This article draws inspiration from a lecture by Apostle Dr. Alfred Koduah, the former General Secretary of The Church of Pentecost, titled “Sharing the Gospel in Contemporary Times” at the Pentecost School of Theology and Mission (PSTM). The terms “centripetal worship” and “centrifugal worship” were introduced during the lecture. I will, thus, delve into these concepts and their relation to spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ in the modern era.
Centripetal, a term derived from physics, refers to the force that propels an object travelling in a circular path towards the centre of that circle. It ensures that an object continues moving in a circular motion and prevents it from moving in a straight line.
In the Old Testament (OT), kings, prophets, and judges engaged in centripetal worship, with Jerusalem as the focal point. People from all over the world would journey to Jerusalem to worship, believing that God resided solely in the temple. Upon the completion of the temple’s construction in Jerusalem, King Solomon prayed in 1 Kings 8:22–51, emphasising the significance of the temple. His prayer includes multiple references to the temple. This indicates that both the king and the nation believed God’s presence was confined to the temple and the nation.
This belief was rooted in the practice of worship in the Tabernacle, which consisted of two distinct inner spaces: “the holy place” and “the most holy place” (Holy of Holies). The outer room, known as the “holy place,” housed the seven-branched candelabrum (menorah), the altar of incense, and the table for the bread of the Presence (shewbread). As the Ark of the Covenant was carried to different locations, the presence of God was believed to be there. Thus, when King Darius issued a decree forbidding anyone to pray to any god except the king, Daniel, in Daniel 6:10, turned his face toward Jerusalem to worship. Similarly, the Ethiopian worshipper described in Acts 8:26–40 travelled from his country to Jerusalem to offer his prayers to God.
However, contemporary Christians should embrace centrifugal worship instead of centripetal worship. “Fictitious” or “apparent” force is often used to describe centrifugal force. It appears to push objects away from the centre of rotation, opposing the centripetal force. Thus, centrifugal worship involves moving away from the centre, symbolised by Jerusalem, and spreading the gospel to the rest of the world. Jesus, understanding His disciples’ thoughts, instructed them to remain in Jerusalem until they were baptised in the Holy Spirit, empowering them to bear witness to Him in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). This great commission is reiterated by Jesus in Matthew 28:19–20, urging His disciples to leave Jerusalem and go into the world, making disciples, baptising them, and teaching them to follow His commands. Acts 4 demonstrates the fulfilment of Jesus’ directive as three thousand (3000) men were saved. Despite the initial focus on Jerusalem due to the apostles’ enjoyment of a large following, it took persecution in Acts 8, 11, and elsewhere for the church to expand globally.
As contemporary Christians, we must engage in centrifugal worship by actively sharing the gospel with everyone. We cannot receive and keep the Word to ourselves while others perish. God sent His only begotten son out of His immense love to save the world. Instead of confining ourselves to comfortable spaces, we must demonstrate God’s love to those who have not heard of Jesus.
Today, we have various ways to spread the gospel, such as utilising social media, engaging in personal evangelism, reaching out to marginalised communities, including physically-challenged individuals, and even going from house to house – We have no excuse!
Therefore, our commitment to the Great Commission must be unwavering, as every soul matters.
Written by P/Overseer Solomon Boadi