Monday, August 27, 2007

Committing Murder

I've heard it said that the average tenure of a worship leader is two years.

I own several subscription websites, and sometimes I'll personally call the church when their subscription is up for renewal. I'm shocked at how often I hear "the worship leader no longer works here" - it seems like every other call!

It makes sense - the music director job is one of the worst jobs in Christendom, right next to youth pastor and being a missionary to African cannibals. With long hours, little to no pay, and constant complaints from finicky congregations, it's no wonder worship leaders don't last.

Like any ministry job, you really shouldn't be a worship leader/music director unless you're called [see next post]. In the midst of worship wars in churches where I've worked, I learned the only way to survive is to remind myself that I'm doing this to serve the Lord.

The bright side to all of this is job security. Churches are in desperate need for good worship leaders and music directors, and some are willing to actually pay a decent salary. If a church is ready to fire you because you don't do enough hymns, they'd better think twice - just where do they think they're going to find a replacement? Worship leaders do not grow on trees.

Churches are, in fact, so desperate they'll hire seemingly anyone.

I know of a guy who's been fired from three church music director jobs, has had two extra-marital affairs and has had two divorces. He's now leading worship at a church, and they know his history.

I know of a guy who was the music director of a major denominational church and made big bucks, but spent most of his day locked in his office looking at porn. And he had an affair with a married woman on his praise team. He's now leading worship at an even bigger denominational church and making more money.

And these aren't liberal, Reader's-Digest-preaching churches, either, but what you would consider hard-core, Bible believing evangelical churches. I scratch my head in amazement. Oh, I know we're supposed to forgive, but really. Are churches that desperate that they'll hire a guy who's been fired from his three previous ministry positions?

Is there no one else?

I guess you can almost commit murder and still find a worship leader job these days.


Andrew, UK said...

sure, you can do anything if the chuch leaders are full of compromise. just look at kevin prosch and IHOP/FOTB kansas city. kevin was still living in adultery with mike bickles sister when mike bickle took him back with open arms. the words 'brown' and 'nose' come to mind!

Anonymous said...

The real issue is that Pastors and church leaders are not willing to wait for God's timing. They lose sight of God's vision for worship and chase the "next big thing" in order to build "their" church instead of God's kingdom. How much time is NOT spent in prayer or seeking out the proper person to fill the job. They don't hold people to a higher standard because they are fearful that no one else will come along and be seen as unforgiving. Forgiveness also comes with accountability. Sin is just as rampant inside the church as it is in the life of unbelievers...and worship leaders are on the front lines. To sum up my soapbox speach, if Pastors expect to lead and build their flock in God's name, then they must spend time finding out God's plan and waiting on God to fulfill it. As for committing murder, I'm sure God has raised some excellent worship leaders inside prison walls.

misterg said...

It is like the recent news about Mike Vick: here's a guy who has great talent, but no one bothered to check for any skeletons in the closet. These worship leaders were hired because they can put on a good show. I guess if churches want to attract people they have to sacrifice substance for style or integrity for showmanship

rad1990 said...

Although a church is not a true "business", it has many of the drawbacks of any workplace-politics,gossiping etc. Our "target market" is the congregation and so forth. There is a lot of work behind the scenes in a church that people do not realize. Most people think that those of us who work there have it easy, that it is a "one day a week" workweek. Just like any other job, there are temptations to resist etc. Pastors, priests etc are all human they put their pants on one leg at a time.

That being said, a church though is a place where people come for guidance, forgiveness, strength. It is a place where those that lead or minister in any form still need to be aware that they have a "higher" calling and that they are under a stronger magnifying glass than other places. I happen to love what I do, and I know I won't please everyone. So far, I please the majority, and that is good enough for me. You are right Don, good music leaders are very hard to come by. It is a shame.

I think since God forgives, we need to give people a chance. However I dont think God intends us to continue bad behavior and keep coming back and making the same mistakes over and over again. The buck has to stop somewhere.

Anonymous said...

