Aim Higher

“Get people through the door!”

“Fill seats!”

“Get ‘x’ amount of baptisms by ‘y’ date!”

“Get them started on Bible studies!”

Familiar refrains from struggling churches.

When the sights of a church are set lower than heaven, the church will fail.

The problem lies with a tunnel vision approach to the Great Commission given by Jesus:

“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.”

Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)

Baptizing isn’t a final goal; it’s a result. Obedience to Jesus isn’t a goal; it’s a result. Making disciples of Jesus isn’t a goal; it’s a result. Jesus’ mission on earth was multifaceted, but it all fell under the single umbrella goal: reveal the character of the Father. Jesus wanted to introduce the world, estranged by sin, to its Father. He wanted all people to see heaven in Himself. Only a little earlier in his book does Matthew say something similar. In fact, we might take the following verse as the method for accomplishing Jesus’ Great Commission:

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Matthew 6:33 (NIV)

What a mind-blowing, paradigm-shifting idea! Seek heaven, seek Jesus, and seek the Father through Jesus. Build a relationship, a friendship, an intimacy with your Creator, and whatever is left will, in time, be taken care of.

Want people through your church doors?

Show them Jesus.

Want to fill pews?

Show them Jesus.

Want baptisms?

Show them Jesus.

Want people to have a genuine interest in Bible studies?

Show them Jesus.

Jesus traveled to an area called Decapolis (The Ten Cities) where he encountered a terribly violent man afflicted by demon possession. Jesus commanded the demons out of the man. The demons, with nowhere else to go, fled into a nearby herd of pigs which subsequently rushed into the water and drowned. Infuriated by this sudden loss, the local herdsmen and townspeople begged Jesus to leave despite their fellow countryman sitting there totally healed of demon possession. This same man, finally free of possession, free of sin, free of evil, begged Jesus to let him join Him. Jesus instead responded,

“Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.”

Mark 5:19 (NIV)

This man’s Great Commission was to tell people about how Jesus had saved him from sin and Satan. It was simple. It was easy. He had an encounter with heaven, and he was asked to share the story. Two chapters later, Mark recorded that Jesus went back to Decapolis, but this time a crowd of people brought to him a man both deaf and mute whom Jesus immediately healed. The mentality of the crowd, who previously chased Jesus out, had softened. Mark says,

“People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said.”

Mark 7:37 (NIV)

The healing of the deaf and blind man is incredible, but the miracle of the dramatically altered hearts of the people of Decapolis is the more profound miracle, indeed. They experienced heaven in the healing of the formerly possessed man. These people had not seen Jesus. Nor had they heard His words. They witnessed only the change in someone first broken by sin but saved by Jesus and who longed to follow Him because of it. This man, whose mind, body, and soul had been completely crippled by the possession of thousands of demons, had introduced his countrymen to Jesus. They saw Jesus in this man’s changed life, and they found themselves wanting Him as well.

The following chapter, Mark records Jesus’ miraculous feeding of 4000 people from in and around this particular region. 4000 people in the span of three days. All Jesus did was give one man a story to tell, and that one man told it.

Jesus brought heaven to the people in the kindness of His words and the compassion in His actions. Jesus’ earthly ministerial method was infinitely easier than what many churches today attempt: He loved people. All people. At all times. He healed one guy, and 4000 people came to Jesus wanting more of what He had to share.

Do you want to get people through your church doors?

SHOW them Jesus.

Do you want to absolutely pack the seats in your church?

SHOW them Jesus.

Do you want to see people give their lives to Jesus through the symbolic act of baptism?

SHOW them Jesus.

Do you want people to know the truth of Scripture?

SHOW them Jesus.

Jesus’ goal was to introduce people to the Father. The church pews will fill themselves. The baptisms will take care of themselves. The knowledge and understanding of Scripture will come in time. The desire to trust and obey will come in time. A church’s goal should not be results. A church’s goal ought to be simple: introduce people to Jesus. He’ll take care of the rest.

That Great Commission,

“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”,

Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)

can only happen if there is a preexisting relationship. Becoming disciples, being baptized, and learning obedience are the results of only one thing: a personal encounter with our Maker, Jesus.

Aim Higher.

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