|LIFE IN JESUS-MINISTRIES
|A VISION OF THE POSSIBLE
I AM REVEALED
Oct 06 2013
IMAGINE YOUR CHURCH.
Don’t picture the building or parking lot, and don’t envision the activities and programs. Just the people. Whether there
are fifty, one hundred, five hundred, or five thousand of them, simply imagine the people who comprise your church.
People living in a world of sin and rebellion, suffering and pain. A world where over three billion men, women, and
children survive on less than two dollars a day, and a billion of those people live in absolute poverty – in remote villages
and city slums where hundreds of millions are starving and dying of preventable diseases. A world where billions of
people are engrossed in false religions, and around two billion of them have never even heard the gospel. They are all
(literally billions of people) on a road that leads to an eternal hell – suffering that will never, ever, ever end.
But you and the people in your church have been transformed by the gospel of Christ. In your minds, you know that
Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave to save people from their sins. In your hearts, you have tasted and
seen that he alone can satisfy people’s souls. Your wills are now abandoned to his ways, and you long to be his
witnesses throughout the world. God has banded you together as brothers and sisters in a local church with a global
commission: make disciples of all nations. God has filled every single one of you with the power of his own Spirit to
enable each of you individually and all of you collectively to reach the world with the gospel.
So if you had nothing but people – no buildings, no programs, no staff, and no activities – and you were charged with
spreading the gospel to the whole world, where would you begin? Would you start by pooling together your money so
that you could spend millions of dollars on a building to meet in? Would you get the best speaker, the greatest
musicians, and the most talented staff in order to organize presentations and programs that appeal to your families and
your children? Would you devote your resources to what is most comfortable, most entertaining, and most pleasing to
I don’t think your church would do these things – and neither would mine. Not if we really believed God’s Word and were
honestly looking at God’s world.
If we recognized that there are billions of people without the gospel, many of whom have never even heard it, and if we
realized that there are hundreds of millions of people starving without food and water, we would probably not say, “Let’s
spend millions of dollars building a house of worship.”
As we’ve seen, the Bible never tells us to construct a house for worship. Instead, the Bible says that we as God’s people
are the house of worship. The New Testament never tells us to build a place for people to come to us; instead, the New
Testament commands us to give our lives going to people.
Similarly, if we really believed the Bible, we probably wouldn’t limit ministry to a team of ministers who lead the church.
After all, every single person in the church is already equipped by the Spirit of God for the purpose of ministry. Why
would we want to sideline the Spirit of God in the many in order to delegate the work of God to a few?
Instead, we would all go.
Every single one of us. We would scatter as rapidly as possible to make the gospel known to as many people as
It would be difficult, though, and probably costly. So even as we scattered, we would gather together periodically. The
purpose of our gathering would not be to soak in a show or sit in a class. The purpose of our gathering would be to
share our lives – to share the hurts and joys we are experiencing as we spend our lives spreading the gospel to the
ends of the earth. We would encourage one another, teach one another, worship with one another, give to one another,
and sacrifice for one another, and then we would scatter again to make the gospel of Jesus known to more people. We
would do this week after week and year after year, and we would not stop until the Good News of Jesus spread from our
houses to our communities to our cities to the nations.
I give you a portrait of the church in its inception.
A small band of twelve men responded to a life-changing invitation: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
(Matthew 4:19). In the days to come, they watched Jesus, listened to him, and learned from him how to love, teach, and
serve others the same way that he did. Then came the moment when they saw him die on a cross for their sins, only to
rise from the dead three days later. Soon thereafter, he gathered them on a mountainside and said to them, “All
authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have
commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20). Just like Jesus had
said from the beginning. These followers would now become fishers of men. His authoritative commission would become
their consuming ambition.
Not long thereafter, they gathered together with a small group of others, about 120 in all, and they waited. True to his
promise, Jesus sent his Spirit to every one of them, and immediately they began proclaiming the gospel. In the days to
come, they scattered from Jerusalem to Judea to Samaria to the ends of the earth, and within one generation, they grew
to over four hundred times the size they were when they started.
How did this happen?
Was it because they had extravagant buildings and entertaining programs? There were none of these.
