Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.
Worship, therefore, is the fuel and goal of missions. It’s the goal of missions because in missions we simply aim to bring the nations into the white-hot enjoyment of God’s glory. The goal of missions is the gladness of the people in the greatness of God. “The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!” (Ps. 97:1). “Let the people praise you, O God; let all the people praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy!” (Ps. 67:3-4).
But worship is also the fuel of missions. Passion for God in worship precedes the offer of God in preaching. You can’t commend what you don’t cherish. Missionaries will never call out, “Let the nations be glad!” if they cannot say from the heart, “I rejoice in the Lord.… I will be glad and exult in you, I will sing praise to your name, O Most High” (Ps. 104:34; 9:2). Missions begins and ends in worship.
If the pursuit of God’s glory is not ordered above the pursuit of man’s good in the affections of the heart and the priorities of the church, man will not be well served, and God will not be duly honored. I am not pleading for a diminishing of missions but for a magnifying of God. When the flame of worship burns with the heat of God’s true worth, the light of missions will shine to the darkest peoples on earth.
These words, penned by pastor and author John Piper in his book, Let the Nations Be Glad! The supremacy of God in missions, Third edition, are a fitting reminder to me as I prepare to leave next week on another ministry trip to Russia. It will be my fifth trip in six years helping to train and equip pastors and leaders in Anapa and Elista. Rather than teaching or training, my focus needs to be on bringing God as much glory as possible.