Pastor, Teaching the Great Commission Matters

Careful teaching on missions produces proven results.

Monday mornings can be brutal for a pastor.

I know it could be for me—tired after a long day of ministry, I found myself second-guessing everything I had said and done the previous day. Did my expositional sermon make a difference? Was anyone reached, helped, encouraged, or changed? Was the effort even worth it?

If you find yourself feeling this same way on Monday mornings, let these next few paragraphs encourage you. There is hard, statistical evidence that your preaching and teaching is making a difference—especially when it comes to missions.

According to recent research conducted by Barna in 2022, pastors who clearly teach Jesus’ words from Matthew 28:18-20 significantly impact a listener’s engagement in missions.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)

The report explains: “Christians who are able to identify the meaning of the Great Commission show stronger engagement with missions, being more likely than their peers who lack this biblical grounding to be current givers to missions.”1

Those who have been taught to view missions as a biblical mandate are far more likely to regularly give toward missions (36 percent vs. 15 percent) or to have given to missions at some point in the past (76 percent vs. 62 percent).

This is great news for the discouraged Monday-morning pastor. Your careful instruction of the biblical mandate to go and make disciples of all nations is making a difference. Furthermore, your continued teaching on the Great Commission will produce an even greater impact when you can connect it to specific on-ramps for praying, serving, or giving to efforts on the mission field.

According to the Barna research, the reason stated most often for why younger givers (millennials and Gen Z) do not contribute to missions is they “do not know where to start or do not know the global needs or opportunities.” Younger givers are not engaged simply because they lack an “on-ramp” to show them how they can get involved. They need to meet a missionary or understand the goals of a mission project.

The next finding might surprise you: “Overall, millennials outshine every generation except Elders when it comes to donating to missions.” Barna researchers discovered that more millennials per capita give toward missions—and they give to more causes. Millennials donate more frequently than any other generation, even boomers, who typically have more giving power.

So, find encouragement in this: You are making an impact. God’s people—especially younger ones—will engage deeply in missions when their pastor clearly and carefully teaches the Great Commission and follows it up with specific, tangible opportunities to pray, give, or go.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on Paul Davis’ personal blog on May 30, 2022.

1. “The Great Disconnect: Reclaiming the Heart of the Great Commission in Your Church,” Barna Group, 2022.

Paul L. Davis

Paul Davis is president of ABWE. Prior to his appointment in 2017, Paul served as senior pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Holland, MI. He attended Liberty University and Dallas Theological Seminary and holds a master’s degree from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. Paul and his wife, Martha, have been married for 28 years, and have both served in numerous roles in Christian ministry and education. They have four adult children. Follow Paul on Facebook.