MINISTRY OF USHERING
INTRODUCTION: An Usher is a personal representative of Jesus Christ. Ushering has been a step-child in many churches for too long. The enthusiasm of the Ushers & Greeters is contagious. Ushering is the silent ministry that is a blessing to every service.
I. THE MINISTRY OF USHERING
II Timothy 2:24-25, “The servant of the Lord must be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient; in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves.” I Cor. 14:40 “Let all things be done decently and in
Ushers in the Old Testament tabernacle, and later in the temple, were called doorkeepers. The Psalmist, who wrote to the chief musician in the temple, understood the importance of ushers when he said, “How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts!… Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee…I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of
wickedness” (Ps. 84:1,4,10). One of the functions of doorkeepers in the Old Testament was to receive the collections from the people: “Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may sum the silver which is brought
into the house of the Lord, which the keepers of the door have gathered from the people” (II Kings 22:4). Jeremiah refers to one of these doorkeepers as a “man of God”. He said, “And I brought them into the
house of the Lord, into the chamber of the sons of Hanan…a man of God… the keeper of the door” (Jeremiah 35:4). The Old Testament Chronicler wrote of Shallum and his brethren who “were over the word of the service, keepers of the gates of the tabernacle…keepers of the entry” (I Chronicles 9:19).
B. CAPTAIN OF THE TEMPLE
In the Acts of the Apostles, “the captain of the temple” and “the officers” are referred to several times in connection with arrests and general handling of the crowds. It was these doorkeepers or ushers, who
carried out the orders of the high priests in the persecutions in the temple against the Apostles immediately following Pentecost, and 30 years later in the arrests and maltreatment of St. Paul.
C. USHERS CHARACTER
1. Men of Honest report
2. Men full of the Holy Ghost
3. Men full of Wisdom
4. Men full of Faith
D. A GOOD USHER
1. Colossians 4:6 “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt.” A good Usher adds a tang of joy to a churchgoer’s service instead of a tinge of drabness.
2. Matt. 5:14, Also a good usher is like “a city set upon a hill” while they are inconspicuous they are also landmarks to churchgoers, who learn to depend on them. The first glimpse of an usher to a regular or a
visitor, brings a welcomed response. Someone is interested in me.
3. A good usher…is like a lamp on a stand, not put under a bushel but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.” Matt. 5:15. A lamp brings warmth and welcome to all who are in the room.
Matt. 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.
4. A good usher is a forerunner. As John the Baptist was a forerunner for the ministry of Jesus Christ, the church usher is a forerunner for all the other ministries in the congregation. An attitude the usher
demonstrates in the foyer of the church is a forerunner of the ministry to be experienced in the sanctuary. An usher in the vestibule can enhance or detract from the ministry in the channel by the way he administers his own duties.
II. THE FUNCTIONS OF AN USHER
A. The unpardonable sin of a church usher is inattention. Signals are missed, communications are not heard, the needs of people are ignored, and the quality of an usher’s effectiveness drops to zero when his mind wanders. The admonition of St. Paul includes ushers when he said, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord…for ye serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23, 24). no less concentration is needed by the ushers than is necessary for the pastor, organist, pianist, choir director, soloist, or teacher. The usher is there to serve the people with individual help. In this ministry there are three areas of concentration.
B. CONCENTRATE ON THE PEOPLE. Since the seating habits of people tend to be established, learn these arrangements. Prompt, direct seating of people in their usual place is an indication to them of the ushers
awareness. Seating visitors next to regular churchgoers with a word of introduction is helpful to new people. Awareness of empty seats in this general seating pattern comes only by concentration. If ushers were ranked like men in the army, a promotion should be given to every usher who learns to concentrate on people’s names.
C. CONCENTRATE ON THE SERVICE. It is possible for a church usher to concentrate both on the people he is serving and on the church service in progress. Since every part of a worship service makes its own
contribution to the total worship experience, it is good for the usher to know what is going on at a given moment and why this has been planned.
