If you attend an evangelistic church, you no doubt have been encouraged to take a pile of gospel tracts with you wherever you go. And why not? You can distribute these inexpensive papers at the gas station, Wal Mart, with a tip, or even under the windshield wipers of the cars in a parking lot. The latter method was practiced recently in the parking lot of a Catholic Church near my place of employment. In this instance, one of my co-workers was interested enough to spend the evening reading the 16 page pamphlet about erroneous Roman Catholic doctrine. With that in mind, I do recognize the benefit of gospel tracts and Christian literature. However, it would seem that many Christians equate this and other “quickie gospel hits” with the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
As many others have said, the main verb used by our Lord in the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) refers to “making disciples.” The Great Commission involves giving the gospel, but there is so much more. Notice what the text itself says: “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” While that would include the gospel in a nutshell, it also covers all the other topics he addressed in the gospels, and, mind you, also in the writings inspired by him in the rest of the New Testament. That certainly broadens our responsibility beyond what we have often viewed as a fulfillment of our responsibility.