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What is the relationship between worship and evangelism?

Most church leaders readily recognize that God has tasked churches with several different purposes, yet how those purposes work together has equally mystified them. One of the most potentially difficult ministry relationships to reconcile has been that between worship and evangelism.

In Inside Out: Worship in an Age of Mission (1999),1 Thomas H. Schattauer presents three possible views concerning the relationship between worship and mission.

Inside & Out

The first is what he calls “Inside & Out,” the view that worship serves the end of mission; it is what fuels and motivates worshipers to take their message outside the walls of the church building. In this sense, “Mission is what takes place on the outside when the gospel is proclaimed to those who have not heard or received it” (2).

Alan and Eleanor Kreider penned Worship and Mission After Christendom in order to articulate a vision for the relationship between worship and mission post-Christendom. They take an “Inside & Out” perspective, suggesting that “worship affects the church’s growth by building up members so they will participate effectively in God’s mission.” They argue that during the Christendom period, “worship was unavoidable” and “mission was unnecessary” (24). As a remedy to this problem, the authors insist that churches must understand the missio Dei and root themselves in this mission. They argue that the pre-Christendom church operated in this way, and they use 1 Corinthians 11­–14 as the outline of what truly missional worship will look like, offering practical suggestions in the second half of the book for how worship can equip believers for mission.

Other missional writers claim legitimacy for this first view, such as Guder, who suggests that “the public worship of the mission community always leads to the pivotal act of sending.”2 Van Gelder also seems to emphasize the “Inside & Out” role of worship when he claims, “The Sunday morning service is the place where the people who worship God become equipped and prepared to do the work of mission that extends that worship into the world.”3

Outside In

Schattauer calls the second approach “Outside In,” in which the central purpose of worship is to evangelize unbelievers.

This, many suggest (like the Kreiders above), was the situation during the period of Christendom. Some would argue that churches today have failed to recognize that the Christendom era has ended. They no longer enjoy the level of influence and status they once did, but their structures, ministries, philosophies, and methods nevertheless remain the same.

The church growth movement is the prime example of this model by insisting that a church’s primary service should be an evangelistic meeting designed to attract and meet the needs of “seekers.” This perspective has drawn fire from some who argued that this ignores worship altogether, others who complain that believers are not discipled, and still others who claim that this “attractional” model of evangelism just does not work.

Inside Out

Schattauer’s final category is “Inside Out.” Worship in this view is not a means toward the end of evangelism, as with the other two, but rather fits within the larger purpose of mission. In fact, Schattauer does not see worship and mission as two separate categories, but rather “the assembly for worship is mission” (3).

Those advocating this view understand worship to be primarily about believers worshiping God, but they see this event as necessarily public and evangelistically potent, and therefore they are concerned that the worship service be accessible and intelligible to believers and unbelievers alike. For example, Mark Driscoll stresses the need to “make the church culturally accessible,”4 and Tim Keller insists that a church must “adapt its worship because of the presence of unbelievers.”5

As a leader of the conservative evangelical missional movement, Timothy Keller wrote what has become a fairly influential paper called “Evangelistic Worship,” in which he argues for worship that is truly an end in itself as that which will be most potently evangelistic. For this to take place, however, the worship must be intentionally explained to unbelievers in attendance and must be “comprehensible” and “intelligible” to them. Keller’s argument is rooted in his definition of “missional,” which he defines as “adapting and reformulating everything in worship, discipleship, community, and service so as to be engaged with the non-Christian society around [the church].” Thus, he argues, “almost everyone in the missional church movement, no matter how you define that, believes that worship ought to be inclusive of Christians and non-Christians.”

Which is the biblical model?

Now it’s your turn. Which of these models has the best biblical support?

Scott Aniol

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is Chair of the Worship Ministry Department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.

  1. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1999 []
  2. Guder, Missional Church, 243. []
  3. Van Gelder, The Missional Church and Leadership Formation, 101. []
  4. Driscoll and Breshears, Vintage Church, 289. []
  5. Keller, “Evangelistic Worship.” []

47 Responses to What is the relationship between worship and evangelism?

  1. Scott—Glad you are profiling this book. Should be on everyone’s required reading list.

    I like the genre (“Three or Four Views on Something”) but in several recent cases I’ve felt like my own view never made it on the list.

    Churches like ours had a tough time defining evangelism, then they had a tough time defining worship, now they have a tough time describing how the two ideas relate.

