Our Lord Jesus tells His disciples what the specific task of mission is to be:
19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to follow all that I commanded you, and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
This is the focal point of the Great Commission. The highest priority of Jesus’ mission is evangelism. Jesus tells what specific outcome evangelism is to have – making disciples. What that means and how it is to be done is clarified by Jesus.
An examination of Matthew 28:19-20 shows that this Scripture text consists of four verbs. It consists of an imperative tied to three accompanying participles. The central imperative or command is not the first verb to “go” but “make disciples.” The centerpiece of Jesus’ command is the making of disciples.
How is disciple-making to be done?
Jesus tells His disciples that making other disciples is a three-step process: first, by going to those who had no exposure to the gospel; second, by calling them into a relationship with Jesus that culminates in baptism; and third, by teaching them to observe Jesus’ commands.
All three activities – going, baptizing, and teaching – are necessary components of transformational or real-life discipleship. When done correctly, lives are genuinely changed. This is the ultimate objective of disciple-making – the transformation of lives.
However, the greatest omission of the Great Commission worldwide is the lack of changed lives. All too often, decisions and proselytes are made instead of disciples.
When this happens, churches are filled with bodies that exhibit little evidence of changed beliefs and behaviors. This results in spiritually apathetic “believers” who deteriorate into nominal Christians. And nominal Christians, although wearing the tag “Christian,” are not Christ-followers at all. They are superficial followers of Christ in need of conversion experience.
It is incumbent on every disciple of Christ to reproduce themselves and to engage in the process of making disciples that have the transformation of lives as the final goal. Only then are people genuinely disciples of Christ. Only then is the intended outcome of the Great Commission achieved among all nations.