As I see it, the problem is that we've gotten RELIGIOUS. We don't really believe that God is a holy God. We don't care if God isn't worshipped - just so long as we put on a good show and people enjoy the music enough to keep coming to church and filling the coffers.
Implementing standards means that you will have to trust God to send the right people at the right time.
Why is that so scary? Because you face the possibility of having to wait and/or go without something until God fills the position.
The payoff, on the other hand, is that if you wait on the Lord and are bold enough to raise a standard, God honors your commitment to Him by pouring out his annointing on your church.
And really the bottom line is this: a MUSIC service doesn't have the power to do diddly squat in my life or anyone else's, but the power of God's annointing has infinite power and ability. Man, that's what it's ALL about!

Ron said...

It goes even deeper than the leaders. Ive seen compromising in members also, it is dis-heartening as a leader to see it so much but, "in the last days". One thing I have learned as a worship leader is that leading only on Saturdays or Sundays just doesn't cut it. The people you mentioned seemed to have had their conscience seared. I cant imagine living a lie upon gods platform. a worship leader leads most by example when he thinks no one is watching.

BOOMER said...

Anyone with a shot moves to Nashville. Nashville drains godly talent from the rest of the country.

Nashville churches are rich with musicians. Top-flight, pro, seasoned, godly musicians...session players, touring pros, and artists.

The third string aux acoustic guitar player is the one who moves back to Colorado Springs (or where ever) and becomes your next worship leader. The real talent, by and large, stays.

While the rest of america churns 3rd string worship leaders, the band in my church is: multi platinum record producer and artist on bass, famous touring pro on drums, session electric guitarist, seasoned pro musical director on keys, world famous sax player, etc. And that is the "B" team. I am only slightly exaggerating.

Anonymous said...

And there's the problem...Churches are looking for MUSICIANS rather than WORSHIPPERS. We are so consumed with talent that we are willing to overlook gross obvious character flaws that disqualify these "worship leaders" from ever entering into worship. And so we have our pretty little song services with our exceptionally talented musicians that never capture the heart of God - and we're fine with that because it is very comfortable to have a form of Godliness and yet deny His power. Yuck!

BOOMER said...

My post was referring to men and women who are both excellent musicians and lovers of God. People who live in community, pursue holiness, take serious the calling of their musical craft, etc. Forward thinkers, creative geniuses, genuinely good people, honest...bowed at the foot of the cross.

These are the people you should want in your church. But instead of frustrating themselves in your town with your church, they are led to my town and my church.

You are left with either a) Godly, but inferior musicians or b) talented but immoral goofballs.


Anonymous said...

With all due respect, i think that there are still talented musicians elsewhere other than Nashville. there are lots of people in other places who work hard to be good musicians and servants of God. Koodoos to Nashville, but Koodoos to good musicians and faithful servants EVERYWHERE.

Anonymous said...

And just when I think I've heard it's pretty hard to believe that a church would actually hire a person of such low character to be in such a "fish-bowl" position- flaunting their incompetence, adultery and lack of character/holiness in front of the whole church. What is the church coming to - cheap grace and good entertainment? I am a worship leader/teacher/missionary overseas and work with a national team. One of the materials we use for teaching is Rory Noland's book "Heart of the Artist" (translated) because it deals with character -lack of character and desire for holiness is a problem most everywhere.
I don't want to get into gossip but is Andrew's comment really true about KP and IHOP? There is a whole group of people from here (about 100) going to an IHOP conference in KC this fall and I'd really like to know what's going on there. If the worship is tainted by such things, then how can there be blessing on the rest of the ministry?
Forgive we must but true repentance always brings change. If someone is not truly repentant for their sin, can we truly forgive?

Kevin said...

Wow. Where are all these needy churches again? As a (I believe) excellent worship pastor who walks a straight line in life, I'm having a terrible time finding a ministry. As another poster said, most churches are looking for good musicians rather than good pastors (or even good people, if I can be so bold). For any other between-ministry leaders who read this: finding the right place is not as easy it is made out to be.

Anonymous said...

