Worship Service Worship Leader Responsibilities by uws18949


									Worship Service Worship Leader Responsibilities                                      March 2008

The Lay Leader is an important and cherished role - many would say privilege -in our lay-led
church, making sure the service proceeds smoothly and offers every opportunity for various modes
of worship and community building. The Worship Committee, supported by the Board, sets up
Sunday Worship speakers, themes, special events etc. and appoints/approves the volunteer (or glad-
to-be-asked conscript) Lay Leader for each Sunday. It’s wise for Lay Leaders to begin preparing a
couple months before their service. Contacting the speaker and thinking about all the details and
connections isn’t hard, but advance coordination makes it all run so very much better.

The Lay Leader, with the assistance of the Church Administrator, coordinates all arrangements for
the worship service and serves as the leader - the guy up front - of the service.

Lay Leaders are encouraged to participate in any workshops offered on the conduct and design of
worship services.

Below we have a list of tasks, check lists, speaking points and an outline of a typical church service
for your reference. We hope the lay leader will be responsible for coordinating the elements of each
service to ensure an apparent seamless appearance to our visitors. If any of these are a burden to
you, please just ask for help. Some lay leaders are more experienced than others; some services
require more logistics than others. And we are committed to team work for the sake of wonderful
services – so ask for whatever you need.

