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Does It Really Matter? - 2 Corinthians 8

The first of two service plans on the theme of stewardship. A significant part of our life of Christian discipleship is the responsible use of our resources, including time, talents and finances.

Worship Service
Also in this Series

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These worship services focus on the theme of stewardship.

Theme of the Service

Stewardship is the theme of this service. A significant part of our life of Christian discipleship is the responsible use of our resources, including time, talents and finances. This service will be the first of a pair that addresses the issue.

Though many ministers hesitate to preach on this subject, the Bible gives practical, forthright teachings, as did Jesus during his earthly ministry. Therefore the matter should be approached with confidence and courage, though with sensitivity.


Prelude: "Fantasie on 'Holy, Holy,Holy' ", Post [organ]
or: "Festival Piece on 'Nicaea' ", Wagner [handbells]
or: "Holy, Holy, Holy", David [piano]

The Call to Worship

*Song: "Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty" PH138, PsH249, RL611, RN204, TH100, TWC2

*Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting:

Congregation of Jesus Christ, in whom are you trusting?

Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.
Grace, mercy and peace to you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

*Song: "We Will Glorify (the King of Kings)" RN33, SFL18, SNC21, TWC 118


The Call to Confession

A Responsive Litany of Confession

(readings are from the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Days 2 and 3)

How do you come to know your misery?

The law of God tells me.

What does God's law require of us?

Christ teaches us this in summary in Matthew 22 -
Love the Lord your God
with all your heart
and with all your soul
and with all your mind
and with all your strength.
This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it:
Love your neighbor as yourself.
All the Law and the Prophets hang
on these two commandments.

Song: "Love God with All Your Soul and Strength" (sung twice) Farrant: PsH155, SFL76

Can you live up to all this perfectly?

I have a natural tendency
to hate God and my neighbor.

Sung Response: "Lord, Have Mercy upon Us" PH565, 572-574, PsH258, RL564-567, RN86, SNC52, SFL43, TWC821, 823, WOV601, 602, 604

Did God create people so wicked and perverse?

God created them good and in his own image,
that is, in true righteousness and holiness,
so that they might
truly know God their creator,
love him with all their heart,
and live with him in eternal happiness
for his praise and glory.

Sung Response: "Lord, Have Mercy upon Us"

Then where does this corrupt human nature come from?

From the fall and disobedience of our first parents,
Adam and Eve, in Paradise.
This fall has so poisoned our nature
that we area born sinners -
corrupt from conception on.

Sung Response: "Lord, Have Mercy upon Us"

But are we so corrupt that we are totally unable to do any good and inclined toward all evil?

Yes, unless we are born again,
by the Spirit of God.

Sung Prayer: "Breathe on Me, Breath of God" PH316, PsH420, TH334, TWC295

The Assurance of God's Pardon

Song of Gratitude: "How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds" St. Peter: PsH 487:1-3, RL364:1,2,4; TH647:1,2,4; Rachel: TWC102:1,2 (CMD)


The Children's Moment

The Reading of Scripture: 2 Corinthians 8:1-7

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

The Prayer for Illumination

O Lord, by the power of your Spirit who inspired your Word, open our minds and hearts that we may speak and hear it clearly and obey it promptly. By our lives may your Son be honored. Amen.

Sermon: Does It Really Matter?
(Free to Give - #1)

The Prayer of Application


Song: "Come, All Christians, Be Committed" (Beach Spring) TWC578

The Pastoral Prayer

The Offering: "Come, All Christians, Be Committed", Wood [organ] or Porter [piano]

*Song: "Lord, Dismiss Us with Your Blessing" PH538, PsH320, TH384, TWC834

*The Benediction with Congregational Amen!

Postlude: "Lord, Dismiss Us with Your Blessing", Young [organ]

· You are invited to stand

Sermon Notes:

Since this is the first of a pair of sermons on Christian stewardship, it is necessary to carefully plan out both sermons simultaneously. We must have clearly in mind what we desire to address on this subject, and also what each sermon will cover. To fail to plan both at the same time could cause regrets a week later when we discover we treated something too early, or waited too long.

