LIBERTY UNIVERSITY BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
Book Review: The Great Commission to Worship
Submitted to Dr. Austin Tucker / Instructor of Practical Studies
in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the completion of
EVAN525 – D20
November 17, 2014
In their book The Great Commission to Worship: Biblical Principles for Worship-Based Evangelism, authors David Wheeler and Vernon Whaley contribute their respective expertise in evangelism and worship in an attempt to synthesize the two categories by showing each fundamental imperative of the Christian disciple to be integral to and an outflow of the other. The impetus for ...view middle of the document...
Indeed, to the authors, evangelism is not an activity at all, rather evangelism is itself the good news of salvation that is being worked out in the lives of the believer and therefore it is the motivation for obedience (worship). Evangelism “must be the catalyst that ignites a holistic lifestyle of worship.” (Matt 28:20), but one who’s fruit includes making disciples who likewise bear fruit in their turn. The authentic worshiper is being transformed into the image of Christ to love God, to love people, and to “incarnationally” take on the mission of God as his or her own. A “Great Commission Worshipper” is one who is “equally committed to worship and evangelism.” In chapter three the authors propose aspects or “learning outcomes,” which can be demonstrated in the lives of “Great Commission Worshippers,” which they unpack in the subsequent chapters: worship is formational (Ch 4), transformational (Ch 5), relational (Ch 6 and 7), missional (Ch 8), and reproducible (Ch 9-11). To be so formed and impacting, worshippers must be humble, trusting of God, honoring of God, and honest.
I grew up in a Christian tradition that emphasized the “acts of worship” in terms of corporate worship on Sunday mornings, the “first day of the week.” My tradition was, like that of the authors, part of the reformation movement’s bent on sola scriptura, yet I remember as a young adult I began to notice a disconnect in the emphasis upon maintaining distinctives in our corporate worship and in the emphasis Jesus placed in his teachings (from the gospels) on love of God vis-à-vis loving other people and on personal piety: the sermon on the mount (Matt 5-7), the tying together of loving God and loving people in the “Greatest Commandment” (Matt 22:36-40), the parable of the good Samaritan (Lk 10:25-37), the sobering “what you do to the least of these, you do unto me…” (Matt 25:31-46), etc. There was also the description of worship from James 1:27: “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” Like the authors, I began to see worship not as corporate ritual, but as a 24/7/365 way of life and realizing this made me a deeper person than I had been. Loving and worshiping God began to be more and more part of my daily thinking, motives, actions, and decisions.
Years later in this process of growth, I was blessed with a summer internship at a larger congregation in Dallas, Texas. Although I grew from my relationships and from the mentorship I received, I also observed that the bulk of the ministry meetings focused on changing and adapting our church’s corporate worship to be more and more “seeker sensitive.” The thought was that corporate worship was something malleable that could be altered into something more like the culture of the surrounding neighborhood, so people would want to come. “After all,” so the thinking went, “scripture provided only...