Same message, four approaches
What are the different presentations of the Gospel and why should we use them? The Great Commission is a main subject in the Gospels, and the various reports given by the evangelists reveal different presentations of the Good News. Let us analyze each one in order to envision a full picture of the biblical methodology for communicating the Gospel.
Mark, probably the first Gospel to be written, emphasizes the preaching (Mark 16:15), which is the kerygmatic evangelization, consisting in an authoritative proclamation of the kingdom, where the believers are heralds to a conquered world. Mathew highlights making disciples and teaching them everything Jesus taught (Mathew 28:18-20), which is the didactic evangelization and is accomplished by all means of training. Luke conveys the Great Commission in both his books, always talking about the believers being witnesses (Luke 24:46-49; Acts 1:8), which is the martyrish evangelization, where the accounts on who Jesus is and how he acted are manifest through storytelling. Finally, John brings forth his peculiar report on the exact moment that Jesus said: “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you" John 20:21. Here we see the vicarious evangelization achieved by embodying Jesus when interacting with others.
Even if liberal theologians have tried to diminish its value, The Great Commission stands as the clear and powerful definition of mission to the Church of all times. Jesus always talked about evangelization as the mission of the Church as well as every believer, making himself the example and calling disciples to be fishers of men. Towards the end of his ministry on earth, Jesus became ever more emphatic, from the night of the Last Supper and after the resurrection through the ascension. We don’t really know how much he actually said about this, but the fact is that all four evangelists reported on it, albeit focusing on a different aspect, portraying four sides of the same cube, a foursquare mission. In doing so, the evangelists also emphasized four methods. Therefore, we should assume that, as the four different reports of the Great Commission are sides of the same mission, also the four methods compose a unique methodology to communicate the essential Gospel of the Kingdom.
When do we use each of these methods? I believe the answer lies on the desired result. We were sent to communicate the Gospel, hence, at any given situation, the method of choice is the one needed, the one that proves to be more effective. At times, it will be proclaiming, at others it may be teaching, if necessary telling stories or even acting like Jesus. According to Mark, the indicator of missional success will be everybody in the Church, going everywhere in the world, preaching everything in the Gospel to everyone out there. “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’" Isaiah 6:8a.