¶ … Commission to Worship by Wheeler and Whaley
As a North American Mission Board national missionary and associate director of the Center for Church Planting at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, David Wheeler is eminently qualified to speak on matters of spiritual study, and his jointly authored book The Great Commission to Worship: Biblical Principles for Worship-Based Evangelism demonstrates an extreme aptitude for biblical interpretation and modern empirical inquiry. His co-author Vernon M. Whaley serves as Director of the Center for Worship and Chairman of the Department of Music and Worship Studies at Liberty University, both positions which require a true commitment to evangelical teaching on a societal level. Together, this pair of highly educated religious instructors combine to create a lasting contribution to one of Christianity's most ofte-repeated debates; between the Great Commission given to the Church as an institution and the Great Commandment given to every human being on an individual basis. The questions posed immediately by Wheeler and Whalen in their opening chapter ("The Mandate of Worship and the Great Commission") are compelling on many levels, as the authors ask "how do we develop a strategy for evangelism that does not exclude or responsibility to engage in worship?"1
1. David Wheeler and Vernon M. Whaley. The Great Commission to Worship: Biblical Principles for Worship-Based Evangelism. (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2011). p. 5.
Although I was familiar with the evangelism vs. worship debate on a cursory level, reading about the intense debates which occupied the minds of the author's during their youth served as the inspiration to delve into a proper study of the debate, an experience which proved illuminating to say the least.
From an organizational standpoint, the book is structured in accordance with a 12-chapter scheme, with each chapter offering a unique take on what exactly the authors' concept of Great Commission Worship truly entails. Chapter 4, for example, instructs readers that Great Commission Worship is Formational, while Chapter 8 speaks of Great Commission Worship as Missional. In each case, the authors choose to confine the scope of their study to a particular segment of Great Commission Worship, which the authors define as "the two-pronged compass of exalting Christ in worship and reproducing His kingdom through biblical evangelism."2 In the book's fifth chapter ("Great Worship Commission is Transformational"), Wheeler and Whaley make a seemingly subtle statement on the concept of spiritual change that, when considered within the context of their overall teachings, provides the thematic foundation for the entire work. After engaging in a study session to review the transformational stories of Jacob, Jonah, Exekiel, Paul, Peter and Isiah, the authors observe that "transformation is deeply personal & #8230; (and) must be experienced by each person as he or she worships the Lord. I cannot experience the transforming power of the Holy Spirit for anyone else & #8230; It is only a transformation that God can do in my life for me, individually," an assertion which provides the basis for the instructional messages provided throughout the book.
2. Ibid, p. 6.
3. Ibid. p. 91.
Coming from a Christian family that was devoted to the concept of worship, but wary when it came to evangelical pursuits, I distinctly remember the feelings of awkwardness which would inevitably arise when aspiring evangelicals would knock on the door and attempt to convert us to another church or denomination. Reading through The Great Commission to Worship provided several avenues for reflection on my personal views towards evangelical practices, and despite my parents' choice to prioritize personal worship, I find myself intrigued by the concept of bringing others into the proverbial fold. I can remember instances from my days in high school when a particular classmate was suffering through her own parent's divorce, and...
I now believe this decision to withhold knowledge and experience I knew would benefit my friend derived from the sort of fear mentioned by the authors in Chapter 1, wherein they describe "Christians & #8230; (who) are not willing to bypass their fears and share their faith with a family member, neighbor, or friend who is a nonbeliever."4
Rather than simply provide unsubstantiated opinions or anecdotal evidence, Wheeler and Whaley make sure to infuse the book with a proper level of biblical backing, and in my estimation this rhetorical strategy proved to be highly effective, as the vast majority of readers will be familiar with using Scripture as the basis for forming wider conclusions about their own life. When the authors express a firm conviction that worship and evangelism go hand in hand,
4. Ibid, p. 7.
stating that "if the heartbeat of worship is obedience, then it is impossible to be a true worshipper without being directly involved in the command of evangelism as expressed in Acts 1:8,"5 the ability to reflect back on an actual verse from the Bible significantly strengthened the persuasive power of their overall message.
