Lay Preaching Basics – eBook

Lay Preaching Basics: A Practical Guide to Leading Worship.
By Rosalie Sugrue

 eBook Publication details

Published: 28 June 2018
Language: English
Words: 59,190

Kindle ISBN: 9781927260876
ePub ISBN: 9781927260883
PDF ISBN: 9781927260890



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Book Description

Do you want to learn how to preach and lead worship, but don’t know where to start? This practical guide by experienced Methodist Lay Preacher Rosalie Sugrue will get you going.

Or perhaps the preacher hasn’t arrived to take your service and you don’t know what to do. The first chapter – Help! The Preacher hasn’t arrived – shows you how to manage if this happens, by using the resources you have on hand.

In the first third of the book Rosalie outlines information on key people and history in the Scriptures and offers a helpful step-by-step guide to planning and leading a service. In the rest of her book, Rosalie draws on the teaching tools and ideas she has developed as an educator and provides a variety of full service outlines and many sample prayers, as well as a list of websites and books as additional resources.

From the Introduction:

In these times of aging congregations, an increasing number of parishes are becoming unable to support a full-time presbyter and untrained lay people are finding themselves being shoulder-tapped to lead services. Volunteers are the salt of the earth, but all volunteers need some helpful pointers to be of use, regardless of the task.

Leading a service is a serious responsibility. Ideally all worship leaders should undergo a comprehensive course in Bible study, church history, theology (study of God: Greek theos “God” and logos “reason”), Christian beliefs (faith and practice), homiletics (the art of preaching), and other religions.

Potential worship leaders deserve to be mentored into accepting increasing worship responsibilities before contemplating leading an entire service. But we often find ourselves in situations far less than ideal. The intention of this book is to consider practicalities and set out the basics of worship leading, as well as providing some essential background knowledge, samples and resources.

Praise for Lay Preaching Basics

Review in Touchstone October 2018 by Rev Dr Lynne Wall.

(Touchstone is the monthly newspaper of the
Methodist Church of New Zealand.)

“If you have ever thought about becoming a worship leader or a lay preacher, this book is an excellent starting point. Rosalie Sugrue is a competent lay preacher of many years’ standing, who in this book has generously shared from her own treasure trove of experience, wisdom and creative resources.

In the first part of her book, Rosalie introduces the reader to the Bible by providing basic information about content, characters and concepts in both testaments. There is enough to stimulate the mind and encourage further exploration by referring to the up-to-date bibliography at the end of the book.

The author then moves to the nitty-gritty of how to plan a service of worship, giving general outlines and practical tips along the way. There are examples of orders of service, sermon outlines and pointers on presentation.

But this is not just a ‘how-to’ book. Rosalie reminds the would-be worship leader that worship must be meaningful and relevant for the particular congregation. As she reminds the reader, “It is about engaging the soul.” What might suit a café style service in the local parish will not be suitable for a rest home service of worship. She encourages the use of participation, silence, music and visual aids.

The rest of the book is a rich and varied selection of resources for use in worship, most of which are from Rosalie’s own pen. They are the fruit of her background and experience as a teacher and are tried and tested if used in the right context. There are ideas for the different seasons and festivals of the church year, time with children, themes for opening devotions, dialogues and plays, reflections and meditations.

The section of prayers and liturgical resources is particularly useful for the beginning worship leader. For example, there is a fine prayer for Disability Sunday which begins, “God of struggles, strengths and strategies, help us to cope with what we have…”

 It is too easy these days to ‘copy and paste’ material from the internet, even reproducing whole sermons as one’s own. Rosalie reminds us that the sermon “Is the one piece of a service that cannot be taken from a book” [or the internet]. She suggests prayerful preparation and mulling over of one’s random thoughts on a passage of scripture which will help “You explore and firm up on what you believe.” This is what congregations want and need to hear.

This is a practical book which will inspire, encourage and educate anyone who has a calling to lead worship in their local congregation or region.”