D. HIS GROOMING
____Personal cleanliness ____Clean shaven
____Deodorant ____Suit pressed
____Mouthwash ____Shoes shined
____No chewing gum ____Clean shirt and tie
____Hair groomed ____Never remove suitcoat
E. HIS ASSIGNMENT
____On time ____Special attention to guests
____Never leave post ____Adequate supply of envelopes,
____Do not assume authority hymn books, and bulletins
____Concentrate on the service
F. HIS ATTITUDE
____Proud to be an usher ____Pleasant fact
____Optimistic about our church ____Non-judgmental attitude
____Pleasant conversation ____Prayerful
G. CHILDREN WHO LEAVE THE SERVICE:
Children should learn very early that it is not permissible to wander in and out from the front seats of the
sanctuary. This is especially true if the children come from non-church homes and are seated apart from supervising adults. Ushers must treat these children very kindly but they cannot be allowed to disturb the
service. Either seat wandering children in the back or provide them with special chairs in the foyer so they will not disturb other worshippers by returning to their seats. Also, when one child leaves the service it
tends to start a procession of others. Appropriateness and understanding are necessary in handling this rather delicate problem. But with tact and kindness children can learn to stay in the sanctuary throughout the entire service. People with special physical problems which make it necessary for them to leave the service should be seated near the rear.
H. REGISTERING OF GUESTS: The ushers are wholly or partially responsible for the registering of guests. Although the system and techniques must be worked out in detail with the pastor and head usher, procedures must include means for identifying guests on sight, making registration materials available to the guests, and turning the results over to the pastor. The important thing is to make a guest feel welcome. Some guests do not want to be identified; and in this case their privacy should be respected.
I. HANDLING OF “CHARACTERS”: Drunks, panhandlers, and other types of characters sometimes drift into churches expecting to reap the benefits of Christian humanitarianism. These situations must be handled with Christian kindness, but firmness, without involving the pastor. Most city churches, who have a greater share of this kind of problem, have procedures already outlined and in the possession of ushers.
J. EMERGENCY PROCEDURES: Physical sickness, fire, power failure, and other emergency procedures should be planned in advance. The telephone numbers for the police department, fire department, public utilities, ambulance service, and physicians’ service should be readily available. Fire extinguishers, flashlights, candles, and matches should be on hand. And even more important are the procedures worked out in advance by the ushers.
We stop where we began. you have a man’s job. There is nothing little about it. Its possibilities are unlimited. It is worthy of your best effort; for “Ye serve the Lord Christ.” Determine right here that He is
going to have your best. “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed.”
REVIVALS & SPECIAL SERVICES
Faithfulness in Revival is a key word. It is disheartening to the pastor if during the special services, the ushering staff is not up to maximum faithfulness and service. No less should be expected of the ushers than
of the organists and other musicians and song leaders. Imagine the confusion in a service if the musicians came late and were haphazard in their ministry. What kind of a service would we have and what kind of an
image would we be projecting. If you cannot come for some reason or another, the Very Least you could do is to call the head, or assistant usher and let them know as to be prepared.
We are always confronted with overflow crowds here in Azusa, especially during special meetings. Keep familiar with our seating arrangements. (See page on seating instructions).
Also, vandalism is an every present problem we are watchful of especially on nights our building is so full. We will not, we cannot have persons loitering around outside and in the back of the church during services. We must ask them to come in the service or leave the premises. They should be made to understand that if anything would be found damaged or missing, they would likely be blamed. I believe this can be done in a sweet, kind, and yet firm spirit.
Please watch for those that disturb services. I recognize our ushers have a big job and responsibility. However, these problem cases will not be allowed to disturb or distract service. TAKE THEM OUTSIDE IS
NECESSARY. These persons should and must be seated in the vestibule and not in the main sanctuary.
Finally, our church is already very crowded under normal conditions. The church is so full at times that some folks and children become very nervous and cause our ushers much discomfort and work. However, let us not become problem oriented in our attitudes. Maintain your personal prayer life and a good expression. You can be sweet, kind, easy to entreat, and yet concerned.
