A recent Barna group study found that 51% of churchgoers are not familiar with the term “Great Commission.”
Hold on a second…
Over half of churchgoers don’t know what the Great Commission is. Yep, you read that right. That means one in every two churchgoing people.
I’m sure there are a lot of factors that contribute to this statistic. But considering the western Church has engaged in missional activities for more than two hundred years, this stat seems rather startling. How has more than half the church population missed the last commandment Christ verbally gave?
Let’s take a look at Scripture and see if we can gain a better understanding of just what the Great Commission is.
Genesis 11:1-9 records a very interesting moment in history when God, displeased with mankind, took a monolingual, overtly arrogant society and turned it into a multilingual mess. Mankind directly rebelled against God’s command to spread across the face of the earth by setting up camp and making plans to reach heaven—to try to make themselves equal with God—by building a really, really tall tower. God nipped this in the bud by striking the builders with myriad languages. (Imagine showing up to your construction job at Babel that day! Total chaos.) No longer able to understand each other, mankind scattered across the whole world, eventually becoming the seven thousand-plus language groups that dwell on Earth today.
Some four thousand years after Babel, the Son of God is born, crucified, and raised to life, offering eternal salvation to all who will believe in Him. After His resurrection, just before He ascended to His throne at the right hand of the Father, Christ told His disciples to make disciples of every nation.
This command is what the Christian community calls the “Great Commission.”
Imagine the few moments after Jesus ascended into heaven! There they were: The eleven remaining disciples, standing around looking at each other, wondering how they could possibly complete such an insurmountable task. How were fishermen, tax collectors, and other admittedly ordinary guys supposed to go and make disciples among vastly different cultures speaking vastly different languages in vastly different regions of the world?
Fast forward some forty years and one of these disciples, while in prayer, received a vision of Christ on the throne surrounded by an innumerable host of saints. This scene is recorded in Revelation 7:9-10, where we’re told that John saw people from every tribe, every nation, and—this is where it gets interesting—every tongue. In other words, John witnessed a future event where people from all seven thousand-plus language groups are gathered in worship. Through this vision, this one disciple is given a look at the end game—the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
From Genesis to Revelation, God discloses his divine plan to gather a people from every language, tribe, and tongue. The Great Commission reveals how that’s going to happen: through ordinary folks like you and me.
Over two thousand years have passed since Christ uttered His commission. So how far along are we?
Some 5,400 language groups have yet to receive the Word of God, the most crucial discipleship tool on the planet, in their own language. After the compilation and canonization of God’s Word in the original Hebrew and Greek, Bible translators began the arduous work of putting the Lord’s divine and inspired truths into different languages so all people could read the Word for themselves. But one very solid obstacle keeps most common folks from accessing these life-giving truths: illiteracy.
While we now live in a global society with lightning-fast technology, 70% of the world’s population lives and learns in oral cultures where literacy rates are low. This statistic is hard to believe but very true. Some five billion people on planet earth today cannot access God’s Word because they cannot read it.
But there is an answer.
Together with our partners, Faith Comes By Hearing records and provides audio and video recordings of Scripture in indigenous languages and makes these recordings freely and widely accessible. The barrier of illiteracy is finally and completely removed! Providing oral people with these Audio and Video Bibles is key to discipling all nations as Christ commanded.
After hearing of His saving grace, people come to Christ. Marriages are restored and the sick are healed. In some instances, entire villages undergo communal transformation as the Gospel rings through the airwaves.
And the vision the apostle John saw some two thousand years ago? For the first time in history, that vision can be realized. Through strategic, global alliances, Bible translation increases while Audio and Video Bibles blanket communities with God’s Word in accessible formats.
The Great Commission, the last command Christ made on Earth, is speeding toward completion. Prayerfully, the 51% of churchgoers who do not know what the Great Commission is will realize they live in a time such as this. May they not just become aware of what God is doing, but actually take part as the chosen generation that can finish the task.
By God’s grace, this work will be done!