Reviews - What do customers think about Usher Handbook?
Written for a very small audience... Nov 6, 2007
I'll begin this review by quoting several sentences from Ralph Van Loon's "Usher Handbook": "The narthex is the church building's entry way--not lobby." "Nave is the word which describes that part of the church in which the worshipers assemble. The word is nave--not auditorium, and not sanctuary." "An altar table is needed in all Christian churches." "An ample font of water is needed in all Christian churches."
I include these quotes because they provide a clear sense of the perspective from which this author comes. He is part of a very liturgical, traditional Lutheran church. And if you are part of such a church, this handbook might be helpful to you. However, ministering in a very different church background, I have never used words like narthex, nave, altar table, and baptismal font in my entire life.
The problem is not that Van Loon uses this vocabulary, but that he presumes that only churches from this perspective are legitimate expressions of the church. He indirectly implies that anyone outside his very narrow definition of the church (and I would think that many liturgical, traditional Lutherans would find his descriptions to be unnecessarily exclusive) does not really experience the fullness of church life as God intended it. I found this arrogance to be extremely off-putting.
I'm the staff member at our church who is responsible for our First Impressions ministries, which includes our ushers, so I was hoping to find a helpful resource to help shape our thinking about the role of ushering. But on a practical level, many, if not most, of the responsibilities that he presumes for ushers are completely irrelevant for our ushers. We have no bells to ring. We have no guest book. We have a separate team to run a rather complicated sound room. We have no processions. We have no apostolic greeting.
This book does offer a few helpful descriptions of why ushering is so important in the life of the church. And I suppose that there are some folks for whom the author's limited vocabulary would resonate well. But I have no intention of recommending this book to any of our ushers, as he writes about an expression of the church that, practically speaking, bears very little resemblance to the ways that we worship God.