Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Ministry of Usher

One of the most vital ministries in the church is that of usher.  The ushers are a huge presence in setting the tone for worship and helping to prepare a proper environment so that people can have a positive worship experience.

An usher serves as a “first representative” of Jesus Christ for the worship service.  Although we enjoy our services at PCC and often sit on the edge of our seats, make no mistake, this is a holy event where God is meeting with His people and speaking through His Word.  From the tabernacle in the Old Testament to the temple and synagogue in the New Testament, God’s presence and the teaching of His word is of supreme importance.  An usher can make or break this experience.

Who Can Serve as an Usher?
Not just anyone can be an usher; in the same way that not just anyone can sing on the worship team, or work in children’s ministry, or lead a Bible class.  The right gifts, passion, and abilities are necessary for the people chosen for this role .

Rather than practice “random recruiting”, a good qualification is the Fruit of the Spirit as found in Galatians 5:22-23.  That is a solid guideline for a good usher.  This is not about perfection, but a heartfelt motive and desire to live a godly life as a spirit-filled believer.

Qualifications of an Usher
·      You understand the vital role of the usher ministry.
·      You enjoy and care about people.
·      You possess a servant heart and show evidence of the Fruit of the Spirit
·      You are committed to the vision of Pace Community Church
·      You are supportive of the leadership at Pace Community Church
Responsibilities of an Usher

1.  Prepare yourself spiritually.  A good usher comes prepared mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  You should connect with God as part of your preparation.  Don’t feel like this requires an hour of Bible study before you show up.  God is more interested in the commitment of your heart than anything else. Take a few moments at home to connect with God and ask Him to use you as a representative of His love and an agent of His redemptive plan.

2.  Take initiative!  This is huge. The cardinal sin of an usher is to not pay attention.  At all times watch what is going on in your section and jump in to handle it.  If you aren’t sure what to do, ask your section leader. The only wrong choice is to do nothing. Never assume “someone else" is taking care of the need.  Pay attention, take initiative, and make it happen!!

3.  Absorb the pressure of the moment, don’t transfer it.  Most of the ministry of an usher is a pure joy. Seriously, it’s a lot of fun. But on occasion there are moments of pressure when someone is upset or something isn’t working right.  In these moments you should never transfer your own frustration onto anyone else, particurlary the person who is entering into their worship experience.  You are the leader.  You absorb the pressure.  Get help if you need it, but never make the issue someone else's problem.  Deliver a solution.

4.  Own your section, lead your section, and shepherd your section.  This is exciting.  As a leader you are empowered to take ownership of the area of seats you serve in and give leadership where needed. Think of your area like your own flock; that you are responsible to do everything in your power to ensure that all those people have the best opportunity possible to connect with and hear from God. You can shepherd the people by getting to know them, praying for them, learning their names, and meeting appropriate needs.

5.  Follow the directions of your head usher.  All good leaders are good followers.  It is important that you follow the leadership of the person responsible to lead you.  Be supportive and encouraging.  Offer suggestions if you have good ideas, but don’t be overly sensitive if your ideas aren’t used. Your head usher will do his best to serve and lead you and the rest of his team well.

Core Tasks

1.  Help people find a seat.  This seems obvious, but there is an art to it.  The art is all about making people, especially new people and those far from God, feel comfortable. Their insecurities can rise and their feelings of self-consciousness prevent them from connecting with God.

Imagine what it feels like to walk into an unfamiliar restaurant or other environment and not know what to do.  Do I seat myself or do I wait to be seated?  Who do I talk to if I have a question?  Who do I tell if I have special circumstances? (e.g. potential medical condition)

Your job is to move toward and engage people quickly and with confidence to help them know what to do.  Don’t leave people hanging.  Let them know that you can handle anything they need, and that you are the one that can make this a smooth and enjoyable experience.  Don’t make them come to you and ask. You approach them with confidence and a smile. Take charge with grace and poise.

2.  Collect the offering.  On a divine level, the offering is part of worship.  It is the opportunity for worshippers to express their love, trust and obedience toward God.  On a practical level, the financial needs of a large church are significant. Your smooth and coordinated execution of an offering can and does impact the resources that fund your church and its ministries. On a security level, this is one of the most detailed functions of an usher.

3.  Assist in the execution of special moments.  Most of the time our church services are pretty much the same.  But on some occassions we mix things up, change the order of service, and add creative elements.  Some of the special moments are fun, some are crazy, and some are deeply spiritual.  The role of an usher is crucial to these moments being leveraged toward life-change.  So we are depending on your flexibility.  Don’t get flustered when last minute changes are made.  That will happen.  Just keep positive, stay flexible and know that God’s Spirit is at work and that makes all the difference.

4.  Get an accurate count of attendance.  Why does this matter so much?  Why must these numbers be so accurate? Why can’t we just make a good estimate?  The answer is that every number represents a person.  We want to be good stewards of all that God has entrusted to us and therefore it matters that we know how well we are reaching people.  Just like in the book of Acts, they counted, recorded, and celebrated how many people were saved.   We count too!

5. Clean up the auditorium.  People will leave papers, cups and “stuff” behind after they leave.  The least glamorous part of an usher’s ministry is cleaning up after each service, yet is is also an honor because our church building is a place of worship.  So drape a towel over your arm (like the heart of a servant does) and do a quick pick-up of the room.  In addition, supplies such as Bibles and pens are replenished.

Remember, many hands make light work.  If all ushers jump in and help, it takes about 10 minutes.

3.  Common Sense
·      Maintain proper appearance and personal hygiene.
·      Show up on time:  this means show up early.
·      Read the bulletin – get informed, stay informed.
·      Wear your name tag, ushers shirt, or other special attire.
·      You are not required to usher every Sunday, but when you are on the schedule, give it 100%.
·      If you are on the schedule and can’t make it, it is imperative that you call your section leader.
·      Smile, talk to people, and learn their names!!

Happy ushering!!

PS – We are receiving Communion this Sunday.  The elements you will be serving our congregation represent the Body of Christ.  This is a sacred privilege you have.

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