During January, I received a series of questions via Ask Evangelism Coach section.
A series of posts this week will focus on sharing these. It’s my hope that our readers will join in the conversation.
The question for today:
What is the difference between Evangelism and Worship?
Evangelism is geared towards helping others become worshippers: conversion.
|Focus||Another Person||God, the Trinity|
|Goal||Repentance, Conversion, Discipleship||Adoration, Self offering|
|Relationship||Horizontal (peers, friendships)||Vertical|
|??||Proclamation of the Cross||Thanks for the Cross|
|??||Create Worshippers||Be Worshippers|
|Help discover God’s activity||Response to God’s activity|
I use ?? because I haven’t yet found the words to describe the categorical difference that I’m making.
If you have one, feel free to contribute in the comments.
Conversion marks the line between a person who is not a worshiper and one who becomes a worshipper. God seeks “true worshipers who will worship the Father in spirit and truth” (John 4:23).
Evangelism is geared towards the proclamation of Christ and him crucified. Worship is a response of thanksgiving to the proclamation.
Evangelism is communicated through words and actions, but focused on other people. Worship is expressed towards God in words and action.
What is worship Evangelism?
After making these distinctions, there is a style of evangelism called worship evangelism. The basic premise is
- Two or more are gathered, there he is.
- God inhabits the praises of his people.
The outworking of this is that God can choose to establish special awareness of his presence in response to our worship. Through song and prayer of worship, there comes a sense of God’s presence and movement of the Holy Spirit that I call a Kairos moment.
Sometimes it is experienced as
- Holy hush that falls over the congregation.
- Corporate or personal repentance and forgiveness
- Manifestation of Spiritual Gifts (such as healing, prophecy, or tongues with interpretation)
The premise behind worship evangelism is that non-believers who are visiting the congregation may experience the sacredness of God’s presence and working.
That experience can prompt the next step in their journey towards faith.
Example of Worship Evangelism:
A husband and wife visited our congregation. They had been walking through some rough times and had a desire to go to church. They came to ours.
As we sang our worship songs and responded in prayer to what God was doing in our midst that morning — a sense of God’s presence descended on the congregation. We were tangibly aware that the Spirit of God was at work.
These two visitors felt it , but didn’t know what “it” was. (After wards, meeting with the pastor, they were asking “What was that?” Pastor helped them interpret their experience and expand their worldview).
However, though they couldn’t describe the presence they were aware of, they responded with repentance for their sin and in prayer they offered themselves to God.
Their conversion moment was happening in the back of the sanctuary, unknown to us at the time.
As we went on and prayed our prayers, preached the Word, proclaimed the meaning of communion — all which the Holy Spirit used to speak to them personally — this couple came forward to take communion for the first time.
Worship is not the same as Evangelism
The basic idea is that worship (singing, praying, offering, proclaiming) leads us into an awareness of God’s presence.
God is present in the midst of HIS people.
Experiencing the sacred presence of God can help the seeker make the next step in their journey to faith in Jesus Christ.
Sally Morganthaler wrote the book: Worship Evangelism. I still agree with some of the basic premises of the book. Yet admittedly, there has been some unintended consequences.
One unfortunate side effect was “engineering” or using music to “manipulate” — she writes about it here (Broken link removed).
Another side effect is a worship driven subculture that has confused evangelism with worship.
The church spends its time and money on perfecting worship and neglecting outreach — another form of “if you build it they will come.”
“If a contemporary worship service is the best witnessing tool in the box, then why give a rip about what goes on outside the worship center? If unbelievers are coming through the doors to check us Christians out, and if they’ll fall at Jesus’ feet after they listen to us croon worship songs and watch us sway back and forth, well then, a whole lot of churches are just going to say, ‘Sign us up!’ “
She goes on to write:
When I wrote Worship Evangelism, I’d had no intention of distracting people from the world outside. I only wanted to give them another way of connecting to it. I certainly had never meant to make worship some slick formula for outreach, let alone the one formula. I’d only wanted to affirm that corporate worship has the capability to witness to the unchurched if we make it accessible and if we don’t gut it of its spiritual content on the way to making it culturally relevant.
What about you?
Think about the worship service in your context.
- Is worship “inspiring?”
- Are people aware of God’s presence in their midst?
- Is your church engaging the neighborhood or hoping people show up because of the quality of your music?
Join the conversation
How would you describe the difference or similarities between worship and evangelism?
Image credit: pilens / 123RF Stock Photo