Was it because of gifted leaders? To be sure, God did appoint particular people to certain positions in the church. But
the spread of the gospel in the book of Acts took place primarily because ordinary people empowered by an
extraordinary presence were proclaiming the gospel everywhere they went. It was anonymous Christians (i.e., not the
apostles) who first took the gospel to Judea and Samaria, and it was unnamed believers who founded the church at
Antioch, which became a base for mission to the Gentile world. It was unidentified followers of Jesus who spread the
gospel throughout all of Asia. Disciples were made and churches were multiplied in places the apostles never went.
The Good News of Jesus spread not through extravagant preachers, but through everyday people whose lives had been
transformed by the power of Christ. They were going from house to house and in marketplaces and shops along streets
and travel routes, leading people to faith in Jesus on a daily basis.
This is how the gospel penetrated the world during the first century: through self-denying, Spirit-empowered disciples of
Jesus who were making disciples of Jesus. Followers of Jesus were fishing for men. Disciples were making disciples.
Christians were not known for association with Christ and his church; instead they were known for complete
abandonment to Christ and his cause. The great commission was not a choice for them to consider, but a command for
them to obey. And though they faced untold trials and unthinkable persecution, they experienced unimaginable joy as
they joined with Jesus in the advancement of his Kingdom.
I want to be part of a movement like that. I don’t want to spend my life constructing buildings and designing programs for
comfortable churchgoers. Nor do I want to build a Kingdom that revolved around my limited gifts and imperfect
leadership. I want to be part of a people who really believe that we have the Spirit of God in each of us for the spread of
the gospel through all of us. I want to be a part of a people who are gladly sacrificing the pleasures, pursuits, and
possessions of this world because we are living for treasure in the world to come. I want to be part of a people who have
forsaken every earthly ambition in favor of one eternal aspiration: to see disciples made and churches multiplied from
our houses to our communities to our cities to the nations.
This kind of movement involves all of us. Every single follower of Christ fishing for men. Every single disciple making
disciples. No more spectators. Instead, ordinary people spreading the gospel in extraordinary ways all over the world.
Men and women from diverse backgrounds with different gifts and distinct platforms making disciples and multiplying
churches through every domain of society in every place on the planet. This is God’s design for his church, and
disciples of Jesus must not settle for anything less.
A SIMPLE STRATEGY
Journey with me to a country where conversion to Christianity is outlawed. It is illegal to share the gospel with a Muslim
in this Middle Eastern nation, and it is illegal for a Muslim to become a Christian. Because of this, you might expect the
gospel to be silenced, but thankfully that’s not the case.
A small group of Christians are making disciples and multiplying churches in this country. These brothers and sisters
are not flashy; on the contrary, they’re pretty plain. As they live in this country, they are simply running a successful
business that employs Muslim men and women. Along the way, they are purposefully loving people and leading them to
eternal life in Christ. Their strategy is simple: make disciples based on Matthew 28.
They start by sharing the gospel. Now, you may wonder, I thought it was illegal for them to share the gospel, so how can
they do that?
Well, these brothers and sisters know that the Holy Spirit lives inside of them so that they might be witnesses, and
nothing is going to stop them from speaking about their Savior. They can’t help it. The gospel of God’s grace is too
good to keep to themselves, and they’re glad to risk their lives in order to share it with others. They don’t perceive this
as some sort of radical devotion to Christ. They simply believe it’s normal for every follower of Christ to fish for men.
Yet they are wise in the ways they share the gospel. Their goal is to sew threads of the gospel into the fabric of every
interaction with Muslims. In every conversation, in every business dealing, at every meal, and in every meeting, they
look for opportunities to speak about who God is, how God loves, what God is doing in the world, and supremely what
God has done for us in Christ. Of course, not every conversation involves a full-on, hour-long gospel explanation. They
simply try to saturate all of their interactions with various strands of the gospel, like weaving various colored threads into
a quilt. Their prayer is that in time, God will open the eyes of men and women around them to behold the tapestry of the
gospel, and they will come to Christ.
As I watched this “gospel sewing” in action, I was amazed at how natural (or should I say supernatural) “gospel sharing”
could be. In casual interactions, whether at workplaces or in homes, I listened to brothers and sisters share stories
about God’s Son and truths from God’s Word. I sat in a shop where Mark, one of the brothers in this country, was
talking with a Muslim shop owner and sharing about how Jesus was working in his life and family that week. Another
time, while we were waiting to eat dinner with a Muslim family in their home, I listened to Kim, one of the sisters in this
country, simply share about the selfless love God has for us.
