In which Ruth ponders church rotas

Mother Lynsay over at Penicuik and West Linton asks on Facebook whether any church has done away with church rotas. She asks if it is possible to ask those who turn up to read, welcome, serve coffee etc. Oh what a thought! In fact I’ve done nothing else since she mentioned it this morning. Imagine a church without rotas! Here are some of my thoughts:

You could do a first-come-first-serve kind of thing. All the jobs are written on cards and put in a basket and first through the door gets first choice – or lucky dip. But then I thought that it could mean most folk would come even later than they do at the moment, joining in at the end of the procession to avoid the last job in the basket.

It would be fine for readers and might mean some folk read who don’t at the moment because they’ve never been confident enough to put themselves forward. When I first came here I didn’t have any readers at the midweek service so asked old John if he’d like to do it. He was so chuffed. Just delighted to be asked because nobody had before. So much so, that he’s done it every week since. And proudly so. It would be good in the rota-less church to hear more voices.

Intercessions might be harder because I know some people take weeks to prepare them at the moment. We only have a handful of folk here who do them because most folk think they couldn’t possibly write meaningful intercessions. Even though I’ve said you can read them straight from our blue book where there are perfectly adequate prayers, it seems a step too far for most folk. I love it when people have read the lessons for the day and woven the theme into their prayers. And I love that each person brings their own interests to their offerings: Dav always prays for animals; Matthew for all the saints of the week; Tom for our friends in Nyakinoni, etc.

Getting volunteers for Sidespeople would be greatly needed as we don’t have many who do that. I don’t know why folk here are reluctant to help out in this role. You smile, you hand out pewsheets, you ask someone to bring up the elements, you help folk up for communion and you tidy up at the end. What bit of that puts people off, I wonder? Imagine if everyone HAD to take a turn. Wouldn’t that be lovely?


Serving at the altar could be interesting as you do need to be there early to set up and get things organised. And the choreography might put some folk off. Perhaps leave that one on the rota.

Coffee would be good to go rota-less here as we are down to a handful of folk who’ll do it. If we provide the milk and biscuits (which we do) and have someone set up (good old John does that every week) then why not ask for volunteers on the day to go and make a pot of tea and pour out instant coffee then fill up the dishwasher after? Never understood why everyone doesn’t take a turn at that one.

Flower rota? That could be fun. A card could say ‘Next week you have to bring one flower/one piece of pussy willow’ and then shove them in oasis. It could work. No fake poinsettia though! And no tulips – I have a phobia.

flowers in glass

Chalice bearers here are all licensed by the bishop so that could be tricky to hand out on the day. And I know some of them dress up for the part and wouldn’t want to be caught out on a trackie and old jumper kind of day. It’s a serious job, that chalice bearing, and you want to look your best.

I think we’ll keep the organists we have on a rota. That would be a step too far. Although who knows what hidden musical talents lie out in the pews? A secret saxaphone player, an old trumpet blower? Ooh I do love a trumpet at Christmas and Easter.

I know the Holy Dusters would love to have more volunteers but it is not done on a Sunday. Actually, having said that the first one through the door for the early service does often have to get the duster and hoover out to deal with falling plaster but that’s usually me or my server. But I rather like the idea of everyone HAVING to take a turn at church cleaning!


Perhaps a rota-less church could work. Perhaps not for all the jobs but its worth a thought…




3 thoughts on “In which Ruth ponders church rotas

  1. Oh what a good idea, although I can see the panic ridden faces already, for some people a rota is a safety blanket even when they themselves are never on it.
    That being said however, I love the idea of everyone in the church taking a turn of cleaning it, doing the flowers – no fake flowers at all – but pot plants would work for the flowerphobic, the coffee, and indeed being a steward.
    Now you have my mind racing too.

  2. Having just looked at the rota for the clergy/lay readers for my new benefice of 5 parishes, perhaps I could try rotaless worship leading and preaching – though I suspect the Bishop might have something to say about presiding!

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