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The Great Commission to Worship: Biblical Principles for Worship-Based Evangelism Paperback – September 15, 2011
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From the Back Cover
In The Great Commission to Worship, two men from distinct missionary and worship backgrounds sort through their differences related to the Great Commission vs. Great Commandment debate. Together, they develop a strategy for evangelism that does not exclude our responsibility to engage in worship. Likewise, they unpack an approach to worship that does not ignore or marginalize the biblical mandate to evangelism.
All told, they define the Great Commission Worshiper—a person totally and equally committed to evangelism and worship—and a spiritual process that is formational, transformational, relational, missional, and reproducible.
Actively involving the reader, each chapter includes five “life questions” for personal reflection. The book concludes with steps for practical application and ten principles for developing “lifestyle worship evangelism.”
“Thankfully, we hear much talk of the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. With passion for God’s glory and faithfulness to his Word, Vernon Whaley and David Wheeler tackle head-on how they relate. Drawing on years of ministry experience, they rightly demonstrate that the divine commands to evangelize and worship are both essential and mutually reinforcing. Both are necessary to promote genuine Christian discipleship. In these pages you will find both engaging argument and practical strategy to develop devoted followers of Christ—“Great Commission Worshippers.” I highly commend it.”
—Ed Stetzer, president, LifeWay Research
David Wheeler is professor of Evangelism at Liberty University and Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He also serves as director of Applied Ministries and associate director of the Center for Church Planting and the Center for Ministry Training. David coauthored Evangelism Is . . . How to Share Jesus with Passion and Confidence.
Vernon M. Whaley is professor of Music and Worship at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, director of the Center for Worship, and chairman of the department of Music and Worship Studies at Liberty University. He is also president of Integra Music Group and author of such books as Understanding Music and Worship in the Local Church and Called to Worship.
About the Author
David Wheeler is a North American Mission Board national missionary and associate director of the Center for Church Planting at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.
Vernon M. Whaley is director of the Center for Worship and chairman of the department of Music and Worship Studies at Liberty University. He is also president of Integra Music Group and author of such books as Understanding Music and Worship in the Local Church and Called to Worship.
- Paperback : 216 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1433672375
- ISBN-13 : 978-1433672378
- Publisher : B&H Academic; Original Edition (September 15, 2011)
- Product Dimensions : 6 x 0.45 x 9 inches
- Item Weight : 10.4 ounces
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #104,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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In their book, The Great Commission to Worship, David Wheeler and Vernon Whaley try to answer the question, what is the ultimate purpose of the Christian? While some argue that the chief end of man is to worship God, others might claim it is evangelism. Wheeler and Whaley combine these two thoughts and argue for worship-evangelism or a Great Commission Worshipper, which is “a person totally and equally committed to evangelism and worship.” The purpose of the book is “to address this most basic issue of interpretation in reference to worship and evangelism and how they impact our obedience to the Great Commission.”
In chapter two the authors begin to talk about how one becomes a Great Commission Worshipper. While giving a quick historical overview of worship they come to the conclusion that “a Great Commission worshiper is a person who is so much in love with Jesus, so committed to worship of Jesus, and so devoted to being obedient to every command of Jesus that he simply cannot restrain himself from telling others about his incredible relationship with the Son of God.” In order for the modern day believer to achieve the title, Great Commission worshiper, they must follow the patterns of worship in the New Testament, withdrawing from the busy life to focus on Jesus, find a place where we can be alone with Jesus, recognize Jesus for who he is, and then worship, worship even when there are those that doubt, accept His power in your life and ministry, and finally go into all the world.
The authors go on to say Great Commission worship is formational. Worship should shape and form us into the person that God wants us to become. We must realize that this type of worship is a two-way relationship, not one sided. Formational worship should also determine the purpose and call for our lives and provide the system on which life is based. In addition to worship being formational, it should also be transformational. As we focus on Jesus, which is the central point of worship, we are convicted of our sin, and as we continue to worship Jesus, we grow and our lives are transformed, which glorifies God. Worship is also relational, our upward relationship with God and our horizontal relationship with others here on earth. As we worship the Lord and focus on our upward relationship with him, we see that he delights in our worship and that he reveals himself through this relationship. The horizontal relationship is also important in becoming a Great Commission worshiper; we must understand that how we relate to our friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, and others has profound implications to how we worship the Lord.
