The Selston Group
Helping churches follow the Great Commission
through: Great Commission Pathway, Bible Studies, Training Guidance
The Selston Group provides studies and training guidance designed to enable Churches, groups, and individual Christians to more effectively fulfill the Great Commission.
The task the Lord gave us in Matthew 28:18-20 is simple enough that we can start obeying it the moment we become one of Jesus’ disciples. The task is also so all-encompassing that we will spend the remainder of our lives growing into it. We Christians too often confine our efforts to accomplish the Great Commission to one or two areas; such as evangelism, service, or Bible studies. When we focus our efforts on accomplishing only one or two portions of the Great Commission, we cripple our ability to develop mature disciples. We only develop effective, sustainable, reproducing, growing Christians when we take every aspect of Jesus’ Great Commission seriously.
Listen again to Jesus’ words, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)
We will dig deeper into this passage in other studies, but for now let’s say the Lord’s commission is built on the foundation of the Lord’s authority, points us to God’s goal, describes his promise, and defines our task. Our success as individual Christians and churches depends on our following the entire Great Commission, not just a portion of it.
The Lord’s commission is built on the foundation of the Lord’s authority, points us to God’s goal, describes his promise, and defines our task.
His Authority and Presence
While the activity the Lord calls us to is vital, we need to see that Jesus does not give us this command and then tell us to get on with it in our own strength and abilities.
Jesus’ places his command firmly on the foundation of his own authority. As his ambassadors we do not step out in our own authority, but his. He sets the stage by reminding us that he has all authority. He isn’t telling us to do something he doesn’t have the power and authority to accomplish in and through us.
He ends the command with the promise that he is always present with us. We do not serve a distant, disconnected God, but one who makes his home in us through his own Spirit. His commission is accomplished in the safe place of both his authority and presence. These are the two constants that give us confidence to follow him in the way he directs.
I believe that if we took Jesus’ command to teach all disciples to obey “everything” he commanded that we would develop the kind of disciples Jesus calls us to be. Jesus’ command to teach all disciples to obey everything he taught is a daunting task. However, if the Lord called us to do this, then it is possible, but only as we work with him to accomplish it.
Everything Jesus commanded cannot be expressed in a checklist of individual commands. He gave us a wide variety of commands, but he did so because every one of them supports some portion of the overall goal and purpose his Father sent him to accomplish. The Great Commission does not point to a list of individual commands, but to God’s larger purpose.
Therefore, we must adopt the Lord’s goal as the focus of our own efforts, plans, teaching, activities, and success measures. As many have said, “It doesn’t matter how accurate you are, if you’re aiming at the wrong target.”
In order for us to teach everything Jesus commanded, we begin by teaching the Father’s larger goal. Scripture describes this goal from many different vantage points, but I believe John 17:3 is one of the most succinct descriptions of the Lord’s core purpose. Jesus came so that we would, through him, have a relationship with God. This relationship transforms every aspect of life, and becomes the lens through which we view everything and everyone.
All of Jesus’ individual commands are interconnected and enable us to express and grow into this larger goal. We need to pay attention to the details because Jesus tells us to teach all disciples everything he commanded. Scripture describes the many facets supporting our understanding and growth toward the Lord’s goal. These details describe: God’s nature and character, life lived outside of God’s purposes, life lived within his purposes, the many practices that both support and express this life, the way the Lord rescues us, the ways we change as a result of our relationship with him, and more. All of these details support our entering and living within God’s overall purposes. I encourage you to dig deeper with us and explore them.
The Lord expects us to grow and become more like Jesus as we follow him. We can only do this when we submit to and cooperate with the Lord who works in us to accomplish his purposes (Philippians 2:12-13). In 2 Peter 1:3-10 Peter gives us one of the most detailed descriptions of and calls to continual growth as a disciple. The Lord expects us to grow in “increasing measure.”
Therefore, as we teach all disciples to obey everything Jesus commanded, we must do so in ways to help them grow to maturity in Jesus. The supporting details of “everything” Jesus commanded pave our path to maturity.
Our growth is progressive. We don’t, for example, become mature in prayer or in expressing the fruit of the Spirit after one learning experience. Growth requires learning, having someone model what living as a disciple looks like, recommended practices, committed prayer, doing what we learn, coaching, helping others as we grow, and repeating the process.
Our task of making disciples does not end until we reach the maturity of naturally obeying everything Jesus commanded.
As we already mentioned, our success as individual Christians and churches depends on our accepting and following every aspect of the Great Commission. Our programs and teaching must be intentionally designed to support the Lord’s goal, leading disciples into obedience to every one of Jesus’ commands, doing so in a way that supports life-long growth to maturity in Jesus. At The Selston Group we believe these components constitute who disciples are, and how disciples live. We use the graphic below to show the relationship between all these pieces of the Great Commission.
Individual Bible studies and an understanding of training skills support our commitment to obey the Great Commission.
Individual Bible studies and learning programs support our obedience to the Great Commission. Bible studies are tools churches and individual Christians use in learning and teaching “everything” Jesus commanded that we find in Scripture.
For example, Scripture describes the Fruit of the Spirit, a reality into which we grow as we cooperate with the Lord’s Spirit who works in us. Scripture is filled with teaching on this fruit. Bible studies that focus on this portion of God’s overall goal enhance our understanding and guide us into practices that help us grow to maturity in this area. It is possible to grow in the fruit without using written studies, and it is equally possible to go through many studies and not experience the fruit. When properly used, studies provide teaching and coaching from others who have grown more than we have in these areas of obedience.
The Bible speaks to every place, culture, context, and time. Bible studies help explain scripture in our context. Every Christian, every church, exists in a specific place, culture, context, and time. Bible studies should be used to support our growth in the Lord’s purposes.
We also believe that when disciples and leaders grow in their understanding and practice of training that they will be more effective at fulfilling the Great Commission. In order to adequately transfer this content to all disciples, we need to understand how to train. Sitting someone in a classroom for an hour as their primary means of learning is not an effective experience that will help this person change their life. Training skills are a means of supporting our accomplishment of the Lord’s goal.
We Exist to Help
These pieces describe our ministry. This is where we are able to assist you. Please take advantage of our training and resources. We provide instruction and a variety of resources that are intended to be easy to use, implement, and maintain in support of your efforts to fulfill the Great Commission.