Notes for Lector Training


Word can mean the very essence of God, as in, “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” This refers to Jesus as God’s Word, God’s very essence.

Word can also mean the Holy Scriptures, the Bible. So, in that case, when we say the “word of God,” we mean the Bible was inspired by God. The Bible is the history of the People of God and their relationship with God.
Sometimes we say the Bible is the “living word of God.” This means that we believe that the Bible still speaks to us today. The bible is one way we know God.


A Lector is one who reads the scripture and prayers in Church. It is a great responsibility it is your voice, but it is God’s word.

Not everyone who goes to church reads or studies the Bible, so what they hear read on Sunday may be the only Bible they know. So, it’ important that they hear what’s read!

Helping the congregation hear the Bible is the ministry of the Lector. This requires two things from the Lector:

  • Understanding what you read so it makes sense to you and the hearer.
  • Good projection and good diction.


The Lector must study and practice before reading at the service. To be an effective Lector, it’s more important to be a good listener than a good reader. You must listen to and understand what the Bible is saying.

To help you understand the Bible, study your passage in a good New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) Annotated Bible. Suggested are:

  • The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha (NRSV)
  • The HarperCollins Study Bible with Apocrypha (NRSV)

Read the introduction to the book of your reading, the footnotes and the comments at the bottom of the page. To read well, you have to have a good understanding of what your passage means. When was it written, why, to whom, by whom? Who are the characters and where are the places? What kind of literature is it? (Poetry-Psalm 23, Narrative-Genesis 1, Letter-Romans 1:7-12, Sayings-Proverbs 25:1)). What happens before and after your passage?

You might also use a Bible Dictionary, a Bible Commentary, and/or a regular Dictionary to help you. There is a Bible name pronunciation guide in the vesting room just inside the door if you need it.. We also have a link on our web site that shows the pronunciation and has a sound file so that you can listen to how it is pronounced (

Read the passage aloud to yourself to hear what God is saying. Remember, the way you listen and understand the words you are saying directly affects the way the person in the pew understands and makes sense of it.


  • Project your voice, articulate so people can physically hear you.
  • Use the microphone.
  • Use the step if the lectern and microphone are too high for you.
  • Keep your feet flat.
  • Breathe deeply.
  • Don’t rush through the reading, it’s important.
  • Think of the person in the back pew who doesn’t hear well and keep the sound going back evenly to them.
  • Practice in the church; bring someone with you to help and provide feedback.

The Readings

The readings should be marked in the Lectern Bible. Check this before the service to be sure.

Prior to the service, the Lectern Bible should be open to the first reading.

As a courtesy, the first reader should turn the Bible to the second reading upon completion of the Psalm.

It is preferred that you read from the Bible, not from the paper you received in the mail. If you need to use a separate sheet, please insert in into the Bible prior to the service so that it will appear you are reading directly from the Bible.

Scripture Introductions:

Please do not announce the chapter and verse!

State simply and clearly:

  • A reading from the Book of Genesis
  • A reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah
  • A reading from the Letter of Paul to the Church at Corinth

After you finish the Scripture reading, stop and take a breath before reciting the ending (The word of the Lord).

Scripture endings:

  • The word of the Lord
  • Here ends the reading (The People give no response)
  • Hear what the Spirit is saying to God’s People
  • Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches (Epistle)

The Psalm:

You choose how we will read based on your preparation and best sense of how this Psalm would work best. For example, Psalm 23, an old favorite, seems fitting to be read in unison.

You may lead the Psalm,

  • In unison
  • Responsively by the half-verse (switching at the * )
  • Responsively by the full verse
  • Antiphonally
  • Lectern side - pulpit side
  • Men - Women

Prayers of the People:

Be familiar with the form you will be reading. Don’t read it ‘cold’.

Don’t forget to get the names from the sheet next to the guest book. If the names are not clear or pronunciation is uncertain, do your best. God knows who they are.

Take your time.

Do not be afraid of silence.

Wherever the prayers are marked ‘pause’, make sure you do just that.

Parishioners may need time to silently add their own petitions and praise. At the pauses for Health, Peace and Strength, for Those Who Have Died, and for Thanksgiving, try to pause long enough for someone to name eight people. Listen for silence before continuing.

For the shorter pauses, do what feels right, but at a minimum, take a deep breath before proceeding.

Adapted largely from a handout prepared by Rev. Francie Hills
March 30, 2003