Mike Breen’s “State of the Evangelical Union” blog highlights a trend that should be part of every evangelical community. That is, how does worship impact mission? How do worship leaders function as mission leaders? Taken seriously, this conversation would affect every minister of music, choir member, preacher and musician in the church.
Breen teaches about the “Scattered and Gathered” expressions of being the church. Scattered expressions are done in groups of 20 to 40 people — “oikos” or extended family, missional communities, fresh expressions. Gathered expressions of the church since Acts 2 center in Temple rather than synagogue and are highly public events. Both are necessary.
But Breen points to real reform trending in the “Gathered” reality of church. When the church gathers to celebrate and worship, he says, what should happen during that time is nothing less than the equipping of disciples for the church’s scattered mission in the world. Worship functions to equip for mission.
This is controversial stuff. Presbyterians since the Westminster Shorter Catechism have said that the mission of the church is to worship: “To glorify God and enjoy him forever.” But the Baptist instinct has always been that worship functions to send the church into the world on mission to share the good news. The Great Commission is at the heart of our identity.
I’m not trying to stir controversy, but to point, with Breen, that the conversation is trending toward worship equipping for mission. And if that’s the case, here’s what to watch for:
No more lame imitations of secular music so seekers will be comfortable; our worship will stir disciples to engage the world with the gospel.
Look for more robust worship songs, often written within the local community, that equip the church for its mission. Breen says it’s fine to follow Charles Wesley in using bar tunes musically — but not without also following Wesley in having those lyrics “chalk full of the truth of what it means to live in the Kingdom of God.”
Worship leaders will function explicitly as discipleship leaders. The end game is not technically proficient or talented musical performance. It is about whether the people under your direction are disciple-makers in the world!
Different benchmarks. And better ones.
John Chandler is leader of the Spence Network.