Mission Idolatry

Last summer I met with a pastor who serves a church near a large campus. As the university grew in prestige, it attracted thousands of international students, many of whom had little exposure to Christianity. So the church began to reach out to them with language classes, tutoring, and members who “adopt” students into their homes.

The church also changed their Sunday morning worship service. They threw out anything that doesn’t support outreach. Their Vision Statement reads: Each and every element of our Sunday worship service must revolve around the ultimate purpose of the Church: which is mission. Nothing in their worship service is sacred:

  • Worship songs
  • Prayers of Confession and Assurance
  • Sermon topics
  • Whether to use a Call to Worship, Apostles’ Creed, or a Benediction

I applaud their service (which is great), but their vision statement is wrong. Mission is part of our purpose, but the ultimate purpose of the Church is worship. And our passion for service is our biggest barrier to unadulterated worship.

Jonathan Edwards said, “It is true that by doing great things, something is worshipped, but it is not God.” When we turn our hearts from worship to deeds, we forge the idol of mission.