Five new songs to cultivate a mission-minded church

Recently a friend asked me if there were any good congregational songs that specifically focus on global missions. In God’s timing, the music team at SMBC have just finished serving at our biennial Missions Conference. (The theme was “A Heart for the Lost”, we were challenged with six talks by Tim Chester from the book of Isaiah, and cross-cultural workers and mobilisers from restricted countries shared their experiences living and serving among unreached people groups.)

We’ve been hearing song recommendations from other places too. For example, in our home church one of our pastors has also been introducing songs to help us reflect on world mission, alongside the prayer updates we receive. We’re about to commission a new family this Sunday as they seek to share Christ with the Warlpiri people in Central Australia.

I’ve also been reflecting on how, as John Piper puts it, “missions exist because worship doesn’t”. In one sense, we sing praises, longing for others around the world to join in. Also, in one of Tim Chester’s talks, we were reminded that the cross is worth the nations (Isaiah 49:6), and it’s too small a thing to be concerned only about our own people, church or area. The cross of Christ deserves the nations.

So here’s a couple of songs that help to remind us of our purpose in God’s mission.


Facing A Task Unfinished (We Go To All The World) – Frank Houghton, Keith & Kristyn Getty

Frank Houghton wrote this hymn (originally titled “A hymn for the forward movement”) for an annual gathering of China Inland Mission (now OMF) missionaries. Keith Getty comments:

“Frank Houghton understood this and in response to great turmoil in China, turned to writing hymns to encourage those who were witnessing martyrdom around them. ‘Facing a Task Unfinished’ provided inspiration to a generation of missionaries when it was first written, and it urges us on still, even as we also live amid persecution and martyrdom, both at home and around the world today. Into these situations the call of Christ and His Kingdom is our only hope. His gospel is the window of light pouring into the darkened corners of this world. He is the good news we must sing and bring.”

The Gettys updated the hymn with a simple chorus:

We go to all the world
With kingdom hope unfurled
No other name has power to save
But Jesus Christ The Lord

You can view the lyrics and grab sheet music here.


We Will Declare Your Glory – Rob Smith

Rob Smith (Theology and Music Ministry Lecturer at SMBC, Emu Music songwriter) wrote this song as part of SMBC’s Centenary commemorations in 2016. It’s fairly easy to pick up, and has several challenging lines:

Martyrs and missionaries answering your call
Ready to sacrifice giving up all
We are yours
Trusting in Jesus despising the shame
There is salvation in no other name
We are yours
Ransomed to serve
As we long for our Saviour’s return

The last verse even includes a mention of Ezekiel 36:22 as we declare: “Not for our sakes but the sake of Your holy name”.

You can read the lyrics here, and grab the sheet music here.


Across the Streets – Mike Begbie, Rob Smith, Troy Munns

Mike Begbie is a former SMBC and Moore College student who co-wrote this song with Rob Smith and Troy Munns. I like the clear challenge in the words, and how it grounds a call to go “across the streets” and “across the oceans” in the heart of the Father and his desire that all of the nations be saved. There’s a mix of the triumphant and simple: “We will go”, with the acknowledgement that “Though fearful and trembling, we go remembering the gospel is mighty to save.”

My favourite is part is where the bridge paints a picture of God’s Harvest:

The time has come lift up your eyes
The harvest fields are shining shining
The time has come let us arise
For Heaven’s judge is soon returning

The song is rhythmically driven and consistently off the beat, so you’ll have to work hard at making your arrangement not sound like an out-of-control polka (Mike has a tutorial video here).

You can get the lyrics here, and get the sheet music here.


May the Peoples Praise You – Keith & Kristyn Getty

Here’s another excellent one by the Gettys. I like how the motivation for mission here is not guilt or achievement, but God’s ownership of us and a growing mercy for those who haven’t heard the gospel:

All the earth is Yours and all within
Each harvest is Your own
And from Your hand we give to You
To make Christ known

May the seeds of mercy grow in us
For those who have not heard
May songs of praise build lives of grace
To spread Your Word

The chorus is catchy too, and a reflection on Psalm 67:4:

May the peoples praise You
Let the nations be glad
All Your blessing comes
That we may praise
May praise the Name of Jesus

You can read the lyrics and grab the sheet music here.


For Your Glory – Leeland Mooring

I first heard this one off an Asialink mission mobilisation video. The words are virtually lifted from the refrain in cricketer-turned-missionary CT Studd’s well-known poem, “Only one life“:

We have only one life
And it soon will pass
And only what’s done
For Christ will last
Jesus, You can use me Lord

Riches and houses
Cars and lands
Will all pass away
But my life will stand
Jesus, You can use me Lord

For Your glory
For Your glory
For Your glory
You can use me Lord

It’s neat to think that all these years later, CT Studd’s words are being heard again by a new generation of Jesus followers.

You can grab the words and music here.

OK, over to you: are there any other songs that help to fire you up to partner in God’s mission for the world?

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