What is the Great Commission?

WHAT?

The fulfillment of the Great Commission centers primarily around Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24:14. In chapter 14, Jesus’ disciples asked Him what it would be like near the end of the present age, when He will return in glory. Jesus depicts a period of great challenge to the body of Christ in that time frame. In the midst of this outlook He includes a crucial and clear verse about the timing of His return. “And this gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come (Matthew 24:14).”

The word “nations” in this verse is not a helpful translation. The Greek term “panta ta ethne” is where we get our term “ethnic group.” Jesus was not saying the gospel must be proclaimed in every geo-political nation, but within every individual ethnic group that are within every nation.

Global statistics reveal about 16,000 distinct ethnic people groups in the world. You and I are part of a specific group which shares language, culture, traditions, etc. Of these 16,000, there are more than 6,000 designated as still “Unreached” people groups around the world. An unreached people group is best defined as an ethnic people where the indigenous community of Bible-believing followers of Jesus lack adequate numbers and resources to evangelize and disciple the ethnic group at large. Believers are usually under 2% of the total population among their people.

Most unreached people groups are found within the 10/40 Window. This is the rectangular area of North Africa, the Middle East and Asia between 10 degrees north and 40 degrees north latitude. It is often called “The Resistant Belt” and includes 80% of the world’s poorest people and the birthplaces of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam.

To break it down more, we need to consider present “Unengaged” people groups. These are ethnic groups with populations of 25,000 or more, considered the neediest of the needy. No ministry, church, or organization is yet engaging with them to make disciples and plant simple, indigenous, rapidly reproducing churches. There are zero known believers and no churches among these ethnic groups. The Bible is still not available in their local dialect. This category reduces the number from 6,000 people groups to 533. For a listing of these people groups for consideration, see Finishing The Task.

The fulfillment of the Great Commission means every unreached and unengaged people group being provided a living “witness” of Jesus Christ. What does it mean to have a “witness?” It refers to a two-fold criteria. First, the presentation of the gospel is culturally relevant and understandable to the local people. It is not perceived as “foreign” but bridged with the local worldview and made “incarnate” among them. Second, it includes a demonstration of power. Paul’s message was not with words only but also with power, which verifies the authenticity of the message. That power may be external (healings, miracles, other signs or wonders) or internal (deep conviction, the authority of the words penetrating, revelation being given to an unbeliever surrounding truth).

WHO?

The global body of Christ is immense around the world. Among us, we possess the spiritual gifting, training, strategies, skills, capacity, people and even finances to fulfill the Great Commission in about 10 years. Most importantly, we have the Person of the Holy Spirit, whose chief purpose is to glorify Jesus Christ in the earth, specifically among those still out of access to the gospel.

How do we bridge the gap between what the body of Christ possesses around the world and the vital movement toward the literal fulfillment of the Great Commission in this generation?

By focusing renewed attention on motivating our local ministries to take up responsibility to educate, inspire and activate believers within their fellowships. Every local fellowship becomes an “incubator” for the development of basic cross-cultural mission understanding and vision. Every local church, campus ministry fellowship and Bible School has ongoing cross-cultural mission fervor growing at a grassroots level from within. Every believer is finding their particular role to play in the fulfillment of the Great Commission. It is through the whole body of Christ, all in their assigned roles, that God will bring about the fulfillment of the Great Commission in this generation.

These vital roles include:

  • • Extraordinary Praying
  • • Extravagant Sending
  • • Surrendered Going
  • • Impassioned Mobilizing
  • • Fervent Advocating

HOW?

The body of Christ is positioned as never before to move effectively toward the Fulfillment of the Great Commission in this Generation.
We have numerous mission sending agencies from multitudes of indigenous national backgrounds specializing on all the major religious blocks. Wonderful efforts are being made to reach marginalized groups such as children at risk, trafficked women and children, the poor, blind and deaf globally. Crucial strategies have emerged to propel the mission movement forward in hostile places through business as mission (BAM). Professionals are recognizing God can use their college and university degrees to get jobs among unreached and unengaged groups, with their primary purpose as developing rapid-reproducing “church planting movements.”

Believers from every background are meant to be message bearers (alternative term for missionary) everywhere they go. The Great Commission is not only for those trained as ministers and message bearers. If we will see the Fulfillment of the Great Commission it will be as a result of believers deliberately migrating about with the gospel. They will purposefully relocate their families, businesses and professions to places where few believers are. They will live, work, raise families and unassumingly spread the love of Jesus in a discreet way, doing church planting movements. This was how the early church spread the gospel so fast.

The need among unreached and unengaged people groups is not merely evangelism. We want to see all of society impacted by the Kingdom of God through believers. This includes the following crucial areas of emphasis among unreached and unengaged people groups:

  • • Developing “Houses of Prayer”
  • • Making The Whole Bible Available In Every Language
  • • Works of Justice
  • • Teaching the Gospel Orally For the 4 Billion Oral Learners Who Cannot Read
  • • A Relevant, Reproducing, Simple Church Life Which Integrates Into Every Area of Life
  • • Effecting the Seven Spheres of Society
      1. 1. Family
      2. 2. Government
      3. 3. Business
      4. 4. Religion
      5. 5. Education
      6. 6. Media
      7. 7. Arts & Entertainment

The “Church” is the key vehicle God uses to transmit the Kingdom of God among people. As a result we want to be a generation given over to developing “church planting movements” among unreached and unengaged people groups. These are rapid-reproducing, culturally relevant, simple, typically small groups of believers (20-30 and then they reproduce). Among many hostile people groups, these types of “churches” will be the only type that can exist. These movements allow for the greatest number of people to be directly engaged with the gospel along the natural lines of friends and family.

It is important to understand this was the strategy of the early church in the New Testament. They met in homes, not impressive buildings. There was no paid “pastor.” The message bearers went out two by two into communities. The model Jesus taught His disciples for planting small groups of believers is laid out in Luke 10, step by step. This is Jesus’ way and the method that will produce the greatest results among unreached people groups. 100 small churches of 20 people can have a much greater impact on a community than one church of 2,000.