5 comments Written on October 19th, 2012     
Filed under: Core Values, Culture, Leadership, Local Church
Today’s post is written by Jo Anne Taylor, Director of Music and Worship at Bethlehem Covenant Church in Minneapolis, MN.

Last week, Geoff wrote:

“… when I look at the advertising for worship leader positions in the nation’s churches I am distressed to see how many are asking for a video clip along with a CV or resume. …  Really, why do they want to see me or any other candidate leading a song before they consider whether I might lead their congregation in worship?”

Ouch. Guilty, as charged. Well, sort of.

Our church is currently interviewing candidates for a worship leader position. And yes, we did ask applicants to provide a sound or video clip of themselves leading worship along with their résumés.

But our intent was not to see if the candidate looked/sounded good on stage. Our goal was to discern a heart for worship in the candidate’s approach to leading others in a live setting, as well as to determine if the candidate had the competence to do two things at once: lead music, and lead worship.

We were trying to be pragmatic in assessing whom we wanted to interview, but we were also concerned with identifying the intangible and unquantifiable aspects of worship leading that simply cannot be measured in a rubric. After all, don’t pastors seeking a call usually submit a sample sermon to congregations expecting them to preach every week?

As we viewed and listened to applicants, however, I wonder if Geoff’s charge of “the perpetual narrowing of our cultural conscience” did, in fact, play a part in our search process. The line between secular and sacred gets blurred in music more than any other element of worship, I think, especially in contemporary worship that focuses on engaging the seeker. Is this a bad thing? That’s a subject for another day. I guess my question is this: If you want to lead worship in my church, what would a video or sound clip show me that you would want to hide?

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5 comments “Ouch.”

I have been frustrated in the past when I have been applying for a worship leadership job but am serving at a church does not videotape the services.  It’s awkward in the least to bring in a video camera and figure out how to answer questions about why the service is being recorded.  This isn’t a problem if the video isn’t a requirement of the application process, but I have found that for many churches, it is.  In those cases, I have taken it as an indicator of values and figured that I probably wouldn’t want to end up serving that church anyway.

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Brian, I certainly understand how awkward it can be to bring a video camera into a worship gathering where one is not usually present. That is why we gave the option of a sound OR video clip. Most churches have audio recording capability. But you bring up a more interesting point about priorities. And I do think that some great candidates for leadership and ministry opportunities get overlooked because they do not have the resources – or sometimes even the experience – to show that they are gifted and called to a particular work. How do we, as a church, get past that? Our search team keeps praying for discernment, but my heart goes out to all those great worship leaders who don’t bother to apply because of the restrictions we place on the process.

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 I dunno.

Part of me validates this strongly, we obviously need to be careful of our motives in the midst of our consumerist culture that demands a product they like. Obviously we want leaders who embody imitating Jesus, who model what it means to be a disciple before they ask others to do the same. No, no video clip will EVER communicate accurately and fully the heart and motives of a person – that takes time to discern, especially in person.


Part of me wants to push back; how else do you know if somebody can actually, you know, SING if you don’t hear them do it, especially when there is technology available to us so readily (and it’s not that hard to record a copy of yourself singing with a laptop, even if it is a mere PC). We hire people who have been called, and part of that calling MEANS that the person must be an artist of some sort with talent and caliber. Nobody would hire me to paint a beautiful work of art; it’s not my gift. Likewise, nobody should hire somebody who is tone-deaf to lead the congregation in worship through music … sometimes it’s just as simple as that. I’ve found that there are plenty of people who think they can do something that, when asked to do it, really can’t and nobody has been brave enough to tell them.

Just thoughts out loud …

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I completely agree w/ both  of you.  I think an “alternative option” than a video of someone leading worship takes care both of the need to *hear* someone musically as part of the process while also allowing the opportunity for people to apply who don’t have videos of themselves leading in their congregation.  Of course you don’t “get” as much info. from a self-made recording as you’d have from a video, but I appreciate churches that recognize not everyone will have a video of themselves, and that creating one in a context that doesn’t usually videotape services can be problematic.  

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