Missionary Mandate

The Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 has served as the church’s marching orders since the very day Jesus ascended to heaven: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.”
The church has long understood its purpose is to make new disciples and to strengthen the disciples we already have. Church leaders have long debated which is more important: making new disciples (mission) or strengthening the faith of disciples (maturity). Most pastors, if forced to choose, I believe fall on the side of maturity even though they believe mission (making new disciples) is also important.
But what if there was a way the church could more effectively do both? This is the final article in a five-part series on increasing effectiveness in developing disciples by making small shifts in our behavior, based on Daniel Im’s book No Silver Bullets: Five Small Shifts That Will Transform Your Ministry.
The fifth shift Im highlights in his book is to move from maturity to missionary. Before you start throwing darts, hear this out: Im is not suggesting maturity is in any way unimportant. In fact, what the author is advocating for is a form of discipleship that results in both mission and maturity. Im writes: “In my experience pastoring, leading, and consulting with churches, I’ve discovered that when you focus on developing mature disciples, you do not necessarily find yourself with an army of missionaries. However, when you focus on developing missionary disciples, you will always get mature disciples.”
The author is not advocating that everyone become a pastor or an overseas missionary, but that the local congregation develops a culture of vocation to make disciples as they go about their everyday lives: “In other words, every plumber, poet, and police officer in your church has the same vocation—to go and make disciples. This is our missionary mandate as the church!”
I believe the author is spot-on. What does your local congregation perhaps need to shift to increase the missionary culture? What changes need to be made to help followers of Jesus identify their primary vocation in mission? How do we equip and send disciples into the harvest to be and make disciples? I am convinced that as we equip disciples for mission, we will also always be developing mature disciples of Jesus. 

Pastor Bryce Formwalt is the Director of Mission Growth for the LCMC Texas District. Residing in Georgetown, Pastor Bryce is available to coach congregations on mission. Feel free to contact him with any questions or comments: 512-942-7776 or bryce@lcmctexas.org. Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/lcmctexas.

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