Monday Morning Insights

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    Outsourcing Your Worship Leader

    Outsourcing Your Worship Leader

    Tim Stevens had a great post about outsourcing worship leaders this morning at his website.  What do you think?

    Tim recently meet with a church leader from Mississippi that temporarily hired worship leaders to come in to help them out after their worship leader left for another job.  It worked out so well, that the church decided to 'permanently hire temporary worship leaders'.  They have settled on four or five leaders that they bring in on a weekly basis.  According to Tim, here are some of the advantages this church leader told him about this approach:

    What do you think?  Has you church ever hired in a worship leader to fill in, or on a semi-consistent basis?  Do you think this new way of 'outsourcing' worship leaders is one that would/could work in your church?  What would be the downsides?

    You can read more of Tim's post here at



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    1. Don Williams on Mon, November 09, 2009

      I guess the same thing could be said about Pastors.  Many Pastors love to preach, but they don’t like to build teams, oversee budgets, or lead.  Should we outsource senior pastors as well?

      I may be old school but I think there is something about the commitment that the church family sees from those who lead…and the accountability that leadership requires from the staff person.

      May be a good short term solution…but I think the local church loses in the long run.

    2. CS on Mon, November 09, 2009

      Here would be my two conditions to doing this:  First, the people would have to be Christians.  Believe it or not, there are churches that bring in musicians just because they’re good, even though they may not be saved.  The unsaved cannot worship God; they can only perhaps play music well.

      Second, the people should be members of the church wherever possible.  Substituting in parts and pieces of the larger Church body doesn’t facilitate the relationships that need to exist, even if it is at a distance through singing.  Hire a permanent worship pastor and have him place people in.


    3. Peter Hamm on Mon, November 09, 2009

      I gotta think that if you just want a worship “leader” this can work. If you want your artists to have a worship “pastor” this is just nuts.

      And CS, even the churches I know who might hire musicians to play in a worship band don’t hire somebody who’s not a believer to actually lead worship. I think there might be a distinction to be made there, but it’s probably a discussion for another day.

    4. Dan Staifer on Mon, November 09, 2009

      I applaud them for looking to try something different and I agree we have become a little conventional staffing. We never stop and ask questions of need. Also, there is an over focus on a Sunday morning.

      However first and foremost, they need to be people of character and I feel that this prevents seeing how people live, lead to the “rock star” Christianity and focusing more on an event then life. I worry more about what this informally says than what it actually does.

    5. Derek on Mon, November 09, 2009

      The value of outsourcing depends on what the church values and believes about ministry.  Seems like this accommodates a consumerist view/mentality.  In the long-term, how would a church raise up from within a worship leader if training and discipleship for this role is not in-house?  Out-sourcing can also communicate to the congregation that the people in-house aren’t adequate enough OR something might be wrong with the church because they can’t get a long-term commit.  While this may be a true, short-term reality, what does a church that outsources plan to do for the long-term?

    6. JOB on Mon, November 09, 2009

      Provided that the worship leaders are totally “out-sourced” to God I see no real issue, actually it has it’s advantage like Tim said.  And BTW sing a hymn or two please.

    7. Jeremy McGarity on Mon, November 09, 2009

      it is really working for us. We had a full time worship leader who left and ever since (1 year now) we’ve been outsourcing and it has surprised me how well it has worked. We are going to continue for the exact reasons Tim listed above.

    8. Lori on Mon, November 09, 2009

      I have been one of these “out-sourced” worship leaders.  I was the “second in command” for our church’s music team so if a church needed a sub I could go or be sent to help out.  On the positive side incredible people can help out a church while continuing faithfully at their home church. 

      However, I have seen a downside for a church to do this long term or permanently.  Unless the other musicians in that church’s band are near professionals (which is not usually the case in churches), it can be difficult to lead.  They are not accustomed to each leader’s style, the leaders subtle leading hints to repeat or stop spontaneously, and even in the same town and same denomination, each church usually has its own set of familiar music.  These issues, even with a super worship leader, can stunt the flow and limit the worship experience for the congregation and the musicians thus not creating an excellent and non-distracting space to worship God.

      I also would be concerned that this is once again diminishing the role of the worship leader in the life of a church.  Even when there is a permanent worship pastor, too often this person is viewed as “just the music person” when their role is so much more.  It also affects the attitude of whether it is just a music program or a music ministry.

    9. Leonard on Mon, November 09, 2009

      My long time Worship Pastor was hired by Lincoln Brewster (it was done with integrity) to be his keyboard player.  Eventually this became a full time proposiiton.  He moved on and I needed to replace his leadership.  We brought in guest leaders frquently but the problem was two fold. 

      Quality was not as high.  Guest leaders are often great but there is something different when a team prays together, does life together, creates community together.  It raises the quality of worship bcaue of what is being modled.  The talent was not as good either.  We found some who were great hearted but not as accomplished musically.  We found others who were very accomplished but needed some heart work.  Over all these issues impacted the quality of our worship leading.

      Another reason this did not work for us was leading music is only a small part of the job of our worship pastor.  It is a job filled with a host of teams, from graphics to media.  Our worship pastor today is building teams all of the time.  He is discipling a group of guys and mentoring several one on one too.  His ministry is to lead people not music.  Music is a tool for such leadership.

