The Importance of Believing in the Great Commission
Stories about outrageous and extravagant generosity inspire me. Just a few weeks ago, an older woman told me how excited and privileged she felt about giving a generous gift to her church’s capital campaign. Vera went on to say, “The truth is Scott, I probably won’t live to see the results. I’m not going to be around much longer.” For Vera, the importance of her gift was not in its impact during her lifetime, but rather the impact it would have on the church in the future. The gift Vera gave would empower her church to act on The Great Commission.
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. Matthew 28:19-20.
She was giving an outrageous, extravagantly generous gift for one reason and one reason only—so her church could reach people for years to come with the good news of God’s love and grace. Imagine what our churches would look like if they were filled with people like Vera who believed so thoroughly in the mission of the church—given to us in the Great Commission.
51% of churchgoers have never heard of the Great Commission.
A recent poll by Barna Research asked churchgoers, “Have you heard of the Great Commission?” Here are the results:
It may be surprising to see that 51% answered, “No.” It is hard to understand why the majority is unfamiliar with the core mission of the church. However, the research points to a potentially more significant and troubling question–Do churchgoers believe their church makes a lasting and eternal difference in peoples’ lives? If we truly believe the church and its teachings make a difference, then we are inspired to share our faith and the Great Commission has meaning.
If we don’t believe the Church matters, then the
Great Commission makes no difference.
I met with a church group that was considering a building project. The church told me they were packed with no room for growth. Space was so tight, they decided they couldn’t advertise or invite people to church. The group had called me there to help them decide whether or not they should “do something” about their overcrowded space. I asked the group, “What would you think about a person who knew the cure for cancer and decided to keep it to himself?” With great indignation, they replied, “That would be criminal!”
Then I asked them, “Do you or do you not have the cure for a hurting and broken world? If you do, how can you keep it to yourselves?”
Outrageous and extravagant generosity occurs when we truly believe we have the antidote for the diseases that afflict our world. The Great Commission matters when people believe in the importance of sharing the good news of God’s love and grace with the world.
So what do we do?
- Continually and consistently tell stories of how your church’s ministries are making a difference. In every church communication, including your bulletin, newsletter, website, and Facebook page, tell stories of how people’s lives are being changed by your ministry. And if you can’t come up with life-changing stories, it’s time to take a hard look at your ministries and evaluate the quality of your response to the Great Commission.
- Consider a Bible study or sermon series on the book of Acts. Explore the birth and explosive growth of the early church as they lived the Great Commission. One small church in West Virginia experienced an amazing revival when they spent six months reading and studying the book of Acts. By the end of the study they passionately believed that although they were small, their community desperately needed what they had to offer. And guess what … giving exploded.
Would you like to experience outrageous extravagant giving in your church? Rather than talking about spreadsheets, budgets and bills, focus on how your church is responding to the Great Commission. How is your church reaching people to share the Good News? How do your ministries demonstrate your mission of sharing Christ with the world? Be willing to ask, “Do we really believe we have the answer to a world that is broken, hurting and afraid?” If the answer is yes, tell your story and get ready for outrageous, extravagant giving! If the answer is no, start looking for the for sale sign.