“This is a guide to leading worship that experienced lay preachers, as well as those just beginning, will find useful, inspirational and easy to read. There are plenty of practical tips and ideas coming out of the author’s long experience as a lay preacher, and the checklists of what needs to be done before, during and after services are invaluable reminders.”
Emeritus Professor Colin Gibson

 “Rosalie has compiled a great resource for getting people started. In the first third of the volume she outlines information on key people and history in the Scriptures and offers a helpful step-by-step guide to planning and leading a service. In the rest of her book, Rosalie draws on the teaching tools and ideas she has developed as an educator and she provides a variety of service outlines and sample prayers, as well as a list of websites and books as additional resources. 

Along with the endorsement and support of a congregation, this is a useful book to go hand-in-hand with study and spiritual formation for anyone who is considering the journey towards becoming a trained and competent Lay Preacher. I recommend it!”
Viv Whimster, 2016–2018 Vice-President, Methodist Church of New Zealand.

“This book is just what New Zealand churches need to support the emerging lay leadership in worship services.”
 John Thornley, Lay Preacher, Palmerston North.

Table of contents


1 — Help! The Preacher hasn’t arrived

2 — Introduction to the Gospels

3 — Essential Background Knowledge

  • Basic Bible Concepts
  • A general Overview of OT content
  • More Bible Information
  • Bible Men, Women and Children
  • Important Bible characters
  • Lists of things (Animal, Vegetable, Mineral) mentioned in the Bible
  • Examples of Jesus’ teaching referring to common things
  • Teachings of Paul
  • Common Expressions used in everyday speech with Biblical origins

4 — Making Reflections Memorable

  • Engaging Techniques

5 — Making Services Meaningful

6 — How to organise a church service

  1. Check exactly what is required of you
  2. Check the Lectionary
  3. Read all the set readings
  4. Select Bible passages
  5. Find suitable hymns and prayers
  6. Things to check near end of week
  • Services in General
  • Formal Services
  • Order of Service

7 — Lectionary and Liturgy

8 — How to prepare a reflection (sermon)

  • Content of a Reflection in brief
  • Practical considerations

9 — Service sheets and PowerPoints

  • PowerPoints
  • No service sheet or PowerPoint
  • Time considerations and setting up

10 — The Preacher’s Satchel

  • Permanent contents should include:
  • If travelling beyond your home parish

11 — Children’s Time / Family Time

  • Children always present
  • No children expected
  • Often present but not always
  • Family Time

12 — Circle and Cafe style services

  • Leading an Alternative Service
  • Activities
  • Materials

13 — Services for rest homes

  • Formal services
  • Less formal services
  • Tips for connecting with seniors

14 — Devotions: Ideas to build on

  • Themes to get you thinking

15 — Complete Service Samples

  • Complete Service Sample 1 — The Season of Lent
  • Complete Service Sample 2 — Harvest Festival

16 — Sample ‘Family Time’ slots

  • New Year (Expect to find solutions to things that seem impossible)
  • Harvest Festival (I spy)
  • Lent (What’s missing?)
  • Hiroshima Day
  • All good ideas can be adapted to fit different situations
  • Doing and things – creative child participation
  • Background Information

17 — Sample Cafe Services

  • Sample Cafe Service 1 – Spirit of Creation – Tree Sunday
  • Sample Cafe Service 2

18 — Ideas for Devotions, Family Time and Less Formal Services

  • Advent Kindness Calendar
  • Christmas parables
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas
  • Christmas Journeys
  • Spiritual Garden – Harvest Festival
  • Palm Sunday – Christ Values
  • Dualities of Holy Week
  • Wisdom and proverbs
  • The Full Jar — A children’s talk / devotion
  • Banana Heaven
  • Difficult Problems – 3 Sons and 17 Camels
  • Mother’s Day: Anna Jarvis (1864–1948)
  • Father’s Day
  • Meditation for Father’s Day
  • If You Were King
  • The Tiny Town of Tontevoc
  • The Prodigal Daughter
  • Meditation for Lent — A Light for All Seasons
  • A post Easter Reflection — The Emmaus Way
  • The Thirteen Precepts
  • God in Nature
  • Seeds and Flowers
  • Invigorating Bible Stories

