Acolytes are called to serve at the altar, to actively assist in the worship of God. Their service helps to keep the liturgy flowing smoothly, thus opening the way for worshipers to participate without distraction. An acolyte serves as an attendant at the altar. This is an ancient ministry. In the early church, acolytes were assistants to the deacon in the world, and somewhat later on their liturgical functions were added. Acolytes may also serve as torchbearers or carry the gospel book or as crucifers in procession.