Getting resourced for Leading Worship

16 May 2021 by Rev Andrew Smith in: Letters, Thoughts, News

Getting resourced for leading worship

From Rev Andrew Smith
Presbytery Minister - Congregation Futures

Across our Presbytery we are blessed to have many lay people offering worship leadership in our congregations. It is wonderful to see a large cohort of lay leaders taking up opportunities to further equip themselves for the ministry to which they are called through participation in the “Living our Faith” series. Last year this included the subject “Exploring the New Testament” by Zoom, and this year there are 43 participants (30 are from within the Canberra Region Presbytery) studying the subject “Exploring the Old Testament” by zoom. Ten of these participants are seeking to become accredited Lay Preachers (five of these are from our Presbytery). At this link to the Uniting Mission and Education website you can find further subjects in the “Living our Faith” series: Upcoming Events - Uniting Mission and Education

There are also a whole host of resources readily available to help lay leaders prepare for leading worship week to week. Perhaps you would be interested in some starter thoughts for lectionary readings each week. If this is you, take a look at our NSW/ACT Synod Insights magazine, which contains a brief section providing lectionary reflections. You can find it by following the link, and then scrolling down a couple of pages to the heading “Lectionary Reflections” – then click on the month you are interested in:  Insights Magazine (

If you are wanting to go a bit deeper, there is a massive selection of resources available from our National Assembly website. Here is a link to the page: Uniting Church in Australia Assembly - Worship Resources and Publications (

As you scroll down the page you will come to “Worship and preaching links”. Looking under “read more” you will find links to online commentaries on scripture passages, and to an assortment of other worship leading resources, including resources from Bruce Prewer, Laughing Bird and Mustard Seed. There are also links to help you with music selection, all age resources and drama scripts.

Scrolling down further you will find the heading “Guidelines for worship”. The worship planning guide sets out the shape of worship. There are also guidelines for visiting preachers or speakers, and  other important resources for leaders in the UCA.

When looking at the worship planning guide, it is really important to understand the freedom there is within the “ordered liberty”. The guide gives a shape to the worship (the ‘order’) and then gives the space to be creative in what fills that shape (‘liberty’). There are more suggestions for being creative in that freedom under the heading “Alive to God in worship”.

The shape for worship makes sense to me as I imagine it to be much like how I would shape the time of friends coming to my home for dinner – something like this:

  • The gathering part of worship is like the welcoming of dinner guests at the door and then inviting into the lounge room.
  • Receiving the word in the worship shape is like the deep conversation that happens in the lounge room.
  • Holy Communion is like going to the dining room to share a meal – where often deeper conversation and meaning is found.
  • The sending out part of worship is like the end of the night when we go our separate ways, changed by our time together to go into the rest of lives.

The shape for worship follows this same kind of natural flow that we are familiar with when it comes to sharing an evening with dinner guests in our homes. I encourage you to take some time to browse through the resources at these link to find what might useful to you in your preparations for leading worship.