Probably one of the most often-asked questions about worship coming to the worship ministries of the Baptist State Convention have to do with finding part-time worship leaders for churches. Many churches have had to move from full-time to part-time positions because of increasing personnel costs against a decreasing budget.
[Click here for additional resources for search teams–full-time and part-time.]
Finding a part-time worship leader can be quite difficult for several reasons:
- Usually, your search in confined to a small geographical region since people generally will not move to another location for a part-time job.
- It is hard to find someone with the musical abilities (especially if choral leading is needed) that is available on a part-time basis
- Many qualified people may have full-time jobs that may require more than 40 hours/week and have families, leaving very little available time to take on another responsibility.
Here are some steps to take in beginning your search process:
Form a search team.
Many churches use their personnel team for this function, but I would suggest you either augment this team with a few people active in the worship/music ministry or create another team that has people from both the personnel team and several musicians.
Work very closely with your pastor.
The pastor has to work very closely with this candidate and probably has a clear vision of what qualifications are needed in the candidate.
I cannot stress this point enough. Spend much time seeking God’s heart on what worship should look like in your church and how to staff to reach that vision. Pray for the journey of finding the right person for the ministry.
Determine what worship should look like in your church.
Maybe your church already has the “style” of worship that is right for your church. As you seek God’s heart, you may determine that alterations are needed for worship renewal. Now is the time to get a clear picture of what worship should look like in your local setting. NC Baptist churches may contact me to have a good conversation about this.
Determine what qualities are needed in the candidates for the position.
This should be done only after you have a clear picture of what worship should look like. Of course, the candidate’s spiritual maturity and character are foundations that must be in tact first (mature Christian, a discipler, student of God’s Word, person of character, etc.) Here are some of the musical considerations:
Does the person need to know how to work with a band?
Does the person need choral conducting skills?
Does the person need to play an instrument?
Does the person need to read music? While this would normally be assumed, in some cases, a person with little reading skills can learn enough with aid from a competent pianist or other musician to provide needed direction depending on the other needs. In other words, if the person is only leading congregational singing, the person may only need to have a good singing voice, good platform presence, and good people skills. However, if choral leading is important, depending upon the level of musicianship of the choir, someone would need to read music and have a certain level of choral technique. If the person does not lead a choir, but does lead a band, just being able to read chord charts and understand band technique (along with platform and people skills) may be all that is needed.
Realize that many of these skills can be learned if the candidate has the passion, desire, and time to develop these skills. I remember clearly sitting at a piano playing for people gathered around a piano at the Baptist Student Union at UNC-Chapel Hill years ago. Someone said, “We should form a choir.” I said, “That sounds great. I will play. Who can conduct?” It seemed there was no one, so I ended up taking the helm of the group. I had no idea what I was doing. These were days before the internet and YouTube! I bought several books on conducting and leading choirs and read voraciously on the topic. The choir was patient with me, and we eventually grew to over 70 people and traveled to many churches and the BSCNC annual meeting to sing. I have seen this in other churches as someone in the church with musical skills and a good singing voice has a passion to lead, and they find ways to improve their skills. Today, there are numerous resources to help people improve their skills – online classes, blogs, YouTube/Vimeo, community colleges, seminary extension, etc.
Begin to gather candidates.
This can be a very hard task. My friend, Mark Powers, the former Director of the Worship and Music office of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, gave me a list of ways he recommends finding candidates (I have made some adaptations and additions):
Develop an attractive flier which presents the basic job information (church info, contact persons, job expectations, “salary negotiable”).
Post the flier at local music stores.
Mail the flier to local public school music teachers and private piano teachers.
Send the flier to full-time music directors in local churches nearby with a note asking them to post it on their choir room bulletin board
Appoint a Search Team member to phone local church musicians and local church association offices to ask for prospects. Here’s the NC Baptist Association information.
Post the flier on bulletin boards in the Music Schools and Student Centers at local seminaries, divinity schools, colleges, universities and tech schools.
Post the job opening in your church’s denominational newspaper, where applicable. For NC Baptists – The Biblical Recorder
For NC Baptists, enter your information in the NC Baptist Sharing System that matches candidates and churches.
NC Baptist worship/music leadership openings may be posted on the RenewingWorshipNC.org blog by visiting this page and leaving your announcement in the comments section.
Contact large churches in your area and get the names of some people that fill in for their worship leader when that person is away. These may be great candidates.
Talk to musicians you know to see if they have any leads.
Check with band and choral teachers at middle school and high school to see if they have interest. Also check for music faculty in nearby colleges, universities, seminaries, and divinity schools. These are people with excellent musical training that may be willing to take on a part-time position in a church. A personal contact with these people, as well as private music teachers, may produce leads of people they are familiar with that would make great candidates.
Please add additional ways that have worked for you in the comments below, and I will add them to this list.
Hiring an interim worship leader? Here are some helps on determining salary.Steps to finding a part-time worship leader Click To Tweet
At the risk of making everyone mad, I suggest that there is only one place where worship services are “endorsed” by God and that was in the Temple. Today, the church follows the Babylonian synagogue model of a centralized administration with a teacher/leader at the top but in the Temple it was the musicians who were the priests (and btw, received the tithes) . In this way the “worship team” of Israel never had to go begging bread or be subjected to the control of a single man or committee.
When churches stopped seeing the value of a stable (and well paid) worship leader happens to coincide with the failure of churches impacting our society. I believe we lost our best & brightest to the world, which was happy to offer (fleeting) riches to anyone leaving the church music scene.
What if Aretha has continued in gospel music? What if Marilyn Manson had never been disgruntled by rejection from his church? What’s going to happen when Kanye finds that he is still rejected by most churches, and won’t make money for gas to the next church?
No point in responding, I guess. I know that things won’t be changing anytime soon but still lament the loss of what heartfelt worship music could be, if gifted writers/singers/musicians weren’t rejected for being non-conformist to religion.
Good Kenny. I get this question all the time. I will pass on your blog.
Cornerstone Baptist in Cleveland has just started this process. Glad to see we’re on task. Keep us in mind Kenny!
Great resource, Kenny. I will share this with church leaders who have asked me for help with this need!