I've been really praying about this topic: worship and mission. These two words are like fire in my belly; they daily give me my purpose and reason. They are not entirely separate from each other; they are almost like a bride and groom—hard to have a wedding with just one of them. Yet mission will always be trumped by worship for worship abides forever. As we continue to create God's throne room here among us, building his glorious throne of praise and going deeper in our understanding and experience, we will realize the passion God has for the lost and broken, that everyone needs to hear, see, and know the goodness of the gospel.
I continually find myself in John 4, seeing and hearing the scene where "true worship" is discussed by Jesus and the Samaritan woman. Seeing once more that when Christ's Lordship is established, living waters are our promise, our inheritance, our radical need, and God's even more radical provision.
As we continue to reveal Jesus in every area of our lives, I see God's throne being established among us in our churches, in our communities, in our families, in our new experiences and in our traditions. For wherever He is enthroned, there you'll find hearts that are open and thirsty for the one thing none of us can acquire elsewhere, only from relationship with Jesus: Living Water.
How can truthful and authentic worship be anything but missional? In genuine worship we are constantly declaring God's goodness, always announcing and declaring that he is with us, always being filled with joy in his presence, always announcing freedom, always dependent on the Holy Spirit to fill us, change us, lead us, and turn our sorrows into joy, our mourning into dancing.
More Than a Song
To worship with our life means that it is not just in the singing of songs that we find our hearts emblazoned with mission, but it is the result of a worshipful life where mission finds its expression in the going, the sending, and the daily expression of our faith in the ordinary. As Christ followers, all that we are should be somehow resulting in bringing the love and light of Christ to our world. Is this mission? Yes. Is this worship? Yes.
I'll never forget sitting in the South African dirt with a beautiful four-year-old boy in an orphanage in Johannesburg. It seemed nothing could reach his lonely little heart, no toys or games, not even the crazy young musicians traveling along with us could find a way to connect with him. His eyes were glazed over; I cannot bear to think about what he had endured at such a young age. So in the dirt, into his gorgeous, perfectly formed little ears, I started to sing, "Jesus loves me." It only took moments for his stunning tear-filled eyes to look up, and it was like our hearts connected right there and then. Building Jesus a throne in the middle of the dirt. As we drew near, he drew near to us (Jas 4:8). That's the promise. There is no other name like the name of Jesus to heal our wounds, calm our fears, walk with us through suffering, and to even hold an aching four-year-old heart tenderly in his hands. This little boy's heart was opened to the love of Jesus, and he experienced what it was like to draw from a well that could never be taken from him, and certainly never run dry.
I may not have been leading lots of worship through music over the last 12 months, but the mission of my life, as a worshiper, has not changed one bit. As I've sat in doctors' waiting rooms and laid in bed for many months, that call to take Jesus to every sacred place burns in me just like leading people to his glorious courts through praise does. Living our lives poured out ... in response to his great love for us...that the world may know!
Originally published in Worship Leader magazine.
ABOUT DARLENE ZSCHECH: World-renowned worship leader, best-selling author and Hope Unlimited Church Sr. Pastor Darlene Zschech is featured on the new Integrity Music release In Jesus' Name: A Legacy of Worship and Faith. (Click here to preview.) The 14-song album is a celebration of Zschech's ministry and features such well-known anthems as "Shout To The Lord," "Worthy is the Lamb," "The Potter's Hand," "In Jesus' Name" and "My Highest Hope," which was written during her recent battle with cancer. The song, and this album, is a declaration that despite what our circumstances are, we have hope and victory in Jesus' name.