When it comes to the Great Commission, there are basically three responses a church can have.
A church can do nothing, something or one thing.
1. Doing nothing.
A church that does nothing believes the Great Commission does not apply to them.
In other words, they make the argument that the command of Jesus to His disciples then was for a particular people in a particular time and has no direct implications for Christians today. Therefore, their church members are off the hook, so to speak, when it comes to making disciples.
The exceptions to this principle are the “great” Christians who obey the command of Christ to make disciples. The “great” aspect of the Great Commission refers to the elite special forces of the Christian faith which, of course, excludes most, if not all, of us.
This response also attempts to use seemingly good theological arguments to make their case.
God is sovereign, and He’s got the whole salvation thing under control. He does not need our help. If He wants more disciples, He will make it happen.
This argument, although partly true, actually does not really appreciate the sovereignty of God as it is revealed in Scripture. God is not only sovereign over the ends, but the means as well. God will make it happen, and He will do so by making it happen through means—through His people who are called to join Him on mission.
Playing the sovereignty card on the doctrinal table is an ungodly way to justify disobedience to the commands of Christ.
2. Doing something.
Another option is for a church to do something. A church can be busy doing good and making accomplishments, but they are unclear about the Great Commission.
When that happens, alternative missions or purposes surface to shadow or eclipse the mission of Jesus for His church. This is how a church becomes a purveyor of goods and services. Their mission morphs to maintaining customer satisfaction, so their passion is satisfying the preferences of their members through the multiplicity of products, programs and activities. Tucked in the midst of all that will be some form of disciple-making, usually in the form of an auxiliary program or 12-week classroom study.
This is where I believe most churches are today.
They are not discounting the validity of the Great Commission. But what has happened is that it has become truncated and marginalized when the church decides to live on maintenance mode, pursuing the preferences of members and folks in the community through the consumer mentality of goods and services.
A lot of stuff is happening, and a lot of energy is being expended, but at the end of the day, very few disciples of Jesus are made.