Late one night, I found myself with Robert, another brother in this country, talking with a group of men about the divinity
of Christ. This is a major obstacle to coming to Christ for many Muslims, as they consider it a blasphemous and
offensive doctrine altogether. I must admit that I was a bit nervous as we sat in that upstairs room at two o’clock in the
morning, surrounded by Muslims I had just met, in a country where it’s illegal to share the gospel, and we discussed what
could be the most contentious, provocative, and even insulting facet of the gospel.
Yet these men were open to listening because of the way that people like Mark, Kim, and Robert were living their lives.
Plainly put, the believers that worked together in this business had earned the right to be heard. They were honest in
their work, and they honored the people with whom they worked. They cared for each other and for the people around
them in poignant ways. When other employees in the business went through hard times, these brothers and sisters
showed God’s love. When coworkers were sick or in need, these brothers and sisters asked if they could pray for them.
Most of the time, these coworkers gladly said yes. As Christians prayed for them in Jesus’ name, these Muslim men and
women saw a visual illustration of God’s goodness that matched the continual conversations they heard about God’s
As a result, people were coming to faith in Christ. They would secretly pull believers like Mark, Kim, and Robert aside to
ask more questions about who Jesus is and how Jesus saves. One by one, God was drawing coworkers, their families,
and acquaintances to himself. Be sure that this was not easy for anybody involved. The more people came to Christ,
the more at risk they all found themselves.
This is one of the things we often don’t realize about persecution and the spread of the gospel. We often think
persecution is horrible, and certainly in many ways it is. But persecution is often a sign that the gospel is progressing.
As long as the gospel lies dormant in a country or amid a people, and as long as no one is coming to Christ, then no one
cares about Christianity. It’s only when the gospel spreads and people are converted to Christ that opposition beings to
rise against Christianity. It makes you wonder, then: Though we don’t seek after persecution in a sense don’t we want it
Though conversion to Christianity was against the law in this country, the men and women who came to Christ were not
primarily concerned about the law or the police; they were primarily concerned about the people in their homes and
communities. To leave Islam in order to follow Jesus was to bring shame upon their family and their friends. As a result,
new believers could be kicked out of their homes or even killed for the sake of honor.
Nevertheless, men and women who knew they would find resistance for following Jesus were still coming to faith in
Christ. Why? Because they were overwhelmed by the portrait of grace, love, goodness, and salvation in Christ that had
been painted by Christians like Mark, Kim, and Robert.
Further, Mark, Kim, and Robert would not abandon these new believers once they came to faith in Christ. They knew
that making disciples involves baptizing them and teaching them to obey everything Christ has commanded. As a result,
Mark, Kim, and Robert made it a point to teach their new brothers and sisters what it means to follow Christ and to help
them obey the commands of Christ in the context of where they lived. They joined these new believers together into
churches where they baptized each other. Then they began meeting together strategically to worship with one another,
encourage one another, care for one another, and carry out all the other “one anothers” that we’ve seen in scripture.
Moreover, these new believers started sharing and showing God’s grace and love to other Muslims, just as they had
seen modeled for them by Mark, Kim, and Robert. Together, they began making disciples and multiplying churches in a
place we might least expect and in a way for which only God can receive glory.
As I think about Mark, Kim, and Robert, simple followers of Christ living alongside one another and working to make
disciples and multiply churches, I can’t help but wonder. Why don’t we all do this? Why does a similar strategy not
characterize the life of every single follower of Christ in the world?
Obviously the situation and circumstances are different in each of our lives, but isn’t that a good thing? What if God has
placed every one of us in different locations with different jobs and different gifts around different people for the distinct
purpose of every single one of us making disciples and multiplying churches? What if any follower of Christ could do
this? What if every follower of Christ should do this?
