This article is the second in a series about Recruiting Worship Employees. It assumes you will have read and thought through the issues raised in the first instalment: Before Advertising. In this middle part we'll be focussing on Advertising and Interviewing.

Clearly, when recruiting any employee you need to follow employment law, safer recruitment guidelines and any policies the church holds to. We will avoid most of these general issues and focus on points which relate to employed worship positions, particularly as they respond to some of the challenges we outlined in the previous article.

We have recently added a Worship Jobs noticeboard on our website so you can make your vacancy available to this community of worship practitioners. In addition, it is worth spreading the word on other websites, social media and through your denomination and local church networks. 

Creating a Job Description

The main document you will need when you advertise is a Job Description. Getting this right can save a lot of misunderstandings in the future. It should include among other things: a Job Title, a Job Summary, Responsibilities and Duties, Qualifications and Skills, as well as Remuneration and HR details. Each of these are discussed below.

Deciding a Job Title

A job title can help clarify the kind of position you’re recruiting for. The following examples aren’t exhaustive but they give you an idea: 

  • Worship Leader - suggests a “do-er”, someone who takes a lead in a contemporary worship setting.
  • Worship Pastor or Worship Minister - emphasises pastoral care for team and congregation, and the spiritual vocation of the employee.
  • Worship Coordinator - implies a focus on the administrative side.
  • Worship Team Leader - bit of a mix of pastor and coordinator, draws together pastoral and practical, emphasises team.
  • Head of Music & Worship or Director of Music - suggests leadership over some other paid staff. Inclusion of “music” in title may be to emphasise that there are other forms of worship, or that the musical side is a particular focus on the role. It can also imply a more formal, traditional approach to music.

It is now also common in larger churches to include “production” within the title, which implies oversight over the technical aspects of services and often livestreaming.

Job Summary

Here is your chance to express in a paragraph or a few bullet points what the role is, what you hope to achieve and what kind of person you are looking for. If you’ve wrestled with the questions in the previous article you should be in a good position to express this in a succinct, attractive and inspiring way.

Responsibilities and Duties

These are often expressed in bullet points, and sometimes split into two or more categories such as “General” and “Specific”, or “Key” and “Additional Dependent on Gifting”.

This is a key part of the document to get right. Some are too vague and leave you open to misleading the candidate into what kinds of responsibilities they will face. However, others are too detailed, or expect far too much of someone within the hours offered. You may wish to make a distinction between what the staff member will oversee and what they will actually do - for example, they could oversee CCLI returns, but in practice these could be filed by an administrator. Be upfront about what is essential to the role, but also leave some scope for the candidate’s strengths, gifts and passions to shape the role as appropriate.

Qualifications, Skills and Personal Competencies

What you ask in this area should be tied to the goals you have for this role. It is helpful to distinguish between what is essential and what is preferred. Make prominent the things which will really serve your current situation and how you want the worship life of the church to grow. Avoid discounting someone on an area which may not be that important (for example, reading music may be vital in a more traditional setting but next to irrelevant in a more contemporary church).

In terms of qualifications, there are Christian-based degree courses in Music and Worship (for example from London School of Theology and Nexus ICA). However, strong candidates may also come from other routes, such as secular music degrees or simply through experience. Theological training can be invaluable - churches often want their worship leader to teach the team and establish a biblical foundation for worship, and this requires a level of education and reflection not every musician has. It may be possible to provide further training and input for your employee “on the job”. For example, you might support your worship pastor in a part time theology course, or in taking music lessons to fill gaps in their theory or technique.

A section on Personal Competencies is a good space for expressing a range of character qualities you are looking for. Consider here the kind of person you’re looking for temperament wise, based on the sort of culture you want them to foster.

Asking for a video of applicants leading a song can be a really quick way of gauging things which you might find hard to read from a text-based application, such as the person’s style, manner, warmth, and also musical competency.  

Remuneration and HR

It is vital to pay your employees at a rate which enables them to live and thrive. There is a reality that many church staff earn less than they could in a comparable role (such as a teacher) because of their sense of calling and vocation - churches should be aware of not taking these sacrifices for granted. In addition, if you feel that you should employ someone with experience and training, take this into account in the wage. Many people who feel called to a lifetime vocation of worship ministry feel the need to move on because responsibility and pay does not keep up with their life-stage.

Typical job adverts in the UK at the time of writing seem to suggest around £25-28k pro-rata for many worship roles, although this can stretch up to £30k and beyond in some more senior positions. Some churches make housing part of the package.

It is your responsibility as the employer to provide a fair package and ongoing HR support. This includes but is not limited to: good holiday provision; pension provision; regular supervision and appraisals; clear job description; clear policies for issues such as sickness, maternity/paternity leave, complaints etc.

It is also worth thinking ahead to things which will ensure your employee thrives, such as space made to go on conferences and retreats, to be part of supportive groups (such as Evergreen) and to receive training. We will write more about this in the third article in this series.

Church Profile

In addition to the Job Description, it is important that candidates can get a good sense for the type of church you are. We recommend putting together a Church Profile in which you give information about your congregation(s) worship style(s), theological emphases, the flavour of your local area/mission field, the nature of the current staff team, and so on. While most of that information may already be available on your website, it may be helpful to curate this in a separate document that is tailored for the role you are advertising. As such, you might also want to give some sense of the journey the church has been on with music and worship, and in particular how you want to grow and develop through the employment of the worker.

Interviews and Exercises

One respondent to our survey commented about their experience:

  • “There was a rigorous recruitment process including video audition, AV skills assessment exercise, music theory assessment exercise in addition to regular interview process to discern character and calling. It was very successful as a process.”

Although you may not follow all the items listed above, it really is worth investing in the interview process to ensure that you find the right person for the role. It is worth having other “stakeholders” involved in the interviews if possible, including someone from the current worship team and possibly a congregation member with no other leadership role. 

In the past we have had experience with “trial services”, where the candidates led a couple of songs and a prayer activity in front of a small congregation (some churches even get people to lead a whole section of a Sunday service, although this could be seen as asking too much). One of our respondents expressed reservations about trial services, but for us this has been invaluable in getting a sense of how someone leads, plays music and relates to the congregation in a ”live” situation as possible. 

A number of people in our survey commented that good recruitment processes had been “relational” and based primarily around calling. It is worth taking the time to talk informally to your candidates, getting to know them beyond the formal strangeness of an interview and letting them have the chance to get to know you and ask further questions. 

As we close this article, bear in mind a few more things:

  • Be prayerful about the appointment, listening to God and one another.
  • Don’t rush into an appointment, it’s better to get the right person with a longer wait.
  • Look out for the 3rd article in this series where we’ll give you tips and steps to take once you have appointed.