The third lousy way to get more musicians…
3. Let Your Non-Musical Pastor Do the Recruiting.
Senior pastor to me, the worship leader: “Say, Jon, there’s a new family that just started attending, and I heard that the wife played piano and sang at their last church. Incidentally, they sat behind us last week, and she does sing nicely. During the greeting time, I told her you REALLY needed people for the team. She acted excited. I told her you’d call her this week.”
Where’s a cliff I can jump off?
Sometimes, a scenario like this can surprise us for the better. Other times, not so much.
This is sticky. If your senior pastor is recruiting for the worship team, at worst, it’s political. At best, it’s just his way of genuinely trying to help. In most cases, it’s the latter. If you’re not sure, assume the best. But you still need to have a conversation.
Before you go off half-cocked and confront your senior pastor for meddling (not a good idea), consider doing a few things first. And regardless, if your senior pastor is actively recruiting for your team, these are good steps to take:
1. Communicate to your senior pastor the kind of musicians you’re looking for and the minimum qualifications they need. You might get push back, and that’s OK. He may point out some rigid, overzealous or overly-idealistic thinking on your part. We artsy types sometimes need the perspective of non-musicians to bring us back to reality.
2. Seek weigh-in and approval from your senior pastor for your audition process. You want the senior pastor to have your back when it comes to who does and does not get on the team. You’ll make it tough for him if he’s blind-sided.
3. Create a process that includes approval from the senior pastor or other higher leadership. You don’t want this won’t turn into a bureaucratic mess with an entire board needing to discuss and vote. But you do want wisdom, discernment and biblical authority on your side. Here are two ways to approach this:
- The senior pastor or elder leadership gives ‘final approval’ to a person who you recommend. Hopefully, they’ve bought in and can trust your process so they won’t be concerned with musicianship. Their focus will be on heart and character. They might know or discern something we don’t. I want the leadership above me to give their approval and blessing. It keeps me under the cover of Christ’s delegated authority.
- Include in the audition process a recommendation from the senior pastor (or elder or small group leader). This accomplishes three things: 1) it streamlines the process by avoiding the bottleneck of board approval, 2) it encourages accountability and mutual submission in the church, and 3) it creates a self-disqualifying step. In other words, if the applicant, for whatever reason, doesn’t take this step, you’ve just saved yourself time and energy and probably some Advil.
I think it’s worth addressing: Some of you non-musical senior pastors are in a situation where you HAVE to be the one who recruits. In that case, seek out somebody with musical experience, even outside your church, to help you assess people’s musical ability.
And lastly, if you’ve taken the three steps listed above and your senior pastor still operates “outside his gifting,” it’s time for a heart-to-heart. However, be prepared to learn something about yourself and your process that you maybe hadn’t seen before. And he may see one of his own blind spots. A little mutual understanding goes a long way. Read part 1