DEDICATIONS AND OTHER SPECIAL SERVICES
BY CLARK E. LOTT, SR.
There are many types of dedications and special services that the minister is called on to participate in and to perform. These services include ground breakings and dedications of properties, buildings, organs, and other furnishings. There are also dedications of babies, choirs, officers, and so on. All of these special services serve to emphasize the importance of the people and things being dedicated.
Due to the brevity of space, let us discuss only two examples.
A. Baby dedication
The, dedication of a newborn baby should be a special occasion. While the Scripture puts no personal salvational value in its administration, the intent and purpose are admirable and scriptural.
The objective of dedicating a baby is to devote and consecrate that new life to his or her Maker. It expresses the couple’s desire to raise the child in the truth and emphasizes their responsibility to do just that. The husband and wife take satisfaction in presenting to God a life that He has seen fit to share with them.
While the New Testament does not explicitly command dedications, there are some precedents for the practice. The strongest example comes from the parents of Jesus. “And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord” (Luke 2:22). Hannah’s promise to God concerning the dedication of Samuel is another beautiful example. (See I Samuel 1:11.) She fulfilled her promise with these words: “For this
child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD” (I Samuel 1:27-28). The service should be a special occasion with appropriate prayers, songs, and sermon. It can be memorable for both the church and the family involved and should serve to influence the family for spiritual success. It can enhance church influence and growth.
A typical service may consist of the following:
1. Prelude music appropriate for the occasion
2. Call to worship
4. Special song
5. Scriptural reading
6. Choir presentation
8. Alternate reading by pastor and couple
9. Dedication prayer
Alternatively a short dedication ceremony can be inserted at various points during a regular service.
B. Dedication of a church edifice
At the completion of a house of worship, it is proper to set it apart for its appointed purpose-the preaching of the Word and the worship of God.
The setting apart of religious edifices is prominent in the Bible accounts of the Tabernacle, Solomon’s Temple, Zerubbabel’s Temple, and the rebuilt walls of Jerusalem in the time of Nehemiah. There is also a hint in Deuteronomy 20:5 that homes were dedicated in accordance with an early plan enjoined by Moses.
The dedication of the Tabernacle, though not presented in detail, is mentioned (Numbers 7:1-11). When we read the account of Solomon’s Temple, however, we find a well-ordered program in keeping with the magnificence and importance of this holy and sacred edifice:
1. Transfer of the ark into the completed structure (I Kings 8:1-11; II Chronicles 5:1-14)
2. Solomon’s message to the people (I Kings 8:12-21; II Chronicles 6:1-11)
3. The prayer of dedication (I Kings 8:22-53; II Chronicles 6:12-42)
4. Pronouncement of blessing or benediction (I Kings 8:54-61)
5. Sacrifice and feast (I Kings 8:62; II Chronicles 7:1-11)
6. God’s response (I Kings 9:1-9; II Chronicles 7:12-22)
Ezra 6:16 mentions the dedication of the second or Zerubbabel’s Temple: “And the children of Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy.” The Bible indicates that at the dedicating of the work of Nehemiah in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem there was a very impressive order of exercises (Nehemiah 12:27-43).
Dedication day will naturally loom large in the life of a church family. From the planning stage to the enthusiastic climax, emotions will be high and anticipation will surrender to the realization of dreams come true.
Some feel that a house of God should never be formally set apart until it is free of indebtedness. This conviction is that presenting to the almighty God a house encumbered with debts and on which creditors hold notes is in bad taste and inconsistent. Moreover, the practice of raising money at a dedicatory service to pay for the debts well-nigh obliterates the religious character of the occasion. While this view may be extreme, it is preferable to and safer than dedicating churches with debts so great as to smother the energy and discourage the hope of the people for whom it serves.
Here is a typical dedication service in brief:
1. Call to worship
2. Hymn appropriate to the occasion
4. Solo or group song
5. Scriptural reading. Appropriate examples: Psalm 27:4-5; 48:9-14; 84:1-12; 100:1-5; 122:1-9; I Chronicles 29:10-13, 15-19; II Chronicles 6:1-2, 4, 14, 17-20, 39-41.
6. Hymn or special song
7. Special mentionings
8. Presentation of the keys of the building. On behalf of the builder or architect the keys are presented to a representative of the church.
9. Dedication sermon
10. Act of dedication. Words of dedication may be read alternately by minister and congregation. The wording should be preplanned.
11. Prayer of dedication. Example: “And now establish Thou the work of our hands, establish Thou it. And to Thy blessed name, 0 God, whose we are and whom we serve, be honor and glory everlasting, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
12. Hymn or anthem of praise to God
The programs and outlines that we have presented serve as examples only. Each minister should project the personality of the assembly he serves and give glory to the great Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for all He has done in providing through His people the facility being dedicated.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY THE FORWARD, FALL 2001, PAGES 10, 11.
THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY AND RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.