Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the vision of Great Commission Churches?
Our overall heart desire is to love and glorify God, and to love all men in all that we do. The ministry vision is "Great Commission Churches-New Testament Christianity in Action Today."
The Great Commission of Jesus Christ is found in Matthew 28:19-20: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
We aspire to glorify God as we work with Him to multiply churches throughout the world that are leading people to Jesus Christ and building obedient disciples of Jesus Christ. And we aspire to do so by following the pattern set out in the New Testament.
2. What is the history of Great Commission Churches?
The Great Commission church movement began in 1970 when a group of approximately thirty college-age Christians embarked on a summer-long evangelistic outreach to several university campuses in the southwestern United States. From this initial outreach several campus fellowships were formed, growing to over thirty by the end of the 1970s. In 1983, Great Commission International was started to provide services for the developing association. In 1989, Great Commission International changed its name to the Great Commission Association of Churches and today is referred to simply as Great Commission Churches. (For a more detailed chronology of GCC's history click here.)
3. What is the main message of Great Commission Churches?
We believe the gospel, the good news that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died for our sins and rose again three days later (1st Corinthians 15:3-4). All who believe in Jesus Christ receive forgiveness of their sins and the gift of eternal life (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9).
If you would like to know how you can be sure that you have eternal life click here.
The GCC association is evangelical in doctrine and practice, holding to the basic truths of orthodox, protestant Christianity. Some of GCC's basic beliefs are:
- God is the creator of the world and of all life.
- The Bible is the inerrant Word of God.
- Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He died on the cross for our sins, He rose from the dead three days later and He will come again in glory.
- Salvation is a gift from God. A person is saved by believing in Jesus Christ who is the one and only Savior of the world.
- All life is valuable, including the life of the unborn.
- Marriage is defined exclusively as a lifetime covenant relationship between one man and one woman.
- God loves everyone in the world and desires to have a personal relationship with each human being.
To be a member church in Great Commission Churches, a church must agree to the GCC Statement of Faith. The GCC association is evangelical in doctrine and practice, holding to the basic truths of orthodox, protestant Christianity. In addition, member churches in GCC agree to support the GCC Core values as found in the GCC Core Values Statement (See FAQ #5 below).
At the same time, each local church in GCC is autonomous under the Lord Jesus Christ, and some churches may want to emphasize other biblical doctrines or practices not mentioned in the GCC doctrinal or core values statements. If you are interested in knowing what a local church teaches on a particular topic, we encourage you to contact that church directly.
For a more expanded statement concerning the doctrinal beliefs of GCC and GCC churches, click here.
5. Aside from the Statement of Faith, what are the distinctive core values of Great Commission Churches?
All member churches put a high value on God-led devotion and commitment. These commitments are seen in our Great Commission Covenant, which upholds these eight biblical core values:
- Grace of God in Jesus Christ
- Commitment to God and His Word
- All nations reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ
- The local church
- Developing Christ-like leaders within the local church
- Love and unity
- Raising godly families
- Every member a minister
Find a detailed description of these values in the GCC Core Values Statement.
6. What is the approach of Great Commission Churches to the Scriptures?
The Bible is our final authority for doctrine and practice. It is our instruction manual for life on earth. Christians should not merely know the Bible but also believe and obey the Scriptures by the power of the Holy Spirit. Members in GCC churches are encouraged to read and study the Bible daily, praying over and meditating on the Scriptures with the goal of obeying God's Word throughout the day.
7. What is GCC's view of the local church?
From the beginning of our movement, we have valued the local church as God's vehicle for accomplishing His purposes on this earth. The local church exists to glorify God, to win unbelievers to Christ, to build Christians in the faith, to encourage believers to love one another as the family of God, and to equip Christians in the ministry of Christ. Therefore, we encourage each follower of Christ to be committed to a local church. We also reaffirm that each individual must follow Christ and the Scriptures in all decisions related to local church involvement. (GCC's Statement on Commitment to the Local Church)
8. What is the relationship between Great Commission Churches and member churches?
A church in GCC is a voluntary member of the association for the purpose of advancing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Each church in our association is self-governing and has final authority over its own affairs. The local church (rather than GCC) appoints and oversees its own elders and staff. Also, GCC does not own any church buildings or have any control over church budgets. Great Commission Churches serves member churches by providing them equipping (through conferences, literature and counsel), opportunities for cooperation in mission efforts, and doctrinal accountability.
9. Explain further the ministry of Great Commission Churches as an association.
Great Commission Churches sponsors events such as the Pastors Conference and Faithwalkers in order to help people grow in faith, love, and devotion to God. Other equipping resources include the Faithwalkers Journal, the Great Commission Leadership Institute, and the weekly Morale Booster.
Finally, GCC provides accountability to member churches, ministries and pastors on matters of biblical doctrine and values. Each GCC church, ministry, and pastor agrees to the GCC Statement of Faith, GCC Covenant and Core Values Statement.
