Wednesday, 21 March 2007

The role of Sidespeople

From the flyer accompanying the nomination forms for this year's elections:

Sidespeople have a very important role in making the church ready for worship and for assisting people who come to our services. Under the supervision of the Churchwardens, their ministry is about ordering the church for worship. They should be prepared to be in church before anyone else, to set out the books and anything else that is needed. They share with the Welcomers, the crucial responsibility of greeting newcomers and established church members. If anyone needs assistance during a service, the sidespeople must beready to help at a moment’s notice. Sidespeople may notice when someone needs attention or an invitation to stay, talk or pray with others. At the end of the service, they must be prepared to stay behind to ensure that the church is in good order and that everything is put away tidily and safely.

Sidespeople need excellent people-skills, ready to engage and to serve the people who come to church. Research shows that for many people, the experience of being greeted and made welcome is as important as the preaching or the music in helping them to draw close to God. They also need to be prepared to offer the time that is needed on the Sunday mornings that they are on duty, as their responsibilities require up to an hour before the service and an hour afterwards.

Sidespeople are therefore on the front-line of evangelism and pastoral care. They are elected annually at the Annual Parochial Church Meeting.