Okay everybody, I know it may be a little crowded in this noisy little room but everyone take a deep cleansing breath and exhale to the count of 10!! So long as ministry leader positions are filled by human beings we WILL have problems. Just because we read of a disasterous situation, like Don described in his blog, doesn't mean we paint the entire ministry field as flawed and doomed, even though it is. I attend a church who was faced with a similar dilemma. They dealt with it both privately as needed and publically as required. It was painful but in a strange way healthy. Sort of like emergency surgery. It was painful but it is bringing healing.
To the shortage of talented christian musicians being attributed to a giant sucking sound in Music city that is hilarious. I just picked myself up off the studio floor laughing at that one. If Christ were as concerned as we are about talent he would still be trying to figure out who to call as His disciples. I didn't say it but if my memory serves me correctly at the moment of our weakness He is strong. Keep looking up.

Anonymous said...

Gosh isn't that true! Jesus isn't concerned nearly as much with our talent as He is with our hearts!
I'll never forget one time several years ago I was visiting a small church in Texas where a lady came up to sing a "special". She sure didn't look like much and neither did the little "praise" band with what looked like thrift store instruments. I immediately began to make assumptions about how "special" this was going to be (arrogant, I know). She began to sing and her voice could hardly be called beautiful but something amazing happened as she sang - I experienced the most amazing anointing of God that I have ever experienced in my life. It was beyond beautiful. Shoddy musicianship and all.
People in that little church regularly experience documented miracles during times of worship - not because they are divinely located in Nashville and not because they are the most talented musicians in the world but because they are incredibly pure of heart and they worship with all they have and all they are. The contrast between that church and most churches I've been in - including mine (where I'm the worship pastor!) is stunning. That's what I attain to - not perfect musicianship but pure worship.

PastorRRich said...

I see your point though I am shocked at the reality that worship leaders are being hired after severe moral failures without restoration programs. I think that part of the issue is that the ability to lead worship is a skill that is in addition to musical talent. Have you ever seen a skilled musician try to lead worship and play well but just blow the leading worship aspect? It also reveals that authenticity in leading worship can be manufactured by people with impure hearts! Wow that is scary!

Anonymous said...

Andrew UK -

The comment you made about Mike Bickle who "took him back with open arms." What evidence do you have of this? Kevin Prosch, from my understanding, is still living in adultery as you say, as he has married the very woman he cheated on his wife with. That makes me sick. But your comment about Mike taking him back with open arms.... I would like to know how you know this.

Anonymous said...

also... fyi....IHOP immediately removed all of Kevin Prosch music from their bookstore when he fell into sin...and they still aren't selling his music (I suspect because Kevin is still living in adultery and Mike loves him enough to take a stand against it). It is really sad that a mega church will overlook the fact that a he is living in adultery just so they can enjoy his gifting. He are the simple facts - the man was cheating on his wife (sleeping with other women - including Mike's sister). His sin was uncovered and he admitted it and appologized, but he did not repent. Repentance involves turning from sin, but instead, he continued on with his adulterous relationship with Mike's sister and then married her!!!! (and please tell me at what point that seductress turned from her sin???) Hello church!! Wake up!! Will you love Kevin enough to read to him Mark 10 and confront him with this instead of just ignoring it so you can enjoy his music???? And andrew... I agree with the last comment... I have never heard anything about Mike taking him back with open arms. I'm sure Mike loves him dearly and would do that if he would repent and end the adulterous relationship he has with his sister, but he has not. I echo the last comment...what evidence do you have for that?

Anonymous said...

I was a worship pastor for almost seven years until I was forced to step down. Churches that claim they want to leave the 4 walls really just want to build them higher. I had started playing music in bars- and it gave me a huge open door to share the Gospel and lead worship at these bars. Word got around and I was asked to write my letter of resignation. My advice, if you can't make it as a rock star, you will always be able to find a job in the church- but make sure you don't step on their toes and make the Gospel 'uncomfortable' for them.

willie- Mr nobody said...