  2. Maybe some initial thoughts to start:
    # John the Baptist preached, and people repented and were baptized. We do not read of any worship in this context.
    # Jesus sends the disciples out to preach the Word – again, no use of worship services in evangelization.
    # The Sermon on the Mount, feeding of the 4,000/5,000 – were evangelistic meetings where the word was central. If there was singing or other worship activity, we are not told – and may conclude these aspects would not have been crucial in these contexts (just like in Keller’s example of Whitfield and Wesley).
    # When Jesus was alone with His disciples before He was betrayed, they broke bread and sang a hymn. This worship setting was thus very private.
    # The day of Pentecost, the disciples were together for worship and prayer, without outsiders present. Then, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit led to signs that also affected those present outside at the time. Yet, this seems to have been a single event of that kind, and as outsiders came into the occasion, Peter preached and again, the evangelistic word was key, not singing or other elements of worship.
    # One passage that seems to be underused in this context (though Keller also quotes it, yet comes to a different conclusion) is 1.Cor 14 – here, Paul speaks about an unbeliever coming into a Christian meeting, possibly thinking they are mad when he hears them speak in tongues. There are two aspects here: we can again see that the meetings themselves were for Christians and did not try to accommodate the surrounding culture or be seeker-sensitive. Paul advises to take specific measures to keep the service intelligible, but these measures are not so much designed to approach the cultural context of the visitor but rather, the potential presence of a visitor is used as an illustration to teach about the correct use of tongues in their meetings (i.e. I don’t see Paul wanted them to change things if a visitor is there only but generally wanted them to make sure tongues would either be interpreted or not used in worship services)! The second aspect is that exactly BECAUSE the service is so different from the usual experience of the visitor (in this example, with an element of prophetic speech) that he is thoroughly impressed by the observable presence of God among the Christians, such that he is led to admit the veracity of their beliefs! To me, this appears to be the exact opposite of the ‘Inside Out’ view: rather than making the church culturally accessible, visitors are exposed to a ‘culture shock’ that impacts them powerfully.
    # Jesus also said that the world will see the Truth once they see we have love one for another. This again points away from worship services to how we live together OUTSIDE the Sunday church setting! This is apparently where most conversions take place, and only exceptionally during worship services.

    Interestingly, Keller’s article on worship gives several examples where the pastor explains why and what is being done in worship (i.e., preparing and instructing the visitor), rather than adapting what or how it is being done to accommodate him. Based on the above, the Inside-Out view is correct in that it focuses Christian worship mainly on equipping the saints, yet omits the potential effect of worship on occasional visitors. I would thus say it needs to be adapted to incorporate the element of the ‘Inside Out’ view, yet NOT by adopting the prevalent culture that is not based on the Christian worldview. Worship, then, should remain firmly and unashamedly biblical but outsiders should be assisted to understand the Christian culture, e.g. by additional explanations about specific Christian worship practices.

    Wonder which other passages would be relevant in this context?

  3. Inside Out !
    Martin. Thank you for listing the examples.
    Sabbath is designed for believers to come and worship God.
    “Whoever claims to live in Him, must live as Jesus did.” 1 John 2:6.
    Worship service can easily reflect the gospel, if we our lives reflect King Jesus. Besides than reflection of King Jesus, the true meaning of worship itself also reflects gospel. We worship God because He saves us. If the whole worship service focuses on our salvation, from music worship to preaching, then unbelievers will easily see and understand the gospel.

  4. So, if the Sunday service is all about salvation, are you proposing that teaching about how to live out salvation should come at other venues, such as mid-week meetings? Otherwise, won’t already converted Christians stagnate in their walks and get bored of hearing the same evangelistic messaging each week?

  5. Inside out!
    I agree with Schattauer’s opinion. I don’t think worship and missions are two separate categories. Worship and missions cannot be separated because true worship is a way of obeying God’s commandments. And we cannot worship Him without action. James2:17 says “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” The define of worship is drawing near to God through Jesus Christ by faith. If we have faith in God, when we worship Him, we are acting on what God command us to do. According to Schattauer “the assembly for worship is missions.” Our mission is to be witness to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:7)

  6. The most biblical model would be a marriage of “Inside-Out” and “Inside and Out.” The church should make worship understandable for any unbelievers in attendance, but it should not solely be focused on evangelism. However, if we are waiting for people to darken our doors before hearing the gospel, we are not fulfilling the Great Commission to “Go!”

    As we’ve discussed in class, the days of postmodernism have vastly diminished the number of people who want to come hear Biblical Truth because they see it as a subjective view. They think they know what we believe, and will come join us if and when they feel like they have been drawn that way or need it. We have to be intentional in todays’ world if the gospel is going to be spread and the church is to grow.

    Even in the early church, unbelievers came to Christ by seeing/joining Christian worship. But, they also came because the Christians would go out and spread the word! Corporate worship should equip the saints to spread the gospel (send them out) while at the same time be understandable to unbelievers.

  7. I think that the mixture of Inside & Outside and Inside Out would be the best model that has biblical support. I believe that Inside&Outside include discipleship and the Great Commission. Like Jesus Christ trained his disciples until the Great Commission, Inside&Outside model shows how worship trains believers to go to the world. This model shows that worship nurtures believes to reach out the gospel to unbelievers.That is related with Matthew 28:19-20. Moreover, Inside Out model insists that worship is for not only believers but also unbelievers, which is related with missional church movement. I agree that worship is for everyone. If two models, Inside&Outside and Inside Out, are mixed their two main ideas, discipleship and the Great Commission and welcoming all people, it would support biblically.

  8. I personally agree with the “inside-out” model. I strongly believe that worship should be “primarily about believers worshiping God” but at the same time, worship is also a public event that is “evangelistically potent”.

    Jesus’ ministries provided a perfect biblical support for the “inside-out” model.

    “Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.” (Matthew 4:23)

    We can see that Jesus ‘taught’ in the synagogues and ‘proclaimed’ the gospel in the same event. Jesus showed us that the synagogue service could be suitable for both believers and unbelievers. Therefore, mission and worship are not two separate categories. A worship should fulfill the needs for both believers and unbelievers.

