“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
We were created in the image of God for perfect community, both with Him and with each other. Turning away from our Creator in the Fall meant also turning away from our created purpose: to love God and each other whole-heartedly. Through Jesus – Immanuel – the Father made a way back to Him. Yet, before He went to the Cross, bearing what we could not, Jesus went with us to places we could go. Walking among us, Jesus demonstrated what a life surrendered to God could look like. And then He told us to go and do the same:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18)
Here, between the first and second coming of Jesus, we are invited to be co-workers with Him in the renewal of all things. We are to pray, “Your Kingdom come”, and also to be bringers of that Kingdom: to see people encountering Jesus, relationships restored, the sick healed, the dead raised, demons cast out.
God chose the Church to provide the context in which His people grow in their relationship with Him, one another, and the world. This community is to be a living, growing witness to God’s saving purposes. The Church is God’s answer to how we live together as the people of God, working out our original design in practice.
In light of this, and in light of a society that is fragmenting more and more, we must perceive a growing need for a greater number and variety of church expressions to connect with each individual at their point of need.
The word ‘nation’ in the Great Commission means more than a geographical area. It refers to people of all tribes, languages, and cultural groups. In light of what Jesus has said, we can’t stay where we are. But we are called not only to go but to make disciples: we are to gather, share, teach, baptise, and grow together wherever God chooses to place us.
Before his ascension, Jesus told his disciples, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”: a progressive movement outwards. They were instructed first to wait for the power of the Spirit to move on them in Jerusalem. It was here that their witness of the Gospel began, a beginning that propelled the disciples on to reach those in far-away places.
In England, we must do the same. We are called to reach the ends of the earth and we are called to those people in our immediate physical neighbourhoods. Even on our own doorstep, there are whole areas, networks, and people groups who have not yet heard the Gospel.
The truth is that the churches that exist right now are not able to reach those people – geographically, culturally, or linguistically. Planting churches that reach new people, in new places, in new ways, is a crucial part of answering Jesus’ call to, ‘go and make disciples of all nations’.