I thought I understood the Great Commission.
The more I study, the more I’m finding out what Jesus really desired His followers to do. This has had a tremendous impact on how I view campus ministry. I like my comfort zone. I like people like me. Therefore I usually default to reaching students like me. But is that what Jesus wants me do?
The Great Commissions
Take a look at the Great Commissions (yes, there are more than one). All but John contain a direct commission to go and spread the gospel to all peoples (panta ta ethne).
- Matthew 28:18-20- the main sentence in Greek is “disciple the nations”. “Go, baptize, and teach” support the main sentence, but the core thought He is communicating to us is “disciple every people group.”
- Mark 16:15-16- proclaim the gospel to every person in every place resulting in salvation or condemnation.
- Luke 24:45-49- Jesus’ summary of Old Testament= cross, resurrection, and the gospel of Jesus proclaimed by us to all people groups for the forgiveness of sin.
- John 20:21-23- John says we are sent in the same way and for the same purpose as Jesus.
- How did the Father send Jesus? To heal, forgive, and proclaim the good news to all peoples- the unlovely, the hurting, those enslaved by sin and devil so He might redeem a people from every people group (Rev5:9, 7:9).
- Acts 1:8- a promise/command that the Holy Spirit would make the disciples witnesses from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth- all peoples (and remember Jerusalem was not their home, Galilee was!)
What do we learn from these? Christ’s commission means going to an unreached people group (which usually involves leaving mine!), sharing the good news, and making disciples who will stay and reach that community until the task of reaching all people groups is complete. It won’t be easy or comfortable (Col 1:24), but it can be done.
We must go to those yet-to-be-reached peoples and make disciples in their culturally distinct communities. For campus ministry, a people group can be defined by race/language, affinity, and sometimes moral socio-political interests, but the point is there is no one within that community can evangelize that people group without a Christ-follower reaching out to them.
Finding Unreached People Groups
So who are the unreached people groups on campus? There are 4 types of unreached people. Each is culturally further and further away from a Christian witness and similarly must overcome greater and greater barriers to seek out a Christ follower.
- Those within church culture who are regularly exposed but still do not believe
- Those outside the church but within the same culture.
- Those outside the church but from a different but similar culture
- Those outside the church who come from a radically different culture.
Groups 3 and 4 have insurmountable cultural barriers to walking in one of our meetings. Jesus wants us to go to them, see them redeemed and then reach their own people group. The goal is not just another disciple like me, but another disciple in a people group that was previous unreached.
Here are a few people groups at that rarely have a Christian witness within them (much less a Christian community):
- Cults- Mormons, Christian Science etc
- Muslim, Baha’i, Hindu, Buddhist and other religious groups
- Atheist/secular societies/clubs
- Student Government and other high level campus leaders
- Students addicted to drugs, sex, alcohol, gambling, porn, or other
- University Administration or staff
- International/Ethnic clubs- Korean, Indonesian, Cantonese, Lebanese, Persian etc.
Will You Reach Out?
A fresh look at what Jesus is saying to the Church about the task of redeeming and discipling all people groups makes me think differently about the campus. Who are the least reached people groups? Where is the greatest need? Will I leave my comfort zone and reach out to those unlike me because they are loved by Jesus and have no other hope?
Imagine the above groups of people coming to Christ in droves because someone from their people group started following Jesus. You loved them enough to cross the cultural barriers so they could hear about Christ. God would be glorified, kingdom communities would spring up all over campus, and the world would never be the same…
John Allert is the Executive Director of Campus Ministry Toolbox, a ministry serving church and para-church campus ministry leaders nationwide with proven tools and strategies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.