Written by Dr. Frank A. Nuckolls
Associational Mission Strategist
Flint River Baptist Association, Griffin, Georgia
Prior to His ascension, Jesus gathered the eleven disciples to a mountain in Galilee to give them final instructions. These instructions were simply a commission to make disciples by teaching people in all nations to obey the commands of Jesus and be baptized after salvation. Matthew 28:19-20 provides the words of the Great Commission given by Jesus to the disciples then and today:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.” (NKJV)
Jesus gave the Great Commission not only to the eleven disciples in Galilee but to every believer. Nevertheless, many believers do not take this commission from Jesus seriously. Why?
- Many believers or church leaders cannot quote the words of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20. These leaders may have heard it read, taught, and preached but never really took the commission at heart.
- Many believers of church leaders give only “lip service” to the Great Commission. These believers know the Great Commission but do not act upon this commission. They simply give “lip service” instead of it becoming a heartfelt direction.
- There is a lack of commitment to the Great Commission, not just of believers, but of Pastors. There are many churches who get upset when the Pastor begins to preach and give direction to fulfilling the Great Commission while neglecting the individual needs in the congregation. Pastors and churches both today must focus on making disciples of all nations even within the church community.
- Many believers do not see the Great Commission as their responsibility. These believers see the role of fulfilling the Great Commission as that of Pastors, elders, and missionaries. They fail to understand that the thrust of the Great Commission, making disciples of all nations, is every Christian’s responsibility.
- Many believers do not see the lostness in their own community. They fail to understand that a person without a personal, saving relationship with Jesus is lost. These believers had rather invite people to the church as though it were a club instead of leading the lost to a saving, intimate, personal relationship with Jesus.
- Many believers view transfer growth in the church as a means of fulfilling the Great Commission. These believers are more committed to building their church kingdom instead of building the Kingdom of God.
How can a church fulfill the Great Commission? I believe that the church must embrace an understanding of what Jesus instructed the disciples to do. What is the key to a church fulfilling the Great Commission?
- The first key is for the church, that is serious about fulfilling the Great Commission, to be committed to making disciples locally and globally. A church that is serious about fulfilling the Great Commission are not partially obedient to it but are one hundred percent sold out to discipleship and evangelism.
- The second key is for the church, that is serious about fulfilling the Great Commission, to realize that the work of missions matters. This work of missions matters locally and globally. As a result of this realization, churches will be committed to supporting missions locally through praying, giving, and going on missions in “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
- The third key is for the church, that is serious about fulfilling the Great Commission, to put a face on missions. Putting a face on missions means that the church is introduced to missionaries who serve locally (through the local association), who serve in the state where they live (through the state Baptist Mission Board), who serve in North America (through the North American Mission Board), and who serve in the uttermost (through the International Mission Board). When the church puts a face on missions, it will understand that the Great Commission is being fulfilled globally and will create an atmosphere for the church to become more engaged in praying for, giving to, and going on mission.
Robert Coleman in his book The Great Commission Lifestyle, reminds believers about the need to fulfill the Great Commission. Believers must commit to the thrust of the Great Commission. Coleman states:
“The whole thrust of the Great Commission—giving direction to every effort—is the discipling of all nations.” (page 52)
The church and its leaders today need to move from giving “lip service” to the Great Commission to becoming obedient in the fulfillment of the Great Commission, recognizing the thrust of it is to “make disciples of all nations.”