Ushering is more a ministry than a function, pastor says
"Ushering is a lot more than showing someone to their seat. Ushering is a ministry," said Victor Davis, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Richmond, Va. "We need to move past the ushering board into seeing ushering as a way to spiritually and physically meet the needs of the church."
Davis led a class on "Ministering to Men and Women through Ushering" during the conference at LifeWay Ridgecrest (N.C.) Conference Center.
The role of the usher should be seen as a ministry to men and women in fulfilling the call to be a servant like Jesus, Davis said.
"When I asked ushers what their primary need was, they told me over and over there was a need for training," said Davis, adding that all he could find were manuals explaining ushering techniques. "We needed more than what to wear or how to stand. We needed to take ushering to a different level."
Davis decided to write his own training material for ushers. Along with Florence Canada, whom Davis had worked with for eight years, he wrote "Ushering with a Mission."
"Ushering with a Mission" outlines five purposes for ushering: worship, discipleship, evangelism, fellowship and ministry.
"As an usher's minister, you need to intentionally lead your ushers to encompass all five areas," Davis said.
"First of all, your ushers must have a personal relationship with Christ. Encourage them to have a daily devotional time," Davis said.
He also encouraged ushers to be involved in a group where they can pray and study the Bible with others.
"Your ushers must be able to share Jesus Christ with others," Davis continued. "Evangelism is key to being a Great Commission usher." He noted that ushers at his church use the FAITH strategy to prepare for evangelism in their community.
Davis also underscored participation in a stewardship class. Ushers often witness by their lives, he said, and it is important that the church see their ushers following the biblical mandate of stewardship.
"We don't force anybody to tithe, but we let them know that it is a biblical principle. In many churches, tithing is not the issue. The real issue is priorities. We tithe to JC Penney's, to Visa and MasterCard. We must set our priorities straight."
Ushers must keep in mind that when people come to church, they have needs, Davis said.
"People want to be in a church where everybody knows their name," he said. "It is the usher's job to find out who they are and how they can serve them." He encouraged ushers to get involved in ministries beyond ushering, including prison ministry, clothing drives and visitation.
"You have to be intentional -- ushering doesn't just happen on Sunday. Meeting their needs doesn't happen by accident," Davis said.
Noting the role of ushers at funerals, Davis said, "I would encourage all ushers to participate in some kind of workshop on understanding grief.
"We have a lady at our church who has such a way of ministering to the needs of the hurting. She always has a box of tissues in her pocket, and anytime she's at a funeral and sees someone crying, she leaves her post and sits with that person, offering them comfort. She is truly doing God's work."
For more information on "Ushering with a Mission," contact Davis at 1701 Lancashire Drive, Richmond, VA 23235 or (804) 745-5266.
Approximately 1,300 people attended the Black Church Leadership Week. The conference was sponsored by five Southern Baptist Convention entities -- LifeWay Christian Resources, International Mission Board, North American Mission Board, Annuity Board and Woman's Missionary Union.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: USHERS ARE MINISTERS.