The other day at church, I led the adult education class on “The Why and What of the Narrative Lectionary?” as my congregation is getting ready to move into the Narrative Lectionary starting in Advent.
The “what” part is easy, right? It’s a 4 year reading cycle that follows the trajectory of the Bible, from creation to the early church. You hit all the big stories (creation, Abraham, Moses, prophets, Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection, and acts)!
But what I love is sharing the “why” of the Narrative Lectionary. You see, my passion is helping people to become storytellers of the faith, and one “why” of the NL is to help shift the church culture to do just that.
That’s when it came to me: No more sermon notes. If one outcome [of what we do at church] is to prepare kids, youth, and adults to become storytellers of the faith, then we have to create space in worship, in education, and in confirmation programs for people to have chance to practice and embody the faith.
So confirmation students no longer do sermon notes. Instead they are becoming assisting ministers. My tagline of “why” this shift is “I don’t want confirmation students to write me what they hear; I want them to live out what they hear.” It’s all about becoming storytellers of the faith, and being an assisting minister is one way to be just that! Training, mechanics, and practice have been integral in making this shift.
Assisting Minister Training
- Week 1: Prayer. Assisting ministers write the intercessory prayers. We talked about what prayer is and what prayer is not, how to start a prayer, names for God, and verb usage. Then, we practiced writing prayers in small groups.
- Week 2: Holy Communion. Assisting ministers serve communion. We talked about what holy communion is about, how to serve it, what to say, and what to do. Then, we practiced serving communion to each others.
- Week 3: Dismissal. Assisting ministers dismiss the congregation. We talked about what it means to say, “Go in peace. Serve the Lord. Thanks be to God.” Then, we practiced saying it in small groups.
Assisting Minister Mechanics
- Youth signed up at the beginning of the year for various roles include assisting ministers.
- Postcards go out each week as a reminder of their sign up.
- My role is to follow up by Wednesday with an email and three attachments: sample prayers, the preaching text, and a Writing prayers for worship how-to for families.
Assisting Minister Practice
Youth arrive to church 15 minutes early to practice their prayers from the lectern, a chance to feel out the space, and ask any last minute questions.
One Last Thought
Isn’t time for something new? My mother who is 80 years old loved this idea for youth. She said, “I did sermon notes when I was a kid! Over 60 years ago!” That was more than enough for me to do something else.
But I don’t want to do something new for the sake of doing something new. The outcome has to be better than that, and it is. Youth as assisting ministers have a voice in worship, prayers of gratitude and grace, and stand in the slim space of God’s presence with others. Most importantly, they are storytellers of the faith.
No more sermon notes.