In the previous post, I talked about two of the reasons the Great Commission is so great:
- It starts with the finished work of Christ.
- It includes the church.
In this post I’m going to talk about some more reasons that the Great Commission is so great.
The Great Commission is Great Because All Can Participate
In Romans 15:19, Paul says:
…so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ…
It’s important to understand that Paul himself did not preach the gospel to everyone from Jerusalem all the way to Illyricum. This geographical region was simply too large for Paul to say that he completely fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ in that region. It was not as if Paul had mastered technology in such a way that he was somehow able to get the gospel into every household in the area he mentions.
So how could Paul make the audacious claim that he had fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ from Jerusalem to Illyricrum? This extraordinary statement can only be assigned to one reality: Paul had planted local churches! Paul considered the ministry of gospel of Christ fulfilled when a church had been solidly planted.
In Expositors commentary on Romans, Everett Harrsion says:
The statement ‘I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ’ is not intended to mean that he had preached in every community between the two points mentioned but that he had faithfully preached the message in the major communities along the way, leaving to his converts the more intensified evangelizing of surrounding districts.
When Paul planted a local church, that church then accepted the responsibility of proclaiming the gospel in that region.
The Great Commission strategy as seen in Romans 15 can be summarized as: Called men planting strategic churches, which then are mobilized to penetrate a particular geographic region.
This means that every Christian gets to participate in the Great Commission! When I was a new Christian, I thought the only way to participate in the Great Commission was to get my passport stamped and travel to a foreign country. The reality is, most Christians can participate in the Great Commission by supporting their local church, reaching non-Christians in their area, and supporting those called to go into new fields.
This wonderful reality has some specific implications for pastors.
Pastors must realize that there is a mission beyond simply caring for the church.
A church will not be sufficiently healthy unless specific and proportional attention is given to Great Commission work. Pastors must redefine success so that it includes church planting and local evangelism. For a local church to have life, it must exist for something outside of itself. The local church exists to reproduce itself, and this always comes at a cost. Pastors must be willing to make that sacrifice, and include missional efforts and thinking in how they understand their role.
Pastors must define success not only by church growth, but by church growth through conversions.
The future of a local church depends not simply on growth, but on evangelistic growth. Too many churches enjoy growth simply from Christians transfering from one church to another. Those folks who study church growth believe that a church conversion rate of at least 25% is necessary if a church is going make a significant impact on the world. Pastors, what do you need to do to establish and pursue that goal?
The Great Commission is great because all can participate. The proclamation of the gospel is not only the job of pastors. It is for every Christian. Do you see the Great Commission as great?