DRESS AND ATTITUDES
The general first impression our visitor will have of our church is very important. Our dress and general appearance will greatly contribute to this impression. We will avoid loud colored shirts and suits. Wild or
extremes in ties and shoes also portray a gaudy impression. Open neck and sport shirts do not give the proper dignity our ushering ministry and our church deserves. A conservative suit with a white shirt and
matching tie will always be in good taste. Let us dress with modesty and moderately and keeping with good Christian principles. We want to be sure this ministry is receiving our proper concern.
Our attitudes and spirits are on display along with our dressing habits. One of my chief concerns in this portion of the supplement material is our approach and spirit. A FLIRTY spirit will not be permissible or
tolerated. Our ministry must be carried on above the carnal and catty ways of this world. If you are single and looking for a date, this ministry should not be lowered to these purposes. Do your romancing and
flirting on your own time and not God’s. Brethren, we are men radiating, men above the slick, cool, playboy ways of this present would.
At the same time we must not come on as HARSH, COLD or IMPERSONAL. Our visitors and members are real people with real needs and feelings. This attendance is a result of their time, effort and concern. Their
continued attendance will be somewhat reflective of our effectiveness.
1. First let’s try to adequately fill the present seating accommodations.
2. Secondly, we will begin to seat a couple of rows in the vestibule directly in front of the glass windows.
3. Thirdly, we will place seats as they are needed on both sides of the center aisle, beginning with the front and moving on back.
4. Next, we will set our chairs along the side aisles and against the pews, not the walls.
5. Next, we will place a row of chairs all the way across the front in the altar area.
6. Next, we will ask our musicians to give up their seats and sit in their respective places at their instruments.
7. Lastly, you can ask some, most probably mothers with babies, to sit in the nursery and at that point I will turn the speaker system in the nursery on.
1. Always give our visitors and guests the prime seating places. We will ask our regular home folks to vacate these seats and move to the auxiliary seating places.
2. I expect our youth to sit in the front if not by their parents. You can set the chairs on the aisles (#3) on the 1st rows for them.
3. When the congregation stands for closing, start quietly, without clanking of chairs to fold up the auxiliary seating and move them out of the way as to facilitate the exit and moving of the congregation.
However, we must not hinder the moving of the spirit. Be sensitive.
(Insert here a drawing of your sanctuary layout & show where to place overflow chairs.)
Name_____________________ Phone_______________ Business phone___________
Name of someone who can contact you_____________________________________
This ministry we are engaged in is one we feel deep conviction about. We are recognizing a real responsibility and at the same time a tremendous challenge. There is so much more involved than passing out song books and taking up offerings. You will find by the included Bible studies that we have great expectations and a genuine burden for this work. We feel the success and growth of our church will be in a great part related to the friendliness, organization, and execution of this ministry.
We are striving for a degree of competence in the carrying out of this ministry. The following questions are submitted for our awareness and preparation for this work. Answer them all and give this back to the
1. Who is the Head Usher?_____________________ Assistant Ushers?________
2. Do you consider yourself friendly? ____ Moody? _____ Pleasant? ______
Grouchy? ______ Snappy? _____
3. Are you willing to wear a coat and tie on your nights as to demonstrate at attitude of dignity and respect? ____________
4. Are you willing to leave aside all “Monkey Business” faces, gum, jokes and jesting while on duty as an usher? _____________
5. Would you be willing to jeopardize your own well-being for the sake of the Body of Christ in a time of crisis? ___________________
6. What would you do…..
A. An unusual character came in and started toward the platform?
B. Someone pulled a knife? _____________________________________
C. Someone pulled a gun? _______________________________________
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 16:13
7. Do you feel you can keep your cool and good expression while being intimidated? _____________________________________________________
8. Where are the fire extinguishers located? ________________________
Which lights are turned down for altar service? __________________
First aid kits? __________________________________________________
Offering envelopes? ______________________________________________
Song books? ______________________________________________________
Police Number? ___________________________________________________
9. What are the area phone numbers to Police Dept.? _________________
Fire Dept.? ______________________________________________________
10. Where is the First Aid Station located? _________________________
11. Who could we call on for First Aid? _____________________________
12. How often should visitors be asked to sign the guest book? ______
_______________________Under what conditions? ___________________
13. Who is responsible for the registering of guests? _______________
14. Where is the guest book located? ________________________________
15. What time should we be expected to be on duty? __________________
Off duty? _______________________________________________________
16. What would you do if……
A. A long distance call came for the preacher? ______________________
B. Someone has a prayer request? ____________________________________
C. Someone is talking and cutting up? _______________________________
D. Someone is making fun or disrupting service? _____________________
E. A crowd begins to gather in emergencies? _________________________
17. Give me an example of a prayer of blessing for the offering.
The following articles are examples of why ushers are important and why they need to stay alert at all times.
