Some of Jesus’ last words to His disciples were, “Go and make disciples of all nations” (all peoples) (Matthew 28:19 NIV). We call this command, the Lord’s Great Commission. I see this also as the church’s primary purpose for existing, the church’s mission.
If our mission is to make disciples, what exactly does the word “disciple” mean? A disciple is one who accepts the discipline of his teacher for the purpose to become like his teacher. In order for one to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, one must accept the discipline of Jesus, learning from Him, becoming more and more like Him.
The mission of the church is to make disciples, but that involves doing so everywhere for Jesus said “of all nations”, all peoples, and that’s missions, with a “s”.
Sadly, according to recent surveys, most “church goers” don’t have this concept of “missions”; possibly not even of the church’s “mission”. In the pie graph, one can see from George Barna’s research in 2017, when “Church-goers” were asked if they had heard of the Great Commission, their response was saddening. Only 17% had heard of the Great Commission and knew what it means, over 50% had never heard of the Great Commission. One must then ask “why”? Have we become so near-sighted that we cannot see beyond the four walls of our churches? Do we focus so much on our own people in the church, in our own culture, that we don’t see the need of missions? Do we see the Lord’s Commission to be directed only to the disciples of His day and not to Jesus’ disciples today; I’ve heard that argument? If that be true, I guess we could say that about all of the commandments in the Bible. Or do we think we cannot afford to get financially involved in making disciples of other cultures; keep all of the money at home, isn’t it ours?
Regardless of the reason(s) for this lack of knowledge of the Lord’s Great Commission, the church in general is not being obedient to ALL of Jesus’ teachings IF she is not making disciples of ALL peoples, for Jesus said in v.20, “Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (NIV).