Good preaching may be rare, and this may often account for poor attendance. Good singing, by choir and congregation, may likewise be rare. But what is so rare as intelligent church ushering!

The importance of good ushering has never been adequately emphasized, nor has the importance of the usher. A person visiting the church for the first time may forget many things about the service, but he is not likely to forget the usher who met him at the door, or the minister who stood in the pulpit.

If the usher presents a neat appearance and is alert, friendly, and helpful, the newcomer is off to a good start. He is comfortably seated; he has an order of service and a hymnal; and he is ready to worship and to listen to the preacher, and possibly to come again. But if the usher at the door is expressionless and unbending, or fails to perform graciously all the functions of a good usher, something has been lost that cannot easily be recovered. The outcome of a church service and the blessing received depend largely upon trifles, and the quality of ushering is often decisive.

For effective ushering, a certain amount of preparation is necessary. Let there be, first of all, a carefully selected group of ushers who are always in place and who have been fully instructed in their functions. Because of the importance of his office, the head usher should be elected by the church subject to the approval of the pastor.

An ushers’ manual is practically indispensable. Excellent manuals are available at small cost at denominational bookstores. If the ushers’ group has not been formally organized and trained, the head usher might hold a number of training sessions in which the manual would be studied and discussed. Thereafter, any new usher would begin with a careful study of the manual. This is especially important in a church that seeks to have every male member within a certain age span take his turn at ushering for a month at a stretch. This procedure has certain values for the fellowship of the church, and certain hazards as well.

It might be good on occasion to have an usher sit on the pulpit platform and have some part in the worship service; he could thereby observe the functioning of the ushers from a new angle. If every member could occasionally be the minister, this might have a profound effect on the seating and might greatly simplify the work of the usher. The member who has been sitting off to one side, as a spectator, might see how much more he could mean to the service if he moved over into the group. And the usher who wedges the late-comers into the rear pew so tightly that they can scarcely breathe might find ways to distribute the audience more judiciously.

An audience of three hundred may look like a mere handful in a sanctuary built for one thousand, but with careful ushering the sanctuary can, with the same attendance, give the impression of being “comfortably filled.”

The work of the usher includes far more than leading a worshiper to a pew and “lifting the collection” later in the service. A priceless asset to any church is the usher who dignifies his high office by warmly welcoming and wisely seating the visitor, and then looking after his comfort until the service is over. He will be particularly concerned about temperature, drafts, lighting, acoustics, and other physical factors that might make the difference between an hour of rich spiritual blessing and an hour of physical discomfort and frustration.

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