I recently read about some churches that have a sign placed above the exit: ‘You are now entering your mission field!’ It’s a nice reminder that as we go through our week we’re called to be witnesses for Jesus and a blessing to those we meet. If we measure ourselves against Jesus’ words in the verses above we can confidently say that our ‘Jerusalem’ (the area around our church) has many gospel witnesses. Some churches go further with a vision to plant new churches in the UK (their Judea), while others are reaching out to asylum seekers, refugees, or Muslim communities around them (their Samaria). How are we doing with the fourth and largest area Jesus commanded us to go to – ‘the ends of the earth’?
THE SHOCKING STATISTIC
According to a recent Barna survey of US churchgoers, 51% had never heard of ‘the Great Commission’ and fewer than one in five could identify a Bible passage related to it! I doubt if the picture in the UK is much different.
In my experience, UK Christians are generally unaware that there are large areas of the world still unreached. Many of our overseas mission trips involve working for a week or two with existing churches in poor countries, leaving the false impression that there are now churches everywhere and that our main overseas task is to support under-resourced churches or fight injustice. But surely the greatest injustice is that 30% of the world’s population have no hope of eternal life. With no church among their people or Bible in their language they will be born, live and die without ever meeting a follower of Jesus.
WHOSE JOB IS IT?
Jesus knew that the small group who received the Great Commission on the Mount of Olives couldn’t possibly complete the task in their lifetime. In fact, he strongly indicated that the task would not be completed until he returns:
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)
This means that sending people to ‘go to the ends of the earth’ must continue to be a priority for your church and mine until he returns.
WORSHIP TO SHAKE THE WORLD
How does ‘sending’ happen? Do we wait for someone to get a call from God? If no one gets a call in my church does that mean we don’t need to think about it?
In Acts 13 we find a church in Antioch who, during a time of worship and fasting, heard the Holy Spirit telling them to ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our churches took time to listen to God during our worship, asking him who he wants to send out from our congregations? It might mean giving away some of our ‘best’ young people, but surely that’s an investment worth making.
THE POWER OF INVITATION
Could it be that there are young people in your church who are waiting for someone to inspire them with a Great Commission vision?
In my early 20s I remember a conversation with my pastor in Worthing that changed my life. He knew of my concern for the lost and suggested to me I should consider going to an unreached country to plant churches. I had no idea what ‘unreached’ meant or what ‘church planting’ was, but it sounded like an adventure! That conversation was the start of a journey which led to my family spending 15 incredible years in the Muslim world sharing the good news of Jesus and seeing the birth of house churches. It only happened because my pastor had a God-sized vision for our church. He understood we existed to reach the world, not just Worthing. Could you ask the Lord, “Who in my church needs to hear a similar challenge?”.
Through Tearfund you can ‘twin your toilet’, with Compassion you can ‘adopt a child’, but did you know that through Frontiers you and your church can ‘Adopt a People Group’? We’ve helped dozens of churches across the UK to begin taking a year to pray for a completely unreached people group. Anyone can get their church involved in this exciting initiative.
At Frontiers we exist to help the local church as it obeys the Great Commission. The church’s global priorities have never been clearer and opportunities to get involved are easier than ever before. Get in touch to find out how you can join us in the greatest rescue mission on earth.