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Support Your Supply Preacher: Mastering the Music


The music really makes a church service, doesn’t it? Singing those familiar hymns or maybe even (gasp!) learning a new one. I think choosing the hymns can be one of the more difficult tasks for a supply preacher. You don’t know the congregation and what music they like and know. And you don’t know the musician and what their skills and musical tastes are. And you’re trying to put together a complete worship service “package” for the people in the pews. It can be tough.

In some churches the musician chooses the music but in my experience, most ask the person in the pulpit to do so. If you are booking a supply preacher let them know in advance of you want them to choose the hymns. Make sure to tell them which hymn book you use. Don’t be surprised if your pulpit supply person doesn’t have a copy of the hymn book. I didn’t when I started.

If you can provide contact information for the musician, that’s a help, too. It’s been handy for me to have that so I can go back and forth in case some hymns won’t “work” for the congregation. The preacher and the musician are a team and it helps if they can be in touch before the service.

Some other “notes” for the supply preacher that can be helpful are the stage directions for during the music. Such as, does the preacher process with the choir at the beginning of service and recess with them afterward. One recent Sunday there were a few awkward moments as the choir kept standing behind me as I was waiting for the prelude to finish. The organist was making faces at me that I couldn’t seem to understand – but I knew I was doing something wrong. So I just gave her a nod, thinking she was looking for a signal to finish the prelude. She gamely did just that and I started the service. I asked her after what message had I not received from her grimaces. She said that normally the preacher sits and then the choir sits so that they can enjoy the prelude and that the organist finishes when she’s done and that is the cue for the minister to stand and start the call to worship. Every church does things differently. The more information you can give your supply preacher, the better your service will be.

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