    10. Jeremy McGarity on Mon, November 09, 2009

      I hear what you’re saying Lori and no doubt to me the preference is on having a “Worship Pastor” but here’s what I’ve found after interviewing and auditioning seemingly hundreds of potential worship leaders. Many of them do not want to commit to the local church. They feel like they are the next Chris Tomlin or David Crowder (a general statement for sure) but many want to travel and have a home base church that can support them when they don’t have gigs. Most would not say that but it is clear when they come with their laundry list of requirements for them to be a part of our church.

      I feel this outsourcing has come as a necessity and response to so many worship leaders lack of understanding and desire to pastor in that role. Again, many(not all) want to be Christian Rock Stars and not worship leaders. Notice I said “many” “not all”. However, finding those who are not in the “many” category has become extremely challenging for lead pastors and that is why outsourcing has happened in my opinion. Not as a preference but as a necessity.

    11. Steven Crutchfield on Mon, November 09, 2009

      It’s great to “think outside of the box”...and also great to “work inside of your box”....sometimes you have to do what you have to do.  If you need to hire someone in….hire them in.  Don’t make it theological!

      And to CS and Peter…it is a great discussion to have!  What about planting a church in a “non-christian” country…you need musicians…you hire them in….they happen to not know God yet…they play music for a while…then get radically changed by the power of God’s Spirit….they become a pastor and change their country and the world….WOW…and yes, this has happened…And i’ve heard the guy preach….AMAZING!!!  Thank God someone had a vision BIG enough to reach the LOST without making them HOLY first!  Wait a minute…that is the Gospel Story!!!  Love ya’ll

    12. Rev. Diane on Mon, November 09, 2009

      I like the first comment - if a temp can serve as worship leader, why not get a temp pastor too?  lol
      Seriously, Jesus modeled relational ministry.  It’s a shame to miss the harmony - musically & spiritually - that comes from the intimacy and bond of sharing this journey together.  Just stop expecting the worship leader to be a jack (or jane) of all trades and overload them to the point of exhaustion and burn out!

    13. Dave Helmuth on Mon, November 09, 2009

      As a worship coach, I’ve led worship in about a dozen churches [in addition to our home church] this year.  I don�t feel like the permanent-temporary worship leader is the ideal solution, but if we could just integrate all the positive aspects without the negative ones!  I do think that it gets at some very healthy practices:

      1. The solo-act is over: there must be a variety of leaders in any church.  Start with what you have a build from there.  Lead stuff in teams.
      2. Experience other parts of the body of Christ�it�s beautiful!  It�s so important both to be led in worship and also to be broad in your experience and understanding of the Church.
      3. Building relationships between churches is a must!  We�re typically so entrenched in our own services, that we don�t experience the joy of being a resource to other churches.

      The biggest takeaway in this article for me is to make sure people are serving in their �sweet spot.�  It�s a rare person that is intensely creative [and can fully bring to life the Truth through the arts] and is GREAT at administration and interpersonal relationships.  I like to think of a worship pastor�s job as a Trifecta.

      In general, the Worship Leader must provide leadership on three fronts: Organizational Leadership, Team/Event Leadership, and Support Leadership.  They are described as:

      Organizational Administration: Long-range Plan, Create Structure, Set Goals & Budget, Personnel Issues, Integrate (Connect) Ministry, Mentor Leaders, Meet with Leaders, Pastoring Teams, Model a life lived �before the Lord�

      Lead Events/Train People: Lead Worship, Lead Rehearsal, Training Events, Mentor team members, Worship Teams, Provide Resources, Model a life lived �before the Lord�

      Administrative Tasks: Technical Arts Teams [sound, video, lighting], Chord Charts, Schedules, Licenses, Communications, Model a life lived �before the Lord�

      It�s a tall order for any one person!

    14. Lori on Mon, November 09, 2009


      I hear you on this and can definitely see why this has been a solution for you and your church.  The interesting thing is that I am seeing the same problem but from the other side - the hiring church.

      I recently had to relocate because of my husband’s job and was limited by location for looking for a worship position.  While I have been leading and have talent as well as the spiritual gifts of teaching and administration, I didn’t meet the one requirement the few churches hiring wanted - writing original music like Chris Tomlin for the church to use, record and promote.  This from churches with less than 300 attenders.  However, I have ministry fiends reporting the same thing across the country.  I only say this because I think in this area of ministry, there can be many worship leaders and churches with grandiose expectations and the kingdom work suffers for it.

      God bless you as you continue faithfully serving the Lord.

    15. CS on Mon, November 09, 2009

      Steven Crutchfield:

      “And to CS and Peter…it is a great discussion to have!  What about planting a church in a “non-christian” country…you need musicians…you hire them in….they happen to not know God yet…they play music for a while…then get radically changed by the power of God’s Spirit….they become a pastor and change their country and the world….WOW…and yes, this has happened…And i’ve heard the guy preach….AMAZING!!!  Thank God someone had a vision BIG enough to reach the LOST without making them HOLY first!  Wait a minute…that is the Gospel Story!!!  Love ya’ll”

      Hold on.  You’re crossing evangelism with ecclesiology.  Church is supposed to be the assembling of the saints for the glory and worship of God.  Yes, people who are lost may come in, hear the Gospel, and get saved.  And then they can move into positions within the local church.  And praise God for when that happens.

      But having known unbelievers in acting in some function within worship, like playing music, is a big no-no.  You wouldn’t have the known unsaved dispense and participate in communion (1 Corinthians 11).  And you wouldn’t have them deliver the sermon (2 John).  And because unbelievers cannot please God (Romans 8:8), I would not have them placed in a deacon’s, elder’s, or pastor’s role at all.  It would be similar to Nadab and Abihu’s transgressions.


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