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Setting Some Apart - Acts 13

The fourth service plan in a Pentecost series entitled "Catching God's Wind." This worship service has two emphases: the Holy Spirit's work is to provide and empower leaders for the church. As an expression of this work, the ordination of office-bearers is also included in this service.

Worship Service
Also in this Series

Catching God's Wind

This series of worship services explores how the church receives the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Theme of the Service

This worship service will merge two emphases: as the series of messages on the work of the Holy Spirit continues, we'll learn from the book of Acts that part of the Holy Spirit's work is to provide and empower leaders for the church. We also include the ordination of office-bearers in the church, which is an expression of this work of the Spirit.

The theme is God cares for his church in such a way that office-bearers are provided to lead the church, his Spirit sets such leaders aside for these roles, and we receive and accept them as the expression of God's care for us.


Prelude: "Partita on 'All Creatures of Our God and King' ", Callahan [organ]
or: "All Creatures of Our God and King", Porter [piano]

The Call to Worship

*Song: "O God, Our Father, We Come" PsH 450:1, 2

*Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting:

People of God, where is your trust placed?
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.

*Response: "Hallelujah, Hallelujah" (In Babilone) PsH 117
or: "Magnify the Lord" PsH 622, RN 131


The Call to Confession

The Prayer of Confession

Our Sung Prayer: "Spirit of God, Who Dwells Within My Heart/Descend Upon My Heart" PH 326, PsH 419, RL 445, TH 338, TWC 290

The Assurance of God's Pardon

God's Guide to Grateful Living - Matthew 22:37-40


The Reading of Scripture: Acts 13:1-5

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

The Prayer for Illumination

Lord God, we pray that your Spirit will illumine our hearts today.
May we hear you speaking clearing through your Word;
may we discern your leading among us today.
Please equip us all for your service,
and call and equip those who are set aside to lead us,
for the sake of Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church. Amen.

(Catching God's Wind - #4)

The Prayer of Application


Offertory: "If You But Trust in God to Guide You", Leupold/Vander Paane [organ], Boertje [piano]

The Offertory Prayer


*Song: "If You [Thou] But Trust in God to Guide You [Thee]" PH 282, PsH 446, RL 151, TH 670, TWC 636

The Children's Moment

The Form for Ordination (PsH p.1004)

A Litany of Thanksgiving

Three years ago certain people took up their offices, promising to obey the call of God and to do the work of the church faithfully, and now they have completed their terms of office.
Thank you, God, for the work that you have accomplished through these your servants.
O Lord, you have provided them with gifts to equip them; you have worked through them to accomplish your purposes and we trust they have honored your Name.
Continue your work in their lives, O Lord. Continue to lead them into paths of service for the sake of your church.

The Vows of New Office-bearers (to be read in unison by new office-bearers)

I believe that through the call of this congregation, God himself is calling me to this holy office. I believe that the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God. I subscribe to the doctrinal standards of this church, and I will reject all teaching that contradicts them. I promise to do the work of my office faithfully, in a way that is worthy of my calling, and in submission to the government and discipline of the church.

The Charge to the Elders (to be read in unison by the congregation)

We charge you, elders, to shepherd the church which Christ bought with his own blood. Be a model of faith; care for the needy; comfort the suffering; confront those who stray; devote yourselves to prayer; faithfully study the Word of God; and be completely mastered by your Lord.

The Charge to the Deacons (to be read in unison by the congregation)

We charge you, deacons, to inspire us to faithful stewardship; encourage us to serve others; be sensitive and compassionate to the needy; minister to everyone discerningly; live with integrity in your own life; devote yourselves to God's Word and prayer; and be completely mastered by your Lord.

The Laying on of Hands

God our heavenly Father, who has called you to these sacred offices, guide you by his Word, equip you with his Spirit, and so prosper your ministries that his church may increase and his name be praised. Amen.

*Our Sung Profession: "In God the Father I Believe" PsH 518, TH 741

The Charge to the Congregation (to be read in unison by the entire Council/Board)

As your servants and the servants of God, we charge you, the congregation, to pray for us diligently, to support us with gratitude, to encourage us joyfully. We do not act on our own authority but in the name of Jesus Christ the King of the Church. We have been called to do his will among you, and we ask you to accept us in his name.

Council Choir Anthem: "Spirit of the Living God" PH 322, PsH 424, RN 90, SFL 184, TH 726, TWC 297
or: "The Servant Song" RN 148, SFL 248, SNC 277

Intercessory Prayers with Sung Response: "Take, O Take Me As I Am" SNC 215

- for the elders
- for the deacons
- for the entire congregation


*The Benediction with Congregational Amen!

*Song: "O God, Our Father, We Come" PsH 450:3,4

Postlude: "Toccata", Laubengayer

* you are invited to stand

Sermon Notes:

The Scripture reading from Acts 13 gives the account of an event that took place in Antioch. The situation in Antioch should be set forth so this event has an historical context.

Several themes in this passage need to be identified and explained in such a way that the continuity from Antioch to the church today is evident.

1. There are recognized leaders in the church. Scripture not only makes it clear that leaders are present in the church, but speaks of the qualifications that such leaders should possess.

2. The Holy Spirit is the one who does the calling and equipping of church leaders. Acts 13:2, 4 shows the Holy Spirit as the prime mover. Though there is something mysterious about a sense of calling, any effective church leader must be aware of it and respond to it, in seeking God's will.

