Developing a Program for Interpersonal Ministry in the Liturgy for St. Paul Lutheran Church Shreveport, Louisiana

Wesley Toncre, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis


This major applied project explores the Scriptures, the Lutheran Confessions, the tradition of the Fathers and contemporary ecclesiastical thinking in an attempt to discover and begin to define the contributory role of the individual worshiper in Lutheran corporate liturgical worship today. Further, it develops a workshop structure that is designed to provide members of one particular congregation with the knowledge, attitudes, skills and opportunities to execute those roles by serving one another effectively in response to God's ministry to them while they are gathered around Word and sacrament.

It is noted that neither Holy Scripture nor the Lutheran Confessions restrict God's instrumentality for ministry to people in corporate worship to the ordained clergy alone. Together with the Church Fathers and contemporary ecclesiologists, they cry out for more than a personal, private and internalized participation by worshipers. However, as liturgy is presently done among us, there is little opportunity for God's gifted people to mediate God's grace to one another directly during this sacred time.

Having gathered a Task Force on Worship to study the materials in Part One, the pastor sought practical ways in which the members of congregation might a) desire to participate in such a service, b) know what their ministry is about, and c) develop schemes to do it without compromising truly theocentric worship anchored in the proclamation of justification by grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

Together they developed a pilot one-day Worship Workshop which includes components that 1) explain the liturgy in relational terms, 2) understand the peculiar nature of adult learning, 3) provide opportunity to practice intercessory prayer and absolution, 4) help members discover their spiritual gifts together with their potential use in the liturgy, 5) put the above into practice in worship, and6) evaluate the workshop in terms of its impact on the individual and corporate worship future of the congregation.