SEWING GOSPEL THREADS
Why can’t we all share Christ with the same intentionality as Mark, Kim, and Robert? What if each of us was purposefully
sewing gospel threads into the fabric of our everyday conversations? Consider the gospel: the Good News that the just
and gracious God of the universe has looked upon hopelessly sinful people and sent his Son, Jesus Christ, God in the
flesh, to bear his wrath against sin on the cross and to show his power over sin in the Resurrection so that everyone who
turns from sin and trust in him will be reconciled to God forever. In this gospel, we find various facets or components
that every one of us can articulate. Every follower of Christ knows who God is, what man’s ultimate problem is, who
Jesus is and what he has done, how someone can be saved, and how important it is for people to be saved. So let’s
incorporate the character of God, the sinfulness of man, the sufficiency of Christ, the necessity of faith, and the urgency
of eternity into our everyday conversations. And as we thread this Good News into the fabric of every interaction we
have with people around us, let’s pray that God will open eyes to see the tapestry of his glory and believe the gospel of
Practically, let’s speak continually to the people around us about God as someone we know, love, and worship. Instead
of speaking like atheists, attributing circumstances around us to chance or coincidence, let’s put God’s character on
display every day before people who may not yet believe in him. Let’s speak about God as Creator, as Judge, and as
Savior in the context of our everyday conversations.
Similarly, let’s speak about the ultimate problem of man: sin. It may not be the most effective conversation starter to walk
up to a coworker at the watercooler and abruptly say, “You’re a damned and dreadful sinner in need of salvation.” At
that moment, the only thing that person will want to be saved from is you. Many, if not most, unbelievers are offended
that you would even suggest they need to “be saved.” But that doesn’t mean we need to hide the reality of sin in our
everyday conversations. Let’s speak humbly about the seriousness of sin in our lives and in a world full of evil,
suffering, sickness, pain, and death.
Then let’s speak clearly and compassionately about the person and work of Jesus on a daily basis. Let’s talk about his
life – the people he healed, things he taught, miracles he performed, and ways he served. Let’s speak about his death.
Do the people around you know how grateful you are for the cross of Christ? And let’s proclaim his resurrection. As
Christians, we talk about difficulties in this world with deep hope and unusual joy. Every trial we face, no matter how
difficult, is an occasion to point people to God-given satisfaction that supersedes suffering in this life. We talk about
cancer with confidence and death with delight, for we know that to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Is there anything more important to talk about than these things? Weather, food, and sports daily dominate our
conversations, even with people who don’t know Jesus. Surely there is a need for us to talk with these same people
about things that matter forever. What could we do in our lives that would be more valuable than this? What else might
we do today that would be more significant than telling others that the God of the universe loves them and desires for
them to know him and be saved from their sins forever? And what could be more exhilarating than seeing a person’s life
altered for all of eternity right before your eyes as he or she turns from sin and trusts in Christ as Savior? For the next
ten billion years and beyond, that person’s life – and the lives of scores of other people he or she encounters in the
future – will be completely different as a result of what you or I have the opportunity to say today.
We e-mail, Facebook, tweet, and text with people who are going to spend eternity in either heaven or hell. Our lives are
too short to waste on mere temporal conversations when massive eternal realities hang in the balance. Just as you and
I have no guarantee that we will live through the day, the people around us are not guaranteed tomorrow either. So let’s
be intentional about sewing the threads of the gospel into the fabric of our conversations every day, knowing that it will
not always be easy, yet believing that eternity will always be worth it.
PRAYER AND SALVATION
As followers of Christ who sew threads of the gospel into the fabric of our everyday conversations, we look for
opportunities to invite people to turn from their sin and themselves and trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord. We don’t just
live for people to hear the gospel; we long for people to respond to the gospel. Calling people to repent and believe
may feel uncomfortably bold, whether you are in a Middle Eastern country or an office cubicle, but such a call is
Remember, though, that our goal is not merely to get people to say a certain prayer. Obviously, prayer is a proper,
biblical response to the gospel. In the words of Paul, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
(Romans 10:13). In light of this verse (and others like it), many Christians have created different versions of a “sinner’s
prayer,” which they encourage people to pray in order to experience salvation. Such a “sinner’s prayer” is not inherently
wrong and has been useful in many people’s moment of conversion. Many preachers, from Billy Graham to Bill Bright,
have used a “sinner’s prayer” to lead people to Christ. Yet we must remember that more important than asking people
to pray a prayer, we are calling people to lose their lives – and find new life in Christ.
For various reasons, I’m convinced we should be biblically clear, if not personally cautious, concerning the use of a
“sinner’s prayer.” After all, a specific “sinner’s prayer” like we often think of today is not found in Scripture or even in
much of church history. We never see anyone in Scripture saying, “Bow your head, close your eyes, and repeat after
me,” followed by a specific “sinner’s prayer.”