MAN STABS FIVE WORSHIPERS AT CHURCH
Forth Worth, Texas — A homeless man who stabbed five worshipers during Mass at a cathedral remained in critical condition today from knife wounds apparently suffered when ushers tackled him, officials said.
“Oh God, oh God, oh God!” the 28-year-old man cried as he was wrestled to the floor of St. Patrick Cathedral on Sunday morning, witnesses said.
Police Capt. Jerry Blaisdell speculated that the man fell on the pocket knife used in the stabbings, which left two men in serious condition today.
“He had gone berserk inside the church and stabbed several people before being subdued,” said police Sgt. Ken Francis.
Attempted murder charges were being prepared against the suspect, said Blaisdell. Police said they would not release the man’s name until the charges were filed.
The man was well know to officials at local shelters for the homeless, police officers said.
He was charged with assault last month, and was a robbery victim on Nov. 4, police said, refusing to elaborate.
The man was in critical condition at John Peter Smith Hospital with three stab wounds, one penetrating his heart. Doctors said one of the wounds was in the left ventricle of his heart.
“We didn’t know that he was hurt or anything,” said Raul “Rudy” Galvan, who leaped from his pew to help ushers control the man. “We didn’t know the knife was in him. We thought he might have had it in his hand, concealing it and that he wanted to try to get up and stab more people.”
John H. Sheedy, an 80-year-old former prizefighter who was stabbed in the rib cage, and David A. Yaniko, 54, who was wounded in the abdomen, were in serious condition at Fort Worth Osteopathic Medical Center, officials said.
Felix Lozano, 45, was treated at Harris Hospital for an abdomen wound, while Galvan and an unidentified man were treated elsewhere for less serious cuts, officials said.
The Rev. Gonzalo Morales, who was conducting services at the cathedral, said the stabbings were committed by a disheveled man who arrived for the 8 a.m. Mass.
It was the first of three morning Masses at the downtown church, which operates several programs for the homeless.
Morales said he walked over to the man and spoke to him after the second Mass because on parishioner, a police officer, had said the man seemed potentially dangerous.
“I asked him, ‘Can I do anything?’ and he said, ‘No, I just want to stay and pray.'” Morales recalled. “Of course, there was nothing I could do with him then, but I made the ushers very aware of it.”
FIVE DIE AS GUNMAN OPENS FIRE IN CHURCH
Daingerfields, Texas — Alvin King III was supposed to go on trial today. His daughter has filed a charge of incest, and King needed some character witnesses. But several members of the First Baptist Church,
where he used to go to services, had turned him down.
On Sunday, police say, King kicked open the doors of the church as the congregation sang “More About Jesus.” People in the back rows turned around and saw a man in steel helmet and flak jacket, carrying two
rifles and two handguns.
He shouted, “This is war!” and opened fire.
In the next few moments five people, including a 7-year-old girl, were killed or fatally shot. Ten others were wounded. King was wrestled outside by two ushers who were killed in the struggle, police said, and then he ended it by shooting himself in the head.
He was in critical condition early today, but expected to survive.
King, 45, a former high school math teacher with a Ph.D. in psychology who had quit teaching seven years ago and become a farmer, was charged with capital murder.
The tragedy in this east Texas town of 2,600 began at about 11:20 a.m. with the gunman’s abrupt entrance into the church. Police said he carried M-1 and AR-15 rifles and .38-caliber and .22-caliber revolvers.
He fired first with an M-1 rifle.
“Those bullets were flying,” said Arthur Graves, 69, who was sot in the shoulder. “Some of the congregation started falling in between the pews and some started jumping up and down. People were screaming and crying and taking on. Boy, was it pitiful!”
