Introducing the Global Great Commission Network
What is the state of the Great Commission today? This is a question which should rightly concern every believer. Yet remarkably, even many mission and church leaders remain unaware of the progress being made, or lack thereof, towards discipling all peoples in our generation. Some mission strategists believe this ignorance is a fundamental cause for the lack of initiative in frontier mission efforts. Information obtained through self-discovery has always been a driving force for long-term sustainable action. So what can be done to bridge this divide?
Two years ago, mission agencies gathered from around the world in Tokyo to ask “What is it going to take to see a disciple-making movement among every people in our generation?” Since that time much discussion has taken place about the degree to which this is happening. In the past, people groups have been assessed for whether or not the gospel had been proclaimed among them, or whether or not a church had been established. Tokyo 2010 gave a call to take us beyond this surface-level examination and look at the extent to which the command of Jesus to “disciple all nations” is being carried out. Now a special network has been formed to give leadership to this vision of assessing, promoting and resourcing disciple-making movements among every nation, tribe, people and language.
Structurally, the new network is intended to be a neutral forum where collaboration between networks, agencies, denominations, churches and individuals can take place towards the common vision of discipling all peoples. This new network is now being called the Global Great Commission Network (GGCN)—Carrying Tokyo 2010 Forward. The driving vision behind the network is the Tokyo 2010 Declaration, which gave a clarion call to see the Great Commission fulfilled in both breadth and depth in this generation. By breadth, the declaration calls for an examination of where the Church is, and where it is not, and how to bridge the gap between these two. Now while some progress has been made in identifying the world’s unreached peoples and determining the status of their engagement, little progress has been made in assessing the quality of faith that has taken root and grown up among reached peoples. The Great Commission calls us to do both. This is what is meant by “depth.”
These two dimensions to the Great Commission of breadth and depth are very closely inter-related and interdependent. The best way to bridge the gap between where the Church is and where it needs to go is to see disciple-making movements spread from one nearby people group to another. For this reason, Jesus commanded his disciples to reach the Samaritans, even though they would have preferred to go around them altogether and get right to the “ends of the earth”! In other words, part of teaching the nations to obey everything Christ commanded is teaching them obedience to the Great Commission itself. This has been one of the greatest failures of mission over the last two centuries. It is in part a failure of the Western church to disciple their own churches in obedience to the Great Commission. Thus we have transplanted our own deficiencies around the world.
So what does it mean to be discipled into obedience to the Great Commission? This is the primary vision of the Global Great Commission Network, and many leaders see it as a rallying cry for our generation. In the past, the Great Commission was seen as a task for a committed few who were willing to forsake all for the cause of Christ. What we are seeing now is a recovery of the reality that the Great Commission is a call to the entire Body of Christ. We are all commissioned. In order to disciple entire nations, bringing the gospel of the Kingdom to every sphere of life and society, we need to begin rethinking everything we are doing. Such a task is too great to be left to a committed few! This renewed understanding may very well serve to ignite a global reformation of the entire Church in the coming decades.
As a result of this shared passion and concern among church and mission leaders, one of the first projects the GGCN has taken on is a global discipleship assessment. The initial discussions for this assessment project began at Tokyo 2010, and from this came a vision to see every nation, every church, and every believer equipped to understand where they are in the process of Great Commission discipleship. The assessment calls for a national committee made up of leaders from every church network among a particular people group or country to come together to evaluate the extent to which national discipleship is taking place. This evaluation will examine the ways in which the Kingdom of God is influencing major areas of society, such as government, commerce, the military, entertainment, journalism, education and science. Within each area, the assessment will look at three criteria: presence, voice and transformation (Are believers present; are they being heard; are they making a difference). Beneath this level, the assessment then calls for every local church in every people group to annually evaluate their effectiveness in evangelism, mentorship, community-building, church multiplication, social transformation, and cross-cultural missions. Finally, the assessment calls for every individual to engage in an annual spiritual checkup to evaluate where he is in his personal growth, pursuit of God’s calling, and involvement in fulfilling the Great Commission.
While online tools will be made available to do these assessments, each national committee will be encouraged to contextualize them for their region. It would obviously be presumptuous to design a universal tool, and hopefully what will come out of this process is a greater understanding of how different peoples view biblical discipleship. This process itself may help all of us come to a better and more fuller understanding of what Scripture is calling us to as a global Church. (Could it be, for example, that Africans will seek to evaluate how well an adult individual is honoring their parents, whereas as Westerners might totally overlook this important area?) Those interested in participating and giving input to this new initiative are encouraged to visit http://www.ggcn.org/discipleshipsurvey where, the latest assessment tool will be available for critique and use.
Of course, this project is just one of many which the network will pursue in the coming years. Another exciting development of the GGCN is the creation of an online social network for missions in cooperation with the Table Project. The Table Project is an online social network designed for local churches. It is currently used by around 2,500 local churches. The Table Project is working with GGCN to adapt this tool for mission agencies, as well as develop an app that will enable local churches using the Table Project software to connect with ministry opportunities around the world.
The GGCN is also stewarding a special project called “Last Mile Calling,” which was launched at Tokyo 2010 to facilitate secure online networking towards reaching 4,500+ priority least-reached people groups (to see the LMC list go to www.fmresearch.info). The LMC will give opportunities for believers to form online prayer teams for each unreached people, establish funds for engaging them, and partner with local ministries seeking to reach them. The goal is to see every people group adopted by at least 100 churches, prayed for by at least 1,000 intercessors, and fully engaged by missionary teams by the year 2020. Well over half the peoples on the list are completely unengaged, un-adopted, and orphaned in prayer coverage. Your church could be the first to see a prayer team and engagement fund set up to reach them! This is the very exciting potential that exists today to leverage the power of the global Church with social networking to finish the task.
With these two initiatives of global discipleship assessment and global networking to finish the task, the GGCN is modeling in itself what the entire Body of Christ should be doing at every level to fulfill the Great Commission. A big part of Great Commission discipleship is giving believers opportunities and channels for involvement in building a Christ-centered community and working together with others to multiply such communities around the world. Jesus was constantly doing this with his disciples. He built a discipleship community with the DNA of personal transformation and missional action. These are the two wings of any disciple-making movement.
Those interested in learning more about GGNC should check out the expanding services and information available at the network’s official website: http://www.ggcn.org Those. seeking to identify with the network more formally are encouraged to read and sign the Tokyo 2010 Declaration, which outlines the vision and direction begun at the Tokyo meeting. More information can be obtained by contacting the network interim administrative team at [email protected]. f