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Worship and the Missional Movement: Zac Hicks on Earthen Vessels

December 9th, 2011 | 2 min read

By Matthew Lee Anderson

Life circumstances have put me behind on responding, but haven’t kept Zac Hicks from interacting with my final chapter (life circumstances have also precluded the person who volunteered for chapter 10 from responding to it, so there you have it).

Zac’s at the forefront of the new crop of evangelical worship leaders, and as a fellow Biola alumnus is one of God’s chosen people.  His substantive reflections on worship are must-reading.  This is from part two:

Bending the worship structure “for the sake of the lost” carries through today to the modern missional movement (at least in its more extreme and radical thinkers), which will bend nearly all worship practices toward the supremacy of evangelism, such that, without question or pause, we’ll start online church and video feeds of our preachers.  As distressed as Anderson is with the inadequate anthropology exposed here, equally distressing is the lack of much of any theology of corporate worship.  In a recent email exchange with a friend of mine as we were dialoguing about the missional church movement, I asked him, “Could it be that the more extreme advocates for the missional church ultimately are molding a church that is so sent that it is never gathered?”  If the goal of mission is to gather the nations in, this leads to the question of what the nations are being gathered to.  Scripture seems clear that, in the words of John Piper, “missions exists because worship doesn’t.”19  The reality is the physical gathering of people on a weekly basis for the worship of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the most important and central thing that human beings do.20  Period.  Does this downplay mission?  Not at all.  If anything, it contextualizes it and infuses it with even more meaning and significance.

I’ll only have limited access to these internets (for writing, anyway) until December 15th.  So no promises I will be able to respond, but I am taking careful note of the comments there and will write up a massive response after that.

Thanks, as ever, for reading.

Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is an Associate Professor of Ethics and Theology in Baylor University's Honors College. He has a D.Phil. in Christian Ethics from Oxford University, and is a Perpetual Member of Biola University's Torrey Honors College. In 2005, he founded Mere Orthodoxy.