Sharon Postma, director of music at Hope Christian Reformed Church in Grandville, Michigan, decided to develop a worship service celebrating God's gift of pastors. "We chose to express our love and support to all pastors in and of our congregation in a morning worship service, as we offered our gratitude to God in celebration of the gift of pastors to the church." The focus of the service was the congregation's gratitude, expressed to God and the pastors. In addition, the service challenged the congregation to continue to pray for and support their pastors.
All the pastors in the congregation were involved—the senior pastor, a youth pastor (seminary student), a retired pastor who works part-time in pastoral care, and another retired pastor who is a member of the congregation.
A guest minister led the service.
Each pastor read one of the passages in the Litany of Faith. For the Scriptural Blessings, Sharon asked each pastor in advance to choose one or two Scripture verses to share with the congregation, and then to take a moment to tell the congregation why he chose those verses. For many people, that part of the service was a highlight.
A bulletin announcement printed the week before the service invited the congregation to bring cards or notes of appreciation for the pastors, to be placed in baskets in the narthex.
We Gather for Worship
The Prelude: "Thanks Be to God" (Handel)
Processional: "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty" PsH 253, PH 482, RL 145, TH 53
Words of Welcome
We Greet Each Other
Song of Adoration: "Father, We Love You" PsH 634, SFL 77
We Celebrate Our Faith
Anthem: "How Beautiful" (Tunney)
Litany of Faith
There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called—one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all (Eph. 4:4-6).
It was he 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 (Eph. 4:11-12).
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. The grace of our Lord is poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 1:12, 14).
We always thank our God for you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 1:2-3).
I have taught you with confidence because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to you with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that you might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 15:15-16).
Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come (2 Cor. 1:21-22)
You are fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone (Eph. 2:19-20).
Praise God! He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand (Ps. 40:2).
I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledgeóthat you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Eph. 3:17-19).
All: Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen (Eph. 3:20-21).
Hymn of Celebration: "God Is Here" PsH 516, PH 461
Our Morning Prayer
Musical Offering: "Ye Servants of God" (Buxtehude)
Song of Response: "Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow"
We Hear God's Word
Hyrnn of Preparation: "Teach Me, O Lord, Your Way Of TrUth" PsH 276, TH 149
Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28
Sermon: Appreciation for Pastors
Prayer of Application
Hymn: "I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord" (concertato setting by Haan; Sacred Music Press)
choir only on stanzas 2 and 4
We Celebrate God's Faithfulness
Saiptural Blessings: (each read by a different minister)
Words of Appreciation to Our Pastors (spoken by an elder)
Anthem: "Recollection of Joy" (Butler)
Litany of Thanksgiving
Leader: Lord, we thank and praise you for the gift of pastors.
People: We acknowledge the gift of these your servants to the work of ministry; called in their weakness and strengthened by your Spirit. May we support them with our love and prayers. May we cherish, honor, and respect them because they are your anointed servants. May we, with joy, accept the awesome and privileged responsibility of helping them be all you want them to be.
Pastors: Make us worthy of our calling, Lord. May we be faithful, diligent, and passionate in our ministry as we seek to build up the body of Christ through your Word and Spirit.
Leader: Lord, we thank and praise you for their ministry of the Word.
People: It is by your love and grace that we are given these pastors to preach the gospel. We thank you for the boldness with which they call us to repentance. They hold before us the truth of your Word which strengthens our faith and gives us a sure hope for the glorious coming of your kingdom. As they impart your Word to us, be their joy and their inspiration.
Pastors:It is only by your Spirit that we are led in the way of truth. Increase our knowledge, Lord, and renew our commitment to share the joy of our salvation.
Leader: Lord, we thank and praise you for their ministry of leadership.
People: In your infinite wisdom you have given us shepherds to lead and guide us. Bless them with discernment and integrity as they instruct and counsel us to be obedient and faithful to your Word. As they prepare us for works of service, inspire them with your vision for the church and instill in each of us a profound longing to be the people you desire us to be.
Pastors: Your ways are higher than our ways, Lord. Bless us with wisdom, courage, and compassion so that the love of Christ may be shown in the church and to the world around us.
Leader: Lord, we thank and praise you for their ministry of prayer.
People: As we stand in your presence, we give you glory! For with eagerness and in humility, these pastors earnestly pray for this fellowship of believers and your church worldwide. Make them powerful in prayer, fervent in their desires, and committed to your will as they embrace this great privilege.
Pastors: May we be disciplined and dedicated people of prayer, O Lord; may we pray without ceasing.
Leader: Lord, we thank and praise you for our pastors' families.
People: These families stand beside our pastors, giving them loving support and encouragement day by day. May we support them with our prayers, kindness, and words of appreciation as faithfully as they support our pastors in their calling.
Pastors:With gratitude in our hearts, we thank you Lord for these precious people in our lives.
Leader: Lord, as we remember your goodness and faithfulness to us, we offer our deepest devotion.
All: Your infinite love for us is beyond our comprehension. You have created us for your glory. You have redeemed us and long to have fellowship with us. May we, the sheep of your pasture and the shepherds of your flock, abide in your love.
Hymn of Testimony: "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" PsH 556, PH 276, RL 155, TH 32
Postlude: "Psalm 19" (Marcello)