Monday, May 2, 2016

Acts 16:16-34 Missional Worship is Evangelistic

KEY TEXT: Acts 16:25-31 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, "Do not harm yourself, for we are all here." And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household."

KEY THOT: Paul and Silas were thrown into prison for casting out a spirit of divination from a slave girl. But in prison, Paul and Silas were in high spirits. At midnight, they decided to have a worship service: they prayed and sang hymns of praise to God and it literally brought the house down! There was a great earthquake: all the prison doors were opened and every prisoner’s chains were unfastened. And even the jailor was saved as a result of this demonstration of divine presence and power. This is missional worship at its best. We can learn a few things about the nature and power of missional worship from this incident:
  • Not limited in time and place: Firstly, missional worship can take place anytime and anywhere: in this case, it happened at midnight inside the prison dungeon. I can remember some of my best worship experiences took place inside the Changi prisons among the inmates. So, missional worship is not confined to a specific building, but can take place wherever two or three believers are gathered in Jesus’ name. So, Paul and Silas were a two-person congregation who lifted up their voice in prayer and praise to God--and God showed up.
  • Among unbelievers: Secondly, missional worship is done in the presence of unbelievers. Missional worship is not restricted to believers only but is done freely in the hearing of unbelievers. This reminds me of Alpha worship, for many guests who come are usually pre-believers but worship is a very critical component of Alpha evangelism for it releases God's presence in the midst of the gathering. Such worship is Spirit-inspired and Spirit-led.
  • Release God's power: Thirdly, missional worship brings God’s presence and power into that place of worship. Paul turned the prison dungeon into a place of prayer and praise. God was so pleased with their worship that He manifested His pleasure in dramatic fashion: prison doors were thrown open and all the prisoner’s chains were broken. In a physical ways, God is demonstrating what missional worship can do in opening spiritual prison doors and unfastening the chains of spiritual bondage of evil that hold people captives to sin and Satan. Worship is not just for edification but for evangelism. I have seen many times how at Alpha’s Holy Spirit weekends missional worship attracts God’s presence and power while at the same time breaking the chains of demonic bondages holding people captive to Satan. 
  • For evangelism, not edification: One important consequence of Paul and Silas' midnight worship service was the conversion of the jailor and his entire family. Missional worship created the opportunity for evangelism. When the signs that cause wonder took place, sinners cannot but believe that the Lord is God! 
May God grant us more worship leaders who are missional, i.e. outsider-focused, not just insider-focused. The measure of success of missional worship is not how believers “enjoyed” the worship. Instead, the measure of success of missional worship is how many pre-believers have been saved through the worship. 
    Father, what a marvelous gift You have given us in praise and worship. It will not only edify believers but also evangelise unbelievers. May You teach us to worship You like Paul and Silas did. Amen.

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