Barna research has shown that a stunning 83% of churchgoers cannot correctly define the Great Commission. 51% of churchgoers in the U.S. had never even heard the term!
Jesus' command to His apostles to "[g]o therefore and make disciples of all nations" in Matthew 28:19-20 is commonly known as the Great Commission. Christians have always understood that this final instruction from Jesus to His followers is central to God's ongoing purposes for the church. How is it that so many believers in the United States have never even heard of it, and most who have heard of it cannot even define it?
While the body of Christ seems to be familiar with what is trending on the news or on social media, it is shocking that we are not familiar with a central tenet of the Christian faith. Perhaps the church has become distracted from some of the primary things we are called to do as believers.
Acts 1:8 says that the Great Commission—particularly cross-cultural missions—is actually why Jesus sent the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost! The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not just for believers to have more exciting church meetings, but it is to give us power to reach the farthest corners of the earth with the gospel of the kingdom.
On the Presence Pioneers podcast, I recently talked to R.A. Martinez in episode 63 titled Make the Great Commission Great Again. R.A. is involved in training and sending missionaries to unreached people groups primarily in Middle Eastern nations that are hostile to the gospel, and he shares what he thinks it will take to see the American Church re-awakened to the biblical call to take Jesus to "the ends of the earth." His proposed solutions will probably challenge and surprise you!
Statistics such as the one I shared above might jolt some believers momentarily. However, to see us fully reengaged in our missional calling will ultimately require us to confront some idols in our churches, engage in some uncomfortable relationships and embrace a lifestyle of prayer and fasting.
Matthew Lilley is a worship leader, intercessor, Bible teacher and ministry leader with a passion for God's presence, extravagant worship and prayer, and a desire to see cities transformed by Jesus. He has served in national leadership roles in worship and prayer movements such as Burn 24-7 and Awaken the Dawn, and he founded Presence Pioneers in 2004 to connect, equip and
plant presence-centered worship and prayer communities.
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