  9. Amen, Ben!

    Because we are largely discussing how we should “do church,” I think it is very appropriate to mention Hebrews 10:25. It says, “not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” This is the go-to verse for people to defend the practice of gathering together with other believers, or “going to church.” Note the reason we are not to forsake coming together: to encourage one another as the end of time as we know it draws near. The whole book of Hebrews, besides showing how Jesus is the fulfillment of Scriptures as the priest and sacrificial lamb who paid the price to rescue us from sin and damnation (which is obviously important), is about encouraging believers to persevere in the faith and to keep one another from sliding into waywardness. Believers are to come together to guide one another into truth. Therefore, it seems that “Inside and Out” is an appropriate model in that it acknowledges that “church” is made up of believers (who need to be fueled to live up to God’s mission for their lives).

    However, the belief that a service should be intelligible for non-believers–which is found in the “Inside Out” model–is very biblical. I Corinthians 14 sheds light on this. In this section of his letter, Paul is explaining that having the gift of prophecy is far greater than being able to speak in another language. Because prophecy is comprehensible, it builds up/edifies the church. Moreover, when we pay close attention to verses 22-25, we find that Paul believes it’s important for the “uniformed” or unbelievers to understand what is going on in a service. Through prophecy, they can hear the Word of God clearly and then be convicted of their sin!

    The Bible is clear about this: God is serious about people coming to know the Lord and persevering in that faith.Therefore, let’s encourage other believers to persevere, provide services that are intelligible for people who need to hear the truth without complication, and get our bootays out there and evangelize in everyday life!

  10. Personally, I believe the best model is the mixture of Inside &Outside and Inside-Out. Worship is to draw near to God, it is primarily to worship Him, God is the only subject. People should always focus on worship God not anything else. Inside & Outside emphsizes the Great Commission that Jesus had give us, and believers all have the responsibility to reach out gospel to unbelievers . Inside-Out emphasizes the worship is primarily for believers to worship God but as a public event it can also reach out the unbelievers. When we truly worship God, we will reflect His glory through our worship, which unbelievers can see and it can make them think.

  11. Martin, Thank you very very much!!! Your post helps me understand this topic.
    I strongly agree with “evangelize and worship should not be separated” and would choose inside-out as a worship style that I would like to do for the rest of my life. When I sit in an Outside-in worship service, I felt boring and could not hear the message that could feed my soul. I walked in with a “hungry” soul and walked out still feel “hungry”. Whenever pastor started altar call, the only thing I could do is pray for unbelievers who sit in the service. For believers, it is not a service for God, but for people. I also see many churches separate regular service with evangelical service that they would choose a week day night monthly to prepare it as an evangelical service. For Sunday service, unbelievers would not be able to understand all the biblical terms in the sermon and they feel boring. Thus, with a separation of evangelize and worship, either believers feel boring, or unbelievers feel that way. Inside-out worship brings a good point that both unbelievers and believers may worship God in the service.

  12. INSIDE OUT!!

    My reason for choosing the “inside out” model comes from the Israelite and Christendom worship. I know the worship method we are discussing is on our modern church worship but I cannot help and consider the Israelites worshipping, and how we could learn from them. Israelite and Christendom culture are quite similar and I agree with Alan and Eleanor Kreider stance on Christendom, where “worship was unavoidable”; however, I would question if “mission was unnecessary.” Even though it was mandatory for everyone to participate in church worship, I do not believe children are born believers but rather acquire their faith through attending church. Thus, I believe the “inside out” model is the best for worship and missions, since worship during the Israelite and Christendom was inclusive of believers and unbelievers.

    I like our discussion this week as I have been pondering lately how worship can be missional. =)

  13. Except “Outside in”, I would agree with the other two. Of course, one of the purposes of the church is to evangelize unbelievers, but this can happen outside of corporate worship service. Worship can become a motivation for evangelism. Unsaved can observe what, how and why the believers worship. However, observation alone will not bring him to salvation. Corporate worship is for believers because they know how to truly worship, but unbelievers simply cannot do that.

  14. I think based on how we have been defining worship in class, “drawing near to God on His terms through Jesus by faith,” I would have to say Inside Out would be the biblical model. Worship really is about drawing near to God, which can only happen through faith in Jesus, so the very definition of worship means it is for believers. That does not mean non-believers won’t be in the service, as I Corinthians 14 points out. To adapt worship services for unbelievers is to distort the very definition of worship. Worship is about drawing near to God and having fellowship with Him on His terms.

    Martin, I really liked the way you pointed out the different settings where Jesus gathered and the various activities that took place in each of these settings. Fellowship with Christians is automatically going to be different because we have faith in Jesus in common.

    Also, drawing near to God (fellowship with Him) should automatically encourage a desire to evangelize the lost because that is something that matters to God. John 3:16. God’s love for the world caused him to give His only Son so that no one would perish but would have everlasting life…that love He has should begin to develop in believers hearts too through fellowship with God. Also Scripture commands that we go. Biblical worship includes reading, singing, praying, preaching Scripture, which should in turn produce the fruits of the Spirit in us. Evangelism should be a natural result of true worship.

