Worship and Evangelism

Worship consists of three major func­tions—appreciation, communion, and offer­ing. Evangelism has as its objective the function of being the vehicle through which men and women are brought into a knowledge of and a fellowship with the true and living God. This article examines the close relationship between them.

M.K. Eckenroth, Professor of Evangelism, Theological Seminary

For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not (Isa. 30:15).

These words of Isaiah the prophet strongly suggest to us the closeness and interrela­tionships that exist between true evangelism and true wor­ship. Actually one of the great­est tripartite functions of wor­ship is expressed in the word offering, and this is in itself the essence and substance of evangelism.

Worship consists of three major func­tions—appreciation, communion, and offer­ing. Evangelism has as its objective the function of being the vehicle through which men and women are brought into a knowledge of and a fellowship with the true and living God.

The word used by Isaiah, which is trans­lated "rest," comes from the Hebrew word nachath, which literally has in its meaning the thought of settling or coming down. It is clear that the prophet chose this particu­lar word in order to depict precisely the action of one coming before his God and settling down to a fellowship and sweet communion. Out of that fellowship and communion would come the inevitable cor­ollary of the giving of oneself in life and service. Thus it is that evangelism has within it the basic element of worship, and the two are not in conflict with each other.

This does not mean that the divine wor­ship hour on Sabbath morning must be conducted with the same form as that em­ployed in a service designed primarily along popular evangelistic lines. The basic purpose of the two is identical—that of leading men to experience a direct encounter with God. The problem has been well stated in the Spirit of prophecy writ­ings:

As activity increases and men become successful in doing any work for God, there is danger of trusting to human plans and methods. There is a tendency to pray less, and to have less faith. Like the disciples, we are in danger of losing sight of our dependence on God, and seeking to make a savior of our activity. We need to look constantly to Jesus, realizing that it is His power which does the work. —The Desire of Ages, p. 362.

Activity has increased, and danger is at hand, the very danger that the messenger of God has pointed out to us in these words. Faith is not extraneous to life. Faith is life's great open secret. It has been tested and found practical in the most common pursuits of men. Everything that one does in countless ways, which touches upon life and person, is done by faith.

Never before in the memory of living man was it easier to begin a religious con­versation with our fellow men. Strong reli­gious overtones are found on every side, and to make faith real to others is the func­tion of the church both in its worship hour in its congregational environment and in the public evangelistic campaign.

We must ever keep the channel open to the inner soul of man. Despair gives way only when men have found freedom in God. "Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (2 Cor. 3:17).

There is constant danger of complacency and self-satisfaction with achievements or attainments. Graphs and charts can be ex­ceedingly deceptive, and the saints are not immune to their possible deceptiveness. Al­though totals may rise and grand sum­maries may be rolled up in continuing sequence, individual percentages may decline. We may overemphasize the total when by so doing we may be placing praise upon individual decline and lowered achievement. We may well ponder some of the significant statements from the messen­ger of God:

To subscribe the name to a church creed is not of the least value to any one if the heart is not s truly changed. . . . Men may be church-members, and may apparently work earnestly, performing a round of duties from year to year, and yet be un­converted.—The Review and Herald, Feb. 14, 1899.

The people of God have lost much by not main­taining the simplicity of the truth as it is in Jesus. This simplicity has been crowded out, and forms and ceremonies and a round of busy activities in mechanical work have taken its place. Pride and lukewarmness have made the professed people of God an offense in His sight. Boastful self-sufficiency and complacent self-righteousness have masked and concealed the beggary and nakedness of the soul; but with God all things are naked and mani­fest.—Ibid., Aug. 7, 1894.

Spiritual things have not been discerned. Appear­ance and machinery have been exalted as of power, while the virtue of true goodness, noble piety, and heart-holiness, have been made a secondary con­sideration. That which should have been first has been made last and of least importance.—Ibid., Feb. 27, 1894.

They have erroneous ideas of work, and think that they are working hard, when if they had prac­ticed method in their work, and applied themselves intelligently to what they had to do, they would have accomplished much more in a shorter time. By dallying over the less important matters, they find themselves hurried, perplexed, and confused when they are called upon to do those duties that are more essential.—Evangelism, p. 649.