While the authors combine their backgrounds and viewpoints to create a compelling argument that the debate between the Great Commission to evangelize and the Great Commandment to worship should be solved by a compromise to embrace both practices with equal fervor, the construction of their rhetoric warrants a certain level of critical examination. A great source of confusion for the laymen reading this book will inevitably stem from the authors' decision to utilize multiple thesis statements and alternating definitions of the same phrase or term. For example, in the Introduction section Wheeler and Whaley declare that the "aim of this book is to help God's people recapture their Great Commission calling to once again be like the early worshipers in Acts 17,"6 which would seem to offer a definitive thesis statement to express the book's thematic objectives. However, just a few pages later, they present an altogether separate thesis statement, which 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."7
5. Ibid, p. 13.
6. Ibid, p. 6.
7. Ibid, p. 9.
This apparent lack of logical organization and philosophical conviction serves to undermine the author's overall message, because the reader is left to wonder if various passages are written in support of one thesis statement or the other. In another glaring discrepancy which would prove foundational to Wheeler and Whaley's overall position, the authors define the act of worship variously as "a lifestyle of walking in submission to God and walking with God,"8 "an act of unbridled obedience even when rational explanations are hard to find,"9 to "Love God,"10 and "the natural response to God's revelation."11 When one considers the fluidity of modern language, worship may very well be expressed by each of these disparate viewpoints, but from a rhetorical perspective the authors would have been better served to construct a foundational definition from which situational explanations could be interpreted. The principles of effective communication dictate that a standard classification be used in any conceptual debate such as the divide between worship and evangelism.
Upon exposing myself to the wealth of knowledge contained within The Great Commission to Worship: Biblical Principles for Worship-Based Evangelism, my mind immediately began formulating various plans of action I could use to bridge the gap between
8. Ibid, p. vii.
9. Ibid, p. 12.
10. Ibid, 27.
11. Ibid, p. 36.
my commitment to worship in accordance with my family's teachings of private devotion, and my desire to participate in evangelical pursuits which I am convinced will benefit friends, family and strangers alike. The first action I hope to integrate into my daily routine is participating with bible study groups and like-minded…
Again, his initial attempt in forming this belief was to limit the role that man would play in determining the salvation of believers. It was important for him that the Sacrament only be received in faith of God and not through the grace of man, as it were. This is a chief distinction between Lutherans and Methodists; the latter regard the Holy Communion as symbolic of God's grace. Therefore,
" Owen maintains that it is not important that people engage in the particular actions Jesus engaged in, like washing another's feet, but instead that people strive to express their moral duty of brotherly love, in condescension and mutual helpfulness. The fourteenth question posed by Owen is, "May not the church find out, and appoint to be observed, such religious rites as being adjoined unto the celebration of God's instituted worship,
Rick Cole of Capital Christian believes that the door cannot stay closed forever, and feels that by offering different services based on music preference is an opportunity for the entire congregation to unite (Garza). Contemporary worship music began with the Jesus movement of the early 1970's and the rise of charismatic churches, and although it paralleled the growth in contemporary Christian rock and pop music, it remained separate until a
Worship is universal. It allows people of various races and ethnicities, backgrounds to come together and pray. However every church and every religion have their key differences. Even in the Christian religion, there are variations existent all throughout Christianity. Some differences are small, while others are fundamental. While attending an African-American Pentecostal Assemblies of the World Church, I was able to see fundamental differences in practice. For instance, the Church
Corporate Worship vs. Private Worship Today, some Christians may be confused about their personal style of worshiping or will question the need for formal worship in an age where everyone's time is valuable and busy schedules are packed. To gain some fresh insights into these issues, this paper sought to answer the question, "Is worshipping together with other believers in formal worship services necessary to a healthy spiritual life?" In this
Though the idea encompasses any personal relationship with and worship of the divine, it is not nearly that inclusive when examined from a holistic viewpoint. Instead, there are divisions in bhakti worship. "The major forms of bhakti are described by Hindus themselves, not only by their special relation to particular forms of deity, but also according to the various moods of the devotee" (Carman 1987, p. 587). In fact,