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Worship has become one of the most debatable subjects among today’s church leaders. It is evident in many of the books devoted to worship that can be seen on the shelves of many local Christian bookstores. While some Christians most often describe worship as an adoring response of an individual’s heart to the Most High, God, it is important to understand the intertwining relationship between worship and evangelism. David Wheeler and Vernon Whaley in their book The Great Commission to Worship: Biblical Principles for Worship-Based Evangelism develop a strategy for worship while differentiating between the Great Commission and the Great Commandment debate. This strategy includes our responsibility to effectively engage in worship.
As pointed out in the book, the concept of the Great Commission worship, as usually depicted in Scripture, is to assert that even though God is the object of worship for Christians, the idea of obtaining salvation that is related to evangelism is normally seen as motivational. It is this pre-position that Wheeler and Whaley provide through scriptural support of how evangelism and worship are equally intertwined. The authors believe that in becoming a Great Commission worshiper, an individual who loves Jesus so much and is committed to worshiping Him by being obedient to every teaching and command of Jesus will always tell others about his incredible relationship with Jesus. Thus, the book tends to inseparably pair worship and evangelism.
Obedience is usually the core of worship. It is impossible for committed and true worshipers not to be directly involved in exercising the command of evangelism expressed in Acts 1:8. This book is based on this kind of inseparability of worship and evangelism. It asserts that the primary objective of worship and the Great Commission is to form a foundational transformational, relational, as well as mission-based and commission-based practical application and principles of developing an inclusive lifestyle full of evangelical worship.
From David Wheeler and Vernon Whaley’s book, I agree that the divine commands to evangelize and worship are not only useful but also mutually reinforcing. It is due to the fact that worship-based evangelism is necessary in order to genuinely promote Christian discipleship. I personally have attested and witnessed using worship-based evangelism in developing devoted followers of Jesus Christ, the Great Commission worshippers. My local church previously intentionally structured its “seeker” services to merely appeal to nonbelievers. Normally, “seeker-driven” services are designed for believers as they focus on evangelism, and “seeker-sensitive” services are devised for believers even though they are sensitive to the nonbelievers. It means the two kinds of services should have a different audience and varying purposes. However, this is not always achieved.
Normally, seeker-driven services in our church are designed to evangelize to those out of Christ’s teaching. Therefore, such services cannot be called worship since nonbelievers are not in the position to worship God. Our Sunday has been designed as an event day when everything starts and falls on the Creative Team where I serve as a team member. At each planning meeting, our senior pastor, a member of the team, would say, “Whatever your religious orientation is, let believers who come to our church to the seeker services make the church a ‘home’.”
It implies that the creativity, music, and dramas devised by the team must flow. Nevertheless, many believers fail to perceive seeker-driven services as evangelistic events. Instead, they regard such services as worship. In the event, worship has turned out to be something for someone else which is evaluated on the basis of the believer’s response to God. It is usually evident when the pastor asks how they (congregation) have evaluated his teaching and whether it fits their entire experience.
The book by David Wheeler and Vernon Whaley reveals some confusing aspects concerning the relationship between worship and evangelism which forms the basis of the book. There is a question of what it, actually, means for one to “live a ‘missionary’ life?” The answer can only be attained if people’s views are taken as said rather than being interpreted. Instead of interpreting what John Piper said about the mission and worship, the two authors should have referred to him directly. Piper noted that mission is not the ultimate and primary goal of a church, while worship is. It is based on the fact that missions normally exist because worship is not ultimate. The readers may find this interpretation of Piper’s words wrong. I believe that worship should be viewed as a foundational block where discipleship and evangelism are developed.
Consequently, multiple definitions of worship offered in the book cause confusion. For instance, the authors describe worship as “a lifestyle of walking in submission to God and walking with God,” “an act of unbridled obedience even when it is hard to find a rational explanation,” and “the natural response to God’s revelations.” Even though worship may be described by all the definitions they provide, it would be more helpful if Wheeler and Whaley provided a definition that entailed all aspects of worship instead of providing different definitions for different situations. To effectively communicate their principles, the two authors have to agree on definitions of worship. It would help in finding a common ground in answering the following questions: “how does the Great Commission relate to corporate worship in the church?” and “is evangelism primarily used as a goal of the weekly worship service?”
