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The Church Team - Commissioning of Education Ministry Staff - Ephesians 4

A service plan focusing on the importance of the ministry of education, its goals, and the proper commissioning of those who serve.

Worship Service

Theme of the Service

At the beginning of the school year, many of the educational programs of the congregation are ready to begin. Key to these ministries are the people who lead and teach. Therefore, this service focuses on the importance of the ministry of education, its goals, and the proper commissioning of those who serve.

Note: Additional excellent resources on this subject can be found in "Growing in Grace: A four-week series to get your church education plans off to a great start," by Jessie Schut in Reformed Worship 64.

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Prelude: "Fill Thou My Life, O Lord, My God" [see music notes]

The Call to Worship [see liturgy notes]

*Song: "God Is Here" PH 461:1-3, PsH 516:1-3, RN 5:1-3, UMH 660:1-3, TWC 701:1-3

*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: "God is Here" PH 461:4, PsH 516:4, RN 5:4, UMH 660:4, TWC 701:4


The Call to Confession [see liturgy notes]
Sung: "Come, Let Us Reason" RN 190, TWC 456, SNC 57 [see liturgy notes]

The Prayer of Confession: Psalm 51:1-12 [see liturgy notes]

The Assurance of Pardon: Psalm 32:5, 1

Our Sung Prayer of Gratitude: "I Will Sing of My Redeemer" PsH 479, TWC 492, TH 650

God's Call to Grateful Living
He has showed you what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8, NIV)


*Song of Preparation: "Thy Word" SNC 86

The Prayer for Illumination

The Old Testament Reading: Deuteronomy 6:1-9
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

The New Testament Reading: Ephesians 4:11-16
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Sermon: The Church Team

The Prayer of Application

[see liturgy notes]

The Children's Moment

*Our Affirmation of God's Gifts:
There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;
and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord;
and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.
To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:4-7, NRSV)
The Spirit's gifts are here to stay in rich variety-
fitting responses to timely needs.
We thankfully see each other
as gifted members of the fellowship
which delights in the creative Spirit's work.
He give more than enough to each believer
for God's praise and our neighbor's welfare. ("Our World Belongs to God," art.33)

Sung Response: "Somos uno en Cristo / We Are One in Christ Jesus" SNC 179

The Service of Commissioning

Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ, Paul has taught us in Ephesians 4 that "it was (Jesus) who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." In order that every person following Jesus Christ may attain these goals our church promotes a vital program of education and discipleship.

We thank God that he has gifted so many among us and made them willing to serve as teachers and leaders. As they help us grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, we promise them our prayers and support.

The Introduction of the Educational Staff [see liturgy notes]

The Charge and Vows of the Educational Staff

The Bible says, "Not many of you should presume to be teachers.because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." (James 3:1) In these words we are reminded of the great responsibility which is ours in the teaching ministry of the church. Yet it is also a joyful task because it is one way in which our God leads his people into conformity to the likeness of Jesus Christ. To indicate your willingness to accept the joys and responsibilities of this calling, we now ask:

1. Do you promise to point your students to Jesus Christ and to teach the truths of God's revelation in the Bible?

2. Do you promise to teach and live in such a way that you are an example to those who learn?

3. Do you promise that you will pray for your students and encourage them to grow in faith and godliness?

4. Do you promise to live in close fellowship with the Lord and rely on the Holy Spirit to help you in this wonderful work?

Teachers/Leaders: We do, God helping us. We are thankful for the support of the congregation and ask for the cooperation of all as we carry out our task.

May God richly bless you as you carry out the commitments you have just made.

Charge to All Disciples [by a lay leader]

Our Lord said, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me." So we charge all, as disciples of Jesus Christ, to faithfully attend the classes and meetings offered for your instruction; to highly honor your teachers and leaders as sent by God for your formation; and to study your material diligently so that you may learn more about God's great salvation in Jesus Christ and his will for your lives. May you desire to be disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. May you be thankful to God for your leaders, and may you build the kingdom of God while you are being formed in the image of God. May we all find such joy and fulfillment in our learning and growing that we may become more and more the joyful and obedient servants of our Lord Jesus Christ to the glory of God our Father.

All respond: Amen!

Response: "Take, O Take Me as I Am" SNC 215
or: "Lord, Let My Heart Be Good Soil" SNC 79, WOV 713

The Prayer of Intercession

The Offertory
The Offering of Music: "Lord, Be Glorified" [see music notes]
We offer our gifts for..


*Words of Sending: 2 Peter 3:18

*The Benediction with Congregational Amen!

