5 Myths that Hinder the Great Commission
Simply professing faith is not what makes you an actual Christian. James 2:26 says, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” We are saved by grace, but it is faithful works that are the fruit of our salvation. A faithful work that is commanded of every believer is the Great Commission.
Richard Harris, executive director for the Truth and Liberty Coalition, emphasized this very message in a Saturday breakout session during Family Research Council’s 2023 Pray Vote Stand Summit. But what Harris wanted to be sure his listeners heard is that just sharing the gospel would be falling short on fulfilling the Great Commission. It is more than sharing the Good News, altar calls, and everyday evangelism. Fulfilling the Great Commission is making disciples — those who go beyond the alter call to repent and live their lives for the glory of God.
As Harris put it, “Atheism is taking over.” At the same time, Christians are losing sight of what the Great Commission actually is, namely, “A command to make disciples, not converts,” he said. But the problem is not merely a lack of understanding what we are called to, but the excuses we use that hinder us. To better equip saints for ministry, Harris laid out five myths that hinder our ability to fulfill the Great Commission.
1. “A pastor’s job is just to preach the gospel.”
“The entire Christian world, for hundreds of years, is built around one office … the pastor,” Harris said. Of course, preaching the true and only gospel is the making of a strong church, but to simply preach the gospel is not the only job of a pastor. Their primary responsibility is to equip the flock. Once equipped, we then go out, spread the Good News, and be faithful witnesses.
This first myth is a myth because there is more to do than to stand in the pulpit. The pastor needs to be among his congregation and lead them. “Pastor, you are called to preach the gospel,” Harris said. “But get rid of the word ‘just,’ please.”
2. “Pastors should avoid topics that might offend people.”
This myth is by no means new, but in recent days, “this myth has been on steroids,” Harris said. He went on to discuss the “seeker friendly” or “seeker sensitivity” model, a concept that came about in the 1990s. This continues to be a problem because it focuses too much on getting people in the church seats. It emphasizes attendance more than discipleship and faithful teaching. As Harris said, “Getting [someone] in a seat does not make that [someone] a disciple.”
“The purpose of the gathering of believers is to equip the believers,” he highlighted, and the “seeker friendly” model is doing more damage to the church than anything else by catering worship services to the unbeliever.
3. “We just need to love people.”
Harris emphasized how we must love, because we cannot present God without doing it in love. “But there is no love without truth,” Harris added. The LGBT movement, for instance, is a point of conflict. We are called to love those people, but we have to do so by sharing the truth with them and not tolerating their sinful practices. To believe “we just need to love” a person who identifies as homosexual is to ignore that lifestyle as one that deliberately goes against God. To truly love such an individual is to be bold in the truth.
Just as the church right now is vulnerable to catering worship services to the unbeliever, it is also vulnerable to cater its teaching to, in this case, the LGBT movement. The true church is to stand firm against those ideologies, not alter their statements of faith to seem more “inclusive.”
4. “Some things are secular, and some things are sacred.”
Harris made clear: “All things are sacred to God.” The issues we are dealing with such as abortion, marriage, and gender are not political, they are biblical. Many Christians are afraid to discuss these for fear of controversy, without acknowledging their foundation in Scripture. But the truth is, if it is in the Bible, it needs to be discussed. “How can we allow our churches to avoid any subject?” he asked.
Just like we cannot love others without telling the truth, we are of no use to anyone without sharing the truth in its entirety. “There is no secular/sacred division,” Harris said. Christians need to reject any contrary notion. He continued, “[We need to] bring God’s Word and God’s Spirit into every single aspect. Family, work, politics, everything.” The Great Commission cannot be fulfilled if it is only attempted within the confines of what is “socially acceptable.” Think about it. When was God’s Truth ever accepted by society at large? When did God promise it would be?
5. “Some occupations are worldly, or dirty, or sinful.”
Harris was brought up in a way where this was preached. He had been taught that going to movies, secondary education or college, or other day-to-day occupations were sinful and would cause God to be upset with him. But Harris spoke the reminder that “the blood of Jesus Christ has cleansed us from our sins. … Every part of human activity is a mission field for us.”
As Harris emphasized, Christians are called to be salt and light in every human life encountered. Avoiding all things secular is only a hinderance to fulfilling the Great Commission. How are we supposed to preach the gospel and make disciples if we avoid the very people we need to reach? Not even Jesus did this, but rather sat amid tax collectors, prostitutes, and sinners.
In closing, Harris outlined six “essentials” to fulfill the Great Commission: Preach the gospel, teach the Word, testify, love one another, and unify. The Great Commission is about making disciples, and these are the principals that will allow us to fulfill that calling and glorify God in doing so.
Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.