How does someone get hired as a worship leader? Is there a path a person takes to become a paid worship leader at a church? And what are some tips to help navigate the hiring process for a full-time ministry position? Getting hired at a church can be a daunting and mysterious process, so in today’s episode, I try to take some of the mystery out of it and give you practical tips to guide you to the greatest chance of success.
I share three principles for young worship leaders to keep in mind as they aspire to a ministry job. I also break down the five steps most churches take when hiring worship leaders and share practical suggestions on how to successfully navigate each step.
In this episode, I cover: how to find a compatible church, how to write a strong resume and cover letter, what sort of content should be in your “sample video”, how to audition at a church to win over the pastor, the people, and the band members, plus lots more. I hope God uses this episode to guide you as you seek His will for your vocation.
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Alex Enfiedjian 00:03 Hey guys short bonus episode for you today. It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these bonus episodes and I will explain why in about a month or so. Before we get to the question today This episode is sponsored by Audible. My favorite way to listen to audiobooks, particularly, I want to recommend to you the book How to influence people, by john Maxwell. I’ve been very challenged and have learned a lot by listening to this book, and I think you will be helped by it, and will grow in your leadership when you listen to this book. So if you’re not already an audible member, you can get the book for free during your 30 day trial. an audible will even let you keep the book if you decide to cancel your membership. So it’s kind of a no risk situation. So audiobooks are a really great way to learn just like listening to a podcast. So I highly recommend trying audible you can get your free trial at worship ministry training comm slash audible or by clicking the link in the show notes. Today’s question comes from Kevin Hoover, who asks, what kind of tips do you have for someone trying to get hired at a church? What advice would you give to people who are in the process of or desiring to be hired as a worship leader?
Alex Enfiedjian 01:11 Kevin? That’s a great question. And I’ve been thinking about it more and more as I have some young leaders under me at my new church. So I’m going to start with a few thoughts for people who aspire to one day be hired as a paid worship leader, maybe someone listening who is younger and would like to be a worship leader one day in a paid role. But then later in the episode, I’m going to give five important tips for people who are actually in the process, or about to begin the process of looking for a job at a church. So few thoughts for people who aspire to be a worship leader one day. So firstly, I think it’s important to point out that the majority of worship leaders in the world are by vocational meaning that they have two jobs, more than one job, or that they are fully volunteers, meaning that they have a full time job to pay their bills. And then they offer their time to the Lord on Sundays to lead worship. And I don’t want that to sound like a discouraging way to start the episode. But it’s just the reality that most worship leaders in the world don’t get paid full time to lead worship, I think of all of my friends in the small Russian churches across Russia, that I know who don’t get paid anything, or maybe very small stipends to lead worship in the Russian churches, I think of my friend Kenny, and Uganda who has to teach music and art lessons on the side to make ends meet, I think of even here in Los Angeles, my friend la hoga. lindo, who leaves his congregation of about 150 people each weekend, but works as a corporate manager in a business to provide for his family. So, you know, the average church size in America is 70 people or so. And so most churches can’t afford full time worship leaders. And so what I really want to say right now by saying this is I want to elevate and acknowledge those of you who serve as volunteers, or who served by vocation only, and say that all of you who do that are in no way any less of a worship leader, because you’re not in a full time role. In fact, probably greater is your reward in heaven, because you’re faithfully giving yourself to God’s kingdom, while still working outside the walls of a church. So I’m just encouraging and elevating all of you who fall into that category of by vocational or volunteer worship leader. So it’s not bad to desire and aspire to getting a full time job at a church, I think it’s a good thing to aspire to be an elder, the Bible says. But it’s also important to learn to be content in all circumstances, which is easier said than done. I know. But just be faithful to what God has called you to. So that’s the first thing I would say to start. The second thing I want to say to aspiring worship leaders is God elevates the faithful. Just keep showing up and saying yes, say yes to every opportunity that comes your way to lead worship. Like I’m thinking about the two young guys on my team who just recently started leading worship, at our church in different capacities. I think I think about the young gal who has been leading in the high school group for the last three years. And as they’ve been faithful, leading in these smaller venues, they just keep showing up. They keep doing it with all their heart and with all their strength. They’re preparing Well, they’re practicing, they’re showing up prayed up, they’re giving it their all they’re trying to be excellent. And you know, in all of that they’re making mistakes, and they’re learning and they’re growing, and God is improving them in their craft. And as they’ve been faithful and they keep showing up and they keep getting refined and they keep, you know, building upon this gift that they have inside of them. Guess what’s starting to happen? Well, they’re getting invited to more and more opportunities. You know, people see them, they see their progress, they see Wow, this