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The Christian Work Style

A service plan based on Proverbs 6:6-8 and Ephesians 4:25-32 focused on the style of work that characterizes Christians in a series on vocation and how our faith and our work are integrated.

"Your Work Matters" Worship Services Series

This series of worship services explores vocation, and how our faith and our work are integrated.

Theme of the Service

For the past four weeks we have focused on the significance of our vocations. This final service will focus on the style of work that characterizes Christians. Should a Christian exhibit her or his faith by the type of worker he or she is? What type of worker should a Christian be?

* * * * *


Prelude: "Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven" 
or: "Come, Christians, Join to Sing"

Introit: "Come, Christians Join to Sing"

The Call to Worship

*Song: "Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven" PH 478, PsH 475, RL 144, RN 53, TH 76/77, TWC 25/26, UMH 66 

*Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting:
Brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, who do you trust?
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: "This Is the Day" PsH 241, SFL 3, TWC 801, UMH 657

The Children's Moment [see <href="#liturgy" >liturgy notes]


The Call to Confession

The Prayer of Confession

The Assurance of Pardon

Our Sung Prayer for Guidance: "Lord of All Hopefulness" PsH 558, RN 174, TWC 369 

God's Call to Grateful Living: Proverbs 6:6-8 


*Song of Preparation: "I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light" RN 152, SNC 77, TWC 539, UMH 206, WOV 649

The Prayer for Illumination

The Readings from Scripture: Ephesians 4:25-32
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Sermon: The Christian Work Style
Your Work Matters #5

The Prayer of Application


*Song: "How Clear Is Our Vocation, Lord" PH 419, RL 433, TWC 395

*Our Affirmation:
What is your only comfort in life and in death?
That I am not my own, but belong-
body and soul, in life and in death-
to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.
He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,
and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.
He also watches over me in such a way
that not a hair can fall from my head
without the will of my Father in heaven:
in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.
Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit,
assures me of eternal life
and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready
from now on to live for him.
(from The Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 1, Q&A 1)

Anthem: "Lord, Here Am I," Beck

The Prayers of the People

The Offertory Prayer
The Offering of Music: "I Want to Walk as Child of the Light"
or: "Lord of All Hopefulness"
We offer our gifts for..


*Words of Sending: Colossians 3:23-24 

*The Benediction with Congregational Amen!

*Song: "Forth in Your Name, O Lord, I Go" PsH 324, RL 79, TWC 397, UMH 438

Postlude: "Allegro Maestoso" (with trumpets and horns), Handel

* - You are invited to stand.

Sermon Notes

This sermon revolves around two contrasting ideas, both of which are powerfully able to shape the way we approach our vocation. The first is represented in Proverbs 6 with the word "sluggard." Do a word study, and note how this lazy person is characterized by little motivation and painful consequences. The second idea is that God is our boss! Earlier we studied Colossians 3:23-24 where Paul says we should work ".as working for the Lord." and "It is the Lord Christ you are serving." Imagine how we would approach our vocation if we really become convinced that God is our boss!

Proverbs 6:6-8 and Ephesians 4:25-32 teach Christian virtues that are important for all of life but especially for our vocation. We might call these the marks of a Christian work style.

