The Great Commission is the greatest revelation of Jesus’s love for humanity and His power to redeem and restore absolutely everything. It tells the Church that this message of forgiveness and hope is for every single person and people group. It declares that Jesus wants to write a redemption story in every language for every tribe.
The Great Commission also reveals that Jesus has chosen to use us, dignifying and inviting us to share His heart and mission. The Great Commission should undo us as we contemplate the unfathomable depths of Jesus’s humility in leadership and passionate love for people. This mission is the forger of faith, hope, and love in our lives as we follow Jesus to the ends of the earth.
What Is The Great Commission?
The Great Commission references one of the most important mandates given to the global Church by Jesus Himself right before His ascension. If we were to ask Jesus, “What is the global Church’s mission until your second coming?” Jesus’ answer is found in the Bible book of Matthew. After His death and resurrection, and before His ascension to heaven, Jesus gathered his disciples and followers and Matthew records what happened:
The Great Commission is God’s declaration that not only has He always pursued us to rescue us from sin but that now, through Jesus, all believers are called to participate in pursuing the unreached with His love and kindness!
A Brief History of The Missions Movement
As we examine missions through the ages, we’re given a rich understanding of why missions are central to the Christian faith—listening to the stories and examining evolving patterns in movements shows us how to grow in humility, love, and courage.
Some of the most significant mission movements that contributed to today’s progress, as well as current challenges, are:
The Early Church- 33 AD - 500 AD
In the first few centuries after Jesus's death and resurrection, the disciples and other believers worked tirelessly to spread the Gospel throughout the known world. The early Church didn't just support a missions movement; they were a missions movement, vividly reflecting Christ's relentless love.
The Monastic Movement- 3rd century AD - 16th century AD
The popularization of Christianity ended persecution for believers but also resulted in a far less radical institutionalized church. Formalized church leadership ushered in the monastic missions movement but also resulted in most believers feeling less responsible for missions. Missions were relegated to "missionaries" rather than Christians. Nevertheless, many nuns and monks took the message of Jesus far and wide.
The Age of Exploration- 15th century AD - 18th century AD
European explorers and missionaries traveled to the Americas, Asia, and Africa, bringing the story of Jesus to many new people and cultures. However, despite reaching many previously unreached regions, often the redemption of every tribe and tongue became lost in attempts to change culture and language to emulate that of colonizers.
The Great Awakenings- 18th century AD - 20th century AD
Revivals in North America and Europe sparked a renewed interest in missions, as many Christians were convicted of their need to share the Gospel with people who had not yet heard it. This led to a wave of mission outreach, both domestically and globally, emphasizing holistic mission work.
The Modern Missions Movement- 9th century AD - Present
The modern missions movement emerged with a far more comprehensive set of resources for translation, travel, and researching unreached regions. Increasing global interconnectedness has expanded impact and improved the adaptation of Christian teachings and practices to fit the culture and needs of local people.
The Global Need Today
On earth today, there are 3.2 billion people who have never heard the message of Jesus–the Good News Jesus commanded us to tell the whole earth. That’s over 40% of the planet. For these people, it’s not just that someone hasn’t personally told them about Jesus. It’s because the Bible isn’t translated into their language, there is no local church, it’s illegal to share the Gospel, or they live in a very remote region no missionary has ever reached. The only hope the unreached have is for something to change– someone must go, teaching must be translated into their language, and the church must pray.
But right now, less than 1% of Church resources go toward missionary efforts for these unreached people groups . Out of the 7,000 languages spoken or signed worldwide, only about 10% (700) have a complete Bible translation. And 2,000 languages have no Bible whatsoever translated into their language! Today, the Church is not urgently prioritizing missions. We long to see many cry out like the apostle Paul in Romans 15:20-21, saying, “My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard, rather than where a church has already been started by someone else. I have been following the plan spoken of in the Scriptures, where it says, “Those who have never been told about him will see, and those who have never heard of him will understand.”
The need is immense, and there’s a role for each follower of Jesus to play. We need missionaries, but we also need prayer! We need hearts that cry out for the lost, Christians who encourage the persecuted, volunteers who support missionaries, and givers who fund translation work. We need those who will lift their voices to spread the word raising awareness urgently, and we need theologians who will call the church back to the mission of tenacious love Jesus gave her. Most of all, we need the Holy Spirit as God stretches out His miraculous hand, confirming the Gospel message with power. All of history confirms that God is faithful to do so if we are faithful to answer His call, remembering the unreached, and declaring His great love for all!