being a worshipleader is not about being a talanted, or a gifted muscian, its totaly about having a true relationship with Christ and seeking after the anointing, which would you rather have," loud talanted and gifted muscians, playing worship music, or someone who's not so talanted,or gifted,in music ,BUT can lead you into the presence of God just by singing a simple song such as yes Jesus loves me, hey I know where I'd rather be ,and thats in the presence of God, The 21st centry Church has replaced the anointing of the H/spirit for talant and gifts rather than being in the presence of God , why well because it all looks good and ,because when your in Gods presence ,it is there the H/spirit speaks to you, minster's to you, and teache's you to learn to hear the voice of God ,so now the question you must ask yourself is which of these do you want, Most churches today have a lot of muscians who play out in clubs and bars, and then come in to Gods house and think they can just pick up where they left off last nite in the bar so hey there is my comment, and what do i know Im MR NOBODY, God bless

Pastor Jamie said...

If you going to leave a comment whether good or bad please be brave enough to give your name.

Whatever the issue a worship leader is considered part of the leadership in the church. It is a gross mistake by the lead pastor if he disagrees with that. Therefore all worship leaders should be held to the standard of of I Timothy 3. Every person in leadership that committed public sin was followed by HUGE consequences. I do not see that in "restored pastors/worship leaders. No where do I read in scripture of being "restored" back to ministry. If you stand by restoration please give me some scriptures to read and I'll gladly rethink my position.

Anonymous said...

And then some churches think they know what they want, but really don't. Here's my situation. Husband and wife team (oh that really makes them sigh), that is being led to make this our full time ministry, but we don't have enough "experience" because we haven't always been paid for it. When you are called and you do have the talent and you do think out of the box, it's still not good enough. We're a team that does collaborate on everything, that do talk to each other ALL of the time, and people can't grasp that there really is such a thing as a christian marriage and two becoming one!

Ben said...

Wow... interesting questions with lots of back and forth. I'm a young, long-term worship leader, both voluntary and paid at small and large churches who is not as lured by "rockstar" fame. I guess my questions are as follows:
1) Should worship leaders even be paid (yes, admittedly hypocritical)?

This begs the bigger question:
2) Are huge churches near as effective when they get so big that eveyone can "hide out" and be entertained?

Three biggest things I have learned:
1) My heart's motivation is what matters and must constantly be kept in check
2) I become the MOST vulnerable when I become isolated and I think I'm not vulnerable to sin
3) I can teach what I know, but I reproduce what I am (probably the most frustrating!)

Would love to hear your thoughts...

Anonymous said...

That's what happens when you hire competance over character. Of course, each situation is different with it's own unique challenges, but ultimately character should come before gifting in any ministerial role. When these poor leadership decisions happen its the church that suffers more than anything. It's sad really.

Anonymous said...

Hi, for quite awhile, I have read your emails on worship...I felt to comment on Praise Bands...I thought about how the early christians sang on their way to death for the cause of Christ..No one was paid, nor was there any special type of singer..There was only the thought of Christ and how He alone paid our price which is so high, we cannot imagine how we are so unworthy for such great mercy...It is not the music that is important, nor is it the high calling..what is important this very day is how much people need the Lord..not the one we imagine, but to know Him as He is and to know His word..Singers were to be skilled in the word..So many want better music than to sit and hear the sermon...There was no praise band when Jesus spoke to the one suggested to pay a praise band or have a singer before He preached..I think it is great that there is talent in the church and it should be where it belongs as it did when the ark was taken in the temple..the music did not go in..Please understand that I do not critize the music, but I do question the motive of it becoming the focal point above what church is...People gathered in the name of Jesus and to gather in His Name is to have needs met..the lost, the broken hearted, the sick that needed healing...Do you know the hymn came after, not before...can you imagine Paul singing a hymn to God?..God loves praise with a pure heart not one that is fixed on industry for salvation is free..we are bondslaves to the Lord and a bond slave is not paid but does what the Master ask him to do without question..Arenas are full of what is called christian music without any type of discipleship much less preaching of the very God they profess..Artist trying to copy the world..we are not of the world..IWhat you spend time on that is above anyhting else is your god..Instead of paying a praise band or even trying to perfect music..go out and tell a dying world there is hope and it is only through Jesus..count the cost..for the cost is is a matter of eternity..obedience is more than sacrifice..