Dr. David W. Manner is the Associate Executive Director for the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists. He blogs at http://kncsb.org/blogs/dmanner . You can follow him on Twitter: @dwmanner.
Now that I have your undivided attention, I do believe that full-time worship ministry is indeed a worthy calling and vocation that requires preparation, education and skills. And yes, it is a real job. But what if opportunities were no longer available for you to lead worship vocationally? What if you needed to voluntarily or were asked involuntarily to step aside from full-time worship ministry for an interim or extended period of time? What if you are unable to land a worship ministry position after graduation? What would or could you do to provide for your family while still responding to God’s call? Some of us have found ourselves in that situation only to realize we are not trained or are not training to do anything else.
Statistics show that 95% of churches average 350 or less in worship and that 75-80% of those churches average 150 or less. Forced terminations as a result of corporate business modeled leadership, unhealthy staff relationships, and ageism are all on the rise. The church planting movement has amplified the need for additional volunteer and part time worship leaders. Even larger, more established congregations are no longer realizing the need for full-time worship and music staff as they try to stretch their financial resources to accommodate their various multi-generational, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-venue worship needs.
With those statistics in mind, the present and future reality is that the need for full-time music and worship ministry staff is on the decline. In other words, there are and will continue to be more prepared full-time leaders than full time places for them to serve. With that understanding, are we being poor stewards of our calling by not being prepared and willing to lead bivocationally in those smaller congregations and church plants that long for gifted worship leaders to help them with Spirit and Truth worship? Reality dictates that while preparing for worship leadership many of us should also be learning additional marketable skills.
For this to occur, we must first agree that a call to bivocational ministry is not a mediocre calling but is in fact a call to full-time ministry that just happens to occur not only when we gather at church but also when we disperse to the marketplace. We must encourage our Christian colleges and seminaries to more actively challenge students preparing for worship ministry to also learn other skills. We must agree that it is never too soon or too late to learn something new. And we must agree that learning an additional skill doesn’t compromise our calling but in fact enhances it by expanding our mission field through our communication in other languages beyond choirs and chord charts.