What’s At Stake
The greatest hindrance to fulfilling the Great Commission, telling every people group on the planet the Good News of Jesus Christ, is misunderstanding or ignoring our mission from Jesus. And what’s at stake is urgent: 3.2 billion people who have never heard who Jesus is hang in the balance.
We also risk missing out on our own callings— our God-given purpose and destiny of partnering with God in sharing His love. Our wholehearted obedience in saying “yes” to Jesus’s command to make disciples of all nations is the best roadmap for growing in faith, hope, and love as He intends.
There is an intimate link between finishing the task of the Great Commission, the end of this age and Jesus’s return. In Matthew 24:14, Jesus tells His disciples, “And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.” Fulfilling the Great Commission, inviting all nations to know the forgiveness, love, and power of Christ, plays a necessary part in Jesus’s return and in building His Kingdom! Our participation in mission is part of God’s plan to restore all things and we have more to do in this broken world than to simply wait for His return. Our longing for Jesus’ return is inextricably tied to His longing for all people to know His love. We cannot afford, on any front, to minimize, ignore, or dismiss the simple words of the Great Commission a moment longer.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations [Greek: ethnos], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
If what’s at stake fills us with urgency, then the opportunity offered should fill us with joyful enthusiasm. Jesus could have stayed on the earth in a resurrected human body and single-handedly turned the world upside down as He did signs and wonders, healed bodies and minds, and taught with unparalleled, perfect wisdom! Instead, Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit and invited us into the maturity of faith and love as we join Him on mission.
As we grow daily into the likeness of Jesus, we can, by the power of the Holy Spirit, share Jesus’s heart of compassion and work reaching the lost. This leads to the epic culmination when people from every tribe and tongue have joined the worship chorus that’s going to take place at the throne of God, and Jesus completes the work of restoration He has begun in us.
And they sang a new song, saying:
The last staggering part of this opportunity to consider is that, despite over 40% of the planet still being unreached, missiologists now believe that the Great Commission can be completed in one generation . This means that the person who will translate the Bible into the last remaining language could be alive today! Technology is making it possible for us to take the message to every region of the world;. we have the resources, technological advancements, and tools to reach every people group. What is lacking is a Church on mission- A Church that understands and is obedient to her calling.
Adopt a Language to champion missions in an unreached region! You can fund the translation of biblical teaching and audio messages of hope in the languages of people who have never heard the Good News of Jesus.
God’s Call To All
We must urgently reclaim what was lost in the fourth century- a mentality that this call is not just for missionaries or pastors but for every person who follows Jesus. Jesus went to seek and save those who were lost (Luke 19:10).. Jesus is calling us to follow Him there but this won’t look the same for any two people. Your “yes” may find wholehearted expression through financially supporting missions to unreached people groups. Your “yes” may be through daily prayer for unreached nations, missionaries, and hearts to hear and turn to Jesus. Your “yes” might be volunteering with missions organizations, encouraging believers on the field, or persecuted believers in unreached nations. It could be through translation work, raising awareness or funds, or learning more so that you can be a voice declaring mission to the church. Jesus has an invitation custom-made for every Christian.
6 Mission Roles:
Helpful, willing, and proactive, Allies are the volunteers supporting and empowering organizations.
Amplifiers use their passion for a cause to broadcast a message, mobilize others, and increase impact.
Catalysts are generous givers who are full of faith.
Disciples hunger for knowledge and have a thirst for deeper understanding.
Sees both the potential and beauty in those around them, taking the time to articulate and celebrate it.
Prayer Warriors carry God’s compassionate burden for people, situations, places, and causes.
How You Say Yes
The greatest challenge for most Christians hearing the Great Commission is the overwhelming uncertainty about how they personally could answer this call. Perhaps it seems so far from your sphere of influence and talents. Perhaps you feel small and, like Moses, not a public speaker. The lie that missions is for a select few and only looks one way has disqualified countless called and needed Christians from running this race with confident purpose.
Every person has a role to play. In fact, many missionaries on the front lines often struggle in their work because they lack a support network praying, raising awareness, funding, encouraging, and strengthening them. Many new believers in unreached countries are isolated, persecuted, and discouraged for lack of support and biblical resources in their heart language. Much of the work being bravely pioneered by a few is limited by the lack of resources and people needed to truly accomplish what’s in the heart of Jesus. You have an essential role— one of purpose, specific to your gifts, fulfilling your destiny.
