So I find myself often talking with churches who are looking for Worship Leaders, someone to lead music for their contemporary worship service. Here’s the quick rundown of some attributes I would be looking for in a person to lead music, and some questions I would surely ask (and these are in no particular order, simply how they poured out of my head):
1. A love of Worshiping God with integrity, not self. Meaning this person enjoys the act of worship and is enthusiastic and energetic. Also this person should be aware of keeping things focused on worship rather than their musicianship or music. I know this sounds crazy, but there are lots of folks out there who are more interested in getting up and playing guitar for everyone than they are leading worship.
2. The ability to lead worship solo. If there is a volunteer band the day will come when no one else can make it, the worship leader must be able to carry worship by him/herself. If he/she can’t play an instrument or is not a decent singer, this may become a detriment to worship. I say this because there will come a day when the drummer is sick, the guitarist broke a finger, your bass player didn’t show up again, and your singers all went to Tahiti for the weekend – and it is left to you. The Worship Leader must have the skills to effectively lead worship by him/herself.
3. Literacy of music. The ability to read and write music is not a “deal breaker,” but it will only enhance rehearsal and time will be used much more effectively. Also the music choices will not be limited to the recordings that can be found. There are tons of insanely talented musicians who don’t read a lick (Lennon-McCartney) – but the ability to read will simply speed up the rehearsal process and give the worship leader the ability to communicate effectively to those who are shape note readers.
4. Diverse musical background. The music for a contemporary service will have a general feel as to the nature of the team and congregation, but there must be some variation within that spectrum or the congregation will feel as if “We always sing that song.” As awesome as Chris Tomlin’s songs are, the congregation doesn’t want everything to sound like one of his; our hymnals have a wide range of music, so should our contemporary worship services.
5. Organized. Yes, even musicians should be expected to be organized. This person will need to be in communication with several people about many different things, keep calendars, schedules, reserve space, keep records, attend a budget. The more organized a worship leader is the more effective he/she is at their job (and they waste less time).
6. Honesty. A simple thing, but there is a lot of gear that can walk away from a church and many things can find their way back home from rehearsal. Many a musician has been fired when church members start asking where things are… A complete inventory of gear complete with serial numbers and/or permanent labels also helps.
7. Money Management. The ability to figure a budget and then stick to it. But mainly knowing where to spend money, and where to find good deals.
8. Time Management. If you’re not on time for anything people will not want to spend their time helping. Also if time is frivolously wasted in rehearsal, volunteers will grow dissatisfied. Furthermore music leaders must be aware of the length of time their music occupies during worship and not go beyond the music’s appropriateness.
9. Desire to improve. Worship leaders should feel the need to improve, gain ability on their instrument, learn new ones or set other personal goals. We are all on a journey – and worship leaders/musicians always have room to grow and learn. When the day comes that we think, “I’m good.” Everyone has been bored by what you have to offer for the last six months.
10. People skills. Worship Leaders with the personality of a dairy cow will not create a very vibrant worship experience. And no one likes a jackhole.
Below are some questions I would ask any potential worship leader in an interview:
-Who do you listen to? (then look them up) You may find this person’s love of hard-core-Danish metal not the right fit for your church.
-How would you classify your music? This is simply a little test to see how effective a music leader can communicate the sounds they would like to create. If someone has great trouble doing this in an interview, chances are they might have the same problem in rehearsals…
-What is your statement of faith? Don’t forget this person will be functioning in a ministerial role for your church, and what they say should be in line with the belief systems of your church.
-How would you handle volunteers from extremely different musical backgrounds (ex: A bluegrass picker and a classically trained pianist)? Because every church has a wide range of musicians and skill levels, this question will have your potential Worship Leader articulate how he/she will utilize these different people, watch out for: “I’d encourage this person to be part of the congregation.”
-How “ready” does a song and its pieces need to be before it is used in worship? This question will simply give you an idea of how far out this person thinks? If you’re told we’ll do it after a few weeks, then is there planning more than a few weeks out? Or you may find your potential musician is a perfectionist who might have unreal expectations for your congregation.
-What are your musical ambitions? If you’re told, “I want to be the next Hillsong!” They may not be interviewing with you for the right reasons.
-Do you tour? If so how will that affect Sunday mornings? As silly as this sounds it is needed. I used to tour regularly and would make a special effort to not miss Sunday mornings. Even driving through the night after a gig and not getting a bit of sleep… If your music leader is out every other week for a gig they might not be the most effective person to lead worship.
And finally I would have him/her play 2-3 songs of varying styles. Also I would ask for a hymn. They may say all the right things, or list off bands you have no idea about, but you will know what is up when he/she plays a few songs for you.
If you have more questions about finding a worship leader who would be a good fit for your congregation or a bit of assistance in shaping a search feel free to reach out to me. Click HERE to contact me.