Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.1
Worship, therefore, is the fuel and goal of missions. It’s the goal of missions because in missions we simply aim to bring the nations into the white-hot enjoyment of God’s glory. The goal of missions is the gladness of the peoples in the greatness of God. “The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!” (Ps. 97:1). “Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy!” (Ps. 67:3–4).
But worship is also the fuel of missions. Passion for God in worship precedes the offer of God in preaching. You can’t commend what you don’t cherish. Missionaries will never call out, “Let the nations be glad!” if they cannot say from the heart, “I rejoice in the LORD.… I will be glad and exult in you, I will sing praise to your name, O Most High” (Pss. 104:34; 9:2). Missions begins and ends in worship.
If the pursuit of God’s glory is not ordered above the pursuit of man’s good in the affections of the heart and the priorities of the church, man will not be well served, and God will not be duly honored. I am not pleading for a diminishing of missions but for a magnifying of God. When the flame of worship burns with the heat of God’s true worth, the light of missions will shine to the darkest peoples on earth. And I long for that day to come!
Where passion for God is weak, zeal for missions will be weak. Churches that are not centered on the exaltation of the majesty and beauty of God will scarcely kindle a fervent desire to “declare his glory among the nations” (Ps. 96:3). Even outsiders feel the disparity between the boldness of our claim upon the nations and the blandness of our engagement with God.
John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad! The Supremacy of God in Missions (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2010), 35–36.
We have just released a new Bible Study, Small Group Tune Up.
These lessons are available on Amazon, as well as a part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.
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Ultimately, the goal is to create conversations that change lives.