In addition, it seems that the use of a “sinner’s prayer” can potentially come across as unhealthily formulaic. I talk with
people all the time who are looking for a box to check off in order to be right with God and safe for eternity. But there is
no box. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Such saving faith is the anti-work (i.e., the
“not by works, so that no one can boast” in Ephesians 2:9), and we want to be careful never to communicate that
someone’s work (or words) can merit salvation before God.
Moreover, I’ve seen the “sinner’s prayer” abused across the contemporary Christian landscape as people “pray the
prayer” apart from a biblical understanding of the gospel or “pray the prayer” on multiple occasions to ensure their
salvation or “pray the prayer” without ever counting the cost of following Christ. I have experienced this abuse in my own
life. I can remember lying in my bed at night as a child and later as a teenager, wondering about whether I was really
saved, and then thinking, Well, I just need to pray that prayer again…and really mean it this time, and then I’ll know I’m
saved. I have seen this abuse in a variety of settings – here and overseas, among children, youth, and adults – where
people have been called upon to “pray the prayer” and “raise their hand” in ways that, despite good intentions, were
theologically man-centered and practically manipulative. And I have seen this abuse in the lives of many people I pastor
who prayed the “sinner’s prayer” at one point in their lives and later came to realize they were not truly saved.
Finally, it seems that having “prayed the prayer” often becomes an unhealthy basis for assurance of salvation in many
people’s lives. Men, women, teenagers, and children are often told, “If you prayed that prayer, you can always know that
you are saved for all of eternity.” But a prayer someone prayed is not the best (or even a biblical) basis for assurance
of salvation. According to Scripture, assurance of salvation is always based on Christ’s work not ours. Objectively,
Christians look to Christ’s past work on the cross; subjectively, Christians look to Christ’s present work in our lives; and
supremely, Christians look to Christ’s unshakable promises regarding our future. (This is where books like I John
biblically ground our assurance as believers.). Our assurance of salvation is not found in a prayer we prayed or a
decision we made however many years ago as much as it is found in trusting in the sacrifice of Christ for us,
experiencing the Spirit of Christ in us, obeying the commands of Christ to us, and expressing the love of Christ to
others. We would be wise not to give people blanket assurance regarding their eternal destiny apart from the fruit of
biblical faith, repentance, obedience, and love.
With all of this said, I want to reiterate that prayer is a right and biblical response to the gospel. When sharing the
gospel, it is good to invite people to call out for God to save them. But it is unnecessary (and in some ways, for the
reasons stated above, unhelpful) to tell people what they must say in order to be saved. If after hearing the gospel
clearly and fully people see God for who he is, their sin for what it is, and Christ for who he is and what he has done, and
if they are willing to repent and believe in Jesus – to turn from their sin and to trust in him as Savior and Lord – then
there are no particular words they need to recite. The Spirit of God has awakened their hearts to the gospel of God,
and they are more than enabled by him to repent and believe – to cry out for his mercy as they submit to his majesty.
So encourage them to do so at that moment. At the same time, be free to let them be alone with God, if that is best. In
some cases, it may actually be best to encourage people to be alone with God in order that you might not unknowingly,
unintentionally, or unhelpfully manipulate a decision, circumstance, or situation. As you call others to submit to the
person of Christ, you can trust the Spirit of Christ to bring them to salvation.
Then, maybe most importantly, once someone repents and believes in Christ, be willing to lead that person as a new
follower of Christ. Remember, our goal is not to count decisions; our goal is to make disciples.
WORTHY OF IMITATION
Disciple making involves far more than just leading people to trust in Christ; disciple making involves teaching people to
follow Christ. This necessitates that we show people (particularly new Christians) what the life of Christ looks like in
action. Remember how Marks’s, Kim’s, and Robert’s continual conversations about the gospel were accompanied by
clear illustrations of God’s character in their lives. In a similar way, people around us long to see a demonstration of
Christ that accompanies our explanation of Christ.
