What Does Your Church’s Worship Style Say About Your Church’s Mission?

The following article was written by Dr. Shane Garrison (Assistant Professor of Educational Ministries at Campbellsville University / President and lead consultant for Maple Trail Ministry Consultants).  I have known Shane since grade school.  We grew up in the same local church and were college roommates.  He also officiated my wedding.  To say the least, I highly look up to Shane as a brother in Christ, friend, and mentor.  Shane graciously gave me permission to re-post this from his site:  www.shanegarrison.org.  I think he makes some very helpful correlations as we consider worship and ministry in the local church.

What does your church’s worship style say about your church’s mission?  Everything!

What happens on Sunday in corporate worship speaks volumes to what your church believes about the Gospel, how it views lostness in your community, and to what degree the church is discipling believers to become missional.

We often think our corporate worship patterns are for us, the insiders.  The patterns are to please those who come every week, who have been part of the fellowship for years.  We see these patterns as unique and preferential to the individuals in the congregation.  We all would agree theologically that the worship of God is only for those who have placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and therefore have been given the Holy Spirit which prompts us to return glory back to God.  Authentic worship is for believers only who worship in spirit and in truth.  I get it.  I believe it fully.

But the overt worship patterns of your church says something larger about who your church is and who they want to become.

If your worship patterns are quiet, observatory and not outwardly participative, meaning people watch and listen more than anything else, then you can expect your mission to the community to also be quiet, minimalistic, and observatory.

However, if your worship patterns are highly participative, joyful, celebrative and dynamic, this translates to your missional view of the community.  The worship patterns inside the walls translate to ministry patterns outside the walls.

So here is the catch.  If you lead, attend, or visit a church where no one sings, no one says “Amen,” only the church staff participates in leading the service and no body else, and the congregation looks and acts miserable from start to finish, then you can be assured that they are not going to reach people for Christ, help others in need, or be a blessing to those around in the neighborhood.  I guarantee it.

(I want to give credit to my wife, Jennifer Garrison, for helping me understand this connection.)

I appreciate Shane’s heart because I know him as a passionate worshipper of Jesus Christ.  He is a man with great perspective and can see the big picture really well.  I do believe the word “style” probably could have been a little more clarified.  One tends to think of traditional versus contemporary when you consider worship style, rather than a style of doing things.  I personally believe that there are both passionate traditional and contemporary churches out there that love the Lord fervently and are making much of the great commission in their community.  However, I believe the crux of Shane’s article is this association between a church’s worship and it’s mission.  If the worship is more of a “spectator sport” then the church’s mission typically reflects it.  People in these types of congregations tend to sit on the side lines when it comes to serving and evangelism.  People that are involved in a church that is more “participatory” in its worship practices will tend to be actively involved in fulfilling the mission of the church.  I appreciate this insight and believe it rings true in most churches.  Let me know your thoughts on this subject in the comments section below.

“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t.” – John Piper

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