To provide a structure around which an effective program of training, on-going education and adult spiritual formation can be built focused on lay Ministers of the Word.
The four-session program described emphasizes the following:
- The objective of the Lector is not merely to be an interesting oral reader of the Bible; it is to provide effective proclamation of God’s Word in Scripture. Almost any level of an individual’s public speaking skills is acceptable as a starting point. The training program provides a foundation for further skill development for all members of the ministry.
- A person’s success as a Lector depends on how well the person knows and accepts himself or herself and is ready and willing to change those aspects of “self” that can be improved. This includes vocal skills and understanding of Scripture as well as personal faith and belief. Unless the Lector is willing to continue to grow, his or her effectiveness will rapidly diminish.
- Effective proclamation of the Scriptures depends on the quality of how the Lector prepares.
Is all this necessary to ensure an effective Ministry of the Word in a parish? Yes! God’s Word is worthy of the effort! The Lector is Jesus’ instrument for reaching that person or persons in the congregation that most needs to hear the Word as proclaimed by the Lector at the moment it is proclaimed. In addition to the words of the Scripture, themselves, the proclamation skills of the lector are required to maximize the impact of God’s Word on the individual(s). Merely reading the words aloud, even dramatically, will ring hollow compared to proclaiming the words because of one’s conviction as well as skill. In most parishes few lectors are polished public speakers as a result of personal education, training, or occupation. For this reason it is important, then, to provide the means and tools necessary to ensure the effectiveness of those called to this ministry.
A second purpose of the training program is to be a means of encouraging more men and women to become lectors. Many people, in our opinion, could become wonderful lectors if they had access to a training program which was more than: “Here’s the book. I’ll show you around, now. Look over the readings for Sunday, and be at the 9:00am Mass.” One’s confidence as a lector is enhanced the more one realizes he or she “knows” the how and what of the task. It is further enhanced when one realizes that there exists a means to learn the “how” and the “what” under the guidance of someone “who knows what they’re doing”.
Who Should Provide Lector Training?
Lector training is technically the responsibility of the clergy; however, it is almost always delegated to the laity. Lector training is best done by a current lector who:
- is committed to his or her ministry and demonstrates this commitment by how they live their faith,
- has a positive attitude toward people,
- demonstrates effective proclamation skills,
- has a commitment to study,
- is easy to approach,
- is welcoming and can meet and talk comfortably with others.
Involve the pastor, associate pastor or deacon in the lector training program by inviting them to meet candidates as a group, offer brief comments on the ministry, and pronounce a Blessing on the new lectors as part of the final training session.
Provide a Lector Trainee Binder prepared by the parish for each Trainee. There are some 50 pages of text (copied 2 pages to 1 piece of paper). A 1/2” three-ring binder is ideal. The contents of this binder include
- Parish philosophy/program overview
- Session agenda and content
- Prayers and Meditations
- Readings (most of which are assigned within the program)
The parish should provide each lector with a copy of the Workbook for Lectors and Gospel Readers (Liturgical Training Press), or some similar preparation aid. This annual publication is an excellent preparation aid that any proclaimer of Scripture can use. The Workbook… contains a variety of proclamation tips, suggestions, and observations which help lectors enrich their proclamation efforts. It will be an excellent supplement to a Bible (each trainee should be encouraged to obtain a personal study bible as part of their own library — a Catholic study bible is recommended.
The Trainer’s Manual is about 250 pages of text (copied two pages to one piece of paper), although some pages are blank on one side. A 1” three-ring binder is recommended for this manual.
Why four sessions when all many lectors receive is perhaps an hour or two of “orientation”? There are several reasons, all of which revolve around the role Time plays in how humans learn their skills. Examine what a lector does:
- Participates as an active minister in the ritual of the Eucharistic Celebration.
- Uses the human voice, alone, to help convey the meaning and significance of the words in a passage from Scripture to the assembly, given its members’ varied backgrounds, ages, education, and religious maturity.
- Deals with a variety of textual items designed for various purposes – proclamation, prayer, public information, biblical language, and style.
- Acts as an example to others of the impact of faith on one’s personal living.
The knowledge and skills required to meet these responsibilities are developed over time through repeated use. Consequently, one of the features of the training program described in the Trainer’s Manual is to expose new lectors to the repeated use of skills and behaviors they will need through a progression of selected proclamation experiences. Demonstrating, practicing, and critiquing the use of these new tools takes time and effort. This lector training program recognizes that personal effectiveness can be enhanced by focused, repeated experiences which build on each other.
The church looks very different from the altar! Most people attending Mass have never been in a situation where they viewed the altar as anything but the focus of their attention. They frequently are unaware of or pay attention to the sequences of activities occurring around the altar table except in the most general terms. Consequently, expecting individuals to internalize the set of procedures required to fulfill a ministry simply by telling them what the procedures are is almost worthless. We do our best at something new when we have an opportunity to practice each of the detailed actions involved. Additionally, speaking to several hundred people can feel very different from speaking before of group of 20-30 co-workers, etc.
The spiritual development of those involved in this ministry is as important as its other aspects. Many people seldom have an opportunity to share their religious faith and its meaning for them, personally, with others outside their family circle. Proclaiming Scripture effectively requires that one share with a large group of people one’s own understanding and appreciation of what is being proclaimed.
Finally, the focus of this program on the proclamation of Scripture provides an effective environment to expand lectors’ knowledge and understanding of the history, theology, philosophy, and significance of Christian belief in their lives and the lives of others. Trainees then have an opportunity to share their knowledge and understanding with one another in a non-threatening atmosphere before attempting to do so with a large group of listeners. History and theology readily come into play in ways that the participants have never had an opportunity to experience. The end result is a gradual but noticeable improvement in proclamation effectiveness during all liturgies.
For more information please contact us.