Having read and studied the book, one may develop some important steps of improving a lifestyle of worship-based evangelism. In my case, the three steps will include six weeks of personal Bible study together with five daily lessons for each week. In addition, at the end of the weekly lesson, the experience of six groups will be recorded in a membership journal based on the personal encounter related to the Bible teachings.
This book has helped me to develop a strategy that ignites my desire to worship. As pointed out by Wheeler and Whaley, evangelism should not be regarded as a responsibility but as the catalyst that fuels a holistic style of worship. In developing an evangelistic strategy for my small local church, I plan to include a week-long service that is well-organized and planned with the speaker being an itinerant evangelist. In its preparation, people will be asked to invite at least one friend or a neighbor and also fast and pray for the same. However, this is not enough as only a few faithful attend the church. Therefore, a good strategy must be developed.
The major task of any Christian is witnessing in the community with the church responsibly developing programs and ministries that are more evangelistic in the objective. However, small churches normally cannot maintain the present ministries and evangelical programs because of the limited number of people. Thus, for evangelism to occur and for one to be regarded as a responsible worshiper, evangelism must be integrated into existing programs. In this case, evangelism will be incorporated into the present ministries either through interactive Bible studies or continual weekly lessons attended by many people. It is the first action step inspired by the book.
For instance, as a preparation for the coming Sunday, we could have a final run through each Thursday from 3.00 pm to 8.00 pm. It enables us to ensure that such aspects as light cues, music, and drama are properly planned. The excitement about the adventure of worship will be related to Wheeler and Whaley’s notes on being a Great Commission worshipper. In addition, there will be a well-coordinated door-to-door preaching every Sunday evening. It will involve members of the Church visiting all the families in a certain location to evangelize to them. It is a sign of responsible worshipping.
The second action step involves involvement in worship that includes the biblical obligation to share one’s faith. In sharing one’s faith through prayer and worship, it is imperative to devise a pattern for worship. As in the case of disciples who quit their busy lives in order to be with Jesus Christ, believers must also find a way of getting away from suppressing things that may limit their faith. It can be achieved if I, as a Christian, join the Bible study that includes a session of interactive personal confession among believers in order to share God’s teaching with others. Within six weeks of personal Bible study together with five daily lessons for each week, I believe I will identify my involvement in worshipping.
Finally, The Great Commission to Worship: Biblical Principles for Worship-Based Evangelism has helped me to understand how I can be a disciple equally committed to worship and evangelism. Thus, I developed the third action plan. In order to be purposely committed to worship and evangelism as a servant of the Most High God, I will ensure that there is no division of the church. Instead, I will motivate people of different nationalities to be worshipers of the Lord.
The book has made me understand that it can only be achieved if my mission, as a disciple, is to make people love Jesus as part of their worship by following His every teaching. Wheeler and Whaley described such a person as “totally and equally committed to evangelism and worship.” In reality, the above-mentioned step can be effectively achieved if one asks God in his/her prayer to grant him/her a passionate desire to obey His commands and help others to do the same.
In addition, all these steps should be concluded by a group session that involves praying for God to grant opportunities for sharing one’s testimonies in the coming weeks. When this is coupled with praying for the Holy Spirit to regularly enable one to focus on worshipping God, one can effectively apply evangelical and worshipping principles in real life.
The book by David Wheeler and Vernon Whaley can be practically applied and used by both ministers and respective congregations. If the modern Church emulates the previous church which was more committed to both worship and evangelism, then it will find a way to exalt Jesus Christ. Instead, such churches will also be able to reproduce Christ’s Kingdom through biblical evangelism. Therefore, God’s people should reinvent their actions and beliefs in order to be Great Commission worshippers who can transform the world through glorifying God.
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