It’s a topic that is widely disputed among Christians. Some say it is to usher in God’s kingdom; others say it is to uphold social justice. But what does the Bible have to say about the church’s corporate mission?
Before we get there, let’s define the word “mission.” According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, mission means “a task or job that someone is given to do.” Notice the singularity in the description of mission. In the four Gospels, Jesus gives many commands for us to obey. Yet, there is one that is specifically set aside for the church to be its priority.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)
This passage is commonly known as the Great Commission. Jesus gives His authority onto the disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all people. From the beginning of His ministry, His intention for His disciples was to groom them for so that His church would be built through the proclamation of the Gospel (Matthew 16:18). This is evident when Jesus first calls them:
And [Jesus] said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19 ESV)
The Gospel is not only to be proclaimed to coworkers, classmates, family, and friends through evangelism (although that is part of the Great Commission). We are commanded to preach the Gospel to every people, tongue, and tribe. In Revelation, John writes about the end times, when people from all around the world will worship God:
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10)
This is why missions is so important! Whether you go or stay, missions is a vital part of carrying out the Great Commission. I can’t wait for that day when we can all worship the Lord together!
Also take note that disciple-making occurs through teaching them. Fulfilling the Great Commission is not making converts but making Christ-followers. We don’t just share the Gospel with people and leave them to fend for themselves. Jesus tells us to teach them to follow His commands, accomplished through the means of the local church. This is how believers will grow in grace and godliness to become more like Christ.
The other Gospel writers recorded similar messages of making disciples (see Mark 16:15-18, Luke 24:45-49, and John 20:21-23). And it’s even in the book of Acts:
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 ESV)
Christians are still here on Earth to make disciples. If it were up to me, I would want to be in heaven with God. No more sin and suffering sound great! But God has kept all of us in this world for this very reason: to preach the Good News to all mankind, and to teach them how to live according to God’s commands.