This is so clearly portrayed in what Paul wrote to the new brothers and sisters in Thessalonica: “Our gospel came to you
not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among
you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message
with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.” (I Thessalonians 1:5-6). Paul, Silas, and Timothy had spoken about the power of
the gospel with their lips while they showed the effects of the gospel in their lives. They had been intentional to lead
lives that were worthy of imitation in order to share the gospel with the men and women of Thessalonica. And when
people in Thessalonica came to faith in Christ, they began to follow the example that had been set by these three
This is part of what it means for us as disciples to make disciples. In our homes and our workplace, in our families and
with our friends, as husbands, wives, moms, dads, sons, daughters, employers, employees, teachers, coaches, lawyers,
doctors, janitors, consultants, waiters, salespeople, and accountants, you and I intentionally lead lives that are worthy of
imitation. Through modeling the character of Christ, speaking the truth of Christ, and showing the love of Christ, we
commend the gospel of Christ to people around us in the process of disciple making.
In addition, we reach people to obey all that Christ has commanded. Now some might say, “Isn’t that what preachers are
supposed to do?” And in one sense, the answer to this question is yes. God has clearly called and gifted some people
in the church to teach his Word formally (See I Timothy 3:2; 5:17; James 3:1). At the same time, he has commanded all
of us in the church to teach his Word relationally.
In the great commission, Jesus tells all of his disciples to go, baptize, and teach people to obey everything he has
commanded them. This kind of teaching doesn’t require a special gifting or a specific setting. This kind of teaching
happens all over the place – in homes, neighborhoods, workplaces, on car rides, in meetings, and over meals – in the
context of where we live, work, and play every day. Remember the picture God gives in Deuteronomy 6, instructing
parents concerning his words: “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you
walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on
your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:7-9). This is the
picture of Christ’s church that we see in Scripture: a community of faith saturating their conversations with the Word of
God wherever they go – in their homes, where they work, and wherever else they walk.
As disciples of Jesus, just like Mark, Kim, and Robert, we share, show, and teach God’s Word. This is what it means to
make disciples, and Jesus has told us to do this in all nations. The phrase that Jesus uses for “all nations” in Matthew
28:19 is panta ta ethne, which literally means all of the ethnicities, or peoples, of the world.
Many people misunderstand this verse, thinking that Jesus is talking about nations like we think of nations today.
Approximately two hundred geopolitical nations exist today, but these are not the nations that Jesus is referring to.
Clearly, Jesus was not talking about the United States of America because, well, the United States of America didn’t exist
in the first century. Instead, he was talking about families, tribes, and clans that are commonly called people groups
today. Biblical, anthropological, and missiological scholars have looked at the ethnicities represented around the world
today and identified over eleven thousand different people groups – groups of people that share similar language and
cultural characteristics. Many of these people groups exist side by side in a single country. For example, if you go to a
nation like India or even a city like New York, you will see all kinds of different people groups with different languages
and different cultural characteristics living alongside one another.
Interestingly, the Bible ends with a portrait of men and women from every single one of these people groups represented
around the throne of Christ, singing the praises of God. The book of Revelation envisions a scene where “a great
multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front
of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a
loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’” (Revelation 7:9-10). Earlier in
Revelation, we learn that Jesus died to ransom people “for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”
Clearly, the eternal purpose of God is to save people through Christ from every people group (every ethne) in the
world. So naturally, Jesus commands his disciples to go and make disciples among every people group (every ethne) in
the world. This is a specific command for you and me as disciples of Jesus to make disciples of Jesus among every
people group on the planet.
You might wonder how well we’re doing in this task. Well, out of over eleven thousand people groups represented in the
world today, over six thousand of them are still classified as “unreached” with the gospel. To be “unreached” technically
means that a particular people group is less than 2 percent evangelical Christian. To live in an “unreached” people
group practically means that you have little to no access to the gospel, and you will likely be born, live, and die without
ever hearing about how you can be saved from your sins through Christ. Over six thousand people groups comprising
nearly two billion people in the world are classified as “unreached.”
This is not acceptable for disciples of Jesus. Our Savior has given us a command to make disciples of every people
group, and we have no option but to obey. Nor would we want to take any other option. We who have the life of Christ
yearn to spread the love of Christ.