The title for this sermon is the question that can be treated in the introduction and serve as the "hook" for their interest. Does it really matter what we give, or how we give, or why we give? It will be the unspoken question in the mind of many hearers. The message should answer that question satisfactorily to the minds of the hearers so they take the material seriously.

2 Corinthians is a pastoral conversation between Paul and the congregation at Corinth. Rehearse the background, and the ups-and-downs, of their relationship with Paul. Then note that the spirit of this passage reflects Paul's deep conviction that the stewardship of the Corinthian Christians matters a great deal. It matters so much that he holds up the economically depressed area of Macedonia as an example to prosperous Corinth. And then he calls the Corinthians to "excel in generosity." (v. 7)

The sermon at that point may include broader principles of giving from the rest of Scripture, to expand on what Paul means by "generosity". Consult passages such as Proverbs 3, Malachi 3, Deuteronomy 8, Luke 21, Matthew 25, 1 Timothy 6, 2 Corinthians 9 and other passages.

The sermon may conclude by driving the point home with specific examples of how much the generosity of Christians has impacted certain people and causes which might have failed if no resources had been available. It seems best to end such a sermon either with a sensitive appeal and challenge to consider greater generosity, or to ask worshipers to engage in a time of self-study of their current giving patterns, and provide a few carefully chosen questions to guide them.

Music Notes:

Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations:
PH The Presbyterian Hymnal (Presbyterian Church USA; Westminster/John Knox Press)
PsH The Psalter Hymnal (Christian Reformed Church; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
RL Rejoice in the Lord (Reformed Church in America; W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
RN Renew! (Hope Publishing Company)
SFL Songs for LiFE (children's songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
SNC Sing! A New Creation (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Christian Reformed Church, Reformed Church in America; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
TH Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America; Great Commission Publications)
TWC The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing Company)
WOV With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)

Music Level Key: E = Easy, M = Medium, D = Difficult

  1. The suggestions for prelude based on "Nicaea" can be found in the following sources:
  2. - Fantasie over het lied "Helig, Helig, Helig" by Piet Post, published by Arns Nova nr493 [1961] (E)
    - Festival Piece on "Nicaea" arranged for 3 octave handbells by Douglas Wagner, published by Jenson 466-06019 [1983] (E-M)
    - "Here I Am, Lord", a collection of piano transcriptions by Anne Marie David, published by Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7566-5 [2002] (M).

  3. An introduction and alternative harmonization for "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty" can be found in "Hymn Harmonizations for Organ" book 5 by John Ferguson and published by Ludwig O-14 [1992].
  4. You may wish to have your choir or ensemble prepare "Lord, Have Mercy Upon Us", "Breathe on Me, Breath of God" and "How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds", so they may lead and support the congregation's singing. It could be very meaningful to have either all or selected verses sung unaccompanied.
  5. The offertory music on "Come, All Christians, Be Committed" can be found in the following sources:

    - "Woodworks" vol. 2 by Dale Wood, published by Sacred Music Press KK400 [1989] (E-M)
    - "Day by Day" by Rachel Trelstad Porter, published by Augsburg 11-10772 [1996] (M).

  6. The postlude (based on the dismissal hymn) is found in "Eight Voluntaries" by Gordon Young, published by Presser 413-41034-30 [1961] (E-M).

Liturgy Notes:

  1. The Responsive Litany of Confession draws the worshipers into an introspective dialogue about the sin of the whole human race and their own personal participation in it. The readings are taken from the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Days 2 and 3, as found in the Psalter Hymnal (you may want to include the reference in the bulletin). It is helpful if the worship leader explains ahead of time that this is a "conversation" that should flow freely, with sung parts unannounced. This litany was contributed by Rev. John Steigenga and was used in worship at the LaGrave Christian Reformed Church of Grand Rapids. For copyright permission, please contact CRC Publications at (616) 224-0819, 1-800-333-8300 or
  2. The Children's Moment is placed immediately prior to the scripture reading and sermon so that the matter of stewardship can be addressed with them also, though on their level. Often the best way to teach careful stewardship is to begin such teaching during childhood.
  3. The Prayer for Illumination is an integral part of the service, but especially before a sermon which treats a delicate subject. Though any lay person could lead this prayer, it seems especially meaningful if an elder of the church leads it.