19 — Sample Prayers

  • Calls to Worship
  • Prayers of Approach
  • Prayers before the Reflection / Sermon
  • Offertory / Offering Prayers
  • Pastoral Prayers / Intercessions
  • Prayers for Particular Sundays
  • Benedictions / Commissions
  • Famous Prayers
  • Indigenous Blessings
  • Other Occasions

20 — Theology Guides for the 21st Century

  • The Millennium Statement
  • The Charter of Compassion

21 — Additional Worship Resources

  • Suggested Books and CDs

About the Author

Rosalie Reynolds Sugrue is a fifth generation West Coaster. Both her parents being fourth generation Coasters whose forebears came seeking gold. Rosalie’s great grandfather, James Reynolds, was a local preacher from Cornwall who preached to miners on the beaches and helped establish the first Methodist church in Hokitika. His wife, Eliza, signed the petition that gave women the vote.

Rosalie’s mother Elva Reynolds was a Methodist Deacon and also a lay preacher. Rosalie is a past president of the NZ Lay Preachers’ Association, and the inaugural facilitator of the Methodist Lay Preachers Network 2004, serving as a co-facilitator until 2008. She has led hundreds of church services in New Zealand and the UK. She has also led rest home services, family services, cafe style worship, house blessings and devotions in many other situations.

A wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother and author now retired Rosalie has worked as a psychiatric nurse, teacher and motellier.

She has been active in Jaycees, the Methodist Women’s Fellowship, the Community of Women and Men in Church and Society, National Council of Women, the Churches’ Agency on Social Issues, Victim Support and U3A.

She continues an active role as a lay preacher leading one to three services every month in a variety of churches.

Rosalie Sugrue’s books available from us:

Sophia and Daughters Revisited: Reflections on Women of Biblical Connection

Rediscover these characters as spirited, wise women of passion and compassion. This easy-to-use book has strong feminist imagery and references focused on women of the Bible. Updated and expanded, it now provides reflections on Tamar, Dinah, Naomi, Michal, Vashti, Jephthah’s Daughter, Lenna Button, Susanna Wesley and Ann Turner to use in church during the sermon slot. Includes prayers & dialogues.  Click to order  Print or eBooks.

Lay Preaching Basics: A Practical Guide to Leading Worship

Do you want to learn how to preach and lead worship, but don’t know where to start? This practical guide by experienced Methodist Lay Preacher Rosalie Sugrue will get you going.

Click to order  Print or eBooks available.

Theme Scheme: Creative Ideas, Activities, Games, Puzzles, Quizzes
(Revised and expanded July 2018)

Theme Scheme offers you a wealth of creative ideas, activities, games, puzzles and quizzes to help plan, organise and lead your group’s programmes. All are fun and practical, requiring minimal equipment, resources and time to prepare. Click to order Print or eBooks. 


Ten Plays + : Short, easy dramas for churches
(Revised and expanded January 2021) 

Lay preacher Rosalie Sugrue’s short plays and meditations are ideal to present in church. They encourage us to engage with Bible and historical characters, and explore important themes. Staging is simple. Few props or costumes are required.

Click to order Print or eBooks.


The League of Lilith: A thriller with soul. Written with her son Troy Sugrue

Sarai, a Biblical Studies lecturer, learns a terrible truth; a core knowledge she must impart to a successor. Will she choose society wife, Jen, or bondage and discipline prostitute Kat? The lives of these two women collide in unexpected ways around Sarai, while in the wings lurk a coven of Wiccan witches, and the dark desires and dealings that threaten Jen’s husband, Wilkin. An explosive novel with a dramatic climax.  Click to order eBooks.

 Greens and Greys

Journey with Molly Sinclair through her 1950s childhood on the West Coast, her move to Christchurch for teacher training, drama-filled OE in the UK and Europe, and as she returns to New Zealand in the mid-1960s. This engaging coming-of-age tale sweeps us along as she meets unexpected joys and overcomes life’s setbacks.
Free group Study Guide available.

Click to order Print or eBooks.


 Green, Ho! 

Green, Ho! is an extended version of Greens and Greys that adds another dimension in the form of hidden disability.

Free group Study Guide available.

Click to order Print or eBooks.


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