Richard Coekin in a brilliant article entitled Making Disciples By Planting suggests the following four things regarding the “all” statements in the Great Commission. We have copied a few excerpts below and hope that it will encourage you to read the whole article.
…given that making disciples is the heart of the Great Commission, the four great universals—the ‘alls’ that dominate Jesus’ words—have a direct effect upon how we plant churches to make disciples.
1. “All authority”: going everywhere!
Our motivation in making disciples is the resurrection of Christ to enthronement in heaven, with absolute and eternal supremacy over heaven and earth (i.e. everywhere!). Because of his humble, substitutionary self-sacrifice on the cross, the Father has raised and exalted him, as promised in Daniel 7, to be publicly recognized as the Lord of heaven and earth. Just as her Majesty the Queen addresses Parliament each year to publish the reform program of her government, here in Matthew 28 Jesus outlines his plans for his people throughout all the world in all generations. This little speech is his global reform program and has impacted our planet more than any other speech in history, because it has launched the gospel movement which is transforming the planet. In particular, his claim to authority over all of heaven and earth has three major implications:
EVERYWHERE BELONGS TO JESUS
There are no nations that don’t belong to Jesus. Africa can declare itself Muslim and China can declare itself Communist and Britain can declare itself secular—but in truth, they all belong to Jesus.
EVERYWHERE MUST BE REACHED FOR JESUS
This Commission is not a suggestion or invitation but a command—and we shall be judged by our obedience to it. Even if the penalty for our disobedience has been suffered by Jesus, we shall be rewarded in eternity for our efforts to obey him. We’re obliged to try to reach into the unreached communities and post-codes of our world and not leave it to others if we can do something—everywhere must be reached for Jesus.
EVERYWHERE CAN BE REACHED FOR JESUS
Because Jesus rules every area, and nowhere is beyond his resourcing and protection, even if he permits us the honour of suffering opposition to become more like him, he is more protective than the police, more influential than Mayor Boris Johnson, with more money than the Bank of England. It is not David Cameron, but Jesus, who governs our nation. So everywhere can be reached for Jesus!
2. “All nations”: seeking everyone!
Even if the word ‘Go’ is the participle ‘going’ (meaning as we go through each day and go through our lives), the word still has a sense of movement because it is attached to the imperative to make disciples. In some sense, as disciples of Jesus, following our cross-cultural missionary king, we must be constantly leaving our comfort zones to make new disciples. Now a church doesn’t go out—church is the gathering of God’s people that welcomes those who are being brought in by the gospel—but themembers of the church must go out into the world to search for the lost sheep of Christ and invite them to follow Jesus in the community of his church. We can’t simply wait for unbelievers of all nations to find us.
As we teach the Bible, and as people are transformed by the gospel, they will become increasingly tolerant and adaptable—and then we can encourage increasing regional and network cross-cultural gospel partnerships, as we prepare for the perfect integration of heaven. This too has three implications:
SUPPORT INTERNATIONAL MISSION AGENCIES
REACH INTERNATIONAL VISITORS
PLANT CHURCHES AMONG ETHNIC MINORITIES
3. “All that I have commanded”: obeying everything!
Baptizing believers into the trinitarian name of God, we’re to teach them not part but all of Jesus’ teaching relayed to us through the writings of the apostles in the context of the Old Testament. As we do this, it may be wise to take our time over some more difficult aspects of the Scriptures, like predestination and the origin of evil (though even these are powerful in turning worldviews upside down), and it is best to avoid confronting the most politically incorrect issues—homosexual practice, male headship, the eternity of hell, and the idolatry of other religions—in our first talk. But we are not at liberty, in the name of planting, to tear out of the Bible pages that are unpopular, or to declare someone a Christian before at least explaining to some extent all the elements of the gospel—that Jesus is Christ our Lord (Romans 1), came as the king, died for our sins, rose to rule and is returning to judge (Mk 1; 1 Cor 15; Rom 1:16).
4. “Always”: taking every opportunity!
The power for planting is the presence of Christ. “And surely I am with you always” is the wonderful assurance of the presence of the Spirit of Christ whenever we’re engaged in making disciples for him. We’re never alone, and never abandoned. Indeed, he is not joining our mission—we’re joining his—and the greatest joy of planting churches is watching him at work. God can and does provide miraculously for our needs. If you really want to get to know Jesus well, throw yourself into making disciples for him. This also liberates us to attempt apparently impossible plants in confidence that Jesus is Immanuel, God with us. I see three final implications:
WEARINESS NEED NOT STOP US
God’s power is made perfect in weakness—and we need serial planters and serial planting churches, who don’t just plant one, but many churches. Ed Stetzer identifies momentum and bi-vocational leadership as critical to thriving church-planting movements.
RISKS, PERFECTIONISM, AND CONSERVATISM NEED NOT STOP US
There’s always a risk that something might not work, or a temptation to wait until we have everything sewn up—but with Christ, anything obedient is possible. I recall, when we planted Christ Church Mayfair, being shown a letter listing all the faults with our plan—it was the wrong people in the wrong place in the wrong venue. The criticisms were all valid, but I still prefer our imperfect church plant to the perfect plant of that letter which, as far as I know, has never been started!
COSTS NEED NOT STOP US.
Often it isn’t the costs to our own health (the stress and pressure we bear when we plant) that worry us most, but the costs we perceive to our wives and kids who won’t have the supportive groups we wanted for them. However, apart from allowing them the privilege of accepting the costs of planting for Christ, we also need to trust Almighty God to provide for them as much as for us—Christ is with them too.