For some reason, worship has a tough go in missional conversations. One example of this “tough go” showed up here the other day. I’ve heard this several times from more academic types: missional theology has a low view of worship. And I gather that it rattles around in more popular conversations: missional churches care much less about worship and much more about living your faith in your daily life. So… there’s a lot to say there, but in brief…
Missional theology gets charged with a low view of worship because it gives worship an instrumental function: to equip people for witness. A supposedly higher view of worship gives worship no instrumental function at all; it is good in it self to give glory to God, and needs no other purpose. I think worship is good in itself, and doesn’t need a further purpose; certainly in the worship of the saints in light, it has no further purpose. But here on earth, by God’s grace, the act of worship also equips God’s people for their witness in the world. You might say worship is instrumental, but that does not mean it is merely instrumental.
As for worship vs. lived witness in daily life, the two are fundamentally connected. The witness of the community in its daily life, as its sees and participates in the works of God, fuels and feeds corporate worship. In worship, the community clearly names the good news to which all other words and deeds point: the good news of Jesus Christ. In this way worship grounds and centers the daily witness of the community, and nourishes for further witness.
Moreover, by gathering as a community to worship, the church offers yet another form of witness. It gives the world a public sign and likeness of the kingdom of God, where the saints dwell in everlasting worship.