Planning, Counting and the Great Commission

Measuring the Great Commission: “When we aim only at what we can measure, we ignore the most important goals of character, discipleship and holiness, which we cannot predict or quantify without falling into legalism… lukewarm churches are the result of this assembly line mindset.”

…the redefinition of the Great Commission to a measurable objective of maximising numbers of converts and church members has emasculated Christ’s imperative to make disciples in all nations. Jim Plueddemann puts it well: “When we aim only at what we can measure, we ignore the most important goals of character, discipleship and holiness, which we cannot predict or quantify without falling into legalism… lukewarm churches are the result of this assembly line mindset.”

Furthermore, today’s prevailing focus on “completion of the Great Commission” is a misleading call for humans to activate an outcome that can only occur when Christ returns and gathers all believers unto himself (Mt 24:30-31). The initiative in Christian outreach comes from God and God alone, not from fertile strategic minds (Jn 5:17, 19-20); “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Phil 2:13). We cannot initiate strategic outcomes and celebrate apparent success for which God and God alone has the responsibility.

Numerical growth, if it occurs at all, is an outcome brought by a sovereign God who activates, conviction, regeneration and sanctification (Jn 3:6-8; 16:8-11; Acts 1:8). God often calls the best people to work in places where results, humanly speaking, are meagre.

From Changing the Mind of Missions by Engel and Dyrness p. 88.

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