Chapter 7. Worship And The Ministry Of The Church In The World

7.1 Worship and Mission

7.1.1 Worship and Ministry

The Church participates in God's mission to the world through its ministry and worship. Worship presents the reality of the divine rule which God promises in Jesus Christ as the final renewal of creation. The worshipping community, in its integrity before the Word and its unity in prayer and Sacraments, is a sign of the presence of the reign of God. The Church in its ministry bears witness to God's reign through the proclamation of the gospel, through works of compassion and reconciliation, and through the stewardship of creation and of life. Signs of God's reign are also evident in the world wherever the Holy Spirit leads people to seek justice and to make peace.

7.1.2 Worship and Mission

God calls the Church in worship to join the mission of Jesus Christ in service to the world. The Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand affirms that th3 mission of God has five faces: the preaching of the message of Jesus, the nurturing of disciples, the loving service of people in need, the involvement in society for its transformation and in caring for creation. As it participates in that mission the Church is called to worship God in Christ, who reigns over the world.

7.2 Proclamation and Evangelism

7.2.1 The Scope of Evangelism

God sends the Church in the power of the Holy Spirit

i. to announce the good news that in Christ Jesus the world is reconciled to God,
ii. to tell all nations and peoples of Christ's call to repentance, faith, and obedience,
iii. to proclaim in deed and word that Jesus gave himself to set people free,
iv. to offer in Christ's name fullness of life now and forever,
v. to call people everywhere to believe in and follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour,
vi. to invite them into the community of faith to worship and serve the triune God.

7.2.2 Contexts of Evangelism

Worship is the primary context in which people regularly hear the proclamation of the gospel, are presented with God's promise, are given the opportunity to respond with faith and acts of commitment, and receive the nurture and support of the community. In the life of the Church, the transforming power of the Holy Spirit is evident in mutual love and service, in self-giving and acceptance, drawing people from their separateness into the community of shared faith in Jesus Christ. As Christians daily live out their vocation in the world, they invite those they meet to come and share the life of the people of God and join in their worship.

7.3 Compassion

7.3.1 A Ministry of Compassion

God sends the Church in the power of the Holy Spirit to exercise compassion in the world.

7.3.2 Compassion and Worship

God's call to compassion is proclaimed in worship. Those called are equipped and strengthened for the ministry of compassion by the proclamation of the Word and by the celebration of the Sacraments. The call is accepted as the faithful respond in prayers of confession and intercession, in acts of self-offering, and in offering material goods to be shared in ministries of compassion. Those called are also sent by the Church to do acts of compassion on Christ's behalf.

7.3.3 Compassion and Advocacy

Such acts of compassion, done corporately and individually, are the work of the Church as the body of Christ. The Church is called to minister to the immediate needs and hurts of people. The Church is also called to engage those structures and systems which create or foster brokenness and distortion. Christians respond to these calls through acts of advocacy and compassion, through service in common ministries of the Church, and through cooperation with agencies and organisations committed to these ends.

7.3.4 Faithful Compassion

Following the example of Jesus Christ, faithful disciples today express compassion

a. with respect for the dignity of those in need,
b. with willingness to risk their own comfort and safety,
c. with readiness to receive as well as to give,
d. with constant prayer in the midst of ministering, always in communion with the renewing power of the worshipping community. 

7.4 Reconciliation: Justice and Peace

7.4.1 Reconciliation in Christ

God sends the Church in the power of the Holy Spirit to establish God's just, peaceable, and loving rule in the world. God's reconciliation in Jesus Christ is the ground of justice and peace. The Church in worship proclaims, receives, and enacts reconciliation in Jesus Christ and commits itself to strive for justice and peace in its own life and in the world.

7.4.2 Doing Justice

Justice is the order the God of life sets in human life for fair and honest dealing and for giving rights to those who have no power to claim rights for themselves. The biblical vision of doing justice calls for, among other things,

i. dealing honestly in personal and public business,
ii. exercising power for the common good,
iii. supporting people who seek the dignity, freedom, and
iv. respect that they have been denied,
v. working for fair laws and just administration of the law,
vi. welcoming the stranger in the land,
vii. seeking to overcome the disparity between rich and poor,
viii. bearing witness against political oppression and exploitation,
ix. redressing wrongs against individuals, groups, and peoples in the Church, in this nation, and in the whole world.