Take the Mission Multiplier Assessment by Guidelines to find out more about your unique role on mission.
Discover the many fulfilling ways you can get involved, regardless of your age, occupation, resources, or where you live.
The Difference Between Mission Roles and The Gifts of the Spirit
Several times in the New Testament, Paul and other apostles list a variety of spiritual gifts. The lists are not identical but overlap, giving us a broad view of how the Holy Spirit moves through His people to minister to others. Romans 12:6-8 lists prophecy, serving, teaching, exhortation, giving, leadership, and mercy. 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 lists words of wisdom, words of knowledge, faith, gifts of healings, miracles, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, and tongues and interpretation of tongues. Other lists are given in 1 Corinthians 12:28–30, Ephesians 4:11, and 1 Peter 4:11. The bottom line is God equips people with different gifts, skills, and passions to bless, equip, and minister to people! God’s vision is for everyone to have a part to play, contributing and blessing others.
The 6 Missions Roles described in the Mission Multiplier Assessment by Guidelines outline six practical ways the church has supported frontline missions to unreached people groups since the time of the New Testament church. Like the different lists of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, there is overlap. But the roles we describe are some of the most practical, broad, and scriptural ways followers of Jesus have always supported taking the Good News to the ends of the earth. Our assessment helps people discover their essential part in supporting frontier missions today. Here are some examples of how each role is found in the New Testament church as they go and make disciples of all nations!
- In Acts 20:35 Paul tells how he serves new believers and encourages them to learn to serve in the same way: “And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”
- Galatians 5:13-4 tells the church how to serve one another in love: “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
- Paul told the young Christian named Timothy, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News (2 Timothy 1:7-8).”
- Romans 10:14-15 says, “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” There is a special beauty and blessing for those spreading the word!
- 2 Corinthians 9:9-13 talks about the fruitful ministry of giving: “As the Scriptures say, ‘They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.” For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ.’
- 2 Timothy 3:16-17 talks about how the study of Scripture equips believers to be fruitful in ministry. “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”
- Colossians 3:16 encourages believers to not only study the message of Jesus but make it a part of their fellowship with one another: “Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.”
- In Hebrews 10:24-25 Paul tells the church to think creatively about how to encourage one another: “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.”
- In Romans 1:11-12, Paul longs to visit the new emerging Roman church for the express purpose of encouraging them. “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” This theme of believers encouraging each other through letters or in person continues throughout the New Testament.
- Paul tells Timothy in 1 Timothy 2:1+3, “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them…This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.”
- Ephesians 6:18 is similar: “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”
- In Romans 1:8-9 Paul talks about how fervently and constantly he prays for the new believers in Rome: “Let me say first that I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith in him is being talked about all over the world. God knows how often I pray for you. Day and night I bring you and your needs in prayer to God, whom I serve with all my heart by spreading the Good News about his Son.”
A Celebration of Redeemed Culture
As John Piper states, our ultimate design is to enjoy God and be enjoyed by Him forever. This is what true worship and ministry to the Lord really looks and feels like. It is the secret design hidden in our very DNA. Missions become essential because we live in a world of people who don’t know the joy of this invitation, this God-given purpose, or Jesus Himself. Missions become our invitation to partner with God in the salvation story of redemption, hope, and freedom from sin and death.
As we participate in missions, we get a vision not only of God’s great love for every person but also of how redeemed families, communities, and cultures could look. This won’t be seen in fullness until Jesus’s return, but the start of the redemptive work here and now declares the nature and goodness of Jesus to others, inviting them to know Him. While we are not trying to set up earthly kingdoms now , but looking to a heavenly one that is coming, we delight in seeing every unique culture experience the redemptive power of Jesus, beginning to reclaim what was once used for sin and brokenness. God clearly shows in the book of Revelation that fullness looks like every culture and language worshiping Jesus within the redeemed context of their diversity and uniqueness. He delights in redeeming all!
 Buser, Brooks and Chad Vegas. “Why Unreached People Groups Still Matter in Missions.” The Gospel Coalition, 10 Feb. 2022, https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/why-unreached-people-groups-still-matter-in-missions/.
 Warren, Rick. “Finishing the Task: The Unreached Peoples Challenge.” Finishing the Task, 2020, https://finishingthetask.com/wp-content/uploads/FTT-Global-2020-Update.pdf.