10. Describe Great Commission Churches' international ministry.
We believe that the local church is God's primary vehicle for reaching the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. All GCC churches are encouraged to have their own "Acts 1:8 plan" to advance the gospel in their cities, regions, nations and throughout the world. In addition, GCC churches send out missionaries to other parts of the United States and the world. Finally, Great Commission churches cooperate with international churches and ministries to plant more Great Commission churches overseas, for example in Europe.
11. Is each Great Commission church identical?
Churches in GCC are united in basic doctrine and core values, but are diverse in ministry styles. Some churches meet in buildings, some in homes, and some in rented facilities. The worship service and music style vary from church to church. Church size varies from under fifty to several thousand. But all churches are united in heart to love Jesus Christ, love our fellow men, and fulfill the Great Commission as patterned for us in the New Testament.
12. What is the leadership like in a typical Great Commission church?
Jesus Christ, not man or any group of men, is the Head of each individual and each church. Therefore, pastors in GCC churches aspire to promote, not themselves, but Jesus Christ as the supreme authority in each of our lives. It is the desire of each GCC pastor that members are strong in their faith in God, obeying the Scriptures, following the leading of the Holy Spirit, and growing in their love for one another and for all people. Pastors in GCC churches aspire to be humble servants who have a genuine care for people in the church as well as faith-filled leaders who reach out to their communities with the love of Jesus Christ. Churches are led by a plurality of elder-pastors-men who possess the character qualities described in 1st Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. (For a more detailed description of leaders in GCC, click here.)
13. What is the relationship between church members and pastors in Great Commission churches?
Each church member is to look to Jesus Christ as his or her Lord and supreme authority. Although pastors are given to the church to provide care and Biblical counsel to members, each individual in the church is encouraged to obey not a man or a group of men but Jesus Christ alone, by following the Scriptures and the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Pastors in Great Commission churches are Christians first, and pastors second. Therefore, church members and pastors are to honor, respect and love one another as fellows believers in Jesus Christ. GCC urges church members and pastors to cultivate a trusting relationship with each other and to pursue peace should a disagreement or conflict arise. Should a member have a concern with a pastor, we urge that member to pursue a God-honoring process by talking to that pastor first, then, if necessary, to his board, and then if still not satisfied, appeal to Great Commission Churches. If a member should decide to leave a church, pastors are encouraged to give a blessing to that individual and to maintain a loving relationship as fellow members in the body of Christ.
Finally, since pastors are entrusted with the responsibility to proclaim the gospel, teach the Scriptures, care for church members and lead the church, each church member is encouraged to honor, respect and support pastors as they seek to fulfill their God-given leadership responsibilities.
14. Who leads the Great Commission Churches association?
Our heart attitude in Great Commission Churches is to promote Jesus Christ as our leader. Jesus said, “Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matthew 23:10,11). Therefore, we give glory to Jesus Christ, not a man or a group of men, for all the good that has been done in this movement of churches.
Recognizing Jesus Christ as the Leader, there are hundreds of men who play a servant leader role within Great Commission Churches. Pastors in local churches provide leadership locally. Many of these men also serve other churches in their region as regional directors. These regional leaders make up around 25 members of the GCC National Leadership Council. As for the GCC national organization, the Executive Committee is John Hopler (Director), Rick Whitney (Assistant Director) and Dave Bovenmyer (Secretary.) The other board members are Doug Brown, Mark Darling, Matt Gordon, Brent Knox, John Meyer and Tom Short (GCC board).
15. What is GCC's response to criticisms, past or present?
A man warned the 18th century evangelist George Whitefield that some people were criticizing him. Whitefield replied, “I thank you sir, for watching over my soul. As for what they say, I know worse things of myself than what they say concerning me."
We in GCC aspire to have the same humility and faith exhibited by George Whitefield. We hope to be humble, recognizing and addressing our own sins and weaknesses before a holy and gracious God who forgives us and transforms us through His Son Jesus Christ. We also hope to have faith like Whitefield who was not alarmed by criticisms but continued to move forward, boldly proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.
For more information on GCC's response to criticisms, past and present, click here.
16. What if a person has a concern with a GCC church?
If an individual has a concern or question about a GCC church, we ask that the person contact the church's pastor. If not satisfied with the pastor's response, the person can appeal first to the church board then to Great Commission Churches. Because Jesus instructed Christian leaders to be the greatest examples of humility and servanthood (Luke 22:26), GCC pastors aspire to respond with a tender heart, a humble spirit and genuine love to anyone who has a concern (1 Peter 3:8).
Click here for GCC's accountability process.
Click here for a Christian Perspective on Internet Criticisms, written by GCC and offered as a resource by the National Association of Evangelicals.
For resources that help Christians pursue Biblical reconciliation, see Peacemaker Ministries.
17. How does Great Commission Churches partner with the greater body of Christ?
As a member of the National Association of Evangelicals, Great Commission Churches cooperates with other evangelical denominations and ministries to promote the name of Jesus Christ. GCC is also a member of Call2All, a ministry begun by Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ, which unites Christian missionary groups to reach the unreached people groups in the world. Great Commission Churches is an affiliate member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. As an ECFA member, GCC is required to comply with ECFA's accounting standards and to annually submit a financial statement that is prepared by an independent CPA.
