Your heart is full as you step off of the plane after spending a week on the mission field.
You have a new sense of urgency to tell the world about Jesus after taking a Perspectives course.
You’re thrilled to talk about your new role at a missions organization as you raise support.
At first, your friends and family may mirror your enthusiasm as you share how God has captured your heart for His global mission. But when you ask those who are Christ followers to join you in some form—perhaps by going on a mission trip with you or supporting your ministry—they change their tune.
“I’m not ready for that.”
“That’s not my calling at this time.”
“Maybe someday, but not right now.”
Discouragement sets in, and you feel defeated. It’s one thing if it’s a single person, but if multiple Christian friends in your life show little or no interest in missions, you may begin to feel like the only one who cares about the Great Commission.
But take heart. Behind your loved one’s seemingly dismissive answer may be more than you can see. Trends in the modern Church and insecurities could contribute to a declining interest in the Great Commission, but there are things you can do to help friends and family share God’s heart for the nations.
Lack of Great Commission Knowledge
Believers might not participate in the Great Commission because they don’t know what it is. In one study, Barna found that half of churchgoers are not familiar with the term “Great Commission.” Only 17% were both familiar with the term and knew its meaning.
The findings indicate that churches are using the phrase less, which could be because of a decreasing focus on missions.
If your friends and family members are believers but don’t know what the Great Commission is, they may not have heard it preached from the pulpit recently. You may be the one person in their lives who is sharing the importance of this mandate.
Take this as an opportunity to share what you know about the Great Commission. Explain why Jesus gave this command and how God has a heart for the lost and unreached. Share with them other Great Commission passages, or invite them to do a Bible study with you. If they have the availability, encourage them to sign up for a Perspectives class.
Your loved ones’ passion for the Great Commission may grow once they understand its relevance and significance.
Fear of Involvement
But for believers who have heard of the Great Commission, what could hold them back from being a part of it? One of the biggest roadblocks is fear.
The Jesus Film Project surveyed more than 1,500 believers and asked what prevented them from sharing their faith. The most common answer was “fear,” and fear came in many forms. Many feared losing friendships over sharing the gospel, not being adequately equipped to talk about faith, or facing rejection or hostility.
What Jesus asks believers to do is not easy and is often scary. He promised that we would face hardship because of our beliefs, but He also promised that He would be with us until the end (Matthew 28:20).
Empathize with loved ones who are feeling scared and remind them of truth from Scripture. Offer to practice sharing the gospel with them if they don’t feel equipped to do so.
And even though all Christians should be prepared to defend their faith (1 Peter 3:15), not all are required to go overseas. Praying and giving are viable ways to participate in missions and may seem less scary than going to the nations.
Be patient as your friends process their fear and learn to trust Jesus with what He is calling them to do.
Love Those Who Aren’t Ready
Even after you’ve explained the Great Commission and addressed any fears, there may be those who still aren’t ready to take the next step.
Don’t be discouraged. You don’t know how God is working on each person’s heart or what His plans are. Rather, continue praying for your friends and that the Lord would send out laborers into the harvest (Matthew 9:37-38).
Finally, don’t give up on encouraging other believers (1 Thessalonians 5:11) and sharing your heart for the Great Commission. It could be through your example that others develop a passion for missions.