The Great Commission: When Does ‘Go’ Become ‘Stay’ for Believers in America?

Photo courtesy of Dunamis Church via Unsplash.

An anthem for getting involved in Gospel missions is ‘pray, give, and go’. The ‘go’ piece comes directly from the Great Commission when Jesus commanded His disciples in Matthew 28:19, “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.”

But is the Western Church’s approach in going overseas for missions always what’s needed? When does ‘go’ become ‘stay’?

Ed Weaver, CEO of Spoken Worldwide says, “I think the ‘go’ piece has been under debate in general from the West. If we’ve got a lot of indigenous leaders overseas, is our responsibility in the West to actually go? Or is it to equip and enable and let them go?… Is this the time that the West takes a different role in missions that’s more of a backseat? We’ve got so much more capacity around the world in terms of strong believers [and] people that are passionate about ministry.”

Spoken Worldwide works with indigenous believers around the world, enabling them to reach their peers with the story of Jesus in relevant and winsome ways. They conduct leadership development training and focus on people-specific messages to communicate the Gospel.

Questions around ‘going’ versus ‘staying’ are resurfacing with Western missionary-sending agencies in light of COVID-19. Both career and short-term missions overseas are largely on hold.

“It creates, in my opinion, an awkward relationship between the missionary, the missions strategy, and the indigenous leadership that is left behind — if, in fact, the Western missionary leaves. You’ve got this whole philosophy of, ‘What is the role of the Western missionary? Is there one going into the future? Or should there be?’”

And, of course, there is always the debate on what to do when believers – whether locals or expatriates – are in a country where their very lives are at stake.

“We’ve seen this issue from Boko Haram in Nigeria – people running away. Abuja’s population has skyrocketed over the last five years because a lot of Christians are escaping northern and northeastern villages to flee to safety or the appearance of safety. And you can’t really blame them. But you also want somebody to stay behind to focus on the unreached and bring the message of the Gospel to the lost.”

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SOURCE: Mission Network News, Lyndsey Koh


  • Pray wisdom for believers facing tough decisions in dangerous contexts.
  • Ask God to use the ministry of Christians both in and out of hostile countries for His glory.

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