The sounds of the shooting were broadcast live on radio station KEGG, which normally carries Sunday services.
“Everybody started screaming and they saw it was for real,” Greaves said. “Then I saw this poor little girl lying in a puddle of blood. The little girl was sitting next to us in the back row. I’ll never forget that. There she lay.”
Police said the gunman fired at random, hitting 13 people in the first fusillade. Of those, Gina Linam, 7, and Thelma Richardson, 78, were killed immediately. Both were shot in the head. Gene Gandy, 50, died of
a gunshot wound to the stomach about 11 hours later in a nearby hospital.
The toll could have been much higher, officials said, but for three men’s heroics.
Chris Hall, a general contractor who had once been a student of King’s, was the first to reach the gunman. He stripped him of both rifles.
Then ushers Kenneth Truitt and J.Y. “Red” McDaniel, both 79, managed to wrestle him out of the church, only to be shot to death during the struggle.
“They just bear-hugged him out the door, and all the time I could hear a gun shooting,” said Hall. McDaniel was shot in the stomach four times and died on the church steps. Truitt was shot in the side and died
shortly after noon in a hospital.
District Attorney Charles M. Cobb said King was indicted last fall on charges of incest based on a complaint filed by King’s 21-year-old daughter, Cynthia, who no lives in Dallas. The indictment alleges that the act took place in 1977. The trial was to have begun today in Sulphure Springs, about 50 miles northwest of here.
Harold Edwards, a church deacon and a former colleague of King’s, said King had asked several other members of the church to testify at his trial and all of them had refused
A friendly usher can sometimes do more for a church than a preacher, says United Methodist Bishop Charles F. Golden of Los Angeles.
“Every church ought to have a good church school and good, sensitive greeters and ushers. Ushers can turn more people away from a church than you can get in if they’re not properly trained,” says Golden.
Friendliness and all those things that come under the heading of the “personal touch” often do more to win converts than any amount of sermonizing, Golden said in an interview.
“People are very sensitive to these kinds of things. The way you greet people can have an awful lot to do with whether or not they become part of your church community,” he said.
Golden suggested that a general lack of warmth – personally and in ritual – may be one reason the Pacific Southwest Conference, over which he presides, has achieved a distinction of sorts by leading the 9.9
million member denomination in membership losses in recent years.
“We may not be the best conference, but we’re the best known,” Golden said.
Golden said one reason the church has been losing members is that its services are too tame and colorless.
“I think it’s because we’ve been very stiff in many ways,” said Golden. “We’re not quite as emotional as some people would like us to be.”
How to win back the members it has lost and begin growing again is a prime conference priority and the inspiration for a series of conference-wide meetings Golden has been holding with ministers, lay adults and youth.
The Mississippi-born Golden says the Methodist church regards all its members as ministers responsible for witnessing to their faith and winning converts.
Too often, said Golden, these responsibilities have been left to the pastors.
“In our church, Protestant in tradition, we believe all baptized Christians are in ministry. We are essentially a lay church and I suspect we always will be,” said Golden.
Asked if the church wasn’t losing members because of the widespread feeling that Methodism has little doctrine and that one can believe almost anything and be a Methodist, Golden said this is “an unfair
interpretation” of Methodism’s position on belief and practice.
Cultural pluralism is possible, but doctrinal pluralism in religion is not, Golden said.
He said the Methodist Book of Discipline clearly lists what Methodists believe, but he also admitted that even some Methodists say the church has no theology.
“It’s unfair to say we have no theology,” said Golden. “Unfortunately, we have no way of policing our members. If I were to point to a weakness in our church, I’d say that was the weakness.
“But we do not say that every Methodist can say or do what he pleases. We do have a theology.”
Golden said Methodist theology closely resembles that of the Church of England, of which Methodism is an off-shoot. “When people say we don’t have a theology, they don’t know what they’re talking about,” he said.
But Golden said Methodists permit “a variety of beliefs” on many questions.
The United Methodist Church can say war is wrong because it involves the taking of human life, while at the same time upholding the right of individual Methodists to believe otherwise. Golden said.
(The above material was prepared by the United Pentecostal Church in Azusa, CA.)
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