Local preachers and worship leaders 

Mrs Liz Little 

The statistics for this year show a small but significant reduction in numbers across the board and this has an impact on our ability to continue to provide good quality worship in all our churches each Sunday. Some Local Preachers regularly take two services on one Sunday and some circuits are relying more heavily on Local Arrangements. The reasons are varied; not all Local Preachers are able to offer as many dates as would have been the norm some years ago and health problems for presbyters plus an overall shortage of presbyters has led to increasing demands upon Local Preachers. 
These issues also mean that many churches are making more demands upon their Worship Leaders, who are an invaluable resource across the District. A reduction in the numbers of people coming forward to train for this role is therefore a concern. Some are deterred by the demands of the Worship: Leading and Preaching course and some circuits are pursuing the new option of preparing a “lighter” version. However, many of those who have completed the Worship Leader half of the course will testify to the many benefits of the training, especially if they are regularly being asked to lead a whole act of worship. It is important to strike a balance between making excessive demands on people but at the same time ensuring that we effectively support and train all those who are called to lead God’s people in worship. 
This training needs to be on-going and across the District; there are exciting and creative approaches to providing continuing development. Two circuits run a regular Worship Academy, whilst others offer occasional study days or small groups. The topics covered range from Bible study to Godly Play, Christian Mindfulness to Café Church, and some cover practical issues like voice projection. 
On a personal note, I welcome the appointment of Geoff Best as District Tutor, a post which has not been filled for many years. Between us, we can offer support to circuits in a variety of ways.