The Part-Time Position: On the Rise in 2014?

I am asked from time to time to recommend worship leaders to churches in search of part-time worship leaders.   In most cases I find myself struggling to come up with names to recommend.  This often leaves me ashamed that I don’t know more part-time folks and hurting for the churches that are in need of solid leaders.  Have we reached a point where there are more churches seeking part-time worship leaders than are available?  Here are a few observations that I have made.  (These are in no way exhaustive or scientific)

Why demand for part-time worship leaders may be increasing…

  1. I believe the economy has had a huge impact on smaller churches and their ability to hire staff.  Traditionally, churches in the 150-250 range fluctuate between hiring part-time roles and full-time combo roles (music / youth, music / education, etc).  A bad economy can decrease potential giving capacity and leads more small churches to consider opting for part-time ministers.  *BTW, God is bigger than the economy!  Just stating a possible reason.
  2. Many small churches hire staff members without considering how the hire impacts their weekly Sunday gatherings.  I know a lot of churches with a pastor and a youth pastor and no one to lead worship.  This can be problematic for weekly gatherings and may call for either a restructuring of responsibilities or hiring a part-time worship leader.
  3. Church planting is on the rise.  Small churches meeting in school gymnasiums and store fronts do not have the means to hire full-time specialty staff.  If they hire, it will more than likely be part-time (at least at first).

Why supply of part-time worship leaders may be plateaued or declining…

  1. Supply may not decrease at all but qualified part-time / bi-vocational individuals may have more options.  This is a positive for part-time leaders but not so much for churches in need.
  2. Young worship leaders may opt for internships or associate roles in larger churches rather than learning the ropes in a smaller church.  I personally hope this is not the case.  I can’t stress enough the valuable life lessons, ministry experience, and blessings I received by serving in a a rural country church.  
  3. If full-time worship pastors (like me) fail to invest in those with the potential to serve as worship leaders in our churches and community. If all we do is our week to week ministry obligations and fail to disciple others – we fail future generations.  Lord, give us eyes to see outside of ourselves and invest in the lives of others!

I love the church and I am so thankful for those that serve the church in the role of part-time worship leader.  May God continue raising up leaders to serve His church for His glory!!!

What are your thoughts?  Do you think more churches will be looking for part-time positions in 2014?

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5 thoughts on “The Part-Time Position: On the Rise in 2014?

  1. As a part-time music director for 20+ years, it is safe to say that today’s job prospects are the best that I have seen. I have been without a church music job for only nine months since 1990 (at my choice), and each time churches have come to me rather than my soliciting them. Part-time music leaders have the distinct advantage of becoming an integral part of church life without lots of fanfare since they are not paid nearly as much. I have survived seven pastoral changes throughout these years of leadership, and each church of service has remained a place of good memories and friends long after I have left. The long-time joke, however, is that a part-timer is called by a church because they do not expect much, and the part-timer fills the bill! I definitely do not face the expectations that a full-time music program has, but I am proud to claim the part-time title and to work with folks who have become good friends.

  2. Thanks Dennis for your article. I’m certainly seeing more part-time positions in most areas of ministry.

    I’ve been in the music ministry since the late 70’s, if not in a full-time position, a part time music director. While in college I graduated with a bachelor of sacred music degree, and since that time, the music and worship styles have changed greatly. Back in the day as a music minister you directed or administrated choirs, ensembles and the like. Church music publishers competed in regular reading sessions so you’d leave and go back to your church with the latest and greatest octavo and a half-dozen seasonal cantatas. The chancel (adult) choir was the workhorse of the music ministry in the local church.

    I’ve served in midwest churches over the last 35 years. Today, I still direct a choir: however when not directing the choir, I’m at the organ or piano playing for congregational hymns, etc. The size of the adult choir is smaller – and older. We are an old church. We are a smaller church – averaging 100-125.

    We have a die-hard group of 15-16 singers in the choir, which isn’t too bad. The accompanist and myself are the youngest in the group! The average age is 70 (we even have an 85 year old still singing with the choir). This is, in my opinion, symptomatic of the overall church population in the church. There are few young family’s, let alone any children and youth, other than the pastor’s children or the grandchildren of the adults who might be attending.

    I see fewer parents paying for music lessons. Local schools have cut funding for additional music classes in the high school curriculum. One music teacher directs the entire music program of a public school system – grades 1-12, including choral and band.
    Mainline denominations are declining. As the baby boomers retire (and many being in good health), they take advantage of things they now have the time to do.

    In closing you nailed it, that we personally grow in the love and grace of Christ and live in community with those who are in the church already, and seek to reach our world for Christ. As lives are changed, and they grow in Christ we’ll be seeing the church staying on mission. I believe the days are gone when as a staff member you’re hired/called to do one thing, as a specialist and expert in the field.

  3. Pingback: The Part-Time Worship Leader | Worship Links

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