1. In Preparation for the Service – as soon ahead of the service as you know the speaker and have
   volunteered to lay lead
     a. Contact speaker, introduce yourself, ask what s/he wants to know about the congregation
        (you might start by talking with whomever made the initial contact with the speaker to
        determine what has been shared and what remains) Things to communicate and consider:
        o Location of Trinity and what our sanctuary looks like
        o Timing of service – when we meet, for how long, discuss how long s/he will speak (20
            minutes give or take a bit)
        o General order of service
        o How much s/he wants to participate in music selection, readings, story for all ages.
            Some speakers engage fully, others just want to present the sermon. Would s/he enjoy
            leading a discussion period after the sermon?
        o Develop a title and a short, pithy, interesting (compelling?) write-up for the sermon,
            and get a brief bio for the speaker. This will be needed for the newsletter, usually due
            about the 15th of the month prior to the service you are lay leading
     b. Talk to Music Director, Linda Good, about special music that is planned
     c. Think about possible hymns – which support the theme of the sermon? If you don’t know
        the music already, Linda and/or the pianist can counsel you on the melodies. Select songs
        “singable” for congregants who may or may not know how to read music.
     d. Decide whether you would like to involve other congregants in the service – perhaps to
        light the chalice, or do a reading, or tell the story for all ages. Coordinate with them as
2. At least one week prior to the Service –or as soon ahead of the service as you know the speaker
       a. Stay in touch with the speaker – you are their life line to UUCWI. We want them to feel
          welcomed and as appreciated as we are appreciative of their time spent with us. If s/he
          needs to be picked up at the ferry, and you do not want to do that yourself, enlist the
          help of someone in the congregation. And make arrangements for a return to the ferry,
          too! Many of us are ready to help. If s/he is driving, ensure s/he has directions.
       b. Prepare the Order of Service. A template is attached to the end of this note. (Appendix
          A) The Church Administrator and the worship chair can help, as can other lay leaders.
          Always ask for help when you want it. We are a team. E-mail the order of service to the
          Church Administrator. She will proof and format it, ask you any questions that arise
          and work with you to ensure it reflects your desires. She will get it printed and see that
          it is delivered to the church. You might coordinate with her just in case she is going to be
          out of town – she may need your help delivering the order of service
       c. Decide whether you want to bring the flowers or decorations for the altar. If not, enlist
          the help of someone in the congregation or worship committee.
3. The day of the service
       a. The first order of business is to relax and have fun. Yours is the face visitors will
          remember. A week later they’ll recall your smile, the tone of your voice, how well
          “seen” they felt by you. They won’t remember your words; they will remember your
          demeanor. So relax. This is fun. Make it a gift to yourself.
       b. Arrive 30 minutes early to ensure the room is set up to yours and the speaker’s
          specification, you know how to use the sound system, you can meet the special
          musicians and know who will be playing for the hymns, and you know who is the
          greeter for the day. You generally want to familiarize yourself with everyone who will
          be helping to make the service run smoothly. Obviously if you are picking up the
          speaker at the ferry you will want to enlist the help of someone else to be there early and
          oversee the set up.
       c. You are in charge of arranging the altar – flowers or decorations of your choice. If you
          want help with this, all you have to do is ask. Some lay leaders find this too much work;
          others find great joy in making the altar lovely. Most of what you need is stored until the
          altar table. If any supplies are running low please notify the Church Administrator.
           o Arrange altar cloth so crosses are no longer visible
           o Arrange flowers or other decorations
           o Chalice, matches, candles for joys and concerns
                 suggest you practice lighting the chalice. Sometimes it is “tricky”
           o The chime and hammer if you will be using it
       d. Room set up should be handled by parishioners who arrive early. But pay attention so
          you are sure everything is ready on time. Things to watch for:
           o Enough chairs – 40 to 60 probably, depending on the anticipated popularity of this
           o Sound system is set up and you know how to use it
           o Hymnals are on chairs
           o Name tag rack is in place by front door
           o Orders of service are there to be distributed by greeter
           o Information table is set up in the foyer
           o The big banner is on wall behind the alter and the small on is on the front of lectern
           o Offering baskets - & ask 2 people to circulate the baskets during the service
           o If the lectern will be used, put it where you need it
           o Provide a glass of water on the lectern for the speaker.
           o Turn on lights and open windows as needed
       e. Remember to breathe! Smile! This is fun.
       f. If the speaker is arriving on his/her own, greet the speaker, orient him/her to the sound
          system, the musicians, greeters, early church members – generally make the speaker feel
          welcomed and embraced. If the speaker wants quiet to prepare remarks and get
          “grounded” the rooms across the hall might be an option, or perhaps a corner in the room
          where we have refreshments after the service
       g. Coordinate with all the players – to ensure everyone is ready to start on time
           o musicians,
           o speaker(s), including anyone else you may have engaged in the service – perhaps to
             do the chalice lighting, a special reading, the story for all ages
           o greeters who will close the door at 4:00
           o membership representative so s/he will know to identify self during the service
           o one or two people who will pass the offering basket through the congregation
4. Content of your remarks during the service – points to cover and connections to be made. See
   the attachment below for these details. (Appendix B)
5. After the service Job well done! Congratulate yourself, take a deep breath, and receive the
   appreciation of all who offer it. Thank the special musician and the speaker, escort them to the
   refreshments. Make sure that guest minister/speaker and guest musicians receive honorarium.
   The Church Administrator will have had the Treasurer prepare any checks beforehand. Some
   cleaning up will need to be done. There will probably be lots of help. If you and the speaker are
   returning to the sanctuary for an after-sermon discussion, that will affect the clean up timing.
   Your job is to ensure that everything is put away properly (which it probably will be – the
   volunteers are good!) and the altar is restored to its original arrangement. Return the speaker to
   the ferry if appropriate.
Appendix A typical Order of Service
The Church Adminstrator will do the formatting and add announcements. The sequencing of hymns,
whether you want to do a reading, responses to the chalice lighting, the offertory and the joys and
concerns are all choices you get to make What is printed here are only options. Change, add, omit
as you desire.

