Equipping the Church
Below is an article that I (Mitch) wrote for this month's ITEC newsletter about training trainers and encouraging the church to involved in the Great Commission. If you want to subscribe to ITEC's monthly newsletters, visit this link: https://itecusa.us2.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=b8c4bf01fd817bf41c08da416&id=b815e8daff
We will continue to post once a month to update you on our personal ministry through ITEC, just thought you might like to read this article. I will be posting a couple of recent ITEC videos as well, so check them out too.
“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.” -Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV)
The Great Commission given to Jesus’ disciples in Matthew 28 is a call to every believer. Unfortunately, many Christians have never even heard of it. There are many challenges that the Global Church is facing today, yet the silent challenge of Great Commission illiteracy might be the most significant. It is clear that something needs to change if Christ’s Church will act in obedience to fulfill the task that was given to us almost 2000 years ago.
A recent Barna study suggested that only 17% of the Church knew where to find the Great Commission in scripture and could explain its implications for their life. This is a troubling statistic given the enormity of the task ahead. It is estimated that of the 7.8 billion people alive in the world today, 3.23 billion of them live in unreached people groups with little or no access to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If an average of 150,685 people die each day, by simple calculation, 61,819 people die each day without ever hearing the name of Jesus. Picture a sports stadium full of people passing into eternity without the assurance of saving faith in Jesus. The task could not be more urgent! As the Church, we need to implore our pastors and leaders to preach the Great Commission and to encourage their people to participate in it.
If you’re reading this newsletter, the Gospel has already reached you. This is a blessing, but not an excuse for complacency and inaction. At the beginning of the 1950’s, many missionaries returned home because of the belief that the task had been completed. We know today that what God has given us to do is far from complete and there are many ministries and organizations who are faithfully working to this end. The church needs a reawakening to the plight of the unreached and needs to support those trying to reach them.
Another significant challenge facing the Church today is the tendency for missions efforts to result in addition rather than multiplication. Jesus didn’t commission his disciples to make converts but to make disciples who make disciples. Paul encouraged Timothy in this way when he said, “and what you have heard from me entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). Multiplication is the essence of discipleship and should be the focus in the church’s mission strategy.
At ITEC, God gave us the opportunity throughout 2020 and into the start of this year to think carefully about how we multiply our efforts. As such, we are increasing our efforts to train trainers – equipping believers in the US and abroad with the ability to train the indigenous church to reach needs in their communities as a door opener to the Gospel. Those equipped to be trainers would then have the knowledge and skills to train other trainers. Such a strategy has the potential to result in an exponential increase in Great Commission participation, particularly for indigenous Christ followers who have been sidelined by traditional, short-term mission trips.
One way in which we have been implementing this strategy is by reaching out to churches here in the US and sharing the vision of sustainable short-term training trips. We have recently formed three new church partnerships and have had the opportunity to equip individuals in these churches to go and train in areas of the world where we may not have been, but they have. Our goal is that these partnerships would inspire the church to not only consider the potential of lasting impact on their short-term trips, but also how they might empower the indigenous church to participate in the Great Commission to which they are also called.