CNNMoney.com recently did a series of articles based on research by payscale.com and found that 67% of those that lead worship or direct music in local churches for a vocation say the job is stressful. The research says this job is in the top 15 MOST stressful. Uhmm, this is obvious to those of us who lead worship, but to have research debunk the myth of the glamor of being a music guy/gal in a church might be helpful in fixing some things.
In the article he mentions how weddings and funeral musical work is stressful, but they really do not go to the underlying reasons I believe the majority of people in this vocation incur stress. Notice that senior pastors, youth directors and other ministry personnel are not on this list. While all ministry is stressful, something unique to this activity is in play. I say this with deep respect for those in other roles.
I fundamentally believe there is pandemic implosion of the worship leader role and vocation–even for the volunteer or bi-vocational worship leader. History shows this current pattern to be true (nothing new about worship wars for instance). Each week I talk with very talented people in this line of work and the same story is replayed over and over again. Every conference I attend, phone call or IM I field or observations I listen to by others has led me to consider a wide-scale threat. Glamorous you say?
Here are some unique mythbusting nuggets to consider:
- When there is conflict in a local church, the music becomes a rallying point for battle. Ever heard of the term “worship wars” in your setting? Well, guess who lives in the middle of that.
- Everyone has an opinion about the music and experience in a worship service, with the one who is leading the activity often being the only non-voting member in the discussion.
- Everything this person does is in public and executed through other people: choirs, worship bands, tech teams, etc.
- Leadership of churches often devalue the scale and scope of work to execute the quality and impact they expect.
- The skills needed include: creative and artistic genius, project management, musical talent, stage presence, theological facility, leadership, administration, ability to work independently, ability to be micromanaged and you have to look the part (whatever that means).
- In the push to be relevant to culture, the worship leader is only as relevant as the latest thing on one hand or if you have opposite views he/she must reject the latest thing. You can’t win either way.
- Spiritual warfare is heated in the activity of our public worship settings. So, obviously in that sense these folks are targets.
I have some ideas on specific solutions to help the local church win and the worship leader survive and perhaps even thrive. However, before I do that in another post (or series of posts) I am interested in your view of my summary and what the research shows.