Chapter 6: Some guidelines for those planning Presbytery training events in the leading of Communion

  • It is suggested that training be spread over at least three evening workshops, or over two Saturday study days.
  • If Regulations 4c and 4d (see Chapter Two) have been observed in the nominating of elders for training, then it may be assumed that those being trained are already competent worship leaders and preachers. But Presbytery tutors should emphasise nevertheless that the Lord's Supper is part of worship as a whole, and must always be celebrated in the context of the preached word of God. Elders should be encouraged to continue equipping themselves for those other roles as well.

It is essential that courses include:

  • The history and theology of Communion (Chapter Two)
  • The shape of the liturgy (Chapter Three)
  • Communion Orders and resources (Chapters Four and Five)
  • The Regulations (Chapter One)
  • Practical skills - tutors share. This should include discussion of actions and gestures. The Lord's Supper is more than words - the symbolism must be acted out to be seen. The leader's manner is important - it must convey a sense of conviction, involvement, and expectancy.

It is desirable that training includes:

  • Pre-reading of designated chapters of the training manual. The training sessions, freed from the burden of too much input at a basic level, can then concentrate on highlighting and exploring particular points.
  • Opportunity to practice writing/compiling communion liturgies. (Alternatively, trainee elders could be required to compare in writing various orders of communion, and to justify their preferences for particular wordings at each point of the communion service).
  • Critiquing of Practice Services. Some Presbyteries may opt for tutor-assessed 'crit. services', others may prefer peer/tutor critiquing of practice leadership in a workshop setting. The use of a video can be very helpful, especially for the one leading.
  • Exposure to a range of different styles of conducting communion. While this could involve visits to churches, it may be more practicable to show brief video clips. If possible the presbytery/UDC tutors should themselves represent a variety of approaches.
  • Discussion of communion in other than a church setting, especially home and hospital communions.
  • Conducting training courses within a presbytery/UDC can be a refreshing and learning exercise for all concerned. Many inisters have appreciated the opportunity to refresh and develop their own understanding of the Lord's Supper.

On-going training in theology and biblical studies:

Those preaching and leading services should consider entering some recognised course of systematic Bible and theology study, such as

  • Kerygma
  • Diploma of Theology (Faculty of Theology, Otago)
  • T.E.E. (Theological Education by Extension) courses available through the Bible College of New Zealand extension department (including a course on Worship)
  • LAOS - the Methodist Lay Preachers course, including a module on preparing for worship
  • Education for Ministry (Four year ecumenical course)
  • Bethel (Church Army - Anglican)
  • Shekinah (Lutheran)
  • New Zealand's Centre for Distance Learning, including a course on Worship

Information on options can be obtained from the Presbyterian Resource Centre, PO Box 9049, Wellington.