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By Carlos Whittaker

Source: Ragamuffinsoul.com

I’ve been a “worship leader” for a looooooong time.  Started full time circa 1998.
Now I’ve been blessed to be able to do many things in the ministry and now worship leading is probably only 1/5th of my job.
Yet I’ve seen the “job” change in various ways.
I’ve seen the church handle the “job” in various ways.
It’s an interesting definition for sure and I appreciate how different churches handle it in different ways.
Right now I’m seeing a small shift in what some churches are doing.
I’m seeing many small and large churches shift from hiring a full time “worship leader” to hiring a full time “Sunday Producer” and contracting out worship leaders.
The argument for this shape of staffing goes like this…
1. Our church gets to hear from 3 or 4 rotating worship leaders and it keeps things fresh.
2. The salary of a full time worship leader is actually more than if we contract them in. And they save money on health care ect.
3. The weekly and Sunday worship leader responsibilities don’t warrant a full time role..

The argument to these points are simple and valid.
1. Having a full time worship leader allows for deeper relationships to happen within our congregation.
2. It’s more complicated to fly in, rent a car, book a hotel, and pay multiple contract employees. IT’s simpler like this.
3. Leading 3 songs and running a rehearsal are only a few things our worship leader does. And let’s be honest. He or she has a killer voice and we don’t wanna lose them.

I was a full time worship leader/pastor at a few churches. There were seasons where I felt like I was worth my salary in gold.
There were also other seasons where I would argue with the “what do you do all week?” people while attending meetings I didn’t need to attend and planning a service for the 15th time.

I often think of the role of the “Music Minister” from the 80′s and remember how “music skills” was actually a felt need.
Choir rehearsals, orchestra rehearsals. HandBell rehearsals. Children’s choir rehearsals. It definitely looked more like the role of a “music director” I see in many churches today.

I also know many worship leaders who actually do more than most people on the staff.  From graphics to videos to counseling to weddings.  But then I think they should probably get a raise and a title change. :)

A very successful church planter friend of mine, who’s church is only a few months old, told me last week that a full time worship guy will probably be the last position hired. If ever.
This is a far cry from how a church planting used to view staffing as preacher and worship guy first.

If there is any sort of application to this post for worship leaders it would be to expand your skill set past singing on Sundays.
I see a pendulum swinging and quite possibly the role of a “worship leader”.

What are your thoughts on the full time role of a worship leader and how does your church approach this job?
Carlos

*** Editor’s Note: This is a trend that I (Greg Atkinson) have noticed around the country, too. Many churches hire a Producer or Creative Director to be full-time and use volunteer, part-time or contract worship leaders. One of our Featured Writers (Stephen Brewster) is a Creative Director at an amazing church that uses this model. His latest piece gives some insight into their worship planning process.

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