PRAYING, GIVING, GOING
So we pray. We cry, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as
it is in heaven.’ (Matthew 6:9-10). Cause your name to be praised and your Kingdom to spread among all the peoples of
the earth.” Let’s pray for disciples to be made and churches to be multiplied among Saudi Arabs and Iranian Turks and
the Lohar of South Asia and the Somalis of North Africa and the Brahman of India and six thousand other people groups
We pray, and we give. Researchers estimate that Christians in North America give an average of 2.5 percent of their
income to a local church (which I think is probably a generous estimate, but we’ll go with it) (Generous Giving, “Key
Statistics on Generous Giving,” http:/library. Generousgiving.org/page.asp?sec=4&page=311.) These local churches
then give an average of about 2 percent of those funds to the spread of the gospel overseas. In other words, for every
one hundred dollars that a professing Christian makes in North America, he or she gives five cents through the local
church to the rest of the world.
Simply put, this cannot be the case among authentic followers of Jesus. Not only have we been spiritually saved from
our sins, but we have been materially entrusted with great wealth. In the words of Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, “The
Bible’s teachings should cut to the heart of North American Christians. By any measure, we are the richest people ever
to walk on planet Earth.” (Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting
the Poor…and Yourself [Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2012], 41.)
Why are we so wealthy? I’m convinced Psalm 67 is the answer: “The land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will
bless us…and all the ends of the earth will fear him.” (Psalm 67:6-7). God has given his people worldly wealth for one
purpose: the spread of his worldwide worship. Disciples of Jesus live simply and give sacrificially because we want the
glory of Christ in all nations more than we want nicer comforts, newer possessions, and greater luxuries.
We pray, we give, and we go in a variety of different ways through a variety of different avenues to a variety of different
peoples. We go for a week or two at a time to partner wisely with long-term disciple makers and long-term disciple-
making processes around the world. Almost every week, teams of brothers and sisters are going out from our faith
family into different places and among different people groups around the world to share and show the love of Christ.
One of those teams recently returned from the largest unevangelized island in the world. Almost fifty different people
groups live on this island, most with no churches among them. Millions of people there have never met a Christian or
heard of Christ.
So we sent a team to work with the few Christians on that island, and they hiked with a couple of translators into remote
villages among one particular unreached people group. As they hiked, they prayed, asking God to do what he did in
Lydia’s life: sovereignly open somebody’s heart to believe (See Acts 16:11-15). And that’s exactly what God did. Our
team shared the gospel with a household in this remote village on one of the most unevangelized islands on earth, and
upon first hearing of Christ, the family in that household believed in Christ. Christians on the island have since followed
up, and a church has now begun in that village. Our team came back rejoicing that they had the privilege of being a part
of leading the first believers in a people group to faith in Christ.
When we start getting in on God’s global plan like that, we’ll want more. So let’s go, as the Lord leads, for longer periods
of time, whether that’s two months or two years. From the church, let’s send disciples of Jesus all around the world as
they finish high school, study in college, finish college, and face retirement. A couple of times a year, our church sends
out many members who fall into these categories.
Some may go for a week or two, others may go for a year or two, and many may go permanently. As the Spirit leads,
disciples of Jesus pack their bags, sell their possessions, and move overseas to plant their lives among unreached
people groups. Some of them may be pastors or missionaries with particular training for global ministry, and this is
great. Yet I’m convinced that a massive force is waiting to be unleashed among disciples of Jesus in various domains of
society who will simply start looking for work around the world.
God has given us access in North America to education, training, and skill development in so many different fields –
medicine, business, sports, education, engineering – and all are useful in countries around the world. What would
happen if disciples of Jesus stopped assuming that the default for where we might live and work is in North America?
What if we began to look intentionally for jobs among the nations? What if students in the church began studying
specifically for the purpose of getting jobs overseas among unreached peoples? Or what if those same students simply
started studying overseas for the explicit purpose of making disciples in unreached areas? Similarly, what if business
leaders began strategically looking for avenues to expand their influence among unreached nations? Ultimately, what if
followers of Christ started leaving work in places where the most number of Christians live and started looking for work in
places where the least number of Christians live?
I think about one couple in our church, Jim and Alicia. Jim is a businessman, and Alicia is a schoolteacher. As a result
of seeing and sensing God’s passion for his glory among the nations, they looked at each other one day and said, “Can’
t we do business and teach school among people who have no access to the gospel in the same way we do business
and teach school among people who have abundant access to the gospel?” Realizing how much sense this made, they
decided to move to Asia, where they are now making disciples as a businessman and a schoolteacher among an
unreached people group.
