As vital as missions is, it is but a means to a greater end: the worship of God.
Indeed someday at the throne of God there will be no missions, said music missionary Ron Man. But worship will continue to eternity.
Speaking at the Global Consultation on Music and Missions in Singapore, which concluded Wednesday, Man explained that the fall of mankind is essentially an issue of worship.
It is the turning from true to false worship.
"The problem in our world is not that people do not worship," said Man, who currently serves as pastor of worship and missionary in residence at First Evangelical Church in Memphis, Tenn. "It is: What do they worship?"
Everybody is a worshipper, he stressed.
Mankind fell when he challenged the fundamental distinction between God and him, said Man, also director at Greater Europe Mission.
The fall of mankind is a "rejection of God's unique glory," he added.
The Gospel, then, is a call to worship, he explained. God, who created everything, is worthy of consistent, joyful, grateful and diverse praise.
Christ does not simply save from something; namely, sin. He also saves to something; that is, the true worship of the Creator God, the missionary pointed out.
While missions is meant to lead people to worship, worship is also the fuel of missions, he said. This is because you must be a worshipper of God first, Man explained.
Furthermore, it is impossible for those who worship God to ignore the fact that many others are not worshipping Him.
The Global Consultation on Music and Missions gathered music missionaries from over 28 nations. The event, which was held outside the U.S. for the first time since it was launched in 2003, featured keynote speeches, workshops, networking and cultural performances.
The theme of the event was "Many Tribes, Many Songs, Many Songs, One Savior."
While the conference emphasized the use of the arts in missions, all the keynote speakers agreed on the centrality of God and His work in the spread of the faith.
In fact, creative arts flourished whenever they were directed toward the Creator, Man noted.
Listing the limitations and capabilities of the arts, Man started out by highlighting that the creative arts cannot fully represent or communicate God. Only Christ and His Word can do this.
Secondly, the arts cannot bring people into the presence of God, he said. There is only one way to God and that is through Christ and His Holy Spirit.
The third limitation of the arts is that they cannot bring people to faith. Only the Holy Spirit can do that, Man expressed.
Nevertheless, the arts can honor the God of creation and creativity. They can enhance worship by engaging the senses and affections. And the arts can help to open hearts to the truth of the Gospel, he said.
In short, the reason for using the arts is "to contextualize and focus and strengthen the message of missions," he highlighted.
"We simply cannot find too many different ways to praise [God]," he said.