by Beth Seversen
(Editor’s note: This is the 3rd in a 10-part series on how our theology informs our evangelism.)
Evangelism and worship are closely related in the New Testament. Evangelism is one expression of our worship. Paul considered his evangelistic ministry among the Gentiles an act of worship. He writes in Romans 15:16, “to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. He gave me the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. “
Notice Paul’s synthesis of Temple worship images with evangelism images. Paul suggests that his offering of Gentiles to God is like what priests and Levites do in the Temple when they offer their sacrifices to God. As an appointed and ordained minister of Jesus Christ, Paul’s duty as a priest of the gospel was to present the Gentile Church as an acceptable and holy sacrifice to God. The Spirit Paul contends consecrates the offering.
When we practice evangelism and see people respond, we are worshipping God. When the priesthood of believers proclaims the gospel of God so that those far from God might become an offering acceptable to God, this is worship. It is worship that is especially and wonderfully pleasing to God. In leading the Gentiles to faith in Christ through the power of God’s Spirit, Paul offered an acceptable and holy sacrifice to God—worship.
Just think, when we pray for non-Christians and demonstrate the love of God by caring for our neighbors, and when we articulate the gospel to unchurched friends with the purpose of bringing God’s reign into their lives, we deeply worship God.
I have experienced this fusion. When I dragged Mary around the neighborhood with me, extending an invitation to our neighborhood book club, that was worship. Sometimes, we chose books that were popular and not religious but had important value that could lead to spiritual conversations. Sometimes, we chose a book that was directly about Jesus or Christian faith. But it was all worship.
On Sunday afternoons, my friends Tim and Andrea throw a “Matthew party” and invite their neighbors along with friends from church for a backyard barbeque hoping to pique interest in Jesus. That’s worship. When my new friend Pam, a single mom, prayed to receive Christ at my dining room table, that was worship. At that moment, my spirit rejoiced with the angels (Luke 10:15). In the years since, Pam has offered many other lives to God as her worship.
Do you long to worship God with fresh expression? New believers constitute an acceptable and holy sacrifice to God. Within deepening friendships, bless and love your neighbors in deed and by proclaiming God’s word—Jesus! Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Beth Seversen is the denominational leader for evangelism in the Evangelical Covenant Church and a Billy Graham Research Scholar. Beth is currently pursuing a doctorate in Intercultural Studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. She is researching emerging adults and the factors that make churches effective reaching them.