  15. Worship is all about God, not the unbeliever, not even so much the believer (in terms of what he gets out of worship). Ironically, when we put worship in its proper place, the believer does receive back abundantly and the unbeliever is drawn Christ. This is one of the amazing truths about God. When we worship God in spirit and in truth, everything else falls into its proper place, including missions. The “Inside Out ” model is the only one of the three that makes worship about God.

  16. In the Isaiah 43:21 “The people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.” The Lord, heavenly father made us to declare His praise. Indeed, praise the Lord, His worship cannot be the way or mean for mission or evangelism. Rather Worship is the first and the last for Chrisitian. Worship has absolute priority. True worshipper is Christian’s identity as God’s people. In this reason, I almost agree with “Inside Out” model. Also I agree with the Mark Driscoll’ comment that the need to “make the church culturally accessible,” and Tim Keller’s point that a church must “adapt its worship because of the presence of unbelievers.” Ultimate goal is that non-Christian become a Christian, God’s people; true worshipper. So to approch them, culturally accessible worship is necessery.

  17. Honestly, I am dissatisfied with all three options as they have been stated. While I have an appreciation for the “Inside Out” concept, because the purpose of worship is distinct from evangelism, I do not agree with great lengths of contextualization which they propose because of the presence of unbelievers. In addition to the primacy of a God-centered focus (object and subject) of corporate worship is the fact that the corporate worship service is a gathering of God’s covenantal community. “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (Psalm 95:6-8). Now, this is not to say that the gospel is not preached, it must be, but it is not just a message of salvation for unbelievers but a message of hope for believers as well for Jesus is both “the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). As much as we want unbelievers to come visit our times of corporate worship they are unable to draw near to God the way believers do because they neither have Christ nor faith, both being prerequisites for true worship.

    Just for clarification, in referring to the corporate worship service I am talking about the regular weekly gathering of a body of believers to draw near to worship and enjoy fellowship with God and fellowship with the people of God. In no way does this emphasis preclude churches from holding extra services for the express purpose of evangelism. Besides the possibility of additional services the hope is that as believers come to know God more intimately in worshiping and fellowshipping with him it will naturally move them to tell others about the awesome God they know and worship. Notice that this is different from the “Inside & Out” view which views worship as a means to “equip believers for mission.” One thing we need to realize is that the purpose of evangelism is not win people to Christ just so that they can go out and win more people to Christ, it is so that they will be transformed into true worshipers of Christ. In John 4:23, the verse preceding the great “spirit and truth” statement, we find out that the Father is seeking out people to worship him.

  18. I guess you can call me a “hipster” if you want going against this mainstream of peers or this article that is referenced to a paper written 12 years ago. But I am not fond of any of these models. They are all lacking in a way that I wouldn’t follow them. And being in an evangelism class I have never discussed the movement talked about in this or these models so I don’t know how many churches would follow these or agree with this. But in my belief we aren’t here to follow a model. We are here to follow God and make Him the primary focus in the service. When we do this the believers will worship and the unbelievers will hear the truth. The negative about this article is that some Christians would take this as bring a friend to church and let the church service save him. Where as we are called through the Great Commission to “GO” and that is what we need to do.. We need to as believers and part of the body of Christ to follow the Bible and follow God…not a model.

  19. Matt, these are not prescriptive models, but rather descriptions of really the only options available. It makes perfect sense to discuss which of these descriptive options reflect best biblical teaching.

    Furthermore, I would urge all of us to avoid the “let’s just follow Christ and God and the Bible instead of something else” language. Of course we all want to follow Scripture. That language is merely a cop-out to avoid healthy discussion about practice.

    Historically, those who have used this “No Creed but the Bible” language to avoid discussion of interpretation and application of Scripture have always fallen into heterodoxy and heteropraxy.

  20.         Obviously I am on board with any discussion of the purpose of the church.  Without this foundational understanding we will never adequately execute the efforts of church, and may not even know what they are.  Task and purpose are inseparable; neither is more important than the other, but task is meaningless without its purpose.  Our purpose must receive careful attention.  This is definitely a discussion worth having.
            As stated previously, the purpose of the church can be derived from the Great Commission.  This is one of the few times Jesus himself spoke to us concerning clear instructions regarding what we are to do until His return.  Within the text of Matthew 28:19-20 we find the three purposes for the church. 

