Should Your Second Hire Be a Music Pastor?
When a solo pastor recognizes the need for an additional hire it’s both an exciting and fearful proposition. Exciting because your church has grown to the place where you can afford another person to serve the congregation. Fearful because you can only hire one.
Consider the options. Last year Ryan Townsend suggested your second hire might be an administrative pastor. There’s much wisdom in that and Ryan makes a good case for it. Some would recommend a pastor-evangelist as your second hire. After all, you’re adding another salary so you’ll need more people in the church to support the additional financial burden. Others might make the case for a children’s pastor, especially when the demographic of your church is largely young families. Still others would opt for a youth or family pastor, for similar reasons.
But what about a music pastor? Many people today choose churches based on the music as much as the preaching. Wouldn’t it be wise to have someone who can effectively manage, lead, and train musicians? That could be as effective, if not more so, as hiring an evangelist-pastor.
Here’s where I come down on that question. If your church has grown to the size where it’s ready for a second hire, you should hire a pastor. An overseer. A shepherd. Someone who meets the qualifications of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. Someone who can lead and care for the flock. That is essential.
Now, if he happens to be skilled in leading congregational song, that’s great. But not crucial. Scour the New Testament all you want and you won’t find a position devoted entirely to music. That doesn’t mean a church shouldn’t ever hire full time musicians. But it does suggest that as a church is starting out, the focus should be on the roles God has spelled out, not on secondary or strictly specialized positions: music, media, admin, and so on. An exception might be a part-time administrator who will help a pastor do everything he does more effectively.
Being a pastor and a musician who has participated in two church plants, I know the advantage of having a paid staff member who can lead worship in song. But I’m also aware of many young churches are led well musically by volunteers.
Having a musician as your second hire is appealing because many pastors would love to simply hand over the musical responsibilities to someone who has more gifting and time. But leading congregational song is a pastoral function before it’s a musical one. Every senior pastor should be very aware of what songs are being sung in his church. If the individual you’re considering to lead the music in your church isn’t willing and eager to follow you in this area, call someone else.
It’s no small irony that C.J., the pastor who has taught me the most about leading congregational song, is not a musician. Some of the values I’ve learned from him are the importance of esteeming God’s Word, understanding lyrics, emotional engagement, expression, spontaneity, pastoring through song, and more.
Obviously, musical skills are helpful for leading congregational song. It’s nice to know what keys are best to sing in (a rare skill these days), what songs go together musically, and what songs are out there. But all a church’s pastors together are responsible for the teaching diet of the church, and that includes the songs your congregation sings. Hiring a full-time music minister won’t free you from the responsibility of knowing what lyrics you’re singing and how music is serving the Word.
A second hire depends on a number of factors including the present pastor’s strengths and weaknesses, the available candidates, the needs of a congregation, and relational considerations. Rather than limit the field to someone who can lead worship in song, ask God to give you the individual who will serve and care for the church most effectively.
And if he happens to be a great musician, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.