Recent research has found that pastors and laypeople have different opinions on what encompasses a mission, as found by a new Barna survey that gains insights on how Christians view Jesus' commandment in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus' message in Matthew 28:19-20 is the core of what is known as the Great Commission.
According to the passage, Jesus commanded His followers, "Therefore go 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 I have commanded you."
However, a new Barna survey found that a majority or 85% of pastors and less than half or 46% of Christians believe that "missions is a mandate for all Christians." This shows a 39-point gap between pastors and Christians. Meanwhile, among practicing Christians, who were defined by Barna as "those who have attended church within the past month and strongly agree their faith is very important to their life," only 42% believe the same.
"This is a profound difference. Both leaders and churchgoers must unpack why this gap exists," the Barna Group wrote in their analysis, as per the Christian Headlines. "Pastors could lean in to better understand and shape how congregants interpret missions. Does their participation mean donating money, praying, educating, evangelizing, relocating or something else?"
Barna Group also found that among Christians who can "correctly identify" the Great Commission, 61% "view missions as a mandate." However, 77% of surveyed pastors said it's more important for missions to spread the gospel rather than promote justice. Only 15% of pastors said it was more important to promote justice. Among self-identified Christians, 43% said it was more important for missions to "spread the gospel" versus 37% who said it was more important to "promote justice."
Additionally, 88% of surveyed pastors said it was important for missions to equip indigenous tribes rather than be "short-termed." Conversely, 6% said it was better to be "short-termed." Among Christians, less than half or 46% said it was more important to empower indigenous tribes than be "short-termed," while 18% chose "short-termed" over equipping indigenous tribes.
When asked about the scope of missions, 59% of pastors and 47% of all Christians said it's more important for missions to be "globally focused." With the advent of developments in technology and transportation, mission work has become more efficient to carry out. It has also led Christian missions to reach beyond its borders, especially during a crisis like that of the Russian invasion in Ukraine.
Recently, CBN's Operation Blessing has set up a mission point on the border near Poland to assist in welcoming Ukrainian refugees fleeing from the war and providing for their basic needs such as hot meals, warm coats, and blankets. According to CBN News, volunteers have not only helped in setting up tents and temporary homes for the refugees, but they also made it more fun for the children by stringing up bright lights and playing CBN's Superbook animated series in the background.