FOR OR AGAINST: Churches Hiring Dual-Role Ministers

In February on Church Music Today, we will discuss topics that could be controversial and push-button issues for many of you out there.  Our February series is called “FOR OR AGAINST: There Are Two Sides To Every Story” in which we will be taking sides on certain topics and sharing viewpoints on each side of the argument.

Today, we will look at the plusses and minuses of churches hiring dual-role ministers.  Sit back, and see the two perspectives shared on this delicate topic.  And as always, we would LOVE your comments on the post.


(Dennis) I am a dual-role minister.  I have served in six churches.  Of those six, I have been a dual-role minister in three of them.  I think it works (for me).  Being full-time, I have enough balance in the work week to give both ministries time for planning.  It also helps that the church is realistic in their expectations of dual-role ministry.  FBC, for example, expects an 80% worship and 20% discipleship guideline in my time.  Though the percentage doesn’t seem equal (duh), there are reasons for this breakdown: first, I am specifically trained in music, worship and church music.  I spent five and a half years earning my bachelor and master degrees in church music, so following the Biblical mandate of 1 Chronicles 25 (being a skilled musician), the majority of my time is spent on worship (planning, preparation and leading) – which is the most important thing in the church.  Secondly, though I am only spending 20% of my time on discipleship (Sunday School and Wednesday night classes), I work with a team of folks who are also leading in this area.  The Christian Education Team at FBC works with me to implement the staff vision for church-wide discipleship.  We plan as a team and then carry it out as a team.  You can succeed as a dual-role minister, BUT you must be proactive in planning, taking good notes, meeting well with your teams and quipping your people in a timely manner.  You can’t just throw the football out on the field and expect them to know how to play.

(Zach) I have been in full-time ministry since 2004.  In that time I have served in both singular position roles and combo roles.  I believe that the dual / combo role is a valid option for churches depending on the church expectations and ministerial duties in question.  For example, my time as a combo minister was as a music and education guy.  My philosophy of ministry as a worship pastor includes a strong emphasis on discipleship.  I believe the songs we sing are not only worship to God but vehicles by which we disciple our congregations.  I also believe strongly in discipling the people in my musical ensembles (specifically the worship team, and also including choir, etc).  I often lead small group studies with my worship team because I want to see them become more committed disciples of Christ.  So it is not a huge stretch in my mind to see music and education (or worship / discipleship) going hand in hand as a combo role position.   There is also an element of financial considerations for smaller churches.  A lot of smaller churches do not have the means to hire two full-time people to serve on their ministerial staff but they could hire one.  If there are realistic expectations this could possibly serve the church in a very effective way.  I was 75% music and 25% education at my previous church.  This allowed me to serve most of the time in my primary role of music but also serve a need by overseeing Sunday school.  Combo roles can definitely be good for the minister and the church given the right church expectations and the gifting of the minister.


(Dennis) If I had to take the side of being against Dual-Role ministers, it would probably be this idea: You can’t succeed being pulled in two directions.  I have seen too many churches putting two ministries together due to budget concerns alone.  Do we not value the importance of a sole ministerial area of focus anymore?  Shouldn’t we – as the church – want ministers specifically trained to lead their areas instead of just adding a position to get a good “value”?  I hope what we haven’t made a pattern of is putting to ministries together because we don’t think it is worth it to have a minister get paid a decent salary for only one area of ministry.  I would assume that those ministers who are leading two ministries are probably also leading a third as well in some under the radar category.  I know I have been in that boat.  I personally spent five and a half years being trained in music and worship at college and earning my graduate’s degree.  Leading a church educational ministry wasn’t a part of that.  I am doing my best, but I know that a full-time minister who has had the same training with education like I had in music would be much, much better.  Why settle?

If we hire one minister to lead two ministries, we then expect that minister to only lead the main ideas of each ministry.  So, we are settling as a church.  For example: a music/education minister would be leading worship and praise band…maybe a choir, moreover would be leading Sunday School and discipleship for adults.  That same person could not give the same focus as a single role minister who would lead: worship, praise team, praise band, youth choir, children’s choirs, handbells, vocal ensembles, and interp/drama team rehearsals.  See how much we are leaving behind?

(Zach) I am currently enjoying the benefits of having a more singular focus as a worship pastor alone.  I definitely think combo roles have their place.  Yet, if it is possible for the church to hire a staff member for a singular role then it would be preferred.  I believe that at times churches who want dual role ministers may be asking for a little too much.  I have known some good music and youth combo guys over the years but this is an extremely difficult role to take on.  Music ministry and youth ministry in most churches call for large amounts of time and people investment.  It is almost impossible to keep a good balance because of the unique demands of the positions.  Most churches if they were honest want 200% out of these roles rather 50/50 or 60/40.  I believe the role of music and youth is difficult also because of the skill sets needed to lead the differing ministries.  Messy games and conducting an orchestra are somewhat different if you haven’t heard!  Other roles like Worship and Discipleship, Youth and Recreation, Music and Seniors, and Children and Families are more feasible alternatives.  I believe that if churches picked a role that they thought was most important and hired that role they may be better in the long run.  What if churches were more inclined to allow ministers to minister in their lane rather than adding to their plate and taking away from the primary ministry in which they are gifted? This is a foreign concept in our microwave society that says we need to have something for everyone, all the time.  I tend to believe that doing one thing well is better than doing many things half way.

Is there a correct side?  Are there hindrances to both views?  What are YOUR thoughts?  And as always, thanks for reading!


2 thoughts on “FOR OR AGAINST: Churches Hiring Dual-Role Ministers

  1. Great thoughts from both of you. I agree that dual roles have their place in churches, so long as the church understands that most people who fill those roles are not equally good at both. The person who excels in both aspects of a dual role is few and far between. Churches must realize that in almost all cases where they hire a dual role that they are essentially hiring a Worship pastor who happens to be able to organize and oversee Sunday School and small group ministries, or they are hiring a Discipleship/Education Pastor who also happens to be able to lead worship. All that to say dual roles are fine, so long as the church doesn’t make unreasonable demands on the minister and ask them to do things that they are incapable of doing. Certainly if the church has the means, I believe a single role is preferable because most ministers have been trained for a single role.

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