Posts Tagged ‘music director’

Pretend you’re the pastor of a new church plant.

You have the funds to hire one part-time staff member.

Who would you hire first?

Some might say, “An office manager.”

But right now, the church office is in your home.  I’d hire her second.

Others might say, “A youth pastor.”

But you don’t yet have any youth, and besides, I’d hire the youth person fifth.

How about a children’s director?

I’d hire him or her (probably her) third.

My first choice?

A worship/music director.

Why?  Because people in our day expect good music on a Sunday.  If the music makes people cringe – even if the message is a home run – many people won’t come back, and they’ll encourage their friends not to attend.

But if the music is great, you’ll start attracting people more rapidly.  Great Music + Great Message = Growing Church

If the Sunday service is all you’ve got when you start, make it as good as possible.

But part-time worship directors are not easy to find.

As a pastor, you want a strong believer in that role, someone who professes what they perform.

That rules out the leader of the neighborhood garage band.

You also want someone who is musically competent, who plays and sings skillfully.

That rules out many church volunteers … and most of them will run when there’s a conflict.

You want someone who can recruit musicians and vocalists, or else it’s going to be a one-man/woman show each week.

Because the more gifted the leader, the higher quality people he/she can attract.

You want someone who gets along with people, because musicians and vocalists tend to be perfectionists.

So you can’t hire a Simon Cowell clone for the job.

And you want someone who performs in the style of your target …

which eliminates Dino and George Beverly Shea (much as I appreciate GBS; Dino is another matter).

And you especially want someone who gets along with you as pastor.

Because if the two of you constantly disagree, guess who’s leaving?

But because you’ve hired a part-timer … they may already have a full-time job, and there’s always the danger their job will intrude on the music ministry or they’ll have to move away.

So let’s say that you as pastor have hired this person, and he begins to recruit others onto the team.

What about the spiritual lives of prospective musicians and vocalists?

Can any be unbelievers?  What about someone guilty of immorality?  What if a gifted guitar player isn’t a team player?  What if someone on the team knows about another person’s sordid past?

Your new worship director may be competent musically, but how strong are their leadership skills?

Because if they can’t handle some of the above situations, they’ll revert to you as pastor … and the sparks will start to fly.

The key to everything is the relationship between the pastor and the worship director.

They must get along both personally and professionally.

They must agree on the kinds of people who can sing and play on the team.

They must agree on the predominant style of music for weekend services.

They must clarify these decisions by putting them in writing.

They must learn to trust and support each other in public, even if they’re negotiating in private.

The music director has to handle these kinds of complaints from team members:

“Why does he get to play a guitar solo on his second Sunday when I’ve been in the band for two years?”

“How can you let her sing onstage when she’s obviously a prima donna?”

“How come I can’t sing on the worship team?  My parents say I have a great voice.”

“Why is he allowed to play on Sunday when he missed rehearsal?  I was there!”

Then there are complaints from people in the congregation:

“The music was way too loud last Sunday.  Can’t you turn it down?”

“I tried but couldn’t make out the words to the performance song, so I thought it was a waste of time.”

“Can we sing more hymns?  The worship songs sound all the same.”

“The dress on the young woman who sang last Sunday was inappropriate for church.  You need to talk to her!”

When I was a pastor, I had people tell me at times, “I wouldn’t want your job for anything.”

That’s how I feel about the job of a worship director.  No wonder some people call music the War Department of the Church.

Everybody wants to look good and sound good, but they may not want to be good and do good.

For that reason, let me make three suggestions:

First, pray for your worship/music director(s) by name on a regular basis.

Second, thank them for their ministry when it really rings the bell for you.  (I emailed a worship director from our church last year to thank the band for doing a U2 song, and he wrote back to thank me.  I meant to do it two Sundays ago when the band performed Did You Hear the Mountains Tremble by Delirious?, but forgot.)

Finally, insist that those who criticize the worship director either (a) go to him directly, (b) stop griping, or (c) go somewhere else.

Being responsible for leading worship is a challenging task and not for the faint of heart.

So let’s cherish those who do a great job … and keep working through the inevitable conflicts.

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