7.4.3 Making Peace

There is no peace without justice. Wherever there is brokenness, violence, and injustice the people of God are called to peacemaking

i. in the Church universal fragmented and separated by histories and cultures, in denominations internally polarised by mutual distrust, and in congregations plagued by dissension and conflict;

ii. in the world where nations place national security above all else, where the zealotry of religion, race, or ideology explodes in violence, and where the lust for getting and keeping economic or political power erupts in rioting or war;

iii. in communities burdened by crime, fear, selfish individualism, in schools and workplaces marked by destructive competition and rebellion against order, and in households and families divided against themselves, scarred by violence and paralysed by fear.

7.4.4 Reconciliation in Worship

The ministries of reconciliation, justice, and peace are initiated and nurtured in the Church's worship of God. In the proclamation of God's Word people are given assurance of freedom from the guilt and fear which keep them from fulfilling these ministries. In Baptism and the Lord's Supper believers are united in Christ, are made one in the Church through the Holy Spirit, and recognise one another across all boundaries and divisions as sisters and brothers in the faith. In prayer the faithful lift intercessions for all who experience brokenness, violence, and injustice; give thanks to God for reconciliation, peace, and justice in Jesus Christ; and commit themselves to be reconcilers seeking justice and pursuing peace.

7.5 Caring for Creation and Life

7.5.1 God's Mandate

God calls the Church in the power of the Holy Spirit to participate in God's work of creation and preservation. God has given humankind awesome power and matching responsibility to care for the earth and all living creatures.

7.5.2 Worship and the Care of Creation

In worship Christians rejoice and give thanks to God, who gives and sustains the created universe, the earth and all life. They acknowledge God's command to be stewards. They confess their own failures in caring for creation and life. They rejoice in the promise of the redemption and renewal of the creation in Jesus Christ, proclaimed in the Word and sealed in the Sacraments. They commit themselves to live as God's stewards until the day when God will make all things new.

7.5.3 Stewardship of Creation

As stewards of God's creation who hold the earth in trust, the people of God are called to

i. use the earth's resources responsibly without plundering, polluting or destroying,

ii. develop technological methods and processes that work together with the earth's environment to preserve and enhance life,

iii. produce and consume in ways that make available to all people what is sufficient for life,

iv. work for responsible attitudes and practices in procreation and reproduction,

v. use and shape earth's gifts to create beauty, order, health, and peace in ways that reflect God's love for all creatures.

In gratitude for the gifts of creation, the faithful bring material goods to God in worship as a means of expressing praise, as a symbol of their self-offering, and as a token of their commitment to share earth's goods.

7.6 The Church and the Reign of God

7.6.1 The Church and the Kingdom

The Church in its worship and ministry is a sign of the reign of God, which is both a present reality and a promise of the future. The Church's worship and service do not make the Kingdom of God come. The Church worships and serves even in the midst of hostility and indifference, with confidence that God's rule has been established and with firm hope in the ultimate manifestation of the triumph of God.

7.6.2 Confidence and Hope

In the present age the Church's ministries of evangelism and caring for creation, of compassion and reconciliation are signs of God's reign and offer hope in the midst of life-denying situations. That hope is not dependent on the success of the Church's ministries or the effectiveness of its worship, but is sustained by the power of God present with the Church as it ministers and worships.

7.7 Worship as Praise

In worship the Church is transformed and renewed, equipped and sent to serve God's reign in the world. The Church looks for the day
when every knee shall bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth
and every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:9-11)

Now to the One who is able to keep us from falling
and to present us without blemish
before the presence of God's glory with rejoicing,
to the only God, our Saviour
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority,
before all time, now, and forever. (Jude 24)

Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving
and honour and power and might
be to our God
for ever and ever!
Amen. (Rev. 7:12)