Do's and Dont's in Leading Worship

Don't feel it's necessary to reinvent the wheel. Originality in worship is no special virtue. Familiar language, like an old shoe, soothes and reassures.

Don't put anybody down, including yourself. Do take care of your congregation. They are really yours; they have placed themselves in your care for an hour. Some are hurting. Some are angry. Some need sympathy, others to be challenged, others just to laugh or cry. Try to make worship a safe place for them all.

Do over-rehearse. Don't try to wing it until you've been doing this every week for, say, ten years. Maybe not even then.

Don't draw attention to yourself. The message counts, not the messenger. Do, however, share something of yourself in worship. If you can, try to say something that costs you something to say.

Do be brief. Each time you open your mouth to speak, two hundred others must keep theirs shut. Leave them asking for more, not wishing for less.


Shared Ministry Sourcebook: Resources for Clergy and Lay Ministering Together in UU Congregations, out of print, edited by Barbara Child, 1996, Unitarian Universalist Association.

About the Author

  • Donald E. Skinner was the founding editor of the InterConnections newsletter for congregational leaders and a senior editor of UU World from 1998 until his retirement in 2014. He is a member of the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church in Lenexa, Kansas.

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