    1.  Glorify God 
    2.  Save the lost
    3.  Edify the body of believers

            The efforts of our churches must support all three components of this purpose.  Those efforts that neglect even one must be considered for modification or elimination.  This is everything from the preached word, to the music, to the nursery, to the greeters at the door.
            Once our purpose is understood we must prayerfully and biblically apply this to our individual congregations.  Admittedly this aspect carries with it some risk.  This application is to be addressed by the pastoral staff of the church with the assistance of the deacons or elders as appropriate to the organization of the individual church.  Of course here is where the danger lies.  We are dealing with humans.  
            When dealing with humans any discussion regarding the church must constantly be wary of the “seven deadly words”; These are, “That’s how we have always done it” or its variant, “That is not how we do things”.  These are often traditions that individual congregations have maintained for longer than any of the current member can recall.  These practices are familiar and comfortable but their purpose is at best unclear.  They may or may not be biblical and can often impede the purpose of the church.  Some will even assume that because that is the way their congregation does things, that this is the “proper” model for all churches.  Some creative hermeneutics may also be employed to support the seven deadly words.
            If we are not paralyzed by the seven deadly words, we have another potential pitfall.  Again this involves the humans.  However we define worship and the associated practices in our congregations, these determinations are made by fallible humans.  This is not to say that we cannot arrive at the right answer, but that it is not as easy as following a checklist.  
            This process must be lead by the congregation’s senior pastor.  This issue is much bigger than the scope of this discussion, but remains that effective leadership is not a gift of many of our pastors.  Little attention is given this subject in our educational domains.  Our pastors tend to learn the lessons of leadership, good and bad, through trail and error and the daily conduct of their duties and responsibilities.  If a church is not well led, determining its purpose, or any other endeavor will suffer.
            The process of aligning a church with its purpose requires on the input of the entire pastoral staff (humans again).  In the area of worship, our music leaders figure prominently.  Those without solid theological foundations are ill equipped at best to support the church’s purpose.  Senior pastors who have little or no interest in the music leader’s efforts are likely an even greater danger.  The Pastoral staff, under the leadership of the senior pastor, must prayerfully and biblically consider how their individual church supports the purpose Christ gave us.
            Lastly this must be considered in the context of the members of the congregation itself and the community in which it exists.  While the purpose remain the same, the efforts in support of that purpose must consider the people sitting in the pews on Sunday morning.  The congregation’s demographics, backgrounds, problems, concerns, etc. all weigh on the issue.  Additionally the community in which the church is physically located is to be strongly considered.  This is an area where some churches fail miserably.  We must be concerned about churches where the people in the pews do not look like the people on the same street.  A church’s first mission field is right outside its front (and back) door.  Churches that are making an impact for Christ are making an impact in the community in which they reside.   

  21. “The efforts of our churches must support all three components of this purpose.”

    Agreed in general, but can you think of a world where different church activities or ministries cater for one or two of the three components, but not necessarily all three? What if worship was only for glorifying God and evangelism was only for saving the lost? That would still comply with the Great Commission, would it not?
    Which of the three models, or which alternative model, would you then propose with respect to corporate worship?

  22. I echo what Ben has said about the marriage of Inside & Out and Inside Out. Worship should be (at some level) understandable and accessible to the unbeliever. But as the same time the focus should not be solely on evangelism. However, I like what Ben has said about “waiting for people to darken our doors.” While the worship service should not be solely focused on evangelism, evangelism is still a vital part of our life as a believer. We are still accountable to the Great Commission. But the worship service can take into consideration an evangelistic approach by making it understandable and accessible to believers, without contextualizing it or dumbing/watering it down.

  23. It seems like many of us agree with Inside out.
    Revival is a work of God. Only Holy Spirit can produce spiritual life. “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” John 3:6. With this fact, I believe we do not have to concern of which model to use for worship and evangelical service. (But, in speaking of true worship service, inside out is the most biblical.) On top of this, the story of the two disciples from Emmaus who came to recognize Jesus when He broke the dread and gave it to them is also a good example to show us that revival is a work of God. Of course, we are still responsible for evangelizing. We cannot just worship God and neglect evangelize. My home church in Houston, practices altar call or invitation at the end of every worship service even though the message is about equipping disciples and getting closer to God. This allows unbelievers to declare their faith in Christ. We do not know when will Holy Spirit convince a person; therefore, we need to provide as many opportunities as possible for unbelievers to declare their faith in Christ.

  24. Yet, would those altar calls not encourage ‘declarations’ based on an incomplete or possibly erroneous understanding of the gospel? If people have not heard about the result of sin and the atonement Christ provides, as well as the cost of living as a Christian, are they then truly converted and in a position to make a declaration? Are there other opportunities where such a confession could be made than in the context of weekly altar calls? How did people come to Christ in churches or evangelistic meetings where altar calls are/were not used? How does your church avoid ‘easy believism’ in the context of these altar calls?

  25. I am in complete agreement with Brian Matthewson and David Jacks. Not everyone may know what David Jacks was saying when he mentioned, “Upward, Inside, Out”. This literally spells out the three priorities in a weekly church service of gathered believers in order of importance as: #1 Worship God, #2 Build up the body, #3 Go out to the world.

    My discomfort with all three options is that there is something wrong with each of them. The first option, Inside & Out is stated as being solely an end for missions, the second, Outside In, is focused on the unsaved and not worshipping God and the third, Inside Out, seems to alter worship for the purpose of contextualizing for unbelievers as Brian said. I do not believe we should contextualize the service for non believers who would not be able to draw near to God in the sense that his people saved by Christ would. God has called us to worship Him under His provisions. I would argue that worship’s sole focus is God and not evangelism. When we worship God, He then builds and equips His people who are then sent out. The church builds up the believers, not the un-saved.

    Consider Ephesians 4:11-16 speaking about building up the body:
    11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. 17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.

    I believe these positives should be taken from the choices given: Worship is for the body of believers worshipping for the purpose of glorifying God. Worshipping God leads to building up the body for missions. Worship services should be welcoming to non believers but not contextualized or altered for fear of taking the focus off God and onto evangelism. When non believers witness the believers drawing near to God in a pure and holy way, God willing, the Holy Spirit will move their hearts to understand and accept Him.

