Sermon Illustrations

Dallas Willard writes: “I do not know of a denomination or local church in existence that has as its goal to teach its people to do everything Jesus said. I’m not talking about a whim or a wish, but a plan.” Willard’s book, The Great Omission (Willard, 2006), is his personal take on the popular notion that the Great Commission (see Matthew 28:18-20) is primarily an encapsulation of the project which God has given to his people.

Willard insists that the local church will never accomplish its God-given task without a strategic “plan.” A simple look at history, however, reveals a greater omission: there is no evidence that the early church had anything resembling Willard’s notion of a Great Commission “plan.”

In the book Evangelism in the Early Church, author Michael Green has observed that “the precise terms of the Great Commission do not appear to have played a great part” in the strategy of the early church. “In point of fact,” he continues, the Great Commission text (Matthew 28:18-20) “is quoted very little in the writings of the second century.”

Crediting the insightful research of Roland Allen, Green concludes: “This is interesting, for it shows that the command was not seen as…the duty incumbent upon all Christians…It is rather associated with the promised presence of Christ on the mission.”

A simple look at the first Christians reminds us that praying--not planning--is the church’s "secret" of success.