Techniques in Evangelistic Worship

It is tremendously important that our first work be to make faith real. No mechan­ical or artificial stimulus can ever impel a Christian to do service for Christ more effectively than in activity that is produced through true worship. We might consider three principles outflowing from fundamen­tal evangelistic techniques as related to worship:

1.A commitment that is impelled by a sense of loyalty. This sense of loyalty may take various forms, such as loyalty to the evangelist, the pastor, the Bible instructor, or some member of the church; or perhaps it may result from some gratuity that might have been extended. We do not mean by this a sense of loyalty to God, but rather a sense of loyalty artificially created in the mind of the individual because of some­thing that was done for him.

2. A commitment that compels one to render service to God because of a deep in­ward conviction. This conviction is the re­sult of a spiritual awakening through con­version. It is the result of the new birth, full and complete.

3. A comparison made between the per­manency of a worshiper's attitude and a contemporary response of activity that is prompted by some clever technique. Bibli­cal experiences all unitedly testify to the fact that a commitment to God created by a personal relationship to God is of far more permanence. Two examples of this will suffice.

Encounter With God Transforms Men

We can only account for the transforma­tion of Saul of Tarsus into the apostle Paul on the baz.is of the Damascus road experi­ence. When he came to grips with God in a direct encounter, the result was perma­nent. The commitment that Paul made on the Damascus road was absolute and final because his vision of God was absolute. In no other way can history account for the transformation of countless other lives in similar fashion. This is evangelism of the highest order. It is worship come to full bloom.

Another example can be found in the experience of Isaiah. The transformation of the young man from that of political idealist to that of prophet can be found only in his vision of God. His simple dec­laration, "I saw . . . the Lord," is sufficient to establish the reason for his life. Except for a similar reason many a history could not account for the magnificence of their vision and life dedication.

We can see the human frailty and weak­ness as exemplified in the experience of Demas. At one time he was a close asso­ciate of the apostle Paul. He gave every pretense of being a completely adjusted Christian, and yet in his final letter to Timothy the apostle Paul wrote through his tears, "Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world." Here the work of evangelism had not gone deep enough. The commitment was not complete. There was not a total giving away of self, and eventually Demas retracted his decision and reverted to the life that he in his un­converted state cherished most. He had not achieved a complete vision of God, for if he had he would not have gone back to the darkness of the world.

Here we see in living example the spheres of evangelism and worship working in concert. One of the big differences be­tween the approach of the pastor and that of the evangelist lies in the fact that the pastor is leading a congregation to worship, whereas the evangelist is leading an audi­ence to the place where they might compre­hend God.

Making Faith Real

There are certain basic techniques that must be employed in order to make faith real. We might list them as follows:

1. Make friends. Friendship and love are the keystones upon which all the super­structure of experience must be built. Friendliness, kindness, and tactfulness are all basic essentials—being friends in the truest sense of the word, for this is the foundation principle upon which Christ Himself established His work. It was when He spoke to His disciples and acclaimed them as friends that He set forth the drive that impelled Him to carry out the purposes of His mission. A ministry, whether it be to the church congregation or to the masses in public evangelism, if built upon another foundation than that of love, can­not possibly succeed.

The Lord wants men to forget themselves in the effort to save souls. Our life is worse than a failure if we go through life without leaving vvaymarks of love and compassion. God will not work with a harsh, stubborn, loveless man. Such a man spoils the pattern that Christ desires His workers to re­veal to the world. God's workers, in whatever line of service they are engaged, are to bring into their efforts the goodness and benevolence and love of Christ.—Evangelism, p. 629.

2.     Testify of your own faith and experi­ence. Nothing is more contagious than this achieving of Christian fellowship. Our faith loses its power and dynamics when it becomes arrogant, dogmatic, or self-asser­tive. One who has truly worshiped cannot by the nature of things be subjected to bigotry, for bigotry has no part in faith and experience. Humility must take over and faith must find its expression in the great­est testimony of personal joy and satisfac­tion as it has been discovered in Christ.