Who can imagine what might happen if – or when – multitudes of disciple-making Christians truly see and sense God’s
passion for his glory among all peoples? This was the heart of the Moravian movement, literally centuries before the
advent of the technological age and the globalization of the world. One out of every sixty Moravian believers left their
home country to spread the gospel among the nations. Almost all of them were self-supported, meaning they worked in
their various trades while they made disciples in various countries.
One historian says, “The most important contribution of the Moravians was their emphasis that every Christian is a
missionary and should witness through his daily vocation. If the example of the Moravians had been studied more
carefully by other Christians, it is possible that the businessman might have retained his honored place within the
expanding Christian world missions.” (William Danker, quoted in Ruth A. Tucker, From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya: A
Biographical History of Christian Missions [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004], 99.) As a result of this massive
mobilization of ordinary men and women in the church, the Moravians sent out more missionaries in two decades than all
Protestants combined had sent out in the previous two centuries.
Could this happen today? If we truly recognized that every disciple is a disciple maker, and if we actually realized that
Jesus has commanded us specifically to make disciples among every people group in the world, couldn’t we blow the lid
off the number of Christians going out from our churches around the world? As long as we limit the people we send
overseas to trained pastors and traditional missionaries, we will continue to see a tepid advance of the gospel to the
unreached. But what might happen if students, singles, couples, families, and senior adults took their gifts, skills,
passions, and training and fanned out among the nations for the sake of God’s fame? Might we see the accomplishment
of the great commission – disciples made and churches multiplied in every nation – in our day?
WHAT IF WE REALLY DID THIS?
Never underestimate the effect of disciples who are making disciples. As I finish this chapter, I am in India, where I just
spent time with two brothers in Christ named Anil and Hari, along with their families. They live in one of the most
physically impoverished and spiritually desolate places in the world. Their state is home to the poorest of the poor in
India, and approximately five thousand people die in their region every day. Anil and Hari estimate that about 0.1
percent of people in their state are evangelical Christians. Based upon the truth of God’s Word, that means
approximately 4,995 people around Anil and Hari plunge into everlasting torment every single day.
Anil works as a school superintendent, and Hari is a chicken farmer. Though they love their jobs, their deepest passion
is declaring the gospel to people around them. But three years ago, they were struggling in their faith. Facing
resistance to the gospel on all sides, they wondered if anyone around them would ever come to faith in Christ.
One day, though, Anil and Hari went to a conference where they were freshly challenged to make disciples. They were
encouraged to find a completely unreached village (i.e., no church or Christians among them), walk into that village, and
say to anyone they met. “We are here in the name of Jesus, and we would like to pray for you and your home.” Anil and
Hari thought it was a crazy idea and that it would never work, but they were at the end of their rope, so they decided to
At the first village Anil and Hari entered, a man approached them, and Anil began his scripted introduction: “I am here in
the name of Jesus…” Before Anil could finish the rest of what he was saying, the man interrupted him and said, “Jesus?
I have heard a little about him. Can you tell me more?
Anil was shocked. He looked at Hari, then looked at the man, and he said, “We would love to tell you more.”
The man replied, “Well, wait a moment. I’d like to get my family and some friends to hear what you have to say.”
Dumbfounded, Anil and Hari walked with the man to his home, and within a matter of minutes, a variety of villagers had
gathered together there. Anil and Hari shared the gospel, and the people said they wanted to hear more. Within a few
weeks, twenty of them had become followers of Christ.
But the story does not end there. Anil and Hari encouraged those twenty people to find villages where they could do the
same thing Anil and Hari had done. This educator and this chicken farmer took time to make disciples among a few
people, who then spread to other villages to make disciples. As a result, since that day three years ago, approximately
three hundred fifty churches have been planted in three hundred fifty different villages where there was no church
Who can imagine or measure what might happen when all the people of God begin to prayerfully, humbly, simply, and
intentionally make disciples? What if every one of us as followers of Christ really started fishing for men? This is the
way that God has designed for his unfathomable grace to spread to the ends of the earth for his ultimate glory. And this
is the life that God has ordained for every child of his – to enjoy his grace as we extend his glory to every group of
people in the world.
FOLLOW ME: A CALL TO DIE. A CALL TO LIVE., by David Platt, Copyright 2013, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.