"The Great Commission."
August 3, 2022, 4:57 PM

Matthew 28:16-20

What comes to mind when you hear or read the phrase “mission trip?” Is it an image of a group of people from a congregation raising money to go serve people in a different country? Is it an image of a group going somewhere else, far away from where you live? If someone were to tell you they were doing a mission trip in the town where you live, what would you think? Would you think it was unnecessary to do a mission trip in your town? Do you think there is a need for the congregation to serve in your community? Do you think there is any need for the congregation to tell others about Jesus in your community?

My guess is that many of you reading this think that mission trips are done far away and that mission itself is not something that needs to be done in the community you live in. Some of you reading this, however, probably already are doing mission in your communities. It is common in some congregations to not be in the community serving those who live as their neighbors. This is what is known as an ingrown church. They are inward facing with no awareness of what the community needs around them. Sometimes these ingrown congregation do not care to serve anyone but themselves.

The fact of the matter is that congregations in the United States face multiple problems when it comes to mission these days. Money and getting volunteers are just a few issues almost every congregation faces when it comes to mission. But there are deeper problems as well. In this devotional we are going to look at a few of these problems and then we are going to see how they relate to the section in Matthew 28: 16-20 known as The Great Commission.

There are three big problems that the church faces when it comes to mission.

  1. Mission gets downplayed: This happens when members develop an attitude that sees mission as someone else’s job (such as the pastor only), or when members think that everyone they know already goes to church, or when members think that the church building is visible enough that if people wanted to come to church, they would. This attitude sees mission as optional for most believers. Mission is something the pastor is paid to do.
  2. Mission is ignored: This happens when members develop a country club attitude. This type of congregation is dominated by people who think the congregation exists to serve their needs. The pastor is simply viewed as an employee of the congregation that is there to do what the congregation members want him to do. This attitude sees those who do not belong to the congregation as outsiders who do not belong and will never be welcome.
  3. Mission is misunderstood: I believe this is the most common of the three big problems. This happens because mission itself is often not well-defined. Therefore, reading the Bible helps. When we read the Bible, we see that mission is referring to Christians sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with other people. Mission itself is accomplished in many ways. Mission seeks to serve people in the name of Jesus Christ. Donating to food banks and other charities is a form of mission. Mission also seeks to invite people to know Jesus through inviting people to worship or Bible study. Mission is engaging people and talking about Jesus. Many times, we think of mission as something that is done by people somewhere else far away. As true as that is, the truth is that every Christian is called to be a missionary.

Matthew 28: 16-20 is known as The Great Commission. Jesus gave a commission to His disciples on a mountain in Galilee before He ascended into heaven. Christ grounded the mission in His authority. Because Christ has all authority in heaven and on earth, He sends His disciples out into the world to teach others about Him and to baptize new believers. Jesus sent His disciples to all people. This Great Commission was given originally to the first disciples, but it is still in effect for all Christians of every time and place. That means that if you believe in Jesus Christ, you are called and commanded by Jesus to tell others about Him!

This call is scary. Sometimes it can be hard to talk to others about Jesus. But do not let fear hold you back. Do not let fear tell you that your congregation will change if you grow, and others come into the church. Not all change is bad! Do not let fear hold you back from inviting people to come worship with you on a Sunday morning. Do not let fear tell you that you must have every answer to every question somebody may ask you about Jesus. Fear is what leads to all those big problems listed above. Do not let fear hold you back from inviting someone to know Jesus.

Another way that mission is often misunderstood is that mission is viewed as something big. What I mean by that is mission is viewed as something that you must do fundraising for and get a bunch of volunteers and go and do a project. Some of that is true of course. Some mission does take a lot of volunteers and money to do a large project like building a church for a group of people in a different county. But not all mission is like that. There are billions of people worldwide that have never heard the good news of Jesus Christ. Some of those people are your friends, your family, and your co-workers. Being engaged in mission does not always mean leaving everything you have ever known to go somewhere else. God wants you to be engaged in mission right where you are.

If you are reading this in your home, step away from whatever it is you are reading this on and walk out your door (remember to take your keys!). This works if you live in an apartment or a house. Seriously, step out your door quick and look straight ahead of you, to your left, and then to your right. Go ahead and do that. I will wait.

Did you go? I am trusting that you did. You have neighbors that live in every single direction that you just looked. Some live close to you and some live further away. How are your neighbors doing? Are they doing well? Are they going through a tough time? Have you ever prayed for them?

I am going to end this devotional with a challenge. Think of someone in your life (a friend, family member, co-worker, neighbor) that you can pray for, serve in some way, and invite to come to worship with you. Start by praying that God would help you see someone in your life that you can pray for, serve, and invite. Maybe you could make a list of people and pray for them all by name. If you live in an apartment building, spend time each day in prayer for all your neighbors (even the ones you have never met). As you drive through your town, whether you live in Omro or not, pray for all the households you pass by (even if you know you will most likely never meet them). Being engaged in mission is not as hard as we often make it out to be. The mission field is right outside your door.