Christians are ignorant of Great Commission because churches aren't teaching it enough

A pastor and missiologist have weighed in on why so many Christians in the US are unaware of the Great Commission.

After Barna research found that 51 per cent of American Christians do not know what the Great Commission means, it called in the experts to find out why.

Allen Yeh, associate professor of intercultural studies and missiology at Biola University, said some of the ignorance could be explained by simple terminology - the fact that 'the Great Commission' is not a specific term that Jesus actually used.

By contrast, Jesus taught his followers the 'greatest commandment' in Matthew 22:37-40 and it's a passage many Christians know by heart.

(Photo: Barna)

But that can't explain all of confusion, Yeh told Barna, and in his view, there's another important reason - churches are failing to teach it from the pulpit.

'I think some of the ignorance of this term can be attributed to churches not teaching this concept enough any more,' he said.

'I certainly heard it a lot growing up, but perhaps it has been lost on this current generation of believers.'

David Daniels, lead pastor of Pantego Bible Church in Fort Worth, Texas, takes a similar view.

He thinks churches might be guilty of a little cherrypicking when it comes to what they choose to focus on and so perhaps leave it to those who feel a particular calling.

(Photo: Barna)

'Some churches view mission and evangelism as "one item on a spiritual buffet". That is, the Great Commission is one of many options for churchgoers who feel personally inclined,' he said.

'Other churches view mission and evangelism as "one item on a spiritual plate"—like beets, the Great Commission doesn't appeal to most people, but everyone has to eat their vegetables, so to speak.'

What these two 'distorted' perspectives have in common, he warned, is that they both 'fail to put gospel proclamation as the centerpiece of the Church's existence'.

Instead of feeling called to serve the world, churches may think their mission is only to serve people. The result of this, he said, is that 'the Great Commission gets lost in the flurry of church-centric activities'.

'The Great Commission and the glory of God it declares must be more than a verse; it must be the driving force of a disciple-making church,' he said.

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