Creating-a-Lay-Led-Service Archive 10-30-12

Creating a Lay-Led Service

Creating A Lay-Led Service
at First Church in Belmont

Creating a lay-led service can be a meaningful process for those involved as well as a highlight of the church worship calendar.

Prepare to be moved and to move others. Give yourself enough time to see the full potential of what you are bringing to the congregation.

Develop a proposal  Describe your service topic and goal(s) in writing. State the message you are trying to get across. It doesn’t have to be polished at this stage.

Present it to the Worship Committee  Arrange to present your proposal to the Worship Committee. Include any information you already have formulated, such as ideas about music, readings, and the people involved. (If you need help in forming your proposal, contact the Worship Committee for assistance.)

The discussion will be aimed at exploring and elaborating the spiritual mission of your service and rallying any needed support or expertise. One or more Worship Committee members will act as liaison members of your service team to help guide the process. NOTE: The Committee will review your idea and let you know about approval at a later date.

Find other people to work with you  Lay-led services are a great collaborative activity. You will learn much from each other and enjoy yourself more.

The beauty and power of this type of service comes from the outpouring of those you work with to create something that will be a lasting collective memory. The original idea will often be bettered, and then bettered again as the spirit of the group takes hold. Allow time to fully develop your message.

Sermon vs. shorter talks  It is generally easier to have three or more short talks than to have one person deliver a sermon. A few short talks can also be more interesting since different perspectives are included. It breaks up the service nicely, too. The congregation really appreciates the variety of inspiration that comes from having more than one participant.

Once your proposal is approved  The following are helpful people to contact for de-veloping the different elements of your service:

MUSIC — Alfa Radford, our Minister of Music, needs to be contacted several weeks beforehand regarding your music needs; she’s a great source of ideas as well.

STORY/HOMILY — If you want to include a story/homily, Laurel Whitehouse, the Director of Religious Education, is a wonderful resource.


CONTENT/PLANNING — Katharine Canfield, Richard Waring

Nothing is carved in stone  Does your group want to tell the story or would you feel better having the DRE doing it? How about the Candles of Concern and Celebration? The music is often best left in Alfa’s capable hands.

Usually what happens is that the group dynamic leads to possibilities that seemed daunting at the beginning. Be open. Rise to the occasion!

You probably need at least 8 weeks  to plan and bring about a well thought out service. It’s much like a theatrical performance: content will need much thought and work, and delivery will require repeated rehearsals at home and one in the sanctuary itself. Be sure the sound system is on so you can get used to hearing your voice amplified. It can be very disconcerting at first. Coordinating the various elements is no small task. It’s a lot more complicated when several lay people are conducting the service than when one or two professional ministers are doing so. Two rehearsals may be needed: one the Saturday before and the other the Saturday of your service.

Logistics  Two weeks before your service (find out the deadline), submit a short blurb (3 or 4 sentences) to go on the cover of The Unitarian. One week before (find out deadline), submit an Order of Service to Susan Street.

A word about music  Much of what you work with will be the words of your service. Music can lend incredible support. Rightly chosen, the hymns, solos, and anthem can take us places beyond words or act as a needed solace or counterpoint to the service theme. Welcome both opportunities. Reminders of our fine tradition in the form of music and responsive readings give us a context in which to comprehend and digest your service’s meaning.

Timing  Plan for about 35-40 minutes because it will tend to run longer than the time you plan.