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Assisting Ministers

How to be an Assisting Minister

"Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received." -1 Peter 4.10

We are Better Together

“Designated and trained lay persons serve in a variety of leadership roles in the Eucharist. Among these assisting ministers will be readers, interpreters, cantors, musicians, and choir members, servers of communion, acolytes, leaders of prayer, those who prepare for the meal, and those who offer hospitality.”

The role of the assisting minister is a multidisciplinary volunteer position. In the course of the typical worship service, the assisting minister will likely sing portions of the liturgy, lead prayer, guide members of the congregation, lead other assisting ministers, and more. Sharing worship leadership with the pastor is important for many reasons. It

1.  demonstrates that liturgy is, in fact, “the work of the people,”

2.  undermines the idea of pastors being “professional Christians,” 

3.  utilizes the gifts of many, 

4.  underscores the importance of working together in the community of faith.

When the assisting minister and the pastor work well together, it can be a fun dance that models our connection with God and with one another. It is similar to a ballet—teamwork, practice, drama (the good kind), and performance lead to a well-led and well-loved worship experience.

Assisting Minister Training Camp

There are many aspects of the assisting minister role that require practice at home or at church. Perfection is not the goal, but “good enough” sometimes isn’t. Do your best to the glory of God.

1. Sung Liturgy/Cantor
Some of the sung liturgical parts are available on mp3s.

2. Gestures/Body Language
The sanctuary/nave is a large space. Make your gestures big and welcoming.

3. Microphone Use
Proper use of the microphone is essential today. Know how to use the best technology we have and the backup you may need.

4. Reading
Nearly all of the liturgy has been written for you—try not to make it sound like that. Do your best to model a living conversation with God and the congregation.  

Before Worship

1. Pray
Ask for God’s blessing on our worship together and your work in welcoming people into God’s grace. The pastor is often greeting people before the worship service. Be prepared to pray with other worship leaders just before worship begins.

2. Review
Read through the worship leader file. Especially read the prayers and note phraseology and names.

3. Check in with Pastor
Find out about any unique aspects to worship for the day or special instructions, especially baptism services and other special feast days.

4. Connect with Ushers
Be sure everything is prepared. Determine who will be ringing the bell. Make sure the candles are lit 10 minutes before worship.

During Worship

1. Connect
The primary function of worship leaders is to invite the whole congregation into connection with our Lord. With boldness and grace invite all into relationship with God and one another.

2. Fully Participate
When you are not leading, be sure to follow. Model good participation for all.

3. Adapt
When something goes wrong, roll with it and actively work to get through it.

4. Be Joyful
Worship ought to be a Joyful experience. Model that as well.

Use of the Means of Grace: a statement on the practice of Word and Sacrament.
Adopted for guidance and practice by the Fifth Biennial Churchwide Assembly
of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA),
August 19, 1997, page 46. Copyright © 1997 ELCA.