Moving into chapter eight the authors being to address the missional aspect of the Great Commission worshiper. At the heart of a great worshiper is someone who has a desire to talk about their relationship with the Lord. “When God’s people truly fall in love with Christ, they cannot be silent about His grace and mercy.” Following the story found in John 4, the authors show that a heart that worships the Lord can’t help but proclaim the message of salvation.
In addition to being missional, the true worshiper is also reproducible. Our worship of the Lord should not just be one of academic knowledge or have a linear process, but rather it should be cyclical. The idea of discipleship and evangelism are inherently linked; you can’t evangelize without discipleship and you can’t disciple without evangelism. “Genuine discipleship should always reproduce incarnational Christians with a passion to fulfill the Great Commission, rather than mere followers of institutional religion.” This means that for a Great Commission worshiper to be truly be successful, they are not merely inviting people to church but to reproduce yourself as you follow Jesus.
If all of these characteristics of a Great Commission worshipper can be put together, the results can be incredible. Similar to the story in Acts 4 and 5, the religious leaders recognized that the uneducated disciples had been with Jesus; this was only possible because the disciples were Great Commission worshipers. If the Christians of today will work to have all the attributes of a Great Commission worshiper they will stand out in the crowd and be able to do incredible things for the Lord.
I did not grow up going to church and did not become a follower of Jesus until I was a junior in high school. I quickly got involved in my local church and using my gifts to serve others. I was under the impression that worship was centered around the Sunday morning gathering and the songs that we sang. People would say things like, “it is time for worship” or the worship leader would provoke the congregation to “worship” the Lord. I thought for the longest time that worship and music were practically the same things.
It was not until I went to college and attended a worship class that I discovered that worship is much more that singing but it is a lifestyle. We had to read a book called, Let the Nations Be Glad! The Supremacy of God in Missions, this book radically expanded my view of God and my response to worship. Wheeler and Whaley quote the beginning of this book, saying, “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…” In re-reading those words I was reminded that my job as a believer is to take the worship of Jesus to the places where there is no worship. These words reminded me that worship is not just about singing, but it is a lifestyle of proclaiming the greatness of God. As we proclaim his greatness God is lifted up and evangelism occurs.
The authors of this book set out to “address this most basic issue of interpretation in reference to worship and evangelism and how they impact our obedience to the Great Commission.” I would say that they achieved their purpose. The authors did a great job developing an argument that worship and evangelism are deeply connected and describing what a life looks like that is devoted to both worship and evangelism. I enjoyed the new term they created, Great Commission worshiper, to describe the biblical model of worship.
While the authors achieved their purposes and did a great job making their argument I do feel like their argument could have been strengthened if they did not get so focused in on the details of a Great Commission worshiper. While I normally enjoy books that have list and bullet points to help your process the information this book had so many headings and subheadings that I found it difficult at times to understand what the authors were trying to say. The book could have been simplified and still got the same message across.
I also felt like this book struggled to be a graduate level class assigned reading. This was a book that belongs in the Christian Living section of a bookstore that can be read by everyday Christians. I felt like the book could have explored the theology and methodology more for worship and evangelism to help make the argument to a graduate level class.
In reading through the book, there were a couple of action steps that I felt like I needed to place in my life. The first and biggest action step I took away from the book was the “Worship: Core of Discipleship Process.” I liked the seven-week study that happens immediately after someone comes to know Jesus. In this seven-week study people are challenged to share their faith but also get a Bible study and weekly assignment for the week. At the church that I get the opportunity to serve at we struggle in the area of evangelism. We are a four-year-old church plant that started in order to reach the city, however, after four years we have leveled off, and we are not seeing very many people come to know the Lord. I have prayed about what I need to do as the leader of the congregation for several months not and I feel like this discipleship process is a good step to combine the worship of the Lord and loving people. During the summer our church takes a break from our regular community group schedule, and we have some time off. This summer I plan on offering a seven-week study on Sunday nights that helps people become Great Commission Worshipers.
The second takeaway I have from reading this book is the idea of doing a complete teaching of what worship is. At our church, we do four to six-week sermon series normally based on a topic or book of the Bible. This Sunday we start a series on worship, and I found that the reading was very helpful in crafting some of the messages for the series. I would like to take one week of the series to talk through the concept of a Great Commission worshiper. I think it would be helpful to take some of the material in chapter two to describe what a Great Commission worshiper looks like and how people can become one. I could preach on Matthew 22 and 28 where we find the Great Commandment and Great Commission. During the series I would also like to identify some of the common misconceptions when it comes to worship and evangelism, so people within the church have a biblical worldview.
