The Great Commission is often misunderstood and only partially applied. Yes, the command is to make disciples…., but where? Is witnessing to your neighbor really the fulfillment of the Great Commission? It is a good idea to understand what the Church is suppose to accomplish. Read this blogg and see the Double Focus of the Great Commission.
A pastor recently told me that he was fulfilling the great commission by doing everything in his power to evangelize his community. This was apparently an excuse for not supporting foreign missionaries with anymore than a token amount. However, this pastor liked to boast of how mission-minded his church was. I told him at best he was only committed to half of the Great Commission.
A common complain I hear as the director of the missions program at Liberty University is, “Why all the fuss about tribes?” Whenever someone thinks of missions the image of the jungle, savage tribes or primitive peoples come to mind. Is this what missions is all about? Though perhaps fascinated by the difficulties and challenges that these missionaries went through to plant the gospel in these remote people groups, most may well say, “That’s not for me” or “I’m glad the Lord never called me to do that.”
The issue is not how many we may win to Christ or what I would like to do or feel I have to do. The real issue depends on what the Great Commissions (all five reiterations) say that must be done.
Three of the five commissions state that the goal is to take the gospel “to all nations,” (Gk. ethnos, “Gentiles, peoples,” from which we have the English word, ethnic).
The exciting part of Scripture is that we are given the end result of Church’s effective missionary task to fulfill the Great Commissions: “some from every people, tongue, tribe and nation” will appear before the throne at the end of the Church Age. Some stalwarts in the churches will be courageous enough to overcome all obstacles to carry the gospel to the last people group in the world.
Fifty years ago missiologists thought we had “Two Thousand Tongues To Go.” Twenty-five years ago we had discovered that there were over 12,000 languages or ethnolinguistic people groups in the world. It is estimated that about 6,000 are unreached in 2008, some will dissolve into other tribes or nationals in their country, but about 2,100 are unengaged at this time.
Pioneer linguistic missionaries are developing strategies that this figure will be reached by 2025, with sufficient resources and personnel. For the first time this goal is realistic and doable in our generation.