Reach the World
What is the Great Commission?
The Great Commission is literally a commission. A commission is an instruction, command, or duty given to a person or group of people. What, then, is the nature of the commission given by Christ to His disciples? What are those specific instructions that apply to all Christians today?
The gospel writer Matthew recounts the words of Christ in verses 19 and 20 of His gospel. He states, “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.”
One of the interesting things about this passage is that there is only one verb used in this phrase in the original greek language - the word “make.” Besides that single verb, every other action word is a participle. As a reminder, a participle is a form of a verb that is used in a sentence to modify a noun, noun phrase, verb or verb phrase, and thus plays a similar role to that of an adjective or adverb.
The following participles are used to modify the verb “make.”
Go: Where are we to go to make disciples? This verse makes it clear that we are to go to “all nations.” This encompasses all peoples, everywhere. This refers to near nations and far nations. This is our own nation. The scope of the great commission is the entire world that God created for His name’s sake.
Baptize: Baptism is so powerful because it represents a new identity and a new birth. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 the Apostle Paul states, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Baptism, then, is a physical representation of a spiritual reality - the old self has been buried with Christ, and the new self has been raised with Christ to a new, spirit-filled life.
Teach: Becoming a disciple fundamentally implies a worldview change. New disciples need mature Christians to walk with them and teach them how to apply the truth of scripture and commands of Christ to their lives. In Romans 12:2, Paul states, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” God’s design is that His people would continually be transformed towards Christ-likeness as we submit to the truth of scripture in community.
Therefore, making disciples of all nations fundamentally entails that we go, baptize, and teach. This is our assigned duty from our Lord, Jesus Christ.
What’s so great about the Great Commission?
First of all, this commission is great in its magnitude. According to the International Mission Board, there are more than 11,500 people groups and over 5,500 of them are considered to be unreached people groups. A people group is any group of people who identify with each other based on common ancestry, ethnicity, culture, and language. An unreached people group is any people group with less than two percent of its population “reached” with the gospel. Currently, there are more than five billion people that don’t know the gospel.
This is a great task that we have before us. Our Lord has commissioned His church for this great task, and with His help we can reach the whole world with the good news of the gospel. Think about this... Jesus initially gave this commission to eleven ordinary guys. These eleven guys were not kings or rulers with far-reaching power and authority. These guys were just your everyday, regular guys who were faithful to leverage their lives for the name of Christ. And now, look how far the work of the gospel has come.
Jesus has always had the multiplication of the church in mind. If today there was only one Christian and he or she discipled eight people in one year, and then, the next year all eight of those discipled eight more people, you would have 64 disciples. And then, if the next year all 64 of those new disciples effectively discipled eight people and this went on and on and on. With this pattern of discipling, we would reach every person on the Earth in approximately ten years. This is doable. We can do this. We could see this happen in our lifetime.
Secondly, this commission is great because it is the work of God. God has commanded us to join him in a precious and beautiful task, and it is the greatest responsibility that we could ever have because eternity with God is at stake for every human on the earth.
What is Missions?
We want everything that we do at Christ Covenant to be focused on God’s gospel, God’s kingdom, and God’s mission. We want to be a church where every member knows and can apply the gospel to life. We want to be a church where every member knows they are part of a kingdom family that gathers for corporate worship and scatters to our respective areas of responsibility throughout the week. We want to be a church full of good neighbors who seek to be a blessing to our city. However, when we talk about “missions” and “reaching the world” we are talking about making disciples beyond our city.
A good way to think about the Great Commission is to think about it in terms of heavenly colonization. God is bringing little colonies of heaven to earth, and in these colonies the kingdom of Christ is seen, experienced, and known. Jesus introduced the first heavenly colony through His disciples. Through these men, we see and understand the world’s first church. Christ told these disciples to go and make more disciples and by implication to start new churches. These churches, or heavenly colonies, would work together to make even more disciples and start new churches from Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. This is the pattern we see throughout the New Testament - disciples making disciples and churches planting churches. Eventually, this movement came all the way over here to Atlanta, Georgia where our church was planted. And now, disciples are being made and we are experiencing a taste of the kingdom of Christ.
Participating in the Great Commission and reaching the world with the gospel is to engage in the greatest movement the world has ever known. We want our church members to take the gospel to places in the world where the gospel has not yet to be heard. We want to be a part of God’s work of establishing healthy churches (colonies of heaven) all over the world. We want to be a church that plants churches where no church exists, revitalizes churches that have grown weak, and helps strong churches grow stronger in their mission and work.
How Do I Engage?
There are many ways to engage with the Great Commission. First and foremost, it is important for you to be a disciple maker where you are. Be praying for people that don’t know the Lord that you are around every day and seek to engage with them for disciple making. Beyond the city of Atlanta, there are three basic ways to engage with what God is doing around the world.
Here are a couple great ways to pray for missionaries and church planters all over the world:
In our 2019 budget, 10% of everything you give goes to ministry outside of Christ Covenant. As our church continues to grow and mature we would love to see that number go as high as 20% and beyond. With that, one of the best ways to engage with what God is doing around the world is to be generous to our church. Individual and corporate generosity will allow us to support a wide range of ministries all over the world. We currently support broader networks that facilitate church planting, revitalization, and the strengthening of churches all over the world. Additionally, we have direct partnerships with various strategic churches and ministries. Some of you may be lead to support some of these ministries directly, but we believe the most strategic pathway for deep impact is that we give collectively to ministries and partners that we prayerfully support and trust. Our Missions Team works diligently to channel resources in the most strategic way possible.
Our Global Partnerships are:
Help the Persecuted – Identify, support, empower churches in areas of the world where hostility to Christianity is commonplace.
Seed Company – Working with churches to translate scripture into every language in the world.
Children’s Hope – Focused on mobilizing local churches to care for orphans, vulnerable children, and communities in need.
Western Europe – Partnering with churches, church planters, and missionaries to shine the light of the gospel in Western Europe.
Miami – Partnering with a church called The Brook - Miami to support and encourage their efforts to preach the gospel in that city.
Japan – Seeking to connect with Japanese students who come to Atlanta for higher education. We have a long term plan to send a missionary to live in Japan.
Our Local Partnerships are:
Buckhead Christian Mission – Providing life-changing services for individuals and families experiencing various stages of hunger or homelessness in Atlanta.
City of Refuge – Bringing hope, light, and transformation to those who are homeless or on hard-times in Atlanta.
K-Life – Impacting youth culture for Christ
Sutton Middle School – Building relationships and ministry opportunities to care for the staff and students of Sutton.
Feeding Children Everywhere – Feeding children who are on the brink of starvation in Haiti.
The final way to engage with what God is doing outside of Atlanta is to actually break the rhythm of normalcy and go. Go for the purpose and with the intent of partnering with faithful churches, church planters, or missionaries beyond our city.
Short Term: A short-term missions trip could be anywhere from three days to two weeks with the purpose of engaging and supporting a ministry outside of our city.
Mid Term: A mid-term missions trip could be anywhere from a couple of months to a year with the purpose of being a strategic partner on a global missions team or church planting team.
Long Term: Long-term missions is a call to the mission field through North American church planting or global missions work on a long-term basis.
All members are expected to support missions by volunteering with local partners at least two times per year, participating in a short term missions trip at least once every three years, and giving to missions through the general fund. God is building His church throughout the world and he has invited you to participate in this work.