After the resurrection, Jesus gave His disciples the mission of spreading the gospel to the entire world and making other disciples:
Jesus invites believers to partner with Him in sharing the gospel and making disciples. He made it clear that the goal of the local church is not to be static, but active. It is important to understand that the Great Commission is a command, not a suggestion. When Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given Me, therefore go,” He meant for it to apply to all believers. It is for every Christian, and thus for the local church.
Christians have the authority of Christ and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses. That means they have the freedom to share with others and tell them what God has done. There is no need for believers to feel fearful, inadequate, or unqualified. As they step out in faithful obedience, telling people about who Jesus is and what He has done, the Holy Spirit will empower them with boldness as well as give them the right words to say.
Jesus gave four geographic references that illustrate where believers are to be witnesses.
Jerusalem — “in Jerusalem.” Jerusalem was the place mentioned first and represented the people nearest the disciples.
Judea — “throughout Judea.” Judea represents neighborhoods, coworkers, and other people regularly encountered by believers in their everyday lives.
Samaria — “in Samaria.” Samaria represents the larger, metropolitan area in which believers live.
Ends of the earth — “to the ends of the earth.” Christians have a responsibility to impact the world. Most of the time, this happens as a team, not individually.
With the authority of Jesus and the strategy of Jesus working together, the natural result is that believers leave a legacy. Jesus said,
One of the best ways to start making disciples is by forming relationships. This happens by being an example that others can follow and inviting them to follow Jesus together with other believers. In 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NKJV), Paul said, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.”
Salvation: Believers who understand that Jesus is the only way to eternal life make every effort to connect the lost to Him.
Water Baptism: Another step to help people find new life in Jesus is the step of water baptism. While baptism does not save a person, it is one of the first steps for a new believer.
Lead/Teach: Finally, Christians can help people find life in Jesus by teaching them obedience to the Scriptures and application of biblical truth to life.
After someone comes to new life in Christ, the next step is to be plugged into the family of God. Believers are meant to live this Christian life together. Many scriptures teach of this need for others along this journey. For example, Ecclesiastes 4:9–12 (NLT) shoots straight and applies to both individuals and the local church: “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”
BGroups: The best place to form meaningful relationships with other believers, and to connect, is in B-Groups. BGroups create a family environment and help Bethany become a place of belonging. When people gather in BGroups, life transformation happens.
Next Steps Class: This is Bethany’s new membership class. It goes into detail about beliefs and helps new believers discover their roles in the local church.
Freedom Retreat: The goal is to help believers experience freedom from bondages and past personal experiences that could hinder growth moving forward as disciples.
Once new believers come to new life in Christ and connect to the family of God, they may require assistance in finding individual purpose. Jesus said in Luke 19:10 that “[He] the Son of Man came to seek and save that which is lost.” His purpose was all about people! Helping new believers fulfill their purpose is critical for the continual advancement of the kingdom.