“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 28:19).
Sounds like Jesus made a nice suggestion for Christians to add to their “to-do list” that they can get around to if they find the time, right?
You see, Jesus was pretty clear with His instructions to “make disciples of all nations” and His Great Commission isn’t a suggestion, it’s a command.
But does this mean everyone is called to be a missionary overseas?
No, that’s not quite true either.
However, we are called to be a part of fulfilling the Great Commission and here’s how.
To start, there are those who are called to be missionaries – the ones who leave everything behind – their families, careers, and possessions all to reach the lost.
And it’s a good thing for those people, because according to the Joshua Project there are still approximately 3.14 billion people who fit into “unreached people groups” which the Joshua Project defines as:
“a people group among which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize this people group without outside assistance”.
3.14 billion – that’s a whopping 41.5% of the entire world’s population!
And Christ was very clear that before the end comes – “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
So yes, the Great Commission does call some to give up everything and travel to unreached people groups, taking the good news of the Gospel. And once those people hear of the Gospel, they too can take the Gospel further inland to their communities and plant churches, and then those churches can plant churches, etc.
This is the ideal model, although it doesn’t always happen in a linear form.
But even if one can’t pack up their family and move overseas, they can contribute in other ways to fulfill Christ’s command.
John Piper is clear that not every single person should pack up their belongings and move overseas but they can help support those who go.
“Same clarification is needed when he asks, “Should we take this as a personal commission from Jesus given to every individual Christ follower?” Well, if we say yes, then we have to clarify by asking, “Do you mean that Jesus commands every single believer to be a missionary to the nations with the gospel and a focus on crossing cultures and reaching all the nations, which is in fact the focus of the Great Commission (not just local evangelism)?”
The answer to that question from the Bible is clearly no, he doesn’t expect that or command that. And one evidence for that is that Romans 15, where Paul is recruiting people from Rome not to go with him to Spain but to support him as he goes to Spain.
He knows that all those people he’s writing to in Rome — all those Christians where the gospel is already rooted — have jobs. They have networks of relationships. And so he’s not calling them, saying, “Hey now, all you serious Christians, everybody get on a boat and go with me to Spain.” He’s saying, “Support me as I go.”
In order for missionaries to be able to go and serve overseas, resources are needed. They need financial support for plane tickets, housing, food, and in-house transportation.
For longer-term missionaries the cost is even more. Depending on the area, security detail may be needed, doctor visits and medicine if they’re sick, instructors to help them learn the language, pilots to fly them into remote areas, mechanics to fix the planes if they break, writers and graphic designers to tell their stories to raise support, financial accountants to keep track of donations, and on, and on.
One practical way we can help missionaries right where we are is to financially donate either our time, talent, or treasure to help those who are in the trenches. Perhaps you know a missionary from your church? Or even if you don’t personally, there may be missionaries your home church is supporting? Or a sending organization you believe in who is helping send missionaries abroad?
Even if you don’t have the extra financial resources to give at this moment, consider what talents you can offer. Are you a writer? Can you help write and tell their story? Are you a tech guru? Maybe they need help getting a workable website up and running to accept donations.
Think about ways you can use your God-given talents to help.
And most important, pray. Missionaries often feel lonely and neglected as they are fighting the intense spiritual battles overseas. Please remember to say a prayer for missionaries, as many put their lives on the line all to follow the Great Commission.
And if you’re feeling the call to “go”, continue asking God for clarity! Even if you’ve never gone on a mission trip, there are plenty of short-term trip options so you can see what it is like. Your life is bound to never be the same again and by serving overseas you’ll learn to view the world through God’s eyes and deepen your heart for the global church.
As Piper said, “Missions exist because worship doesn’t”. So as long as there are those who do not know of Him and therefore cannot give Him glory, we are commanded to do our part to fulfill the Great Commission and make His name known.
Do you think the Great Commission is optional for Christians? What are some ways you can help fulfill your part in the Great Commission?
Tell us your thoughts in the comments below and be sure to pray for all our missionaries serving overseas.