A few posts ago I wrote that worship is a crucial part of our mission in the church. The inclusion of the word “Worship” within the word “Mission” was very intentional. The word mission suffers from a bit of ambiguity in our modern usage. In ordinary language the word mission brings to mind an overarching objective to be accomplished, as in “mission impossible” or “mission to mars.” It is the defining purpose of a team or organization. A reason for existence. In evangelical vocabulary the word is steeped in the glorious heritage of “missionaries” who went to distant parts of the globe to preach the gospel. More recently, to be a missional church is to be dedicated to evangelizing and serving our local neighborhoods–looking to live for others, and not just for ourselves. Both of these definitions are excellent in their own way. It is when you put them together that the ambiguity becomes, to my mind, potentially misleading. If our “mission”–as in, primary purpose, objective, reason for existing–is summed up in evangelism or works of mercy we have allowed cultural connotations of the word “mission” to lead us away from a more fundamental Biblical definition of purpose.
Our mission–our primary purpose, our reason for existence, our objective–is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. It is to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. It is to eat and drink and do everything we do for the glory of God. It is to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to the Lord. It is to declare the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness and into his glories light. It is to declare Him both Lord and Christ, this Savior who has rescued us from darkness and brought us into the kingdom of God.
If someone were to ask me, what is the mission of your church. I might answer, “If by mission you mean overarching purpose or goal: it is to bring glory to the God who has saved us through the gospel of Jesus Christ. If you mean, what is your goal towards this culture, this world: it is to preach the gospel and serve others, in our neighborhoods, and wherever we have opportunity, around the world. We do want to all be on mission–working to preach the gospel to our neighbors–in order to fulfill our MISSION–bringing glory to God as his ransomed people, saved by His grace.
It seems Biblical important that we not relegate worship, both personally and corporately, into an assumed category, or worse, a secondary category when speaking of the mission of the church. God saved us first for Himself. Worshiping Him is our first mission. Out of this stream all other tributaries of mission flow.