Arouse every spiritual energy to action. Tell those whom you visit that the end of all things is at hand. The Lord Jesus Christ will open the door of their hearts and will make upon their minds lasting impressions. Strive to arouse men and women from their spiritual insensibility. Tell them how you found Jesus and how blessed you have been since you gained an experience in His service. Tell them what blessing comes to you as you sit at the feet of Jesus and learn precious lessons from His word. Tell them of the gladness and joy that there is in the Christian life. Your warm, fervent words will convince them that you have found the pearl of great price. Let your cheerful, encouraging words show that you have certainly found the higher way.—Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 38.

3.     Find the point of need. This we must discover without paying the price of being either too direct or too general. Skill in this basic discovery is essential to the minis­ter or the pastor. It is necessary for us in our evangelistic preaching to begin with the basic points of agreement. Finding the point of need, we move from that position into the area of further unfolding truth.

Be very careful not to present the truth in such a way as to arouse prejudice, and to close the door of the heart to the truth. Agree with the people on every point where you can consistently do so. Let them see that you love their souls, and want to be in harmony with them so far as possible. If the love of Christ is revealed in all your efforts, you will be able to sow the seed of truth in some hearts; God will water the seed sown, and the truth will spring up and bear fruit to His glory.—Evan­gelism, p. 141.

4.     Be a good observer and listener. Ser­monizing outside the pulpit is fatal. Let the story of personal experience come out as it will. Take it as it is and make of it what you can through Christ in hope and by faith. Faith becomes real to the other per­son when by listening to him the minister exhibits a radiant joy and continuing con­fidence.

5. Be prepared to give a sensible, reason­able answer. This is perhaps one of the most difficult of the steps to faith. Endeavor to bring God into every suggested solution. Avoid self-justification. Look for truth as it is found in Christ. Make prayer a real experience. Let it be a deeply personal experience, flowing forth from a life that has been touched by the profound fellowship of Christ.

The minister may think that with his fanciful eloquence he has done great things in feeding the flock of God; the hearers may suppose that they never before heard such beautiful themes, they have never seen the truth dressed up in such beautiful language, and as God was represented be­fore them in His greatness, they felt a glow of emotion. But trace from cause to effect all this ec­stasy of feeling caused by these fanciful representations. There may be truths, but too often they are not the food that will fortify them for the daily battles of                     p. 182.

It should be the burden of every messenger to set forth the fullness of Christ. When the free gift of Christ's righteousness is not presented, the dis­courses are dry and spiritless; the sheep and the lambs are not fed. Said Paul, "My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power." There is marrow and fatness in the gospel. Jesus is the living center of everything. Put Christ into every sermon. Let the preciousness, mercy, and glory of Jesus Christ be dwelt upon until Christ is formed within, the hope of glory....

Let us gather together that which our own ex­perience has revealed to us of the preciousness of Christ, and present it to others as a precious gem that sparkles and shines. Thus will the sinner be attracted to Him who is represented as the chief among ten thousand and the One altogether lovely. —The Review and Herald, March 19, 1895.

In these ways faith becomes real. Life takes on a new meaning. To the members of the congregation worship becomes dynamic when it gives a sensible, reasonable answer to the multitudinous problems that press in upon them. Evangelism becomes force­ful and powerful when it has the answer, in a sensible setting, to the humdrum, ordi­nary, hopeless experience of the unsaved. That answer is found in a commitment to the religion of Jesus.

6. Lead worshiper to present an offering to God. Worship calls for the presentation of an offering to God. Evangelism demands a decision. Therefore, we may see a very close relationship existing in this climactic area wherein both evangelism and wor­ship are fused into one. Both of them en­courage decision; both of them urge upon men and women a new moral concept, new devotional habits, new solutions and formu­las for living. Unless this is achieved both have failed in their purpose.

This is the keystone upon which we en­deavor to build our courses here at the Seminary. Both evangelism and worship have as their ultimate objectives the com­mitment of men and women to their Sav­iour. Anything short of this is neither evan­gelism nor worship, but rather a caricature of the real thing.

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M.K. Eckenroth, Professor of Evangelism, Theological Seminary

July 1957

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