The call of the Great Commission (GC) is tremendous indeed. It is a privilege to be an ambassador of our King, and yet it is a daunting responsibility. The Lord never promised that making disciples of all nations would be easy; He did promise, however, that He would be with us. Yet, the nature of such a task can become rather overwhelming without proper encouragement.
In recent months, I have discussed three components of GC faithfulness: empowering through prayer, evangelizing the unreached, and establishing churches. A fourth necessary component of GC faithfulness is encouraging leaders. Let’s face it. Gospel work is people work and when working with people we can easily become weary. We weary for lack of conversions or spiritual growth. We grow weary from internal conflict or even outside conflict. The number of reasons for our weariness is vast.
Every minister of the gospel, every church of the Lord Jesus, every follower of Christ needs to be encouraged that the race they are running is worth the struggle. Paul understood the need to encourage believers in the gospel. We are told in Acts 14 that Paul, upon planting churches, went back to those churches in order to “strengthen the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God’” (Acts 14:22).
I find it fascinating and also encouraging that these fledging churches needed encouragement so quickly. I find it fascinating and encouraging because I know the same is true in my own life. Life is hard. Trials of life related specifically to the gospel and related generally to a fallen world mean that we are prone to become weary.
In fact, Paul says in Acts 14:22 that we will enter the kingdom of God through many tribulations. We fight until the very end. Now, Paul is not saying that we fight our way to heaven in the sense that we earn it. Rather, he is saying that life is filled with fighting the good fight of faith—taking hold of the eternal life to which we are called (1 Tim 6:12). We continual pursue after Jesus; we persevere (by His grace).
In order to continually pursue after Jesus, we need people in our lives to help us in this pursuit. This is why Paul made an intentional effort to travel back to the churches he had already planted to strengthen them in the faith. They needed it then; we need it now.
Churches seeking to be faithful and effective in the Great Commission will intentionally strategize about ways to not only strengthen and encourage their own people in the faith, but other churches and leaders as well. If these early believers needed it then, surely we need it now. May we pray for power, evangelize the lost, plant churches, but not neglect to continually build up one another to fight the good fight until the end.