Pastors in GCC churches are encouraged to participate in local ministeriums and to cooperate with other evangelical churches in their cities to reach their communities for Christ. Also, many Great Commission churches partner with Samaritan's Purse in its humanitarian efforts throughout the world.
18. What role does the family play in Great Commission Churches?
We believe that the Christian family is an essential part of God's plan on this earth. Strong marriages and strong relationships between parents and children are a high priority in Great Commission churches.
An internal survey, done in 2009, revealed that the divorce rate for member couples in Great Commission churches has been only 2.5% over the last 10 years. We attribute this to the grace of God working, as husbands and wives follow the Biblical pattern for Christian couples (Ephesians 5:18-33).
In America today, we believe there is a great need to restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers (Malachi 4:6). We do so through an intergenerational approach, where parents (particularly fathers) and children worship God together and work as a team to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ.
19. What is the role of women in Great Commission churches?
Before God, men and women are equally created in God's image and equally glorious in His eyes (Galatians 3:28). God commands us to show honor and respect to female and male Christians alike and commands men to love their wives and honor them as fellow-heirs of the grace of life (1st Peter 3:7). At the same time, the Scriptures teach that, while men and women have equal value in Christ, they have different roles in the family (Ephesians 5:22-33) and in the church.
Therefore, we value and encourage the ministry of women in the church in various and significant ways. In addition, we understand that the Scriptures reserve the office of elder/pastor to men alone (1 Timothy 3:1; 2:12). We agree with the position concerning men and women taken by The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.
20. What role, if any, does politics play in Great Commission churches?
Church members in GCC churches are encouraged to exercise their rights and fulfill their responsibilities as U.S. citizens to vote, and to engage in the political process to the extent that God leads them to do so. However, GCC leaders believe that the problems in today's world will be solved through spiritual means, not political. As a movement of churches our focus is to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ, not a political agenda.
21. Is Great Commission Churches part of the charismatic movement?
Great Commission churches all affirm the importance of the ministry and work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. In our association, churches teach that all true believers in Christ have the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9) and that all believers in Christ have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13). GCC churches encourage all Christians to daily live in the power of the Holy Spirit and to use their spiritual gifts in ministry.
As for spiritual gifts, most pastors in GCC teach that the gift of tongues is the supernatural ability to speak a known language as a sign to unbelievers (Acts 2; 1 Corinthians 14:21-22) rather than a private prayer language. However, Christians who have private convictions that differ from this teaching are welcomed within GCC churches. Although our church movement does not have its roots in the charismatic movement, many from a charismatic background feel "right at home" with the passionate worship and loving relationships found in GCC churches.
22. Where does Great Commission Churches stand on the eternal security of the believer?
Great Commission Churches teaches that those who are truly born again by the Spirit are eternally secure and, with the help of God, will persevere in faith to the end of their lives (1st Peter 1:3-5).
23. Where does Great Commission Churches stand on the Calvinism-Arminianism debate?
Except on the matter of perseverance of true believers, the GCC association does not take a strong stand on this issue. In general, churches in GCC believe in a balance between God's sovereignty and man's responsibility. We believe the Bible teaches both the sovereign grace of God and the solemn responsibility of man to trust, obey and serve God (Philippians 2:12-13).
24. What do Great Commission churches teach on the second coming of Jesus Christ?
Great Commission churches believe that Jesus Christ will return to earth personally, visibly, and bodily to judge all men and establish His kingdom. Historically, GCC churches have taught a moderately dispensational, pre-millennial view. However, there is a diversity of views taught in GCC churches today.
25. Describe the college ministry of Great Commission Churches
Our movement has always had a focus on reaching college students for Jesus Christ. We encourage every GCC church to have an in-house ministry reaching college-age students. We encourage an intergenerational approach which involves the family as much as possible in the mentoring of college students. The Faithwalkers conference reflects this intergenerational approach. For campus ministries in GCC churches which participate in the Faithwalkers conference, click here.
26. Where can I find a Great Commission church?
Great Commission churches are in 25 states. Click here for a complete list. In addition, Great Commission Churches is affiliated with churches in 27 countries overseas. Click here for a list of international churches.
27. What is the relationship between Great Commission Churches (GCC) and Great Commission Ministries (GCM)?
GCC, based in Columbus, Ohio, is a U.S. association of autonomous evangelical churches that was initially organized in 1983. GCM (which has changed its name to Reliant Mission) is based in Orlando, Florida and is a ministry designed to help local churches mobilize missionaries. This ministry was founded in 1989 by the GCC organization, but is now independent of GCC organizationally. Most of the missionaries employed by Reliant today are sent by evangelical churches that are not affiliated with GCC. We in GCC value our partnership with Reliant to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the United States and the world.
28. If I have any further questions about Great Commission Churches, who do I contact?
Our office would be happy to answer any question you have. You can contact us by phone at 614-840-9900 or email us at .