  • Productivity. Ants are notably productive and can be used as an example here. (Do some research in ants, and you'll be amazed!) In contrast one writer calls this the age of the "goof-off" at work. Many employees seem intent on getting by with the minimum. One study claims that 19% of the average worker's time is wasted, putting off work that should be done.
  • Responsibility. Solomon says ants have no supervisors (Proverbs 6:7), yet faithfully carry out all responsibilities. If they, who are not image-bearers of God, can function so responsibly, then humans ought to so much more. Alan Loy McGinnis, in The Balanced Life (Augsburg, 1997), tells the story of how Harry Emerson Fosdick related an incident from his boyhood to illustrate that he learned much about being responsible from his father. As his father left for work one morning, he said to his wife, "Tell Harry that he can cut the grass today if he feels like it." Then, after walking a few steps down the street he called back, "and tell Harry he had better feel like it!" Fosdick says the sound of that instruction never left him.
  • Honesty. Paul focuses on this virtue in Ephesians 4:25 and 28. In handling both words and materials, honesty is required above all. Imagine all the personal pain inflicted and court cases that exist because people have acted dishonestly! Imagine how much loss is incurred in business because of employee theft or dishonesty. Both authors lead us to believe that people ought to be able to count on Christians to tell the truth and handle all materials honestly.
  • Anger-control. We might be surprised that Paul deals with this matter in Ephesians 4. However, a short time of reflection will alert us to how influential anger has been in the workplace. We hear tragic stories of how disgruntled employees return with a gun, but the impact of low morale, poor work, poor products and services, and broken relationships caused by brewing anger also causes great damage.
  • Benevolence. How often have we overlooked this part of Ephesians 4:28? We find it easy to agree with the early phrases in this verse, but when we read the last phrase, we notice that we should work hard so we can give more. More overtime means we can be more benevolent. During the depression, a judge in New York City had to fine a woman who was caught stealing bread. When she explained that she stole so her grandchildren could eat, the judge fined everyone else in the courtroom for living in a city where a woman has to steal to feed her grandchildren!
  • Helpful Speech. Words can cut up or build up. Paul addresses this in Ephesians 4:29. With so many words passing our lips in the workplace, Paul pleads for careful supervision of our lips so that what is spoken is fitting for one redeemed by Christ. In Colossians 4:6 Paul is very pointed about the uniqueness of Christian conversation that ought to characterize us!
  • Kindness. This virtue runs through all those that are mentioned in Ephesians 4:31-32. The negative dimension means getting rid of the opposite (see v.31), and the positive side means cultivating Christ-like virtues of grace and forgiveness (see v.32). What a difference a worker like this will make in the workplace!

These virtues stem from a new heart, available only through the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. The sermon must be based on the New Testament gospel, not merely Old Testament ethics. In essence, the message is, "Ever since the fall into sin, the world has a curse on it. That makes our work hard. We can't avoid that. However, what we must do is pay attention to the work of Jesus Christ who can change us as workers. When he does, we will become different workers and the influence will spread!"

It would be good to conclude this message with some "imagining." Imagine your workplace when people function with these virtues! Imagine your workplace with the Christians (probably a minority for most places) getting noticed because their virtues were different from others. Then relate this to Jesus' statements about being salt, light, and leaven! And the final application, of course, needs to include encouraging each of us to examine and motivate our own faithfulness as workers.

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)

The music of the prelude could be based on either the hymn tunes of the introit or the opening hymn. Resources are as follows:

LAUDA ANIMA ["Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven"]

Burkhardt, Michael. Praise and Thanksgiving, set 5. Morningstar MSM-10-755 [1993] (E-M)
Farlee, Robert Buckley. Augsburg Organ Library - Epiphany. Augsburg 11-11073 [2001] (E-M)
Haan, Raymond H. Festival Hymn Preludes. SMP KK329 [1985] (E-M)
Hobby, Robert A. Partita on Praise My Soul, the King of Heaven. Concordia 97-6082 [1991] (E-
Hustad, Don. Three Organ Hymns for Weddings or General Use. Hope 341 [1970] (E-M)
Krapf, Gerhard. Sing and Rejoice, vol. 6. SMP KK339 [1986] (adaptable for piano; E)
Manz, Paul. Two Pieces for Festive Occasions. Morningstar MSM-10-840 [1990] (M)

Dobrinski, Cynthia. Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven. Agape 1974 [1988] (3-5 octaves, level

MADRID/SPANISH HYMN ["Come, Christians Join to Sing"]

Jordan, Alice. A Season and A Time. Broadman 4570-37 [1977]

Wilson, John F. This Is the Day. Hope 243 [1992]

Dobrinski, Cynthia. Come Christians, Join To Sing. Agape 1420 [1990] (3-5 octaves, M)

Suggestions for introit based on the same hymn tune are as follows:

Hopson, Hal H. Come, Christians, Join to Sing. Morningstar MSM-50-9923 [2001] (two part,
equal voices; E-M)
Gillette, James R. Come, Christians, Join To Sing. Summy-Birchard1361 [1939]
(SATB and organ or piano; E-M)

Alternative harmonizations for the opening hymn can be found in:

LAUDA ANIMA ["Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven"]

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
Ferguson, John. Hymn Harmonizations for Organ, bk. 3. Ludwig O-10 [1986]

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
Porter, Rachel Trelstad. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000]

