Vocation isn’t all about ordination. Lay ministry is vital to the life and health of every local church. In the Diocese of Salisbury, our newest form of authorised ministry is that of Lay Worship Leader. Here, one recently commissioned Lay Worship Leader writes about her experience.
“At the ministry team meeting, the vicar stated that he had been called away unexpectedly and needed a volunteer to take a Sunday service as there was no one available to cover that service…
He looked at me, others looked at me, and I looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights. Images flashed around my brain as I sought a way out.
Rewind – I recalled a past moment when I agreed to talk at an ecumenical service in our village. I was very unsure of myself so I had prayed for either help or to be let off the hook. I prayed right up to the time I shakily stood up to talk. As I took a deep breath ready to start, an amazing calm that I had never felt before (or since) came over me. I simply knew that I could do this and that this feeling was a real answer to prayer.
So fast forward to the meeting in the vicarage – and me caught in the headlights. The recollection of that unforgettable feeling encouraged me and I found myself agreeing to take the service.
All went well and on his return, the vicar asked me to consider training to be a Lay Worship Leader (LWL). I was already an Lay Pastoral Assistant and I work full time so I was not looking to take on something new. I prayed and spoke to people about it. During this time, the topic of LWL training kept randomly cropping up, creating new thoughts. I eventually took the hints and accepted the offer of attending the course. Having been asked to lead a second service by now, I realised that I needed to know more about how to lead worship well.
I really enjoyed the training course. It ran every two weeks to give us time to practice what we had learnt, to seek the views of others on a range of topics and complete the small amount of homework in preparation for the next session. The course excelled in building confidence as nothing we were asked to do was beyond our skills and the material made everything seem so simple and achievable.
Our group was led by two experienced priests who generously gave up their time, shared their experiences and offered us their professional advice. Our group was happy to share experiences, ideas and resources and (despite the church red tape) I began to feel that I really could do this.
Now in an interregnum, my new mentor agreed that I should take a number of church services in my first year and to continue to lead other informal services within the parish.
A year after starting the course, we were commissioned as Lay Worship Leaders. The Archdeacon of Sarum, Alan Jeans encouraged us to pray and study the Bible – especially on Sunday mornings before church – in case we are unexpectedly called on! I was deeply moved by the fact so many friends took the time to attend the commissioning service or offered me their prayers and best wishes.
On the way home, a thought occurred to me that now the real learning begins.”
Sue Manson, Bratton, Wiltshire, 2016
If you would like more information about the ministry of a Lay Worship Leader,
please contact your parish priest.