commissioned to go

Written by Joe McGarry

I am a Lutheran Pastor (ELCA) in Upstate New York. I am married and have two children. I blog at Lutheran Grilled Cheese about how we connect with God and our daily lives.

June 13, 2011

Read:  Matthew 28:16-20

One of the first books I remember reading to my son after he was born was “Go Dogs Go.”  As he grew older, he began to pick out his own stories for bedtime and he would pick “Go Dogs Go” every night.  At age 2 1/2 I thought my son was a genius because he knew every word on every page.  For a few minuets I thought he was actually reading the book!

In this week’s reading from John, Jesus gives the disciples a commission: “Go and make disciples.”  Jesus is telling the disciples to take what they have learned from him and to spread that to all nations. As powerful as that commission is from Jesus the reality is that the disciples are being called into an unseen future.  They have been traveling for the last three years with Jesus, relying upon him, trusting him, putting their faith in him and now he is sending them out into the world without his physical presence, without the day to day instruction from Jesus.

As I think about this, I start asking myself how they are feeling about this commission from Jesus.  They have been relying on Jesus for so long.  He has taught them a lot and now they are commissioned to “go”.

Are they capable to do it?

As we are called to “go” are we capable to spread the good news of Christ?

As much as I believe I try and make scripture and the church relevant to the people, I begin to question how much I am able to equip them to be disciples I question how comfortable they are in sharing their faith.  Because we spend so much time in the church reading the Bible, praying, singing and listening to sermons (which is important) but we do not learn how to Go.  We do not learn how to spread the good news of Jesus to the world!

I believe there are three important things to remember when we share our faith with someone else.

1.  Redefine what failure and success means

There are many hesitations when it comes to sharing our faith with someone.  One of the reasons we do not share our faith is because we are afraid because we do not meet our own expectations or we are afraid of being rejected by someone. But by redefining what failure means we can realize that failure only happens when you do not give yourself a chance to succeed.  Success comes when we share share our faith and let God take care of the rest.

2.  Actions speak louder than words

We can tell people all the right things.  But our words do not have any meaning unless we follow  it with our actions.  It would be terrible to invite someone to come to church with and then not show up!  When we are commissioned to “go” that means we actually need to GO!

3.  Pray

This may seem like and obvious step but so often we forget to do it!  Throughout the whole process of sharing our faith we need to remember to pray.  Even before we  decide to share our faith with someone, pray about it.  Pray, asking God to work with us throughout the entire process and for the person with whom we are interacting.

Taking the commission from Jesus to “go” can be a very scary thing.  We may fear failure, inadequacy, or maybe rejection.  But the more we are able to let God take care of the rest,  it becomes much easier for us to share our faith.  And if we remember that it’s our lifestyle, not our words, that will equip us to share, that will also make things easier.  And above all else remembering that prayer is a key component in all that we do we may feel more prepared to share our faith as Jesus commissioned us to do.


  1. Anonymous

    We are commissioned to ‘go’. I remember in college I had a favorite bag of chips called Munchies. I told everyone about them. My mom started buying them, my friends started stocking up, and one day it hit me that I had become a Munchies evangelist. I spread Munchies much more effectively than Jesus. I know chips aren’t the same thing as the Gospel, but it sure woke me up to the reality that I didn’t share my faith much.

    • @bibledude

      i love this perspective of becoming a Munchies evangelist (which I love too by the way), and sharing the Gospel… that’s a powerful realization….

    • papajoemc

      That is an awesome way to look at it!!  There are so many things that we are passionate about and we share them all the time.  How many times to we share our faith like we do our chips?  That is a good way to look at it.

  2. Anonymous

    When #1 on Your list is “redefine”, You’re in trouble Dude. How about starting with God’s creator status, and authority. Then line upon line and precept upon precept, letting God define success or failure in His terms, btw have You noticed that only those who keep God’s commandments(All Ten), and have the “faith of Jesus”, get to enter the new Jerusalem( see Revelations)? The 10 commandments are the “old covenant”, and they are not done away with! Do You point out that scripture does not support Christmas, Easter, Sunday worship, titles like “Father”, or hierarchy systems? Or do You rush to quote Paul, ignoring Christs own words in Matt 23:8-12?

    • @bibledude

      Hmm… I’m not sure if I completely get what you’re trying to say…. Are you disagreeing with Joe’s statement that we have to deal with incorrect mindsets that we have regarding evangelism?

    • papajoemc

      When I say redefine what I am saying is to redefine our expectations.  I have had people in my church who share their faith with someone, invite them to church and the person does not come.  These people feel like failures, they think something is wrong with them or they way they talked about God.  We are never failures when we share our faith.  God loves it when we talk about Him.  But what our expectation should be when we share our faith is to plant the seed and give the rest to God.  

      I hope that helps explain when I talked about redefining our mindset of failure.  

      • Anonymous

        My point was “redefining” words, is an epidemic problem today. I have heard preachers redefine words like “meek” to be “go and get what You want out of the world, and don’t let anyone stop You!” (Schuller). How about NIV replacing words like “virtue” with “power”, or replacing “blessed” with “lucky”, are they serious? Is it a coincidence Harper Collins, their parent company also publishes a full range of Satanic books? Got Your new gender neutral version? Is God the Father and His Son,  His Son’s bride, and God’s analogy of His relation to His people in the prophets gender neutral? Isn’t these the smooth words scripture warns us about?   However I agree redefining our expectations is probably warranted.

      • @bibledude

        this is a great explanation of how we need to redefine our expectations with evangelism. i’ve taught an evangelism ministry course in our church’s school of ministry, and one thing that i continue to try to reinforce with the students is that it’s not up to them to get the other person to do something… it’s only up to them to share their testimony of faith. once people ‘get’ this… the pressure is off and they tend to be more relaxed that success simply means opening their mouth…

        great thoughts pastor joe!


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commissioned to go

by Joe McGarry time to read: 3 min