This article concludes our series on the recruitment of a paid worship employee. By this stage we imagine you will have had your preliminary discussions as we outlined in Part 1, and you will have advertised, interviewed and appointed (covered in Part 2). What remains is inducting and managing your employee for what we hope will be a long and fruitful tenure.

Thorough Induction

Allow space for your new recruit to properly “land” in their new role. This ought to involve opportunities to get to know people. In one church, Sam was encouraged to take time (and expenses) in the first six months of his employment to take every worship team member out for lunch or coffee. Meetings and conversations with the team, congregation members and PCC/Elders are also invaluable.

Some people arrive in a worship position and gradually become aware of relational tensions, or hear rumours of difficult situations from the past. Within appropriate confidentiality, it is really helpful if the church leadership can bring a new employee up to speed on any history which may be relevant to the fruitfulness of their role. This can save lots of time and heartache over the long haul.

Goals and Supervision

In the first few months it is healthy not to put too many expectations on your employee. However, after an initial period of settling in, it becomes useful to begin to talk about vision and goal setting. We suggest making it a priority to have regular line-management meetings every 4 weeks or so to do this. Discuss together your vision for where you want your church’s worship to be in, say, three years time (in line with the church’s overall vision). Agree values you want to foster, and what fruitfulness in your church's worship ministry might look like.

You can then set short and medium term goals which will help you to achieve that vision. The employee ought to be given space to reflect on the period that has passed, with input from the line manager as to what has been good and any things which need improvement. You can then set goals and strategy for the next period - projects you want to begin or further, administrative tasks to tackle, relationships to build etc and how these can be broken down into strategic actions. 

It’s helpful to bear in mind the old saying “Don’t overestimate what you can do in a year, don’t underestimate what you do in two years.” The first year of any employment will always have its insecurities, but encourage your employee to take the long view and aim for slow, steady progress rather than cheap, momentary wins.

Healthy Rhythms

As well as encouraging and steering your employee in their work, you also need to make sure that they are spiritually, emotionally and physically healthy. Again, line management sessions are a good time to ask: how are you? How is your heart right now? It will be helpful for the employee to talk over any relational challenges or spiritual struggles. Our survey also brought up this suggestion:

  • “Ensure supervision support is not just from the Vicar / senior pastor, but also that there is lay congregational support in place.”

You could appoint someone from the congregation to act as a pastor or spiritual mentor for the employee - sometimes the main church leaders may find it hard to personally provide adequate support for their staff in addition to all their other pastoral and organisational commitments, and so additional help from the congregation can be a blessing. Sometimes the main church leaders may not have enough head space to care for their staff alongside all their other pastoral commitments.

You can also encourage and model healthy rhythms. These can include: making sure the worship leader is not on the rota to lead/play every single service; encouraging them to take time off in lieu if they work over their hours; to take breaks in the day if they have to work evenings; to work from home some days if that cuts down commuting or aids times of solitude; to use all their vacation time and spread it across the year; to guard days off and help them not be “on call” at all times; and so on. It is our experience that many pastors struggle to achieve these kinds of rhythms so we’d encourage you to take a look at your own patterns and see what it is you are modelling to your team.

Churches can invest in their employee’s spiritual health by encouraging them to set aside a (work) day per month as a prayer day, and encouraging them to go on a retreat or spiritually-fulfilling conference once a year (ideally, paid for by the church). The church can also encourage their worship pastor to build relationships with communities of people in similar ministries, and receive mentoring from those further down the path. 

This is something that we, as Engage Worship, aim to facilitate through Evergreen - a support network for young worship leaders. Evergreen is currently only for worship leaders aged 18-35, as we have identified a particular gap in provision for this generation. Engage Worship also provides ongoing retreats for all ages, and other networks exist such as Liturgy Fellowship, the Resound Worship 12 Song Challenge, Worship Central, National Network of Pastoral Musicians, etc.

Long-Term Prospects

As the employment period moves from months to years, keep talking to your worship pastor. Do they feel creatively fulfilled? Do they still have vision and energy? How can they see this role developing? Who are they mentoring and releasing?

If you want to retain an employee for a significant period you will need to allow their role to evolve. Some will need to be given more responsibility, while others might look to start outreach initiatives or tackle a creative project. Work with them to agree what a long-term vocation in music and worship ministry might look like for them. And do consider their pay as the years pass. One of our survey respondents wrote that long-term worship ministry is only possible if churches begin:

  • “... recognising it as a long-term vocation that is not simply yet another pathway into ordination, and remunerating it at a level where people in their 30s-50s with families can still afford to work in that area rather than it being the exclusive domain of 20-somethings with no kids who are willing to house share or live in a one bed flat.”

As We Conclude…

It is our hope and prayer that this series of articles will be of help to churches seeking to employ worship staff, and that it will contribute to a healthier and more sustainable culture for worship pastors. Of course, life is messy and no church or individual is perfect. Some roles just won’t work out over the long haul for a myriad of reasons, and that’s okay. But we’d like to see a significant shift so that those with vocations in music and worship have a greater chance of being supported, equipped and released for a long and fruitful life of church ministry. 

If you have any further questions, comments or ideas please use the box below, or drop us an email.