The final takeaway was of a more personal nature. As the writers talk about the prerequisites for Great Commission worship, they shared about the importance of humility. I don’t feel like I seek to exalt myself currently but as the author shared about true humility I was convicted by my desire to grow a big church that had hundreds if not thousands in attendance. My thought has been if I could grow a church big enough that I will be more important and my worth would be validated. However, after reading through this chapter I was convinced that my responsibility is to be completely dependent on the Lord. My desire in serving the Lord should never be about making my name great but instead making the Lord’s name great. Instead of pursuing success on my own, I don’t need to worry about my personal success I focus on obedience to the Lord and leave the results up to him.
The book, The Great Commission to Worship by David Wheeler and Vernon M Whaley, is a fascinating call to all Christians to develop a lifestyle of worship-based evangelism. Many people view these two terms, "worship" and "evangelism", as separate pieces to a giant puzzle that makes up the Christian life. Wheeler and Whaley make an honest attempt to persuade the reader that God's intention for all of His followers is that both terms will work together in the lives of His children to glorify His name and build His kingdom.
God has commissioned all believers to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:37-39) and to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19-20). These two commandments are at the heart of worship and evangelism, respectively, and are to be lived out simultaneously in the Christian life. Wheeler and Whaley do a great job of unpacking what that looks like.
Early in the book, the question is asked, "If you do not `follow' Him by adopting His passion in becoming `fishers of men,' can you be called a true worshipper of God?" The true Great Commission Worshipper is one who is formational, transformational, relational, missional, and reproducible. Once the believer establishes all of these points in his or her life, they have achieved the status of Great Commission Worshipper and can make a tremendous impact for the glory of Christ. "They see the Great Commission through the hearts of worship. They live worship for the glory of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ."
As I was reading the book, I kept thinking about a major turning point in my life. After graduating college in my home state, I didn't know what to do or where to go. My girlfriend at the time (who is now my wife) wanted to move back to another state to be close to her family. I decided to follow her. This was the beginning of an incredible journey.
When I moved away, I was still a little rough around the edges. Even though I had been a Christian for 16 years, I was never really taught what that really means and what it is supposed to look like. I just knew that Jesus died for my sins, and I was supposed to not drink, smoke, use profanity, or have promiscuous sex. Honestly, that belief didn't do much to stop me from giving in to temptation. I still lived the typical college life of wild parties and chasing women. But I always had a sense of guilt through it all. It was because I was going about it the wrong way.
It wasn't until I started attending a discipleship-minded church that I really understood what it means to be a Christian. I got involved in a discipleship relationship with a more seasoned church member, and I began to learn what I should have been taught a long time ago. We are not supposed to live a life of trying to be a better person. We can't be better on our own. Our ultimate priority is seeking a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, and He takes care of the rest. He makes us better Christians. He makes us better evangelists. And He makes us better worshippers. I finally began to read my Bible, and God started changing my heart every day. He has lead me to become a sold-out follower of Christ, with a passion for His gospel, His glorification, and His kingdom. The intimate relationship I have with Jesus has caused me to grow to become what resembles "The Great Commission Worshipper".
There were a couple of parts about the book that did bother me. The first of which was on the "Common Misconceptions of Evangelism" section. Wheeler and Whaley stated, "Because of unbiblical inferences related to the doctrine of election, many contemporary ministers are ignoring their responsibility to be active in evangelism." This is what I would like to call a "Common Misconception" of Calvinism, which I believe is born, not from experience with actual Calvinists, but from a false view of the reformed doctrine of election. I have many friends who are unashamedly Calvinistic, yet they are some of the most zealous evangelists I know. Personally, I have never met a Calvinist who did not believe in evangelism. The common reformed response to how they reconcile evangelism with divine election is, "The Bible says that we are to share the Gospel with everyone, and no one can be saved without hearing the message of Christ. We don't know who the elect are; only God does. Therefore, everyone is fair game. I will share the Gospel with everyone with whom I get the opportunity."
The second problem I had with the book was the minimization of discipleship. Wheeler and Whaley state many times that both discipleship and evangelism have to go together. I would tend to agree, if we lived in a perfect world. However, what we are living in now is a world in which too many evangelists witnessed to people and saw conversions, then they just let those new believers try to figure the rest out on their own. What we are left with is people who have been "Christians" for 40 years, but they won't share their faith, don't have much of a prayer life, and haven't cracked open a Bible in years. At this point in history, we need people who are committed to making disciples out of believers who, no matter their age, are still babes in Christ.
