It’s incredible to think that when we come to Christ and receive Him as Savior and Lord, we are actually grafted into the movement, He ignited nearly 2,000 years ago. A movement of His disciples making disciples who make disciples. This movement is redemptive of the individual and has the potential to even redeem culture.
This movement’s purpose is so important that all four Gospels and Acts record the Great Commission. Now, you would think that those who call Jesus Lord would desire to know His purpose for His church. Matthew records Christ sharing of His church’s mission:
“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’” (Matt 28:18-20).
What I find problematic is the research George Barna reported in March 2018. He shares that 51% of churchgoers don’t know the Great Commission. Further, 25% of churchgoers said the term “Great Commission” sounded familiar, but they could not remember its meaning. Only 17% of churchgoers said they had heard of the Great Commission and know what it means. I get it. Not all churchgoers are Christians, but, for instance, in a church of 100, would we assume then that 17 or 43 at best are Christ-followers?
Since it is unquestionably important for Christ’s church (disciples of Christ are the church) to know and fulfill His mission for us, it ought not to surprise us that Paul, an Apostle, and Christian world changer, shares with us in Ephesians how the church is to operate to fulfill His purpose. Paul writes:
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (Eph 4:11-16).
We discover that God gifts and calls some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers to prepare God’s people for works of service. However, all believers are gifted to serve others spiritually. What is the destination of Christ’s church? His church is to attain “unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God.” We are to achieve “mature manhood.” Christ-followers are to reach “the full measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
What we discover is that as believers, function, according to the gifts God has given them, the body (church) as a whole enjoys unity. It becomes more spiritually mature, more like Christ in His love, character, purpose, and priorities. Negatively, believers should not be like “children,” immature in the truths of Christian doctrine and led into falsehood. Rather, believers are to know the truth and share it in love, growing in Christian maturity.
Love is an essential factor in our ministry. There is no Christian maturity or true Christian ministry without love, and every act of love in the name of Christ is valued and remembered by Him, “as each part is working properly.” When each and every believer assumes their God designated place, as the church, they grow as His disciple, and they make disciples who make disciples.
It does not take much thought to conclude that God’s church falls way short of what it can be and do when it is not working as it ought on mission. Since we, believers, are the church, it only makes sense that we fall short of what we can be and experience when we are not working as we ought on mission. It is not a stretch to realize that if we are not growing disciples, who make disciples, who make disciples, then our marriages will fall short of what God desires for us. Our families will fall short of what God desires for us. Our friendships will fall short of what God desires for us. Our impact in our homes and on our neighborhood, workplaces, schools, and community will fall short of what God desires for us.
But, here is the good news. When you and I come to Christ and by the power of His Spirit take our part as His church being growing disciples who make disciples who make disciples, we are grafted into His movement, He began 2,000 years ago. We are ignited as Christian world changers, engaged in Christ’s kingdom mission. We can experience all God has for us and be used by Him to welcome others to do the same. My prayer for us is this: “Lord, bring us to you, grow us up in you, use us for your kingdom’s sake until all have the opportunity to know you and do the same.” Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!