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January 12, 2019

The Three Greats of the Jesus Mission

By Patrick O'Connell

Jesus gave us three commandments. We must obey them all if we are going to see movement.

I am sure you would agree that church planting is the best way to reach new people with the gospel. We know that new churches have 3-4 times as many contributions as do established churches 10 years of age or older. Yet, we still not seeing enough church planting to reach a tipping point. And we are certainly a long way from movement in the United States. Why?

After a careful reading of the Gospels, I have concluded there are three commands Jesus gives us regarding His mission. A command is to be obeyed. A command is not optional.

While there is always much more we can learn from Jesus about the Kingdom and how it shall come about, there are three essential commands: “Go love together!”

Could it be that we’ve forgotten (or perhaps ignored) a critical component of the Jesus mission? Could it be that we are refusing to abide by a command of Jesus and therefore have stymied our effectiveness when it comes to church planting?

I think we have.

As followers of Jesus we should listen and respond to His commands if we expect to accomplish His mission. So, let’s take a look at all three commands and why we can not ignore them.

Go: The Great Commission

I am grateful for my unique perspective as Global Director of NewThing. I have the opportunity to meet with and learn from leaders all over the world.  The leaders I talk to take this command seriously. A pastor in Uganda told us that his dream is to plant 100 churches in the next 10 years and 1,000,000 churches in his lifetime!

I think we would all affirm at this point that church planting is one of the best ways to make more disciples and fulfill the Great Commission of Matthew 28. We are identifying, training, and equipping church planters and sending them to start new gospel communities. More churches are planting new churches. This is a good thing. But it’s only one part of the equation.

Love: The Great Commandment

Next, Jesus tells us to go in love. Several gospel narratives share this second command, but one of my favorites is from Matthew:

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matt. 22:36-4).

The primary ethic of the Jesus mission is love. This command is one of the hardest (and we still have much to learn). Yet there is growing acceptance of this by the church. I recently spoke to leaders in Germany who see an opportunity to demonstrate love to the millions of refugees coming into Western Europe. One leader told me that this is the opportunity for the German church has been praying for.

To go and to go in love is the sacred mission of the church. But we are still missing a critical element.

Together:The Great Collaboration

The command to collaborate is as every bit sacred as the commands to go and love. Jesus uses all three. And it’s because we aren’t taking obeying this command that we aren’t seeing movement.

Why? Well there are lots of reasons, but I suspect it’s because we are too self-reliant.

This is the heart of the matter and what I call the missing element of the Jesus mission. We simply don’t obey Jesus’ command to collaborate and work with others. We forget (and often ignore) the Great Collaboration to our peril.

Here it is from Jesus:

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one–I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:20-23).

Do you see it?

Jesus prays that His church would demonstrate missional unity. Jesus is praying that we find ways to work together. Not only will this honor His command, but He adds that our witness will become a new apologetic. Wow!  



Patrick O'Connell

Patrick O’Connell is the Director of NewThing. He wants to leverage his knowledge, experiences, and passion for Jesus to help people start more churches that help even more people find their way back to God. Patrick is married to Nancy and they have three great kids.


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