We use different titles for the position. Minister of Music. Worship Leader. Music Minister. Pastor of Worship. Whatever the title may be, I’m learning that churches are often struggling to find someone to fill this role well. As I talk with pastors, here are some of the reasons this search isn’t always easy:
- The best worship leaders are already employed. That’s the case, of course, with most ministry positions. Churches work hard to hang on to good staff members, so many worship leaders are not available.
- It’s tough to find worship leaders who are musically gifted and theologically astute. More and more churches are looking for staff who are not only gifted in their expertise, but are also prepared to talk theology. That’s particularly the case for staff who choose songs to sing each week.
- A lot of positions are combination positions (e.g., Minister of Worship and Youth). The problem is that not many potential staff members have equal passion for both roles. They accept one role so they get to do the other—but something typically suffers.
- Some “music leaders” can direct singing, but they’re not as strong at leading people to worship. Their efforts seem more perfunctory than heart-felt, more “professional” than personal.
- Worship wars may not be as strong as they once were, but they still exist. Even worship leaders have their own preferred styles of worship, and not everyone is equipped and capable of leading multiple styles well.
- Worship leadership involves a lot of work, and some churches don’t pay very well. They want the best leader out there, but they’re not always willing to pay to get that leader. Some churches seem to expect magnificent leadership at minimum wage.
- More churches consider their worship leader to be an elder/pastor. This commitment means their staff candidates must meet the qualifications of 1 Timothy 3. Some potential worship leaders bring a lot to the table, but they don’t always yet qualify as a pastor.
- Some worship leaders have been scarred from previous ministries. That’s not the fault of the hiring church, but they’re often reticent to hire someone who still seems to bear bitterness and hurt.
I’d love to hear from pastors and worship leaders alike. Pastors, what would you add to this list? Worship leaders, what hiring issues have you faced with churches? Let’s help each other.