How worshipping God has less to do with music than we think—and more to do with the ‘doing’
Secular bands such as U2 aren’t the only ones promoting social justice these days. Many worship leaders recognize the importance of being the hands and feet of Jesus and are actively recruiting believers to help change society.
One of the largest endeavors is “Do Something Now,” created by Passion founders Louie and Shelley Giglio. Passion worship artists Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman and Charlie Hall have helped raise awareness for this movement at conferences and on tour. They’ve raised more than $3 million, providing funds to build wells in India, set up loans for families to start their own businesses in Afghanistan, sponsor children in Third World countries and more.
“The heart of Passion,” says Tomlin, “is seeing worship and justice walking side by side. Passion will always champion songs of worship to God and will always stand in the gap for the least of these in the world.”
Redman points to the underlying reason for combining worship and acts of justice: “Biblically it’s been made clear that injustice and poverty break God’s heart, but working toward justice and caring for the poor brings Him pleasure.” Redman is gearing up to partner with The Message a group in Manchester, England, that works with youth in various schools and young-offender institutions.
“The plan is to raise up some young urban evangelist worship leaders who have a heart for the poor and are writing some brilliant songs from within that environment,” he says.
Fellow British worship artist Vicky Beeching believes Isaiah 58 clearly describes the link between worship and justice. “It tells us that the kind of offering God wants is acts of justice and mercy,” she says. “Often, we think He wants songs—but really, He wants us to change society and bring it into line with His kingdom values and love.”
Worship pastor Daniel Bashta of RiverStone Church near Atlanta has founded a nonprofit called Go Motion Worldwide, which has a threefold ministry: music, media and missions. “God has commanded us to take care of the widows and orphans,” he says. “If we are not living out our faith in motion, then we are dead.”
Bashta and his wife recently adopted their first child and launched “Project Gift” to provide financial assistance to couples wanting to adopt. “It would be an injustice for me to just write nice little worship songs and to live a comfortable existence. We are on a ferocious mission to see an adoption revolution erupt in our local churches worldwide.”
Charismatic believers have often been at the forefront of giving generously to feed the hungry, provide Bibles in closed countries and countless other outreaches. Yet a social justice movement that grasps the “doing” part of worship can take this to another level.
“I hope it’s an awakening,” Tomlin says. “If it’s just a response to the materialism and self-centeredness, then I’m afraid it may just be a passing trend. However, if it is really something birthed from vision and the calling of God, it will be a life work. It’s surely not a passing trend to the heart of God, so it shouldn’t be for those who carry His name.”