The Universal Call To Missions

by Christian Townson

For some Christians, “missions” is something for a specific group of people. It is for those “called” to overseas work. It is for the missionaries who pack all their belongings in one bag, leave behind their families, and never return to a life of “normalcy.”

This mentality is a falsehood and misrepresentation of the Great Commission. Missionaries play a part in missions, but there is much more to missions than mission trips. According to Scripture, all Christians have a universal call to missions. If someone claims to follow and trust in Jesus Christ, they are enlisting themselves into the army of God and His Great Commission.

Let us look at the universal call to missions and what it means for the Christian life.

What is the Great Commission?
Barna found that 51% of churchgoers had never heard of the Great Commission in a research study. Another 25% could not “recall the exact meaning,” and 6% were not sure if they had heard of it or not. This leaves only 17% of churchgoers who felt confident in knowing the Great Commission. How can we expect to fulfill the Great Commission if we do not know it? Before his ascension into Heaven, Jesus gave the eleven apostles a parting word. The Gospels and the book of Acts all record the Great Commission. Here is the passage from Matthew:

“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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 all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”

The Great Commission is more than one set of verses. The Bible points toward it all throughout the Old Testament and New Testament. Jesus speaks of God’s ultimate mission in Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-16, Luke 24:44-48, John 20:21, and Acts 1:8. 

In these verses, he gives the imperative to “make disciples” and three steps in the process: going, baptizing, and teaching them to obey all that He commanded. Through crossing cultures, evangelism, and discipleship, Jesus tells them to “make disciples of all nations.” The last step is key to understanding that all Christians are supposed to play a part in this. Jesus says to “teach them to obey all I have commanded.” He did not say, “teach them only these few things” or “teach all that I have commanded to the super-Christians.” No. They were to teach others everything, and this included the Great Commission.

The Great Commission is more than traveling around the world to tell people about Jesus. It is a calling to obey Jesus and glorify God by mobilizing ourselves and others to spread the Gospel to those who have never heard and never trusted in the finished work of Christ. When you follow Jesus, you enlist in an army with a mission. No one is exempt from this task.

All followers of Jesus are under the umbrella of the Great Commission. Because of this, we must live lives under the authority and mission of telling others about Jesus and making disciples of all nations.

The goal of the Great Commission is to glorify God and obey Jesus by making disciples of all nations. How do we each play our part in the universal call to missions?

Obey Jesus and the Great Commission Where You Are
You do not have to wait to play your part in the universal call to missions. If you follow Christ, you are a “World Christian”- someone who leverages their life under the Great Commission. You can pray for missionaries as they carry the Gospel to unreached people groups. You can pray for opportunities to share the Gospel with people in your community. You can participate in and give to the local church. You can help send others to work cross-culturally. You can welcome international students, refugees, and immigrants as they come to your community. You can go on short-term mission trips. You can prayerfully consider giving your life to long-term cross-cultural missions. We all have a part to play in working toward the day when disciples from every nation, tribe, and language will stand around the throne and worship God (Revelation 7:9).

Put Your Yes on the Table for Wherever He Will Take You
The universal call to missions means that there must be some that move their lives from where they are to a different location. Soldiers move to where it is most beneficial for the military’s mission. Sometimes, the leadership will transfer them to a much more dangerous place. It can be hard, but Jesus calls us to follow Him, not ourselves. The universal call to missions is not just “should I stay where I am or move somewhere else?” It must be, “Where can I used the most effectively? How can I faithfully obey Jesus?” Do not automatically think that you are someone called to stay. Put your “yes” on the table to whatever and wherever God leads you. Like Jesus says in Mark 14:36, “Not what I will Lord, but what You will.” This is the universal call to missions for all Christians - to make His name known among all nations.

Christian serves as the Director of Mobilization/Missions as he leads the For the Nations ministry for The Journey Church in Lebanon, TN. He will be married to Danyel as of September 2022. 


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