  26. I believe fully in the great commission, and in worship. I personally believe that evangelism is a bi product of a life surrendered to the Holy Spirit. Making disciples is a command from Christ, and we should share out of a love for him and the gospel message. It is a result of the indwelling Spirit, and a life being sanctified by God. The purpose of congregational worship is to first glorify our creator, and second edify the Body. We must understand that until God regenerates someones heart they will not understand scripture, worship, or the gospel. I say this to clarify that though every message should be gospel centered, the massage is for the believers (like every aspect of worship). I do not think this belief fully puts me fully into any of the groups mentioned in the article.

  27. Too many times we tend to forget worship is all about God. The presence of unbelievers in the worship can happen, but that does not necessarily mean we have to adapt our worship to God. If we tend to focus more on how to adapt worship for the sake of unbelievers presence, or to attract unbeliever to come to church, our focus shifts from God as the object of the worship.

  28. Many times I have asked myself, what is the mechanism that pastors and leaders of the church use to reach the unbelievers in America? I´m familiarized with the methods used in Cuba and Latin America, but always I have been asking this question in my mind, until now that I read this article of Dr. Aniol. My mind received some clarity about this topic. I realize that worship is a vital tool to evangelize unbelievers, but is also the Christians language to approach God on his terms. I agree with Schattauer´s view that the inside out worship concept is more suitable to fulfill the purpose of God. Because as believers of God our mission should be to preach the gospel to every person on this Earth (Matt 28:19), and the public worship can be a testimony for unbelievers. I have seen many evangelistic crusades around United States that often have a very strong emphasize in worship, and is the way to fulfill the missional perspective that every believer needs to accomplish.

  29. I still agree with the mixture of inside&out and Inside out. It is no doubt that the only subject of worship is God, and I also believes what Ai-chin pointed: revival is a work of God, only holy spirit can produce spiritual life. During the regular sunday service, worship service should not focus on evangelism, but church can always hold special events for evangelism. Unbelievers are always welcome to observe and attend the regular services, but worship is not for them, but for believers to worship God only. I believe that during regular sunday service, the holy spirit will do its work and open the chosen one’s heart in His time. As believers, we should depth in His word and go share gospel and invite people to church for special events and sunday service, always worship Him with right heart and in His term, God will save His chosen children in His time. It is His work, we are the instruments.

  30. Danielle, I agree with your view: “My discomfort with all three options is that there is something wrong with each of them.”

    Even though all three options have their pros and cons, I believe most churches incorporate all three models of worship and evangelism. (I interpret the “Inside & Out” model towards believers, while the “Outside In” model is intended for unbelievers, and “Inside Out” to be for both believers and unbelievers.) For the “Inside & Out” model, I see it prevalent in fellowship and small group worship, where believers are encouraged to reach out. Then in the “Outside In” model, I see churches using special service, like Christmas and Easter, to draw unbelievers into church and outreaching into their communities. Then the “Inside Out” is what we see every Sunday when believers and unbelievers comes together for service. I think when we understand how each of these models can be used, it is not to say because one is more Biblically sounded hence we should abandon the other options, but to take advantage of the pros from each model and apply it appropriately for missions.

  31. After reading many good arguments posted throughout this weekend, I continue to stand by the marriage of “Inside-Out” and “Inside and Out.” Worship is for God, to be understandable to unbelievers (1 Corinthians 14:23 addresses speaking in tongues directly, but is a good statement of unbelievers not understanding worship), and should spur believers into the world to make an impact for Christ.

    Paul and Silas’s worship is a great example of this (though not directly correlated with corporate worship). Act 16:25 states, “But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (emphasis mine). As the prisoners were listening, no confusion is noted. They understood what was going on, though they probably did not understand the joy in the circumstance. Once the doors were opened, Paul and Silas used this opportunity to witness to the jailer and his household (Acts 16:32-33). Their worship was for God, understandable to unbelievers, and made an impact in the community after the fact.

  32. Oops – just realized my first post with the Bible passages may be unclear. What I meant is the Inside & Out model would have to accommodate some of the Inside Out model (it’s unfortunate the terms are almost identical).

  33. So… The emphasis didn’t transfer when I copied and pasted… “AND THE PRISONERS WERE LISTENING TO THEM.” was how I meant this to read. Thanks!

  34. Great example, Ben, indeed! I DO think, however, that this verse has something to teach about corporate worship. In a church, believers will be (hopefully) in the majority, and in this case, that is simply reversed. But the stakes are the same. Paul and Silas were obviously aware others could hear them, but were entirely focused upon God, without much concern for those overhearing them (in the sense of adapting their worship). So, the non-Christians could certainly understand THAT they were praising God but not WHY (but would later understand that, too). I think the same should be the case in corporate worship: guests may not feel ready to join in with our worship because they don’t feel the same way about God (yet), but they should indeed see that God is among us and that we have a real relationship with Him. Not always will we see a miracle happening like the opening of prison doors but maybe we can communicate that if we escaped the prison of sin and death, others who come to believe and trust in Christ can also be set free. So again, our worship should then be biblical (praising God and encouraging fellow Christians – Eph 5:19) and if that is genuinely what we believe, it will likely have an impact on those who attend and are not Christians, leading to either rejection or acceptance of the Gospel. In this view, conversions during corporate worship are a side effect of it, not its real purpose. Yet, worship is a testimony to those attending, as are our daily lives.

