Most anyone who has grown up in the church knows The Great Commission: Matthew 28:19-20...
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the
Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.
And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
We have rallied behind these verses as the battle cry of spreading the Gospel for centuries. And for good reason- We are suppose to spread the life saving good news of Jesus Christ to all the world. My whole life as I thought of mission work in all the nations, it has been that of the old V.B.S. song my grandma had every year on picturesque cardboard: Tell the Good News that Christ has come! Being a missionary meant telling people that Jesus Christ existed.
Recently I realized that this view was way too narrow.
First, let me say that we are all called to be missionaries of Jesus Christ. The definition of Missionary is, "a person who is sent on a mission", and if you truly follow Jesus Christ your mission is to bring Him glory. We do that by sharing Him with those around us in many different ways- one of which is telling others about Him.
Knowing this, I felt that was what "Missionaries" do, but read the first part of verse 19 again. Jesus said we are to ...make disciples of all nations. Making disciples takes a much longer time, for the one who helps to makes disciples has to invest in people's lives. They have to be there to guide, correct, and encourage.
Paul was preacher of the Good News. Timothy was a disciple maker. He stayed in areas longer than Paul did and helped to mature the people that region. In fact, that's what the letter Paul wrote to Timothy (1 Timothy) was all about. He was encouraging Timothy in which ways to mature the people he was living with at that time. Many knew about Jesus Christ- Timothy was there to help them know Him personally.
I had been wondering how to explain the calling the Lord has placed on my family's life, and these verses have answered that. We have been called to focus on helping others to know Jesus Christ in a vibrant and personal way. Yes, there are millions around the world who have never hear about Him, and we certainly need more to go to those people groups and share. But there are also millions upon millions who have heard, yet have never been taught how to be His disciple.
That is what we are called to do.