The book raised a good point when it asked, "If you do not `follow' Him by adopting His passion in becoming `fishers of men', can you be called a true worshipper of God?" I have often neglected the command to share the Gospel. Not that I don't think it is important. The Bible makes its importance very clear, and my heart has always had a desire to see people saved. However, I have always viewed evangelism as a Spiritual gift that I unfortunately did not have. It hasn't stopped me from sharing the Gospel with whom I get the opportunity, but, after the rejection I received, I concluded that I must not be gifted in that aspect of ministry. Now I know that it's not that I am not gifted in evangelism, I'm just not gifted in talking to people. I am a singer and musician; I don't do so well with "talking". I fumble my words, stutter, and often forget things that I should say. Now I have realized that I've been going at it the wrong way.
My typical Gospel presentation in the past has been just simply that: a Gospel presentation. I never make it personal. I don't give my testimony. I don't tell them how Jesus has personally changed my life. How can I expect someone to receive Christ if all I am doing is throwing the "Roman Road" at them? I have to get on their level. I have to apply the Gospel truths to my own life, and tell them how they can have a better life than they do and experience the same freedom and assurance in Christ as me. I have to be more personal. That is the problem. I'm just not very personable. I am the very definition of an introvert, and nothing scares me more than having a conversation with someone that I barely know.
I had a mentor who told me that I need to practice my public speaking by talking to a microwave, refrigerator, or anything else around the house, so I can get my timing and delivery down. I should be able to share my testimony, followed by a Gospel presentation, without any hesitations. That is an area that I definitely will work on. I know it will eventually come with practice.
Another thing that stuck out in that sentence was the word "fishers". Jesus says that He will make us "fishers of men". Think about that. What is a fisher or, as I call them, a fisherman? Is it someone who sits at his house and prays that a fish will jump out of the water and somehow make its way to him? No. Is it someone who goes to the lake and sit at the bank, hoping that some fish will jump out of the water and into his bucket? No. What about someone who stands at the bank and casts out a pole, hoping to catch something? While you can catch fish that way, and many of my friends and I have, that is not what I would consider a fisher or a fisherman. The real fishers will get into a boat and paddle around the lake to find the perfect spot. They use different factors to find a place in the lake where they know there will be a lot of fish. Those are the guys who always end up with a boat-load of fish.
That same description of a good fisher is also a picture of a good "fisher of men." A fisher of men intentionally goes out where he believes he will find the most lost people. He uses different factors to determine where the best spots are, so that he can be successful and win as many souls for the kingdom of God as possible. That is the kind of "fisher" I want to be. I need to be intentional. I need to find the lost people, and go to them. I need to study them, find out what makes them tick, talk to them on a personal level, and bring them to Jesus.
The other part of the book that really hit home to me was the part about humility. "Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time" (1 Pet. 5:6 NKJV). Wheeler and Whaley pointed out that the two important words here are exalt and time. They go on to state, "We live in a generation that seeks fame. Every generation and every culture and subculture is filled with people who seek to exalt themselves over others." This really struck a chord in me. I have been guilty in my own life of seeking my own fame and glory. It is really easy to do when your job in ministry is to be up in front of people. I am a worship leader. I put a lot of time and energy into building a strong worship team. It is so easy to get caught up in how we sound musically and long to receive praise from others for it. That is definitely not the way to view our ministry. Our ministry exists to glorify Christ alone. I should never be seeking my own glory.
In reference to time, Wheeler and Whaley claim, "God will exalt in His time. When He exalts someone, it is always the best time." One time, my wife and I chose to leave a church because it was putting a strain on our marriage. I was the worship leader, and she ran the sound booth. God was really moving in this church, and He was using us to build those ministries and revive the church. But the church was about an hour away from our house. Over time, it caused much weariness and too many arguments between my wife and me. We ultimately decided it was time to find a new church. I hated leaving my first leadership position, and I was scared that I wouldn't get to lead worship again for years. God taught us to be patient with Him at that time. After a few weeks, we got a call from another church asking if I would come and serve as the worship leader for students. This church was close to the school district we wanted to live in, and we bought a house 5 minutes away. God exalts people on His time.
I have gotten many takeaways from The Great Commission to Worship. Putting them into practice is the next step. I pray that God will use what I have learned to become a better witness for Him and to truly become a Great Commission Worshipper.