*Song: "My Friends, May You Grow in Grace" SNC 288
or: "May the Mind of Christ, My Savior" PsH 291, RN 285, TH 644, TWC 560

Postlude: "Allegro Maestoso" (with trumpets and horns), Handel [see music notes]

* - You are invited to stand.

Sermon Notes

This sermon should set the stage for the commissioning service that will follow. To do so effectively will mean drawing together several threads of biblical instruction. First, God intends that each new generation is carefully taught his word and will (cf. the reading of Deuteronomy 6). Second, the Christian congregation is multi-faceted as portrayed by Paul in the Ephesians 4 passage. They are intended to be people who minister to one another and the world; Jesus Christ has gifted his church for these very tasks. Third, the variety of giftedness in the church is by God's design for the sake of these ministries (cf. 1 Corinthians 12, for example). And, fourth, we are surrounded by many enemies of the truth. Paul speaks about "deceitful scheming" (cf. Ephesians 4:14). Peter also regularly warns his hearers about the danger of false teachings; we must protect against false teaching.

Paul holds high the unity of the church (cf. verses 1-6), and we understand that he pictures this unified church as a team that is jointly committed to provide ministry in the world (cf. verse 12). An effective team needs skills, gifts, commitment, cooperation, vision, etc. Therefore, Paul understands that Christ's purpose in providing gifts and leaders in the church always has in view the maturing and training of church-team members so they will be better equipped for their ministries.

The intent of this message is both instructional and pastoral. It must be instructional so that all are informed of God's keen interest in the nurture and growth of each Christian disciple and to remind that His Word is the means of such nurture. It must be pastoral through portraying sensitivity to the needs of each person, the threats and dangers we regularly encounter, and leading listeners to eagerly believe in their own giftedness and examine themselves for gifts that can and ought to be used for ministry.

The sermon should hold before the congregation a warm and welcome view of a church as a body of people who are eager to serve, eager to grow and eager to help one another in doing so. The title of the sermon includes the word "team" to portray this.

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 prelude suggestions can be found in the following resources:

ELLACOMBE ["Fill Thou My Life, O Lord, My God"]

Burkhardt, Michael. Five Lenten Hymn Improvisations. Morningstar MSM-10-309 [1990] (E-M)
Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 9. AMSI SP-106 [1992] (E-M)
Kerr, J. Wayne. (1998) Augsburg Organ Library - Lent. Augsburg 11-11036 [2000] (E-M)
Stoldt, Frank. Five Hymn Settings. Morningstar MSM-10-931 [1988] (M)

Boertje, Barbara. Piano Improvisations for the Church Year. Unity 70/1194U [1998] (M)

Suggestions for offertory music are as follows:

LORD, BE GLORIFIED ["Lord, Be Glorified"]

Bock, Fred. Organ Praise and Worship. Fred Bock BG0923 [1993] (E)

Hayes, Mark. Lord Be Glorified. Word 301 0047 312 [1990] (M)
Wilson, John F. A Sacrifice of Praise. Hope 347 [1994] (E-M)

The organ postlude can be found in "Suite from Water Music" by G. F. Handel published by Fischer F.E.S. 5753 [1954] (E-M)

Liturgy Notes

1. The Call to Worship, if spoken extemporaneously by a worship leader, may point to the theme of this service and create in the mind of worshipers an eagerness for the commissioning of leaders and teachers today.

2. The Call to Confession can be twofold. The praise team, a soloist, or a choir may sing a carefully selected call to confession, such as "Come, Let Us Reason," which can be followed by the words of the worship leader. Or, either one may stand alone.

3. The Prayer of Confession is from David's familiar words in Psalm 51. This prayer of confession by David can easily be taken on our lips as our own. The worship leader may read these words, they may be read in unison, or read responsively.

4. The Service of Commissioning can be a very powerful part of this service. The pastor can be joined by other lay leaders in leading this. The chairperson of the education committee, a staff member in the educational ministry, or an elder could appropriately participate. Notice the children's moment occurs here. We believe it is helpful for the children to be present for this commissioning, and even if they have left earlier for children's worship, we encourage you to plan for their return to the service at this point.

5. Our Affirmation of God's Gifts is from "Our World Belongs to God," a Contemporary Testimony that has been adopted by the synod of the Christian Reformed Church. 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. All the members of the educational staff should be clearly identified for the congregation so they can pray specifically. It usually is helpful to list all the members of the educational staff in the worship sheet, bulletin, or an insert. Be sure to include the education ministries for all ages-children, youth, and adults. Prior to the actual commissioning all are asked to stand in the congregation and both take their vows as well as receive their charge.

7. NRSV Bible: The Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright, 1989, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
NIV Bible: Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.