Most of the Evangelical church knows about the Great Commission. Pastors preach about the need to evangelize from the pulpit, and we talk about it in our Sunday school classes and elsewhere. The problem is that talking about it is all many churches do.
In many of our churches there is no intentional effort to reach out to the unchurched in our communities. It seems that we look at the Great Commission as the Great Suggestion, and we've decided to ignore it.
While working on my DMin I coached a young pastor who was serving in his first church. In one of our coaching sessions he said the church was going to have a baptism the next week, and that was what he wanted to discuss in our session that day. This was the first baptism he had done, and it was important to him that it go off without a hitch. I appreciated his concern, but it seemed he was overly concerned about doing something wrong. When I pointed this out to him he said that he wanted it to be extra special because this was the first baptism this church had done in 50 years!
I know several churches that have not had not had a baptism in decades, but I could not imagine a supposedly evangelical church that had gone 50 years without a baptism.
People often say the two most important questions a business needs to ask are: "What business are we in?" and "How's business?" These are not bad questions for a church to ask either.
"What business are we in?" Our mission is to fulfill the Great Commission. The follow-up question then is "How's business?" Are we reaching people for Jesus Christ and teaching them so they can grow as disciples? Different traditions may measure this in different ways, but it's really simple math to determine if we are in fact reaching new people with the Gospel. If not, then we need to ask what business are we really in, and where in Scripture do we justify that being our mission.
Our culture is rapidly turning from God and the teachings of Scripture. The church can no longer ignore that fact. We must become intentional about evangelism and discipleship training or we are going to see countless friends and family die and be eternally separated from God.