person’s getting better, and they start asking them to come lead at this event or come lead at singles. ministry or come lead at this youth camp. And guess what they’re gonna do? They’re gonna say yes to those opportunities, like I said, say yes to every opportunity. And so they’re gonna say yes, they’re going to practice they’re going to prepare, they’re going to pray, they’re going to show up on time, they’re going to do their best. And then guess what’s going to happen. At some point down the line, someone will be talking to the single’s ministry leader, and they’re going to say, hey, my church is looking for worship leader. Do you know anybody, and who will the single’s ministry leader recommend, they’re going to recommend that awesome young worship leader who keeps showing up and being faithful, and he’s doing a great job. Or maybe the speaker at Camp will be impressed by their abilities and ask them for their contact information. That’s how Steven furtick I believe, found his worship leaders at elevation church, he
Alex Enfiedjian 05:48 was at a camp speaking, he was about to start elevation church, he met these two young worship leaders at the camp. And he was like, Man, you guys are awesome. And will you come start this church with me, and now they have songs all over the whole globe, you know, just because they were faithful to the door that was in front of them. I also think about my friend who has been faithfully leading in men’s ministry for years and years, and getting experience along the way and growing. And last year, a guest speaker came to teach at the men’s ministry, and he heard my friend lead worship and said, Hey, man, call me if you’re interested in talking about a job. So what I’m saying again, is, just be faithful to the assigned posts that God has given you. And when you’re faithful, he will be refining you and preparing you for whatever’s next. And because you’ve been faithful, he will entrust you with more. So just keep saying yes, and keep giving it your best each time. You never know how God will direct your path. And honestly, usually, the path to paid ministry is a windy road called faithfulness. So God gives you an opportunity God tests you. He sees how you steward it, he prepares you along the way. And when you’re ready for what’s next, he may open the door to something else in his perfect timing. So what I’m not saying is that you can’t put your boots to the ground and take initiative and try to find a job in a church. Some people do that. But that doesn’t seem to be the story of most worship leaders that I know. Most worship leaders I know, got where they are on the windy path called faithfulness. So that’s my story as well. The last thing that I will say to aspiring worship leaders before we move on to hiring tips, is to make yourself valuable use this time to make yourself valuable Do not be just a one trick pony. And there are a lot of practical ways that displays out for example, musically, like musically, don’t be a one trick pony be able to play multiple instruments, vocationally, don’t be a one trick pony. Learn a second discipline, like graphic design, web design or video editing. You know a lot of churches hire youth pastor slash worship leaders. So start volunteering at your youth group and get experience in that arena start getting to know how to work with kids or how to lead a Bible study. That way you are you are more valuable to whatever organization you come to because you do more than one thing. The other thing about making yourself more valuable is no the Bible like study the Bible, like crazy, just become a student of God’s Word that will make you valuable to the church that’s looking to hire you also read a ton of books on leadership, like that john Maxwell book that I recommended in the beginning, if you’re a great leader, you will be super valuable and desirable to any organization. And I’ve said this before on the podcast, I’ll say it again. Worship leading is more about leadership than musicianship. So do what you can right now in this season of your life to make yourself more valuable in the future. So those are the three things that I would say to those of you aspiring worship leaders who want to get hired one day at a church. Now for those of you who are about to enter the process of searching for a church job, I have five other things to tell you, I have five tips for the process of looking for a church job. So number one is this when looking for a church, start with people and churches you already know well. Don’t just kind of blind fire at churches that you know nothing about. The best thing to do is to start close and organic to yourself. So put it out there to your friends in ministry via email via Facebook. Let your own church know that you’re looking to get a job at a church. Let your senior pastor of your home church know try to go the personal route before checking sites like church staffing calm and sites like that. It’s better to find something organically or through relationships instead of going on blind dates with churches that you know nothing about. You know, speaking of your home church I know a lot of people who get jobs as worship leaders after leading as a volunteer at their church for many years, you know, they kind of work themselves up to the position. And then when the worship leader moves on, they are like the obvious first choice for the church, because the church is like, we know this person, they know us, we know they do a good job. Do you want the job? There’s an opening, how about you take the job. And that’s exactly what happened. When I left my church up in Northern California, the volunteer that was under me, became the new worship leader. So again, it kind of goes back to what I said in the beginning, be faithful, where you’re at. Also important to say, if you’re going to do the cold email, like blind fire, church staffing
