Craig A. Satterlee says that there is no distinction between worship and mission. He says that worship ismission.
I no longer subscribe to the distinction between worship and mission, nor do I think of myself as either a chaplain or an evangelist. Over the years, I have come to understand Christian worship as a river. Like a mighty river, the life and history of Israel, the saving work of Jesus, and the mission of the early church as these events are proclaimed in Scripture, are connected to one another and to the church’s worship as the single, continuing story of God’s saving activity in Jesus Christ.
Christian worship is God’s initiative and activity in human history and the world, as well as in our individual lives, before it is an activity of Christians or the church. Worship is a place where God’s liberating grace is already present and active in words and actions. God speaks and acts in and through the ritual of Christian worship to save, reconcile, and recreate humanity and all creation. The judgment and mercy of God, proclaimed and enacted in worship, signify God’s ultimate judgment and mercy for the world.
Rather than being the means or the motivation by which the church carries out its mission, worship is the location where God carries out God’s mission. Worship is the way God gathers people to witness to and participate in God’s work of reconciling the world to God’s own self. In and through worship, individuals and the community encounter, experience, and celebrate the God who is the source and goal of the rest of their lives. The church proclaims God’s reconciliation and shares in God’s mission by living in the world in ways congruent with what it experiences God doing and enacting in worship. In this way, God’s people worshiping in the midst of the world enact and signify God’s own mission for the life of the world.
Worship and mission are God’s single activity of reconciliation—not simply distinct yet related activities in which the church engages. God is the first and primary actor. While Christians and congregations can participate in, be indifferent to, resist, and even undermine God’s saving activity in worship, they can neither achieve nor stop it. Like a mighty river, God’s work of salvation, accomplished in Christ and continued and enacted in worship, will not be stopped until it reaches its destination, the fullness of the reign of God.
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