Prelude                                                                    guest musician’s name
Opening Words                                                                 name of Lay Leader
Welcome and Introductions
Chalice Lighting and Chalice Response
*Hymn # xxx “title of hymn this one should be fun for the kids to sing
Story for All Ages (optional name of the story)                      optional name of story teller
Youth take the love of our community to their classes as we sing
             Either Go Now in Peace or the new song Kit is teaching us
Announcements (we’ve experimented with putting announcements with welcome/intro)
*Affirmation (spoken together, please stand as you are able)
                   Love is the spirit of this church and service is its practice.
                      This is our great covenant; to dwell together in peace,
                          to seek truth in love, and to help one another.
Joys and Concerns
Offering and Offertory                                                     guest musician’s name
*Hymn #xxx “title of hymn”
Reading “title”                                               might be author, or reader’s name
Sermon Title                                                                        Speaker’s name
Optional Congregational Response – What gives/sustains our own faith?
*Hymn # xxx “title of hymn
Benediction and Extinguish the Chalice
Optional round-table discussion with the speaker/minister 10 minutes later
Appendix B Outline of Lay Leader’s script content
Below are the speaking points you should cover as the lay leader. You have poetic license to put
these ideas into your own words. Practice. The more confident you are delivering all this, the more
the congregants will relax and enjoy themselves. If you forget something somewhere, pick it up
later. Your goal is to be welcoming, to convey your conviction that this is the best place any of us
could be on a Sunday afternoon. Some layleaders write a script. You may certainly do so. If you
do, try to be so familiar with the content you don’t have to read every word, rather you can refer to
the script from time to time. Eye contact with the congregants is probably more important than
following every word of your script. We aren’t judging you – we are being welcomed and led by
you. And we so appreciate this gift of yourself, your wisdom, and your compassion that you are
bringing to us.

There are reference links at the end of this document – a wealth of ideas and inspirations to seed
your own thoughts.

OPENING WORDS: something relevant and inspiring – your choice

WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS – your goal here is to create an ambiance of warmth and
welcome, to create a community of people worshiping together rather than a room full of individuals
sitting in isolation from each other:
     • Welcome everyone
     • Thank musicians
     • Tell people where they are – UUCWI
     • Introduce yourself as lay leader
     • Tell folks we are served by our minister Kit Ketcham
     • If Kit is present, introduce her
     • If Kit is not present, share when she’ll be back next
     • Introduce today’s speaker, relevance of his/her topic to UU principles
     • Make a special welcome to visitors – invite them to introduce themselves, as they are
         willing, to the congregation; ask their hosts to introduce guests
     • Introduce/identify membership representative so s/he can specially greet the visitors
     • Invite people new to UUCWI (if any in the crowd) to the back of the Order of Service to
         read our principles
     • Invite visitors to register for information and our newsletter – signup sheet should be on the
         table in the foyer
     • Invite people to greet their neighbors – pay attention to people in the back who might be
         isolated so they are greeted as well
     • Encourage everyone to stay for refreshments after the service
     • Optionally you may want to ring the bell to call us to sacred celebration or to worship
CHALICE LIGHTING : something relevant and inspiring – your choice
  • This is an opportunity to invite someone from the congregation to participate – again this is
    your choice. It’s also a place where we can involve our youth
  • There are ideas at the UUA web site: www.uua.org/worshipweb/main.html
  • See the back of our hymnal for more ideas, starting at 447
  • You get to pick a chalice response. Some options
       o May love reign among us here, in this hour of community.
       o We light this chalice to remind ourselves to treat all people kindly because they are
            our brothers and sisters, to take good care of the earth because it is our home, and to
            try to live lives filled with goodness and love because that is how we will become the
            best men and women we can be.

OPENING HYMN and all other Hymns: select one here that is especially accessible for our
youth and children. Invite people to stand as they are able and join you in singing – we want to be
sensitive to folks’ physical ability. Mavis invites people to stand in body or spirit

  • If you are not doing the story yourself, introduce the story teller
  • Invite youth to the front of the room to join the story teller
  • As much as you are able, tell the story instead of reading it. That engages both youth and
    adults much more effectively.

