'Great Commission' Foreign to 51% of Church Goers
Our Churches are not without blame for much of the decline in soul winning zeal. A recent survey by George Barna researchers found that 51 percent of church goers were not even familiar with the term "Great Commission."
There is a rising concern over increasing signs of evil in our culture. Suicides are up, an epidemic of opioid overdoses, school shootings, increasing interest in the occult, general crime threatening to overwhelm law enforcement, Judeo-Christian values losing out to godless evolution, humanism and Marxism.
Fortunately, some leaders are beginning to ask the right questions about the possibility of a deeper problem on the spiritual level. Having eliminated all biblical training in our government schools —and at most family dinner tables— recent generations are strikingly illiterate of even common biblical concepts.
With a shift to entertainment-based worship, our churches have abandoned serious Bible studies and Sunday schools. Personal Bible study has also waned, crowded out by the digital seduction of the internet and TV. It's very difficult to take in the "news at 11" and still meet the Lord across your Bible at 5am the next morning.
Researcher David W. Daniels spotlights another possible factor in a recent video. He points out the subtle change in meaning of the wording of the Great Commission verses in the modern Bibles. The terms used in the Bible that standardized the scriptures in English and authorized by King James was to "Go...and preach… (Mark 16:15) or "teach" (Matt. 28:19). Modern versions have "updated" those to the concept of "make disciples."
Practically, there is a substantial difference in the preparation and follow-through of these two very different meanings. Practically, learning to teach (or preach) the Bible does not appear as daunting a task for a beginner as the more lengthy job of "making" a disciple. From the view of the common man in the pew, making disciples can best be done by people with formal training, like a pastor or professor. And after all, isn't that the church's job?
But simply handing that grocery clerk a gospel tract can be a powerful "teaching" moment, where there is no opportunity to "make" a "disciple."
With the decline in personal Bible study, and few serious Bible study classes offered in most churches, little opportunity is given to practice the art of "making disciples," other than from the pulpit.
Granted, the ultimate goal is full discipleship. But the layman's role in the great commission has been mostly lost. Thus the failure to even recognize the term.
But for the few who still read the King James Bible, simple "teaching" moments are all around us. The man smoking a cigarette on the curb at the post office this morning; the lady who handed me my mail; the open windows on the cars in the parking lot where I walked —all opportunities to "teach" with a tract.
And I know that the tracts will do their job: —an engaging story followed by a challenge to make a decision about your eternal destiny. If the tract is torn up and trashed, that act will be answered for at the Great White Throne. If it is set aside, it will wait patiently for a later reading when the heart may be more open —or discovery by another for a second teaching moment.
In any event, significant business will be done for Christ's Kingdom in bringing new awareness of our Creator's existence and His offer of forgiveness, redemption, joy, and eternal life.
Soul winners, we are called to "preach" and "teach."
Of course, we should also be "instant in season" when a rare chance comes along to also "disciple." Chick tracts are full of helpful scriptures, along with other books and comics available by calling 909 987 0771 for a free catalog or visiting www.chick.com.