Alternative harmonizations for the sung prayer for guidance can be found in:

SLANE ["Lord of All Hopefulness"]

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
Busarow, Donald. Thirty More Accompaniments for Hymns in Canon. Augsburg11-10163 [1992]
Eggert, John. Creative Hymn Accompaniments for Organ, vol. 2. CPH 97-6851 [2000]

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
Carlson, J. Bert. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000]

Alternative harmonizations for the hymn of preparation can be found in:

HOUSTON ["I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light"]

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
Burkhardt, Michael. As Though the Whole Creation Cried. Morningstar MSM-10-555 [2001]

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
Sedio, Mark/Cherwien, David. Let It Rip! At the Piano, vol. 2. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7580-0

The SATB anthem suggestion "Lord, Here Am I" by John Ness Beck is published by Beckenhorst BP1210 [1984]. (E-M)

Suggestions for offertory can be found in the following resources:

HOUSTON ["I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light"]

Biery, James S. Twentieth Century Hymn Tune Settings. Morningstar MSM 10-863 [1995] (E-
Osterland, Karl. Lift One Voice. Augsburg 11-11039 [2000] (E-M)
Wold, Wayne L. (1998) Augsburg Organ Library - Epiphany. Augsburg 11-11073 [2001] (E-M)

Hamilton, Gregory. As the Grains of Wheat. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7577-0 [2003] (M)
Sedio, Mark. Once Led to Your Font. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-7785-4 [2005] (M)

Behnke, John. I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light. Concordia 97-6611 [1996] (3 or 5
octaves, level 2)

SLANE ["Lord of All Hopefulness"]

Ashdown, Franklin D. Augsburg Organ Library - Lent. Augsburg 11-11036 [2000] (M)
Callahan, Charles. Partita on Slane. Concordia 97-6046 [1990] (M)
Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 8. AMSI SP-105 [1991] (E-M)
Cherwien, David. Joyful Praise. Morningstar MSM-10-738 [2004] (E-M)
Held, Wilbur. Easy Hymn Preludes for Organ, vol. 4. Concordia 97-7032 [2005] (E-M)
Manz, Paul. Ten Chorale Improvisations, set 9. Concordia 97-5556 [1980] (E-M)
Swenson, Warren. Seven Hymn Preludes in a New Style. H. W. Grey. GB 637 [1977] (E-M)
Wood, Dale. Wood Works. SMP KK357 [1986] (E-M)
Young, Gordon. Eight Voluntaries. Presser 413-41034-30 [1961] (E-M)

Hayes, Mark. Lord Be Glorified, vol. 2. Word 301 0063 318 [1992] (M)
Leavitt, John. How Sweet the Sound. CPH 97-6891 [2000] (E-M)
Shackley, Larry. Celtic Hymn Settings for Piano. Hope 8117 [2001] (E-M)

Hopson, Hal H. Be Thou My Vision. Coronet CP2004 [1982] (3 octaves, E-M)

The organ postlude suggestion can be found in:

Handel, G. F. Suite from Water Music. Fischer F.E.S. 5753 [1954] (E-M)

Liturgy Notes

1. Because this service is scheduled for Labor Day weekend in the United States , it is appropriate for the Worship Leader to mention the theme of the service early, either as part of the call to worship or with the call to confession.

2. Because one of the Scripture passages (Proverbs 6) warn against the behavior of the "sluggard," the prayer of confession can deal with the sins of disobedience and carelessness in our daily work. God's grace is needed for those times when we have been lazy, done careless work, and practiced irresponsibility.

3 The Children's Moment in this service would be a good time to tell them the story of an exemplary worker. Using either current experience or Bible story help them visualize someone who pleases God and others by faithful work.

4. The instruction from Proverbs 6 will be included in the sermon. Yet, by reading it within the Service of Renewal, it can serve as an effective call to grateful obedience in response to God's grace.

5. The words of the affirmation are from The Heidelberg Catechism. To reprint for personal use, a ministry setting, or classroom use, include this credit line: © 1987, CRC Publications, Grand Rapids MI. Reprinted with permission.

6. While the words of Paul from Colossians 3:23-24 were included as the Sending for the last two weeks, we encourage using them again this week. This can reinforce their impact on our hearts. Also, since this is the final service in this series, these words can wrap up the series.