The mission of the church is a foundational pillar of the church. Now this may sound obvious, but so many churches do not have missions and evangelism as one of their foundational pillars. For many churches, the mission of the church, the outward focus of the church, is lost in the mire of the programs of the church.
Jesus left the church with a mission, we call it the Great Commission, “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 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
Any church that focuses purely inward on fellowship and comfort of community, without looking beyond their four walls has already ceased to exist as a church. They may have many people coming to attend and enjoy the fellowship and worship music and programs, but by definition, they are not the church.
The global population today is almost eight billion and there are seventeen thousand four hundred and ten people groups as defined by missiologists. Of these people groups, there are seven thousand three hundred and ninety-eight that are defined as unreached.
An unreached or least-reached people is 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.
The original Joshua Project editorial committee selected the criteria less than or equal to 2% Evangelical Christians and less than or equal to 5% Professing Christians.
“We should not underestimate the significance of the small group of people who have a vision of a just and gentle world. The quality of a whole culture may be changed when two percent of its people have a new vision.” – Robert Bellah, Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University,
At this moment in history, it is estimated that there are over 3 billion people who have never heard the Gospel message.
As Jesus was teaching on the mount of Olives in Matthew 24, his disciples asked him this question, “… Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Matthew 24:3.
Over the next ten verses, Jesus lists a series of global events that he calls birth pangs, and this is not the answer to the question that the disciples asked. But then in verse 14, Jesus gives the disciples the answer to their question, “… This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14.
Before Jesus comes, the Gospel will be proclaimed to all the remaining seven thousand three hundred and ninety-eight-people groups. There is a lot of work to be done.
Acts 1:8 is the verse that every missionary knows well, “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.”
Jesus is speaking to his disciples’ moments before he ascends into heaven. They were expecting him to establish his earthly kingdom, but Jesus takes their focus off the desire for the kingdom of heaven to come now and directs them to the work to be done. He tells his disciples that the Holy Spirit will enable them to be witnesses or evangelists, to go in ever widening circles from Jerusalem all the way to the ends of the earth.
The proclamation of the Gospel must start at home, in the church, in our city, but then we are all to be part of taking the message further and further as the Holy Spirit gives power. This is the design and purpose for the church that Jesus instituted.
In Revelation 19, we read about the great celebration for the ages, the marriage supper of the Lamb. At this feast there will be people from every people group in the world. John saw this earlier in Revelation 7:9, “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb”.
John saw people from every ethnic group, every people group in Heaven. This is encouraging for us, we can have absolute faith that the Great Commission will be completed.
There is good news, globally there are an estimated 50,000 people who become Christ-followers every day. And there are 3,500 churches are being planted every week around the world.
There has also been a radical shift in the geography of the evangelical church, it is no longer a western church. For every one new Christ-follower in the US and Europe there are sixteen in Latin America, Africa and Asia.
While America has the resources to mobilize the most people, the majority of missionaries going to the hardest to reach nations, come from these rising missionary nations. These missionaries have incredible faith and are entering countries where they could lose their lives for proclaiming the Good News. The world of missions is changing, and God is at work to reach the least reached peoples of the world.
Many ministries have used three simple words to focus the attention of believers on the task of the great commission; Pray – Give – Go.
Pray – You can join thousands in praying for the persecuted church by using the Open Doors app that can be found on www.opendoorsusa.org, or you can join a local prayer meeting or start one to begin praying for the unreached peoples.
Give – Give to the churches global mission offering or find an organization that is sending missionaries to the unreached and send them a gift.
Go – The nations are coming to our cities, right now there are thousands of people from closed countries who are emigrating to the United States, we as a church have an unprecedented opportunity to share the Gospel with people groups who have never heard the Gospel.
How will you respond to the Great Commission today?