Coming Close: Mission & Worship

“Missions exists because worship doesn’t.”


There is a false dichotomy I often hear from folks when describingthe lives of Christians and churches between mission and worship.  The focus is either on one or the other.  You’ll hear about certain churches that are missions churches and others that are all about worship, or individuals will say they feel called to missions or worship as if somehow these two can be separated in the lives of Christians. The reality is that one exists for the sake of the other. I recently read this quote from well-know preacher and writer John Piper:

“Mission 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.”

It doesn’t take much to notice that this world, and our western culture in particular, is lacking when it comes to worship, that being worship of Almighty God.  We all, of course, worship or give our devotion and adoration to something, but there is only One who is worthy of worship. 

I don’t know about you, but there are times when I’m in worship at the Cathedral that I get the distinct sense that this really is what we were made for, and I wish that everyone in the whole world could experience such rightness.  You see, worship is not only those actions we direct towards God in adoration, but it is full enjoyment of his glorious presence, or in other words, full participation in his holy ways.  That’s why we pray in the Eucharist of this desire that “we may dwell in Him and He in us.”  Nothing could be more wonderful than that!  In worship we catch glimpses of this reality that will one day be perfect in eternal glory.  We are not there yet, though, and there are throngs of people in this world who have never known the joy and peace that can only come when dwelling in the loving presence of our Creator, Redeemer, and King.

But the will of God is that all should enjoy his presence and to live lives of eternal worship in fellowship with him.  As the Psalmist puts it, “Let the peoples praise thee, O God; let all the peoples praise thee!  Let the nations be glad and sing for joy!”  So, missions must arise in order that the Psalmist’s words in the 67th Psalm, verses 3-4 might be so.

Therefore, these questions arise.  Am I enjoying the beautiful presence of the Lord in a life of worship, and if so, how about living on mission to bring as many others into that joy and gladness as I possibly can until that day when missions has passed away and all that remains is glorious eternity of all the peoples praising the Lord, all the nations glad and singing for joy?  I pray, Lord, my answer to both is a resounding – YES!


[‘Coming Close’ is a weekly word of encouragement from our Dean and Rector, the Very Rev. Peet Dickinson]