call The Great Commission "The Cause." We renamed it because years ago we started to see that Christian teenagers had no idea what the term "Great Commission" meant. To the average teenager the term "great commission" sounds like a bunch of money someone made on a real estate deal.
Because teenagers are into causes (take a look at last Saturday's massive national march as an example) it seemed fitting that we renamed this hundreds-of-years-old musty term as something more relevant for this generation. That's why we call it "The Cause!"
In a world filled with good causes this is the greatest one! Jesus left his young followers with this cause and now it has been handed to us. This is The Cause that all Christians are called to embrace as their own!
It's time to let the term "Great Commission" die and repalce it with something stronger! My vote is for "The Cause!"
3. We regain it.
We need to regain the mission of Jesus as the primary focus of the church. Why? Because it is!
Jesus said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
This is our mission until Jesus comes back...to the very end of the age. This is our mission until everyone everywhere hears the Gospel!
Where does "The Great Commandment" (to love God and love others) fit in? In the words of my friend Dr. Dann Spader, the Great Commission is our mission. The Great Commandment is our motive! We make disciples who make disciples and we do it fueled by love!
How do you live and lead this cause in your church or youth ministry? You build a Gospel Advancing, disciple-multiplying ministry that is focused on Christ's mission and built on Biblical values. For more on this check out gospeladvancing.com.
Let's wave the banner of The Cause of Christ in our churches, small groups, Sunday school classes and youth groups! It's time to reframe it, rename it and regain it! It's time to make and multiply disciples until everyone everywhere has every last opportunity to put their faith in Jesus!