On any given Sunday, I have the joy of leading our church in worship. And I’m reminded this week of the relationship between worship and missions.
The need for missions is great. Both in North America and around the world. Over 7,000 unreached people groups exist—meaning that billions of people have insufficient access to the gospel. In other words, over 3 billion people (of nearly 8 billion people worldwide) have such a meager proportion of their population being evangelical that local churches are either non-existent or unable to reach people without outside help.
As Christians, we’re called to advance God’s mission.
Jesus says, “‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’” (Mt. 28:19-20 ESV).
Of course, not every Christian is called overseas. There is work to be done here in the United States, too. Churches need to be planted. People need to hear the gospel. And it might even be your next-door neighbors!
But how are worship and missions related?
John Piper writes, “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man… . The goal of missions is the gladness of the people in the greatness of God… . But worship is also the fuel of missions. Passion for God in worship precedes the offer of God in preaching… . Missions begins and ends in worship.”
God is glorified when Christians share the gospel with lost people. And God is glorified when lost people repent of their sins and trust in Christ.
So, the primary purpose of missions is worship. God’s glory must stir our hearts in such a way that we follow His call on our lives. Worship and missions aren’t disconnected from one another. Christ-centered worship results in a posture of readiness to be used by God to advance His mission.
Matt Merker writes, “God gathers us unto his glory, for our mutual good, before the world’s gaze.” He explains how the purpose of our worship gathering is threefold: exaltation, edification, and evangelism.
I touched on this a few weeks ago when I argued that Christ-centered worship accomplishes all three of those aims. Why? Because God is glorified as we celebrate the work of the gospel in our lives. Our brothers and sisters in Christ are edified as we remind one another of the gospel. And unbelievers are evangelized by our proclamation of the gospel message each week.
But our call to make disciples extends beyond the four walls of a church building. God’s glory, embraced through the cross of Christ, must fuel both our worship and our missions. And a proper understanding of the former leads to the latter.
I hope this short article challenges us to consider the implications of our weekly worship. God is far too glorious for us to miss the relationship between worship and missions. Why? Because the gospel is far too precious for us to keep to ourselves.
As worship services draw to a close, there is often a benediction. Some churches read a passage of Scripture. Others may lead the congregation in a prayer, asking God’s blessing on His people that week. A common place for pastors to turn is Numbers 6:24-26 or Jude 24-25. But I’d like to close with Psalm 67.
This psalm reminds us of how worship and missions are related. I pray we take it to heart.
“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, shall bless us. God shall bless us; let all the ends of the earth fear him!” (Ps. 67 ESV).