The Intersection of Worship and Mission

Winfield Bevins is the director of church planting at Asbury Theological Seminary and co-founder of Healthy Rhythms Coaching. He is the author of several books, including Liturgical Mission: The Work of the People for the Sake of the World (IVP). 

Many contemporary Christians have viewed liturgy with suspicion or seen it as irrelevant to the church’s mission today. The old traditions may be beautiful, the thinking goes, but they’re too insular, focused primarily on worship and on the interior life of the church, and not looking outward to evangelism and good works. 

On the other end of the spectrum, many liturgical Christians are suspicious of those in the evangelical movement, viewing them as somehow compromising the historic Christian faith for the sake of mission.  

Sadly, for too many Christians, “worship” and “mission” represent a paradox, but our mission is directly connected to our worship. Mission is not just doing something for God but begins and ends with rich and joyful worship of God. So, if worship and mission belong together, why don’t more Christians understand this vital connection? 

We are God’s people sent on mission. As we come together for church services week after week, we are slowly formed by the words, prayers and sacred rhythms of liturgy. The liturgy binds us together on the journey of faith. The words, prayers and reading of Scripture leave an imprint on our souls; these practices shape us into people of God, forming us for his mission. The liturgy reminds us that church is not an end in itself. We are God’s people who gather together to hear God’s Word, feed at God’s table, and are sent back into the world to fulfill God’s mission. 

The important thing to note here is that worship and mission are inseparably linked. As the body of Christ, we come together to worship God in order to be sent back out into the world through mission. Then we invite others into the life of worship, and the cycle starts over again.

Here are three books that can help us recover the connection between worship and mission: 

The Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren (IVP) opens up a practical theology of the everyday. Each activity is related to a spiritual practice as well as an aspect of Sunday worship.

You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit by James K.A. Smith (Brazos Press) shows that who and what we love (and are thus devoted to, or worship) fundamentally shapes our hearts. 

Worship Is a Verb: Celebrating God’s Mighty Deeds of Salvation by Robert Webber (Hendrickson) declares that worship is not something done to us or for us, but by us. 


Be Thou My Vision: A Liturgy for Daily Worship (Gift Edition) by Jonathan Gibson (Crossway) is a 31-day liturgical-style devotional designed to provide structure to individual or group daily worship.

Earth Filled With Heaven: Finding Life in Liturgy, Sacraments and Other Ancient Practices of the Church by Aaron Damiani (Moody) is written for Christians who are discovering historic church practices for the first time.

Our Hearts Wait: Worshiping Through Praise and Lament in the Psalms by Walter Brueggemann (Westminster John Knox Press) traces how the language of the psalms offers a template for liturgies that shape not only collective worship and communities, but the worlds they create and sustain. 

Seasons of Wonder: Making the Ordinary Sacred Through Projects, Prayers, Reflections and Rituals: A 52-Week Devotional by Bonnie Smith Whitehouse (Convergent Books) is designed around contemplative activities as well as interactive and transformative practices that connect readers to surprise, awe and wonder.

Worship by Faith Alone: Thomas Cranmer, the Book of Common Prayer and the Reformation of Liturgy by Zac Hicks (IVP) presents a model of gospel-centered worship.

Winfield Bevins
Winfield Bevins

Winfield Bevins serves as the director of church planting at Asbury Seminary and as canon for church planting for the Anglican Diocese of the Carolinas, director of re-missioning for Fresh Expressions US, and director of the New Room Regional Network.