Are You Getting the Great Commission Wrong?
I grew up in the era where stadium evangelism was very popular. During these events, a well-known evangelist would come to town and pack the stadium with thousands of people who gathered to hear them preach. While preaching the message, the gospel would be presented and at some point there would be an altar call given. At these events there would literally be thousands of people coming out of the stands and they would flood the altars to pray the sinner’s prayer and give their lives to Jesus. It was truly a sight to behold.
Imagine for a moment you have a woman who is pregnant and it is now time to deliver the baby. She goes to the hospital and the labor process begins. After a number of hours she successfully delivers the baby. After the baby is born the woman gets up and says my job is done. She turns to her newborn baby and says “I brought you into this world, I have fulfilled my duty. Now you are on your own.” Most if not all people would look at that woman like she is crazy. We all know that it takes years of nurturing and rearing to help that child grow. This is an essential part of the child’s development and key to their very survival. If that child is left alone, the chances of survival are next to zero.
Yet why do we do this to so many who get saved? They get born again and then left to fend for themselves because we think the job is done when the work is just beginning. Once you get past the fanfare and hoopla of the new soul reborn, the hard and long work of sanctification and discipleship starts.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Anna Stills
When you go back to Matthew notice what Jesus says in verse 20:
That statement right there gives you an imagery of the work required of disciple making. Taking people who may not know anything about Jesus and what he taught and walking them down this road from delivered to discipleship. From convert to committed. From salvation to sanctification. This is the work. It is not always glamorous. It doesn’t always get the most attention. It can be tedious and yes, it is sometimes messy. After all we are dealing with people and their “stuff.”
Yet regardless of what it takes, this is what the Great Commission requires. It’s not just people getting saved, but helping people become committed followers of Jesus Christ. It doesn’t happen overnight. It can’t be done in one service. It will take commitment from the person who is discipling and the person who is being discipled. However when done properly, it will produce the type of Christ followers who can be true salt and light and make a difference in this world for the Kingdom of God,
1. To the person you are witnessing to, what is your plan should they give their life to Christ?
2. Are you willing and able to disciple that person?
3. If you are not, is there a direction you can steer them in to help them get discipled?
4. Is there a plan of discipleship in your church?
The way you answer these questions will shed light on whether there is a real problem or not. I think we can’t just be satisfied seeing people get converted. We have to be diligent and follow through to see people become committed, which is the discipleship process. Clearly this is what matters to Jesus. And if he thinks it’s that important then it is that important.
At this point there is only one question left to ask. Will you take up the challenge? Will you recognize that maybe the way we have been doing it may not be the best way? If so, will you put your energy into the disciple making process? Doing this will not only benefit you and the one you are discipling, but it will help to carry on this legacy of faith in Christ that has been passed down for over two thousand years. I pray that it would be said of the 21st Century church that we didn’t just produce converts but we made disciples. After all this is what the Great Commission really is.
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Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. His most recent book is The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. Clarence is also committed to helping 10,000 people learn how to study the Bible and has just released his first Bible study course called Bible Study Basics. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.