One Sunday after our morning worship rehearsal I was approached by a man who looked in his 40’s. I could tell by his dress (and smell!) that he had walked in off the street and was probably looking for some money. Since the service was about to begin, I asked if he would mind staying through the service. After which, I would try to find him some help.
My first impulse was to search out our pastor who was over benevolence. I figured that would be the easiest way of getting him help and relieving me from the responsibility. Of course, I couldn’t find the pastor anywhere!
In the end, I think I did the right thing. My dad and I drove him to where he needed to go, stopped and bought him some comfortable shoes, paid his hotel bill, and gave him some money for food.
Experiences like that always stand to remind me that it is impossible to separate worship and missions. I’ve been a part of some great worship services and had some incredible private worship moments with God. But “when the music fades” that great “top of the mountain” feeling never lasts. It’s almost like a fix that wears off only to leave us empty and wanting more.
I think the problem is that we’ve divorced worship from missions. God spanked Israel by saying “you honor me with your mouths, but your hearts are far from me”. So how do we bring our hearts near to God? Micah 6:8 says “He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
How can we stand up in front of our churches and lead people to worship God if we are unwilling to live by Micah 6:8? Ouch! I’ve heard the convicting voice of the Holy Spirit at times say to me “your heart is far from me”!
Surely there is more to worship ministry than creating set lists, recruiting musicians, and leading music. The real excitement is in missions! Nothing fuels the fire of worship like a fresh missions experience.
I remember my first Sunday back at church leading worship after returning from a mission trip to Nicaragua. As I sang the lyrics “You’re the defender of the weak. You comfort those in need”, I broke into tears because I was recounting the orphans that we had ministered to. It was a powerful moment as I shared our experiences with the congregation.
True worship should always lead to missions. As worship connects us to God’s heart by bringing our hearts near to Him, we begin to love what God loves and hate what God hates.