Who is in charge of worship in the local church?

The Rev. HiRho Park presides over communion in Baltimore, MD. 2000 file photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS.
The Rev. HiRho Park presides over communion in Baltimore, MD. 2000 file photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS.

The appointed pastor is given this responsibility. The Book of Discipline describes the responsibilities of a pastor and says the pastor is "to preach the Word of God, lead in worship, read and teach the Scriptures and engage the people in study and witness."

The Rev. Dan Benedict (director of worship resources with Discipleship Ministries, 1993-2005) explains, "The Discipline does give the pastor responsibility for overseeing the worship life of the congregation. Oversight, however, does not mean carelessness in relationship to things, people, and the liturgy of the church. It means engaging in dialogue and respectful choosing that honors local and historic traditions and practices along with the mission of the church in its community. It is never the pastor's worship. It is never to be just the local congregation's worship."

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Some local churches elect a worship committee or worship planning team to work with the pastor and the music leaders in planning for and preparing the worship services.

The Rev. Taylor Burton Edwards (director of worship resources, 2005-2018) notes, "Being responsible for worship does not always mean making all decisions about worship planning, not even about sermon topics. It's the pastor's role to make sure worship that engages all the gifts of all the people is planned and planned well. But often the best planning happens when the pastor seeks to facilitate conversation rather than direct their work."


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