3. The church accepts biblical teaching about the identification and calling of certain persons in roles of leadership. When the "Laying on of Hands" is practiced, the body of believers is agreeing with the Spirit about the appointment of certain persons, and intends to recognize and accept them as such. (See the explanation under Liturgy Notes #4.)

4. This all happens in the setting of worship. When the church gathers in worship, she brings adoration to God, but also corporately seeks God and his will in many things, and then responds to it-so also in this matter.

5. The response of obedience and trust by Saul and Barnabas is exemplary for all leaders appointed by the church. They are ready followers of the Spirit, and willing servants of the church.

The aim of this sermon is to clarify why and how some are appointed as leaders, to identify the role of the Holy Spirit, to teach the congregation to accept leaders, and to give encouragement to those who become leaders.

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 organ prelude written by Charles Callahan can be found as "Partita on 'Lasst uns Erfruen' ", published by Morningstar MSM-10-700 [1989] (M). The piano transcription of this same hymn tune can be found in "Day by Day" by Rachel Trelstad Porter, published by Augsburg 11-10772 [1996] (M). These joyful arrangements make a fitting opening to a service that celebrates the ordination of office-bearers.
  2. Note that the opening hymn is sung in its entirety during this service - the first two stanzas here and the last two as the closing hymn.
  3. The offertory music can be found in "An Organ Book" by A.W. Leupold, published by Chantry Music Press [1960] (E-M); in "Variaties over 'Wie maar de Goede God laat Zorgen' " by Wim van der Panne, published by Musicript MR122 [1986] (M-D), and in "Piano Improvisations for the Church Year" by Barbara Boertje, published by Unity Press 70/1194U [1998] (E-M).
  4. The point of the Council choir is to have the ruling body of the church make a commitment while modeling the proper role of song in the worship service. Some of the council members will be musical, some may not be. That is OK. The song suggestions are easily learned and can be sung in unison. However, if you would like to have the selections sung in harmony, that is fairly easily accomplished. Have all men who are uncomfortable reading music sing the melody line, in their range. On "Spirit of the Living God", add basses on the bass line and tenors on the tenor line. Women can sing either the melody or the alto line. You may have to move some people to alternate parts to achieve a balanced sound. "The Servant Song" works best as a unison anthem, given the arrangement in Sing! A New Creation.
  5. The postlude music can be found in Paul Laubengayer's "Three Pieces for Organ" published by Morningstar MSM-10-953 [2000] (M).

Liturgy Notes:

1. The spirit established in the first part of the service should point to the ordination of office-bearers that will take place during this service. The liturgy is designed to move toward that event, and the sermon will lay the foundation for a biblical understanding of what is happening, so worshipers should be aware of that from the beginning.

2. The children's moment is placed later than usual so that it can be associated with the ordination ceremony. It should include an attempt to explain to the children why some people are called elders and deacons, what work they do, and what this means that we are "ordaining". If your congregation includes the laying on of hands (which we recommend), then the children will need an explanation of that, too. [See #4 below.]

3. The liturgy for the service of ordination begins with the formulary that is used in the Christian Reformed Church and is printed on page 1004 in the Psalter Hymnal. However, we are suggesting that you read only the first column and half of the second column. The remainder will be covered by the modified formulations that are included in the worship sheet. This material has been adapted and formulated by Rev. Mark Stephenson, currently pastor of the West Olive CRC in West Olive, MI. In using this material please note:

a. The "Litany of Thanksgiving" is designed for the congregation to express its appreciation to those who have completed their term of office. (If your congregation elects office-bearers for a term other than three years, you'll have to edit to fit your practice.)

b. Whereas the formulary addresses questions to each office-bearer and waits for his/her answer, this service encourages all new office-bearers to speak their full vow in unison.

c. The charge to the elders and the deacons is spoken in unison by the congregation.

d. The charge to the congregation is spoken in unison by the entire Council or Board.

4. You will notice that we have included the laying on of hands. Some congregations reserve this for the ordination of pastors, but we believe it is appropriate for office-bearers each time they take up their office. Perhaps a careful explanation is wise so that the congregation will not mistake it as a symbol of authoritative "apostolic succession". The Synod of 2001 of the Christian Reformed Church said this about the laying on of hands:

"The laying on of hands is the ceremony by which the church symbolizes and enacts the relationships of ordination. By this ceremony, the leader on whose head hands are laid is symbolically offered to Christ, included in the succession of leaders of the church stretching back to the apostles, and given the power of the Spirit. Since by the laying on of hands the church recognizes pastoral leadership as such and not a specific office or role, this ceremony is appropriate for all church offices." (Acts of Synod, 2001, pages 503,504)

Members of the current Council/Board place their hands on the heads of those entering office while the pastor says,

God our heavenly Father, who has called you to these sacred offices, guide you by His Word, equip you with his Spirit, and so prosper your ministries that his church may increase and his name be praised. Amen." (Psalter Hymnal, page 1005)

5. Include three different members of the congregation to lead in the Intercessory Prayers: perhaps a former elder to pray for the elders, a former deacon to pray for the deacons, and another member of the congregation to pray for the congregation. The sung response "Take, O Take Me As I Am" can be sung preceding the first prayer and following each succeeding prayer.

6. If possible, we encourage you to try a "Council Choir". It could be very effective! See the Music Notesabove.