Is Yours a Great Commission Church?

The blue ribbon committee assigned to consider a name change for our Southern Baptist Convention has announced they are punting.

Okay, what they are doing is recommending that a) the basic name of the SBC remain unchanged due to the myriad of legalities involved in such a massive realignment, b) that we adopt “Great Commission Baptists” as a secondary or alternative name for our denomination, and c) that churches be “allowed” (my word) to use either name or both.

We knew they were a wise group; they’ve just proven it.

Personally, I think it would be a travesty to post the name “Great Commission Baptist” on some of the churches in our denomination which are anything but that.

This way, they get to decide for themselves whether they are.

From the Mark 2 story of Jesus’ healing the paralytic, here is my take on Five Ways to Tell If Yours Is a Great Commission Church.


Again, He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house.

Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the Word to them.

Then, they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.

When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”

And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk?’

“But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins–He said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you, arise, take up your bed and go to your house.'”

Immediately, he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God saying, “We never saw anything like this!”(Mark 2:1-12)

That little story, so wonderful and powerful on a number of levels, has a dozen or more applications for workers in the Lord’s vineyard. But for our purposes today, let’s see it as a metaphor (a power-packed collection of lessons) for the Lord’s church that would be effective in reaching people for Christ. In other words, being a Great Commission Church.

We pause here to remind one and all of the Great Commission. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

The Great Commission is all about reaching people across the world for Christ. It’s about disciple-making.

A Great Commission Church would be a group of baptized believers who are intent on doing what these four men of Capernaum did–bringing people to Jesus.

Five ways to tell if your church is one. Or, maybe we should say “Five Traits of a Great Commission Church.” Or, even better, five imperatives to become world-changers for His glory.

1. A Great Commission Church is all about Jesus, first and foremost.

Only a complete confidence in the Lordship of Jesus Christ can account for the sacrifices we may be making along the way. If we are weak on “who Jesus is,” at the first testing, we’ll be looking for some other strategy for our church, one that does not ask so much from us.

2. A Great Commission Church works together.

We cannot do this alone. Church members must work with other members, and our church with other churches. And, must we say, our denomination with other denominations. The Lord, after all, is not a Southern Baptist and He has not limited His Spirit to our clique.

3. A Great Commission Church expects to deal with barriers.

This work is not going to be simple or easy. There will be obstacles, some of the devil’s doings, some that are human and natural, and some that arise from within us. We will be ready to pay the price.

4. A Great Commission Church will have to tear up a few things.

As the four friend-bringers tore up the roof to get their buddy to the Lord, churches that are intent on becoming Great Commissioners will find themselves tearing up their preconceptions, tearing up their schedules, tearing up old traditions, and tearing up some relationships that are hindering the work.

5. A Great Commission Church must be ready for surprises from the Lord.

No one was prepared for the first words out of the Lord’s mouth that day. As He beheld the faith of the four men who had gone to such lengths to get their friend to Jesus, the Lord said, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”

The scribes in the room almost exploded. The very idea! Who does this man think He is! No one but God forgives sins!

Ever since, the Lord Jesus has delighted in challenging our little preconceptions and our tiny theologies. We so easily build these philosophical structures that explain the universe, satisfy our needs, and do everything but the most important thing of all: they do not take into consideration the Living God.

Churches willing and determined to be used of the Lord to change the world will be Jesus-First people, cooperative servants, problem-solvers, barrier-busters, and continually surprised by the work of a Sovereign God.

It’s fun. It’s exciting. It’s scary. And each day is like none that have gone before.

It’s not for the weak of heart. That’s why most churches–or at least a high percentage of them–will not decide to wear the label of Great Commission Church.

Someone might expect them to live up to it.

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