In the Book of Acts, planting churches in unreached areas was the natural application of the Great Commission.
In fact, the logical implication of the Great Commission is that it would be done in the context of the local church wherever it exists and that it would lead to establishing local churches where they don’t exist. Baptism isn’t something that is done isolated from Body life. It is the initiatory rite of a new disciple into the church. Naturally, if a church doesn’t exist and we are pursuing the disciple-making mission, a church needs to be established or we aren’t being faithful to Jesus’ commands. The New Testament knows nothing of a lone ranger evangelist who saves souls and moves on. The church is where disciples are baptized and taught.
This was the approach the apostles took when they were empowered by the Spirit. They established a church in Jerusalem. Then, when the persecution arose against them and many were forced out of Jerusalem, they began making disciples and establishing churches everywhere they went in Judea and in Samaria. Soon, churches were established as far out as Antioch which was a Gentile city. They were fulfilling Jesus’ mandate to be witnesses and to make disciples.
Title: Great Joy In That City
Text: Acts 8:1-8
Main Idea: A city has cause for great joy when the Good News is proclaimed and good deeds are performed in that city.
Notes: This was a message I preached in Bayside, NY and then in Yonkers, NY. The purpose is to show how God sovereignly mobilizes His people to fulfill His Great Commission.
The Apostle Paul traveled 13,000 miles on his missionary journeys.
According to the NYC Department of Transportation there are 12,750 miles of sidewalk in New York City.
If Paul could travel 13,000 miles to bring the gospel to those who had not heard, is it crazy to think that we could walk 12,750 miles to do the same in New York City?
The Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 tells us to “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…”
There is no more strategic place in the world to “go” and make disciples than New York City.
To begin with, there are people speaking 800 languages from 500 distinct people groups living in Metro New York.
So, pursuing Jesus’ mission in New York City literally involves walking across the street or down the block or to the store and interacting with people of all nations “as we go”.
With that in mind, I’m inviting you to join me on a Sidewalk Missionary Journey.
The Sidewalk Missionary Journey is a walk down all 12,750 miles of sidewalk in New York City to see the city, pray for the city, serve the city, and preach the Gospel.
There are people from at least 62 unreached people groups living in New York City.
One way to reach them would be to train and deploy 62 missionaries in 62 countries who would spend 2-3 years learning the local dialect and culture, and be supported financially for the rest of their lives to live in those countries (where they may never be fully accepted).
This, I think, is our primary international missions strategy and it is effective. We need to continue sending missionaries to live and serve in nations around the world. We need to count the cost and go to them.
Where are the Unreached Most Reachable?
However, in our great cities, the nations of the world are coming to us. They are sacrificing everything for the privilege of living in my neighborhood. They are leaving family and severing strong social bonds to be here. They are learning our language.
We can show them kindness by helping them adjust. We can share a meal with them and provide for basic needs. We can help them learn the language. We can help them create strong social bonds here with the Christian community.
Jesus tells His disciples to make disciples. That’s our mission. But apparently, only 1 in 20 Christians has even shared the Gospel.
Less than that will ever lead someone to Christ.
Less than that will ever invest time in leading that new disciple toward Christlikeness?
What are we to make of so few disciples actually making disciples? If you’ve never made a disciple (or haven’t in a long time) there are at least 7 factors that might be contributing to your disciple making slump.
You aren’t obeying
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. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
What you can do: Confess your disobedience and ask God to equip you to become a disciple-making disciple. Remember, it’s in the context of the Great Commission that Jesus says, “I am with you always…” (What else? – Read this post on The Mission of the Church)
Visualize this scenario: You are at a coffee shop sharing Jesus with a friend. He puts his latte on the table and tells you he wants to turn from his sin and follow Jesus.
Once you’ve cleaned up the mess from the macchiato that just came out of your nose, you talk with him about his decision and you welcome him joyfully into the family!
So here’s the question: What now?
If you were only interested in a notch on your evangelistic belt then you might be tempted to outsource this new disciple’s growth to a church program.
If you don’t have time to make disciples then you might just give your new brother a book and send him on his way.
But, if you are serious about fulfilling the Great Commission by making disciples who make disciples, then you need to be intentional about this moment.
In fact, there are four habits that you need to help your new brother (or sister) form before he (or she) pays for your coffee. (Okay, maybe you should pick up the check this time.)