What is the Great Commission Society?
What Is the NALC Great Commission Society?
The Rev. Carol Fryer, NALC Missions Specialist
“And Jesus came and said to them (his disciples), “All authority in heaven and 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, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20 NRSV).
The most important thing to say about the Great Commission Society (GCS) is that it is dedicated to carrying out the Great Commission that we have from our Lord, Jesus Christ. In Matthew’s gospel, these are the final words spoken by Jesus before he ascends into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. These are the disciples’ marching orders – these are our marching orders as Christ’s “disciple making disciples” today:
- Make disciples of all nations
- Baptize in the Triune Name
- Teach others as Jesus has taught us
- Obey the commandments of God
- Trust in Jesus’s continuing presence
These are the elements that make up the Great Commission that Jesus has given us. The purpose of the Great Commission Society, then, is to carry out this mission. We aim to do this in several inter-connected ways.
Some of us are called to mission work. The rest of us are called to support them. We are all called to carry out the Great Commission in some way or other.
Not everyone has the gifts or the calling to go off to remote places in Africa or Asia or to former communist countries to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who have never heard it. But some people are called to do that. This kind of calling often involves sacrifice and struggle. And yet those who do it find it exceedingly rewarding and meaningful.
For example, Rev. Martha Shanka, one of our global workers, has been making disciples in areas where there is much hostility to Christianity. At one point she was arrested and kept in prison for several days before being expelled from that country. There are many stories of the sacrifices people make as they fulfill their call to make disciples in all nations.
Many of us have other gifts, including financial resources. We can help support those who are on the front lines of our collective mission. The money we contribute enables them to do the work that Jesus calls them to do. Just so, together we can do more to carry out Jesus’s Great Commission.
Congregations, groups, and individuals are invited to become contributing members of the GCS, or “Great Commission Partners”. They are encouraged to contribute money on a regular basis to the GCS fund. That fund is used to help support the mission work of the NALC.
When our money goes into the Great Commission Fund, that fund is used to help the NALC to provide grants for the various types of our Great Commission work. Grants are given to help support each of our Global Workers out in the field. We now have nine Global Workers serving in various nations around the world, and are hoping to add more soon.
Grants are also used to support certain Global Projects. For example, this year two of the five grants we awarded for projects are for youth events, one in Cambodia and another in Kenya.
New Mission starts here in North America can also apply for grants to help them get started. This year we have awarded such grants to five Mission starts in the US and one in Canada.
Our NALC website has a Great Commission Society webpage where people can sign up to become Great Commission Partners. In addition, all NALC congregations are encouraged to develop an intentional, active relationship with one local, one domestic, and one global mission. On that webpage there is an “icon” to click labeled, “find a ministry to adopt.” By clicking on that icon, you will find a list of ministries which have been approved by the GCS vetting team and the Executive Council of the NALC. That list includes four categories of ministries:
- Global Workers – These are the missionaries that the NALC supports. We currently have eight Global workers with more to be commissioned in August, God willing. You can learn more about each one of our Global Workers by clicking “Learn more.” Click on the Adoption button to choose a Global Worker to support.
- Ministry Partners – The NALC also has Ministry Partners which are organizations whose ministries align with NALC core values, mission, and vision. Some of those partners are the sending agencies for our Global Workers such as Awakening Lives to World Mission, Spiritual Orphans Network, and World Mission Prayer League. Other partners include Lutherans for Life, Lutheran Military Veterans and Families, and Sola Publishing.
- Recognized Ministries – Another category of ministries we encourage our congregations to support include various institutions that serve people in North America and around the world. Our Recognized Ministries, which have been vetted and approved, include Bethesda Lutheran Communities, Canadian Lutheran Bible Institute, Malawi Orphan Care Project, Water Mission, and others. We have just added Kuwala Christian Girls School in Malawi to the list.
- GCS Ministries – Finally, we also have approved GCS ministries which include a number of new mission plants here in North America, as well as some of our Multi-National congregations that serve immigrant populations and worship in another language besides English. There are also a few other organizations to support including Bed Brigade, which builds bed for the homeless, and ministries in faraway places like Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Congo, and Peru.
Any of these ministries can be adopted through this page on the NALC website. I encourage you and your congregations to explore the Great Commission Society webpage to find a mission to support. Perhaps the Holy Spirit will inspire you to get involved by supporting the work of one of these Great Commission ministries with your money and especially your prayers.