“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 in missions.”
These celebrated words from John Piper powerfully communicate the truth that above all else the Great Commission was given to remedy the crisis of creation’s failure to glorify its Maker. The act of adoration is not the sum of glorification but it does stand at the center of it. If missions is indeed a means and not the end, then it follows that training missionaries for the work of global evangelism without training them for ministry to the Lord is to actually preparing them to fall short of God’s aim and reproduce converts who do the same. If the essential character of missionary work is the proliferation of worship in the nations, then preparation for “going” must be inundated with a theology of worship robust enough to thoroughly penetrate every corner of methodology. If this truth remains an abstract platitude that we applaud from a distance, then it will never yield singing servants who make praising proselytes and disciples of devotion. Yet this alone is not enough, for there is another facet of incense integral to missions.
As we cast our eyes upon the nations, we behold thousands of unreached people groups and billions of souls who have never heard the gospel. Then, if we consider the astonishingly small percentage of the missionary work force working in the regions of the earth where a witness of Jesus is most needed, we find ourselves in caught in the grip of the words of Jesus - the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. We must brace ourselves for what follows next. Jesus does not fall silent after identifying this grim crisis. If the Maker of all things were to take on flesh and utter a remedy to the grave, treasonous plight of the unregenerate nations, would we not be wise to give it the utmost attention? Should we not direct all of our energies toward obedience to this great "answer" to this problem of global and eternal consequences? Would not our chief concern be to make sure that no matter what the cost we would not neglect the prescription offered from heaven to the pernicious malady of blasphemy and idolatry that fills the nations? Pray! The sole response to the dearth of laborers that was commanded by Jesus was prayer. There it stands, in its simplicity and singularity, challenging all of the complicated apparatus of the modern missions world.