The Gospel for Every Person

Desmond Henry 29 Apr 2024

Picture a future where the radiant ideals of the Great Commission and the Great Commandment reshape our reality—a world where the intrinsic desires and aspirations of every follower of Christ resonate with Christ’s timeless command to go forth and disciple nations (Matt 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:46-48; Acts 1:8; 2 Tim 2:2; John 15:16; James 5:20). The most loving thing we can do is share the good news![1] Contemplate a global community where the mission of God (missio Dei) is not merely a concept to admire but an active, lived experience personalized in the mission of the church,[2] and even more intimately, incarnated in the life purpose of each believer.[3] 

The Lausanne Covenant, in its sixth stanza focussing on the church in our world affirms the Trinitarian mission in the world and poignantly states: ‘ . . . we need to break out of our ecclesiastical ghettos and permeate non-Christian society. . . .’[4] The gospel for every person is not a pithy title for an article to explain a central concept of mission, it is quintessential to our mission and needs to be redefined for every generation so that we do not lose sight of the urgency, centrality and scope of this one statement; ‘the gospel for every person’. This article—within our missional context—will attempt to articulate the centrality and importance of this concept as we ready ourselves for the Fourth Lausanne Congress and the resultant vision of the shaping of our world in 2050.

The Gospel for All

The Lausanne Movement seeks to accelerate global mission, where the church in our generation and beyond is passionate about taking the gospel to every person, where we plant disciple-making churches among every people and in every place, and where Christlike leaders in every church and sector labour toward kingdom impact in every sphere of society.[5] What a vision! My heart desires to see zealous followers of Jesus among all peoples. I would love for all believers to live out the abundant life (John 10:10) provided by Jesus as evidenced by the inner transformation (2 Cor 5:17) made possible by the gospel (Acts 3:19; Joel 2:13) and the resultant works that proceed from a life surrendered to Jesus (Heb 13:16; James 2). I long for a day when cultural Christianity will give way to a gospel-centred, gospel-advancing and gospel-fluent[6] Christian movement, as evidenced by both immersion and fluency in the gospel as the norm, not an unholy exception.

Every ethnicity (Rom 1:16), background, social class, race and nationality is in need of the good news (Rev 7:9). The gospel sees no boundaries or walls that it cannot break or areas of the human experience (1 Tim 2:3-4) it cannot reach.

We believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ is for all people (John 3:16). The gospel is for the rich, the poor (Luke 4:18), the healthy and the sick. Every ethnicity (Rom 1:16), background, social class, race and nationality is in need of the good news (Rev 7:9). The gospel sees no boundaries or walls that it cannot break or areas of the human experience (1 Tim 2:3-4) it cannot reach. Simply put, the gospel is for all people everywhere (Acts 10:34-35). This good news has no limits or exclusions, it does not judge and does not shy away from anyone. No one falls outside the impact and life-changing power of the gospel (2 Cor 5:14-15).

The Gospel and the Nations

The idea that the gospel should reach everyone, everywhere is deeply rooted in Scripture, intricately woven with both beauty and precision. This concept cannot be limited to just one passage; rather, it spans the entirety of the Bible[7]. The idea that the gospel is for all nations extends beyond Matthew 28:18f. While the ‘Great Commission’ of Matthew’s gospel is often highly esteemed among evangelical Christians, it is just one facet of a broader, biblical mandate.[8] The Greek phrase panta ta ethne, meaning ‘all nations’, underscores this universal call and has shaped our focus on reaching unreached people groups. This has not always been the case.

 In 1974, Ralph Winter introduced the concept of ‘people blindness’ at the first Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization. Since then, the task of mission has increasingly focused on evangelising unreached peoples or nations that are defined by ethnicity and not necessarily by political boundaries.[9] The ensuing decades of mission has led to defining the people group concept[10] and what has become evident is that our working definition of ‘all nations’ will determine our missional focus as believers. Being a follower of Christ compels us to carry the good news of the kingdom to every corner, community, and culture that has yet to hear this transformative message. In today’s context, ‘unreached people groups’ can extend beyond traditional ethnic, linguistic, cultural and geographical definitions to include micro segments of society that are often overlooked or difficult to engage, like today’s digital nomads and cultural creatives who share the basic elements of people group theory. We need to continue the pioneering mission of Christ in every generation and be committed to sharing the never-changing gospel in ever-changing contexts.

The Gospel: Our Sacred Mission

Speaking about a transformative message, how we define the gospel itself and communicate its truth is important to the integrity of God’s mission. The gospel is translatable in every culture[11] and among all peoples, but it is not malleable. In our efforts toward gospel fluency in our world, we have seen the dangers of cultural gospel ‘improvs’, adapting not only the means but the message of the gospel itself. The art of improvisation in live performance is spontaneous, fun and somewhat entertaining. Don’t get me wrong, I love experiencing the humour and candour that emerge from improv, yet when it comes to showing and sharing the good news, Christians cannot improvise. There is a sense in which we have abandoned gospel fluency for a relevant, fun and light-hearted gospel that appeals to the culture around us. It is the gospel that Paul says is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (Rom 1:16). We are foolish to think that anything else we substitute the gospel for will have any lasting effect. 

There is a sense in which we have abandoned gospel fluency for a relevant, fun and light-hearted gospel that appeals to the culture around us.

This mandate celebrates the good news of God’s intervention—a divine initiative made accessible to all through God’s grace (Titus 2:11) and embraced through individual repentance and faith, empowered by the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:8-9; Rom 10:9-10). Entrusted to believers is the profound responsibility to disseminate the message of redemption and manifest the reality of God’s kingdom globally. Our missional duty underscores the gospel’s capacity to transform hearts, elevate communities, and reshape history, demonstrating its comprehensive scope and transformative impact—the gospel includes both redemption and societal lift.[12] As believers embody and proclaim this message, they participate in the unfolding of God’s redemptive plan, enabled and empowered not by human might but by the Spirit’s dynamic and persistent presence (to the very end of the age). 

