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Shaping a Generation - Psalm 78, Ephesians 6

The third service plan in a series entitled "Chapters of Life." This service reinforces the significance of parenthood in the plan of God and the importance of Christian parenting for the sake of well-trained children.

Worship Service
Also in this Series

The Chapters of Life

This series of worship services explores how children and adults can participate together with integrity to give honor to God while paying credit to the significance of each age level.

Theme of the Service

This is the third service in the series "The Chapters of Life." The focus of this service is on parenthood. Our aim is to reinforce the beauty and significance of parenthood in the plan of God and the importance of Christian parenting for the sake of well-trained children, and to encourage faithful parents.

We strongly encourage that before this service is planned and carried out, leaders take some time to sit down in an open discussion with some young parents to listen to their concerns about parenting, receive their questions and suggestions, and attempt to understand their frustrations and pain.

We worship as a community to whom God has said,
"I will be your God and the God of your seed after you."
(from Genesis 17)


Prelude: "Let All Things Now Living," Carlson, Stoldt [organ]; Leavitt [piano]; Moklebust [handbells]

*The Call to Worship and God's Greeting
The Lord Jesus was once a young boy,
a young child in the care of his parents.
But he amazed the scribes in the temple with his knowledge of the Scriptures,
and he frightened his parents when they could not find him on their way home.
Luke tells us that Jesus was obedient to his parents.
And he grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
Gracious Father of all your children, put your blessing on all the children here worshiping you
Help us as parents to bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Accept us as adults and children and make us wholly yours.
Place your hand of care and blessing on each of us in this time of worship.
Grace, mercy, and peace to you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

*Song of Praise: "Let All Things Now Living" PH 554, PsH 453, RN 48, TH 125, TWC 53

Songs Offered by the Church School/Worship Center Children


The Call to Confession

Our Prayer of Confession
Have mercy upon us, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion,
blot out our transgressions.
Wash away all our iniquity
and cleanse us from our sin.
For we know our transgressions,
and our sin is always before us.
Against you, you only, have we sinned
and done what is evil in your sight.
Hide your face from our sins.
And blot out all our iniquity. (from Psalm 51)

The Assurance of God's Pardon

Song: "You Are Our God; We Are Your People" PsH 272, SFL 203

Our Commitment to Grateful Obedience: Ephesians 5:8-14


*Series Song: "O God, Your Constant Care and Love" (st. 1-3) PsH 592
or "I Was There to Hear Your Borning Cry" WOV 770

The Prayer for Illumination
Lord, our God,
we need your Word to give us direction.
Speak to us about what it means to be Christian parents,
and Christian children.
Show us your will for our families.
For Jesus' sake, Amen.

The Scripture Readings
Psalm 78:1-8
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
Ephesians 6:1-4
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Sermon: "Shaping a Generation" (When We're Parents)
(The Chapters of Life - #3)


*Song: "In Our Households, Heavenly Father" (st. 1-3) PsH 586

Intercessory Prayers

  • for children
  • for parents
  • for families with pain

Song: "Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us" PH 387, PsH 591, TH 599, TWC 522, UMH 381

A Reading of Deuteronomy 6:4-9
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Our Profession
In marriage and in family,
we serve God
by reflecting his covenant love
in lifelong loyalty,
and by teaching his ways,
so that children may know Jesus as their Lord
and learn to use their gifts in a life of joyful service. (from Our World Belongs to God, art.49)

The Offertory and Offering: "In Our Households, Heavenly Father," Burkhardt [organ] or David [piano]
or "Savior, Like A Shepherd Lead Us," Carter [piano]

*The Benediction with Congregational Amen!

*Song: "Tell Your Children" PsH 588
(The congregation will sing st.1-3; each time the children will respond with the refrain.)

