The Commission of the Church
“Therefore go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing then in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20; NIV)
Go into all the world and make disciples is the commission that Jesus left the church just prior to his ascension back into the heavens. This is the motivation of the local church. For a number of decades the church has seemingly lost this motivation and has not been obedient to this commission. Looking at a cross section of local churches a shift has taken place in both motivation and commission. Now it seems that churches are looking at this commission through a different set of lenses as the early church and the church through the reformation/puritan periods.
What does the new commission look like? Let’s look at this commission the way it appears to be carried out in many local churches today:
“Therefore go and entertain eager and sensitive seekers through drama, art, rodeos, motor-cross, nudity and music, especially music, baptizing them in humanistic exaltation, rationalization, and the Spirit of wealth, teaching everything contrary to true discipleship in favor of pragmatism as the god of this world commands you. And surely great results, huge numbers, large/multiple campuses will be with you to the very end of the age.”
Tongue and check or is this a present reality in many cases? It goes with all saying that there are an unknown multitude of churches that have remained faithful to both Christ and his great commission. As we see Paul’s sobering warning to Timothy in the third chapter of his second letter to Timothy, we see these things happening more and more as this evil generation grows worse.
Part of the problem may lie in the mishandling of this great commission from our Lord. We have forgotten that the great commission does not have anything to do with our comfort, ease, wealth, or humanistic philosophy. Believe it or not it is not a commission or mandate to “worship.” Did you notice it doesn’t say anything about 45 minute musical worship periods?
The church needs to re-examine this commission very carefully. Once it has examined this commission it then needs to examine its mission, vision, objective, and purpose statements. Would you be surprised or worse, shocked if I told you that our purpose of gathering each Lord’s Day was not worship? How would the kids’ text the appropriate response; would it be OMG! Did he say our main purpose is not to gather to worship?
If one were to summarize the purpose or as someone once called it “the two great works of the church” it would be to “evangelize” (outside the four walls in the community) and to “edify” (disciple – inside the four walls of the congregation). We are to make disciples, evangelize them, then baptize them, and then teach them, edify or disciple them.
No doubt worship can occur in all parts of the gathering of the body corporately. Worship is not to be relegated to Sunday morning between 10:30 and Noon. Believe it or not we as believers can worship 24/7 – that is if we can stay awake that long.
When we gather it should be to celebrate the Lord’s Table around a meal. Our gathering should include sharing, praying, encouraging, ministering, bearing one another’s burdens, testifying or praise, and some praise/worship in song. Our gathering includes scripture reading, a lesson called an exhortation, and dialogue which enables understanding and application.
Each week at this time I desire to share an overview of discipleship in the local church. This blog was born out of a desire to stand as a constant reminder that we are not purpose-driven but we are gospel-driven; hence the name of this blog. So, stay tuned on Wednesday’s as we discuss the topic of Discipleship.