CHILDREN DEPART – your goal here is to make the youth departure ceremonious and special
  • Some lay leaders say the words: The youth will now take the light of our community to their
  • sing #413,”Go Now in Peace”
  • until we have more youth or a much larger space for them to navigate, sing the hymn once

  • direct people’s attention to announcements printed in the order of service
  • invite others to make announcements that are time critical and relevant to this community
  • have them stand and speak loudly or come forward and use the microphone

  • invite people to stand as they are able and join you in the unison affirmation printed in the
     Order of Service

(another optional) HYMN invite people to stand as they are able and join you in singing. Selecting
hymns that support the theme of the service contributes to a more coherent service
JOYS & CONCERNS – your goal here is to further build a sense of shared commitment to each
other through sharing what is happening in our lives, worrying us, filling us with sorrow and/or
celebration. This is a sacred time
    • Say something that invites people to come forward
    • You can also invite silence first so people can decide whether they want to speak
    • Explain candle ceremony
    • Ask people to introduce themselves and use the microphone
    • Finish by lighting a candle for the unspoken joys and concerns we hold within
    • You may or may not want a congregational response to the joys and concerns. It’s your
        discretion depending on how long the service will run. One we have used from time to time:
        o May the joys and concerns spoken here this afternoon
           And those which remain unspoken, known only to those who hold them close
           May all these joys and concerns be enfolded in the warmth of this community
           And may that warmth extend in sympathy and compassion to all who are hurting in our
           wider world.

  • say some words to create a space for generosity
        o there are many ways to contribute to the life of this congregation
        o we are grateful for all of them
        o invite people into a point of view that sharing of our money is a sacred act too
        o acknowledge that some folks pay monthly by mail – invite them to hold the basket
            for a moment and receive a prayer of appreciation
        o visitors are invited to pass the basket by – their presence at the service in gift enough
            for us
  • invite them to enjoy an interlude with our musicians
  • receive the offering, say some words of gratitude and place it on the altar – continue to make
     money sacred in this context
  • there are some good ideas here on the Great Story web site

READING – this is optional and will be determined by you in consultation of the speaker. Think
about what it will contribute to the flow, intention and spirit of the service
   • this might be a responsive reading from the hymnal or an insert in the order of service
   • it might be a reading the speaker has chosen
   • it might be a prayer
   • it might be given by the speaker, the lay leader, another congregant


HYMN invite people to stand as they are able and join you in singing. Selecting hymns that
support the theme of the service contributes to a more coherent service

BENEDICTION AND EXTINGUISH THE CHALICE you may do this, or the speaker

  • remind people to join us for refreshments
  • especially invite visitors so we can further welcome them
•   if there will be a post-sermon discussion group, advise them when and where (suggest at
    least a 10 minute pause between the service and commencing the discussion)
•   invite people to be seated and to enjoy one last musical interlude by our special musician
Resources for opening words, chalice lighting, joys and concerns, offertory,

     1. Our UUCWI Hymnal

     2. Mavis has a couple books on worship for brief loan to worship leaders

     3. The Unitarian Universalist Association has lots of material suggestions:

     4. Michael Dowd and Connie Barlow have been collecting “best practices” from UU churches
        they have visited all around the country and offer them to us all on their Great Story web

Resources for stories: remember you do not have to read an entire book… you can paraphrase
it, simplify it, tell it as a story

        Local library
        The Church Administrator, Kit, Mary G., Frances W., Mavis C. and Lorie W. may have
        Consider a myth from other cultures
        Aesop’s fables
        Folktales of the Native American by Dee Brown
        Treasury of Classic Stories for Children by Eric Carle
        33 Multicultural Stories from Other Lands by Pleasant de Spain
        Wisdom Tales from Around the World by Heather Forest
        Her Stories – African American folktales by Virginia Hamilton
        Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
        Echoes of the Elders by Chief Lelooska
        Illustrated Myths of Native America by Tim McNeese
        Favorite Folktales from Around the World by Jane Yolen

        Stories adapted for church by Rev. Ricky Hoyt, a UU minister for Santa Clarita:
        stories sorted by monthly holidays and seasonal celebrations:

        Another story source on the web – some stories written here, others referenced:

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