Gospel Fellowship Association Missions
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The Great Commission Cycle

Our Focus

Jesus intended the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19–20 to lead to multiplication. The points that lead to this multiplication are a cycle.

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1. Passionate evangelism

In an unreached society, or in an area where there is no church faithful to God’s Word, the first phase in the cycle is the urgent proclamation of the Gospel. Paul's missionary ministry throughout Acts 13–28 displays this pattern. He was willing to sacrifice and deny himself to preach Christ in every new place. As the Holy Spirit convicts and the Father draws people to place their faith in Christ, disciples are made.

 

 

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2. Intentional discipleship

These new disciples are followers, because true new life in Christ includes a new nature that is created for good works (Ephesians 2:10). The second phase is the careful instruction of new disciples in the Christian faith and conduct, so that they grow in Christlikeness and spiritual maturity, learning “to observe all things” that Christ has commanded (Matthew 28:20).

 

 

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3. Leadership development

Within this group of maturing Christians, the missionary or pastor, along with all the believers, should be attentive to identify those whom the Lord has equipped to lead His church and who can display the testimony required of pastors (1 Timothy 3:1–7, Titus 1:5–9) and deacons (1 Timothy 3:8–12). The third phase is the careful, faithful mentoring of men as pastors “who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2) and as deacons. These men should receive responsibility and assignments as soon as is biblically prudent. This step also includes the development of women for appropriate ministry roles within the church.

 

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4. Indigenous churches

The fourth phase of the cycle is the indigenization of the ministry. Paul left “elders in every church” (Acts 14:23, cf. Titus 1:5) and indicates in his epistles the responsibility and ability of the congregations to care for and govern themselves under the headship of Christ (Matthew 18:15–17, Romans 15:14, Galatians 1:6–9, 1 Thessalonians 5:14). Indigenous churches support and govern themselves independently without the oversight of missionaries.

 

5. Reproducing churches

One activity of the Commission is the teaching of new disciples to observe all of Jesus’s commands (Matthew 28:20). One of those commands is the Commission itself, meaning that every new disciple and every new church should be taught the responsibility to make disciples of all the nations. The final phase in the Great Commission cycle is the repetition of the first phase, but not by the missionary. As indigenous churches understand and accept their responsibility, they can repeat phase one of this cycle in a new neighborhood, city, culture, or country (1 Thessalonians 1:8). The Great Commission cycle, therefore, results in the multiplication of reproducing churches through the power of the Spirit, for the salvation of the lost, the establishment of churches, and the glory of God.
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The progress of the Gospel in a particular place or ministry falls somewhere within this cycle. Multiple phases are often going on simultaneously. Gospel laborers should seek to identify where in the cycle a ministry or country currently falls and by God’s grace serve to move the Great Commission forward there. 

Every new disciple and every new church should be taught the responsibility to make disciples of all the nations.
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