‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations …’ (Matthew 28:19).
In his book Let the Nations Be Glad: The Supremacy of God in Missions, John Piper suggests that “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. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever. Worship, therefore, is the fuel and goal of missions.”
At first the idea that missions (and evangelism) is not the ultimate goal of the church may shock some; yet, I propose that we cannot understand the necessity of missions and evangelism until we understand the priority of worship. Once we understand that worship is the ultimate priority of every believer and every believing community, then we will see that worship is the goal and fuel of evangelism and missions, and we will gain a genuine passion for both. Let me explain.
We were created in the image and likeness of God to image or reflect God’s glory (Genesis 1:26-28). Essentially, we were created to worship. But Adam’s sin marred God’s image in us, for each of us participated in Adam’s sin (Romans 5:12). As a result, we have inherited Adam’s sin, guilt, corruption and condemnation (Romans 5:12-21). So we come into the world no longer able to reflect God’s glory truly and faithfully, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). A quick look at headlines proves the doctrine of inherited sin. And because we are born sinful, instead of worshipping the one, true and living God, we worship those things he created, including ourselves (Romans 1:18-32).
The good news is that through the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Father is seeking genuine worshippers, those who will worship him in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24). To worship in spirit means to worship God out of the overflow of the Holy Spirit in your life. To worship in truth is to worship God on the basis of the truth of who Jesus is for us. Spirit and truth worship, then, engages both heart and mind. We were made for this true worship.
Here’s the point: There are people in this world who presently do not worship God through Christ. Their hearts and minds are geared toward self-worship or some other distorted worship. Since the Father is seeking genuine worshippers to worship him, Jesus now calls us to go into all nations and gather them. But because the people who presently do not truly worship God can only become genuine worshippers by a transformation of heart and mind that comes by the grace of God, through faith in Christ, then our mission is to declare the truth about Christ—the gospel—to all who would listen, beginning in our homes and unto the uttermost parts of the world (Acts 1:8). So, missions and evangelism is really the gathering of true worshippers who have turned away from their sin and turned to Christ in faith.
Because there are over 18 million people in Texas who presently do not worship God, the theme of our annual meeting in Odessa, Oct. 28-29, is “Who’s Your One?” Imagine if each of us in our more than 2,700 churches prayed for one person. Imagine if each of us shared the gospel with one person. Imagine if each of us saw one person come to faith in Christ. Those 18 million lost people constitute a big number, but each of us can begin with just one of them. We must begin to reach the lost—one at a time.
Will you join us in Odessa as we encourage one another to faithfulness in evangelism and missions so that those who presently do not worship God may become true worshippers? It is my prayer that we will all grow in evangelism fueled by the worship of the living God, and that the Lord would allow us to see much fruit from our evangelism. See you in Odessa Oct. 28-29!