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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Saturday, June 22, 2024
The Echo
Christians are called to disciple others

The Great Commission: ‘Go and make disciples’

What today’s church is missing

Generation Z is the least religious generation in American history, according to Ryan P. Burge’s analysis of the 2022 Cooperative Election Study.

Although Gen Z is leading the pack, members of all generations are increasingly identifying as atheist, agnostic or no religion in particular.

How did the Christian church, an establishment whose purpose originally was to reach a world in need, end up in such a position?

Today, the church is far too focused on the insiders — the members of the congregation who are already born-again believers — instead of following its biblical purpose to reach the outsiders.

Being a place of fellowship for believers, as well as spreading the gospel, are key purposes for the church outlined in the Bible.

At least the fellowship part is done well. Churchgoers have become very comfortable sitting in the pews on Sunday, dropping a few bucks in the jar and grabbing some coffee and donuts.

There is nothing wrong with these things, and being in a community with fellow believers is an important part of the Christian faith. However, it seems that many believers today are unfamiliar with one of the most important parts of their biblical calling.

Jeff Groeling, department chair and professor of communication at Taylor University, said he does not think today’s church is the issue but rather what believers are focusing on.

“From my perspective, people are too comfortable with their faith,” Groeling said. “They're too comfortable where they are, and they don’t see a need to reach outside of themselves, even though that’s their Great Commission.” 

In what is known as the Great Commission, Jesus said to the disciples in Matthew 28:19-20a (New International Version), “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

Concerningly, only 51% of churchgoers had heard of the Great Commission in a 2018 research study by Barna Group.

“It’s a passage that is relevant to every believer,” Hank Voss, associate professor of Christian ministry and director of the Sacred Roots Project, said. “It gives us a responsibility to think about how we can help those in our sphere of influence come to know and love Jesus more.”

So, how can the church find its way back to this Biblical calling?

Ed Meadors, professor of biblical studies, said part of the Great Commission is the calling to be a learner as well as a teacher. 

“We are in the process of growing and being discipled, even as we disciple whomever it is that we’re teaching,” Meadors said.

We do not need to have the perfect answers and feel like we have it all together to go and make disciples. We only need to let God lead us.

Jesus sat with the sinners, not the saints. He gave his time to the prostitutes, the lepers, the lame, and the tax collectors. He came for the outcasts whom culture wrote off as irrelevant.

The church’s purpose should be to reach the broken, the needy, the hurting, the poor, the sick and the sinners.

They are whom he came for.

Church is a wonderful place for the fellowship of believers, but it’s time that it was created for the people on the outside rather than just for those already inside. It’s time for the church to fulfill its Great Commission to go and make disciples, reaching a new generation for Christ.

grace_normand@taylor.edu