Missional Worship

Mark Labberton, president of Fuller Theological Seminary, calls worship a “dangerous act” because it has the ability to shock us out of our self-centered autopilot and wake us up to God’s purposes in the world. Worship really can turn our lives upside down, or better yet, worship turns our lives outward.

Transforming Vision

Worship (both preached and sung) redirects our eyes toward God and his beautiful vision of justice and peace on earth. At the end of a church gathering there is often a benediction—a blessing and a charge given to God’s people to send us back into the world to be salt and light. We go to live out the ways of Jesus in workplaces, homes, neighborhoods, and wherever we are. To be blessed with the reminder of God’s presence and charged to boldly take the gospel out of the church building is a dangerous and wonderful thing. It isn’t dangerous because it’s an act of force or human strength. It’s dangerous because it has the potential to give us a clear perspective of God’s goodness and provision, and even a snapshot of God’s love can birth drastic faith and trust.  

“Shoulds” Won’t Conquer Fear

This makes me think of the kids on the playground who are nervous to play too far from their mom or dad. Their security and ability to be bold and courageous depends on knowing their parent is close by and available to step in and help when needed. You could tell a child to just be brave and adventurous, but trust doesn’t come by simply knowing what we should do. Trust is built over time and grounded in seeing availability and love over and over again.

Rooted Relationship

It’s really no different with us. We are the kids on the playground who are often nervous to venture too far. We can still be anxious and insecure when we lose sight of our parent. But what if we had the opportunity to build our boldness, to create courage by meeting the love and availability of our parent? What if consistent interactions with a faithful Father builds our trust and security and produces courage and strong dependence in us? Worship is the place of relationship where trust and boldness are formed.

I invite worship songwriters to meditate on the connection between God’s love and reliability, and his children’s courage and confidence. I think there is room for new “sending songs” that bless God’s people with a love that can cast out fear and enable us to bring compassion, justice, and peace on earth!

What worship songs can you think of that root worshipers in God’s love and presence and invite them to live our outward-focused, missional call? Let us know on the Worship Leader Forum: Lost & Missing Prayers.

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An Excerpt from Glenn Packiam’s New Book “Worship and the World To Come”

Glenn Packiam (Doctor of Theology and Ministry, Durham) is the associate senior pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He is the songwriter of more than fifty worship songs, including “Your Name” and “Mystery of Faith,” and the author of several books, including Blessed Broken Given: How Your Story Becomes Sacred in the Hands of Jesus and Discover the Mystery of Faith: How Worship Shapes Believing. He is also a visiting fellow at St. John’s College at Durham University and an adjunct professor at Denver Seminary.
Packiam preaches at conferences for pastors and worship leaders and has spoken at Wycliffe Hall at Oxford University, Biola University, Asbury Seminary, Calvin College, and Trinity School for Ministry. He lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with his wife, Holly, and their four children.

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