  35.         The use of models is a double-edged sword.  When seen in the context of general guidelines they can perhaps be helpful.  Too often they encourage a checklist mentality.  We’ve seen this in the last decade or so with the Church Growth movement.  There was a time where many churches were desperately trying to figure out “how Saddleback did it”.  In addition to problems with the movement, these churches failed to consider that they were not Saddleback.  We need to be far less concerned about “what works” at another church and concern ourselves with “what’s needed” at our own. And no, I am not talking about what the congregation wants.  
            Frankly I not interested in “models”, I would rather just do what Christ told us to.  Yes ensuring that each aspect of the church support all three components of its purpose is not easy.  It was never intended to be easy.  Some components will figure more prominently than others at times, but the contribution to all must considered.  I remain skeptical of a “model” except that it only be a very general guideline that allows a pastor to apply to it his individual congregation.  I don’t think that is what we are talking about here.  Many of our discussions here have a “one size fits all” feel to them.  There are some aspects (elements) that are in fact universal, such as scripture, and others (forms, circumstances) that are not.
            I am impressed by the fact that we can have dozens of Christian denominations in our country and throughout the world.  Of course some are good and others less so, but in general terms we consider this to be acceptable.  Further, we can have dozens of different english translations of the Bible (46 found on Bible Gateway.com alone); again, some good and some less so.  So we can have have multiple denominations that serve congregations in an acceptable manner and tradition, and we can multiple translations that serve people in an acceptable manner and tradition … BUT WE HAVE TO HAVE ONE KIND OF WORSHIP!  Why is it that we don’t (or shouldn’t) impose our notion of worship on other cultures such as African or Asian cultures?  It is precisely because it would have no meaning to them in a western-anglo context.  Aren’t we then saying that there may be more than one way? Thank you for your time.

    Ryan Thiessen
    MAJ (R), United States Cavalry
    Veteran’s Day, 2013

  36. Thank you Ryan – only I see an inconsistency here: you are making value judgments (“some are good, some less so”) but for some reason, deny that we should apply judgment to worship. I think that we have several denominations and translations is a fact we can either lament or find enriching. New denominations usually come into being over some disagreement with existing denominations – possibly even over worship. That means people split because they want to ‘do church’ in a way they think better than what their denomination currently does. I think we need to evaluate all things within our respective denominations, be it doctrine, how we conduct our services, missions, etc. We will likely never have ONE KIND of worship but we should all strive to have worship that is acceptable to God (Jn 4:23f.).
    If you understood the discussion in terms of ‘what works’ I think you have misunderstood. I can’t speak for Scott but I don’t believe he is looking for a pragmatic answer but for biblical principles and how these can be translated into today’s worship practices. Also, I think there is agreement that worship will look different, based on congregational and cultural tradition and context. Yet, if there is ‘good and bad’ in worship, it is a worthwhile undertaking to try and define what exactly is meant by that.

  37. Ryan and Vaden, I agree with what ya’ll are saying. If we get to caught up in trying to consider ourselves part of one model or another it can be dangerous. Models can be taken to an extreme (people believe something because it is part of the model instead of scriptural). May we strive to follow scripture to the best of our ability (knowing that the only good in us is what Christ does through us), knowing that a heart in total surrender to God is necessary. My view on the issue can be seen in my first post, it does not fully line up with any of the models. We must try to fashion ourselves after scripture, in doing so we will be in agreement with much of the remnant (In a perfect world all of the remnant, but we are in a fallen world where the flesh still is present in believers). Scripture calls us to make disciples, this is a command not a suggestion. We are also called to Worship in Spirit and Truth (John 4). These will be an outpouring of a heart devoted to our Savior. When God changes us we are made a new creation the old is gone, and the new has come.

  38. I agree with the view of the majority: worship is for believers. As the book of Hebrew defined that true worship is the process to draw near to God through Jesus Christ by faith, worshipers have to believe the salvation of Christ.

    I think that, however, worship and evangelize unbelievers are inseparable. Spreading the Gospel is the outcome of true worship. In the modern context, I think it is hard to totally avoid the unbelievers to attend the worship service. Yet, as Magan mentioned in her post, we should not “adapt worship services for unbelievers to distort the very definition of worship.” The church has to make a good balance between worship and evangelism.

    My point of view is the same as most of the missional churches: worship is for believers but it should be intelligible to unbelievers. We are not necessary to change the content or the structure of the worship service, but worship leaders or pastors have the responsibility to explain the meaning of certain liturgies to unbelievers. For example, in the Lord’s Super, pastors can talk more about the meaning of the body and the blood of Christ. It can help unbelievers to learn more about our belief and, at the same time, it is a good reminder for believers.

  39. The master of worship is God. When we worship God, we must focus only on God. ” Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”(Deu.6:5) That is the worship God. Worship is all about God, loving God, expessing love toward to God. True worship draw us closer to God. If we do true worship, He makes our life bear much fruit. so that through His love, we can do our mission. “Inside out”is the biblical model for worshiping God.

  40. Martin, I’d like to respond to one of your comments to Aichin from earlier. You were saying that the same message on salvation every week has the potential to cause stagnation among mature believers. So true. The youth pastor in my church told me that churches in Africa are running into this problem. Because of their lack of training (not necessarily seminary training), they are preaching the same messages every week, and the church is not really growing theologically.