Alex Enfiedjian 10:42 calm way, I would suggest talking to your family, if you have a family and determine where you and your family are comfortable living. Like if you only want to live in your current state, then that’s going to limit the options that are out there. You know, there are a lot of worship leader jobs out there. But you have to be willing to move to a totally different part of the country. And personally, I’d never want to leave California. It’s where I was born and raised. The weather’s always awesome. And so even if a great church wanted to hire me in another state, I’d probably say no. So you know, you have to determine where you’re willing to live before you even start searching. That’s something I’d say about the blind fire approach. Also, when you do find a job or a church that looks interesting to you. My suggestion is study the church, like crazy, like watch a million sermons from the pastor, read their doctrinal statement, call people who know the church and ask them about it. Call staff members at the church and ask them what it’s like to work there. do tons of research before you even apply, like, Don’t even apply until you really dig and see if this church has your DNA. And I would encourage you do not compromise or talk yourself into something that doesn’t seem like 100% perfect fit. Getting a church job is kind of like getting married, you know, there are no perfect churches. But you have to have the same core values and DNA as the church if it’s going to work in this long term partnership. And if it’s not a good fit, don’t waste their time or your time because you’ll be miserable. And so will they. So it’s better to just wait for the right thing. And you will know it when God leads you to it. There are a couple of church staffing companies who are more like consultants, who will try to help you find the right church fit for you. So for those of you who are interested, and you might want to look at these two companies, one of them is called Vander bloomin, and I’ll put a link in the show notes. And the other one is called the slingshot group. So those are a few tips for the actual looking for a church that’s hiring. Now let’s talk about preparing to apply for that church. So before you apply, there’s kind of some pre interview things that you need to have. One of them is a resume and one of them is a video of a sample of your worship leading. So let’s talk about the resume in terms of your resume. What you should do is first, like I said, research the church, get it grasp of what’s important to them. Write a custom cover letter to the church explaining what you know about them, why you’re attracted to them, why you feel you’re a great candidate for them, Why you align with their mission and values, and what you offer them that others may not offer any other personal information that you think you want to put in a cover letter, but don’t make it more than a page, then make a one page resume, I think it’s important to try to fit it on one page that’s easy to read is well organized and has correct grammar and no typos, zero no typos. You know, I see a lot of guys and gals and make mistakes on this part because their resume or the emails that they send the resume in have typos or are poorly laid out or look unprofessional, or their email correspondence to the church read something like a teenager’s text message, you know, Hey, yo, I’m excited about this job. Like, I know you guys are smart enough to know that that’s not how you get a job. But you’ve got to look professional, you know, if you present sloppy before you get the job, they’re gonna assume that you’ll be sloppy when you get the job, which is not favorable for your chances of getting hired. So just be really professional, have somebody proofread it and just go over it like 20 times before you send it. Also, somewhere in your cover letter or resume. You can include a picture of yourself or your family if you have a family. And what I’ll do is I will actually include an old resume of mine and an old cover letter to a church that I applied to, and I’ll put links in the show notes for that if that’ll help you besides a resume nowadays, you must have a video of you leading worship you have to like many churches don’t even accept applications without video anymore. So this is where having a lot of worship leading experience pays off. So like in these smaller venues where you’re leading or where you’re currently at, just start having someone film you every single time you lead worship. And this is a good way to just improve in general, but having the footage will pay off when it’s time to apply for a job. So I found that you have to be
Alex Enfiedjian 15:30 super selective about the clips that you use in your video, like keep your video under five minutes, I would say don’t include a whole song, unless they specifically asked you for a whole song, just include the best sections of the best clips of each of the best songs. So like, let’s say you record yourself 40 times, just take like the eight best sections of the sets from those 30 services and weave them together into a highlights reel. And you know, maybe even include clips from different venues or different churches. Basically, you want to create a highlight reel that shows what you can do. It’s also important, I think, to include a little section of the video where you’re praying, or you’re offering a short exhortation to the people you’re leading, you just want to paint a good picture of what you’re able to do acoustic full band, Cahoon, kind of show them what it sounds like when you lead worship in different contexts and in different genres or whatever. So just give them a good understanding of who you are and what you do, edit it to keep the pace moving nicely. And if you have any questions of like, what it should look like, you can find examples on YouTube, or I’ll even link a couple of my old example videos in the show notes as well. Just don’t judge me. Okay. So that’s the pre interview prep. And let’s say now they invite you to come audition. So some churches will interview you before you audition. Some churches will interview after you audition. But let’s just say you’ve done the interview. Now it’s time to audition and play. For the church. Here are a few tips for auditioning. If you get called into audition, the best thing you can do is to help the church seeing that is so much more valuable than artsy performance or perfect pitch. If you can get the entire