Worship leads to evangelism and missions
“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them. So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.” (Acts 13:2-3)
Luke the historian tells us that at Antioch, Christianity’s first and most famous missionaries were sent out because the church heard the Holy Spirit speaking during worship.
Little wonder. When we praise and adore a missionary God, the church shouldn’t be surprised that such praise impels us towards missionary enterprise. When we seek the face of the One who reveals Himself and His apostolic vision, He often sends us in new directions.
Worship and evangelism come up again later in Luke’s account of the early church. After Paul and Silas had been severely flogged in Philippi for preaching to the rich and poor alike, they were thrown into the inner cell of the local prison and fastened in stocks. About midnight, says Luke, “Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” This would have surprised the other prisoners and the jailer as well – prisons in those days were rough places to find yourself. They were so filthy and the conditions so harsh that prisoner suicide was common. Better to die than have to live another solitary night in such squalid environs.
“Suddenly,” reports Luke, “there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody's chains came loose.”
At this moment of holy liberation the freed prisoners stood fast and refused to flee; the jailer, overcome with the emotion of the moment, exclaimed, “What must I do to be saved?” Luke tells us that the jailer and his whole family came to know salvation.
Worship first, then the spreading of the gospel. Whether the worship takes place in a church or a prison, the praise of the Almighty inspires the outward movement of the gospel.
But it thus leads us to a pretty important question. Are we really worshipping? In most congregations, the lack of evangelism and missions would hardly indicate that we are.
Note it well: our God is a missionary God. To worship Him is to emulate Him. An outward bound deity produces in His people movement to the people, the nations.