    This is tough, because the Gospel is central to Scripture. We know that Jesus proclaimed that He is the fulfillment of the Scriptures (Matthew 5:17-20), so we know we have to be careful to never lose sight of the Gospel (or Jesus). Perhaps the best solution is for sermons to contain elements of the Gospel or at least allude to its contents.

    One must also keep in mind that believers should take up responsibility and make it a point to reach out to unbelievers who come to their weekly meetings, seeking fellowship and opportunities to share the full Gospel when they are one-on-one with unbelievers.

  41. I agree that Gelder mentioned “The Sunday morning service is the place where the people who worship God become equipped and prepared to do the work of mission that extends that worship into the world.” In the time of the Church growth movement, the primary goal and concern was about the attraction for unbelievers. It was planed and designed to get the attention and the needs. The direction of the Church was toward to outside.
    The Inside out as the other view divides with two separate things for the worship and mission. The worship is to lift and praise the glory and mercy of God. Through the worship that experiences an intimated relationship with God, we have the close relationship. We will know what God please for and what God want to.
    We must do evangelize to unbeliever. But the worshipping God is the first step before accomplishing the mission toward unbelievers. I don’t want to say the mission is not important than the worship. Those must be accomplished together. If the our worship must be surely built in our life, the evangelism that God commanded can effected with God’s heart, not just our human willing.

  42. It seems to me that the root of the problem with Evangelical churches today is what we learned in class: that post-Charles Finney’s revivalism, we have a reversal in our understanding of what worship is. Previously, it was God calling us to Himself and us coming to Him on his terms to re-enact the Gospel. Now, we call God, we create an environment in which He can then come down and meet us (and save the lost). Robbie Castleman calls it the “well-intentioned but self-guided effort of a congregation to prompt an engagement with God.” This type of theology puts way too much “power” in our hands – we cannot save anyone; we cannot even “draw people to Christ.” It is the Holy Spirit who moves on the hearts of unbelievers to draw them unto himself. Our call is to worship Him, to respond to Him for who he is and what he has already done for us through Christ Jesus our Lord. This will be truly “attractive” to unbelievers in our services – but God is in charge of that part, not us.

  43. Ryan. I agree with your opinion is that “Frankly I not interested in “models”, I would rather just do what Christ told us to.” As I said earlier, if I have to pick only one in three possible views, I would pick “Inside out”. I think at least among three, this view less seems to be kind of just model, rather close to meaning of true worship. However, still I could not saticefied with all models. Worship cannot be such process for mission or evangelism. Models are imperfect to cover meaning of worship. Only what Christ told and the Word of God can be our guide line to worship God. Worship is not about us, but it is about Jesus.(Certainly, views created from man not from the Lord) Models are helper and tools for following God’s command. In this reason, models have either point of good or bad.

  44. Once again I will state after reading the models that agree with none of the “description models”. It’s not because I am taking the easy Sunday school way out and saying Jesus or in this case Bible. It’s because like most have stated in this class and like I did in my first comment that there is something wrong with all three. And that is the issue. I can’t find one that I could sit and be content with following.

    But for my belief on evangelism I agree with the SBC and this is my creed on it. “It is the duty and privilege of every follower of Christ and every church of the Lord Jesus Christ to endeavor to make disciples of all nations… to seek constantly to win the lost to Christ by verbal witness undergirded by a Christian lifestyle, and by other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ.”

    I didn’t find a creed on worship from the SBC…but I can say to answer the question about the relationship. I think they are two tools the Holy Spirit uses to reach the lost. I don’t think either is more important. And I don’t think any believer is exempt from either worship or evangelize. But out of the models for this I will say I don’t like either one over the other because there is something wrong with. All of them. I would combine a few of them like Brian stated. Because none standing alone show fully Biblical support.

  45. I think the worship concept Outside In, is not the appropiate concept to define the worship function. Even worship can be an useful tool to reach unbelievers, but that is not the main purpose and reason of worship. Worship is initiated by God, who is seeking the response of man through a sincere worship based on God´s terms. The ultimate goal of worsip is not to evangelize through an “attractional”service created with an evangelistic purpose, rather than one encounter of believers with God. The idea of Schattauer is well supported and prcticed for the Church Movement Growth as Dr Aniol explained in this article, for these leaders of the Church Movement Growth, worship is just a way to use music to reach the unbelievers for Christ. The issue here is that the real meaning of worship is lost in order to have an evangelitic service, rather than a worship gathering to honor and bless God.It is very important to reach unbelievers, but is not a good action, and is no based in Biblical patterns, to change the essence of worship God for this human purpose and perspective.

  46. Jessica, actually I didn’t mean that there were pro’s and con’s too each model and that each one should be incorporated into any given service. The Outside-In, in my opinion is completely wrong and is not meant for worship of God’s chosen believers. I don’t think worship should be a mixture of all three categories. I also don’t think we turn special services into evangelistic meetings but rather I think that as believers we should worship God (in the way he has called us to worship) and then any unbelievers in attendance can witness true worship to God and not a pop version of worship. Evangelism is where Christians are sent out and go to reach all nations. There is a line that evangelical churches have crossed that entices Christians into a “secular worship” feeding the feel good feelings of those searching in the wrong places.

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