Great Commission: Encompassing or Complicated?

We tend to narrow the Great Commission down to going and making disciples of all nations. So, it’s fairly easy to look at our missions’ budget or how many missionaries have gone out from our midst and determine how well we’re doing. We might also include what programs we have to reach out to our own community. If that’s all there is to the Great Commission, we could arrive at conclusions about how well we’re doing without a formal assessment. But, if we look at the all-encompassing nature seen in Matthew 28:18-20, we might see the value of an assessment.

Great Commission is Encompassing Not Complicated

The Great Commission is Encompassing

Then Jesus came to them and 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.” (Matt. 28:18-20)

From these verse we learn about the encompassing nature of the Great Commission. It includes:

  • what everyone is doing, not just what leaders are doing or select ministries of the church

v. 18 – Jesus spoke these words to His disciples. Nowhere does it limit this responsibility to church leaders or select members responsible for the outreach ministry of the Church. How are we going to determine if everyone is fulfilling this responsibility?

  • what agenda we’re following, not just doing what’s right in our own eyes

v. 18 – The One who gave this mission has ALL authority over everything. Consequently, we need to make sure we’re truly on mission with Him and not merely promoting our own personal agendas or following the ways of the world. How are we going to make sure we’re on track with Him?

  • what’s happening in all of our programs or strategies, not just outreach

v. 19 – Making disciples involves more than people getting saved. It also involves the spiritual growth of believers so Christ not only is their Savior but also their Lord. How are we going to get such a coordinated view of the full-orbed ministry of the church?

  • how evident the Lord’s presence is in all we do, not just what we look like as a Church

v. 20 – Jesus promised to always be with us. Do people see Him or do they see our programs, certain personalities, etc.? How are we going to get below the surface to determine if people truly are encountering Jesus?

To get a good picture of how well we are accomplishing this mission, we might consider doing an assessment, not because it’s complicated but because it’s encompassing.

The Great Commission isn’t Complicated

While the Great Commission encompasses more than what a casual look at our church might reveal, it really isn’t all that complicated. It’s about Jesus’ disciples yielding to His authority by following His agenda to help people in this world know Him as both Savior and Lord in ways that make it about Him and not us.

Assessments can help us determine if that’s what we’re really doing. They’re not about complicating the Great Commission. They’re needed because we humans can get rather shortsighted and narrow-minded.

  • Sometimes we forget to include the part about Jesus’ authority.
  • Sometimes we skim over the “go” part and make it all about what happens within the walls of our church buildings.
  • Sometimes we make church life all about evangelizing, keeping everything geared to seekers.
  • Sometimes we make church life all about nurturing believers, forgetting the seekers in our midst.
  • Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our programs and making sure people have a good experience, that they miss out on what should be the main attraction of all we do — our Lord Jesus.

When any of the above describe us, we tend to view what we do through that lens. We get imbalanced, malnourished, and possibly misdirected without realizing it. An assessment can help provide a more objective picture of where we are so we get back into alignment with the encompassing nature of the Great Commission.

Should we do assessments zeroing in on the Great Commission? Occasionally that might be helpful, but the encompassing nature of Jesus’ mission might suggest questions to include in any kind of assessment we develop on any area of church life — the topic of the next post.

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