Evangelistic vs. Covenantal Worship

Lee Irons critiques Tim Keller’s ‘Evangelistic Worship’:

Some of you may be aware that there is this thing called “the missional church” or “the missional movement” or just “missional.” It is a fundamental shift in thinking in which ecclesiology is subordinated to missiology. The church exists exclusively as a means for the accomplishment of the so-called missio Dei. Therefore, everything the church does should be missional and should engage the culture for the sake of winning people to Christ. Of course, if “everything” the church does ought to be missional, then this will logically impact corporate worship. When the church gathers for corporate worship on the Lord’s Day, what is occurring in that meeting and who is being addressed? The missional movement says that worship ought to be evangelistic and that the service should not only edify the saints but also address unbelievers. I have written a paper in which I critique this view. I have chosen to interact with a paper by Tim Keller titled “Evangelistic Worship.” I argue exegetically that worship is not evangelistic but covenantal. It is a meeting of the triune God with his covenant people. Unbelievers may be present and God may even use the service to convert them (1 Cor 14:23-25), but unbelievers as outsiders to the covenant should not be addressed in worship. Evangelistic meetings, Bible studies, and other meetings for the purpose of apologetic engagement are valuable, but worship is not an evangelistic meeting. Read the paper here: A Critique of Tim Keller’s “Evangelistic Worship”

(HT: James Grant)

Peter serves as a pastor-teacher, at home and abroad, resourcing gospel-centred communities.

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