Postlude: "Trumpet Tune in E-flat," Johnson [organ]

* you are invited to stand

Sermon Notes:

  1. The setting for this sermon can be set best by taking everyone "up in the balcony" for an overview from above. Paint the large and sweeping picture that is expressed in the sermon title: shaping a generation. Sometimes we are so close to daily life in our families that we fail to keep the big picture in mind-that we parents are shaping a whole new generation.
  2. A study of the lesson of Psalm 78 will point to the importance of parenthood. Probably written during the time of the divided kingdom, this psalm is set in the context of pain-the pain of seeing how a previous generation turned their backs on God. The fear of the psalmist is that such a tragedy might happen again. The hope of the psalmist lies in the faithfulness of one generation telling the next about the actions of God calling them to trust him.
  3. The task of faithful parenting is found in two key words-"tell" and "warn." Each generation must tell the statutes/law/commands of the Lord and also the deeds and wonders he has done. While telling, they must also warn them not to be a stubborn and rebellious generation.
  4. From Ephesians 6 we add the word "shape" to the other two words. Faithful parenting involves bringing children "up in the nurture and instruction of the Lord," i.e. shaping their character, spirit, and lifestyle.
  5. The aim of this sermon is to refresh parents' sense of calling before God, to identify the means by which this calling is carried out, and to give them encouragement.

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)
UMH The United Methodist Hymnal (United Methodist Publishing House)
WOV With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)

  1. The suggestions for prelude, all of which are based on "Let All Things Now Living" [ASH GROVE] can be found in
    • "A New Look at the Old," an organ collection by J. Bert Carlson published by Augsburg 11-11009 [1999] (E-M).
    • "Five Hymn Settings," an organ collection by Frank Stoldt published by Morningstar MSM-10-931 [1998] (M).
    • "How Sweet the Sound," a piano collection by John Leavitt published by CPH 97-6891 [2000] (M).
    • "Let All Things Now Living" arranged for 3-5 octaves handbells by Cathy Moklebust, published by Choristers Guild CGB170 [1995] (D).
  2. Please take note that while the focus of this service is parenthood, we gather as an intergenerational congregation. The prelude, opening hymn, and songs offered by the children of the congregation all represent the diversity in age of those who form the worshiping community.
  3. Alternative accompaniments for "Let All Things Now Living" can be found in "As Though the Whole Creation Cried," arranged for organ by Michael Burkhardt and published by Morningstar MSM-10-555 [2001]. John Eggert also provides free harmonizations on this hymn in "Creative Hymn Accompaniments for Organ vol. 2," published by CPH 97-6851 [2000]. Anne Krentz Organ provides a piano accompaniment for congregational use in "Let It Rip! At the Piano," published by Augsburg 11-11045 [2000].
  4. An alternative accompaniment for "In Our Households, Heavenly Father" can be found in "5 Psalm Improvisations," arranged for organ by Michael Burkhardt and published by Morningstar MSM-10-511 [1997].
  5. The offertory suggestions are based on "In Our Households, Heavenly Father" [CAPTIVITY/KAS DZIEDEJA] and "Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us" [bradbury].
    • Arrangements on CAPTIVITY/KAS DZIEDEJA can be found in "5 Psalm Improvisations," an organ collection by Michael Burkhardt published by Morningstar MSM-10-511 [1997] (E-M), and in "Here I Am, Lord," a piano collection by Anne Marie David published by Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7566-5 [2002] (E-M).
    • An arrangement of BRADBURY can be found in John Carter's piano collection "Songs of the Shepherd," published by Hope [1996] (E-M).
  6. Encourage your church school or worship center leaders to teach the refrain of "Tell Your Children" to the children-they then can participate in singing the refrain of the closing hymn. If your congregation does not presently have many children, the grandparents of the congregation could also join the children in singing the refrain.
  7. The postlude, "Trumpet Tune in E-flat Major" by David N. Johnson, can be found in "An Album of Postludes" published by Oxford [1964] (E-M).

Liturgy Notes:

  1. Once again, because the purpose of these services is to promote the intergenerational nature of the Christian church, we encourage you to use worship leaders from a variety of ages-children, youth, parents, and grandparents.
  2. The responsive Call to Worship can be led by one or two children with the pastor stepping in for God's greeting.
  3. Three Scripture readings are included in the service; each of them, along with the prayer for illumination, can be led by a child, youth, or parent.
  4. The Intercessory Prayer is divided into three sections. We felt that the third category (families with pain) was necessary. In each worshiping assembly, a number of families are in a time of great pain because of disappointment, brokenness, or disease, and a service about parenting and family life can increase their sense of pain. So special intercessions for them seemed particularly timely and appropriate. It will be meaningful to include three separate persons in the intercessory prayer-a grandparent to pray for the children, a mature middle school or high school student to pray for parents, and perhaps an elder of the church to pray for the hurting families.
  5. The profession from Our World Belongs to God can be found in the confession of the Christian Reformed Church, available in the Psalter Hymnal or as a separate document from Faith Alive Christian Resources (1-800-333-8300;