Mission or worship – which comes first? Michael Moynagh explores this question in the sixth chapter of his book “Church for Every Context”. The idea of mission as God’s mission – missio Dei – has become well established, and we often talk about joining God’s mission, recognising that developing our own mission strategies apart from that is not the way to go. If mission develops from worship, as we may have thought, that risks it being seen as subordinate, in effect a second step for God. Should church life be organised around worship or around mission? Is worship the prime way in which God relates to the world, or does that engagement primarily come through mission? Moynagh suggests that: “Mission is an eternal first, not second thought for God. This means that mission reaches into the very heart of God’s communal life. The Trinity is the exact opposite of a community that exists for itself. From all eternity the divine communion is looking outward.”
He goes on effectively to suggest that actually the choice does not need to be made, but that does not permit us to avoid maintaining equality between the two – “Mission will be an activity of the church with the same standing as worship.”
I guess the question for me then is as to whether we put the same level of effort in to mission as we do to worship. …. and whether both are allowed to have the high quality they ought.