Too often in the church, an artificial divide exists between three key areas on God’s heart – worship, evangelism, and justice. God doesn’t want you to separate what you sing, say, and do. If you let those areas overlap, they’ll each become more powerful in your life and community, while honoring God more fully.
Here’s how you can combine worship, evangelism, and justice:
· Recognize that there’s no true distinction between the sacred and the secular. Understand that God cares about every part of your life and wants you to make choices that honor Him in everything you say and do. So, for example, buying a pair of running shoes isn’t just a secular activity; it’s also a spiritual activity because you can do your part to ensure that the people who made the running shoes earn a fair wage and work in reasonable conditions, which is an act of loving your neighbors as God wants you to do. Realize that you can have just as much of a ministry by chatting with your coworkers in the office cubicles next to yours as you can by speaking to large crowds of people from a church pulpit – if you approach everything you do by giving your best effort to honor God.
· Worship through every part of your life. Know that worship means much more than just singing praise songs to God during a church service. Give God more than just a song when you worship. Realize that true worship means making God your highest priority in life. Don’t allow anything or anyone else to take more of your attention than God. Understand that whatever you place above God in your life will cause you to see everything through the lens of that priority and often conflict with God’s plans for you. For example, if your top priority is to make money for financial security, that will affect all your decisions and conflict with God’s call to rely on Him for security and be generous with others. Be completely honest when expressing your thoughts and feelings to God. Remember that He knows all about you anyway, and wants to have a close relationship with you where you approach Him with confidence about anything that’s on your heart. Don’t use worship as an escape from reality; instead, invite God in through your worship to help you in the midst of your doubts and fears. Rather than worshipping God only when life is going your way and you feel like celebrating, worship Him when you’re in the middle of tough circumstances as well. Remember that God is always worthy to be praised because of who He is, no matter what your feelings or circumstances at any particular time. Get rid of a consumer attitude that asks what you can get out of worship personally, and instead focus on how your worship can become an offering that blesses God. Ask God to use your worship to break your heart with the things that break His heart and motivate you to intercede in compassion for people who are suffering in this fallen world. Hold nothing back from your worship, because God is worthy of more than even the very best you can give. Try to make everything you do an act of worship to God, so your life matches the worship songs you sing.
· Let your love for God motivate you to love people through evangelism. As you express your love for God through worship, let that naturally lead you to love other people who are made in His image by sharing your faith with them. Pray for God to make you aware of daily opportunities to share His love with others, knowing that doing so is an act of devotion to Him. Don’t settle for interacting with people from a distance; instead, get to know them, build relationships with the, and participate in their lives. Ask God to help you see people the way He sees them so you can have the compassion and wisdom to help meet their needs as God leads you. Instead of viewing people as projects to work on, view them simply as people to love. Care for them not because you want to rack up a certain evangelism quota of converts and move on, but because you want to build relationships with them, no matter what. Instead of expecting people to change to believe and act like you do before inviting them to church, invite them to come just as they are. Remember that Jesus doesn’t expect people to clean up their lives before He decides to love them. Pray every day, asking God: “Who do you want me to talk to, love, or serve today?” Ask the Holy Spirit to make you aware of opportunities you might otherwise miss. Be yourself, trusting that God will use your natural personality to communicate His message to others in your own style. Just do your best to love and pray for people while leaving the results up to God, since it’s only God who can actually save people. Listen to people more than you talk. Let them share their stories with you and ask them thoughtful questions so you can genuinely get to know them well. Pray for each specific situation they’re concerned about in their lives, as well as for their salvation and God’s blessing on them. When people go through suffering, show them that God cares for them by obeying God’s call to care for them in whatever ways He leads you to do so.
· Show people God’s love in action by pursuing justice. Know that you worship God and evangelize others most fully when you work for justice in this fallen world. Ask God to make you passionate about helping the poor, oppressed, marginalized and dispossessed. Commit to working for justice as a way of life. Realize that the groups of people who suffer injustice are much broader than simply those who don’t have enough money. Seek to also help those who suffer physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and socially, such as people who are lonely, abused, forced into slavery or prostitution, are victims of terrorism, have lost their homes due to wars or natural disasters, etc. Give your money generously to God’s work on Earth, remembering that all you have (including your ability to earn an income) is a gift from God to you. Know that as you obey God’s call to be freely share your money and other resources (like time, energy, and talents), He will take care of all your own needs. Recognize that loving your brothers and sisters in God’s family is a vital part of loving God. Don’t avoid news stories of suffering; make time regularly to really see and connect with what’s going on in the world and ask God to use what you see, hear, and read about in the news media to expand your heart. Pray for God to make it clear how He would like you to respond. Be assured that God will guide you and help you make a real positive impact on people He leads you to help. Remember that the costs involved will ultimately be worthwhile. Pray regularly about specific injustices in the world. Consider using prayer guides or e-mail alerts produced by Christian charities working on the frontlines of injustice. Financially support charities who are pursuing justice. Sponsor a child in need through a monthly donation that will cover vital costs like food, basic healthcare, and education. Instead of buying material items from a regular store to give people for birthday and Christmas gifts, give donations to charities in their names. Join others from your church’s small group or some other group and to fundraise for charities in creative ways (car washes, yard sales, dinners, raffles, etc.). Shop only from businesses that you know engage in fair trade practices and have ethically sound company policies; boycott others and contact company representatives to protest their unfair practices or policies. Lobby your government officials to change laws to benefit people who are being mistreated. Find out how your bank invests your money to see if it is being invested in organizations who don’t support your values. If so, switch to a bank that will invest your money more ethically. Consider taking short-term missions trips, and support long-term missionaries. If you sense God calling you to become a long-term missionary yourself, follow where He leads. Find ways to help people in your local community and church by figuring out what needs exist and how you can best use your unique mix of interests, talents, and skills to help meet those needs. Keep your devotional times with God a high priority in your schedule; never get so busy serving Him that you neglect your relationship with Him. Be good news for people by serving them so they’ll be more open to hearing the good news of the Gospel when you talk with them about your faith. Offer all your faithful decisions in every area of your life to God as living sacrifices. Let every action you take to work for justice in a broken world also become an act of worship to God and an act of evangelism to the people you help.
Adapted from When Necessary Use Words: Changing Lives through Worship, Justice, and Evangelism, copyright 2007 by Mike Pilavachi with Liza Hoeksma. Published by Regal Books, a division of Gospel Light, Ventura, Ca., www.regalbooks.com.
Mike Pilavachi is the founder and leader of Soul Survivor, a powerful international movement that seeks to reach, disciple, equip and empower young people to make a difference in their generation. Pilavachi is also a popular speaker and pastor of Soul Survivor Watford, a London-based congregation that aims to reach out to the youth of Watford, England. He is the author of Soul Survivor, For the Audience of One and Life Beneath the Surface.