In closing, the gospel’s call is not a mere command; it is a dynamic invitation to embody God’s mission in the world. It calls believers to weave elements of God’s mission into the fabric of their lives, transforming their walk into both a collective pursuit (missio ecclesia) and a personal calling—it’s an active, compelling call to engage in God’s mission as our own; taking the good news of the kingdom to the ends of the earth (every place and space people call home) in the power of the Holy Spirit—until he comes! Maranatha!


  1. In a CNN OpEd, Ed Stetzer uses comedian Penn Jillette’s comments as a non-believer to illustrate an unexpected respect for evangelism, noting, ‘And some people—even atheists—appreciate our efforts.’ Jillette, a well-known nonbeliever, shared his reaction to being given a Bible: ‘I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. If you believe there’s a heaven and hell… and you think, “Well, it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward” . . . how much do you have to hate somebody not to proselytize?’ 
  2. If there’s anything that missional thought leaders and biblical theologians—from David Bosch, Alan Hirsch, Chris Wright, Ed Stetzer, Lesslie Newbigin, Darrell Guder, Michael Frost, Craig Van Gelder, and John Flett—have taught us, it is that mission is central to the life of the church—it is the life of the church. 
  3. A phrase used by Roger Peterson in an article in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement to Contrast God’s mission with our poor focus on short term mission. Peterson, R. (2009). Missio Dei or ‘Missio Me’? In R. D. Winter & S. C. Hawthorne (Eds.), Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (Fourth Edition, pp. 752). Pasadena: William Carey Library.
  4. Lausanne Theology Working Group in partnership with the WEA Theological Commission. (2009). “The Whole Church as a Transformed and Transforming Society.” In Lausanne Occasional Paper 64D. [Online] Available at: (Accessed: 4 April 2024).
  5. These are the pillars of the Lausanne commitment to reshaping our world in 2050.
  6. Jeff Vanderstelt, Gospel Fluency: Speaking the Truths of Jesus into the Everyday Stuff of Life. (Wheaton, IL:Crossway Books, 2017). Jeff first introduced me to this phraseology and reminds readers that evangelism is overflow. Vanderstelt argues that fluency in the gospel requires deep immersion and intentional practice. Believers need to rehearse the gospel message, internalizing it to the extent that it becomes the lens through which they view all aspects of life. Vanderstelt’s work is a call to move beyond mere belief to a lived expression of faith, shaping how Christians interact with the world around them. 
  7. Making the Bible as a whole a missionary text from beginning to end as argued by Christopher Wright in his magnum opus; “The Mission of God”. One of my favorite quotes reminds us of this important reality: ‘The whole Bible renders to us the story of God’s mission through God’s people in their engagement with God’s world for the sake of the whole of God’s creation.’ 
  8. In all likelihood, the concept of nations as often extrapolated from the so-called Great Commission, is most likely its broadest possible interpretation. It is more likely that the Old Testament concept of ‘family’ as found in the Abrahamic Covenant of Genesis 12:1-3 and it’s reaffirmations within the corpus of Genesis alone: 18: 18; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14 more fully represent the scope of the reach of the gospel in every age.
  9. John Piper, in another foundational mission book, “Let The Nations Be Glad” argues for the supremacy of God among all nations in Chapter 5. This chapter is very helpful in showcasing the clear and comprehensive Biblical evidence of how the concept of all nations is a deeply Biblical one that encompasses both the Old and New Testament. John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad: The Supremacy of God in Missions. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic,2010).
  10. A broader attempt at this definition within evangelicalism was the result of the work of the Lausanne Strategy Working Group in March 1982. Cf: Winter, Ralph, “Unreached Peoples: Recent Developments in the Concept,” Mission Frontiers (August/September 1989):18.
  11. Thank you, Andrew Walls, for defining the contours of a discussion on how the incarnation of Jesus sets the pattern for Christianity when it comes to the gospel’s translatability within world history/ cultures. ‘Incarnation is translation. When God in Christ became man, Divinity was translated into humanity, as though humanity were a receptor language. Here was a clear statement of what would otherwise be veiled in obscurity or uncertainty, the statement “This is what God is like.” But language is specific to a people or an area. No one speaks generalized ‘language’; it is necessary to speak a particular language. Similarly, when Divinity was translated into humanity he did not become generalized humanity. He became a person in a particular locality and in a particular ethnic group, at a particular place and time. The translation of God into humanity, whereby the sense and meaning of God was transferred, was effected under very culture-specific conditions’ (Walls 1996:50). Andrew F. Walls, The Missionary Movement in Christian History: Studies in the Transmission of Faith. (Maryknoll:Orbis Books, 1996). 
  12. Robert D. Woodberry (2012) in, “The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy” statistically demonstrates that Protestant Christianity is the catalyst for societal change. Woodberry proves that evangelicals are the catalysts for mass education, especially among the poor and marginalized (women/untouchables); evangelicals are the catalysts for mass printing, newspapers, and the public sphere as well as civil society and social reform. Donald McGavran, father of the church growth movement, is said to have coined the phrase ‘redemption and lift’ and uses this phenomenon to describe the full effects of the gospel with the caveat that the ‘lift’ of the gospel should never deter recipients from sharing the good news with those around them, leading to broader societal change through peer-to-peer evangelism. What tends to hinder this is when believers become apathetic to the world around them and no longer see the need to share the gospel with their people of origin/ community due to their elevated station in life.