room engaged in a vertical Jesus centered worship, you will win the pastor’s heart. Every single pastor wants an engaged congregation that is swept up in the praise of God. So what I would do is I would you know, be very careful about your song selection, call someone at the church and ask them what songs does the church know what songs does the church love? And I would avoid new flashy stuff and stick to the tried and true stuff things like How great Thou art I mean, who doesn’t love to sing then sings muscle you know, like it’s like everybody wants to sing that or 10,000 reasons or Blessed be Your name like stick to the the meat and potatoes tried and true stuff that all churches know. Because you don’t want to come in and do something totally new, and then have this church just staring at you the whole time. So I would say run the songs by the pastor or a couple people in the church before finalizing your set. Now if you are going to be auditioning with the churches band members, then make sure you have a separate rehearsal with them. I did this at my new church. I was like okay, I’m gonna come lead on Sunday and they knew that I was like the potential new worship pastor and so I was like, Can you guys please do me a favor? Can we please practice on Saturday? I know you guys usually just practice right before the service but I don’t know you you don’t know me. You don’t know my arrangements, please. Let’s do Saturday. So I emailed them all. So this is what I suggest you do? Get their emails, the team members emails from the pastor. email them, introduce yourself say that you’re so excited to play with them. You’ve heard great things about them. Send them the setlist here, the setlist here the chord charts, here’s a dropbox folder of all the recordings, I made mp3 files for you guys. Please take a listen. Please let me know if you have any questions. And then you know, give them a couple options for rehearsal dates. Can you do this date? Can you do this date and make sure your email is kind encouraging, excited, and nicely formatted again, easy to read professional. And what I would do is I would BCC blind carbon copy of the senior pastor. So he can see that you’re on the ball already. That you’re taking care of things and that you’re interacting with the team in a positive way already.
Alex Enfiedjian 19:31 So that’s before the rehearsal. Now when you get to the rehearsal for the audition, get to know the band, introduce yourself, get to know them. be super kind be super serving be super approachable. You know how long you’ve been at this church? What’s the church? Like? What’s your favorite thing about serving at the church? How long have you been serving? How long have you been playing? Oh, what’s that guitar that you’re holding? I’ve never seen anything like that. That’s cool, you know, help set up the stage. You just want to make a really great impression on the band. Because the pastor will probably ask the band what they thought about you, since ultimately, they’d be the ones working with you as their leader. So be kind, even during rehearsal, you know, lead them, well leave them with kindness, but also be confident in giving them direction on the stage, Hey, could you play this? Hey, could you do that? You know, they’ll respect you for that, that you’re coming in, and you’re really leading well, but leading with love. So that is the audition tips that I have. When interviewing, I would say really important, just be yourself. Also ask as many questions about the church and the pastor as they would ask about you. So I literally would type up Evernote list of questions. And I would ask as many questions as they asked, because I wanted to know, you know, what’s the vision of the church? What’s the vision of the pastor? Where do you want to be in five years? You know, what’s the staff like? Even like, how many people did you baptized last year? Where do you want to grow? What are some areas of weakness, if you can show them that you’re thoughtful, and you have good perceptive questions about ministry and church life, that can really win them over, you know, you have to be honest, you don’t want to try to get the job. Just be yourself, and get to know the church. And if it’s a good match, if it’s meant to be, it will be, you know, you would rather get the job as yourself, then get the job under some sort of mask that you’re wearing. And then when you take the mask off, the church isn’t happy, and you’re not happy either. So be yourself. Let the church be themselves. And if it’s a match, everyone will know it. The last thing that I will say in all of this, is just trust God, you know, just trust that God knows where he wants you, and when he wants you there. So let him lead this process, bathe it in prayer, you know, a verse that really encouraged me during times of transition, or times where I was waiting to see if a church wanted to hire me or not, is proverbs 21 one, which says, The King’s heart is like water in the hands of the Lord. He turns it wherever he pleases. So that proverb really gave me comfort to know that whatever decision the pastor makes, or the church makes to hire me or not hire me, God is directing their hearts. And so just know that as well, that God is directing their hearts. And God has good plans for you, and you can trust him. And something that I learned at Moody Bible Institute, and this will be the last thing that I say, is that a person’s calling? If you feel called, your calling is not verified until a church calls you. So that church validates the sense of calling that you have by calling you so you know, some people I’ve heard people say, I feel really called but no one’s calling. So maybe that’s God’s way of saying, wait, pray, keep growing, keep practicing, keep serving where you’re at. So again, in all this trust God, he’s in control. He’s the general of this army that’s on the earth and he will put you in the posts and positions that he needs you and wants you to be in so that’s it for this bonus episode. God bless you guys. I will be back on the first of the month to talk with Kristian stanfill and Brett yonker about raising up future worship leaders. God bless bye